Nothing is permanent, so everything is precious. Here’s a selection of some happenings—fleeting or otherwise—in the Buddhist world this week.
Buddhist Life Release Practice Brings Invasive Turtles to New Zealand
The Buddhist practice of releasing animals into the wild could have serious ecological consequences in New Zealand, an environmental expert told the New Zealand Herald. Life release is the practice of buying and setting free an animal that would otherwise be slaughtered or kept in captivity. But in Auckland, the freed animals include red-eared slider turtles, one of the world’s 100 most invasive species, according to Dr. Imogen Bassett, the area’s biosecurity principal adviser. “Animals such as turtles or koi carp that are not native to New Zealand can have a devastating impact on our native species,” Bassett told the paper.
Life release has been a source of controversy for for some time. A 2017 Tricycle article, “A Fishy Antidote to a Bloody Sacrifice,” examined the issue and points to one infamous and “ecologically catastrophic” case of two Buddhist students of the Taiwanese master Hai Tao releasing hundreds of nonnative lobsters and crabs into the English Channel in 2015.
Refuge for Foxes in China
Some Buddhist have had better luck saving animals. A group of 174 white foxes are being kept at a Buddhist garden in Mudanjiang, China, after an activist by the name of BoHe saved them from a fur farm, according to a Facebook post by animal activist Karen Gifford, who has been in contact with BoHe. Gifford shared a video (below) of a Buddhist monk kneeling among the white foxes, which were raised in captivity and could not be released into the wild, according to livekindly.co. Now Gifford is helping raise money to buy dog food for the foxes.
Karmapa’s Indian Visa Denied
Ogyen Trinley Dorje, one of the claimants to the title of 17th Karmapa and head of the Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism, said that his request for a visa to India has been denied, Phayul.com reported. The Karmapa has been living in the United States for more than a year and had intended to return to India, the country of his seat-in-exile, for a conference of Tibetan leaders. The conference was canceled following the sudden death of the leader of the Nyingma school, Kathok Getse Rinpoche.
Despite his decision to remain in the US, this week, Ogyen Trinley Dorje said in a video address to his followers at the Kagyu Monlam religious festival in Bodhgaya that his visa request had nonetheless been denied. The reason the visa was not granted is that he had obtained a passport from the Caribbean island nation of Dominica, which invalidated the Identity Certificate that India grants to refugees.
Two Thai Buddhist Monks Fatally Shot
At least six unidentified gunmen opened fire at Rattanaupap temple in Thailand on January 19, killing two Buddhist monks, Reuters reported. The black-clad shooters have yet to be identified, but the incident raised fears that the monks were the latest Buddhists to be killed by a separatist insurgency in the mainly Muslim south that dates back 15 years. The slain abbot and vice abbot would be the first Buddhist monks killed in the violence in three years. Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha and both Buddhist and Muslim leaders were quick to condemn the attack.