As is often the case, there has been too much going on of late in the world of Buddhism for me to give justice to most of it. Here’s a quick roundup of topics I wish I could have devoted more time to recently:
- Achim Bayer, a scholar currently based in Seoul, presented an article describing the unlikelihood that the recent “Buddha from Space” (BBC) (DiscoveryNews) (National Geographic) is authentic. In his paper (available free here) he lists 13 characteristics that suggest it is a European forgery. The article is nothing short of brilliant. But part of that brilliance is the very darkness it dispels. This was a major article, circulated around the world, and yet, as Bayer notes, no historian of Tibetan art was consulted.
- Not really ‘news’ but I read a couple chapters from Jan Nattier’s Once Upon a Future Time: Studies in a Buddhist Prophesy of Decline last week and found it fascinating (available in part here on google books). This was partially due to an interesting comment on my recent blog post about things getting better – and partially for my phd studies. It turns out that Buddhism is perhaps unique in being the only major world religion to predict its own end (while the world carries on). At first a 500 year prediction was spread, then a 700 year… as those failed to work out, 1000 years began to be suggested, and so on. The fact that the predictions are discussed in numerous texts and reevaluated and altered over time shows that they were of at least some interest to Buddhists historically.
- A bit on China, via the guy who wrote When China Rules the World.
- There is a a new Journal of Buddhist Philosophy, which I should get writing for…
- A follower on Twitter recently asked me: Was Shantideva an act-consequentialist? The answer in short: no. Metaphysics matter here, and Shantideva was well aware of the underlying nature of Dharma and karma (read the blog post – it’s very well done).
- My friend Dave Webster waxes poetically, and happily I would guess, about Death, Statistics, Happiness – what else?
- Very much worth watching this week is this, A Tibetan Mandala Project with the Nuns of Keydong Nunnery, streamed live from Wellesley College, MA.
- And lastly, a note of thanks to those who have commented on my latest posts Is Tibetan Buddhism the most popular in America? and Buddhist Cult of Relics: Inspiration or a Sham? (including a great comment by Stephen Schettini, the naked monk) – both end in question marks and are meant in an exploratory manner.
Tomorrow I’m off with Emily to London for some romantic library-time (her at the British Library, me at SOAS) and then back to Bristol.
Oh, and very last, a wonderful video about Ashin Sopaka (thanks to my friend via the web, a different Ashin Sopaka). Ashin Sopaka, in the film, is a Burmese monk in exile who undertook a peacewalk in Thailand in 2007. Have a look: