Nothing is permanent, so everything is precious. Here’s a selection of some happenings—fleeting or otherwise—in the Buddhist world this week.
Thai Monks Join the Frontlines as COVID-19 Cases Continue to Rise
As Thailand struggles to contain a recent surge in COVID-19 cases, Buddhist monks have joined the country’s essential workers on the frontline—delivering oxygen cylinders, administering COVID tests, and transporting the dead. The recent outbreak was reportedly tied to a cluster of cases in April around Bangkok’s high-end nightlife scene. Since then, the country has seen over 640,000 new infections, leaving many Thais feeling failed by their government’s COVID protocols and health care system. “Buddhist monks have always been the spiritual leaders of Thai communities and people have always relied on us for spiritual wisdom,” said Mahapromphong, the Deputy Abbot of Bangkok’s Suthi Wararam Temple (now also functioning as a clinic), in an interview with MSN. “So by coming down to communities and conducting tests for people, I see it as a true duty for us monks. We should be the ones people could put their faith in.”
Local Authorities Forcibly Shut Down Tibetan Monastery in China’s Gansu Province
Earlier this week, authorities in China’s Gansu province shut down a Tibetan monastery in the Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture, evicting the monks and nuns by force. According to Radio Free Asia (RFA), online videos show monks protesting the forced return to lay life, holding up a banner that read, “Forcible defrocking of monks is illegal and unacceptable!” Ma Ju, a US-based commentator, reported that many monks were also detained during the eviction. Ma added that the Chinese Communist Party will likely target other monasteries: “They are getting ready to eliminate all Tibetan temples and monasteries within the majority Han Chinese area of China,” Ma said. “This is one of their policies.” A local employee told RFA that Director Cui of the Monastery Management Committee would be responsible for “resettling” the monks and nuns, but he was unable to be reached for comment.
Minnesota Teen, Identified as a Tulku, Spotlighted in the News
Every morning before school and football practice, 14-year-old Jalue Dorje wakes up to recite Tibetan Buddhist texts. After school and practice, he’ll come home to study Buddhism, Tibetan history, and calligraphy. The Dalai Lama identified Dojre as the eight reincarnation of lama Terchen Taksham Rinpoche when he was two years old, and when he graduates from high school in 2025, he’ll move to Mindrolling monastery in Northern India. Until then, his parents wanted to continue raising him in Columbia Heights, Minnesota, where plays video games and follows sports—especially the Atlanta teams. (Unless he’s wearing his robes, he’ll likely be wearing his favorite Falcons cap, he says.) The Associated Press shared Dorje’s story this week, and readers everywhere took note. “He knows he’s Tibetan. He also knows he’s American,” says Kate Thomas, one of his tutors at Minneapolis’ Bodhicitta Sangha Heart of Enlightenment Institute. “But like the youth of today, he is a global citizen as well. And he started out that way due to his age, his generation.”
FPMT Sanga Marks the One Year Anniversary of Its Weekly 24-Hour Prayerathon
Since August 1, 2020, the Foundation for the Preservation of Mahayana Tradition (FPMT) has been gathering a global community online every Saturday for a 24-hour prayeraton to recite the Thangtong Gyalpo’s Prayer for the benefit of all sentient beings and to reduce the suffering caused by the pandemic. The weekly event, advised by Lama Zopa Rinpoche, is organized by FPMT’s organization for monks and nuns, the International Mahayana Institute (IMI), and hosted by the Chenrezig Institute Multimedia Team. Viewers can join the prayerathon each week from 9:30 a.m. Saturday to 9:30 a.m. on Sunday on the Chenrezig Institute YouTube channel.
Happy Birthday, Roshi Joan Halifax, Robert Thurman, and Sharon Salzberg
On July 30, Roshi Joan Halifax—author, Zen Buddhist priest, and abbot of Santa Fe, New Mexico’s Upaya Zen Center—celebrated her 79th continuation day. Listen to Halifax speak about double-edged empathy and her latest book, Standing at the Edge, here on Tricycle Talks.
Tibetan Buddhist Scholar Robert A.F. Thurman—who is also the cofounder and president of the nonprofit Tibet House US, the president of the American Institute of Buddhist Studies, and a prolific author and translator—celebrated his birthday and the publication of his latest book, “Wisdom Is Bliss: Four Friendly Fun Facts That Can Change Your Life,” on August 3. Read more about his new book here.
Meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg celebrated her birthday on August 4. Listen to our new podcast series with Salzberg, Life As It Is, where she recently spoke with author and Tricycle contributing editor Daisy Hernández, here on our website, or wherever you listen to podcasts.
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