Thursday, 23 July 2015

Shan Buddhism

The Mahasi nunnery in Kalaw

While Burmese Buddhism seems to be lesser known throughout the world vis-à-vis other form of Buddhist practices, within the country, similarly, ethnic forms of Buddhist practice are lesser known than the Bamar kind. As Shan Buddhist scholar Khur-Yearn maintains, Shan Buddhist practice has “remained a mystery to scholars even of Theravada.” It is perhaps paradoxical that such a devout Buddhist people would stay off the radar even as many Western yogis of the past generation have turned an eye Eastward. The devoutness of the Shans are well known and acknowledged by the Bamar, where there is an old saying that goes: “If a Shan has got an anna, he will donate a penny.” As a penny is worth more than an anna, it reflects the deep wellspring of dāna famous amongst Shan Buddhists.
Shan Buddhism has unique cultural, linguistic and architectural components that distinguish it in some ways from Buddhism found in other parts of Myanmar. Shwe Lan Ga Lay's upcoming Shan State chapter describes these features in more detail, so that the foreign yogi can better appreciate the unique Buddhist practice to be found in the region.

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