Nothing is permanent, so everything is precious. Here’s a selection of some happenings—fleeting or otherwise—in the Buddhist world this week.
Temple Launches Major Face Shield-Making Effort
In the response to the pandemic, 55 members of the Thanh Tinh Buddhist Temple, a Vietnamese American congregation in Rochester, New York, worked together to manufacture at least 8,000 face shields for hospitals in the US. According to VOA News, 48-year-old Dinh Tran Tuan organized the temple’s volunteer efforts. A chemical engineer at the Xerox Corporation for more than 20 years, Dinh designed and manufactured an easy-to-make face shield after looking at existing shields online. At least 60 temple members donated $12,600, allowing Dinh to purchase enough rolls of industrial-grade plastic for the volunteer team to create 8,000 shields. The shields were then distributed to hospitals in Rochester and to some of the hardest-hit areas in the country, including New York City and its suburbs as well as Pennsylvania, Delaware, and southern California. Gerald Gacioch, chief cardiologist at Rochester General Hospital, which received 1,840 face shields, said the temple’s shields were “WAY more comfortable and breathable than our standard face shield. This is vital when doctors and staff may need to wear them for hours at a time.”
Temple volunteers were grateful to be able to help others in a challenging time. Phan Thi My said the shield-making helped her keep busy after she was laid off from her manicurist job in late March. “I read on the internet that doctors and nurses were in dire need of medical supplies, so I was really happy I could help,” she said. Volunteer Tran Van Hiep, 64, told VOA, “Who knows if I’ll still be alive tomorrow. Our life is predestined. Even if you stay home, you can’t escape your own fate. So I don’t mind going to the temple to help out. I’m ready to do whatever is needed.”
Sri Lankan Monks Cremate Broken Buddha Statues
As part of Vesak ceremonies, on May 8 Buddhist monks collected and cremated hundreds of broken Buddha statues at Bodhiraja temple in Embilipitiya, Sri Lanka, reported UCA News. Sri Lankan Buddhists, who make up 70 percent of the population, often leave broken statues on temple grounds and under Bodhi trees, possibly under the assumption that these are holy places to leave the statues. But Ven. Omalpe Sobitha Thera, founder of the Sri Bodhiraja Foundation, said that leaving these statues in various places is disrespectful to the Buddha and his followers. With the cremation ceremony, he said, “These abandoned statues have been given due respect. …Everything should have an honorable ending.” Neela Ranjani, a mother from the region of Meerigama, said she, too, had left broken statue pieces in inauspicious places. “I have also made the same mistake several times and it is [a] common sight under Bo trees,” she said, adding that she appreciated the monks’ efforts to cremate the abandoned statues.
Ling Rinpoche’s Fake Facebook
Delusions are inexhaustible. Followers of the 7th Ling Rinpoche found this out the hard way this week, after someone allegedly created a duplicate Facebook page for the Tibetan Buddhist teacher, according to Outlook India. “Fraudsters sent fake messages to Buddhist followers across the globe and ask[ed] them to join [the fake page],” said Bhisham Singh, Delhi Police’s Deputy Commissioner of Police of the Crime Branch, who is investigating the case. The person or persons behind the deception also launched a fake COVID-19 charity campaign, imploring followers for donations. Ling Rinpoche’s secretary, Tenzin Khentse, told Outlook India that his office had received messages from followers stating they had contributed money to Ling Rinpoche’s initiatives to help people facing poverty. “Followers get very impressed when they believe that they have got a message from His Excellency’s Facebook account to join the group,” he said. “That’s how they dupe them.”
Roshi Jitsudo Alfred Ancheta Dies
Jitsudo Alfred Ancheta, one of America’s first Hispanic Zen teachers, died last weekend at his home in Albuquerque, New Mexico, at the age of 76. A dharma successor to prominent Buddhist teachers Hakuyu Taizan Maezumi Roshi and Tetsugen Bernie Glassman, Ancheta was an influential Zen teacher in his own right, helping to found the Yokoji-Zen Mountain Center (formerly Zen Mountain Center) and the Center for the Promotion of Peace. Read more about Jitsudo Alfred Ancheta’s life here.
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