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Thread: The Modern Southern Shaolin Temple

  1. #31

    temples and money

    My own opinion about Shoalin temples and money is that the revenue generating methods--especially leaning on the popularity of the classical wu shu--is necessary due to the fact that it is an orginization with overhead. It's a win-win situation between martial art enthusiasts and religious promoters.

    For me, the line is crossed with the activity of for-profit martial arts businesses in dealing with the non-profit temple activity. Hypothetical situation: overseas instructors make donations to a temple (Northern or Southern) and they get an inscribed stone or they get lineage authorization.

    Case in point: I know of two such instances where the overseas instructor either got an inscription stone set up at the temple or that an instructor got a lineage without much instruction. I do not know if there was any large donations behind them--and I hope there wasn't--but the fact that both parties are now using those actions as part of their marketing for their for-profit business makes me wonder.

    I don't know the business practices of the temple organizations, so I hope I'm being paranoid and over-reacting. If anybody knows first hand, I'm interested in learning more.

    Gene, I know you've been to the Shaolin Temple (and I have thoroughly enjoyed your informative articles). Do you see any of this kind of activity?

    Keith

  2. #32
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    I agree it's a win win situation. The monks teach wushu(traditional or otherwise) to raise money for and introduce people to chan buddhism. Shaolin was always a politically conected temple so I personally barely get peoples disgust with the connections to PRC. I know as americans we are brought up to think of communists to be our enemies but they aren't always. Other than this though I don't get it. Other churches and temples are tourist attractions, other churches and temples need money. Christian churches pass the collection plate, anything wrong with that? I don't think so. Traditional Buddhist monks used to beg for alms, now instead of begging they offer a service that martial artists want, training. I think it is pretty ironic that secualr people are the first to jump on the monks about what they should and shouldn't do, most of these people don't even have more than a very surface knowledge of buddhism and even less about the chan sect in particular. I also find it ironic that people complain about paying monks for instruction but have no problem going to pay for classes at the local McKwoon. Very strange
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  3. #33
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    Chris of Shaolin dynasty

    I think you are corerect my friend. If you think about it, this is EXACTLY what the Catholic church does. They teach and run grade schools for money to help support the church. In returne, they have an easy platform to aid in the spreading of thier religion.

    The Shaolin are doing the same thing, only the subject matter is different.

    RD
    Those that are the most sucessful are also the biggest failures. The difference between them and the rest of the failures is they keep getting up over and over again, until they finally succeed.


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  4. #34
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    Not your orthodox temple....

    glw: In a perfect world, your steps to rebuilding make sense. But in modern China, things seldom happen so. Steps such as these suggest a mastermind. Shaolin's rebirth was based on what opportunities were presented.
    Now certainly, the economic growth to an impoverished area resulting from a blockbuster movie is a real weird way to start, but then so is staring a a rock wall for nine years. Things didn't go as planned because there was no plan. When your hungry, the only plan is to get food, nothing more. And when the food came pouring in, many individuals got gluttonous. Mistakes were made. They probably still are being made. Lord, find me the realm of no error.
    But as for your steps, Buddhist organizations have been called into Shaolin recently. Few martial artists look at the Buddhism - they usually get stuck out in one of the wushuguans - so this isn't normally something that is reported to our community. Both Fu Sheng Hui of China's Buddhist college, and Bin Huan, one of the most respected Buddhist masters in China today, have been heavily involved with rebuilding the Shaolin Sangha. As for step two, outside monks have been brought in all along. Many noted Shoalin monks were initially trained at different temples, most notably the abbot, Shi Yongxin, and our own American import, Shi Guolin.
    What jams the whole process is the warrior monks. These tend to be the monks we follow since we are martial artists. By strict technicality, they are not monks since they do not take all the vows - they are martial disciples. But Shaolin has a special clause that allows them to keep these warrior monks and take the monk title. The warrior monks are fighters, plain and simple, and some only stay until they feel they've learned enough, then go on to be pro martial artists. There are about 50+ warrior monks. There are almost 200 fully indoctrinated monks. I've written little about the indoctrinated monks. Most of the monks I've written about are warrior monks. I have not seen anyone address the indoctrinated monks at all, other than me. Maybe I should write more on this aspect, but frankly I'm not sure it would really appeal to our readers. They aren't that interesting unless you're Buddhist.

    kboggess: The concept of non-profit only really exists in Western tax laws. To my knowledge, anyone who contributes to the temple (and continues to contribute - the stones can be removed) might get a stone and nothing on those stones claims lineage. What a stone setter might say later is beyond Shaolin's control. It is a large sum and it is used for publicity on both ends. The contributor wants to gain merit for contributing. The recipient wants to acknowledge them because it needs such contributions to stay alive.
    While I might echo your concern about stone setters making claims, I do respect their contribution. I tried to set a stone myself but could not afford it. Anyone who donates that much cash to a temple deserves some recognition.
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  5. #35
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    Ah...Gene..therein lies the problem

    If you are a nun or a monk in a Catholic or Episcopalian church, you are either a novice or not. A novice is one who has NOT taken their final vows.

    Now, if you are a novice and you leave the monastery or convent, you are NO LONGER A NUN, MONK, PRIEST, etc....

    If you have taken your vows and leave, there is a process that you must follow and at then end of this process, you are NO LONGER A NUN, MONK, PRIEST, etc...

    If you leave the convent or monastery as a missionary or on assignment, you are fully expected to follow the rules of your order - and this applies to novices as well as fully vowed members. In fact, the rule of thumb is that no novice is ever sent out into the world on such an assignment without a supervising experienced mentor nun, monk, etc.... to prevent the novice from slipping in their vows.

    This is what is required to be a nun or monk and it tends to apply to Buddhist monks as well...for all orders except the fabled Shaolin...

    So, if the warrior monks are novices they are Novice monks....and should be called such. If they have taken their vows and leave the temple, they are either to be held to their vows or they are not monks.

    If they have left the temple to go on to other things, they are NOT monks...they are ex-novice monks...the key being EX.

    If they took their vows and leave - not on missionary work - and do not follow their vows, then they should either be removed by the order or they should leave the order...in either case, they would no longer be monks.

    Now, if the aim is to REALLY have a temple with true monks, everyone needs to quit making excuses for non-monklike behaviour on the part of any of them. If you are at a temple you are a monk first...or you do not claim to be one at all.

    I can think of several of these types of monks in the US that MIGHT be called ex-novice monks or even ex-monks...but none of these I am referring to are now monks...regardless of what they may or may not have been in the past.

    Now, if I were a Catholic priest and went to another country, got married, and had kids, would it be right for me to continue to wear the collar?

    We all allow for way to many lapses in vows in this...and why..."They are SHAOLIN monks" . To me, that is a VERY lame excuse for dishonesty or violating vows.

  6. #36
    my main contribution is this...whatever else you may say, an effort has been made to bring the art back from masters originally from the fukien region who fled china for various reasons in the past (escaping the japanese, communism etc.)

    I went to what i believe was the first such modern meeting in 1992.representatives from 5 countries were there (malaysia, china , australia [incl. me], philipines and indonesia)
    Every year (now every 2 years) these meetings are held, and various sifus and their students go.
    an attempt was made to standardise Ngor chor (wuchu, five ancestors fist) but of course nobody really wants to change, so it's kind of amusing.
    yes, the local chinese pratitioners have a very "wushu flavour" to the art IMO, but they are also open to the influences of the other more traditional sifus (who they invited after all). So all is not lost! 8)

    My sifu (same as Joedoes') has been to both new temples (i think, esp the quanzhou one though, which to me seems much less commercialised) many times to teach the new monks, and i have been on these trips numerous times.

    is the art original and complete? i'm not gonna walk into that sh!t fight...BUT i know from personal experience there's a lot more going on there than JUST modern wushu. (likewise though, the best masters of southern shaolin are probably not in the temples, or even in china)
    __________________________________________________ __________ "I'm just trying to lull you into a genuine sense of security!"

  7. #37
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    GLW- What exactly is your point? Are you trying to say Shaolin isn't a temple and the monks aren't real? Are you a monk, are you even a buddhist?Why do you have the authority to say what a shaolin monk should and shouldn't do?

    I am not attacking you but I want to get the point across to you that no matter what us as martial artists or buddhists think about the monks it is ultimatly up to the shaolin monks themselves to decide what their vows are/mean and what they are't/don't mean.

    I think it's funny when people put down monks for breaking vows they know nothing or little about. Shaolin and chinese culture is very different than what is here in the west. That's why I don't judge what monks do, cause I have no idea what is and isn't exceptable for a Shaolin monk.

    It's also funny when they say the monks break their vows while they themselves are drinking beer, scarfing down an extra sausage pizza and watching porn. Those monks live a life that some of us would never even consider and some of us have the nerve to put them down. Shaolin monks are also human and somtimes they give in to temptation nobodys perfect.
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  8. #38
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    Warrior monks

    Yes, warrior monks are a problem if you are defining monks in such narrow terms. But to be a monk, one only has to belong to the order. Each order defines it's own. The defination of western monks and nuns have little bearing on buddhist monks. And the defination of buddhist monks change from instance to instance, just as it does in western religions. Shaolin defines its order to include warrior monks and has so since the Tang.
    If you ask a promoter, of course they will tell you he (or she) has the 'real' Shaolin monks. But if you ask the monks themselves, they will tell you if they are a martial monk, or an indoctrinated monk on a mission, or even an ex-monk (see our jan/feb 2002 cover story.) http://store.yahoo.com/martialartsma...magjanisk.html Usually, it's pretty easy to figure out if you have a fundamental understanding of kungfu and buddhism. Now, the warrior monks do have chan training - some quite a bit, but others not so much. To understand Shaolin, one really has to look at the individuals.
    Now I'll will admit that their are charlatans too. Some of the local private schools had fake warrior monks. Most of those are shut down with the relocations of the last two years. The new abbot has made a serious effort to clean house.
    I suppose a lot of Shaolin really depends on what you want to find there. It is a mirror of your preconception like any sacred place. If the mirror is dusty, you might not get any more. But if you penetrate, you might be able to get past those preconceptions and achieve some transformation. If you want to find kungfu, there is that. If you want to find wushu, it's there too. You can even find charalatans. If you want to find Buddha, well, you know what to do when you meet Buddha on the road, yes?
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  9. #39
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    Ah............ Gene really knows how to word the stuff that I mean. He is truly the abbot of the Shaolin Board and is truly a "dragon spreading shaolin to the west".
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  10. #40
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    I think it's funny when people put down monks for breaking vows they know nothing or little about.
    So, what are the vows they take? I thought a lot of them were pretty clear, like not having sex.

  11. #41
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    “Yes, warrior monks are a problem if you are defining monks in such narrow terms.

    But to be a monk, one only has to belong to the order. Each order defines it's own.
    The defination of western monks and nuns have little bearing on buddhist monks. “


    Dictionary definition:
    Monk – a member of a RELIGIOUS brotherhood living in a monastery AND devoted to a discipline prescribed by his order.

    If you use a different definition than the standard for the language you are using, then it is up to YOU to state and often restate your definition. To not do so is to mislead, either intentionally of unintentionally.



    “And the definition of Buddhist monks change from instance to instance, just as it does in western religions.”


    So, the idea here is that situational ethics and re-definition of terms is fine if it fits the needs of the person? The basic idea of what it is to be a monk, nun, priest in western religions has not changed much at all since….Oh I would have to say Martin Luther’s Reformation. That ended in the split of the Church’s and the idea of PROTESTants. The same applies to what I can find from the Buddhist monks I have encountered from several orders....tradition rules.


    “Shaolin defines its order to include warrior monks and has so since the Tang. “


    And exactly which of the vows or any of them are “Warrior Monks” supposed to follow? What distinguishes them from any individual that just happens to practice martial arts? You definitely open the door for a lot of misrepresentation



    “If you ask a promoter, of course they will tell you he (or she) has the 'real' Shaolin monks. But if you ask the monks themselves, they will tell you if they are a martial monk, or an indoctrinated monk on a mission, or even an ex-monk (see our jan/feb 2002 cover story.)”


    I have no problem with those who are honest. Problem is, I have yet to meet one. I HAVE met real monks from Chinese and Vietnamese Ch’an sects…and they DO follow the rules and ARE clear about who is and is not indoctrinated.

    This is where the problem is. Misrepresentation.

    If the idea is to rebuild the temples to fully functioning temples that have Buddhism AND Wushu (in the strict sense of the words Zhong Guo Wushu), the first step is to do away with the misrepresentation and confusion.

    Are YOU working toward this goal?

  12. #42
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    "Dictionary definition:
    Monk – a member of a RELIGIOUS brotherhood living in a monastery AND devoted to a discipline prescribed by his order."

    you seem to have confirmed gene's comments, not gone against them. the martial monks are devoted to a discipline prescribed by "HIS" order....what the full details of this devotion is, is most likely more understood by the abbot and the temple than to the laymen. even at shaolin they seem to keep each other distinguished as martial or buddhist monk. it isn't that they train one or the other, it seems to be more of which type of discipline they spend more time on. my sifu is one of the martial monks here in the US, shi xing hao. he was living at shaolin for about 11 years, and he had a buddhist master and a kungfu master. he spent most of the day training kungfu, but he also had buddhist training on a daily basis. he lived there and followed the discipline prescribed by his order, so that means he is a monk, by following the standard definition of the language.

    "And exactly which of the vows or any of them are “Warrior Monks” supposed to follow? What distinguishes them from any individual that just happens to practice martial arts?

    well what distinguishes them from any individaul that practices martial arts is that they take vows and become desciples of monk in the order, which gives them an order name and makes them not just a martial arts practitioner. as for the exact vows they take, i don't know....but they are indoctrined to some level, now the differences, if any, from a non-martial monk is unknown to me. i feel the point is that they are brought into the order in some way. i guess to find out to what extent, would mean going to the source. go ask abbot yongxin.

    respect to all,
    dieter wagner

  13. #43
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    That is EXACTLY the point...to what degree do these people take oaths and vows.

    If I studied under my teacher for 2 years, was haphazard in my approach, and then went and demo'ed in their name - or opened a school, I would be guilty of misrepresenting my teacher and what my teacher and style stood for.

    To knowingly promote me, a person then becomes party to my misrepresentation.

    I do not see the distinction between types of monks being made clear...if this is indeed a distinction. I DO see a lot of people promoting individuals who in NO way deserve to be honored in the way they uphold ANY tradition or ANY concept of martial ethics. this is NOT only for Shaolin but throughout the Wu Lin.

    I am saying be honest. This is NOt happenning...

    I have yet to read the background of ANY monk that stands up to the scrutiny of what really happened in China in regards to the temple.

    All it would take for people like me to say "no poblem" is for the temples to openly state that they are using wushu foks as monks to promote an awareness of Shaolin to raise money so they can rebuild the temple and the Shaolin order.

    When you have been involved in the staging of the monk shows and see the behind the scenes stuff....or talked with those in China who make fun of the 9 to 5 monks with families....well, let me just say that there is a lot of stuff to be cleaned up to regain the stature that should be there.

  14. #44
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    GLW,
    i understand where you are coming from, but i feel it is ingnorant to stereotype every monk from shaolin. if you have had personal experience with some of the monks and the tours then you can state your opinion on them.
    i know alot of these tours are made up of regular students sometimes and usually only couple of indoctrined monks. and alot of times their skills are not that impressive, but this isn't always the case.
    i agree if you study under your teacher for 2 years and open a school then you are misrepresenting the art, because you have not grasped the true wealth of your art. i can only speak for my teacher, he studied at shaolin for over 10 years and studied other martial arts prior to that. he loves the martial arts and he learned as much as he could. he knows the contemporary stuff and the traditional. i feel that anyone who sees the way he moves when performing tradtional forms would never question his power and precision of technique. it looks nothing like contemporary wushu......there is a big difference.
    i am not trying to tell you that your interpretation/opinion is wrong.....you can speak the truth as much as i do, but i feel that you are doing wrong by stereotyping those from shaolin into some kind of disgraceful worthless conspiring group. i cannot speak for the other monks, because i don't have any real one on one contact with them. so i feel i can't defend or condem them.....i don't have that knowledge. i just don't see why everyone is determined to make shaolin out to be a big conspiracy, what do you gain from this.....how do you feel you are helping. this type of thing goes on for every style of martial arts....there is always someone misrepresenting and taking advantage of people, and i think it will always go on. i am not saying it is right by any means, but it is part of life and misrepresentation exists in every aspect of life. what is the big crusade against shaolin. if you find a good teacher then you are on the right track, if you find you are with a bad teacher then you move on to another. you will always gain some greater knowledge from any kind of experience good or bad. there are only 5 monks in the states and 1 ex-monk....so that is 5 schools in the US and i think there are only about that many throughout europe. where is the big threat, why all the hype?
    do any of you here that are bashing the whole shaolin lot, train with or ever trained with any of the monks. have you spent time with of them...not a few hours, but months or years getting to know them? if you have then you can talk about that person anyway you like, because you really got to know them to a descent extent. lets just please try to stop stereotyping and being prejudice. maybe i could say everyone who is trying to discredit the monks are just on a mission to promote themselves or their school as being the "real thing". now this statement might have some truth, but 100% of the people discrediting shaolin don't fall into that category, so i can't really say that. see my point.......if you want to wax intelectual(sp?) then you have to stop stereotyping and try to look deeper into the situation.

    man, i am sorry for rambling on and on!!!!!!respect to all and good luck in your training, may you find the truths you seek!

    thanks,
    dieter

  15. #45
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    KFD,

    I understand...and I am voicing my doubts and misgivings over them.

    They ARE indeed based upon a number of personal experiences with said monks over the past few years at various national level events as well as in dealing with their students.

    I will say this...they ARE in my experience quite qualified to teach. Their students, when they show up to compete, have good solid basics and strength (some of the adult ones can be total space cadets...but then again, that is in anything you do).

    However, watching a monk insult his students in public and call them stupid for a simple thing that anyone would do is not pleasant. Seeing two monks who started out teaching together have to be removed from professional duties because they had a falling out and would score the other student's down is not a good thing.

    So...I am a major Doubting Thomas. Then again, I am also a major gadfly in the strictest Socratic sense. I tend to scream the emperor has no clothes on instances where the acclaimed "Masters" exhibit less than masterful manners and such. Never on emotion...always on points of principle...and that is where my problem is here.

    Pledging to a teacher is a serious thing. The things expected of a Tu Di (disciple student) are serious business. I just think that on the other end of that, the things that SHOULD be expected of a teacher, master, monk, etc... are equally serious.

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