ABOUT THE CENTRAL TEMPLE CAMPAIGN
The Shaolin Temple in China has a long but relatively unknown history to those outside of the Shaolin tradition. It is the birthplace of martial arts and Ch’an Buddhism and developed many traditions through its history. Dedicated Buddhist and warrior monks have spread these teachings to the public, both in China and abroad, by continuously practicing and cultivating physical, mental and spiritual understanding.
Today the Shaolin Temple in China no longer accepts and trains students in Kung Fu or Ch’an Buddhism and only operates as a heritage site preserving the physical premises for tourism. The knowledge, history, philosophy, and traditions of the Shaolin Temple are currently only sporadically passed on through a small number of individuals, who had the privilege to be fully trained in the temple a few decades ago. Time is running out, as these teachers are growing older and today’s society structures make it difficult to pass all knowledge and practice on for future generations. With every passing master, some of the teachings and insights will be lost forever.
Martial arts culture has also a long history in the UK. The two main reasons for this are the integration of Chinese and oriental people into the UK’s communities, and the widespread adoption of martial arts (especially Chinese kung fu) in our popular culture thanks to movie stars such as Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Michelle Yeoh and many others during a time when Ch’an Buddhism was also becoming a more popular philosophy, with the teachings of Western scholars such as Alan Watts.
In the last decades, this has translated into a strong interest in the practical philosophy that stems from Chan teachings, such as mindfulness and practices like meditation. As neuroscientific research has advanced in this period, the benefits of such practices are increasingly evidenced by scientific study of the effect of such practices on the brain and nervous system. Finally, in this age of attention deficit, thanks to our addictive devices and fast pace of life, the disciplines of mind and physical training fostered by Shaolin practice have a particularly pertinent benefit to both individuals and society. Shaolin teachings, we believe, are every bit as important today – perhaps more so – than in the past.
Shi Yan Min and a lot of the UK Shaolin Temple’s members and supporters have dedicated their life to leave a legacy and pass all this knowledge and wisdom on to the next generations. Raising a central temple, where this legacy can be realised, is not possible for a single person without help. We need to take advantage of the given opportunity now and turn this possibility into a reality by helping to build a central temple to carry on the Shaolin tradition for our future generations. In doing so we will be able to share true Shaolin culture and continue this valuable heritage.