Dharma Dispatch, 16-27 April 2018: Prayers on the Korean Peninsula, Chinese IPOs, and Ambedkar Memorial

Good morning! Before the landmark meeting between South Korean president Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, which led to the official ending of the Korean War, Buddhist organizations met in South Korea to pray for peace, stability, and unification on the Korean Peninsula. On 12 April, 400 Buddhist nuns from 12 countries, including South Korea, Cambodia, Taiwan, Thailand, the UK, and the US gathered in Seoul to offer prayers for peace. The gathering took place at the first general assembly of the World Buddhism Bhikkhuni Association, an international bhikkuni organization based in Taiwan and founded in 2016.

China’s securities market regulator has put a hold on plans for an IPO launch for a tourism venture associated with Putuo Shan—one of four sacred Buddhist mountains in China—noted for its numerous temples and golden statues of the bodhisattva Guan Yin. According to a notice from the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC), Putuo Shan Tourism Development Co. (PTD) has withdrawn its IPO application following a months-long campaign by Buddhist monks, who said the share offering was not in compliance with new rules issued in November last year by the State Administration of Religious Affairs protecting religious sites from exploitation.

The government-backed Buddhist Association of China (BAC) had campaigned against the IPO for several months, lableing PTD’s planned IPO as damaging to society and the development of Buddhism in China. The government recently introduced legislation that prevents the “marketing of faith,” however, some Buddhists feel the regulatory changes come too late, as a number of religious sites in the country are already controlled by commercial interests—a symptom of what some view as the commercialization of Buddhism. Two of the Four Great Mountains of Buddhism have already had publicly listings: Emei Shan in 1997 and Jiuhua Shan in 2015.

On 13 April, the eve of the 127th anniversary of the birth of the renowned social reformer Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Dr. Ambedkar National Memorial in New Delhi—at the place where Dr. Ambedkar passed away on 6 December 1956. Dr. Ambedkar’s birthday was observed throughout India. The new memorial houses a marble statue of the Buddha, a meditation hall, a Bodhi tree, a replica of the Ashoka pillar at Sarnath in Varanasi, musical fountains, façade lighting, and a 3.7-meter bronze statue of Dr. Ambedkar.

Dharma Dispatch is a weekly curated summary of the most important Buddhist news. See all our briefings here

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