Shi Xing Zheng
The late Abbot Shi Xing Zheng was Shi Yan Ming’s Shigong, or Grandmaster. He entered the temple when he was 6 years old. In 1986, he became the first Abbot of the Shaolin Temple in almost 300 years, the 29th since Batuo founded the temple in 495. Abbot Xingzheng passed on in 1987. Over the years, he did many wonderful things for the temple.
In 1928, a warlord named Shi Yousan fired on and burned the temple for over 45 days. Abbot Xingzheng saved many books and sutras in the Shaolin Temple library from destruction by burying them underground. During one attack, while trying to retrieve more texts from the library, some debris hit his left eye, which he lost use of.
During the cultural revolution from 1966-1976 he worked as a farmer to make food for himself and the temple. He made and sold tofu in nearby towns to raise money to keep the temple alive. He also had to move around frequently during this time to avoid the Red Guard, and wore normal clothes.
After Mao Zedong died in 1976, Abbot Xingzheng went to Beijing numerous times to speak to the people in power. While all religions had been outlawed in the years of the revolution, he tried to change the government’s standpoint by arguing that Buddhism contained philosophy and knowledge, and was not a bad thing for the Chinese people. He spoke to them often and thus helped not only Buddhism and Daoism, but all the religions, come back to life. In 1978, the goverment opened up and said, “宗教信仰自由”, “Freedom of Religious Belief”; whatever people wanted to believe, they were free to do so.