Nothing is permanent, so everything is precious. Here’s a selection of some happenings—fleeting or otherwise—in the Buddhist world this week.
India to Host Its First Global Buddhist Conference
The Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) announced Tuesday that India will host its first-ever Global Buddhist Conference in November. The conference will be held from November 19 to 20 at the Nava Nalanda Mahavihara campus in Nalanda, in the northern state of Bihar, DNA India reports. ICCR president Dr. Vinay Sahasrabuddhe explained that the conference will invite a community of academics to deliberate upon one theme every year, beginning with this year’s theme of “Buddhism in Literature.” In the run-up to the event, four regional conferences in India—in Dharamsala, Gangtok, Sarnath, and Telangana—and four more abroad—in Cambodia, Japan, South Korea, and Thailand—will be held, with reports from each regional forum shared at the global conference. The ICCR also announced that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will present an award for the promotion of Buddhist studies on November 21 in New Delhi as part of the government’s plan to promote India’s Buddhist heritage. The award will be granted in recognition of the promotion of Buddhist studies internationally and comprises a cash reward of $20,000, a plaque, and a gold-plated medallion.
The International Buddhist Association of America Holds the First Vajrayana Monlam in the U.S.
On September 18, Khenpo Tsultrim Tenzin Rinpoche of the Tibetan Meditation Center in Frederick, Maryland will host what is believed to be the first Vajrayana Monlam, or Great Prayer Festival, in the US. Tsongkhapa, the founder of the Gelug tradition, started the tradition in 1409 when thousands of monks gathered at the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa, and it became one of the most important festivals for many Tibetans. The celebration was later banned during the Cultural Revolution. Today’s festival, which runs from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. EDT, will gather the four Vajrayana communities of Kagyu, Nyingma, Sakya, and Gelug, in addition to those from the Mahayana and Theravada traditions. Following COVID-19 guidelines, only ordained monastics will participate in person. The text from the ceremony will be available on The International Buddhist Association of America’s website.
Buddhist Tzu Chi Organization Recognized for Relief Work in Haiti
The Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation, a global humanitarian organization based in Taiwan, was recently recognized for its relief work in Haiti. Following the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck southwestern Haiti on August 14, Tzu Chi partnered with the Taiwanese government and the Taiwan Red Cross to mobilize a disaster relief plan and assist the approximately 800,000 affected Haitians. In recognition of these efforts, the Embassy of Taiwan in Haiti, the Haitian Government, and the Overseas Engineering & Construction Company held a ceremony on September 7 at the Tzu Chi Haiti Campus warehouse in Port-au-Prince. In attendance were Prime Minister Ariel Henry, the Taiwanese ambassador to Haiti Richard Ku, and Tzu Chi Haiti volunteers. According to a press release, the ceremony acknowledged donations of 25 tons of humanitarian aid items from Tzu Chi and its partners. The donated items included oxygen concentrators, masks, sleeping bags, dry rations, tents, medical kits, and more. Accepting the donations on behalf of the people of Haiti, Prime Minister Henry expressed his gratitude: “Thank you so much. I know that Taiwan’s people came again for this disaster [which] happened in August. We really appreciate it, and I hope they continue to support us.”
Myanmar Shadow Government Calls for Armed Revolt Against Military Junta
As Myanmar continues to reel after the military junta’s coup on February 1, the crisis entered a new chapter last week when National Unity Government (NUG) acting president Duwa Lashi La launched what he called a “people’s defensive war.” Meanwhile, COVID-19 cases continue to surge and severe flooding has threatened access to aid. “People have been severely suffering at the hands of military terrorists. Such a call for a defensive war by the NUG will encourage those who have been fighting the military separately to stand under one banner, and become a stronger force,” Ko Htet Wai, an environmental activist who is part of a civilian militia known as Bamar People’s Liberation Army, told the Washington Post.
Rubin Museum of Art Announces Opening Date for New Interactive Learning Space
The Rubin Museum of Art announced this week that a new interactive space for social, emotional, and ethical learning called Mandala Lab will open on October 1. Located on the museum’s newly remodeled third floor, the Mandala Lab features five unique sensory experiences and activities that are inspired by Tibetan Buddhist mandalas with the intent of inspiring self-awareness among visitors. The Lab will be free to visit on its opening weekend, October 1–3.