From the mainstream irrational believings that enlighten the people in this our world I always regarded Buddhism as the least harmful one, even liking its philosophical part. Somehow this trip is reassuring my thoughts on the matter.
I grew terrified by the image of a skinny bearded Jew (“perroflauta” look) bleeding in a cross and the fear of burning forever in hell for touching myself. I stopped paying attention to all that nonsense at an early age but probably the damage is in my subconscious.
When paying a visit to any Buddhist temple you will be greeted by the comforting image of a relaxed well-fed Buddha, meditating or just standing, always serene and often smiley. Sometimes you will even find the Buddha reclining, as if he was having some crisps and a beer when enjoying a movie on his laptop. I think the Buddha would have made a fine fellow.
OK, I have to admit that the other major sects come as well with some cool stuff: converting water into wine, a heaven with plenty of chicks + growing big beards, doing nothing on Saturdays or an elephant-headed God.
True as well quite often monks didn’t live up to my expectations. The first monk I met in Yangon was reading a book about how to make money (he told me for improving his English), still wtf? It is not unusual finding them with iPhones and similar devices. Sometimes I could see TVs or computers at monasteries of poor villages, and, more than once, they were eager to talk football.
They get free food and don’t do much work, even less than secular do. I would expect them to do more meditation and have a humble existence less attached to material life.
Said that I found them always friendly, helpful and very chatty. Even a few times I got free food and bed from Burmese monasteries.
With all their faults I am finding Buddhists honest, laid back, always with a friendly smile and usually happy. I can’t think about them going to war for their imaginary friends as others do. Nevertheless their good nature and passive character may favor tyrannical governments and people taking advantage of them.