Dying as a political act: Centuries-old Buddhist tradition of self-immolation continues in China

March 21, 2012

Peter Goodspeed: On Wednesday, Jamyang Palden, a 39-year-old monk, described as “calm, humble and virtuous,” set himself aflame in Drolma Square in the town of Rongwo in the Chinese province of Qinghai, along the border with Tibet.

He prostrated himself three times beside a Buddhist monastery that was founded in 1301, said a silent prayer, then set himself alight, according to the Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet.

In a matter of minutes more than 500 crimson-robed monks and 700 students from nearby schools were swarming over the site of the attempted suicide, chanting prayers for the monk’s soul, shouting political slogans, waving outlawed photographs of the …

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Meet the monk who spent spent 19 years in one room after China invaded Tibet

March 20, 2012

Joyce Morgan, Sydney Morning Herald: After China invaded Tibet in 1959, a young monk went into solitary confinement. He remained in a tiny dark room in the capital Lhasa for 19 years.

Choden Rinpoche’s confinement was self-imposed and he spent the two decades secretly meditating and reciting sacred texts he had memorised.

Rinpoche had none of the ritual objects, no altar, or books associated with a monk, just a set of rosary beads he hid under his blanket. Even retaining these was dangerous.

“If you kept even one scripture text, that is a serious crime – more serious than keeping a gun,” he said through an …

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Islamic extremists destroy priceless Buddhist statues in the Maldives

February 15, 2012

In the Maldives, a tiny Indian Ocean nation of 1,200 islands, a group of men stormed into the museum last Tuesday and ransacked a collection of coral and lime figures, including a six-faced coral statue and a 1 1/2-foot-wide representation of the Buddha’s head. Officials said the men attacked the figures because they believed they were idols and therefore illegal under Islamic and national laws, according to the New York Times.

The Maldives were Buddhist from around 250 BCE until the 12th century, when the king converted to Islam.

The vandalism is reminiscent of the Taliban’s 2001 destruction of the giant statues of the Buddha at Bamiyan, in Afghanistan.

The destruction of the Buddhist … Read more »

Support the struggles of marginalized Buddhists in Hungary

November 25, 2011

A petition has been started in order to protect the rights of Buddhist Gypsies, or Roma, in Hungary.

This year a nationalist government was elected in Hungary. The new government rewrote the constitution and passed a law that deregisters all but a few mainstream Christian and Jewish religious organisations. These steps were taken with the aim of curbing tax abuses, but the blunderbuss policy “de-registers” all faith groups that count fewer than 1,000 members, or that have been in existence for less than 20 years.

Groups that manage to get established — and stay established for 20 years — and accumulate over 1000 members, cannot get official recognition without a parliamentary vote with a two-thirds … Read more »

The path of nonviolence: six principles of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

November 15, 2011

MLKSunada drew my attention to this detailed exposition by Dr. King on the principles and practice of nonviolence. I thought it was worth reposting in its entirety, especially given the levels of violence being directed against the Occupy protestors, and the need for the movement to remain nonviolent:

First, it must be emphasized that nonviolent resistance is not a method for cowards; it does resist. If one uses this method because he is afraid or merely because he lacks the instruments of violence, he is not truly nonviolent. This is why Gandhi often said that if cowardice is the only alternative to violence, it is better to fight … The method is passive physically, but

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Another Tibetan nun dies by self-immolation in China

November 5, 2011

Andrew Jacobs: A Buddhist nun in southwest Sichuan Province died Thursday after setting herself on fire, becoming the 11th Tibetan to embrace a grisly protest against Chinese rule and at least the sixth to die doing so.

The death of the nun, Qiu Xiang, 35, was reported by Xinhua, the official news agency, and confirmed by exile groups, who gave her Tibetan name as Palden Choetso. She was the second nun in the predominantly Tibetan region to take her own life by self-immolation.

Like two previous cases, the most recent suicide took place in Ganzi Prefecture, known as Kardze in Tibetan, which is the site …

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Tenth Tibetan reported to self-immolate in anti-China protest

October 27, 2011

A Tibetan monk in western China’s Sichuan province set himself on fire on Tuesday to express opposition to China’s Tibet policies, becoming the 10th Tibetan this year to self-immolate as a form of political protest, an outside advocacy group reported.

The group, Free Tibet, based in London, said the self-immolation occurred outside a monastery in Garze, which is known as Kandze in Tibetan, and that the monk’s identity, condition and whereabouts were not known. The group did not explain how it had obtained the information.

Garze is about 100 miles south of Aba, or Ngaba, where eight of the other nine self-immolations have taken …

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Occupy Vancouver protest had a peaceful buzz

October 17, 2011

Charlie Smith: Yesterday’s Occupy Vancouver demonstration differed significantly from most protests held in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery.

One of the most striking aspects was the lack of any hierarchy. The event opened with a speech outlining how people could give their consent for various activities. Later, I observed the crowd being asked if it would prefer to hear more speeches or go on a march through downtown Vancouver.

The unions, for the most part, remained at the back of the crowd, along with the Communists and groups like No One is Illegal. And tucked away on the northwest corner of the site…

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Buddhists speak on Occupy Wall Street

October 15, 2011

Thanks to Maia Duerr and the follow-up comments on a post on her blog, the Jizo Chronicles, here’s a quick round-up of some of the recent posts that Buddhists have made on the Occupy Wall Street phenomenon.

  • There’s a post by Maia herself, along with Roshi Joan Halifax: “This is What Compassion Looks Like.”
  • Nathan Thompson has post on “Occupy Minnesota: Zen Style” on his blog, Dangerous Harvests where he describes “coming out” as a Zen Buddhist at a peaceful protest.
  • Chris Wilson, president of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship board of directors, compares OWS to the Arab Spring and asks why engaged Buddhists should get involves. Chris states that BPF
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The Buddha and Occupy Wall Street

October 14, 2011

The Buddha’s concerns with politics — or at least those what found their way into his teachings and have been recorded — were very limited.

Perhaps this isn’t surprising, since he lived at a time when kingdoms ruled by absolute monarchs were expanding their territory at the expense of clan-based republics and other kingdoms. The rise of monarchies was probably unstoppable, and there was little chance of any alternative for the foreseeable future.

Some of the kings were notoriously paranoid, placed spies in religious communities, and would literally kill their own parents to consolidate their power. It would have been very dangerous to criticize them directly, and so the Buddha’s emphasis in talking about politics … Read more »