Monthly Archives: March 2011

Dennis Genpo Merzel to continue to teach

Kanzeon Zen Center has announced that Dennis Genpo Merzel, who recently stepped down as a Zen priest, will be continue to teach with a new title, Zen Master.

Genpo Merzel disrobed a month and a half ago, following reports of sexual misconduct with students.  Members of the American Zen community united to express their feelings about his actions and how to move forward.

Sweeping Zen posted this response to Kanzeon Zen Center’s recent announcement of Genpo Merzel’s Zen Master status.

Upcoming benefit with Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo and Gloria Steinem

On June 1, a benefit for the Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery Endowment Fund will be held in New York City. The event — an evening with Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo and Gloria Steinem — will start with a talk at the Rubin Museum, followed by an intimate dinner at a private home in Greenwich Village.

The topic of Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo’s talk will be “Premature Claims to Enlightenment: If You Think You Are, You’re Probably Not!” For information on how you can attend, click here.

In the months leading up to this benefit, Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo will be conducting a teaching tour around NY State. For a full list of the scheduled teachings, click here.

Buddhist monastery surfaces in archaeological excavation

According to a report from, archaeologists from the University of Calcutta excavated relics that appear to be Buddhist at a site in Midnapore, West Bengal. The team found structural details of a monastery, an inscribed seal, and a stucco head (possibly of the Buddha). The seal is inscribed with a message in Sanskrit that appears to be “the Buddhist Dharmaparyay, a hymn that gives glimpses into the Buddha’s teachings on philosophy,” according to the report. Read More »

Relief fund for Japan

From Soto Zen Buddhism North America Office

Dear Dharma Friends,

There has been an outpouring of support from people around the globe for the victims of the recent earthquake and tsunami disaster that hit northeastern Japan. As you know, this catastrophic disaster has caused untold misery including thousands of deaths and billions of dollars of destruction, including the problem of nuclear radiation escaping from reactors in Fukushima.

We are collecting relief funds at our office in Los Angeles. This money will be sent directly to the Sotoshu Shumucho, the administrative headquarters of the Soto Zen sect in Tokyo. 70% of the money will be given to the Japanese Red Cross Society to aid people who were harmed in the disaster and 30% will be used to aid Soto Zen temples that were destroyed. Read More »

Presentation of 2011 Women and Engaged Buddhism Award

On Saturday, March 26, the 2011 Women and Engaged Buddhism Award will be presented at the annual Buddhist Women’s Conference in Chicago. This  year’s award will be presented to Venerable Pannavati-Karuna to support the work of My Place, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing a positive youth development program for homeless and at-risk youth that heals the whole person.

The conference website says that “Ven. Pannavati founded My Place two years ago at the Embracing Simplicity Buddhist Hermitage in Hendersonville, NC. Since that time more than 60 homeless youth have stayed in the home environment of a residential, transitional housing program. They receive training in self-responsibility, positive self-expression, the arts, meditation, educational/career training/work readiness, interaction with adult mentors and referral for crisis intervention.” Read More »

Tibetan election update

The election for the new leader of Tibet’s government-in-exile was held on Sunday, March 20. Tibetans in exile around the world went to the polls to cast their votes. The polling was conducted in the Tibetan communities based in India, North America, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Austria, Poland, Russia, Japan, Taiwan, and Australia. There are 56 regional Tibetan election commissions around the world. In Dharamsala, ten election booths were set up and everything went peacefully, according to a report from the Central Tibetan Administration.

However, Tibetans in Nepal were faced with a roadblock, as the Nepalese government refused to allow Tibetan refugees residing in Nepal to participate in the election. Read More »

Dalai Lama’s political retirement has been accepted

Tibet’s Parliament has met and agreed to accept His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s resignation as political leader to the country. As Indian Express reports, “The changes which the committee has proposed include giving more powers to the Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission, Speaker and Deputy Speaker,” and representatives will “need to go to the people and create a consensus since Tibetans want the Dalai Lama to lead them.”

A Buddhist perspective on the tragedy in Japan

Award-winning Japanese-Canadian writer and Buddhist priest Ruth Ozeki was given “the last word” on the Canadian radio (CBC) talk show The Current on Monday. The show’s episode was about the reunification of families after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

The show featured a guest who discussed his long-distance search for lost family members, as well as a Japanese-Canadian elementary school teacher who had returned home to Japan to visit her parents just one day before the earthquake struck. Finally, the show closed with Ozeki, who offers a Buddhist perspective on the tragedy.

Click here to listen to the show; fast-forward to 25:29 to hear Ozeki speak.

Buddhist monk invited to a British royal wedding for the first time

Venerable Bogoda Seelawimala, head priest of the London Buddhist Vihara, has been invited to attend the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. He will be the first Buddhist monk ever to attend a royal wedding in Britain.

Bogoda Seelawimala, the most senior Buddhist monk in Britain, was once visited by Prince Charles in 2005, after the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami.

Bogoda Seelawimala took the opportunity to offer some sage advice to the soon-to-be newlyweds. He suggested that the key to a happy marriage is meditation: “Discuss your problems and meditate together each morning to empty the mind of all your problems.”

Statement from current and former members of ZSS Sangha

On Sunday, March 20, current and former member of the Zen Studies Society Sangha convened in a meeting facilitated by Grace Schireson and Barry Magid. The purpose of the meaning was to discuss the recent issues relating to Eido Shimano that have affected the Sangha, and to focus on a path to healing.

The meeting was organized not by ZSS but by the newly formed Committee for Sangha Stepping Forth, which comprises current and former members of the ZSS Sangha.

After yesterday’s meeting, the committee released the following statement: Read More »

Tibetan government rejects Dalai Lama’s proposal to retire

From the Hindustan Times

Finding itself in a catch-22 situation, the Tibetan-parliament-in-exile, known as the Assembly of Tibetan Peoples Deputies (ATPD), on Friday passed a resolution with a voice vote, pleading with Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, to reconsider his decision to devolve his political powers.

After holding marathon deliberations for four days, the Tibetan parliament, which was finding it difficult to reach any conclusion, has finally resolved that the 400-year-old relationship between the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people was “immortal.” Read More »

The Monologue of Ice: Atta Kim’s Melting Ice Buddha

To close out the Grain of Emptiness exhibition at the Rubin Museum, South Korean photographer Atta Kim will be documenting the melting of a five-foot-tall ice sculpture of the Buddha.

The exhibit will commence at 6pm on March 25. People are invited to participate by collecting the melted ice water, with the request that they later put it to use in some form of new growth.

Read more about the exhibit here.

“All About the Bodhisattva Ethic”: John Harding and Charles Prebish remember Dr. Leslie Kawamura

Dr. Leslie Kawamura, 2009

By Danny Fisher

The death of the University of Calgary’s Dr. Leslie Kawamura this past week was a tremendous loss to the world of Buddhism; he was a rare person who played hugely significant roles in the development of both Buddhism in North America and academic Buddhist Studies on this continent.

I spoke to John Harding — Associate Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Lethbridge, and a co-editor of Wild Geese: Buddhism in Canada — and our friend Charles Prebish — the recently-retired Charles Redd Chair in Religious Studies at Utah State University, and author of (among many other important works) Luminous Passage: The Practice and Study of Buddhism in America — about Dr. Kawamura and those pioneering efforts. Read More »