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Any Chan Buddhism and Gong Fu training inside the Shaolin Temple?

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  • Any Chan Buddhism and Gong Fu training inside the Shaolin Temple?

    This question is addressed to Doc and/or anyone else who is well versed in what really is happening inside the Shaolin Temple at Songshan, Henan China. I visited the temple there last summer in early July and I was struck by the atmosphere in that it resembled more of a tourist site or museum on the original grounds of a famous temple rather than an active Temple. So my question is are there any real novice monks there seriously studying Chan Buddhism training in traditional Shaolin Gong Fu?

    my partial answer:

    Can't remember who posted this, but, my apologies.[/QUOTE]

  • #2
    Not positive, nor am i an authority on the subject, so wait for Doc's answer before you quote me on it. But I am pretty sure this video is of training at the Shaolin Temple.. I could be wrong and it might be Dafawang, But i think I'm right. Video isn't too old from what I can tell..


    • #3
      I can't say that I know for sure, but there's plenty of areas inside the temple walls that you can't get to as a tourist, so there's quite probably buddhist activities going on. As for gong fu, I've never been training inside the temple, even though I've had monks tutoring me for most of the ten weeks I've spent there. Seems like most of the training that has relation to the temple is taking place at the wushu guan or in the fields in front of it. I've also had sessions in a small meadow on the hillside behind the wushu guan, which was a brilliant place for getting that authentic feeling.



      • #4
        I hope, until doc is back, i can help as well with some informations:
        The novices attend the ceremonies (at least the morning ceremony at quater past five), after breakfast they attend buddhist lessons in the hall beside the dining hall or train gongfu outside of the temple. In the afternoon there is a group of novices training in the ciyun tang, that's the first court on the right when you enter the temple (the one with the thousand-hand-guanyin statue). They often also have buddhist lessons in the evening or study alone. In the beginning they learn the texts of the ceremonies by heart. Also they often (if not always) have their tasks / part of the necessary work for the temple to fulfill, which of course is considered as buddhist training as well.
        Here some pictures and very short vids of the novices' training in ciyun tang (the beginners):
        Also the homepage of Shaolin-Temple has an English section now with quite a lot of information:



        • #5
          Well, it appears that Yongxin has responded to all the criticism of the temple being a tourist attraction. Got to hand it to him, he does seem to follow what's written on the internet. He has ever since he became abbot (and destroyed the village; that opened his eyes, LOL).

          Nice to see them do this. But as most, if not all of the real gong fu masters left (or were thrown out) after the new sheriff came to town in 2000 or so, one wonders who is teaching what.

          Back in 1995, before Shaolin Disneyland erupted, the temple had martial monks, and monks who specialized in Buddhist studies. I remember meeting both kinds, and visiting them in their little areas and rooms in various parts of the temple. The turmoil years after Yongxin ascended saw the disruption of that, with the scattering of the real martial arts masters, as Yongxin tried to envelop himself with people that were loyal solely to him. The emphasis eventually leaned towards Buddhism, until Yongxin discovered the money making aspects of demonstrating gong fu.

          In the mid 2000's, the emphasis seemed to be along the lines of making money, so that he could recreate his vision of what the temple should look like. Unfortunately, it ended up more like Epcot at Disneyworld, than any temple I've seen in China. Supposedly, there were Buddhist monks living at the temple, and martial monks also. I just didn't see it. I saw a tourist attraction. Yongxin caught a lot of shit both in the internet, and in the newspapers for his new facade.

          As Decheng told me last year (a journal entry I never made...), Yongxin was further advancing into the world of teaching gong fu, to the point of attempting to capture the market for that. So, this website with its pictures of monks training in the courtyard of the actual temple now, well, in my mind, seems to go along with Yongxin's new desired field of conquest. It also might be construed as showing his desire to make the temple a temple again, in response to all the criticism he has received. Well, good for him. Things might be coming around full circle, to a degree here. We may be starting to see a temple again. But, if you want to be cynical about these things, maybe YX has "made his money" and left the temple to other groups to run, and this is what they are doing with it? I'm not sure. I know that Deyang had made some agreement with Yongxin over these past few years, there's a new found respect both ways (one realizes that the other has the power of prison, the other realizes that one has the power of popular support). This new found "marriage" might have put Deyang in a new position at Shaolin, and he might be behind this apparently new push at the temple. As I have not seen nor talked to Deyang in two years now, I don't know.
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          • #6
            It does not seem to me that Shi Yongxin has no more business plans. He recently signed a contract for building a Shaolin-wellness-center with a company in Austria, which is building wellness-centers all around the world. If you go to youtube, and you look for "Schletterer", you can hear Mr. Schletterer personally presenting the plans of a 5-star-Shaolin-wellness-center aiming for the upper class people of Henan province and China. In this context he is talking about "humbleness on a veeery, very high level" and presenting Shi Yongxin as "his holyness" and the "pope of the shaolins". As very often in Europe, the more money is invoked, the holier the people become (btw it's the same with the Dalai Lama), at least for those who want to make the money with them. I guess, the company is still looking for some investors, so ..
            Well, it's boomtime in China and for Shaolin-temple - as for many other temples. Where does the money go? As far as I know, Shaolin-temple in the last years has bought quite a bit of the land that surrounds the temple and after long deals with Henan-province (which also might have had their "costs") now the temple can start to built. No, not the wellness-center, but a very big ordination-platform and a place where people can come to learn and study Shaolin-culture, specially Buddhism. I guess, Shaolin-temple is heading for its ancient importance and size.
            During his visit in Austria Shi Yongxin held a speach at the "Alpbach Forum". An English translation can be found in the temples homepage under: -- Quite at the end of the article you can call up the speach or download it as a .doc-file ... (grinnnnn). I think this speach can give an image of how Shi Yongxin is defining the role of the Shaolin-tempel, or at least which ideas he is - officially - aspiring to.
            In the end, if you know the history of the Shaolin-temple and Chinese Buddhism, you also know why things are as they are. There's nothing new under the sun ...


            • #7
              Thank you.................

              I want to send out a thanks to all those who helped answer the question of whether any real Chan Buddhism and traditional Gong Fu is still being taught in the traditional way inside the Shaolin Temple.



              • #8
                But I am pretty sure this video is of training at the Shaolin Temple.. I could be wrong and it might be Dafawang, But i think I'm right. Video isn't too old from what I can tell..

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