Books and DVDs by Venerable Master Chin Kung, revered around the world for propagating multicultural and interfaith harmony, have been labeled as illegal in China.
by Shen Xinran
Venerable Master Chin Kung, 92, is a widely respected eminent monk of Pure Land, a school of Mahayana Buddhism, that has long been the largest in China and eastern Asia. He has been propagating the Buddha’s teachings, equality among religions, intercultural and interfaith harmony throughout the world for nearly 60 years. Awarded honorary doctorate degrees and professorships by universities in Australia and the UK, in 2009, Master Chin Kung was appointed an International Trustee of Religions for Peace, an international organization active on every continent.
The Master, whose formal name is Hsu Yae-hong, was born in 1927, in Lujiang county in China’s eastern province of Anhui. He became a monk at Linji Temple of Yuanshan in Taiwan’s capital Taipei in 1959, where he was given the Dharma name Jue Chin and an alternative name Chin Kung, meaning “pure emptiness.”
Master Chin Kung pioneered the use of modern technologies – the internet and satellite television – to propagate Buddha’s teachings and has been producing DVDs on moral education and the teachings of sages for free worldwide distribution, authorizing the public to reproduce his works.
He once enjoyed widespread popularity in China; according to a BBC China report from 2015, discs and books with Master’s speeches could be found everywhere on the mainland. However now, anything related to Chin Kung has been labeled by the authorities as “illegal” or even as “fallacious arguments and heretical teachings,” and have been banned and destroyed throughout the country.
In April, two government officials in Xingtai city of the northern province of Hebei raided a local Guanyin temple and seized all books and discs related to Chin Kung. The two officials stated that because his remarks are inconsistent with national policies, temples are prohibited from circulating or storing any of Chin Kung’s books or items related to his teachings.
“Not only were these scripture books and discs banned, but the photo of Master Chin Kung has been replaced with a portrait of Xi Jinping,” said a local Buddhist with a sense of helplessness.
Last November, at a Buddhist temple in Anqing city of Anhui, all books related to Chin Kung were destroyed. A master at the temple recalled that local United Front Work Department officials searched the premises and found more than 100 books with the name of Master Chin Kung on them and claimed that they were illegal and cannot be disseminated at the temple. The officials then burned all the books on the spot.
In 2001, Master Chin Kung established the Pure Land Learning College Association, Inc. in Toowoomba, Australia, to continue the propagation of Buddhism. The CCP claimed that the institution indoctrinates believers and affects China’s mainstream ideology and accused Master Chin Kung of spreading misleading and heretical teachings. The Anti-Xie Jiao Association in the municipality of Tianjin once directly rebuked Chin Kung and the Pure Land Institute on its website for “religious intervention” and “cultural infiltration” in China.
A Buddhist in Xingtai city said that because so many people read Master Chin Kung’s books now, the government is afraid that people who listen to his words will accept Buddhist culture and thought. “There will be fewer and fewer people believing in communism,” the Buddhist explains the reasoning behind the prohibition of Master Chin Kung’s teachings.
The Buddhist’s opinion is supported by the abbot of a temple in a county of Jiujiang city in the southeastern province of Jiangxi. Even though the books by Master Chin Kung are beneficial to the meditation of Buddhist monks and nuns, the CCP treats them as inflammatory, he said. According to the abbot, the CCP doesn’t want cultured and educated people to accept Buddhism by reading Master Chin Kung’s books: and that is why they are restricted and destroyed.
The abbot also revealed that in the second half of 2018, personnel from the local United Front Work Department inspected each temple in the county, notifying that any books related to Master Chin Kung would be destroyed. To prevent that, the abbots of some temples hid them in advance. The books that were discovered were burned or otherwise obliterated.