Recently BDI co-hosted a dialogue about controversial contemporary issues with Ven. Thamthog Rinpoche (Vajray?na), Ven. Tianwen (Mah?y?na), and Ven. Dhammapala (Therav?da). You can read about some of the issues we discussed that night here, which ranged from abortion, stress management and homosexuality to euthanasia and social media.
Speaking of controversial, Master Hsing Yun has recently waded into the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands dispute, coming out in favour of cross-strait agreement that the islands are Chinese territory. The rising power’s spat with Japan has potentially explosive results, and both governments do not want to let nationalist sentiments go too far.
We might ask why Fo Guang Shan is involving itself with what does not seem a particularly Buddhist issue. But I’m actually more surprised that it has taken this long.
Since the latter half of the twentieth century, our global Buddhist community has slowly but surely grown acutely aware of our inseparability from secular politics, economics, and culture. Even as I work from a quiet temple, I realize I’m only a train ride away from the bustling heart of my city, and in any case the Internet has made it quite hard to shield ourselves from the flurry of news around the planet.
Our challenge (and opportunity) as a worldwide sangha in the coming decades will be to use all these social trends as means for the preservation and promotion of Dharma. I see it already in the digitization of Buddhist texts and art. Perhaps one day, we can digitize entire temples and monasteries as well, so their legacy will be prolonged even if we lose the physical edifice.Our upcoming 108th issue of New Lotus deserves a small celebration. The number 108 is a sacred number in the Dharmic traditions, but the real deal is that this month marks Kathina, the robe offering ceremony to novices. Beginning from this October/Kathina issue onwards, each month will feature a flagship theme along with all our usual offerings and gobbits for your enjoyment. And even more exciting is Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh’s upcoming birthday in October!