Category : Buddhism

(NYT) W.S. Merwin, Poet of Life’s Evanescence, Dies at 91

Stylistically, Mr. Merwin’s mature work was known for metrical promiscuity; stark, sometimes epigrammatic language; and the frequent use of enjambment — the poetic device in which a phrase breaks over two consecutive lines, without intervening punctuation.

“It is as though the voice filters up to the reader like echoes from a very deep well, and yet it strikes his ear with a raw energy,” the poet and critic Laurence Lieberman wrote, discussing “The Lice,” a collection whose bitter contents were widely understood as a denunciation of the Vietnam War. He added:

“The poems must be read very slowly, since most of their uncanny power is hidden in overtones that must be listened for in silences between lines, and still stranger silences within lines.”

The themes that preoccupied Mr. Merwin most keenly were those that haunt nearly every poet: the earth, the sea and their myriad creatures; the cycle of the seasons; myth and spirituality (he was a practicing Buddhist); personal history and memory; and, above all, life and its damnable evanescence.

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Posted in Buddhism, Death / Burial / Funerals, Poetry & Literature

(NYT) Where Countries Are Tinderboxes and Facebook Is a Match

As Facebook pushes into developing countries, it tends to be initially received as a force for good.

In Sri Lanka, it keeps families in touch even as many work abroad. It provides for unprecedented open expression and access to information. Government officials say it was essential for the democratic transition that swept them into office in 2015.

But where institutions are weak or undeveloped, Facebook’s newsfeed can inadvertently amplify dangerous tendencies. Designed to maximize user time on site, it promotes whatever wins the most attention. Posts that tap into negative, primal emotions like anger or fear, studies have found, produce the highest engagement, and so proliferate.

In the Western countries for which Facebook was designed, this leads to online arguments, angry identity politics and polarization. But in developing countries, Facebook is often perceived as synonymous with the internet and reputable sources are scarce, allowing emotionally charged rumors to run rampant. Shared among trusted friends and family members, they can become conventional wisdom.

And where people do not feel they can rely on the police or courts to keep them safe, research shows, panic over a perceived threat can lead some to take matters into their own hands — to lynch.

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Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Buddhism, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Religion & Culture, Sri Lanka

(Economist Erasmus Blog) Buddhism in America: An Asian religion gains popularity in the New World

Chris Nyambura was raised Catholic but over the past six months he has started calling himself Buddhist. Aged 23, he is a graduate student in chemical engineering. Like many of his generation, especially on the American West Coast, he appreciates the emphasis on mental development and self-help in the spiritual practice he has chosen.

He belongs to a group of people who turn up every Sunday evening for guided meditation sessions in a small, brightly lit studio in downtown Seattle. This is one of 38 centres across the United States (and 679 around the world) affiliated to the Diamond Way movement, which has popularised a modern form of Tibetan Buddhist practice, that emphasises the practical over the arcane. Their teacher coaches them in techniques like visualisation and chanting as well as explaining some basics of the religion to any newcomers.

Mr Nyambura eagerly lists the ways in which, he feels, this practice benefits him. First, training the mental faculties. “A lot of people take refuge in relationships, food, material things. Part of Buddhism is trying to teach me how do I take refuge in my own mind.” Second, a sharper sense of cause, effect and accountability. “One of the things when we meditate is remembering how former thoughts, actions bring you to your present state and what you do now will ultimately shape your future.” Third, learning to live in the moment. “When you meditate, one of the first things is that you calm your mind and just rest in the present…”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Buddhism, Religion & Culture

(CNN) Daniel Burke–What is the spiritual message hidden in Star Wars?

 …the latest film in the saga, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” touches on trends in American religious life in some surprising ways, especially for a franchise that’s so nakedly commercial. (“The Last Jedi” was the highest-grossing movie in the United States last year and raked in nearly $1.3 billion worldwide.)
“It is very much a movie of this time,” said the Rev. angel Kyodo williams, a Buddhist teacher, social justice activist and “Star Wars” aficionado who lives Berkeley, California. “It draws on ancient teachings, as well as what is happening in this country right now.”
But there’s some debate about what “The Last Jedi” intends to say about modern religious life: Is it warning about the end of organized religion, or a parable about spiritual renewal?

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Posted in Buddhism, Movies & Television, Religion & Culture

(WSJ) Robert George–Poe Francis can help Myanmar’s Muslims, but the best way is behind the scenes

Pope Francis was in Myanmar this week spreading the Word of God. Many observers wondered if he would use a specific word: Rohingya. Barring an unforeseen statement—always possible on the papal plane home—it appears the Holy Father won’t, though he alluded to the crisis the word evokes.

Rohingya is the name of a persecuted religious and ethnic minority in the nation once known as Burma, where about 88% of people practice the Theravada Buddhist religion. The Rohingya are Muslims loathed and feared by those who insist on calling them “Bengalis,” as if they were foreigners in their own country. They are also targets of various forms of legally sanctioned discrimination and humiliation. Recently Myanmar’s military authorities have subjected them to ethnic cleansing. This has left between 600,000 and 900,000 of Myanmar’s 2.2 million Rohingya as refugees in bordering Bangladesh.

The word Rohingya offends the group’s persecutors. That’s because it implies recognition of the humanity and basic rights the Myanmar government denies. This would seem to create a perfect opportunity for Pope Francis, which is why human-rights activists called on him to speak the word boldly in public. But silence and speaking out both come with serious risks.

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Posted in Buddhism, Ethics / Moral Theology, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Myanmar/Burma, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(Economist) What Buddhism teaches about peace and war

But it is in Myanmar where Buddhist violence has become most familiar of late. A monk called Ashin Wirathu has led demands for a harsh response to a perceived Muslim threat. His organisation, Ma Ba Tha, has supposedly been banned, but it still presses the authorities to take the hardest of lines against the Rohingya Muslims, of whom over 600,000 have been expelled to Bangladesh. Ma Ba Tha disseminates the idea that Myanmar’s overwhelming Buddhist majority is threatened by the Muslim minority. The stance is criticised by some Asian Buddhists. The Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, has rebuked his coreligionists for persecuting the Rohingya, saying they should “remember Buddha”. He insisted that the faith’s founder would “definitely help those poor Muslims”.

Like every other important religion in history, Buddhism engenders powerful protective feelings among its followers, especially when sacred history and national history become intertwined, as happens in Sri Lanka. In the collective memory of Sri Lankan Buddhists, the emergence of their nation is seen as linked with the advent of their faith in the era of King Ashoka, if not earlier. And whenever people feel a threat to their identity and origins, they can easily be induced to lash out with disproportionate force, just as medieval Christians marched to war when told that their faith’s holiest places in Jerusalem were being desecrated. Moreover, as with any vast corpus of sacred texts and annals, things can be found in the Buddhist tradition to justify violence, at least in self-defence. Medieval Japan, for example, had its Buddhist warrior monks. And even the Dalai Lama agrees that one can take limited action in self-defence. If a man is aiming a gun at you, he once said, you can shoot back, but to wound rather than kill.

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Posted in Asia, Buddhism, Ethics / Moral Theology, Myanmar/Burma

(NPR) A Mortician Explores Cultures’ Many Paths For ‘Sacred Transition’ Of Death

In 1980, only 6 percent of Americans were cremated. Now, just a generation later, 50 percent of Americans are choosing cremation. But unlike the intimacy of the experience in Japan, cremation in the U.S. is still quite industrial.

That’s one reason why, when we visited Undertaking LA, we were the rare guests that Caitlin Doughty ushered into the brick, factory-like space that contains two cremation machines running at full blast. There, we met Mike Munoz, the crematory operator, who handles first the bodies, and then the ashes. At 22 years old, he is committed to spending his life caring for the dead. He offered to open the door to show us one cremation that was nearly complete. It was a surprisingly peaceful sight: just a hint of bones, white as lace, lit by slowly undulating flames. “It’s beautiful,” said Doughty. “You don’t want to be the one who says a cremating body is beautiful, but cultures all around the world have open air pyres because it’s a sacred transition for many people.”

Caitlin Doughty, is just 32, but is accustomed to thinking ahead. She wants a green burial. Dust to dust. Unless there’s a way to be laid out above ground.

“The model for this is the Tibetan sky burial, where when someone dies they are laid out to be eaten by vultures. Hence the name “sky burial.” The Buddhist idea is that your body isn’t worth anything to you anymore, so why are you trying to hold on to it? Why don’t you give it back to other animals to take up into the sky? And I think that’s gorgeous.”

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Posted in Buddhism, Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Other Faiths

(AP) As Myanmar Muslims flee crackdown, the U.S. is wary of involvement

Don’t expect the United States to step in and resolve what is increasingly being described as an ethnic cleansing campaign against Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims.

Not wanting to undermine the Asian country’s democratic leader, the U.S. is cautiously criticizing what looks like a forced exodus of more than a quarter-million Rohingya in the last two weeks as Myanmar’s military responds with hammer force to insurgent attacks.

But neither Trump administration officials nor lawmakers are readying sanctions or levying real pressure on Aung San Suu Kyi’s government. A bill making its way through Congress seeks to enhance U.S.-Myanmar military cooperation.

“Further normalization of the military-to-military relationship with Burma is the last thing we should be doing right now,” said Walter Lohman, Asia program director at the right-leaning Heritage Foundation. “What a terrible signal to be sending.”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Buddhism, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Islam, Myanmar/Burma, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(Economist) 2 documentaries probe Myanmar’s religious strife between the Rohingya and Buddhists

Though these films neatly complement each other, they are being received rather differently. “The Venerable W.” was shown with pomp at Cannes, while “Sittwe” was banned from the Human Rights Human Dignity International Film Festival in Yangon. This year’s edition was dedicated to Miss Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s de facto leader, with censors deeming the movie “religiously and culturally inappropriate”. Phil Robertson, the deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division, brands the decision as “ludicrous”. The ban, he explains, reveals the government’s authorities persistent bias against the Rohingya and the reluctance to present them as victims in any capacity. “The Rohingya have been put in a separate, untouchable category by the government, and any real discussion of their situation gets tarred with the same brush.”

“Sittwe” found an audience in Thailand instead. For Lia Sciortino Sumaryono, the director of Southeast Asia Junction, a non-profit organisation which hosted the screenings in Bangkok, the issue is relevant to the whole region. “Extremists movements are increasingly regionalised,” she says, pointing at the several contacts between extremist Buddhist networks in Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand, and those of Islamist groups in the Philippines and Malaysia.

“The Venerable W.” and “Sittwe” offer some insight into a social and religious quagmire. Were the country open to talking meaningfully about relations between Buddhists and Muslims, the films could form part of the discussion. As it is not, acts of violence are likely to continue.

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Posted in Buddhism, History, Movies & Television, Myanmar/Burma, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Violence

(WSJ) How to Be a Buddhist in Today’s World

Modern science, up until now, has confined itself to studying phenomena that are material in nature. Scientists largely examine only what can be measured with scientific instruments, limiting the scope of their investigations and their understanding of the universe. Phenomena such as rebirth and the existence of the mind as separate from the brain are beyond the scope of scientific investigation. Some scientists, although they have no proof that these phenomena do not exist, consider them unworthy of consideration. But there is reason for optimism. In recent years, I have met with many open-minded scientists, and we have had mutually beneficial discussions that have highlighted our common points as well as our diverging ideas—expanding the world views of scientists and Buddhists in the process.

Then there is materialism and consumerism. Religion values ethical conduct, which may involve delayed gratification, whereas consumerism directs us toward immediate happiness. Faith traditions stress inner satisfaction and a peaceful mind, while materialism says that happiness comes from external objects. Religious values such as kindness, generosity and honesty get lost in the rush to make more money and have more and “better” possessions. Many people’s minds are confused about what happiness is and how to create its causes.

If you study the Buddha’s teachings, you may find that some of them are in harmony with your views on societal values, science and consumerism—and some of them are not. That is fine. Continue to investigate and reflect on what you discover. In this way, whatever conclusion you reach will be based on reason, not simply on tradition, peer pressure or blind faith.

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Posted in Buddhism, Religion & Culture

(NYT) Is a Buddhist Group Changing China? Or Is China Changing It?

…five years ago, a Buddhist organization from Taiwan called Fo Guang Shan, or Buddha’s Light Mountain, began building a temple in the outskirts of…[Shen Ying’s] city, Yixing. She began attending its meetings and studying its texts — and it changed her life.

She and her husband, a successful businessman, started living more simply. They gave up luxury goods and made donations to support poor children. And before the temple opened last year, she left her convenience store to manage a tea shop near the temple, pledging the proceeds to charity.

Across China, millions of people like Ms. Shen have begun participating in faith-based organizations like Fo Guang Shan. They aim to fill what they see as a moral vacuum left by attacks on traditional values over the past century, especially under Mao, and the nation’s embrace of a cutthroat form of capitalism.

Many want to change their country — to make it more compassionate, more civil and more just. But unlike political dissidents or other activists suppressed by the Communist Party, they hope to change Chinese society through personal piety and by working with the government instead of against it. And for the most part, the authorities have left them alone.

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Posted in Buddhism, China, Religion & Culture

(R+E Report) The near-death experience in Jail of Burma's Anglican Archbishop Stephen Than

Burma is a deeply religious nation””predominantly Buddhist but with big religious and ethnic minorities.

Stephen Than, the Anglican Archbishop is from the minority Karen people. During his lifetime he has faced ethnic discrimination and a crisis of faith. Archbishop Than is the subject of a new biography, Dancing With Angels, by Melbourne Anglican priest Alan Nichols.

Listen to it all (just over 13 minutes).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Buddhism, Ethics / Moral Theology, Inter-Faith Relations, Myanmar/Burma, Other Faiths, Pastoral Theology, Prison/Prison Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology

Six Utah women share their faith journeys

The evening concluded with the story of how Wendy Stovall, an assistant pastor in Utah’s Unification Church, started by Rev. Sun Myung Moon, found her way from Zimbabwe to a London park, where she met a friend from that faith.

Raised as an Anglican, Stovall found little comfort in that tradition after her divorce as a young woman. The Unification Church, she said, held many answers to the theological questions that troubled her. “God,” she said, “was taking a role in my life.”

That view was a common thread in the evening’s tapestry.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Buddhism, Episcopal Church (TEC), Other Churches, Other Faiths, Presbyterian, Religion & Culture, Women

(RNS) Atheists lose fight over ”˜under God’ at Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

The highest court in Massachusetts upheld the legality of the phrase “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance on Friday (May 9), dealing a blow to atheist groups who challenged the pledge on anti-discrimination grounds.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court said the daily, teacher-led recitation of the pledge in state public schools does not violate the state’s equal rights amendment and is not discriminatory against the children of atheists, humanists and other nontheists.

“Participation is entirely voluntary,” the court wrote as a whole in the decision of Doe v. Acton-Boxborough Regional School District, brought by an anonymous humanist family. “(A)ll students are presented with the same options; and one student’s choice not to participate because of a religiously held belief is, as both a practical and a legal matter, indistinguishable from another’s choice to abstain for a wholly different, more mundane, and constitutionally insignificant reason.”

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Atheism, Buddhism, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer

(WwM) Sri Lanka’s Christians protest after January attacks

More than 2,000 Christians gathered in Colombo on Sunday (January 26) to protest against a perceived lack of religious freedom in Sri Lanka, following recent attacks on Christian places of worship by Buddhist extremists.

Two churches and a Christian prayer centre were attacked on Jan. 12 by Buddhist mobs claiming they were illegal and aiming to take Buddhists away from their religion.

The prayer centre, belonging to the Church of the Foursquare Gospel in Pitipana, near Colombo, was set alight on the same day as attacks on the Assemblies of God Church and Calvary Free Church in the southern coastal town of Hikkaduwa.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Buddhism, Inter-Faith Relations, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Sri Lanka, Violence

(BBC Magazine) Alan Strathern–Why are Buddhist monks attacking Muslims?

Of all the moral precepts instilled in Buddhist monks the promise not to kill comes first, and the principle of non-violence is arguably more central to Buddhism than any other major religion. So why have monks been using hate speech against Muslims and joining mobs that have left dozens dead?

This is happening in two countries separated by well over 1,000 miles of Indian Ocean – Burma and Sri Lanka. It is puzzling because neither country is facing an Islamist militant threat. Muslims in both places are a generally peaceable and small minority.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Buddhism, Islam, Myanmar/Burma, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Sri Lanka, Violence

(Chicago Tribune) Buddhism in the Midwest

Inside the main hall of the Drepung Gomang Institute, gilded statues of Buddha and brilliantly colored images of fierce deities adorn the altar. As the smell of incense wafts through the air, a Tibetan monk chants a sutra, his low tones weaving a soothing, meditative melody.

Dharamsala, India? Lhasa, Tibet? Some remote outpost in the Himalayas? Nope. It’s in a neighborhood of Louisville, Ky. This Tibetan Buddhist temple is one of a growing number of such centers that have found a surprisingly receptive home in the Midwest and parts of neighboring Kentucky.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Buddhism, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

(NY Times Magazine) Joel Lovell–George Saunders Has Written the Best Book You’ll Read This Year

Aside from all the formal invention and satirical energy of Saunders’s fiction, the main thing about it, which tends not to get its due, is how much it makes you feel. I’ve loved Saunders’s work for years and spent a lot of hours with him over the past few months trying to understand how he’s able to do what he does, but it has been a real struggle to find an accurate way to express my emotional response to his stories. One thing is that you read them and you feel known, if that makes any sense. Or, possibly even woollier, you feel as if he understands humanity in a way that no one else quite does, and you’re comforted by it. Even if that comfort often comes in very strange packages, like say, a story in which a once-chaste aunt comes back from the dead to encourage her nephew, who works at a male-stripper restaurant (sort of like Hooters, except with guys, and sleazier), to start unzipping and showing his wares to the patrons, so he can make extra tips and help his family avert a tragic future that she has foretold.

Junot Díaz described the Saunders’s effect to me this way: “There’s no one who has a better eye for the absurd and dehumanizing parameters of our current culture of capital. But then the other side is how the cool rigor of his fiction is counterbalanced by this enormous compassion. Just how capacious his moral vision is sometimes gets lost, because few people cut as hard or deep as Saunders does.”

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Books, Buddhism, Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Philosophy, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology

Amy Yee: Tibetans Sacrifice Their Lives for Their Faith

A 35-year-old Tibetan nun named Palden Choetso set herself on fire on a street corner in southwest China last November. The final moments of her life were captured by an amateur video camera. As bright orange flames engulfed her body, Choetso stood impossibly still until finally she dropped to her knees and toppled over.

Choetso is one of 49 Tibetans, ages 17 to 44, who have set themselves on fire since 2009 to protest repression in Tibet by Chinese authorities. The latest was on Monday, when two young men in their early 20s””one a monk””did so in a Tibetan region of China’s Sichuan province. This spate of self-immolations among Tibetans is unprecedented.

With China not changing its policies denying true religious freedom and civil liberties to Tibetans, the self-immolations are likely to continue. This presents an uneasy quandary for Buddhists, who consider the taking of life, including suicide, taboo.

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Posted in * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Buddhism, Other Faiths, Tibet

(NY Times) Mindful Eating as Food for Thought

Try this: place a forkful of food in your mouth. It doesn’t matter what the food is, but make it something you love ”” let’s say it’s that first nibble from three hot, fragrant, perfectly cooked ravioli.

Now comes the hard part. Put the fork down. This could be a lot more challenging than you imagine, because that first bite was very good and another immediately beckons. You’re hungry….

The concept has roots in Buddhist teachings. Just as there are forms of meditation that involve sitting, breathing, standing and walking, many Buddhist teachers encourage their students to meditate with food, expanding consciousness by paying close attention to the sensation and purpose of each morsel.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Buddhism, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

(Washington Post) Dispute exposes India-China contest over Buddhism

Buddhists from around the world chose India on Wednesday as the headquarters of a new international Buddhist organization and united in their criticism of the Chinese government for trying to prevent the Dalai Lama from speaking at their meeting here in New Delhi.

It was something of a victory for India in what observers increasingly see as a contest with China to win the favor of Buddhists around the world. India is the land where Buddha gained enlightenment and taught, but China has the largest population of Buddhists today.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Buddhism, China, Foreign Relations, India, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(RNS) Steve Jobs' private spirituality now an open book

He considered moving to a Zen monastery before shifting his sights to Silicon Valley, where he became a brash businessman.

He preached about the dangers of desire but urged consumers to covet every new iPhone incarnation.

“He was an enlightened being who was cruel,” says a former girlfriend. “That’s a strange combination.”

Now, we can add another irony to the legacy of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs: Since his death on Oct. 5, the famously private man’s spiritual side has become an open book.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Buddhism, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

In China, tensions rising over Buddhism's quiet resurgence

Breathless but beaming, Sheng Zisu sounds confident after five months in a maze-like Buddhist encampment high on the eastern Tibetan plateau, nearly 400 miles of bad road from the nearest city.

“Look around. They could never find me here,” Sheng, 27, says of parents so anxious about their only child’s turn to Tibetan Buddhism that they have threatened to kidnap her.

Sheng is far from her home ”” and from the bars where she used to drink and the ex-boyfriends she says cheated on her. She is here with 2,000 other Han Chinese at the Larung Gar Buddhist Institute in Serthar, Sichuan province, the rain-soaked mountainous region of southwest China.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Buddhism, China, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

(CDN) Religious Conversion Worst Form of 'Intolerance,' Bhutan PM Says

In the Kingdom of Bhutan, where Christianity is still awaiting legal recognition, Christians have the right to proclaim their faith but must not use coercion or claim religious superiority to seek conversions, the country’s prime minister told Compass in an exclusive interview.

“I view conversions very negatively, because conversion is the worst form of intolerance,” Jigmi Yoser Thinley said in his office in the capital of the predominantly Buddhist nation.

Christian leaders in Bhutan have told Compass that they enjoy certain freedoms to practice their faith in private homes, but, because of a prohibition against church buildings and other restrictions, they were not sure if proclamation of their faith ”“ included in international human rights codes ”“ was allowed in Bhutan.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Bhutan, Buddhism, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

In New South Wales, new Collie Rector went From Buddhist to Anglican priest

Ian Mabey is to be succeeded as rector of Collie’s All Saints Anglican Church by another Ian ”” Father Ian Bailey. He grew up in a Christian family but deserted the church as a young adult. However the spiritual impulse was not to be denied and he came back to the Christian faith via Buddhism.

Ian Bailey is excited about the opportunity to live in Collie, a place he has never even visited. Next month he will be arriving from New South Wales to become rector of the Collie’s All Saints Anglican Church.

From what he has seen on the internet, he is impressed.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Buddhism, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry

Tenzin Gyatso (Current Dalai Lama): Many Faiths, One Truth

When I was a boy in Tibet, I felt that my own Buddhist religion must be the best ”” and that other faiths were somehow inferior. Now I see how naïve I was, and how dangerous the extremes of religious intolerance can be today.

Though intolerance may be as old as religion itself, we still see vigorous signs of its virulence. In Europe, there are intense debates about newcomers wearing veils or wanting to erect minarets and episodes of violence against Muslim immigrants. Radical atheists issue blanket condemnations of those who hold to religious beliefs. In the Middle East, the flames of war are fanned by hatred of those who adhere to a different faith.

Such tensions are likely to increase as the world becomes more interconnected and cultures, peoples and religions become ever more entwined. The pressure this creates tests more than our tolerance ”” it demands that we promote peaceful coexistence and understanding across boundaries.

Granted, every religion has a sense of exclusivity as part of its core identity. Even so, I believe there is genuine potential for mutual understanding. While preserving faith toward one’s own tradition, one can respect, admire and appreciate other traditions.

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Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Buddhism, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Judaism, Other Faiths

AP–Dalai Lama: China aims to annihilate Buddhism

The Dalai Lama lashed out at China on Wednesday, accusing it of trying to “annihilate Buddhism” in Tibet and rebuffing all his efforts to reach a compromise over the disputed Himalayan region.

China shot back, accusing the Tibetan spiritual leader of using deceptions and lies to distort its policy in the region. The passionate back-and-forth highlighted the distrust, anger and frustration that separates the two sides and leaves little hope for success in recently resumed talks.

Beijing has demonized the Dalai Lama and accused him of wanting independence for Tibet, which China says is part of its territory. The Dalai Lama says he only wants some form of autonomy for Tibet within China that would allow Tibetan culture, language and religion to thrive.

The Dalai Lama spoke Wednesday in an address marking the anniversaries of two failed uprisings against China, one 51 years ago that sent him into exile in India and the other two years ago that was quashed by a government crackdown that is still continuing.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Buddhism, China, India, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Tibet

Albert Mohler–Tiger Woods’ Buddhist Confession

From an Evangelical perspective, the statement by Tiger Woods points to the radical distinction between Christianity and Buddhism — between the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the dharma of the Buddha.

Christianity speaks honestly of desire and affirms that wrongful desires can and do lead to sin, destruction, and death. Nevertheless, Christianity does not teach that all desire is wrong. Indeed, the Bible affirms that God made us to desire Him. Even in our sinful state, something within us cries out for our need — and desire — for divine forgiveness and redemption.

Christianity does not teach that we should (or could) empty ourselves of all desire, but rather that we should desire the salvation that Christ alone has accomplished for us — the salvation that leads to divine forgiveness and the restoration of relationship we should surely desire. Once we know that salvation, our desire for God is only increased and pointed to eternity.

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Buddhism, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Soteriology, Theology

Stephen Prothero–A Buddhist moment in America

Until Friday, when Tiger Woods stood up in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., and apologized for his sexual infidelities, the American public confession was a Christian rite. From President Grover Cleveland, who likely fathered a child out of wedlock, to Ted Haggard, who resigned as president of the National Association of Evangelicals after allegations that he had sex with a male prostitute, our politicians and preachers have bowed and scraped in Christian idioms. Jimmy Carter spoke of “adultery in my heart.” Jimmy Swaggart spoke of “my sin” and “my Savior.” In any case, the model derives from evangelical Christianity ”” the revival and the altar call. You confess you are a sinner. You repent of your sins. You turn to Christ to make yourself new.

Woods was caught in a multimistress sex scandal after Thanksgiving. In January Brit Hume, channeling his inner evangelist on Fox News Sunday, urged Woods to “turn to the Christian faith.” “He’s said to be a Buddhist,” Hume said. “I don’t think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith.” Woods in effect told Hume Friday thanks but no thanks.

Part of Woods’ carefully prepared statement followed the time-honored formula that historian Susan Wise Bauer has referred to as the “art of the public grovel.” Though he did not sob like Swaggart, Woods seemed ashamed and embarrassed. He took responsibility for his actions, which he characterized as “irresponsible and selfish.” He apologized, not just to his wife and children but also to his family and friends, his business partners, his fans, and the staff and sponsors of his foundation. And he was not evasive. Whereas President Clinton confessed in 1998 to having an “inappropriate” relationship with Monica Lewinsky and took potshots at the independent counsel, Kenneth Starr, Woods said, “I was unfaithful. I had affairs. I cheated. What I did is not acceptable, and I am the only person to blame.”

But this was not your garden-variety confession. Though Woods spoke of religion, he did not mention Jesus or the Bible, sin or redemption. He gave us a Buddhist mea culpa instead.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Buddhism, Ethics / Moral Theology, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Sports, Theology

CSM: Why some Americans mix Christianity, Eastern religions

Because she attends Catholic mass every Sunday and observes all the religious holidays of her faith, Angela Bowman may well exemplify the Latin root of the word “religion,” which is “to bind.”

But the Chicagoan also meditates several times each day and practices yoga every other week. She knows Catholicism, Hinduism, and Buddhism have contradictory elements but is unfazed by her multiple observances because, to her, “it’s all pretty much the same thing.”

“The biggest part of praying is opening yourself up to a connection with God, and I perceive clearing your mind in meditation as another form of receptivity,” says the 30-something textbook editor. Although she is a devoted Roman Catholic, she says she doesn’t “believe it’s the one true path and anything else is flirting with the devil.”

Ms. Bowman’s attitude tracks with those in a study released last month, which found that large numbers of America’s faithful do not neatly conform to the expectations or beliefs of their prescribed religions, but instead freely borrow principles of Eastern religions or endorse common supernatural beliefs.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Buddhism, Hinduism, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic