Rumors continue to haunt Shaolin Abbot Shi Yongxin

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, October 28, 2011
Adjust font size:

The word Fangzhang (abbot) comes from the measurement of an abbot's room, which is typically very small, at only one square zhang (about 10 square meters). This is why an abbot is called Fangzhang. It indicates that a Fangzhang (abbot) should live a simple, quiet life with no desires or distractions.

Shaolin Abbot Shi Yongxin [File photo]

Shaolin Abbot Shi Yongxin [File photo]

However, few people will think of Abbot Shi living such a life now. To many, Fangzhang (abbot) is more like a profession for Shi. It has brought him money, fame, social standing, conflict and even scandal.

On October 7, 2011, Abbot Shi became a hot topic of discussion once more following widespread online gossip. A Shaolin disciple revealed that Abbot Shi has overseas savings of at least US$3 billion and also owns villas in the United States and Germany. The disciple went on to suggest that Abbot Shi has had affairs with a host of famous female stars, including former TV hostess Yang Lan. The disciple went on to claim that Abbot Shi also had a mistress called Li Jingqian, who is a graduate of Peking University, and a child living in Germany. The online claims came complete with an attached photo, which, it is claimed, is "an intimate photo of Abbot Shi with Li Jingqian." In an effort to verify the claims, the source commented that "the gossip has been confirmed by the German International Broadcast Station."

The revelations set the Internet buzzing. Usually terms such as "mistress", "villas", "famous stars", and "illegitimate child" are used to describe corrupt officials or rich businessmen. However, the fact that these terms are now being used in reference to an abbot, who is supposed to be above such human desires, has astonished, shocked and enraged Netizens in equal measure. Postings have ranged from, "Now that Buddhists cannot resist secular temptations, is there any purity left?" to, "He has destroyed the reputation of the Shaolin Temple, which was built up over hundreds of years."

The Shaolin Temple public affairs office said on the following day that the rumors were sheer slander and, due to the number of rumors, there was no need to respond to them.

Three days later, however, the Shaolin Temple published a statement on its website saying that the recent online rumors about Abbot Shi were vicious, groundless libel.

"If anyone has concrete evidence (including the real identity of the person who made the claims, detailed information, human testimony or physical evidence), accusing Abbot Shi of breaking laws or Buddhist doctrines, please report to the Shaolin monks immediately," the statement said.

It continued: "If the evidence provided by the informer is proved to be true and subsequently helps law enforcement authorities to solve the case, the Shaolin Temple will give him a reward of 50,000 yuan."

As well as vehemently denying the rumors, the Shaolin temple is also offering a reward for the true identity of the "rumormonger."

The disputes about Abbot Shi began in 2006. At a tourist industry development gathering in Dengfeng, Henan, Abbot Shi was given a car, worth 100 million yuan. Many people felt that this violated the Buddhist doctrine which states that "everything in the world is void."

Following this, in 2009, an expensive cassock raised further questions about Abbot Shi. Henan Commercial Newspaper reported that Abbot Shi ordered a 160,000 yuan cassock, and that its golden thread alone cost 50,000 yuan.

And in early May, 2010, a fast-spreading online rumor claimed that local reporters witnessed the arrest of Abbot Shi as he visited prostitutes during a police crackdown on prostitution.

The temple issued an online statement on May 5, claiming that the rumor about Abbot Shi was nothing more than vicious libel and that it had hurt the feelings of Buddhists and tarnished the reputation of both the Shaolin temple and the abbot himself. The statement went on to say that both the Shaolin Temple and Abbot Shi were grievously wounded by the rumors, and reserved the right to take legal action against the perpetrators.

"We utterly condemn the rumor. It not only defames Shi himself, but also harms the image of the famous shrine and even the reputation of Chinese Buddhism," an official with the State Administration for Religious Affairs said.

The official added that the administration had asked religious people, Buddhists and Internet users not to spread, or instantly believe rumors.

He also expressed the hope that the media would show respect for, and safeguard the legal rights of religious people, and guide public opinion to help promote religious and social harmony.

Print E-mail Bookmark and Share

Go to Forum >>0 Comment(s)

No comments.

Add your comments...

  • User Name Required
  • Your Comment
  • Racist, abusive and off-topic comments may be removed by the moderator.
Send your storiesGet more from