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 Taliban Is Now Working to Preserve Buddhist Statues in Afghanistan

Although the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan initially raised concerns over the destruction of Buddhist statues and artifacts at the ancient city of Mes Aynak, Taliban leaders now seem to be intent on preserving the archaeological site. Hundreds of meters below Mes Aynak lies one of the world’s largest untapped deposits of copper, estimated to be worth $1 trillion. With fighters standing guard on the rocky hillsides of the site, the Taliban aims to protect the relics in the hopes of securing a contract with China to extract the copper. “[Preserving the relics] is key to unlocking billions in Chinese investment,” said Hakumullah Mubariz, the Taliban head of security at Mes Aynak. 

In 2008, Hamid Karzai’s administration signed a 30-year contract with a Chinese joint venture to extract copper from Mes Aynak, but the project ceased in 2014 due to continued violence in the area. The Taliban’s Ministry for Mining and Petroleum has reached back out to Chinese investors, urging them to return to the mine. China’s ambassador to Afghanistan has said that talks are ongoing, but nothing more. 

Anti-Regime Suppression Escalates in Myanmar

Myanmar’s junta is continuing their brutal crackdown on civilian resistance, currently detaining an estimated 10,000 political prisoners—a figure that exceeds the estimated total number of political prisoners throughout their previous rule from 1962 to 2010. At least 103 prisoners have died in custody—many of those deaths resulting from torture—and since the junta started regularly targeting “suspected resistance forces” with artillery and airstrike attacks late last year, the total number of civilians killed has risen to 1,723.

The junta has also destroyed over 100 religious buildings, about half of which were Buddhist monasteries. Additional reports detail regime forces threatening monks, conducting interrogations and executions on monastery grounds, and looting donations and other valuables from monasteries. “They build pagodas and monasteries to show they are the guardians of Buddhism but will not hesitate to kill monks if they pose a threat to their power,” said Burmese monk U Waryama.

The Center for Buddhist Studies Seeks Funds for New Home in the Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine

The new Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona in Tucson broke ground this week and a press announcement stated that the Center for Buddhist Studies will be relocating to that building. The Center is currently raising funds for a suite in the building with a library and spaces for tea ceremonies, visiting scholars, conferences, and lectures.

QuestLove Missed the “Slap Heard ‘Round the World” at the Oscars Last Weekend Because He Was Meditating

Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson told Jimmy Fallon that he had been practicing Transcendental Meditation when Will Smith slapped Chris Rock at this year’s Oscars ceremony. The musician, film director, and activist, was practicing T.M. to counter stage fright just before he received an Oscar for his documentary Summer of Soul, and he missed the whole altercation. Questlove said he has been practicing T.M., which he learned from comedian Jerry Seinfeld, for the past two years. 

Coming up

April 2: Plum Village will premiere a new documentary titled A Cloud Never Dies about the life, teachings, and peace-building efforts of Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh. Narrated by actor Peter Coyote, the documentary will be available to freely watch on Plum Village’s YouTube channel

April 7: In the first public opening since the pandemic, Tibet House New York will open an exhibit called Radiance + Reflection: Mandalas and Moon, featuring artwork from David Orr. Register here.

April 18-April 22: In honor of Earth Day 2022, Tricycle will bring together leading Buddhist teachers, writers, and environmentalists—including Joanna Macy, Roshi Joan Halifax, David Loy, Paul Hawken and Tara Brach—for a donation-based weeklong virtual event series exploring what the dharma has to offer in a time of environmental crisis. Learn more here.

April 30: The annual Yeondeunghoe (Lantern Lighting Festival) in South Korea, a ceremony to honor the Buddha’s birthday, will be held this year after a two-year, pandemic-inspired hiatus. The festival earned a place on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity last year. Read more about the festival here.

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