Nothing is permanent, so everything is precious. Here’s a selection of some happenings—fleeting or otherwise—in the Buddhist world this week.
Rohingya Refugees Aren’t Being Tested for COVID-19
Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh with COVID-19 symptoms are not seeking tests for the virus because they fear being separated from their families, reported Reuters. Many members of the Muslim ethnic minority were forced to flee their homes in Myanmar’s Rakhine State after the country’s military started a campaign of genocidal attacks in 2017. In camps with over 730,000 people, only 29 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed since mid-May, but aid workers fear the number of infections is much higher. Only 339 tests have been done, and Rohingya leaders say coronavirus symptoms are rampant in the camps. “People are afraid of being isolated and quarantined,” said a Bangladesh government official. Bangladeshi restrictions on internet and phone access have served to compound these fears. With their ability to spread accurate information limited, some refugees have relied on rumors, such as the belief that COVID-19 patients were being killed to halt the spread of the virus. To combat this misinformation, some refugees have been going door to door showing an educational video with accurate information about the coronavirus.
Buddhists for Black Lives Matter
Many Buddhists across traditions are continuing to voice their support for Black Lives Matter and against police brutality. Today, Buddhists for Black Lives Matter is holding a protest titled the Great Awakening Walk at 10:00 a.m in downtown Los Angeles. Following the success of last Sunday’s “Meditating for Black Lives,” local meditators in New York City are organizing another community sit-in in Herbert Von King Park in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. It will be led on Sunday at 10:00 a.m. by mindfulness teacher Jessica Angima, who is part of an ongoing takeover by black meditation teachers on meditation organization MNDFL’s Instagram. The takeover, curated by Zen teacher and author Rev. angel Kyodo williams, features Buddhist teachers JoAnna Hardy, Sebene Selassie, Dr. Jasmine Syedullah, Kaira Jewel Lingo, and others.
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Ideas about the Buddhist concept of equanimity appear to be evolving—and expanding—among some Buddhist teachers and groups. The Buddhist Peace Fellowship (BPF) posted a statement on Instagram on May 28, stating that Buddhists are “allowed to name, and dismantle, white supremacy,” adding,
Gone are the days of worrying we’ll seem divisive, or insufficiently equanimous. Guess what? We can still cultivate peace in our hearts, minds, and bodies, still take Right View, even still love the human beings employed in law enforcement, AND work to replace police budgets with a #PeoplesBudget grounded in ahimsa, nonharming.
Tibetan monk Gyalwang Drukpa, the spiritual head of the Drukpa lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, also posted a statement in support of Black Lives Matter. “As a Buddhist leader in the Himalayas,” he wrote, “I feel we must actively and vocally support this movement. We cannot sit back and watch from afar, hiding behind words like ‘equanimity’ as an excuse to say nothing.”
Monks in Wuhan Share Their Harvest
Buddhist monks at a temple in Wuhan, the city that was at the center of the novel coronavirus outbreak in its early stages, invited hundreds of local people to help harvest vegetables from the garden they planted during the height of the outbreak. According to the Global Times, monks at the 1,300-year-old Lingquan Temple used Weibo, China’s equivalent to Twitter, to ask people to help harvest the overabundance of vegetables they planted. A video shows the monks pushing a cart loaded with crates of massive amounts of beans and cucumbers. Lingquan Temple received hundreds of requests for free veggies after the initial Weibo post, and one temple worker told the Global Times that the temple was unprepared for all the attention the post received.
Tibetan Translation Project Launches New Website
The Nyingtik Project, which aims to translate into the English the core texts of the Longchen Nyingtik (Nyingtik Tsapö), a terma (treasure teaching) in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, launched a new website earlier this month. In Tibetan Buddhism, terma are teachings that were originally “hidden” by legendary adepts such as Padmasambhava for future discovery by later adepts, known as tertöns. The Longchen Nyingtik is part of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism, and was revealed to Tibetan teacher and tertön Jigme Lingpa in the 18th century. The translation project began in 2017, when practitioners and scholars began investigating how many translations had already been accomplished. Since then, the project has been endorsed by Shechen Rabjam Rinpoche, one of the main lineage holders of the tradition, and has also collaborated with the virtual Tibetan translation library Lotsawa House, where the translated texts will be published.
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