Shaolin Quan is one of the most respected forms of kung fu around the world. Huge is the level of commitment required of adherents of the tradition, the Shaolin monks. However, Shaolin Quan is much more than just a martial art. It is part of a spiritual doctrine grounded in Buddhism. The path of a Shaolin monk requires a total transformation on the part of those who choose to walk it. The Shaolin monk gives up much, abstains from pleasures that we consider trivial, and leads a life completely devoted to faith.
Part 1 of 3: Understanding what it's like to be a Shaolin monk
Step 1. Educate yourself on the meaning of monastic life
Before making any decision, it is essential to understand the kind of life that awaits you at Shaolin Quan. This life includes duties, responsibilities, requirements, and other criteria that the adherent of doctrine must meet. Kung fu is studied not to learn how to fight, but to discipline the body and, through the imitation of animals, harmonize it with nature. Read books dealing with Buddhism, meditation, and Shaolin philosophy.
- Discover the history of Shaolin Quan, which has been improving for over 1,500 years.
- Be aware that not all Shaolin monks are skilled warriors. They are, as the name suggests, Buddhist priests who have studied the Shaolin technique.
- Meet the strict criteria that monks are subjected to today.
- Understand the philosophy and spiritual aspects of Shaolin Quan.
Step 2. Understand that Shaolin Quan is not just a fight
It is, rather, a complete worldview and a doctrine aimed at the individual's spiritual harmony with himself and with the world. Aspects related to martial arts are nothing more than the expression, on the physical plane, of a spirituality that must be mastered by anyone who wants to live as a Shaolin monk.
- Shaolin Quan is a branch of Buddhism.
- Practicing it requires exhaustive training, self-control and meditation.
- The monk's devotion to Shaolin doctrine must be total and unrestricted.
Step 3. Study Buddhism
He is the base of Shaolin Quan. Thus, understanding what it is to be a Shaolin monk necessarily involves understanding the Buddhist way of life. Start studying Buddhism and, only if you identify with the Buddhist view, become a monk.
Part 2 of 3: Embracing Shaolin Buddhism
Step 1. Convert to Buddhism
Knowing what awaits you in converting to Buddhism and the Shaolin way of life, you now need willpower and commitment. This is the first step on your journey to becoming a Shaolin monk. Every Buddhist must submit to the Four Noble Truths, a central concept to the doctrine.
- Suffering is part of life.
- The desire for material wealth and pleasure is, to a large extent, the source of suffering.
- It is possible to escape suffering through the renunciation of desire.
- Happiness, or nirvana, can be attained by exercising, day by day, a series of practices known as the Eightfold Path.
Step 2. Follow the Eightfold Path in daily life
He is the be-a-ba of Buddhism and Shaolin spirituality, and his role is to frame the individual's worldview and lifestyle. In other words, the way you interact with friends, family and strangers will change. For more information, visit: http://www.buddha101.com/p_path.htm (in English).
Step 3. Change your diet
It needs to reflect the commitment to modesty and self-control that Buddhism, and hence the Shaolin Quan, preaches. This can be difficult for some people.
- Reduce the amount of food you eat, and avoid committing excesses with all your might.
- Eliminate meat from your diet.
- Also cut out simple carbohydrates.
- Eat raw food. Monks do this at every meal. In the beginning, do it in just one meal a day.
Part 3 of 3: Becoming a Monk
Step 1. Look for Shaolin masters or monks in your region
Perhaps there is an initiate in Shaolin near where you live. Studying directly with him is the best way to understand the doctrine and the path you need to take to become a monk. Even in Western countries, there are many Shaolin temples and institutions that welcome those interested with open arms. It is highly recommended to talk to a master or a monk before proceeding on this journey. Some suggestions:
- The central US Shaolin Temple in New York or the Lohan Temple in São Paulo.
- Other temples centered on the practice of kung fu.
- If there is no teacher in your area, you may need to take a trip.
Step 2. Become a disciple in a temple
After the preliminary instruction, visiting a Shaolin temple will be the next step on your path as a monk. The largest temples are headed by trained individuals at the Shaolin monastery in China. Still, training at a Western temple will hardly be as thorough and complete as that offered by the Chinese monastery.
Step 3. Travel to China to study at a Shaolin monastery
As the philosophy originated in China, training in one of the Shaolin temples in that country is the best option for those who want to have a deeper contact with it and become an exemplary monk. But first, understand that:
- Training will keep you completely occupied. There will be no time to work, socialize with people outside the monastery, or engage in anything unrelated to the monastic life. You will devote your life to training.
- Travel and temple stay costs can be high.
- There are several Shaolin temples throughout China, and not all of them are of the same quality. Do a thorough research before embarking on the journey.
Step 4. Be admitted to a temple
Without being initiated into a temple, monastic life is unfeasible. The training process is arduous. If your abilities match him, you will eventually be consecrated a monk. After your ordination, find a way into clerical life. Are they:
- The priesthood. It belongs to the monks who perform sacred rites on a daily basis.
- The gym. It encompasses monks dedicated to scholarship and knowledge.
- The martial arts. It contains the warrior-monks of the Shaolin doctrine.
Step 5. Fulfill the strict requirements of Buddhism
After becoming a monk, he will have to live according to what the Buddhist teachings dictate. Your life will undergo a complete transformation as you will be forced to turn your back on many things in material existence. Some questions to consider:
- Shaolin monks take a vow of chastity;
- They don't eat meat;
- They don't drink or smoke;
- They reject the mundane life, centered on material possessions, ostentation and consumerism.
Step 6. Consider the possibility of backsliding
There are people who, after being trained in the arts of Shaolin Quan, decided to abjure the most rigorous Buddhist precepts - they are the apostates. Apostasy is perhaps the most recommended alternative for those who find themselves unable to commit to the sacrifices demanded by Buddhism.
- Backsliders can marry and have a normal job.
- They are free to eat and drink.
- You don't need to be vegetarian.