Popular Taoist priest involved in fraud: Chongqing authority (2)

16:57, August 20, 2010      

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The Beibei district bureau for religious affairs urged Li Yi to correct the facts around the stunt.

Another "magic power" claimed by the priest, called the "human body electric treatment", in which Li claims to cure sick people with 220 volts of electricity running through his body, while safe levels of electricity for human beings is 36 volts, was said not to belong to traditional Taoist treatments and its effects still need to be examined, the official said.

This method of curing has not received permission from municipal health authorities, said another official of Chongqing Municipal Health Department.

The operation of the Jinyun Mountain Traditional Chinese Learning School has been halted since its business activities had not been approved by the government, and an investigation into the school will be launched, said the Beibei official.

The school was set up with the approval of the district's government in October 2007 by the priest who was reported to have thousands of followers, including business tycoon Ma Yun and Faye Wong, a Chinese pop singer.

High tuitions need to be paid to listen to health lectures delivered by Li, who received membership in Taoism in 2006. The "three-day experience course" costs 390 yuan (about 57 U.S. dollars), while the five-day course reaches 3,800 yuan and the "one-week course" costs 9,000 yuan.

The priest, with a secular name known as Li Jun on his ID card, had run a circus and business after graduating from junior middle school. He had also repaired the Shaolong Temple and Baiyun Temple in Jinyun Mountain beginning in 1998 and changed the two Buddhist temples into Taoist temples with the approval of the government.

Li Yi was also involved in a law suit in which he was sentenced to pay more than two million yuan by Daduqu District Court in Chongqing, though he had not yet paid the fine, according to the Beibei official.

Li Yi has also been accused of rape, which was reported by the media Monday but proved to be false by police after an investigation, the Beibei official said.

"Why has Li Yi become so popular?" asked Fang Zhouzi, who is well-known in China for anti-counterfeiting standpoint.

"First, China has a tradition of concern for health. Second, the health system has problems and it is not easy for ordinary people to see doctors. Third, many Chinese people have a lack of knowledge about science. Fourth, is group psychology," Fang told Xinhua via phone.

"It started with a few big names, and then people followed them. But now celebrities are trying to stay away from Li Yi," he said.

Fang said the "qigong masters" with magic powers used to be popular in the 1990s and they were made to return in another costume -- the Taoist "supernatural being."

The social environment had not changed since the 1990s, which was the main reason for their return, he said.

Wang Zuo'an, head of China's State Administration for Religious Affairs, said Wednesday that religious personnel should not seek fame and fortune.

Wang, the first government official to comment on the reported scandal by a popular Taoist priest, said no one could become a religious leader with only the help of media puffery, celebrity endorsements and big money, and warned religious personnel not to believe in the fairy tale of overnight fame.

Instead, religious personnel should have a detached and tranquil mind, acquire merits and virtues through study and religious practice, and win respect with knowledge, integrity and character, said Wang.

Wang also called on government departments of religious affairs across the country to constantly improve the education and cultivation of religious personnel and adopt effective measures to prevent moral degradation among them.

Source: Xinhua
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