Buddhists around the world this week celebrated Vesak, the holiday that commemorates Buddha’s birthday, death, and enlightenment, albeit with the restrictions we’ve come to expect from COVID-19. In Thailand, the Sangha Supreme Council, Buddhism’s ruling body in the Southeast Asian country, ordered all Buddhist temples under their jurisdiction to suspend religious activities honoring what they call “Visakha Bucha Day,” according to the Straits Times. One Bangkok temple, Wat Bowonniwet Vihara, livestreamed a Vesak ritual on Facebook.
A new medical study will investigate the role that prayer might play in the treatment of patients with COVID-19, reported NPR. Dr. Dhanunjaya Lakkireddy of the Kansas City Heart Rhythm Institute on May 1 launched the four-month-long study of 1,000 COVID-19 patients whose infections require intensive care. In addition to standard medical care, 500 participants will receive a “universal” prayer from Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and Buddhism. The study will record how long patients remain on ventilators, how many suffer from organ failure, how quickly they are released from intensive care, and how many die. “We all believe in science, but we also believe in faith,” said Lakkireddy. “It’s not like we’re putting anyone at risk. A miracle could happen.”
DALAI LAMA ANNOUNCES LIVE WEBCAST
The Central Tibetan Administration in Dharamsala, India, recently extended its shelter-in-place order until June 5, and Tibetan nuns have been working hard to maintain social distancing practices and maintain their access to necessary supplies and food, according to nonprofit Tibetan Nuns Project, which supports Tibetan nuns in exile. At Dorjee Zong Nunnery in the Zanskar region of Ladakh, many nuns have temporarily left to stay with their families due to a shortage of space in which to practice social distancing. At the Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute in Himachal Pradesh, nuns have been sharing their food rations with poor village families. The nunnery is closed and nuns have been guarding the gates to make sure no one enters without proper protective equipment. There is some good news. As a result of a generous gift of 3,500 masks from Charles-Antoine Janseen, the founder of Kois Invest in Mumbai, nunneries that are part of the Tibetan Nuns Project have access to masks.
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama will deliver a two-day teaching on the 2nd century Indian Buddhist philosopher Nagarjuna’s treatise Precious Garlandfrom 8:00 am to 9:30 am, Indian Standard Time, on May 16 and 17, his office announced on Wednesday. He will also address the present situation and give advice for these challenging times. The webcasts will be broadcast with translations in English, Chinese, and other languages on the official websites and Facebook pages of the Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.