China cracks down on ‘religious cults’ that target middle class and preach ‘sexual license’
March 22, 2012Jing Gao2 CommentsFalun Gong, Mao Zedong, middle class, Peng Xiaohui, Qin Mingyuan, Religion/Belief, religious cult, sex education, spiritual leader, Spiritualism, Tantra, white collar workers
Ever since she suffered a career downfall, Cheng Jing, a white-collar worker in Guangzhou, has become fascinated with all forms of spiritualism and their books and products, including astrology, hypnotism, tarot cards, aromatherapy and meditation, hoping to find spiritual guidance and be healed.
In fact, in recent years, the concept of spiritualism has caught on among Chinese urban middle class. Tidal waves of spiritual movement have swept first- and second-tier cities like Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou, which claim to to help people transform their lives and sublimate their spirits. Many young urbanites fall for it. Some even hemorrhage life savings on training courses and even pilgrimages to India and Thailand.
On March 20, Yangcheng Evening Post, a newspaper circulated mainly in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, published a work of undercover journalism exposing companies that capitalize on spiritualism and sexual license. The picture shows a lesson at Shenzhen-based NEO spiritual counseling.
In a recent police round-up of such a “cult” in Huizhou, Guangdong province, a therapist was arrested, and the base of the operation – Villa of Tranquility of Hearts, was shut down. Police found in the computers at the Villa many nude photos of its female practitioners, and intimate photographs of its spiritual leader Qin Mingyuan posing with his female protégés.
The police in Huizhou, Guangdong, raided the Villa.
Villa of Tranquility of Hearts
The police in Huizhou, Guangdong province, have arrested the instructor at Villa of Tranquility of Hearts. This is a photograph of Qin Mingyuan saved in a laptop seized at the Villa.
Qin Mingyuan is a self-proclaimed psychotherapist and the founder of one of the spiritual movements, which focuses on Tantra doctrines. Having “attained enlightenment,” he began to operate classes in all over the country. Since May, 2011, he has established 12 workshops. His students call him “Master.” After a symbolic ceremony, his students can become his protégés. Jassie, one of his protégé, told Yangcheng Evening Post, “Master attained enlightenment at the age of 8. At the time, he fell off from a tall tree, and saw the unity in universe. That’s how he attained enlightenment.”
Tantra is actually a sect of Yoga combining sexuality and spirituality. In the West, Tantra has become a synonym for “spiritual sex” or “sacred sexuality.” Like many others who ride the same tide, Qin has incorporated Tantric ideas into his teachings and given multiple lectures all over China. He is a guest-speaker at Shenzhen-based NEO (Short for Natural Evolution Origin) Spiritual Counseling. According to his followers, Qin advocates sexual freedom outside marriage and wife-swapping and swinging as means to emancipate women.
In his training session in Luofushan, Guangdong, Qin Mingyuan organized his followers to swim naked. Chen Xue, a former follower in the beginners’ class, told Yangcheng Evening Post, “A male therapist said very directly and openly that in the advanced class, sexual intercourse is required, which scared me, and I quit.”
Qin’s lessons encourage sexual massage in class and advocate swinging and wife-swapping as means to sexual liberation. The picture shows a class at Shenzhen-based NEO Spiritual Counseling.
In a lecture named “The Alchemy of Love” in Beijing, Qin Mingyuan asked followers to strip off all their clothing, “In an intimate, safe and relaxing environment, cooperation and mutual trust can help you get rid of your fear, guilt and sense of shame over sexuality, which will deepen our love, our sex and our relationship,” “starting from sex, and then transcending sex, and finally reach orgasm in the universe.”
Therapists instruct female and male students to pair up and engage in excitement-arousal games. The picture shows a lesson at Shenzhen-based NEO Spiritual Counseling.
Qin also directs his spearhead at modern medical science. He says that many dysfunctions caused by illnesses and other factors cannot be cured by medical science, whereas his medication method can cure infertility, neck pain, stammer, myopia and drug addiction.
The Villa of Tranquility of Hearts, was built through protégés’ fundraising. It is a small compound in leafy mountain. Jassie said, their ultimate goal is to build a community “with all kinds of infrastructure, like kindergarten, college, nursing home and the like.”
“The fad of spiritualism is worrisome,” Luo Fei, the specialist from the Psychological Institute of Chinese Academy of Science, warned.
The most recent workshops enrolls several hundred students, who come from Zhengzhou, Shanghai, Changsha and even Macau. Many of them are white-collar workers at multinational companies. The picture shows a workshop in the United States.
Many of Qin’s followers are the elite of the society. A class on Tantra in Beijing advertised that it is best suited for “Successful people, entrepreneurs, managerial staff, white collar workers and their significant others.” Jassie said that those who attended Qin’s Tantra classes in Guangzhou last August include “business people, overseas returnees, who all seek things on a spiritual plane.”
An employee at Shenzhen-based NEO Spiritual Counseling told the undercover reporter from Yangcheng Evening post that those who attend their classes “are quite high-end, because our admission fees are high.”
It is learned that tuition charge for a 21-day course during the Spring Festival (Chinese New Year) is 100,000 yuan (US$15,850) per head.
Over two thirds of all students at NEO are women. In fact, most of them are wives of well-established businessmen.
The rise of occult sciences may be an answer to the faith vacuum in China under the rule of Communists, who are officially atheists. During the Mao era, political campaigns of insanity, the most famous one of which is the Cultural Revolution, quashed any belief system other than the personal cult of Mao. Even in the post-Mao era, whereas the state has relented its control over people’s thoughts, religious observance outside officially sanctioned channels, including in unofficial Catholic churches, risks being outlawed.
Falun Gong, a spiritual movement, managed to garner a following of tens of millions before it was cracked down by the previous administration in 1999.
Some also argue that the sex license that Qin and his likes preaches is also the outcome of sexual repression in China. Peng Xiaohui, a sexology professor at Central China Normal University, said, “People’s sexual drive is hard to contain. But channels for giving vent to sexual desire and discussing sexual matters are abnormal. China’s deficient and defective sex education is exactly why this would happen.”