Nothing is permanent, so everything is precious. Here’s a selection of some happenings—fleeting or otherwise—in the Buddhist world this week.

Tibetan Leaders Issue Condolences on Former President George H. W. Bush’s Death

His Holiness the Dalai Lama and officials at the Central Tibetan Administration mourned the death of former US President George H. W. Bush, who passed away on November 30 and made headlines as the first American president to meet with the Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama offered condolences to George W. Bush on his father’s death, writing he was “the first American President that I was privileged to meet” and that he was “deeply touched” by his concern for the Tibetan people. Dr. Lobsang Sangay, President of the Central Tibetan Administration, and the speaker of the 16th Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile also sent their condolences to President Bush’s family.

Tibetan Man Self-Immolates, Bringing Total to 154

On December 8 a Tibetan man self-immolated in a Tibetan region of Sichuan province, bringing the total number of verified Tibetan self-immolation protests inside Tibet up to 154, The Tibet Post International reports. Drugkho, a young man in his twenties, set himself on fire while “shouting slogans calling for the long [life] of the spiritual leader of Tibet, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and freedom in Tibet”; it is unknown if he survived his protest. Chinese officials instituted an immediate lockdown in the region, blocking internet services and increasing security.

Learn more: Burning for the Buddha

Palden Gyatso, Former Political Prisoner and Human Rights Advocate, Dies at 85

Palden Gyatso, a well-known former political prisoner and advocate for Tibetan freedom, died of liver cancer in Dharamsala, India on November 30 at the age of 85, the New York Times reports. The Tibetan Buddhist monk was imprisoned in Chinese labor camps and jails from 1959 to 1992 and frequently tortured during his three-decade imprisonment. After he was released by the Chinese government in 1992, he crusaded against the Chinese occupation of Tibet and the use of torture, telling his story to the United Nations Human Rights Commission as well many governments and human rights organizations, and published an autobiography in 1997. (Fire Under The Snow, a film based on his autobiography, was shown in Tricycle’s Film Club in 2011.)

Bill and Melinda Gates take up meditation

Bill and Melinda Gates have begun a regular meditation practice to sharpen their focus, BuddhistDoor reports. In the Microsoft founder’s post “Why I’m into meditation” posted on his blog, he wrote he has avoided meditation in the past because he saw it as a “a woo-woo thing tied somehow to reincarnation,” but he’s since gained a better understanding, and this year he has started to sit for ten minutes two to three times a week. The tech titan has been using Headspace, the meditation and mindfulness app founded by Andy Puddicombe.

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