Nothing is permanent, so everything is precious. Here’s a selection of some happenings—fleeting or otherwise—in the Buddhist world this week
Edinburgh’s Dalai Lama-Inspired ‘Himalaya Café’ Survives by Reaching Its Fundraising Goal
The Himalaya Café in Edinburgh, Scotland recently avoided closure through a fundraising campaign launched by its owner, Reka Gawa. The daughter of Tibetan refugees, Gawa was inspired to open the shop after a chance meeting with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 2004. Gawa told BBC Scotland that she had been working in catering at the Scottish Parliament and was able to meet the Dalai Lama while he was there on an official visit. During their brief meeting, the Dalai Lama held Gawa’s hands and spoke of the importance of keeping the ancient Tibetan culture alive, and Gawa promised she would. Gawa opened the Himalaya Café in 2007 so she could create a welcoming space run on the Buddhist principle of compassion. In addition to serving Tibetan and Indian food, the café also acts as a Tibetan cultural center, complete with a free meditation room in the basement. Sonam Tsering Frasi, the representative of the Dalai Lama in northern Europe, the Baltic states, and Poland, said he knew of the café and Reka’s work. “I appreciate it very much that Reka has been promoting Tibetan culture in Scotland for many years and would like to see her cafe business uninterrupted,” he said, “providing the taste of Tibetan food and tranquillity to the Scots in Edinburgh.”
After 14 years of renting the space, the future of the café was recently put at risk when the landlord decided to sell the premises. With only a brief window of time to buy the building, Gawa turned to her community for help in fundraising the remaining £45,000 required for the bank loan. In a statement on GoFundMe, Gawa announced on Monday that the cafe had reached its goal. She wrote, “Although I knew it would work out, it is still a relief. The Himalaya is well-loved, and needs to continue—we all know that.” The campaign is still accepting further donations on GoFundMe to help reduce the total bank loan of £125,000.
Apple Launches Rebranded Mindfulness App on latest watchOS
In its announcement of the new watchOS 8 release, Apple shared that the Breathe App has been rebranded as the Mindfulness app. The app aims to help users be more mindful in everyday life with new features including an enhanced Breathe experience, a session called Reflect, and weekly guided meditations in audio form (but only for Fitness+ subscribers). Breathe sessions now offer new visualizations and tips designed to help users focus, center, and connect as they breathe, while every Reflect session presents a mindful intention to focus on throughout the day. At the end of these sessions, users receive a summary of their total Mindful Minutes and their average heart rate to help users reinforce their “mind-body connection,” according to Apple’s website.
The British Museum to Open New Exhibition Featuring Drawings by Buddhist Artist Katsushika Hokusai
On September 30, The British Museum will premier an exhibition of drawings by Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849), the Japanese artist who is best known for his masterpiece woodblock print The Great Wave. Hokusai: The Great Picture Book of Everything consists of 103 drawings that Hokusai originally created for an illustrated encyclopedia. Thought to have been the works of another artist, the drawings were last publicly recorded at a Parisian auction in 1948 and were said to have been part of a private collection in France before resurfacing in 2019, at which point they were recognized as Hokusai’s and promptly purchased by the British Museum. Many of the drawings depict both natural and religious scenes from Buddhist India and ancient China, showcasing a curiosity for the outside world that seemingly contradicts the isolationist culture of Edo-period Japan. The exhibition will be open through January 30, 2022. Additional information for planning a visit can be found here.
Thai Monks Deliver Free Groceries to Vulnerable Communities
In Thailand, a group of monks has been driving a golf cart stocked with free groceries around the Bangkok area in an effort to assist communities that continue to suffer due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Pornchai Kabmalee, a monk residing at the Wat Siriphong Thamma Nimit temple, came up with the idea a few months ago. “I can say our truck basically has everything that a supermarket has,” he told Reuters. “I feel scared (of the virus) just like other human beings, but to me, I’m more scared of not being able to help others.” The monks make their rounds every Sunday and allow residents to each pick five sacks of produce from the cart. While the monks initially paid for the groceries out of their own pockets, volunteers have begun to chip in too. As of September 30, approximately 23 percent of Thailand’s population was fully vaccinated.
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