Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Tibetan Intellectual Arrested for collecting for Earthquake Victims

A leading Tibetan intellectual, a writer, publisher and philosopher, long seen as close to China's ruling Communist Party, has been arrested after organizing private donations for this month's earthquake.

Tra Gyal, better known by his penname of Zhogs Dung, was detained on Friday evening in Xining, capital of the western province of Qinghai where the April 14 tremor killed more than 2,000 people, Tibetan sources said.

According to The Telegraph, half a dozen police picked him up from his office at the Qinghai Nationalities Publishing House, took him to his home and carried out a meticulous search of his study, taking him away at about 10 p.m.

The officers also removed two computers, written documents and pictures. They returned again to show the writer's wife a formal arrest warrant for her husband.

Tra Gyal, 45, has acquired fame as Tibet's premier intellectual and essayist. However, he appears to have run foul of the authorities in recent weeks through his writings that have become more critical of Chinese rule of Tibetan regions, and also because of his activism after the earthquake.

Monday, 26 April 2010

"Chinese" Eathquake, Monks & Nuns Banned from Helping

Further to our post "Buddhist Monks Cremate Earthquake Dead" it now appears that the Chinese authorities have imposed restrictions on rescue and relief work by monks and nuns.

Under these restrictions, all those who had gone to the quake-hit area from outside the Yushu region have been ordered to go back to their areas. All monasteries have been told that only monks and nuns belonging to monasteries located in the Yushu area can participate in the rescue and relief work. Others have been banned from participating.

The Chinese became nervous and imposed the curbs when a monk publicly refused to shake hands with President Hu Jintao and hundreds of monks and nuns took out a candle light procession to pay homage to those killed. The processionists shouted slogans that His Holiness the Dalai Lama should be allowed to visit his home province to console his people in distress.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

It's Earth Day Again

Tomorrow, the 22nd, is Earth Day. Following on from our recent post about Earth Hour, Thursday April the 22nd. will mark Earth Day, an annual event celebrated around the world as the greenest of holidays. Established in 1970, it was created to call attention to the environment.

Earth Day is always on April 22nd and is a day when the whole world can come together to celebrate the earth and try to build and make it a safer, healthier and cleaner world for everyone.

All people have to do to take part is do something that helps the earth in some way, that could be anything from organising a festival to litter picking to installing solar panels or changing your light bulbs to energy saving ones.

Buddhism is a religion that embodies the spirit of environmental protection. The sutras not only advocate loving our neighbours, they teach us to love our environment, too. The sutras say, “All living beings have Buddha-nature.” “All beings, sentient or not, have the same perfect wisdom.”

Monday, 19 April 2010

Vishvapani on the Election & the Kalamas

On Saturday Vishvapani gave the "Thought for the Day" and took for his subject the election debate screened last Thursday, comparing this with the Buddha's famous talk to the Kalamas, often refered to as his "charter of free inquiry".

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Buddhist Monks Cremate Earthquake Dead

Local Monks in the Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture (Tibetan:Kyigudo) of Qinghai Province, (China) have been cremating the dead from the recent earthquake.

Tibetans in the region traditionally perform "sky burials," in which bodies are chopped into pieces and left on a platform to be devoured by vultures. But a monk, Zewang Jimei, said the large number of corpses made that impossible.

"There are not enough vultures for all these bodies, so the bodies will become very dirty and it is not good for the souls to rest in peace," Zewang said. "Therefore, we think the mass cremation is the best funeral for all these earthquake victims."

The Dalai Lama was born in Qinghai but has not set foot in China since a failed Tibetan uprising more than 50 years ago. Moved by the disaster in the overwhelmingly Tibetan area, the Dalai Lama said on Saturday that he would like to visit the site. His Holiness went on to say that, "I also applaud the Chinese authorities for visiting the affected areas, especially Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, who has not only personally offered comfort to the affected communities, but has also overseen the relief work. I am very appreciative too that the media have been free to report on the tragedy and its aftermath."

Nuns "Fighting" Back?

After all the items we have posted regarding the discriminatory moves against Theravadan nuns, or Bhikkhunis, this story from Nepal is refreshingly uplifting.

At the Amitabha Drukpa Nunnery on a hillside just outside Kathmandu young Buddhist nuns from the 800-year-old Buddhist sect are being taught kung fu by their Vietnamese master.

The martial art was introduced to the nunnery two years ago and the nuns practise up to two hours a day. Rupa Lama, a 16-year-old nun from India, says kung fu helps her concentrate, "it's good for our health. Meditation is very difficult and if we do kung fu, then afterwards meditation becomes much easier," she says.

READ MORE.........

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

The Heart Sutra

I've just put a new video up on our video page...........

There are many renditions of the Heart Sutra in song and many of the Asian ones are beautiful; this one by Kavyasiddhi with Jnanadhara on guitar is fun! It was performed during the International Order Convention of the Western Buddhist Order in 2007.

Watch it HERE from our Video section.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

The Election, an Ethical Minefield

I recently received an email from a Buddhist friend from one of the other groups here on the Island quite rightly taking me to task over a recent posting. It was the one regarding the forth coming election, I felt at the time that I was opening an ethical "can of worms" from a Buddhist perspective.

Having pointed to the short comings of the present administration in their rush to follow America into not one but two wars my friend went on to say.....

"It seems to me that no one political party is in line with Buddhist ethics and it might be unhelpful if bias were to be read in by inference in the highlighting the unskillful acts of one whilst remaining silent on the shortfall of those of others.

Yet the very democracy afforded by the party political system is what gives us the right to free speech. A veritable minefield me thinks!"

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Another Visit to Cittaviveka, Chithurst Buddhist Monastery

The West Wight Sangha are joining forces with the Newport Soto Zen group to pay another
visit to Chithurst Buddhist Monastery. We’re off on Sunday the 25th of April, leaving the West Wight at 7:30 to join the mini-bus at Dave’s for 8:00 to catch the 9:00 boat; we’re booked on the 17:00 ferry back from Portsmouth.

It will be interesting to see what the atmosphere is like with the continuing Bhikkhuni controversy within the Thai Forest Sangha tradition.

According to Thanissara, some of the Siladhara are going out on their own: Ajahn Upekkha is resident in London and needs support, Sister Chandasara is going back to S.Africa on a one way ticket; Ajahn Candasiri will be setting up in Scotland; and Sister Thitamedha last sent out a message saying she was wanting to be a wandering mendicant nun. The last is of particular interest to us as it was Sister Thitamedha who conducted the Lay Forum on our last visit.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Happy Hanamatsuri

Today is the Japanese Flower Festival or Hanamatsuri, a celebration of the Buddha's birthday. The date of the Buddha’s birth varies from one tradition or school of Buddhism to another. According to the Japanese, Buddha was born on the eighth day of the fourth month of the traditional Chinese calendar, and although this date will vary on the international calendar, the Japanese have translated the date to the 8th of April. The nature of the festival varies greatly from region to region, and often appears to have the characteristics of older spring festivals: driving out devils or praying for the coming harvest.

Shakyamuni Buddha was born over 2,500 years ago under the Bodhi tree in the garden of Lumbini (Nepal) to the Sakya King Suddhodhana and his queen, Maya. When the child was born it is said that flowers bloomed, birds sang and sweet rain fell from the heavens above.

The infant Buddha took seven steps in the four directions and with one hand raised to the sky and the other pointing downwards proclaimed, "Whether above the sky or below the sky, I am most noble and high. I am here to bring peace to all the sentient beings in the world who are suffering."

The event is commemorated in Buddhist temples across Japan. The day is celebrated with parades featuring images of the baby Buddha, the white elephant seen by his mother in her dream just before his birth and cherry blossoms carried by children dressed in traditional Japanese clothes. A special altar—the Hanamido—is erected and decorated with flowers representing the garden in Lumbini. A statue of the infant Buddha is placed in a pan and, in a ritual known as kanbutsu, water or sweet tea known as 'amacha' is poured over it by children in remembrance of the “sweet rain” that descended from heaven at the moment of the birth.

Coincidentally, the sakura (cherry) trees bloom at this very time, and so their flowers are given as offerings to adorn the nativity celebrations.

The original Japanese Flower Festival (hana, ‘flower’, matsuri, ‘festival’) was observed to encourage fruit trees to flower; at the time the farming community believed that the longer the blossoming, the more prosperous the harvest. Buddhism spread to Japan in the 6th century CE, and sometime around 600 CE the Hanamatsuri festival became incorporated into the celebration of the Buddha’s birthday.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

The Full Length Vishvapani has Finally Arrived!

Further to the post "Buddhist Thought for the Day Censored?" I can now report that the Beeb have got their act together and Vishvapani's talk for the 13th of March is now available in it's entirety.

For nine years Vishvapani, who is a member of the Western Buddhist Order edited Dharma Life, a highly-praised Buddhist magazine exploring the encounter of Buddhism and the modern world. He is a regular contributor to BBC R4’s Thought for the Day, The Guardian newspaper and Tricycle: the Buddhist Review. Challenging Times: Stories of Buddhist Practice When Things Get Tough, edited by Vishvapani was published in 2006. He is currently writing a biography of the Buddha which will be published by Quercus in 2011.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

The General Election & Some Ethics

So now it's official, the General Election is to be held on Thursday May the 6th.

On that note now would be an opportune moment to restate our editorial policy re: politics.

"It is Not the purpose of this site to campaign on political issues, however as a Buddhist site we will continue to promote peace and the welfare of all beings by any appropriate non-violent means".

So, on the point of promoting the peace and welfare of all beings, I will just point out that the Tory party are committed to repealing the ban on fox hunting. As such, as a Buddhist, I will not be voting to reinstate this cruel and barbaric "entertainment". This is particularly pertinent here on the Island. Foxes are not indigenous to the Isle of Wight (that's because of the Solent) and were purposefully introduced to the Island in 1845 by Messrs Ben Cotton and Henry Nunn for the sole purpose of "sport"....... so can't be that much of a pest!

Friday, 2 April 2010

New Look to Our Site!!!

Welcome to our new, redesigned site! All our "pages" now have a unified theme, try them out by using the buttons above. Best viewed in full screen mode, just toggle on and off with the F11 key.

I'm still working on it, so stay tuned!