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Buddhadharma : Fall 2006
buddhadharma| 93 |fall 2006 first opened its doors on December 27, 2005, a date marking the anniversary of Joseph Sta- lin’s deportation of the entire Kalmyk popula- tion to Siberia in 1943, a journey during which half the Kalmyk perished. ■ Zenkei blanche hartMan celebrated her 80th birthday with a big bash at Zen Center. “I really enjoyed seeing so many old friends,” said Hartman, and she was delighted by the skit put on by students called “March of the Zenguins.” In a message she handed out to partygoers, she reflected on the heart attack she had in 1989, saying it was a turning point in her life, and she encouraged others to be “grateful for having had the opportunity to live.” ■ The univerSity oF toronto’s Buddhist studies program received a $4 mil- lion gift in April from Tung Lin Kok Yuen, a Hong Kong-based nonprofit that helps fund Buddhist studies programs around the world. The donation will support an endowed visiting professorship at the U of T and the creation of a series of ongoing conferences and public lec- tures. Tung Lin Kok Yuen’s generosity “is put- ting Canada on the map internationally, in terms of Buddhist studies,” said U of T presi- dent David Naylor. “They have made an extraordinary investment in Canada’s under- standing of Buddhism and are committed to raising the profile of Buddhism in the Western world.” ■ Close to 40 nuns and laywomen from various faiths attended the woMen Faith leaderS retreat at Master Sheng Yen’s Dharma Drum Mountain center in Tai- wan from June 20 to 22. Venerable Dham- mananda and Venerable Chi Kwang led the conference discussion groups and Master Sheng Yen gave the closing address. The Global Peace Initiative of Women, an interna- tional multi-faith network of women leaders, co-sponsored the event. ■ The tZu chi Foundation, a worldwide Buddhist chari- table society for compassionate relief, turned 40 in May. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan sent a congratulatory message to Tzu Chi founder Cheng Yen. Twelve U.S. cities also proclaimed May 14 to be International Tzu Chi Day. The Tzu Chi Foundation was founded in Taiwan in 1966 and since then has supported many worldwide relief projects, including those for Hurricane Katrina and the tsunami of December 26, 2004. ■ A contro- versial rail line linking Lhasa to Beijing opened to commercial passengers at the beginning of July, 40 years after it was first proposed (Mao Zedong originally conceived of a rail line that would fully integrate Tibet with the rest of China). Completed in October 2005, the 710- mile-long Qinghai-tibet line cost over $3 billion to build and is one of the world’s high- est railways, crossing the Tibetan plateau at altitudes of up to 16,500 feet. Chinese travel agencies say that there are long waiting lists for tickets for the 48-hour trip. The Free Tibet Campaign is calling for a tourism boycott of the rail line. ■ laMa Zopa rinpoche, the spiritual leader of the Foundation for the Pres- ervation of the Mahayana Tradition, led a public blessing for about 100 animals – includ- ing cats, dogs, mice, and even mud crabs – at an inner-city park in Sydney, Australia in June. The blessing and a dinner and auction that followed were part of a fundraising event for Lama Zopa’s new animal sanctuary in Nepal. ■ Nalanda West, the Seattle home of nalan- dabodhi, founded by The Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, hosted a multi-faith conference August 19–22 called “Spiritual Perspectives on Dying Well, Caregiving, and Healing Grief.” Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, and Sufi religious leaders shared their perspectives on working with the dying, and conference participants joined in contemplative exercises related to the discussion topics. ■ The paciFic Zen inSti- tute, a Zen practice and education center founded by John Tarrant, moved into a new building in Santa Rosa, California, this spring and held its first public program in the new space in May. It’s close to downtown Santa Rosa, and compared to its previous home, the started by Ajahn Jagaro. At about the same time, Ajahn Sumedho began mak- ing trips to California to teach, with an eye to establishing a monastery there. This process finally bore fruit in 1995, when Master Hsuan Hua of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas donated 120 acres of forest in Redwood Valley for the establishment of Abhayagiri Monastery, near Ukiah. The forest monastery model is based on having kutis set throughout the forest surrounding a central building where the monastics come for chanting, eating, and other group rituals. Not all the monas- teries are large enough to accommodate this setup, but all follow a schedule simi- lar to that of Wat Pah Pong. They do not allow monastics to grow, cook, or store food, and they govern themselves entire- ly according to the Vinaya. While senior teachers and abbots are accorded respect, major decisions are made by consensus. The sangha holds regional meetings each year and a worldwide meeting about every four years, where representatives reach consensus on whatever matters are at hand. In addition to training monks and nuns, the monasteries are a source of learning and inspiration and a place of practice for laity. According to Ajahn Munindo, abbot of Aruna Ratanagiri in Northum- berland, “The restrictions placed on the renunciate sangha intentionally create a dependency on the lay community and an obligation to give them something by way of example. If the monastic sangha doesn’t behave itself, it won’t be support- ed.” All of the monasteries are supported by a network of laypeople, who visit the monastery and also often belong to urban meditation groups that are regularly vis- ited by teachers. All teachings − including a vast supply of material available on the web − are free of charge. Over 5,000 au- dio talks are downloaded each month. Dorothea Bowen, a lay practitioner for 25 years, came to the forest tradition about 15 years ago because “the devo- tional practice, chanting, bowing, offer- ing incense, and so on, brought a depth I felt had been lacking for me. It encour- aged me to open my heart.” Bowen, who has been to Thailand several times, finds a complete continuity between the tra- dition in the homeland and in the West. “Generosity is pulled out of you in this tradition,” she says. “I don’t go to the monastery to get something. I go there to give something.” ➤ “Profile” continued from page 90 lisashaRKey ➤ News continued from page 89 RenshinJudyBuncecouRtesydhaRmadRummountain