How to Join the Shaolin Temple

by Brian Adler
Shaolin monks trained with weapons to fend off Japanese pirates.

Shaolin monks trained with weapons to fend off Japanese pirates.

The Shaolin Temple is a Buddhist monastery in China. Shaolin is famous as a center of Kungfu. Monks study the precepts of Chan (Zen) Buddhism in an attempt to achieve enlightenment. Many organizations around the world call themselves Shaolin. Students must agree to follow the basic teachings of each temple. Here's what you'll need if you want to become one of these students.

Seek out an organization that follows the teachings of the original monastery. There is really only one Shaolin Temple. It is located in Henan Province in China. Founded in the fifth century, it subscribes to the Chan school of Buddhism. This is better known in the west by its Japanese name of Zen. Zen Buddhism focuses on the use of meditation to obtain direct knowledge of universal truth. Shaolin students must be willing to learn on their own. They must accept that knowledge is a path to personal enlightenment. Kungfu is used to build control over one's own mind. It is not meant for control of others.

Give up your preconceptions. Buddhists monks do not follow a strict rule. Buddhist monasteries are not like Christian monasteries. The monks of Shaolin--and they are all male--follow individual paths to fulfillment. Being a vegetarian is not a requirement. Some Shaolin monks become vegetarians. They believe it helps improve their spirituality. Early Buddhist monasteries were not vegetarian. Monks must be celibate. But this too is not an essential teaching. Shaolin monks are celibate because they believe it removes distractions.

Be willing to devote everything to achieving salvation. Kungfu and other martial arts are keys to self-discipline. By controlling the body you control the mind. The Shaolin student must be capable of persistence and concentration. If you are looking for an easy path this is not for you. Shaolin demands that you pay attention to the smallest details of your existence. Every action has meaning. You must be aware of your body. You must be aware of how your mind interacts with your body.

To study kungfu is to obtain deep knowledge. Shaolin monks can use kungfu as a form of defense. But you must never use your skills for offense. Learn kungfu and you will understand your own limitations. You must be willing to respect the talents and views of others. The selfish person is not the person who becomes Shaolin. Schools that only teach martial arts are not real Shaolin. Shaolin is a complete lifestyle. If you want to join a Shaolin organization, make sure it is for the right reasons. Make sure it is the right school. Organizations that attempt to copyright the name Shaolin violate the central precepts of the order. It is not a business. Most Shaolin temples will take on any student who is sincere. You can normally spend time trying out the Shaolin system. True initiation is for those who have decided to pursue the path.

About the Author

Brian Adler has been writing articles on history, politics, religion, art, architecture and antiques since 2002. His writing has been published with Demand Studios, as well as in an online magazine. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Columbia University.

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