Buddhist monks are known for many things: spirituality, peace, serenity, wisdom. But in Zhejiang province in eastern China, you’ll find a Buddhist abbot who has gained quite a bit of notoriety as “the handsomest monk.”
Shi Mingxin has hundreds of thousands of followers online, but people also travel from all across China to meet him in person. The humble 37-year-old takes it all in stride. China has 33,000 Buddhist temples and approximately 24,000 monks, according to the Buddhist Association of China. In recent decades, Buddhism has lost some of its influence in China as other religions gained popularity. For Shi, the attention and fame his appearance has brought him, and the online reach it provides, are key tools in spreading greater understanding of Buddhism, which he says many people nowadays mistake for a superstition or a relic of marital art films.
CGTN’s Sean Callebs followed the lead of many of Shi’s admirers and sought him out at the Pu’an Temple in Jiaxing, Zhejiang Province. And the man he met proved to be breaking stereotypes at every turn while using his viral moment to win hearts and minds.