Shan adopted Buddhism since AD 71. Later Shan have adopted Theravada Buddhism from Burmans. Theravada is one of the eighteen Nikaya schools that formed early in the history of Buddhism. These developed in India during the century subsequent to the death of the Buddha. Almost all Shan are Buddhists. That is why they use to say, “Shan are Buddhist.” They believe that right thinking, ritual sacrifices, and self-denial will enable the soul to reach nibanna (a state of eternal bliss). They also teach reincarnation and each person’s future well being is determined by his behavior (deeds) in previous life. Fate of a person depends on merit (karmaumrfb) he’s gained in the past life. All intentional actions, good or bad, will lead to future result. Thinking of doing bad thing is also bad karma. Good action is referred as Kusala (ulUol0fb). Bad action is Akusala (nMUulUol0fb). It brings fortune by giving alms to monks and listening to sermons from monks. People usually give in hope of getting return. Large gift is more auspicious than small gift. If a person has nothing to give he can act auspiciously by simply rejoicing at other person’s giving by expressing Sadhu(oMxlU) (meaning it is good). Past Karma also offers perhaps the only religiously satisfactory explanation of the suffering of the people who have done nothing to deserve it in this life. Whatever happen people always point to Karma. In Mahayana tradition "tradition" , merit is often transferred to all sentient beings. The basic Buddhist teachings are “Four Noble Truth” and “Holy Eight Fold Paths.”
Suffering, Origin of suffering, Nibanna, Holy Eight Fold Paths
Right view or right understanding, Right thought, Right speech, Right action,
Right livelihood, Right effort, Right mindfulness, Right concentration
The Belief in Creation
Shan believe that this present world is incalculably old. Hundreds of thousands of years before our world was created there were other worlds existed. After many years each world was destroyed and formed again. This world in which we now live will also be destroyed by fire and will again be renewed. There are different versions of the creation. When our present world first came into existence it was covered with water. At first the water was shallow but in time it grew deeper becoming a great deep sea, which rose higher and higher until it almost reached the heavens. The breath of the gods made the first men and women live. When the breath of the gods is taken from us we die. In all, counting insects, reptiles, birds and beasts there are 100,000,000 creatures.
Even though Shan declare that they are Buddhists, they also believe in many kind of spirits. Some spirits are believed to be benevolent, good and helpful but others are considered as wicked, evil and harmful. When a person is being accused of possessing evil spirit, he must be exorcised by witchdoctor by beating and sometimes a man died of beating. Evil spirit possessed are driven out from village and excommunicated from society. People look down on the family members and relatives of the one being accused of possessing evil spirit. They consider them as defiled and outcasts. Sometime spiritual witchdoctors are invited to exorcise the spirit by paying large sum of money and offering. When witchdoctor failed to exorcise the spirit they use to come to Christian pastor for help.