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Short-term monk program suspended at China temple

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-07-18 19:24

HANGZHOU - A large influx of applicants has forced a Buddhist temple in East China's Zhejiang province to suspend the recruitment of "short-term" monks, the temple said Thursday.

"Safety concerns and media pressure have made the program deviate from our original intentions," said Zhidu, master of the Ci'en Temple.

In July, the secluded mountain monastery in the provincial capital of Hangzhou started inviting both religious and secular men and women to live as monks for periods of time ranging from three months to two years.

The program is free but requires that participants follow the ascetic, vegetarian monk lifestyle.

To date, the temple has received applications from more than 1,100 people. Some of the applicants said they were feeling too much pressure at work and hoped to gain spiritual support and enrichment, Zhidu said.

"The number of applicants has far exceeded the temple's ability to accomodate. Safety is also a big issue," he said.

"The program aims to provide a halcyon period of time for participants, who can enrich and sort out their minds in the process of learning about Buddhism," a post on the temple's website says.

The program sparked heated discussion after a local newspaper posted the notice on Sina Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter.

"We have communicated with the applicants and introduced some of them to other temples," Zhidu said.