Famen Temple opens for university graduates

Xinhua, Jan 8, 2007

XI'AN, China -- With jobs hard to get, graduates are stalking the corridors of holy temples. Famen Temple, one of the four most famous Buddhist Temples in ancient China, employed four graduate students and five with bachelors degrees at a job market at Northwest Agriculture & Forestry University on Sunday in Xi'an, capital of Shaanxi province.

It also hired 18 graduates from two other universities.

It is the first time the temple has been to a job market to employ university graduates, said Xiankong, an eminent monk from the temple.

"Our exchanges with the outside world are increasing each year, so we need professional talents in fields such as publicity, reception and management", said Xiankong.

The temple planned to employ two doctors, three masters, 14 bachelors and two technical school graduates who have majored in foreign languages, art, economic management, gardening, information management and Chinese literature.

Nearly 60 students applied for the positions.

The recruitment was a success even if no doctors were hired, said Xiankong. The employees need to sign a one-year contract and live in the temple. Unlike the Buddhist monks there, they are free to do what they want in the evening.

The salary for a graduate with a bachelor's degree is 700 to 1200 yuan (90 to 155 U.S. dollars) per month, which is the going rate in the province.

Salaries for students with higher degrees are negotiable, said Xiankong.

Archeologists found some human remains, together with 2,000 relics, in a 1,000-year-old underground hall in the temple in 1987. The remains are said to be the finger bones of Sakyamuni, the founder of Buddhism.

Since then Famen Temple, 118 kilometers from Xi'an, has become a holy place for Buddhists from all round the world.

Meanwhile, Shaolin Temple, another holy temple synonymous with Chinese kungfu, is being publicly questioned and criticized by many for extracting worldly profits from something sacred.

The temple in central China's Henan province, which is run by MBA graduate abbot Shi Yongxin, has its own welfare foundation, magazine, movie and TV company and martial arts promotion agency.

It held an international kungfu TV competition in 2006.