Former members of the massive religious group are speaking out about high fees, harassment, and the leader’s spurious claims.
The News Lens
By: ZiQing Low
Followers of a self-proclaimed Buddhist guru in Taiwan are handing over tens of millions of dollars in membership fees and donations to his organization each year, former members of the sect have told The News Lens.
Master Miaochan (妙禪師父), founder of Rulaizong (如來宗), is netting yearly membership proceeds of NT$72 million (US$2.4 million), coupled with monthly donations of as much as NT$86 million (US$2.8 million), the former members say.
The organization, which claims to practice Zen Buddhism, was founded by Miaochan in 2004 and is understood to have about 80,000 followers across Taiwan. Followers of Miaochan credit anything good that happens in their lives — from job promotions to finding love — to the protection and blessing of their master. They claim the leader’s healing powers include curing people who have suffered strokes and those diagnosed with early-stage cancer.
Members pay NT$1,000 to NT$2,000 (US$33 to US$66) in monthly fees to the organization. The leader claims the contributions will help him bring salvation to his believers and the donations are collected at their 24 large-scale prayer sessions held each month. It is at these prayer sessions where Miaochan makes appearances, and members are encouraged to attend at least one session every month.