Thailand’s three gems losing their gleam?

From UPI Asia

Thailand’s highest Buddhist organization, the Supreme Sangha, is one of the three jewels described in Buddhism. The three – the Lord Buddha himself, the Dharma doctrine, and the Sangha clergy – are the three pillars that practicing Buddhists found their faith upon.

That is, they used to.

Today, as Buddha warned over 2,000 years ago, “enemies” of Buddhism are creeping in from the inside.

Loss of direction is hardly a new issue to those of any faith around the world, and Buddhism is no different. Many adherents of basic Buddhism branch off, in practice and principle, to either found their own sect or to follow an already established one that does not adhere to original Buddhist teachings.

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International Condemnation of Harsh Prison Sentences

From Irrawaddy

The United Nations and the United States strongly condemned Burma’s military regime on Wednesday for imposing prison sentences of up to 65 years on 39 pro-democracy activists early this week, and urged the junta to immediately release all political prisoners.

“The secretary-general is deeply concerned by recent reports of sentences and severe prison terms imposed in connection with the peaceful demonstrations of last year in Myanmar [Burma],” said Marie Okabe, deputy spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

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Monks see Buddha in wasp nest

buddhawaspFrom Post-Bulletin

Experts are skeptical, but the Cambodian Buddhist community is abuzz over what they believe is a miracle at their temple in southeast Rochester: A wasp nest in the shape of a seated Buddha.

The nest, which is nestled in the eaves high above the entry to the Buddhists’ one-story gathering hall, was spotted last week during a large celebration in which community members give monks new robes.

“Instead of the celebration we were having, we were paying attention to the beehive,” said 35-year-old monk Sokunthea Thun.

Elder members of the Cambodian Buddhist community said they have never seen an apparition of the Buddha in their lifetimes.

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Is Burma Ready for Change?

From The Irrawaddy

Thanks to Barack Obama’s sweeping electoral victory on Tuesday, “change” has suddenly become a word that forcefully evokes the hopes of people around the world. President-elect Obama ran on a platform of change, and as the first African-American to win the US presidency, he embodies it like no other American leader before him.

Of course, change is not always seen as a positive thing. At a time when the world is already undergoing many dramatic upheavals—from seismic shifts in the global financial system to a rapidly warming planet—Obama’s message of change brings not only hope, but also a degree of concern about the uncertainties of the future.

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Have You Had a Good Whacking Lately?

From American Chronicle
by Vickie Milazzo

There I was, sitting in Japanese-style kneeling position on a hard wooden bench in a 800-year-old Buddhist temple in Kyoto Japan, trying to empty my mind in a breathing, open-eyed meditation. My eyes were focused in the middle distance, seeing all and seeing nothing. The soft smell of pine and burning incense filled the air, and all around me was quiet. At that almost perfect moment only one thing stood between me and enlightenment – well two, if you count the prickly feeling of my legs falling asleep. That one thing was a bald monk in a dark brown robe standing in front of me wielding a three-foot long stick over his head. His benign smile didn’t fool me. He was ready to strike.

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Monk who helped make Tibet documentary says he was tortured while in prison

From Reporters Without Borders

Reporters Without Borders is relieved to learn that Jigme Gyatso, a Buddhist monk who was arrested for helping to make a documentary about Tibet, was released last week but the organisation is outraged that he was tortured during the seven months he was held.

“Yet again we have evidence that torture is still being used in Tibetan prisons,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The Chinese authorities must provide an explanation for this disgraceful affair. Since the events of March, the government has prevented the dissemination of any reports about the situation in Tibet and many dissidents have been arrested. A climate of fear has taken hold in the towns and around the monasteries.”

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Monks File Complaint Alleging Theft

From The Phnom Penh Post

Nearly 200 monks from Sihanoukville’s Entagnean pagoda have filed a complaint against the chief of the pagoda commission, claiming she stole pagoda money and used her office for personal gain.

Monk representative Bun Neng wrote to the Sihanoukville Municipal Department of Cults & Religions September 24, alleging that commission chief Pok Sophal had taken pagoda donations, raised by monks during Buddhist ceremonies, and then accused the monks of stealing the money.

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Monk Escapes from Lantalang Prison

From The Irrawaddy

A 28-year-old Burmese Buddhist monk, Ashin Pannasiri, has successfully escaped from Lantalang Prison in Chin State and arrived in Delhi, India, after 13 days.

Ashin Pannasiri said he climbed over two barbwire fences at about 1 am on September 16, when two security guards slept.

“When I climbed the posts, my hands and legs were scraped by barbwire. It was very painful, but I didn’t care about that,” he said. “I only cared about my life.”

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