July 27, 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.
Tricycle was deeply saddened to hear of Tibetan Buddhist master Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche's sudden death from a heart attack on Tuesday. He was only 57 years old. For those unfamiliar with Traleg Rinpoche, the former monk and previous abbot of Thrangu monastery was the spiritual director of the E-Vam Institute in Melbourne, Australia, as well as its affiliate in New York. You can read his full biography here and watch teachings by him here.
Despite this sad event, it seems like Tibetan Buddhism is really reaching its zenith in Western media. Check out this Details magazine article: "Leaving Om: Buddhism's Lost Lamas." (As with most Western coverage of Buddhism, the title leaves something to be desired. What does "leaving om" even mean? But I digress.) The piece profiles three young Tibetan Buddhists who have turned away from the Buddhist culture they were raised in, as well as the usual paths of incarnate lamas: Gomo Tulku, otherwise known as the "Rapping Lama" because of his aspiring hip-hop career, Ashoka Mukpo, one of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche's sons, and Kalu Rinpoche, whose confessional video about sexual abuse and violence in Tibetan monasteries made waves in Buddhist communities last year. It's worth a read, if only because of the "what do they look like now" appeal—for example, here's Gomo Tulku at age 6 and age 23:
Quite the change.
The University of Manchester is installing what is either a huge step in the right direction of allowing spiritual practice to exist within secular spaces or the biggest hipster magnet in England: the Pray-O-Mat, which is the vending machine-like apparatus you see at right. I'm refraining from making fun of it partly because it's just so easy and partly because it's actually kind of cool. It's a free-to-use multi-faith space that plays devotional chants, prayers, and songs from different religions. I suppose you could use it to meditate or recite a sutra, but the first thing that I thought of when I saw it is that it would be particularly helpful for Muslim students who want to observe the 5 daily prayers but don't have anywhere to do it on campus.
Moving on to still stranger territories, Chinese farmer Gao Xianzhang has managed to grow Buddha-shaped pears. The "holy" fruit have been such a success in China that the farmer is beginning to export them to Europe. If they come to the United States, though, I'm not sure I'd be able to eat them. I know we're supposed to "kill the Buddha" and all, but I'm not sure if I could straight-up bite off the Buddha's head...they sure are cute, though!
There was a lot going on this week; here's some other articles that might interest you:
Buddhist monk charged with rape.
Business Insider's program director is Buddhist—and loves meditation.
Trinley Thaye Dorje, one of the two claimants to the Karmapa's throne, on transforming pain into practice.
Silicon Valley warns against becoming addicted to technology.