Nothing is permanent, so everything is precious. Here’s a selection of some happenings—fleeting or otherwise—in the Buddhist world this week and next.

Aung San Suu Kyi Sentenced to Four More Years in Prison

On Monday, Myanmar’s deposed civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi was sentenced to four more years in prison, on top of the two years she had previously been given for charges of incitement and non-compliance with COVID-19 restrictions during the 2020 election campaign. This time, the military charged Suu Kyi for the possession of walkie-talkies and for violating COVID-19 restrictions when she failed to wear a face mask when walking through a crowd of supporters, even though she was wearing a face shield. According to the New York Times, Amnesty International said that the walkie-talkie possession charges “suggest the military is desperate for a pretext to embark on a witch-hunt and intimidate anyone who challenges them.”

72-Year-Old Thai Monk Nears the End of a 1,500-Kilometer Barefoot Trek

Luang Ta Bun Chuen, a 72-year-old Thai monk, is nearing the end of a 1,500-kilometer barefoot pilgrimage across Thailand from Phuket to his home province of Nakhon Phanom. The monk arrived in Nakhon Ratchasima province on Tuesday morning, where people had waited on the roadside to receive his blessing. Those waiting described Luang Ta Bun Chuen as a monk who was devoted to doing good deeds and had renounced all material possessions—only accepting gifts of water during his journey. In accordance with the Buddhist monastic code, Luang Ta Bun Chuen undertakes a pilgrimage every year.   

Buddhists Pilgrims in Japan Test Use of a Robotic Suit That Assists Walking 

Buddhist pilgrims in Zentsuji, Japan recently tested a new robotic exoskeleton called Walk Mate to see if the gear could support religious pilgrims traversing rough terrain. According to Yoshihiro Miyake, a biophysics professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology who created the mechanical exoskeleton, the Walk Mate can add power to a person’s limbs in sync with their pace and gait through a control device on the back and motors on the shoulders and waist. The outdoor walking experiment took place in mid-December on a sloped road that connects the Mandaraji and Shusshakaji temples along the “henro” pilgrimage route, which traces the footsteps of Kobo Daishi (774-835). A priest at Zentsuji temple described the suit as a “modern technological version of the walking stick,” and a pilgrim in her 50s who climbed a 500-meter slope in the suit called the technology “marvelous.” “I was worried about my weak right knee, but I could walk just like healthy people do,” she said. 

Psychotherapist Mark Epstein’s New Book Comes Out 

Psychotherapist Mark Epstein’s new book, The Zen of Therapy: Uncovering a Hidden Kindness in Life, came out on Tuesday.  The book traces a year of therapy sessions and the Buddhist themes that arise. Epstein also appeared on Tricycle Talks, Tricycle’s monthly podcast featuring leading voices in the contemporary Buddhist world, this week. Listen to the episode below. 

Coming Up

January 14-17: Dharma Centers—including the Zen Studies Society in New York, the Winding Path Sangha in Iowa, and the Insight Meditation Society in Massachusetts—host online retreats honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy. 

January 26: Sharon Salzberg and the Holistic Life Foundation host a workshop titled “Mindfulness for Families” where they’ll teach simple, fun techniques that you can use with your kids—in the moment—to release stress and difficult emotions while promoting relaxation and resilience. Register here.

January 31: To conclude Tricycle Meditation Month, meditation teacher Myoshin Kelley hosts a live Q&A at 1 pm ET where participants can ask any questions they have about their meditation practice. Register here.

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