"Shi Zhengyi" is a self-described insider of the Shaolin Temple, the home of both Shaolin Buddhism and Shaolin-style kung-fu. On Tuesday, Shi released several photocopies of what he alleged to be documents listing the abbot's immoral behaviors.
According to the "whistleblower," Abbot Shi Yongxin has many problems: he was expelled from the temple years ago; he has an improper relationship with a nun; and they have an illegitimate daughter. (Monks are banned from marrying while at the Temple.)
This photocopy allegedly shows an honorary abbot expelling Shi Yongxin in 1988 with a stamp of the temple. The documents are pretty hard to read and the releaser told The Paper, a state-run Chinese news site, he would love to provide the original files.
Just who Shi Zhengyi is is also a mystery. The Temple has said it has no monks named "Zhengyi," which means justice. In a report published Tuesday by local newspaper Huashang, Shi Zhengyi reportedly said it was a pseudonym used by more than one person.
No matter who the insider is, they kicked off the whole affair on Saturday with a post entitled "Who will supervise the 'big tiger' Shi Yongxin?", which triggered a wide discussion on Weibo.
The Shaolin Temple on Monday, before the documents' release, published a statement on its website, claiming that the abbot and the temple's reputation have been seriously tarnished, and accusing the person who spread the rumor of libel.
Grandmaster Shi Yongxin is by all measure a groundbreaking abbot in Han Chinese Buddhism history – he gained an MBA degree, turned 1,500-year-old Shaolin Temple into an enterprise, and has been spotted using the newest tech, including his iPhone 6 Plus.
However, to some of die-hard fans of Chinese martial arts novels, the abbot having a lover and a child sounds extremely familiar.
In the classic novel The Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils, published 52 years ago by famous novelist Jin Yong, one of the fictional protagonists, Xuzhu, realizes that he is actually the illegitimate son of Xuanci, the abbot of Shaolin.
One Weibo user commented, "Abbot Xuanci admitted his son before being reported...he hit himself until death with a stick and won respect from the kung-fu circle, so now it's Shi Yongxin's turn to prove whether he's enlightened or just a vulgar monk."
Beimeng Fu is a BuzzFeed News World Reporter covering China and is based in New York.
Contact Beimeng Fu at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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