ZHENGZHOU, Dec. 6 -- The abbot of a famous Buddhist temple in China said Nelson Mandela left a precious spiritual legacy to mankind, inspiring the world with his Buddhist-like spirit.
Shi Yongxin, monastery head of the Shaolin Temple, on Friday expressed his respect to the former South African President, who passed away on Thursday night at the age of 95.
"Mandela impressed me as a very benevolent elder," said Shi, as he recalled their meeting in South Africa in 2008, in which Mandela praised the temple's principles and encouraged cultural exchanges.
"He spent all his life pursuing racial equality, which chimes with the Buddhist spirit of extending love and mercy to all beings," Shi told Xinhua during a telephone interview.
Mandela was best known for leading an arduous yet triumphant campaign against apartheid rule in South Africa, and Shi said his commitment to the just and humane cause would live on.
Shi also drew similarities between Mandela and Buddhism, which emphasizes spiritual achievement. "Buddhism gives people confidence, hope and joy. Likewise, Mandela embodies the power of forgiveness, which encourages equality and mutual understanding and beams hope for peace-loving people."
On Friday, Chinese leaders and the public expressed grief over the passing of Mandela, who was an "old friend of China" and an active champion of bilateral friendship and cooperation.