Thursday, August 27, 2009

Dalai Lama headed to Taiwan

According to tradition, the Dalai Lama is a living avatar of Avalokitesvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion. What could be more natural, then, than for him to visit Taiwan, a Buddhist country, in the wake of the devastating floods that killed hundreds of people and caused billions of dollars of damage?

But the Communist government of the People's Republic of China, which lays claim to both Taiwan and Tibet, has denounced the decision of Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou to allow His Holiness to visit the flood ravaged island, which lies just 100 miles off the coast of the PRC.

In announcing his decision, President Ma said
The Dalai Lama could come to Taiwan to help rest the souls of the dead and also pray for the well-being of the survivors.
Taiwan is an overwhelmingly Buddhist country (over 90% of it's 23 million+ inhabitants are Buddhist), and the Dalai Lama is an extremely popular figure there. When His Holiness visited the island in 1997 and 2001 tens of thousands of people turned out to hear and see him. The Dalai Lama was very impressed with the enthusiastic greeting and, after his last visit, had decided to return to Taiwan at least once every two years. But the PRC furiously demanded that no more visits take place, and the Taiwanese government has acquiesced - until now.

Read the latest news stories on the Dalai Lama's upcoming visit to Taiwan here.

Meet the "Greek" philosophers of Asia!

The maps above show the birthplaces for many of the most influential "Greek" philosophers.

For more information on the early Stoics Zeno, Cleanthes and Chrysippus, see the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on Stoicism. There is also a separate entry for Epictetus. Two other prominent Stoic philosophers not shown above were the Emperor Marcus Aurelius and the writer and statesman Seneca, neither of whom were "Greek": both were Romans. Seneca was born in Corduba, Spain, while Marcus was born in Rome.

For more information on the Platonic philosophers of late antiquity follow these links:

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy articles on Plotinus and Porphyry.

A nice page on Iamblichus by Bruce J. MacLennan.

A very nice section on Proclus at the Goddess Athena website, where there is also a section on Iamblichus.

And here are the wikipedia entries for Damascius and Simplicius (better than nothing!).

And for those keeping score at home, the city of Constantinople is, of course, in continental Europe. But Proclus was by ethnicity Lycian - and Lycia is in southwestern Anatolia (see map). And (of course!) Alexandria is in Africa - not Asia!