Wednesday, November 2, 2011

In China, tensions rising over Buddhism's quiet resurgence

SERTHAR, China – Breathless but beaming, Sheng Zisu sounds confident after five months in a maze-like Buddhist encampment high on the eastern Tibetan plateau, nearly 400 miles of bad road from the nearest city.

"Look around. They could never find me here," Sheng, 27, says of parents so anxious about their only child's turn to Tibetan Buddhism that they have threatened to kidnap her.
Sheng is far from her home — and from the bars where she used to drink and the ex-boyfriends she says cheated on her. She is here with 2,000 other Han Chinese at the Larung Gar Buddhist Institute in Serthar, Sichuan province, the rain-soaked mountainous region of southwest China.
The province is far from the central government in Beijing and a traditional gateway to Tibet, where Tibetans have practiced Buddhism for centuries — and where, for decades, China's Communist Party has suppressed Buddhists, sometimes brutally.
Holy chants and red-robed devotees spill down hillsides blanketed by red wooden cabins, where monks, nuns and disciples spend hours in meditation. More than 2 miles above sea level, Larung Gar is among the largest Tibetan Buddhist academies in the world, with about 10,000 mostly Tibetan students....

Read the whole story at USA Today.


  1. There's a monk from mainland China in the Divinity program in which I'm studying. He said the government is trying to turn Chinese Buddhism into what amounts to a state religion. It's also often a business, with monks managing hotels and restaurants, from what I understand. I suspect this undermines it's validity as a viable spiritual path among many Han Chinese. ...I'm no expert, though.

  2. I'm just starting a new book now in light of the 11 or more self-immolations that have already taken place in Tibet this year alone. It is called "Burning for the Buddha: Self-Immolation in Chinese Buddhism" by James A. Benn

    Just started the introduction this morning before work but already proving to be an interesting read!