Nothing is permanent, so everything is precious. Here’s a selection of some happenings—fleeting or otherwise—in the Buddhist world this week.
Zen Hospice Project Suspends Operations, Needs More Funding to Reopen
Zen Hospice Project, the pioneering Buddhist-inspired residential hospice that has operated in San Francisco since 1987, suspended their guesthouse at the end of June because of insufficient funding, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The project was started by San Francisco Zen Center members to care for AIDS patients turned away by hospices at the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis and has since expanded to care for any terminally ill patients. Their iconic Victorian townhouse accommodated six residents with a 1-to-1 ratio of residents to staff at a cost of $850 per resident per day; fees were charged on a sliding scale and no one turned away because of inability to pay. Two of the project’s other programs, volunteer support at San Francisco’s Laguna Honda Hospital’s palliative care unit and a course on caregiving, are still operating. Executive Director George Kellar said the internationally renowned project has seen a “substantial” drop in donations over the last 18 months; he believes many donors have shifted their giving to social justice causes since President Trump was inaugurated. The project hopes to find a corporate donor willing to give about $2 million a year for a few years to reopen its doors.
Related: Attention to Death
Thai Boys Complete Temporary Ordination; Stateless Boys Recieve Thai Citizenship
The Wild Boar soccer team recently rescued from a flooded cave completed their nine-day period as novice monks and returned to lay life on Saturday, August 4th. The Thai youth soccer team was trapped in a flooded cave for 18 days and rescued in a perilous and dramatic operation. Eleven of the twelve boys ordained as novice Buddhist monks to express gratitude for their rescue and dedicate the merit believed to be earned from ordination to the late Saman Gunan, 37, a retired Thai Navy Seal who died while volunteering on the rescue operation. (The twelfth boy is Christian and did not participate.) Their coach Ekapol Chanthawong, 25, a former novice monk, ordained as a full monk and will remain at the monastery three months.
During the rescue, media reported that the coach and three boys were among Thailand’s 480,000 stateless people, though all four were reportedly born in Thailand. They received full citizenship on Wednesday, the BBC reports, and the New York Times covered the challenges Thai stateless people face.
Learn more: Thai Soccer Players Ordain After Rescue
Buddhist Group Plans to Build Temple near Las Vegas Strip
The World Buddhism Association Headquarters has purchased a 12.2-acre plot of vacant land near the Las Vegas strip for $17.5 million and plans to build a temple, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports. Construction will start when the group raises sufficient funds. The group is led by His Holiness Dorje Chang Buddha III, who claims to be the highest leader of Buddhism in the world; in 2015 the Pasadena Star-News reported that Interpol was after him for stealing $7 million while in China, but they later backed off. Professor Robert Buswell, director of UCLA’s Center for Buddhist Studies, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that he had heard of Dorje Chang Buddha III but has “no idea how he would have received this title, and presume it is a self-investiture.”
The Dalai Lama Will Travel Less, Rest More Next Year
The Dalai Lama said that he plans to curtail his commitments next year to reduce travel and rest more, Phayul reports. While delivering a speech, the Dalai Lama, 83, asked the audience, “Would you prefer this old fellow to take things a little easier and live longer, or follow a hectic schedule and have a shorter life?” He continued, explaining he will take more rest next year because “my body is only flesh and bone and if I tire it out it’s likely that it will shorten my life.”
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