Buddhists, Muslims, other faiths united in prayer for missing Malaysia Airlines flight

Penang Police Prayer

Muslim members of the Penang, Malaysia, police force kneel in prayer for missing Flight 370

In contrast to the many media stories appearing lately about Buddhist-Muslim conflict in south Asia, the anxiety surrounding still-missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 has united the two faith groups, along with Christians and Hindus, in prayer for the passengers and their loved ones, reports USA Today. Mass prayer services were held in Malay mosques, temples, and churches, including one for more than 1,500 members of the Penang police force. Shopping malls in the cities have also become outlets for people’s feelings: Read More »

Lama Tsultrim Allione to launch two-year Dakini Wisdom project with talk in NYC; documentary of her life to have US premiere two days later

tsultrim allioneOn March 24, Lama Tsultrim Allione will give a talk on “Dakini Wisdom” at the NY Shambhala Center, which, according to her Tara Mandala organization, will initiate “a multi-lineage collaboration seeking to enhance the understanding of the sacred feminine as expressed through Buddhism’s female heritage, the feminine principle of wisdom, female deities, and the Dakinis themselves.” The plan is to conduct workshops through the United States, leading up to a conference to be held in July 2016 at Tara Mandala’s primary retreat center in Pagosa Spring, CO.

After the “Dakini Wisdom” talk, a documentary about the life of Lama Tsultrim Allione, Feeding Your Demons, will have its US premiere March 26 at New York’s Rubin Museum, with Allione conducting a Q&A session after the screening (see the video trailer after the jump). Future screenings have been scheduled for Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, and Boulder, CO.

For more information about the “Dakini Wisdom” talk, click here; about the Feeding Your Demons premiere, click here.

For more background on Lama Tsultrim Allione and the Dakini Wisdom project, see Michaela Haas’ recent piece at the Huffington Post.

See the Feeding Your Demons trailer: Read More »

Eight-year Buddhist program lightens life for Florida inmates

John Kingham

John Kingham

Some inmates at the Tomoka Correctional Institute, near Daytona Beach, Florida, credit an eight-year-old Buddhist program led by two American Zen priests for helping them discover meaning and purpose in the midst of their incarceration, according to a recent feature in the Daytona Beach News-Journal. The article quotes John Kingham, who has already served 30 years of a life-without- parole sentence, as saying, “I don’t think I could have maintained my sanity and sense of humor without [Buddhism].” Kingham has gone so far as to be ordained as a monk by one of the priests, Paul Cummins of the Soto Zen Center in Cocoa Beach, and has been allowed to wear the black robes of that order during meetings.

The inmates interviewed express appreciation for the benefits of their meditation and study: transforming potential aggravations into gratitude, letting go of violent impulses, and seeing that their lives have value and that compassion for others is possible.

Read the full article here.

Image via Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Dalai Lama interview with Larry King online: Same-sex marriage, universal values, China, the new Pope, and more

Same-sex marriage, the new Pope, Sino-Tibetan relations, the need to teach universal ethics in public education, and more feature in a relaxed, wide-ranging conversation between the Dalai Lama and Larry King, uploaded yesterday to Larry King Now on ora.tv. Here is a preview clip in which the Dalai Lama addresses the possibility of a future reincarnation in female form (“Yes! That’s very possible”):

Thai monk protest leader: “It’s better to care for people on the street”

buddha issaraLast Friday, the monk who has taken a leadership role in anti-government protests in Thailand, Buddha Issara, sat down for a short interview with the Wall Street Journal. When questioned as to whether monks should involve themselves in worldly affairs, he insisted that not only is it necessary when those in power are behaving in ways that harm the population, it is “nothing new” in the history of Thai monasticism; only in recent history have they been sidelined as political advisors. He also urged a shift toward street-level activism for the monks:

“I think most people who visit temples or monasteries are good anyway. It’s better to care for the people on the street. Even those who come to the temple, you have to wait for them to arrive before you can teach them. There is also an emphasis on being neutral. Monks these days can’t clearly say what is wrong and what is right. The country has to reform its religions as well as its politics, and we have to change the way that Thai monks think, how to apply the principles of the Lord Buddha’s teachings to the everyday life.”

Read the full interview here.

Dalai Lama to offer prayer in US Senate Thursday

dalai-lama-231x3001US 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.

China imposes collective punishment for self-immolator associates, including monasteries

Chinese document announcing 16 rules inflicting collective punishment on associates of self-immolation protesters.

Chinese document announcing 16 rules inflicting collective punishment on associates of self-immolation protesters

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 »

Towering Buddha statue gets go-ahead for Australia coast

australia retreat complex

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.

Read the whole story here.

Buddhist monk, activist Ven. Pomnyun co-hosts event to launch Huffington Post Korea

venerable pomnyunArianna 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.

Karmapa extends activity to young Western Buddhists, animals

karmapa animal campThe 17th Karmapa has broadened his activities this year to address the concerns of young Western Buddhist aspirants and the welfare of animals in his Indian home.

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 Tibetan calligrapher Tashi Mannox to conduct April workshops in Massachusetts and NYC

mannox ahMaster 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.

Visit here for details about the Rubin event, and here for full information on the Shang Shung workshop.

Dalai Lama’s third meeting with President Obama provokes China’s displeasure

Photo via the White House

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 »

New Tibetan Buddhist document preservation department opens at E. Gene Smith Library in China

tbrc chengduOver 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 »