Buddha Statue Saved for Kabul museum

I came across this amazing picture of a Statue of the Buddha which was found in a copper mine in Afghanistan. It is thought to be around 1,800 years old but you can still see the original colours.

Having withstood time, the elements, looters and war, this spectacular Buddha was restored and removed from one of Afghanistan’s most dangerous regions to make its public debut in the country’s national museum.

The exceptionally well-preserved piece, with its colours still vibrant, was found in 2012 at the Mes Aynak site about 40 kilometres southeast of Kabul, in the now Taliban controlled Logar province.

Its discovery was made possible after a Chinese consortium began digging a massive copper mine that uncovered an ancient monastery complex stretching out over an area of four square kilometres.

Walk the Wight & Wesak

Hi Everyone,

As you all know by now our Wesak celebrations here at the West Wight Sangha are currently scheduled for Sunday the 14th of May. Wesak, traditionally falls on the night of the first full moon of May which this year is on Wednesday the 10th. For convenience we hold our celebrations on the following Sunday (from 12:00 to about 3:00 p.m.) which this year coincides with the Walk the Wight festival, the unique sponsored walk in aid of the patient care at the Earl Mountbatten Hospice.

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Needless to say a lot of you are taking part in this incredible event which raises so much money for the island’s favourite charity and as such wouldn’t be able to join us on the 14th.

So my question is would you be able to make it if we move our celebrations back a week to Sunday the 21st of May?

Please let me know as soon as possible so we can decide whether to change the date or not.

(As the date of Wesak follows a lunar calendar and different schools of Buddhism celebrate the Buddha’s birth, his enlightenment and death on different dates, I don’t feel guilty about moving it, it’s not like changing the date of Christmas!)

Be well,
Steve

FULL MOON – Containing Anger

11 April 2017

 

I say that those who contain anger
as a charioteer controls
a speeding chariot
are fully in charge of their lives;
others are merely keeping
their hands on the reins.

Dhammapada v. 222

When anger arises we can make an enemy of it or we can view it as energy which needs to be contained. No judgement! Fighting anger with anger will likely lead to more anger, or even hatred. The Buddha’s image of a charioteer controlling a speeding chariot speaks of the risk of being heedless. When we experience an upthrust of anger, it is our responsibility alone to make sure that this energy is skilfully handled. The Buddha isn’t suggesting we should fight it. Nor is he saying we should just let go and allow it to happen; that is, indulge in it. The teaching on the middle way tells us there is another possibility, beyond indulging and repressing.

Good News but NOT the First

Now here’s a good one to end the year on. His Holiness the Dalai Lama awarded 20 Tibetan Buddhist nuns with Geshema degrees yesterday at a ceremony at Drepung monastery in Mundgod, South India last Thursday, the 22nd of December. (Geshema is simply the feminine version of Geshe). 

According to the Tibetan government in exile the nuns are the first female monastics to complete the necessary training and examinations to earn the degree.

However, what about Venerable Kelsang Wangmo? In April 2011, His Holiness advised the renowned Institute for Buddhist Dialectical Studies (IBD) in Dharamsala, India, to confer the degree of “Geshe” to Venerable Kelsang Wangmo, a German nun (formerly Kerstin Brunnenbaum).

The Geshema degree is the highest level of training in the Gelugpa school of Tibetan Buddhism, and could previously only be earned by men. In July, the Department of Religion and Culture of the Central Tibetan Administration announced that all 20 candidates for the degree had passed the examination process. The exams take a total of four years to complete, with one 12-day exam period per year each May that tests the knowledge gained in a 17-year course of study.

Island Nine Year Old Teaches Us All a Lesson

I always keep an eye open for an uplifting story at this time of year and I couldn’t do better than this one about the generosity of young Paddy Cotton as related in this week’s County Press.

GUESTS of the Isle of Wight Bus Shelter were shocked by the generosity of nine-year-old Paddy Cotton, of Ryde, who spent his Christmas money on Coal for the shelter’s multi-fuel burner. Paddy’s kind gesture sparked a social media campaign, urging people to buy coal for the homeless shelter, to see it through the Winter.

The Oakfield Primary School pupil was inspired to spend the remainder of his Christmas money on coal, rather than have more presents, when he saw a homeless man in Newport and noticed someone stop to buy the man a coffee.



Paddy said: “It made me really upset and shocked. I didn’t know there were homeless people on the IW. I was inspired by the person who stopped to help him. I saw that and it made me think about what I could do to help.”

He asked his mum, Katherine Cotton, to contact the IW Bus Shelter, a converted bus that currently accommodates 15 homeless people, and she was told the shelter needed coal. After he had spent the rest of his own money on coal, he asked his mum to start a Facebook campaign encouraging others to do the same.

Katherine said: “It was overwhelming how many people got in touch. I am so proud of Paddy. I think he has realised that just by doing a small thing to raise awareness, people on the Island really get together to support the community.”

Kevin Newton, who runs the Bus Shelter, said: “I am amazed at what Paddy has done. It is good to know there are children out there like Paddy who are thinking about homeless people at Christmas time.” 

The BBC have visited to film a feature for The One Show; about the Bus Shelter and Paddy’s kind donation. 

“Our guests couldn’t wait to meet Paddy,” Kevin said, “they just can’t believe a child has done that for them.” 

• Anyone can buy coal for the Bus Shelter from Windmill Farm, in Upton Road, Ryde. The farm will store the coal until it is collected by the Bus Shelter and they are doing a special price of £8.40 a bag if it is being donated.
Each bag lasts two days at the Bus Shelter, which is also looking for volunteers to help out.

Western Buddhism (Watered Down?) Cont.

Further to our recent run of posts relating to the establishment/evolution of a genuinely Western form/school of Buddhism the following article cropped up in Lion’s Roar.

Recently we published an article by Funie Hsu titled “We’ve Been Here All Along,” which explores how Asian American Buddhists have historically been marginalized in American Buddhism. The author — an Asian American Buddhist scholar — bravely discusses what happens when white American Buddhists embrace teachings from Asia in a broader culture built on white privilege and racism. It’s a challenging but important article.

We don’t usually get much feedback from readers, but this one struck a nerve with several who took the time to write to us. The tone of these letters surprised me — some were quite angry at Hsu and lodged personal attacks (“She should be grateful for what she has”; “She ain’t no buddhist”). Others were more tempered but equally defensive (“I felt judged and unwelcomed”; “The article is implicitly racist toward white people”). 

Last week, while we were taping a panel discussion on Buddhist ethics for our next issue, Ajahn Amaro, abbot of Amaravati, took a moment to let us know how much he appreciated Funie Hsu’s article. I thought it might be interesting for him to tell you why. —Tynette Deveaux, editor, Buddhadharma 

“I am not an Asian-American Buddhist but I have certainly witnessed and been a part of some of the situations described in the piece, and to which Ms. Hsu calls useful attention.

I am European by birth and have been a monk in a Buddhist lineage hailing from North-East Thailand since 1979, practising under the guidance of Ajahn Chah and Ajahn Sumedho. I have lived mostly in the West as a monk since that date, in both the UK and the USA.

As a monk in a somewhat conservative order, my community has maintained close ties with its Asian cultural and religious roots. Our monasteries in the West, of which there are about thirty (there are about 300 in Thailand as well), tend to straddle two worlds; on the one hand there are the Asian immigrant communities, mostly from Thailand, Sri Lanka, Laos, and Cambodia, and on the other there are the Western-born folks who have encountered Buddhism through reading, travelling or browsing the net. 

Over the years, particularly during my time in the USA, I have interacted a lot with both of these groups. It is sad to say, but in conversations with Western-born Buddhist teachers and practitioners, at formal meetings and conferences as much as in informal dialogues, I have regularly encountered the kind of white cultural conceit that speaks of practising “real Buddhism” rather than “folk Buddhism” weighed down with so-called “cultural baggage.” As one whose lifestyle is devotedly built around such “baggage” (preferably understood as “skillful means”) such comments and discussions come across bearing the ugliness and conceit of the unconscious racism of: “Some of my best friends are…” 

I found I could empathise with the spirit of Ms. Hsu’s article and felt many of her points were very apposite. We can all be blind to our conceits (I had no idea how English I was until I went to live in an international community) and her highlighting of these issues helps the reader to, in my humble opinion, turn the attention back on to their own heart to consider what they are assuming to be true and real. When we challenge such assumptions, often only spotting them when we feel particularly gratified (Yes!) or offended (How dare she!), we can then become aware of the stress-filled limitations these conceits bring. Once the heart is awake to the bondage it is creating, it can more easily let go and be free of it.” 

All good wishes,
Amaro Bhikkhu, Abbot, Amaravati Buddhist Monastery