Zen Blog

This blog collects various internet feeds aimed towards information, experience and technique exchange in support of our shared spiritual journey.....

”Namaste - may the light in me, honor the light in you…”

Buddha Buzz Weekly: Nepal and China’s Secret Border Deal Threatens Tibetans

Nepal-China extradition treaty worries Tibetans, 13 monks walking from Thailand to France are detained in India, and a peace prize recognizes Korean monk Ven. Pomnyun Sunim. Tricycle looks back at the events of this week in the Buddhist world.

By Emily DeMaioNewton and Karen JensenFeb 22, 2020

China's President Xi Jinping shakes hand with Nepal's President Bidhya Devi Bhandari as he arrives in Nepal for a two-day visit on Saturday, October 12, 2019. | Dipen Shrestha / ZUMA Wire / Alamy Live News

Nothing is permanent, so everything is precious. Here’s a selection of some happenings—fleeting or otherwise—in the Buddhist world this week.

New Fear for Tibetans after Nepal Signed Secret Extradition Treaty with China

In October, the governments of Nepal and China secretly signed an agreement saying that each country will hand over to the other nation’s authorities anyone detained for illegally crossing the border, posing a new danger to Tibetans and other persecuted groups attempting to flee China, the US-based International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) said in a press release. The details of the deal, signed during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s trip to Nepal in October 2019, were only made public in late January, when Nepal’s minister of foreign affairs, Pradeep Gyawali, wrote to parliament to clarify their policy, according to the Nepal news outlet Khabarhub. Under the 20-point agreement, the countries have pledged to return any undocumented immigrants within seven days of their being arrested, Khabarhub reports. 

After hearing about President Xi’s proposed extradition treaty in November, the co-chairs of the US Congress’s Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, Rep. James McGovern (D-MA) and Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ), wrote a letter to Nepal’s embassy pleading with them to reject the agreement and to protect Tibetan refugees. “Recognizing [Beijing’s] long-standing repression of Tibetans within its borders, we fear that an extradition treaty would be used by that government to persecute Tibetans living in Nepal,” they wrote. “We urge your government to halt deportations of Tibetans, to refrain from the use of preventive detention, and to register all Tibetan refugees living in Nepal.” According to the ICT, the Congress members never received a response.

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Dharma and Black History

A selection of articles honoring contributions by African American Buddhists

By TricycleFeb 21, 2020

Photo by Sippanont Samchai | https://tricy.cl/2SKT903

As Black History Month comes to a close, Tricycle revisits reflections, teachings, and essays by African American Buddhists through the years—from a 1994 article by acclaimed author and scholar bell hooks to a podcast interview with law professor and mindfulness teacher Rhonda Magee. Black practitioners, scholars, and teachers have long grappled with the legacy of racism in the US in general and in Buddhist spaces specifically. Some suggest that if we want to embody the dharma, free from our individual biases, we all must confront the ignorance and xenophobia that often go unaddressed in American Buddhism. These writers envision a future where the dharma is for all—not just in name, but in practice.

A Vision of What Could Be
By Jan Willis 
An African American professor of Buddhism recounts her journey to the dharma, and encourages sanghas to rethink their attitudes toward members of color.  Learning to See Our Racial Biases
With Rhonda Magee
Law professor and mindfulness instructor Rhonda Magee discusses her book The Inner Work of Racial Justice, and how we can heal by waking up to unacknowledged racial prejudice. Waking Up to Racism 
By bell hooks
In this article from Tricycle’s 1994 special section on Dharma, Diversity, and Race, acclaimed feminist scholar bell hooks considers the fraught historical relationship between colonialism and spiritual nourishment, and challenges ideas about who gets to be a “real Buddhist.” Awakening to the Apocalypse
By Larry Ward
Modern day discourse is finally questioning the “colonial mind” that encouraged the exploitation of people categorized as other. How can we move forward from deconstruction to reconstruction—from trauma to resilience? Black Coffee Buddhism
Interview with Charles Johnson by E. Ethelbert Miller
Scholar Charles Johnson discusses awareness of death, the importance of community, and how to stay curious by recognizing the mystery of life. Tolerably Black
Interview with Aretha Busby by Emma Varvaloucas
A Nichiren Buddhist explains why she creates art about her ancestry, and why she sees this dialogue with history as part of Buddhist practice. Why Are There So Many Black Buddhists?
By J. Sunara Sasser
What can other sanghas learn from Soka Gakkai International, a Nichiren sect that boasts a multi-racial community?

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Master Your Relationship to Time

By Leo Babauta

The truth is, most of us have a pretty adversarial relationship to time.

There’s never enough. We’re always behind. It goes by too fast. We can’t do important things because we don’t have enough time.

None of it is helpful. Most of it is bullshit.

Let’s take the first one: there’s never enough time. This is powerful because there’s some truth to it: time is limited and precious. We will die, and while we don’t know how much time we have left in this life, we do know that it’s limited. It’s helpful to remember that we must make the most of our limited time!

But time is also abundant. Think of the past few years — it might seem like they passed really quickly, but actually we had so many hours we can’t can’t them. We had a huge abundance of hours. Maybe we didn’t spend them wisely (I know I misspent quite a few hours), but we had plenty of time. We still do, today and this month and this year.

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Buddha Buzz Weekly: Karmapas Work Together to Identify Reincarnated Lama

Nothing is permanent, so everything is precious. Here’s a selection of some happenings—fleeting or otherwise—in the Buddhist world this week.

Karmapas announce plans to work together to recognize Shamar Rinpoche’s reincarnation

The two claimants to the title of the 17th Karmapa, one of the most influential Tibetan Buddhist positions and leader of the Karma Kagyu lineage, are working together to identify the the reincarnation of the 14th Shamarpa, Mipham Chokyi Lodro, Phayul reported. In 1992, the 14th Shamarpa recognized 9-year-old Trinley Thaye Dorjee as the 17th Karmapa, while the Dalai Lama recognized 7-year-old Ogyen Trinley Dorje. Other Buddhist leaders were split, and sectarian sentiments festered. But in recent years, the two Karmapas have been working to repair those divisions, and met for the first time in October 2018 to discuss the future of their lineage. 

In agreeing to make a joint decision on the identification of the 15th Shamarpa, they are demonstrating a greater commitment to their assertions that unity is more important than past controversies. At the Kagyu Monlam, a major international prayer festival, Ogyen Trinley Dorjee said, “It is extremely important that Shamar Rinpoche’s reincarnation be recognized without any mistake or confusion, without any ‘our side’ or ‘their side.’ Having a unanimous recognition is absolutely crucial,” according to Phayul. He added, “If the reincarnation of Shamar Rinpoche is disputed, in the future, all the Kamtsang [another name for Karma Kagyu] high lamas will be disputed and the Kamtsang will be completely split. The attachment and hatred will be the same as in a feud that lasts for generations. If we fall under its power, all the majesty and power of over 900 years of history will be destroyed.”

Losar festivities in Lhasa canceled over coronavirus risks

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Meditation Barbie Wants to Be Your Dolly Lama

Growing up, I played with Barbies. 

Barbies who were mermaids, horseback riders, hairdressers, flight attendants, beach fiends. Barbies who brought home gold in the 1998 Winter Olympics. In college I had to confront the dolls’ more controversial reputation. I found out that the Barbies—with their Pollyannaish dispositions, their hard tan plastic mounds for breasts, their legs that squeaked and moved like children’s chopsticks, and their crimped, poofy hair that dwarfed their bodies like Mylar blankets––were crude and problematic symbols that had caused me, without my knowing it, a fair amount of psychic harm. In the following years, new ideas about Barbie flooded out the old ones, and her chirpy, emancipatory claims—“We girls can do anything,” “You can be anything,” “Girls rule”—became specious, and then offensive. 

Barbie and I parted ways, but she tip-toed back into my life recently when I saw a tweet from her official account: Barbie has taken up meditation, she announced, to help her cope with an “increasingly busy, over-connected world.” That’s funny, I thought. I mean, she’s always been really busy—balancing multiple careers, playing housewife to a loyal Ken, and paying off the balance for her pink Corvette, dream home, boat, jet, and rocket ship. But now she has decided to take a break from all that, and just sit. 

Well, not entirely. Breathe with Me Barbie, as she’s called, is part of Mattel’s new “Wellness Collection,” which features Barbies who partake in cucumber face masks, fizzy baths, and mani-pedis and value fitness and sleep. But Breathe with Me Barbie demands the spotlight here, because while Barbie has been pampered before, this is the first time she has ever meditated.  

I immediately wanted to understand what this cross-legged Barbie was all about. Critics were already complaining about how our culture of “wellness” has gone “too far,” and I didn’t want this Barbie to become just another flash point for a sloppy critique of capitalism—perhaps the only aggression she has had to endure more often than having her head twisted off by a younger sibling. 

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