Nothing is permanent, so everything is precious. Here’s a selection of some happenings—fleeting or otherwise—in the Buddhist world this week.
U.S. Investigating Rohingya Camps
The U.S. State Department has been investigating atrocities against the Rohingya people to make a case for prosecuting Myanmar for crimes against humanity, Reuters reports. About 20 investigators have been interviewing people at refugee camps in Bangladesh during March and April. The probe is expected to wrap up in May or June, government sources told Reuters, at which point it will be up to the Trump administration to impose sanctions or take legal action. Meanwhile, the Rohingya living in the camps are bracing for monsoon season, which is expected to bring “enormous deaths” from mudslides and disease.
McMindfulness Meets McMansions
The latest trend in luxury real estate is homes that promise to reduce stress—for only $4 million, the Wall Street Journal reports. “The path to inner peace may lie in the right amenities, or so the rising popularity of wellness real estate would suggest,” the Journal writes.
Sri Lanka Bans Meat on Buddha’s Birthday
Sri Lanka has banned the the sale of meat and liquor on the Buddha’s birthday, the Times of India reports. The ban will cover the celebration of Vesak on April 29 and 30. The new rule follows a controversial decision to move the labor holiday of May Day from May 1 to May 7 to avoid a conflict with the Buddhist holiday in an apparent effort to appease the religious majority, who feared the holidays would overlap.
Thai “Princes” Become Novice Monks
Boys in Thailand participated in a ritual to become Buddhist novices this week. The children, mostly from the Shan ethnic group, dressed as colorful princes as part of the Poy Sang Long rite, in which they recreate the early life of Siddhartha Gautama, according to Reuters. During the multi-day ceremony, the boys trade their colorful garb for simple white outfits and have their heads shaved before being ordained at a monastery.
Studies Find Meditation Helps with Anxiety and Sexual-Assault Trauma
Meditation can lower anxiety after just one session, a small new study finds. “Our results show a clear reduction in anxiety in the first hour after the meditation session, and our preliminary results suggest that anxiety was significantly lower one week after the meditation session,” study author John Durocher of Michigan Technological University told medicalxpress.com. Meanwhile, a study at Rutgers University found that a combination of aerobic exercise and meditation can help women recover from the trauma of sexual assault. The study, which used an intervention called MAP (Mental and Physical) Training, found that after six weeks the women’s trauma-related thoughts decreased significantly.
Sacred Buddhist Mountain Taken Off Stock Market
China bowed to pressure from Buddhist monks to withdraw an initial public offering (IPO) for Mount Putuo, one of four sacred Buddhist mountains, Bloomberg News reports. Religion has become a big business in China, with two of the mountains already listed on the stock exchange. And the state-run Mount Putuo Tourism, which initially listed the mountain, took in more than $126 million in revenue in 2017 from selling ferry tickets.
Hell in the Headlines
The lowest level of Buddhist hell, Avici, found its way into the news this week with the death of the Swedish musician Avicii, whose real name is Tim Bergling. Bergling, 28, was found dead in Oman, where an autopsy later ruled out foul play. His moniker—which adds an extra i to Avici because some else already had the name on Myspace— refers to the part of Naraka (one of the six realms) where those who commited the gravest offenses are reincarnated.
Dalai Lama Calls for Buddhism in Schools
His Holiness the Dalai Lama has called on Indian schools to integrate ancient traditions into modern education. “Buddha was an ancient Indian scientist. I consider myself as half monk and half scientist,” he said, according to the Economic Times. The Dalai Lama pointed to the Nalanda monastery and school of the 13th century as evidence that the ancient Indian traditions can “help solve problems in the world.” Meanwhile, Tricycle has reported that a school in Woodstock, New York, is integrating Buddhist teachings into its pedagogy. And in California, the Dharma Realm Buddhist University (DRBU) announced this week that it has been granted initial accreditation by the WASC Senior Commission of Universities and Colleges. The Ukiah-based school offers an MA in Buddhist Classics and a BA in Liberal Arts.
Shambhala Takes New Step Against Sexual Abuse
A member of the Shambhala International community has moved on to the next phase of addressing years of alleged sexual abuse by creating a healing toolkit for victims. Project Sunshine, which was created by Shambhala member Andrea M. Winn to bring cases of misconduct within the community to light, is currently raising funds for Phase 2, which seeks to create “an open, transparent, decentralized healing process outside the influence of Shambhala’s hierarchy.”
MoMA Screens Buddhist Documentary
The film Becoming Who I Was, about a young Ladakhi boy who is believed to be a reincarnated Tibetan Buddhist lama, will be screening at the Museum of Modern Art on Tuesday, May 1 in New York City. The documentary, directed by Chang-Yong Moon, was filmed over eight years.
Harvard Holds Tibetan Art Symposium
Harvard University will be hosting a symposium on “New Directions in the Study of Tibetan Buddhist Art History” on April 28–29. The event will bring together experts in Tibetan art to discuss how rediscovered Tibetan texts along with new technologies and research approaches have changed the field.
Update (4/30): A previous version of this article identified Project Sunshine founder Andrea Winn as a former Shambhala member. She is still a member of Shambhala.
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