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January 08, 2008

2007, another bad year for Thailand's south. And what is Zen, anyway?

The insurgency in Thailand's largely Muslim south is now four years old, and 2007 was the bloodiest yet. 792 people were killed last year. 2776 have been killed since the conflict began. The violence affects both Muslims and Buddhists: On Monday, a Buddhist sweet vendor was taken to hospital in Yala after being shot three times in the torso by a gunman riding on a motorcycle, an attack typical of insurgents who have never identified themselves of made their aims public. On Sunday, a 30-year-old Muslim teacher was shot dead while walking home from evening prayers, police said. The Burmese junta has already repressed Buddhist monks. More »
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January 07, 2008

Treeleaf Zendo, More Media Stifling in Burma, and Violence in Mumbai

Buddhist Geeks speak with Jundo Cohen, abbot of the almost totally virtual Treeleaf Zendo. If you haven't dropped by the Treeleaf Zendo for their daily zazen retreat, you don't know what you're missing! BURMA HEADLINES Burma's Junta, Oblivious to International Pressure, Imposes Media Control Independence Day: What is there to Celebrate in Burma? And in Mumbai Sunday, a Buddhist monk apparently committed suicide to protest a development in the northeastern suburb of Deonar — or was he murdered because he stood in the developer's way? Some called the death suspicious and violence erupted among the Buddhist dalits in the city. More »
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January 04, 2008

Breaking Old Ground

Some old bits on His Holiness the Dalai Lama: The Newsweek / Washington Post blog On Faith discusses his visit to Washington this fall. And Dan Rather interviews the DL in the melodramatically titled "One Man vs. China". Lama Surya Das talks about Burma on Beliefnet. And another Happy New Year message, this one from James of the Buddhist Blog. More »
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January 03, 2008

New Year, Burma, Iowa

It's the new year and many of us have the great state of Iowa on the brain today. But the Voice of America is reporting on Burma and the incredible poverty there that guarantees the tensions between the people and the "government" will not go away anytime soon. And Claude Arpi wonders whether 2007 was an annus horribilis or an annus mirabilis for the Dalai Lama, and for Tibet. But is there even anything new to the new year? Ethan Nichtern says the new year is a perfect opportunity to assess our path. More »
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January 02, 2008

BPF and Burma

December 18, 2007 For immediate release * Buddhist Delegation Finds Burma Cloaked in Fear * For more information, contact: Maia Duerr, Communications Director, Buddhist Peace Fellowship,, 510-333-3528 (See information for interview subjects at bottom of press release) Buddhist Delegation Finds Burma Cloaked in Fear December 18, 2007, San Francisco, CA — A delegation organized by the U.S.-based Buddhist Peace Fellowship (BPF) has returned from a eight-day visit with Burmese activists, monks, students, orphans, and citizens in Rangoon, Burma, and along the Thai-Burma border. Members of the delegation, who posed as tourists to be able to enter the country, collected a wealth of first-hand evidence that the situation in Burma has become even worse since the September peace marches undertaken by Buddhist monks. More »
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January 02, 2008

Junta continues clamping down on the few freedoms left in Burma

In an effort to keep the news and its people farther apart than they already are, the Burmese junta has imposed massive fees on satellite television license renewals, according to the BBC: Satellite channels were a key source of information for Burmese residents during September's crackdown on anti-government campaigners, in which at least 31 people died. Soap operas and sporting events are also popular. The cost of renewing the satellite dish rose from 6000 kyat (approximately $5.00) to 1 million kyat ($800). This is three times the average annual salary, obviously out of reach of all but a very few privileged elites. Evolutionary Mind has a review of B. More »
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December 27, 2007

70,000 Child Soldiers in Burma, Five Million Tourists in Tibet

Burma leads the world in number of child soldiers. Kids are literally pulled off the street and "drafted": While 15-year-old San Lin Aung stood waiting for a train home at Pyinmana railroad station, an army sergeant approached him and asked to see his ID. The boy couldn't produce one, so the soldier sent him to an army recruitment unit in Mingalardon, on the outskirts of Rangoon. The officer in charge of the unit refused to enlist him, but another unit in Mandalay accepted him without question. Two 14 year-olds, Kyaw Min Thu from South Dagon, and a youngster from North Okkalapa, were also forcibly recruited by the army in late April, according to reports. There may be as many as 70,000 child soldiers (and the number is growing) in Burma, according to a 2002 Human Rights Watch report. More »
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December 21, 2007

One Foot in Front of the Other

Tom (of Blogmandu and Thoughts Chase Thoughts and other sites) has brought a great and powerful blog to our attention: One Foot in Front of the Other, which is the blog of a Zen practitioner named Michael whose illness has placed him the position of directly confronting the great matter of life and death. On December 14th he wrote: I'm curled up on a bed in an ER exam room. More »
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December 21, 2007

Bon Buddhist Santa Claus

The following letter turned up at the Tricycle office in late November and we decided it would make a nice Christmas post for obvious reasons... More »
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December 21, 2007

An Open Letter from Jack Kornfield, Ram Dass, and Sharon Salzberg

Dear Friends, We are writing to ask your support for two beloved friends of ours, Stephen and Ondrea Levine. They are currently facing significant difficulty. After a life-time of giving, they are now at a time to receive from those of us whose lives have been touched by their presence and teaching. More »
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December 19, 2007

Laura Bush Lashes out at the Burmese Junta; plus news on Gandhi, Baggio, and Burger King

Look out, Myanmar, Laura Bush is gonna getcha! Pop quiz: What was her First Lady project? Whatever it was, she's letting the junta have it in no uncertain terms: "The junta has made no meaningful attempt to meet and talk with democratic activists. Instead it has continued to harass and detain them," Laura Bush said. "The junta leaders continue to sell the country's natural resources to enrich themselves. While they reject international calls for a democratic transition, they have put Burma in shambles and placed its people in a perilous state," she said. "Children are being trafficked and subject to forced recruitment into the military; citizens are fleeing the country to seek work and basic healthcare; meanwhile infectious diseases, including AIDS and malaria, continue to spread unchecked," said Laura Bush. Right on. More »
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December 18, 2007

Aung San Suu Kyi to Receive Congressional Gold Medal, and Taiwan: Province of China?

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution Monday night to give Aung San Suu Kyi the Congressional gold medal, the same award that was recently given to the Dalai Lama to China's chagrin. The resolution was accompanied by some half-hearted language of condemnation for the junta: “It is time for the military junta to recognize the will of the Burmese people and open the door for true reconciliation. By awarding Suu Kyi with the Congressional Gold Medal, we send a strong message that enough is enough,” [Representative Don Manzullo (R-IL)] said. More »
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December 17, 2007

96 Monks Freed, and Eastern Russia Deforested

The Burmese junta has released 96 monks from the September protests -- maybe some of them will find a way to tell the story of their months in captivity. And the headline says it all: "Rapping Monks, Nuns Hit Catwalk". This one comes courtesy of The Worst Horse and was also noticed by Urban Monk. What's Wal-Mart up to now? Killing Amur (Siberian) tigers, apparently. More »
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December 13, 2007

Not Giving Up on Burma

Well, you gotta hand it to Washington. Our government, which has given up on combatting (or even admitting) human-influenced climate change, is not giving up on Burma, at least rhetorically (It helps that Iran seems to be off the table for now.) Congress is finally pushing a bill through the gridlock that will cut off some finances for the junta. About time! And Bush promises more sanctions. On another note Danny Fisher points out we can sign a petition to tell the world we don't support the Bush administration's obstruction vis a vis the Bali talks. More »
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December 12, 2007

The Bodhidharma Stupa and the Damaged Bodhi Tree

A very cool movie by Andy Ferguson on the burial site of Bodhidharma is up on YouTube. The site has only recently been rediscovered and, even more recently, been refurbished. This will become a major pilgrimage site for Zen practitioners in the years to come. Thanks to the ZenFrog for pointing it out. Visit South Mountain Tours for more info on how to get there. More »
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December 11, 2007

Burma, International Bad Boy, and the Dalai Lama Rocks Italy

The world (plus Laura Bush, whatever planet she's on) is running out of patience with Myanmar's generals, says U.N sec-gen Ban Ki Moon. It seems Burma's leaders (as well as a certain U.S. president) don't much care what the U.N. says: U.N. special envoy Ibrahim Gambari has been awaiting permission from the Burmese government to visit Burma to continue efforts to broker negotiations between the military leadership and the opposition. Gambari has been in Burma twice since the violent September crackdown on peaceful pro-democracy demonstrators. The U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva also condemned Burma again. More »
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December 11, 2007

Eat Local?

Despite Europe's interest in eating local foods to reduce food miles, "Europeans are eating — and importing — more food from outside the E.U. than ever before," according to DotEarth, a New York Times blog. In May the Times of London reported: Scottish prawns are being hand-shelled in China, Atlantic haddock caught off Scotland is being prepared in Poland and Welsh cockles are being sent to Holland to be put in jars before going on sale in Britain. Eating local is simply not possible in a world of 6.7 billion people (and counting) says Andrew Revkin, who writes the blog. So what to do? Find alternative, less-polluting fuel sources. More »
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December 10, 2007

BOOKS: Why is There Something Rather Than Nothing?

Polish philosopher Leszek Kolakowski's Why is There Something Rather Than Nothing?: 23 Questions From Great Philosophers was supposed to be longer. Or rather, it is longer in the original Polish: the English-language version (or at least the American version) drops seven philosophers, leaving twenty-three thinkers and their questions. The questions span the whole range of philosophical concern: What is the human spirit? How is knowledge possible? What is evil? What is the source of truth? Many questions are variations on what we can know and how we can be certain of anything (i.e. epistemology.) More »
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December 07, 2007

Game Over

The junta is firmly back in control, and international "efforts" to bring change to Burma has failed, according to the New York Times, and it's hard to argue. The junta toyed with the NLD and waited out the international indignation, all the while being enabled by ASEAN. And the crackdown was bloodier than reported (of course) according to Human Rights Watch. Now, back to business. Rubies, anyone? More »
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December 06, 2007

The American Nightmare

An ex-monk, Thanh Thach of Cambodia, was delivering pizza in Richmond, California on November 26th when he was gunned down by unknown assailants. He leaves a wife, Eng Heng, owner of a nail salon in San Anselmo, California and a U.S. citizen since the mid-90s, and three sons. His story reads like the dark side of the American dream, the ferocious struggle to get by in this country: Thach, who earned his U.S. citizenship in September, had recently lost his job as a mail handler at the U.S. Postal Service center in West Oakland and had been delivering pizzas for about a month. He had earned his manicurist license. How much is said in those quiet sentences. HOW TO HELP Pizza Hut has established a Thanh Thach memorial fund. More »