Life is an endless source of unexpected changes. Even good things can entail risks, and bad luck is never the end of hope. Everyone longs for peace. In the first days of the New Year, we seek out tranquil places, hoping to find good luck and achieve peace of mind and freedom from worries. Myanmar is the peaceful land I always yearn for in the spring. It is a realm of life’s simple pleasures and profound philosophies.
A slow pace of life
When visiting Myanmar, whether you are in Yangon or Bagan, you will find yourself surrounded by silence, far away from the noisy vehicles and shimmering street lights that dominate so many big cities around the world. Here, dawn is broken by the cawing of crows. When you travel around huge markets full of merchants in Yangon you will be surprised by how quietly people talk. They speak in such a gentle manner while maintaining their friendly attitude. When receiving payment or returning change, Myanmar people often bow slightly, using both hands or occasionally one hand held up by the other in a polite gesture. In these markets, you may come across monks and nuns seeking alms. The traders always treat them with sincerity and donate as much as they can, whether food or money, never considering this to be a nuisance.
Myanmar’s national religion is Buddhism, with more than 90% of the population following this faith. This might help explain why the locals seem so carefree. They share the common belief that “in giving, we receive”. Myanmar people’s perception of wealth and material life is also unique. Most of them make ends meet. Having excess wealth is not their goal. They earn just enough to cover their living expenses and save some for religious purposes, such as building new pagodas or spending on gold to cover Buddha statues. This place lauds good deeds and seems free of burdens. Developed by a vast population of honest individuals, society in Myanmar maintains a high level of good will. There is little crime. The pace of life has always been leisurely, much to the surprise of visitors.
Entering the Land of Buddha
Originally dubbed the “Land of Buddha”, Myanmar has thousands of pagodas scattered throughout the country. On their journey to find serene moments and pray for peace for themselves and their families, visitors should not miss the chance to make a pilgrimage to this country’s sacred pagodas. Many pagodas in Myanmar are associated with Buddhist legends, such as Shwedagon Pagoda, Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda, or Mahamuni BuddhaTemple in the ancient capital of Mandalay.
Shwedagon Pagoda is located in Yangon. In Burmese, its name means “golden tower”. The entire stupa is covered with tons of gold donated by the royals and people of Myanmar. This tall golden stupa is set with nearly 80,000 diamonds, sapphires, pearls, etc. It is the most famous pagoda in Myanmar. Myanmar people hope to visit this pagoda at least once in their lifetime, as it is considered a “holy land” of Buddhism. The sacredness of Shwedagon Pagoda does not come from its valuable gemstones. This pagoda is the birthplace of Buddhism in Myanmar and holds eight strands of Gautama Buddha’s hair. This relic is honored as a national treasure of Myanmar.
Located over 200km from Yangon, Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda is a masterpiece thanks to nature and Buddhist mysteries. Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda is located on an egg-shaped boulder that sits precariously on the edge of a 1,000-meters-high cliff. Myanmar people believe this pagoda has survived its dangerous position for over 2,000 years because it contains strands of Buddha’s hair.
Mandalay is a peaceful, dreamy old capital, home to many sacred temples, including Mahamuni Buddha Temple, the most important pilgrimage site in Myanmar. The Burmese believe Mahamuni Buddha Temple holds a statue that best represents the face of Gautama Buddha as he looked when he walked among us. Every day, Buddhists from all walks of life come here to pay sincere homage and gild the precious statue with gold leaf. Paying tribute to the Buddha and admiring the temple, visitors will surely enjoy their peaceful experiences in the Land of Buddha.
Traveling to this sacred Buddhist land and paying homage at ancient temples, you will see masterpieces of temple architecture and have the chance to contemplate the Buddha’s Dharma and Buddhist teachings since they are vividly manifested here in daily life.