Reflections: BW Monastery’s vague & fickle dedications

The very insightful piece below was written by a former Bliss and Wisdom follower from Singapore, originally shared on Dharma Protection Fellowship’s Facebook page (link).

 

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PEI, HOPE for the best but expect the worst

中文版

18 Dec 2017

Prince Edward Island, Canada  – Reports have emerged that embattled Taiwanese Buddhist group Bliss and Wisdom, known as GEBIS in Canada, will open a private school in PEI as early as next fall. The school will be named HOPE, which stands for ‘Happiness, Optimism, Peace and Excellence’.

In June, a group of senior monks, including two former abbots, left Bliss and Wisdom’s monastery in Taiwan to expose sex scandals, corruption and Chinese interference in the 100,000-strong Buddhist organization. Since then, Bliss and Wisdom has come under fire for its misconduct from the Dalai Lama and Buddhist leaders. Although Bliss and Wisdom’s unconventional spiritual leader Mary Jin has been widely criticized for her cohabitation with supposedly celibate monks, her extravagant lifestyle and ties to China, she remains firmly in control of the organization.

GEBIS’ growing footprint in PEI and persistent secrecy has been a source of disquiet among Islanders for years. Adding to its recent troubles in Taiwan, Mary Jin’s safe haven in PEI has come under increasing scrutiny. Last year, the monks feared that an outbreak of tuberculosis and a severe rat infestation would be the death knell for GEBIS. Fortunately for them, the monks managed to tap on local connections to convince local media to scale down coverage. Former monks also reveal that the tuberculosis outbreak was successfully concealed from local authorities, while the monks worked overnight to catch rats and clean up the monastery before health inspectors arrived to check on the rat situation.

Please refer to CBC article below for information about the HOPE school GEBIS plans to set up:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/pei-chinese-english-school-mandarin-1.4300044

HOPE school staff: three’s a crowd

Although local media coverage has generally favored the monks, and the government has largely turned a blind eye to GEBIS’ problems, some Islanders remain concerned.

I first heard about Mary Jin’s intention to open a private school in PEI early this year. I was incredulous that it would ever work and fully expected the scheme to fall flat on its face.  Although the monks I knew tried their best to practice kindness and what they thought was ‘Buddhist’ teachings, I found them to be shockingly ignorant about Western culture and values. Allow me to explain…

Many of the monks, including some who grew up in the monastery and some who were ordained for several years, found me to be too ‘Westernized’ and ‘pro-Western’. They sought to tell me all about how evil Western countries, particularly the US, are invading the Middle East to steal oil, trapping poor African countries in debt, and turning South America into a barren wasteland with GM food. My attempts at providing a more nuanced perspective, suggesting that the reality on the ground would have consisted of both positive and negative impacts, were met with the reply, ‘You have been brainwashed by the evil Americans! That is what the Americans want you to think!’ I gave up all hope of having intelligent conversations with them on these topics.

American cultural imperialism is diluting Chinese values, they say, and Bliss and Wisdom’s K-12 school in Taiwan (the BW Edu Park) will rejuvenate Chinese culture by upholding purity amidst a flood of evil. Apparently, China’s economic preeminence could allow Chinese to replace English as the global language of the future, but more importantly, China’s rise will help spread traditional Chinese values worldwide to counter evil, materialistic Western norms.

While I am aware of Western ‘evil’, I am well acquainted with Chinese ‘evil’ as well. Tibet, Xinjiang, Tiananmen, the Cultural Revolution…

On multiple occasions I was very tempted to retort, ‘For all your talk about “gratitude” and “positivity”, that’s a lot of hate you have for America. If hundreds of thousands of American soldiers hadn’t died for our sake in WWII, you and I would be speaking Japanese instead of Chinese today.’  But I held my tongue. I was there to learn about Buddhism, not debate about current affairs.

Last year, I spoke to another monk who visited a Waldorf school near New York with the previous abbot, Venerable Ru Zheng. It was a casual visit, initiated by a Bliss and Wisdom follower, to introduce the monks to alternative education systems. The monk told me that they were pleased to see that at least the Waldorf school exposed children to great thinkers and classics at an early age. ‘But I find that they fail to inculcate moral values in their children, because unlike us, they do not teach their children to emulate those saints. That is why Bliss and Wisdom’s philosophy of education is superior,’ said the monk.

I was so horrified I could not speak. Many thoughts raced through my head – why are we Chinese Buddhists judging other cultures using our own cultural frame of reference? How would we feel if they did it to us? Perhaps it makes perfect sense for them to introduce their children to different philosophies, different perspectives and allow them to make their own choices? Maybe they do not wish to impose notions of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, ‘holy’ and ‘unholy’ on their children? Maybe we have something to learn from them as well. So much can be said about cultural values and education – but it appeared to me that all conversations had to end with ‘Chinese values are superior’ or ‘Bliss and Wisdom is always right’. So I kept my mouth shut.

One of Mary Jin’s key doctrines is that it is fine to have doubts about your own guru, but no matter what suspicions or doubts you may have, you must always come to the conclusion that your guru is always right. That is the doctrine of ‘reasonable doubt’ – 合理的猶豫. Mary Jin often emphasizes the scriptures which say that the guru should be viewed as the Buddha, and one should not find fault with one’s guru. As a long-time follower of Bliss and Wisdom, I bought into the doctrine initially. I tried to rationalize and suppress all my doubts about Mary Jin and the organization.

But as I began to read teachings and books from the Dalai Lama, I felt increasingly uncomfortable with Mary Jin’s doctrine. The Dalai Lama made clear that if science could disprove something mentioned in the Buddhist scriptures, the scientific explanation should be believed and that segment of the scripture ignored. Again and again the Dalai Lama reiterated the importance of seeking the truth and reality – and that this should supersede scriptural authority and the guru’s words. This was the Buddha’s intention, the Dalai Lama argued, referring to many early records of the Buddha’s words. The discord between Mary Jin’s doctrine and the Dalai Lama’s teachings troubled me for a very long time, and I spoke to many monks, but received no convincing answer. ‘You are still very junior, so you will be confused if you read too many external publications. Focus on the teachings of Master Jih-Chang and Mary Jin, so you don’t get confused,’ they told me.

Another one of Bliss and Wisdom’s cherished doctrines is ‘Observe Merits Appreciate Kindness’ (OMAK), which is basically learning to see the positive side of things and express gratitude to others. Many Bliss and Wisdom followers take OMAK seriously – they are always ‘friendly’, ‘welcoming’ and ‘positive’. Unlike traditional Buddhism, which is usually rather subdued, with lots of introspection, meditation and sutra study, Bliss and Wisdom radiated all the positivity and friendliness of one big, happy family.

But as you can expect, ‘OMAK’ comes with terms and conditions attached. You must always OMAK the guru (Mary Jin) and the monks – never find fault with them. If you can see any faults in your guru or in the monks, that is because your karma is impure. You must repent. Your negative thoughts are causing this misperception. Always OMAK those who volunteer their time and give donations to Bliss and Wisdom. As for other Buddhists or other religions – yeah, we can OMAK them as well if they are doing good deeds, but never lose faith in Bliss and Wisdom. Bliss and Wisdom is always superior because (insert any reason here, e.g. we have the largest sangha in Taiwan, we are growing rapidly and will soon save the world, other Buddhists don’t have enough faith to learn from the great Mary Jin….). As for those who criticize our beloved Mary Jin, we can OMAK them as well because they are helping us practice forbearance, and we must have compassion for them because they will burn in hell!

During my stay in the monastery, words like ‘CULT!’, ‘HYPOCRITES!’, and ‘CHINESE CHAUVINISTS’  kept popping into my head. No way, I thought. I tried to convince myself that it must be my bad karma making me see the holy guru and the triple gem as impure.

There were many times I saw (senior) monks up to some mischief, or saying mean things about people. Occasionally I happened to mention it casually in a conversation, and I was usually told, ‘Oh, it would be out of character for him to say that. Maybe he meant something else.’ Fair enough. But there was once when a monk vehemently denied that a senior monk could ever do something against the rules, and a very interesting conversation ensued.

‘I never saw it,’ he said.

‘Well maybe you weren’t there at the scene. I was there most of the time. Or maybe you didn’t notice, or you forgot. Or maybe I was mistaken. It’s not a big deal, I guess it was a fairly minor rule, but I saw it happen,’ I said.

‘It’s impossible for such a thing to happen. You are not practicing OMAK properly. You are finding fault with the monks. That’s why you see them as impure,’ he told me.

‘Could there not be the slightest chance that…’   I gave up. Some people live in an alternative universe.

If it isn’t clear by now what the HOPE school might look like, let me briefly describe how Bliss and Wisdom Edu Park (their K-12 school in Taiwan) works.

Devout parents who hope to give their children ‘the best education’, grounded in what they consider to be traditional Chinese and Buddhist values, send their children to BW Edu Park in droves, hoping to avoid the evil, materialistic, Western-style education in Taiwanese public schools. There are so many applicants that only 2 out of 5 applicants are accepted. Only children who demonstrate strong faith in Master Jih-Chang and Mary Jin, and are obedient, cooperative and diligent, may be accepted. Their parents and sometimes grandparents are interviewed to see if they possess those qualities as well.

Bliss and Wisdom Edu Park is run as a private boarding school, with little government funding, so private school fees are charged. Teachers typically live on campus, are given room and board, and a small monthly stipend. Most of the landscaping, farming, cooking, and building maintenance are done by an army of unpaid volunteers, who receive free room and board. The campus is surrounded by swathes of organic farmland, owned by BW and its affiliates. The children are not allowed to go home, except for Chinese New Year and the summer holidays, and parental visits are discouraged.

As they grow up, the children are trained to love Chinese, Confucian and Buddhist values, taught the importance of hard work and teamwork, and the importance of guru devotion to Master Jih-Chang and Mary Jin. Difficult and uncooperative children can be expelled and sent home (to disappointed parents). The children are crammed into dormitories – they must sleep, study and eat together at prescribed times. Every hour of the day is scheduled. Communal living encourages teamwork, says Bliss and Wisdom; expect no privacy or individuality. No hobbies. Competitive sports are banned, because competition is Western and evil. Cooperation is a traditional Chinese, Confucian virtue. Free time is best spent working on the farms, to learn perseverance and accumulate good karma. Boys and girls are kept apart; dating and flirting is evil and frowned upon, but that only makes it all the more exciting for the naughty ones.

Alumni of BW Edu Park have told me that it can be quite a polarizing experience – some children love it and some children hate it. Apparently a good way of releasing stress is to climb up to the roof, throw glass bottles to the ground and run away. Some children claim that bullying and fighting is rampant, which teachers turn a blind eye to because they are too tired and busy. The children who have perfected the art of stealing food, especially snacks, are seen as heroes (no food is allowed to be stashed). Widely vilified but secretly admired is the boy who sneaked in a porno mag.

It is from the fertile grounds of BW Edu Park that the monks pick promising young children to join the monastery. Only the best are selected. The lifestyle in BW Edu Park prepares them well for monastic life.

Based on comments by the principal of HOPE school, Derek McEwen, it appears that HOPE school will have a similar education philosophy to BW Edu Park in Taiwan. It is unclear if HOPE school will be a boarding school, or where it will be located.

HOPE school expects to be popular with PEI’s expanding Chinese community, but does not expect many enrollments from English-speakers (i.e. non-Chinese). Chinese immigrants to Canada undoubtedly want a better life for their children and want a Western education, but are afraid of losing their cultural heritage. Chinese parents want their Western-educated children to speak Chinese, not just out of nostalgia, but for practical reasons because of China’s rising power. GEBIS has sought to connect with Chinese immigrants on PEI in an effort to expand its local support base, establishing SinoMutual in 2015. HOPE school will be a great boost to these efforts.

Finally, allow me to explain what HOPE really means, according to Bliss and Wisdom’s doctrine:

H – Happiness. All virtues arise from the guru; your guru is the wellspring of all your happiness.

O – Optimism. Always be positive and OMAK (selectively, of course). We live in a Buddhist utopia, a fantasy land where nothing ever goes wrong because of the power of OMAK.

P – Peace. Buddhists should not pick fights with one another. Other monasteries should not criticize Bliss and Wisdom so that we can live in peace and harmony.

E – Excellence. Everything we do is to please the guru (作師所喜). In order not to upset our guru, we must work hard at what she tells us to do. We must excel because it is the responsibility of Bliss and Wisdom to spread its ‘pure’ version of Buddhism worldwide (建立教法).

Islanders have HOPE, the monks are gonna save ya!

Merry Christmas to all my readers.

Bliss & Wisdom overwhelms local communities in Canada with vast land purchases

中文版

2 Dec 2017

Prince Edward Island, Canada – Local communities in Canada’s smallest province, Prince Edward Island, are feeling overwhelmed by Taiwanese Buddhist group Bliss and Wisdom’s vast land purchases on the island.

According to PEI historian David Weale, GEBIS has purchased almost all the land in the Heatherdale community. “The community has become, de facto, one large monastic compound, controlled by one Corporation,” he says. Earlier, GEBIS spokesman Floyd Sanderson claimed that the land is meant to serve as a ‘buffer zone’ to ensure ‘quiet and solitude’ for the monks.

Bliss and Wisdom is the largest Tibetan Buddhist group in Taiwan, but a very controversial one. The Great Enlightenment Buddhist Institute Society (GEBIS) on Prince Edward Island is an overseas extension of the group, set up to bring half of Bliss and Wisdom’s 800 Taiwanese monks to PEI.

In the past few months, two of the most senior monks in the Bliss and Wisdom sangha, the first abbot Venerable Fan Yin and second abbot Venerable Jing Ming, were expelled for speaking out against abuses and scandals in the organization. His Holiness the Dalai LamaHis Eminence the 102nd Ganden Tripa Rizong Rinpoche (former head of the Tibetan Buddhist Gelugpa order) and Taiwanese Buddhist leaders have chastised Bliss and Wisdom for its transgression of Buddhist guidelines. Taiwanese monks called for Buddhists to declare Bliss and Wisdom a pseudo-Buddhist cult and excommunicate the group from the mainstream Buddhist community.

GEBIS’ expanding footprint in PEI is increasingly a source of worry for islanders and small local communities. Last month, local media reported that GEBIS will testify before a legislative committee after the National Farmer’s Union alleged that GEBIS has circumvented land ownership laws to buy vast tracts of land.

In July 2017, GEBIS made headlines for attempting to buy 45 acres of land opposite its new monastery in Heatherdale, which was initially blocked by the provincial government as local laws stipulate that corporations are not allowed to own more than five acres of land in aggregate. After confidential discussions, the PEI Executive Council approved the purchase.

This is not the first time that the PEI government and media have bent over backwards to accommodate GEBIS. A few years ago, the PEI Education Department gave the green light for Moonlight International Academy, an education institution set up by GEBIS to bring monks into Canada on student visas. The proposal was rejected several times before being approved after intense lobbying. In 2014, Alex MacDonald, deputy minister in the PEI Education Department, visited the Bliss and Wisdom group in Taiwan (on GEBIS’ dime perhaps?). Former GEBIS monks allege that GEBIS concealed tuberculosis outbreaks from the local media and health authorities, and utilized their connections on the island to convince local reporters to scale down coverage on rat infestations.

Islanders have also raised concerns about the treatment of young children in the GEBIS monastery.

Bliss and Wisdom’s ‘sanghakarmans’

中文版

12 Nov 2017

Yesterday, Bliss and Wisdom sangha published a video with monks testifying for the purity of their ‘sanghakarmans’. The video vanished a day later, but copies have been circulated online.

I have previously translated ‘sanghakarman’ or 羯摩 as ‘vinaya committee’ or ‘consensus-based decision-making’, depending on the context. BW spokesman Ven Ru Wei has chosen to use the Sanskrit term ‘sanghakarman’ directly in his English statements.

The Buddha intended for monastic matters to be resolved by monks through ‘sanghakarmans’, a process of consensus-building with certain guidelines in place. ‘Vinaya’ is a regulatory framework or code of conduct for monastics; sanghakarmans can make decisions on, but not limited to, vinaya matters.

View the video here:

Strangely, the video features monks currently living in GEBIS Canada, and was filmed at the GEBIS main shrine. They are led by Ven Ru Yuan, abbot of GEBIS, but the overall abbot of Bliss and Wisdom sangha, Ven Ru Jing, is nowhere to be seen in the video. What about the monks in Taiwan?

An explanatory text was posted below the original video, which I have translated below. It is a partial transcript of what was said in the video.

Master Jih-Chang was a great monk, and always followed the vinaya and dharma in making clear decisions. The manner in which Master Zhen-Ru (aka Mary Jin) interacts with monks and teaches monks was laid down by Master Jih-Chang in accordance with the three types of vinaya.

Bliss and Wisdom sangha solemnly declares that:

  1. Bliss and Wisdom sangha follows all sanghakarmans required by the vinaya, such as reciting the vows, going on vassa, and confessions.
  2. When a sanghakarman is in session, Master Zhen-Ru (Mary Jin) has never participated.
  3. Master Zhen-Ru (Mary Jin) has never intervened in decisions made by a sanghakarman.

Master Zhen-Ru (Mary Jin) is Bliss and Wisdom’s spiritual guide. The operations of Bliss and Wisdom organization are directed by monastics and lay people in charge, as per proper procedure.

Bliss and Wisdom sangha is led by the abbot, who leads a team of senior executive monks. They follow the vinaya and the spirit of the sanghakarmans. The lay organizations are run by lay committee members, according to relevant laws.

We pray that you will not be confused by untrue rumors. One should use the eye of wisdom to discern clearly. Amituofo.

I sincerely hope to help Bliss and Wisdom sangha restore its sullied reputation, and clarify the truth. If the Bliss and Wisdom sangha will respond to the following questions transparently and convincingly, then I will apologize immediately; if Bliss and Wisdom sangha is unable to tell the truth for what it is, then these unfavorable rumors about Bliss and Wisdom will unfortunately persist.

1. Will Bliss & Wisdom sangha declare that its monks have never lived together with Mary Jin, especially the Marco monks?

2. Will Bliss & Wisdom sangha declare that its monks have never had sexual relations with Mary Jin?

3. Will Bliss & Wisdom sangha produce any audio recordings, videos, or written evidence proving that Master Jih-Chang did indeed appoint Mary Jin as his successor? If no evidence can be produced, why? Mary Jin’s position as successor was established on the testimony of only a few monks, who convinced the other monks to support them. As yet, no evidence has been produced.

4. Were all important decisions taken by the Bliss & Wisdom sangha determined through the sanghakarman process, instead of the orders of Mary Jin and Marco monks?  These important decisions include construction of the Brightness of Chandrakirti Monastery, moving to Canada, expanding affiliated enterprises and financial management. If so, are there records of these sanghakarmans?

5. Do the sanghakarman decisions supersede Mary Jin’s orders? Has Mary Jin conveyed her intentions or orders to monks prior to a sanghakarman? Have any sanghakarman decisions defied Mary Jin’s wishes or orders, and if so, how was it resolved?

6. Bliss and Wisdom sangha claims that it expelled two former abbots, Ven Fan Yin and Ven Jing Ming through a sanghakarman process. How was this done? Was it done in Taiwan or Canada? Were all monks present, and did they agree unanimously? Did the participating monks have access to both sides of the story?

7. Will Bliss and Wisdom sangha produce Master Jih-Chang’s relics, and verify them independently? If not, why?

I personally think that it will be very difficult for Bliss and Wisdom sangha to reply transparently and convincingly to these questions. Even if Mary Jin did not personally go to a sanghakarman, all important decisions in Bliss and Wisdom are decided by her alone. Only some routine procedures, like reciting the vinaya, vassas, and permission for ordination are conducted by sanghakarman. What usually happens is that if Mary Jin says someone can be ordained, no one dares to say no; when someone breaks the rules and is meant to be expelled, if Mary Jin says he can stay, then he does not have to go. After all, Mary Jin is the guru, and the guru is the Buddha – who dares to challenge the ‘Buddha’?

I hope that more monks will take up the mantle to protect Buddhism, and examine carefully whether Bliss and Wisdom sangha is truly following the sanghakarman. Sadhu!

 

Addendum on 13 Nov:

Bliss and Wisdom’s official website states that its new abbot was appointed by Mary Jin. So much for ‘sanghakarmans’…

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GEBIS land purchases under scrutiny, to testify before legislative committee

中文版

5 Nov 2017

Prince Edward Island, Canada – Embattled Taiwanese Buddhist group Bliss and Wisdom is exploiting loopholes in Canadian law to purchase vast tracts of land, according to the National Farmer’s Union in Canada. Bliss and Wisdom representatives on PEI have been summoned to testify before a standing committee of the PEI Legislative Assembly.

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A group of Bliss and Wisdom followers visit GEBIS’ new compound in Heatherdale Road, known as Chuan Deng Monastery. Stage I was recently completed at a cost of C$12 million. The project will comprise five stages, and stages I-IV are projected to cost C$160 million.

Bliss and Wisdom is the largest Tibetan Buddhist group in Taiwan, with 60,000 followers in Taiwan and 100,000 worldwide. The Great Enlightenment Buddhist Institute Society (GEBIS) on Prince Edward Island is an overseas extension of the group, set up to bring half of Bliss and Wisdom’s 800 Taiwanese monks to PEI.

In the past few months, two of the most senior monks in the Bliss and Wisdom sangha, the first abbot Venerable Fan Yin and second abbot Venerable Jing Ming, were expelled for speaking out against abuses and scandals in the organization. His Holiness the Dalai Lama, His Eminence the 102nd Ganden Tripa Rizong Rinpoche (former head of the Tibetan Buddhist Gelugpa order) and Taiwanese Buddhist leaders have chastised Bliss and Wisdom for its transgression of Buddhist guidelines. Taiwanese monks called for Buddhists to declare Bliss and Wisdom a pseudo-Buddhist cult and excommunicate the group from the mainstream Buddhist community.

Islanders have long wondered about the organization behind GEBIS – why it has suddenly snapped up thousands of acres of land, and why it has brought hundreds of monks and children from Taiwan to PEI. Canadian journalist Mark Mann wrote an insightful piece about “the monks”, as the Bliss and Wisdom sangha (monastic community) are known locally. The monks were friendly, but tight-lipped about the real reason they were in PEI.

Last month, PEI historian David Weale posed a series of questions to GEBIS, and received a response from their lawyer Julian Porter QC.

According to Porter, “In the past two years, GEBIS has purchased 185.6 acres of land, bringing our total land ownership being 672.6 acres.” Mann quoted a source in his 2013 article estimating that GEBIS owns as much as 5000 acres of land in PEI through its affiliates.

Yen-Wei Lai, or Venerable Ru Fa, is the chief attendant of Mary Jin and the most powerful monk in Bliss and Wisdom. Refer to the following links for his land purchases in PEI: see herehere and here.

The Bliss and Wisdom group has several corporations and foundations registered under the names of trusted monks and committee members in PEI, including:

  • Alanro Music Studio
  • Great Enlightenment Buddhist Institute (monks)
  • Grain Essence Garden Inc
  • Moonlight International Foundation Inc
  • Compassion and Grace Institute Inc
  • Splendid Essence Restaurant Inc
  • Great Wisdom Buddhist Institute Inc (nuns)
  • Moonlight Charities Inc
  • Moonlight International Academy
  • XiYuan PEI International Co., Ltd.
  • Dutch Inn Hotel
  • Leezen Store

Please feel free to contact me at ladakh2017blog@mail.com for further information about GEBIS/Bliss and Wisdom. I would appreciate it very much if anyone willing to provide information about GEBIS or its affiliates can contact me. Your information will be very helpful to me in understanding the nature and extent of GEBIS’ operations in PEI.

The following is a post by David Weale on the illegal land purchases:

This is an article about the standing committee’s investigation on The Journal Pioneer:

 

Officials with Cavendish Farms, the Great Enlightenment Buddhist Institute and Vanco Farms to appear before committee to answer to land holding concerns

2 Nov 2017

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – P.E.I.’s land ownership limits are being abused by large, richly funded, outside corporations and organizations thanks to loopholes in the Island’s lands protection laws.

This was the assertion put forward Thursday by representatives of the National Farmer’s Union (NFU) in P.E.I. to the Standing Committee on Communities, Land and Environment.

Doug Campbell and Reg Phelan say a few big corporations are buying up large amounts of P.E.I. farmland, despite the fact P.E.I. has caps on the amount of land any one individual or company can own.

“Many other Islanders share our alarm about land transferals,” said Campbell, district director of the NFU in P.E.I.

“What is upsetting for us, and for many other aware community groups, is the lack of transparency about how ownership and control of farmland can take place under the radar.”

Campbell and Phelan named three entities in particular they allege are using loopholes to own or control more land than is permitted under P.E.I.’s land ownership laws – Irving-owned Cavendish Farms, the Great Enlightenment Buddhist Institute (GEBIS) and Vanco Farms.

As a result of their concerns, officials from these three entities are being called to testify before the standing committee about their land holdings in P.E.I.

Phelan says people living in the rural areas of P.E.I. can plainly see that although farms are being purchased under the names of other individuals or corporations, signage on buildings and equipment clearly show the Vanco logo. In eastern P.E.I., more and more farmland is being purchased by individuals who are affiliated with GEBIS while Cavendish Farms has long been purchasing land in P.E.I. under affiliated corporate identities, Campbell and Phelan said.

This phenomenon has caused farmland to become unaffordable for Islanders looking to add to their acreage or get into the industry due to the high amounts these deep-pocketed entities are paying for Island land.

“It’s making it very difficult for young farmers to be able to continue farming or for others to be able to do it because they just can’t compete with that type of price and that type of situation, and that’s why we’re so concerned about it,” Phelan said.

Last week, the minister responsible for land and municipalities, Robert Mitchell, appeared before the same standing committee and was questioned on the similar land ownership concerns, including about the fact some of this farmland is being purchased and taken out of production.

He said government is aware of the concerns and is monitoring the situation, but assured the committee the province’s Lands Protection Act is being followed.

But while the letter of law may be being followed, the spirit of the law is not, Campbell said.

“Accountants and lawyers are a big part of what the problem is here,” he said.

“There are certain accountants and certain lawyers that are willing to work the law to the limit.”

They urged the province to close loopholes in the legislation and to give the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission a stronger mandate to investigate the source of investor capital of prospective off-Island land purchasers.

Campbell further challenged two cabinet ministers who sit on the committee, Economic Development Minister Heath MacDonald and Rural and Regional Development Minister Pat Murphy, to better inform themselves about the Lands Protection Act to ensure they understand the nuances land purchase applications when they come to cabinet for approval.

“IRAC is telling us they can make the recommendation to cabinet, but it’s up to cabinet to decide whether or not to go forward. That’s where we’re saying cabinet needs to understand what the act is, what is means by spirit and intent,” Campbell said.

“You can’t pass it off on IRAC.”

Bliss & Wisdom controversy catches attention of Tibetan media

中文版

As the largest Tibetan Buddhist organization in Taiwan, Bliss and Wisdom’s recent succession of controversies and scandals have attracted the attention of Tibetan media. The first to report on Bliss and Wisdom was Shambala Post on 6 Sep, which ran the article with a romantic photograph of Mary Jin admiring maple leaves in Canada.

Tibet Post reported briefly on the Bliss and Wisdom scandals on 29 Sep, then interviewed Bliss and Wisdom public relations officer Ven Ru Wei. To offer a balanced perspective, Tibet Post interviewed Ven Fan Yin for his response to Ven Ru Wei. Ven Fan Yin said,

If they are willing to change the situation, and take His Holiness the Dalai Lama and His Eminence the 102nd Ganden Tripa’s advice seriously, then Bliss and Wisdom can be accepted as a reputable Gelugpa and Buddhist organization. If they do not, then as BW vice-abbot Ven Ru De says, they can cut off ties with other Buddhist organizations, and disown the Tibetan and Chinese lineages, which is basically an admission that they are a cult.

Potala Post also carried news of Bliss and Wisdom on 4 Oct.

TibetPostEL.PNG

This is the full text of Tibet Post’s interview with Ven Fan Yin:

Chinese Communist Party has infiltrated Bliss & Wisdom: Former Abbot

Dharamshala — “Bliss & Wisdom’s main problem is that the Chinese Communist Party has infiltrated Bliss and Wisdom, using the Bliss and Wisdom leadership to distort Buddhism in favor of Chinese interests. They have diverted overseas Chinese disciples of His Holiness the Dalai Lama into the arms of the Chinese-sanctioned Panchen Lama lineage. I have seen with my own eyes how Mary Jin asked Master Jih-Chang to tell His Holiness the Dalai Lama that Dorje Shugden is not that bad after all,” asserts Ven Fan Yin, First abbot of Bliss and Wisdom sangha.

TPI journalist recently conducted an interview with Ven Fan Yin, First abbot of Bliss and Wisdom sangha to ask about the Buddhist organization in Taiwan — where over a thousand monks and nuns, as well as 100,000 followers worldwide live and pray mainly in Taiwan, Mainland China and the overseas Chinese diaspora — recently roiled by controversy. Read the full interview with Ven Shi Ru-wei, Public relations for the Bliss and Wisdom!

Tibet Post International (TPI): Please briefly introduce yourself?

Ven Fan Yin (FY) : Tiding over the Bliss and Wisdom crisis together: I was the first abbot of Fengshan Monastery, practicing sincerely under Master Jih-Chang. After Master passed away, Mary Jin Mengrong took over, and I continued my efforts to practice seriously. However, as Mary Jin’s power expanded over the years, some actions contrary to the spirit of dharma came to light. Also, I saw how the entire Bliss and Wisdom organization began to gravitate away from His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s lineage. I hoped to change this and offered my suggestions, but was treated as a troublemaker and suffered great persecution. Today, I have fortunately been able to escape from Mary Jin’s control, and with the permission of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, I have decided to publicize certain horrifying but deliberately concealed truths about Bliss and Wisdom.

Some may perhaps prefer not to listen to the truths I am about to reveal, thinking that all should be well since there are 800 monks in Bliss and Wisdom scrutinizing Mary Jin’s actions. Please think twice. Out of those 800 pairs of eyes, how many of those possess the magical powers needed to look thousands of miles away and pierce through Mary Jin’s secretive entourage?

I am only like a little shrimp fighting a gigantic whale; amidst a dangerous hail of bullets, I am only trying to reconstruct the truth. Through our united efforts, I only hope to encourage Bliss and Wisdom to awaken and reform, reverting into the legitimate Buddhist organization it once was, so that it may once again shine the light of goodness everywhere. I will attempt to answer these questions to the best of my ability. Although this may be a traumatizing blow to many faithful Bliss and Wisdom followers, Bliss and Wisdom’s future is in our hands. If we are willing to sincerely observe and examine the truth, what may cause us some heartbreak today shall bring us towards a bright future, and make this temporary discomfort worthwhile.

TPI: What is the current crisis at Bliss and Wisdom all about?

FY: Bliss and Wisdom’s main problem is that the Chinese Communist Party has infiltrated Bliss and Wisdom, using the Bliss and Wisdom leadership to distort Buddhism in favor of Chinese interests. They have diverted overseas Chinese disciples of His Holiness the Dalai Lama into the arms of the Chinese-sanctioned Panchen Lama lineage. I will explain as follows:

(1) False advertising
Bliss and Wisdom publicly pretends to rely on His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s lineage. Every year their monks go to India to receive vows and listen to His Holiness’ teachings. Sometimes, they also invite the three Gelugpa throne holders to Bliss and Wisdom’s monasteries in Taiwan and Canada to give teachings. However, in private they have been removing His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s photographs from centers, restricting monks from reading His Holiness’ books and listening to recordings of His Holiness’ teachings. They seek to discourage lay followers from going to other centers to attend teachings by other Rinpoches. In the organization, they harp on Mary Jin’s virtues all the time while nothing is said about His Holiness’ merits.

Bliss and Wisdom encourages its followers to support the Chinese-sanctioned Harwa Rinpoche, who is connected to the Chinese-sanctioned Panchen, by attending his teachings and giving him donations. Bliss and Wisdom’s website has attempted to obfuscate the current relationship between His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and the Chinese-sanctioned Panchen by claiming that both lineages were historically related and are still the same. Mary Jin’s chief attendant Ven Ru Fa has recently traveled to China to receive his bhikshu vows. All of this shows that Bliss and Wisdom is merely using His Holiness the Dalai Lama as a façade to cheat its followers.

(2) Building a personality cult
Mary Jin has proclaimed herself to be the throne-holder of Chinese Buddhism. Bliss and Wisdom arrogantly claims to be the best sangha, while privately criticizing the Tibetan monks in India for not following the vinaya, singling them out for using mobile phones, having dinner, and traveling out of the monastery. They claim that because the Tibetan monks are not upholding the vinaya purely, they are causing the Tibetan dharma to degenerate. Because of this, it falls to the Bliss and Wisdom sangha to succeed the dharma lineage. They also say that in the Prajnaparamita Sutra, the Buddha prophesized that after the dharma flourishes in Tibet for 500 years, it will then move northeast (interpreted by them as China) and flourish greatly for 500 years. The Bliss and Wisdom monks claim that since Bliss and Wisdom is the largest Tibetan Buddhist organization in Taiwan, it will be Bliss and Wisdom which brings the dharma from Tibet to China, and that Mary Jin will be the future spiritual leader of all of China. Since Mary Jin is the Chinese spiritual leader, she alleges that there are huge karmic obstructions preventing the Tibetan and Chinese spiritual leaders from meeting, which is why she could not meet His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

(3) Distorting Buddhist teachings
To cement Mary Jin’s position as successor guru, they have distorted the guru devotion teachings to an extreme. First they since Mary Jin was selected by Master Jih-Chang, disciples do not need to use their own discernment, because they are not as wise as their teacher. Moreover, they threaten disciples that criticizing their guru will send them to hell, so disciples are not allowed to discern whether the guru’s actions are in accordance with dharma. Any form of objective thinking is construed as finding fault with the guru. Discussing problems with Bliss and Wisdom is tantamount to slandering the guru. Not only does the person criticizing the guru go to hell, but so does everyone sharing the same water source. Therefore, one must not be “contaminated” by fault-finding people. Bliss and Wisdom strongly emphasizes the concept of seeing the guru as the Buddha, but the emphasis is placed only on seeing Mary Jin as the Buddha. Not even tantric gurus are as important as Mary Jin. (For details please refer to Ven Ru Jun’s discourse on 7 Aug 2017).

(4) A spiritual prison of mind-control
In the Bliss and Wisdom sangha, one may not hold different views from those in authority. No one is allowed to harbor doubts about Mary Jin. The Marco organization, comprising monks from Mary Jin’s entourage, centralizes authority and wields power. Marco monks control all resources of the monastery, controlling all important matters in the sangha, and control the beliefs and thinking of monks in an authoritarian fashion. Living in the sangha, if you offend the powerful Marco monks, you will constantly live in terror. It is impossible to live according to one’s conscience and have a rational, objective discussion about vinaya and monastic rules. From 2008 to 2012, I was confined on Prince Edward Island in Canada for “improper guru devotion”. Despite falling very ill, I was not allowed to return to Taiwan to seek medical attention. My parents were not allowed to contact me and were desperately looking for my whereabouts for two years, which the Bliss and Wisdom leadership completely ignored. My father fell ill and till today still has high blood pressure. Such incidents happen regularly in Bliss and Wisdom.

(5) The corruption of power: sex and money

Mary Jin took advantage of her position to seduce and manipulate young monks into having sex with her. The monks were brainwashed into thinking that they were practicing tantra. Such allegations have emerged every now and then, with some victims coming out to testify. Financially, donated funds are diverted for unknown purposes and official accounts are unclear. Many monks’ bank accounts were used for money laundering. Four bank accounts, registered under my name, were used by Bliss and Wisdom for transferring funds as much as NT$100 million.

TPI: What are the major problems you are facing right now at Bliss & Wisdom?

FY:

a. Mary Jin’s past
After Mary Jin graduated from high school, she joined the Zhong Gong qigong cult, quickly rising up the ranks, and was blacklisted by the Chinese government. She began learning Buddhism in an attempt to whitewash herself, and after learning the lamrim chenmo from Bliss and Wisdom she sought contact with Master Jih-Chang. She asked Master Jih-Chang to exorcise demons possessing her, and then claimed that a spirit named “Guru Kong” possessed her to make contact with Master Jih-Chang. “Guru Kong” spoke at length about Master Jih-Chang and Mary Jin’s past lives together as master and disciple. Master Jih-Chang was smitten by those tales and started behaving erratically, believing in prophecies from the spirits which possessed Mary Jin. As a result, Mary Jin quickly became Master Jih-Chang’s confidant. Although senior monks had their reservations about Mary Jin and repeatedly advised Master Jih-Chang to be careful, Master Jih-Chang did not heed their advice. This sowed the seed for all the ludicrous events which followed, and was the reason why Master Jih-Chang could be manipulated and cheated by Mary Jin. Mary Jin claims to have many lineage masters and teachers, but His Holiness the Dalai Lama and His Eminence the Ganden Trisur Rizong Rinpoche have never recognized her. It is time for Bliss and Wisdom to be transparent about Mary Jin’s past, instead of whining about unfounded rumors while refusing to publicize any meaningful biographical details about Mary Jin. If they really have nothing to hide, they should make all details about her past public.

b. Types of shocking scandals
i. Appeals to myth and magic, sullying the purity of Buddhism
Mary Jin claimed that “Guru Kong” prophesized that Lama Tsongkhapa wished to be reborn on Chinese soil, and instructed Mary Jin to become the holy mother, with an outstanding monk from Fengshan Monastery to be the holy father. Thus began the holy conception scheme to conceive Lama Tsongkhapa. The scheme was indeed initiated, which numerous senior monks can vouch for.
ii. Mary Jin’s promiscuous conduct
Mary Jin was already married with a daughter when she divorced her husband. She then moved in with the abbots of two monasteries in succession, causing them to lose their vows of celibacy. After taking over Bliss and Wisdom, she has been co-habiting with the Marco monks for years, using tantric practices as an excuse to seduce monks into having sex with her. At a vinaya session in Nanputuo Temple, Ven Fan Yin played an audio recording of a novice monk admitting that Mary Jin seduced him into breaking his vows. The audio recording has not been publicly released.
Vinaya session in Nanputuo Temple:
English
https://ladakh2017blog.wordpress.com/2017/08/07/gebis-denounced/ 
iii. Master Jih-Chang’s suspicious death in Mainland China
Mary Jin claimed that “Guru Kong” prophesized that Master Jih-Chang would live to 120 years, but at 70 Master Jih-Chang was already weak and sickly. He was cheated by Mary Jin to travel to Xiamen, China for medical treatment. Mary Jin deliberately sent an inept doctor to treat Master Jih-Chang, which caused Master Jih-Chang to die a terrible and painful death, but Mary Jin claimed that Master Jih-Chang emanated as a wrathful deity and that she could see wrathful deities and Buddhas when he died. They did not do proper prayers and practices at his death, but quickly cremated his body in three days. Mary Jin claimed that temperatures in the cremation chamber were too high so relics could not be formed, but told followers in Taiwan that Master Jih-Chang passed away peacefully and colorful relics were produced. Many monks and committee members can vouch for this version of events. iv. Questionable succession

When Master Jih-Chang passed away on 15 Oct 2004, he did not formally appoint Mary Jin as successor. Therefore, most Bliss and Wisdom monks and followers could only believe a few senior monks and attendants who were parroting Mary Jin’s version of events. They were led by this small group of monks to believe that Mary Jin had extraordinary powers, and that Master Jih-Chang selected Mary Jin as successor based on her merit. A will was forged claiming that Master Jih-Chang selected Mary Jin as successor, but it has never been publicly displayed. v. Diverting donated funds

Since Mary Jin took over, Bliss and Wisdom actively raised funds on various pretexts, only to divert these funds to buy dozens of extravagant mansions for Mary Jin. Mary Jin enjoyed a luxurious and extravagant lifestyle, sharing her new-found wealth with her family by buying mansions for them with donations. Donors were asked to agree to not receive receipts, making it convenient for Bliss and Wisdom to avoid an audit trail and launder the money overseas. Business ventures like selling precious gems and seafood were kept secret from followers. Profits from such ventures were never publicized. Many years ago, Bliss and Wisdom raised huge amounts of funds for its mega-temple in Taiwan, but these funds were instead diverted to China to help Harwa Rinpoche build a huge monastery. Ven Fan Yin has gone on Taiwanese television to display receipts showing evidence of Bliss and Wisdom’s deceitful fund-raising methods (where a clause allowed funds for the Taiwanese mega-temple to be diverted to other causes), but Bliss and Wisdom still insists that funds were never diverted.

English
https://ladakh2017blog.wordpress.com/2017/09/14/bw-sanlihnews/ 
Chinese
https://ladakh2017cn.wordpress.com/2017/09/14/bw-sanlihnews/ 
vi. Flouting Buddhist guidelines for sangha
The Bliss and Wisdom sangha is controlled by Mary Jin, a lay woman, who can scold and threaten monks whenever she likes. The concept of consensus-based decision-making in the sangha is only a farce. Power is centralized around the Marco monks, who routinely confiscate belongings and confine monks who defy them. The sangha is extremely hierarchical, and only several important Marco monks in Mary Jin’s entourage can live together with Mary Jin in her mansion. The other monks in the monastery must live 20 to a room. In such crowded and stressful conditions, they sleep poorly and emotional outbursts are common. Many monks display symptoms of depression. Mary Jin also uses male monks as her personal attendants; the 5-6 of them are the most powerful monks in the monastery. With the power they wield, her attendants behave arrogantly and bully the senior monks.

TPI: In their statements, they have said they have never had any ties to any political party in any country, including Chinese government, as well as the CCP. What is your response? How you prove that Chinese government and CCP is using Bliss & Wisdom to undermine His Holiness the Dalai Lama.?

FY:

i. Reports here have discussed the issue:
English
https://ladakh2017blog.wordpress.com/2017/07/24/lets-stick-to-the-facts-who-are-our-teachers/
Chinese
https://ladakh2017cn.wordpress.com/2017/07/26/who-r-our-teachers/ 
Based on information available publicly, Harwa Rinpoche has ties to the 10th Panchen Lama and organizations linked to the CCP. Also, Bliss and Wisdom has publicly acknowledged the close relationship between Harwa Rinpoche and Mary Jin. ii. I would like to point out that there will not be any concrete evidence for Chinese attempts to sabotage and infiltrate Bliss and Wisdom. However, we make some observations and inductions from Bliss and Wisdom’s actions in relation to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, especially in 2008, when Bliss and Wisdom stopped organizing the Taiwanese teaching by His Holiness in Dharamshala. Instead, Bliss and Wisdom has moved closer and closer to Harwa Rinpoche, who is sanctioned by China and has assumed positions in the China National People’s Congress.
http://bwsangha.org/news/c/600-07035 
http://bwsangha.org/news/c/347-04068

iii. In 2015, when Mary Jin came to Taiwan, the first thing she did was to visit Master Hsing-Yun, a senior Taiwanese Buddhist leader. Master Hsing-Yun’s organization has been cultivating close relations with the Chinese Communist Party for over a decade, and has good relations with Xi Jinping himself. When His Holiness the Dalai Lama visited Taiwan in 2009, Master Hsing-Yun denounced His Holiness as a political figure in an attempt to keep the Chinese happy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qX7Dod6MWz0 
http://hk.crntt.com/doc/1024/5/1/9/102451944.html?coluid=7&kindid=0&docid=102451944 
http://www.merit-times.com.tw/NewsPage.aspx?unid=391603

Given Master Hsing-Yun’s stature and age, he typically only receives the highest-level Taiwanese politicians in person. However, he openly received Mary Jin in person and praised her as a good leader. One might guess that such a departure from his usual protocol in receiving a Chinese lady has something to do with Bliss and Wisdom’s relationship with China.

TPI: Can you provide us the details, showing sufficient proof that Bliss & Wisdom and its spiritual master have links to the Chinese government, CCP and China recognized Panchen Lama, undermining His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Tibetan Buddhism?

FY: Let’s look at this article on BW’s official website:
http://bwsangha.org/eng/credence/d/776-1027

According to BW, “The teachings of His Holiness (“H.H.”) the Dalai Lama and His Holiness (“H.H.”) the Panchen Lama are of the same origin. There is no need to choose.”

That may have been true 100 years ago, but the situation today is that the 10th Panchen Lama was sometimes pro-China and sometimes persecuted by China, while the genuine 11th Panchen Lama has been kidnapped and a Chinese-appointed one installed in his place. If Bliss and Wisdom wants to be honest about the HH Dalai Lama vs the HH Panchen Lama lineage, they should state clearly which Panchen they support. Do they support the Chinese-appointed 11th Panchen Lama, who most Tibetans consider to be fake? Most of BW’s followers do not know much about the Panchen Lamas, so vague statements like “HHDL and the Panchen lineages are the same” can fool them. People with some historical knowledge will not be so easily fooled.

TPI: A group of Chinese and Taiwanese met with His Holiness the Dalai Lama recently, His Holiness has given Bliss & Wisdom advise to deal the problems, urging both sides to discuss and make it clear to public. What was your reaction on his advise?

FY: Of course, even His Holiness the Dalai Lama and His Eminence the 102nd Ganden Tripa praise Bliss and Wisdom for the good work it has done in teaching the dharma. I am sure many Taiwanese would also agree that BW has done a lot of good. But His Holiness the Dalai Lama, His Eminence the 102nd Ganden Tripa, and many Taiwanese sanghas and Buddhist leaders think that it is not acceptable for a lay woman to control a bhikshu sangha, or for her to live with monks in the same house and use them as her personal attendants. That is the central issue and Bliss and Wisdom should not dodge it. If they are willing to change the situation, and take His Holiness the Dalai Lama and His Eminence the 102nd Ganden Tripa’s advice seriously, then Bliss and Wisdom can be accepted as a reputable Gelugpa and Buddhist organization. If they do not, then as BW vice-abbot Ven Ru De says, they can cut off ties with other Buddhist organizations, and disown the Tibetan and Chinese lineages, which is basically an admission that they are a cult.

TPI: You have said that the organization has a special relationship/connection to Dorjee Shugden groups, Harwa Rinpoche and Panchen Lama, recognized by the Chinese government. What evidences you have to support your claims?

FY:

i. What follows is some publicly available information about Harwa Rinpoche.
English
https://ladakh2017blog.wordpress.com/2017/07/24/lets-stick-to-the-facts-who-are-our-teachers/ 
Chinese
https://ladakh2017cn.wordpress.com/2017/07/26/who-r-our-teachers/
ii. Relationship with Dorje Shugden Bliss & Wisdom’s puja text shows “Shugden” in Chinese, but not in Tibetan. BW should explain what “Shugden” is doing in its torma offering text.
https://ladakh2017blog.wordpress.com/2017/08/14/bw-dorje-shugden/ 
I have privately asked the editors of Bliss and Wisdom’s puja text, and they informed me that the addition of “Shugden” was an instruction from superiors. Who are these superiors? Probably Mary Jin.
iii. I have seen with my own eyes how Mary Jin asked Master Jih-Chang to tell His Holiness the Dalai Lama that Dorje Shugden is not that bad after all, and that she was willing to mediate between His Holiness and Dorje Shugden. Given this incident, we can reasonably suspect that she has close connection to Dorje Shugden.
iv. Many lay followers requested Rinpoches to do divinations, which revealed Mary Jin’s association with Dorje Shugden. In my many years in Bliss and Wisdom, I have not seen anyone practice Dorje Shugden. The one time I discovered Shugden material, I quickly alerted the others and got rid of them.

TPI: Their allegations are criticizing you, by saying Bliss and Wisdom still has healthy relationships with the major sanghas within the Taiwan Buddhist communities and has received their heart-warming support. They said you used the tactic of one-sided accusations with no basis to spread rumours. How you respond to them that your side represents Taiwan’s Buddhist community?

FY: Taiwanese Buddhist leaders gathered at Nanputuo Temple in August to denounce BW for allowing a lay woman to control the bhikshu sangha. https://ladakh2017blog.wordpress.com/2017/08/07/gebis-denounced/ Nanpuoto Temple is a reputable Buddhist institute in Taiwan, and has a very special relationship with Bliss and Wisdom. Master Jih-Chang first taught the lamrim chenmo at Nanputuo Temple when he returned to Taiwan from India. Many Nanputuo monks know the senior Bliss and Wisdom monks personally, and a number of senior Bliss and Wisdom monks were formerly graduates of Nanputuo Buddhist Institute themselves.

Also, many Taiwanese monks are criticizing Bliss and Wisdom’s actions on Facebook and Youtube. One of the more outspoken ones is Ven Ziran. https://ladakh2017blog.wordpress.com/2017/08/17/rude-visits-ziran/

Although His Holiness the Dalai Lama and His Eminence the 102nd Ganden Tripa praise Bliss and Wisdom for the good work it has done in teaching the dharma, they are in agreement with senior Taiwanese monks that it is unacceptable for a lay woman to control a bhikshu sangha, or for her to live with monks in the same house and use them as her pesonal attendants. That is the central issue and BW should not dodge it. We hope that Bliss and Wisdom will take their advice seriously, and revert to becoming a reputable Gelugpa and Buddhist organization. If they do not, then as Bliss and Wisdom vice-abbot Ven Ru De says, they should simply set up their own religious movement.

TPI: Anything you may think or prove their claims/criticisms/demands are wrong and you and your group are at the right place?

FY: Bliss and Wisdom vice-abbot Ven Ru De has already said that Bliss and Wisdom belongs neither Tibetan Buddhist nor Chinese Buddhist lineages. That may be a clever tactic to say that other organizations have no right to criticize Bliss and Wisdom and tell them that it is against the vinaya, but that statement backfired very badly because Bliss and Wisdom basically admitted that it is a cult, since it will not listen to its Tibetan lineage masters or the Taiwanese Chinese Buddhist community.

TPI: If your statements are accurate, the current crisis is definitely hurting the relationship between Bliss & Wisdom and His Holiness the Dalai Lama, as well as its relationship with other Buddhist organizations all over the world. What is your reaction and how you explain the current relationship between Bliss & Wisdom and His Holiness the Dalai Lama?

FY: Plenty of public documentation leave no doubt at all that Master Jih-Chang saw His Holiness the Dalai Lama as his teacher, which His Holiness has acknowledged publicly. Bliss and Wisdom has taken His Holiness as its main spiritual leader and teacher. Also, when Master Jih-Chang passed away, His Holiness told Bliss and Wisdom that:
“In future, as though he were still alive, I shall take the responsibility of taking care of both monks and lay followers of the organization, and keep praying for your efforts in upholding the pure teachings. If you have any problems, just as in the past, don’t be afraid to ask me directly. I will also express my thoughts to you.”

Please refer to https://ladakh2017blog.wordpress.com/2017/07/24/lets-stick-to-the-facts-who-are-our-teachers/

Mary Jin has now seized Master Jih-Chang’s position and claims to be his successor. However, in her leadership of the organization, is she really succeeding Master Jih-Chang’s legacy and spirit? We should examine closely how these two leaders have been directing the organization. Unlike Master Jih-Chang, Mary Jin attempted to build a personality cult around herself, eclipsing His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s stature in the hearts of Bliss and Wisdom followers. She has discreetly diverted His Holiness’ disciples to Harwa Rinpoche and the fake Chinese Panchen system. Abandoning our original lineage, and cheating Bliss and Wisdom followers is extremely deceitful and unbecoming.

Of course, His Holiness the Dalai Lama cannot be harmed in body or in his spirit of bodhichitta. However, kidnapping His Holiness’ beloved disciples and putting them under the evil claws of the Chinese Communists and Shugden is tantamount to harming His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Also, how well disciples keep their samaya vows will directly affect His Holiness’ longevity.

TPI: You have raised several corruption cases, include a lack of transparency, sexual abuses, misappropriations of funds, and misuse of power at the organization. What are the sufficient evidences? You also said there were several sexual abuses against many ordained monks while living inside the organisation. What evidences you have to support your claims?

FY:
i. Licentious behavior with monks

At a vinaya session in Nanputuo Temple, Ven Fan Yin played an audio recording of a novice monk admitting that Mary Jin seduced him into breaking his vows. The audio recording has not been publicly released. Vinaya session in Nanputuo Temple:
English
https://ladakh2017blog.wordpress.com/2017/08/07/gebis-denounced/ 
ii. Deceitful fund-raising methods
Ven Fan Yin has gone on Taiwanese television to display receipts showing evidence of Bliss and Wisdom’s deceitful fund-raising methods.
https://ladakh2017blog.wordpress.com/2017/09/14/bw-sanlihnews/

Bliss and Wisdom still insists that funds were never diverted. If so, they should get an independent auditor to check all accounts and publicize the findings. Even better, they should publicize a list of all companies and properties connected to Bliss and Wisdom, including the expensive houses Mary Jin lives in, and audit all accounts connected to those companies and property purchases as well. The fact that Bliss and Wisdom has yet to do that clearly suggests that they have something to hide.
iii. Creating myths and abusing power
It is difficult to gather evidence for these claims because Mary Jin’s teachings are strictly controlled. However, many followers who attended retreats at Bliss and Wisdom will hear stories from Bliss and Wisdom monks about Mary Jin’s supposed magical powers. Mary Jin has created a Marco organization outside of the sangha, with a hierarchical and authoritarian system of control. Mary Jin is herself surrounded and shielded by the Marco monks, and her whereabouts are always kept secret. No one knows where she is or what she is doing. Even if the abbot wants to meet her, he has to receive approval from the Marco monks. Sometimes even after a long wait, he may not even get to meet Mary Jin, but if the abbot makes decisions without her approval, he gets a good scolding from her. All the monks know about this.

TPI: Finally, please feel free if you have any other important that we may forgetting and any special message to your supporters around the world.

FY: In the past, Master Jih-Chang was a very involved and hands-on leader. As much as possible, he would attend and oversee retreats and events; even when he was old and sick, he would try to give short teachings. His virtuous and compassionate behavior, witnessed by his disciples directly, won them over sincerely. There was no such thing as rampant fund-raising. Followers were never pressured or encouraged to give donations, except through their own initiative. Funds were used judiciously.

When Mary Jin took over, things were completely reversed. She hides behind the scenes, manipulating and controlling monks from a distance with high-pressure tactics. It is no wonder that monks are complaining all the time. All of Bliss and Wisdom’s enterprises have lost their original social and environmental goals, subsumed by the pursuit of profit. Bliss and Wisdom appears to grow larger by the day, but it is gradually betraying the Buddhist spirit, and will finally crumble under the light of truth. Numerous wrongdoings and scandals, accumulated over the years like time bombs, have finally exploded into the open.

Master Jih-Chang toiled for years to build Bliss and Wisdom into a spiritual home, aided by faithful and innocent followers who were inspired by his conduct. However, his organization has been quietly hijacked by a nefarious group for the sake of power and money, even discreetly replacing the lineage. If you love Bliss and Wisdom, and wish to uphold the pure dharma now sullied by Bliss and Wisdom’s actions, please observe and reflect on these events rationally and objectively. It is your actions which will determine whether the dharma will flourish or degenerate. I pray that with our united and determined efforts, we can put pressure on Bliss and Wisdom to change for the better, reverting to the simple and pure Buddhist organization it once was and should be. This is also the best we can do in memory of our beloved Master Jih-Chang.

The views expressed in this interview are personal and may not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Tibet Post International (TPI).

 

BW followers protest suspicious circumstances surrounding Master Jih-Chang’s death – with a coffin

中文版 

13 Oct 2017

Taoyuan City, Taiwan – Protesters strike again, this time with a coffin, at Master Remembrance Day, one of the most important events on Bliss and Wisdom’s calendar. After the founder of the Bliss and Wisdom movement, Master Jih-Chang, died in 2004, presumptive successor guru Mary Jin initiated Master Remembrance Day to commemorate the late master, and assure followers that Bliss and Wisdom would continue to follow Master’s direction in spite of his death.

During Master’s Remembrance Day, Bliss and Wisdom followers gather at indoor stadiums to listen to videos, presentations, speeches and performances commemorating Master Jih-Chang and trumpeting the latest achievements of the organization. During previous iterations of Master Remembrance Day, Bliss and Wisdom rented Linkou Stadium in Taoyuan City, as well as Kaohsiung Arena for the event. Overseas centers of Bliss and Wisdom also commemorate the occasion, and centers with a larger congregation, like Singapore and Hong Kong, will often rent conference halls or stadiums to house the crowd. In previous years, BW’s Master Remembrance Day at Linkou Stadium could attract a crowd of up to 15,000, but according to reports this year’s crowd has shrunk significantly to 6,000.

Taiwanese news media reported that BW followers protesting outside Linkou Stadium unfurled banners, shouted slogans and even brought in a coffin to symbolize their grievances against Mary Jin for the suspicious circumstances surrounding Master Jih-Chang’s death. Police were at the scene to maintain order.

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What follows is a report by Life Daily Taiwan:

(By reporter Mai Huan Le from Taoyuan) Buddhist organization Bliss and Wisdom Foundation has been holding Master Remembrance Day at Linkou Stadium from 13 Oct for three days.  Every day, 15,000 devotees will participate in events commemorating Master Jih-Chang’s death and express gratitude for his teachings. But the successor of Bliss and Wisdom, Inc, Mary Jin Mengrong, has been accused of seizing control of the organization illegitimately, forging Master Jih-Chang’s will and forcing senior monks and committee members to sign it. Circumstances surrounding Master Jih-Chang’s death aroused controversy among forensic scientists and religious figures. Aggrieved devotees brought in a coffin to the protest as a symbol of Master Jih-Chang’s wrongful death, and demanded that authorities investigate.

The coffin protesters said that they were devotees and students of Bliss and Wisdom. They found it ludicrous that a large sangha was in fact led by Mary Jin Mengrong – a lay woman with long hair. She has been alleged to live together with monks, and attempted to conceive “holy babies” with them. In the Buddhist community where purity is valued, this is shocking news.

A Bliss and Wisdom follower protesting at the scene, Mr Huang, said that the suspicious circumstances surrounding Master Jih-Chang’s death have been subject to speculation for many years, but many doubts were suppressed. Last month, at the ground-breaking ceremony of the Brightness of Chandrakirti Monastery, protesters questioned the whereabouts of donations, spurring media coverage. A forensic scientist publicly highlighted the suspicious circumstances surrounding Master Jih-Chang’s death, finally bringing the skeletons out of the closet.

Bliss and Wisdom founder Master Jih-Chang traveled to Xiamen, China in Oct 2004 to recuperate from an illness. He originally hired a respiratory doctor from Taiwan to accompany him, but the doctor was sent back to Taiwan the day after he arrived in Xiamen. Mary Jin Mengrong hired a fresh graduate from a Chinese medical school to treat Master Jih-Chang, but he died suddenly a week later. The scene at his deathbed was horrifying – his eyes were bulging, his face turned black, his fists were clenched and his mouth was wide open. A forensic scientist interviewed on television said that these were signs of an unnatural death. Because Master was ill from tuberculosis, sudden death was unlikely. Religious scholar Professor Chiang Tsan-Teng also expressed that the circumstances surrounding Master Jih-Chang’s death were very illogical and incoherent.

Only a few days after Master Jih-Chang died, Mary Jin Mengrong gave orders for the body to be cremated, but no relics were formed. Despite that, Bliss and Wisdom’s first abbot Venerable Fan Yin said that Mary Jin Mengrong claimed that Master Jih-Chang’s body formed many colorful relics during cremation, and even created a stupa to hold the purported relics. Mary Jin Mengrong has been accused of lying and forgery.

Master Jih-Chang formally appointed Venerable Ru Zheng as successor in a public ceremony in 2003, and expressed that His Holiness the Dalai Lama approved of it. This was publicly documented on Bliss and Wisdom’s magazine Voice. But Bliss and Wisdom director-general Lu Ke-Jhou asked all senior monks and committee members to sign a document purported to be Master Jih-Chang’s last wishes. The process was done hastily and carelessly, like signing an attendance sheet. That document did not proclaim Mary Jin Mengrong as successor, was not a will, nor did it contain Master Jih-Chang’s signature, but was later contrived to become Master Jih-Chang’s will. Therefore, was Master Jih-Chang’s will completely fake?

After this long-haired lady “guru” Mary Jin Mengrong took control of Bliss and Wisdom, devotees’ donations were not transparently accounted for. For over ten years, much of Bliss and Wisdom’s donations were diverted overseas on the pretext of propagating Buddhism and training monks. These funds were used for property purchases in Kunming (Yunnan Province, Mainland China), Canada, Singapore and Taiwan. It is sick that Mary Jin Mengrong possesses luxurious mansions for her personal use. These are not fabrications but the truth. Devotees hope that the government and concerned parties will investigate.

These are links to news reports carried by Taiwanese media:

13 Oct 2017  National Travel Times Taiwan:福智林口法會‧信眾抬棺抗議 師父死因詭異‧冒出奪權疑雲
15 Oct 2017   Life Daily Taiwan: 福智林口法會信眾抬棺抗議 師父死因詭異冒出奪權疑雲
15 Oct 2017   TNN Taiwan National Net:   福智林口法會信眾抬棺抗議 師父死因詭異冒出奪權疑雲  (Link 2, Link 3
15 Oct 2017   Focus News: 福智林口法會信眾抬棺抗議 師父死因詭異冒出奪權疑雲
15 Oct 2017  Life Times: 福智林口法會信眾抬棺抗議 師父死因詭異冒出奪權疑雲
15 Oct 2017  Cross-strait United Daily News: 福智林口法會信眾抬棺抗議 師父死因詭異冒出奪權疑雲
15 Oct 2017  Asia Media: 福智林口法會信眾抬棺抗議 師父死因詭異冒出奪權疑雲
15 Oct 2017  Sina Times Taiwan: 福智林口法會信眾抬棺抗議 師父死因詭異冒出奪權疑雲
15 Oct 2017  Taoyuan News Online: 福智林口法會信眾抬棺抗議 師父死因詭異冒出奪權疑雲
23 Oct 2017 Finger Media: 福智高雄法會民眾又來抗爭 一昧蒙蔽真相難息社會質疑