Probe needed to rid old temple of its trust crisis
Updated: 2015-08-10 08:02
Shi Yongxin, the abbot of China's Shaolin Temple, attends the third Shaolin Cultural Festival with a team of 70 disciples in London, Oct 12, 2014. [Photo/IC]
Shaolin Temple and its presiding monk Yongxin have never been in such a severe credibility crisis. Yongxin has been accused of abusing his position by keeping a mistress and having fathered a child, as well as misappropriating money accumulated through the temple's various business activities.
Yongxin has long been a controversial figure since he rose to fame in the late 1980s and early 1990s by launching commercial activities for the renowned temple in the city of Dengfeng, Central China's Henan province, and making the temple famous worldwide.
If anything, there is no denying that he has contributed a lot to what the temple is today. It is he who has organized monks with martial art skills to stage performances all over the world, which has helped build the reputation of this temple with a history of more than 1,500 years. It is he who has presided over the launching of a lot of culture centers to give publicity to Buddhism and Shaolin Temple all over the world. It is he who has made Shaolin Temple a well-known tourist attraction, which has not only helped the temple make money but also injected impetus onto the local economy.
A nail sticking up gets hammered, as the saying goes, and what this monk has done has been controversial from the very beginning.
Some believe what he has done has diverted the temple from the road of Buddhism. Some take it for granted that he must have benefitted a lot personally from what he has done.
Over the past two weeks, Yongxin has been battered by a storm of allegations. Whistle-blowers from the temple are publicly accusing him of keeping a mistress and leading a life in violation of Buddhist principles. Five monks have reportedly come to Beijing to file charges against him with the higher authorities.
An investigation by the relevant central authorities is necessary, not least because the reputation of Shaolin Temple has a lot to do with the development of Buddhism in China. In addition, how the revenue from the temple's commercial activities has been spent needs to be made public.
It is actually not a matter of whether a Buddhist temple should make money. It is a matter of whether it has used the money in the dissemination of Buddhism and to the benefit of those in need, which is the core value of Buddhist doctrine.