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, in favour of following a spiritual calling 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 and speculation by bucking the materialistic trend in favour of “deep penetration of the physical and emotional plane”. He initially responded by secluding himself at the temple, refusing to answer questions or explain himself.
But yesterday, Liu told a China Daily Show Reporter at the Longquan Monastery’s sutra-hall-cum-sauna that, despite his strong filial piety, he found himself unable to resist the lure of monkhood – or monks. “I had a dream to enter a temple, and an oiled, robed monk, soon afterward,” he explained.
Describing his new brothers as “spiritual, knowledgeable… and lithe,” Liu complained that the “six-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 have perceived nirvana”.
“I definitely owe a lot to my six former roommates,” he acknowledged. “We mutually explored our boundaries, and I’ve been a platform for their frustrations on several occasions. But it was time to think about a deeper connection.”
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 a thesis on experiments with uncontrolled explosions alongside a number of male science majors.
Despite these formidable accomplishments, Liu insisted that the temple would better serve his needs. “I have the chance to explore the mysteries of the universe alone, with another monk or as a group,” he told China Daily Show. “We can utilize a number of methods to achieve enlightenment involving hatha yoga, qigong breathing techniques, and perhaps implements such as yak-butter candles.”
His choice has drawn scorn from many quarters. “[How can] young people become monks? They don’t even understand society, how can we expect them to enlighten people?” asked Lou Yulie, PKU professor of philosophy. “I can understand how depressed his parents are.”
“Fuck ass, you fuck,” raged 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 and vulnerable men. The appeal of a monastic life has been variously explained by the dearth of spirituality under Communist rule, the growing popularity of Buddhist sutras online, and well-built, shaven young men wearing off-the-shoulder saffron robes that are suitable for 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 them deepen their connection. Often with others watching.”
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