Nothing is permanent, so everything is precious. Here’s a selection of some happenings—fleeting or otherwise—in the Buddhist world this week.
Harry Is a “Sitting” Prince
England’s Prince Harry revealed this week that he has begun meditating every day, a habit he picked from his wife, Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex. The news broke among royal watchers after a reporter for the UK’s Daily Mail tweeted that the prince had talked about his practice with the Tibetan Buddhist monk Kelsang Sonam, 69. At the time, the monk had been giving Harry a copy of the Eight Steps to Happiness, a commentary on the 11th-century poem “Eight Verses of Training the Mind” by Geshe Langri Thangpa. The author of Eight Steps, Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, is the founder of the popular but controversial New Kadampa Tradition.
Nyingma School Picks Dzogchen Rinpoche Jigme Losel Wangpo as New Head
The senior lamas in the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism have selected Dzogchen Rinpoche Jigme Losel Wangpo as their new leader, Phayul.com reports. The 54-year-old head of the Dzogchen lineage will take over following the sudden death of Kathok Getse Rinpoche in November. Unlike other Tibetan schools, Nyingma has not historically had a single leader. In January 2018, the school decided that the position would rotate among the leaders of the six major Nyingma lineages—Kathok, Dzogchen, Sechen, Mindrolling, Dorje Drak, and Palyul—in three year terms, beginning with Kathok Getse Rinpoche. The decision to select Dzogchen Rinpoche Jigme Losel Wangpo as his successor was made on January 15 during the Nyingma Monlam festival at Bodh Gaya, India.
South Korean Buddhists Eye Temple Stays in North Korea
The leader of South Korea’s largest Buddhist order has announced plans to begin temple stays in North Korea to help improve relations between the countries, the Yonhap News Agency reports. Ven. Wonhaeng, chief administrator of the Jogye Order, said on January 16 that the school will pursue a variety of initiatives including overnight stays at North Korea’s Singye Temple on Mount Kumgang. The sect will also invite Buddhist leaders from the North to participate in a lantern lighting ceremony in the South to mark the Buddha’s birthday, Wonhaeng said. The Singye Temple is one of four major temples on the famed mountain; it was originally constructed in 519 CE but was destroyed by US fighter planes in 1951 at the start of the Korean War. The temple was reconstructed in 2004.
Canadian Buddhist Poker Player Gives Away $671,000 Prize
Buddhist poker player Scott Wellenbach, 67, will be giving the $671,000 he won in a Texas Hold ’Em tournament to charity, CTV News reports. Wellenbach, who is from Halifax, Canada, had pledged ahead of time to give away his earnings if he ended up winning any of the prizes awarded to the top five competitors at the Bahamas tournament. Wellenbach has donated his poker winnings in the past, giving to Doctors Without Borders and OxFam as well as sending the $72,000 he won at the European Poker Tour to several Buddhist nunneries in Nepal and Tibet, a friend of his told the Canadian news outlet. The friend added that Wellenbach’s charity is inspired by his Buddhist faith, adding, “He doesn’t live above his means.”
Buddhist Elementary School Invites New Students
The Middle Way School, a Buddhist elementary school that began its first school year in the fall of 2018, is holding an open house for prospective students. Parents can stop by the Hudson Valley school on February 2 to learn more about its program. The school, which was funded in part by a Khyentse Foundation grant, mixes Buddhist wisdom and progressive pedagogy to tap into the “inherent intelligence and kindness in children,” according to executive director Noa Jones.
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