By XIAO YUNYU
BEIJING (China Daily Show) — A Peking University (PKU) graduate who shocked his parents and Chinese society by dropping out of a prestigious university course to join a monastery yesterday admitted that the decision was born of a desire for both “inner peace” and “hot monks.”
Liu Zhiyu became a household name in China after rejecting a coveted full scholarship, offered by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to join the “accommodating and broad-minded” monks of the Longquan Temple in Beijing.
As peers fought tooth-and-nail for white-collar jobs to support future spouses and ageing parents, Liu became the subject of endless media scrutiny by bucking materialistic trends in favor of “deep penetration of the physical and emotional plane.”
At the Longquan Monastery’s sutra hall-cum-sauna, Liu told China Daily Show that, despite strong filial pieties, he found himself unable to resist a deep spiritual yearning to enter monkhood. “I had a vision of oiled, robed monks,” he explained.
Describing his new brothers as “spiritual, knowledgeable… and lithe,” Liu complained that the “sixteen-to-a-room” atmosphere at PKU made it impossible for him to find a peaceful moment “to share with one other man, forsaking all others, at least until one or both of us ideally together have perceived Nirvana”.
“I definitely owe a lot to my fifteen former roommates,” Liu acknowledged of his schooldays. “We mutually explored boundaries, and I’ve been a platform for their frustrations on several occasions. But it was time to follow a higher path.”
Liu was the first PKU student to devise a formula proving “Tang’s Theorem”, which states that the roundness of a male’s buttocks is directly proportional to their ability to bend over a workbench. He was also mid-way through completing his chemistry thesis on experiments with uncontrolled explosions alongside a number of male majors.
Despite these formidable accomplishments, Liu insisted that temple life would better serve his needs. “I have the chance to explore the mysteries of the universe alone, with another brother or as a group,” he told China Daily Show. “We utilize a number of methods to achieve enlightenment – hatha yoga, qigong breathing techniques, and the yak-butter candles.”
His choice has drawn scorn from many quarters. “[How can] young people become monks? They don’t even understand themselves, how can we expect them to enlighten others?” asked Lou Yulie, PKU professor of philosophy. “I fully support the decision of his parents .”
“Fuck ass, you son of a turtle,” responded blogger ‘Weidazhonghua’. “Why not join People Liberation Army, explode chrysanthemum like genuine man?”
China has seen a surge in awkward, well-groomed youngsters joining Buddhist temples to pursue a life of quiet contemplation with other like-minded, vulnerable men. The appeal of monastic life has been variously explained – a dearth of spirituality under Communist rule, the growing popularity of Buddhist sutras online, and well-built, shaven-headed youth wearing off-the-shoulder saffron robes that are suitable for almost any occasion.
Liu himself said he was inspired by the parable of the founder of Buddhism, Siddartha Gautama, who extolled the virtues of “opening one’s arms to a complete stranger and helping deepen their connection. Sometimes with others watching.”