Shaolin Monks diet - what is it?

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Shaolin Monks diet - what is it?

Postby padma norbu » Wed Nov 06, 2013 5:56 pm

I sent a letter to one of the Shaolin monks once to ask specifically what they eat because they are obviously healthy and strong while maintaining a vegetarian diet. I could find no specifics online besides "vegetarian." Unfortunately person I emailed said that he is of the particular class of Shaolin monk who has been given permission to eat meat and that he does eat meat. So, he was no help.

I would like to know the specifics, not just generally that they eat rice, buns and steamed vegetables. That much I know already. I want to know what the exact vegetables are and what quantities of everything, etc. They need to be getting a certain amount of protein and amino acids to keep their bodies healthy with all that physical activity.
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Re: Shaolin Monks diet - what is it?

Postby dzogchungpa » Wed Nov 06, 2013 6:10 pm

A quick search turned up this: http://www.kungfumagazine.com/ezine/article.php?article=521
but I haven't read it yet. Shahar is the author of this book: http://www.amazon.com/The-Shaolin-Monastery-History-Religion/dp/082483349X
so I think he probably knows what he's talking about.
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Re: Shaolin Monks diet - what is it?

Postby padma norbu » Wed Nov 06, 2013 7:00 pm

I have my doubts that the book will cover what I am looking for. I am interested in a day in/day out precise meal plan. They eat the same thing every day, so it shouldn't be too hard... and yet it is difficult to find anything precise. I see quite a lot of variation, actually, in different general overviews I find online.
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Re: Shaolin Monks diet - what is it?

Postby dzogchungpa » Wed Nov 06, 2013 7:07 pm

From the article:
In a series of essays published in the California-based magazine KUNG FU TAI CHI, Gene Ching has unraveled the complexities of the Shaolin community. The title "Shaolin Monk" has been assumed by practitioners so divers that it stretches our very understanding of Buddhist monasticism. The Shaolin fraternity includes at least four disciple-types: At the core stand Buddhist-ordained clerics who reside in the historical monastery itself. Then there is the much larger category of Shaolin-ordained monks, who having graduated from the monastery's martial program, left it to pursue an itinerant military career, often opening their own "Shaolin" martial-art schools. A third "Shaolin-monk" group is made of professional martial artists, who have never been ordained as Buddhist clerics, but nevertheless - since they belong to the monastery's performing company - don monastic robes. Sometimes dubbed "fake monks" or "performance monks," these martial artists have been assigned their stage roles by Shaolin's abbot. Finally, there is the vast category of lay disciples (sujia dizi): accomplished martial artists who have been trained at the monastery, but have never been ordained as - nor do they presume to be - Buddhist clerics. Many of the latter were born in the monastery's vicinity of Dengfeng County, and their families have been practicing Shaolin fighting for generations. Indeed, some of the greatest masters of the Shaolin fighting-style are lay practitioners such as Liang Yiquan(b. 1931) and Liu Baoshan (b. 1931).

As to Buddhist dietary laws, they are kept by the first type of Shaolin-residing clerics only. Meat is not served in today's Shaolin Temple, and Buddhist monks who live inside the monastery adhere to a vegetarian diet. By contrast, most other "Shaolin monks" are openly carnivorous. It is not surprising, perhaps, that the monastery's "performing monks" consume meat, just as lay disciples do. It is striking, though, that ordained martial-monks do so as well. Most of those fighting monks who have left the monastery to open private schools do eat meat. These tough martial artists continue to present themselves as monks, donning Buddhist uniforms, all the while consuming animal flesh. Indeed they give the impression that carnivorousness is an integral element of the martial monk's (wuseng) ethos. When interviewed about their dietary habits, they explain that Shaolin fighting monks have always consumed meat, sometimes citing the legend celebrated in the film SHAOLIN TEMPLE, according to which it was Emperor Li Shimin who absolved the monks of vegetarianism. Indeed, it is hard to know whether this novel apology for carnivorousness preceded the movie, or originated with it.
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Re: Shaolin Monks diet - what is it?

Postby padma norbu » Wed Nov 06, 2013 7:18 pm

dzogchungpa wrote:From the article:
In a series of essays published in the California-based magazine KUNG FU TAI CHI, Gene Ching has unraveled the complexities of the Shaolin community. The title "Shaolin Monk" has been assumed by practitioners so divers that it stretches our very understanding of Buddhist monasticism. The Shaolin fraternity includes at least four disciple-types: At the core stand Buddhist-ordained clerics who reside in the historical monastery itself. Then there is the much larger category of Shaolin-ordained monks, who having graduated from the monastery's martial program, left it to pursue an itinerant military career, often opening their own "Shaolin" martial-art schools. A third "Shaolin-monk" group is made of professional martial artists, who have never been ordained as Buddhist clerics, but nevertheless - since they belong to the monastery's performing company - don monastic robes. Sometimes dubbed "fake monks" or "performance monks," these martial artists have been assigned their stage roles by Shaolin's abbot. Finally, there is the vast category of lay disciples (sujia dizi): accomplished martial artists who have been trained at the monastery, but have never been ordained as - nor do they presume to be - Buddhist clerics. Many of the latter were born in the monastery's vicinity of Dengfeng County, and their families have been practicing Shaolin fighting for generations. Indeed, some of the greatest masters of the Shaolin fighting-style are lay practitioners such as Liang Yiquan(b. 1931) and Liu Baoshan (b. 1931).

As to Buddhist dietary laws, they are kept by the first type of Shaolin-residing clerics only. Meat is not served in today's Shaolin Temple, and Buddhist monks who live inside the monastery adhere to a vegetarian diet. By contrast, most other "Shaolin monks" are openly carnivorous. It is not surprising, perhaps, that the monastery's "performing monks" consume meat, just as lay disciples do. It is striking, though, that ordained martial-monks do so as well. Most of those fighting monks who have left the monastery to open private schools do eat meat. These tough martial artists continue to present themselves as monks, donning Buddhist uniforms, all the while consuming animal flesh. Indeed they give the impression that carnivorousness is an integral element of the martial monk's (wuseng) ethos. When interviewed about their dietary habits, they explain that Shaolin fighting monks have always consumed meat, sometimes citing the legend celebrated in the film SHAOLIN TEMPLE, according to which it was Emperor Li Shimin who absolved the monks of vegetarianism. Indeed, it is hard to know whether this novel apology for carnivorousness preceded the movie, or originated with it.


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Re: Shaolin Monks diet - what is it?

Postby dzogchungpa » Wed Nov 06, 2013 7:32 pm

I will watch that later. What is the source of that video? Does it contradict what Shahar says?
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Re: Shaolin Monks diet - what is it?

Postby LastLegend » Wed Nov 06, 2013 7:55 pm

Maybe diet is a small part of it. Maybe their practice?
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Re: Shaolin Monks diet - what is it?

Postby Lindama » Wed Nov 06, 2013 8:05 pm

Don't know specifics... I learned a form of chi gong which has lineage back to Shaolin and Lin Chi called Tian Gong. As the story goes, Bodhidharma taught the monks tian gong as a healing because they were all half dead from their austere practices. (don't know how Bodhi and Lin Chi fit together) There is a practice in that form designed to reduce the need for food. ofc, you need to have full mastery, the form they taught us did not go to that extreme. Seemed to me that there was a fair amount of dilution, the student teachers did not go beyond the form although the master had advanced powers. it's the story I heard...
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Re: Shaolin Monks diet - what is it?

Postby padma norbu » Wed Nov 06, 2013 8:49 pm

dzogchungpa wrote:I will watch that later. What is the source of that video? Does it contradict what Shahar says?


It shows them in line for their vegetarian meal and shows the meal of steamed vegetables and buns and says how they have a strict vegetarian diet. Haven't watched it in a while, don't know the source. EDIT: It's a National Geographic Documentary http://kickass.to/national-geographic-d ... 29578.html Not looking for a debate or a history lesson, as I think it's incontrovertible that some Shaolin monks are vegetarians and that is precisely the diet I would like to know the specifics about.
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Re: Shaolin Monks diet - what is it?

Postby padma norbu » Wed Nov 06, 2013 8:53 pm

LastLegend wrote:Maybe diet is a small part of it. Maybe their practice?

Lindama wrote:Don't know specifics... I learned a form of chi gong which has lineage back to Shaolin and Lin Chi called Tian Gong. As the story goes, Bodhidharma taught the monks tian gong as a healing because they were all half dead from their austere practices. (don't know how Bodhi and Lin Chi fit together) There is a practice in that form designed to reduce the need for food. ofc, you need to have full mastery, the form they taught us did not go to that extreme. Seemed to me that there was a fair amount of dilution, the student teachers did not go beyond the form although the master had advanced powers. it's the story I heard...


Hmm... I totally forgot that their practices might be a key part of why they can live on rice, buns and what looks like a meager amount of steamed vegetable soup. If some meditators can extract nutrition by holding a pebble under their tongue (which is supposedly a real thing), then it is probably likely that the exercises include some chi-building exercises that really go a long way toward overall health on a diet that would make regular joes very unhealthy after a while.
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Re: Shaolin Monks diet - what is it?

Postby dzogchungpa » Wed Nov 06, 2013 9:55 pm

padma norbu wrote:I think it's incontrovertible that some Shaolin monks are vegetarians and that is precisely the diet I would like to know the specifics about.

OK, but allow me to make some observations. According to the video, those children are "secular disciples", not "martial monks" or actual monks. The video does indeed say that "secular disciples" and "martial monks" are vegetarians, but based on what Shahar says, I'm not sure that that is correct. If you want to know what the actual monks eat, you can presumably email the monastery. Furthermore Shahar's book is more recent than that video, and I think Shahar is more likely to have his facts straight.
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Re: Shaolin Monks diet - what is it?

Postby padma norbu » Wed Nov 06, 2013 10:37 pm

dzogchungpa wrote:
padma norbu wrote:I think it's incontrovertible that some Shaolin monks are vegetarians and that is precisely the diet I would like to know the specifics about.

OK, but allow me to make some observations. According to the video, those children are "secular disciples", not "martial monks" or actual monks. The video does indeed say that "secular disciples" and "martial monks" are vegetarians, but based on what Shahar says, I'm not sure that that is correct. If you want to know what the actual monks eat, you can presumably email the monastery. Furthermore Shahar's book is more recent than that video, and I think Shahar is more likely to have his facts straight.


I already did this research, thanks.
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Re: Shaolin Monks diet - what is it?

Postby Alfredo » Fri Nov 08, 2013 12:40 pm

Grasshopper. That's the secret ingredient! (Going by memory here...)
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Re: Shaolin Monks diet - what is it?

Postby padma norbu » Fri Nov 08, 2013 3:00 pm

lol

I think it's going to remain a secret. Every Shaolin monk I approach online says the same thing, essentially: "yes they are vegetarian, but I have been given permission to eat meat as the fighter class (or whatever)." And then, the vegetarian information just says they are "vegetarian".

For example:

"The monks of Shaolin Temple strictly observe Buddhist commandments and monastic rules such as keeping single, taking vegetarian diet, dressing Buddhist clothes and living in the temple which formed the characteristic Shaolin tradition. Shaolin monks adopt the method which is the unity of Chan meditation practicing, Kungfu practicing and abstinence practicing as well as praying to Buddha to do self-cultivation.” Ven. Abbot Yongxin said.
http://www.shaolin.org.cn/templates/EN_ ... ntid=10225

And:

"Dejian and his disciples tend small groves of bamboo and terraced plots of vegetables and herbs. They adhere to a vegetarian diet and harvest wildflowers, mosses, and roots to make medicines for everything from insect bites to liver problems. People come from all over China seeking advice for various ailments. Usually they want treatment only for symptoms, says Dejian, but "Chan Wu Yi treats the whole person. When the person is healthy, the symptoms disappear."
His habit is to rise at 3 a.m., first meditating, then practicing breathing techniques designed to strengthen the chi. There was a time when he would spend six hours or more practicing traditional kung fu forms every day, but now he is pulled by some of the same modern forces that are reshaping the Shaolin Temple. Responding to requests to lecture, raising money to finish the construction, training his disciples, and of course attending to the stream of visitors—all compete for his attention and energy."
http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/ ... win-text/2

^^^ Okay, that's a little more informative in that it lists some specifically unusual items like wildflowers and mosses, but not really anything terribly useful. The next paragraph or so explains that he is constantly working with his body and energy all day long, so I think the secret is in the practices and not the food.

So,there are the Shaolin Temple disciple monks who are vegetarian, celibate and the warrior monks who eat meat and drink alcohol. And that's about all I'm going to learn about that!
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Re: Shaolin Monks diet - what is it?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Fri Nov 08, 2013 6:51 pm

The whole Shaolin thing is a Chinese tourist industry scam. Of the thousands of apparent monks (training and ) living on Mt Song only a handful are actually monks, the rest are just martial artists, acrobats and undercover security forces (cops) dressed up as monks. It's a tourist magnet for starry eyed western martial artists.

The temple complex was destroyed in 1647 or 1732 (depending whose account you wish to take as true) and the surviving monks were forced to flee. In 1928 what was left of the complex was razed by the warlord Shi Yousan. In 1966 red guards rounded up a few monks that were living there and destroyed what was left of the library contents. So "what is the Shaolin monks diet" is a void question since, essentially, they are not actually monks and the VERY few that are monks basically follow the Mahayana Vinaya in regards to their diet.
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Re: Shaolin Monks diet - what is it?

Postby padma norbu » Fri Nov 08, 2013 7:07 pm

SD, I hear where you're coming from, but essentially you're calling the two people in the articles I just linked above liars and I'm willing to believe them. I'm not sure why you wouldn't since it is pretty open that the other monks eat meat, tourist industry or not.
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Re: Shaolin Monks diet - what is it?

Postby daverupa » Fri Nov 08, 2013 10:55 pm

Me: The Shaolin Monks don't eat meat but have boundless energy. What do you they eat for protein?

Bo: Their protein comes from beans, tofu, milk and nuts.

Me: What is the daily schedule for the monks growing up at the temple?

Bo: A typical daily schedule, including the vegetarian diet served at each meal, is up at 5:30 a.m., chanting; 6 a.m. breakfast, which consists of a soup made of beans called eight treasures; then more chanting and a half-hour break, followed by two hours of kung fu training. During training, the monks switch what form or style they are practicing every 10 minutes. After practice, more chanting until at 11:30 a.m., lunchtime, which consists of five to six different vegetables, tofu and rice. We do not drink tea or liquids with our meals to aid in easy digestion. Lunch finishes at approximately 12:30. Now it is back to chanting, then comes a two-hour break. During this time the monks may meditate, relax or nap. At approximately 3:00 p.m., another two-hour kung fu practice session begins. This wraps up at 5 p.m. There is no chanting before dinner out of respect for the dead. At 5:30 p.m., noodles are served for dinner, with bread -- the breads we eat are black or yellow wheat; 6:30 p.m., Heart Sutra chanting for one hour -- we call the heart the center of the Universe; 8 p.m., quiet time for meditation; 10 p.m., bedtime.


source
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Re: Shaolin Monks diet - what is it?

Postby Alfredo » Sat Nov 09, 2013 2:50 am

The interviewees might be telling the truth, based on what they know, but this doesn't mean they boast historical continuity with the 18th-century Shaolin monastic community. Anyway, it sounds like you are trying to learn if martial arts / bodybuilding is consistent with a vegetarian diet. That information ought to be available from sources other than Shaolin.

PS. Eat more Wheaties!
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