WHAT IS SHAOLIN?
Shaolin Ch’an is a unique branch on the tree of the “religion” we commonly refer to as “Buddhism.” What makes Shaolin so unique is primarily it’s incorporation of Taoist concepts. Because Shaolin believe that balance is essential, we have developed a system which incorporates training of the mind, body, and spirit. Most, if not all, other branches of Buddhism focus almost exclusively on training the spirit, and leave the rest to other sentient beings.
Academics is vital to Shaolin. Without a sharp mind, it is difficult to understand complex concepts. Without knowledge, it is extraordinarily difficult for a society to rise above the most basic existence. Lifelong academic pursuits are therefore an essential part of what it means to be Shaolin.
Gung fu, also known as “hard work,” is also vital to Shaolin. Gung fu is an excellent way to maintain physical health, to practice mindfulness, and to insure that the practitioner is capable of avoiding serious injury or death at the hands (or paws) of an attacker. Not all gung fu is related to martial arts. Exercise in any form is gung fu. Washing dishes is gung fu. Whatever you are doing, be there doing it and nowhere else. That is gung fu.
The ultimate goal of Shaolin Ch’an is to wake up. Although we discuss this concept in individualistic terms as an expedient means, what this truly means is that we want everyone to wake up! It would be silly to say “I have woken up!” when to wake up means to realize that you are not separate from others. If you are not awake, then neither am I. Therefore, Shaolin must focus on helping others to wake up, so that we can put an end to our suffering.
HOW CAN I JOIN?
It is true that Shaolin used to hole themselves up in temples on high mountains, and were extremely selective about who they accepted as initiates. That is no longer true.
The New Order of Shaolin Ch’an has been formed to facilitate the achievement of our primary goal, which is to awaken as many sentient beings as possible. As stated above, that means every single one of them! It is difficult to imagine how we can achieve that goal by erecting walls between us and the outside world, or by hiding ourselves away.
To join the New Order of Shaolin Ch’an, all one must do is come to our meetings and learn with us. We are currently located in Dallas, Oregon, and meet at the Dallas Yoga & Balance Center at 115 SE Court Street every Thursday evening from 6-7:30 pm (starting March 14th, 2019). Please contact us for more information if you would like to join us.
- “Shaolin are ‘warrior monks.'” Shaolin Ch’an is first and foremost a Buddhist/Taoist religious order. Shaolin monks have developed a system over millenia for maintaining balance and harmony between the mind, body, and spirit of each individual practitioner. The primary goal of these efforts is to extinguish the ego and realize that we are all parts of an interdependent whole. Shaolin monks avoid altercations whenever possible, engage in combat only when forced to do so, and do not perform gung fu for entertainment or monetary gain.
- “In order to be Shaolin, I must discard my current religious beliefs.” Shaolin Ch’an does not require the belief in any deities or supernatural beings. Nor does it require the disbelief in any deities or supernatural beings. Shaolin Ch’an practitioners are free to believe or disbelieve any concepts they find useful or not useful, fulfilling or unfulfilling.
- “Buddhist monks shave their heads and wear robes.” Shaolin Ch’an practitioners do not place any special significance on dogma, conventions, or norms. In fact, the Dharma is clear that attachment is antithetical to the path of Enlightenment. Instead of clinging to rules and protocols which tend to separate them from others, Shaolin focus on waking up to the truth that there is no difference between them and all beings. Shaolin monks are all free to do what they choose with their hair, and to dress however they choose.
- “Only men can be Shaolin monks.” The goal of Shaolin Ch’an is to extinguish the ego and realize that we are all one. The idea that men and women are somehow different from each other becomes a hearty belly laugh that is quickly brushed aside when examined closely.