Buddha Boy Goes Berserk, Tibetan Environmentalist Gets Jail, and the Ground Zero Mosque

Palden Dorje-Buddha BoyMAYBE you heard about the “Buddha Boy”: Ram Bahadur Bamjan, age 20, known by his monastic name, Palden Dorje, and believed to be enlightened, in fact the reincarnation of the Buddha. He sat meditating in the hollow of a tree for nearly a year, between May 2005 and March 2006, where he received thousands of visitors and much media attention.

The Buddha Boy recently went berserk, savagely beating 17 people who sacrificed animals during an annual fair near Kathmandu, Nepal. Bomjan and a few of his associates more or less kidnapped these 17 villagers, jammed them in a small room and beat them up with sticks.

I don’t have much sympathy for anyone who would sacrifice an animal. Nonetheless, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say I don’t think that Buddhas beat people with sticks, either.

Rinchen SamdrupTIBETAN environmentalist Rinchen Samdrup was sentenced to five years in prison by a Chinese court earlier this month. His crime was inciting separatism by posting a pro-Dalai Lama article on his website. Samdrup is the third brother in his family to be jailed. His website is devoted to protecting the environment in the Himalayan region.

It is amazing to me that this man will spend five years in prison for doing what I have on this blog many times. I feel sad for him and I also feel thankful to live in a free society. Read the BBC report here.

Ground Zero

I HAVE mixed feelings about the proposed Ground Zero Mosque, which is actually going to be two blocks away. I’m not crazy about any of the three Western Monotheistic religions, but Islam I find particularly disturbing.  For many reasons.

Likewise, even though I have great respect the man, I also have mixed feelings about Robert Thurman’s recent editorial in the Washington Post.  He thinks it’s a wonderful idea to build a mosque and says that it would send a positive message of tolerance and peace.

Thurman says, “. . . let the 9/11 tragedy be mourned with museums and monuments to those who lost their lives, and let the building of mosques, churches, synagogues, temples, Dharma centers – and ideally a world religions’ Temple of Mutual Understanding . . .”

Maybe I have the wrong attitude, but I think it would be better to have a very simple, non-sectarian monument to remember and then take the money they would spend building all those mosques, churches, museums, etc., and create a global program or organization that would go out into the world to teach and foster tolerance and peace. That’s where the need is. Some readers will remember my recent post about a UN report that cited 24 countries where religious persecution was widespread in one form or another. Those are the places where we should send living monuments, in the form of dedicated practitioners of peace, a sort of Peace Corps of tolerance.

I suppose such an entity would require a building to be housed in, but I think one would suffice. Perhaps the idea is unworkable, I don’t know. I just feel that monuments are somewhat passive. We have enough of them already. If we are ever going to really deal with the underlying causes for terrorism and religious intolerance, I think we need to take a more active approach.

In any case, you can read the complete editorial by Robert Thurman here.


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