Tuesday, August 05, 2014

"Buddhist sect leader detained"...?

So reads the headline in an article in the NY Times about the detention of one Wu Zeheng, who is said in the article to run a group called "Huazang Dharma."  The NY Times article links to his group's website.  The Times article states:

According to its website, the group calls on followers to perform a good deed each day and to fast several days a month and then to donate to charity the money they would have spent on food. The website also speaks of the group’s “commitment to the prosperity of the Chinese nation and world peace.” 
Mr. Wu, who is also addressed by followers as His Holiness Vairocana Xing Wu, founded Huazang Dharma in the late 1980s and traces its teachings back to the earliest days of Buddhism. A number of followers believe he possesses healing powers and say the traditional Chinese medicine he prescribes can cure cancer and other diseases. 
Nicole Ho, who lives in the United States and who credits Mr. Wu with saving the life of her ailing father, has been a devout follower since 1995. “His ability and level of wisdom is simply different from anyone else,” she said. “With Master Wu, you listen and feel good from head to toe.” 
Mr. Wu had been briefly detained twice by the police in recent years, but his followers said the current detentions of him and his followers suggested the authorities were determined to crush the group. 
According to several witnesses, the police entered Mr. Wu’s home in Zhuhai on July 29 saying they wanted to examine his residency registration papers and then took him away. A number of followers living in apartments in the same complex were also detained at the same time, including children who were studying meditation and martial arts. Meanwhile, the police in the nearby city of Shenzhen raided two businesses affiliated with Huazang Dharma and the homes of people working there.

Nobody can support taking kids away by police, assuming that's what happened. 
But... His Holiness Vairocana...?  According to his website:

Mr. Wu Zeheng, with an alias Xin Yu and Buddhist name His Holiness the Vairocana Xing Wu, is the Patriarch of Buddhism, the 88th successor of Buddha, the 61th Successor of Zen Dharma, the 51th Successor of the Caodong Dharma, and the 32nd Successor of the Offspring Sangha Dharma. Holding the Symbol of Buddha Dharma - the”Kashaya and alms bowl ” (the hundreds patched robe and the alms bowl) that is the direct line of descent from Supreme Shakyamuni Buddha.

Well all right...seriously... there's claims there about being a direct successor of the Buddha, "61st successor of Zen Dharma,"... elsewhere on the site you can see claims about faith healing and what-not. Such a person who makes such claims isn't so much a Buddhist leader as a Buddhist antagonist, and one who really obscures the Way.

My point is,  as you might expect, I'm not overly fond of charlatans, and I'm not overly fond of propaganda critical of the Chinese government that glosses over the chicanery of folks like Wu.  And donning Taiwanese scarves prominently on one's website is going to be just about as popular as honoring the Naqba in some West Bank Israeli settlement.

I really can't get all that worked up on the "religious freedom" of hucksters like Wu - to me he comes across as more or less a Chinese Frederick Lenz.

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