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Ca’ Foscari University of Venice is hosting Italy’s first-ever exhibition of Buddhist art from Dunhuang. The exhibition, titled Jewel of the Silk Road: Buddhist Art of Dunhuang, was launched on 22 February and will run until 18 April.
The exhibition has been organized by the university in cooperation with Dunhuang Academy in mainland China and the Hong Kong-based Dunhuang Culture Promotion Foundation, with the aim of introducing the Buddhist art from the Mogao Grottoes to Italy.
On display are replicas of two Mogao caves, including painted murals depicting scenes from Chinese life and society from the 4th–14th centuries, as well as daily life in Dunhuang, once a religious and cultural crossroads on the Silk Road in present-day Gansu Province, China, along with numerous Buddhist sculptures.
There are straws in the wind among the Western Buddhist community of a deep and painful realization of the price of patriarchy. Shambhala International announced last month that it will actively investigate allegations of abuse by its teachers.
In an open letter to members, leaders of one of the West’s largest and most successful Buddhist communities credited the #metoo movement for “shining a light on sexual harassment, abuse, and gender harm worldwide,” and also sparking a wake-up call within the Shambhala community.
Shambhala International has 165 centers around the world, and is led by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, son of the Tibetan Buddhist teacher Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche (1939-87) who contributed to the diffusion of Vajrayana Buddhism in the West from his base in Nova Scotia, Halifax. He had unconventional teaching methods, including views on sexuality, that he attributed to the force of “crazy wisdom” and enlightened pedagogy, and he was both praised and criticized for them.
This open letter follows last year’s resignation of Nyingma teacher Sogyal Rinpoche from the Rigpa organization following an earlier open letter by senior members of Rigpa accusing Sogyal Rinpoche of sexual abuse. Sexual misconduct allegations were also levelled at US-based Zen pioneer Eido Shimano, who passed away on 18 February. The explosion of allegations of sexual abuse by respected and powerful religious figures at the very highest levels of Western Buddhism (regardless of tradition) has sparked an impassioned and urgent among Buddhist teachers, writers, and practitioners about the negative influence of patriarchy on the early decades of the Dharma’s diffusion in the United States and the Western world.
Dharma Dispatch is a weekly curated summary of the most important Buddhist news. See all our briefings here.