Walter Mencken 10:48 a.m., May 22
Just in time for the new library...
...a Buddhist bookshop with a cafe attached, Jing Si Books & Cafe, is opening right across from it, at 302-304 11th Avenue, East Village, tomorrow (Saturday, August 4th).
Word is they will have coffees, teas, and sandwiches, and I saw lots of comfortable seating where you can spend as long as you like. The one risk – and this is only my guess – volunteers may try to get you involved in the organization.
Because the organizers make it plain, they have an agenda: “EcoVerse is not just a café and bookstore,” says their literature, “but also a community center for the environmentally conscious lifestyle that our ailing planet so desperately needs.”
The group is also known as EcoVerse. They are a Buddhist-based group from Taiwan founded and led by a lady monk with the title Master Cheng Yen. Under her leadership, they have expanded mightily and claim 10 million members with 372 offices worldwide in 47 countries. People say they’re the largest non-governmental humanitarian aid agency in the Chinese-speaking world.
With this coffee-eatery-bookshop opening, you can’t help thinking of that other well-financed Asian group led by Vietnam-based Supreme Master Ching Hai, who also arrived with their own restaurant, the Loving Hut (1905 El Cajon Boulevard, 619-683-9490).
Ching Hai is another powerful woman whose word seems to be regarded as gospel by her millions of devotees. Loving Hut serves great vegan food, as long as you can put up with the Supreme Master delivering her Thoughts on worldwide Supreme Master TV coming at you 24/7 from the overhead TV sets.
Both are media-savvy organizations that have spread with the Internet across the world, promoting social good deeds through a Buddhist lens. Which is fine, but also it feels like both are very dependent on the word of their leaders.
But hey, the place looks nice, and no doubt they do an awful lot of good, and, bottom line, they promise really good coffee.
A “community housewarming” will take place tomorrow (Saturday) at the new café-bookshop at 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. and the place will be open after that.