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