A controversial Taiwanese movement blending Buddhism with direct marketing and lavish controversies.

Rulaizong, also known as The Tathāgata Sect of Buddhism, is a movement originating in Taiwan and established by Miaochan. It claims to be a sect of Buddhism and, as of 2015, boasts over 90,000 followers, including notable Taiwanese artists and intelligentsia families. Rulaizong’s membership process is exclusive, requiring introduction by an existing member, and publishes a handbook to address newcomers’ doubts. However, it explicitly excludes critically ill patients and children from its membership​​.

The founder, Miaochan, has faced several controversies, including accusations from the Shakyamuni Buddhist Foundation of cheating, sorcery, and misleading people. This led to his expulsion from Zen Buddhism. Rulaizong’s practice of “Thank the Master, Praise the Master” has been criticized as idolatry and violating Buddhist principles. Financially, the organization has been scrutinized for its direct marketing-style membership fees and allegations of accumulating significant wealth through member donations and monthly fees, with reports suggesting incomes reaching billions of New Taiwan Dollars​​.

Rulaizong operates 30 temples across Taiwan and has established student groups in over 100 universities, although its university clubs have been embroiled in controversy over accusations of forced revenue collection and misuse of university resources​​​​. Additionally, the extravagant lifestyle of Miaochan, funded by followers’ gifts such as Rolls Royces and a 3 million NTD jade pendant, has attracted widespread mockery and criticism. Miaochan, a former stuntman and briefly a low-level KMT cadre, claimed enlightenment after studying under Zen Buddhist master Miaotian, with whom he later had legal disputes​​.

Despite the lavish controversies and accusations of financial exploitation, Rulaizong continues to maintain a significant following and influence within Taiwan, utilizing a combination of religious teachings, direct marketing, and the charismatic appeal of its leader to attract and retain members.

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