Wednesday, May 8, 2013

"Militant Monks" in Buddhist Burma? (audio)

Somewhere around 85 percent of Burma’s [Myanmar’s] 50 million people are Buddhist -- the third-highest concentration in the world after Thailand and Cambodia, according to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.
And roughly half-a-million people in the country enter monasteries and devote their lives to Buddhist practice. They’re a ubiquitous presence in Burma’s cities and towns -- monks and novices wrapped in maroon robes, nuns in pink ones. And many young people in the country will spend some time in Buddhist monasteries and nunneries.
If you wander into any monastery in Burma, there’s a good chance you’ll hear Buddhist chanting coming out of an open window.
Reading Pali Buddhist texts (Bruce Wallace)
The scene at Maggin Monastery in Rangoon (Yangon) is replicated around the country:
Young novices [samaneras, shramaneras or wandering-shamans, training to become monks] sit on the floor, cross-legged on mats, leaning over open books, their fingers following the lines as they recite.
The lack of unison isn’t an accident. Everyone’s reciting different passages from the collection of texts [patimokkha, sutras, parittas, Vinaya, Abhidharma] that make up the canon for Theravada Buddhism -- the predominant type practiced in Southeast Asia and Sri Lanka. They’re all at different stages in their lesson. Reciting out loud tests their ability to focus on their particular text. More
  • Bruce WallaceBruce Wallace is a Brooklyn-based journalist and multimedia producer who reports regularly for The World, This American Life, the New York Times Magazine, and the Washington Post.

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