The world’s most famous kung fu temple has a serious fight on its hands after explosive allegations surfaced last week that one of the esteemed leaders of the ancient Shaolin Monastery has been leading a lurid double life.
Since last weekend, Shi Zhengyi, a Shaolin disciple, has been posting a series of scandalous accusations on various Chinese online forums that depict Abbot Shi Yongxin as a less than pious embezzler and womanizer who has fathered illegitimate children with different nun mistresses.
Shi Zhengyi (meaning “interpreting justice” in Chinese) has backed up his startling claims with documents that date back to the 1980s. They purportedly show that Shi Yongxin had been kicked out of Shaolin in the late 1980s following accusations of theft made by his own master.
Other pieces of evidence include two national identifications with different birth dates as well as a birth certificate that is claimed to be for one of the abbot’s illegitimate children. Recently, the whistleblower also posted documents that seem to show that Shi Yongxin transferred 175,000RMB from one of his temple’s subsidiaries to his mistress.
Shi Yongxin is no stranger to controversy. He has been dubbed the “CEO monk” for running Shaolin more like a Fortune 500 company than a 1,500 year old temple. He has met with world leaders from Queen Elizabeth II to Tim Cook and absolutely loves Google Glass. According to CNN, he has plans to build a $297 million Shaolin hotel complex in Australia complete with a golf course.
Facing backlash for his business decisions, Shi Yongxin told Xinhua: “If China can import Disney resorts, why can’t other countries import the Shaolin Monastery? Cultural promotion is a very dignified undertaking.”
Because of Shi Yongxin’s national celebrity, the allegations into his personal life have gone viral throughout the Chinese internet. Most netizens seem to be inclined to believe the immoral accusations against the supposed holy man and root for him being exposed as a hypocrite.
One netizen writes, via RFA: “The Shaolin Temple is supposed to be a religious retreat for Buddhist teaching, for cultivating Chinese culture and purifying the spirit, and now it has turned into a corporation and a cash cow operating for a few vested interests.”
The Shaolin Monastery has issued an angry official response dismissing the allegations as “fabricated and malicious insults and libel.” They have reported the whistleblower to the police.
Of course, the police have also been called on Shi Yongxin, with China’s religious affairs bureau confirming on Thursday that it has launched an investigation into the celebrity abbot’s wrongdoings and seeks the “truth.” Because of the investigation, Shi Yongxin is now forbidden to travel abroad.
At least Shi Yongxin’s mother is standing by him. Refuting the accusation that her son has two daughters with different mistress to the Chengdu Business Daily. Instead she claims that one of the alleged daughters is in fact the abbot’s nephew’s daughter.
What would the Wu do?
by Alex Linder
[Images via NetEase // Sina // Tencent]