Category Archives: Buddhist News

‘A place for anyone and everyone’: Buddhist monks expand to Charlottetown

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Dalai Lama attends International Buddhism and Science conference

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Buddha Bar in Krasnoyarsk fined for offending believers’ feelings

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by Nadezhda Stolyarchuk, Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Russia Beyond the Headlines, November 24, 2016

The local chain of Buddha Bar ordered to pay a fine, change their name and remove Buddha statues.

Krasnoyarsk, Russia — The Krasnoyarsk prosecutor’s office has fined the local branch of Buddha Bar, a global chain of bars that feature Buddha statues in their interiors. The establishment has been ordered to pay a fine of 30,000 rubles ($462) for offending the religious feelings of Buddhists in Kalmykia, Buryatia and Tyva.

A representative of the bar responded to the ruling with irony: “News from the prosecutor’s office. Buddha Bar has been found guilty of offending the feelings of Buddhists in Kalmykia, Buryatia and Tyva.

We now have to pay a fine of 30,000 rubles, change our name and remove Buddha statues. My husband and I have been splitting our sides with laughter. I demanded he tell me how did he dare to offend so many people,€ Natalya Myazina wrote on Facebook.

Not long ago, the prosecutor’s office received a report from a St. Petersburg resident complaining of the insult to Buddhists’ religious feelings. She said a Buddha statue had featured in a dance routine involving naked women at the bar. Also, the bar was selling and serving alcohol.

In parallel with the prosecutors’ ruling, Russian Buddhists have started collecting signatures on a petition demanding a ban on the use of Buddhist symbols at drinking establishments all across Russia.

The petition calls for “state authorities to pay attention and to ban the use of the name, statues and depictions of Buddha and Buddhist deities as well as Buddhist signs and symbols in drinking and entertainment establishments all across Russia: clubs, bars, karaoke bars, and restaurants.” Organizers say the petition has been signed by over 7,300 people already.

First published in Russian by Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

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Buddhists pray for peace, tolerance in Indonesia

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by Apriadi Gunawan, The Jakarta Post, Novemberಓ, 2016

Sumatra, Indonesia — Hundreds of Buddhists in Medan, North Sumatra, held a joint prayer for peace and tolerance in Indonesia, amid rising religious tensions across the country.

Around 15,000 followers of all Buddhist sects participated in the joint prayer held at Soewondo Air Force Base in Medan on Saturday. Dozens of Buddhist monks, House of Representatives members and local officials also participated in the event, which will continue on Sunday.

Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin opened the joint prayer on Friday, which was marked by the release of hundreds of doves, which symbolize peace and harmony.

Lukman said the event was very noble, as Buddhists had prayed for peace and harmony in the country. “My presence in this event is not only to fulfil their invitation but the most the important thing is, I want to appreciate this very noble event,” said Lukman, adding that hopefully, more joint prayers are held by Buddhists in Indonesia.

North Sumatra Governor Erry Nuradi also appreciated the Indonesian Buddhist followers’ joint prayer, themed “For My Country, Indonesia”. At the event, he added, all religious followers pleaded for protection from God the Almighty, with a hope that Indonesia could remain in a safe, peaceful condition so that all of its development agendas could run well.

Organizing committee head Sutrisno said that after joint prayers on Sunday, all Buddhists would participate in a blood donation event. “We are holding this event sincerely for peace and harmony in Indonesia.â

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Buddhist nuns ‘learning to fit in’ on P.E.I.

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By Shane Ross, CBC News, Nov 21, 2016

P.E.I. now home to 134 Buddhist nuns — and the number is growing

Prince Edward Island, Canada — Prince Edward Island is becoming home to a growing number of Buddhist nuns, who say the Island is a comfortable place for them to practise their spirituality.

The nunnery resembles an old farm house, but the nuns plan to move to a building in Brudenell styled after a more traditional Chinese temple. (Laura Meader/CBC)

Four years ago, 13 Buddhist nuns moved to the Island from Taiwan. Today, there are 134 at their home on the Uigg Road in eastern P.E.I.

In the next couple of years, they hope to attract about 100 more and move to a new building that will be modelled after a traditional Chinese temple.

“Canada has a great acceptance of different cultures and religions,” said Yvonne, one of the nuns at what is called the Great Wisdom Buddhist Institute.

“It is a very good environment to practise and study here, that’s why it will attract more nuns from other countries.”

The majority are from Taiwan, but some are from Singapore, New Zealand, United States and Canada. The average age is 25.

They give up their last names, and devote their life to studying Buddhist teachings with the goal of bringing happiness and peacefulness to the world. 

Separate from monks

The nuns say they are often confused with a group of monks that moved to P.E.I., but while they follow the same spiritual teacher, they are separate in the same way churches on P.E.I. would be independent of each other.

They will sometimes see the monks at functions, but they can’t make eye contact with men, or be alone with men. The idea is to avoid distractions to maintain focus on their devotion.

They all wear the same clothes, and shave their heads, too.

“I don’t have to think about what hairstyle I have to have today,” said Yvonne, “So it’s just very simple. Everything I do is just to learn every single day.”

Sabrina lived in California before she came to P.E.I. She said she had an ordinary life before coming to the nunnery, but felt something was missing.

“I would often hear the saying that the best years in life are high school, or the best years of life are in college … and it would always puzzle me that then what do you do after the best years in your life are over?” she said.

Yvonne said the nuns are “learning to fit in” on P.E.I. She said they go out more in P.E.I. than they would in Taiwan because they are trying to learn more about the Island culture.

“We are here to practise Buddhism but we are not trying  to convert everyone’s religion into Buddhism. So one thing we can do in the community is go visit the elders and see if we can learn more about what Islanders think and maybe other religions and how they make contributions to the community and how we can work together to make the community better.”

She said the best way to learn from Islanders is to become friends with them.

“The Islanders will teach us the way of life here, even from winter tires to how you drive in the snow and how you can shop and utilize local resources.”

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Thai police: Influential Buddhist abbot must surrender

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By Arun Saronchai, Anadolu Agency, Nov 24, 2016

Abbot of wealthy Dhammakaya temple wanted on charges of illegally receiving money from scandal-ridden credit fund

BANGKOK, Thailand — Thai police said Thursday that an influential abbot of a wealthy Buddhist temple has until the end of the month to turn himself in and face money laundering charges.

Deputy Police Chief Srivara Ransibrahmanakul told reporters that Phra Dhammachayo of the Dhammakaya Temple must turn himself in after the Office of the Attorney-General decided there was sufficient evidence to prosecute him over accusations he used temple bank accounts to launder funds.

“We will inform the temple leadership of this and ask that they not get in the way of the law,” Srivara said.

On Wednesday, the Bangkok Post reported the office’s spokesman Somnuek Siangkong as saying it will indict the 72-year-old abbot and four others for allegedly receiving stolen property œin connection with the Klongchan Credit Union Cooperative (KCUC) embezzlement scandal”.

Prior to KCUC going bankrupt in 썞, the former chairman of the cooperative, Supachai Srisupa-Aksorn, issued $34 million worth of checks to Dhammachayo.

As a result, thousands of customers lost funds they had invested in the scheme.

The temple hosted its own press conference Thursday, with officials insisting that they have always cooperated with the law.

“Right now we can confirm the abbot is still residing within the temple but he is being attended to by physicians and is too sick to leave temple grounds,” Ongart Tammanita, the temple spokesman, told reporters.

In the last two years, Dhammachayo has repeatedly been summoned by police for interrogation, but he has refused, saying he is very ill and cannot move from his temple — a giant golden flying saucer-shaped building in a northern Bangkok suburb.

In June, hundreds of police officers tried to arrest him at the temple, but were prevented from doing so by thousands of followers who blocked access.

Founded in 1972 by a group of young monks and a nun, Dhammakaya uses modern marketing techniques to attract followers and propagates a materialistic and unorthodox version of Buddhist teachings.

It has become by far the country’s most financially powerful temple, and is very influential with the Supreme Sangha Council, the committee of senior monks that lead Thai Buddhism.

Opponents, however, accuse it of distorting Buddhist principles, of propagating a materialistic version of the Buddha’s teachings and equating money donated to the institution to merit acquired in the afterlife.

Over the last two decades, Dhammachayo has been implicated in numerous financial and land-related scandals, but has never attended court.

In 1999, the then-leader of the Thai Buddhist religion, Phra Nyanasamvara, wrote to the Supreme Sangha Council asking them to defrock Dhammachayo because of a land-purchase scandal but his order was never implemented.

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Rohingya are being destroyed, ‘full security and protection’ most urgent

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The Buddhist Channel, 18 November 2016

Arakan, Myanmar – Arakan Rohingya National Organisation strongly condemns the mass killing and torture murder, rape, plundering and wholesome destruction of Rohingya people and their properties, homes and villages in Northern Arakan since 9 October.

From 12 November the Myanmar armed forces have intensified combined military and police crackdown on the ordinary Rohingya villagers using helicopter gunships, tanks and artillery. There are instances that all members of some families were shot dead. Those who were fleeing, on being terrified, were blocked and killed by machine gun firing in paddy fields, dales and creeks particularly in and around the Rohingya villages of  Myaw Taung, Dargyizar, Yekhechaung Kwasone, Pwinpyu Chaung, Thu Oo La, Longdun, Kyin Chaung (Bawli Bazar) and Wabaek in Northern Maungdaw.

The army reportedly started crackdown on the Rohingya villagers on 12 November immediately after an armed clash with an alleged Rohingya armed group in the jungles. On 12 and 13 November about 150 civilians were killed, 200 injured, many people arrested and tortured, and 1500 houses, including religious buildings, were burned down, in addition to crimes against humanity and war crimes perpetrated in the month of October.

The total causalities from 9 October to 13 November are estimated to be 350 killed, 300 injured, many dozens of women raped, hundreds of people arrested on concocted charges, and 3500 houses, including four villages, were burned down or destroyed. At least 30,000 people have been internally displaced. The injured people have no access to medical care. Many women, old men, children and infants were among those who were killed. The crackdown is still continuing while severely restricting humanitarian aids and barring international journalists and observers to the areas.

All these crimes against humanity and war crimes are committed with manifest intention to destroy the Rohingya minority community. But the Nobel Prize owner State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s government has persistently denied any violations against Rohingyas while lying that the Rohingya villagers themselves were torching their own houses. It is a rascally shameful conduct of the government and its armed forces.

Despite sky-piercing hues and cries of the Rohingya women, children and elderly, the NLD-led Government of Myanmar is manifestly failing to protect their life, property, honour and dignity, whereas the entire Rohingya population is living, round the clock, in extreme danger of killing, rape and destruction. In the event of no domestic protection, the responsibility to protect these helpless people weighs on the United Nations with the international community.

In view of the above facts, we:

1.    Demand Myanmar Government to stop forthwith the ongoing military and police crackdown on Rohingya civilian population, to allow international journalists and observers to the affected areas as well as unhindered humanitarian aids to the needy, and to end all human rights violations and abuses against them.
2.    Request the U.N. to conduct an independent and transparent international inquiry into crimes against humanity and war crimes committed against the Rohingya people and bring the perpetrators to justice.
3.   Request the Government of neighbouring Bangladesh to speak out for the suffering Rohingya people on humanitarian grounds.
4.  Request the United Nations and the international community to intervene in the current extremely dangerous situation being faced by the helpless Rohingya population in order to provide them with ‘full security and protection’ on the principle of humanitarian intervention and in the interest of international peace and security.
For more details, please contact:
Zaw Min Htut +81-8030835327
Dr. Hla Myint +61-423381904
Ronnie: +44-7783118354
Ko Ko Linn: +880-1726068413

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Anukampa Bhikkhuni Project

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By Paul Michael Burton, The Buddhist Channel, Nov 17, 2016

London, UK  — The run-up to October this year will see exciting steps being taken towards establishing the UK’s first ever monastery for bhikkhunis (Pali; fully ordained Buddhist nuns). British-born Theravada monk Ajahn Brahmavamso Mahathera (better known as Ajahn Brahm), the abbot of Bodhinyana Monastery in Western Australia, has generously lent his support to Anukampa Bhikkhuni Project, as the initiative is known, and to the project’s coordinator, British nun Venerable Canda, through a busy schedule that will include a milestone teaching tour of the UK entitled, “Buddhism in the 21st Century.”

Ven. Canda with Ajahn Brahm following her Bhikkhunī ordination on 27 April 2014. Image courtesy of the Anukampa Bhikkhuni Project

The aspiration behind Anukampa Bhikkhuni Project (anukampa means “empathic compassion) is to help people grow in the Dhamma and to nurture spiritual qualities such as contentment, compassion, wisdom, and peace. The project aims to build a community of like-minded people who wish to practice the teachings of the Buddha, establish a bhikkhuni presence in Britain by responding to teaching invitations and offers of support, and, primarily, to found and develop a harmonious training monastery for bhikkhunis dedicated to the goal of awakening.

The scheduled tour by Ajahn Brahm, who is also spiritual adviser to Anukampa Bhikkhuni Project, is the first major fundraising project towards accomplishing these aims, offering a rare opportunity to receive the teachings of Ajahn Brahm in his homeland and to help establish a bhikkhuni presence in the UK.

Reviving and strengthening an ancient lineage

The history of female ordination in Buddhism dates back to the time of the Buddha himself, who founded the bhikkhuni order when he ordained his own maternal aunt and stepmother Mahapajapati Gotami. From the very early days of the Buddha’s ministry, bhikkhunis played an important role in disseminating the teachings and in the formation of the monastic sangha. Not only was there relative parity between the worldly status of bhikkhus and bhikkhunis, but the Buddha also declared that women were just as capable of attaining awakening, or Nirvana, as men.

At a time in India when women were advised that they needed to aim to be reborn as a man in their next life in order to progress spiritually, the Buddha’s assertion that the path to spiritual awakening was open and available to women here and now was revolutionary.

According to historical records, however, the various bhikkhuni sanghas of traditionally Buddhist countries eventually died out at different times in history. This can be viewed not only as a setback for the spiritual aspirations of Buddhist nuns, but also for the future continuation of the Dharma. The Buddha taught that the longevity of the Dharma rests on having an interrelated community of bhikkhunis, bhikkhus, laywomen and laymen, known as the fourfold assembly. It is pertinent to bring attention to the fact that the bhikkhuni sangha in Myanmar may have existed right up to theಓth century. If this can be confirmed by national records, there may be less distance between the modern bhikkhuni sangha and its earlier counterparts than is commonly believed.*

In response to the frequently asked question about why bhikkhuni ordination matters, Australian Theravada monk Bhante Sujato points out that bhikkhunis enter upon a way of training that is finely tuned to support the holy life. They feel nurtured and supported by the knowledge that they have fully entered into the sangha, and are practicing within the same community as the arahants (Pali; ones who have attained the state of nirvana) of old. He further points out the need to recognize that “the principle of equality for all is based on the same ethical values that inform the heart of true Buddhism: universal loving-kindness and compassion.”**

In 1996, through the efforts of the Sakyadhita International Association of Buddhist Women, the Theravada bhikkhuni order was revived when 11 Sri Lankan women received full ordination in Sarnath, India in a ceremony held by Ven. Dodangoda Revata Mahathera and the late Ven. Mapalagama Vipulasara Mahathera, with assistance from monks and nuns of the Jogye Order of Korean Seon Buddhism. The first Theravada bhikkhuni ordination in Australia was held in Perth on 22 October 2009, at Bodhinyana Monastery. Four nuns from Western Australia’s Dhammasara Nun’s Monastery – Ajahn Vayama, Ayya Nirodha, Ayya Seri, and Ayya Hasapanna – were ordained as bhikkhunis in full accordance with the Pali Vinaya.

Despite this, the ordinations stirred controversy and met with substantial resistance within the more conservative sectors of the monastic sangha, highlighting how far we have still to go before the equality the Buddha worked hard to establish for female monastics becomes a living reality today.

Ven. Canda’s 18-year journey towards bhikkhuni ordination

At present, there are many monasteries for monks around the world, but very few for female monastics and far fewer for those who wish to undertake training towards full bhikkhuni ordination, which plays a large part in Ven. Canda’s motivation. Her personal story testifies to the complexity of the situation for women seeking to fully renounce the householder’s life and to train according to the guidelines set down by the Buddha, in the same way as monks.

On first coming into contact with the Buddha’s teachings at a񎧌 on retreat in India, Ven. Canda, then Lucie Stephens, was so profoundly moved that she made an inward resolution to devote the rest of her life to the path. For the next seven years she meditated and gave service on back-to-back retreats, mostly in India and Nepal, working along the way to support herself. As she witnessed inner changes, including a deepening of contentment, increased equanimity, and a growing fascination with the process of meditation itself, her aspiration to renounce lay life intensified. However, ordination opportunities for women were so rare that she was unable to find a suitable monastery. Disheartened yet not resigned, she returned to England in 2002 to pursue a degree in Ayurvedic medicine.

Ironically, a year into her degree, Lucie heard about a rural monastery in Myanmar that provided opportunities for women to ordain as eight-precept Burmese nuns (Burmese: thilashin). After deciding to take temporary ordination in Myanmar for three months during her degree it was tempting to stay on, but Lucie’s sense of commitment required that she return to the UK to complete her studies. After graduating she ordained for the long-term in 2006 and spent the next four years pursuing intensive meditation under the guidance of Sayadaw U Pannyajota. She also encountered the Thai Forest Tradition through Ajahn Maha Bua in Thailand, with whom she spent an inspiring six weeks. Thailand was more politically stable than Burma but monastery conditions for women were cramped and monastic visas extremely hard to come by for nuns, whose monastic status is not recognized by Thai law.

Over those years, she became increasingly drawn to samatha practice (the development of calm, still states of mind known in Pali as jhanas) as a means to develop deeper insight. By 2010, however, the ascetic lifestyle, climate, and diet in Myanmar had taken a severe toll on her health, leading to her return to the West. This happily coincided with the chance discovery of Ajahn Brahm’s teachings. His emphasis on love, kindness, and letting go as a means to jhana and insight resonated so deeply and immediately with Ven. Canda that learning directly from him became her new goal. Bhikkhuni ordination still seemed out of reach and did not really occur to her until the second time she met him.
“I had been living as a novice nun for five years, when Ajahn Brahm told me matter-of-factly about bhikkhunis practicing in Perth. A wave of inspired joy swept through me and I knew instantly in my heart: if I had the chance for full ordination, I’d take it!” Consequently, after two years as a wandering nun in Europe, Ven. Canda finally had the opportunity to travel to Australia, where she has been living since 2012. She joined the Dhammasara community in Perth and took full bhikkhuni ordination in April 2014, with Ayya Santini as preceptor. In October 2015, Ajahn Brahm asked Ven. Canda to take steps towards establishing a monastery in the UK to increase equality in practice and ordination opportunities for women, in response to which Anukampa Bhikkhuni Project was born.

Ven. Canda has recently undertaken a series of activities to raise awareness and a community of supporters on the ground. She was also fortunate to have the opportunity to visit the United States (sponsored by the California-based Alliance for Bhikkhunis) and found it incredibly inspiring to meet other bhikkhunis who have successfully established harmonious, joyful communities of sincere practitioners. She was delighted when Ayya Anadabodhi and Ayya Santacitta of the Aloka Vihara Monastery in California agreed to be advisors to Anukampa Bhikkhuni Project.

In June this year, Ven. Canda undertook a very significant walking pilgrimage from Bakewell in her home county of Derbyshire to the city of Manchester. With the support of former Buddhist nun Laura Bridgeman en route, they made their way over the lush green, and often wet, hills of the Peak District National Park, sleeping in natural settings and trusting in human kindness and compassion along the way.

These qualities were encountered in abundance as support came throughout the journey, which culminated with a well-attended talk on the pertinent theme of compassion at the Manchester Centre for Buddhist Meditation, where the pair were warmly welcomed by some of the samatha tradition’s most committed long-term members. It was in the samatha tradition that Ajahn Brahm undertook his first meditation retreat in the early 1970s, so there was an added element of deep gratitude from Ven. Canda for linking up with connections begun long ago. Not only did the talk result in much lively discussion, but three new volunteers came forward to contribute their energy and skills to the project.

The planned monastery’s eventual location in the UK will very much depend on wherever there is the most interest and support. In that sense, Anukampa Bhikkhuni Project is in the hands of supporters as much as those of the organizers. Recently, Ajahn Brahm gave a series of public talks and retreats in and around London to raise funds for nun’s monastery. People have been very generous so far but we need to continue to raise awareness and support for this worthy cause. 

Those wishing to benefit from the teachings and help bring the bhikkhuni sangha to England are encouraged to visit our website below. You are also invited to follow Anukampa Bhikkhuni Project’s progress and activities on Facebook.

Please visit:
* See Ayya Tathaloka’s “Glimmers of a Thai Bhikkhuni Sangha History.”
** See Bhikkhu Sujato, “A conversation with a sceptic – Bhikkhuni FAQ.”

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Kathin Chibar Dan: Robe offering festival to preserve Buddhist tradition in Chitagong Hill Tracts (CHT)

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Vietnam Buddhist Sangha’s contributions celebrated at conference

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VNS, November, 4, 2016

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam — Vietnam Buddhist Sangha (VBS) has contributed to enriching and developing the country’s culture, the rector of HCM City University of Social Sciences and Humanities said at conference held on Wednesday.

The Vietnam Buddhist Sangha’s contributions to the country was celebrated at a conference organised by the University of Social Sciences and Humanities in co-operation with the Vietnam Buddhist Studies Institute. —VNA/VNS Photo Tha Anh

The conference was organised to celebrateಣ years of the VBS’s development.

Assoc Prof Vµ Van Sen, head of the university’s History Faculty said the VBS has made many contributions in the fields of education, healthcare and social welfare as well as culture.

Vietnam Buddhism has contributed to building a peaceful life in harmony with the environment, Sen said, adding that it had helped unify the country nationwide and preserved the national character during global integration.

The most venerable Thích Thian Nhon, chairman of the VBS’s Central Dharma Executive Council, said that the community had active contributions to the country’s development, especially in the fields of culture and society.

The VBS has set up administrative organisations from the central to grassroots levels in all provinces and cities throughout the country.

The country has a total of 49,439 monks and nuns. More than 18,340 Buddhist pagodas, monasteries and other facilities exist, with more than 16 million Buddhist members.

Lê Thanh Hui, former Secretary of the city’s Party Committee, said the country has four Buddhism institutes training more than 2,ዀ monks and nuns. More than 4,800 people have graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Buddhism studies.

Nearly 100 monks and nuns have received master’s and doctoral degrees, he said, adding that nearly 400 are now studying for similar degrees in India, China and other countries.

The Sangha has more than 1,000 social welfare establishments and 126 Tui Tinh health clinics that provide free services to patients, and 950 charity classrooms for poor children and orphans.

The VBS has received the Ho Chí Minh Medal two times for its contributions, according to H?i.

The Government has allocated funds for VBS to translate the Tipitaka known as the Buddhist Canon from Pali, English and Chinese into Vietnamese for monks, nuns and Buddhists to study, Hui said.

VBS also helps fight against superstition and behaviour that could affect the country’s benefits and violate people’s right of religious freedom, he added.

The conference, which attracted 100 attendees, was organised by the University of Social Sciences and Humanities in co-operation with the Vietnam Buddhist Studies Institute.

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