A closer look at GEBIS’ response to David Weale

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Since 2008, Bliss and Wisdom guru Mary Jin and monks under her fold appeared on Prince Edward Island, Canada’s smallest province on its eastern seaboard. They set up the Great Enlightenment Buddhist Institute Society (GEBIS) to operate on the island.

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GEBIS in Little Sands, PEI

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.

David Weale, an author and historian living in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, has recently taken up the mantle and posed 15 questions to GEBIS spokesmen. GEBIS initially agreed to a meeting, but changed its mind and sent its responses through their lawyer, Julian Porter Q.C. Porter is one of Canada’s foremost libel lawyers.

I have received inquiries about why I am setting up this blog, and whether there is a coordinated movement by some sinister organization against GEBIS. Allow me to explain.

In July, a former Bliss and Wisdom member asked His Holiness the Dalai Lama, “When the guru transgresses the vinaya, can we leave her, and expose her wrongdoing?” His Holiness replied: “Of course you can! Let the public know about this transgression of the vinaya, this wrongdoing. Of course! If you are sure that she is behaving inappropriately, you must expose the truth to the public, it is necessary to let the world know about it.”

On his advice, many former BW/GEBIS monks, committee members and followers are coming out to give the public the truth they deserve to hear. No one I know is getting paid to launch a smear campaign against Bliss and Wisdom or GEBIS.

GEBIS’ responses to Weale’s questions, crafted with assistance from one of Canada’s top lawyers, may sound convincing to an outsider. I will try to respond to them, given what I know about Bliss and Wisdom as well as GEBIS. My responses below can be found in the quote boxes.

D. WEALE’S FIRST QUESTION

Perhaps the deepest, most fundamental concern of Islanders regarding the activities of GEBIS has to do with the long-range plans of the society. GEBIS’s growth and expansion on the Island, which has included the purchase of considerable land and real estate, has been dramatically swift, and has raised deep concerns about what the future holds. Are the plans of GEBIS complementary to Islanders’ vision of the kind of rural development they envisage? Indeed, we wonder if there has ever been any discussion with our Government about such matters?

Our first question then is this: where is GEBIS headed? What does it hope to achieve over the next decade?

In conjunction with this question we would also like to ask what use is to be made of all the land purchased by GEBIS and its associates that is now lying fallow.

We understand that much of the land purchased is not owned by GEBIS directly, but by adherents to the Bliss and Wisdom movement. Our question in this regard is whether or not GEBIS has any control, formally or informally, over what use is to be made of that land?

GEBIS’ ANSWER (THROUGH J. PORTER Q.C.)

As a Buddhist monastery, the fundamental purpose of GEBIS is extremely simple: to educate and nurture Buddhist practitioners. Buddha teaches us that the most important factor in allowing Buddhist teachings to be handed down from one generation to another is to personally embody the Buddhist teaching of genuinely caring about others. Monks spend all their time and effort in trying to actualize Buddhist teachings. It is only when we put the teachings into practice that we can then share them with others, fostering an environment that encourages compassionate and kind thoughts as well as behaviours.

In August, Taiwanese Buddhist leaders gathered at Nanputuo Temple in central Taiwan to chastise GEBIS guru Mary Jin for violating the Buddha’s guidelines, by living together with celibate male monks and by governing the sangha.

A number of Taiwanese monks have called on Buddhists to excommunicate BW/GEBIS from the mainstream Buddhist community, and regard it as a pseudo-Buddhist cult for its violation of Buddhist guidelines.

Facing significant flak, BW vice-abbot Ven Ru De disowned both the Tibetan and Chinese Buddhist traditions, and suggested that BW may isolate itself from other Buddhist groups should criticism not cease.

Former head of the Tibetan Buddhist Gelugpa sect, His Eminence the 102nd Ganden Tripa Rizong Rinpoche, spoke out against Mary Jin’s violation of Buddhist guidelines and urged BW monks to expel wrongdoers. His Holiness the Dalai Lama also emphasized the need for transparency and dialogue to resolve the issue, and expressed clearly that it was inappropriate for a lay woman to live with monks and control the sangha.

In light of these facts, I do not think that BW/GEBIS should be considered a mainstream Buddhist organization.

Our plans for the next decade include the continued construction of our monastery in Heatherdale.

Former BW secretary-general Huang stated that Chuan Deng Monastery in 2661 Heatherdale Road will comprise five stages. Original budget for all five stages was NT$1.3 billion (C$54 million). The actual cost of stage I, recently completed, was NT$280 million (C$11.6 million). The current projected cost of stages I-IV now stands at NT$3.8 billion (C$157 million).

We will continue and hopefully increase the number of our Buddhist retreats to the province of PEI each year.

Bliss & Wisdom followers are flocking to PEI to catch a glimpse of their guru Mary Jin, and receive her blessings. BW followers see her as an enlightened bodhisattva with magical powers, or a reincarnation of Lama Tsongkhapa.

With development of our world-class curriculum for monastics, we hope more monastics will want to come to PEI.

Monks from Mary Jin’s entourage, consisting of a small group of her confidants and attendants (known as the Marco organization), get to decide which monks can come to PEI. Only monks and nuns belonging to one of Bliss and Wisdom’s monasteries in Taiwan, China and Singapore may go to PEI.

Monks from other monasteries have requested to join one of Bliss and Wisdom’s monasteries for a short sabbatical, but were rejected. The Bliss and Wisdom sanghas do not allow incoming or outgoing exchanges. BW expelled its former abbot Ven Jing Ming for attempting to go on exchange to other monasteries and for speaking out against the organization.

GEBIS decides exactly how many monastics it wants to have in PEI.

Our construction is under the supervision of officials in charge of provincial planning, and are currently providing the technical engineering information that they require. Our developments will comply with provincial regulations.

Former BW sec-gen Huang stated in an audio recording that GEBIS began construction of Chuan Deng Monastery without proper approval from local authorities. After local authorities discovered the illegal construction, a stop-work order was issued until GEBIS secured all necessary approvals.

This may be the reason why Porter chose to use “will comply” instead of “have always complied”.

Similar to the relationship between a church and its followers, the followers would support a church’s developments. With regards to the land owned by the parishioners, GEBIS does not have any control rights.

GEBIS may not have control rights (in the legal sense) on land owned by its followers, but it certainly has influence. Some followers may have purchased land or housing in PEI on their own initiative, while some trusted followers acted on behalf of GEBIS.

Mark Mann quoted a source in his 2013 article estimating that GEBIS owns as much as 5000 acres of land in PEI, directly and indirectly.

Our future plans of development do not include commercial or industrial zones akin to those of a city or industrial park. We will preserve the natural, unpolluted beauty of the Island by caring for the land, water sources, etc. All of the land surrounding the monastery is currently leased to local organic farmers; none of the land owned by GEBIS is lying fallow.

D. WEALE’S SECOND QUESTION

Many Islanders are wondering why this organization has chosen to invest so heavily (and establish its head-quarters) on Prince Edward Island, and to incur the very great, and ongoing, expense of operating so far away from the demographic center of the group. So why here? What is the advantage to you of being here?
A related question is why the organization decided to leave British Columbia and relocate on PEI.

GEBIS’ ANSWER (THROUGH J. PORTER Q.C.)

Understanding the importance of the surrounding environment and neighbours to a monastery will shed light on how we truly feel. Our Islander friends have shared with us how they worked their entire lives overseas only to choose to return to live on the Island. We believe that we share the same feelings as Islanders toward PEI. The Island is not heavily industrialized or populated and its quiet natural beauty is perfect for a monastery with monastic study and meditation.

Imagine you need to ensure that today’s youths are not negatively influenced by modern media. Coupled with that, our young monastics have to memorize countless texts, participate in Buddhist debate, learn foreign languages, practice penmanship, etc. Under these two circumstances, you would understand how difficult this task is. We believe that a simple lifestyle that allows for spiritual growth is the key to one’s happiness. However, one can only realize this fact after persisting for a long time in this simple way of living. If a monk wants to unwind after a taxing period of memorizing scriptures, here in PEI, he can choose to take in the open fields, go for a walk in the woods, and gaze upon the moon and starry skies at night. We believe that this is more conducive to a youth’s development of character.

Are there no open fields, woods, moons and starry skies in Taiwan?

Bliss and Wisdom’s K-12 school in Taiwan is surrounded by large swathes of organic farmland, both owned directly by the organization and by its followers.

David Weale’s question of why “incur the very great, and ongoing, expense of operating so far away from the demographic center of the group” has not been satisfactorily answered.

For a monk, the meditation environment is extremely important. For many generations, PEI has maintained a pure environment that is untainted and unsullied. This exceptional environment is extremely rare in the world. Even those who are not Buddhists can feel the positivity of the Island upon setting foot in PEI.

PEI’s natural setting is extremely suitable for the monastics’ learning.

Most of Bliss and Wisdom’s curriculum revolves around reciting and studying scripture. Ideally, monastics studying scripture need access to other Buddhist masters to get exposure and advice. To be completely isolated is thus not ideal, unless one is on a serious silent retreat, or is attempting to achieve samadhi.

Would it not be more suitable for GEBIS monks to remain in Taiwan, where they can easily consult and interact with other Taiwanese Buddhist masters, or even India, where His Holiness the Dalai Lama, HE the 102nd Rizong Rinpoche and other Tibetan lineage masters reside?

The only spiritual leader on PEI is Mary Jin herself. She spends most of her time in her private residence with the Marco monks, appearing only in GEBIS to give talks to monks or lay retreatants a few times a year. Most GEBIS monks only get a few glimpses of her each year, and no personal contact whatsoever.

Mary Jin has also been known to invite lamas linked to the Chinese government to GEBIS and PEI, such as Harwa Rinpoche.

By living on PEI, the GEBIS monks are missing out on opportunities to interact with other Taiwanese Buddhist teachers, as well as their own Tibetan lineage masters living in India.

In answer to demographics, our group is global. We also have locations and parishioners in United States and Canada.

Porter isn’t exactly lying when he says this. Out of BW’s 100,000 followers, around 60,000 are from Taiwan, around 30,000 from Mainland China, around 3500 from Singapore, around 1000+ each in Hong Kong, Malaysia, and California, and small numbers scattered across the United States and Canada.

GEBIS did not leave British Columbia. We still have a group there.

GEBIS has a small group of lay followers there, and maintains properties near Vancouver. GEBIS monks first settled in British Columbia, before moving to PEI.

I can only speculate on a few reasons why the monks might want to move to PEI – cheaper land and possibly less scrutiny from other Chinese and Taiwanese immigrants as well as Buddhist groups.

D. WEALE’S THIRD QUESTION

Islanders see the great wealth that GEBIS has brought to Prince Edward Island and wonder about the sources. Further, they feel that because GEBIS is registered as a charity, with tax exemptions, the financing of the organization needs to be documented clearly and placed on the public record.
The question then is this: what are the principal sources of income for Bliss and Wisdom, and GEBIS. Unless there is clear, documented evidence the question of funding will linger as a source of concern and mistrust.

GEBIS’ ANSWER (THROUGH J. PORTER Q.C.)

GEBIS’ funding is our parishioners’ donations from all over the world.

As far as I know, Bliss and Wisdom’s principal sources of income are:

  • Profits from its network of 100+ organic supermarkets in Taiwan
  • Profits from its private K-12 school in Taiwan
  • Profits from enterprises and factories connected to Bliss and Wisdom
  • Fund-raising events and appeals
  • Donations

BW/GEBIS has not provided any meaningful disclosure regarding these (and potentially other) sources of income.

D. WEALE’S FOURTH QUESTION

In our culture the practice of paying with cash invites the suspicion of evasion of one kind or another, especially when the purchased items are very large. It is widely known that the members of GEBIS routinely pay for goods and services in cash and our question is, why is this practice followed?

GEBIS’ ANSWER (THROUGH J. PORTER Q.C.)

Using cash to pay for everyday needs is common in our culture. We often use cash to pay for goods and services, and we pay sales taxes. Like you, many Islanders have informed us that using large amounts of cash on the Island invites the suspicion of evasion. As mentioned earlier, our source of funding comes from donations of parishioners. We feel as long as we pay sales taxes there is no issue with using cash.

D. WEALE’S FIFTH QUESTION

Under which immigration program did the GEBIS employees living here permanently come into the country? They don’t seem to be either ‘workers’ or ‘entrepreneurs’ so the question is, how did they get accepted? Was it through the provincial nominee program (PNP)?

GEBIS’ ANSWER (THROUGH J. PORTER Q.C.)

Most of the monks hold either work permits or study permits; these are temporary visas. Also there are some monks wish to stay here long-term and make PEI their home. Currently, the majority of the monks who are granted permanent resident status have used the federal Express Entry route, which did not require provincial nomination. The remaining few who used the Provincial Nomination Program received permanent resident status through the skilled worker (religious worker) program.

In the past, Bliss & Wisdom monks were brought to PEI on visa free entry, which allowed them to remain in Canada for up to six months. Since the monks had to return to Taiwan every six months, air tickets were a huge expense for the monastery. Only Mary Jin and some of Bliss and Wisdom’s leadership could acquire a more permanent status in Canada as “entrepreneurs” or “investors”, simply by registering shell companies and moving in money. A former BW follower has trawled the internet to uncover these shell companies registered in Canada on his blog (in Chinese).

Seeking a long-term solution, GEBIS applied to the PEI Education Department to set up “Moonlight International Academy” as an educational institution, registered at the same address as GEBIS in Little Sands. Many education officials had strong reservations about approving the application. After intensive lobbying over a few years, the application was approved. This allowed GEBIS to bring in monks and children using student visas and work permits, allowing the monks to stay in Canada for years at a stretch.

Hundreds of children who do not speak English and do not interact with Islanders are kept in the monastery. These children never leave the premises. They are thousands of miles away from home, without internet access and absolutely no way of seeking help from outsiders. Phone calls to parents are allowed but strictly controlled and monitored. They are not taught English at all, even if that was what GEBIS promised the Education Department, but instead follow the Bliss & Wisdom doctrine and curriculum fully.

How on earth “Moonlight International Academy” was approved, I have no idea!

D. WEALE’S SIXTH QUESTION

It is not our custom to remove small children from their homes and families and place them in the care of religious teachers. The fact that that is happening on the Island has caused considerable concern among some residents.
With that in mind, the next question is this: what is the youngest age that youngsters will be delivered into the keeping of the GEBIS monastery for instruction, and how long, on average, will they stay?
Further, a phrase that appears from time to time in writings about the Bliss and Wisdom society is ‘the child intake’. Could you please explain what is meant by that term?

GEBIS’ ANSWER (THROUGH J. PORTER Q.C.)

Currently, the youngest studying at GEBIS is nine. However, the average age in the monastery is 28. These younger students must have their parents’ support and consent, and are under Canadian provincial school guidelines in order to complete their preparatory coursework study. They can choose to go back home at any point by their own free will.

Many of these students’ parents live or own property near the monastery to be able to spend more time with their children as well as the monks.

This statement is extremely misleading. I suggest that GEBIS and Porter tell us exactly how many they mean by “many”.

In fact, most of the monks and children do not have family living on PEI. Their parents have to work and support themselves in Taiwan. If they wish to visit their children in PEI, they may do so on an organized tour, known as a “Buddhist retreat for parents of the sangha”, at their own expense. The average Taiwanese family does not have the means to fly to Canada every year.

We do not use the term “child intake.”

The Chinese term used in the monastery is 預科班 (yu ke ban), which can be directly translated as “preparatory class”. The other intake for the monastery is the adult intake, known as 新淨班 (xin jing ban), or “new anagarika class”.

The child intake consists of children below age 18, mostly from Bliss and Wisdom’s K-12 school in Taiwan. They are typically ordained as novice monks after around age 16 and at least two to three years in the monastery. Each intake consists of a few classes grouped according to age. The children will live and study together with the same class as they grow up, even into their 20s or 30s. There were child intakes in the year 2006, 2008, 2012 and 2015, and each intake consisted of hundreds of children. Prior to 2006, a slightly different system was in place.

The adult intake consists of adults above age 18, with an age limit of 35 (other Tibetan and Chinese/Taiwanese monasteries typically do not have an age limit, or have a higher limit). They can enter the monastery at any time, and after a rigorous selection and elimination process, may be ordained after two to three years. Unlike the child intake, whose main role is to study scripture and teach the other monks after they grow up, the adult intake monks take on executive and managerial roles within the organization.

It is our understanding that in western civilization, many religious institutions commonly have Bible studies, summer camps, as well as private and boarding schools, which are very similar to our curriculum.

David Weale’s observation that “it is not our custom to remove small children from their homes and families and place them in the care of religious teachers” is also valid in modern Taiwanese society today.

In countries like Thailand, Burma, Tibet and amongst Tibetans exiled in India, families have been sending small children into monasteries to become novice monks for centuries. However, such a practice is virtually unheard of in Taiwan.

According to Taiwanese education law, K-12 schooling is compulsory.  Removing children from school and sending them to monasteries is technically illegal.

Many followers of Bliss and Wisdom send their children into the monastery because they have been convinced by the organization that the highest calling is to become a monastic (天下第一等人就是出家人) and want their children to become saints (成聖成賢).

D. WEALE’S SEVENTH QUESTION

The Chinese government has attempted to influence Buddhist followers in that country by appointing the Panchen Lama, who is more supportive of the Communist Party, and have demanded that Buddhists follow his teachings rather than those of the Dali Lama. Which Lama is GEBIS following?
Or, to put the question another way, has Bliss and Wisdom remained firmly in the Tibetan stream of Buddhism, which was clearly the intention of the founder and late leader, Jih-Chang, or has Mary Jin, his successor, taken it in a new direction, one more acceptable to the Communist party?

GEBIS’ ANSWER (THROUGH J. PORTER Q.C.)

Late Master Jih-Chang appointed Master Zhen-Ru as his successor because she is the most capable of continuing Great Master Tsong-kha-pa’s lineage. This will not change.

Considerable doubt has been cast over whether Mary Jin (aka Master Zhen-Ru) is the legitimate successor of Master Jih-Chang.

Former BW abbot Ven Fan Yin and former committee member Li Yanzhong have gone on live TV in Taiwan to discuss the suspicious circumstances surrounding Master Jih-Chang’s death in Xiamen, China.

Mary Jin was never formally and publicly introduced by Master Jih-Chang as his legitimate successor. Although senior monks knew that he had the intention of anointing her as successor, Ven Fan Yin stated that His Holiness the Dalai Lama did not approve of her leading the sangha.

To date, not a single audio recording, video recording, a will, or even a written statement has been produced to prove that Master Jih-Chang formally appointed Mary Jin as successor.

It appears that a small group of monks thrust Mary Jin into power after Master Jih-Chang’s death, seized control of the sangha, and convinced the lay people to support them.

The two traditions taught by H.H. the Dalai Lama and H.H. the Panchen Lama are the two main lineages tracing back to Great Master Tsong-kha-pa. These are respectfully followed by all Gelug students, including us. There is no need to choose. What is most important to us is the continuation as well as the purity of the lineage. This is independent of any political factors. We will exert our efforts in studying the Buddhist teachings, and will not be affected by any country’s political influence. It is our monastics’ and parishioners’ beliefs that the gender of the spiritual teacher does not affect the lineage of teachings.

The teachings of His Holiness (“H.H.”) the Dalai Lama and His Holiness (“H.H.”) the Panchen Lama are of the same origin. According to our spiritual teachers, a true Buddhist practitioner should respect all spiritual teachers who have received lineages from Buddha. Generations of the H.H. Dalai Lama and the H.H. Panchen Lama have a teacher-student relationship and their lineages are intertwined like a braid.

For centuries, all Gelug students agree on one thing: being able to study the Gelug teachings is due to none other than the kindness of H.H. the Dalai Lama and H.H. the Panchen Lama.

As such, for Gelug students, there is no need to choose between the lineages of H.H. the Dalai Lama and H.H. the Panchen Lama. Considering such a choice is like thinking: “Am I my mother’s child, or my father’s child?” This does not make sense.

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 (recognized by HH the Dalai Lama) has been kidnapped and a Chinese-appointed one installed in his place. If BW/GEBIS wants to be honest about the Dalai Lama vs the 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? From GEBIS’ response, it seems that they do.

Most of BW’s followers do not know much about the Panchen Lamas, so vague statements like “HH Dalai Lama and the Panchen lineages are the same” can fool them. People with some historical knowledge, or who bothered to check up Wikipedia, will not be so easily fooled.

D. WEALE’S EIGHTH QUESTION

GEBIS indicated to Horace Carver, when he was supervising the review of the Lands Protection Act several years ago, that the organization had stopped buying land. Has GEBIS stopped buying land?

GEBIS’ ANSWER (THROUGH J. PORTER Q.C.)

GEBIS is a newly established organization. At the time of meeting Horace Carver several years ago, we were still trying to understand our place in PEI. However, as time passed, we feel more comfortable that PEI is our home. As such, our plans have become more long-term in nature and are in accordance to a vision that includes a global translation bureau. We did not think we needed to purchase land at that time, and we did not then. In the past two years, GEBIS has purchased 185.6 acres of land, bringing our total land ownership being 672.6 acres.

Mark Mann quoted a source in his 2013 article estimating that GEBIS owns as much as 5000 acres of land in PEI, directly and indirectly.

D. WEALE’S NINTH QUESTION

Is GEBIS the owner of the new temple/monastery for the training of Buddhist nuns in Brudenell? If not, could you inform us who does own that facility?

GEBIS’ ANSWER (THROUGH J. PORTER Q.C.)

Great Wisdom Buddhist Institute is a monastery for Buddhist nuns. This is an Asian styled monastery that GWBI is preparing to build. The land is bought by GWBI. The relationship between GEBIS and GWBI is similar to that of a Catholic priest and Catholic nuns. The donations received by a Catholic priest is not shared with the Catholic nuns. Even though they both are of Catholic faith, their donation pools are separate

The GEBIS monk sangha is under the umbrella of the Fengshan Monastery monk sangha in Taiwan. Monks from Fengshan Monastery may go to GEBIS in Little Sands, PEI if they receive approval from the Marco monks. The Fengshan Monastery sangha supplies funding to GEBIS, since GEBIS gets no income from PEI but incurs huge expenditures.

The GWBI nun sangha is under the Nanhai Monastery nun sangha in Taiwan. GWBI nuns are likewise from Nanhai Monastery. GWBI gets its funding from Nanhai Monastery.

The monastics from Fengshan, Nanhai, GEBIS and GWBI are all under the Bliss and Wisdom organization, take Mary Jin as their guru, and are governed by her entourage, the Marco monks.

While each monastery or nunnery may have its own accounts, major financial and strategic decisions are made by the Marco monks.

D. WEALE’S TENTH QUESTION

Many Islanders are confused about the essential nature and purpose of the coming of the monks to Prince Edward Island. It appears on the surface that it is not about immigration of individuals wanting to become part of Island society, but an exercise in training Buddhist monks for the purpose of spreading Buddhist philosophy/teaching around the world.
However, other factors make this less clear. The purchasing of land by the monks and those affiliated with them, the activities of companies like the Moonlight International Foundation and the Grain Essence Garden, as well as all the talk about organic farming suggests there is a commercial side to the arrival of GEBIS. Yet the connection between the monks (GEBIS) and these other endeavours is anything but clear.
Spokesperson for GEBIS, Geoffrey Yang, informed me in 2012 that, “The decision to come to PEI has nothing to do with the agricultural nature of the Island,” and that the Buddhist monks were not engaged in farming. It was a statement I had difficulty comprehending at the time, and, in fairness, I cannot recall the context of his comments. I was confused, and remain so.
Our request, then, is that you might explain clearly the connection between the ‘spiritual’ and ‘commercial’ aspects of the coming of GEBIS to the Island.

GEBIS’ ANSWER (THROUGH J. PORTER Q.C.)

The core purpose of the monks coming to PEI is to study and teach Buddhist philosophy. PEI was chosen for its serenity, peacefulness, and non-commercial activities, making monastic study and meditation possible. The purchase of land for the monastery is to achieve and maintain this serenity and create non-commercial buffer zones. The land in this buffer zone must create revenue for PEI so they are leased at a low rate to local organic farmers. There is no commercial side of GEBIS. GEBIS is a registered not for profit organization and charity.
Many of our parishioners have chosen to move to PEI due to GEBIS being here under the positive influence of Buddhist teachings and the teachings of Master Zhen-Ru.
Moonlight International Foundation operates three animal sanctuaries on PEI, as well as its humanitarian efforts. Grain Essence Ltd. has an office in Charlottetown and is an exporter of many farm produce items both organic and conventional. Both of these organizations are run by parishioners.

The Bliss and Wisdom organization obviously gains something significant from being in PEI. Otherwise, why incur the huge expenses of operating from PEI?

GEBIS gains absolutely no meaningful revenue from the Island, but bleeds money making Islanders happy by leasing land cheaply to them, handing out rolls and operating animal sanctuaries. The latest addition to those expenses – one of Canada’s top libel lawyers.

Moreover, Bliss and Wisdom’s monasteries in Taiwan often receive offers of help from volunteers to do maintenance, plumbing, and also donations of food and equipment. In Canada, GEBIS needs to fork out cash for all of its own needs. And the Taiwan dollar to Canadian dollar exchange rate, as well as the difference in purchasing power, is very painful for BW/GEBIS.

GEBIS may seem flush with cash to Islanders, but all of this money comes from Taiwanese donors and BW’s enterprises in Taiwan. Taiwan’s annual household income is C$39,000, compared to C$70,000 for Canada. Many of BW’s Taiwanese donors are not well off, and far less wealthy than the average Canadian. That is why they are complaining.

D. WEALE’S ELEVENTH QUESTION

To avoid useless speculation and guessing about how much land is presently owned on the Island by GEBIS and its affiliates (by affiliates I mean those companies and individuals with a formal or informal relationship to GEBIS) it would be very useful if you could provide us with a map of the Island which shows clearly the properties purchased to this point. Such a map might succeed in allaying the fears of those who think the Island is being gobbled up by GEBIS.

GEBIS’ ANSWER (THROUGH J. PORTER Q.C.)

GEBIS owns 672.6 acres of land located in Heatherdale, High Bank, Little Sands and Montague. A map of these properties is readily available on Geolink PEI.
There has been a rise in the population of Asian immigrants in the province of PEI. However, we would like to point out that many of these individuals are not associated with GEBIS. The province of PEI has an immigration process that we as GEBIS, as well as other immigrants, must follow.

The 672.6 acres owned directly by GEBIS obviously does not include the land owned by affiliates, which Mark Mann’s source estimated was at least 5000 acres in 2013.

D. WEALE’S TWELFTH QUESTION

Are all the student monks and nuns who come here for training eligible for the same health benefits as Island citizens?

GEBIS’ ANSWER (THROUGH J. PORTER Q.C.)

Monastics holding work permits are eligible for a health card. Monastics under study permits can choose to purchase health insurance. As Buddhist practitioners, we do not believe in wasting resources, especially when it has been provided by others. As such, we are in the habit of taking preventive measures, such as exercising and eating well, to minimize visits to the doctor. We use Chinese herbal remedies. Only when necessary, we visit the local hospital.

This is part of a message sent to me by former BW abbot Ven Fan Yin:

“In PEI, I contracted tuberculosis. Mary Jin was afraid that the local health authorities would find out, so she ordered me to fly back to Taiwan the same night. This year in around Mar-Apr, around 15 Bliss & Wisdom monks and employees from Mainland China contracted tuberculosis. A plane was chartered to fly them back to China immediately.”

D. WEALE’S THIRTEENTH QUESTION

It is our understanding that a person qualifies as a resident of PEI if they have resided here for “…not less than 365 days during the 24 month period immediately preceding the date of acquisition of a land holding” (Lands Protection Act) That would seem to indicate that many of the monks who have lived here for two years or more would be exempt from the non-resident stipulations in the Act. Our question is: have any of the monks purchased land on Prince Edward Island?

GEBIS’ ANSWER (THROUGH J. PORTER Q.C.)

Families of monks and students who wish to be close to the monastery have purchased homes and/or land to build homes on Prince Edward Island and pay all applicable taxes.
To purchase land in PEI, firstly, a PEI resident must fulfill a certain period of time living on the Island as stipulated by Canadian immigration policy. In addition, a PEI resident must also be a permanent resident or a Canadian citizen. Under these circumstances, any purchase of land must be approved by IRAC.

David, let me give you the straight answer you didn’t get from Porter Q.C.

Yen-Wei Lai, or novice monk Ru Fa, is the chief attendant of Mary Jin and the most powerful monk in Bliss and Wisdom. He owns land in PEI: see here, here and here.

D. WEALE’S FOURTEENTH QUESTION

Is the Bliss and Wisdom sanga (monastery) in Taiwan, of which you are an overseas extension, a member of the Buddhist Association of the Republic of China?

GEBIS’ ANSWER (THROUGH J. PORTER Q.C.)

GEBIS is an independent entity registered in Canada. While GEBIS and Bliss and Wisdom follow the same spiritual teacher, GEBIS is not an overseas extension of Bliss and Wisdom. Bliss and Wisdom in Taiwan is a member of the Buddhist Association of the Republic of China (Republic of China refers to Taiwan, not mainland China).

GEBIS IS an overseas extension of Bliss and Wisdom. It may be independent in a legal sense, but…

  • Bliss and Wisdom Taiwan funds GEBIS
  • Bliss and Wisdom Taiwan sends its monks, volunteers and employees to GEBIS
  • Bliss and Wisdom Taiwan sends its followers or “parishioners” to GEBIS for retreats

As far as anyone is concerned, GEBIS is an overseas extension of Bliss and Wisdom.

D. WEALE’S FIFTEENTH QUESTION

At the recent opening of the new Bliss and Wisdom temple in southern Taiwan – the Brightness of Chandrakirti Monastery –Buddhist protestors were present from within the organization. Many were questioning the lack of transparency regarding the finances of the society, while others were suggesting that certain irregularities were connected to the group’s connections to the Peoples’ Republic of China.

GEBIS’ ANSWER (THROUGH J. PORTER Q.C.)

The protestors present were not parishioners of Bliss and Wisdom. We do know that thousands of Buddhist parishioners were present to celebrate the opening of the new Bliss and Wisdom temple.
For clarification purposes regarding these claims against Bliss and Wisdom, please refer to http://www.bwsangha.org/eng/credence.

The protestors present WERE current and former Bliss and Wisdom members/followers/parishioners.

In fact, most of the people now making noise online about Bliss and Wisdom are current and former Bliss and Wisdom followers, including many former insiders such as myself.

D. WEALE’S LAST QUESTION

Could you tell us whether, in your mind, these allegations have any legitimacy, and how this controversy is liable to affect the work of GEBIS in Prince Edward Island?

GEBIS’ ANSWER (THROUGH J. PORTER Q.C.)

These allegations are false.
The motivation behind these attacks primarily are against our spiritual teacher, Master Zhen-Ru, due to jealousy and an inability to accept a female spiritual leader.

Nonsense.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama, His Eminence the 102nd Ganden Tripa Rizong Rinpoche, and Taiwanese Buddhist leaders have made it clear that the Buddha wanted sanghas to be run independently through consensus-based decision-making, with no outside interference. A lay woman like Mary Jin may teach monks but may not govern a sangha, as she is doing now, since she is not a monk in the sangha. Mary Jin lives together with monks, which is also against the Buddha’s monastic code of conduct.

If GEBIS considers guidance from HH the Dalai Lama, HE the 102nd Ganden Tripa and Taiwanese Buddhist leaders, made in good faith and in accordance with Buddhist teachings, to be attacks made out of jealousy and misogyny, then it should hardly be considered Buddhist at all.

Their secondary motivation is for financial gain. These individuals have made ludicrous comments about sexual misconduct, black magic activities, and a leadership which controls individual monks and nuns. All of these comments are false and an effort for these individuals to make financial gain.

Nonsense. If I were getting rich from this blogging I’d be munching caviar instead of rice porridge.

Many of these allegations have been made with evidence and testimonies from former monks and committee members. Some allegations may have insufficient evidence. Notwithstanding that, the most crucial issues have already been publicly documented – Mary Jin’s violation of Buddhist guidelines, defiance of mainstream Buddhist leaders, connection to lamas sanctioned by the Chinese government, as well as illegal and questionable practices in Taiwan and Canada. These are facts.

Every BW monk and novice monk knows that the Marco (馬可) organization is really in charge. Many senior committee members know about it too.  It has been re-styled as “The Secretariat” (秘書處), but most monks still call it Marco out of habit.

Canada is a country that is gender equal and diverse in culture and race. As such, we are confident that Canadians, especially Islanders, will see the allegations for what they are: lies and opportunists who seek financial gains.

Look who’s calling who rich! Check out Mary Jin’s expensive houses all over the world.

Islanders who have met Master Zhen-Ru and attended her lectures can give testament to her compassionate nature and deep appreciation toward PEI. Her high regard for PEI’s unique qualities has led her to repeatedly express her wish for the beauty of PEI to last for generations to come.

The people behind this hate crime are trying to discourage parishioners world-wide. In Asian countries, our parishioners can easily see the motivation behind these allegations. Therefore, it is our utmost responsibility as members of GEBIS to help our new friends and neighbours here on PEI to understand the truth behind this hate crime.

We feel that the efforts of GEBIS has contributed to the community of PEI and that we are a beautiful addition to the people of PEI. Our plans for our future on PEI are legitimate and transparent. We believe our greatest days are ahead of us with the ongoing encouragement and teachings of our chosen spiritual teacher, Master Zhen-Ru.

Sincerely, The Buddhist People of PEI

——–END OF D. WEALE’S LETTER AND GEBIS’ RESPONSE———

I apologize to my readers in advance, if this makes anyone uncomfortable.

None of us are out to get GEBIS or Bliss and Wisdom. We were once ardent fans of Bliss and Wisdom. Many of us became monks at Bliss and Wisdom, volunteered our time, donated money or sent our children into the monastery, all out of faith in the organization and because we thought it was a good cause. When the scandals broke, people have had their faith shattered overnight.

As HE the 102nd Ganden Tripa Rizong Rinpoche said, there is a good side to Bliss and Wisdom – people are learning Buddhist teachings and engaging in charitable activities, all because of the organization. But the organization’s leadership has failed us. A few black sheep have led the whole flock astray.

I urge the monks, members and leadership of Bliss and Wisdom to bravely face the truth, however unpleasant it may be, and review all the evidence and arguments objectively. If you love GEBIS, Bliss and Wisdom and its people, please help it change for the better.

To all my readers, thank you for your support, and I hope our efforts will constructively help save Buddhism and Bliss and Wisdom.

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