Thich Tri Quang, Buddhist Monk Who Wielded Political Might During Vietnam War, Dies At 95

Thich Tri Quang, a Buddhist political dissident during the Vietnam War dies, Myanmar court grants bail for detained anti-nationalist monk, & a thai festival improves its trash problem.

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kinhdientamquoc.vn looks back at the events of this week in the Buddhist world.


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Thich Tri quang quẻ in 1967 stages a sit-in with other monks outside National Palace in Saigon. | Credit: Bettmann / Getty Images

Nothing is permanent, so everything is precious. Here’s a selection of some happenings—fleeting or otherwise—in the Buddhist world this week. 

Thich Tri Quang, Vietnamese Buddhist Monk và Wartime Activist, Dies

The Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Tri Quang, best known for his role as a powerful political dissident during the Vietnam War, died on November 8 in Hue, Vietnam, according to lớn the Washington Post. He was 95. In 1963, Tri quang đãng led protests that helped oust the president of South Vietnam, Ngo Dinh Diem, in a US-backed coup. Diem’s strong ties to lớn the Catholic church (his brother was an archbishop) made him extremely unpopular with the Buddhist majority at the time. For Tri Quang, Buddhism & Vietnamese national identity were fundamentally linked. Commenting on the politics of Tri Quang & his fellow protestors, Edward Miller, professor of history at Dartmouth College, told the Post, “When it comes khổng lồ the Vietnam War, I think that Americans & others always tend khổng lồ try khổng lồ fit everything that happened . . . Into this Cold War framework, where it’s all about communism or anti-communism. In the case of Tri Quang, I think the key to understanding him is that he was first & foremost a Buddhist and a nationalist.” 

Hostilities between the government and protestors reached a breaking point on May 8, 1963, when South Vietnamese soldiers fired on a group flying a Buddhist flag in Hue, killing nine people. A month later, Buddhist monk Thich quang đãng Duc doused himself with gasoline and sat in a meditative posture as he burned khổng lồ death. An iconic photograph of the ritual suicide forced the US lớn reconsider their support for Diem. After Diem was assassinated in a military coup in November 1963, Tri quang quẻ continued to mobilize his followers lớn help unseat a succession of leaders; in 1966, he organized a second Buddhist uprising against the government of Prime Minister Nguyen Cao Ky. That year, Tri quang đãng appeared on the cover of Time magazine; an accompanying article described the monk as “South Vietnam’s mysterious High Priest of Disorder” with a “sensual electricity in every gesture and blazing eyes that can mesmerize a mob.” Little is known about Tri Quang’s life after the over of the Vietnam War. 

Anti-nationalist Monk Granted Bail After Criticizing Myanmar’s Military 

A court in Myanmar granted bail lớn Buddhist monk Myawaddy Sayadaw (Sayadaw U Arriyawuntha), who faces defamation charges for criticizing the country’s military in an interview with local news website Khit Thit, according khổng lồ Myanmar newspaper the Irrawaddy. In June, Myawaddy Sayadaw, who is the abbot of Myawaddy Mingyi Monastery in central Myanmar, said that the ultranationalist group Buddha-Dhamma Parahita Foundation (BDP), previously known as Ma ba Tha, broke sangha rules of conduct when it accepted a 30 million kyat ($20,000) donation from an army commander.

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Buddhist nationalism has helped fuel the Myanmar military’s genocidal violence against the Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic minority, in the Rakhine state. The persecution has forced hundreds of thousands of Rohingya khổng lồ flee to refugee camps in neighboring Bangladesh. Myawaddy Sayadaw called the military “thieves & robbers” & accused them of undermining democracy, intimidating civilians, và illegally occupying seats in parliament. Myawaddy Sayadaw has a record of working with peace & interfaith groups. He addressed the public outside court on November 7, stating, “The lawsuit clearly shows the military is trying to lớn block criticism. But I will not stop và I will continue with what I have to do.” If he loses the lawsuit, Myawaddy Sayadaw could face up to lớn two years in prison. 

Korean Jogye Order Hosts Buddhism Expo in Seoul 

South Korea’s largest Buddhist group, the Jogye Order, is sponsoring and organizing the 2019 Seoul International Buddhism Expo (BEXPO), which began on Thursday and will run through Sunday, November 17. The event, held at the Seoul Trade Exhibition và Convention center, features conferences, talks, and booths representing more than 400 Buddhist-affiliated companies. The expo consists of three sections: an area highlighting new trends in meditation technology; the 7th Buddha Art Festival (BAF), featuring both traditional và contemporary works; and an interior design and product exhibition hall where visitors can browse decor for their personal meditation rooms, according to Business Wire. The Jogye Order dates back khổng lồ when Korean monk Doui brought Seon (Jp. Zen; Ch. Chan) from đài loan trung quốc to Korea around the year 820 C.E. In 2005, the Joyge Order accounted for at least 81 percent of the 907 major Buddhist temples in Korea. 

Thai Festival of Lights Improves Its Trash Problem

On Monday, people in vương quốc nụ cười celebrated Loy Krathong, the annual “festival of light” that marks the kết thúc of the rainy season, by releasing decorated candle-lit baskets called krathong into local rivers—a practice that in recent years has contributed to pollution & clogged up waterways. Loy Krathong coincides with Yi Peng, a celebration where sky lanterns are released into the air. The Yi Peng lanterns have added to the trash problem & have set fire khổng lồ powerlines. In 2015, over six tons of waste was removed from rivers after the festival, the bangkok Post reported. In 2017, at least 78 flights were canceled at Chiang Mai Airport due to lớn the hazard to lớn aircraft caused by the floating lanterns. The thai government has since issued new restrictions on the festivals to cut back on the hazards và waste, và the rules appear lớn be working. This year, participants in thủ đô bangkok released 40 percent fewer krathong, 96 percent of which were made from biodegradable material, marking a dramatic decrease in the use of styrofoam, the thai newspaper Khao Sod English reported, citing government data. 

Further reading: If you enjoyed this week’s Buddha Buzz, you may want to read Thomas Tweed’s essay on Buddhism và Islam in the American Imagination, a brief explanation on Buddhist monks & self-immolation, or this article on the anti-Rohingya racism behind Myanmar’s Buddhist nationalism.