Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Shaolin Temple Mexico

Dear Friends:

A week ago Saturday I was at the:

Shaolin Temple Mexico


and spent 2 hours doing Tai Chi and Qigong in this room:


Very enlightening! (especially the Qigong, which include all forms used in Yuanji Dances 1 & 2!

This person, Sifu Shi Yan Ming, is the main monk for the Temple. Perhaps you have heard of him:


Shaolin Temple Mexico

Templo Shaolin de Mexico AC 
Ave. Acoxpa 343 
Col.Villa de Lazaro Cardenas
Tlalpan, DF 
(52)(55)56 73 56 82
Shaolin Temple Mexico



35th Generation Disciple of Shi Yan Ming, Shi Heng Yi. The Shaolin Temple of Mexico helps spread Shifu’s teachings not only throughout Mexico but has also served as a conduit to establish future branches throughout South America as well. The Shaolin Temple of Mexico maintains a vigorous Schedule of seminars.

Shi Yan Ming

Shifu Shi Yan-Ming defected to the US in 1992 while on the first-ever Shaolin Temple Monks tour of the United States. After the last show was over in San Francisco, he slipped out of his hotel in the middle of the night and escaped to the new world. 

Abbot of the Shaolin TempleSpeaking no English he got into a cab and directed the driver using hand signals to an unknown destination. Frustrated, the driver dropped him off where they were, in the middle of nowhere, and called the police immediately. Shifu showed the police a copy of his passport and some newspaper articles that featured him. The police requested that the driver drop him off at a Chinese restaurant where they thought he might find someone to assist him. However, at the Chinese restaurant, not a single person spoke Mandarin, they all spoke Cantonese dialect, so that all communication had to be written down since Cantonese and Mandarin share the same characters. Once the people at the Chinese restaurant understood, they helped Shifu phone NYC where he had a friend. This friend in NYC, having learned of Shifu's arrival, called to have someone pick him up at the restaurant. For one week, Shifu hid in a basement, with only bread and cereal to eat. The newspapers and TV were constantly announcing that a Shaolin Monk had escaped. It was after that first week that Shifu decided to come to New York City, "the capital of the world."

In December of 1994 in New York, Shifu founded the USA Shaolin Temple and currently teaches authentic Shaolin martial arts or Chan Buddhism. The USA Shaolin Temple has six satellite branches internationally in Austria, South Africa, Trinidad, Chile, Argentina, and Mexico.

Shi Yan Ming has been featured in over one hundred publications, more than fifty nationally and internationally broadcast TV shows, and several documentaries and movies including:

  • History Channel: Stan Lee's Superhumans and How Bruce Lee Changed the World
  • "Kung Fu Monk" documentary on the National Geographic channel,
  • Discovery Channel: Secret of the Warrior's Power and One Step Beyond
  • BBC: Physical Feats and Beyond Human Endurance
  • TLC's "Top Ten Martial Arts",
  • The covers of Qigong Wushu Magazine twice, Inside Kung Fu Magazine, and Black Belt Magazine,
  • The cover of Shaolin Taiji magazine, Wulin, and Wuhun (martial arts) magazines in China,
  • The CNBC, Fox News, CBC, ABC Morning Show, and PBS,
  • MTV USA, MTV Europe, MTV Canada, MTV Japan
  • BET US, BET Japan
  • "Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai" directed by Jim Jarmusch,
  • "King of the Jungle" directed by Seth Rosenthal with John Leguizamo, Rosie Perez, and Annabella Sciorra

Shifu Shi Yan Ming
Additionally, he has been in commercials for Nike Shoes Asia, two for IBM, HP computers, Hallmark, Chase Bank, Gaiam, and many more. Students of Shi Yan Ming include members of the Wu-Tang Clan, Bokeem Woodbine, Tricky, Kadeem Hardison, Michelle Forbes, Rosie Perez, John Leguizamo, Bjork, Wesley Snipes, and many others.

Shi Yan-Ming is a 34th Generation Shaolin Temple Warrior Monk.

Shi Yan Ming Background Story

"Before there are branches, there are roots. Therefore, to tell the story of my life I must start by talking about my parents. My father grew up in an extremely poor family. They were basically homeless; they had to go door to door and beg for food and he never went to school. He had to sleep under a wood burning stove or burrow a hole in a stack of wheat to keep warm.

Despite the hardship he was self-taught; he was extremely literate and a great writer and excellent calligrapher. My mother's family was better off, but not much. She, like most other girls in China at the time, was not educated and raised solely to be a mother and housewife. She also had her feet bound, as was the common practice of the time. My parents eventually got jobs for the Chinese government under Mao Zedong. They worked underground as telex operators.

I was the seventh child of nine. Before I was born two of my older brothers and one older sister died of starvation in Mao's "Great Leap Forward" in the late 1950's. This is when everybody said "everything is great, there is lot's of food" but it wasn't true. Yes, it's sad but it's like the weather: you can't change it. That's why everybody has to try to be better and understand and help others.

Shi Yan Ming, 34th Generation Shaolin Temple Warrior MonkI was born in Zhumadian Village in Henan Province in the center of China on Chinese New Year's in 1964, the year of the Dragon. Very Lucky! But when I was two or three I was very, very sick - I almost died. My parents thought they were going to lose their fourth child and spent all their money on numerous doctors to try and save my life. My father even had to sell his special calligraphy pen.

When none of the doctors could help me they finally had to give up. My body was cold and my eyes could not open, everybody took me for dead. My parents wrapped me in blankets to throw me away (they were too poor to provide me with a proper burial). On their way to go throw me away outside the village they were stopped by a man who asked them why they were so unhappy and crying. They told him that their son was dead. The man said that he was an acupuncturist and that he wanted to try and save me. Right there in the street he unwrapped me from my blankets, pulled out his needles and performed acupuncture on me. He brought me right back to life. I believe he was a Boddhisattva sent by Buddha to save my life.

When I was five my parents, being Buddhists, took me to the Shaolin Temple because they were worried that I had been so sick. It wasn't anything like the movies or what you imagine. It was right in the middle of the Cultural Revolution and Mao had outlawed all religion. There was no abbot wearing the red and yellow robes with the shaved head and the long white beard. Nobody wore the monk's uniform until around 1980 after the end of the Cultural Revolution. The Temple had been destroyed not only by the current government but also throughout history by many warring dynasties. Only the foundation and some walls survived - but it was never completely demolished! The Temple as we see it now has been largely reconstructed in the last ten years.

Little monks at TempleThey took me to see the head monk, Shi Xing Zheng. At that time there hadn't been an abbot in three hundred years. He was eventually appointed abbot in 1986 but died only seven months later and there has not been one since his death. I called him Shigong, my Grandmaster; he was my Shifu's Shifu (master's master). It was he who accepted me. I didn't have to do any Kung Fu, he just had a look at me and he knew. When you are at a very high spiritual level you can read people's faces and know them immediately. The Chinese say "yuan fen"; in English you say "destiny". My parents were very happy to leave me in the hands of Buddha.

My name was changed as soon as I entered the Temple. My name at birth was "Duan Gen Shan". Once I entered the Temple my Grandmaster and masters renamed me Shi Yan Ming. All Buddhist monks take the family name "Shi" as in Shakyamuni, the founder of Buddhism, because we follow Buddha. "Yan" means "34th generation" at Shaolin Temple. "Ming" means "perpetual" like the cycle of the sun or moon, or infinite, like the Dharma wheel, which never stops.

There were only 16 or 17 monks at the Temple at the time and I was by far the youngest monk there. Most of the other monks were in their seventies. Five is very young for some people to be away from their parents but not everybody is the same. My grandmaster, masters, and kung fu uncles took care of me like parents. They loved me very much and I loved them very much. Also, it was not safe to stay at the Temple all the time because Mao's Red Guard had absolute power and they could do anything they wanted anywhere at anytime. Therefore none of the monks could live there all the time and I got to see my parents quite often even though they lived about 200 miles (approx. 300 km) from the Temple. Sometimes I even had to go back and live with them because the Temple was so dangerous.

My masters were Liu Xin Yi and Shen Ping An. They taught me different styles - kung fu and acupuncture. They were Shaolin disciples, not monks, that lived outside the Temple. At that time because there were no walls, the Temple was completely open - many people came and went. I lived at the Temple but all my masters didn't always live with us. I had other masters outside the Temple that taught me how to read faces and palms.

Inside the Temple I began learning forms, fighting, and Chan Buddhism right away because I was living there. It's very normal: you are there, you just do it. It's like you're here in America; you have to speak English. We all practiced together, me and the older monks. There are no rules, you just learn everything naturally. I developed everything early.

The Chinese say if you are poor, like Shaolin Temple and my family were poor, you develop everything early. I started to understand a lot and all my masters recognized that I was so smart but so bad. I was like a little monkey, I always played tricks on people. For instance, I would dig a hole in the ground, put something on top of it and stay and wait for someone to walk on it and fall in. I even played tricks on my masters but I don't have to tell you about that. They almost always knew it was me. If I got caught I would have to do horse stance until my legs were numb and swollen or I would have to do headstands until all the blood went to my head and I felt like my eyes were going to pop out. Or my masters would hit me, which is very normal for China, not like America.

I also used to give my brothers a lot of trouble. If they talked while we were practicing it made me mad. I used to say,"We're practicing, why are you talking?" If they would keep talking, once, twice, I would hit them with a staff very often. I started doing this very young, when I was maybe 7 or 8 years old and I kept doing it when I was older. I wish I could do the same to my students now!

Shi Yan Ming - Henan China Shaolin Temple demo team tour

Even when I was a child I never wanted to lose; I was very competitive. My brothers and I would be doing Chin Na or fighting and when we would fall down at the same time I had to be on top of them. Even if we were tired after hours and hours of fighting I didn't want to stop. Sometimes I went too far and hurt my brothers and of course they would get mad at me but it's always like that when you practice martial arts. They would only be mad for a short time - we were family.

I also used to get into fights with people outside the Temple. We might go to eat outside and people would say bad things about the Temple or my brothers. I would kick them and made my disciples kick them too. And here in America I feel the same; if you want to say something bad about Shaolin Temple or Shi Yan Ming, buy a ticket, go to China or come to New York. You know who I am and where I am. Sometimes you have to use different language to teach people, like action language. Buddha said:"There are millions of different doors for millions of different people."

I met my Buddhism Shifu, Shi Yong Qian, almost immediately after I entered the Temple but didn't begin seriously studying with him until I was about 14 or 15. Learning the sutras was natural. Everybody was praying and you hear it a lot and you learn it. I understood Chan and reached enlightenment very early. I don't remember it being a sudden moment but it was very early. Things became so clear, everything was deep but simple.

Daily Routine

Shi Yan Ming at Shaolin Temple as a childJust like life at the Temple, it sounds like a hard life but it was so simple. You have to love what you do. We got up at 4:30 in the morning and practiced for two hours. At 6:30am we ate breakfast - mostly steamed tofu and vegetables. Since I can remember I ate a lot. Still eat a lot. From 7 to 8am we would pray, read, meditate, or relax. From 8:00 to 11:30am practice again, pray, or study Buddhism, clean, or do work for the Temple. At 11:30am we ate lunch, sometimes noodles, rice, mantau. Most monks don't eat past noon but Shaolin Temple monks are different. But many monks would visit from other temples so out of respect we would have lunch at 11:30am so they could eat. From noon to 1:00pm we would relax. From 1 to 5:30pm we would practice, pray. From 5:30 to 6:00pm we would have dinner; noodles, rice, soup. From 6 to 7pm relax. From 7 to 10pm practice or pray again. From 10pm to 1am some brothers walk around the Temple and check the incense and make sure it's still burning. From 1 to 4am they switch and another shift walks around.

We slept on a piece of wood with a blanket on it. Sometimes we would use our clothes for a pillow. It was very comfortable and very good for your back. In America beds are too soft. In 1996 when my kung fu brother, Master Shi De Yang came to visit me he stayed at my house. I let him sleep in the bedroom so that he could have the privacy and the comfortable bed. The morning after the first night when I went in to wake him up I found him sleeping on the floor, he too found the bed too soft!

There was no electricity at the Temple until 1981 or '82 and no running water until 1986. Before we got running water we had to get it from the rivers in the mountains just outside the Temple, or we collected rainwater or drew it from a well. Most of the monks were unhappy when they brought in the running water because the Chinese believe in Feng Shui and digging up the ground and putting pipes underground is like cutting your veins out.

Shi Yan Ming with sword as a childDuring the summer we would shower often because the cold water was no problem in the heat, but in winter sometimes it would be a couple of months between showers. We would wash our face and our underarms but we wouldn't jump completely under the cold water. Sometimes we would even use our sweat to wash ourselves. Even now in China most places don't have showers available. You have to know somebody or pay somebody. Still today there is only cold running water at the Temple.

Before the Temple opened up in the early 80's we could eat meat inside. After it was reconstructed there were other monks visiting so we didn't eat meat indoors. Shaolin Temple monks are different from other Buddhist monks, we are allowed to eat meat and drink alcohol. During the Tang Dynasty the Shaolin monks helped the Emperor Li Shi Min. He decreed thereafter that they could eat meat and drink alcohol. This is the story depicted in Jet Li's first movie Shaolin Temple.

Shaolin Temple was the movie that changed everything. After that movie came out many tourists started visiting the Temple. Our daily routine changed because we had to take time to take care of the tourists. It might seem bad but it was good too. More people visit the Temple, more people know about the Shaolin Temple Martial Arts, Chan Buddhism, and China. You have to be happy for that.

Right around the same time Shaolin Temple came out both of my parents died of lung cancer within 6 months of each other. Their jobs were very stressful and they were heavy smokers. I was 16. Even when my parents died, I don't think they died. I think they are still with me all the time.

After they passed away I took care of my younger brother and my older brothers took care of the younger siblings. I still keep in contact with them. They can call me, I can call them. People have to appreciate and understand now. A hundred years ago you had to take a boat from America to China, now you can take a plane. You have to understand yourself and love and appreciate everything we have right now; you have to bring yourself to a higher level.

I hope this article helps people learn more about Shaolin Temple and China. Shaolin Temple Martial Arts and Chan Buddhism are very powerful. They helped me through hard times and can help anybody. I encourage anybody who is interested to go visit the Temple in China or come see me here in New York. If you get to the Temple in China and see all the tourists and see all the things for sale, or if you come here to New York and I do not have a Temple surrounded by mountains and a forest, don't be surprised or disappointed.

Open your mind and your heart. Believe in yourself, trust yourself and you will find all the answers to all your questions."

Amituofo (Buddha Bless You)


Chan Buddhism

Damo - Chan Buddhism

Before I was born, who was I?
After I am born, who am I?
Respect yourself, and everyone will respect you.
Understand yourself, and everyone will understand you.
There are mirrors all around you:
Strive to see and understand yourself.
Strive to have the heart of a Buddha.
Stop doing bad things, only do good.
Do whatever you can to help others.
In these ways you help yourself.
Help yourself, and you help the world.

Buddhism was born in Nepal about 2500 years ago. It spread to India some 400 years later, and 1500 years ago, it appeared in China. Chan Buddhism is said to have originated at Shaolin Temple, and its spiritual founder was an Indian prince named Bodhidharma, or as he was known to the Chinese, Da Mo. It is characterized by a rejection of much of the protocol associated with other sects of Buddhism and is oriented around the practice of meditation. In Chan, the Temple is everywhere, and one can pray anywhere, meditate in any position, and it emphasizes the idea of personal awakening and understanding. Chan is the spiritual parent of Japanese Zen Buddhism.

What does "Amituofo" or "Amitabha" mean?

Amituofo means a multitude of things, depending on how it is used. It can be a greeting, a salutation, a blessing, or it can mean "please" or "I'm sorry." You can use it to express anything from your heart. Literally, it is the name of a Buddha, the "Amita" Buddha ("fo" being the Chinese word for Buddha). It is pronounced "Ah-mee-twoh-foh". "Amituofo" is the Chinese transliteration of the Sanskrit "Amitabha".

Why do we say "Amituofo" 3 times at the beginning and end of every class?
The first is to pay respect to Buddha, "Fo".
The second is for dharma, "Fa" the way or the philosophy.
The third is for sangha "Seng", the monastic community or family, as well as one's master - even including mastering yourself.

What is "Action Meditation"?
Action meditation, or "dong chan" in Chinese, can be everything and anything we do. Play some music, speak, eat, go swimming, go climb a tree, go climb a mountain, walk upside-down, play basketball, make dinner, make love - any action you can think of that you can express in your beautiful life - that's action meditation. There are a million different doors for a million different people to walk through in their lives, and a million different ways for a million different people to meditate in their lives. 

Sitting meditation probably may not be good for some people, just like everyone likes different food and has different tastes. I can just sit there watching TV, and without warming up kiss my foot. It feels so good, so fresh and so clean - that's my action meditation. Maybe you'll never be able to do this kind of action meditation, or maybe you can. That's why you have to be yourself. You can't copy other people. You can borrow somebody else's philosophy to use in your life, but you can't live completely like somebody else.

Even now, in the 21st century, there are many monks, masters, or instructors who still just use one way to teach many people, to cross their legs and sit in the lotus position doing sitting meditation. Not everybody is flexible enough to put their legs together and sit there like that. They sit there for 15-20 minutes and their joints begin to ache, their knees, ankles, lower back, and neck get tired and uncomfortable. Why do you want to do sitting meditation when you're torturing yourself, creating a problem for your life?

You can extend your leg to meditate, you can do splits if you want to. You can do Luohan Sleeping style to meditate, you can do headstands to meditate. Try different ways. Find yourself.

What does it mean to be a monk?
This is the source of confusion for many people who have a distorted view of what constitutes monkhood. In some types of Buddhism, there are 250 different rules for monks, 500 for those who wish to be nuns. One may wear the robes, shave one's head, not speak a word, not look left or right, eat a restricted diet, and follow all 250 rules. But anyone can shave his head and wear the robes -- this does not make him a monk. Some so-called monks might be strict in their practice but may be so for the wrong reasons. These people are not honest with themselves.

The Chinese word for monk is "heshang" (huh-shahng). The character "he" has the meaning here of the word "heqi" - friendly and amiable. The left side of the character means harmony, life. The right side is a pictograph of a mouth. Your mouth is not just only for eating good food, drinking good drinks, and making love - You also need to use it to speak with people and make wonderful relations between them. Use it to give people the knowledge and philosophy to help themselves and help the world. At the same time, the mouth can be used negatively to speak horrible things that can destroy people. When you're healthy, it's from what you eat and how you speak. When you're sick, it's from the same things. You must know how to use your chi positively. Shang means "gaoshang" - noble. It means a high level, different from others. To become a heshang, it is not necessary to shave your head, not necessary to wear the monk robes, and not necessary to live inside the monastery. Everywhere is your home, everywhere is your temple. You are the temple.

If you shave your head and wear the monk robes, but do things like eat meat, drink, be with women, underneath the table, out of sight, not wanting people to see or know about it, you're cheating yourself. You're not being honest with yourself. You're not being yourself. Why are you doing that? If you do those things, but are open about it, honest with yourself and others, that's beautiful. Express your beautiful life fully and honestly.

Why are Shaolin Monks allowed to eat meat and drink wine?
Shaolin Monks have been highly respected in their exploits outside the Temple, but no more so than at the end of the Sui Dynasty (581- 618), when the king of the Qin State, Li Shimin, needed to protect himself from the emperor of a rival state. Thirteen Shaolin monks rescued the nephew of the Emperor Li, and in the process, obtained the seal of the rival emperor. Later, Li became the first Emperor of the Tang Dynasty, and in gratitude to Shaolin, he granted the monks there the privilege of eating meat and drinking wine.

Shaolin Temple is unique among Buddhist temples throughout the world. Shaolin Temple monks practice physical as well as mental philosophy every day for many hours, and need protein to maintain their strong minds and strong bodies. Everything has life, everything has chi. In the last few hundred years, technology has helped scientists, doctors, and professors find out many things, what's real, and what isn't real. When you eat vegetables, you are also taking life. When you drink water, you kill many lives just from one sip. When you walk down the street, many little creatures walk all over your body, upside-down or horizontally. You don't realize every day how many lives you kill just from doing these simple things! If you have a lovely heart and peaceful mind, you have to use them to help other people, yourself, and the world. That's why I made the simple rules for my followers now in the modern world - "Only do good things, don't do bad. Do whatever you can to help others. In these ways, you help yourself. Help yourself, and you help the world." Whatever you eat or drink, it doesn't matter. Understand yourself.

Do I have to change religions to train?
You don't need to change anything. Stay believing whatever you believe, whether it's in God, Jesus, Moses, Muhammad or anyone else. I believe in them all. I believe in all of the religion's special leaders, they all teach people to be good people, to only do good things, not to do bad, and to help other people. All of them just have different names, I believe in them all, love them all, and I believe they love us too. When you come to the Temple, you don't need to change what you believe, change religions, shave your head, or become a vegetarian. I do not teach Chinese philosophy, I teach International philosophy. I encourage my students, disciples, and followers to go to church, go to monasteries, go to mosques, to open their minds and open their hearts. Learn all of the philosophies and combine them together - that's your philosophy. Just like in the martial arts world, there are many styles, karate, tae kwon do, jiu jitsu, muay thai, and hundreds more. Whatever style you practice, it doesn't matter - learn all of the styles, combine them together, and that's your style. That way, you can get the knowledge for yourself, and share it with other people.


Shaolin History


Shaolin Gongfu and Chan Buddhism are one. Just as you cannot separate your mind from your body, Chan cannot be separated from the martial practice of the Temple. Thus to discuss Shaolin history thoroughly, we must first start with the origins of Buddhism.

Shakyamuni Buddha and the founding of Buddhism


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