China / Society

Shaolin monk pursues doctorate in Hong Kong

By Qi Xin ( Updated: 2014-08-07 16:51

A monk at the Shaolin Temple in Henan province will take up an offer from the University of Hong Kong to begin studying toward a doctorate degree on Sept 1, Orient Today reported on Wednesday.

Shi Yanzheng, a 29-year-old monk has studied abroad for eight years, showing his passion for Buddhism and his respect of the Shaolin Temple, which has about 1,500 years of history.

"I like the peaceful life here, which makes me happy indeed. I first chose Shaolin because of its Kung Fu but I am also inspired by here to pursue further education," Shi said.

Shi Yongxin, the temple's abbot, said there are 300 monks at Shaolin Temple, about half of whom are younger than 35. Two-thirds of them study religion, philosophy and other subjects, he said, and it is not unusual for a monk to earn a doctorate degree, the report said.

From 2006, Shi Yangzheng studied at the Buddhist College of Singapore for about 5 years, and achieved a high score in the International English Language Testing System during that time. He then earned a master's degree in religion from the University of Hong Kong.

He was invited to return to the University of Hong Kong this year to pursue a doctorate degree.

He continues to meditate, practice Kung fu and read every day.

"My mother insisted that I focus on improving myself," Shi said.

Shi said his decision to become a monk was strongly opposed by his family when he was a student at Fuyang Normal College in Anhui province. However, his family members understood his choice as time went on, he said.

"The experience of studying abroad broadened my horizons," Shi said. " I also plan to learn Sanskrit, the primary liturgical language of Buddhism, in the future."

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