Sunday, September 16, 2012

Beautiful Inlay Lake and Egoic Religion- (Myanmar)

Welcome to Inlay Lake
“Can I swim in the lake?”
He laughs. “No.”
I’m surprised. “Why not?”
“Because on the surrounding hillsides they started using lots of chemical fertilizer for the crops a couple years ago. It all washes into the lake.”
“And poisons one of the great natural resources of the Myanmar people.”

rice paddies by Inlay

on the banks of Inlay Lake

6:00 AM: 
We board our long boat, and start winding our way through the canals, wooden ramshackle houses and temples dotting the banks. We stop at an early AM local market, where produce, meats (fish and chicken), are sold to the Lake Dwellers. One enterprising man targets us, attempting to sell us what appear to be old Buddhist scrolls.  While likely made to look aged by a not so distant Chinese factory, I must admit, they are quite eye catching.
We hit the open lake, and observe fishermen pounding the water with long sticks of bamboo.  Boats pass us ferrying produce across the lake.  I relax back in my seat, the early morning sun warming me as I look around at the green mountains engulfing us. 
Our tour guide now takes us from one lakefront store to another.  I’m frustrated I don’t have the money to purchase anything, as is the case of the Portuguese man and his wife taking the journey with me.  We ask our boat driver to cease stopping at any more commercial enterprises, leaving only a large Buddhist pagoda on our list to site see. 
bathing with water buffalo, by Inlay Lake

Religions Perverted
As I compare the tremendous amount of work, effort, and artistry that has gone into creating all of the temples I have seen, I consider the ludicrous percentage of income that people historically have spent supporting religious institutions and wonder just how big a return on investment has been derived. At its best, religion is a uniting force for good, and sets a positive code of moral conduct that people follow because they inherently see the value of doing so. At its worst, the teaching of the great prophets is perversely twisted by egoic men wearing robes for their own glory. You need only look at Al Qaeda’s “holy war” against innocent men and women. “The Innocence of Muslims,” has been used as an excuse worldwide for murder. Would Mohammed not be far more offended by the killing of innocent people in his name than some insensitive film?
And the radical Israeli settlers trying rob the land the Palestinians have been living on for centuries due to some “biblical right?”
Of all the world’s religions, I think Buddhism has the best track record. One need only look at the average citizen of Myanmar, most of whom are blissfully sweet, and honest, despite having nothing. However, even Buddha’s teachings have been perverted, as women are “prohibited” from the altar. Ahhhh, the egoic human mind. The beauty of the internet- less separation. We see how interconnected and alike we all really are.
the sign read "ladies are prohibited"

As we return to port, many others are starting their journey, and I’m grateful to have left so early in the morning. It’s very hot. I briefly consider going for swim. After all, who couldn't use some chemical fertilizer to make their skin shine.
check out some visuals from Inlay Lake in this video

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