Pilgrimages to sacred Buddhist sites led by experienced Dharma teachers. Includes daily teachings and group meditation sessions. A local English–speaking guide accompanies and assists.
Frolicking around the Buddhist interwebz today, I stumbled upon the very cool new project Radio Buddha. It's an Internet radio station that streams multi-tradition Buddhist dharma talks, sutras, and prayers 24/7. 24/7! And it's all free! Right now the line-up is leaning heavily on the Tibetan side, but perhaps as they gather more audio content the schedule will become more well-rounded.
Listening to Radio Buddha might be just what you need after reading about the strange, vaguely Buddhist news coming out of Maine and Indianapolis this week. A 28-year-old Maine father was arrested last weekend while trying to teach his children meditation to help with their ADHD. What a cool Dad, teaching his kids how to meditate…except that he was also burning them with cigarettes "in an attempt to show them pain compliance while meditating." In Indianapolis, key members of a "violent drug-dealing network" calling themselves, of all things, the Buddha Boyz, have been arrested on drug and firearm possession charges. The article doesn't mention why they're named as such—I'm not sure if I even want to know.
I've been wondering what's going to happen to Mitt Romney after losing the election last month. Well, if The Onion's new video is to be believed (which of course we know it's not), he's hired a $600 million "top tier soul searching team," which includes "Nepalese holy men" and apparently, some Tibetan Buddhist monks, to "review all departments of the candidate's life to root out emotional inefficiencies before restructuring Romney for maximum spiritual profitability." The team also includes "management analysts, poets, and a handful of children who know little but nonetheless possess a kind of wisdom." Below, Romney chatting with a monk whose head suspiciously resembles Matthieu Ricard's. Watch the full video at the bottom of this post.
In more serious Buddhist news, National Geographic has called some legitimate attention to the Tibetan self-immolation crisis with a long, thoroughly-researched, and chilling profile of Jamphel Yeshi (Jashi), who self-immolated at a protest in Delhi last March. Because he self-immolated outside of Tibet, his deed remains one of the only self-immolations to be well-documented by photos and journalistic consideration. The Nat Geo article, "Man on Fire," by Jeffrey Bartholet, covers the day of Jashi's death in detail:
Dolma [Jashi's friend] now recalls signs from the day Jashi self-immolated. On the crowded bus, he was holding a nearly empty bottle of cola and gave it to Dolma's son to finish off. Then Dolma tried to fling the plastic bottle out the window—common practice in India—but Jashi stopped her. She thought he was being conscientious. That's the way he was: earnest, devoted to doing the right thing, always volunteering and counseling others on what should or shouldn't be done. In retrospect, she wonders if he needed the bottle to fill with gasoline. Jashi also realized on the bus that he didn't have his wallet and asked to borrow 200 rupees from Dolma, whom he affectionately called "sister." She didn't have change, so gave him 500 rupees, which he reluctantly accepted.
Did he use the money to buy gasoline to fill the bottle? At the time, Dolma had no suspicions: Jashi was upbeat, smiling, and playing with her young son. "At another point during the ride, I opened a bus window to get some air," Dolma recalls. "He said, 'Wow,' and he smiled and opened his arms to the coolness of the air ... I think now that he knew he was feeling that for the last time. But at that moment, I only thought it was a bit strange."...
Jinpa [another friend] recalls that at one point, as everyone was throwing water at the burning man, Jashi yelled out "Agh!"—as if to complain about the effort to douse the flames. "Let the journalists take photos!" Jinpa shouted....
Jashi arrived at Ram Manohar Lohia hospital at 12:45 p.m. and was officially admitted at 1:19. As his friends delivered him through the doorway, Jashi spoke the last sentence any of them would hear from him: "Why did you bring me to the hospital?"
The full Romney video: