November 21, 2007
Steven Seagal is back on the Buddhist scene, visiting what is said to be Europe's largest Buddhist temple in the Russian Federation republic of Kalmykia. Most readers will remember that Seagal was recognized as a tulku by His Holiness Penor Rinpoche about ten years ago. Kalmykia itself is notable for being the only region in Europe where Buddhism is the dominant religion. Seagal is also visiting a boxing tournament in Elista, Kalmykia's capital.
BURMA: Along with all its other problems, Burma is being deforested at a frightening pace. This is in contrast to China and other Asian countries, which are working to plant forests. Astoundingly this will result in a net gain of woodland for the continent next year. But China's not exactly in the clear:
But according to Global Witness, a London-based, non-governmental organization that exposes the corrupt exploitation of natural resources and international trading systems, Burma illegally exports some 95 percent of its timber—more than 1 million cubic meters of wood— from northern Burma to Yunnan Province in China every year.
GERMANS LOVE BUDDHISM PART IX: A study in Germany shows that Zen meditation makes psychotherapists better at their job.
You may remember our recent post about bogus Einstein quotes about Buddhism discovered floating around the web. I recently came across this book, Einstein and Buddha, The Parallel Sayings, from 2002. So far as I can tell it doesn't address the bogus Einstein quotes (nor does it use them) but I think it is exploiting the same urge: Einstein was a genius and knew a lot about science in our modern world. The Buddha said similar things. Therefore the Buddha also addresses issues about science in our modern world in a meaningful way. The book is probably very interesting and entertaining but I think the desire to make the dharma relevant by comparing it to such accepted wisdom as Einstein's is ultimately going to leave us disappointed. Science is science. Religion is religion. They are separate endeavors and have been separate since, I don't know, the Enlightenment, no matter how much people wish them together with intelligent design or whatever. They are parallel endeavors, both addressing big topics in wholly different realms -- and parallel lines never touch. (Side note: I don't know much about this newer book Jesus and Buddha: The Parallel Sayings. Maybe that can be addressed at a later date!)
- Philip Ryan, Editor