The Shaolin Monastery

The Shaolin Monastery - Alysse Johnson Monastery To Be a...

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Alysse Johnson To Be a True Buddhist or Not To Be a True Buddhist The Shaolin Monastery Monks are typically thought to be non-violent and vegetarian: “Buddhism prohibits violence. Binding the clergy and laity alike, the first of the Five Buddhist Precepts forbids killing a living being. The prohibition applies to all sentient beings, humans as well as animals”. The monks in The Shaolin Monastery by Meir Shahar are different because they commit violence by studying martial arts and they tend to be meat eaters, which is necessary to have the proper strength for their training. Even though the Shaolin Monks do not follow all Buddhist traditions perfectly, they are still considered to be true Buddhists. They justify their actions of going against the normal stereotype for a Buddhist in a variety of ways. It is debated whether Shaolin monks are true Buddhist monks, or not, because of their martial arts training and their lifestyles. “Compassionate killing” is a good defensive argument for the Shaolin monks’ war-like tendencies and martial arts training that still allows them to be true Buddhists. To defend that Shaolin monks are true Buddhist, despite their diets and their training, the types of weapons that they use can also be looked at. Another way to defend their true Buddhist nature is by using the story of how Sengchou became a martial arts master to justify their reasons for eating meat. Normally Buddhist monks are non-violent because, “Unlike Hinduism, for example, which allows for warriors to go to heaven, many Buddhist scriptures have them punished to hell. The Buddhist philosopher Vasubandhu goes as far as to argue that even if they are pressured to fight, soldiers should not do so, for it is better to die then to kill” . According to the philosopher who said this, a Buddhist monk should never harm anyone, and especially never kill anyone. This includes killing animals and eating their meat for sustenance. If they did commit a violent act, this would be considered to go against their religion and the Shaolin monks would not be considered true Buddhist monks. They should not be thought of as true Buddhists, according to
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Vasubandhu, because the Shaolin monks participated in two violent battles, and they used the martial arts that they were taught at the Monastery. However, the monks’ actions in these battles can be justified, so that they can still be considered true Buddhists. One time around 611 CE, the Shaolin monks fought off one hundred bandits and were able to use their martial arts training to defeat the bandits, with only four casualties of their own. The second battle, around 621 CE, in which the Shaolin monks used their martial arts training, was during the war for Li Shimin, future Tang emperor. Both of the times the Shaolin monks used violence it was for the greater good of everyone. “Even though the
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This note was uploaded on 11/02/2011 for the course REG 101 taught by Professor Lee during the Spring '11 term at Cardinal Stritch.

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The Shaolin Monastery - Alysse Johnson Monastery To Be a...

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