Sakyadhita calls for conference papers and panel proposals, unveils upgraded website

sakyadhitalogoSakyadhita, the international association of Buddhist women, has issued a call for papers and workshop/panel proposals to be considered for its next biannual conference, to be held June 23-30, 2015, in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. The conference theme will be “Compassion and Social Justice,” with the aim of fostering “dialogue about creating better connections and to explore how compassion and spiritual development can help shape a more just and peaceful world.” To read more about the conference, including a full list of panel and workshop suggestions, click here. The deadline for panel and workshop proposals is April 15, 2014, and the deadline for submission of papers is June 15, 2014.

Sakyadhita has also expanded and upgraded its website, which you may visit here.

Settlement favors Buddhist boy bullied in Louisiana school; ACLU filed suit, lauds decision for “religious liberty”

The ACLU lawsuit filed on behalf of the parents of “C.C.,” a Buddhist sixth-grader allegedly bullied for his beliefs by Christian teachers and administrators at Negreet High School in Louisiana, has been settled in favor of the parents. According to the AP, the settlement details the ways in which teachers and school officials must refrain from promoting religious beliefs and practices in the public schools. It also orders financial remuneration for the boy’s parents, who relocated C.C. to another school much farther from their home to escape the harassment.

An ACLU blog post on the settlement says the order also “mandates in-service training for school staff regarding their obligations under the First Amendment.” The order “took the form of a ‘consent decree’ agreed to by the school board, [which] ensures that these unlawful practices will be discontinued in Sabine Parish and brings the case to a close. We applaud the board for doing right by C.C., his siblings, and all district students.”

The ACLU post also says the family was subjected to profane racial slurs shouted at them in a KKK-style drive-by.

See Buddhadharma News’s original coverage of the ACLU suit here.

Zen Mountain Monastery remembers senior monastic Mary Kaijun Mold

Mary KaijunThe community at Zen Mountain Monastery in Mount Tremper, NY, has posted a poignant memorial of one of their senior monastics, Mary Kaijun Mold, who passed away March 10 at the age of 86. She had been ordained as a monastic for the last 15 years, following a long life of global travel and spiritual seeking.

The memorial intersperses photos of some of Kaijun’s last days with short poems she composed in the weeks leading up to her death.

Read the remembrance here, which includes details about a cremation service March 17 and a traditional funeral to be held at the monastery April 27, as well as links to an interview with Kaijun and a recording of her last dharma talk. A full biographical obituary of Kaijun may be found here.

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.