Nothing is permanent, so everything is precious. Here’s a selection of some happenings—fleeting or otherwise—in the Buddhist world this week.
Tibetan Religious Heads Postpone Annual Meeting
A gathering of major Tibetan Buddhist leaders in Dharamsala, India, scheduled to take place November 29–December 1 has been “indefinitely postponed,” according to the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), the Tibetan government-in-exile. The 13th Religious Conference of the Schools of Tibetan Buddhism and Bon Tradition was canceled because of the sudden death of Kathok Getse Rinpoche, the head of the Nyingma lineage, the CTA said. Many Nyingma leaders had been unable to attend due to his passing.
The change of plans also led Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje, one of the claimants to the head of the Karma Kagyu lineage, to cancel his return to India. The Karmapa has been living in America for more than a year but had said he would return at the behest of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. Ogyen Trinley Dorje is considered by some to be the top candidate to fill the leadership void that would be left behind in the event that the Dalai Lama chooses not to reincarnate and the Panchen Lama remains in Chinese custody. The issue of the Dalai Lama’s reincarnation and how to prevent Chinese officials from meddling in the identification process had been expected to be a major topic at the postponed gathering, according to the Religion News Network.
Korean Monks Hold Mile of Prostrations to Protest Worker’s Death
A group of monks marched through South Korea’s capital of Seoul, performing ritual prostrations for more than a mile in protest of the death of a migrant worker from Myanmar who died while fleeing immigration officials, UPI reports. The monks from the Jogye Order, the largest Buddhist sect in Korea, ended their November 20 march at the office of President Moon Jae-in, where they called for a reinvestigation into the August death. The 25-year-old migrant’s coworkers testified that he had fallen off of a construction site after an immigration official grabbed his leg, but a police investigation found that the officials were not responsible, according to UPI. The worker’s visa had expired earlier in the year. According to the country’s Migrants’ Trade Union, ten migrant workers have died in similar raids this year.
Buddhist Groups Aid California Wildfire Victims
Buddhists are doing their part to help victims of the California wildfires. The Tibetan Association of Northern California (TANC) in the city of Richmond raised $7,236 in aid, earning them the praises of Richmond Mayor Tom Butt, according to the Central Tibetan Administration. The TANC donation came from the proceeds of a volunteer-run community cafe, which drew hundreds of local Tibetan customers. Meanwhile, the Taiwan-based Tzu Chi Foundation is offering up to $800 to anyone displaced by the fire who fills out this online form. Tzu Chi was founded by Taiwanese Chan nun Cheng Yen—one of the four teachers who in the 20th century founded influential schools in Taiwan and are often referred to as the “four heavenly kings.” (The affectionate title is an homage to the Four Heavenly Kings of Buddhist mythology who watch over the four cardinal directions as well as a reference to the fact that the modern masters—Sheng-Yen, Hsing Yun, Cheng Yen, and Wei Chueh—each started a school in the country’s north, east, south, and west, respectively.)
First Genocide Conviction Against Khmer Rouge Leaders
Two leaders of Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge regime have been found guilty of genocide in Cambodia for the first time, the BBC reports. The brutal dictator’s deputy Nuon Chea, 92, and head of state Khieu Samphan, 87, were convicted for their role in the death of up to two million people between 1975 and 1979. While most of the victims were members of the largely Buddhist Khmer majority, Chea and Samphan had been facing charges of exterminating Cham Muslim and ethnic Vietnamese communities. The UN-backed tribunal responsible for prosecuting crimes by Pol Pot’s regime had never before found anyone guilty of genocide, but had determined that many of the leaders’ actions amounted to crimes against humanity, the BBC explains. That’s because the legal definition of genocide requires proving intent to wipe out a particular ethnic group rather than indiscriminate killing. The tribunal, however, ruled that the slaughter of 36 percent of the Cham population and the mass deportations and exterminations that eliminated nearly the entire Vietnamese population fit the definition.
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