Nothing is permanent, so everything is precious. Here’s a selection of some happenings—fleeting or otherwise—in the Buddhist world this week.
Dharma Ocean Closing after Founding Teacher Reggie Ray Steps Down
The Colorado-based meditation community Dharma Ocean announced this week that the group will be dissolving and has begun suspending operations, according to a statement emailed to its sangha. While the message cites “several factors,” including “financial challenges,” the announcement follows Dharma Ocean founder Reggie Ray’s decision to withdraw from public teaching after a group of former staff and students circulated an open letter alleging that Ray and the organization had a “history of emotionally abusive dynamics and various forms of manipulation.”
Dharma Ocean’s newly appointed board of directors, which was established to oversee the closure after the previous board resigned, said in their email: “We are considering how to best work with the allegations and the other actions initiated by the former board.” Ray remains in retreat, the message said. The board also said that they are looking for a way for the group’s Blazing Mountain Retreat Center, established in 2011 in Crestone, Colorado, to continue to serve as a “home for the dharma and deep practice.” Ray, an author, scholar of religion, and student of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, founded Dharma Ocean in 2005.
India Passes Anti-Muslim Citizenship Law, Setting Off Protests and Violence
The Indian government this week passed a new citizenship law that grants citizenship to illegal immigrants from six persecuted religious minorities, excluding Muslims. After the vote, protesters took to the streets and clashed with police, who fired tear gas and live ammunition, killing at least three demonstrators as of Friday, CBS News reports. The act, which grants citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians from Muslim-majority Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan, cleared the Indian parliament on Wednesday and was approved by the President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday. Later on Thursday and continuing through Friday, protesters calling the law unconstitutional and racist clashed with authorities in Delhi and Assam. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, which has often espoused Hindu nationalist views, pushed the legislation, and opposition parties have vowed to challenge it in the nation’s Supreme Court.
China Opens Exhibition of Panchen Lama Relics
An exhibition of Tibetan Buddhist art from the Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, the seat of the Panchen Lama, opened this week at the Palace Museum in Beijing. “The Fortune and Longevity of Sumeru: An Encounter between the Tashi Lhunpo Monastery and the Palace Museum” is a brazen choice in light of the 1995 arrest of Choekyi Nyima, the 11th Panchen Lama recognized by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. Choekyi Nyima has not been seen publicly since he was taken into Chinese custody at the age of six. That same year, Chinese Buddhist authorities identified another boy, Choekyi Gyalpo, as the 11th Panchen Lama. Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, established by the 1st Dalai Lama in 1447, housed 4,000 monks before the Chinese government started demolishing buildings in the 1960s. The pro-Communist Party Global Times writes of the exhibition: “The fifth Panchen Lama was appointed and given the title of Panchen Erdeni by Emperor Kangxi in 1713. The emperor sent symbolic gold plates and gold seals to the Panchen Lama. This close relationship fostered a remarkable exchange of cultural relics between Tashi Lhunpo Monastery and the Forbidden City.”
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