Buddhism and architecture at Pamuling monastery


Pamuling Tibetan Buddhist monastery inner court, 3 April 2018

Still 3 April 2018, still at Pamuling Tibetan Buddhist monastery on the top of Pamuling mountain in Sichuan, China. This photo shows the monastery’s inner court with some monks.

Pamuling Tibetan Buddhist monastery #8, 3 April 2018

The monks live in numbered cells.

Pamuling Tibetan Buddhist monastery #13, 3 April 2018

Apparently, the belief that 13 is supposedly an unlucky number has not spread to this monastery (in China, four is an unlucky number).

Pamuling Tibetan Buddhist monastery monks, 3 April 2018

A group of monks, with in the background one of the lion sculptures.

Pamuling Tibetan Buddhist monastery monk, 3 April 2018

This photo shows a young monk at the exit. So, we passed through the exit to see some more birds. We will see them in the next blog post on Pamuling!

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Pamuling monastery, Buddhism, lions and elephants


Pamuling monastery, 3 April 2018

As this blog blogged earlier, on 2 April 2018 we arrived in Pamuling village in Sichuan, China. The next day, 3 April, we went up a dirt road to the about 4,000 meter high summit of Pamuling mountain. On that rather flat summit is the about 900-years old Tibetan Buddhist Pamuling monastery. The photo shows the view from a monastery gate to the immediate surroundings and the snowy mountains beyond.

The photo also shows a bit of the elephant sculptures at the gate; about which more later.

Pamuling monastery, monks, 3 April 2018

This photo shows some of the monastery’s monks at the inner courtyard.

Pamuling monastery, monks, lion, elephant, 3 April 2018

This photo shows monks, and also a lion sculpture and an elephant sculpture. Lions live only in Africa and a small part of western India. If often strikes me that lions depicted in coats of arms etc. in countries where no lions live, whether in England or the Netherlands or Indonesia or Tibet, somehow don’t look realistic.

Pamuling monastery, lions, elephants, 3 April 2018

This photo shows the lion and elephant sculptures from outside the monastery.

Pamuling monastery, elephant, 3 April 2018

It was not easy to photograph the elephant sculptures: as they are white and there was blaring sunlight.

There are quite some birds around Pamuling monastery. The monks feed them. These birds will be the subject of a later blog post.

Birds, Buddhism and yaks in Jiagenba village, China


Jiagenba, 2 April 2018

After the Lady Amherst’s pheasants of 1 April 2018, on the next day, 2 April, we went from Kangding to Jiagenba village, depicted on this photo.

In this mountainous region in Sichuan province, common merganser in a river. Most people in this area are Tibetan Buddhists, as was visible from the many big Buddhist religious inscriptions on mountain slopes. At various places were stupas, structures containing relics of Buddhist monks or nuns.

Jiagenba is at 3400 meter high and has about 2500 human inhabitants. Conspicuous among winged inhabitants were Eurasian tree sparrows. In Europe, these are a countryside species; while house sparrows live in cities and towns. However, in China, tree sparrows are birds of cities and villages. Outside built-up areas in China lives a third sparrow species, which we will meet later on this blog.

Jiagenba, prayer flags, 2 April 2018

Buddhism was conspicuous in Jiagenba by prayer flags and prayer wheels on buildings.

Jiagenba, yaks, 2 April 2018

A small herd of yaks advanced through the village’s main street.

Carrion crows. A magpie.

Jiagenba, prayer flags, on 2 April 2018

More prayer flags yet.

We left the village. We went higher, to over 4,000 meter.

Snow line, 2 April 2018

We reached the snow line.

Stay tuned for the beautiful birds we saw in that area!

Korean Buddhist monk’s self-immolation in pro-‘comfort women’ protest


This video says about itself:

23 February 2016

South Korea and Japan signed a landmark deal in December 2015 to resolve the issue of the so-called “comfort women“, a euphemism for sex slaves used by the Japanese military. Student activists in South Korea have taken turns camping out on the streets of Seoul to protect the “comfort woman statue” in memory of the women. The students say they are afraid the statue will be removed as part of a deal to end a decades-long row over the so-called “comfort women”.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

South Korea: Monk sets himself on fire at rally for Park’s sacking

Monday 9th January 2017

SOUTH KOREA’S latest mass rally demanding President Park Geun Hye’s permanent removal from office was shocked at the weekend by the self-immolation of a Buddhist monk, who remains in a critical condition in hospital.

The monk, who suffered third-degree burns and serious damage to vital organs, made his dramatic protest against the government’s settlement with Japan on compensation for wartime sex slaves.

Police said that the man described Ms Park in his notebook as a “traitor” over the settlement. Under the agreement, Japan pledged to fund a Seoul-based foundation to help support the victims.

South Korea undertook not to criticise Japan over the issue and to address Japanese disquiet over a bronze statue representing sex slaves in front of its Seoul embassy.

Students have been holding sit-in protests next to the statue for over a year, suspecting that the government might try to remove it.

Tokyo recalled its ambassador on Friday after a similar statue appeared near its consulate in Busan.

Suicides in South Korea: here.

Dutch Buddhist clerical sexual abuse update


This video from the USA says about itself:

Zen Buddhism Sex Abuse Scandal | Religion Strikes Again

16 November 2013

Even Zen masters can be deviants. Inside the new book that unearths a disturbing pattern of affairs at the top of one of the largest Buddhist communities in the U.S.A.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Six new reports of sexual abuse by Buddhists

Today, 13:15

The hotline where sexual abuse by Buddhist teachers and monks can be reported received six reports during the last six months .

The independent hotline was set up in early November last year, in response to a number of scandals in Buddhist circles about which NOS reported. Its founder is the foundation managing the hotline about child pornography on the Internet.

Director Arda Gerkens of the foundation says they can not tell the content of the reports from Buddhist circles. This is to protect the anonymity of the plaintiffs. What they do want to say is that it partially concerns matters which have already been publicized. But there are some new ones too.

Small

Gerkens speaks of a “small number of reports.” There may be various causes for that, like ignorance of the new hotline. From the number of notifications according to her one cannot draw any conclusions at this time on the extent of sexual abuse by Buddhists in the Netherlands.

Just the followers of Thai monk Mettavihari, deceased in 2007, knew last year of dozens of abuse cases by their teacher.

See also here.

Buddhist clerical sexual abuse in the Netherlands, new hotline


Buddhist temple in Waalwijk, the Netherlands, photo: Michael de Smit / NOS

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Independent hotline for abused Buddhists

Today, 06:02

From today on there is an independent hotline for victims of sexual abuse within the Buddhist community. It was founded by the foundation managing the Reporting Child Pornography on the Internet site, which every year gets 30,000 messages.

One of the donors is the Thai Buddharama Temple in Waalwijk. Another one is the Buddhist Union, the contact for the government of the 50,000 to 65,000 Buddhists in the Netherlands.

Declaration

According to director Arda Gerkens of the foundation’s new digital reporting center this is a response to the reports on sexual abuse among Buddhists. “First, we want to offer victims and their surroundings a place to tell their stories. On the basis of the reports that come, we will identify the nature and extent of the problem. If that is clear, then we have the experience and expertise to give good advice to those involved. The ultimate aim is of course to prevent further abuse as much as possible.”

Victims can make an appointment via the website or the telephone hotline to report abuse via a web form. Gerkens: “Then there are several possibilities. We can refer you to the right persons or authorities, but also provide information about reporting the crime to the police.”

According to Gerkens this is the first contact point worldwide for Buddhists who have suffered from abuse. There have also been in the USA and in Thailand many scandals involving Buddhist teachers and monks.

Minor

Last May the NOS published on sexual abuse in Buddhist circles. This involved, among others, the Thai monk Mettavihari who was guilty at the Waalwijk temple in the 70s and 80s of abuse of young male students. Several victims were minors. Also a man reported to the NOS about having been abused by Mettavihari in that period as a 12-year-old neighbour boy.

After the monk had been dismissed from the temple, he continued at least until 1995 elsewhere in the country harassing his students. Altogether now between twenty and thirty victims have reported in several places. There are still new cases emerging. Eg, Toine van Beek, president of the temple in Waalwijk, heard a report by a man who was at the time of the abuse 14 or 15.

Trauma

After the news about the abuse by Mettavihari had come out, Van Beek apologized on behalf of the temple. Later he organized at the request of the victim involved a meeting in the temple, which was attended by five people.

The temple administration has several reasons to financially support the hotline, says Van Beek. “Probably there are still many people around who have been abused by Mettavihari or other Buddhist leaders. Those people need to be helped with the trauma they have suffered.”

See also here.

Sexual abuse among Buddhists in the Netherlands, update


This video from the Netherlands is called The Memorial Ceremony 2555 (2012) for Luang Poh Mettavihari – Amsterdam.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Alarms about abuse among Buddhists ignored

Today, 15:55

Followers of the Thai monk Mettavihari are shocked at the extent of the sexual abuse of which their teacher was guilty. They say they are overwhelmed by the news and the extent of the abuse.

But how surprising can the news actually be for them? A reconstruction by the NOS shows that leaders of Buddhism in the early 1980s were informed about the abuse. Also in a major abuse case in Middelburg prominent Dutch Buddhists were warned at an early stage, in 2004.

Main outline in these two cases: the warned executive officials and others downplayed the abuse, looked away and neglected to take adequate measures, which meant that the responsible monks could continue to make victims.

1. Mettavihari (abuse from 1974 to at least 1992)

In late 1980 or early 1981, the police called the Buddharama temple in Waalwijk. Board member Patrick Franssen answered the phone. The police told him that a message had been received of sexual abuse of a minor by head monk Mettavihari.

For Franssen this was the straw that broke the camel´s back. He also had particularly bad experiences with Mettavihari in this. In 1974, as a 19-year-old “labile” boy, he had already been forced to have sex with the monk. In the at least two years that followed from there, that happened again, according to Franssen, still some forty to fifty times. As a 19-year-old one was at that time legally underage.

Franssen decided: this guy has to go. He flew to Chicago to talk about Mettavihari’s conduct with a high priest, who in his words represented the Thai “Ministry of Religious Affairs.” The high priest, according to Franssen, decided to replace Mettavihari by another head monk without further discussion. In June 1981 Mettavihari was deposed as president of the temple administration, to be replaced by Henk Barendregt. This eminent mathematician who later would win the most important scientific award in the Netherlands, the Spinoza Prize, had been a board member since its inception in 1975.

Second chance

To Franssen’s amazement, Barendregt returned his teacher a few months later to the temple administration, supported by another loyal follower of Mettavihari: Aad Verboom, president of the Foundation of Young Buddhists in the Netherlands. Franssen knew that the new head monk wanted to grant Mettavihari a second opportunity. That he accepted, but having Mettavihari back in the temple administration? That would really be too much of a rehabilitation.

There arose a fierce debate. How bad is it in modern times if a monk has sex? Franssen thought that the Thai Dutch, for whom the temple was intended primarily, would be cheated if their monk secretly would break his vow of celibacy. Barendregt, according to Franssen, argued that this was an old-fashioned view: most Dutch still even now think that a parish priest should not be judged if he falls in love with his housekeeper?

Involuntary sex

That in this case it was involuntary sex with minors who are not on an equal footing with the teacher played for Franssen in that discussion no decisive role. It’s the early 1980s, the era of ‘anything goes’ in the progressive Netherlands. Aad Verboom admits in 2015 that he also had not believed Patrick Franssen’s story about the abuse he had suffered. For that, he has meanwhile apologized to Franssen via the Boeddhistisch Dagblad.

Eventually Barendregt got what he wanted, after which Franssen drew his conclusions. He left the temple administration in December 1981 disconcertedly, to emigrate to Thailand four years later, dismayed by in his eyes “amateurish” Dutch Buddhism. He was replaced on the board by Mettavihari, the man against whom he had tried to take action.

New incidents

There may then have been further incidents, because in 1983 the monk had to disappear definitively from the temple in Waalwijk. Anyway Barendregt and Verboom neglected to find out how often Mettavihari had misbehaved and how bad his misdemeanors were. According to the Thai monastic rules, a monk should take off his habit when he has had sex, but Mettavihari’s prominent students do not think that is necessary. They cover up why their teacher had to leave the temple in Waalwijk. In an introduction to a book he published later that year, Aad Verboom explained the break with the temple as because of “significant differences in views on Buddhism and the practice thereof.” This Verboom was from 1990 to 1998 board member and president of the Buddhist Union in the Netherlands (BUN).

With the help of Barendregt and Verboom Mettavihari got the chance to leave the Thai tradition in which he had got in a jam, to continue as the revered spiritual leader of a group of Dutch Buddhists. The boards of other Buddhist centers meanwhile exchanged only rumors about what happened in Waalwijk. A concrete consequence of this was that for nine years Mettavihari unhinderedly could abuse young adult men in other places, including in Groningen.

Overstep the mark

In 1995, according to some of his students, he was at last confronted because of his behaviour. Mettavihari admitted that he had crossed the line, but also said that he had since stopped the abuse. This apparently was enough for those followers; in 2006, fourteen of them accepted consecrations as teachers by him. A year later Mettavihari died.

Only in May 2015 there is a rupture between “the fourteen”. The immediate causes are the alarming findings of their own investigation into the extent of the abuse that two people in the group have conducted at last. Some of the teachers feel that the scandal must become known, name included, while Barendregt, Verboom and five other teachers think that this is not necessary. Their reasoning is that Mettavihari can no longer defend himself. The mention of his name would supposedly be offensive to the Thai community.

Ignorance

Barendregt claims also to have contacted the Thai spiritual authorities in the early 1980s. But Barendregt now also admits: “With the knowledge we have now, more should have been done to avoid repetition. In my ignorance I thought that the actions at administrative and spiritual levels were adequate.”

Verboom also notes that he had “been asleep at the wheel. I have accepted being lied to. And I have always given Mettavihari the benefit of the doubt. I must note now that there is much more pain and suffering for the victims than I thought possible.”

2. Gerhard Mattioli (2001-2007)

Frans de Reeper had visited for over a year a Buddhist center in Middelburg when he heard something disturbing in the summer of 2004. One of the women in the group told him, crying on the phone, that the monk who led the group had expelled her from the center. According to her, it happened because this Gerhard Mattioli, who told his students to call him ‘Lama Kelsang Chöpel’, for years had a relationship with her. During their vacation that broke up and then he also expelled her from the group.

De Reeper is stunned. To be sure, he immersed himself once more in the rules for monks: surely, this is absolutely unacceptable? He consults literature and hears evidence from an experienced monk and a Buddhist institute. He also asks in a letter to Mattioli what is going on. Mattioli refuses to answer the questions. “I am not subordinate or dependent on other Buddhist organizations or lamas or rinpoche, not even to His Holiness the Dalai Lama,” he writes.

Action

De Reeper subsequently decided to take action. He writes a long letter to the other members of the group, in which he says what he has found out. And he also informs among others Jean Charles Hylkema, at that time director of the Buddhist Broadcasting Foundation (BOS) and also treasurer of the Buddhist Union (BUN). The BUN also receives a separate letter, like the editors of the magazine Kwartaalblad Boeddhisme (later renamed Vorm en Leegte).

The message of the letters is clear: “We believe that we have sufficient evidence that the people who visit the center get in touch with Buddhism in a way which is ultimately harmful for them.” The broadcaster and the magazine according to the letter’s authors should at least stop having commercials and ads for Mattioli’s center.

Not responsible

It does not have many consequences. The often very vulnerable followers of Mattioli are so spellbound that they ignore the warnings by De Reeper. An employee of the Kwartaalblad Boeddhisme / Vorm en Leegte calls De Reeper, but says that they are not responsible for what happens in the centers that are advertised in the magazine. The editors refuse to stop the ads.

A new letter to Vorm en Leegte in the spring of 2005 also did not yield anything, just like a personal request to the aforementioned employee of Kwartaalblad Boeddhisme / Vorm en Leegte during a lecture. BOS director Hylkema writes back that the broadcaster will stop paying attention to Mattioli’s center. The BUN announces there is nothing they can do because the center is not a member.

Bomb explodes

In late 2007, the issue exploded in Middelburg, as Mattioli’s group learns that their teacher had started sexual relationships with four women simultaneously. One of them has become even pregnant. Several people involved go to the police (according to Mattioli himself “under threat of violence from their partners’), but they eventually do not complain officially. In a letter Mattioli threatened his students inter alia with ‘reincarnation in hell‘ if they would break up with him.

President Varamitra (Theo Alkemade) of the Buddhist Union announced in April 2008 during a meeting that “a self-styled lama” in Middelburg “in a terrible way has wreaked havoc.” He also revealed that women in Middelburg now have been helped by the BUN: Varamitra and a Buddhist nun went to Zeeland to talk to the women and to offer them perspectives again. “A good example of tradition-borders crossing cooperation”, is said satisfiedly during the BUN meeting of April 2008.

The issue is not brought into the open. Buddhist and researcher Rob Hogendoorn finds out in 2013 and publishes about it in the web magazine Open Boeddhisme, which he runs together with his colleague Theo Dik. Hogendoorn and Dik also report the matter to the police. Because of that action, they are fiercely attacked by an editor of another Buddhist site, Joop Hoek. He points out in a column that Mattioli denies the allegations and has never been convicted by a court. He calls them inter alia “fake prosecutors, the fake Thomson and Thompson of our society.” Hoek was in 2004 an employee of Kwartaalblad Boeddhisme, so the magazine which was warned about the practices of Mattioli.

Hylkema also thinks that he did not have to do more to prevent worse things, after he had been warned about the activities of ‘monk’ Mattioli. To Open Boeddhisme he downplayed the seriousness of the situation, “Lamas impregnating women, that undoubtedly happens sometimes. There are women who wish to be more than just students, and who want a sexual relationship. Some lamas go along with that, and sometimes that leads to pregnancy.”

Buddhist monk in Purmerend accused of abuse: here.