From the ashes, Tibetan Buddhism rises in the Forbidden City

December 2, 2012

On a freezing Tuesday this week, dozens of special guests from China’s cultural, political and business elites gathered within the blood-red walls of the Forbidden City. They were there for the opening of the newly restored Hall of Rectitude, the center of Tibetan Buddhism during China’s last imperial dynasty, the Qing.

After a fire in 1923, the hall and about a half-dozen surrounding buildings that comprise the Buddhist architectural complex lay in ruin for nearly a century in the northwestern corner of the 8,000-room former imperial palace.

After six years of restoration funded by the Hong Kong-based China Heritage Fund, the Zhong Zheng Dian …

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Ethnic hatred tears apart a region of Burma

November 30, 2012

Thomas Fuller, New York Times: The Buddhist monastery on the edge of this seaside town is a picture of tranquillity, with novice monks in saffron robes finding shade under a towering tree and their teacher, U Nyarna, greeting a visitor in a sunlit prayer room.

But in these placid surroundings Mr. Nyarna’s message is discordant, and a far cry from the Buddhist precept of avoiding harm to living creatures. Unprompted, Mr. Nyarna launches into a rant against Muslims, calling them invaders, unwanted guests and “vipers in our laps.”

“According to Buddhist teachings we should not kill,” Mr. Nyarna said. “But when we feel …

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Suffering as a call to attention

November 17, 2012
True Refuge, published Jan 2013. Available at and
“Reality is always kinder than the stories we tell about it.” – Byron Katie

Can you imagine understanding, even loving, someone who belongs to a group of people responsible for killing your father, brother, or best friend? Can you imagine growing close to someone whose people have driven you from your home, humiliated your family, and turned you into a refugee in your own country?

Twenty-two teenage girls from Israel and Palestine were flown in to a camp in rural New Jersey, where they would live together in the face of these questions. As part of a program called Building Bridges for Peace, these … Read more »

Four Tibetans set themselves on fire

November 8, 2012

At least four people set themselves on fire in ethnic Tibetan parts of China on Wednesday, a rights group and media reports say.

Three teenage monks set themselves alight in Aba county in Sichuan province, where many self-immolations have taken place in recent months.

One of the boys died and the other two were taken to hospital.

Later the same day a 23-year-old woman died after setting herself on fire in Qinghai province.

More than 60 Tibetans have set themselves on fire since early 2011, in what rights group say are acts of protest against Beijing’s rule.

Beijing says Tibetans have religious freedom and accuses …

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Barack Obama meets the Dalai Lama

November 7, 2012

President Barack Obama meets with His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama in the Map Room of the White House, Saturday, July 16, 2011.

Reposted on the occasion of President Obama’s re-election.

Congratulations to Mazie Hirono: the first Buddhist elected to the US Senate

November 7, 2012

I just picked up on Google+ that Mazie Keiko Hirono has just become the first Buddhist elected to the US Senate.

Hirono is the U.S. Representative for Hawaii’s 2nd congressional district, serving since 2007. She is a member of the Democratic Party, and is currently Senator-elect for Hawaii filling the seat being vacated by Daniel Akaka.

She will be the first female senator from Hawaii, the first Asian-American woman elected to the Senate, the first senator born in Japan, and the nation’s first Buddhist senator. That’s quite a collection of firsts.

She considers herself a non-practicing Buddhist, but when sworn in she said

“I don’t have a book [to swear upon] … But I certainly … Read more »

Levitation was one professor’s plan to cut crime. And it worked. Sort of.

October 9, 2012

Marc Abrahams, The Guardian: Prof. John Hagelin’s decision not to run against Mitt Romney and Barack Obama left this year’s US presidential race without a major candidate who is a scientist and who acknowledges – publicly – his ability to both counteract gravity and prevent crime.

Two decades ago, Hagelin and a team of fellow scientists performed a bold experiment. Their aim was to drastically reduce the amount of violent crime in Washington DC – a metropolis then noted for its high incidence of murder, rape and robbery. The Hagelin method was to systematically blanket the city with mental emanations from transcendental meditation …

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Of a sustained Buddhist extremism in Sri Lanka

October 5, 2012

Raashid Riza, Sri Lanka Guardian: The last few months have seen a rapid increase in anti-Muslim sentiment amongst sections of the political class in Sri Lankan society. The situation has yet to deteriorate to the extent that the default image of a Sri Lankan Muslim is one represented by an anti- Sri Lankan or anti-Buddhist element. But the trend that is developing is truly alarming and surely points towards such an inaccurate mental image.

The rise of extremist Buddhists in Sri Lanka is truly disturbing and does not bode well to the sense of national resilience that the government is trying to foster …

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Burmese Christians forced to convert to Buddhism

September 10, 2012

The Express Tribune: Christian students from Myanmar’s Chin ethnic minority have been forced to convert to Buddhism, shave their heads and wear monastic robes, a rights group said Wednesday.

The Chin, a mainly Christian group in the poor and remote west of the predominantly Buddhist country, face harassment for the link between their faith and British colonial rule, according to the Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO).

“President Thein Sein’s government claims that religious freedom is protected by law but in reality Buddhism is treated as the de facto state religion”, said Salai Ling, Program Director of the CHRO.

Rachel Fleming, another member of …

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In Buddhist Burma, monks gone wild

August 5, 2012

Andrew Lam: New American Media: For a country steeped in Buddhism, Burma is accruing terrible karmic debts.

Alarming news and images of attacks and killings by the Buddhist majority in Rakhine Province against a Muslim minority there have been slowly trickling out onto the Internet and the wider world. Pictures of charred bodies and crying parents have stirred largely unheeded calls for intervention, mostly from Muslim nations.

The attacks have been primarily one-sided, with Muslims generally and Rohingyas specifically the targets and victims,” Benjamin Zawacki, a Bangkok-based researcher for Amnesty International, told The Associated Press. “Some of this is by the security forces’ own hands, some by Rakhine Buddhists with the security forces turning … Read more »