Nothing is permanent, so everything is precious. Here’s a selection of some happenings—fleeting or otherwise—in the Buddhist world this week and next.

Representative of South Africa’s Office of Tibet Attends Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s Funeral Service After Dalai Lama Offers Condolences      

Representative Ngodup Dorjee of the Office of Tibet in South Africa attended the Saturday, January 1 funeral service of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the revered, Nobel Peace Prize-winning Anglican cleric who helped end apartheid in South Africa. The Dalai Lama was good friends with Tutu and offered his condolences following the archbishop’s death on December 26. “With his passing away, we have lost a great man, who lived a truly meaningful life. He was devoted to the service of others, especially those who are least fortunate. I am convinced the best tribute we can pay him and keep his spirit alive is to do as he did and constantly look to see how we too can be of help to others,” wrote the Dalai Lama. Read his full condolences here.

Nonprofit Live to Love International Works to Protect Himalayan Communities from the Omicron Variant

Live to Love, a nonprofit organization serving the people of the Himalayas, has scaled up its COVID-19 humanitarian aid efforts in response to the spreading Omicron variant. Working with local partners, the nonprofit provided critical supplies to 5,000 people across neglected and inaccessible regions in the Lahaul and Spiti district in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. In Leh, Ladakh, Live to Love installed medical infrastructure and donated equipment to the local hospital. According to a press release, the organization also provided food to nearly 10,000 people in villages, monasteries, orphanages, and nursing homes across the Himalayan regions. 

Dalai Lama Sends Letter of Support to New Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval

Aftab Pureval, an Indian-Tibetan and Cincinnati’s first Asian American mayor, took the oath of office on Tuesday in an outdoor ceremony, where he was presented with letters of support from His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Penpa Tsering, the Sikyong (political leader) of the Central Tibetan Administration. In his letter, the Dalai Lama wrote: “In all my interactions with Tibetans I have been encouraged to see that, despite living in new circumstances by and large they and their children are able to maintain their sense of identity while contributing to the development of their adopted country.” Pureval expressed his gratitude for the letter in a tweet and invited the Dalai Lama to visit Cincinnati. 

Chinese Officials Destroy 99-Foot Buddha Statue, Forcing Monks and Locals to Watch

Authorities in China’s Sichuan province demolished a 99-foot tall Buddha statue in Drago County in the Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture last month following official complaints that the statue had been built too high, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reports. The statue was erected in 2015 and had been built with contributions of around 40 million yuan ($6.3 million USD) by local Tibetans. A former Drago resident named Palden told RFA that the statue “had the full approval of the local authorities,” but Chinese authorities later withdrew approval, stating that the statue was too tall. Tibetan monks and other local residents were forced to witness the demolition, which began on December 12 and continued for nine days. Chinese authorities also destroyed 45 traditional prayer wheels that had been set up for use by Tibetan pilgrims and other worshippers. A Tibetan source living in India, with contacts in Drago, told RFA that police were present during the demolition “to make sure that spectators didn’t take pictures or videos or create disturbances.” 

Thich Nhat Hanh’s Plum Village Community Offers a Message for the New Year

On the eve of 2022, Thich Nhat Hanh’s Plum Village Community offered a blessing for Mother Earth and our ancestors, reflecting on the hardships of the past year and sharing aspirations to recommit to practice, be a continuation of Thich Nhat Hanh and our ancestors, and continue protecting our planet. “In the coming year, we are determined to simplify our life, to consume less, to live more deeply and with gratitude, and to remember that in the present moment we already have enough conditions to be happy.” Read the full message here.

Coming Up:

January 7-9: The Buddhist Global Relief Fund, founded by Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi, offers a three-day online retreat titled “Meeting the New Year: Clarity, Compassion, and Courage.” Find more details and register here.

January 8: Ruth King’s Online Learning Academy launches with a free webinar at 12:00 pm ET. Register here.

January 13: Scholar Donald S. Lopez hosts a live conversation on “Buddhism’s 4 Big Unanswered Questions” at 4 pm ET. Learn more about the event and register here.

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