Myanmar and the Rohingyas

On yesterday’s edition of BBC radio 4’s program Today Vishvapani (a member of the Triratna Buddhist group) offered his thoughts on the situation in Myanmar and the plight of the Rohingyas……….

“When I hear about the horrific repression that’s being inflicted on the Muslim Rohingyas, I share many of the outraged feelings that others are expressing. But I feel something extra as well: shame that these things are being done by my fellow Buddhists for the sake of a Buddhist state and with the support of many Buddhist monks.

How did we get here? I don’t want to over-simplify the situation in Rohingya, or generalise the responses of all Burmese Buddhists; but the question remains. The Buddha said that ‘hatred is never overcome by hatred, but only by love’; so how has the faith he founded become associated with such brutality?”

Listen to the full talk here…………….

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170 Buddhist Temples Damaged in Eathquake

Not only was Italy struck by an earthquake on Wednesday but central Myanmar was also shaken by a powerful quake which killed at least three people two of whom were children, and damaged scores of centuries-old Buddhist pagodas around the ancient capital of Bagan.

The 6.8 magnitude quake shook buildings across the country, with tremors felt as far away as Thailand, where witnesses reported high rise towers swaying in Bangkok, and also in Bangladesh and eastern India.

The earthquake caused landslides along riverbanks and damaged more than 170 Buddhist temples in Bagan. The area is at the heart of Central Myanmar’s growing tourism industry, which has taken off since the country began its democratic transition in 2011.

Which Country is the Most Generous?

So here’s an interesting one, which country is the most generous? Well if you’re going to just measure the amount of money given it’s fairly obvious that the richer, bigger and more populous a country is the more it can potentially give so the good people at the Charities Aid Foundation produced the World Giving Index (WGI) by asking people which of the following three charitable acts they had undertaken in the past month:

Helped a stranger, or someone they didn’t know who needed help?
Donated money to a charity?
Volunteered their time to an organisation?

So who was it? Well the UK came 6th and the USA came second……….. but the winner was Myanmar!

Despite political turmoil and its position as a developing country, Myanmar remains at No. 1 (it was joint first with the U.S. last year). It comes top for both donating money (92% gave some cash) and volunteering (half of the population give their time). Indeed, almost as many Myanmarese volunteered as Brazilians, despite being a quarter of the size in terms of population.

This is the first time a country has come first for two out of the three aspects of giving since 2010. Myanmar’s commitment to Theravada Buddhism is most likely to be the driving force behind these high levels – around 89% of Myanmarese follow the religion and give little but often – and there are more monks here than in any other Buddhist country.