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

Buddhist Communities Start Celebrating Vesak

This month, Buddhists around the world celebrate Vesak, a holiday commemorating the Buddha’s birthday, death, and enlightenment. To mark the occasion, the Korean Yeondeunghoe lantern-lighting festival will return to downtown Seoul after a two-year hiatus. The Dharma Wheel Training Program, an initiative of the Light of Buddhadharma Foundation International, shared a campaign to light 1,000,000 lamps around the world to commemorate Vesak, while the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue released a message for the holiday entitled “Buddhists and Christians: Standing Together in Hopeful Resilience.” The Tau Chi Center for Compassionate Relief will hold a Vesak event, Buddha Bathing & Interfaith Prayers of Gratitude, this Saturday, May 7th, in New York.

Namgyal Monastery Breaks Ground on Dalai Lama Library and Learning Center

On Friday, April 29, the Namgyal Monastery in Ithaca, New York, broke ground on the Dalai Lama Library and Learning Center, a more than 9,000-square-foot building that will hold works by Indian and Tibetan Buddhist masters, as well as copies of all 127 books written by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. One of only four branch monasteries and the only one outside of India, the Namgyal Monastery Institute of Buddhist Studies in Ithaca is the North American seat and personal monastery of the Dalia Lama. According to a press release, when the new library is completed, it will be “the only place in the world where people will be able to find the written works of the 14th Dalai Lama, as well as all previous Dalai Lamas.” It will also contain 40,000 hours of audio recordings from the Dalai Lama and about 4,000 books that document Tibetan Buddhist thought. One hundred and fifty members of the community attended the ground-breaking ceremony, which started with prayers by Namgyal Monastery monks and included a performance by the Tibetan Association of Ithaca,  and a speech by Venerable Tenzin Choesang, president of the monastery. 

Dalai Lama Library and Learning Center 2

Architect Anthony Poon Receives Highest Membership Accolade for an Architect in the US

Architect Anthony Poon has received the prestigious FAIA award, the highest membership honor given by the American Institute of Architects. Poon designed several building projects for the Bodhi Path retreat center in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, including the 14th Shamarpa Reliquary Building, for which he received a Best of Design Award from The Architect’s Newspaper. While designing buildings for Bodhi Path, Poon immersed himself in the daily life of the retreat center and its sangha. In an interview with Tricycle in 2019, he referred to his approach as “Middle-Way architecture.”

Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation Contributes $10 Million to UNICEF’s Relief Effort for Ukrainian Refugees

The Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation, a global humanitarian organization based in Taiwan, recently donated $10 million to UNICEF’s emergency response to support children and families impacted by the war in Ukraine. UNICEF estimates that over 2 million of the 4.7 million Ukrainian refugees are children, many of them unaccompanied. Tzu Chi’s contribution will help provide protection services for children and families as they flee Ukraine into neighboring countries. Additionally, the Tzu Chi Foundation has launched its own fundraiser to provide emergency goods, medical supplies, blankets, and food for Ukrainian refugees.  

Tibet House US Hosts Mother’s Day Meditation 

On May 8, New York City’s Tibet House US is hosting a 45-minute Mother’s Day meditation led by Tibetan Buddhist monk Lobsang Tenpa. The first part of the session will focus on cultivating habits of benevolent thinking, followed by a meditation on radical generosity and the different ways in which one can give to the world. The donation-based event will be held over Zoom and all proceeds will go toward humanitarian relief efforts in Ukraine. 

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