Nothing is permanent, so everything is precious. Here’s a selection of some happenings—fleeting or otherwise—in the Buddhist world this week.
Sikyong Penpa Tsering, President of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile, Will Visit Washington, D.C. This Month
In an announcement made on Tuesday, Sikyong Penpa Tsering, the president of the Central Tibetan Administration, confirmed that he would visit Washington, D.C. at the invitation of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who Tsering called, “a strong supporter and advocate for Tibet.” After the visit, which will take place from April 25 to the 29, Tsering will also visit Canada and Germany, Radio Free Asia reports. In the same statement to RFA, Tsering said, “Over the last decades, and especially under the leadership and authoritarian policies of Chinese president Xi Jinping, we have seen Tibetans face more and more religious and cultural repression aimed at wiping out the Tibetan identity,” and he plans to meet with other non-government officials during his time in Washington.
Monks Support Flood Relief in Australia
Two Buddhist groups in Australia have offered relief funds to those affected by February’s devastating floods in Queensland. The Buddha’s Light International Association of Queensland (BLIAQ) gave AUD $10,000 (USD $7,600) to flood victims in the Queensland suburb of Logan, where officials said the flooding was the worst on record since 1974. In Lismore, a small city near Brisbane, a group of Vietnamese Buddhists gave AUD $100,000 (USD $76,000). The monks also joined Lismore City Council Mayor Steve Krieg in meeting with evacuees in what Krieg described as an act of “unbelievable generosity.”
Buddhist Writer Ocean Vuong’s New Book of Poems, Time Is a Mother, Comes Out
A highly-anticipated book of poetry from award-winning writer Ocean Vuong came out on Tuesday. Time is a Mother, published by Penguin-Random House, is the writer’s second book of poetry. This one “searches for life among the aftershocks of his mother’s death, embodying the paradox of sitting within grief while being determined to survive beyond it.” Read this 2018 Tricycle interview with Vuong here and stay tuned to hear him on Life As It Is, Tricycle’s podcast with editor-in-chief James Shaheen and meditation teacher and author Sharon Salzberg, on April 27.
Japanese Buddhist Monk Guitar Sutras Go Viral
Togen Yoshihara, chief priest of Yokoku-ji temple in Gosen, a city in Japan’s Niigata Prefecture, has gained popularity for chanting Buddhist sutras while playing guitar. In May 2020, in order to “provide something virtuous” to community members at home during the pandemic, Yoshihara uploaded a YouTube video in which he played a guitar accompaniment to the Heart Sutra. After the video became popular, Yoshihara began performing live at his temple. Yoshihara says that, as an alternative to the mokugyo, or wooden block, traditionally used to accompany sutra chanting, “a guitar can make more rhythmic sounds… making it easier for listeners to understand the sutra they are hearing.” Yoshihara currently plays as many as ten sessions a month to a large crowd of worshippers, as well as at funerals and other ceremonies.
Buddhist Rockstar June Millington Is Inducted into the New England Music Hall of Fame
At a ceremony on April 8, Filipino and Buddhist rockstar June Millington, who co-founded the groundbreaking all-female rock band Fanny in the 1970s, was inducted into the New England Music Hall of Fame, whose mission is to promote and preserve music and musicians from the region. Millington lives in Goshen, Massachusetts, and is the co-founder of the Institute for the Music Arts, which holds music camps for girls. Read more about Millington and her career here in this Tricycle article.
April 13-15: Songkran, the Thai New Year also known as the “water-throwing festival” for the water fights that occur to cleanse people of their misdeeds, takes place next week. Temples in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and other Thai cities are planning festivities, while also planning to respect COVID-19 guidelines. Thailand is also currently considering lifting COVID-testing requirements for foreign travelers.
April 18-April 22: In honor of Earth Day 2022, Tricycle brings together leading Buddhist teachers, writers, and environmentalists—including Joanna Macy, Roshi Joan Halifax, David Loy, Paul Hawken and Tara Brach—for a donation-based weeklong virtual event series exploring what the dharma has to offer in a time of environmental crisis. Learn more here.