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Where to Shop for a New Religion

On the sixth and seventh floors of the Pacific Department Store in Yungho City, Taiwan, about 40 minutes from the city of Taipei, is a unique kind of shopping experience. Called the Museum of World Religions, it is the brainchild of Master Hsin Tao, a Buddhist monk from Myanmar who renounced the world for more than 10 years and lived in a cemetery pagoda and a cave on a remote and desolate mountain. He emerged with a goal of relieving suffering in people’s minds and hearts by building a spiritual supermarket, where people could shop for a religion they wanted to follow. He decided to build it in Taiwan, a bastion of capitalism and for-profit living.“We share our space with the dead,” says my guide, explaining the Taiwanese religion. “Over here is a person with flesh and over there is a ghost with no flesh. Do you know what a ghost is? A person who dies with a legal heir becomes an ancestor. But a person who dies without family becomes a ghost.”He leads me to a room with a large video screen, where religious leaders, from the Grand Mufti of Bosnia to a Vipassana Buddhist, adeptly describe their spiritual …

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