Big Box Dharma
In an effort to bring Buddhism back to the people, Thai Culture Minister Uraiwan Thienthong recently proposed building “solace corners” in department stores and malls. Two malls have signed on, but not everyone thinks taking the dharma to market is such a good idea, with several senators objecting to what they interpret as setting up shrines in shopping centers. “It’s not about building a temple in a shopping mall,” said Thienthong, as quoted by Agence France Presse. “This will just be a 2,150-square-foot space with a room in which to pray and practice meditation, a reading and listening room, and a library with books of Lord Buddha’s teaching.”
It Wasn’t Meditation That Gave Him the Munchies
A Japanese monk got in trouble in December after cultivating more than sand and rocks in his Zen garden. Michimaru Obara, a monk at the Eikoji temple in northern Japan, was arrested in December for growing marijuana near the temple grounds. He compounded his problems by selling some to an office worker.
If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Eat Him
The Dalai Lama recently opened his own website, appropriately located atwww.dalailama.com. The nicely designed site features extensive information about his upcoming public appearances, archives of past talks, and plenty of other goodies such as a photo archive and biographies of past Dalai Lamas. The site contains extensive information on Tibetan Buddhist initiations, and the FAQ starts off with his familiar assertion of just being a simple Buddhist monk. All Dalai Lamas have had to navigate tricky currents of competing loyalties and political/religious tensions, but none have had the enormous tasks of the current one: head of a country that doesn’t really exist, simultaneously a simple Buddhist monk and a “world spiritual figure.” Virtual reality is a fitting venue for a permanent exile embraced most everywhere else in the world.
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