Nothing is permanent, so everything is precious. Here’s a selection of some happenings—fleeting or otherwise—in the Buddhist world this week.
Protesting the Beijing Olympics, Tibetan Students Handcuff Themselves to Olympic Rings
A small group of Tibetan students, some reportedly part of Tibetan freedom organizations, protested the Beijing Olympics in the International Olympic Committee’s Swiss headquarters on Saturday. Two Tibetan nationals cuffed themselves to the Olympic rings, while others carried a banner outside the building or sat down inside. On Monday, President Biden announced a “diplomatic boycott” of the games, wherein no US officials would attend, but US athletes would still be able to participate.
Brooklyn Museum Will Open Gallery Dedicated to Buddhist Art
The Brooklyn Museum recently announced plans to unveil a new gallery space dedicated to Buddhist art on January 21, 2022. The Arts of Buddhism gallery will introduce visitors to the tenets and history of Buddhism and will feature nearly 70 objects from 14 countries, dating from the second century CE to the early 2000s. The collection will display a range of works, including ritual tools and ornaments, sculptural depictions of Buddhas and enlightened beings, and a small selection of paintings. A pair of important Japanese mandala paintings, dating to the 14th century, will also be on view for the first time in 25 years as part of the inaugural installation of the gallery.
Earliest Bronze Buddha Statues Uncovered in China’s Shaanxi Province
Archeologists have excavated two gold-plated, bronze Buddha statues from ancient tomb chambers dating to the Eastern Han Dynasty (206 BCE–220 CE) in Northwest China’s Shaanxi Province. According to the Shaanxi Academy of Archeology, both statues—one depicting Shakyamuni and the other a five-headed Buddha—are made of a bronze alloy made from copper, tin, and lead. “The owner of the graveyard was possibly a county official or landlord, who had certain family influence and economic might,” said Li Ming, a researcher at the Shaanxi Academy of Archeology. “The findings of the Buddha statues are of great significance to the study of the introduction of Buddhism to China,” Li added.
Tibetan Writer Go Sherab Gyatso Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison
Chinese authorities have given a 10-year prison sentence to Tibetan writer and monk Go Sherab Gyatso, Radio Free Asia reports. Gyatso, who has written about the reality of living under Chinese rule, was arrested on unknown charges in October 2020, and in October 2021, the Chinese government responded to a letter from the UN Human Rights Watch saying Gyatso had been arrested “in accordance with the law on suspicion of inciting secession.” A Tibetan scholar in exile described Gyatso as “an open-minded individual who advocates the preservation of Tibetan language, religion and culture.”
Duncan Ryuken Williams Wins 2022 Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Religion
Duncan Ryuken Williams, a scholar, Soto Zen priest, and director of the Shinso Ito Center for Japanese Religions and Culture at the University of Southern California, has won the 2022 Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Religion for his 2019 book American Sutra: A Story of Faith and Freedom in the Second World War. Through letters, diaries, and other records, Williams chronicled how Japanese American Buddhists adhered to their faith even when forcibly relocated to internment camps during WWII. Their steadfast devotion demonstrated that it was possible to be both Buddhist and American, and laid the foundation for a less sectarian form of the religion in the United States, Williams wrote. Tyler Mayfield, director of the Grawemeyer religion award, said that “Williams’ work opens the way for a discussion that values religious inclusion over exclusion. He shows how Japanese Americans living in a time of great adversity broadened our nation’s vision of religious freedom.”
Pioneering Feminist, Author, and Social Critic bell hooks Passes Away
Gloria Jean Watson, known by her pen name, bell hooks, passed away on Wednesday at her home in Berea, Kentucky. She was 69. Her niece, Ebony Motley, shared on Twitter that hooks was surrounded by friends and family when she died. An outpouring of remembrances flooded social media and major news outlets alike. Read a tribute by Sharon Salzberg here, and more about this renowned feminist—known for her writing on race, gender, class, and systems of oppression—and longtime Buddhist here.
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