What is Chan?
Chan philosophy is the drum that beats at the heart of Shaolin training. Chan is said to have originated at one of Shakyamuni Buddha's sermons where Buddha did not say a single word, but simply held up a flower. Although many of his disciples tried to understand the meaning of this, Mahakasyapa was the only one who fully understood and expressed this with a smile; the Buddha acknowledged his realization. Chan is said to be a direct transmission of the dharma outside of the sutras, passed “Mind to mind, Heart to heart” from master to disciple. This understanding was passed down directly from master to disciple for 27 generations to Prajnatara. Before Prajnatara’s death, he told his disciple Bodhidharma to travel to China. In 527AD Bodhidharma embarked on his journey and brought the teachings of Chan Buddhism to the Shaolin Temple. In China, he became known as Da Mo.
When Da Mo saw the monks of Shaolin Temple in sitting meditation for hours everyday, he realized that things were out of balance. They were exercising their minds, but their bodies were growing stiff and weak. The more uncomfortable their bodies became, the less they were able to focus their minds and properly meditate. Witnessing this, Da Mo introduced the monks to action meditation. He created the four most important sutras in Shaolin Temple's history -- Wu Xing Quan (five animal forms); Luohan Shi Ba Shou (18 Luohan palms); Yi Jin Jijng (muscle - and tendon - changing sutra); and Xi Sui Jing (bone-marrow-washing sutra).
Currently the Shaolin Temple in China no longer accepts and trains young disciples in Martial arts or Chan Buddhism, as the Temple in China operates today as a World Heritage site preserving the physical premises for tourism. The martial arts education at Chinese Kung Fu schools does not incorporate the Chan Buddhist principles brought to China 1500 years earlier by Boddhidarma. In general, there exists in China a void as the martial arts training has been split and separated from the Chan Buddhist training. Shifu Shi Yan Ming is a direct descendant of this same lineage. Today, Shifu is the last monk trained in the Shaolin tradition. Now, he has come to America to share the teachings of Chan philosophy with the rest of the world. Unless a Shaolin Temple is recreated within Shifu Shi Yan Ming's lifetime, the knowledge, history, philosophy, and traditions of Shaolin Temple will be lost forever.
(Read about the USA Shaolin Temple's Impact