This old religion gets new attention for its hunky monks
A good looking Buddhist monk is helping bring followers back to their religion’s roots.
Despite a history thousands of years in the making, Buddhism has been suffering the fate of the has-been in China, Japan, and other parts of Asia. Now new interest is being sparked as non-practicing Buddhists see good looking men—those with other options for worldly success—choosing the humble religious life.
In scenic Yongjia county, in China’s Zhejiang province, a handsome young monk known as the Venerable Mingxin has begun renovating an old Buddhist temple, Pu’an Temple, that fell into disrepair because people stopped coming or caring about it. He estimates the process will take about ten years to fully complete. Since he returned to his hometown and initiated renovations, more people have begun attending the temple again.
Mingxin had to brave the disapproval of his parents, who are left without an heir by his career choice, as well as the puzzlement of friends and internet audiences based on his unusually attractive appearance. The young monk admits he could have had a good job, beautiful girlfriends, and other worldly success, but that none of it ever really interested him.
This monk is one of a growing number of physically attractive ascetics, or hunky monks, infusing new life into Buddhism. In Japan, the Beautiful Monk Encyclopedia, spotlighting more than 40 good looking Buddhist monks in the manner of a dating website, sold 10,000 copies in its first run. The idea of this type of advertising is to help boost interest and draw people back to the ancient religion.
As people have their curiosity sparked by these hunky monks, they are slowly investigating other aspects of Buddhism and returning to worship.