Yesterday I showed you photos of young monks, novices, and nuns. I am pretty sure that, in Myanmar, Buddhism IS the welfare system. I’m also pretty sure the youngsters that shave their heads not only dream of attaining enlightenment, but joining a monastery provides them with structure, a sense of purpose, a roof over their heads, a bed (more like a woven mat), regular meals, and maybe a sense of belonging. Myanmar lacks the social structure to take care of its poor any other way. The government is run by thugs and there are very few police, and those are mostly traffic cops. Religion keeps the masses in check.
The people have little to spare but they shower their Buddhas with gold. Below is a prime example: Shwedagon Pagoda, 2,500 years old and several TONS of solid gold, with over a hundred solid gold pagodas and Buddha figures. I included a link if you want to dig deeper. This incredible pagoda dominates the landscape of Yangon (Rangoon) and it completely BLEW my mind. Just keep in mind that anything in the pictures that LOOKS like gold IS real gold.
The central stupa, which I haven’t shown you yet, is surrounded by hundreds of smaller pagodas.