Surrounded by thousands of devout followers of the Buddha, the eminent monks – led by the Venerable Dharma Master Jing Hui – each mounted the mandala-platform in turn. The Venerable Jing Hui was followed by Cambodia’s Great Sangharaja Bugeli, and then Thailand’s head of the Supreme Sangha Council – the Venerable Phraphrommethee – followed by the other eminent elders and dignitaries, all following the old monk Jing Hui’s directions.
‘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.’