A video showing Chinese Buddhist monks fighting each other at their temple was posted to Chinese social media, breaking with the serene and lofty perception conventionally associated with the ascetic cultivators.
The incident happened on April 24 at the Ningguo Temple in eastern China. In the video, three monks dressed in saffron-colored robes can be seen hitting and grappling each other, while tourists try to pull them apart. One of the bonzes carries a cell phone.
Peng Pai, a state-run social news outlet based in Shanghai, reported that the confrontation arose when three monks at the temple, all of middle rank, took their disagreements about temple administration to the physical level.
The three monks involved have been expelled.
“By fighting, the three monks disregarded the Six Dharmas of Harmony,” the temple abbot told Peng Pai. “They have set a bad example for society.”
Netizens lampooned the monks and the state of Chinese Buddhism.
One Internet user pointed out that modern monks no longer adhere to ascetic moral standards and treat their positions as ordinary jobs with conflicts of interest. Another suggested that the monks would not have been expelled if they had showed off flashy kung fu moves.
“Look how fat they all are, they must live comfortably,” a comment accuses.
Another appraises the incident: “In today’s society, even the monks who are supposed to practice emptiness have lost their composure.”