Nothing is permanent, so everything is precious. Here’s a selection of some happenings—fleeting or otherwise—in the Buddhist world this week.
Chinese Government Instructs Tibetan Monastics to Learn Chinese Language
Chinese government officials said last week that Tibetan monasteries and study centers must begin translating classroom texts into Mandarin. The policy, made public at a three-day conference held at Tso-Ngon Buddhist University in Xining, also instructs monastics to learn Chinese and use it to speak to each other instead of speaking in their native languages. As of yet, it is unclear whether this new policy will extend to include the translation of Tibetan Buddhist scriptures into Chinese. “There is no good intention behind this plan,” said Geshe Lhakdor, Director of the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives in Dharamsala, India. “Rather, it is aimed at China’s sinicization of Tibetan Buddhism, and even though a few Tibetan scholars and researchers participated in this meeting, they were forced to do so in spite of their reluctance.”
Floods Hit Thai Temples in the Historic City of Ayutthaya
Several temples in Thailand’s historic city of Ayutthaya were underwater on Wednesday after two weeks of heavy monsoon rains and flash floods caused by Tropical Storm Dianmu. The city reported that over 40 temples, many of which are anicent sites and homes tomonuments and ruins, have been affected by the floods. At Wat Satue, monks used small boats to traverse through neck-deep water. The temple’s abbot, Phra Kru Pariyat Yathikhun, told Reuters that surrounding communities were also affected and that this was the worst flood he had seen in ten years. The heavy rains caused flash floods in 32 of Thailand’s 76 provinces, and 16 provinces remained flooded on Wednesday.
Buddhist Juror Let Go from Elizabeth Holmes Trial
The trial for Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of blood-testing company Theranos who faces 12 counts of fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, started five weeks ago. This week, a Buddhist juror, identified only as Juror No. 4, was removed from the trial for expressing hesitation about separating her religious views from the case, and specifically that she didn’t feel comfortable weighing in on a decision that could lead to a prison sentence of up to 20 years, Bloomberg reports. According to ABC News, Juror No. 4 told US District Judge Edward Davila, ”I am a Buddhist, and so I practice for compassion, you know, for loving and forgiveness.” The replacement juror also expressed misgivings about contributing to a decision about Holmes’s sentence, but the judge convinced her to stay on after he explained that jurors are fact finders and not even allowed to consider a defendant’s punishment.
Bhante U Nyaneida, the Abbot of the Burmese Vihara, Passes Away
Bhante U Nyaneida, affectionately known as Big Baba Ji, passed away in Myanmar this week. “Bhante made it possible for countless people to connect with the dharma,” Nikko Odiseos, president of Shambhala Publications, wrote on Facebook of the abbot of the Burmese Vihara, whom he first met in 1990 as a student on the Antioch Buddhist Studies program and got to know well during his time on staff at the program. “He was the conduit, the facilitator, the support, of literally tens of thousands of pilgrims, from east and west, to spend time, practice, and study in Bodhgaya, the seat of enlightenment of the Buddha. Under his auspices, the Burmese Vihar became a hub of global Buddhism, the setting of so many retreats across traditions, and of course the Antioch Buddhist Studies program which was the launching pad of so many hundreds of American Buddhist practitioners and scholars.” Odiseos told Tricycle, “It would be hard to overestimate his impact on Bodhgaya.”
Shakti Sinha, Director General of the International Buddhist Confederation, Passes Away
Shakti Sinha, director general of the International Buddhist Confederation (IBC), died on Monday in New Delhi. He was 64 years old. A scholar, author, and former bureaucrat, Sinha took on many roles over the course of his career. From 1979 to 2013, Sinha worked as an Indian Administrative Service officer, and from 1996 to 1999, he briefly served as private secretary to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Sinha also started a think tank, published a memoir about his time working for Vajpayee, and served as a director of the Nehru Memorial Library and Museum at Teen Murti. In a letter announcing Sinha’s passing, the secretary general of IBC, Ven. Dr. Dhammapiya, said, “With his passing away, not only has the country of India lost an exemplary scholar and practitioner but also the entire world has lost a great dhamma brother who had dedicated his life for the dhamma.”
Virtual Pandemic Grief Circle with Sharon Salzberg and Sameet Kumar to Be Held on October 14
On Thursday, October 14, meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg and grief counselor Sameet Kumar will hold a live virtual grief circle for anyone experiencing loss due to COVID-19 or other causes. Salzberg and Kumar will offer a talk, guided practice, and group discussion during the hour-long event. Learn more here.
First Ever International Queer Buddhist Conference to Be Held On Zoom This Month
On October 23 and October 24, the International Queer Buddhist Conference (IQBC) will host its first series of virtual live talks and workshops. IQBC was initiated to allow lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, and other allies to gather in a safe space for open communication and learning. Although registration is free, IQBC is a donation-based organization. Visit the website for additional information, including a full event schedule and the featured speakers.
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