Panlong Monastery, east of Tien Lake in Yunnan Province, shut its doors on August 15, 2014, defying the local government’s push for the Buddhist monastery to become more commercialized, reported local Chinese newspaper, Spring City Evening Post.
The monastery’s vocal protest is extraordinary, given that a number of monasteries have embraced the flashy lifestyle of the “Mundane World”.
Visitors to the monastery were met with a notice, reading, “Dear visitors and Buddhist followers, the local government’s plan to upgrade Panlong Monastery for commercial purposes and introduce a corporate management model has disrupted the normal orders in Panlong Monastery. Therefore, we decided to shut our doors for quiet meditation. Hope you can understand.”
The monastery did not indicate when it would reopen to the public.
The monastery’s protest came one day after local governments in Jingning and Jingcheng held a conference at the monastery, without any warning, on its “future development and regulation”.
One of the proposals involved refurbishing one of its buildings, which was ideal for viewing the scenic views of Tien Lake and Jingcheng city, fuelling speculation of a possible ticket price increase.
Ren Qing, a monk who has been practicing Buddhism for 17 years at the monastery, was not thrilled about the government’s plans. “The government had a meeting on August 14, and proposed many commercial plans, which were immediately rejected by our abbot and many fellow monks. We buddhist monks cannot lead a commercialized life,” said Ren Qing.
Some buddhist monks, however, have long ignored the stringent Buddhist rules and lived their lives according to their own wants and desires. Earlier this month, a monastery in Xiaogan, Hubei Province, held a Kaiguang, or a consecration ceremony, for none other than a Ferrari vehicle. Consecration is believed to bring good luck to any objects presented in the presence of a Buddha. In May, a monk in Wenzhou was stopped by police for drunk driving.
After the monastery’s protest, the newspaper said local officials in Jingcheng talked with the abbot and stressed “it won’t take over or sell Panlong Monastery in any form”.
Photos: China News