The Lord Buddha Words

Monthly archive

November 2016

China Takes a Chain Saw to a Center of Tibetan Buddhism

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Larung Gar was founded near the town of Sertar in 1980 by Jigme Phuntsok, a charismatic lama whose portrait is seen throughout the settlement. (A gar is a monastic encampment; it starts as a small gathering.) Then in 2001, officials evicted many of its residents, demolishing homes. But people returned.

After Jigme died in 2004, two senior lamas took over, both of whom have expanded Larung Gar’s profile, often going overseas to give talks and teachings. One of them, Sodargye, went to Europe this summer, while the other, Tsultrim Lodro, made the rounds of American universities.

The two abbots have not spoken out publicly against the demolitions, and have in fact told residents not to oppose the government. Their view, residents said, is that it is better not to protest the demolition, and instead let it run its course and live peacefully afterward.

Across Chinese-controlled Tibet, disciples of Larung Gar have been spreading the “10 new virtues” movement. Based on a Buddhist model, it advocates a retrenchment in 10 principles: no killing or selling animals, no stealing, no drinking, no feuding and so on. The doctrine is especially popular in Garze. Some practitioners wear a pendant with the image of a white pigeon, and officials have noticed their religious activism.

For some Tibetan nomads, these tenets filtering down from Larung Gar’s two abbots make life more difficult, since much of their economy relies on the herding and sale of animals, particularly yaks. “These lamas are respected very much, but some Tibetans do not agree with the policies of the lamas,” said Katia Buffetrille, a Tibet scholar at the École Pratique des Hautes Études in Paris.

Monks from Larung Gar have traveled across Garze to try to defuse local conflicts and help with issues of social justice. In the grasslands area of Lhagong, called Tagong in Chinese, monks helped residents draft paperwork when they wanted to protest a large lithium mine.

But residents of the region said the authorities were not happy with such activity. “They want to control Tibetans,” said a man from Garze who has visited Larung Gar multiple times. “They don’t want the monastery to develop too quickly.”

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Dalai Lama’s Visit to Mongolia Could Fray Its Ties to China

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The Dalai Lama, center, greeted Buddhist worshipers at the Gandantegchinlen monastery in Ulan Bator, Mongolia, on Saturday.

Byamba-Ochir Byambasuren/European Pressphoto Agency

ULAN BATOR, Mongolia — The Dalai Lama preached Saturday to thousands of supporters in Mongolia, on a visit expected to test the nation’s ties with China at a time when it is seeking a critical aid package from its powerful neighbor.

The Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled Buddhist leader, addressed followers at the Gandantegchinlen monastery in Ulan Bator, the Mongolian capital, and spoke about materialism at the beginning of a four-day visit. Mongolia has said the visit will be purely religious in nature and will not include meetings with officials.

Still, the trip could have repercussions for Mongolia’s relationship with China, which protested previous visits by the Dalai Lama by briefly closing its border in 2002 and temporarily canceling flights from Beijing in 2006.

China views the Dalai Lama as a separatist seeking to split Tibet from China and strongly objects to any visit by the monk to other countries. The Dalai Lama has been based in India since fleeing Tibet during an abortive uprising against Chinese rule in 1959.

On Friday, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs strongly urged Mongolia to deny the Dalai Lama a visit for the sake of a “sound and steady” development of bilateral ties.

Mongolian leaders are seeking a $4.2 billion loan from Beijing to pull the country out of a deep recession. With commodity prices slumping, Mongolia is running out of hard currency to repay foreign debts and is seeking help from a neighbor that accounts for about 90 percent of its exports.

Mongolian Buddhism is closely tied to Tibet’s strain, and many in Mongolia, a heavily Buddhist country, revere the Dalai Lama, who made his first visit in 1979.

Mongolian religious figures say the visit could be the last for the Dalai Lama, 81, and some of his followers traveled hundreds of miles to see him while braving the coldest November weather in a decade.

Daritseren, 73, an ethnic Mongolian from Russian Siberia, said she had heard only on Friday that the Dalai Lama was visiting Mongolia. She traveled with 40 other people for 15 hours overnight to make it just in time for the sermon, she said.

Boldbaatar, 75, a herder, said he had traveled 125 miles. “I’m an old man,” he said. “Maybe I’m seeing His Holiness, the incarnation of Lord Buddha, for the last time.”

The Dalai Lama was scheduled to chant special sutras on Sunday at a large sports facility built by Chinese companies with Chinese aid.

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Violence Escalates Between Myanmar Forces and Rohingya

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Myanmar police officers patrolling last month in Maungdaw, Rakhine State, along the border with Bangladesh. The state has been under siege since armed assailants killed nine police officers in early October.

Thein Zaw/Associated Press

SITTWE, Myanmar — Violence between the Rohingya, a persecuted Muslim population, and Myanmar’s security forces escalated over the weekend as two soldiers were killed by crudely armed attackers, said government officials and Muslim residents. In retaliation, troops of the Buddhist-majority government used helicopters to fire at the attackers in dense forest in northwestern Myanmar, a government spokesman said.

The two soldiers were killed Saturday by attackers armed with guns, knives and spears near the village of Gwason, south of Maungdaw, the main town in northern Rakhine, said the state information officer, U San Nwe. About 500 attackers were involved in the clash, he said. The area is closed to Western journalists, making it impossible to verify the scale of the fighting.

The remote enclave of northern Rakhine State, close to the Bangladeshi border, has been under siege since the government sent security forces to hunt for what it said were armed Rohingya assailants who had killed nine police officers in early October.

Since then, human rights groups have received reports of killings of unarmed Rohingya men by Myanmar soldiers, rapes of Rohingya women by soldiers in a number of villages, and beatings of Rohingya men held in detention in the town of Maungdaw. Before the latest attack, as many as 100 Rohingya civilians may have been killed, the groups say.

Western diplomats have called on Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel laureate who leads Myanmar’s government, to conduct an independent investigation into the violence. So far, she has declined, allowing a Rakhine State committee to investigate. She has also urged that specific complaints be filed with a commission headed by Kofi Annan, the former United Nations secretary general, that was formed in August.

Her spokesman, U Zaw Htay, said on Sunday that the latest attacks made it necessary for the military and police operation to continue until the culprits were arrested and the weapons they had seized were found. The troops have been instructed to respect human rights, he said. But Myanmar’s army is known to be poorly trained and has a record rife with human rights abuses, including rape, in its battles with various separatist groups over many years, Western diplomats say.

Also on Saturday, a police car was hit by the blast from a roadside mine near the village of Kyikanpyin, north of Maungdaw, where five of the nine police officers were killed on Oct. 9, according to the Ministry of Information in Naypyidaw, the capital. No one was killed in the blast on Saturday.

Reached by telephone in Maungdaw on Sunday, Mohammed Sultan, a retired Rohingya teacher, said some students had told him that their villages had been set on fire. “One of my pupils said he was hiding in the rice field,” Mr. Sultan said. The connection then went dead, he said.

High-definition satellite images taken in October and this month showed widespread burning of Rohingya villages, Human Rights Watch said on Sunday.

Although relations between the Rohingya and the security forces have always been tense, the tactic of Rohingya men attacking police stations, targeting security forces and apparently planting roadside bombs is new, government officials and Rohingya activists say.

The motivation for the increase in violence by what appears to be a small group of armed Rohingya men is not clear.

The government, providing little proof, immediately blamed two little-known groups: Aqa Mul Mujahidin and the Rohingya Solidarity Organization.

The decades-long repression of the Rohingya by the Myanmar authorities made the population of about one million Rohingya fertile ground for Islamic radicalization, activists and diplomats say.

Here in Sittwe, in southern Rakhine, more than 100,000 Rohingya have been kept in what amount to internment camps for four years, prevented from traveling and forbidden to reclaim land and property destroyed during communal violence in 2012.

The new violence north of Sittwe was worse than that four years ago, said Mohamed Saed, a community leader. “Then, it was communal violence between two groups: Rohingya and Rakhine Buddhists,” he said. “This is now direct government repression.”

Several Rohingya leaders said they did not believe Rohingya ties to radical jihadists were the cause of the attacks five weeks ago. New, harsh proposals by the government may have been the catalyst, they suggested.

In September, a Rakhine official, Col. Htein Lin, said the government would destroy all “illegally” built structures, including more than 2,500 houses, 600 shops, a dozen mosques and more than 30 schools.

U Kyaw Min, a Rohingya who is the chairman of the Democracy and Human Rights Party, said, “That was saying we have to reduce the population of Rohingya and push them over the border to Bangladesh.”

The attitude of officials in Rakhine State toward the Rohingya is unequivocal. They call the Rohingya “Bengalis,” implying that they belong in Bangladesh.

A leader of the Arakan National Party, U Aung Win, said it was now necessary to form a special paramilitary force.

The Rohingya make up more than 90 percent of northern Rakinine State’s population, outnumbering the Rakhine Buddhists, so more protection is needed for the Buddhist minority, Mr. Aung Win said. The two groups cannot live together, he insisted.

Mr. Aung Win is also the chairman of the Rakhine State investigation into the Oct. 9 attacks.

The Rohingya villages around Kyikanpyin have become armed camps, according to telephone conversations and text messages from villagers to friends in Sittwe. Food is scarce, and a strict dusk-to-dawn curfew is enforced, they say. In those areas, villagers say soldiers have raped women and stolen their jewelry.

Three women, ages 23, 21 and 17, were raped Wednesday by soldiers living in the local school, said Mohamed Rahim, a village leader in Pyoung Pai, not far from Kyikanpyin.

“The villagers were told to gather in the rice fields, but the three girls were told to stay in the house with their mother,” he said in a telephone interview. “Before the rape, they told the mother to get out. I then saw the military enter the house.”

Myanmar officials deny that rapes have occurred. “It’s not so easy to rape a Bengali woman,” Mr. Aung Win said. “All the Bengali villages are covered by bamboo netting and plastic.”

In a recent interview with the BBC, Mr. Aung Win said it was impossible that soldiers had raped the women because Rohingya “are very dirty.”

The question of the rapes is particularly sensitive. The Myanmar Times newspaper fired a journalist, Fiona MacGregor, for writing an article about alleged rapes of Rohingya women on Oct. 19.

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High on Tibetan Plateau, Buddhist Spirituality Soars

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Crowded into ramshackle homes on a remote peninsula at the bend of a river is one of the largest communities of nuns in the world.

Myanmar Gives Tourist Who Pulled Plug on Buddhist Chants 3 Months in Prison

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Klaas Haijtema, a 30-year-old from the Netherlands, said that an amplifier broadcasting the chants had disrupted his sleep.

Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

MANDALAY, Myanmar — A Dutch tourist who unplugged an amplifier that was broadcasting Buddhist chants, which he said disrupted his sleep, was sentenced to three months of hard labor in prison by a court here on Thursday.

The tourist, Klaas Haijtema, 30, was found guilty of causing a disturbance to an assembly engaged in religious worship. He had been staying at a hostel in Mandalay on Sept. 23 when a nearby Buddhist center began broadcasting the recitations of religious devotees.

“I was really tired that night and woke up to the noise,” Mr. Haijtema told the court during a hearing last week. “I was very angry and assumed that children were playing music. I told them to lower the volume of the loudspeakers before I unplugged the amplifier, and they didn’t understand me. That’s why I unplugged it.”

Mr. Haijtema wept after the prison sentence was announced. He was also fined the equivalent of $80 for violating the terms of his entry visa, which require visitors to obey Myanmar’s laws and customs. Myanmar is a predominantly Buddhist country, and Mandalay is a relatively conservative city.

Mr. Haijtema’s lawyer, U Hla Ko, said that he would file an appeal and that the Dutch Embassy should ask for Mr. Haijtema’s release. Attempts to contact an embassy representative on Thursday afternoon were unsuccessful.

Buddhist organizations in Myanmar often use loudspeakers at high volume to broadcast sermons, perform rituals or solicit donations, and many social media users took Mr. Haijtema’s side after his arrest was reported.

Two lawyers not involved with the case said the Buddhist center, or dharma community hall, that woke Mr. Haijtema appeared to have violated the law by using loudspeakers after 9 p.m. The law also bans their use before 6 a.m. and requires a permit.

“The one that broke the law is the dharma community hall, not the Dutch man,” said one lawyer, U Zaw Win.

The leader of the Buddhist center, U Kyaw San, said in court last week that Mr. Haijtema had worn his shoes into the center, which Buddhists consider an offense in a sacred place. Mr. Haijtema said that he was unaware that the building had a religious purpose and that he had seen no signs telling people to remove their shoes.

A resident who lives near the center, Ko Hla Myo Aung, said that there were six others in his ward and that all of them broadcast chants at high volume late at night and early in the morning.

“If the Buddha were still alive, he would go deaf from the noise from the loudspeakers,” Mr. Hla Myo Aung said.

Other Westerners have recently run afoul of laws against insulting religion in Myanmar, also known as Burma. Last year, a bar manager from New Zealand was sentenced to two years in prison for posting an image of the Buddha wearing headphones on Facebook. He was granted amnesty and released this year.

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China Seeks Tighter Grip in Wake of a Religious Revival

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Ethnic Lisu heading to a Christian church in April in Fugong, in Yunnan Province. The Chinese government is expected to enact regulations tightening its oversight of religion in the coming days.

Gilles Sabrie for The New York Times

BEIJING — The finances of religious groups will come under greater scrutiny. Theology students who go overseas could be monitored more closely. And people who rent or provide space to illegal churches may face heavy fines.

These are among the measures expected to be adopted when the Chinese government enacts regulations tightening its oversight of religion in the coming days, the latest move by President Xi Jinping to strengthen the Communist Party’s control over society and combat foreign influences it considers subversive.

The rules, the first changes in more than a decade to regulations on religion, also include restrictions on religious schools and limits on access to foreign religious writings, including on the internet. They were expected to be adopted as early as Friday, at the end of a public comment period, though there was no immediate announcement by the government.

Religion has blossomed in China despite the Communist Party’s efforts to control and sometimes suppress it, with hundreds of millions embracing the nation’s major faiths — Buddhism, Christianity, Islam and Taoism — over the past few decades. But many Chinese worship outside the government’s official churches, mosques and temples, in unauthorized congregations that the party worries could challenge its authority.


Tu Shouzhe, a Protestant lay leader, standing on the roof of his church in Muyang, Zhejiang Province, last year, hours after government workers cut down its cross.

Mark Schiefelbein/Associated Press

A draft of the new regulations was published in September, several months after Mr. Xi convened a rare leadership conference on religious policy and urged the party to be on guard against foreign efforts to infiltrate China using religion.

“It could mean that if you are not part of the government church, then you won’t exist anymore,” said Xiao Yunyang, one of 24 prominent pastors and lawyers who signed a public statement last month criticizing the regulations as vague and potentially harmful.

The regulations follow the enactment of a law on nongovernmental organizations that increased financial scrutiny of civil society groups and restricted their contact with foreign organizations in a similar way, as well as an aggressive campaign to limit the visibility of churches by tearing down crosses in one eastern province where Christianity has a wide following.

But the rules on religion also pledge to protect holy sites from commercialization, allow spiritual groups to engage in charitable work and make government oversight more transparent. That suggests Mr. Xi wants closer government supervision of religious life in China but is willing to accept its existence.

“There’s been a recognition that religion can be of use, even in a socialist society,” said Thomas Dubois, a professor at the Australian National University in Canberra. “There is an attempt, yes, to carve out the boundaries, but to leave a particular protected space for religion.”


Uighur men performing Muslim prayers in September in the far western region of Xinjiang. The rules include restrictions on religious schools and limits on access to foreign religious writings, including on the internet.

Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

Although the governing Communist Party requires its 85 million members to be atheist, its leaders have lauded some aspects of religious life for instilling morality in the broader population and have issued directives ratcheting back the hard-line attacks on religion that characterized the Mao era.

Over the past decades this has permitted a striking religious renaissance in China, including a construction boom in temples, mosques and churches. Christianity is widely considered the fastest-growing faith; there are as many as 67 million adherents now, at least half of whom worship in unregistered churches that have proliferated across China, sometimes called underground or house churches.

The new regulations are more explicit about the party’s longstanding requirement that all religious groups register with the government, and the most vocal opposition so far has come from Protestant leaders unwilling to do so.

“These regulations effectively push house churches into taking on an illegal character,” said Yang Xingquan, a lawyer who is one of the signatories of the public statement. “This is very clear.”

Many Christians contend that government-approved churches are tools of the state, as sermons are vetted to avoid contentious political and social issues and clergy are appointed by the party rather than congregants or, in the case of the Catholic Church, the Vatican.


Mosques in Linxia, in Gansu Province, last year. The rules pledge to protect holy sites from commercialization, allow spiritual groups to do charitable work and make government oversight more transparent.

Adam Dean for The New York Times

The new rules call for more stringent accounting practices at religious institutions, threaten “those who provide the conditions for illegal religious activities” with fines and confiscation of property, and require the many privately run seminaries in China to submit to state control.

Other articles in the regulations restrict contact with religious institutions overseas, which could affect Chinese Catholics studying theology in the Philippines, Protestants attending seminaries in the United States, or Muslims learning at madrasas in Malaysia or Pakistan.

Overseas churches and activists with ties to Chinese Christians have been scathing in their attacks on the new regulations. In its annual report on religious persecution released on Wednesday, China Aid, a group based in Texas, said they violated the Constitution, which guarantees freedom of religious belief.

The regulations also say for the first time that religion must not harm national security, which could give security services in China greater authority to target spiritual groups with ties overseas.

Chinese officials have already banned residents from attending some religious conferences in Hong Kong and increased oversight of mainland programs run by Hong Kong pastors, raising fears within the city’s vibrant Christian community.

For traditional Chinese religions such as Buddhism and Taoism — which are practiced by 300 million to 400 million people and which the party views more favorably — the regulations appear intended to address a different problem: crass commercialization.

Temples are often forced by local governments to charge entrance fees, which mostly go to the state and not the place of worship. About 600 people were recently detained at Mount Wutai, a Buddhist pilgrimage site in a northeastern city, for posing as monks to hustle money by fortunetelling, begging for alms and performing street shows, the state news media reported.

The new regulations say spiritual sites should be “safeguarded” from tourism and development. The rules also require local governments to decide on applications to build houses of worship within 30 days and to explain denials in writing.

Scholars caution that it is unclear how strictly the regulations will be enforced, noting that local officials have often tolerated and sometimes encouraged religious activity that is formally illegal, including house churches.

“Past regulations have not harmed the growth of religion in China,” said James Tong, a political-science professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, who has written extensively about religious regulation in China, “and I don’t think these will, either.”

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On the Role of Chinese Religion in Environmental Protection

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We need the NGOs and the U.N., and we also need bioengineering and market mechanisms. But one of the most important factors that has emerged in the past 10 or 20 years — slowly, but catching on — is that the most effective communities are in some ways the most traditional, too. They have integrated ideas about nature and community that are faith-based.

In Taiwan, for example, I’ve been very interested in “fojiao huanbao” — Buddhist environmentalism. I was there this summer, and there are large-scale Buddhist groups that have taken to saving the environment.

Can this apply to China, too? Can the return to traditions help motivate people?

China is more difficult in some ways. But there are efforts at Taoist environmentalism, like at Maoshan [a sacred mountain in Jiangsu Province]. They depict Laozi as a green god. Some villagers seek to protect their local ecology through revived temple communities.

One of your strengths is your ability to cross borders and describe the situation in East, South and Southeast Asia. I was struck by your new book’s cover. What does it show?

The painted faces are of people who live in the Prey Lang forest in Cambodia. The forest faces destruction by massive logging. These people hold demonstrations, painting themselves and staging ritual dramas using traditional ideas of avatars as well as from the movie “Avatar” to publicize their cause. They have organized surveillance systems of the forest and links to NGOs.


Prasenjit Duara

And in India?

It is a little more hopeful because it is a functioning democracy. While India has a hierarchical society, democracy is good for allowing differences. You had movements like the Chipko women tree-hugging movement of the early 1970s. This then bloomed into a huge environmental movement.

But India now faces the problem of the strong man that we have in other states with the rise of leaders like [Russian President Vladimir V.] Putin and [Chinese President] Xi Jinping. It’s interesting what they’re going after: environmental movements. They are banning foreign NGOs and closing these groups down.

Your contention is that local faiths inspire some of these movements. When I look at China, I wonder how much of faith is about social goals. Much of it seems to be only about personal salvation.

In fact, it’s the social element of religion that most scares the Chinese government. Although it starts with personal salvation, it’s about social relationships. Religions in China have been the basis of social communities — temple-centered communities. The state has tried but hasn’t been able to prevent groups that challenge injustice. The Chinese state sees the social organizational impact of religion much more clearly than any other state.

You make this case forcefully in your first book on religion in north China. Until it came out in 1988, most researchers believed that Chinese villages were primarily linked by market days and economic ties. But you coined the term “cultural nexus of power” to describe how villages were linked by something else: religion and culture.

I intended to write a book on revolution in north China. Instead I stumbled on how religion held society together. My research showed a network between people and villages linked by temple fairs and rituals that brought people into contact with each other. This was the beginning of my interest in this topic.

I was always interested in your sources for this work. In the bibliography to this work you primarily cite archives of the South Manchuria Railway Company, a Japanese colonial organization. What was it doing looking at Chinese religion?

It was as much of a railway company as the British East India Company was a shipping company. The South Manchuria Railway Company — Mantetsu — was a vast colonial enterprise spread across the Japanese Empire with a research wing staffed by many people who fled Japan during the rise of the militarists and wanted to do something for China. They employed researchers to survey this new territory. It was the biggest modern research organization in the world at the time. I also used the archives in Tokyo for a year.

You also coined another important term in understanding Chinese folk religion: “redemptive societies.” In the West, people often use the term “secret societies” for these groups.

They had millions of members, so they were hardly secret. Instead, I thought it better to find a term that describes what they were doing. They were trying to save Chinese society in the early part of the 20th century. Some people said “redemptive” sounded too Christian, but Buddhism has this idea, too.


Professor Duara’s latest work, “The Crisis of Global Modernity,’’ covers many topics, including climate change.

This brings up an important idea in your current work: the idea of “transcendence.” You argue that religions try to effect more than personal salvation. They try to save the world as well.

The idea originated with Karl Jaspers’s theory of the Axial Age, which refers to the rise of key religions or thinkers among Jews, Hindus, Chinese and Greeks in the sixth century B.C. Before that, religion was mainly based on worldly exchanges with ancestors or gods. They might be apart from the physical world, but they played a role in your everyday life: I will sacrifice, so you will give me a son, or I’ll say this prayer 1,000 times and you give me a first class in the exam.

The transcendent idea says there’s something beyond that in another realm. It might not help you immediately in the here and now, but it gives you moral authority to do what is right. This was a time when big states and empires were forming and you needed a view that is larger than your own community. Transcendence is an idea of something beyond the here and now.

This idea spread around the world, but in Asia you see a unique development. You use the adjective “dialogical” to describe it. What does this mean?

It refers to the idea of a dialogue. It is the idea that you can accept other notions of how to achieve that transcendental state. So there are transcendental ideas, but not just one path to get there.

So it is more inclusive.

Yes. The problem with the Abrahamic faiths is they come to be formed like nation-states: us versus them. We believe this, they believe that. We have to convert them. It doesn’t easily allow for a dialogue.

Of course, some have moved away from this, but under certain conditions, these ideas pushed the formation of the nation-state and colonialism. We celebrate the nation-state in large part because it is the engine of competitive capitalist success and modernity.

As the nation gradually dropped the religious dimension, it also removed the barrier to the conquest of nature and global resources. It does not know where and how to stop. It’s bringing about the dystopia of modernity.

So you see traditional faiths in Asia as being more suitable for solving today’s problems?

The problem with the Abrahamic faiths is their idea of an absolute truth. Buddhism or these other pluralistic religions don’t have as much confidence in a substantive, transcendental truth, which comes with the idea of an absolute god. An absolute truth brings about reform movements that are very radical because they always want to get back to the pure and the true — such as in fundamentalist Islam, or early Protestantism. This leads to the idea of expanding your nation, or your prosperity, even if at the expense of others.

So is your contention that these faiths are important because Asia is a big part of the world, so we should look to them as appropriate for this part of the world? Or because they can provide alternative modes for the rest of the world?

I do tend to the idea that these concepts, be they in India or China, were dialogical. They repressed others, of course, but ultimately they didn’t have that doctrinaire dimension of excluding other truths. They linked ideas of personal cultivation with universal goals. To the extent they survive, they could be transported to other places.

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Buddha Provides Tap Shoes

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Dear Diary:

When they were younger, my Upper West Side granddaughters bugged their parents for tap shoes, although the subject of lessons was never mentioned.

On frequent visits to Manhattan, I take the opportunity to do tai chi each morning in Riverside Park. On the walk back to their apartment I always pass the little Japanese Buddhist temple on Riverside Drive between West 105th and 106th, which has a giant bronze statue of a Buddhist saint out front.

One morning as I passed it, I noticed an open shipping carton on the sidewalk, sitting by the recyclables waiting to be picked up. It was the pink color peeking out that caught my eye. Digging through the packing paper I came upon two shoe boxes containing brand new pairs of women’s tap shoes in sizes 4 and 6.

Standing up, I looked around but there was no one within a block except for the bronze saint. He said nothing so I tucked the boxes under my arm and headed to the apartment building. As I dramatically told the girls the story of my discovery, I removed the shoes from their boxes. With delight, and perhaps to their parents’ horror, they put the shoes on and tapped around on the apartment’s wood floors.

I can report that there were still no tap lessons mentioned.

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Buddhist Monk Is Slaughtered at Temple in Bangladesh

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COX’S BAZAR, Bangladesh — A Buddhist monk was found hacked to death in his temple on Saturday in a remote region of southeastern Bangladesh. The killing appeared to bear some similarities to recent attacks claimed by Islamist extremists, but the police said it was too soon to determine whether it was another such murder.

The monk, Mong Shwe U Chak, 75, was found dead on the floor of the temple at 7 a.m. by his daughter-in-law, said Mizanur Rahman, the police superintendent in the Bandarban district, where the temple is.

The monk’s neck had apparently been slashed with a machete, given the depth of one of the cuts, Mr. Rahman said. Three sets of footprints suggested that there had been at least three attackers, he said.

Mr. Rahman said the police were investigating the possibility that Islamist militants had killed the monk. Over the past two years, similar killings have taken place, targeting intellectuals, activists, secularist bloggers and members of religious minorities in Bangladesh. Many of the attacks were carried out by groups of men using machetes.

Some of the killings have been claimed by the Islamic State or a branch of Al Qaeda, though the government has denied that foreign militants have a presence in the country.

No group was known to have claimed responsibility for the monk’s killing on Saturday.

Mr. Rahman said the police were also investigating whether Mr. Mong Shwe U Chak had any personal rivalries with anyone in the community or within his family.

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සම්මා සම්බුද්ධත්වය ලැබීමේ දී පහළ වූ පෙර නො ඇසූ විරූ ඥානය

in ධර්ම භවන by

අපේ ගෞතම බුදුරජාණන් වහන්සේ එදා දීපංකර බුදුරජාණන්වහන්සේගේ ශ්‍රී පාද මූලයේ වැඳවැටිල සතර පද ගාථාවක්‌ අහල නිවන දකින්න තිබුණු අවස්‌ථාව අතහැරල දාල මේ සංසාර සාගරයට පිවිසුණේ ඔබ අප හැම දෙනා කෙරෙහි තිබුණු මහා කරුණාව නිසා. එදා පටන් ඒ මහ බෝසතාණන් වහන්සේ යම් දුකක්‌, වෙහෙසක්‌ ගත්ත නම් ඒ දුක ඒ වෙහෙස ගත්තෙ අපි හැම දෙනා ම සසර දුකින් එතෙර කරවන්න.

මහා සීහනාද සූත්‍රය වගේ සූත්‍රයක්‌ අරගෙන බලනකොට අපිට දකින්නට තියෙනව මහ බෝසාණන් වහන්සෙ මේ ජීවිතේ දි ම මොන තරම් දුකක්‌ මොන තරම් වෙහෙසක්‌ ගත්ත ද සම්මා සම්බුද්ධත්වය සඳහා කියල. ඒ සමාදන් වුණ ව්‍රත සමාදාන, ගත කරපු දුෂ්කර දිවි පැවැත්ම ගැන මහ බෝසතාණන් වහන්සේ ඒ සූත්‍රය තුළ වඩාත් විස්‌තර කරනවා.

මහ විශාල වනාන්තරවල කාත් කවුරුවත් නැතුව ගත කරපු හැටි, කන්නට බොන්නට වෙන කිසි ආහාරයක්‌ හොයාගන්න නැතුව ගොම අනුභව කරල ජීවත් වුණ හැටි මහ සීතලේ සීතලට ඔරොත්තු දෙන ඇඳුමක්‌ නැතුව හිටපු හැටි, ඒ වගේ ම එක කැලේක ඉන්නකොට යම් කිසි දවසක මනුස්‌සයෙක්‌ දැක්‌කොත් මනුස්‌සයෙක්‌ නො පෙනෙන තරම් දුරකට තවත් කැලේකට ගිහිල්ල ආපහු කාලයක්‌ ජීවත් වෙනවා. එතනදිත් මනුස්‌සයෙක්‌ දැක්‌කොත් මනුස්‌සයො ඇස නො ගැටෙන ප්‍රදේශ දක්‌වා ම ගමන් කරනව. Keep Reading

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