The Shaolin Monastery

The Shaolin Monastery

Citation preview





The Shaolin Monastery

History, Religion, and the Chinese Martial Arts

Meir Shahar

Un i\'C rsily of H awa i'j Press I-Ionolulu

© 2008 Un h1!fsi ty of Hawai'i Press All rights resep;ed I>rintcd in the Unit ed States of America

13 12 II 10 09 08

654 3 21

Library of Con g ress Cataloging-in-Publication Da ta

Shahar, Meir. '!lIe Sh aolin monaslery: h is tory, religion , and the C hinese mart ial ans / l\'I("ir Shaltar. p. cm. Includes bibliograph ica l refe re nces and index, IS UN 978-0-8248-3 11 0-3 (a lk. pape r) I. Shao lin si ( Dc ngfeng x ia n, C hin a)-I l islo r)" 2. Martial arts-C h ina. I. Titlf'. II . Ti IIe: I I iSlory, religion, a nd I he C h inese mOl rt ial art s. UQ6345.T462S52'1752008 294.3'657095 II 8-dc22 2007032532 Uniwrs it y of 1I.h, Wmai mona steries, which probably ren ects thei r military re nown , We h a\'e seen th at historical Wmai monks did go to wa r, and thei r he rois m was mirrored in popu lar literat.ure, We turn now to the valiam monk 's t)'pica l weapon: the stafT, Lu Zhis he n , also known as the "Talloocd Monk " ( I-Iua I-Ieshang), figures in the enonnous ly popu lar no\'cI of physical heroism , H~' fer M argin (Sltwhu Z/UlfIf/) , This early Ming no\'cI del-h'es from dramatic and oral antecede nts, which can b e traced back to the Southern Song_ It is noteworthy that. e"en in

St.1. ff Legends


the earliest version s or the Slory crcle, Lu is anned with the staff" A Southe rn Song lis t o r \.opics popular among SlOI"Ylel lers classifies the "Tattooed Monk" s torr in \.he category or "Slaff" (ganbnllg) tales" IG Like 1"l uiming, Lu Zhi shen is equipped \v itli a "pro hibitio ns' knire" in addition to hi s \,'eapon or c hoice, the starr" In the ~'Iin g perio d novel, tlie latte r is cast iron and we ig hs SiXl}'-lWO jill (appmximatel )' eight)' pounds), o r rour times \.he wc ighl rccommc nded by C hc ng Zong)'ou in his Shaolin Staff ll'letltod" The starr's improbable \,'ei ght likel)' is mea nt to high light its proprietor's ex\. raordi nary stre n g lll" I ndecd, tllc tattooed mon k is so strong that lie wish es hi s st,a rrwould bc c\"e n hcavie r, as hc cx p la ins to tbc blacksmith: - Inecci a 'C han st afT' (dulli ::.IulIIg) and a ' proh ibilions' kn ire' (jiedao).sa id Lu Zhishen . - Do YOLI ha\'c allYfirSH"ai C melal ?"1 do indecd . I low hcav), a slafTa nd knirc do )'ou wa lll ? Wc' ]] make the m according to )'Our requ ircmclll s.-The stafT should bc a hundrcd jin.- ~1Ll Ch toO hcavy.- t hc smilh laughf' d . - I could make it ror }'ou . btl1 )'O u' d ne\'er bf' ablc 10 wield il. E"t'll G uangong's broadswo rd «(lao) wasn't more than c iglll}'-o nc jill!- I'm e\'f' I1' b it as good as Guangong,- Lu Zh ishe n bu rsl 0111 impati cntl )'. - llewasonlY:l man , 100."' I mean well, Rcve rcnd . E\'cn ro rt y-fi\'e jill would be \'cr)' he t\'}': - YOLL say Glia Ilgong's broadsword was cigll1 ),-one jill? Ma ke 1111

Sun Wu kong's Ring Staff Tll C magic au ribulcs of tllC r ing sta ff a rc not IK'Ccssarily relevant fOI" thc stafr's choicc as wcapon. Mo nastic wa rs wc rc probabl y concCl"llcd Wilh the dfd. I pondered il strenuously, until sudde n I)' I dreamt that two o ld men cxpla ined ilLO me. Tltereaner J dreaml abOllt lilem sCl'e rallimcs. My body grew suppler and m)' hands became livelier. ~'f )' mind grasped the subtlety of "cultivati ng qi" (/iallqi) . When J reached twenty-eight. because I had repeatdl)' taken the licentiat.e exa ms and fai led, I left Ilome and looked for success els(~


Fist Fighling and Self-Cult ivalion

where. Ilowe\'e r. on se\'eral occasions I sulTered illness and was oblig(~ d t.O reulm. Thereafter I dedicat ed myself LO the pract ice of Lhe manial arts. I wandered alt over the Yang tze and I luai river basins, the coastal region s. and the South. I encoulllcred numerous peo