November 30, 2012

Buddha Buzz: Buddhist News from Around the World, Week of November 26

Emma Varvaloucas

TundenTibetan self-immolations are continuing at an alarming rate. Since the last Buddha Buzz post on November 16, 14 more Tibetans have set themselves on fire to protest the Chinese rule. There's no denying that the self-immolations are occurring with greater frequency. Out of the 89 self-immolations since 2009, 27 of them—about 30%—have taken place this month, according to the International Campaign for Tibet. Two weeks ago, British monk Tonden (David Alain) became the first non-Tibetan to self-immolate, setting himself on fire in the garden of Nalanda monastery, in France, where the resident monks were in retreat. The Telegraph, reporting on the ongoing police investigation into the matter, says that it is not yet clear whether Tonden's death was a political statement or a suicide. Judging by the fact that he was a Tibetan Buddhist monk, though, I know where I'm placing my bets. Whether Tonden's self-immolation will move the fiery protest technique out of Tibet and into the West remains to be seen. If you wish to help, you can click here to write to your Congressperson and ask them to support House Resolution 609, which calls for rights within Tibet and a peaceful resolution.

You'll have to forgive me for being short on text this week—I've caught quite the nasty cold—but I do have two videos that will hopefully catapult you into the holiday spirit (it's December tomorrow, which I personally count as the official beginning of the holiday season).

CBS IPPThe first features Jacques Verduin, who developed the dharma-based program "Insight Prison Project" in San Quentin, a California maximum security prison. The program introduces prisoners to meditation and yoga and teaches them about violence prevention and emotional literacy. Graduates of the program, who report great personal transformations from participating, are then employed in Verduin's project, Insight Out, which sends these reformed convicts into high schools to act as counselors for at-risk youths. Watch CBS' take on it here, and read Tricycle's 2011 article about the Insight Prison Project and Insight Out, "Healed People Heal People," here.

And now for the second feel-good video of today: NYPD officer Lawrence DePrimo was on counterterrorism patrol in NYC when he noticed a homeless man without shoes or socks. DePrimo went into a nearby shoe store and bought the man a $75 pair of winter boots. Can I hear a "woot woot" for a bodhisattva act of kindness? From MSNBC:



Images: Tonden, from The Telegraph.

An inmate at Sen Quentin signs a nonviolence agreement at Insight Out's recent graduation. From CBS.

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Dominic Gomez's picture

The homeless man is again barefoot. He told NYTimes “Those shoes are hidden. They are worth a lot of money. I could lose my life" because of the violence among the homeless.