Portal:Buddhism/Selected biography

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Selected biographies list[edit]

Portal:Buddhism/Selected biography/1

Shen Kuo

Shen Kuo was a polymath Chinese scientist and statesman of the Song Dynasty (9601279). Excelling in many fields of study and statecraft, he was a mathematician, astronomer, meteorologist, geologist, zoologist, botanist, pharmacologist, agronomist, ethnographer, encyclopedist, and poet. He was the head official for the Bureau of Astronomy in the Song court, as well as an Assistant Minister of Imperial Hospitality. In his Dream Pool Essays of 1088, Shen was the first to describe the magnetic needle compass, which would be used for navigation (first described in Europe by Alexander Neckam in 1187). Shen Kuo devised a geological theory of land formation, or geomorphology, based upon findings of inland marine fossils, knowledge of soil erosion, and the deposition of silt. He also advocated a theory for gradual climate change, after observing ancient petrified bamboos that were preserved underground in a dry northern habitat that did not support their growth in his time. Shen Kuo wrote extensively about movable type printing invented by Bi Sheng, and because of his written works the legacy of Bi Sheng and the modern understanding of the earliest movable type has been handed down to later generations.

...Archive/Nominations

Portal:Buddhism/Selected biography/2

Today, the car in which Thích Quảng Đức traveled to his self-immolation is parked at Huế's Thien Mu Pagoda

Thích Quảng Đức (born Lâm Văn Tức in 1897 – died June 11, 1963) was a Vietnamese Mahayana Buddhist monk who burned himself to death at a busy Saigon road intersection on June 11, 1963. Thích Quảng Đức was protesting the persecution of Buddhists by South Vietnam's Ngô Đình Diệm administration. Photos of his self-immolation were circulated widely across the world and brought attention to the policies of the Diệm regime. Malcolm Browne won a Pulitzer Prize for his iconic photo of the monk's death, as did David Halberstam for his written account. After his death, his body was re-cremated, but his heart remained intact. This was interpreted as a symbol of compassion and led Buddhists to revere him as a bodhisattva, heightening the impact of his death on the public psyche. Thích Quảng Đức's act increased international pressure on Diệm and led him to announce reforms with the intention of mollifying the Buddhists. However, the promised reforms were implemented either slowly or not at all, leading to a deterioration in the dispute. With protests continuing, the Special Forces loyal to Diệm's brother, Ngô Đình Nhu, launched nationwide raids on Buddhist pagodas, seizing the holy heart and causing deaths and widespread damage. Several Buddhist monks followed Thích Quảng Đức's example and burned themselves to death. Eventually, an Army coup toppled and killed Diệm in November. The self-immolation is widely seen as the turning point of the Vietnamese Buddhist crisis which led to the change in regime.

...Archive/Nominations

Portal:Buddhism/Selected biography/3

A statue of Bashō in Hiraizumi, Iwate

Matsuo Bashō (1644 – November 28, 1694) was the most famous poet of the Edo period in Japan. During his lifetime, Bashō was recognized for his works in the collaborative haikai no renga form; today, after centuries of commentary, he is recognized as a master of brief and clear haiku. His poetry is internationally renowned, and within Japan many of his poems are reproduced on monuments and traditional sites. Bashō was introduced to poetry at a young age, and after integrating himself into the intellectual scene of Edo he quickly became well known throughout Japan. He made a living as a teacher, but renounced the social, urban life of the literary circles and was inclined to wander throughout the country, heading west, east, and far into the northern wilderness to gain inspiration for his writing and haiku. His poems are influenced by his firsthand experience of the world around him, often encapsulating the feeling of a scene in a few simple elements.

...Archive/Nominations

Portal:Buddhism/Selected biography/4

Nhat Hanh

Nhat Hanh (born October 11, 1926 in central Vietnam) is an expatriate Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk, teacher, author, poet and peace activist. He joined a Zen monastery at the age of 16, studied Buddhism as a novice, and was fully ordained as a monk in 1949. Commonly referred to as Thich Nhat Hanh (Vietnamese: Thích Nhất Hạnh), the title Thích is used by all Vietnamese monks and nuns, meaning that they are part of the Shakya (Shakyamuni Buddha) clan. In the early 1960s, he founded the School of Youth for Social Services (SYSS) in Saigon, a grassroots relief organization that rebuilt bombed villages, set up schools and medical centers, and resettled families left homeless during the Vietnam War. He traveled to the U.S. a number of times to study at Princeton University, and later to lecture at Cornell University and teach at Columbia University. His main goal of those travels, however, was to urge the U.S. government to withdraw from Vietnam. He urged Martin Luther King, Jr., to oppose the Vietnam War publicly, and spoke with many people and groups about peace. In a January 25, 1967, letter to the Nobel Institute in Norway, King nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize. Nhat Hanh led the Buddhist delegation to the Paris Peace Talks.

...Archive/Nominations

Portal:Buddhism/Selected biography/5

Kaundinya lived during 6th century BCE in what is now Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, India

Kaundinya also known as Ajnata Kaundinya was a Buddhist bhikkhu in the sangha of Gautama Buddha and the first to become an arahant. He lived during 6th century BCE in what is now Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, India. Kaundinya was a brahmin who first came to prominence as a youth due to his mastery of the vedas and was later appointed as a royal court scholar of King Suddhodana of the Sakyas in Kapilavastu. There Kaundinya was the only scholar who unequivocally predicted upon the birth of Prince Siddhartha that the prince would become an enlightened Buddha, and vowed to become his disciple. Kaundinya and four colleagues followed Siddhartha in six years of ascetic practice, but abandoned him in disgust after Siddhartha gave up the practice of self mortification. Upon enlightenment, Siddartha gave his first dharma talk to Kaundinya's group. Kaundinya was the first to comprehend the teaching and thus became the first bhikkhu and arahant. Kaundinya was regarded as the foremost of the five initial disciples of the Buddha and later travelled around India spreading the dharma. Among his notable converts was his nephew Punna, whom the Buddha acknowledged as the foremost preacher of the dharma. In his final years, he retreated to the Himalayas and predeceased the Buddha.

...Archive/Nominations

Portal:Buddhism/Selected biography/6

Dae Soen Sa Nim shortly before his death (photo by Joan Halifax)

Seung Sahn Haeng Won Dae Soen-sa (Korean: 숭산행원대선사, Hanja: 崇山行願大禪師) (c. 1927—November 30, 2004), born Dok-In Lee, was a Korean Jogye Seon master and founder of the international Kwan Um School of Zen—the largest school of Zen present in the Western world. He was the seventy-eighth teacher in his lineage. As one of the first Korean Zen masters to settle in the United States, he opened many temples and practice groups across the globe. He was known for his charismatic style and direct presentation of Zen, which was well tailored for the Western audience. Known by students for his many correspondences with them through letters, his utilization of Dharma combat, and expressions such as "only don't know" or "only go straight" in teachings, he was conferred the honorific title of Dae Soen Sa Nim in June 2004 by the Jogye order for a lifetime of achievements. Considered the highest honor to have bestowed upon one in the order, the title translates to mean Great honored Zen master. He died in November that year at Hwa Gae Sah in Seoul, South Korea, at age 77.

...Archive/Nominations

Portal:Buddhism/Selected biography/7
Anna Mae Bullock, better known by her stage name Tina Turner (born November 26, 1939) is an American singer, dancer and entertainer. Her success, dominance, popularity and consistent contributions to the rock music genre have garnered her the title, The Queen of Rock & Roll. She is known worldwide for her overpowering and energetic stage presence, powerful vocals, ground-breaking concerts as well as for her long, well-proportioned legs that are considered the most famous in show business. She was listed on Rolling Stone's list The Immortals — The Greatest Artists of All Time. Turner is a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, and she is also represented in the Grammy Hall of Fame by two of her recordings: "River Deep - Mountain High" (1999) and "Proud Mary" (2003). Turner has won eight Grammy Awards. Turner has been acknowledged as one of the world's most popular entertainers, biggest-selling music artists of all time and the most successful female rock artist ever with record sales nearly 200 million copies worldwide and having sold more concert tickets than any other solo performer in music's history. Turner has accumulated many hit albums and singles worldwide as a solo act and with former husband, Ike Turner, (as a member of the Ike & Tina Turner Revue).

...Archive/Nominations

Portal:Buddhism/Selected biography/8

Mazie Hirono

Mazie Keiko Hirono (born November 3, 1947) is an American politician. She was the second Asian immigrant elected lieutenant governor of a state of the United States. A lifelong Democrat, she ran against Linda Lingle for governor of Hawaii in 2002, one of the few gubernatorial races in United States history where two major parties nominated women to challenge each other. Hirono is currently the congresswoman for Hawaii's 2nd congressional district. She considers herself a non-practicing Jodo Shinshu Buddhist, and is often cited with Hank Johnson (D-Georgia), as the first Buddhist to serve in the United States Congress. She is the third woman to be elected to Congress from the state of Hawaii.

...Archive/Nominations

Portal:Buddhism/Selected biography/9

Nichiren

Nichiren (February 16, 1222 – October 13, 1282) was a Buddhist monk who lived during the Kamakura period (1185-1333) in Japan. Nichiren taught devotion to the Lotus Sutra, Namu Myoho Renge Kyo, as the exclusive means to attain enlightenment and the chanting of "Namu Myoho Renge Kyo" as the essential practice of the teaching. He is credited with founding what has come to be known as Nichiren Buddhism, a major school of Japanese Buddhism encompassing numerous sects espousing diverse doctrines.

...Archive/Nominations

Portal:Buddhism/Selected biography/10

14th Dalai Lama

Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso (born Lhamo Döndrub (6 July 1935 in Qinghai), is the 14th Dalai Lama. He is the head of the Tibetan government-in-exile based in Dharamshala, India. The Dalai Lama is a spiritual leader revered among Tibetans. The most influential figure of the Gelugpa or Yellow Hat Sect, he has considerable influence over the other sects of Tibetan Buddhism. Tibetans traditionally believe him to be the reincarnation of his predecessors. A noted public speaker worldwide, the Dalai Lama is often described as charismatic. He is the first Dalai Lama to travel to the West, where he seeks to spread Buddhist teachings and to promote ethics and interfaith harmony. In 1989 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He was given honorary Canadian citizenship in 2006, and was awarded the United States Congressional Gold Medal on 17 October 2007. The Dalai Lama has received outside Tibet more than one hundred honorary conferments and major awards. On 17 December 2008, after months of speculation, he announced his semi-retirement. He said that the future course of the movement he had led for nearly five decades would now be decided by the elected parliament-in-exile under the prime minister Samdhong Rinpoche.

...Archive/Nominations

Portal:Buddhism/Selected biography/11

Steven Seagal

Steven F. Seagal (born April 10, 1952) is an American action movie actor, producer, writer, director, martial artist and singer-songwriter. He belongs to a generation of movie action hero actors (including Sylvester Stallone, Chuck Norris, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dolph Lundgren and Jean-Claude Van Damme) who were featured in many of the Hollywood blockbuster action films of the late 1980s and 1990s. A 6' 4" (193 cm) 7th-dan black belt in aikido, Seagal began his adult life as an aikido instructor in Japan. He became the first foreigner to operate an aikido dojo in Osaka, Japan. He later moved to the Los Angeles, California area where he made his film debut in 1988 in Above the Law. Since then, Seagal has become a well recognized action star, mainly due to his action films of the 1990s such as Under Siege (1992) and Under Siege 2 (1995) where he played Navy SEALs counter-terrorist expert Casey Ryback. In total his movies have earned in excess of $850 million worldwide. Seagal is also a recording artist and guitarist and the founder of Steven Seagal Enterprises. In addition to his professional achievements, he is also known as an environmentalist, an animal rights activist and, like other actors such as Richard Gere, is a supporter of Tenzin Gyatso the 14th Dalai Lama and the cause of Tibetan independence. Spiritualism and Buddhism play an important role in Seagal's life and he has been recognized by Tibetan lama Penor Rinpoche as a reincarnated Tulku.

...Archive/Nominations

Portal:Buddhism/Selected biography/12

Phil Jackson

Philip Douglas "Phil" Jackson (born September 17, 1945 in Deer Lodge, Montana) is a former American professional basketball player and the current coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. Jackson is widely considered one of the greatest coaches in the history of the National Basketball Association (NBA). His reputation was established as head coach of the Chicago Bulls from 1989 through 1998; during his tenure, Chicago won six NBA titles. His next team, the Los Angeles Lakers, won three consecutive NBA titles from 2000-2002. In total, Jackson has won 9 NBA titles as a coach, a record shared with Red Auerbach. Jackson is known for his use of Tex Winter's triangle offense as well as a holistic approach to coaching that is influenced by Eastern philosophy, earning him the nickname "Zen Master". (Jackson cites Robert Pirsig's book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance as one of the major guiding forces in his life. His fond admiration for the book is the source of his nickname "Zen Master.") He also applies Native American spiritual practices as documented in his book "Sacred Hoops." He is the author of several candid books about his teams and his basketball strategies. Jackson is also a recipient of the state of North Dakota's Roughrider Award. Jackson leads the 2007 class of the Basketball Hall of Fame. Jackson regularly attempts to alter his appearance so the media cannot use old photos of him for recent news, and, true to his word, as of September 2008, he was no longer sporting his illustrious, white mustache, which saw 9 NBA titles.

...Archive/Nominations

Portal:Buddhism/Selected biography/13

Ho Yuen Hoe

Ho Yuen Hoe, later in life known as Venerable Ho (simplified Chinese: 净润法师; traditional Chinese: 淨潤法師; pinyin: Jìngrùn Fǎshī; 18 February 1908 – 11 January 2006), was a Buddhist nun affectionately known as Singapore's grand dame of charity in recognition of her life-long devotion in helping the old and needy. She was the abbess of Lin Chee Cheng Sia Temple and the founder in 1969 of the Man Fut Tong Nursing Home, the first Buddhist nursing home. Venerable Ho was relatively unknown to the public until 1996, when she was featured in a television programme – The Extraordinary People – at the age of 88. As a result, the public came to know more about her work and her nursing home. In 2001, she received the Public Service Award from the President of Singapore in recognition of her contribution to the country. Until her hospitalisation in November 2005 she was actively involved in charity work. Venerable Ho died on 11 January 2006, a month before her 98th birthday.

...Archive/Nominations

Portal:Buddhism/Selected biography/14

Xá Lợi Pagoda

Colonel Lê Quang Tung (1923 – November 1, 1963) was the commander of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam Special Forces under the command of Ngô Đình Nhu, the brother of South Vietnam's president, Ngô Đình Diệm. A former servant of the Ngô family, Tung's military background was in security and counterespionage. During the 1950s, Tung was a high-ranking official in Nhu's Cần Lao Party, the secret Roman Catholic organisation which maintained the Ngô family's grip on power, extorting money from wealthy businessmen. In 1960, Tung was promoted directly to the rank of colonel and became the commander of the special forces. Tung's period at the helm of South Vietnam's elite troops was noted mostly for his work in repressing dissidents, especially attacking Buddhists, rather than fighting the Việt Cộng insurgents. His most well-known attack was the raid on Xá Lợi Pagoda (pictured) on August 21, 1963 in which hundreds, including monks, were believed to have died. Across the country, his men heavily vandalised Buddhist property. In another incident, his men killed a giant fish because Buddhists regarded it as a reincarnation of one of Buddha's disciples. Tung's main military program was a scheme in which Army of the Republic of Vietnam personnel attempted to infiltrate North Vietnam in order to engage in intelligence gathering and sabotage. The program was ineffective, with the vast majority of infiltrators being killed or captured. Following the pagoda raids, the US terminated funding to Tung's men because they were used as a political tool rather than against the communists. Along with Diệm and Nhu, Tung was assassinated during the November 1963 coup.

...Archive/Nominations

Nominations[edit]

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