Master Ming Yi – Shaolin Temple Ch’an Weeks Retreat.

‘Meditation begins at 430am at the Shaolin Temple. This is the time that the practitioner must be sat cross legged in the meditation hall. If you want to wash your face or brush your teeth you must get up at an appropriate time before 430am. If you over-sleep, or are late for any other reason, then the monk in-charge of discipline will strike you with the xiangban (or ‘fragrant stick’). At 5am the cook-monk arranges for the meditators to be provided with salted, boiled water and ginger. The correct portion is placed in front of each meditator by the experienced workers whose duty it is to take care of the monks all day long. The ginger and boiled salted water warms the stomach and relieves pain (ginger is known to have an anti-inflammatory effect), together, this mixture calms the body and creates a comfortable physical condition that allows for concentration to be focused purely upon the empty essence of the mind itself.’

Shao Yun’s Recollections of Master Xu Yun

‘Dharma master Shao Yun was born in the Anhui province of eastern China in 1938. His family name was Huang (黄). Whilst in his school years, he developed an interest in Buddhist studies and read books upon the subject of the three treasures. At the age of around 19 years old (in 1956/57), he travelled to Yunjushan (Jiangxi), and encountered master Xu Yun living at Zhen Ru Monastery – the old master at this time was 117 years old. Xu Yun was in the midst of re-building the substantial monastic grounds, so that the holy area could re-capture some of the spiritual glories the site had held during the Tang and Song Dynasties. Master Xu Yun enquired as to why Shao Yun wanted to be a Ch’an monk – and the young man answered that he wanted to become a Buddha. Xu Yun was over-joyed to hear this response and immediately received him as a disciple and personally arranged for the ordination. Xu Yun gave him two Dharma names; the first was ‘Xuan De’ (宣德), or ‘Propagate Virtue’, and the second was ‘Shao Yun’ (绍云), or ‘Continues Speech’. Despite the country ofChinaexperiencing an ever chaotic political and cultural situation, Xu Yun had managed, through the example of spiritual power, to turn Zhen Ru into an oasis of Buddhist wisdom and peace. The impression received from reading Xu Yun’s autobiography is that through sheer strength of character, and despite the odds being stacked firmly against him, nevertheless, he managed to create Dharmically significant worlds within situations that were otherwise hopelessly lost. The young monk Shao Yun walked into one of these places, and has recently recorded his recollections of the experience of living life with master Xu Yun during his final years – in a speech given to Hong Kong Buddhists. Once Shao Yun had settled down to monastic life, and had gotten use to the life of a Ch’an monk, he eventually became Xu Yun’s attendant, watching over the old monk and assisting with the necessary every day duties that such a post entails. What follows is a translation from the original Chinese document entitled ‘绍云法师; 虚云老和尚神通示现’, or ‘Dharma Master Shao Yun; The Manifestation of the Monk Xu Yun’s Unhindered Spiritual Power’. Shao Yun describes the old monk Xu Yun in the following way;’