The heart of the Buddhist community is the Sangha, the monks and nuns that adhere to the rules of the Vinaya. These rules are very strict and have strict rules that monks cannot touch or control money. In order to support the finances of the Sangha community, lay followers volunteer to handle these affairs so that monks can attend to the very demanding lifestyle of the robed life of a renunciate. Traditionally however, the needs of the wider Buddhist community of lay practitioners and those raised in Buddhist households is less often talked about in the Buddhist community.
In Myanmar, Venerable Wira Thu saw a need for the practical needs of the Buddhist community, the business and economic, needed greater attention. Certain companies in Myanmar were refusing to offer services to Buddhist monks on account of their faith and this was causing a great deal of problems for the Sangha, such as celebrating Buddhist holidays or traveling in buses and taxis. Wira Thu noticed that certain Buddhist business owners were not able to get the business they need due to the lax attitude of Buddhists who did not know or see the need to support businesses owned by Buddhists.
So with this in mind he created a very simple plan to help Buddhist businesses. By displaying a sticker or poster, a business and home could indicate that it was owned by a Buddhist and that they supported the 969 values of Buddhism. For the first time Buddhists in Myanmar were able to recognize who their money was supporting. By spending money at Buddhist shops it had the effect that more resources would be made available to Buddhist households and by extension Buddhist lay followers, and therefore towards the greater well being of the Sangha.
This has become very popular in Myanmar, with whole districts proudly displaying the 969 stickers of the movement. By identifying themselves as being in alignment with the Four Noble Truths and Noble Eightfold Path, the people of Myanmar are supporting each other in new ways that has benefits throughout all of society.
As Buddhist owned businesses prosper, more households will come to learn about the teachings of the Buddha and the Dhamma and ultimately we think this will lead to an increase in the Sangha and the immeasurable benefit this has towards world peace.
If you want to show your own support for the 969 Movement we will be adding offerings to an online store and all proceeds will be used to benefit the Masoeyein Monastery in Mandalay.