Life is So Beautiful That We Can Not Waste It – Listin Diario

July 28, 2011

Mary Grace Valdez
Santo Domingo
Artículo original en español

Shi Yan Ming is a warrior monk of the thirty-fourth generation from the Shaolin Temple. He is also the founder and abbot of the Shaolin Temple in the United States.

He was born in Henan, China, in 1964, the Year of the Dragon. He comes from a large family, but lost two brothers and a sister during the “Great Leap Forward” period of great change in the social, economic and political China, where a great famine gripped the nation and took the lives of these relatives.

He currently has three brothers and one sister. At three years old, suffered a near-fatal illness that forced his parents to sell all of their possessions to pay doctors to try to save his life. The medicine did not seem to have any effect, and two years later took the young Shi Yan Ming to a Buddhist temple-belief that the family practiced, because they came to the point of believing that only the Buddha would save him. This proved to be the Shaolin Temple, which became his home for about 20 years, until in 1992 he was invited along with his brother monks to go to the United States to demonstrate the martial arts and philosophy practiced in China. At the end of the tour, decided to stay in the country to spread this knowledge to help more people and help the world. It has since opened offices in Mexico City, Vienna, Austria, Johannesburg, South Africa, Trinidad, Chile and Argentina.

How has growing up in the Shaolin Temple changed your lifestyle?

From that day when I entered the Temple, my life has been blessed. I have never been sick. Understand that every day is Christmas, everyday is New Year’s.

What’s the purpose of Shaolin Temple?

Shaolin Temple is unique among Buddhist Temples around the world. Only Shaolin Temple monks are allowed to practice martial arts. Life is living. Life is exercising. Life is just like a sharp blade, if you don’t use it, naturally it will become rusty. That is why I started a Shaolin Temple in the US in 1994. That is also why I started USA Shaolin Temple Branches in different continents around the world.

Did you have to take certain vows when you entered the Temple?

Yes I did. But I have my own vows. Respect yourself, everybody will respect you. Understand yourself, everybody 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.

Why not the celibacy vow?

It’s very important to be yourself. Be honest with yourself. Don’t cheat yourself. Truly live life. If you’re a monk, you’re still human. If you want to have a girlfriend, or a wife, please move forward. Don’t hide in the closet.

Did you have a routine while in the Temple?

Yes, we woke up at 4:30am, then practiced action meditation for two hours. Breakfast was from 6:30 to 7. From 7 to 8 we would do personal things and relax. We would train again from 8 to 11:30. From 11:30 to noon we ate lunch. After 1982, especially after the Shaolin Temple movie came out, more people from around the world visited the Shaolin Temple. We had to take turns working shifts. 8 to 11:30 was work time for some brothers. From 12 to 1 we would relax. From 1 to 5:30 was work time for some brothers and training time for others. We all ate dinner from 6:30 to 7 pm, then relax until 8. We would train again from 8 to 10 and then go to bed.

Do you still have a routine even though you travel a lot? What is it?

I do have my routine. That is why I teach my disciples, students, and followers, understand yourself, other people can understand you. Discipline yourself, master yourself. Don’t start to make excuses in life. “Oh, I have no time to train.” Do you have time to eat food? Do you have time to use the toilet? Life is living. Life is exercising. Stay with it.

What’s the best knowledge you acquired in the Temple?

The best knowledge I acquired is that when I practice my physical training, or Shaolin temple martial arts, I practice Shaolin Temple philosophy as well.

When did you decide to spread the martial arts you knew to the United States and why?

I decided to stay in the States after performing here in 1992. In the 20th century, I saw a lot of people who needed help. They were hungry or thirsty about philosophy, about physical training. That is why I decided to choose NYC, the capital of the world, to spread the Shaolin Temple martial arts or Chan Philosophy to the entire planet.

Everybody needs help, more or less. Especially in the 21st century, fast living, in the modern world, with technology, a lot of people have no time to exercise and they work a lot, sitting in front of a computer, also driving and flying all the time, taking the train, not enough physical training. That is why I published my book, and am soon going to teach people online, how to exercise their life anywhere and everywhere.

How would you describe the Shaolin Philosophy?

Chan Quan Yi Ti. Quan literally means fist, but signifies martial arts. Chan means Chan Buddhism or Chan philosophy. When you stretch your body as well as stretch your mind, when you strike, extend your physical as well as extend your mind. That is why I try to invite people to jump in, “Try it, do it!” from doing it you learn it, you understand while I say that.

What does it mean to be a Shaolin Monk? What kind of responsibilities do you have?

To be a Shaolin Temple Monk, understand that when you practice Shaolin Temple martial arts, you are practicing shaolin temple philosophy. You cannot do one without the other one. Because they are one and the same.

My responsibility is straightforward – sending messages to people around the world to let them realize that life is so beautiful, we just cannot afford to waste it. Challenge yourself, encourage yourself, be honest with yourself, express yourself 100%. People come to me, I must take the responsibilities to earn their respect to me and love for me. Not only do I physically train them and philosophically train them at the same time, but also train their lives, let them learn how to cherish their lives, be proud to live life.

Can you explain how will you address the seminar in Dominican Republic? What kind of activities will you share with the attendants and what is their meaning?

I teach my disciples, my students, my followers, sharpen your life. There are many ways you can benefit by my physical teaching or philosophy teaching.

I’ve heard many wonderful things about how beautiful the Dominican Republic is. I can’t wait to visit and to meet more people to build more relations and to plant the seed of Shaolin for the beautiful nation.

I’m going to share or spread the Shaolin Temple martial arts or Shaolin Temple Chan philosophy in many ways. There is no limit to share the wonderful things with everybody.