Are all Shaolin monks Buddhists?

To paraphrase a famous logical example, all Shaolin monks are Buddhist monks, but not all Buddhist monks are Shaolin monks. Shaolin monks are warrior monks who live in Shaolin Monastery in Henan Province, China. They are monks who fight against kung fu whose discipline has its roots in the Mahayana Buddhist tradition. The Shaolin Monastery (Shàolínsì), also known as Shaolin Temple, is a famous temple recognized as the birthplace of Chan Buddhism and the cradle of Shaolin Kung Fu.

It is located at the foot of the Wuru peak of the Songshan Mountain Range in Dengfeng County, Henan Province, China. The name reflects its location in the ancient grove (lin) of Mount Shaoshi, in the interior of the Songshan Mountains. Mount Song occupied a prominent position among the Chinese sacred mountains as early as the 1st century BC. C., when one of the Five Sacred Peaks (wyuè) was proclaimed.

It is located about thirty miles southeast of Luoyang, the former capital of the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-53), and forty-five miles southwest of Zhengzhou, the modern capital of Henan Province. As the first abbot of Shaolin, Batuo dedicated himself to translating Buddhist scriptures and preaching doctrines to hundreds of his followers. In 527, Bodhidharma, the 28th patriarch of Mahayana Buddhism in India, arrived at the Shaolin Temple. Bodhidharma spent nine years meditating in a cave in Wuru Peak and started the Chinese Chan tradition at Shaolin Temple.

From then on, Bodhidharma was honored as the first patriarch of Chan Buddhism. The historical architectural ensemble of the Temple, which stands out for its great aesthetic value and its profound cultural connotations, has been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. In addition to its contribution to the development of Chinese Buddhism, as well as its historical, cultural and artistic heritage, the temple is famous for its martial arts tradition. Shaolin monks have dedicated themselves to the research, creation and continuous development and improvement of Shaolin Kung-Fu.

At the beginning of the 21st century, Shaolin is considered one of the most famous temples in the world (“Tiānxià dì yī mingchà). The main pillars of Shaolin culture are Chan Buddhism (Chan), martial arts (w), Buddhist art (yì) and traditional Chinese medicine (yī). This Shaolin cultural heritage, which continues to constitute the daily life of the temple, is representative of Chinese civilization and appreciated internationally. A large number of celebrities, political figures, eminent monks, Buddhist disciples and many others come to the temple to visit it, make pilgrimages and cultural exchanges.

In addition, due to the work of Shaolin's official cultural centers abroad and foreign disciples, Shaolin culture spreads throughout the world as a distinctive symbol of Chinese culture and an important medium of foreign cultural exchange. Using the teachings of Batuo and his disciples as a basis, Bodhidharma introduced Chan Buddhism, and the Shaolin temple community gradually grew to become the center of Chinese Chan Buddhism. The teaching of Bodhidharma was passed on to his disciple Huike, for whom legend says that he cut off his arm to show his determination and devotion to the teachings of his teacher. Huike was forced to leave the Temple during the persecution of Buddhism and Taoism (574-580) by Emperor Wu of the Northern Zhou dynasty.

In 580, Emperor Jing of the Northern Zhou dynasty restored the temple and renamed it Zhi'ao Temple (Zhù sì). Emperor Wen of the Sui Dynasty (; July 21, 541 — August 13, 60), who was a Buddhist, returned the original name of the temple and offered his community 100 hectares of land. Shaolin thus became a great temple with hundreds of hectares of fertile land and large estates. Once again, it was the center of Chan Buddhism, with eminent monks from all over China coming to the Temple regularly.

With the establishment of the Ming dynasty in the mid-14th century, Shaolin recovered and a large part of the monastic community that fled during the Red Turban attacks returned. In the early Ming Dynasty, the government did not advocate martial arts. During the Jiajing period (Jiājìng, 1522-1556 of Ming Emperor Zhu Houcong (zhūhòucōng), Japanese pirates harassed China's coastal areas, and generals Yu Dayou and Qi Jiguang led their troops against the pirates. While in Fujian, Qi Jiguang summoned martial artists from all over China, including local Shaolin monks, to develop a set of boxing and anti-personnel techniques to be used against Japanese pirates.

Due to the merits of the monks in the fight against the Japanese, the government renewed the Temple on a large scale, and Shaolin enjoyed certain privileges, such as the exemption from food taxes, granted by the government. Since then, Shaolin monks have been recruited by the Ming government at least six times to participate in wars. Because of its outstanding contribution to Chinese military success, the imperial court built monuments and buildings for the Shaolin Temple on numerous occasions. This also contributed to the establishment of the legitimacy of shaolin kung fu in the national martial arts community.

During the Ming Dynasty (mid-16th century), Shaolin reached its peak and maintained its position as the central place of the Caodong School of Chan Buddhism. In the early days of the Republic of China, the Shaolin Temple was repeatedly hit by wars. In 1912, the monk Yunsong Henglin of the Dengfeng County Monks Association, was elected by the local government as head of the Shaolin Militia (Shaolin Guard Corps). He organized the guards and trained them in combat skills to maintain local order.

In the autumn of 1920, famine and drought hit Henan province, causing thieves to spread throughout the area and endanger the local community. Henglin led the militia to fight bandits on different occasions, allowing dozens of villages around the Temple to live and work in peace. In the late 1920s, Shaolin monks became involved in warlord disputes that swept the plains of northern China. They sided with General Fan Zhongxiu (1888-1930) against Shi Yousan (1891-1940).

The monks sided with Fan, who had studied martial arts at Shaolin Temple as a child. Fan was defeated, and in the spring of 1928, Yousan's troops entered the temple of Dengfeng and Shaolin, which served as the headquarters of Fan Zongxiu. On March 15, Shi Yousan's subordinate, Feng Yuxiang, set fire to the monastery, destroying some of its ancient towers and halls. The flames partially damaged the “Shaolin Monastery Stele” (which recorded the politically astute election made by other Shaolin clerics a thousand five hundred years earlier), the Dharma Hall, the Heavenly King's Hall, the Mahavira Hall, the Bell Tower, the Drum Tower, the Hall of the Sixth Ancestor, the Chan Hall and other buildings, causing the death of several monks who were in the Temple.

The fire destroyed a large number of cultural relics and 5480 volumes of Buddhist scriptures. The establishment of the Contemporary Temple offers all interested individuals and groups, regardless of cultural, social and religious values, the opportunity to experience Shaolin culture through the Shaolin cultural exchange program. This program offers an introduction to Chan meditation, Shaolin Kung Fu, Chan medicine, calligraphy, art, archery, etc. The practice of Chan is supposed to help the individual achieve the calm and patience necessary to live optimistically, meaningfully, wisely and with compassion.

The ways of practicing Chan are numerous and range from everyday activities (for example,. Eating, drinking, walking or sleeping) to specialized practices such as meditation, martial arts, and calligraphy. Shaolin kung fu manifests itself through a system of different abilities that are based on attack and defense movements with the form (tàolù) as a unit. A shape is a combination of different movements.

The structure of movements is based on ancient Chinese medical knowledge, which is compatible with the laws of body movement. Within the Temple, forms are taught with a focus on integrating the principles of complementarity and opposition. This means that Shaolin Kung Fu integrates dynamic and static components, yin and yang, hardness and softness, etc. The style of Buddhism practiced in the Shaolin temple is a type of Chan Buddhism.

Chan Buddhism evolved from Mahayana Buddhism, which traveled along the Silk Road. Shaolin Buddhists gave the world their deadliest martial art. But now his gift has become a curse, writes Clifford Coonan. Shaolin Kung Fu is one of the most respected and revered martial arts traditions in the world.

Shaolin Kung Fu practitioners, Shaolin monks, are also regarded as some of the most committed warriors. However, Shaolin Kung Fu is much more than a martial art. It is part of a complete spirituality that is based on Buddhism. The path of a Shaolin monk, if you choose to follow it, will require you to change your life completely.

Shaolin monks give up a lot, repress themselves from the typical pleasures we take for granted, and have lives completely dedicated to their faith. The warrior monks of Shaolin remain Buddhist monks and are required to devote part of their time to study and participate in ceremonies. Shaolin Monastery is the most famous temple in China, known for its Shaolin monks who fight against kung fu. With incredible feats of strength, flexibility and endurance to pain, the Shaolin have created a worldwide reputation as the best Buddhist warriors.

The leadership of the Shaolin Temple aimed to make its historic architectural complex a United Nations World Heritage site, in order to obtain annual funds for the maintenance and development of the United Nations. In 618, thirteen Shaolin monks are said to have supported Li Yuan, Duke of Tang, in an uprising against Emperor Yang, thus establishing the Tang dynasty. Meanwhile, in 1928, warlord Shi Yousan burned 90% of the Shaolin Temple, and much of it would not be rebuilt for 60 to 80 years. According to the story, envious officials set fire to the temple, killing most of the monks, and Gu Yanwu traveled to the remains of Shaolin in 1679 to record its history.

This particular event served to encourage people to remember the importance of patriotism by celebrating the contribution of Shaolin martial arts to the defense of the country from foreign invasion on numerous occasions throughout history. Shaolin slowly recovered from being fired, and in 1704, Emperor Kangxi made a gift of his own calligraphy to signal the return of the temple to imperial favor. This could have been the end of Shaolin, were it not for the 1982 film Shaolin Shi or Shaolin Temple, with the debut of Jet Li (Li Lianjie). Emperor Qianlong even visited Shaolin in 1750 and wrote poetry about its beauty, but later banned monastic martial arts.

An ancient tree has dozens of small dents, made by blows with the fingers of warrior monks over the centuries. The following year, the monarch provided funds to the Indian-born monk Batuo to establish the Shaolin Temple. He has also been criticized for accepting the gift of a luxury sports car from the authorities, and many monks did not like the decision to host their own martial arts reality show. During the 19th century, Shaolin monks were accused of violating their monastic vows by eating meat, drinking alcohol and even hiring prostitutes.

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