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RELIGION

Buddhism plays a central role in the people’s daily life in Myanmar. A large majority of the population is of Buddhist faith. They live by its principles of gentleness, contentment and helpfulness. There are two major churches in Buddhism: Mahayana and Theravada.

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The latter form dominates in Myanmar and meditation is central to its followers, it led through a succession of stages to the final goal of spiritual freedom, also called nirvana. Meditation combines, in its highest stages, the discipline of progressively increased introversion with the insight brought about by wisdom. Buddhist faith embraces the concept of life after death and recognizes 31 forms of beings, six floors of heaven, and seven floors of hell.

The other form of spirituality often seen in Myanmar is the ancient traditional beliefs about the 37 Nats (spirits), who are viewed as supernaturally powerful beings, situated between the gods and the spiritual beings. The number of the Nats was set in the 12th century in order to contain a cult that Buddhism had failed to eliminate. And, Myanmar remains superstitious in many ways. Its people carry out the traditions and cultural heritage of the older generations. They believe that the Nats can bring luck and prosperity to the worshipers and can also bring danger to those who do not respect them.

The official religious faith in Myanmar is Buddhist 89%, Christian 4% (Baptist 3%, Roman Catholic 1%), Islam 4%, Animist 1% and other 2%.

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