BEIJING – China’s Shaolin Monastery, the cradle of Zen Buddhism and kung fu, is to build a tourist complex – the first of its kind outside China – which will include a temple, in southeastern Australia, Chinese media reported Thursday.
For a sum of $3.2 billion, the Shaolin monastery has acquired land in the coastal region of Shoalhaven, about 200 kilometers (124 miles) south of Sydney, where it will build hotels, a golf course and a Buddhist temple, according to the official China Daily newspaper.
It is the first commercial operation by Shaolin monks outside China; however, over the last decade, with the monastery naming entrepreneur Shi Yongxin as its abbot, or head, it has started several activities to use its fame for economic benefit.
The Shaolin monastery is active in Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter, offers kung fu courses via smartphone and sells books on Zen philosophy on consumer-to-consumer platform Taobao.
With these businesses, Shaolin seeks to survive in a society that is so commercialized, according to abbot Shi, who is often criticized in China for such enterprises.
According to legend, kung fu was invented by an Indian monk named Bodhidharma, who founded the Shaolin Temple in the year 527 A.D. in China’s Henan province.