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September 29, 2008

Monks Stage Protest in Burma

100 monks staged a peaceful protest in Sittwe in western Burma to mark the anniversary of the crackdown. This mind-bogglingly courageous act will not go unpunished. Cue the jackbooted thugs. Monks in Pungo are fighting the power too, but here they can use lawyers. Only Buddhists can now head up the Mahabodhi Society according to a recent rules change. The Society was founded in Sri Lanka but soon moved to Indian soil with the help and support of the Indian government. Critics call the move political and say it will primarily benefit Sri Lanka. More »
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September 26, 2008

Bomb Blast in Burma

A bomb blast in Rangoon on the anniversary of the crackdown and a second one defused. Seven people reported wounded. More »
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September 26, 2008

Global Peace Index 2008

Iceland is first overall. The U.S. is in the bottom third. Among countries where Buddhism is a major influence on the culture, Japan and Bhutan top the list. More »
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September 26, 2008

Quake hits Tibet and Nepal

A 6.0 earthquake hit the Tibet-Nepal border -- where a quake also hit in August. No word on casualties in the thinly populated area. The Chinese delegation left the Czech parliament building in Prague after the Green party delegates unfurled a Tibetan flag. More »
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September 24, 2008

Reading Burma

Last night on the anniversary (roughly speaking) of the Saffron Revolution, Tricycle's managing editor Alex Kaloyanides and I were privileged to attend Reading Burma: A Benefit for Cyclone Relief and Freedom of Expression in Burma/Myanmar. The evening was presented by PEN American Center, the Burma Project of the Open Society Institute, and The New York Review of Books. Supporting organizations were Cooper Union, which hosted the event in its Great Hall, where Lincoln once spoke, and Tricycle: The Buddhist Review. Salman Rushdie gave the opening remarks on behalf of PEN American Center and also read from the poetry of U Tin Moe. Other speakers included Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, who was the U.N.'s Special Rapporteur on human rights to Burma, the Venerable U Gawsita, who was one of the protest leaders, and Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk. A group of Burmese monks reciting the Metta Sutta wrapped things up. It was a great evening with lots of eye-opening footage from the protests and crackdown, and heartbreaking eyewitness accounts from Nargis -- alongside absurd, almost laughable official government reports of the same situations. The event raised more than $13,000 for cyclone relief. Special mention was made of U Win Tin's release, but of course the struggle continues. Pictures after the jump -- click to see larger versions. More »
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September 23, 2008

Voting Buddhist?

As the American and Canadian elections approach, there's been much discussion among North American Buddhists over how Buddhism relates to politics.  Among many converts to Buddhism, at least those willing to speak publicly on the matter, there's a near unanimity that Buddhists must vote for Barack Obama because he is the only candidate whose views and policies align with good Dharma.  The current issue of Shambhala Sun has an article extolling the revolutionary presence of Obama on the Democratic ticket, and while it doesn't explicitly endorse him, the overwhelmingly positive way in which he is discussed leaves little doubt as to where the More »
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September 23, 2008

Burma Says It Freed 9,000 Prisoners Today

Including the country's longest-serving political prisoner, the writer (and friend of Aung San Suu Kyi) Win Tin. Most of those freed were not political prisoners but rather conventional prisoners. Still it is something. But: “When the government wants to reduce the pressure coming from foreign countries, especially during the United Nations General Assembly, they release prisoners,” said Bo Kyi, head of the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in Myanmar. Some 37 activists have been arrested this month alone, Mr. Bo Kyi said. Win Tin will continue to wear his blue prison uniform as a sign of protest. He was kept in solitary confinement for most of the nineteen years he spent behind bars. More »
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September 23, 2008

Bush voices concern for Dalai Lama; Tibetan Parliament to discuss future of Tibetan movement

President Bush, apparently tired of mowing down plastic army men with rubber bands, called the Dalai Lama and expressed concern for his health, which is a very nice gesture. The Dalai Lama canceled an upcoming visit to Germany and Switzerland due to health concerns, but is currently reported to be recuperating well from his earlier illness. At the Dalai Lama's wish, the Tibetan parliament in exile is convening an emergency session in November to discuss the future of the movement: Samdhong Rinpoche, the Kalon Tripa or prime minister of Tibet's government in exile, tells VOA News this year's events have created a seismic shift. "Since March 2008 there have been a lot of protests and, then, international sympathy. A great change has been taking place during these days. More »
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September 19, 2008

Monks with guns?

A new article hosted at The Buddhist Channel discusses militant developments among Burma's young monks.  Some are beginning to question the usefulness of nonviolent tactics in their struggles with the country's repressive ruling regime.  According to the article, some monks are considering taking up guns against their enemies.  In response, a number of Buddhist blogs (mainly by Westerners) have objected to the idea of armed monks. Leaving aside the question of whether it is strategically sound for Burma's monks to take up arms at this moment, it is worth acknowledging that coordinated violence by Buddhist monks is hardly a new phenomenon.  Monastic armies, often directed by the heads of major lineages or temples, have played important historical roles in such places as Tibet, Japan, and Korea.  These soldier-monks were most often employed in pitched battle against rival monasteries or forms of Bud More »
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September 17, 2008

Tales of Prisoner Abuse in China

Chinese citizens who came to the capital to protest government policy are still in jail ten days later, the New York Times reports. One of the detainees is a 79-year-old woman. China sais it would allow protest in designated areas during the Olympics, but then arrested protesters before they could get media attention. The detainees may have a long wait: two documentary filmakers were held prisoner in Tibet for six months for interviewing people in restive Amdo province. And a monk tells the AP he was interrogated and tortured for two months by Chinese authorities. His crime? Speaking to foreign media. More »
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September 16, 2008

Burmese Activist Honored

Burmese activist Bo Kyi received an award for his humanitarian work by Human Rights Watch for his work in getting political prisoners of the junta freed. More »
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September 16, 2008

Saffron Revolution Commemoration

Sasana Moli, the International Buddhist Monks Association, will commemorate the one-year anniversary of the Saffron Revolution outside the United Nations in New York on September 26th. More »
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September 16, 2008

Dorje Shugden: Deity or Demon?

In case you haven’t noticed, there’s been a lot of activity on this blog and elsewhere around the Buddhist web relating to the Dorje Shugden controversy. While we take no position on this rather arcane sectarian dispute, we have covered it in the past. In order to shed some light on the controversy, we reproduce here the opening two pages of a special section from the Spring 1998 issue with links to the section's contents, including interviews with Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, leader of the New Kadampa Tradition, and Thubten Jigme Norbu, the recently deceased brother of the Dalai Lama. Click on the images below to see larger versions of the opening spread, and the links below that to read the articles themselves. - The Editors More »
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September 16, 2008

Aung San Suu Kyi accepts food; Burma event in NYC

Aung San Suu Kyi accepts food for the first time in a month. The Burmese junta has asked for foreign help in reviving the crucial rice-growing region that was ravaged by the cyclone. There's a PEN-sponsored fundraiser for Burma soon in New York City: Kiran Desai, Siri Hustvedt, Joseph Lelyveld, Orhan Pamuk, Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, Salman Rushdie, and special More »
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September 15, 2008

Kindness

From my viewpoint, Buddhism is not about getting enlightened—it’s about being kind. If I have a chance at the time of my death to take an accounting of what I’ve done, I won’t be asking how enlightened I’ve become, I’ll be asking how much kindness I’ve shown to others. This is how the Buddha began, who set out walking the earth not in quest of enlightenment but in search of a means to end the suffering he saw all about him. If I ever hope to realize a generous, loving, merciful, nonviolent human society, I too must carry on the daily practice of generosity, love, mercy and nonviolence that the Buddha set in motion. This is the practical and ordinary work of the bodhisattva. And yet the capacity for kindness is an invariable consequence of enlightenment, for enlightenment and compassion are not merely mutually reinforcing but one and the same, two movements of one understanding. And that understanding is the direct knowing that nowhere does there exist a single separate self. More »
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September 13, 2008

Dalai Lama calls for Talks on Tibet

The Dalai Lama calls for a meeting of Tibetan leaders to discuss the ongoing peace talks with China. Will he find a serious partner for peace and an end to political repression in Beijing? The New York Times reviews Tibet: Beyond Fear: “Tibet: Beyond Fear,” on Saturday on the satellite channel Link TV, is advocacy filmmaking at its most brazen: it ends with a direct appeal from the Dalai Lama for the free-Tibet cause. More »
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September 12, 2008

The paradox of choice

Why does having so many choices make us unhappy? Barry Schwartz explains. More »
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September 10, 2008

Dalai Lama Back in Dharamsala

His Holiness receives a warm welcome at his home away from home. Doctors in Mumbai say he has nothing to worry about. And The American Conservative sputters about how liberals love Tibet: The driving force behind Tibetophilia today is not political solidarity with the Tibetans and certainly not any positive argument for full democratic equality, but rather a sense of disgust with Western life. In Rawson’s words, “the West perceives some lack within itself” and seeks to find fulfilment in the ostensibly preserved “pure East.” Ironically, then, Free Tibet activism has a colonial bent to it: wealthy Westerners pursuing emotional occupation. More »
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September 10, 2008

Tough times in Korea and Thailand

It's not a great time to be running Korea -- either Korea. Kim Jong-Il reportedly had a stroke and then surgery. South Korea and the world watch anxiously. And more from restive Thailand, which just ousted its Prime Minister: More than an attack on the sitting government, the protests grow out of deep political and social divides that have hardened over the past three years and threaten the stability of Thailand. The protesters who are now camped in the mud at Government House represent the latest turn in a long-running struggle between democratic ideals and a traditional, hierarchical society that feels disenfranchised by democratic change. This time, whatever the outcome of the confrontation, analysts say democracy is likely to suffer. More »
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September 09, 2008

Is Kim Jong-Il Unwell?

Why else would he miss the party for the 60th anniversary of North Korea? North Korea did not stage a massive military parade for its 60th anniversary on Tuesday and its top leader, Kim Jong-il, failed to attend a scaled-down celebration. The unexpectedly subdued ceremony came amid news reports that Mr. Kim, 66, might be seriously ill. For the 50th and 55th anniversaries of his country’s founding, Mr. Kim attended elaborate parades in which columns of armored vehicles and rocket launchers rumbled through Pyongyang’s main plaza as legions of goose-stepping soldiers saluted him. Although 60th anniversaries are important milestones in Korea, Tuesday’s parade featured only civil defense militia groups and ordinary citizens, according to Yonhap, South Korea’s main news agency, which monitors North Korean news. More »