Nothing is permanent, therefore everything is precious. Here is a selection of some events, ephemeral or not, in the Buddhist world this week.
The Dalai Lama celebrates his 86th birthday
On his 86th birthday, the Dalai Lama posted a message in which he thanked people for their wishes and made special commitments to the environment and the preservation of Indian heritage.
For the rest of my life, I am committed to serving humanity and working to protect the weather conditions. Since I became a refugee and now settled in India, I have taken full advantage of India’s freedom and religious harmony. I want to assure you that for the rest of my life I am committed to reviving ancient Indian knowledge. I really appreciate the Indian concept of secular values ââindependent of religion like honesty, karuna (compassion) and ahimsa (Nonviolence).
Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi wished His Holiness a happy birthday via a personal phone call, which he then announced on Twitter, despite a potential backlash from China. Meanwhile, Sikyong Penpa Tsering, head of the Tibetan government in exile, asked China to invite the Dalai Lama to Tibet and China âOn pilgrimage without any preconditionsâ during a ceremony in honor of His Holiness. Tsering also called for unity within the Tibetan community.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi sent birthday greetings, as did Tibetan communities and supporters across Europe. In Switzerland, prayers were offered to Tibet-Rikon Institute; in Italy, copies of four books by the Dalai Lama were donated to public libraries; and in Lithuania, sympathizers gathered in Tibet Square in Vilnius, the capital, and distributed leaflets containing quotes from the Dalai Lama printed in Lithuanian, English and Russian.
Nepal rejects some UN recommendations to protect Tibetan refugees
In response to the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review, the Nepalese government said it had “noted” but “not accepted” a number of protections for Tibetan refugees in the country, the International Federation for Human Rights said in a press release Wednesday. Nepal is part of the huge Chinese infrastructure and trade network known as Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which makes the country vulnerable to pressure from China to restrict the activity and freedom of Tibetan refugees. Closer relations with China have resulted in worse protection for the more than 20,000 Tibetan refugees living in Nepal, the International Campaign for Tibet and the International Federation for Human Rights told the UN in 2018. Tibetans do not have the right to freely express their religious beliefs and cultural identity, deprived of official documents and facing fear of being returned to China.
As of July 8, Nepal will not commit to registering and verifying the identity of refugees, which could hamper access to education, employment and medical services. The government will not commit to the principle of non-refoulement either., or allow refugees to stay in a country when they face violence or persecution in their country. They will, however, accept recommendations aimed at guaranteeing freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, two issues for which Tibetan refugees have been arrested in the past. They also pledged to protect the rights of ethnic and religious minorities.
New study on religion in India reveals wide range of practices and beliefs
The Pew Research Center has just published a new study which reveals the diversity of religions practiced in India, and also that popular opinion supports tolerance, but not integration. âRespect for other religions is seen as a key part of being Indian,â says Neha Saghal, associate director of research at Pew, âbut Indians don’t see tolerance as crossing religious boundaries. They live their lives in separate religious bubbles. Read more about the study here.
Tibetan monks visit Colorado creating sand mandalas
This week, the monks of Ganden Monastery, one of the largest monasteries in the Gelug Tibetan tradition, will conclude their 15-day stay in Aspen, Colorado. Ganden monks have been roaming the United States since 1992, hosting various Buddhist ceremonies and cultural activities that showcase Tibetan culture and raise funds for their monastery. The next destination for the monks is Carbondale, Colorado, where they will continue their free exhibits at the Path of Compassion Dharma Center between July 15, the day the center reopens, and July 19. During their four-day stay, the Ganden monks will build a sand mandala depicting the Bodhisattva of Compassion Chenrezig (Skt., Avalokitesvara), which will be open to the public. For more information, visit the The Path of Compassion Calendar of Events.
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