Nothing is permanent, so everything is precious. Here’s a selection of some happenings—fleeting or otherwise—in the Buddhist world this week.
PULITZER PRIZE-WINNING JOURNALISTS IN MYANMAR FREED
Two Reuters journalists were released from prison in Myanmar on Tuesday, May 7th, after more than 500 days behind bars. Wa Lone, 33, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 29, had been arrested in 2017 for violating the country’s Official Secrets Act after reporting on atrocities committed against Rohingya Muslims in the country’s western Rakhine state. The two were sentenced last September to seven years in prison. Under international pressure, however, Myanmar President Win Myint freed the journalists in a mass pardon that included a total of 6,520 prisoners. “I’m really happy and excited to see my family and my colleagues,” Wa Lone told reporters from his media site. “I can’t wait to go to my newsroom.” Presidential pardons are customary on the first day of Myanmar’s new year, which occurs in mid-April.
BUDDHIST CORONATION RITUALS USHER IN THAILAND’S NEW KING
Thailand’s newest ruler, King Maha Vajiralongkorn, completed his official three-day coronation ceremony last weekend, CNN reports. Elevating the king to the status of a living god, the coronation rituals drew from the country’s Buddhist and Hindu roots. According to Reuters, the new king was doused in water that had been gathered from myriad sacred rivers and blessed by Buddhist monks and Brahmin priests. He then visited the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew) in Bangkok’s Grand Palace to declare himself the Royal Patron of Buddhism. The coronation ceremonies closed with an aerial light show beamed from 300 remote-controlled drones. King Vajiralongkorn succeeds his late father, King Bhumibol, who died in 2016 after serving 70 years as monarch.
TIBETAN LAMA DAGRI RINPOCHE FACES SECOND ACCUSAL OF MOLESTATION
Dagri Rinpoche, a senior teacher in the Gelug lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, was accused of sexually molesting a former Buddhist nun on Tuesday, May 7th, in a video posted on YouTube by the alleged victim, Jakaira Perez Valdivia. The accusation is the second that Dagri Rinpoche, 65, has faced this month, Tibet Sun reports. In her video, Valdivia described visiting Dagri Rinpoche at his monastery in Dharamsala, India, for medical treatment in 2008 when she was still ordained. Instead, Valdivia said, he asked her to lie down, take off her clothing, and drink alcohol, which he described as a “holy substance.” Valdivia describes having had to protect herself as Dagri Rinpoche reached for her private parts during what some insist was a compassionate massage. Dagri Rinpoche is believed to be a reincarnation of Pari Dorje Chang, a famed teacher from Lhasa, Tibet. He is a touring lama for the international Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT) and serves as advisor for Sravasti Abbey in Newport, Washington.
BUDDHIST CHAPLAINCY CONFERENCE HELD IN NEW YORK
Columbia University’s Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures hosted what one participant claimed was the first specialized international conference on Buddhist chaplaincy and faith-based public service on May 4th and 5th, Buddhistdoor Global reports. The event was cosponsored by the International Center of Chinese Buddhist Culture and Education in the US and the International Center for Buddhist Studies at Renmin University in Beijing. Roughly 40 participants from the US, China, and Japan discussed the social context in which Buddhist chaplaincy has rapidly emerged in North America, and how its example could be adapted in other parts of the world, particularly in China.
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