Inside one man’s extraordinary exit from a Buddhist group accused of operating like a cult

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Richard Siu jokes his fashion sense could be better, but for the first 25 years of his life, his outfits were covered by the robes of the Jin-Gang-Dhyana religious group.

It’s a celebrated Buddhist organisation, but one Richard describes as operating like a cult. Its legacy goes well beyond his choice of clothing.

He did not receive a formal education as a child, grew up with little contact with the broader community and spent part of his young adult life in effective isolation in a home owned by the group’s leader in Hobart.

“I feel like my first 25 years of my life have been robbed by the Buddhists, which I’ll never get back,” Richard told 7.30.

“But on the plus side, I just keep going forward.”

Jin-Gang-Dhyana is led by Wang Xin De, better known as Master Wang, who is worshipped by his followers as a living Buddha. Mr Wang’s group is based in Hobart but has branches all over the world.

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