August 21, 2007

Newly comment-able: Buddhism butts heads with the status quo

spamRobotWhen this blog started it received as its first visitors a rampaging horde of spambots -- this led to the restricted comment policy (only people with WordPress accounts could post) which led to the dearth of comments here, which bothered some people. Well, the gate is now lifted. Welcome, human commentors! Picture the armies of spambots doomed to troll the web eternally, looking for open doors. Are there 10 spambots for every human on the web? More?

More hot water for Buddhists from those pesky "environmentalists." This time it's in Dharamsala over synthetic prayer flags that strangle trees, melt, and otherwise flap about like the proverbial plastic bag in the tree branches. Really the people complaining are not those dratted environmentalists but the locals around Dharamsala. This article touches on something more interesting than the plastic flag issue -- the tension between the local Indian community and the transplanted Tibetan community. They're not headed back to Chinese Tibet anytime soon so there's some work to be done.

Shingon Buddhist monks in a club in Tokyo. This wouldn't seem so odd in Las Vegas, where Asian religion is trippy and exotic, associated with the go-go sixties and whacked-out New Age spirituality, but this is probably a bad sign for Buddhism in Japan, that monks are so kitschy and foreign that they are objects of curiosity in a nightclub.

A monk has a Mercedes in Sri Lanka and people are mad about it... zzzzzz... Oh, sorry! Nodded off there for a second. Ah-hem! What's obnoxious about this monk is not his owning a Mercedes but his owning a Mercedes AND being part of a Buddhist nationalist party that opposes power-sharing and thus helps perpetuate Sri Lanka's long and brutal civil war. Well, when monks get involved in politics these things will happen. The monks agitating for Buddhism to be the state religion in Thailand, for example, are said to be allied with the ousted Prime Minister who is trying to embarrass the current junta by bringing up this referendum. This constitutional committee will eventually draft Thailand's eighteenth constitution or so in the last hundred years, so any amendments made here might not be a change that would last, but you never know. I think Thailand should stay nominally secular, like the U.S., which is probably somewhere north of 75% Christian. (Thailand is more than 90% Buddhist.)

China is instituting laws regulating reincarnation. (The Dalai Lama has already said he won't be reborn in an area controlled by China.) Interesting that China feels threatened enough to say reincarnation is real in the first place. Why not just abolish the idea?

Some more on the U.S. Army's first Buddhist chaplain (to be). He's a former monk with a Thai background. Plus a great post from thinkbuddha.org a few weeks back on meditation in schools. And Kerouac's obituary from the New York Times. In case you've missed it, On the Road is 50. Also, it's always time to remember the mass-murder at the Thai monastery in Arizona in 1991.

- Philip Ryan, Webmaster

[Some typos corrected several hours post-posting.]

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Konchog's picture

Finally! I was one of the ones too discouraged by the byzantine registration process to become a Club Member. Thx for working that out. It had been frustrating, because this blog is so consistently interesting and I wanted to see what your readers had to say.

I'd also been plagued by spambots, then Typepad instituted CAPTCHA and presto, free at last.

Mongolia desk out...