Sunday, September 23, 2007

Monk Protest in Burma (Myanmar)

The monks are protesting in Myanmar. Burma's monks are the only group in the country outside of the military regime with a nationwide organization. Burma is one of the most intensely religious countries in the world, and the monks are a revered presence.

Last year, on a trip to Burma's Shan State, I took this photo of some monks in a truck. They were returning to their monastery having just collected their daily alms.

Most Burmese monks subsist solely by the generosity of the people -- an in Burma today, the generosity of a poor people for their monks knows no bounds. Burma was one of the first countries outside India to embrace Buddhism; some consider Burma the country where Buddhism has survived to the present day in its purest form.

What strikes just about every visitor to Burma is the fervent devotion of the man on the street. I am still struck by what I was told by one man, named Khin, on my visit -- you can read what Khin told me here (or read the whole story of my truly haunting journey into Shan State here).

My own interest in Burma developed a few years ago when I started practicing a non-sectarian form of meditation taught by a Burmese-trained teacher.