Nothing is permanent, so everything is precious. Here’s a selection of some happenings—fleeting or otherwise—in the Buddhist world this week.
UC Santa Barbara and Nonprofit 84000 to Translate Entire Tibetan Buddhist Canon
The University of California, Santa Barbara, has teamed up with nonprofit 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha to commit to translating all 230,000 pages of the Tibetan Buddhist canon into English through a new project called the Buddhist Texts Translation Initiative at UC Santa Barbara. Students from the university’s Buddhist studies department have already worked with 84000 on translations, but this project provides further support for training new translators and welcomes two editors from 84000 as visiting scholars. “The 84000 is creating a bridge between the past and present and is facilitating the transmission of Buddhist knowledge between different cultural regions and languages,” says Professor Vesna A. Wallace, associate director of the initiative’s executive committee.
Illinois Becomes First State to Require Public Schools to Teach Asian American History
Last week, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed the Teaching Equitable Asian American History Act (TEAACH), which requires all public schools in the state to teach a unit of Asian American history starting in the 2022-2023 school year. The legislation comes at a time when Asian American hate crimes are surging. “We are setting a new standard for what it means to truly reckon with our history,” Pritzker said on Twitter, noting that Illinois is the first state to make such a requirement.
Buddhist Scholar Michael Jerryson Dies
Michael Jerryson, scholar of Buddhism and violence, passed away on July 9 after a battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Buddhistdoor Global reports. He was 47. Jerryson was a distinguished professor in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at Youngstown State University in Ohio, and wrote and edited nine books, including Buddhist Warfare (Oxford University Press, 2010); If You Meet the Buddha on the Road: Buddhism, Politics, and Violence (Oxford University Press, 2018); and Buddhist-Muslim Relations in a Theravada World (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020). Equinox Press will release an e-book as a tribute to Jerryson’s work in May 2022. Read more about Jerryson in this reflection by co-editor Mark Juergensmeyer.
Myanmar Faces Its Worst COVID-19 Outbreak, Inflamed by the Coup
On Monday, Myanmar reported over 5,000 daily COVID-19 cases, its highest number of reported cases to date, the Washington Post reports. So far, according to estimates by Reuters, only 3.5 percent of the population has been vaccinated. COVID treatment centers and hospitals are at capacity, a situation inflamed by February’s military coup, which prompted many healthcare workers to leave state-run hospitals in protest. West Yangon General Hospital, the city’s biggest hospital, has retained only 40 healthcare workers out of 400. The military, meanwhile, has arrested at least 178 medics, Physicians for Human Rights reports, and has sowed distrust in patients who no longer want to seek state-run medical care.
Digital Buddhist Amulets Enter the Rising Crypto Art Market
A company called Crypto Amulets has brought the Thai practice of collecting amulets for good fortune into the crypto art craze. Following the custom where the value of amulets increases if they are blessed by monks, Crypto Amulets founder Ekkaphong Khemthong enlisted Thai monk Luang Pu Heng to bless the non-fungible tokens (NFTs). The blockchain technology that keeps a digital record of all transactions around the Crypto Amulets, which range from $46 to $1,840, will eliminate questions around authenticity that are common for objects like this.
r/Meditation Subreddit Will Participate in Pilot of Reddit’s New Live Audio Feature
Following Twitter, Facebook, and Spotify, who all recently announced live audio chat rooms, Reddit is piling on the Clubhouse competitor bandwagon with a new feature called Reddit Talk, an opportunity for users to engage in live audio conversations in certain subreddits. The subreddit r/Meditation will be among the first forums to pilot the new feature, which will first be available on Reddit mobile app, followed by desktop in a few months. Reddit Talk will debut at the end of the month.
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