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Buddhism In the News


Sri Lanka to Vote on Making Buddhism State Religion

Sri Lanka’s parliament will vote next week on an amendment to the Sri Lankan constitution that, if passed, would make Buddhism the official state religion.

On Oct. 4, the Sri Lankan parliament will once again review the proposal by the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) to make Buddhism the official state religion. The JHU, which translates to the National Heritage Party, is an organisation consisting entirely of Buddhist monks. The 19th amendment, which was first proposed in September 2004, was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in December 2004.

"We are extremely concerned at this latest development,” said Alexa Papadouris, the advocacy director of Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW). “In recent years we have been monitoring these events very closely, and have highlighted our concerns over anti-Christian violence and proposed anti-conversion legislation.

But the proposed constitutional amendment,” he continued, “which would introduce anti-conversion legislation through the back door, would be a serious setback for religious freedom and human rights in Sri Lanka. It also represents a clear breach of Sri Lanka's obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. We urge the Sri Lankan Parliament to defeat this proposal, and to uphold fundamental human rights."


Christianity was first introduced in Sri Lanka in the sixteenth century by the Portuguese and many Sri Lankans consider it to be a foreign religion imposed by European colonists. Beginning in 1980, there has been significant growth in evangelical Christianity leading to increased resistance from militant Buddhists according to Voice of The Martyrs.

Christianity Today, October 1, 2005 by Michelle Vu

Buying into Buddhism


A lotus grows in the mud, the Eastern spiritual saying goes. But if the proliferation of Buddhist images, icons and language means anything, then it's also thriving in boardrooms, shopping malls and cyberspace.

As unprecedented numbers of Americans turn to Buddhism -- there are now some 6 million Buddhists nationwide -- more Buddhist ideas and symbols are popping up in bookstores, gift shops and business retreats.


Beth Bingham, national spokeswoman for the Borders Group Inc., said that after Sept. 11, the sale of Buddhist or Buddhist-inspired material dropped. Now, she said, it's steadily rising.

Assisting the climb are Hollywood stars Richard Gere and Goldie Hawn, who have appeared with the Dalai Lama and raised large amounts of money for Tibetans living in exile. And those who've read Oprah's interview with the Dalai Lama or listened to Gere read "The Tibetan Book of the Dead" can chat about it with just a few keystrokes -- Internet chat rooms are full of talk about that, of sangha (Buddhist community) and The Noble Eightfold Path (right speech, right intention, right action, etc.).


Business people who've never thought of Buddhism are finding themselves booked for Zen retreats with colleagues. Seminars with titles like Zen at Work and Zen and Business offer businesses a way to handle stress.


Precise faith numbers are hard to come by, but estimates are that the Charlotte area is home to some 10,000 Buddhists and a half-dozen or so Buddhist temples. Some believers are Americans drawn to the faith; others bring their Buddhism from Cambodia, China and elsewhere.


The Charlotte Observer, August 27, 2005 by Kate Taylor, Religion News Service

Nepal becoming Mecca for Buddhist studies

It may be a new thing to many that Nepal is evolving as one of the sought-after venues for higher level Buddhist studies. Dozens of institutes for Buddhist studies have emerged in Kathmandu alone to meet the demands of huge numbers of Westerners, flocking every year, seeking knowledge of Buddhism in Nepal.


Kantipur Online, August 26, 2005 by Post B. Basnet

China denies detaining Panchen Lama, hits out at Dalai Lama

China denied that a boy picked by the Dalai Lama as the second-highest figure in Tibetan Buddhism and missing since 1995 was under detention, but refused to reveal his whereabouts. Gedhun Choekyi Nyima has not been seen since he disappeared as a six-year-old, reportedly put under house arrest by China.

A senior Chinese official said the boy and his family were living a normal life, but would not say where. 'We didn't detain him,' Wu Yingjie, vice chairman of the People's Government of the Tibet Autonomous Region, told reporters. 'He is living happily in his home town.


The boy was chosen in 1995 according to ancient tradition by the exiled Dalai Lama, Tibet's top spiritual leader, as the reincarnation of the former Panchen Lama who died in 1989. The Panchen Lama, considered a living god, is of great importance in Tibetan Buddhism -- and in Chinese-Tibetan relations -- because he is charged with leading the search for a reincarnated Dalai Lama.

China accuses the exiled Dalai Lama of being a 'splittist' over his original demand for independence for his homeland, which he fled in 1959 after an uprising against China's 1950 occupation.


Forbes.com, August 4, 2005

Buddhism school trial `a success'

Principles of dhamma succeed in classroom

Chai Nat could become the first province where all state schools subscribe to the principles of Buddhism in teaching their students following the success of a pilot project there.

Of the 203 primary and secondary level public schools in the province, 80 have turned from being general to being Buddhism schools since the launch of the trial a year ago.


The key principles in a Buddhism school are applying the Lord Buddha's dhamma in teaching and learning.

Bangkok Post News, July 25, 2005 by Sirikul Bunnag

New Art Exhibit Highlights Female Buddhas

A new exhibit at the Rubin Museum of Art in Manhattan highlights a lesser-known aspect of Himalayan culture—female Buddhas.

"Different types of Buddhas appear in female forms, depending upon the perceived needs of the being seeking enlightenment," Jeff Watt, senior curator at the Rubin Museum, said in an interview.

"If your personality and your makeup are more attuned to female figures, then surely you [should] follow the female deities," said Watt, who curated "Female Buddhas: Women of Enlightenment in Himalayan Art" with Glenn Mullin.


Many paths to enlightenment


Major religions in the Himalayan region—Buddhism, Hinduism, and Bon—all comprise goddesses and enlightened figures in a variety of female forms, Watt said, adding, "They’re very popular."

Female Buddhas derive from northern Mahayana Buddhism, rather than the Theravada Buddhism practiced in Southeast Asia.

In one of the Buddhist sacred texts, said to have been spoken aloud by the Buddha in an earthly form, "we have the first female Buddha, named Tara, who vowed…always to appear in a female form," Watt said.


NewsReleaseWire.com, July 29, 2005

New Diyawadana Nilame assures uplift of Buddhism

Newly elected Diyawadana Nilame the lay custodian of Dalada Maligawa Kandy, Nilanga Dela Bandara gave an assurance to protect the Sacred Tooth Relic and also the dignity of the high office that a lay Buddhist could secure. He said so at a media briefing after he was elected as the 19th Diyawadana Nilame by a majority 199 votes.


New Diyawadana Nilame Nilanga Dela Bandara said that he would administrate the Maligawa funds in a transparent way and use only for the improvement of the Maligawa and to work for the welfare of Buddhist community particularly the poor Buddhists. Steps would be taken to work for the uplift of poor Buddhist temples in rural areas on the advice of most Ven. Maha Nayaka Theras and Maha Sangha.

The Sunday Observer (Sri Lanka), July 3, 2005 by L.B. Wijayasiri in Kandy