Nothing is permanent, so everything is precious. Here’s a selection of some happenings—fleeting or otherwise—in the Buddhist world this week.
Monk in Running for Book Award
A South Korean Buddhist monk’s book has been shortlisted for the British Book Awards. “The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down” by Haemin Sunim has been nominated in the nonfiction lifestyle section, the Yonhap News Agency reports. The English translation was a bestseller last year.
Hindus Caste Aside Their Religion
Two years ago, members of the “untouchable” dalit caste in India, were beaten in the public square in the town of Una in Gujarat state. A video of the attack went viral and sparked protests. Recently, the Una victims converted to Buddhism and have been trying to convince other dalits to renounce Hinduism as well, blaming it for reinforcing the caste system. “We were not the only victims of caste-based atrocities, so we will try to convince other community members to convert to Buddhism,” said victim Vashram Sarvaiya, “so they too can get a new life where they will not be harassed on the basis of caste.”
Vandalism Strikes Buddhist Sites
A Buddha statue was decapitated in Ottawa and a monastery was vandalized in Florida in two unrelated incidents this week. “If this statue-assassin’s intention was to break the spirit of us Buddhists, then the person was wrong. Yes, the person did hurt us, but not our spirit, and Ottawa will continue to be our home as Buddhists,” wrote Asoka Weerasinghe, a former deputy high commissioner for Sri Lanka in Canada, of the vandalism at Ottawa’s Hilda Jayewardenaramaya monastery. Meanwhile, the man suspected of breaking into the Vien Giac Buddhist Monastery in Tallahassee and destroying $48,000 worth of property allegedly told police that “God told him there are too many false idols and he was there to handle it,” deputies told an ABC affiliate.
Sri Lanka Ends State of Emergency
Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena lifted a state of emergency on Sunday following clashes between Buddhists and Muslims in the country. “Upon assessing the public safety situation, I instructed to revoke the State of Emergency,” he tweeted. The state of emergency began on March 6 after two people were killed in the violence.
A temple in Tochigi, Japan, has restored two seven-hundred-year-old statues to their original, less colorful state. The two-year long restoration process removed layers of paint that had been added to the “Juni Shinsho,” or Twelve Heavenly Generals, at Iouji temple.
Ice Stupa Battle Global Warming
The Himalayan Ladakh region of India has been heavily affected by global warming. Residents depend on glacial water to offset sparse rainfall but have seen a decline in recent years. Local artists have been creating ice stupas to act as artificial glaciers. By constructing stupas out of ice, the artists are helping alleviate the water problem, bringing awareness to climate change, spurring tourism, and creating a reminder of impermanence.
Zen and the Art of Collecting Letters
The Montana State University Library has acquired a collection of letters written by the author of “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.” Author Robert Pirsig was one of the school’s most distinguished educators. The former English professor’s yearlong correspondence with a graduate student offers new insights into Pirsig’s philosophy, the school says.
Rohingya’s Monsoon Peril
Rohingya refugees who have fled Myanmar to camps in Bangladesh are facing catastrophe as monsoon season arrives. More than 100,000 refugees living in the Cox’s Bazaar region are threatened by expected landslides and floods, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Myanmar’s minority Rohingya population continues to face persecution in what has been called a “slow-burning genocide.”
Also this week, a Buddhist mob in Myanmar attacked the home of an interfaith couple. The attack in the Laymyatnhar Township damaged four Muslim-owned homes. No arrests have been made.
Quiet at the Museum
The Museum of Modern Art in New York City is inviting visitors to enjoy a more mindful museum-going experience. MoMa will be hosting quiet mornings on the first Wednesday of every month at 7:30 a.m. In addition to smaller crowds who are encouraged to silence phones and take their time in the exhibit, the museum will be offering drop-in meditation sessions from 8:30 to 9:00 a.m.
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