Tuesday, July 26, 2011

This too, has to be owned by Buddhists...

Sex and monks....sigh...

A Tribune review of sexual abuse cases involving several Theravada Buddhist temples found minimal accountability and lax oversight of monks accused of preying on vulnerable targets.

Because they answer to no outside ecclesiastical authority, the temples respond to allegations as they see fit. And because the monks are viewed as free agents, temples claim to have no way of controlling what they do next. Those found guilty of wrongdoing can pack a bag and move to another temple — much to the dismay of victims, law enforcement and other monks.

"You'd think they'd want to make sure these guys are not out there trying to get into other temples," said Rishi Agrawal, the attorney for a victim of a west suburban monk convicted of battery for sexual contact last fall. "What is the institutional approach here? It seems to be ignorance and inaction."

Paul Numrich, an expert on Theravada temples in the United States, said that like clergy abuse in other religious organizations, sex offenses are especially egregious because monks are supposed to live up to a higher spiritual calling. The monks take a vow of celibacy.

But he cautioned against any sweeping generalizations.

 It is very difficult to do the celibate monk thing.  I think, eventually, the Japanese had the right idea with allowing married Buddhist clergy, simply because it doesn't create the seemingly impossible standards of behavior demanded by a rigid celibacy.

Then again, that doesn't diminish the moral culpability of those who did these reprehensible deeds.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Americans do not get China, as we head to oblivion

I remember hearing recently - I might have been in China when I heard this - that China recommended that the United States engage in more social spending and less defense spending in order to more reliably pay its debts.  Say what you want about the flaws of the Chinese system, they're right on the money here.

In Kaifeng, Henan province, they've opened a "historical theme park" based on a scroll created in the Song dynasty (roughly our Middle Ages - a high point of Chinese civilization).  This is clearly a country that wishes to tie its past to its present (wait til I show you what the Confucius temple/home looks like).  It is clearly a country identifying itself as the leading force in the world.  While I was in China, there was wall-to-wall "coverage" of  the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party.  The Chinese governmental system is best described as hopelessly complex, and not without its own problems.  I read the Wikipedia entry on it, and still don't understand all the details of it.  But one thing is for certain: it seems to have been attempted to create a structure that doesn't simply put an oligarchy based on wealth in a privileged position in the country.

And the USA?  Well, our system is more or less deliberately designed to favor the wealthy and powerful.

And we are currently debating whether we shall be impoverished by benign warlords or by vicious, psychopathic warlords.

I'm not saying this because there's these pictures I took either - this "theme" seemed to be apparent everywhere I went in China.  I'll probably be repeating it a lot.

Friday, July 15, 2011

China - Shandong Province

First of all, here's some photos of Taishan, in Shandong province.  Taishan is reputedly foremost amongst China's "Five Sacred Mountains."  And yes, it appears a certain plant is rather common on that mountain.  It is not cheap by Chinese standards to get transportation to and from the mountain.  But the mountain is teeming with tourists.    In a time and place where it looks like the American economy is hurdling to oblivion, it is evident that China's not doing too shabbily, despite what some might be saying.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Back from China

I'll have much, much more to post on this blog than I had been doing lately. But here's a bit of a preview. (Click for detailed images). The above is a martial arts school near Shaolin temple itself (but not in the temple). And the second picture is actually monks in Shaolin temple giving some kind of performance for tourists. I'll have more to say about Shaolin. Also, below, are some kids near a martial arts school near Daixiangguo in Kaifeng. I'll have more to say on that, too.