Two days of living as a monk at Southern Shaolin Temple (I)


Wow! Isn’t it amazing? Welcome to China Experience. My name is Juan, and I am a crazy fan of Chinese kung fu. I have been obsessed with Chinese kung fu since I was a little child. Actually, Chinese martial arts can be categorized by location – the northern style and the southern style. The main difference between them is that the northern style emphasizes lower body movements, and the southern style emphasizes arm and hand techniques. So we can find Shaolin Wushu (kung fu) at Mount Song, Henan in the north. And one here in Putian, Fujian, in the south. For the following two days, I am going to see what the life of Putian Shaolin monks’ is really like. I can’t wait! Let’s go! How are you doing? How are you doing? Are you Huang Yixuan (Juan’s Chinese name)? Yes, I am. Is this your first time to visit Putian South Shaolin? Yes, today is my first time. How long are you going to stay here? Just two days, because I have to go back to work in two days. Before you came, there were many foreign friends who come here to experience the life at South Shaolin. Some of them are Spanish. Really? So what do you think of the South Shaolin Kung Fu? I want to experience the life at South Shaolin! Alright! I will lead you to meet the abbot, he is waiting for you over there. Ok, let’s go! So I’ve heard that there is a ceremony to honor the master when entry the temple for the first time. I am going to see my master now, he is also the abbot of this southern Shaolin Temple. And I’m kind of a bit nervous and excited to see what it is like. Let’s go! We are not allowed to talk in the hall. Ok. We need to… Be quiet. OK. So we need to be quite quiet inside. What’s your Buddhist name? My name is Zuxuan. Master Dharma’s teacher is Shakyamuni Buddha… I feel so in peace now, everything is in peace inside of me as well. Hello! What are they doing now? We have a martial arts examination today. There are two masters grading their performances. If they pass the tests, they can join the Warrior Monks’ Group. Warrior Monks’ Group? Yes! It’s the group of monks with consummate kung fu skills. Wow! This is my favorite kung fu. I’ve always wanted to learn it! It reminds me of Bruce Lee. Yes! His style was Wing Chun, which is also the style that Bruce Lee practiced. Wing Chun is one of the Southern Fist styles, and all Southern Fist styles originated from the South Shaolin Temple. Wow! So they do this Bruce Lee’s movements here as well. It’s so cool! The key points of Wing Chun is being fast, accurate and ruthless! Piu Piu .. Exactly! Do I have the chance to learn it? Yes, you can learn it tomorrow. Really? Sure! So he just said I have the chance to try myself and learn a little bit tomorrow. I might become the next Bruce Lee! OMG! It’s too early! So it’s only 5 in the morning, I’m already all done with my face and brushed my teeth. I’m going with Zuao now to the morning class. It’s just so early. To the morning training, I have no idea what it would be like. They just talked many songs, I couldn’t follow, I just want to leave at the very beginning, at 5 a.m.. But then it got a little bit better, I had some help, so it was great, yeah, it was interesting. Now it’s light, very light. Are they having an English class now? Yes, it’s on every Thursday morning. There are many opportunities for us to do kung fu performances abroad, so it’s really important for us to learn English! Interesting! Can you say something in English? Sure! Sure! My name is Zuao, I am 16. Nice to meet you! Good job! Can we come in and say hi? Of course! Hello! You are studying English now? Yes! So as you can see, Shaolin monks are not just practicing Kung Fu all the time, they do have the different academic classes like this one here. Actually now I’m on my way to a Buddhism class where I hope to learn a little bit about Buddhism mediation. I am wondering what the difference between the normal meditation and the Buddhism meditation is, so let’s go and figure it out. I am now heading to the meditation class. Let’s see! Amazing! Buddhist meditation is all about the cultivation of the mind. In order to improve the state of life and wisdom, we need to keep our mind in a condition of clarity, quiet and peace by using some certain methods. OK, take a deep breath. Imagine throwing a cobblestone into the lake. As the stone slowly sinks until it reaches the bottom of the lake, let your mind follow it, so that your heart will settle on the bottom of the lake too. When you first started Buddhist mediation, it’s normal that your legs will be sore and your feet will tremble. It’s a process. OK, put your hands down slowly. Are you tired? Yeah. I just finished my Buddhist meditation class now. It was really easy to fall asleep at the beginning. I was so tired. But then you got so much better I think. I could see the difference between the normal meditation and Buddhist meditation as well. We had a lot of stretching and body movements here in Buddhist meditation while sitting. And it was also very important to keep your body balance while standing. I think Buddhist meditation really helps me well to release some stress, forget about everything that is not important now, all work and life problems. Just really focus on your own body, on your own mind and on your own thoughts. It is almost 11 now and we are going to the dining hall. Zuao told me we are not allowed to speak there and we are better not to be late. Let’s go and see what it is like, I am really hungry and I really want to see what the food here is like. Let’s see! I am going to serve food, why don’t you seat yourself? OK! Where are you going? Serving food. To whom? To the hungry ghost. So he just said he’s gonna serve some food to the hungry ghost here. I hope they are not inside.

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