Skateboarding monk shocks China

Looks like a mindfulness practise!

Photographs of a monk skateboarding inside a historic temple have caused controversy in China.

They were taken by a visitor to the Emei Mountain Temple, in Sichuan province, and posted on the internet, reports Huaxi Metropolis News.

The monastery stands near the top of Mount Emei – the highest of the Four Sacred Buddhist Mountains of China and the site of the country’s first ever Buddhist temple.

Internet users were taken aback by the photographs and posted comments criticising the monk for adopting a “modern fad”.

“Monks should seek quietness and riding a skateboard is such a contradictory thing to Buddhist life,” said one.

However, a spokesman for the temple said that the outside world did not understand the life of a contemporary monk.

“People get their impressions from TV or movies, where monks are praying all day long, without any motivation or desire,” he said.

“But these days monks also enjoy sports like badminton, table tennis and skateboarding in the spare time, as well as praying.

“They even use the internet and mobile phones to promote Buddhism. This is not contradictory to Buddhism but actually is part of the Buddhist spirit.”

4 replies on “Skateboarding monk shocks China”

  1. Hi,

    It depends, doesn’t it, on the vows this monk took. If he had vowed as part of his ordination not to engage in sports, then taking up skateboarding (or table tennis, or frisbee throwing, or whatever) is breaking his monastic vows.

    I imagine the best response to that would be to apologise for the lapse and re-commit to his vows. I remember Ajahn Jayasaro in Bangkok not so long ago talking about the vows he took that govern things even as seemingly unimportant as how to place his bag when taking a seat.

    No talk from him about ‘modern lifestyles’, rather, he talked about how the discipline of vows is itself the practice – and brings about confidence and self-respect.

    Perhaps the order this monk belongs to allows the playing of sports? If so – no problem. If not, surely he should accept it was a mistake. If he can’t do that, perhaps he ought to re-ordain in a less strict order?

    Just my two-penny’s worth.


  2. Funny story… yeah, the spokesman of the temple says that it is allowed along with other sports. So, there was no breaking of vows there.

    I’ve seen many monks playing soccer or other sports on temple grounds before. Good exercise! 🙂

  3. Well, we recently had a monk dramatically playing frisbee in a public park. Thai society does not accept this as acceptible, and it seems to be against the Vinaya. Inside temples usually things are more relaxed. There is a feeling that one should not do things the public dislike, but that does not mean being rigid in private.

    But the questions always hover on the topic of MONKS behaviour. What about lay-people’s behaviour ? We monks see lay people drinking, fighting, cheating on partners etc… and yet those same people criticise monks for silly little things that are in no way immoral.

    As for monk’s ‘vows’ I rarely find a lay person who even knows what they are, or how they were taught. Yet ‘certain’ newspaper writers seem obsessed with banging shaved heads together in the National Press on silly points.

  4. Hi,

    Well, you know, it is always better to turn the light of criticism onto one’s own practice rather than onto other people’s.

    I half suspect, Phra Cittasamvaro, that you posted this partly in response to not just the Chinese story (which appeared all over the Buddhist Blogosphere when it first came out) but also to the fact of the frisbee-throwing in the park here in Thailand.

    I have nothing to say about that, except that of course the actions of a monk will always be scrutinised more closely than those of a non-monastic. After all, monks choose to take on the extra vows, are considered teachers, are looked up to be society and are supported by society. So its not a surprise that they are scrutinised as they are.

    Of course, personally, I couldn’t care less if a monk throws a frisbee! I care just a little more if a monk knowingly breaks a vow and then attempts to justify it rather than apologising for it, but in the grand scheme of things I have more than enough to occupy me watching my own five vows to be overly concerned with what other people (monks, teachers, whoever) do.

    Wishing you all the best,


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