June 03, 2010

Shaolin Temple

The Shaolin Monks had fascinated me from an early age, even before I watched them perform live in Vancouver. The acrobatic warrior monks were from a far off land shrouded in mystery. In reality, life is much more mundane at the Shaolin Temple than I had imagined it to be. In 464 AD an Indian monk had come to China to spread the Buddhist faith. He did not speak for nine years and made a hole in a wall with his eyes. After that, he established the Shaolin order of priests. These priests were also well versed in the martial arts. Under the watchful guidance of their masters, repetitive and rigorous training is undertaken by hundreds of youth until the requisite skills are mastered.

The most interesting part of the trip was getting there. From Beijing I took a fast train to Zhengzhou, a bustling transit hub and capital of Henan. After lunch I caught a bus to Dengfeng, the nearest town to the Shaolin Temple. From there a minibus had to be taken to the monastery. Stuffed to the brim with passengers, all the standees suddenly fell flat to the ground after the conductor barked something. I looked out and saw that we were passing the police station. The extra passengers had to hide from view so that it would appear the minibus was not carrying too many riders.


“My imagination is a monastery and I am its monk.” ~ John Keats