Nothing is permanent, so everything is precious. Here’s a selection of some happenings—fleeting or otherwise—in the Buddhist world this week.
Dalai Lama Cancels Foreign Travel
His Holiness the Dalai Lama has cut his travel for the rest of the year due to exhaustion, Newsweek reports. “His Holiness is invited to different countries but he has cut down public engagements because of age,” Sonam Dagpo, a spokesperson for the Central Tibetan Administration told the magazine. “He is exhausted after teaching for a long period of time.” Officials say the 82-year-old leader’s health issues are not serious.
Meditation Is No Miracle Cure
Several studies and articles have made claim to various benefits and effects of meditation. But this week, The Washington Post reported that the scientific community is still on the fence about whether it actually works. “There is a common misperception in public and government domains that compelling clinical evidence exists for the broad and strong efficacy of mindfulness as a therapeutic intervention,” says an article written by 15 scholars in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science.
Meanwhile, just this week, articles have claimed that meditation can improve your sex life, make you nicer, and increase your attention span in old age, which in turn helps prevent illness. It is also said to be good for business leaders and can make you more productive.
Perhaps it’s best not to believe the hype and focus on a goalless practice.
Sinhalese Buddhist Hardliners Push for Political Party
The hardline Sinhalese Buddhist group in Sri Lanka that propagated hate speech against Muslims leading up to a recent mob attack has filed paperwork to establish a new political party, the Indian Express reports. “Sinhalese have got no political party while every race has one,” said a spokesman for the group Mahason Balakaya. A senior leader of Mahason Balakaya was arrested in the riots that killed three people and damaged mosques and other Muslim-owned properties.
Ajahn Brahm Resigns as Spiritual Director of BSWA
Ajahn Brahm has resigned as the spiritual director of the Buddhist Society of Western Australia, a position he has held since 1995. In a statement on the BSWA website, Ajahn Brahm said he was leaving because an amendment to the organization’s constitution that he said would have reduced his workload was blocked in an “unethical” manner.
No Butts! Woman Fined Over Wardrobe Malfunction at Thai Temple
A female tourist made headlines in Thailand last week after a photo of her accidently showing her butt at Bangkok’s Wat Phra Kaew, or Temple of the Emerald Buddha, went viral. The woman and her friend, who were visiting from Serbia, were later arrested at Suvarnabhumi Airport and fined 5,000 baht ($160). Despite the seemingly innocent nature of this woman’s snafu, the issue remains a sore point in Thailand, where two men previously spent two weeks in prison for mooning the camera at another sacred site.
Bangladeshi Buddhists Join International Appeal to Help Rohingya
Buddhist leaders in Bangladesh are joining an international appeal urging Myanmar to end its “policy of violence” against the Rohingya, the United News of Bangladesh reports. The letter to Myanmar’s State Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee, a government-appointed body of high-ranking Buddhist monks, has already been signed by Buddhist leaders around the world, including Bhikkhu Bodhi of the Buddhist Global Relief, Jack Kornfield of the Spirit Rock Meditation Center, and Pema Chödrön of Gampo Abbey. The Bangladeshi leaders signed on after visiting refugee camps in their country.
Monks Pilfer Buddhist Fund in Thailand
Police in Thailand are preparing to crack down on officials and monks at 10 temples that are believed to have taken part in embezzling more than 100 million baht ($3,207,000) from a Buddhist development fund, the Bangkok Post reports. Authorities have already taken action twice before against participants in the scheme, which involves a total of more than 30 temples.
Buddhist Sculpture Exhibit Attracts Most Visitors
A display of 22 Buddhist sculptures at the Tokyo National Museum was the most visited exhibit in the world in 2017, according to The Art Newspaper. While technically a Paris exhibit had the most total visitors, the Japanese show won on the metric of daily visitors. Around 11,300 visitors a day saw the retrospective of renowned Japanese artist Unkei (around 1150–1223).
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