54th Tibetan Democracy Day

Schoolchildren perform in Dharamsala on the 54th Tibetan Democracy Day.

Schoolchildren perform in Dharamsala on the 54th Tibetan Democracy Day

Yesterday, September 2, marked the 54th Tibetan Democracy Day, celebrated by Tibetans in exile worldwide.

Tibetan political leaders in Dharamsala issued statements affirming their resolve to bring freedom and dignity to Tibetans in Tibet and their support for the Dalai Lama’s Middle Way Approach in dealing with China.

Mr. Penpa Tsering, speaker of the Tibetan Parliament in Exile, delivered a speech in which he said the following of China:

“The government of China does not look upon Tibetans as a people endowed with dignity rightfully due to a human being. All its actions, wherever profitable, are geared towards benefiting and ensuring the well being of the communist Chinese government. In doing so, it ignores and tramples on every provision of the international bill of human rights. …[W]e take this opportunity to call on the government of China to reform in a positive direction its extremely leftist way of thinking on the issue and, like the societies of the progressive and morally upright countries of today, urgently and spontaneously lead Tibet too to a new path of becoming an exemplary society of peace in coexistence with China, rooted in a foundation of harmony and stability.”

The full text of the speech, which also clearly outlines the history of democracy in Tibet, can be found here.

Nalanda University reopening after 800 years

12817090It appears that Nalanda University, the academic and symbolic center of Buddhist scholarship founded in the 5th century AD, is opening its doors again for the first time since its destruction 800 years ago.

According to Vice-Chancellor Gopa Sabarwal, only fifteen students have been selected for the first term, out of more than a thousand applicants. More students are expected to enroll this month.

The new campus, in the state of Bihar, is located about nine miles from the site of the original university.

Click here for more on this story.



Geshe Sopa Rinpoche (1923-2014)

g-sopa-copy-2We have received word that Geshe Sopa Rinpoche has recently passed away. Born in Central Tibet, he became a monk a the age of 9. His teaching career began early; he was chosen to be one of the Dalai Lama’s debate examiners even before he had completed his own formal studies. That aptitude led him to eventually serve as a professor of Buddhist Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where from 1976 he taught Tibetan language, Buddhist philosophy, and specialized courses in Indo-Tibetan Buddhist thought.

In 1979 Geshe Sopa founded the Deer Park Buddhist Center and served as its spiritual head and director. The center later became host to the first ever Kalachakra initiation to be offered in the West by the Dalai Lama.

Geshe Sopa influenced many of today’s Buddhist scholars. Roger Jackson, a professor of Asian Studies and Religion at Carleton College in Minnesota, studied under Geshe Sopa both at university and at Deer Park. Jackson wrote in Mandala (2013) of his experiences as a student; read an excerpt after the jump.

Read More »

Trial under way for murder of Akong Rinpoche

20130902145445-Akong_Rinpoche_IITrial proceedings began yesterday in the Chinese city of Chengdu for he stabbing deaths of three men last October, among them Akong Tulku Rinpoche, a well-known teacher and the founder of the West’s first Tibetan Buddhist center in Scotland.

It appears from preliminary investigations that the murders may have stemmed from a monetary dispute. One of the accused, Tudeng Gusha, had spent five years sculpting Buddhist statues at Samye Ling in Scotland, but there is disagreement over whether he had been promised payment or was working as a volunteer.

Whatever is determined by the courts, Akong Rinpoche’s brother, now the abbot of Samye Ling, and the Karmapa have stated that it is not their wish for the death penalty to be imposed on those convicted of the murders.

For more on this story, click here.


Ecosattva training starting in October

Boddhisattvas-flickr-Anna-TEvery Sunday from October 5 to November 2, from 12:30 to 2 p.m. EST, the Buddhist Teacher Collaborative and One Earth Sangha will host conversations with leading dharma teachers in the name of “ecosattva” training. Participating teachers speaking on “Dharma and Climate Action” will include Bhikkhu Bodhi, Jack Kornfield, Tara Brach, Ruth King, David Loy, Bonnie Duran, James Baraz, Chas DiCapua, Susie Harrington, Vinny Ferraro, Catherine McGee, Chris Cullen, Anandabodhi, Santacitta, Santussika Bhikkhunis, and others. The series follows the People’s Climate March, September 20-21.

There are also plans for a three-month online interactive training program beginning on Earth Day 2015 (April 22).

For more details, click here.


North American premiere of “Embrace”

As part of the Lens on Tibet film series, the new film Embrace (directed by Dan Smyer Yu and Pema Tashi) will have have its premier this Thursday, after a screening of Tantric Yogi.  Following the narratives of a father and son, Embrace documents the complex interconnection of human communities, gods, buddhadharma, and natural landscape while shining light on the ngakpa tradition and the challenges it faces in a modern world. Read More »

Tibetan monks join protestors in Ferguson

A group of exiled Tibetan monks made the journey from India and stood alongside protestors in Ferguson, Missouri, this week. The monks stood on the street with their hands up in surrender, a gesture that, along with signs and t-shirts reading “Don’t shoot,” has come to represent the protests and the frustration felt over the shooting of Michael Brown.

Some on the ground in Ferguson indicate that the response to the monks’ presence was overwhelmingly positive, with people lining up to hug them and take their pictures. For  photos and footage of the scene, click here.

Muslim organization offers meals and robes to Buddhist monks

A member of the Muslim Social Welfare Group makes an offering to Buddhist monks at Ma Soe Yein Monastery on Sunday. (Photo: Teza Hlaing / The Irrawaddy)

Muslim Social Welfare Group member with Buddhist monks at Ma Soe Yein Monastery

Earlier this month, the Muslim Social Welfare Group of Mandalay made a powerful gesture of peace by offering robes and meals to about fifty monks at Ma Soe Yein Monastery.

The offerings mark the celebration of Eid, an Islamic festival that follows Ramadan. It coincides with Wa Dwin, the rainy season retreat, during which it is customary to present gifts to monks in training. For more about this story, click here.

Burma has been rocked in recent months by tension and violence between the Muslim and Buddhist communities. Visit Buddhadharma for Alan Senauke’s perspective on the ongoing conflict; Jack Kornfield’s analysis appears in the latest issue of Shambhala Sun. Read More »

Buddhist Global Relief Walk to Feed the Hungry 2014

nycWalkAcrossStreetBuddhist Global Relief has released the 2014 dates of its Walk to Feed the Hungry, which will take place in ten different cities across the US.

BGR began with one Walk to Feed the Hungry in 2010 to raise funds for such projects as providing tools and training to farmers, supporting education of girls in poverty, and sustaining urban food programs in the inner cities of Detroit and New York, among others.

The 2014 dates are as follows:

Ann Arbor, MI:  Sat. Sept. 27
Escondido, CA:  Thur. Oct. 23
Houston, TX:  Sat. Nov. 22
Los Angeles, CA:  Sun. Oct. 26
New York, NY:   Sat. Nov. 1
San Francisco, CA:  Sat. Oct. 4
San Jose, CA:  Sun. Oct. 19
Seattle, WA:  Sat. Sept. 6
St. Louis, MO:  Sun. Oct. 5
Willington, CT:  Sun. Nov. 9

Click here for information on participation and donation, as well as for details about the various aid projects undertaken by BGR.

“Buddhism 3.0″ in Japan

from Japan Times: Buddhist priest Issho Fujita instructs participants in a Zen meditation workshop| KYODO

From Japan Times: Buddhist priest Issho Fujita instructs participants in a Zen meditation workshop

From the Japan Times comes a report on “Buddhism 3.0″ and the two priests who came up with the idea. Using the book they wrote by the same name, Issho Fujita and Ryodo Yamashita are traveling and offering workshops across Japan, encouraging a conversation about the direction of Buddhism in the country and catching the attention of young Buddhist priests navigating a tradition that is losing some of its authority in modern culture.

Contrary to more conventional accounts of Buddhist history, the two propose that Buddhism 1.0 is the Mahayana tradition that arrived in Japan more than a thousand years ago, while 2.0 is Theravada Buddhism, which only started to gain popularity and awareness in Japan in the 1990s. Buddhism 3.0 attempts to integrate the wisdom of the two traditions, offering body-friendly approaches to meditation and “specific skills to ease heartache.”

Fujita serves as head of the Soto Zen International Education Center and has taught extensively at centers across the United States; Yamashita has studied Theravada Buddhism and is the abbot of a temple he founded in Kamakura.

Kickstarting crowdfunding karma: 24k gold for two-story thangka

Posted by Tibetan Gallery

At the urgings of the online community, Tibetan thangka master Tashi Dhargyal has created a literally golden opportunity to be a part of art history. He is raising funds on Kickstarter for the pure 24k gold that will adorn the canvas. It is estimated it will take five years to complete, and Dhargyal has already completed a considerable amount in the one year he has been working on it.

You can visit Tashi's studio in Sebastopol, CA or learn more online at www.PreserveTibetanArt.org

You can visit Tashi’s studio in Sebastopol, CA, or learn more online at www.PreserveTibetanArt.org

Dhargyal has embarked upon a powerful cultural journey as the first Tibetan master to paint a multistory thangka (Tibetan: thanbhochi) outside Tibet.

More amazing, it is faithful to the centuries-old Menris Tradition started by Menlha Dhondup, who introduced the painting style in the 1500s.

The 15- by 20-foot canvas was hand-prepared with cotton and natural animal-skin glues. The painting will be completed with only the best hand-ground mineral pigments and 24k gold, and framed in delicate brocade from Varanasi.

Tashi’s vision for the thanbhochi hails from his aim, as a youth, to help the monasteries of Tibet.  Read More »

Buddhist scholar Ananda Guruge dies at 85

Ananda Wahihana Palliya Guruge, a Sri Lankan diplomat and Buddhist scholar, passed away yesterday at age 85. The author of 53 books in English and Sinhala, Guruge served as vice president of the World Fellowship of Buddhists, patron of the European Buddhist Union, and dean of academic affairs and director of the International Academy of Buddhism at University of the West in Rosemead, California; he also taught as an adjunct professor of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Peace Studies at California State University in Fullerton.

For more on Professor Guruge’s many contributions to Buddhist scholarship and dialogue, click here.

Documentary screening: “Silent Holy Stones”

It happens in just forty-eight hours: “Little Lama,” a ten-year-old Tibetan boy, who’s training to become a monk, returns home for New Year’s celebrations.

After a long journey on horseback over icy steppes, he finds solace in his family’s new TV, unable to pull away from serials of Buddhist stories in this home away from the isolation of his monastery. “You dream too much for a young monk,” his family tells him, and they’re right: the more he watches, the more it becomes clear there’s no going back to his religious practices. Filmed on location at the Guwa Monastery, Silent Holy Stones is the “astonishing” (Cinema Scope) and “delightful” (Variety) first film of visionary Tibetan director Pema Tseden — an official selection of the Pusan International Film Festival, the International Buddhist Film Festival, the International Film Festival Rotterdam, and the San Francisco International Film Festival. Screening followed by a discussion with the director. Read More »