Monday, August 18, 2014

In Scarred Chinese Tibetan City, Devotion to Sanctity of Life

Andrew Jacobs,
New York Times

A Tibetan woman in Yushu, China, used a spoon and plastic bucket to rescue tiny shrimp stuck in mud along the shore of the Batang River. Credit Gilles Sabrie, New York Times

YUSHU, China — With a set of chopsticks in her hands and a Tibetan prayer spilling from her lips, Gelazomo, a 32-year-old yak herder, hunched over the rocky banks of the river that cuts through this city and hunted for the quarry that she hoped would bring salvation.

Every few minutes, she would tease out a tiny river shrimp that had become stranded in the mud, and then dropping it into a bucket of water. Beside her, dozens of other Tibetans toiled in the noonday sun, among them small children and old people who, from afar, appeared to be panning for gold.

“Buddha has taught us that treating others with love and compassion is the right thing to do, no matter how tiny that life is,” she explained, as the newly revived crustaceans darted through the water of her bucket.

Buddhists are encouraged to demonstrate a reverence for all sentient beings; some believers spurn meat while others buy animals destined for slaughter and then set them free. Here in Yushu, a largely Tibetan city where more than 3,000 people died in an earthquake four years ago, the faithful have been flocking to the Batang River to rescue a minuscule aquatic crustacean that would hardly seem deserving of such attention.

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Monday, August 4, 2014

The Bhikkhuni Revolution: Religious Feminism in Thai Buddhism

By Tanaporn Pichitsakulchai

Brisbane, June 15th 2014 (Alochonaa): As the vast majority of Thai society is Theravada Buddhist, religion in Thailand is undoubtedly instrumental to Thai identity and daily life. Within the religious sphere, Thai women have traditionally been confined to the roles of lay people and Mae chi (Buddhist nun) in the Thai Buddhist context. Outside of Buddhism, traditionally women are limited by their role as wife and mother. In recent decades there has been an attempt to revive the Bhikkhuni (female monk) ordination within Thai Theravada Buddhism, although vehemently opposed by the Thai Sangha and wider religious community.