Buddhist Monastic Life in China (Photos)

In 2009 I traveled to China to experience Chinese Buddhist monastic life and learn about the practice, philosophy, and history unique to Chan Buddhism. That trip was organized mostly for graduate students in Buddhism or Chinese culture/religion/history but the program has since grown in size and scope to look a bit like the one that was then run separately at Fo Guang Shan monastery in southern Taiwan.My experience with the 2009 program was so positive that I applied for and participated in … [Read more...]

UPDATE: Tibet Women’s Soccer team finds allies in Congress

As reported recently, the Tibet Women's Soccer team, the "Snow Lionesses," has been denied visas to come to the U.S. They were planning to join in an upcoming tournament. The team, based in India and coached by New Jersey native Cassie Childers was told that they "have no good reason to visit the U.S." Congressional help Last week, two congressmen from New Jersey, Rep. Chris Smith and Rep. Tom MacArthur, both Republicans, asked Trump's Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to reconsider the denial … [Read more...]

In the Obituary of a Tibetan Buddhism scholar, some ominous words

The obituary for Elliot Sperling begins as most do, noting the peaks of the man's life: 66 years of vitality, a MacArthur (genius) Fellowship, and a reshaping of our understanding of Sino-Tibetan relations. Of particular note, the obituary's author Tenzin Dorjee, writes: Through his seminal writings on Tibet’s relations with China during the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties, he became arguably the first historian to extensively use both Chinese and Tibetan sources to bring to light the separation a … [Read more...]

2 More Tibetan Nuns commit suicide as China destroys vast Buddhist religious city

Phayul news service reports that two more Tibetan nuns have taken their lives due to the destruction of the city of Larung Gar in eastern Tibet (Western China). Authorities there claim that the expanse of new structures is a fire hazard and that the rapid growth of the city has not been officially permitted. I wrote this last month: This is Larung Gar a year ago. It is a vast monastic complex in eastern Tibet (in China’s Sichuan Province) housing as many as 40,000 Tibetan Buddhist monks and nu … [Read more...]

China gives Tibetans a search engine, immediately censors the Dalai Lama

After over 3 years of work, China has debuted its first ever Tibetan-language search engine: yongzin.com (which means "teacher" in Tibetan). The front page sports the bright blue, red, green, and yellow that are well-known to Google users, but the search results are very much a reflection of China's, and not Google's, priorities. According to the Wall Street Journal: A quick image search for the Dalai Lama, for example, requires sifting through pages of results before locating any of the man … [Read more...]

Tibetan Nun commits suicide as China destroys vast Buddhist religious city

This is Larung Gar a year ago. It is a vast monastic complex in eastern Tibet (in China's Sichuan Province) housing as many as 40,000 Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns (10,000 being a more likely number). Recently, it has come under scrutiny by the Chinese government and demolitions have recently begun, threatening up to half of the monastics living there.The town has grown rapidly, from just a handful of disciples of the Tibetan teacher from the Nyingma tradition, Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok, in … [Read more...]

Your Summer in a Chinese Buddhist Monastery – Woodenfish HBMLP in China

In 2009 I traveled to China to experience Chinese Buddhist monastic life and learn about the practice, philosophy, and history unique to Chan/Zen Buddhism. Back then, it was focused mostly on graduate students in Buddhism or Chinese culture/religion/history but it has since grown in size and scope to look a bit like the program that was then run separately at Fo Guang Shan monastery in southern Taiwan.My experience with the 2009 program was so positive that I applied for and participated in t … [Read more...]

Tibetans for Trump and other unintended consequences

Tenzin Pelkyi, a writer, law student, and editor at tibetanfeministcollective.org (and recent interviewee at this blog) has an intriguing article up today at medium.com examining some of the idiosyncrasies and unintended consequences of US-China-Tibet politics. In it she examines two allegedly Tibetan men holding up a sign reading "Tibetans for Trump. Kick China in the Balls for us, Donald #MakeAmericaGreatAgain."As odd as it may seem for card carrying liberals and others who are simply … [Read more...]