Monthly Archives: October 2011

All Burma Monks Alliance calls for release of “Saffron Revolution” leader U Gambira

Despite the recent release of over 6,000 prisoners (many of them political prisoners) in Burma, U Gambira, the leader of the All Burma Monks Alliance, which led the 2007 “Saffron Revolution” in their country, remains imprisoned. U Gambira was sentenced to 68 years in prison by the then-ruling military junta. This fact, combined with reports of his ill health and torture behind bars, have prompted the ABMA to release a statement calling for his release. You can read the entire statement (from the US Campaign for Burma’s website) here.

Dalai Lama blames Beijing for self-immolations by monks and nuns in Tibet

In what has been described as “his first public statement on [the crisis at Kirti Monastery],” His Holiness the Dalai Lama said this week that Beijing’s “ruthless and illogical” policies in Tibet were to blame for the recent spate of immolations by Tibetan monks and nuns.

“For their own interest, not just the interest for certain sort of problem here and there, but for the whole country’s sort of future, [the Chinese government has] to act [with a] realistic sort of policy.” At least nine Tibetan monastics have self-immolated this year as an act of protest against Chinese control of Tibet. The Guardian has the full story.

Ajahn Amaro on what you can do to help Thailand

Wondering what Buddhists might be doing to help Thailand through its flood emergency? We were too, so we asked Ajahn Amaro, abbot of England’s Amaravati Buddhist Monastery, which is inspired by the Thai Forest tradition. He let us know of an aid effort being coordinated by the World Fellowship of Buddhists, who hope that we all may “express cooperation and solidarity among Buddhist organisations by responding with whatever assistance or contribution [we] are able.” Details follow here. Read More »

Sacred Sites Peacewalk for a Nuclear-Free World, now through November 6

The Sacred Sites Peacewalk for a Nuclear-Free World, which started on October 22, has, according to Carol Brouillet of, “brought together Buddhists, Japanese, Native Americans, peace and anti-nuclear activists to raise awareness and garner support to shut down nuclear power plants. Read More »

Exiled Tibetans standing on Tibetan soil

Photo via the Tibet Post International

Many young Tibetan exiles have never set foot in their native homeland and, for the most part, the older generations have only their memories or dreams as reminders. While it cannot replace returning to the place of their roots, one Tibetan artist made it possible for them to “walk on Tibetan soil” in an art installation — “Our Land, Our People” — that he had constructed in Dharamsala, India. Read More »

Archaeologists discover largest statues at Angkor Wat in decades

At the famous Angkor Wat complex in Cambodia, archaeologists have found some of the largest Buddhist statues they’ve seen since the 1930s. Two headless stone statues were found at the Ta Prohm temple site, with the larger of the two standing at an estimated 10 feet (3 meters).

The statues were found by workers for the Archaeological Survey of India, a ten-year, $4 million restoration project. Angkor Wat was previously in a state of decline due to years of civil war.

Photo by Steve Cornish via Flickr, using a CC-BY license.

A report from the 17th annual Buddhist monastic gathering

By Bhiksuni Thubten Chodron

Each year I look forward to our annual Buddhist Monastic Gathering, a time when Buddhist monastics from various traditions gather together to get to know each other and to discuss topics of mutual interest. The gathering, hosted by the City of the Dharma Realm in West Sacramento, CA, October 12-21, 2011, was our seventeenth such conference. The large majority of monastics were Westerners—from the US, Canada, Australia, Germany, UK, Switzerland, Uruguay, and Norway—with some Asian monastics from Taiwan and Sri Lanka. We practice Theravada, Pure Land, Zen, and Tibetan Buddhism. Many of us were senior monastics, many were juniors. Read More »

Buddhist pioneer Elsie Mitchell dies

Elsie Mitchell, co-founder of the Cambridge Buddhist Association and founder of the Ahimsa Foundation, died at her home in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on Monday, October 17. Describing Mitchell, Soto priest and author David Chadwick called her “one of the quiet pioneers of American Buddhism.”

Mitchell founded the Cambridge Buddhist Association in 1957, along with her husband, D.T. Suzuki, and Shinichi Hisamatsu. Born in 1926 in Boston, she authored the book Our Own Day from Branden Press and was also a contributor to various publications.

You can read an article on Elsie Mitchell at Chadwick’s website. Photo via

John R. McRae, Buddhist scholar, dies at 64

After a long illness, the prolific Buddhist scholar John R. McRae passed away this week at age 64. In an announcement about his death for H-Buddhism (the Buddhist Scholars Information Network), A. Charles Muller wrote:

“It is with heavy heart that I pass on to you the sad news [of John McRae's] passing away in Bangkok Hospital at 12:30 pm on October 22, 2011, at the age of 64, after a 16-month bout with pancreatic cancer.” Read More »

Protesting China: Tenth self-immolation since March reported

The just-reported self-immolation of monk Dawa Tsering, in protest to China’s treatment of Tibet and the Dalai Lama, marks the tenth such incident since March.

Voice of America has a report; listen here.

Asia Society hosts “Voices from Burma”

The Asia Society recently hosted “Voices of Burma” in midtown Manhattan to commemorate the stories of Burmese political prisoners and refugees. Participants included Wallace Shawn, Kathryn Grody, Amitav Ghosh, Deborah Eisenberg, and Law Eh Soe (a former political prisoner), who each read passages from the book Nowhere to Be Home: Narratives from Survivors of Burma’s Military Regime.

The stories in Nowhere to Be Home are firsthand accounts of Burmese political refugees and prisoners. It is the seventh publication in McSweeney’s Voice of Witness series. The event concluded with a prayer led by monk and Burmese refugee U Agga. Click here to listen to the Asia Society presentation “Oral Histories from Burma.”

Tibetan Women’s Association commemorates Tenzin Wangmo

Photo via the Tibet Post International

On Wednesday, all 56 chapters of the Tibetan Women’s Association held worldwide “solidarity actions,” in the form of peace rallies, candlelight vigils, and prayer services, in commemoration of the Tibetan nun Tenzin Wangmo, the first Tibetan woman to self-immolate in the current wave of protests coming out of Tibet.

Read More »

Monday evening: Live webcast with Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche

Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche will be participating in a live webcast from NOWCastSA this evening, from 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm Central Time. He will be a panelist on Conversations About Ethics: Religious & Secular Approaches to Suffering and Healing, which is being broadcast live from the Auditorium of the University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio, and moderated by Dave Davies of National Public Radio. Read More »