Experience Shaolin
Cultural Journey to China Songshan Shaolin Temple

Led by Master Shi Yanran, Executive Director of Shaolin Temple USA,
a study group comprising students of Shaolin Culture Centers in San Francisco and Fremont, CA
embarked on a journey of Chan cultivation and Shaolin Kung Fu training
China Songshan Shaolin Temple, June 2013.

Arrival at the Mountain Gate, front entrance of Shaolin Temple.

• Shaolin Kung Fu Training •

The group’s training took place at various locations inside Shaolin Temple and in the mountains.
With special permission, their main training ground was the courtyard of Ciyun Chapel which is enveloped by the Steles Corridor.
The Steles Corridor is lined with ancient steles and tablets inscribed by emperors, eminent monks and scholars throughout the long history of Shaolin Temple.
Other training locations included the Warrior Monks’ training hall, Sweet Dew Platform, the First Patriarchs Chapel and Sanhuangzhai.

Left: Retracing the footsteps of Shaolin Warrior Monks at historic 1,000 Buddhas Hall, on the floor indentations
left by the monks’ assiduous training at those spots for hundreds of years.
Right: Meihuazhuang, high poles on which the Warrior Monks train on stances, light-body Kung Fu, fist forms, combat and unique Shaolin skills.

Training at the Ciyun Chapel courtyard surrounded by ancient steles on the Steles Corridor.

Warming up: Running a few laps along the Steles Corridor.

Left: Learning Shaolin Soft Fist (Rouquan) from Shifu Yandi. Shaolin Soft Fist is also known as Great Compassion Fist and Cotton Fist,
originated from the ancient Shaolin Changong Rouquan.
Right: Thousand-Eyes Guanyin inside the Ciyun Chapel.

Training with Master Yanran at Ciyun Chapel courtyard.

Paying Respect to the Venerable Abbot

The morning after arrival, the group paid respect to Venerable Abbot Shi Yongxin and performed Shaolin Baduanjin for his inspection.
The Abbot gave valuable advice on the essence of Shaolin wellness qigong.

At the conclusion of this journey, the group turned in their Kung Fu training report card
by performing Shaolin Soft Fist for Venerable Shaolin Abbot Shi Yongxin in front of Abbot’s Hall.

• Temple Life •

5:30 am: Morning Recitation at Mahavira Hall with Shaolin monks.

Having a simple, flavorful vegetarian breakfast at the Temple’s dining hall.

Chan Cultivation
Shaolin Chan Master Yanzong gave lectures on the Venerable First Patriarch Bodhidharma’s famous treatise of Two Entries and Four Practices,
and led the group through a variety of meditation practices.
Meditating under a centuries-old tree with Master Yanzong.

• Performance by Warrior Monks •

In the midst of busy rehearsals in preparation for an official visit to Russia, the Warrior Monks gave the group a special performance of unique Shaolin fist forms.

• Shaolin Chan Medicine •

Left: Relief sculpture depicting movements from the Shaolin health Qigong classic Yijinjing. Right: Medicine Hall.

Left: Visit to Chan Medicine Cottage.
Right: Master Shi Yanlin (right), Director of Shaolin Pharmacy Bureau gave an overview of Shaolin Medicine and Shaolin Wellness Qigong.

• Historic Shaolin Temple •

Shaolin Temple embodies over 1,500 years of Chinese civilization, Chan Buddhist culture and unique Shaolin traditions.
Inside and around the Temple campus, historic buildings, architectural structures, monuments, statues, murals, steles and plaques, bricks and tiles, books and artifacts, burial pagodas and centuries-old trees, each tells a compelling story and is an important part of the temple’s magnificent legacy and China’s national treasure.
Shaolin Temple, in the “Center of Heaven & Earth,” was proclaimed a World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO, August 1, 2010

Gilded statues of Buddhas and Bodhidharma..

Left: Scripture Hall, also called the Sermon Hall, for storing classic Buddhist scriptures and preaching Buddhism.
It also houses a 16.5-ton white jade lying Buddha (below).
Right: Fusion of Three Teachings and Nine Schools Stele, inscribed in 1565 AD.
Three Teachings refer to Buddhism, Confucianism and Daoism. Nine Schools refer to nine schools of thought.
These teachings and schools of thought have profound influences on Chinese society throughout history.
East (China) meets West (India) gave birth to Buddhism with Chinese characteristics
Shaolin Temple is revered as the ancestral home of Chan Buddhism that spread to the world.
Shaolin culture is ingeniously depicted in the round figure on the stele as a fusion of Three Teachings.

Luohan Mural in the Baiyi Hall, depicting Shaolin monks engages in Kung Fu training.

Left: Living Fossil, a 1,500-old ginkgo tree. As the legend goes, the holes on the tree trunk were made by Shaolin monks practicing one-fingered Chan.

Pagoda Forest is populated by 248 stone or brick pagodas built from 791 AD during the Tang Dynasty through the Song Dynasty, Yuan Dynasty, Ming Dynasty, Qing Dynasty and recent years. These pagodas were erected to commemorate the eminence and contributions of prestigious and respected Buddhists.
The Shaolin pagoda forest is the largest pagoda forest in China. It was named a National Scenic Spot in 1996.

• Majestic Songshan •

Shaolin Temple is nestled in the forest of Shaoshi Mountain on the majestic Songshan (Mount Song). China has five great mountains.
Songshan lies in the center and is hence also known as the Central Great Mountain.
The Shaolin Temple USA study group scaled the heights of Songshan to First Patriarch’s Chapel, Bodhidharma Cave and Sanhuangzhai.

Left: Stopping over at a vista point. Right: Winding trails wrap around steep cliffs leading to Sanhuangzhai.

Left & Center: First Patriarch’s Chapel. Right: Bodhidharma Cave, where the great Master meditated for nine year.

A great vista point to take in the grandeur of Songshan.

Left: Suspension bridge on the way to Sanhuangzhai. Right: Sanhuangzhai, monument commemorating three legendary pioneers of Chinese civilization.

Left: Ascending the stairs to Sanhuangzhai from one side of the mountain.
Right: The group descended from Sanhuangzhai on endless, steep stairs in walking meditation.

Chan Music Shaolin Grand Ceremony

The group was treated to an evening of Chan Music Shaolin Grand Ceremony in the VIP seating section.
On location with the majestic Songshan as backdrop, the production integrates heavenly Chan music, poetry, Shaolin Kung Fu, dance, drama and lighting effects into a visually stunning and spiritually transcendent experience.

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