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

The Dalai Lama Gives His First In-Person Talk Since the Start of the Pandemic

On March 18, the Dalai Lama made his first live public appearance since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. He spoke at the Tsuglagkhang temple at Mcleod Ganj in Dharamsala, the Dalai Lama’s official residence, in honor of the Tibetan festival Chotrul Duchen, or the Butter Lamp Festival. The Dalai Lama read from the Jatakamala (Garland of Birth Stories), a collection of tales by fourth-century Sanskrit poet Aryashura that retells thirty-four of the most famous of the Buddha’s former lives. 

His Holiness said to the gathered audience, “We have gathered here on this special occasion to remind ourselves that this treasure, the teaching of the Buddha, can only be preserved through study and practice, and in doing so we can benefit other people in many parts of the world.” In keeping with the Chotrul Duchen tradition, the Dalai Lama followed his teachings with the Ceremony for Generating Bodhicitta, a mandala offering, and a recitation of the “Prayer for the Flourishing of the Teaching.”

The Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile Offers Condolences in Honor of Madeleine Albright 

Madeleine Albright, the US’s first female Secretary of State, passed away on Wednesday at the age of 84. Khenpo Sonam Tenphel, the speaker of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile, wrote a letter expressing his condolences to Albright’s daughter, citing the secretary’s support of Tibet. “Her support and commitment to the cause of Truth and Non-violence will be remembered by all the Tibetan people. We are grateful for her support and with her passing away, we have also lost a true friend of Tibet.”

New Trailer Drops for Monstrous, an Upcoming Horror K-Drama That Portrays a Town Cursed by a Haunted Buddha Statue

Monstrous, a new TV series debuting in April, will tell the story of a village in Jinyang County, South Korea, where inhabitants are cursed after discovering a gwibul, a haunted Buddha statue. In the latest trailer, which came out this week, a team of archaeologists unearth a large Buddha head as a voiceover explains, “It’s not just a Buddha statue. It’s a gwibul encasing a spirit. . . Those who see the eyes will be trapped in hell.” Written by Yeon Sang-ho, the director of Train to Busan and Hellbound, the K-drama will be on the South Korean streaming service TVING. 

Publishers Announce Illustrated Children’s Edition of The Book of Joy by The Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu

On March 22, Penguin Random House announced an upcoming illustrated children’s edition of The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World, a 2016 bestseller co-authored by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Douglas Abrams, who spoke on the experience of working with the two spiritual leaders in a 2018 Tricycle interview. Read an excerpt from The Book of Joy here.

“In their only collaboration for children, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu use their childhood stories to show young people how to find joy even in hard times and why sharing joy with others makes it grow,” reads the publisher’s description of The Little Book of Joy, slated for publication this September. The book will feature illustrations by Rafael López, and Rachel Neumann and Douglas Abrams will collaborate on the text.

Coming Up:

Wednesday, March 30: Professor Donald S. Lopez Jr. gives a talk titled “The Trial of Ananda: Some Thoughts for Modern Times,” which is part of the Yin-Cheng Distinguished Lecture Series on Buddhism, hosted by Columbia University. Lopez covers the charges against Ananda, the Buddha’s cousin and personal attendant, after the First Council, when five hundred arhats gathered to compile and memorize the Buddha’s teachings after he attained nirvana. Find more details about the 5 p.m. talk here and register here. 

Thursday, March 31: Never Forget Tibet: The Untold Story of the Dalai Lama, a new documentary about the Dalai Lama’s life, screens for one night only at 800 theaters across the US on the 63rd anniversary of His Holiness’s escape from Tibet. Watch a trailer for the film here and find out where the film is screening here. Plans are currently underway to make the screening widely available through streaming services after the premiere.

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