Nothing is permanent, so everything is precious. Here’s a selection of some happenings—fleeting or otherwise—in the Buddhist world this week.
Naropa University Announces Psychedelic-Assisted Therapies Certificate
Naropa University, the Boulder, Colorado-based university founded by Tibetan Buddhist teacher Chögyam Trungpa, announced on Tuesday that it will add a Psychedelic-Assisted Therapies Certificate to its roster. The 200-hour non-degree will offer post-graduate level training in Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy (PAT), trauma-informed care, and spiritual integration. The program will incorporate a course in MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy that launched in 2020 and add additional psychedelic therapies, such as the use of ketamine and psilocybin. Research surrounding the potential therapeutic effects of psychedelics has seen a resurgence in the last few years, and the topic is currently drawing a lot of media attention. Naropa President Charles Lief said in a press release that the university “is well positioned to offer this new Certificate, which draws from our almost 50-year history of integrating academic study, community-based learning and contemplative disciplines as the foundation for training therapists, counselors and chaplain.” Applications for the certificate will open on November 15, and the course will begin in March 2022.
Myanmar Court Sentences American Journalist Danny Fenster to 11 Years in Prison
During a closed hearing inside Insein Prison in Yangon, Myanmar, a military court sentenced American journalist Danny Fenster to 11 years in prison, his lawyer announced on Friday. The 37-year-old from Detroit was arrested on May 24 at the Yangon International Airport as he was trying to board a flight to Kuala Lumpur. At the time, he was the managing editor of local news outlet Frontier Myanmar, which announced in October that it would suspend its print and online editions. Frontier Myanmar still sends newsletters to subscribers. The military court charged Fenster with violating the immigration act and the unlawful associations act for his role in unspecified news stories published by Myanmar Now that could potentially harm the military and included comments by the opposition party. Though Fenster stopped working at Myanmar Now in July 2020, prosecutors insisted that he still works at the news site, which continues to publish despite the military shutting it down in March 2021. According to the New York Times, members of Fenster’s family believe he contracted COVID-19 while in prison. The conviction comes just about a year after the November 8, 2020 general election in Myanmar, which US Secretary of State Antony Blinken acknowledged this week with a call for the military to cease violence, release unfairly held prisoners, and restore the country’s path to democracy. The military has detained over 100 journalists since its February 1 coup.
84000 Mobile App Sees Over 10,000 Downloads
84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha, an organization that translates canonical Buddhist texts written in classic Tibetan, launched an app on October 27 and has since received more than 10,000 downloads. The app, which includes a trilingual glossary and interactive reading tools such as pop-up definitions, launched with 200 sutras, a number that will grow overtime. The organization also reported 8,800 active users, and 17,000 sutras opened in the first week. The app is available for download on iOS and Android here.
Japanese Buddhist Nun and Novelist Jakucho Setouchi Passes Away
Jakucho Setouchi, a Japanese Buddhist nun and novelist, died of heart failure at a hospital in Kyoto on Tuesday. She was 99. The writer, who received the Japanese Order of Culture award in 2006, was noted for her biographical novels and depictions of modern women defying traditional roles. In 1998, Setouchi revived interest in The Tale of Genji, a 1,000-year-old classic written by Murasaki Shikibu, by translating it from classical to contemporary Japanese, resulting in 2.5 million copies sold. A graduate of Tokyo Woman’s Christian University, Setouchi went on to become a Buddhist nun in 1973 at the age of 51, and she regularly delivered sermons at her home temple in Kyoto’s Sagano area. She was also active in anti-nuclear and anti-war movements and called for the abolition of atomic power after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno expressed his condolences at a press conference, saying that Setouchi made “great contributions to Japanese culture” through her achievements as a writer. “She devoted herself to listening to the thoughts and feelings of those in distress through her sermons and also contributed to social activities,” he said.