Nothing is permanent, so everything is precious. Here’s a selection of some happenings—fleeting or otherwise—in the Buddhist world this week.
Chinese County Bans India-trained Monks from Teaching
China’s Sichuan county has banned Tibetan Buddhist monks who were “wrongly educated” in India from teaching, the state-run Global Times reports. People who hold a Geshe Lharampa, the highest degree in Tibetan Buddhism, must attend “patriotic education classes,” and if they misbehave or show “separatist intent” they will be banned. China has also instituted its own tests and criteria for awarding Geshe Lharampa.
Overworked Japanese Monk Sues Temple
A Japanese monk is suing his temple at Mount Koya, or Koyasan, because he says he was overworked during tourist season at the World Heritage Site. Koyasan, where Shingon Buddhist temples offer accommodations for pilgrims and tourists, has become an increasingly popular destination for domestic and foreign travelers. The monk’s lawyer told AFP that he at one point worked 64 days in a row, with work days that sometimes ran as long as 17 hours. “You provide labor, but you are told it’s part of religious training,” the lawyer explained. “And if it’s training, you must endure even it causes you significant hardship.”
Monks Mugged at Library
Men posing as police officers beat and robbed two Buddhist monks at a library in India’s Uttar Pradesh state, the Business Standard reports. The six armed men stole five cell phones, a bicycle, and 40,000 rupees ($588) from the monks at the Buddha Vihar library in the city of Farrukhabad.
Giant Jade Buddha Goes Down Under
A massive jade Buddha statue will be enshrined in Australia after a trip around the world, the Guardian reports. The 8-foot-tall Buddha is made from a single jade boulder found in Canada 18 years ago. The Great Stupa of Universal Compassion in Victoria, Australia, will soon house the $20 million statue, which has been to 130 countries and seen 11 million visitors.
Eric Schneiderman Retreats
Former New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who stepped down after allegations that he abused and assaulted four women, has left the city to go meditate, the New York Post reports. Schneiderman has been vocal about his Buddhist practice in the past, attending events about Buddhism and social activism. “He meditates. He goes on retreats,” an anonymous friend told the Post. “I think he sought Buddhism to alleviate internal pain.”
Korean Buddhists Share Prayer Across Border
A North Korean Buddhist organization sent a message of prayer to a South Korean group following a meeting between the two countries’ leaders, the Korea Times reports. North Korea’s Buddhist Federation sent the prayer to the Association of Korean Buddhist Orders’ human rights committee in Seoul following the Panmunjom Declaration, which was signed on April 27 and vows to end the conflict between the countries and denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. The prayer will be read at a celebration of the Buddha’s birthday on May 22.
Insurgents Attack in Myanmar
An attack by the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) this week killed 19 people in northeastern Myanmar, the New York Times reports. The Ta’ang people have been forced to leave their homes following a civil war in the region. The TNLA said it was retaliating for the Myanmar military’s attack on the Kachin people, a Christian minority group who have been displaced by ongoing conflict in the region.
Meanwhile, Rohingya villagers who spoke to members of a United Nation delegation that recently visited the Rakhine states have gone into hiding to avoid retaliation from Myanmar officials, the Guardian reports. Agents from Myanmar’s military intelligence have been looking for any villagers who spoke to envoys. Four villagers caught on tape talking to the U.N. have disappeared, fearing for their lives.
Cambodia Remembrance Day
Sunday, May 20 is the Cambodian Day of Remembrance, commemorating the genocide by the Khmer Rouge regime. In San Francisco, Chansitha Ouk, who was abandoned in the killing fields at age 9, is preparing to graduate from the University of California, Berkeley. “I feel so blessed. I never thought I would make it,” Ouk, now 50, told the San Francisco Chronicle.
Modern Cambodia is facing its own struggles. Among them is a battle over land rights that has forced many people out of their homes. The new documentary Cambodian Spring follows an activist Buddhist monk and a community in the capital of Phnom Penh from 2009 to 2015 as they fight to hold on to their land. The film, by Irish documentarian Chris Kelly, will be playing at the Brooklyn Film Festival on June 6 and June 10.
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