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