Bat Nha Monastery (again)

Early this morning, from a variety of places, I found out about Bat Nha Monastery in Vietnam which is, at present, the subject of some sort of oppression from either the government or local population or both. What’s happening on the ground, in Vietnam, is obviously a little outside my area of expertise, I will freely admit. Regardless of what I know, don’t know, or think I know about Vietnamese Buddhism or the various organizations under Thich Nhat Hanh’s umbrella, it seems pretty clear to me that monks and nuns being forced from their monastery is an event that should give us pause, that we should take notice.

I decided to write something, very briefly, as a way of alerting people to what’s happening in the hopes that they would take the ball and run with it however the chose, whatever their prerogative. I wasn’t planning on taking a particularly strong stand, one way or the other, because, like I said, this isn’t my area of expertise. But, then again, knowledge is power.

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bat nha monastery

This is what I get when I post first thing in the morning before checking the Interwebs. Whereas that silly little comic may be noteworthy, it’s pretty clear the big story on the Buddhist web today is Vietnam.

This is a breaking story, but it seems to be a long-time coming. From what I can tell (and forgive me if I’ve gotten facts wrong), the government was prepared to evict monks and nuns from Bat Nha Monastery (Prajna Monastery) on September 2. That deadline passed but over the past twenty-four hours, a mob has descended on the monastery and has used violent force to evict its resident monks and nuns.

Arun has posted a series of videos on his Angry Asian Buddhist blog. Help spread the word.

expanding my horizons

Star Wars Episode I pretty much sucked. I think we can all agree on that. But there was a throw-away line by Qui-Gon Jinn that went, “your focus determines your reality.” I think there’s a bit of truth in that.

I’ve been thinking lately about our little corner of the Buddhist blogosphere. I’ve been reflecting on how, very often, we comment on one another’s blogs, how we write posts in reaction to posts on other blogs, endless chains of back-and-forth criticism. If you follow a chain of links from my blog to, say, Dharma Folk, to somewhere else, I wouldn’t be surprised if you didn’t end up back here pretty quick. That’s what I mean about our little corner of the Buddhist blogosphere.

large-scale systems of poison

[Engaged Buddhist social theory] holds that the traditional “three poisons” — greet, anger, and ignorance — do not apply only to individuals; these behavior patterns must also be analyzed and combatted as large-scale social and economic forces.

— Kenneth Kraft, “Looking Ahead,” from Engaged Buddhism in the West

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about engaged Buddhism not only in the more obvious, social justice, Buddhist Peace Fellowship sense of the term, but also in the more everyday sense of remaining engaged with the world outside the hondo, temple, or off the cushion. I think I often take for granted that my continual harping on social justice issues around these parts is an expression of engagement. Reading the article quoted above just now, though, some explicit connection was made in my brain.

end of summer

We got some weird weather in these parts in September. September in the Bay Area is usually a late summer, dry and hot. Instead, we got thunder storms. A somewhat fitting end for a summer of contentious, Buddhist blogging about the politics of race and representation.

Over the last couple of days, I have tried to write a blog post about these issues, some sort of summary post, or some sort of recap of the issues, or even a response to some of the more slanderous things that been said out there. But I can’t seem to get the right tone, get my thoughts in order. I keep getting distracted.