Arrest of Tibetan writer preceded by US embassy invitation

09sino-BLOGGER-blog480Update (July 10): Tsering Woeser  posted on her Facebook page that her house arrest has now ended. She writes, “It is clear that the house arrest was to stop me from receiving an invitation to a private dinner at the United States Embassy.” The dinner was to be a discussion of women’s issues.

Tibetan writer and advocate Tsering Woeser and her family were placed under house arrest in Beijing this Tuesday. The detention came immediately after Woeser received a call inviting her to visit the US embassy. Neither the Chinese government nor the US embassy have offered any comment.

Woeser, who maintains a website called Invisible Tibet, was given an International Women of Courage Award by the US State Department last year. According to the State Department, her website, along with her other writings and her use of social media, “have given voice to millions of ethnic Tibetans who are prevented from expressing themselves to the outside world due to government efforts to curtail the flow of information.”

For more information on Tsering Woeser and this story, click here.

Remembering spiritual pioneer Reb Zalman (1924-2014)

Zalman with Ram Dass in 2008. Photo: Joan Halifax.

Zalman with Ram Dass in 2008

Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, better known as “Reb Zalman,” one of the founders of the Jewish Renewal Movement, died on July 2, at the age of 89.

Zalman held the World Wisdom Chair at Naropa University and was Professor Emeritus at Naropa, as well as Temple University. Naropa was also the original home of the Reb Zalman Legacy Project, designed “to preserve, develop and disseminate” his teachings. (Details about the archive, since relocated, can be found here.

A heartfelt and surprising remembrance of Zalman, in which Bernie Glassman writes, “I told him more than once that had I met him as a young man, my spiritual path would probably have followed his rather than Zen Buddhism,” can be found here. Read More »

Khyentse Foundation grants awarded for education initiatives

Screen Shot 2014-06-30 at 2.46.27 PMKhyentse Foundation recently awarded grants to two projects focusing on Buddhist youth education. Bodhi Kids, in addition to establishing an onsite kids’ program in upstate New York, is developing online teaching resources and has plans to film teachings and interviews from great masters, specifically about parenting and educating youth in dharma. (The first teaching made possible by the KF grant can be viewed on their YouTube channel.)

The Foundation for Cultural Exchange with the Far East received a  grant to begin publishing a series of five high-quality children’s books on Buddhism, all translation from Chinese to Polish.

Readers with ideas for how to improve and make available Buddhist education are invited to contact the Khyentse Foundation directly.

Follow-up: US revokes visa held by Sri Lankan monk at head of anti-Muslim violence

Galagodaatte Gnanasara, head of Sri Lanka's nationalist Bodu Bala Sena ("Buddhist Power Force").

Galagodaatte Gnanasara, head of Sri Lanka’s nationalist Bodu Bala Sena (“Buddhist Power Force”)

A Sri Lankan Buddhist monk who was at the forefront of deadly anti-Muslim rallies last month (see the Buddhadharma News report here) is temporarily unwelcome in the United States. The US embassy in Colombo has reportedly revoked a five-year visa held by Galagodaatte Gnanasara, head of the nationalist group Bodu Bala Sena (“Buddhist Power Force”). According to a report by NDTV, the actions of Gnanasara and BBS against Sri Lanka’s minroty Muslim population “figured prominently in the US sponsored UN Human Rights Council resolution on Sri Lanka late March.”

Report: China opens police stations inside 24 Tibetan monasteries, more planned

Police officers affixing an official Public Security Bureau nameplate to their new office in a Tibetan monastery in Kanlho Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. Image via

Police officers affixing a Public Security Bureau nameplate to their new office in a Tibetan monastery in Kanlho Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture

China has established police stations inside twenty-four Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in the Labrang area of Gansu province, reports The report cites information gathered by the International Campaign for Tibet. In a summary of their findings, the ICT said “the new offices are part of a rollout of plans announced after 2008 for construction of police stations in Tibetan monasteries, under Chinese policies of placing almost every monastery in Tibet under direct government rule and intensifying Party presence in both rural and urban Tibetan areas.”

Plans are in place to establish such police stations in 133 monasteries throughout that area of Tibet.

“In addition,” says the ICT report, “cadres are being encouraged to befriend monks and nuns and gather information about them and their family members, while guiding them to be ‘patriotic and progressive.’”

Read the ICT’s full report here. Read More »

Australian Buddhist supports Muslim mosque against hate campaign

Ian Green and a model of the Great Stupa of Universal Compassion

Ian Green and a model of the Great Stupa of Universal Compassion

Even as Buddhist-Muslim conflicts in Burma and Sri Lanka garner media attention, in the Australian town of Bendigo the opposite is occurring. Muslim residents who have wanted to build the first mosque in Bendigo have found themselves the targets of “a calculated, unrelenting and national movement designed to increase hatred and bigotry,” prompting Ian Green, one of the organizers behind the building of the nearby Great Stupa of Universal Compassion (see recent coverage here), to publicly offer his support.

“There are a few bad groups giving a bad name to the whole religion. Most are welcoming and peaceful,” Green told the Bendigo Advertiser.

Noting that not everyone was keen to have the stupa built in Bendigo at first, “[Green] said Bendigo was richer for supporting other religions and cultures and while Australia was a conservative nation, he said people tended to be open to different beliefs.”

The City of Greater Bendigo has approved plans for the mosque.

Read the full account of Ian Green’s comments here.

Zen Peacemakers Order honors passing of Malgorzata Braunek, teacher and Bearing Witness retreat organizer

malgosia braunekThe Zen Peacemakers Order this week has been honoring one of its stalwart members, Polish actress Małgorzata (Malgosia) Braunek, who passed away from cancer June 23 at the age of 67. Braunek, a Zen practitioner under various teachers since 1979, led the Polish sangha Kanzeon since 1992 and was one of the co-organizers for many of Zen Peacemakers’ well-known Bearing Witness retreats at the site of the Auschwitz extermination camp. The ZPO blog has published several personal remembrances of Braunek. Catherine Pagés shared a tender final moment:

“Two days before [Braunek’s] passing, in the bed of her hospital room, surrounded by a few senior students, she gave Hoshi (the position of Dharma Holder) to one of them. Without many words, she took the time to look closely into the eyes of each of them – one by one – and finally said: I love you all so much.

“That was where her teaching came from, directly from her heart. So connected with her own heart, she inspired others to go deep into themselves and find the way to the source of their own lives, the source of their being, their heart.”

Read the ZPO post about Braunek here, and the personal remembrances here, here, and here.


Applications now open for classes starting in August 2014

Group-Photo-2013-FINAL-small-webPosted by Rangjung Yeshe Institute

Since 2002, Kathmandu University Centre for Buddhist Studies at Rangjung Yeshe Institute has been offering a specialized undergraduate degree: Bachelor of Arts in Buddhist Studies and Himalayan Language.

Applications are open for classes starting in August 2014.

Since earliest times, the thorough study of the Buddha’s teachings has been a distinguishing feature of Buddhism. This scholarly tradition thrived in the great universities of India and was later adopted by the Tibetan monastic colleges. Until recently, however, opportunities for laypeople to become truly well-versed in Buddhist philosophy have been limited.

Such an opportunity is now available at Rangjung Yeshe Institute, where students from all over the world study Buddhist philosophy in an authentic setting, with qualified teachers from both the monastic tradition of higher learning and the modern academy.

Students who attend our program develop a broad knowledge of Buddhist philosophy and practice and related historical developments, as well as the ability to analyze complex philosophical issues across cultures and times. Students become conversant in Tibetan and Nepali, and learn to read texts in classical Tibetan and Sanskrit. Those who focus on Tibetan learn to follow philosophical teachings directly in Tibetan.

CBS is now regarded as a foremost institution to visit to further one’s scholarly learning and research and to connect to leading Buddhist scholars of the Kathmandu Valley. — John Makransky, Associate Professor, Boston College

To learn more about the programs offered at Rangjung Yeshe Institute, visit our website. Opportunities are also available for visiting or non-degree students.

Kwan Yin as you haven’t seen her before: On a tractor

From the Facebook page of Spirit Rock Meditation Center, in Woodacre, California: “This stunning bodhisattva, Kwan Yin, now resides with us at Spirit Rock. Jack Kornfield, along with the help of a Sangha member who resides in Indonesia, commissioned a highly skilled sculptor in Bali to create this beauty. Her likeness is based upon the highly revered Kwan Yin statue that resides in [Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in]  Kansas City.”

That highly revered statue appeared on the cover of the very first issue of Buddhadharma in 2002 — and a print of it is available in our online store. And don’t forget: your orders support the work of the not-for-profit Shambhala Sun Foundation, publishers of Shambhala Sun and Buddhadharma: The Practitioner’s Quarterly.

$100,000 matching grant offered to help complete Tulku Urgyen’s Thousand Buddha Temple and Monastery in Lumbini, Nepal

Thousand Buddha TempleThe effort to fulfill Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche’s vision for a Thousand Buddha Temple and Monastery in Lumbini, Nepal, the birthplace of Shakyamuni Buddha, has moved ahead significantly due to a major matching grant offered by one of Tulku Urgyen’s long time students. The gift was inspired by the unlikely story of two heart attacks.

Nearly 30 years ago, Dr. David R. Shlim was summoned from his volunteer work in Kathmandu to treat Tulku Urgyen, who suffered a coronary episode but impressed Shlim as “the first person I had ever met who could face the pain, uncertainty, and shortness of breath associated with a heart attack, and not have any fear at all.” The second much more recent episode was his own, leaving Shlim on a desolate ski slope for two hours, increasingly certain he would die there. Read More »

Twenty-five worldwide events to mark “Year of Dalai Lama”

The Dalai Lama receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989.

The Dalai Lama receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989

The Tibetan government-in-exile has proclaimed 2014 to be the “Year of the Dalai Lama” in honor of the 25th anniversary of his Nobel Peace Prize award. Tashi Phuntsok, Secretary of the Department of Information and International Relations for the Central Tibetan Administration (based in Dharamsala, India), announced plans for 25 celebratory events worldwide from June through December 10, the day the Dalai Lama received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. reports that these events will “include His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s 79th birthday, Tibetan Democracy Day, [and the] birthday of Mahatma Gandhi,” with Phuntsok adding that “these events are observed annually by the Tibetan government in exile, but this year, it will be observed ‘at a larger scale and a greater scale’ with more number of participation from guests including Nobel Peace laureates.”

Read more about the 2014 “Year of the Dalai Lama” events here and here.

Clean water to Tibetan refugee children: Goal of new campaign

tibetans drinking waterFor many in the Tibetan community in exile living in India, basic elements of life, such as access to clean water, still remain a challenge, says the Tibet Fund. That organization has partnered with the Lha Charitable Trust to address this dilemma. The latter reports that “94 percent of Tibetan refugees drink tap water because few can afford to regularly purchase filtered water. Illnesses caused by contaminated drinking water include chronic gastro-intestinal problems, typhoid and cholera,” resulting in many lost work and school days. Since 2010, the organizations have installed water purification systems in seven schools and have launched an Indiegogo campaign through July 5 to fund up to ten more.  Click here to learn more.

Dharma Realm Buddhist University looking to expand into Ukiah

drbuCalifornia’s City of 10,000 Buddhas is looking to expand its Dharma Realm Buddhist University (DRBU) and has filed permit applications to use the empty facilities of the Trinity School in Ukiah in order to do that. According to a report in the Ukiah Daily Journal, “The maximum number of students at the facility, which would offer degree program classes, extension classes, certificate programs, lecture series and academic conferences, would be 160, and faculty and other staff would be limited to 25 people,” but they don’t anticipate reaching that capacity for another five years.

DRBU was founded at City of 10,000 Buddhas in 1976 by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua. Since that time, its website says, DRBU has been “guided and informed by enduring hallmarks of a liberal arts education from both East and West, which holds self-knowledge rooted in virtue as its basis, insight and goodness as its outcomes, and benefiting others as its application.”