Sunday, May 30, 2010

For seven years, monks have had no peace

Monks living at the Buddhist Support Society in Rochester had to replace their mailbox after vandals damaged it. They own a 10.5-acre site they bought for tranquil reflection. (Jim Gehrz, Star Tribune)
Monks Chhan Aun, left, and Sim Ouk (Jim Gehrz, Star Tribune)

Vandalism has plagued a Buddhist temple near Rochester for seven years. Neighbors and police are outraged and baffled.

May 29, 2010
Star Tribune (Rochester, Minnesota)

  • What: Prompted by a string of vandalism at the Cambodian Buddhist temple in Rochester, monks, neighbors, city leaders, youth groups and members of police neighborhood watch program will gather to discuss the issue.
  • When: 4 p.m., Thursday
  • Where: Buddhist Support Society Address: 4462 29th St. SE, Rochester
A chorus of chirping crickets and the smashed shell of a mailbox greet Chhan Aun when he steps out the door of his monk's residence at the hilltop Buddhist temple southeast of Rochester.

"We are quiet and peaceful; we try to pray for good things, not bad," he said, wrapped in his orange robe, as a former monk translates his Cambodian words. "We don't understand why people are doing things like this."

This month's busted mailbox is the latest in a seven-year string of vandalism that has jarred the four monks who live on the grassy, rolling, 10.5-acre site they chose for tranquil reflection.

Someone sprayed-painted "Jesus Saves" and a cross on their driveway last May. Dozens of lights have been broken and stolen. Flowers and trees have been yanked from the earth. Instead of studying the teachings of Buddha, the monks have been installing motion-detecting lights and asking the Postal Service to approve moving their mailbox down from 29th Street and closer to their house.

"One night at 2 a.m., a group of four or five people were outside and I shined my flashlight in their face," said Aun, 63. "They never confront us face to face; they just run away."

Neighbors and police are outraged and baffled at what would motivate the vandals to harass such gentle men, some of whom, including Aun, lived through the Cambodian genocide of the late-1970s Khmer Rouge killing fields.

"They believe in peace and tranquility, and they sure don't deserve this," said Glenda Bale, who moved into the quiet residential area in 2003, just as the temple construction was completed and the monks moved in next door from their former downtown location.

Back then, her place was an overgrown "jungle," and as she worked to clear the lot, the monks would bring with food offerings. They invite Bale to all their celebrations.

Her friend's unlocked car was broken into once and papers were scattered. The monks say they've been struck three or four times a year since they arrived.

"For this stuff to only happen to them is totally uncalled for," said Bale, 47. "You couldn't ask for better neighbors, honestly."

Police cite six documented cases of criminal damage to property since last May, but the monks say the harassment dates to a group of aggressive opponents speaking out against the temple at city zoning meetings before the two temple structures were built. Opponents' concerns about increased traffic congestion have proven to be completely unfounded, Bale said.

"We have absolutely no idea as to why these people are doing this," said Sgt. Scott Behrns of the Olmsted County Sheriff's Department. "We're confident we'll catch the people doing it; it's just a matter of how long it takes."

Deputies have stepped up patrols in the neighborhood, and if arrests are made, Behrns said prosecutors will be asked to use state laws that target bias-motivated crimes. That could mean elevating misdemeanor charges into gross misdemeanors or felonies.

"Based on the way the crimes are occurring, one would think it's the same" person or people behind the vandalism, said Behrns, who thinks a baseball bat was used to destroy the mailbox earlier this month.

Community meeting slated

Rochester's Buddhist Support Society serves roughly 500 people, mostly Cambodian refugees who fled during the Vietnam War era and emigrated to Minnesota. The group owns the temple and recruits monks from Cambodia who make minimum five-year commitments to study, pray and teach at the hilltop temple.

Aun said that the destroyed mailbox, in itself, is not a big deal.

"But if they try to set fire to our buildings or hurt the monks, that would make us upset," he said.

He's speaking out despite some concerns that the vandals will relish the publicity.

"We want to show the community that we are doing something," he said. "It is 98 percent positive to get the word out and maybe two percent negative."

About 20 concerned citizens, mostly members of Rochester Meditation Center, met at the temple last Sunday, and a larger meeting is scheduled for June 3 at 4 p.m. Members of Rochester's Diversity Council, teenage youth groups, local church members and representatives of the police-sponsored Neighborhood Watch program will look for ways to enhance understanding about Buddhism and curb the vandalism.

Until then, Aun and his fellow monks will do what they came to Rochester to do. They will sit on pillows on the floor, surrounded by colorful paintings of Buddhist scenes, and recite prayers of loving kindness to the perpetrators of the vandalism.

"They know what they are doing is not right," Aun said. "We will pray for them to do good things instead of bad."

Curt Brown • 612-673-4767


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...



Anonymous said...


Do you pratice the 5 precepts as a Buddhist??.
If you don't know are just a dumb fucking loser.

Anonymous said...

1:34 AM

Hey, fucked head, tell your fucking god, or this fucking Jesus to fuck himself off, and yes, you too, go and fuck yourself off, asshole.

Anonymous said...

I say fuck the Christians. These Christians who believe that this fucker Jesus is real, in fact, this fucker is fake.

Anonymous said...

Those monks are not buddhists but the devils who hide under the safran robe. they are the MARA whose mission is to destroy buddhism.

Anonymous said...

Buddhism c to America to fight against Christianity? Thanks. We appreciate your efforts.
Just because some idiot spray painted "Jesus Saves" does not constitute that he/she is a follower of Jesus.

Jesus, name above all names. At the name of Jesus every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that he is Lord to the glory of God.

Yeshua means-Salvation, God saves us. Buddha means-Enlighten One. Jesus never needed enlightenment he never was in darkness that he should need to be enlighten. He is the True Light to light every man's path to eternal home.

Anonymous said...

Be it known your cursing and swearing to defame the God of Israel is contributing to the death and suffering in Cambodia. You are cursing the truth and don't expect good to come out from it. Sow whirl wind and you will reap whirl wind.

Anonymous said...




Anonymous said...

God is not responsible for mankind's problems.

KE said...

It seems and sounds that vandalism happened in the Khmer pagoda is starting from discrimination - it must be raid off. US federal government must look into deep otherwise it will bring up higher cultural and discriminatory issue between Christian and Buddhism sects in addition to the current issue they are facing with Islamism.

Anonymous said...

What happened in that temple is not religion against religion. It is the individual.
The temple need to install 24/7 CCTV. The Police would have no excuse but to reponse to such vandal

Anonymous said...

5:35 AM

Fuck your god.

Fuck the Jewish.

Fuck Jesus.

Anonymous said...

5:28 AM

You so-called "Jesus" who left this followers, and presumably ascended into heaven without telling his followers as to when he will come back. Certainly, Jesus is a traitor to his followers.

Why wouldn't any of his followers stick a sharp stick into his (Jesus)ass before he ascended into heaven?

Signed: Fuck Jesus

KE said...

I would fuck Jusus's mother, who created a child (Jusus) without a husband..! She was a witch..!

Anonymous said...

There is no problem between Christian and Boudhist, that is just an act of a few delinquent youngs, they are borring, let them continue, ignore them and they would be tired to continue..

Anonymous said...

Oh dear, why these smart people dare cursing Jesus and Buddha?

When you curse Buddha, I don't know what is going to happen to you, because Buddhas has gone to Nivarna where he is not able to hear anything from you. When you curse Jesus I don't know either but I want to let you know that according to my knowledge of learning about both Buddha and Jesus; The Holy Bible has stated that Jesus was God and He is the living God. He can hear, can see and can understand all human's hearts.

Believe it or not please do your study about Him first before cursing Him otherwise you only try to destroy yourself as He is your true God. I hope Jesus will not do any harm to you because His love for you is so deep and wide, nothing is able to measure it.

May the grace of God the Father, the love of Jesus God the Son and the fellowship of God the Holy Spirit be with you forever and ever. Amen!.

From the one who cares for Khmer people.

Anonymous said...

9:36 PM

Why don't you,next time, try to stick a sharp stick into your so-called son of god (devil). Jesus is a made-believe god. He did not save your ass, although he might have shaved your hairy ass.

KE said...

Hi 9:36 PM, thanks for copying and repeating your shit holy bible of Jesus. Through the lying bible as you stated that Jesus was the God and living god... you must scientifically proof this - where is he living, basically? And how do you know he can hear and he can see? It is absoultely cheating God, cheating bible and Cheating Jesus... Evidently, if you died, you die..! The Buddha never proclaims himself as the God, he was just a greatest teacher. Through his teachings with the greatest insight enlightenments with reflecting in the real picture of life and highest respects, he was then worldy accepted as the Buddhist God. The world now obey/implement his wise concepts for instand "none violence will bring peace"..! This comes from compassion, morality, clemency and truth...! Tranquility and peace..!

Anonymous said...

9:00 AM

Thank you, brother!

May Buddha bless you and your family!