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Thread: Shaolin Temple

  1. #76
    GeneChing Guest

    gargoyle again

    You bring up the biggest problem with martial arts history. Not only is it all based on folktale, no one is really going to invest that serious an effort in martial archeology at this time because it's a lot of hard work. Just look at what a horrid state Chinese hopology is in, and you know that the quest for other Shaolin temples is pretty low priority.
    That being said, here's my Shaolin koan about this:
    How many Shaolin Temples are there in the USA right now?
    Answer this, and it doesn't take much to generalize our current situation to what may have occured in the past.

    Gene Ching
    Asst. Publisher
    Kungfu Qigong Magazine &

  2. #77
    joedoe Guest
    Does it really matter? If the Shaolin arts were taught in a temple in Fukien province, but the temple was called something else, then what is the difference. The main point is that the art was taught there.

    Then again, I guess there is no hard evidence to support the idea that the arts were taught there :).

    You're fu(king up my chi

  3. #78
    GeneChing Guest


    That's exactly my point. Shaolin definately had influence on the Fujian temple. Even more so now, or perhaps I should say, very soon.

    So here's a big rumor for those of you who have been following this thread so far (I was saving it for the next Kungfu Qigong issue, but since we're talking about the south.) As mentioned earlier on this thread, we already ran a story on the new southern temple. Now they are planning to move some of the top monks from Songshan Shaolin to Fujian Shaolin. The two main monks who have been discussed are Shi Suxi and Shi Deyang.

    Gene Ching
    Asst. Publisher
    Kungfu Qigong Magazine &

  4. #79
    Kung Lek Guest
    So, it can now irrefutebly be said that there is a Shaolin Temple in the South at Fujian. :D


    Kung Lek

    Martial Arts Links

  5. #80
    joy chaudhuri Guest
    I have been some of the posts of Gene Ching and Kung Lek with great interest and pleasure.. I dont have notes or materials with me at the moment and I am no authority on Shaolin per se. But i have considerable interest in Buddhism and the Sino-Indian connections in that world. Often FWIW it seems to me that some aspects of "tacit knowledge"
    is missing in some "histories". You have scholars who dont know TCMA with some important exceptions.
    And often even great martial artists over-reach when they try to expound on philosophy and history agin with exceptions.Some hopefully brief points to consider.
    1. The current PRC interest in Shaolin is primarily commercial IMO and various cycles of revisionist history is part of the PRC world. In spite of many economic changes I dont see a genuine interest in Buddhism in post Deng PRC.
    2. Buddhism has always developed community halls and temples all over the place because unlike Taoism it has alawys been interested in the common man.
    3.The shaolin"young forest" symbolism is quite old and can be found in Buddhist history at Bodh Goya and environs in India..not just in China..
    4. Archeological finds depend on part on where the digs are, when, by whom. There all kinds of Buddhist temple, community structures that have not been completely looked for catalogued or were burned etc. Canton appears to have been an important center. By many accounts the Bodhidharma stopped there before journeying north.
    The Mahabalpuram to Cam Ranh bay to Canton route was known and used in the Pallava dynasty.The key sermons of the Bodhidharma that have survived in oral history decidedly had an Indian flavor--he couldnt have been merelya myth.In any case later in the debates within Chan...the southern patriarch moved to Canton. Buddhist monks have always been travel oriented and their centers were community halls where local/provincial activity including physical cukture flourished. Even in Nalanda the early Buddhist
    university in India, arhcery etc was part of the curriculum.
    5. The provicial roots of monk communities as well as their travels are both part of the Buddhist culture. The Chinese Nationalists lobbed
    shells into Shaolin because they thought the abbot was tied in with the provincial lords.Part of the political vectors involved.
    6. The philosophical roots of Chan Buddhism are well known in the post Buddha debates in Indian Buddhist circles.
    7. Being a non Judeo Christian (either/or approach to postulations) Buddhism can exist side by side with Taoism as it has in the zig zags of Chinese history- and its notable practical and assimilative strain.
    8. Different forms of nationalism goofs much of Buddhist history. In the last century or so In China the nationalistic strain informs the neijia/wajia
    distinction in part trying to categorize what came from outside and what came within-often arbitrarily so. Chen taiji-a synthesis- was built on existing arts which were also shaped by nearby shaolin styles.
    Sorry, I dont know how to apply spell check on this list's posts. Cheers.

  6. #81
    Yum Cha Guest

    Fact and the path of human nature..

    Thank you gentlemen for the quality discussion. I have very little to contribute, however much to learn.

    My interest in Shaolin temples is two fold, as a practitioner in general, and as a Pak Mei student in detail.

    The alleged conflict between a Taoist Pak Mei and Buddhist Shaolin has led to many remarkable legends, fairytails and rumors. Everyone tells a different story. Firstly, I should say, I personally am not sold on the idea that a "Pak Mei" ever existed. More that he was an Iconographic figure...

    Many will refute the picture in the HB Un book as being Pak Mei.

    When Buddism came to China, one can only assume there was conflict with the established religions of Taoism and Confucism. Was it ideological, physical or political, who knows?

    I have learned that the Taoists and Buddists have since found common ground, and many cross between temples and philosophys. This is obvious to any student of either.

    The legend of Pak Mei takes place with the coming of the Manchu and the fall of the Ming dynasty, in the mid 1700's I believe.

    This temple in the south, Fujian Shaolin or Gau Lin Temple, is this the one currently in ruins that has been unearthed, or a currently standing one?

    There is also talk of one in Canton...

    The legend I know is, one south destroyed, moved north, then moved south again...

    Thanks again guys for the time and effort.

  7. #82
    Sifu Bok Se Teung Guest

    New Sanitized Temples

    The temples in China were not just Buddhism or Ch'uan, but a blend of Buddhism, Taoism, Confusciousism and Mensiuosism and some others. Although in some temples one belief would be emphasized more than the others, the blend of various faiths was the very essence of Shaolin. It is unfortunate that in the rebuilding of the temples by the China government, Shaolin has become a sanitized concept as it is being presented. The training they offer in the martial arts and internal arts is fairly good, but the rich philosphy and religion and the blending of so many beliefs, which was unique to China, has been lost forever.

    May Peace Be With

  8. #83
    Kung Lek Guest
    Shi Bok-

    Shaolin Temple was a Ch'an Buddhist temple.
    The order consisted of Martial and Religious Monks.
    In the earlier days, there was no seperation.

    The seperation of religious and martial monks occured in the late 1300's with the installation of the Ming dynasty. The distinction was made deeper with the incoming Ching dynasty in 1644.

    By the time anyone who is still alive from the time of the boxer rebellion (ending 1900-01)there was a definitive seperation of Martial and Religious Monks. Although each received a formal education in Buddhism, the Martial Monks had more secular privilidges while still be allowed within the monastery.

    These Ch'an buddhist Shaolin monks also learned astronomy, reading, writing, agriculture and of course the priesthood as it is associated with buddhism.

    The Mohists, the Taoists and the other schools of Buddhism as well as smaller indigenous philosophies and religio-philosophies, while sharing some aspects through the cultural familiarities still had their own traditions and practices in their own right.

    Still, there is only One Shaolin Si. As much as people like to connect themselves to it by stating things like there were multiple Shaolin temples.

    Ch'an in China was a remarkably secular offering of Buddhism that the common man could relate to quickly in a superficial sense because of the simplicity of it.

    The doctrine and dogma associated with other buddhist schools in a religious sense was too much for just anyone to have to go through and thus the legendary facsination with the Shaolin Order.

    They have left us this, Ch'an later becoming Zen, but still there are pockets of Ch'an practitioners worldwide who do not subscribe to the doctrines of the two schools of Zen but remain on the simple path, and a plethora of Martial arts influencing a myriad of styles and some still virtually entirely Shaolin in content.

    As for writings, there are few, being that they were Ch'an and transmission is direct from master to student and not through scripture reading or chanting passages from sutras.

    Many of the texts that were penned at Shaolin had much more to do with processes of secular practices or day to day accountings. Things like grain tally's or martial practice diagrams, or medicinal diagrams. The religious part centered around the attainment of nirvana via seated meditation for hours on end in utter silence. To gain strength to do so, martial practice, Chi Kung et al was done when not eating or sleeping or working at the day to day maintenance of the temple and it's grounds.


    Kung Lek

    Martial Arts Links

  9. #84
    GeneChing Guest

    Yuan Fen & Shi Bok Se Teung

    YF: Nice post. Here are some thoughts I'd like to add to your points.
    1,2. Government interest in religion, especially in PRC is always a factor, but Buddhism, especially Chan, doesn't require government support. It doesn't even require temples. As long as the three treasures exist, Buddhism thrives - and two of those treasures are fairly constant (but I guess I can't be a good Buddhist and say permanent now, can I?)
    3. I was on retreat at the Tibetan monastery in Bodh Gaya. I didn't find any evidence of young forest symbology. Can you clarify this?
    4. You might take a look at our old thread "what if Bodhidharma's kungfu was fake". It's a back a few pages in the archives and many of us engaged some of the Bodhidharma mythology.
    The connection to Indian martial arts and Yoga has always been interesting, but had to really validify. I was doing some research in India in '97 on this - studying Yoga and arts like Kalliripayattu to try and make a connection, but it was pretty sketchy.
    The archery issue is one that always confused me. Archery figures so prominently in Indian myth - ie. Mahabharata, or even young Siddharta, and Chinese archery is well reserched, so why didn't it make it into Kungfu? In Japan, Kyudo is a huge Zen practice, but in China archery is not traditionally part of Chan. It's really quite a riddle when you think about it.
    5. Do you have a citation for Nationals lobbing shells into Shaolin?
    6,7,8. There are two major considerations when looking at Chan. Both relate to the precedence of Taoism. Many Taoists believed that Buddhism was actually Laozi's teachings returning from the west, since that's the direction he was heading when he left and wrote Daodejing. There was a rejection of "foreign" philosphies, so early Chan was considered to have it's roots in Taoism. Also many of the Buddhist terms had no meaning, so they were either phoneticized from the sanskrit (ie. TaMo) or mapped on to previous Taoist terms. anything that passes through China picks up a Chinese smell - just look at what Qingdao did to German brewing...

    SBST: Ancient temples are always rebuilt. Old things need repair, not just from the ravages of the elements, but also, often moreso, the ravages of man. This is not ground for skepticism on authenticity.
    Shaolin is certainly tourist, but the religious practice is still quite vital there - you just need to know where to look. Get thee to a nunnery - Shaolin's nunnery and Yongtai still uphold the teachings very well. And there are other surrounding temples where it's going on.
    Shaolin is a flagship, a figurehead for Chan and kungfu. Just as a president should be judged on his cabinet, Shaolin should be judged on its surrounding temples and affiliates. But then again, Chan and judgement, make no distinction, eh?

    Gene Ching
    Asst. Publisher
    Kungfu Qigong Magazine &

  10. #85
    joy chaudhuri Guest

    Hi Gene: thanks for your post.

    Different personal chemistries. My curiosities are in attempts to solve intellectual puzzles.
    Others take notes and citations but cant tell a puzzle or an idea if they see one.So I dont take notes and citations till I get involved in pleasing the scholarly priests and gate keepers.. But over time when neededI can dig up things again. very sloppy info retrieval system. The forest symbolism for meditaion is very old in India and predates Sakyamuni. But there was a famous forest in his time(sal trees possibly?)
    near a place where he preached
    and he referred in one of his sermons on retaining the freshness of vision like the young forest in spite of the changes of the seasons.The pre Buddhist ideal (Drona in the Mahabharata) of
    a wise man is a combination of internal power and mastery of yoga and self defense- hand(mudras) and
    weapons(astra). Buddhism did careful surgery with Hindu symbolism.Kept some. threw awy some, sublimated others- kali becomes Tara.BTW Kali's khera provides the link to the Gurkha kukhri. Therefore except for the yoga,breath,archery(focus)
    the mudras and bandhs-18 hands of lohan you are left with the monks staff and possibly the trident.The monks staff and the archery is alive in Ladakh. The lion dance,the associated 108 stops.other lion symbolism are also Buddhist in origin. I am sure you know about the Tibetan snow lion dance.Buddhists from my area (Bengal)playeda big role in early Tibetan Buddhism and the transmission of Hinayana to Sri Lanka. In a way the Sri Lankan conflict involves old old old migrants from bengal versus newer Tamil migrants.
    The Brits. devastated Indian martial arts. But the trained eye can see the remnants- not just in kalaripayattu.The dim mak ideas were well known- there is a whole old literature-the marma shastras-
    the science of the strike points. War elephants were controlled through poking specific points.
    There are two additional problems in understanding all this- the westernised Indian bourgeoisie dont know their own history and Indians were not as good as Chinese in record keeping. The blending of meditation. breath control. knowledge of the spinal alignments, chakras( dan tiens). MARTIAL gathering of prana/chi has its now truncated roots in India.
    Many Taoists would put their own overlay on Buddhist things... thus the parallel in chi circulation...clockwise or anti clockwise in the stomach area- take your pick. But the young forest,
    the lotus and the perennial plum flower may yet survive... lots of folks will peace for people of their own faith. The dharma wills it for all. the Sangha may be in trouble but hey... last week
    almost 50,000 low caste Hindus took tonsure in delhi and became Buddhists. Finis rather than rattle on. Best-Joy
    PS You may or may not have seen my old piece in IKF
    about December 1990; 108 steps- the Sino-indian Connection in the martial arts.It touches a bit on the Bodhi dharma.

  11. #86
    r.(shaolin) Guest
    Kung Lek
    There is much I agree with you on and yes as I posted earlier, there was only one monastery call called Shao Lin Si . But : - ) to say that there were no other monasteries which had close associations to Shao Lin Si it is simply not true. The fa cts and historical records point to the opposite. The formation of early Ch'an Buddhism, its spread to other parts of China, and the building of other Ch'an monasteries clearly demonstrates this.

    Subterfuge aside, it must be remembered that at var iou s times the Imperial government was very much involve in the support (financial and otherwise) of Buddhist growth and expansion. This Imperial support was much more important than popular literature would have one believe. Even ordination was very mu ch under the control of the Imperial government. If you can find one, check out a pre-1900 Budddhist ordination certificate or even a lay-sister's Ordination certificate. You well find they all have an Imperial sanction on them. Ordaining Abbots receive d a uthority to
    grant Ordination Certificates from the Imperial government. Abbots of large important monasteries were appointed by Imperial command. It was Emperor Shi Zu who appointed the Venerable Fu Yu, a very charismatic Ch'an monk, as Abbot of Sha o L in Si in the late 1200's. Before his conversion to Tibetan Buddhism Shi Zu was very interested in Ch'an. Even after his conversion he remained friendly with Fu Yu. It was the Emperor himself that decreed Fu Yu to established affiliate monasteries in Yan J i, Chan'an, Tai Yuan and Luo Yang. It is apparent that it was at the prompting of the Abbot that this be done.
    Fu Yu's restoration of Shao Lin Si and the expansion of Ch'an monasteries was no mean feat and resulted in his being granted an Imperial title and then being appointed as the Minister of Education in 1312 by the Emperor.

    [This message was edited by r.(shaolin) on 11-08-01 at 08:18 PM.]

  12. #87
    r.(shaolin) Guest
    Kung Lek wrote:

    >The seperation of religious and martial monks occured in the late 1300's with the installation of the Ming dynasty. The distinction was made deeper with the incoming Ching dynasty in 1644.<

    The first tangible record of a distinct 'warrior monk' rank at Shao Lin Si goes back much further back than that.

    Emperor Tia Zong granted Shao Lin Si the legal right to maintain a defensive army of monks at Shao Lin Si. The record of this decree is on a stone stele written in the Imperial script and dates to approximately 620 A.D..

    This decree had far reaching implication on subsequent dynasties and Emperors.E

  13. #88
    GeneChing Guest

    puzzles, leaders & religion

    YF: Sure solving intellectual puzzles is fun, but solving them with hearsay is unsatisfactory. Yet, I certainly empathize with a sloppy retrieval system - my library has been a shambles since I moved and that was 2 years ago. I was curious to clarify your statements since you raised some interesting points.
    The forest symbolism - do you mean the three trees of buddhism? Banyan, for Buddha's birth, bodhi for his enlightement, and something else for his death - alas, there is my sloppy retrieval system of memory. You know, here's some trivia, there is a cutting of that death tree at Yongtai nunnery next to Shaolin. Allegedly that was the first Buddhist nunnery condoned by the emperor and the only cutting of that tree in China (but then they also claim a relic of Buddha, which I don't beleive yet.) I'm still not sure how this fits into "young forest". I'll have to look up that dhamra talk, was it the first one at Deer Park?

    Many of the things you mention seem more parallel to me than linear. Surely, qi and prana are similar, but I feel it is an oversimplification to say they are connected. You can't map meridians on chakras and nadis successfully. things like Kali>Chenrizig>Tara or Avalokiteshavara>Kuanyin>Kannon are linear and easy to validify. But the 108, now there's a big chicken & egg problem. My daughter's name is Tara by the way, so this strikes close to my heart :)

    Now I'm not sure about the Indian bourgeoisie, but the scant Indian research always seemed much more fruitful than the Chinese. It is an extremely scholarly culture. The very concept that the Mahabharata was an oral tradition for centuries, and yet little deviation was seen across even to modern day, is astounding. In contrast, China was where we developed the slang "chinese whispers." I find this so evident in CMA.

    I enjoy your writing Joy (loved your last submission to us in NOV/DEC 2001, BTW) but I probably don't have that old IKF. Could you send me a copy via email. I would prefer to read your unedited version

    r (s) As for gov't subterfuge, sometimes I think this is a separation of church and state issue we have in the US. It can be very positive. Since we are discussing India & Buddhism, think of Ashoka.

    Gene Ching
    Asst. Publisher
    Kungfu Qigong Magazine &

  14. #89
    joy chaudhuri Guest

    Thanks Gene for a nice note and post:

    A partial reply:
    I have one of those machines for emailing documents but without number 2 son I am lost on how to use it. I will probably send you a xerox copy of the IKF article on 108.The issue of the chicken or the egg should disappear once you read it.There is not only the number theory, the myths
    and rituals related to the Indian side but ancient astronomy as well.
    There was once near Loyang a whole colony of Indian astronomers(Needham: Science and Civilization in China)) in order to share with the Chinese their calculations of eclipses-specailly what in babylon came to be known as the saros cycle. The prana/chi analogy right now is linear but the yoga breath/mind control in the Buddhist transmission is more direct.
    The Young Forest symbolism really has to do with a
    neaby forest referred to in one of Siddhartha's sermons. My memory fails me right now. It is not just the general banyan tree analogy.
    Asokha really applied religious freedom and tolerance in his time to all the many diverse religions and sects around in his time...and tolerance for cultural and linguistic diversity
    as well.You know that Asokha's world extended into Afghanistan as well.
    Tara is a beautiful name, Best wishes for your daughter. You know I am sure that Boddhidharma's teacher's name was Prajna-Tara. Best, Joy

  15. #90
    r.(shaolin) Guest
    Gene Ching wrote:
    >As for gov't subterfuge, sometimes I think this is a separation of church and state issue we have in the US.<

    Hi Gene. Actually by "subterfuge aside" I was referring to the Southern Buddhist /Hung Moon resistance to the Qing.
    I think that is what Kung Lek is taking about. In the south, a number of monasteries (and this was mostly in the south) and Buddhist monks were supporters of the Hung Moon. This was a revolutionary political grassroots organization which opposed to the Manchu /Qing Imperial government.
    During this period the Hung Moon split into three sections so to speak. The Hung Bong - responsible for overall control and responsible for recruitment.
    The Qing Bong - often ex-military men in disguise as Buddhist monks. Their prime function ws to teach martial arts in the temples.
    and the third, Buck Lin - these were the spies of the organization. Also under the appearance of monks, they served as conveyors of information
    and raised funds.a

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