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Thread: The Shaolin Monastery: History, Religion, and the Chinese Martial Arts by Meir Shahar

  1. #91
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    Meir Shahar at UC Berkeley

    Professor Shahar will be lecturing at Cal tomorrow about his research on Nezha. I picked him up from SFO on Saturday and took him up to Tilden Park on Sunday. It was really good to visit with him as it's been over half a decade since we've seen each other face-to-face. He was very generous with his cover blurb for my book and we've remained friends over the years.

    He's still working on research regarding the Southern Shaolin Temple as he's got the research backing from the Chiang Ching-Kuo Fellowship, but that's been on hold with his current research on Nezha. He was doing really well after spending last year in Beijing on sabbatical. He said he hadn't really kept up with Songshan Shaolin Temple lately, but is looking forward to working on the Southern Shaolin research.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  2. #92
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeneChing View Post
    Professor Shahar will be lecturing at Cal tomorrow about his research on Nezha. I picked him up from SFO on Saturday and took him up to Tilden Park on Sunday. It was really good to visit with him as it's been over half a decade since we've seen each other face-to-face. He was very generous with his cover blurb for my book and we've remained friends over the years.

    He's still working on research regarding the Southern Shaolin Temple as he's got the research backing from the Chiang Ching-Kuo Fellowship, but that's been on hold with his current research on Nezha. He was doing really well after spending last year in Beijing on sabbatical. He said he hadn't really kept up with Songshan Shaolin Temple lately, but is looking forward to working on the Southern Shaolin research.
    cool!
    Any information like a quick peek on what's up? Like, has he found anything that with certainty substantiates the existence of a southern shaolin temple?
    Kung Fu is good for you.

  3. #93
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    no peeking

    Meir and I had discussed it many times years ago. I remember the first time he brought it up. He turned to me and said "You know this Southern Shaolin Temple. I was looking into it. The history is really a mess". That struck me as very funny at the time. This was prior to the publication of The Shaolin Monastery. At that time, he didn't think much of the legends. Later he told me he was going to visit southern China to do some preliminary research. All he said was "there's something here" but never said what exactly. But like I said, that's all on hold as his current research is focused on Nezha, who is a martial god, but not particularly significant to the martial arts world. Of course, I've been encouraging him to tackle Southern Shaolin. We chatted about it a little over last weekend, but as he was there to lecture on Nezha, he was more focused on that.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  4. #94
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    I just finished this book last night. It was great. Very interesting (for a scholarly historical survey), with lots of fascinating snippets from writings I'd love to see in full. So refreshing to read something on martial arts history that doesn't haphazardly mix history and legend together, but that also doesn't discount what we can "know" from legend. I feel like I understand how Shaolin Temple got to be what it is much better than I had before.

    Shahar does draw a number of conclusions I don't agree with, but that's a good thing. If no one finds his book controversial then no one will write any new books.

    Highly recommended to anyone interested in Shaolin history or even CMA history in general.

  5. #95
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    I find that the key information in his book is regarding the Ming period synthesis of Dhayana (Daoyin) with Martial art. Also, the Vajrapani connection is important. For me, it has resolved a few questions regarding the infiltration of the practice of violence into buddhism.
    Kung Fu is good for you.

  6. #96
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    2020 2021 Annual Hu Shih Distinguished Lecture with Meir Shahar

    2020 2021 Annual Hu Shih Distinguished Lecture with Meir Shahar

    I haven't had the time to watch this yet so I'm leaving it here for later...
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  7. #97
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeneChing View Post
    2020 2021 Annual Hu Shih Distinguished Lecture with Meir Shahar

    I haven't had the time to watch this yet so I'm leaving it here for later...
    I just watched it. Be forewarned: This lecture won't be of interest to anyone looking for a long discussion on martial arts. I liked it, though, as someone interested in history and religion. The actual lecture begins at minute 10:10 and ends at minute 54:20 (after that he takes questions). Meir discusses the worship of the Buffalo/Ox King and the Horse King by the Chinese. He begins by talking about how the buffalo/ox and horse were commonly used as draft animals all over the world up until the early 20th-century. They were especially valuable to Chinese peasants because they depended on them for their livelihood, as well as because the animals themselves were very expensive. The peasants likely spent more time with the animals than with their own families (everyday in the field for upwards of 20-30 years), so they probably developed an emotional attachment to them. The emotional/economic need to keep them in top working condition may have led to the worship of such animal gods to keep them safe and healthy.

    A north-south divide separates the worship of the Buffalo/Ox King and the Horse King. The Horse King was primarily worshiped in the north because equines were more prevalent there. And due to the horse being an animal of government officials and the military, the Horse King was looked upon as a martial god. In fact, the forbidden city includes a temple to the Horse King, which is portrayed as a wrathful, multi-armed deity with weapons and a third eye. The god can be traced to the Horse-Headed Avalokiteshvara (Guanyin) brought to China by Esoteric Buddhism.

    While worshiped by some as the "Ox King" in the north (due to the animal's presence there), the "Buffalo King" is primarily worshiped in the south because the animal was more prevalently used in the fields there. Meir talks at length about folk Buddhist scriptures associated with the Buffalo/Ox King, which were sung by ritual masters to ensure the health of these draft animals. The texts portray him as a bodhisattva who has volunteered to take the form of an ox to help alleviate the suffering of peasants working in the fields, thereby attaining Buddhahood through his sacrifice. (Meir suggests this merciful bovine bodhisattva is based on the common idea that oxen are powerful, yet very gentle creatures. This deity was eventually associated with Guanyin, who has a variant called "Guanyin mounted on an ox".) Interestingly, these Qing and Republican-era texts are not found in any scholarly library. Instead, they are strangely found in online bookstores. This is because: 1) the subject is under studied; 2) the god is largely being forgotten due to the mechanization of modern farming (no need to pray for the health of oxen); and 3) as a consequence, ritual masters who normally would sing the scripture retire and sell them to secondhand bookstores.

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