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Myanmar (Burma) is home to one of the most peaceful spiritual traditions in the world: Theravada Buddhism. In the Theravada tradition, which is followed by 90% of Burmese people, peace and freedom are not pursued externally. Instead the Theravada Buddhists find freedom within themselves. Originating from the Buddhas 2500 year-old teachings, the path to inner liberation is propagated by the Sangha: the community of ordained monks and nuns. Over 5% of Burmese people are members of the Sangha. In order to materially survive, the Sangha relies on Sangha Dana: the offerings given by lay devotees. It is by the merit of Sangha Dana that the order of monks and nuns can continue to recompense the generosity with Dhamma Dana: the sacred gift of the Buddhas teachings.
Filmed entirely in Myanmar, « Dhamma Dana » delves deep into the Golden Lands monastic tradition and reveals how the Burmese Buddhists find inner freedom. The film presents the Dhamma with a serene rhythm; documenting a powerfully peaceful ancient tradition that few experience first hand.
Dr Molini, a Burmese nun and avid social worker, provides the experience and guiding light to tell the story of how the Burmese preserve and propagate their unique tradition. In « Dhamma Dana », she illuminates the heartwarming effort of a people who transcend the influence of modern times in order to uphold the ancient tradition of Theravada Buddhism.
Filmmaker Theodore Martland had to meet with the Burmese Ambassadors second secretary in India, Khin Aye Kyi Than, file his itinerary with the Burmese military government, and apply to the Burmese Ministry of Religious Affairs for official documents that would allow him to enter the country and film. It is rare for westerners, Americans especially, to be able to travel to Myanmar. The US only started to re-allow travel to the country a few of months before he went. With only a 26-day visa he continuously filmed as much of the Golden Lands Buddhist culture as he could. Living in monasteries and meditation centers; traveling by pick-up truck, open-air trains, and on the roofs of buses; the longest he stayed in one place was 3 days.
© 2009 Theodore Martland