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. 

Thai Designers Fashion Buddhist Amulets From Recycled Materials

During Bangkok Design Week 2022 (February 5–13), two Thai companies unveiled co-designed recycled Buddhist amulets. The amulets, made of nine different types of recycled materials ranging from plastic bottles to nylon fishing nets, are blessed by monks and available in exchange for one kilogram of plastic or 100 baht ($3.07 USD). All proceeds are donated to charitable organizations. “The idea of the plastic amulet is a result of finding a connection between the environment and Thai culture,” said Krit Phutpim, a director at Dots Design Studio, one of the companies behind the project launched at Bangkok’s Design Week exhibition.

Magha Puja Day Celebrated in Southeast Asia

On February 16, Theravada Buddhists observed Magha Puja Day, a holiday that is particularly important in Southeast Asia. Magha Puja commemorates several important events in the Buddha’s life, including the announcement of his death. Observers visit temples to accumulate merit, observe the eight precepts, recite prayers, and release lanterns into the sky. Read more about Magha Puja Day, also known as Sangha Day, in Tricycle’s Buddhism for Beginners section.

Parallax Press Offers a Limited Time eBook Bundle Honoring Thich Nhat Han

Parallax Press, the book publisher founded by Thich Nhat Han, and Humble Bundle, an e-commerce platform that puts together bundle promotions and supports charity, have released a collection of books by Nhat Han and his disciples called The Art of Happiness. The bundle features over 25 titles and is available until March 5. Read an excerpt from No Mud, No Lotus, one of the books in the collection, here.

Soka Gakkai International Publishes the English Translation of Daisaku Ikeda’s 2022 Peace Proposal

Every year, the president of Soka Gakkai International publishes a peace proposal, and this year’s, which came out in late January, has just been fully translated into English. Titled Transforming Human History: The Light of Peace and Dignity, the paper focuses on the inequalities heightened by the pandemic, the climate crisis, and the abolition of nuclear weapons. Read the full proposal here.

A Khmer Buddhist Foundation Donates $1 Million to Buddhist Digital Resource Center

A Khmer Buddhist Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving the culture of the Khmer people, announced last week that it has provided one million dollars in grant money to the Buddhist Digital Resource Center (BDRC). The donations have helped BDRC restore and digitize the largest collection of Cambodian Buddhist palm leaf manuscripts in the world — over 1.5 million pages in total. After two years of locating, cleaning, organizing, digitization, and scanning fragile palm leaf texts, the BDRC has made a total of over 7,600 manuscripts freely available on their website. The remaining 2,500 will be processed and released online in the coming months. 

Palm leaf manuscripts have been the main medium for Cambodian literature for hundreds of years. The dyed and hand-etched palm leaves, bundled together and tied with colorful strings, are used to transmit Buddhist rituals and teachings from generation to generation. Over 95 percent of palm leaf texts were lost to the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia between 1975-1990. Lyna Lam, the founder and executive director of A Khmer Buddhist Foundation, said the restored manuscripts “offer a snapshot of the fascinating cultural and spiritual landscape that existed in Cambodian society before the country was ravaged by war.”

Coming Up:

February 24: The Shin Buddhist Path of Boundless Compassion

Fourteenth-generation Shin Buddhist minister Mark Unno joins Tricycle editor-in-chief James Shaheen for a virtual conversation on the concept of compassion in Shin Buddhism, collective karma, balancing formal practice with freedom and creativity, and more. Register here.

February 26: Sutra and Bible, an Exhibit on Faith and the Japanese American Internment, Opens with a Virtual Curator’s Preview and Gallery Talk

On February 26, an exhibit at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles titled Sutra and Bible: Faith and the Japanese American World War II Incarceration will open with a virtual preview and talk by curators Duncan Ryuken Williams and Emily Anderson. The exhibit, sponsored by the Museum and the USC Shinso Ito Center for Japanese Religions and Culture, features never-before-seen artifacts that showcase the role faith played for Japanese Americans during incarceration. The preview runs from 10 am to 11am PT, and the museum doors open to the public at 11 am. On April 2, the museum will host an in-person grand opening program and reception, and on August 13, a procession of interfaith clergy, mainly Buddhist priests, will carry the Ireicho Book of Names, a book containing the names of the victims of incarceration, for a formal installation in the museum’s atrium as an addition to the exhibit. Williams has been compiling the list of names for the book, which are meant to be chanted as a form of remembrance. Sutra and Bible runs until November 27, 2022. Stay tuned for more coverage.

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