Myanmar has been a technologically backwards authoritarian state for much of the past 50 years, with less than 1% of the country connected to the net, until 2015, when the country held its first elections in decades, a moment that was swiftly followed by a relaxation in telcoms controls and widespread access to the internet via mobile devices.
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Dharma Delight: A Visionary Post Pop Guide to Buddhism and Zen
by Rodney Alan Greenblat
2016, 128 pages, 7.5 x 10 x 0.5 inches (softcover)
$11 Buy a copy on Amazon
Peace of mind can be a hard-won trophy in the best of times. Other times, well, simply being may be the best we can do. Dharma Delight is a visual diary of one man's journey into Buddhism. Author Greenblat takes the reader through the basic aspects of Buddhism, including its founding, its core tenets, a few of the more prominent teachers (er, Buddhas, not instructors), and a few basic zen practices all accompanied by his own bright, bold paintings and drawings.
The book is somewhat slight, more of a primer than an in-depth examination of any one part of either Buddhism or Greenblat's relationship to it, but I found this to be the most engaging facet of the book. What I mean is, the book often lays out a single concept or story or koan on one or two pages, letting the reader focus on the idea being presented rather than stuffing loads of concepts and history into a confined space.
By allowing the content so much room to breathe, each painting or set of paintings comes into clear relief. Greenblat squeezes lots of detail and tiny, almost hidden prose messages into each vibrant piece of art; his style is a distinct form of pop art, somewhere between the neon, day-glo of the 1980s and the comic book reproductions of Lichtenstein. Read the rest
Xian'er is a robotic Buddhist monk that lives at the 1,700 year-old Longquan Temple in Beijing, China. Video below. The temple is host to an animation and maker studio meant to blend technology, science, and spirituality. From CNN
(Animation studio head and Buddhist master) Xianfan, a graduate of the Chinese Central Art Academy, first conceived Xian'er (Xian stands for virtuous. Er means dumb in Beijing dialect but is a term of endearment) in 2013 as a cartoon character...
(Xian'er) can answer up to 100 questions and a CNN team put him through his paces on a recent visit to the temple.
At first, he didn't seem very co-operative. His head kept spinning around and, like a child, he kept saying: "Leave me alone; stop bothering me."
But when he was in the mood, his Buddhist wisdom shined through:
"Where are you from?" we asked.
"How would I answer a question that you human beings have no answer to?" he quipped.
"Xian'er, who are your parents?" we countered.
"Do the designers count?" was his pithy reply.
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A beautiful way to honor loved ones who have died.
One day of the year is most important for all Tibetans; those inside Tibet as well as those in diaspora across the globe. March 10 is Tibetan Uprising Day, and we who live in the free world shall protest in front of Chinese consulates and other sites, to amplify our voices on behalf of all who are voiceless inside Tibet.
Ever since China's military invasion of Tibet in 1949-1950, the religion, the cultural heritage and sovereignty of the Tibetan people have been severely compromised.
With the signing of the 17-Point Agreement with the Chinese signed under duress on May 23, 1951, Tibet surrendered its sovereignty to the Chinese for the first time in its long history. Tibetans hoped that Beijing would comply with the Chinese side of the agreement. But that did not happen.
The situation inside Tibet deteriorated progressively, year after year following the invasion. The human rights of Tibetans were not honored.
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Lama Losang Samten explains some of the history and symbolism behind the Tibetan "Wheel of Life" mandala.
Snip from a Globe and Mail article quoting HH the Dalai Lama
: “It is quite strange – as non-believers, totally non-believers, atheists – showing interest about reincarnation. I jokingly tell them: In order to be involved in my reincarnation, firstly, they should accept Buddhism. Or religion. Or Buddhism. Then they should recognize Chairman Mao Zedong’s reincarnation. Deng Xiaopeng’s reincarnation. Then, they have reason to show some interest about the Dalai Lama’s reincarnation. Otherwise, nonsense!” (via @markkersten) Read the rest
Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama speaks during a teaching session on the first day of the Kalachakra festival in the eastern Indian city of Bodhgaya January 1, 2012. The Kalachakra is a 10-day festival comprising Buddha teachings and meditations, taking place at Bodhgaya where Buddha is said to have gained enlightenment. REUTERS/Jitendra Prakash
Ed Wong in the New York Times writes about reports that hundreds of Tibetan Buddhists who attended the Kalachakra ceremony in January in India have been detained without charge by Chinese security officers upon returning to China-controlled Tibet.
This is the first time that the Chinese authorities have detained large numbers of Tibetan pilgrims returning from the ceremony, held regularly in India among other places.
Many of the pilgrims are elderly and have been detained for more than two months in central Tibet, or what China calls the Tibet Autonomous Region. The detainees are being interrogated and undergoing patriotic re-education classes, and have been ordered to denounce the Dalai Lama, who presided over the ceremony, known as the Kalachakra, say people who have researched the detentions. The detainees are being held at hotels, schools and military training centers or bases; some are being forced to pay for their lodging and meals.
Full story is here (via NgawangYonten).
Meanwhile, the desperate protest-suicides continue. 33 Tibetans have self-immolated in protest of Chinese rule since 2009, according to the Tibetan government in exile. And on April 8, a 26 year old Tibetan man in India jumped to his death in the river Ganges, a few days after texting to a friend, “It is my personal decision... Read the rest
Here is the most wonderful photograph you'll ever see of a Buddhist monk sharing food with a tiger. Shot by photographer Wojtek Kalka at the Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi, Thailand.
Worth noting: animal rights advocates do not think the temple itself is wonderful, as the afore-linked Wikipedia entry explains, because the big cats there are kept in abusive conditions. (via Bill Gross) Read the rest
Photo: David Huang
This morning, a demonstration took place in McLeod Ganj, a quiet Northern Indian village adjacent to the home of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government-in-exile. In this town on the southern end of the Himalayas, young Tibetan exiles staged a memorial for Tibetans inside China-controlled Tibet who have burned themselves alive in recent months.
11 have self-immolated since February 2009. Most are teenagers or in their early twenties. The youngest was 17. It is an expression of despair, and an act of protest against increasingly harsh Chinese military crackdown on ethnic Tibetan cultural, religious, and social systems. For a list of the names, dates, and locations, read on (and there is more background at standupfortibet.org).
The demonstration was organized by Students for a Free Tibet and Regional Tibetan Youth Congress, Dharamsala.
Oxblood Ruffin was at the demonstration. He tells Boing Boing,
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It was a very moving demonstration. Young monks carried a graphic banner with flames in the background and the text, Tibetans are dying for freedom. They were accompanied by demonstrators wearing masks of world leaders.
It would be a little dramatic to say things have come to a head. But there's a definite shift, and I suspect that the recent spate of self-immolations will continue. The desperation is palpable, and there seems to be a sense of, "What have we got to lose?"
The Chinese are playing this off as though the Dalai Lama is running around with a lighter and inciting the monks to kill themselves.