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2018 Blog Posts

Early History of the Shaolin Temple  (12/30/2018)

The Shaolin Temple (Traditional Chinese: 少林寺; pinyin: Shàolín sì), also called the Shaolin Monastery and the Songshan Shaolin Temple, is a Ch'an (Chinese Zen) Buddhist temple in the county-level city of Dengfeng (Chinese: 登封; pinyin: Dēngfēng), which in ancient times was called Yangcheng (simplified Chinese: 阳城; traditional Chinese: 陽城; pinyin: Yángchéng). The Shaolin Temple and Dengfeng are in turn located in the province of Henan (河南; formerly romanized as Honan) in the central region of China. Henan, not to be confused with the independent province of Hunan, is the cradle of Chinese civilization with over 3,000 years of recorded history and was China's cultural, political, and economic hub until about 1,000 years ago. Founded during the Western 5th century AD, more than 400 years after the White Horse Temple, the first Buddhist Temple in China, the Shaolin Temple is the primary temple of Shaolin Buddhism. Read More

Indian Influence on Yuejiaquan (12/1/2018)

The dhyāna master Bodhidharma, who transmitted Ch'an Buddhism to China and was the Chánshī (禅师; lit. "Dhyana Master" or "Zen Master"), China's first Buddhist patriarch, also began the physical training of the Shaolin monks and nuns. This physical training led to the formation of Shaolin martial arts or Shaolin quan (少林拳; Shàolín quán), including the Northern Shaolin style of Yuejiaquan or Yuèjiā quán (岳家拳, literally "Yue Family Fist," alternately Yue Ch'uan). This style of Yuejiaquan developed from the first Shaolin temple founded in Henan province during the 5th century AD to honor Buddhabhadra, who was the first Shaolin abbot. The Henan temple system of Yuejiaquan is distinct from the style created by Yue Fei, a Song dynasty (Chinese: 宋朝; pinyin: Sòng cháo; 960–1279) era general. Read More

Dhyāna – The 7th Limb of Yoga (10/28/2018)

When one feels relaxed and carefree, when the body is free of tension and the mind is calm, more space opens within oneself.

This is the perfect place to continue into meditation, or dhyāna. Read More

Bodhidharma – The First Patriarch of Ch'an Buddhism  (9/18/2018)

Bodhidharma, "Self-Nature of Awareness," (Sanskrit: बोधिधर्म; Traditional Chinese: 達摩; pinyin: Pútídámó; c. 483–c. 536) was a Buddhist monk who lived during the 5th or 6th century AD. In China, he is known as Damo or Putidamo. In Japan, he is called Daruma. Bodhidharma was one of many Buddhist missionaries who journeyed from the Western Regions of India and Central Asia to China. Bodhidharma is considered to be the transmitter of Ch'an (Chinese Zen) Buddhism to China. He is the 28th Indian patriarch in a direct line of transmission from Buddha via his disciple Mahākāśyapa, Buddha's successor after his death, and the Chánshī (禅师; lit. "Dhyana Master" or "Zen Master"), the first patriarch of China. He also began the meditative and physical training of the monks and nuns of the Shaolin Temple (少林寺) that led to the formation of Shaolin martial arts. Said to have a fierce countenance and piercing eyes, Bodhidharma was not an ordinary monk. Read More

Buddhabhadra – The First Shaolin Abbot  (8/26/2018)

Before Bodhidharma arrived in China, the dhyāna master Buddhabhadra (Traditional Chinese: 佛陀跋陀罗; pinyin Fótuóbátuóluó), simply called Batuo (Traditional Chinese: 吠陀; pinyin: Bátuó) by the Chinese, was the first abbot of the Shaolin Temple. Read More

Three Teachings  (7/29/2018)

As far back as the 6th century AD, Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism were merged into a harmonious conglomerate in Chinese thought called the Three Teachings (Traditional Chinese: 三教; Sān jiào). Read More

Grand Master Chang San-Feng  (6/30/2018)

Chang San-Feng (Traditional Chinese: 張三丰; Zhang Sanfeng) is shrouded in legend as an immortal mythical hero and a monk-warrior-martial artist endowed with magical powers. Various traditions differ on his birthdate, birthplace, and death date. One tradition holds that he was born at midnight on April 9, 1247 near Dragon-Tiger mountain, or Mount Longhu (Traditional Chinese: 龙虎山; Lónghŭ Shān), in Kiang-Hsi Province in southeastern China. He purportedly lived for over 200-300 years during the Southern Song and Yuan dynasties up to the mid-Ming dynasty. Read More

Film Review: "Shaolin"  (5/26/2018)

A greedy, power-hungry warlord finds peace and redemption in the Shaolin Temple.

Released in the United States on September 9, 2011, the film “Shaolin” opens on feuding warlords seeking to carve up China among themselves in the 1920s during the early days of the country’s Republican era. The compassionate and noble monks of the Shaolin Temple struggle to care for and protect the common people, who are caught up in the chaos. Read More

Foundation of the Southern Shaolin Temples  (4/22/2018)

Excavations in Southern China during the late 20th century uncovered three possible Southern Shaolin temples (Traditional Chinese: 少林寺; pinyin: Shàolín Sì; Wade–Giles: Shao-lin Szu; Cantonese Yale: Siulàhm Jí): one on Jiulianshan (九蓮山; Jiulian Mountain) near Putian village (莆田) in Fujian (or Fukien) Province (福建省); the second near Fuqing (芙卿), a county-level city of Fuzhou Prefecture (福州地區) in Fujian Province; and the third called Zhenguo Dong Chan Shaolin Temple or Zhenguo Eastern Dhyāna Shaolin Monastery (鎮國東禪少林寺) at the foot of the Qingyuan Shan (清源山; Mount Qingyuan) near Quanzhou (泉州 ), formerly known as Chinchew, a prefecture-level city located by the Taiwan Strait in Fujian Province. The third temple is now commonly called Dongchan Shaolin. Read More

Ng Mui: Shaolin Nun and Heroine of China  (3/17/2018)

Ancient Chinese history tells the tales of several women across the millennia who defied the traditional concept of male warriors in ancient warfare and helped mold the course of China’s history. They included slaves, prostitutes, princesses, and Shaolin Buddhist nuns.

One such heroine is Ng Mui (Chinese Traditional: 五枚; Cantonese: Ng Mui; Mandarin: Wú Méi). Read More

Shaolin Monks Versus Pirates  (2/17/2018)

The lives of Shaolin Buddhist monks and nuns are normally marked by peaceful simplicity, contemplation, and meditation. The Ming dynasty (Chinese: 明朝; pinyin: Míng Cháo) ruled China from 1368 to 1644. During its later years, China was beset by numerous problems. China faced corruption and civil war within, attacks by Mongols in the north and by Turks in the west, and raids by pirates along China's eastern and southeastern coastline. The pirates were mockingly called wokou (倭寇; "Japanese Pirates" or "Dwarf Bandits") by the Chinese. The pirates did include masterless Japanese ronin, who wielded long sabers called nodachi that they used to great effect. The pirates also included some Portugese and other assorted brigands, but were mostly made up of disenfranchised Chinese (fishermen, peasants, and adventurers), who ransacked the coast of China for over 100 years. Pirate raids grew to a massive scale during the 1540s and 1550s. The wokou fielded vast armies of up to over 10,000 men that raided coastal areas and even ventured deeply inland on occasion. Warrior-monks were called upon by Ming authorities to face this pirate menace. Read More

The 13 Shaolin Cudgel Monks and the Tang Dynasty  (1/8/2018)

The monks and nuns of the Shaolin Temple acted primarily to practice Ch'an Buddhism and foster spirituality and harmony within Chinese society. Over the course of China's history, though, times of strife erupted that caused the Shaolin monks and nuns to periodically take on the role of peacemakers to protect the Temple and restore harmony to society. Read More


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