Yingshang County, Anhui, China
Shi Yongxin (Chinese: 释永信; pinyin: Shì Yǒngxìn) is the current abbot of the Shaolin Temple. He is the thirteenth successor after Shi Xingzheng. He is the Chairman of the Henan Province Buddhists Association, a representative of the Ninth National People's Congress and also one of the first Chinese monks ever to get an MBA degree.
Shi Yongxin was born as Liu Yingcheng (刘应成) in Anhui Province's Yingshang County. Shi Yongxin is his Buddhist name. At the request of his parents, he entered monastic life at the age of 16 at Shaolin Monastery, and received full precepts in 1984. At the age of 22, he became the heir-apparent to the abbotship of Shaolin after completing his education at various Buddhist colleges, and a Dharma gathering was held between August 19 and 20, 1999, in the Shaolin Monastery, Songshan, China, for Yongxin to formally take office as abbot. He is the Chairman of the Henan Province Buddhists Association, Vice Chairman of the Buddhist Association of China, a representative of the Ninth National People's Congress. Yongxin's duties are scholarly and ecclesiastic, which involves presiding over large ceremonies at Shaolin.
Yongxin has been widely criticized in the online Buddhist and martial arts communities for commercializing the temple and running it like a business, earning him the nickname "CEO Monk". Most of the criticisms involve gifts he has allegedly accepted, such as a special robe worth 160,000 Yuan ($23,439 USD) in 2009 and a Volkswagen Touareg 4x4 worth over 1,000,000 Yuan in 2006. Other criticisms involve him using advertisements for the temple, the way admission fees are charged, and the fees charged to burn incense. Yongxin has also been criticized for his approval of the demolition of nearby environment in 2001, where the village surrounding the Shaolin Temple was bulldozed in order to help the bid for it to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In November 2009 the official Shaolin Temple website was hacked twice. The first time, the message "Shaolin evildoer Shi Yongxin, go to hell" was posted in calligraphy. The second time, hackers posted a letter said to be written by Yongxin in which he apologized for living a materialistic lifestyle and commercializing the temple.
Yongxin has countered these criticisms by claiming that commercialization is just a modern tool to promote and spread traditional Shaolin culture and martial arts, and is good for the Temple in the end. In his view, "Commercialization or industrialization, whatever term you use it, is a path leading up to the truth of Zen. My vision is that Shaolin will eventually become a source of consolidating Chinese people's confidence and wisdom."
As of January, 2011, Yongxin and the temple operated over 40 companies in cities across the world, including London and Berlin, which have purchased land and property.
In May 2011, it was rumored that Abbot Yongxin solicited prostitutes. While Yongxin himself did not comment on the accusations, Qiang Daliang, general manager of Shaolin Intangible Assets Management Center, said "it will depreciate ourselves if we make too many explanations." If it is time for the abbot to come out, he will, Qiang added. It was also claimed the temple later explained that Yongxin was performing a Buddhist service for the prostitute, rather than having sex with her.
- Shaolin Abbot Shi yong xin-Shaolin Temple kung fu school China Archived 2011-06-13 at the Wayback Machine.
- [‘CEO monk’ set to franchise Kung Fu Shaolin shrine]
- Luxury cassock triggers harsh criticism on Shaolin Temple
- Shaolin Abbot's "purchase" of 160,000-yuan robe receives netizens' criticism - People's Daily
- Shaolin Kung-fu Monks vs 'Old School' Dabei Monks Archived 2011-06-02 at the Wayback Machine.
- Dispute over sports car for China's most famous monk - China Daily
- Kung fu monk fights his critics
- Jakes, Susan (2001-11-19). "Kicking the Habit". Time. Retrieved 2010-09-08.
- Shaolin Temple Under Hacker Attack - Wall Street Journal
- Image of the letter on the hacked website Archived January 5, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
- Hacker ridicules Shaolin abbot - Shanghai Daily
- Shaolin Abbot Defends Lifestyle
- China Exclusive: Out of jungles - People's Daily
- https://web.archive.org/web/20110118224204/http://www.asiaone.com/Business/News/Story/A1Story20110111-257593.html China's Shaolin Temple builds business empire - AsiaOne Business]
- Police probe prostitution rumors about Shaolin temple abbot
- Shaolin must meet moral challenges on new path Archived 2011-05-14 at the Wayback Machine.
- Shaolin Temple Deny Abbot Caught with Prostitute
- Kung fu temple dismisses vice rumor
- Shaolin Temple abbot rumored to have Solicited Prostitutes