Monthly Archives: March 2012

Two new self-immolations — one fatal — reported

This morning the Associated Press reports that two new cases of self-immolation in protest of Chinese rule have taken place. Two monks, Tenpa Darjey and Chimey Palden, took up the protest — and one of them is reported to have died. Read the AP’s breaking report here, via the Washington Post.

The passing of Kyabje Tenga Rinpoche (1932-2012)

After reporting here yesterday that the great Tibetan lama Tenga Rinpoche had taken ill and been hospitalized, we are sad to report that the news has broken that Rinpoche has now since died.

Tenga Rinpoche (along with Thrangu Rinpoche and Khenpo Tsultrim) was one of the three pillars of the Kagyu tradition, and was honored as such at last year’s Kagyu Monlam with the Karmapa in Bodhgaya. His life of dedication to the dharma took him from Benchen Monastery in Nepal (he was ordained by Situ Rinpoche) to Rumtek Monastery, where he served the Sixteenth Karmapa. He would eventually establish a new Benchen Monastery, which thrives today. You can view Tenga Rinpoche’s biography on Benchen’s website, here. [Update: the site has also now published an official account of Rinpoche's passing.]

It is reported that Rinpoche passed in the early morning of March 30, Nepali time. We offer condolences to all those who have been touched by his life and work.

Tenga Rinpoche admitted to Norwic Hospital in Kathmandu

Portrait by Claude-Max Lochu

On Monday evening, Kyabje Tenga Rinpoche, a meditation master of the Karma Kagyü tradition of Benchen Monastery in Nepal, visited the emergency room at Norwic Hospital in Kathmandu due to health complaints. After running tests, doctors found that his declining health was due to pneumonia, low blood pressure, and too few red blood cells. On Tuesday, he was given a blood transfusion as well as antibiotics and blood pressure medicine. He is now in the intensive care unit.

Tenga Rinpoche, who recently celebrated his 80th birthday at Benchen Karma Choeling in Singapore in October of last year, has been in declining health in recent years, undergoing amputations of his left foot and right middle finger because of an infection that would not clear up. Read More »

Dalai Lama wins Templeton Prize

His Holiness the Dalai Lama was announced as the recipient of the 2012 Templeton Prize this morning. (See his reaction in the video above.)

In their citation, the John Templeton Foundation notes (among other things) that “[His Holiness] encourages serious scientific investigative reviews of the power of compassion and its broad potential to address the world’s fundamental problems — a theme at the core of his teachings and a cornerstone of his immense popularity. Read More »

Twenty-year-old monk self-immolates in Ngaba, Tibet

Chinese police in Serta

Another Tibetan has self-immolated in Tibet today, in Changsha township of Ngaba, in eastern Tibet. Voice of America reports that twenty year-old Lobsang Sherab, a monk of Kirti monastery, self-immolated Wednesday evening at around 7:10 IST, dying on the scene from his injuries.

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Exiled self-immolator dies; India tightens security in Tibetan areas for Hu Jintao

Jamphel Yeshi (Tibet Post International)

As we reported yesterday, a Tibetan living in exile in India self-immolated on Monday in protest of Chinese rule in Tibet. Twenty-seven-year-old Jamphel Yeshi set himself afire in New Delhi; by Tuesday, posters of him could be found throughout the streets of Dharamsala and more than two hundred supporters took to the streets that night, waving Tibetan flags and declaring Jamphel Yeshi a martyr. Yeshi died on Wednesday morning from his injuries (some 98% of his body was covered in burns, according to initial reports).

The New York Times has translated a letter that Jamphel Yeshi wrote the Tibetan people, which you can read here. In it, Yeshi wrote: Read More »

Japan Buddhist Federation calls for an end to nuclear energy

The Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant after the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami

The President of The Japan Buddhist Federation, Taitsu Kono, reiterated in a recent interview with the the Asahi Shimbun that the organization wishes to see a society that is not dependent on nuclear power, citing the risk involved in harnessing such energy. The Japan Buddhist Federation is comprised of several traditional Buddhist denominations and had previously released an appeal to end Japanese society’s dependence on nuclear power last December. Read More »

Tibetan exile self-immolates in India

On Monday, 27 year-old Jamphel Yeshi self-immolated at a protest in New Delhi, days before a visit by China’s President, Hu Jintao. He was seen running down the street some 100 yards, engulfed in flames while screaming, before protesters and Indian authorities tossed a blanket over him to put out the flames; Yeshi suffered burns over 98% of his body and was taken to Ram Manohar Hospital. Read More »

Shang Shung Institute’s School of Tibetan Medicine: Enrollment now open for 2012 Online Program

The Shang Shung Institute’s School of Tibetan Medicine Online Program begins April 11, 2012. Each semester of the four-year curriculum will focus on the core theoretical studies, based on the topics of the Four Tantras, as well as Tibetan language studies. Students in the Shang Shung Institute’s School of Tibetan Medicine Online Program can expect to receive training presented in English that covers all the major topics presented in traditional Tibetan Medical study.

For the full four-year program’s Online Course Descriptions and Application to the School of Tibetan Medicine, please visit

“Zen Monster” comes to the San Francisco Zen Center

Several luminaries of the San Francisco Bay area poetry scene, known for having been influenced by Buddhism in their writings, will be reading from their work at the San Francisco Zen Center this April 13 at 7:30 pm. Readings will come from the third issue of Zen Monster, “an unusually strong and clear statement of buddhist, non-buddhist, and trans-buddhist art, poetry, and subversive political statement.”

Poets will include the city’s current Poet Laureate, Diane di Prima, Beat generation poet Michael McClure, former SFZC abbot Norman Fischer, Genine Lentine, Giovanni Singleton, David Silva, and Meredith Stricker. Tickets are available at the door on a sliding-scale fee of $5 to $10. For more information, contact Brian Unger, editor of Zen Monster, at or call 917-453-7311.

UN hunger strike ends, a “small victory” for Tibet, says Tsewang Rigzin

Tsewang Rigzin

The three Tibetans who have been on a hunger strike in front of the United Nations since February 22, one being recently hospitalized and carrying on his protest from his hospital bed, have ended their protest today. According to the AFP, the protest concluded today when two UN officials handed the two remaining protesters a letter from UN human rights chief Navanethem Pillay, in which he said that investigators will look into events happening in Tibet. The two men struggled out of their wheelchairs and sang the Tibetan national anthem.

Tsewang Rigzin, the protester’s organizer and President of the Tibetan Youth Congress, said that the letter and assurances led to the protest being called off. Read More »

Buddhist monks organize to oppose UN investigation into war crimes in Sri Lanka

With a US-backed resolution calling for an investigation into possible war crimes committed during Sri Lanka’s recently ended civil war being heard this week at UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, the IANS is reporting that “hundreds of Buddhist clergy” gathered to protest this in Columbo. The assembled monastics were even reported to have been doing a puja to “bless the government in its efforts to defeat the US-backed resolution.” Read More »

Video: Buddhism at Fort Benning

We’ve done a few pieces in the past on Chaplain Thomas Dyer, the first Buddhist chaplain in US Army history. Dyer, a former Baptist preacher and native of Nashville who later turned to Tibetan Buddhism, was previously deployed to the Middle East with the 278th Armored Calvary Regiment in late 2009. Dyer is now stationed at Fort Benning in Georgia, serving some 600 soldiers who belong to a variety of religious traditions.

Dyer is featured in a recent news item from WRBL News 3 in Columbus, Georgia, where he discusses his chaplaincy work with soldiers. You can watch that here, after the jump.

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