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

Buddhist Charity Creates Face Mask Fundraiser for US Hospitals

Dharma Relief, a Buddhist charity organization started by the Tallahassee Chan Center, is raising money to provide FDA approved surgical masks to US hospitals. Their initial fundraising goal was $100,000, which they have already surpassed. As of April 3, they had raised $233,492 and received 1,816 donations. Their new goal is $500,000. Every cent of the donations will be used to buy and ship surgical masks to US hospitals facing shortages. Dharma Relief writes, “The COVID-19 pandemic is an opportunity for us to deepen our practice and be of service to others during a time of uncertainty.” Find information on how to donate at dharmarelief.org.

Dalai Lama Releases Statement on Coronavirus

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama released a statement on March 30 about the coronavirus pandemic, connecting the crisis to the existential threat of climate change. He encouraged people to “employ science and human ingenuity” to overcome the problems our world is facing, noting that “living beings, including humans, have shown a remarkable ability to survive.” He also expressed special gratitude to medical staff who are working on the frontlines to save lives at their own great personal risk. In closing, the Dalai Lama said that he prays for an early end to the pandemic so that peace and happiness may soon be restored.

Funerals in Japan See Fewer Mourners and Delays

In Japan, Buddhism is sometimes referred to as a “funeral religion,” because for many Buddhist monks, performing memorial services for deceased followers is their primary activity. Now, the coronavirus pandemic is changing the way these funerals look. The Japan Times recently reported that more and more Japanese people are opting for simpler, cheaper funerals for loved ones—and some are postponing funerals altogether. As social distancing becomes widespread, funeral attendance is shrinking, and some are being postponed and even canceled, said Daichi Kuroki, a marketing director at Uniquest, an Osaka-based funeral startup. In response to COVID-19, Yoriso Company, another funeral startup based in Tokyo that works with around 900 funeral homes and 1,300 Buddhist monks, is now allowing the bereaved to move forward with the cremation of the deceased while postponing memorial services to a later date. 

New Website Encourages Contagious Compassion

Karunavirus—as in karuna, the Sanskrit word for compassion—is a new website that hopes to highlight stories of compassion in the news. Launched in mid-March by volunteer charity organization Service Space, the website hopes to shine a spotlight on uplifting stories in the coronavirus era, without ignoring the widespread reality of the mass suffering caused by the pandemic. “While our site is clearly meant to be uplifting, it’s not necessarily the kind of ‘happy news’ that turns a blind eye to our grief and suffering,” the website reads. “Rather it invites us to a more expansive space—that crucible of benevolence within ourselves—which can hold these challenges with uncommon grace.”

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