Bliss & Wisdom breaks ground on megatemple for 100,000 monks; followers protest murky finances

中文版

Bliss and Wisdom breaks ground on a megatemple for 100,000 monks in Taiwan; followers unfurl banners outside the ceremony to protest against alleged financial irregularities while BW refuses to publicize finances

12 Sep 2017

Bliss & Wisdom broke ground today on its megatemple, Brightness of Chandrakirti Monastery (月稱光明寺) in Taiwan’s Tonghsiao Township, Miaoli County. Slated to house 100,000 monks, and to help BW achieve its aim of 1 million followers worldwide, BW began preparing for its megatemple project more than ten years ago. After lengthy delays, BW finally received its construction permit last month. The ceremony, however, was marred by BW followers protesting against alleged financial irregularities and BW’s refusal to publicize its finances.

Bliss and Wisdom now has 100,000 followers worldwide, with around 60,000 in Taiwan, 30,000 in Mainland China, and the rest in other countries such as Singapore, Hong Kong, and the US.  According to BW monks, the Buddha prophesized that after the dharma flourishes for 500 years in Tibet, it will gravitate to China and flourish for another 500 years. Because BW’s bhikshu sangha is already the largest in Taiwan, with 800-1000 monks, BW monks are very confident that BW will hegemonize Buddhism’s rise in China, cementing their guru Mary Jin as China’s spiritual leader. BW hopes their megatemple will become a center of Buddhist learning, and play a pivotal role in their mission to propagate Mary Jin’s teachings worldwide.

According to a report from Formosa Television:

Bliss and Wisdom broke ground on its latest project, Brightness of Chandrakirti Monastery in Tonghsiao Township, Miaoli County in a grand ceremony. However, a group of BW followers organized a protest outside. They allege that BW has not been transparent about donations for the temple for over a decade, and suspect that donations may have been diverted to other uses. The protesters are demanding that BW publicize its finances in detail.

The ground-breaking ceremony was grand and stately. BW sangha chose Tonghsiao Township in Miaoli County to construct Brightness of Chandrakirti Monastery. The temple will occupy 1.38 hectares at a cost of NT$78 million. The ground-breaking was successfully carried out to much pomp and ceremony, but BW followers outside unfurled banners in protest. BW began collecting donations for the Brightness of Chandrakirti Monastery over a decade ago, collecting at least NT$5 billion, but has never made its accounts public. The followers suspect that the donations have been diverted to other uses, and are using this occasion to demand financial transparency.

According to a BW monk, the allegations are baseless and donations have not been diverted to any other uses besides temple construction.

According to BW’s official website, the megatemple will occupy a total of 80 hectares. The 1.38 hectares cited by the media may refer to only the first stage of the project

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Ground-breaking ceremony of Brightness of Chandrakirti Monastery
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Bliss & Wisdom followers protest outside ground-breaking ceremony

Bliss & Wisdom followers who organized the protest also called for lady guru Mary Jin to return to Taiwan to respond to allegations for her sexual liaisons with monks, and her attempt to conceive the baby of Lama Tsongkhapa with a monk.

According to former BW Secretary-General Huang Pingchang, BW is unable to open its accounts because it has persistently diverted donations to other uses for many years. In a conversation with Ven Jing Tong and Ven Xing Chang, Sec-Gen Huang discloses financial irregularities in BW. An audio recording of the conversation and transcript have already been circulating online. According to Sec-Gen Huang,

If Bliss and Wisdom cannot straighten out its finances, I will quit at any time. I have been here for two years but she [BW guru Mary Jin] has never been able to set the finances in order. She won’t be able to publicize the accounts, because the senior committee members are always diverting funds here and there, without entering them in the proper account. It’s all a mess. I don’t like a lot of their practices, such as the senior committee members flying business class to Canada. For each return ticket, that’s NT$160,000 billed to BW, for each senior committee member to make the trip with his wife would cost us NT$320,000, they fly four times annually on average, so that’s over NT$1 million, and over ten years that’s going to cost us NT$10 million! It’s the same for Senior Brother Lai, Senior Brother Chen and Senior Brother Lu.

They should be buying all the land parcels for the megatemple together. Instead, they’re buying up the land from the sides, one parcel at a time, so as you get closer to the center the price shoots through the roof. There’s something horribly wrong with that logic. It’s the same story in Chuan Deng Monastery. So I told guru [Mary Jin], the original budget for Chuan Deng Monastery is NT$1.3 billion, this will definitely not be enough, at least NT$1.8 billion. It was revised to NT$80 million for the first stage, and NT$2.8 billion for all five stages. In the end, they spent NT$280 million for the first stage, and will need NT$3.8 billion for the first four stages. The monks are clueless, the monk came to give a presentation to me, I told him, your logic is fundamentally flawed, why? You are buying logs in Canada, shipping them back to Taiwan to be sculpted, and then shipping them back. I said, this money belongs to the sentient beings, you can’t splurge like this.

Sec-Gen Huang also revealed that BW’s Chuan Deng Monastery in Canada began construction without a permit. Canadian authorities issued a stop-work order after the violation was discovered. As for Brightness of Chandrakirti Monastery, Sec-Gen Huang also revealed,

Ven Xing Zhuang [monk in-charge of the Brightness of Chandrakirti Monastery project] suggested that we build on land prohibited for development by environmental regulations. He said, “Just bend the rules a bit and build, no problem!” I said, “Spending NT$20 million to build something you have to end up dismantling? No way. Second, you’re the monk who suggested this in the first place, but in the end people will put to blame on Sec-Gen Huang. I’ll be scolded for building on land prohibited for development and held responsible for the entire fiasco. I’m never going to do this!”  Where the dharma is concerned, I will not condone any illegal activities.

Two former abbots who left BW recently, first abbot Ven Fan Yin and second abbot Ven Jing Ming, previously told Taiwanese Buddhist leaders gathered at Nanputuo Temple about BW’s vinaya transgressions, financial irregularities and money laundering. According to Ven Fan Yin, his bank accounts were used by Bliss & Wisdom for money laundering, and he has turned himself in at the Taiwanese National Security Bureau. Taiwanese authorities have commenced investigations and frozen bank accounts belonging to Ven Fan Yin and BW’s senior committee members.

UPDATE 14 SEP:

The original Formosa Television report has been taken down. Another article on BW followers protesting by Yahoo News has also been taken down.

Here are links to other news reports (these reports have been archived and will be uploaded if the original gets taken down):

  • 14 Sep At 22:00hrs, Sanlih E-Television News will run a feature report on live TV. TV presenter Ah Juan will speak to Ven Fan Yin and Senior Brother Li Yanzhong. Sanlih’s news broadcasts can be viewed live here: https://youtu.be/xA3ytb4LXtY

 

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