The persecution of the Rohingya people in Myanmar/Burma

Although the focus of the NZBC is largely within New Zealand, sometimes the severity of a situation demands that we respond, and the persecution of the Rohingya people by the Myanmar military is one of these. In September our Chairperson Amala Wrightson attended a rally to draw attention to the crisis and stand with local Rohingya and other Muslims, and more recently Ajahn Chandako, the Abbot of Vimutti Monastery near Auckland, spoke at a gathering of Rohingya and Burmese Buddhists and sent the following report:

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Explore sacred spaces in Auckland

4 to 12 November 2017

Come along and join us as Auckland’s diverse faith groups open their doors to introduce us to their faith and ways of worship!

Visit the houses of worship at the times listed below – but please also check the “Sacred Spaces 2017” page on the Auckland Interfaith Council website for updates.

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English lessons for Buddhist monks & nuns

This year, over 20 monks and nuns from diverse Buddhist communities in the Auckland region communities have been enjoying the opportunity to improve their English and meet each other. The monastics are based at temples and small centres around the Auckland region, and connected with immigrant communities from places such as Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Taiwan. Rukman Wagachchi from the Buddhist Council organised the classes, which were held at the Srilankaramaya temple in Otahuhu.

Monks and nuns studying EnglishThe Level One English class was free for learners with Permanent Residency (12 participants had PR and 17 participants did not). Classes ran two days a week, Tuesdays & Thursdays for half a day each week from April to August 2017. Tutors from the Manukau Institute of Technology taught the course, and they were briefed about how to treat the monastics respectfully.
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Member Profile: Nam Kook Temple

This is the first in a series of features about our member organisations around Aotearoa New Zealand.

Nam Kook temple is a supporting organisation of the New Zealand Buddhist Council. In the past, the Buddhist Council has assisted the temple by writing a supporting letter for Ven. Dong Jin’s application for Permanent Residency. This temple has around a hundred householder members, Korean Buddhists living in the Auckland region. It’s connected with a temple in Korea called Ankook Suwon.

Buddha’s birthday is a colourful festival, celebrated in May each year, and it’s a great time to visit Nam Kook temple in rural west Auckland. The event is partly a cultural festival: there’s much to enjoy, from performances of music, drumming and dancing, to family activities including face-painting and lantern-making.

It’s a religious festival, with a sermon, chanting, and a ceremony of bathing the Baby Buddha, in a Buddha Hall bedecked with hundreds of colourful paper lanterns. And then there’s a feast with tables laden with Korean temple food — an array of tasty and beautifully-presented vegetarian delights. People from the wider community attend, including local neighbours. A music concert is held, and performances have been given by the local Kumeu Brass Band, members of the Hare Krishna Temple across the road from Nam Kook, a Korean Traditional Dance Team, Korean Catholic Church families, and much more.

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Solution-focussed suicide prevention

New Zealand has a high rate of suicides. UK-based psychologist John Henden recently visited New Zealand to teach strategies for working with people at risk of killing themselves. He also wrote this article. In Hastings this August, he taught a One Day Intensive Workshop, with 120 people attending.

Clare Woodham (Phuntsok Choeling Hawkes Bay Buddhist Centre, Napier) reports:

John Henden has 30 years’ experience in the field, in different intervention centres with different degrees of success. He and others in this area of work have identified basic ways to rapidly build rapport, engage empathically with people, then use specific question techniques to help turn their minds away from considering suicide and into considering other ways of ending their suffering.

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New website

This new website enables the Buddhist Council to update content more quickly, and to provide the Buddhist Council’s aims in different languages. The WordPress site has been developed thanks to many hours of work by Executive Committee assistants Pimmy Takdhada and Robert Hunt, with valuable advice from Tim Wylie in Auckland.