“Why We Live” Reaches Myanmar

Dr. Umehara delivered a lecture to 200 young people.

Buddhist teachings have spread not only in Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines, but also in Myanmar. Activities to convey Buddhism in Southeast Asia are expanding at an even more accelerated rate. Dr. Koji Umehara (Specialists Chapter) visited the center of Myanmar, Yangon, late in March. While engaged in voluntary medical activities, he held a showing of the first animated movie on Master Shinran and a lecture in a Japanese language school. More than 200 young people gathered and listened seriously to Amida Buddha’s Vow, which is the supreme Dharma of Mahayana Buddhism

In Myanmar, where 90 percent of the population believes in Theravada Buddhism, Shinran Follower Dr. Koji Umehara clarified the essence of Mahayana Buddhism: Master Shinran’s teachings. Dr. Umehara planned a Buddhist seminar through the cooperation of Wain Arai, a Myanmar Shinran Follower, and other friends in the region he met on the Internet. His friend, who is a Japanese language teacher, took on the role of interpreter and offered a room in a small Japanese language school in Yangon. He bought a projector and a speaker in haste and set up a place for listening to Buddhism.

On March 26, his friends and acquaintances gathered to listen to the lecture and soon the room became full of people. Before showing the movie, Dr .Umehara said, “Buddha taught the real existence of the great ship that takes aboard all people who are gasping for breath in life’s sea of suffering and carries them across to the Pure Land without fail. Sakyamuni Buddha’s true intention was to teach Mahayana Buddhism, which saves all humanity.”

Having learned that Master Shinran clearly taught about the great ship in Japan, when the animated movie started, attendees stared intently at the screen. A friend of his who had come along said excitedly, “I had never heard of a great ship that can take anyone aboard. I didn’t know this is what Buddhism teaches.” He then continued, “This teaching deserves to be heard by a larger audience. Please give a lecture in the biggest Japanese language school in Myanmar tomorrow. I will cancel classes.” A second lecture was thus scheduled on the spot.

The next day, when Dr. Umehara went to an outdoor classroom with only a roof and pillars, he found that the lecture, planned to be held in one class, had turned to a big event for the whole school. There were more than 200 attendees, including teachers, the principal, and the chief director. “During the lecture, when I asked something, they answered one after another. They were active and friendly like people from Japan’s Kansai area.”

The attendees’ comments in the questionnaires that they filled out after the lecture were full of astonishment and marvel: “Since there is a great ship that takes all people on board and saves them, I mustn’t let hardships defeat me. I have been given energy by Master Shinran to live my life.” “I thought that Buddhism, whose object of salvation is all humanity, is the source of peace.”

To be the best partners

Dr. Umehara, a specialist in plastic and reconstructive surgery, said, “I heard that there are many people suffering from after effects of burns in Southeastern Asia and this made me want to come and perform surgery here on a volunteer basis. That was the beginning of my bond with Myanmar. People in Myanmar are fond of Japan and now more and more people are learning Japanese. I think, as true Buddhism is conveyed, they can be our best partners. I want to visit Myanmar more and provide people here with medical treatment and Buddhist teachings.”

After coming back to Japan, he sent 223 copies of Takamori- sensei’s books to the Japanese language school via airmail. He is planning to visit there again in fall.

Info about Myanmar Formerly known as Burma. Population: about 50 million people Capital: Naypyidaw

Source: The Buddhist Village Times #65 | 2016, “Why We Live” Reaches Myanmar

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The Buddhist Village Times #65


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