Nothing is permanent, so everything is precious. Here’s a selection of some happenings—fleeting or otherwise—in the Buddhist world this week.
Sri Lankan Pastor Forced to Close Church After Threats from Buddhist Monks
After facing threats and intimidation from Buddhist monks, a Christian pastor in Sri Lanka was forced to close his ministry. According to the Christian Post, the pastor, referred to as “Daniel” to protect his identity, shut down his church after being detained by police and threatened by Buddhist monks. On October 18, police arrived at Daniel’s home in Bakamuna, a town in Sri Lanka’s Polonnaruwa district, the Barnabas Fund, a Christian aid agency, reported. The police immediately ordered Daniel to report to the police station, where he was taken to an office packed with Buddhist monks. Daniel had received similar threats in the past, but this time was different, he said. The monks, Daniel said, showed him that they had acquired a list of people who attended his church and demanded that he close his ministry.
“In recent years, we’ve seen a steady increase in mobs orchestrated by Buddhist extremists. . . These mobs especially target Christian converts from Buddhism,” Storm Hendrik, Barnabas Fund’s international CEO, told the Post. Christians make up 8 percent of the nation’s population, and face persecution from both the nation’s Buddhist majority and Muslim minority, according to Christian persecution watchdog group Open Doors. Some of the persecution is rooted in nationalism, Hendrik said, as many Sri Lankans see conversion to Christianity as a betrayal of their nation’s heritage: “They’ve become Christian; their allegiance is now with Christ,” he told the Post. “They are seen as rejecting that which everyone else holds to.”
Paintings Discovered in Buddhist Temple May Be 1,300 Years Old
Researchers recently discovered that paintings of bodhisattvas on pillars in the Saimyoji temple in Kora, Japan, may date back more than 1,300 years, Smithsonian Magazine reported. The paintings were originally thought to be from the Heian era (794–1185 CE), but art historian Noriaki Ajima of Hiroshima University said that the depictions of the bodhisattvas’ inner ears, palm creases, and clothing suggest that the works are most likely from the later part of the Asuka period, which lasted from 538 to 794 CE. If the new estimations are correct, the paintings are the second-oldest known paintings in Japan.
Monks in Cambodia Help Families After Devastating Floods
Cambodia, which has already been struggling economically from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, has also been experiencing heavy rains and flooding caused by intense tropical storms. As of October 21, about 156,137 homes were reported to have been damaged; flooding has also unearthed mines and other military weapons and destroyed farmland, Buddhistdoor Global reported.
Buddhist monks have been leading relief efforts at the grassroots level: Venerable Vy Sovechea, president of Preah Sihanouk Raja Buddhist University, Battambang Branch (SBUBB) and a member of the International Network of Engaged Buddhists, told Buddhistdoor Global that he and his fellow monks have helped 61 families over the past two days and plan to help 80 more families over the next few days. “We delivered 20 packages of relief supplies to 20 families in cooperation with the local Catholic community, and we have also received some donations from Khmer American Buddhists in the USA,” he said. “The SBUBB always cooperates with other faith leaders, such as the Catholic, Muslim, and other ehtnic communities in Battambang, working together for social welfare, charitable activities, education, peace-building, the environment, and climate change.”
Awards for Tricycle Contributors
Photographer Jeenah Moon, who has been contributing to Tricycle’s A Day in the Dharma series since 2018, was selected for Best Coronavirus Photo and Best Breaking News Photo by NewsWomen Club New York 2020 Front Page Awards. Moon’s photographs have appeared in the New York Times, Reuters, Bloomberg Business, and other major news outlets.
Documentary photographer Richard Mosse, whose photo is paired with Ocean Vuong’s writing in our latest Parting Words, was just named an Honorary Fellow at the Royal Photographic Society in Bristol, United Kingdom.
Thank you for subscribing to Tricycle! As a nonprofit, we depend on readers like you to keep Buddhist teachings and practices widely available.