October 22, 2007

Bloomberg, Burma

Yet another piece on the Dalai Lama's visit to New York from the Times, but with some interesting bits:

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg invited him to a Gracie Mansion breakfast last Friday with 20 or so New York Buddhists. The event was not listed on Mr. Bloomberg’s public schedule. Leaving it off was not a political statement, a mayoral spokesman said. Mr. Bloomberg routinely has groups over for breakfast in private. Besides, the spokesman said, the mayor wanted the Dalai Lama’s appearance to be a surprise to the other guests.

[Robert] Thurman was there. The Dalai Lama spoke of “how his main concern was that people studied Buddhism, not just sort of adhere to it,” he said. “Faith was nice. But from his point of view, understanding Buddhism would really be the most useful for people.”

As might be expected, the mayor spoke of New York’s diversity. But was he right about the number of Buddhists in the city?

“He put it at 10,000, which I think is wildly low,” Mr. Thurman said. When you add up the immigrants from places like Tibet, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Bhutan and Japan, “you’re going to get up into some very high numbers.” And that is before you include New York-born Jews who embrace forms of Buddhism. “They’re a very, very large demographic actually,” he said.

TO the surprise of no one, the Dalai Lama did not stop by one of the city’s main attractions. That would be the United Nations. It is too much in China’s thrall to ever invite him, even just to look around the building.

At least Congress and the president did right by him, Mr. Thurman said.

Perry Garfinkel of HuffPo profiles the Peacemaker Institute retreat at Auschwitz.

aspland_wilkinson.jpgDon't call it a conversion: English rugby hero Jonny Wilkinson (pictured; photo by marc Aspland) says he is not a Buddhist, but he has been helped by Buddhist teachings.

More can be done on Burma, says the Hartford Courant. Burmese Christians in India pray for their homeland.

Bush continues to crack down on Burma, citing the country's terrible record on human trafficking, among other problems.

And different kind of news from Burma: a Japanese soldier's postcard mailed from there just reached its destination, 64 years later. No slow-mail jokes necessary.

- Philip Ryan, Web Editor

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