Vietnamese authorities have ordered monks at a popular Buddhist pagoda to stop “soul summoning” and “bad karma eviction” ceremonies after an investigation found the rituals were a scam.
Tens of thousands of worshipers have been paying the 18th century Ba Vang pagoda in northern Quang Ninh Province between 1 million dong (US$43.19) and several hundred million dong to have their bad karma vanquished, according to the state-run Lao Dong newspaper.
The Vietnamese Government Committee for Religious Affairs issued a statement on its Web site on Friday saying: “The ritual goes against Buddhist philosophy and violates Vietnam’s law on religion and folk beliefs.”
“It has a negative impact on social order and security,” it added.
Calls to the pagoda were not answered on Friday.
Monks at the pagoda teach that all illnesses and misfortune result from bad deeds in previous lives.
Three times a month, they hold a two-day ceremony to “summon wandering souls” and “remove bad karma,” demanding donations, supposedly representing good deeds, to help cure bad karma and make up for supposed bad deeds in previous lives.
Such rituals have been going on for years, but the practice has drawn unfavorable attention as the amounts demanded by the monks soared to the point where they began taking payments by bank transfers and installments.
Public outrage flared when an inspirational speaker associated with the pagoda blamed a victim for being gang raped, saying she had committed evil acts in a past life in comments posted on the pagoda’s Web site and on social media.
The 20-year-old college student was taken hostage and raped by five men for two days before she was killed on the eve of the Feb. 5 Lunar New Year.
“The teaching was hurtful and disrespectful to the soul of my daughter,” Tuoi Tre, another official newspaper, quoted the woman’s mother as saying.
The monks also teach that homosexuality comes from bad karma and should be “cured” by having people of the opposite sex spend time together.
“Vindictive wandering souls follow people. They bring you illness, marriage problems and make your children unwell. We have the power to summon the souls and evict them,” the abbot of the pagoda, Thich Truc Thai Minh, told followers during a gathering that was live streamed on social media on Thursday.
A reporter for Lao Dong filmed a video at the pagoda showing a monk telling another woman, who was distraught over losing her only child: “It’s your karma. In a previous life, you were a witch.”
“The wandering soul says it will take your life, too. Not just your child,” the monk said.
Ba Vang pagoda was built on a mountain slope in Uong Bi District of Quang Ninh Province. It was recently renovated and expanded to become one of Vietnam’s largest pagoda complexes.
Only a minority of Vietnam’s 95 million people follow Buddhism, but many non-Buddhists go to pagodas and temples and practice a form of folk religion that includes some Buddhist practices.
On the Chinese microblogging platform Sina Weibo, enthusiastic slackers share their tips: Fill up a thermos with whiskey, do planks or stretches in the work pantry at regular intervals, drink liters of water to prompt lots of trips to the toilet on work time, and, once there, spend time on social media or playing games on your phone. “Not working hard is everyone’s basic right,” one commenter wrote. “With or without legal protection, everyone has the right to not work hard.” Young Chinese people are pushing back against an engrained culture of overwork, and embracing a philosophy of laziness known as “touching
‘STUNNED’: With help from an official at the US Department of Justice, Donald Trump reportedly planned to oust the acting attorney general in a bid to overturn the election Former US president Donald Trump was at his Florida resort on Saturday, beginning post-presidency life while US President Joe Biden settled into the White House, but in Washington and beyond, the chaos of the 45th president’s final days in office continued to throw out damaging aftershocks. In yet another earth-shaking report, the New York Times said that Trump plotted with an official at the US Department of Justice to fire the acting attorney general, then force Georgia Republicans to overturn his defeat in that state. Meanwhile, former acting US secretary of defense Christopher Miller made an extraordinary admission, telling Vanity Fair that
The Palauan president-elect has vowed to stand up to Chinese “bullying” in the Pacific, saying that the archipelago nation is set to stand by its alliances with “true friends,” Taiwan and the US. Surangel Whipps Jr, 52, a supermarket owner and two-time senator from a prominent Palauan family, is to be sworn in as the new president tomorrow, succeeding his brother-in-law, Tommy Remengesau Jr. In a forthright interview, Whipps said that the US had demonstrated over the years that it was a reliable friend of Palau, most recently shown by its delivery of 6,000 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. “It’s important for
Boeing set a target of designing and certifying its jetliners to fly on 100 percent sustainable fuels by 2030, amid rising pressure on planemakers to take climate change seriously. Regulators allow a 50-50 blend of sustainable and conventional fuels, and Boeing on Friday said it would work with authorities to raise the limit. Rival Airbus is considering another tack: a futuristic lineup of hydrogen-powered aircraft that would reach the skies by 2035. The aircraft manufacturers face growing public clamor to cut emissions in the aviation industry, which added more than 1 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere in 2019, according to