More ‘blasphemy’ in Myanmar


As reported in the Myanmar Times:

A Spanish tourist visiting Bagan with his wife over the weekend found his trip interrupted when police discovered a Buddha tattoo on his leg.

The tourist and his wife were escorted to Yangon on July 10, according to Mandalay Region police.

Shin Sandavaya from the Tharmakay monastery reported the case to the police station in Bagan after he spotted a Buddha image on the leg of visitor outside Kantotpalin Pagoda.

Religious authorities from the Nyaung-U office and immigration officers interviewed the 46-year-old tourist and confirmed that he has a Buddha tattoo on his calf that was inked in Spain. The two tourists were sent to Yangon the same day, and the embassy contacted, according to Mandalay police.

“They arrived in Yangon [yesterday] morning at 5am leaving Bagan by bus. The tourist police took them to the Spanish embassy around 5:30am,” said an officer from the Mingaladon township station.

AFP quoted a police officer saying that the man will be deported to Bangkok. The Myanmar Times was unable to independently confirm deportation plans.




Leicester City: Buddhism, Karma and the Premier League Title


As is being widely reported the English football team Leicester City look likely, against all the odds, to win the Premier League title this year. After struggling on the pitch for several years they were never considered contenders for the title at the beginning of the season. In fact, they were many people’s favourites to be relegated.

In the search for their turnaround of fortunes many have suggested the influence of Buddhism on the success of the team. Leicester City have Thai owners and Thai Buddhist monks have been regular visitors to the teams King Power Stadium ground. During these visits the monks have regularly performed Buddhist blessings and purifications.


After their poor season the club’s owner, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, had the idea that their lack of success was due to a lack of ‘merit’ (an idea closely related to karma). By actively supporting the ordination of Buddhist monks and the building of Buddhist temples it was intended that Leicester City’s levels of merit would increase. With an increase of merit, generated primarily by performing Buddhist offerings and benevolent actions, good fortune would occur. The rituals at the club’s ground were intended to be auspicious and maintain the benefits of merit. Finally, certain powerful Buddhist objects were used in the form of amulets, believed to have a powerful and beneficial influence.


Clearly, the terrible season suffered by Chelsea is down to a lack of religious merit accrued at Stamford Bridge.





Soka Gakkai as a form of Buddhism

Philosophy & Religion Video Interviews

In this interview, I talk to Robert Harrap, General Director of SGI-UK, and we discuss the nature of Soka Gakkai as a form of Buddhism. We touch on the way n which SGI is distinctive, and also its points of commonality with other forms of Buddhism.

You can see more about how SGI seeks to embody Nichiren Buddhism at

The Religion, Philosophy & Ethics course at the University of Gloucestershire offers the chance to study philosophy, and a range of religious traditions. You can see the course map HERE.

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Memories of a Bowie Conference: 5. Someone sees it all


Paul Fuller. David Bowie, Buddhist Modernism and Charismatic Charms

SPEAKER Fuller lectures in Buddhist Studies at the University of Cardiff and is the author of The Notion of Ditthi in Theravada Buddhism: The Point of View (Routledge, 2004).

imanbowieSYNOPSIS Examines how Bowie used Buddhist ideas taking as its starting point the notion of Buddhist Modernism (McMahan, 2008). Early Bowie was immersed in Buddhist ideas as reflected in his songs, but how did he understand them? Gombrich and Obeyesekere use the term ‘Protestant Buddhism’ to explain Buddhism that is rational and scientific. Or perhaps Bowie’s approach shows a more traditional understanding of Buddhism. Station to Station can be seen as charismatic, acting as a charm and this would be an apotropaic use of religious language in which language has a power beyond its content. At this time Bowie’s work was presumably Christian (for example, Word on Wing), but perhaps by not…

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‘Engaged Buddhism’ in Myanmar


A report on Sayadaw U Ottamasa’s meditation centre on the outskirts of Yangon has appeared in Frontline Myanmar.

It’s a well written article by Kyaw Phone Kyaw titled ‘A Sayadaw’s Sanctuary for the Needy’. A brief biography of the Sayadaw is available on Dhamma Web with more details available here. As an example of engaged Buddhism in Myanmar the Sayadaw’s activies have become very popular.

As Kyaw reports:

There is nothing unusual about a monk establishing a meditation centre in Myanmar and they can be found throughout the country, but the Thabarwa Center, established by the Venerable Sayadaw U Ottamasara in 2008 when he was aged 39, is very unusual indeed.

The centre, in Yangon’s outer southeastern Thanlyin Township, is a refuge for hundreds of needy people who are encouraged to meditate, as well as being a retreat for yogis, as lay meditators are known in Myanmar.

Membership of the centre is open to anyone and hosts many residents, many of whom have no home to call their own and will live there for the rest of their lives. Their food, health care and accommodation are provided free of charge.

The centre’s website contains more details.

E-Learning Courses on Women in Buddhism

20 Row of Bhikkhunis

Another great free summer course on gender and Buddhsim from the University of Hamburg, building upon past courses on women in Buddhism:

The Numata Center for Buddhist Studies in cooperation with Dharma Drum Institute of Liberal Arts offers an e-learning course on the topic of Asian Buddhist Women. The course consists of a series of lectures by a group of international scholars who will present their research on the situation of women during various periods in the history of Asian Buddhism, based on textual studies and archaeological evidence. Participation is free of charge but requires online registration. The registration period will be from the 15th of February until the end of March.