Thursday, March 7, 2013

Buddhism in Myanmar in present time




Introduction


As assignment of Thai sagha administration subject by phramedhiratanadilok, I will write about Buddhism in Myanmar in present time. Especially I will introduce what people in Myanmar are going on to take refuge in Buddhism and how and why they believe in Buddhism. And also I will introduce how to relate between the monks and lay people. Then I will describe education system of monastic life in Myanmar from past time to present time. In the Sangha administration, how monks are trying to propagate Buddhism in talking an active part of leading ways.


Obviously what Myanmar people are in the side of Buddhism I will mention dealing with their works in Buddhist way especially about Buddhist meditation in which they are interested.

And also some thing that in interesting point I will compare to other people from Buddhist countries.

Buddhism in Myanmar
Buddhism in Myanmar is predominantly of the Theravada tradition according to what they believe.  There is 89% of practice Buddhism in Myanmar. It is the most religious Buddhist country in terms of proportion of monks in the population and proportion of income spent on religion. Adherents are most likely found among the dominant ethnic Burma, Shan, Rakhine (Arakanese), Mon, Karen, and Chinese who are well integrated into Burmese society. Among ethnic, Theravada Buddhism is practiced often in conjunction with  worship. Monks, collectively known as the Sangha are venerated members of Burmese society.

Monks’ daily life
Monks in the town must go around for their foods but in rural mostly monks rely on lay people who will come to offer foods to the temple. Even though monks in Myanmar go around for foods like Thai monks, the time of going around for foods is different for them. It is because the use to go around for their foods at 9.am. But the time having foods is the same as Thai monks. Most of monks use to go for food as invitation of lay people to their house.

The Monastic Education
Myanmar people send their children to the monastery to receive a Buddhist education, learning the Pali Canon, Buddha win (the life story of the Gautama Buddha), Nga-ya nga-ze nipattaw the 550 Jataka tales) - most importantly Zatkyi sebwè (the Ten Great Incarnations), and Thonze shihpya mingala (the 38 Buddhist Beatitudes) as soon as they have a good grounding of the three Rs. Monks were the traditional teachers of the young and old alike until secular and missionary schools came into being during the British colonial administration. The Burmese word kyaung for school is derived from Hpongyi kyaung (monastery).
There has been a revival of monastic schools since the 1990s with the deepening economic crisis. Children from poor families that can ill afford fees, uniforms and books have renewed the demand for a free monastic education, and ethnic minorities such as the Shan, Pa-O, Palaung, Lahu and We are benefitting from this revival.
 All the classes begin at one o'clock in the afternoon until sunset. The monastic education concentrates on the study of religious scriptures to cover the three Canons of Buddhist literature; Vinaya disciplinary rules and regulations, Suttanta discourses, and Abhidhamma philosophy doctrines.
 A common average monk must study the Pariyatti Scriptures, or practise the Insight Patipatti meditation, in order that he may gradually develope and advance his Pativedha realization of the Perfect Truth.
During the three-month Lent of rainy season, all monks have to remain within the monastery and they are not supposed to travel anywhere. Only at the end of the Buddhist Lent which usually falls in October, they are permitted to visit other monasteries, make pilgrimages, attend meetings and conventions, deliver sermons in other villages and towns. They can even transfer from one abode to another, because the Buddhist monk does not take a vow of stability to be attached to a particular monastery forever.
After the Lenten period he may leave for any monastery of his choice, to pursue further study of the scriptures, or to learn in practice more about the Insight meditation, or even for general knowledge and new experience of monastic life in other places.
       
 There are some monastic institutions which concentrate upon the intensive study of lessons preparing monks to appear in the religious examinations. These religious examinations in Burma are held by the Government, or by the local bodies of monastic education, or by some associations established for this ecclesiastical purpose. In such cases, an ordinance of the Lord Buddha dispenses the scholar monks from rounding for alms from house to house in the villages. There are pious families who proffer to these student monks their sustenance at their monastic abode.



The founder of the monastery or the religious association, who nominates the incumbent, regularly undertakes the support of the monk. The food which is the best of its kind, is regularly brought every morning by the children of the supporters. In case of joint support the children or the workers of the leading families in turn bring the essential eatables to the monastery. An ornamental tiffin receptacle is used, with a tall finial to the cover. These food supplies are received by the stewards, scholars, and the novices who arrange and set the luncheon table for the monks who must finish their meal before noon. Sometimes the stewards, and novices have to prepare rice gruel and other meals at the monastery from raw supplies. But the monks are not invoked in such affairs. The monastic butlers and stewards are usually attached to the monasteries by the wealthy supporters for the preparation of food and other necessary services. The purpose of this special arrangement is to allow the monks to get ample time in the study or in the practice of meditation.
        The senior monk or the Abbot of the monastery has little interaction with the village. Occasionally, however, on Sabbath days and on special festival days he leads the devotees in recitation of the discourses, or administering the precepts. On special occasions such as weddings, funerals and some other notable events, he chants the Eleven Holy Discourses of Protection (Paritta). He presides over 'the Initiation ceremony of novices and higher ordination ceremony of monks. Sometimes he accepts the special meals served by his devotees during the Lenten season either in the monastery or in the village houses. He preaches sermons at appropriate occasions, and gives advice and admonitions to his devotees when they come to the monastery for spiritual help.
        The teaching staff in the Monastic Education institution is usually recruited and organized from the learned members of the Samgha and the Abbot acts as the President or Rector of the academy.
        Often the Rector or the Abbot is busy with domestic affairs and he assigns an old deacon or a novice to take care of the school boys teaching them the alphabets and basic arithmetic. The youngsters usually learn the basic principles of the Buddhist Teachings by rote and recite the lessons all in unison chanting loudly enough in chorus to let the Abbot hear from his place so that he can correct on the spot at once whenever they commit a mistake They all have to write their lessons on the slates or on the wooden boards blackened by soot and rice-glue with talcum pencils. And the young teachers check them every day to see if the handwriting is neat and tidy, or if the spelling is all correct.
       


A young tutor monk is appointed by the Abbot to instruct the novices and newly ordained monks in the study of canonical literature and language prescribed for the elementary scholars in the monastic educational programme. Such junior courses of instruction are taught both in Pali as well as in the vernacular language. Most of the lessons are learnt by heart and the student must be able to recite fluently when the instructor requests him to do so in the class.
        The elderly lecturer monks are specialists in their specific subject field and they deliver their lectures at their residential quarters. They may be Professors of Pali Grammar, or Professors of Vinaya Disciplinary Rules, or Professors of Abhidhamma Philosophy and other suttantas. So the advanced students approach those lecturers for their higher academic studies. Among such advanced students arc monks, nuns, a few laymen and old novices who have already passed the religious examinations set and sponsored periodically by the Government, or by the Local Board of Monastic Education.
        There are however some scholar monks who do not care for sitting any examination, and they learn the scriptures of the religion for the religion's sakes only. They also attend all these lectures delivered by the experts at various monasteries. There is no tuition fees, no admission fees, no registration fees, and no charge whatsoever. The academy is free and open to all interested scholars.
        The lecturers conclude their classes For the day Just before sunset, to allow the students to stroll for a while to the pagoda for evening service, or to clean the sanctuary.
        Then comes evening worship similar to that in the morning. Sometimes there are evening classes for the Advanced Abhidhamma studies usually discussed in the darkness which conclude at nine o'clock late at night. While the elder monks perform their meditation and the youngsters tell the rosary-beads, the scholars recite their daily lessons before they retire to bed. All are so tired and exhausted after such a long day that there is no need for any one to tell them to be quiet after ten o'clock.
        The young steward boys and scholars are happy to go to bed late at night because they have already filled up their hungry stomachs with the remnants and leftovers that they have saved from the lunch boxes. And they never regret having to get up early the next morning at dawn to sip the hot rice gruel welcoming them to the routine work and labour of another busy day.


A Part of Sangha Administration In Myanmar

State Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee has duty to reinforce and observe basic principles and rules and regulations and implement religious matters the directives state all the rules and regulations for the monks prohibiting them from participating in secular affairs.
There are also lay people as officers of ministers of monk affairs in the administration of Myanmar sangha. But laypeople can not make any decision dealing with monks’ vinaya rules. All of them are under sangha Mahanayaka  Sayadaw.

Monk’s Responsibility in Myanmar
All the residents in the monastery are accustomed to sleep late at night after reciting all the old lessons by rote or meditating upon the manner in which they have spent the whole day. However everybody is happy to get up from the coarse and rough coconut mattresses and wooden floor early in the morning before day break.
 The loud and harsh sounds of the brass discs and bronze bells including hollow-wood-gongs, mercilessly beaten by the sleepy young scholars and novices, make every body jump out of the uncosy beds. It is about four o'clock early dawn. Washing of faces, mouths and hands, and rushing to the latrines are spontaneously done and every body is fresh and clean at day break.
        Hot rice gruel is ready in the dining hall to appease the hungry stomach and there is no complaint even if there is no side dish nor any appetizer. This is the regular breakfast if there occurs no festival and special ceremonial celebration in the monastery.
        The daily routine of the monastic life is very busy; the discipline is exacting and rigid, but never harsh. The morning service and homage to the Lord Buddha before the monastic shrine, the sharing of merits and meditation of Lovingkindness to all sentient beings, and the mutual confession among the members of the Order are systematically done in the morning. The junior monk must approach another senior monk to confess his sins or sometimes the senior member may approach the junior one to confess his guilts. So here is the Confessional Catechism usually intoned by the pairs. Sometimes there are group confessions instead of two by two procedure.


Meditation
Meditation is very population in Myanmar as they strong belief in Buddhism.Many Vipassana Meditation Centers based on Buddha’s teaching are widely taught throughout the country.
Vipassana meditation in Myanmar is taught during ten-day residential courses. This period has been found to be the minimum necessary for new students to understand the technique and its benefits through their own experience. Here is some information on the Meditation Centres so that one can plan the Meditation trips in Myanmar.
Style of meditation functions are in a monastery with resident monks who are the meditation teachers. It is for foreigners and Myanmar mediators alike. Foreigners are well catered for and often have their own quarters and schedules. Men and women's accommodation is separate, clean and simple, complete with bed linen and mosquito nets.

Two healthy meals are served everyday, one at dawn, another just before noon, drinks such as orange juice are offered in the evening. Vegetarian food is available on request. In the dining hall, everyone eats slowly, quietly and mindfully. Clean, safe, drinking water is supplied. For long term meditation, you are invited to ordain as a monk, novice or nun. It is an excellent opportunity and will enhance your experience in meditation and Myanmar.


Conclusion
What I have talk above all of them are about Buddhism in Myanmar. That say the people of Myanmar is the people Buddhist according to what they do dealing with Buddhism. That is why the country is very strong in way of Buddhist teaching.

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