tulkus

Ebola: the Buddhist connection

mukpoThere’s an unusual connection between Ebola and Buddhism.

Ashoka Mukpo, one of a handful of Americans who have contracted Ebola, was identified soon after his birth as a reincarnated lama, or Tulku.

Mukpo is the son of Diana Mukpo, who married Tibetan lama Chogyam Tungpa in Scotland. Ashoka is not Trungpa’s biological son, but was raised as his child after his mother became pregnant while romantically involved with another of Trungpa’s followers, Dr. Mitchell Levy.

As a child, Ashoka was identified as the reincarnation of Khamyon Rinpoche, and he was enthroned as a tulku in Tibet.

Although Mukpo regards himself as a practicing Buddhist, he decided not to pursue a monastic life, and he works in the U.S. division of Human Rights Watch. He has also worked as a freelance cameraman for Vice News, NBC News and other media outlets. He spent two years working in Liberia, doing research for the Sustainable Development Institute, a nonprofit that highlights the concerns of workers in mining camps outside the west African country’s capital, Monrovia.

It was in Liberia that he was diagnosed with Ebola. Soon after he was moved to Nebraska Medical Center for treatment, where he is recovering.

NBC News reports that his parents say he “would likely rather the attention be paid to the West African countries that have been ravaged by the disease.”

Although many people in the west are anxious about Ebola, we should remember that the vast bulk of the suffering that’s taking place is in Africa, where thousands have been infected, and where its possible that a million people could contract the disease.

This article on Forbes suggests ways that individuals can contribute to fighting Ebola in Africa.

Sources: NBC, ABC.

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After 7 years away, Tibetan Buddhist leader, 13, visits Seattle-area family

Lornet Turnbull: Born into Tibetan royalty, a Seattle-area boy who left here at age 5 to study at a Buddhist monastery in Katmandu has returned for his first visit in seven years.

For the past seven years, at a Buddhist monastery in Nepal’s Katmandu, a Seattle-area boy has been living a most unusual life.

Up by 5 a.m., Asanga Sakya performs a ritual of morning prayers in his private quarters. His study of Buddhist scriptures follows breakfast prepared by loyal monks.

Soon, a Chinese language instructor arrives, and after lunch Asanga practices his Tibetan writing. In the afternoon, it’s English classes and then dinner, followed …

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Before they could even read, they were hailed as reincarnations of Tibetan Buddhist legends in the vein of the Dalai Lama. Now young adults, these reluctant would-be spiritual leaders are stepping out of their monk’s robes, becoming rappers and moviemakers, and blowing the whistle on sexual abuse at Buddhist monasteries.

During a break in a mixing session at a recording studio in Milan, Gomo Tulku, a Tibetan-American hip-hop artist, plays the sample he’s inserting into the intro of his debut EP—a group of vocalists singing what sounds eerily like a Tibetan Buddhist chant. One of his Italian producers had it programmed into his …

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