Master Lu Junhong died on November 10, 2021. The Buddhist movement continues to flourish—and to be persecuted.
by Zhao Zhangyong
On November 10, 2023, devotees commemorate the second anniversary of the death of Master Lu Junhong (卢军宏), the founder of the Buddhist movement Guan Yin Citta Dharma Door (心靈法門), who passed away in Sydney on November 10, 2021.
Lu, a Shanghai music graduate and conductor, moved to Australia in 1989 and after several spiritual experiences decided to devote his life to spread Chinese-style Buddhism. His movement was successful in Australia and became a global phenomenon, with hundreds of thousands of followers (the movement claims they are ten million, but the figure is disputed).
His Buddhism includes elements of Chinese folk religion and practices that some other Buddhists have challenged as superstitious. Typical of Guan Yin Chitta is the practice of the “little houses.” These are yellow sheets of paper with dots to be crossed each time the devotee chants a mantra. When all dots have been crossed, the “yellow paper house” is ritually burned.
While what brands of Buddhism are orthodox or otherwise is a matter of theology, in China it becomes a matter for the police. Lu criticized the CCP and Guan Yin Citta activity in China was carried out clandestinely since 2009. Although not in the known lists of movements banned as xie jiao, Guan Yin Citta is routinely called a xie jiao on Chinese governmental media and in documents of the police and the China Anti-Xie-Jiao Association. This confirms that all groups mentioned in the lists are repressed as xie jiao, but movements can be treated as xie jiao even if they are not in the lists.
In 2019, “Bitter Winter” published a confidential document by Fujian province authorities whose title was “Notice on Conducting the Special Work of a Massive Investigation, Massive Purge, and Massive Research of Guan Yin Citta.” In that document, the authorities estimated that Guan Yin Citta had three million members and was growing in China. Where these statistics came from was unclear.
In November 2021, the same month the founder died, “Bitter Winter” reported a new crackdown on Guan Yin Chitta in China, with devotees arrested in Shanghai and elsewhere. “Bitter Winter” also noted that through the CCP-controlled China Buddhist Association the Chinese government had managed to have Guan Yin Citta condemned as “non-Buddhist” by Buddhist associations in Malaysia and Hong Kong.
In 2023, the repression of Guan Yin Citta continued unabated. From a study of xie jiao in several counties of Zhejiang province produced by the China Anti-Xie-Jiao Association, we learn that Guan Yin Citta devotees are regarded as a main problem in the area. They are systematically hunted down by the police, although repression is difficult because they worship quietly in private homes.
Guan Yin Citta is just another example of a movement the CCP would like to eradicate that nonetheless continues to be present in several Chinese provinces.