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peter-shiaoI recently accepted a volunteer post to serve as the  president of the US based foundation of the Shaolin Temple of China as an  outgrowth of a long standing relationship with the Temple and its Abbot.

As a non-Buddhist, but someone who is on a path of yogic  cultivation, I am sympathetic to the aims of this 1500 year old institution  that is known globally as the home of Eastern martial arts as well as Zen (Chan  in Chinese) Buddhism.  I believe that  this iconic temple with all its richness of tradition and wide array of  knowledge has the potential to be a very important player in global  transformation.

Part of something that we are all dealing with in the West  is the emergence of China as a global player. While that emergence has many  well covered facets in politics and economics, the more qualitative, cultural  part of that emergence is something that has been not heard about quite as  much. Part of the inherent difficulty in dealing with such an ancient culture  that has spanned thousands of years is that there is quite large cannon of  history and happenings to cover. Are we talking about the Tang Dynasty or the  Qing Dynasty?

Actually for me, it is simpler. When I think about the  essence of Chinese culture, I think about a large body of practical knowledge  that is based upon a series of quintessentially Eastern philosophies, that when  utilized in every day life, has the potential to bring more beauty, meaning,  enjoyment, health, and vitality to every day moments. It is not about the  specific instances of history or personalities, but a world view and system of  thinking and practice that represents the distillation of this culture.

That culture, long pushed aside by its more dominant Western  counterpart in a historic sweep, is coming back in a major way. On this point, this  re-emergence of Asian culture does not belong solely to Asians – but to all  people who’ve come to recognize that an integrated approach where opposites  come together is the third way. In many ways, Eastern culture is the perfect  compliment to a world that is dangerously out of balance.

Now back to Shaolin, and why it matters.

Inasmuch as the Secret, and the plethora of well intentioned  leaders of the human potential movement, have made significant strides in  putting human consciousness on the map in an important way, there really isn’t  anything new as far as the basic predicament of the human condition is  concerned. And even though many universal truths can be harnessed to acquire  experiences or materials that we deem to be important, the ultimate realities  of life, and the transient nature of our life on earth, remain unchanged.

A well worn path paved with thousands of lives lived in  pursuit of the highest aspirations and human potential — later codified into  activities fit for the body and mind to sustain a higher quality of being — is  the basic structure for a transformational world. In addition to our well  intentioned desires, hopes and aspirations for a higher consciousness, there  must be a foundation of personal practice that is sound, practical, tried and  true, to shape those visions into reality. And it does begin with every one of  us – and our bodies.

So much has been sung about Shaolin Kung Fu that I cannot  fully cover the richness of that conversation here – except to say that we are  now planning a series of programs at the Shaolin Foundation to awaken the yogic  roots of martial arts as it has always been taught the the Shaolin Temple.

There is an inner technology to martial arts that has not  been taught in dojos that are more focused on the physical.  Rather than the integration of spirit and  flesh, this inner technology serves to propel one’s evolution more than the  gratification of ego and physical attainment. Suffice to say,  we  are excited to embark on a renewed discovery of Shaolin and sharing the  essential elements of this institution. We are calling out to enlightened  warriors of all stripes, colors and creeds to join us. For starters, we are  going to reclaim the sacred roots of martial arts, and put the art back into  the martial.

Peter Shiao is President of Shaolin Asssociation of North America. He is also  CEO of ORB Media Group. Readers interested in learning more of the emergence of  sacred Shaolin Kung Fu are invited to attend the Shaolin Summit taking place in  Los Angeles on May 21 at the LA Convention Center. For more information, please  visit: www.shaolinunited.com

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