The image that shocked China

Audio: China searches its soul

Jack Rodolico By Jack Rodolico

We received a lot of feedback from our readers on Lin Gu’s recent story about two haunting images from China – one selfish, and one selfless. In October, a surveillance camera recorded a little girl being run over by a car. A dozen people walked by the bloodied girl without helping. And, in November, a photo was taken of a monk praying over a man who had died in a train station.

A monk prays for a dead man in the Shanxi Taiyuan Train Station in Shanxi, November 25, 2011. (Reuters/Asianewsphoto)

We can’t say what the bystanders in each image were thinking; but Lin Gu reflects on an emotional China that runners deeper than the headlines we are accustomed to in the West. The video of the little girl rattled China’s nerves.


In the aftermath of this self-reflection, Lin Gu says the image of a monk praying for the soul of a dead stranger filled a void in China’s psyche. It became a potent symbol of what China should be, and even helped Chinese reevaluate their stereotypes about Buddhist monks.


In the West, headlines scream about China’s growing economy. But Lin Gu says China’s culture is changing just as fast.


Lin Gu is based in Beijing.

China, Lin Gu says, is made of more than these controversial stories: the Dalai Lama, Big Brother and rampant economic growth. This a big, layered country that is confronting big, multilayered changes.


Lin Gu identifies closely with China’s spiritual struggle. He converted to Buddhism in 2009; his mother, a veteran member of the Communist Party, was very skeptical of his new beliefs.

Lin Gu is based in Beijing.


  • Diego Oliveira

    As a recent Brazilian convert, I pray for the future of the Dharma of the Buddha in China, as I sense that it will strongly influence the way that the world, especially the West, will deal with that most subtle and most powerful means of human fulfillment.

    May the Infinite Light shine ever more strongly in the conscience of every sentient being. May all Buddhas bless the Middle Kingdom, which has offered so much to mankind and will present so much more in the future.