July 20, 2012
There's a lot going on in the world—it's hard to keep up! This is "Buddha Buzz," our weekly roundup of Buddhist news from around the world. Check back on tricycle.com every Friday to see the latest.
Take a look at the mock-up plans for a Buddhist temple planned to be built in Taicang, China. I like to call it the "Aladdin genie" of Buddhist temples...because you ain't never seen a temple like this one. (And Aladdin ain't never had a friend like the genie.)
To represent the importance of interconnectivity in Buddhist thought, the temple architecture functions somewhat like a Mobius strip, with interior and exterior "ribbons" meeting together in the middle of the temple. Etched glass will lie in between the ribbons, and the entire structure will "rise from a pool of floating lotuses." It makes me wonder if this is the first Buddhist temple that will need a drawbridge.
In other news, the New York Times featured a story on Monday about Dayangji Sherpa, a 54-year-old Tibetan Buddhist woman who spent her life savings—$50,000—last month to host the first full-recitation of the Kangyur in New York City. It's an act of devotion and practice that is not commonly undertaken by those who are not wealthy, simultaneously making Dayangji a heroine and an exemplar.
“People can do this, but nobody does it,” she said. “I’m not rich. I wanted a do a good thing.”
Speaking of doing good things, check out this story by the Palm Beach Post, about a Buddhist woman, Jacie Keeley, whose home was hit by lightning last month during Tropical Storm Derby. The electrical fire that the lightning created devoured the inside of her house, melting appliances and possessions and spreading smoke and soot damage throughout. Keeley's response is another example of fine Buddhist practice at work: "It's inconvenient, it's an obstacle," she said, "but I did want a new beginning" (her father died earlier in the year). One of Keeley's friends, another Buddhist named Nick Ribush, started a fundraising page for her on Indiegogo.com, coordinating efforts to raise thousands of dollars for Keeley to rebuild her burned home.
"But wait," the article's author writes about this effort, "aren’t Buddhists supposed to be stoical, supposed to accept suffering as their lot in life, and just, well, suffer through it?"
Ribush's answer is spot-on.
“Yes, there is suffering," he responds, "and the way to respond is with compassion. Not just mental compassion, but active compassion.”
The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life came out yesterday with a new study on Asian American religious life called "A Mosaic of Faiths." Previous Pew studies about Asian Americans have been criticized by Buddhist bloggers such as the Angry Asian Buddhist due to their inaccurate numbers. Before this study, the Pew Forum estimated that about 32% of American Buddhists are Asian-American. This study, however, more than doubles that percentage, saying that Asian-Americans comprise 67%-69% of American Buddhists. Numbers like this may seem dry, but it's important to have an accurate picture of what American Buddhism looks like.
Image 2: Dayangji Sherpa celebrates after the Kangyur recitation finishes. By Brian Harkin, from the New York Times.