Rumors of vice rattle China's Shaolin monastery and the home of kung fu

Shi Yongxin, abbot of China's Shaolin monastery, where kung fu and Zen Buddhism were born, has been attacked by Internet rumors alleging improper behavior. The abbot has long been a controversial figure in China.

By , Staff writer

The abbot of Shaolin monastery, the home of kung fu, is in trouble again, beset by renewed online rumors that he lives a less than pure life.

The latest rumors spreading on China’s lively and not always reliable Internet accuse the abbot of maintaining a mistress and son in Germany, and of holding huge sums of money in foreign bank accounts.

The monastery issued a statement Thursday denying the stories as “vicious lies woven from nothing but causing great damage to the abbot Shi Yongxin and the Buddhist temple itself.” It gave an email address and phone number for the 1,500 year old monastery, “inviting anyone who has any evidence” of his eminence’s alleged misdeeds “to report directly.”

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Only last May, abbot Shi was shaking off rumors that he had been caught visiting a prostitute during an anti-vice sweep by police in the province of Henan, where the Shaolin temple is located.

Shi, the 30th abbot of the temple where Zen Buddhism was born, has attracted a good deal of criticism in China for the manner in which he has commercialized his shrine. Aside from sending teams of kung fu monks on international tours, Shi - who earned an MBA and is known as “the CEO monk” - has franchised a chain of Shaolin-run monasteries, licensed the Shaolin name to films and cartoon shows and gone into online sales.

He has brushed off criticism of such moves, once telling the official Xinhua news agency that “commercialization…is a path leading up to the truth of Zen.”

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