Zen Blog

This blog collects various internet feeds aimed towards information, experience and technique exchange in support of our shared spiritual journey.....

”Namaste - may the light in me, honor the light in you…”

Buddha Buzz Weekly: Coronavirus Update

Nothing is permanent, so everything is precious. Here’s a selection of some happenings—fleeting or otherwise—in the Buddhist world this week.

Buddhists Continue to Respond to Coronavirus Outbreak

Dozens of new cases of Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) were reported in North America and Europe this week, as the virus continues to spread across the world. This week Asia Times reported that at least six people contracted the coronavirus after visiting the Fook Wai Ching She Buddhist temple in Hong Kong. The director of Hong Kong’s Communicable Disease Division at the Centre for Health Protection said that at least seven people who visited the temple in recent weeks have been sent to hospital, and 16 others have been quarantined. Lam Ching-choi, a member of Hong Kong’s Executive Council and the Chief Executive Officer of the Haven of Hope Christian Service, implored Hong Kong residents to stop attending any religious services for the time being. 

Chinese authorities have arrested seven Tibetans from Chamdo county in central Tibet on charges of spreading rumors or misinformation about the coronavirus, according to Radio Free Asia (RFA). One man reportedly posted a comment online that said that people from mainland China were “arriving in secret” in Chamdo, while another man, identified by the name Tse, was arrested for posting a WeChat message asking readers to recite a particular prayer ten times and send the request to ten others as a guard against infection. Meanwhile, Tibetan monks are working to prevent the spread of the virus by collecting donations at the Labrang monastery in Tibet’s Gansu region, one of the largest Tibetan Buddhist monasteries outside the Tibet Autonomous Region, and distributing face masks in the Kardze region’s Tawu (Daofu) county, RFA reported. 

In South Korea, the Cultural Corps of Korean Buddhism announced on Monday that it would suspend operation of its Templestay program until March 20, according to the Korea Herald. An affiliate of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism, the Cultural Corps oversees the program, which offers overnight stays and cultural experiences at 137 Buddhist temples around South Korea. Head monk Ven. Wonkyung told the Herald that the suspension was due to the growing incidents of coronavirus in South Korea, which has the second-highest number of cases after China. “As people’s concerns about the coronavirus rise due to the number of confirmed cases increasing day by day, we have inevitably decided to suspend our operations. We also ask all the Templestay operating staff and head Buddhist monks to pay more attention to preventing the spread of the infection and their health,” he said. 

Since the start of the outbreak, Buddhists have turned to a variety of measures to help them stay safe and raise funds for those affected by the disease. In a statement on its website the Taiwan-based Buddhist nonprofit Tzu Chi confirmed that it had sent its second shipment of surgical masks, respirators, goggles, medical gowns, and other supplies to affected areas in China. Tzu Chi chronicled the challenges that the organization faced in delivering humanitarian supplies due to the widespread cancellation of flights to China. 

Continue reading
  24 Hits
  0 Comments
24 Hits
0 Comments

Apps to Help You Stop Using Apps

Fifteen minutes after I’ve woken up on any given morning, I’ve likely done the following: checked Facebook, posted on Instagram, scrolled through three email inboxes, responded to Slack, WhatsApp, and text messages, and looked up the weather.

Whether this morning habit is sick or simply practical is fuzzy even to me. The new technology that led us here evolved so quickly, “it didn’t occur to anyone to ask about the psychological impact” until it was too late, said Lily Cushman, a longtime practitioner and teacher whose job running operations for Sharon Salzberg includes a hefty amount of phone time.

Now we are older and, perhaps, wiser consumers. We know that our phones’ alerts, notifications, and even colors are designed to snare us, and we’d like to ensure that we’re in control of our phone and not the other way around. But short of chucking the thing in a dumpster, how do we do it?
There’s an app for that. Actually, there’s a bunch of them, as well as a number of strategies you can try when you need to reconfigure a phone relationship that has turned toxic.

Step 1: Arm Yourself with Information.

As in any relationship, you have to get to know yourself first. How much do you use your phone, and where is your time going while you’re on it? Apple and Android have built-in trackers—Screen Time and Digital Wellbeing, respectively, that you can find through your phone’s settings. Here you can see your daily total usage, the breakdown by app, and the number of phone pickups and notifications as well as the time of day they occur. (I was surprised by my own numbers, which were low in everything except for text messaging: I was clocking between two and three hours daily on my phone just texting.)

Continue reading
  19 Hits
  0 Comments
19 Hits
0 Comments

Why I Read Namtars, the Memoirs of Masters

Call it an offer he couldn’t refuse. It came not from a gangster, but from a 12th-century emperor of China, who sent a letter to Tishi Repa, first praising the Tibetan master’s spiritual qualities, and going on to invite him to become the teacher of the Emperor.

“If you fulfill his wish and come to China,” it said, “the emperor will bestow every boon upon you in both spiritual and secular affairs. If you fail to fulfill the Emperor’s wish, you will never have another happy day.”

And so Tishi Repa, reluctantly, went off to China to become the Emperor’s guru.

That rather juicy tale is one among countless stories about great Tibetan spiritual masters to be found in Blazing Splendor: The Memoirs of Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche (Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 2005), a book that represents the Tibetan literary tradition called namtar, a spiritual autobiography.

Tulku Urgyen, however, did not want to have a namtar—he was too humble about his own attainment. And so his translator and close student Erik Pema Kunsang asked Tulku Urgyen to tell stories about the great spiritual masters he had known or heard about.

Continue reading
  26 Hits
  0 Comments
26 Hits
0 Comments

Buddha Buzz Weekly: Nepal and China’s Secret Border Deal Threatens Tibetans

Nepal-China extradition treaty worries Tibetans, 13 monks walking from Thailand to France are detained in India, and a peace prize recognizes Korean monk Ven. Pomnyun Sunim. Tricycle looks back at the events of this week in the Buddhist world.

By Emily DeMaioNewton and Karen JensenFeb 22, 2020

China's President Xi Jinping shakes hand with Nepal's President Bidhya Devi Bhandari as he arrives in Nepal for a two-day visit on Saturday, October 12, 2019. | Dipen Shrestha / ZUMA Wire / Alamy Live News

Nothing is permanent, so everything is precious. Here’s a selection of some happenings—fleeting or otherwise—in the Buddhist world this week.

New Fear for Tibetans after Nepal Signed Secret Extradition Treaty with China

In October, the governments of Nepal and China secretly signed an agreement saying that each country will hand over to the other nation’s authorities anyone detained for illegally crossing the border, posing a new danger to Tibetans and other persecuted groups attempting to flee China, the US-based International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) said in a press release. The details of the deal, signed during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s trip to Nepal in October 2019, were only made public in late January, when Nepal’s minister of foreign affairs, Pradeep Gyawali, wrote to parliament to clarify their policy, according to the Nepal news outlet Khabarhub. Under the 20-point agreement, the countries have pledged to return any undocumented immigrants within seven days of their being arrested, Khabarhub reports. 

After hearing about President Xi’s proposed extradition treaty in November, the co-chairs of the US Congress’s Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, Rep. James McGovern (D-MA) and Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ), wrote a letter to Nepal’s embassy pleading with them to reject the agreement and to protect Tibetan refugees. “Recognizing [Beijing’s] long-standing repression of Tibetans within its borders, we fear that an extradition treaty would be used by that government to persecute Tibetans living in Nepal,” they wrote. “We urge your government to halt deportations of Tibetans, to refrain from the use of preventive detention, and to register all Tibetan refugees living in Nepal.” According to the ICT, the Congress members never received a response.

Continue reading
  27 Hits
  0 Comments
27 Hits
0 Comments

Dharma and Black History

A selection of articles honoring contributions by African American Buddhists

By TricycleFeb 21, 2020

Photo by Sippanont Samchai | https://tricy.cl/2SKT903

As Black History Month comes to a close, Tricycle revisits reflections, teachings, and essays by African American Buddhists through the years—from a 1994 article by acclaimed author and scholar bell hooks to a podcast interview with law professor and mindfulness teacher Rhonda Magee. Black practitioners, scholars, and teachers have long grappled with the legacy of racism in the US in general and in Buddhist spaces specifically. Some suggest that if we want to embody the dharma, free from our individual biases, we all must confront the ignorance and xenophobia that often go unaddressed in American Buddhism. These writers envision a future where the dharma is for all—not just in name, but in practice.

A Vision of What Could Be
By Jan Willis 
An African American professor of Buddhism recounts her journey to the dharma, and encourages sanghas to rethink their attitudes toward members of color.  Learning to See Our Racial Biases
With Rhonda Magee
Law professor and mindfulness instructor Rhonda Magee discusses her book The Inner Work of Racial Justice, and how we can heal by waking up to unacknowledged racial prejudice. Waking Up to Racism 
By bell hooks
In this article from Tricycle’s 1994 special section on Dharma, Diversity, and Race, acclaimed feminist scholar bell hooks considers the fraught historical relationship between colonialism and spiritual nourishment, and challenges ideas about who gets to be a “real Buddhist.” Awakening to the Apocalypse
By Larry Ward
Modern day discourse is finally questioning the “colonial mind” that encouraged the exploitation of people categorized as other. How can we move forward from deconstruction to reconstruction—from trauma to resilience? Black Coffee Buddhism
Interview with Charles Johnson by E. Ethelbert Miller
Scholar Charles Johnson discusses awareness of death, the importance of community, and how to stay curious by recognizing the mystery of life. Tolerably Black
Interview with Aretha Busby by Emma Varvaloucas
A Nichiren Buddhist explains why she creates art about her ancestry, and why she sees this dialogue with history as part of Buddhist practice. Why Are There So Many Black Buddhists?
By J. Sunara Sasser
What can other sanghas learn from Soka Gakkai International, a Nichiren sect that boasts a multi-racial community?

Get Daily Dharma in your email

Start your day with a fresh perspective

Continue reading
  26 Hits
  0 Comments
26 Hits
0 Comments