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    (RNS) — The street protests that drove Sri Lanka’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa from office last month brought together people from across the country’s diverse and sometimes warring ethno-religious groups: Tamils, Muslims, Christians and Sinhala Buddhists — including, unmistakably, the saffron-robed Buddhist monks who are fixtures of Sri Lanka’s political scene. But with Rajapaksa in exile in Singapore and life returning closer to normal, decades-old questions are being raised about Buddhism’s role in Sri Lanka’s government. ___ This content is written and produced by Religion News Service and distributed by The Associated Press. RNS and AP partner on some religion news content. RNS is solely responsible for this story. ___ Political involvement by the monks — easy to spot in the protests against Rajapaksa’s inaction on Sri Lanka’s economic woes — also includes taking seats in Parliament and joining political parties. Last year, a controversial monk named Galagoda Atte Gnanasara was appointed to a presidential task force for legal reforms despite his vociferous anti-Muslim views. “The role of monks is to help people improve their spirituality. During the last 10...
    (RNS) — On Tuesday (June 21), the Je Khenpo, the senior Buddhist authority in Bhutan, began ordaining a group of 144 women as bhikshunis, or female monks, at the Ramthangkha monastery in the tiny Himalayan country. The ceremony “is of historical importance for all women in Buddhism and brings Tibetan Buddhism into the 21st century,” said Bhikshuni Jampa Tsedroen, a German Tibetan author. “For these nuns, it is a major opportunity to demonstrate their abilities to contribute to Buddhism.” ___ This content is written and produced by Religion News Service and distributed by The Associated Press. RNS and AP partner on some religion news content. RNS is solely responsible for this story. ___ Many of the new bhikshunis are Bhutanese, but some came to Bhutan from other countries in Asia. They are all being ordained in the Tibetan lineage. A Facebook post on the central monastic body of Bhutan page posted the news, which was confirmed by Damcho Diana Finnegan, an ordained Buddhist nun and co-founder of the Dharmadatta Nun’s Community in Virginia. Asked about the ceremony,...
    Share this:SOUTH KOREA — Protest: South Korean Buddhist monks participated in a rally at the Jogye temple in Seoul, on Friday. Thousands of Buddhist monks gathered to protest alleged religious discrimination by the South Korean government.Photo: Lee Jin-man/AP   SPAIN — Empty classroom: Interim elementary school teacher Marta Til, 33, worked in her empty classroom where all her 26 students were confined due to a coronavirus infection in a public school in Barcelona, on Friday. On Friday, Spanish authorities said that nearly 25,000, or 4.3 percent of the country’s teachers were on medical leave and that over 260,000 of 8.2 million students had been told to isolate since classes resumed in the new year.Photo: Emilio Morenatti/AP   TEXAS — Protection: Several young citrus trees were covered with cloth mesh and a water drip system to protect them from cold weather on Thursday, in Hargill.Photo: Delcia Lopez/The Monitor via AP  
    Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo, born in England, has devoted her life to attaining enlightenment in a female form — at one stage spending years isolated in a cave in the Himalayas to follow the rigorous path of the most devoted yogis. She later founded a nunnery in India focused on giving women in Tibetan Buddhism some of the same opportunities reserved for monks. Venerable Dhammananda renounced her family life and a prestigious academic career in Thailand to follow the path of the Buddha. She then defied her homeland’s unequal status of women in Buddhist practice by traveling to Sri Lanka to become Thailand’s first fully ordained nun in Theravada, one of the oldest forms of Buddhism. Born a world apart, they’re among a group of respected female monastics or “bhikkhunis,” lay persons and academics who have challenged longstanding patriarchal traditions. They have blazed a path of progress in recent decades for Buddhist women — from education through advanced degrees and the creation of nunneries to seeking full ordination. Across branches, though, many at the movement’s forefront say more...
    SANTA ANA (CBSLA) — Police asked for the public’s help Wednesday to identify a man who stole a safe containing at least $100,000 from the living quarters of a monk at a Buddhist temple in Santa Ana. (credit: Santa Ana Police Department) READ MORE: Mayim Bialik, Ken Jennings To Split Hosting 'Jeopardy!' For Remaining SeasonThe burglary happened the day after Thanksgiving at the Chua Bat Nha Buddhist Temple, 4717 W. 1st Street, at about 3:50 p.m. Police released Ring video of the intruder, who was seen entering the head monk’s living quarters and rifling through the room. READ MORE: California Attorney General Rob Bonta Launches Independent Review Of Torrance Police DepartmentPolice say the man took a black safe that held approximately $100,000 and more cash from the room. The thief was described as a man between 20 and 30 years old with a medium build, wearing a black baseball cap with a marijuana leaf, a black T-shirt with a “Diesel” logo,” black shorts with the white letters “ICON” on the right leg, and black Nikes. MORE NEWS: Cold...
    McCANDLESS, Pa. (AP) — The major branches of Buddhism are often known as “vehicles,” or ways of spiritual practice. So it’s only fitting that when the monks of the Pittsburgh Buddhist Center needed a major restoration of its outdoor statue of the Buddha, they turned to an auto restoration shop specializing in classic cars. This partnership of ancient Asian spirituality and modern American craftsmanship came to fruition recently with the reinstallation of the newly refurbished, gleaming white statue at the center’s temple. Eyes closed and sitting in the lotus position, the Buddha underwent weeks of painstaking work at Exoticars in the town of McCandless, north of Pittsburgh. The statue sat amid an array of vintage vehicles from Bentleys and Corvettes to Porsches and a 1951 Ford pickup. Workers stripped multiple coats of deteriorating paint and primer — a task that required precision tools as they worked on the Buddha’s hair, depicted in detailed curls. They also repaired cracks in the fiberglass, added a metal strip to strengthen the statue’s base and put on a new coat of...
    CHICAGO (CBS) — Last month, River North bank teller Jessica Vilaythong died after being stabbed on the job. On Tuesday night, family and friends kept Vilaythong’s name alive through tradition and faith. They invited CBS 2’s Charlie De Mar into their sacred service. READ MORE: CTA Orange, Green Line Service Partially Halted, Loop 'L' Trains Snagged After Man Jumps In Front Of Train At Roosevelt, DiesVilaythong’s parents led a ceremony at the Chùa Quang Minh Buddhist temple at 4429 N. Damen Ave. in Lincoln Square. More than 30 Buddhist monks from around the country came to the temple to honor the 24-year-old and her family. “She did good things. She went to the bank to do this — she volunteered to do all of it in the community,” said Vilaythong’s aunt, Phuong Le. “But she passed away just for no reason.” Last month, Vilaythong was in the lobby of the Chase Bank at 600 N. Dearborn St. when authorities said Jawaun Westbrooks, 35, walked in. He had a knife and a history of mental illness. Police say Westbrooks stabbed Vliaythong...
    Tiny Buddhist monks are reflected in a small pond in front of thousands of pagodas in the ancient temple complex of Kakku, in Myanmar. Photographer Sarah Wouters has traveled to Southeast Asia many times to photograph these young monks who are going to live and study in the temples of Kakku. In the pagoda complex there is a monastery where more than 50 novices study. Most of the children are locals from Pa-oh, who cannot afford a private school. Children between the ages of 8 and 12 have their heads shaved. They learn the teachings of the Buddha. Kakku Temple is a hilltop pagoda complex an hour’s drive from Inle Lake. There are some 2,500 pagodas or stupas, most of similar shape and size in long rows. Most are from the 17th and 18th centuries.
    A group of monks prepared to defend their Buddhist monastery from a wildfire burning in the central coast mountains near Big Sur in California, The Guardian reported Wednesday. Seven monks at the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center cleared brush and ran a sprinkler system called “Dharma rain” to moisturize around the buildings, according to The Guardian. (RELATED: Wildfires Spread Through California And Arizona As Drought Continues) A wildfire is within a half-mile of Tassajara, a Buddhist monastery near Big Sur started by Shunryu Suzuki, best known for his popular book “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind.” A band of “fire monks” is ready to defend it. https://t.co/8DraddEWbC — Patrick LaForge (@palafo) June 24, 2021 “The blaze is about a mile away but we’ve been lucky with the weather, it has really cooled down,” Sozan Miglioli, monastery operator and president of San Francisco Zen Center, reportedly said. The Willow fire burned more than 2,800 acres by Tuesday, according to The Guardian. Due to its location in a steep, remote area, more than 500 firefighters fought the blaze. The firefighting monks created their group...
    BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thousands of Thai devotees lined the banks of a river winding through Bangkok on Thursday to hurl lotus flowers onto a barge carrying a golden Buddha to celebrate the end of a three-month period marking Buddhist Lent. From before dawn, people gathered along the river bank clutching bunches of white lotus flowers as a symbol of purity. Many wore face masks to ward against coronavirus and the crowds also included Buddhist monks in bright saffron robes. As the barge carrying the golden Buddha passes, people traditionally pray for good fortune and then throw their flowers, which eventually cover much of the statue. A flotilla of boats, some ornately decorated, escorted the barge as it made its way slowly down the river. Other activities were also held, including a speed boat contest and a carnival. Thailand has suffered relatively few infections during the global coronavirus pandemic compared to many other countries, allowing authorities to lift many restrictions on social gatherings. Known in Thai as "Khao Phansa", the period of Buddhist Lent is a time when monks stay in...
    In a society that demands that women “regard their son as their boss and their husband as their god”, the Buddhist nun Ketumala is a case apart. The 40-year-old woman moved away from the image she had of herself as a teenager and imagined herself married and with children and, instead, has spent more than two decades defending the importance of women in the religion. The maroon robes and shaved heads of Burmese monks are known throughout the world, but of the large number of nuns in the country, which is estimated to be over 60,000, little is said. Because of deep-rooted patriarchy – the belief that women are inferior is quite common and discrimination is the order of the day – nuns – who also shave their heads but wear pink – are frequent victims of abuse. “When a man becomes a monk, people always applaud him, saying that it is good for religion and that it will make it better, but when a woman becomes a nun, people always think that this...
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