Skateboards, Eye Donations, Monks, Inc., And a Very Cool Buddha

by Michael Segers, Associated Content, January 6, 2010

San Francisco, CA (USA) -- Buddhists do more than ring temple bells and burn incense. Although Buddhists follow a specific way of life, the important point is that they are living, and Buddhism itself is a living tradition, one that extends to skateboards, modern medicine, and tourism and pops up in the news in the most unlikely ways, as these recent stories illustrate. Click on the titles of the articles to read them.

A monk on a skateboard

In an article on the Punjapit blog, "Skateboard popularizes in Buddhist temples," there is a photo of monk skateboarding through the Dafu Temple on the UNESCO World Heritage site, Mount Emei.

Is there a problem with a monk skateboarding? Could it be seen as a sort of martial art, in which physical activity itself becomes a kind of meditation? Would the monk's actions and interests make Buddhism more accessible to young people? Or, was he wasting time that should have been spent in studying scriptures and meditation?

Cornea transplants made possible by Buddhists

In the Hindustan Times report by Sutirtho Patranobis & Naziya Alvi, "Sri Lanka: Cornea exporter to the world" the country of only some twenty million is identified as being second only to the United States in sending corneas abroad. One reason is that Buddhist leaders, in this predominantly Buddhist country, see no conflict between Buddhist teachings and organ donations and actually encourage people to donate organs.

Monastery or tourist attraction?

In "Shaolin, Inc." in the Global Times, Paul Morris tells of his adventures visiting China's Shaolin Temple, along with busloads of tourists, many of whom were not pilgrims to an ancient Buddhist shrine (dating to 495 AD) but tourists to a kung fu attraction. The abbot Shi Yongxin signs autographs, has an MBA, and "knows how to sell Shaolin." Although Morris does find some "treasures and glimpses of magic and tradition," his experience of what Shaolin now offers is that it is "fabricated in order to please or extrapolate money from your wallet."

The impermanent Buddha

Chris Sills, known on Twitter as cbs108uk and as a "Simple Buddhist Wanderer" (do follow him), recently shared a photo of "SnowBuddha," which contains within itself a whole sutra of teaching about the impermanence of all things, including the Buddha and his teachings.