Nothing is permanent, so everything is precious. Here’s a selection of some happenings—fleeting or otherwise—in the Buddhist world this week.
US Secretary of State Meets With Indian and Central Tibetan Administration Officials
On July 28, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with a number of state officials in New Delhi, India during his first visit to the country since joining the current administration. In his address, Blinken stated that the relationship between India and the US was “one of the most important in the world.” Blinken primarily discussed India’s COVID-19 crisis and announced that the US will give India $25 million to fund vaccinations. He also reaffirmed the US commitment to expand Quad—a security partnership seen as a countermeasure for China’s influence in Asia—to cover nonmilitary issues like infrastructure and climate change. Among the officials present were multiple members of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), Tibet’s government in exile, including Ngodup Dongchung and Geshe Dorji Damdul, director of Tibet House in Delhi. Blinken shared photos of himself with the Tibetan monk on social media in what commenters view as a public expression of support for Tibet.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi Says Buddhism Can Help Combat Pandemic
On July 24, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the Indian public during the government’s television program observing Dharma Chakra Day, which marks the day of the Buddha’s first sermon. Modi expressed that the Buddha’s teachings would help India and other countries weather the pandemic. “Today, as humanity faces a crisis in the form of COVID-19, Lord Buddha has become even more relevant,” the Prime Minister said.
India has shown how we can face the greatest of challenges by walking on his path. Countries are joining hands with each other and becoming each other’s strength, taking the values of Buddha.
Myanmar Floods Threaten COVID-19 Aid, While Floods in Bangladesh Have Displaced Thousands of Rohingya Refugees
COVID-19 cases have been surging in Myanmar, which reported 4,630 cases and 396 deaths on Monday, according to Reuters. February’s coup only fueled the fire, prompting healthcare workers to abandon state-run hospitals in protest, sowing distrust among patients, and redirecting resources. Now, severe flooding has displaced hundreds and further complicated the COVID response, requiring that some patients be evacuated and threatening the ability to transport much-needed oxygen cylinders from Thailand. Thousands of Rohingya refugees who fled Myanmar for Bangladesh, meanwhile, are facing severe flooding too, getting displaced yet again. The New York Times reports that at least 11 people have died, and at least 13,000 people have been affected by recent flooding in the country that is enduring its own COVID-19 crisis.
Canada Calls for Places of Worship to Apply for Funding Under New Anti-Hate Crime Program
The Canadian government’s Communities at Risk: Security Infrastructure Program (SIP), which helps at-risk communities protect themselves against potential hate crimes, just launched their latest call for applications on July 28. It specifically invited places of worship to apply for funding. While applications are open to all, the 2021 budget focuses on Asian hate crimes. As Buddhistdoor reported, statues at Buddhist temples in Montreal were vandalized last spring when the start of the pandemic led to a surge of anti-Asian hate crimes. Applications are open until September 22, 2021.
Social Activist and Former Leader of Korea’s Jogye Buddhist Order Ven. Wolju Dies
Ven. Wolju, former head of South Korea’s largest Buddist sect, the Jogye Buddhist Order, died on July 22, reports Buddhistdoor. He was 87 years old. Ven. Wolju first led the order in 1980, but was arrested and forced to step down within a year due to the military government’s repression of religion at the time. He took up social activism, leading a foundation that cared for elderly Korean women who had been victims of sexual abuse by Japanese troops during World War II, and founding an international development NGO. He returned to lead the order in 1994.
Jazz Legend and Buddhist Jerry Granelli Dies
On July 20, Buddhist jazz drummer Jerry Granelli passed away at his home in Nova Scotia, Canada. He was 80 years old. Though he is perhaps most well known for his work on A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965), Granelli collaborated with a number of jazz legends throughout his career, including Dave Brubeck, Sly Stone, Bill Evans, and Bill Frissell. He started his Buddhist practice at the San Francisco Zen center in the early 1970s, and quickly joined the Tibetan lineage after attending a talk by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. Pushed by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche to teach music, he founded the Creative Music Workshop in 1996, where he shared his unique teaching style with students of all ages and experience levels.
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