US senators will be treated to a taste of dharma Thursday morning, as the Dalai Lama will offer the opening prayer for the day’s session. It’s the first time he has been invited to do so, the Washington Post reports. Though the Dalai Lama abdicated his political role in the Tibetan government-in-exile in 2011, he still meets regularly with political leaders worldwide in his capacity as an international religious figure and Nobel Peace Prize laureate. As part of his current US tour, he held such a meeting with President Obama on February 21.
In a new effort to stem the wave of self-immolation protests by Tibetans living under Chinese rule, the Chinese government has introduced measures to inflict collective punishment on those associated with the protesters, according to recent reports by Radio Free Asia and the Tibet Post. A Chinese government document obtained by RFA stipulates that
“families of self-immolators are deprived of government assistance, including use of land and cash subsidies, for a three-year period and have to return all monetary assistance they have received from the authorities three years prior to the burning protests. Read More »
After waiting 17 years, the Nan Hai Pu Tuo Temple, in Sellicks Hill, South Australia, has finally gotten the official go-ahead to erect an 18-meter (59-foot) standing Buddha statue and a even taller pagoda, set to tower over the coastal landscape at a height of 35 meters (115 feet). The statue and pagoda will be constructed as part of an overall project to develop a 55-hectare site into a Buddhist retreat, as well as a tourist attraction. The statue was originally to be cast in bronze, but because of concerns about the caustic effect of the sea air, it will now be fashioned from granite in China, and shipped in pieces to Australia. Temple organizers expect the statue to be completely assembled by February 2015.
Arianna Huffington today launched the latest of her locale-specific news and commentary portals, Huffington Post Korea, in a joint appearance (she called it a moderated “talk concert”) with one of South Korea’s most well-known Buddhist monks, Ven. Pomnyun.
“Pomnyun,” said an article by Huffington’s Korean media partner, the Hankyoreh, “is considered one of the leading intellects in South Korea today, preaching on how to harmonize cultivation with social engagement as chairman of the JungTo Society and the Peace Foundation. In 2002, he received the Ramon Magsaysay Award, which has been called the ‘Asian Nobel Peace Prize.’ He has also had a major impact at home, with most of his books — including “The Monk’s Wedding Message,” “Class for Mothers,” and “Class for Life” — making the bestseller lists.”
Ven. Pomnyun was the subject of a New York Times profile in 2012, highlighting his efforts to establish one of South Korea’s first relief organizations, Good Friends, for North Koreans fleeing that country’s deprivations, and his ongoing activism on the North Korean people’s behalf.
An organization called the Karmapa Youth Community recently posted an extensive interview they conducted with the Karmapa, beginning with the question, “What do you think would be the most beneficial teaching for young Western practitioners?” See the whole videotaped interview, and learn more about the KYC, at their website here.
During last month’s annual prayer ceremony of the Karma Kagyu tradition in Bodh Gaya, India, the Karmapa also initiated an “Animal Medical Camp.” According to the post-camp report, volunteer veterinarians and their helpers treated 830 animals “from an injured beetle to a sick elephant.” There was also an educational component, with efforts put toward reducing rabies infections, dispelling local superstitions that lead to animals’ suffering, and discouraging the capture and caging of wild birds. Read the full report here.
Master calligrapher Tashi Mannox, whose usual residence is in the United Kingdom, will be making a rare visit to the United States in April to conduct an introductory workshop in the art of Tibetan script and to lecture at the Rubin Museum.
From April 4 to 6, Mannox will be in residence at the Dzogchen community’s Shang Shung Insitute, in Conway, MA, to guide students in the elegant rendering of Tibet’s Uchen script. Mannox says the workshop will be useful for beginners, as well as those with some facility in Tibetan writing, in refining proportion and form:
“The course starts with a short historic explanation of the Tibetan written language and its spiritual and sacred significance…I normally finish the course with teaching the correct way to write the Mani mantra and other key syllables essential for visualization practices. People love this and go home with their own created art.”
Prior to this workshop, Mannox is scheduled to give an interactive presentation on “The Painted Mantra” on April 2 at the Rubin Museum in New York City, to coincide with its Bodies in Balance exhibition on Tibetan medicine. Mannox will demonstrate how to render the Medicine Buddha mantra and encourage audience members to participate.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama met for nearly an hour Friday morning with US President Barack Obama, the carefully worded announcement of which came only late Thursday evening. President Obama received the Dalai Lama in the White House map room in the latter’s “capacity as an internationally respected religious and cultural leader,” according to the announcement.
Reporters were barred from the meeting, but a White House “readout” of the proceedings said in part that President Obama “reiterated his strong support for the preservation of Tibet’s unique religious, cultural, and linguistic traditions and the protection of human rights for Tibetans in the People’s Republic of China [and] commended the Dalai Lama’s commitment to peace and nonviolence and expressed support for the Dalai Lama’s ‘Middle Way’ approach.” Read More »
Over the weekend, the New York Times published an item concerning a crowning achievement in the work of the late E. Gene Smith to preserve the vast body of Tibetan Buddhist literature under threat after the political upheavals of the 20th century: the opening of the document preservation department within the new library in Chengdu, China, that houses Smith’s archive of more than 12,000 volumes. The institution itself, created to resemble a traditional Tibetan monastic library, opened in 2011 at the Southwestern University for the Nationalities and, remarkably for the location, was named after Smith. Read More »
As HH the Dalai Lama begins a short US tour this week, his office has announced free live webcasts from February 20 to 24 for many of his public talks and roundtable panels. The dominant theme for these appearances is the intersection of business and ethics, but there will also be discussion of “Unlocking the Mind and Human Happiness” and “How to Achieve Happiness.”
Full details and links to the feeds may be found here.
The Northwest Dharma Association wants you in touch with your inner creative this spring. Gatherings they will host in Portland and Seattle, on March 1 and 8, respectively, will focus on “The Arts as Buddhist Practice.” Presentations, performances, and hands-on workshops will be drawn from the aesthetic worlds of ikebana (Japanese flower arranging), Nepalese sacred dance and music, calligraphy, Tibetan thangka painting, and the Japanese tea ceremony, as well as original music, painting, poetry, and other art forms.
“The intention for this event is to provide Buddhists and the general public an interesting, fun, and spiritual gathering,” said Tim Tapping, president of NWDA, “so that we experience Mahasangha (greater community) and relate to each other during meaningful activities in a relaxed, open atmosphere throughout the day.”
Details about both events may be found here.
From April 15 to 20, Buenos Aires, Argentina, will be the site for the First Latin American Zen Conference. “Zen: Bridge of Cultures” will feature speakers, breakout workshops, group meditation and chanting, temple and museum tours, interactive arts (poetry, music, calligraphy, etc.), martial arts demonstrations, and more. Visit Zen America del Sur (Spanish only) for further information.
Of related interest: Public Radio International’s recent piece from Peru, “Lima’s Stressed-Out Are Turning to Zen Buddhism.”
On Tuesday, Public Radio International’s The World program profiled Beijing-based Tibetan writer and activist Tsering Woeser as “the voice of Tibet for China and the world.” The headline echoes the title of her recent book, Voices of Tibet, which examines the lives of the more than 120 Tibetans, including many Buddhist monks and nuns, who have protested Chinese occupation of their homeland through the extreme act of self-immolation (the first such protest of 2014 occurred just a week ago, and a second was reported on Thursday). Asked if she was managing to cut through the party line of Chinese propaganda about Tibet, Woeser replied, “You just have to keep repeating the truth and eventually, people will start to listen. Besides, what else is there to do?”
Exquisite gilt copper reliefs that adorned the special stupas at Densatil Monastery in central Tibet — nearly lost forever during the wholesale destruction of the Chinese Cultural Revolution — will feature in a major exhibit at the Asia Society in New York City, opening February 19. According to press material, “the exhibition examines the unique design of tashi gomang stupas as huge, three-dimensional mandalas, each comprising a square base supporting six tiers with a stupa at the top…Viewers move through the exhibition as one would have moved around the stupa, with the iconography of each tier detailing the path of the spiritual journey towards enlightenment taken by a Buddhist adherent.” The effect will be enhanced by photographs taken of the original stupas during Italian scholar Giuseppi Tucci’s 1948 Tibet expedition.
As part of opening the Golden Visions of Densatil exhibit, a group of Tibetan monk artisans will create a sand mandala onsite from February 19 to 23. The public may watch the mandala construction, as well as view the finished work before its ritual dismantling at the exhibit’s close on May 18.