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Seriously, this is not an onion piece. China is banning the practice of reincarnation without official permission. The issue? The Dalai Lama is refusing to reincarnate to a rebirth in Tibet until it is independent.
But maybe the practice should require a license!
This is in response to points regarding Buddhism raised by Mitch in the Brit Hume thread wherein he said he’d never heard of a Buddhist televangelist. Tina Turner’s song “What’s Love Got to do with It?” has a certain irony when you consider her “religion.” I don’t want to knock her or whatever gives her the strength she needs, but my run-in with Nichiren Shoshu of America (NSA) soured me to the concept. It came across as sort of an eastern Scientology and the opposite of all of my prior stereotypes of Buddhism. This article by Harry Pariser provides some background into the organization I won’t provide here, and his reference to the organization as “consumer Buddhism” rings true to my experience; perhaps even an understatement.
Some just over 20 years ago I graduated from UC Santa Cruz and moved to just outside Bellingham, Washington. Bellingham is a college town which used to be something like Santa Cruz or Arcata in terms of politics and demographics. There was a progressive activist community which had been prominent since the Vietnam War when a Quaker professor of Western Washington University began to hold vigil outside of the Post Office downtown every Friday afternoon, and did so until the ann0uncement that all of the accounted for troops had been removed from the Vietnam. By that time his vigil had attracted others, some of them from a very mainstream Christian community who changed the emphasis of the vigils from the Vietnam War to the Cold War. For all I know they continue to this day for all the wars since; I haven’t looked into it.
I made it a habit to attend the vigil. Sometimes we had a right wing counter-vigil on the other side of the street which was led by a local right wing Christian minister, but the group fell apart along with his church when he was caught having an affair with his secretary. We always had interesting conversations with passerby’s, mostly friendly. I actually looked forward to it almost every week. It was kind of a nice way to end the work week, with just a touch of that euphoria which comes with even small actions which make you feel part of something larger than yourself.
At some point during 1989 we changed the location for a brief period. A local sports shop was selling some military (camo) fashion materials and marketing it with some disturbingly violent imagery. We picketed the store. Again, most of the exchanges were friendly. We didn’t yell or insult anybody. We didn’t chant. The signs we held were focused and positive. We sang songs. We smiled. They (the business owner and employees) were annoyed at first but then came to know each of us by the first name, and at a certain point the owner told us that he was bound by contract with the distributor to put up the pictures, that he had consulted with his attorney, and that he couldn’t do anything about it. But it was a temporary campaign and once it was gone, so were we. Honestly, I was a little soured on the left at that point, but the Christian group there kind of revived my faith in people and some progressive ideas. The Christian left is traditionally more quiet than their secular counterparts on the left, and their right-wing counterparts within the religions. And in my opinion, they are more focused on what matters. I’ve written a little bit about this. I’ll probably write some more.
One day, about three or four vigils into it, a woman came out of the store and greeted us. She was an employee; I think maybe the bookkeeper. She handed each of us a card with her name and phone number and “Nam myo ho renge kyo.” She invited us to a meeting somewhere in the city. We all politely took the cards and thanked her. Probably should have been the end of the story.
More under the fold
Hume’s advice was delivered on his Fox News program. It is a striking event on several levels, particularly as Fox is trying to convince everybody that it is a bonafide news organization. I may have something to say about it later.