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Title: The Shaolin Chanwuyi: A Chinese Chan Buddhism

Author: Agnes S. Chan

Publisher: Chanwuyi Publishing House Limited

Publishing Year: 2010

Book Description:

Shaolin Chanwuyi (Chan, Wushu, and Healing) is a unique Chan Buddhism branch that has been
the tradition in the Yonghuatang within the Shaolin Temple. Since it has been an inclusive
practice within the temple and was not revealed to others, the principles and authentic methods
remain unknown to many. This book, as the first introductory book of Shaolin Chanwuyi, was
written based upon the teaching of Master Shi Dejian who is the eighteenth successor of Shaolin
Chanwuyi. This book describes the history and philosophy of Shaolin Chanwuyi and explains the
methods for practicing.

The goal of Chanwuyi is to obtain enlightenment and wisdom, develop virtuous character, and
maintain good health. This is the ultimate Chan; it cannot be expressed in words. Shaolin Chan,
Wu, and Yi are united and complementary. Shaolin Wushu first focuses on training the mind,
which is the essence for perfecting Shaolin Wushu. It is only when one has become proficient in
Shaolin Wushu that can one understand the mind and body, then can improve the mental and
physical problems. By healing oneself and others, one in turn can nurture a heart of Chan. Chan,
Wu, and Yi go together; the three components are united into one thing.



Chapter One: A Brief History of Shaolin Chanwuyi -- The Legend of Yonghuatang of the Shaolin

Chinese Chan

Caodong Branch of Chan and the Shaolin Temple

The Founding of Yonghuatang of the Shaolin Temple

Contemporary Development Chanwuyi in Yonghuatang of the Shaolin Temple

Chapter Two: The Chinese Chan -- The Basis for the Chanwuyi Philosophy

Chinese Chan Buddhism

Functions of Chan

Basic Principles of Chinese Chan Buddhism

Chapter Three: Masters' Lectures on Shaolin Chanwuyi

Master Xingxing Explicates Chanwuyi (adapted from "Understanding Master Xingxing" by Mr.
Zhao Guocheng in Chinese)
Master Dejian Explicates on Chanwuyi

Chapter Four: The Succession of Chanwuyi: From Masters to Disciples

Master Xingxing and Master Dejian

My Master and Me

Chapter Five: Questions and Answers

Basic Concepts in Chanwuyi

The Chanwuyi Perspective on Wu (Martial Arts)

Chanwuyi's Perspective on Medicine

Chapter Six: Chanwuyi's Way of Living

Chapter Seven: To Purify Ones' Body Chanwuyi's Special Dietary Guidelines

Chapter Eight: Shaolin Chanwu for Beginners

Things to Note When Practicing

The Scientific Study of the Dan Tian

The Foundation of Shaolin Wushu

The Study of Dan Tian Breathing: A Brain Science Inquiry

Xinyiba -- The Highest Level of Chan Quan

Two institutions dedicated to the preservation and education of authentic Shaolin Chanwuyi

Research articles on Shaolin Chanwuyi

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The authentic Shaolin Chanwuyi is so valuable to life, but only very few people know about it!
Shaolin Chanwuyi has several functions: it can help individuals to improve their physical
problems, reduce psychological symptoms, obtain spiritual enlightenment, gain self-defense
ability, enhance cognitive function, and be wiser. One can have a better, healthier, and happier
life with Shaolin Chanwuyi.
It is unfortunate that there is some misunderstanding of Shaolin culture because the name
Shaolin has been abused by many for commercial purposes and distorted the original essence
of it. The term Shaolin Wushu has been used widely when referring to all sorts of Chinese
martial arts as an advertisement for attracting audiences. It is not so bad by itself as a
commercial activity. However, proclaiming actors or students from Martial Arts School who wear
monks outfits as Shaolin monks is very devastating to the Shaolin Temple and Shaolin Chan.
These performers have not necessarily learned Shaolin Chan nor practice Buddhist disciplines,
and their behaviors (such as drinking, eating meat, or even being involved in relationships) were
mistaken as part of the Shaolin cultures.

In tradition, the Shaolin Temple is a Buddhist temple, and the Shaolin monks live according to
Buddhism in an exclusive, serene life. They practice Wushu as a way to obtain enlightenment.
None of the Shaolin monks will act as performers to show off their Wushu. Nor do they drink,
eat meat, or engage in marital relationships. All those behaviors of someone who called himself
a Shaolin monk can be viewed as the by-product of the recent history of China. That is, the
development of most of the Chinese traditions was disrupted during the internal wars, leaving
opportunities for profit-makers who made use of the name Shaolin for commercial activities.

There are individuals who have not lived according to Shaolin tradition and were given the
opportunities to develop Shaolin culture. Thus the Shaolin Temple has been developed toward
commercial operation that is against the opinion of many senior Shaolin monks. The authentic
Shaolin Chan, which is Chanwuyi, is the essence of Shaolin culture. Because this traditional
Shaolin Chan practice is not consistent with money-making ideas and has not been emphasized
in modernized practice, the traditional Shaolin Chan has been suffocated, and those who protect
it have suffered.

Master Dejian is the senior disciple of the late Shaolin Temple Abbot Suxi, and was given the
responsibility to protect the traditional Shaolin culture. In 1996, Grandmaster Suxi, as the abbot
of Shaolin Temple, gave Master Dejian the authority to represent him to manage the Shaolin
Temple; unfortunately Grandmaster Suxis will could not be continued. In order to live up to his
promise for his masters to protect the Shaolin culture, Master Dejian has lived exclusively in
Sanhuangzhai (about four miles from the Shaolin Temple) for the past twenty years and excused
himself from the commercial operation of the modernized temple. Twenty years have passed,
and Master Dejian gradually developed Sanhuangzhai Monastery as the training ground for
Shaolin Chanwuyi.
Recently, more and more people have benefitted from the traditional Chanwuyi culture taught
by Master Dejian and begun to realize the essence of Shaolin culture. There are many individuals
whose physical and mental health has improved as a result of learning the Chanwuyi theory. In
return to Master Dejian and also to protect the authentic Chinese culture and Chan, we have
begun to reveal the traditional Chanwuyi of the Shaolin Temple to the world by writing books,
making videos, and organizing lectures and workshops. Our wish is that the authentic Shaolin
culture can be continued, and more and more people can benefit from this treasure of Chinese

Last but not least, I would like to thank Culture Homes (Elderly Centre) Ltd. in Hong Kong for
funding support.

Professor Agnes Suiyin Chan

February 28, 2010


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The Shaolin Temple was built in 495 A.D., the nineteenth year of Taihe in Northern Wei. The
Indian monk Batuo came to China from the West. Because of his deep knowledge in Buddhism,
the emperor Xiaowen believed in him and built the Shaolin Temple on Shaoshi Mountain and
invited Batuo to be the abbot. Batuo taught Theravada Buddhism in the Shaolin Temple and
passed it on to his disciples such as Huiguang and Sengchou, who continued to pass it on in the
Shaolin Temple.
Bodhidharma came to the East into China around 520 to 527 A.D. and met with Emperor Wu of
the Liang country. They did not agree upon some views on Buddhism, and Bodhidharma crossed
the river and then came to Northern Wei and settled in the mountain top next to the Shaolin
Temple. He sat facing a wall on the Five Top Peak for nine years. In the process of spreading
Buddhism, he taught disciples including Huike and Daoyu Mahayana Chan branch. In his
teaching, Bodhidharma did not rely on written text, but emphasized observing the wall to train
the self. He advocated that studying the scriptures should be the basis of Chan, but did not agree
on chanting scripture endlessly.

Bronze statue of Bodhidharma

The act of facing the wall is the realization of combining theory and self-understanding (i.e., to
apply Buddhist principles in everyday practice). Bodhidharma believed that if a person can let go
of love and hate, sadness and happiness, greed and cravings, and live every day naturally and
enjoy whatever may happen instead of worrying and complaining, s/he has entered the Buddhist
Way. Bodhidharma was respected as the founder of the Chan branch, and the Shaolin Temple
has become the founding temple of the Chan branch.
After that, Bodhidharma passed on his teachings to his descendant and he to following
generations of descendants on a one-on-one basis, through only verbal teaching and leaving
behind no documents. Bodhidharma passed on his teachings to Huike. After being the second
grandmaster of Chinese Chan, Huike left Songshan (in the northern part of China) and went to
Shuzhou (nowadays Anhui that is toward the center of China). Huike passed on to Sengcan, and
Sengcan to Daoxin. Daoxin stayed in Qizhou (nowadays Hubei, which is in the northeastern part
of China), and passed on the teachings to Hongren. The fifth grandmaster, Hongren, passed on to
Huineng who was the sixth grandmaster of Chinese Chan. Huineng was the only grandmaster
who moved to the southern part of China and spread the Chinese Chan there. In sum, the
succession of the first to sixth grandmasters of Chinese Chan was one-to-one.

The Succession of the Six Grandmasters of Chinese Chan Buddhism:

Bodhidharma -- Huike -- Sengcan -- Daoxin -- Hongren -- Huineng

But after Huineng, the passing on of the teachings was no longer one-on-one, but one-on-many.
Huineng had more than forty disciples, and the famous ones included Xingsi, Huairang, and
Shenhui. A branch was established from the southern mountains, called Weiyang, and then
came the branch Linji. The followers of Xingsi were broken down into three schools: Caodong
school, Yunmen school, and Fayan school. The two branches had thus broken down into five
schools. In addition, Huanglong and Yangqi were two schools that were formed from the Linji
branch. Thus a total of five branches and seven schools were developed. All of these flourished
for a while, but only the Linji and Caodong schools were able to continue up to the present day.
In sum, the Chan branch in China started in the Shaolin Temple around the time of the North-
South period. However, the grandmasters did not stay confined to the Shaolin Temple, but
moved around China to spread the Chan philosophy. And after the sixth grandmaster, further
developments were made into the different schools of today.

The sixth grandmaster, Huineng, introduced a radical reformation to Chan Buddhism and
advocated simple and direct epiphany. Although he was not against the scriptures, he advocated
freedom from names and formalities. He believed that Chan practice should not be limited to
sitting practice; he once said, "If a person sits with an empty mind, this person is not worth
speaking to." He advocated that Chan be experienced through walking, living, sitting, and lying
down. Huineng had a quiet disposition and deep wisdom. His theory of direct epiphany resulted
in a significant change in Chinese Buddhism. From them on, Chan Buddhism was known for its
non-use of words and language, its limiting of Buddhism to those in the religion, and pointing
directly to the heart of individuals. The ideology of becoming Buddha through self-
understanding has lived to this day.

Although Chan Buddhism was founded by Bodhidharma after he sat facing the wall for nine
years on the Five Top Peak, its development over 1,500 years in China resulted in the blending of
Chinese Confucius, Taoist, and traditional cultural values into Chan Buddhism and forms a huge
system of Chinese philosophy. Shaolin is founded on Chan. Apart from promoting Chan to the
world, Shaolin also teaches the world Wu (martial arts) and health-promoting practices. Since
the establishment of the Shaolin Monastery by Master Batuo, there have been Shaolin monks
who were very knowledgeable in Yi (medicine), and some who were good at Wu.

Although Chan Buddhism was founded by Bodhidharma within the area of the Shaolin Temple,
Chan Buddhism did not develop continuously in the Shaolin Temple. Bodhidharma's successor
had established the temple and monastery outside Henan and in different parts of China. Chan
Buddhism returned to the Shaolin Temple in the Tang Dynasty. During the Tang Dynasty, Shaolin
monks were honored by Emperor Li Shimin for helping to stop a civil uprising. Since then, Shaolin
monks were supported and respected by emperors in the Tang and enjoyed a flourishing

At that time, Grandmaster Faru, who was the disciple of the fifth grandmaster, Hongren, and
who lived in the Shaolin Temple for six years, preaching Chan Buddhism for three years, was
honored as the head of the northern branches of Chan and as the sixth grandmaster by some.
He introduced the teaching of the fifth master to Shaolin Temple and established the Chan
Buddhism teaching foundation in the Shaolin Temple that had great influence in the late
development of Shaolin Chan's philosophy. After Faru, the Shaolin Temple continuously had
outstanding Chan masters including Masters Weikuan of the mid-Tang Dynasty, Huichu of the
Northern Song Dynasty, and Jiaoheng, Zhilong, Rufeng in the Jin Dynasty, and Fuan in the Yuan

After hundreds of years of development from the Tong to Yuan dynasties, Chan Buddhism has
gradually become the philosophy and principles of the Shaolin Temple. However, it was the
renowned master Fuyu, abbot of the Shaolin Temple, who formalized the Caodong school and
became the principal in the Shaolin Temple. Master Fuyu lived in the early Yuan Dynasty and
learnt under Caodong grandmaster Wansong. In the year Yisi, the Yuan emperor Shizu named
Master Fuyu abbot of the Shaolin Temple and later honored him as head of the province of
monks to be leader of all Buddhist sectors and the Chan branch. When Master Fuyu was abbot
of the Shaolin Temple, he restored the war-damaged temple, created the seventy-word Shaolin
Shi-lineage, and promoted the Shaolin tradition of practicing Chan through Wushu. He not only
founded the Caodong School in the Shaolin Temple, but also pushed Shaolin to its summit. He
was thus honored as a significant grandmaster of Shaolin.

(Source from "The Shaolin Chanwuyi: A Chinese Chan Buddhism", Ch.1)

Chan is the transliteration from the Sanskrit word Dhyana, meaning "think in quietude,"
"repairing the thoughts." This means deliberating in quietude, to be concentrated, to reflect on
the philosophy of Buddhism. "Chan" used to be an ancient Indian religious practice and is
particularly important in the daily living and philosophy of Buddhism. Chan is one form of
quietude. In Chinese Buddhism, Chan is frequently combined with quietude to become "Chan
quietude" and has a more encompassing meaning. Its aim is to expel internal interference and
external attractions through quieting the body and concentrating, to focus one's thoughts on
some specific objects, and to think and reflect using Buddhist theories, in order to achieve the
aim of killing worries and evil and turning stupidity into wisdom so that one can be spiritually
liberated. The branch of Chan is one of China's eight Buddhism branches (Tiantai branch, Sanlun
branch, Faxiang branch, Lu branch, Jingtu branch, Huayan branch, Chan branch, and Mi branch)
and has its own unique ethnic characteristics.

(Source from "The Shaolin Chanwuyi: A Chinese Chan Buddhism", Ch.1)

In the Ming Dynasty, the Caodong master Wuyan was honored by the emperor himself to
become the abbot of the Shaolin Temple and founded the Yonghuatang. Wuyan Zhengdao
(1547-1623) had his origin in Jiangxi Hongdu, with the secular surname of Hu. He was born in
the year Dingwei of the reign of Jiajing in the Ming Dynasty. He was very proficient in Chan
Buddhism, Wushu, and medicine, and enjoyed very high honors in society. During the reign of
Wanli, he first came to the Shaolin Temple and learnt under Master Huanxiu. Among the
hundreds of Huanxiu's disciples, he was the most outstanding, and he achieved the highest level.
After Master Huanxiu passed away, Master Zhengdao was elected Shaolin abbot by the
government official of the City of Dengfeng and the Shaolin monks.

In the twentieth year of the reign of Wanli in the Ming Dynasty, he was honored by the emperor
to become the twenty-sixth abbot of the Shaolin Temple. At that time, Master Zhengdao had
eight princes as disciples, including Yuanbao, Yuanhui, Yuanlin, Yuanxing, Yuanxi, Yuanming,
Yuanliang, and Yuanpu. Following these eight disciples to the Shaolin Temple were physicians of
the emperor, scholars, and people highly proficient in Wushu. The assembling of such talents in
the Shaolin Temple provided the golden opportunity for the Shaolin Chanwuyi culture to

This period was the most flourishing for Shaolin, and it was highly respected by the
contemporary ruling class. Many famous government officials and scholars spent time retreating
in Shaolin. During their stay in Shaolin, while they learnt Buddhism from Shaolin, they
contributed to Shaolin their knowledge in medicine, martial arts, painting, Confucianism, the
philosophies of Laozi and Zhuangzi, and even Taoism. The Shaolin culture evolved out of this
special amalgamation of different philosophies and culture. Master Zhengdao was abbot of the
Shaolin Temple for thirty-one years. He restored the temple, disciplined the monks, and
promoted Chan practice. He was not only the Shaolin abbot, but also the head of the northern
schools of Chan and was honored as the "the great monk." During his service at the Shaolin
Temple, the Shaolin Chan practice, Wushu, and medicine flourished as never before, and this
was the highest point of development in Yonghuatang.

The development of the Yonghuatang went on from the early Ming Dynasty to the end of the
Qing Dynasty. It should be noted that the Shaolin Temple used to be divided into four
courts/branches, namely east, west, north, and south branches (it is like the different schools
within a university) and each branch had their own emphasis and varied in training methods.
Since the period of Zhengdao, the south branch that was the home basis of Yonghuatang led the
development of the Shaolin Temple and was the major principle of the Shaolin Temple. However,
the Yonghuatang in the Shaolin Temple was totally destroyed during war time and does not exist
in the Shaolin Temple nowadays.
The ruin of the Yonghuatang in the present Shaolin Temple

(Source from "The Shaolin Chanwuyi: A Chinese Chan Buddhism", Ch.1)

The flourishing period of the Shaolin Temple ended with the late Qing Dynasty. From the late
Qing to the Cultural Revolution period, the Shaolin Temple had been faced with persecution and
destruction, and Shaolin Wushu and culture almost became extinct. Since mid-Qing during the
Kangxi period, the civil force to overthrow the Qing and re-establish the Ming Dynasty was
becoming stronger, and civil organizations used Shaolin Wushu to fight against the Qing
government. This led the Qing government to weaken and control the Shaolin Temple. According
to the "Rebuilding of the Ciyun Temple Monument" by Zhang Enming of the Qing period, the
temple was "overgrown with tall grass, and neither the religion nor the disciples were to be
seen." This was a vivid description of the Shaolin Temple at that time.

During the Yongzheng and Qianlong years, as there were increasing civil uses of Shaolin Wushu
to fight the Qing government, the government even considered Shaolin Wushu monks members
of "evil religions." In the fifth year of Qianlong, the Henan official Ya Ertu submitted a document
to the emperor, stating that "......such as Shaolin monks, who, in the name of teaching Wushu,
have been gathering gangsters and outlaws. These evil religions are luring people to join them,
to increase their strength." Although they were suppressed by the Qing government, Shaolin
monks never stopped practicing Wushu. But to avoid attracting government attention, they
turned their practice underground.

The Thousand Buddha Hall, which was once the hall for housing idols and scriptures where
Wushu practice was prohibited, became the secret night-time Wushu practice ground for Shaolin
monks. One can now see forty-eight footprints embedded on the floor. These are the marks left
by Shaolin monks practicing Xinyiba during the Qing period. Apart from the Thousand Buddha
Hall, the lower annex to the Shaolin Temple also became a secret Wushu practicing ground for
monks. Because of Qing government persecution, many Shaolin monks escaped from the Shaolin
Temple into the mountains to practice Wushu.

In the late Qing Dynasty, due to social instability, the development of Chanwuyi in Yonghuatang
of the Shaolin Temple had come to a halt. During the eighth year of the reign of Emperor
Daoguang (1828), the Manqing aristocrat Linqing visited Shaolin and expressed his wish to see
the renowned Shaolin Wushu from Shaolin monks. Although unwilling, the abbot had to
entertain him. Linqing, after viewing the monks' performance, was very impressed. Master
Zhanfeng was worried that the government would persecute them and thus ordered the monks
who practiced Wushu to all flee the monastery and live secretly in the hills to continue their
Wushu practice. Among them were Master Haifa (the thirteenth master of Chanwuyi of
Yonghuatang) and his disciple Zhanmo (the fourteenth master of Chanwuyi of Yonghuatang),
who went to live in the lower monastery of the Shaolin Temple, Shigou Temple, and continued to
practice Wushu.

Shigou Temple
It was during this time of Wu and Yi practice that Haifa and Zhanmo took in a young child as a
disciple. This five-year-old was Wu Gulun, who was named Jiqin (the fifteenth master of
Chanwuyi of Yonghuatang). Haifa and Zhanmo felt that Jiqin was pure at heart and extremely
intelligent and taught him everything that they knew, including the much cherished Xinyiba. In
order to enhance his Wushu, Master Zhanmo ordered Jiqin to return to the Shaolin Temple to
learn under his dharma brother, Master Zhanju, for eighteen years. Some time later, Jiqin's
practice drew the attention of the Qing government. Thus Zhanmo ordered Jiqin to fight his way
out of the Shaolin Monastery to be secularized in order to avoid persecution and to pass on the
treasure of Shaolin.

During the republican period (1911-1914), the Shaolin Temple suffered much destruction. During
the fights of the warlords in 1928, Warlord Fan Zhongxiu used the Shaolin Monastery as the
headquarters of his Jianguo Army. Shi Yousan set fire to the monastery, which burnt for months.
Everything was burnt to the ground, including Tianwang Hall, Daxiong Hall, and the Chan halls.
The fire also destroyed the library and everything in it, including the books of Wushu, medicine,
Buddhist scriptures, the Da Zhong Scripture, and the many medals and honors endowed by
emperors from many dynasties. After the monastery was burnt down, Shaolin monks scattered,
and Shaolin further dwindled.

During the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), all religious venues were severely destroyed, and
religious activities were suppressed. Monks were forced to return to secular life, and no religious
activities were allowed. The Shaolin Temple, like all other temples, was forced to stop all
activities. The temple became a ruin. In the book Shaolin Wushu, there is the following
description of the phenomena: "During the early 1980s, there were only thirteen old monks left
in Shaolin Temple, and Shaolin Wushu was on the brink of extinction."
Jiqin (Wu Gulun) practicing Xingyiba in the Baiyi Hall of Shaolin Temple

Although the Shaolin Temple was in ruins, the secularized Wu Gulun never relaxed in preserving
the Shaolin treasures and taught his second son, Wu Shanlin, everything he knew about the
sacred Shaolin Wushu, "Xinyiba," which he brought out of the Shaolin Monastery. Jiqin told Wu
Shanlin that he had promised to return the Chanwuyi knowledge he had brought out from
Shaolin back to the monastery. Later on, Master Zhenxu returned to the Shaolin Temple and
became the abbot. He invited Wu Shanlin to come to Shaolin to teach Wushu. This was recorded
in the book Shaolin Wushu written by Shi Yongxin: "He (Zhenxu) and the secularized master Wu
Sanlin (should be "Shanlin") organized the monks in practicing Wushu" (p. 142). Later, Master
Wu Shanlin taught Zhenxu, Dechan, Degen, and tens of others. But because he could not find a
suitable person to pass on the Xinyiba, he left the Shaolin Temple after three years.

Portrait of Master Wu Shanlin

Later, Master Chunquan, abbot of the Shaolin lower temple, recommended his favorite disciple,
Zhang Qinghe, to learn with Master Wu Shanlin, hoping that Zhang Qinghe could learn and pass
on the Shaolin Wushu treasures. From then on, Master Xingxing learnt under Master Shanlin for
twenty years, who passed to him everything he knew. He also told Zhang Qinghe to learn
everything well and to return everything to Shaolin some day. Thus, Zhang Qinghe became a
monk under Master Dechan and was ordained with the name Xingxing. From 1970 on, Master
Xingxing lived in the Shaolin Temple, on one hand to treat the sickness of Master Dechan, and on
the other to search for a suitable disciple to pass on the Shaolin Wushu treasure
Portrait of Master Xingxing

But because of the high quality Master Xingxing was looking for (he once said that to learn
Chanwuyi, one had to have a virtuous character, great perseverance, and intelligence), he never
admitted any disciple. This was until he met the young Ding Hongben and began to observe him
over many years. He felt that Ding was a simple person with a virtuous character and had ideal
physique, and thus adopted him as foster son in 1988 and taught him all about Shaolin
Chanwuyi. In 1993, in order to avoid unnecessary disputes, Master Xingxing left the Shaolin
Temple and lived as a civilian.
Master Xingxing (right) and Master Dejian (left)

Ding Hongben was ordained monk under Abbot Suxi of the Shaolin Temple and was given the
dharma name Dejian. In 1992, on the eighth day of the fourth month of the lunar calendar,
Dejian was ordained in White Horse Monastery and became a Shaolin monk. Abbot Suxi worried
that the social unrest would destroy the Shaolin culture. Thus, in 1994, he ordered Master Dejian
to live in seclusion in Sanhuangzhai in order to spend time to practice and perfect his skills and
knowledge in Chanwuyi, which he inherited from Zhang Qinghe. In order to focus on his practice,
Master Dejian has since been living in seclusion in Sanhuangzhai up to the present.

In the autumn of 2001, Zhang Qinghe felt that his disciple, Dejian, who had learned Chanwuyi for
thirteen years, had reached a successor's level and decided to pass on the lineage title to him,
hoping that he would restore these treasures to the Shaolin Temple. Zhang Qinghe invited the
then Shaolin Temple Honorable Abbot Suxi to officiate the passing on ceremony. Zhang Qinghe
handed over to the Venerable Master Suxi the lineage document that he wrote, signifying the
handing over of the Shaolin knowledge back to the Shaolin Temple. The Venerable Master Suxi
was satisfied with the efforts that his favorite disciple, Dejian, had spent on preserving the
Shaolin knowledge and culture, and handed over the lineage to Master Dejian, announcing him
the fourth grandmaster of the Wu Gulun branch. Since the time Master Zhengdao founded
Yonghuatang up to the present, Master Dejian is its eighteenth grandmaster. Bearing witness at
the ceremony was also the head monk of the Shaolin Temple, Master Yinsong, and the Secretary
for Education of the City of Dengfeng.
Master Dejian (right) and Abbot Suxi (left)

Abbot Suxi handing over the lineage document to Master Dejian

Master Xingxing passed away in 2004, and Abbot Suxi passed away in 2006. Master Dejian made
an oath to protect, continue, and spread Chanwuyi to the world. With the support of many
individuals from the public and relevant government departments, Henan Songshan Research
Institute for Chanwuyi was established in April 2005 at the Sanhuangzhai Monastery. In 2007,
the Chanwuyi Foundation was founded in Hong Kong. In recent years, Master Dejian spent most
of his time building the research institute into a research base and to restore and build a number
of halls to provide a place for Chan, Wushu, and healing practice.

After the opening and officiating ceremony of the Wuliang Hall of the Sanhuangzhai Monastery,
the construction of the research institute and the monastery were also in progress. Master
Dejian prepared a series of Chinese medicines according to Chanwuyi and made some teaching
tapes for the Shaolin tradition of Wushu. At the same time, Master Dejian also continued to
promote Shaolin Chanwuyi activities and filmed more than twenty TV documentaries. He also
collaborated with many well-known individuals in the cultural field and edited the volumes "A
Visit to Chan in Songshan: A peek into the Chan Branch of Shaolin Chanwuyi", "Swordsmanship
in Songshan", "Shaolin Chanwuyi: Theories", and "Harmony in body and mind: Master Dejian on
Shaolin Chanwuyi".
Wuliang Hall of the Sanhuangzhai Monastery

Sanhuangzhai Monastery

Master Dejian represents the eighteenth generation since the time when Master Wuyan
Zhengdao founded Yonghuatang in the Shaolin Temple during the Ming Dynasty. During this
time, the Shaolin Temple experienced many ups and downs, and Yonghuatang lost and then
regain Chanwuyi. Master Dejian inherited the wishes of the previous masters and aims to
preserve and promote the Shaolin knowledge not only to the Shaolin Temple but also to the
world. The ultimate goal is to help everyone to develop a virtuous character through Chan
practice, do charitable deeds, practice Wushu to strengthen the body, and to learn Chan healing
methods to help oneself and those who are sick.
The succession of the Shaolin Yonghuatang was reported by the Compilation Committee of Local
Chronicles of Dengfeng City. It has stated the "Succession of Shaolin Yonghuatang" as follows:

Zhengdao --> Yuanhui --> Tongli --> Xinghai --> Caoran --> Tongxi --> Xuangui--> Zushuang -->
Qingtai --> Jingdian --> Zhenchuan --> Ruxiang --> Haifa -->Zhanmo --> Jiqin (Wu Gulun) --> Wu
Shanlin --> Xingxing (Zhang Qinghe) --> Dejian

(Source from "The Shaolin Chanwuyi: A Chinese Chan Buddhism", Ch.1)

Chanwuyi is a traditional way of Chan practice and training in the Shaolin Temple within the
Yonghuatang. Although the method of Chan practice differs from other Buddhism temples or
clans, the fundamental Buddhism teaching is not different. In other words, the Shaolin Temple's
Chanwuyi has been based on the teaching of Buddha and utilized Chan martial arts (i.e., Wushu)
as a training method. The Chan branch of Buddhism focuses on transcendence, where a flicker of
time can mean eternity. It also focuses on understanding through action in order to achieve
eternal quietude from which to transcend into the spiritual realm of unity with Buddha, with
things, with the universe, and with the mind. This is a wonderful, beautiful, joyful, and mystical
spiritual world, and this is what is meant by "Chan."

The fundamental principle of Buddhism is the law of Yin Yuan (result of interactive relationship).
Buddha got enlightenment and understood that there is a law about things happening or
disappearing in the world. The law of Yin Yuan stated that an event that happens is a result of
interaction of many thoughts and actions. For instance, the reader's opportunity to read this
book is a result of many interactions of thoughts and actions. First, I needed to have a wish to
write a book and then actually did so, then someone was willing to publish it and actually did it,
then the books needed to be printed and distributed. Finally you had a wish to buy the book and
then read it. Thus what looks like simple act is a result of many wishes and actions. Once you
read this book, you may generate another wish or action such as introducing it to friends, writing
a comment about it, or forgetting about it. Thus one action led to another thought and action
that continuously revolves into new wishes and actions.

This is the law of interactive relationships. Things happen because of interactive relationships,
and things disappear also because of interactive relationships. For instance, after you read this
book and then decide to throw it away, then the previous interactive relationship may end at this
point. This is just a simplified example for understanding the result of interactive relationships.
Since humans constantly interact with nature (i.e., the world), the results of interactive
relationships become unpredictable because humans do not have the power to control natural
courses. Who can stop an earthquake? Who can stop dying? Who can stop aging? Because
nature is continuously changing and humans do not have the power to control, things happen
and disappear unpredictably. Ever-changing impermanence is another major principle of

By understanding the law of interactive relationships and ever-changing impermanence, Chan

practitioners trained themselves not to be obsessive about things and events, and not to be too
upset when bad things or unexpected things happen. When one can live at ease with whatever
may happen, one will live with peace of mind and be happy. It is the basic principle of Buddhism
and also of Chanwuyi. Knowing the theory is not difficult, but actually practicing the theory is
difficult. Thus the key point is how to train one's mind.

There is a Chinese saying that our mind is like a monkey and our thoughts are like a wild horse.
This statement means that we have a lot of thoughts and wishes that sometimes are out of our
control. Some people cannot stop buying things even though they do not need the things or do
not want to buy, but they just can't stop. Some people cannot stop thinking of a person even if
they do not want to remember the person. Some people cannot control their thinking and
always being occupied by thoughts. It is because we have not learned to control our minds and
thoughts in the conventional education system (i.e., schools and university). It became the root
of many psychological problems and/or physical illnesses. Thus the major goal and uniqueness of
Chanwuyi practice is to help individuals to control themselves, to control their emotion (Xin),
their thoughts (Yi), and their internal energy (Qi). The outcome of Chanwuyi practices, if
followed the proper way, will lead to a better mental and physical health. One can live in serenity
and obtain wisdom.

Buddhism does not believe there is creator of the world or there is a god to expiate human sin.
Buddha did not claim himself a creator of the world or god; he was a person who attained
enlightenment and realized the method to enhance oneself so that one can live happily and
healthily. He knew the methods and passed them down to human beings, but whether human
beings can attain enlightenment or not is dependent on the individual's choice (i.e., to follow his
teaching or not). Just believing in Buddha without putting in effort to improve oneself will not
improve one's life--just as if a student worships a teacher but does not study. He/she will not
obtain the knowledge. One has to acquire one's knowledge and can't depend on others to learn
for him/her.

It actually is a simple logic. A teacher knows much knowledge, and he/she is willing to teach
others. But whether students can learn the knowledge depends on if the student is willing to
learn and put forth the effort to learn. Thus a proper way is to consider Buddha as a teacher, a
doctor, and a guide rather than a god that can expiate human sin. Therefore disciples of
Chanwuyi also consider themselves as Buddha followers, but do not worship god or believe in
any superstitious activities. The traditional Chan philosophy of the Shaolin Temple advocates
self-enlightenment and self-improvement in order to live happily and healthily in the present life
and the life after.

(Source from "The Shaolin Chanwuyi: A Chinese Chan Buddhism", Ch.2)

The Chinese developed Chan, which is a blend of the Confucius virtue, the Taoist quietude, the
Buddhist emptiness, and the Chinese doctrine of the unity of the universe and self. This teaching
has a significant impact on the Chinese culture as it is a unique Chan philosophy of epiphany and
spiritual practice that has influenced Chinese values and their ways of thinking and feeling.
Understanding Chan not only is important for understanding Chinese Buddhism, but also the
development of Chinese culture between the southern and northern dynasties to the Song
dynasties since Buddhism was mostly developed during these periods. Chinese Chan Buddhism
is based upon the basic teaching of Buddha, but have modified and evolved in China. The
Chinese Chan Buddhism, after hundreds years of development, has inco-operated many
significant elements of Chinese cultures of Tao and Confucius. Thus, the Chanwuyi philosophy, as
a way of Chinese Chan Buddhism, has inco-operated some Tao's philosophy of Qi practice, some
principles of Chinese medicine on health-maintain methods, and some Confucian's idea on
family and society.

Bodhidharma came to the Shaolin Temple and became the first to preach Chan. He advocated a
simple and easy to understand approach to the spiritual practice, which was akin to the
simplicity espoused by the Chinese culture. One only needs to have a bowl (i.e., no possessions)
and to retreat into the mountains (i.e., simple life) in order to become a Buddha.

Thus the earlier Chinese Chan did not have significant influence, probably because the first to
the third grandmasters did not have a stable living condition for gathering disciples and students.
Later on, the fourth and the fifth grandmasters established monasteries and the "Forest-
system"--retreat to the mountain and live as a group and be self-sufficient. The idea of self-
sufficiency, instead of living on donation, was welcomed by the government, and thus Chan
Buddhism obtained the support of the Tang and Song emperors. The grandmasters were able to
gather hundreds of disciples and monks and established the foundation of Chinese Chan

Chan should not be mistaken as equal to sitting meditation. In the Book of Scripture of the Sixth
Grandmaster, he once said, "There were individuals who practiced sitting meditation, they
closed their eyes and blanked. Those who wish to learn Chan should not follow such kinds of
persons." This teaching is also the major principle of Shaolin Chanwuyi. That is, many people
think that Chan practice means sitting with legs crossed, focused only on the method, the
posture, and the breathing. But in fact, Chan is not just sitting blankly. Chan practice focuses on
training the mind and virtue. Chan is to persist in moral, intellectual, and spiritual practice in
everyday life, whether it is in ordinary times or in times of sorrow and confusion. In serene
calmness, the life force of the human body and of nature will become one, revealing the dignity
of life and the tranquil and unperturbed state of the universe and everything in it. In modern
society, people are under daily stress, making it difficult for life to show its dignity and serenity.
Therefore people in the modern world need Chan more than ever.
Many people who want to learn Chan often ask many questions. But Chan masters always tell
them that learning Chan is like eating lily fruit--if one has never tasted a lily fruit, no matter how
the form, the color, and the taste of it are described, one will never understand it. It has to be
tried in order to be understood. Master Dejian said that Chan is natural; it cannot be explained,
cannot be described, and cannot be revealed by words. However, it cannot be taught without
words; thus words need to be precise and to the point. Every event in life one encounters is a
lesson. That is why one has to appreciate every minute, every second. Words have to be spoken
with charm, and deeds have to be done with wisdom. Chan is when one has gained an
understanding from something in life, but does not speak it out or share it with others. Chan
cannot be explained verbally, for it can be misunderstood easily. Impermanence is the
permanent rule of life; thus just living every moment by appreciation is Chan.

(Source from "The Shaolin Chanwuyi: A Chinese Chan Buddhism", Ch.2)

According to Master Xingxing and Master Dejian, these are the following functions of Chan:

- Chan has created a large body of philosophy, and to thinkers, Chan is philosophy. To the lay
public, Chan is a form of quick fix to their emotional and physical problems. If one's heart is filled
with Chan, one will cease to crave for the ephemeral things and will not long for power and

- No matter whether one is in peaceful or tumultuous times, Chan can help one to persistently
work toward developing a virtuous character, learn, and train the mind and to fuse the breath of
life with the breath of nature under the tranquil skies, in order to reveal the utmost dignity and
value of the human soul, which can immensely enhance one's enjoyment and purpose of life.

- Chan is healthy and beautiful. All Chan masters live openly, joyfully, honestly, and heroically.
One cannot find a Chan master who is miserable, undecided, and exhausted. Those who gain the
wisdom of Chan posses a bright mind and a solemn and quiet mind.
- Chan can adjust the mind. Chan can solve psychological problems and can clean the spirit of all
dirt, bondages, blind-foldedness, tumult, obstacles, darkness, foolishness, and cravings through
self-improvement and adjustment to achieve a stable and balanced state of mind through which
one can find the real, righteous self.

- Chan is a form of health-promotion. Chan is also a training of the mind that facilitates physical
and mental health and cures one off illnesses.

(Source from "The Shaolin Chanwuyi: A Chinese Chan Buddhism", Ch.2)

Law of Cause-Effect

Master Dejian had mentioned, in the book Songshan Lunjian (in Chinese), the theory of cause
and effect. He said, "For all followers of Buddha, no matter which branch, all believe in 'deeds';
'deeds' are behavior, movement, but are not limited to external things. According to the Chan
branch of Buddhism, all phenomena in a world with feelings are expressions of a person's mind.
No matter when, everything that he has done, spoken, and thought are activities of his mind.
These activities will create some results. No matter how long it may take, these results must
occur from the 'deeds'. The 'deed' is the cause, the result is the effect."

We have to understand what is meant by cause and effect in order to understand the
importance of training the mind. Many people live their lives with rules and regulations, and
they will perform well when there are rules and supervision but will carry out bad conditions
(e.g., violate the law) if they think that no one will know about it. However, according to the law
of cause-effect, no matter what we do, what we say, or what ideas we have, this is already the
cause, and in the future, the effect will come, regardless whether other people know or do not
know about it. If the idea is a righteous idea, the effect will be beneficial; if the idea is bad, so
will the effect be. As there is a Chinese saying, "You planted melon, you will get melon. You
planted bean, you will get bean." The effects and the actions are related, and we are the ones
who will be affected by our own thoughts and actions.
If we can understand the theory of cause-effect, we can certainly develop a positive view of our
own thoughts and behavior. We are so used to performing right acts in front of others or under
supervision but do not behave properly when we are not seen by anyone. But if we understand
this cause-effect relationship, and know that we will be affected by it in either a good or bad
way, we will begin to have control over our own thoughts and behavior, and we develop self-
control ability. For instance, there are individuals who will download illegal materials from the
internet as they think that no one will know about it.

The individual who understands the cause-effect relationship and knows that he/she will be
affected by his/her own wrong behaviors will not commit the crimes and disregard them if no
one knows about it. In addition, we have grown so used to a comfortable living condition. We
will turn on the air-conditioner when we feel hot without thinking too deeply about the
consequence of our behavior. If we can think a bit more, we will realize that when we are
enjoying the comfort of coolness that this will cause a very severe effect on the greenhouse
effect. We have suffered from more and more natural disasters due to our actions that have
polluted the earth and will continue to do so.

We must understand that we have created this negative cause for our own comforts, and we
have to endure the negative effects in the future. We will self-regulate our behavior with or
without supervision. It is important to note that we do not have to endure its effect
immediately; this cause, as Master Dejian says, will result in an effect some time later. For any
cause there will be an effect. This is the law of nature. If we can really understand cause and
effect, we can easily nurture our own minds to have more righteous, positive thoughts. In the
end, it is ourselves that will benefit.

Some individuals argue that they do not believe in cause and effect. They point out that there
are many individuals enjoying a lot of wealth, and they earn huge amounts of money through
evil dealings. If there is cause and effect, why could they succeed? To further discuss this
question one has first to understand Buddhist theories, such as what is the value in life? What is
it that we are living for in our lives? In the book of Jingang, there is a vital teaching that says,
"Everything obeys the law, and they disappear like dreams." What this means is that life is full of
materials, things, events, and people, but none are permanent. Thus all money, wealth, fame,
people, and things that an individual owns will not be forever. One may lose them in a second to
some natural disaster or economic crisis. Even if one lives a smooth and easy life and can
accumulate a lot of wealth, one will lose all one has when one dies. Thus all things obey
common law temporarily; thus the cause-effect relationship cannot be viewed simply by the
amount of materials owned by an individual.
All our possessions are transient, and our own self is permanent. Our self has neither origin nor
end. When you leave this world, you cannot bring even one coin with you; the only thing you can
bring with you is your own self. Enhancing our self is the value of our living. To have a true self
with enlightened mind will bring out the dignity of human beings and let one live happily free
from stress and negative thoughts. It is more valuable and significant than any wealth and fame
in the world.

For instance, there are many successful businesspeople who are rich and wealthy; however, they
live a very stressful and lonely life. They may need to work long hours and face much stress in
order to handle all their business matters as well as give up time with their family for their work.
Many so called successful people, in terms of wealth and frame, suffer from psychological
problems or health issues such as depression, insomnia, high-blood pressure. These problems
are caused by their cravings for wealth and fame. They work to accumulate wealth, but they
have to pay a very high cost--mental and physical health and quality of life. Thus they are
destroying themselves for temporary wealth. It is not a wise choice from the Buddhism point of

The law of cause and effect is unchangeable. When we understand cause and effect--that for
every cause we will face a certain effect--we will then develop self-control and discipline. I do not
oppress other people because I believe that if I do, I will have to endure that bad effect. We treat
people around us well because we know that we will enjoy the beneficial effect. I will not steal to
accumulate wealth because I understand that someday I will face the effect. We do charity work
to help people in need because we understand that we will have beneficial effects later. People
who have a thorough understanding of cause and effect will gradually develop the ability to
control the self and can consider long-term effects instead of focusing on immediate fame,
wealth, and sensuality. We know that these things are ephemeral. Our minds will become
natural and tranquil, and we will attain physical and mental health.

Chan's Way is a Natural Way

One day I was walking down the mountains with Master Dejian, and we passed by a pine tree.
Master pointed at the tree and said, "Look, the leaves of that tree have turned yellow. This is
because it hasn't rained for months." I was upset when I heard this, because I know that this tree
was planted by Master more than ten years ago, and it was about four feet tall. I was angry at
Mother Nature for being so cruel to destroy this tree that Master had planted. It was too unfair
and too saddening!

When my heart was still filled with blaming, Master said, "This tree will become green again very
soon. Without rain, a tree will turn yellow; with rain, it will turn green again. This is the law of
nature, and this is Chan." On hearing this, I got enlightenment and realized that Chan is nature,
and that there is no good and evil in nature. A tree turning green and yellow is a natural
phenomenon, and this has nothing to do with good or evil. Good and evil are reflection of our
minds (i.e., thought). When we understand that everything happens according to nature's
course, we will begin to learn to let go and enjoy the freedom of following nature.

Master Dejian has a very exact explanation for nature. When he was asked, "What is Chan?" he
answered, "Chan is you eat when you feel hungry, you wear clothes when you feel cold, and you
go to sleep when you feel tired." Chan is that easy and simple! A life in Chan is a life in nature.
One sleeps when one gets tired, eats when one gets hungry. But to modern people, this might
be difficult. Many people do not eat when they are hungry because of their busy work. They
always will eat only after finishing work. In addition, because they have many deadlines to meet,
they cannot sleep even when tired. When they finally finish their work, they become very
stressful and/or anxious. Even when they have time to sleep, they cannot fall asleep. This type of
unnatural lifestyle is harmful to both physical and psychological health. Living a natural life is
Chan, and natural begins with everyday life.

There are many laws of nature: day and night, life and death, meet and part, all these are natural
phenomena that no one can change. Buddha once said that among the many miseries that
humans have to endure is the misery of parting. When a pair of lovers is together, they are very
happy; but when the relationship comes to an end, one or both will feel miserable. But if one
understands that for every meeting there is parting, we will begin to learn to let go. Parting is a
law of nature, but many people just don't understand and do not prepare for parting. Thus many
people feel self-blame for families that have departed. They hate themselves for not treasuring
and taking care of them when they were still around, and nothing can be done now that they
have departed. They feel deep regret.

Yet when we understand that human relationships must involve meeting and parting, we will
treasure each relationship, treasure our family and friends, treasure fate, and will try our best to
care about others. We will learn to prioritize and to take time out of a busy work schedule to
care about those around us. When they depart, we can gracefully accept it, because this is a law
of nature. If one can do this, one will live a happy life, understand nature, and live naturally.

The World is a Reflection of our Minds

The Chan branch of Buddhism advocates clearing the mind and seeing the true self. Mind and
self are the essence of Chan Buddhism. There was a well-known Chan story--"The flag moves or
the mind moves." The sixth grandmaster, Huineng, first came to the Faxing Monastery in
Guangzhou where Master Yinzong was teaching. At that time, there was a sudden wind and it
blew on the flag. One monk said that the flag was moving, another disagreed and said that the
wind was moving. The sixth grandmaster said to them that it was not the flag nor the wind that
moved, but the mind of the speakers that moved.

This story is very simple and clear, but at the same time can illustrate the difficult concept of "the
world is a reflection of our minds." That is, the world is how we see it, either good or bad, and is
dependent on our point of view. When we understand what is meant by cause-effect
relationship, as explained earlier, and that everything runs according to the natural law, we can
gradually train our minds to become quiet, and then to attain the state of understanding the
mind and seeing the true self.

When we can have a righteous mind that does not crave wealth or fame, we will understand that
all external things are only our own reflection. When we understand the cause-effect
relationship, the mind-theory, we will be able to gradually develop positive attitudes and let go
of many things. If we have a simple mind, we will be able to maintain its serenity and can face
the external world with a peaceful and stable attitude no matter what happens.

Master Dejian once said that every human being has his/her own negative thoughts. To obtain
enlightenment, one has first to cease the negative thoughts. But evil thoughts cannot be ceased
by others; one has to rely on oneself. Getting help from others may be necessary at the
beginning so that one can have some guidance; however, one has to work hard in order to
obtain enlightenment and wisdom. One's own effort can't be replaced by external help.
Just as the book of the sixth master said, "One can only find Buddha in one's mind; it is no use to
search outwards." In the modern world, people search everywhere for masters, miracle doctors,
or experts hoping that they will help them solve their problems. In this way, one becomes very
passive and relies on others to deal with one's problems. Master Dejian has a few apt mottos:
"We can only defeat our own negative thoughts by ourselves, we do not know what will happen
in the future, we have to solve our immediate problems by ourselves, to seek help from others,
and they can only give you temporary help." The way to defeat one's negative thoughts is to
understand cause-effect relationship, understand the natural course, and understand that the
world is a reflection of our minds. If we understand this reasoning, we will begin to realize that
many of our thoughts are just wild thoughts and many are not necessary. Only through nurturing
righteous and charitable thoughts can one slowly become happy and peaceful. This is the very
fundamental principle of Chan Buddhism and the basis of Chanwuyi.

(Source from "The Shaolin Chanwuyi: A Chinese Chan Buddhism", Ch.2)

The Shaolin culture is a treasure of the Chinese culture. Shaolin is the birthplace of Chan
Buddhism (sometimes known as Zen Buddhism in other parts of the world), which had an
important influence on the philosophy and behavior of the Chinese people. Chan Buddhism has
been regarded as the "religion of the Chinese ruling class" ever since the Tang and Song
dynasties. Scholars and government officials practice Chan in search of their inner selves and to
discover the meaning of life. Some Chan teachings, such as "let things happen naturally," have
found their way into the colloquial language and become common Chinese proverbs. To be
natural is the basic principle of Chan. Chan does not distinguish between good and evil, only
natural and un-natural.

Another contribution of Shaolin to Chinese culture is its Wushu. "All Wushu originates from
Shaolin"--this is the place where the unique Chinese Wushu was founded. Chanwu (Chan
Wushu) is very different from other styles of Wushu. In Chanwu, Chan practice is at the very
heart of Wushu training, with virtue development being its foundation. The aim of practicing
Wushu is to practice Chan, to train the heart, the mind, the Qi, to attain a state where emptiness
and tranquility coexist and serves to enhance an individual's mental and physical health.

As such, Shaolin's Chanwu focuses on combat skills and health-maintenance practices rather
than Wushu performance. Furthermore, due to its unique way of practice, Shaolin Chanwu
practitioners can often turn inward to observe their own bodies and internal organs, to
experience how the blood and the Qi circulate. This inward attention to the body led to the
development of Shaolin's Chanyi (Chan medicine), with its own unique theories and concepts
about the causes of human diseases. Viewed in this light, the Shaolin culture is a unified
embodiment of Chanwuyi. This section is an explication of Chanwuyi by Master Xingxing and
Master Dejian.

(Source from "The Shaolin Chanwuyi: A Chinese Chan Buddhism", Ch.3)

Mr. Zhao Guocheng, director of the Henan Foreign Affairs Office and senior consultant of the
Henan Songshan Research Institute for Chanwuyi, once met with Master Xingxing and gave a
recounting of Master Xingxing's understanding of Chanwuyi:

I have been practicing Chan under my master, and the Chan that we practiced is Xingyi Chan,
also named Pusa Chan. Chanwu and Chanyi is both Xingyi Chan. What we practice is to purify our
personal character, virtuosity, and wisdom; in Chan, we achieve a state of surpassing our own
selves. Chan is being natural, comfortable, bright, and good. Only after persistent practice can
one feel and understand what is meant by this.

My master taught me that Chan is based on the mind. To practice Chan, one needs first to train
the mind. First, one needs to observe the commandments, purify one's mind, be virtuous, and
do charities work. One has to have a state of mind that is peaceful, natural, compassionate, and
charitable. The most difficult thing in Chan practice is to clean one's mind. In Buddhist terms, this
is Shuchannian, or Chan perspective. In other words, the greatest obstacle in Chan practice is not
others, it is oneself.

Buddhism talks about protecting the Way and defeating evil. To protect the Way, the first thing
to do is to practice the Way ourselves and to control our minds. We are all ordinary human
beings and often have worries. It is very difficult to attain the state of the Pusa, but one has to
always act with the mind of a Pusa. Those who have negative/evil thoughts can definitely not
practice Chan, because evil thoughts are the biggest enemy of Chan. Xingyi Chan focuses on
Chanwu and Chanyi, and both are related to circulating the Qi. Only when one's mind is as
peaceful as still waters, void of all hassles, natural, and selfless can one attain the state of
unifying the Qi and mind, which is the state of Chan. If an individual has evil thoughts or is not
virtuous, s/he can never open the door to Chan, and thus can never understand the mystery of

In learning Shaolin Chanwuyi, firstly, one has to have a righteous mind that can attain the state of
selflessness. Secondly, one has to have perseverance, to be able to endure poverty and
loneliness, and have a will to forge ahead in the face of difficulties. Thirdly, one has to be
relatively intelligent to learn and attain wisdom. It is not easy to have any one of these three
criteria and very difficult to have all three. Master Jiqin fought out of the Shaolin door to protect
the Shaolin knowledge and skills, but was not able to find many who were qualified to learn
them. This might be an important reason.

Xingyi Chan (Mind-mastering Chan)

The essence of Chan can be understood as the essence of Qi. Xing means movements and Qi
circulation. Yi means mastering the mind. Mind-mastering Chan is not merely simply sitting in
meditation, though this can be one of the methods. If one knows how to master the mind, one
can achieve "mastering-Qi" and enlightenment through standing, simple movements, or Wushu.
The way to master the mind (or train the heart) includes focusing on specific points on the body,
visualizing the senses, deep concentration, and inner-body observation. The purposes are to
cultivate, smooth, and master the Qi.

Beginners can start with sitting and standing meditation, focus on points, and visualization. If
one can enter the stage of deep concentration, one's breathing will become slow, continuous,
and deep. One will have entered a stage of semi-consciousness, like sleeping but not really
sleeping, like dreaming but not really dreaming. One becomes very relaxed, may see wonderful
senses, and feels intensely satisfied and blissful.

To balance and enhance one's internal energy this way is to direct the Qi naturally. Another
approach is through self-control, which can only be practiced after one has practiced the natural
approach for a lengthy period. The self-control approach is to perform inner-body observation
after entering the stage of deep concentration, to understand the Qi and blood circulation of the
body. This is done through directing the "real" Qi to fill the whole body, guiding the Qi to flow
freely, even to the tips of the hair.
The highest level is to be able to direct the Qi with the mind and focus it into a force. If one can
reach the level of letting go of the self, one will have attained unlimited power. One can use this
power to treat illnesses through utilizing one's real Qi to affect others, to guide the flow of Qi in
others to unblock Qi stagnation. Sometimes unblocking the Qi can also be facilitated by herbal
medicine and food consumption. This is the essence of "Mind-mastering" or Pusa Chan.


For over a thousand years, Shaolin Wushu Xinyiba was honored as one of the highest
attainments in Wushu. Xinyiba means Wushang Chan (ultimate Chan) and is the highest level
attainable in Wushu. The three characters, Xin, Yi, and Ba all have meaning: Xin means the mind,
Yi means the unity of the mind and Qi, and Ba means control.

There are three concepts in Xin: the first is to develop the mind of a Pusa to accumulate virtuous
thoughts, to take Buddhism as the foundation and Chan as the basis to neutralize the
aggressiveness in Wushu. The second is to develop a righteous mind, to use the body and mind
with nature, and discard all thoughts of the self, death, enemies, and fear. The third is to develop
a mind void of longings and cravings, to follow the commandments strictly; for example, the Ten
Commandments promoted by the renowned monk Jueyuan. The unity of mind and Qi means to
use the mind to develop, train, and circulate Qi, so that the Qi from the Dan Tian can be unified
with nature and directed into the muscles and all parts of the body.

This on one hand fills the body with internal energy to be able to manipulate the opponent with
a simple movement, and on the other to preserve internal serenity to maintain bodily health.
Where the mind goes, the Qi follows; where the Qi goes, the body follows. As a result, we
cannot see the fists, but the fists are all over the body. What is meant by control is to first
understand oneself and control one's power, so that one can control the exact amount of force
used and the exact body part the force is to be executed from.

The second thing to do is to understand one's opponent. Before the opponent moves, one is
already expecting that move; hence, at the moment when the opponent moves, one can move
faster ahead of him/her. All movements of the body are in full control and can defeat the
opponent in a split second. While defeating the opponent, one should not maim him/her too
seriously and should avoid at all times to kill.


The traditional Shaolin medicine is known as Chanyi (Chan medicine). This is a special branch of
Chinese medicine developed from the clinical experience and amalgamation with Chanwu as
practiced by generations of Shaolin monks. According to historical records, there were renowned
Shaolin medical practitioners over many generations, especially after the Tang Dynasty when
Shaolin monks were recruited into the army. The Shaolin monks, participating in wars of the
government, often had injuries. In order to treat these injuries as well as those sustained from
Wushu practice and other diseases, there evolved a class of medical monks, which formed the
basis of Shaolin medicine.

Master Xingxing explicated on the basic concepts and clinical procedures of Shaolin Chanyi:

Shaolin medicine is known as Chanyi (medicine). Its basic theories include pathology,
pharmacology, health-promotion, and supplement, all of which are built upon Chan and Qi. To
strengthen the body, one has first to purify one's mind and one's character, and mental health is
basic for bodily health. There are more than a thousand orifices and more than a hundred "mai"
(i.e., channels). If the orifices and mais are clear, then the blood and Qi circulation are smooth
and the mind and the body are strong. If the orifices and mais are blocked, so will the blood and
Qi, and disease will result. In Chanyi, there are a few basic concepts and methods to unblock the
Qi in the orifices and mais, which include the Way, using Qi, touch, medication, and health-

We all know that Shaolin monks often practice Yijinjing (the book of body transformation) to
maintain health. The book was said to be passed down by Bodhidharma. Since the time of
Bodhidharma, the Shaolin monks sit and meditate for lengthy periods of time, and then must get
up to stretch out for a while before they continue. Through sitting meditation, one can reflect on
the internal mechanisms of the body and to stretch the muscles. Gradually they begin to master,
through experience, the relationship among the "jingluo," blood, and Qi with the organs, the
skeletal system, and the muscles. Jing is the Qi that circulates around the body, and Luo are the
mailuo. Thus, the unblocking of stagnant Qi was developed.

Sitting meditation, Wushu practice, manual labor, and work in general all cause problems in the
blood and Qi. Over-exerting oneself physically, troubled relationships with others, and emotional
instability can all lead to stagnant Qi and blood, and the wearing out of the internal organs. We
need therefore to unblock the orifices and mais and adjust the Qi and blood circulation. After a
thousand years of exploration, Shaolin has developed a style of Wushu that incorporates Qi.
Therefore Shaolin Chanwuyi is like building Wushu from Chan, building medicine from Wushu.
This is what is meant by achieving Chan together with Wushu attainment and understanding of

(Source from "The Shaolin Chanwuyi: A Chinese Chan Buddhism", Ch.3)

1. Seminar at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (Master Dejian was invited by the Chinese
University of Hong Kong in 2008 to give several open lectures. The following is a summary of
part of his lectures.)

Chanwuyi is a practice that combines Chan, Wushu, and medicine. Chanwuyi can be achieved
through daily practice in walking, living, sitting, and lying down rather than sitting meditation.
Chanji is QiJi, which equals to human lives. Life is to understand and apply oneself, to improve
one's brain functioning, and to direct one's soul. Shaolin's way of Chan practice aims to improve
the quality of life and health of people, so that they can live happily.
Open lectures delivered by Master Dejian in Hong Kong

A lot of people practice Shaolin Wushu these days, and there are performances everywhere,
which leads to some misconception about Shaolin Wushu. Shaolin monks practice Wushu not for
the sake of Wushu per se, but as a means to developing a virtuous character and serving the
community with a compassionate heart. Those who practice Wushu for the fun of it, or for
earning a living by performance, are not authentic Shaolin monks. All in all, Wushu practice is a
means of Chan practice, which is why Chanwu is a kind of Wushu.

Chan Trains the Mind

The Buddhism that is founded by Buddha is the ultimate and a complete philosophy of
knowledge about life and living. Buddha means understanding, and those who understand can
become a Buddha. Based on its knowledge of humankind and nature, it develops a positive
perspective toward life and the universe. The Chan branch of Buddhism is Buddhism
amalgamated with Chinese characteristics incorporated; ever since Bodhidharma brought
Buddhism to China, the religion was spread by generations of masters, which allowed to be
added to it rich philosophies from Confucianism and Taoism, as well as the social and cultural
ideologies of the different historical periods, and thus became a standard for people to develop
a virtuous character.

Master Dejian often speaks of "creating one's life, one's life is in one's hand," and that efforts
matter more than fate. The essence of Chan Buddhism is to practice both wisdom and virtue.
Wisdom can unlock the intelligence and teach the stupid, so that people can grow out of
stupidity and become wiser. "Those who make others wise are wise, and he/she who makes
him/herself wise has clarity of mind." We have to have the wisdom to understand the wisdom of
others and also the wisdom to understand the wisdom of the self. The latter is especially
important, and many people do not understand this. This is because an individual possesses not
only a subjective self, but also an objective self and a real self. The subjective self is prone to
getting complacent; the objective self is prone to being influenced by longings and cravings. To
become the real self, we need to clear our minds and see us for our own, to help ourselves.

"If one wishes to have no cravings, one first needs to give up the self and to do the right things
regardless of what others may say." One should not be doubtful, but should always be ready to
do charity and not do what is not right. One should have a kind heart to do what should be done
and contribute to the nation and the people.

Chan practice is about reflection of oneself through everyday things. There are two kinds of
reflections: internal reflection and external reflection. There are also two kinds of practice:
internal practice and external practice. Internal reflection is to observe one's own self, and
external reflection is to observe the outside world and other people; internal practice is to train
the self, while external practice is to improve oneself through interaction with other people,
which also influences the external environment, thereby removing negative thoughts inside
one's mind, so that it can become peaceful, clear, and thus the true self.

Chanwu (Chan Martial Arts)

Chanwu is a subject with well-known theories and methods; it is not just a series of movements
or boxing. This is what makes Chanwu different from other Wushu. Wushu focuses on combat,
but Wuxue (the knowledge about martial arts) is not closely related to combat. In Chanwu, we
try to understand reactions in our own brains, thoughts, and minds in order to understand
oneself and the meaning of life. Thus the purpose of practicing Shaolin Chanwu is to understand
oneself and to understand truth. The major focus is internal practice rather than practicing the
muscles and the limbs. Internal practice means the inside, not outside. Thus internal practice is
the practice of the mind; the mind needs to be always quiet. When the mind is quiet, the Qi is
strong, and strong Qi is internal energy. Only when one's mind is peaceful can the Qi be smooth.

Thus, to practice internally, one needs to train the mind, the mind of a clear soul, something that
cannot be seen or touched. The mind becomes the master; if you have thoughts on your mind,
your body will move. If you look left, your eye will look left; when you look right, your eye will
look right. This is what is meant by the mind being the master--the eyes are the first to go, and
the body and the limbs follow. The body moves and the entire body moves, and the limbs need
to move all at once too, so this is a school of knowledge. If you don't have the skills to move your
eyes, body, and feet at the same time, this cannot be called Wuxue, but only gross movements
to hit people with the fists, and is a form of combat. But when you have the skills to move your
eyes, body, and feet all at once, this is different, because such skill requires the use of the mind.

Thoughts are thoughts of the mind and are a state of consciousness between the brain and the
clear soul. When you think about something, your mind is already there; this is called Xinyi. One
needs to control one's Xinyi with one's Dan Tian, so one needs to contain the Xinyi inside the
Dan Tian. To control Xinyi, one first needs to put one's hand on top of the Dan Tian, and then to
observe the relationship between the Dan Tian and the nose. The purpose of this practice is to
quiet down; when one is quieted down one begins to be able to feel. This is internal practice.
Someone who practices Wushu is different from someone who doesn't. The one who practices
Wushu has strong Qi and blood flow. People who do not practice Wushu are normal; those who
do are above normal. It is because we use up our energies all the time for daily activities such as
working, walking, reading, talking; if we practice Wushu, we can replenish the energy. It is
through repeated practice of the observation of the internal organs and observation of the
relationship between the Dan Tian and the nose that we can begin to understand our own body.
This is the Buddhist Way, the way to wisdom.

In practicing Shaolin Chanwu, one must quiet one's mind. When your mind is quiet, your body
will be filled with strength and Qi, and this is internal energy. If your mind isn't quiet, the Qi will
be disrupted, and there is no internal energy. Thus we need to persistently adjust ourselves to
attain the state of a peaceful mind through repeated practice. If one only has the external skills,
but without internal energy, the organs will not have enough Qi, and there is no internal energy.
Internal energy basically means a peaceful mind; when the mind is quiet, the Qi is smooth and
strength comes. When the mind is quiet, we can observe how to increase the internal energy, to
consider the changes in breathing in through the nose to the Dan Tian, focus on the nose when
breathing out, and return the Qi to the Dan Tian.

Internal energy is the practice of Qi; when there is Qi, there is strength. When there is Qi, blood
circulation is smooth; Qi facilitates blood circulation, and blood circulation in turn produces Qi.
This is how we can promote our health through practice. If the practice of internal energy is
combined with the practice of external skills, this is what is meant by practicing both the inside
and outside.

Chanyi (Chan Medicine)

Chanyi is a school of knowledge that focuses on health maintenance and improvement, on

learning how to protect one's own body, and then to heal bodies that have disease. Before we
talk about healing, we must first talk about prevention. Shaolin medicine and Wushu
complement one another. Through medicine, we learn about the human body including the
limbs, the body, the organs, the Qi, and the blood. Through understanding the function of the
organs, and combined with exercise, one can learn how to better use one's body.

There are two types of exercises: one is static and aims at adjusting the mind, Qi, and quieting
down to observe oneself; the other involves the coordination of the mind and the body; if the
mind wants to move, the body moves. This is called coordination of the static and the dynamic.
It first starts off being static, and after practicing, it starts to become dynamic. The dynamic
combines with the static and with natural breathing; this is called "dynamic-static-breathing."
The marriage of the dynamic and the static is the basic medical principle for bodily health.

As such, in order to study medicine, one must practice Wushu, as it is only through exercise that
one gets to feel and understand. Medical knowledge needs to be complemented by Wushu
practice. To practice internal energy, one needs to combine the mind and thoughts to practice
the complement of the heart, liver, spleen, lungs, and kidneys with strength. Long ago, people
did not know this method of practicing because this is internal practice of the five shapes. When
the heart moves, courage comes; when the liver moves, flame comes; when the spleen moves,
force comes. This spleen movement also means the floating of the food that one ingests, as food
contains one form of energy.

When the lung moves, it is like sounds of thunder; the peak flow has a type of energy. Peak flow
increases with the depth of the breath, and when the breath is deep, Qi is strong, and this is Qi.
When the kidney moves, movements become quick. According to medical theories, the kidney is
not empty, it is full. A full kidney means sufficient energy, and this means quick movements.
Those with empty kidneys walk without strength and cannot walk fast. Thus this practice of
internal Qi spirit is to practice one breath of Qi. External practice means training the tendons,
bones, and skin, which means training the human body's tendons, bones, skin, flesh, and blood;
internal practice means the training of the internal organs.

Those who learn medicine should understand what Qi is and should know that life is in essence a
breath! It is natural and is manipulated by the mind, to adjust the internal organs through
directing the Qi. The adjustment of the body is called the unity of Wuyi. In practicing Wushu, one
doesn't need to practice combat skills. If one wins through the use of mere force, this is akin to
oppressing the weak using brute force. But if one wants to achieve a state of winning over brute
force even though one is less forceful, one needs to use wisdom, which means the use of
Wuxue. That is why the practice of Wushu is a means for practicing medicine.
2. The Lecture on the First Conference of Songshan Shaolin Chanwuyi: Theory and Practice
Conference in 2007

It is my honor today to be able to speak to the many leaders, international and local
distinguished guests, experts, and scholars on the passing on of Shaolin Chanwuyi.

Bodhidharma came to China and founded the Chan branch of Buddhism. He faced the wall for
nine years and left to us invaluable teachings. It has been more than 1,500 years from the Tang,
Song, Ming, Qing Dynasty up to the present. According to the Shaolin record, Chanwuyi was at
the most flourishing period during the time of the Tang and Song Dynasty. I do not dare to speak
lightly of Chan. What is Chan? I think from the wisdom of Buddha, human beings should live in a
natural and harmonious way. Chan should be something good, something bright, because the
Chan practiced in Shaolin comprises Chan, Wu, and Yi, these three bodies of knowledge.

The First (upper) and the Second (lower) Conferences of Songshan Shaolin Chanwuyi
What I will be talking about today is Chanwu and Chanyi. Why Chanwu? Shaolin is the founding
place of the Chan branch of Buddhism. When Bodhidharma first came to spread Buddhism, he
first taught Chan Buddhism. He taught us Buddhist monks to act good deeds, to have a
compassionate and empathic heart. His is broad Buddhism. My own master, Zhang Qinghe
(Master Xingxing), taught me Chanwuyi, and I learnt from him the teachings and the passing on
of Chanwuyi in the Shaolin Temple.

Contemporary Shaolin has a medicine clinic that helped heal many people and is now seven
hundred years old. During the Tang Dynasty, we have all heard the story of thirteen monks
saving the Qin emperor from the movie Shaolin Temple. I want to talk a little bit about the
details in this story. Monks at the Shaolin Temple maintain a vegetarian diet and wear monk's
clothing, and need to abide by the rules. It is difficult to practice Chan if one doesn't observe the
rules. The Rule of Shaolin is to have a compassionate heart, to save the world.

During the Ming Dynasty, we also had the very moving story of Monk Xiaoshan who, to repay his
country, led a team of monks to the national border to protect nationals. During the Ming
Dynasty, there were over four hundred years of history of the lineage of Shaolin Chanwuyi.
Today, we are the eighteenth generation. Shaolin Chanwuyi was established and passed on by
the founder of Yonghuatang of the Southern Wing of Shaolin Temple. Wuyan was ordained by
the Ming emperor during the Wanli period, to be the founder of the twenty-sixth generation of
the Caodong. Eight princes followed him to become monks, and they brought with them the
royal doctors, officers with advanced martial arts skills, learned scholars, and Buddhists. This
confluence of wisdom gathered at Shaolin Temple and formed the Chan branch of Buddhism.
Thus Chan Buddhism wasn't founded by one person, or by Bodhidharma, but by the generations
of monks and society during hundreds of years.

The Chanwu that I am talking about today originates from life itself, a form of life preservation.
Among us Shaolin monks, we take our everyday life, including walking, living, sitting, lying down,
all as a form of practice. Chanwu is inseparable from medicine. Shaolin medicine is called Chanyi
(Chan medicine). It is different from traditional Chinese medicine as well as modern medicine,
but it is not antagonistic to Chinese medicine. Chinese medicine has a history of over five
thousand years and is a treasure chest of the Chinese people. Shaolin medicine draws from this
five-thousand-year treasure chest of Chinese medicine and developed a special and unique
Chanyi focuses on "eliminating the evil spirit in oneself" and "cleansing the mind." It practices
breathing, directing, and some convenient methods including acupuncture and rubbing with
ointment. Ointment is further categorized into internal ointment and external ointment. Rubbing
means stimulating the acupoints to push and press and in breathing and directing. Chanyi
focuses on treating the orifices. The human body is a machine on metabolism. Treating the
orifices means unblocking the orifices; for example, when we clear the intestines, our airways
also clear. We Chanyi practitioners talk about treating the orifices, such as nose treatment,
treatment of the seven orifices. To do this, one has to practice Chan, sitting Chan, quiet down,
and to practice Wushu. Why does one have to practice Wushu? It is because through Wushu that
we can understand the meridians, the blood and Qi circulation of the human body, and their
relationship with metabolism.

The Chan, in the world of monks, is called Chan-Na, which means quiet deliberation,
understanding. I have been in Shaolin Temple for over twenty-five years. I was very grateful and
much honored to have been taught by my master. In our training, we place great importance on
health maintenance in our daily lives. This health maintenance practice is not training the body,
meaning practicing boxing types of Wushu such as glaring angrily because it is harmful to the
body. It is not Shaolin Wushu.

Shaolin Chanwu emphasizes understanding Chan, which will lead to achieving Wu and
understanding Yi. The basis of practicing is Chan, Wu is to strengthen the body, and Yi is to help
heal oneself and others. Thus what we Shaolin monks pass on should not be limited to Shaolin. I
believe everyone in society can benefit from Chanwuyi; it is something that serves society. At
present, Chanwuyi has already transcended the level of territory and nations. It belongs to the
world and has also transcended religion. It is the treasure of the people.

Let me give an example of Chan that originates from daily living. In the past we used to ride
bicycles a lot. We needed to pump the tires very often. I compare the pump with the nose and
the lips as the rubber tire. This is about ascending and descending, floating and sinking. The
mind should float, the Qi should sink. With the stretching and contracting of the airway, the
human breath floats and sinks; this is the principle of Qi. Human life originates from Qi, human
beings live through breathing.

The grandmasters in Shaolin collect herbs, climb mountains, plough the fields, and harvest
barley crops in their daily lives. All these movements can be a form of Wushu practice. This is
why Shaolin Wushu is said to originate from society or social production. For example, let's think
about rowing a boat on water. This is a form of Wushu practice akin to health promoting
practices, but it also contains combat skills. In northern China, there is a practice using a pulley
to draw water from a well. Similar to rowing, one foot is placed in front, one foot at the back,
one foot is soft, one foot is solid, to balance the yin and yang, to become a complete Qi. And
there is also the harvesting of barley crops, which has also components of Wushu.

When the opponent attacks with the fist and leg, one can defend using the movement that one
uses when embracing the barley; the movement of cutting the barley is the offence. In the past,
Shaolin monks were engaged in agricultural production. For example, in ploughing the field in
the countryside, the lifting and applying of the plough is likened to the tension and relaxation of
the mind, consisting of elements of combat. This is the theory, which emphasizes Qi and body
movements. But Shaolin Wushu emphasizes health maintenance and only a small emphasis is
placed on combat skills; therefore, it is a form of health maintenance. That is why Chanwu and
Chanyi are both Xingyi Chan that originates from production and daily living.

Chan cannot be expressed in words. The weather is fine today, and the environment is perfect.
There are many consultants, expert scholars, and members of the media in the ancient Shaoshi
Mountain, which was formed from seven to thirty-six billion years of geological processes, with
five generations existing together. We are here to discuss Chanwuyi, which itself is Chan. This is a
big contribution, an important benevolent act. The environment is beautiful, and our mind is
uplifted; when our mind is uplifted, our body will be healthy; with a healthy body, our career will
excel. When our families are well, the society will be harmonious; this Chan is infinite.

3. Excerpts on Shaolin Medicine

Master Dejian, based on the thousand-year-old prescriptions prevailing among commoners and
the over sixty years of clinical experience of Master Xingxing, has developed many effective
prescriptions. He also explicated on a couple of Master Xingxing's understandings of Shaolin
medicine as follows:

Health Promotion through the Diet

"Medicine and food are one and the same thing" is one of the mottos of Chinese medicine and
has been highly valued all along. Thus good food is good medicine. Around 500 B.C., three
religions had suggestions on daily food consumption; for example, Buddhism forbids the eating
of meat and spicy food; Confucianism advocates moderation among the five tastes, and all seem
to point out that meat and spicy food is harmful to the human body. Hot and spicy food is hot-
dry; eating animals will create fire that damages bodily mechanisms. Hot and spicy food, when
eaten in small amounts, may be useful, though, in unblocking stagnant Qi and blood.

But when someone is sick, s/he must not eat any hot and spicy food. For example, in treating a
cold, some people will drink ginger soup, and then the individual sweats and the fever goes.
People might wrongly think that when having a cold, the patient must express his/her heat
outside. But the fact is that a cold is caused by internal heat meeting external coldness. In
sweating to release heat, the fever goes, and the patient doesn't know that for non-heat-related
things not to cause sweat. The fever subsiding is good, but this will create more internal heat.
The second time the cold relapses, and if the individual does not clear the internal heat but only
expresses it outwards, this will aggravate the disease. A small disease will gradually become a
severe one.

Meat contains high amounts of protein and fat, which is highly nutritious with high caloric
content. Healthy people can digest, absorb, and excrete these and they are healthy food. But if a
sick person eats meat, it is harmful because the person cannot digest it and the food will
stagnate in the stomach, creating internal heat, fullness, and smell. The person cannot absorb it,
and it will cause stagnation in the intestines and bloating. S/he also cannot defecate and the
meat becomes stagnant in the colon and rot, creating heat in the blood.

In addition, if one eats hot and spicy food, they will burn more fiercely and damage the
respiratory tract, the clean orifices, and the mental orifice. Because the respiratory tract is
blocked, the internal heat that should come out cannot, and the organs cannot return to a cool
state, and this affects bodily mechanisms. A lack of movements will lead to blocked metabolism,
stagnant urine will cause burns, stagnant feces will cause rottenness, and these will burn the
blood and bloat the intestines.

So it can be seen that meat and hot and spicy food is only good for those who are healthy and
have an adverse effect on sick people. And one has to know that once food is ingested, it is too
late to spit it out or excrete it even though you realized it is harmful. You can only let it burn
inside your body, which will burn the internal organs and tissues and make them bloat, burnt,
rot, charred, and destroyed.

In Master Xingxing's decades of clinical experience, the majority of the people got sick because
of what they ate, and only a minority got sick because of stagnation of the mind. But without
taste, even if the internal organs are harmed, they do not matter much even if the individual
moves a lot. The injured bodily parts are often the first of the nine orifices; when the internal
heat cannot come out, it burns the body. If one starts off being careful, then the orifices will not
get sick, and it will protect the metabolic mechanism, and the body can be healthy forever.

Avoid Hot and Spicy Food

Whenever one eats a tiny bit of hot and spicy food, it will create some sort of reaction, never
doubt it. This is especially true with ginger, garlic, and chili. No matter how minute an amount
one eats, some reaction will result depending on the amount eaten, for example, minor
reactions such as dryness in the mouth, itch in the teeth and gums, blood flowing to the oral
cavity, nose running, eyes clouded, blood flowing to the iris, and tears running down. When
phlegm is created, one may start to feel dizzy, weakness in the limbs, frequent urinating, which is
hot and concentrated, and defecation that is hot, feeling urgency inside, heavy, and itchy on the
skin. Prolonged symptoms, if serious, will damage the nine orifices and internal organs and
tissues, and severe disease will result (this is what is meant by food causes all sorts of diseases,
phlegm causes disasters, and all diseases are caused by Qi). If the orifices are blocked, minor
illnesses will result; if the organs are blocked, severe diseases will result; if one does not prevent
minor illnesses, one might end up having severe ones. Garlic gives out rotten smells, ginger
damages the lungs and blocks urine; all spicy food damages the skin and tissues. If people with
nose inflammation eat garlic, they will breathe out the bloody smell that will damage the tissue
inside the nostrils. Hot food will even cause bleeding.

Importance of Unblocking the Orifices

Stagnation causes diseases. At the beginning, it might start off as a minor illness, but if one is not
careful, it might turn into a severe disease, even death. According to Master Xingxing's decades
of clinical experience, diseases often start with blocked surface orifices due to bad maintenance
and might result in loss of function or even organ failure. The main reasons are: first,
inappropriate diet; second, inappropriate treatment; third, abnormal emotions; fourth,
inappropriate attire; fifth, abuse. All these will cause unsmooth eating and throwing up, blocking
midway, and if not treated properly, will go from the surface to the interior and cause organ and
tissue damage, the inability to breathe in Qi, the phlegm blocking the Qi, and no wonder the
person dies.

(Source from "The Shaolin Chanwuyi: A Chinese Chan Buddhism", Ch.3)

When Master Dejian first learnt with Master Xingxing, he taught Wushu at Master Yang Guiwu's
Wushu school in Canjiadian during the day and walked more than twenty km each night back to
Shaolin Monastery to learn standing and fist fighting with Master Xingxing. By the time Dejian
returned to Canjiadian, it was very late at night. Long periods of over-exertion created extreme
damage to his body, and he often had headaches, a stuffy nose, throat pain, nausea, short
breath, and digestive problems. Although Yang was a renowned Chinese medical practitioner,
even he could not heal Master Dejian's physical problems.

Master Xingxing, seeing Master Dejian's declining health, advised him, "If you want to practice
good Wushu, you must first be healthy. I found that your body was rigid when you practiced
Wushu, and you are very aggressive and bad tempered. What do you eat every day? What food
do you like?"

Master Dejian told Master Xingxing that he liked hot and spicy food and ate salt-preserved
vegetables and bread three meals per day. Master Xingxing pointed out the bad things about his
diet, and told him that in order to practice Shaolin Wushu, he must first learn to take care and
protect his body. He must first learn to develop good dietary habits. He further pointed out that
Master Dejian's diet was the cause of his digestive problems, blocked nostrils, and the fullness in
the middle of the body and the two sides were the result of blocked Qi. To recover, Dejian must
first change his diet. Otherwise he could not be proficient in Shaolin Wushu.

After that, Master Xingxing began to teach Master Dejian the Shaolin way of food consumption
and Shaolin Wushu, and said, "Many students in the Wushu school came to me to treat their
illnesses. I asked them if they were healthier or less healthy at home, and they said that they had
flu once in a while but they got sick and had indigestion more frequently after attending the
school. It is because of the long-term diet of spring onion, ginger, chili, poultry, and fish in the
martial arts school, and then practice the boxing that is harmful to the Qi. They frequently felt
nausea and shortness of breath, stuffy nose, weakness, cold sweating, palpitation, but the
hospital wasn't able to give them a diagnosis. At a glance, I could tell that their illnesses were
due to over-accumulation of heat inside the abdomen. So I diverted the heat, unblocked their Qi,
and their illnesses disappeared."

Master Dejian (left) and Master Xingxing (right)

Hearing this, Master Dejian asked out of curiosity, "I haven't eaten meat since I was young. Why
was I like these students?"

Master Xingxing smiled and answered, "Good question! Although you don't eat meat, a lot of
what you eat still belongs to the bloody heat and hot and spicy categories."

Master Dejian then asked Master Xingxing what food belonged to the bloody heat and hot and
spicy category. Master Xingxing answered, "Bloody heat food includes all meat and eggs; hot and
spicy food includes spring onion, Chinese chives, garlic, xiang cai, ginger, mustard, chili, pepper,
etc. Eating hot food is the source of ill health, because these foods produce a large amount of
heat. People who are unhealthy or who are ill cannot eat hot food. But a moderate amount of
these foods is good for healthy people! For example, a little ginger can clear the head but a lot
can stuff the nose. Buddhist monks do not eat meat and hot and spicy food, and this is especially
so if one is practicing Shaolin Wushu. You see, cows and sheep grow to large sizes and are strong,
but they only eat grass! Do you know why elderly people can still practice Shaolin Wushu? Like
the grandmaster, who still practices Wushu at the age of ninety? This is because of their healthy
diet. For people who eat without constraint, they will not improve no matter how they practice
after the age of thirty. This is the source of the saying 'one doesn't practice Wushu after age
thirty.' It is only true for those that practice the boxing type of Wushu. Monks with a vegetarian
diet don't have a stagnant heat, therefore they improve with practice."

After teaching Dejian the above, he told Dejian to lie on the bed and put a few nose drops, which
he developed, into Dejian's nostrils. Master Dejian asked if the nose drops could be swallowed,
and Master Xingxing answered, "You can swallow it. This nose drop is specifically to heal
inflammation of the nose and throat and can also treat bronchitis and reduce phlegm."

Master Dejian was worried that he might choke, but Master Xingxing calmly said, "This nose
drop penetrates very quickly and will be absorbed very quickly. At the same time, the nose drops
can also unblock your main Qi and treat disorders in the seven orifices, meaning it can heal both
internally and externally."

After applying the nasal drop, Master Xingxing used his fingers to point at and touch different
points of Master Dejian's body, to direct the stagnant Qi in the abdomen to move downwards. A
while later, Master Dejian's abdomen heaved involuntarily and the intestines sounded too, and
the Qi was excreted very quickly. The nose also breathed very naturally too, and the nausea was
gone, as was the headache. Master Xingxing then dropped some more nose drops into Master
Dejian's nostrils, and his body felt more and more comfortable.

After the massage, he told Master Dejian, "Your illness is because of too much stagnant heat in
your intestines, which is caused by eating too much hot and spicy food. In addition, you were too
impatient to succeed when you practiced Wushu, which your internal (i.e., mind) and external
(i.e., body) are incoherent, and thus using force un-naturally. You don't understand the principle
of starting from slow to quick, don't understand when to be quick and when to be slow, and this
is a severe violation of the principle of perfect coordination of the mind and the body and
natural breathing. Just looking at the things you eat, even if you don't practice Wushu you will be
ill; if you practice, you will get sick even faster."

From then on, Master Xingxing often taught Master Dejian the principles of medicine: "The
internal organs are like buckets and bags, with sediments at the bottom, and if they stay there
for long, illness will result. The nose is the passage; if the nose is clear, your skin will be soft and
easy. Blocked Qi will cause stagnant blood. Qi and blood are the foundation. If the Qi is smooth
so will be the blood. If Qi is blocked, blood is blocked; if Qi is smooth, blood is smooth. Qi
produces fire, fire produces irritability and dryness, irritability and dryness produces phlegm,
phlegm produces stagnation, stagnation produces dampness, dampness causes stagnant blood,
stagnant blood obstructs phlegm, and Qi can unblock stagnant blood."

In talking about modern preventive measures, he said, "I can summarize preventive measures
past and present as four methods: diet, medicine, operation, and direction; and in these four,
diet is the basic, medicine is convenient, operation can heal the difficult cases, and direction is
lasting. Shaolin Chanyi is based primarily on diet and direction and is supplemented by

Master Xingxing also taught Master Dejian what is meant by Shaolin Wushu in daily living and
how to practice. "Practice is found in all everyday activities. You can practice when you walk, live,
sit, and lie down. When you practice, you have to remain natural and cannot be impatient. First,
you have to have natural breathing, to have smooth internal Qi and coordinated bodily parts.
The internal force of fist fighting has to be based on naturalness, and you have to relinquish all
aggressive thoughts and avoid all hot and spicy food and eat simple food instead. This way, the
main Qi in your body will be smooth. When your Qi is strong, your body will become swift, and
you will be able to improve."

Master Dejian practiced everything that Master Xingxing taught him, and he felt not only
comfortable and disease free, but also understood the essence of Shaolin Wushu: to follow the
Shaolin health-promoting guidelines to adjust oneself, so that one can attain the state of concord
of the spirit, Qi, and mind.

After a few years of practice, Master Dejian's physical illnesses gradually recovered and he
became healthy. Master Xingxing gave Master Dejian a healthy body and taught him the Shaolin
highest level of wisdom--Chanwuyi. To repay his debts, Master Dejian decided to become a
Shaolin monk in 1992 and with a will to preserve Shaolin Chanwuyi and educate others, so that
more people could benefit from the Chanwuyi culture.
(Source from "The Shaolin Chanwuyi: A Chinese Chan Buddhism", Ch.4)

I (Agnes Chan) have been very fond of Wushu and Chan ever since I was young, and I searched
for a master who knew Wushu and Chan. But in my search of over twenty years, I met many
renowned Chan masters but they didn't know Wushu; and I also met quite a few Wushu masters
who did not know Chan. Thus, for the past twenty years, I have been practicing on my own,
which is what the sixth generation master said is "self-learning, self-understanding, self-
controlling is a door to Buddha." It wasn't until 2003 when I was invited to give lectures at the
Peking University that I met a student who was as infatuated with Wushu as I am. This student
gave me a video that is a documentary about Master Dejian, and I was very impressed by the
part where he played Wushu on the edge of a cliff. I knew that this person had attained the level
of unity of Chan and Wushu, because he had surpassed life and death. He was my ideal master!
Although I wanted very much to pay respect to this person, I did not have an opportunity. I had
also asked someone to introduce me to this person, but that person told me that to meet
Shaolin monks, I needed to pay at least a few thousand dollars for the introduction. I disagreed
with this commercial practice and did not agree to pay, and later on I knew that this was a lie.

The first time I met Master Dejian was in a conference held in Sanhuangzhai. Before the meeting,
I had viewed his way of practice and was much moved; I also knew that he was at that time
trying hard to establish a Chan monastery. So when I met him for the first time, I asked, "Master
Dejian, what can I contribute?" And he gently said, "Your coming here is already a big
Agnes Chan (left) and Master Dejian (right)

After that, I walked with the rest of the conference participants up to Sanhuangzhai. Along the
way, a group of people stopped to rest and then began to discuss supernatural powers. I was
listening but did not participate in the discussion. Master Dejian suddenly walked by from
behind, and one from the group asked him, "Master Dejian, can you talk about your practice,
you also know super......"

Master replied, "There are many things we as monks should not say." He then turned to me and
said, "The scenery is beautiful." I replied, "Yes, it is beautiful." And then the two of us walked
slowly forward. From our two encounters, I could see that Master Dejian's Chan practice was
very deep!

The short conversation with Master Dejian was like someone who had been thirsty for twenty
years who suddenly finds a clear pool of water. How could I not be happy, and how could I not
grasp the chance? Thus I went up the mountains to visit Master Dejian again the next day. I
bluntly asked, "What is Chan?" Master Dejian said, "Chan is nature. He paused and continued,
"Let us not talk about Chan, but about people."
He saw that I was frowning, and he smiled and said, "When a teacher calls the name of a
student, the student stands." Master suddenly stood up from the chair, smiled, and sat down
again. I got even more lost.

Master called his own name again, "Shi Dejian." After two or three seconds, he spoke to himself,
"Present." And then he stood slowly from the chair. This second time when he stood up from the
chair was slow but with strength, very different from the first time in which he stood up
impulsively. Later on, he taught me how to sit down on and stand up from a chair correctly.

I then called my own name, "Chan Sui Yin," and then stood up slowly, feeling comfortable and
filled with strength. We called out "Shi Dejian," "Chan Sui Yin" alternatively, and then we both
laughed. And Master gently said, "This is Chan."

Later, on my return trip, my friends told me that I have a habit of getting up impulsively from a
chair. Sometimes I just impulsively say, "Let's go" and jump up from the chair. Then I realized why
Master Dejian played the game of standing up from the chairs with me. Chan is nature, Chan is
people! In this encounter, I finally understood what is meant by the Chan's teaching without
using words but pointing straight to the heart. I relished the encounter over and over again. Thus
I went back and asked Master Dejian to let me stay at the monastery for a few days so that I
could learn more Chan with him.

The third time I visited Sanhuangzhai, we had dinner with Master Dejian. His disciple brought a
bowl of noodles, and I could only finished half. I knew that I should not waste food in the
monastery as food does not come easily, but I really couldn't eat more. Master Dejian saw my
look and said, "Don't force yourself to finish it if you cannot."

I apologized, "I'm sorry. I eat very little."

Master didn't say a word. After dinner, Master told us to return to our rooms and that he would
arrive shortly. And then Master and his dharma brother brought over a bag of herbal medicine
balls and told me to take two before sleep. He also brought a small bottle of drops and told me
to put a few drops into my nostrils three times a day. These pills and drops were unfamiliar to me
and I didn't know their ingredients. They were also not one of those common herbal medicines
that we see. But I trusted Master Dejian, or because of a scientist's curiosity, I followed his
instructions and took the pills and drops.

Later, Master told me that there were a lot of stagnates inside my body, caused by an unhealthy
diet. I immediately felt uneasy and told him that I ate very healthy and he was wrong. I have
been a vegetarian for over twenty years and followed a healthy balanced diet guideline
developed by the Harvard Medical School. He then asked if I ate eggs, garlic, spring onion, and
ginger. I replied that I love eggs and eat them three to four times weekly and also used garlic and
ginger for cooking as they can prevent cancer and expel cold.

He then told me that these foods caused the accumulation of much inflammatory heat inside my
body. Master used Qi and medicine to eliminate this inflammatory poison bit by bit and taught
me the Dan Tian breathing, so that I could improve my body. After three years of treatment, my
health has improved a lot. I do not have constant constipation anymore, my appetite is good, I
don't have edema, and I feel more energetic and do not feel tired anymore during the day. Not
only did my health improve, my emotions were also improved. I feel that I can now control my
emotions and very seldom get angry. Even when I face unhappy situations, I can still control my
temper, and gradually I have become a relaxed person.

Friends who have not seen me in years say that I seem a few years younger. People around me
say that I have become more lovely as my temper is much better and they are more willing to
approach me. These personal experiences made me feel that Shaolin Chanwuyi is good for both
the body and the mind, and I am so awed by and respectful of the generations of Shaolin
grandmasters who can gain such a thorough understanding of the human mind and body.
Moreover, I have deeply understood that to improve an individual's emotion, one has first to
improve his/her bodily health. When there is inflammatory heat stagnated inside the body, even
with a kind disposition, the person cannot control him/herself. When the stagnates are
eliminated, the person can naturally control his/her emotions. This is the key to mind-body

Master helped me improve my health and mind, and I am very moved, because I am a scientist
trained in the United States, who has a doctorate degree from the Medical School of the
University of California in San Diego, majoring in clinical neuropsychology. I had tried to improve
my own health for over twenty years, and now my problem was solved by a secluded monk
living in the mountains! Master Dejian often says that he has only attained junior secondary
schooling and doesn't know much. But his wisdom is far more profound than mine, a university
professor. Through him, I have come to understand the high levels of Chan practice--"All
wisdoms come from within, not from the outside, one must understand this."

After a search of over twenty years for a master who knew Wushu and Chan, I had finally found
him! So I went up the hills again and implore Master Dejian to take me as his disciple and teach
me Chanwuyi. But Master Dejian declined time after time, making it clear that he didn't want to
take on a disciple. He could discuss with me if I was interested, but he gently declined my
request, saying that he was only a junior secondary graduate and his Chan level was not high,
and so he was not good enough to have a professor as a disciple. After some time, Master Dejian
understood my determination and my strong wish to learn Chanwuyi and finally took me on as
his Chanwuyi disciple and selflessly taught me all the essence of Shaolin Wushu and Chanwuyi.

I had been learning Chinese Wushu since the age of seventeen, not for combat, but as a way to
develop self-control and better moral character. In an effort to learn good Wushu, I spent tens of
thousands of dollars on tuition. In order to learn yoga, I visited India three times to learn with a
yoga master. I collected over a hundred scriptures on Chinese Wushu. Thinking back on these
twenty years of learning Wushu, how pointless these were! Before I became Master's disciple, I
used to think that my Taichi had reached a quite high level. But after I started to learn Shaolin
Wushu, I began to see that traditional Shaolin Wushu was so broad and profound that ordinary
people like me who learned Wushu for over twenty years may not be able to understand.

The first time Master taught me, he taught me only one practice called "pulling the pulley." This
practice was developed out of the many generations of Shaolin grandmasters doing daily chores.
When I first learnt it, I felt that it was so much simpler than the 108 Taichi movements that I had
learned. This move only requested to turn the body in coordinated steps.

But Master said to me, "It is more valuable to learn one Ba well than to learn three hundred
impractical styles. This one Ba will be useful to you for your entire life."

At first I did not understand what he meant, but the more I practiced, the more I began to
understand. This seemingly easy practice is very difficult to get well coordinated because it
requires the coordination of the hand and feet, elbow and knee, shoulder and thigh, heart and
mind, mind and Qi, Qi and force. This practice emphasizes the coordination of commotion and
quietude, the balance of yin and yang, the alternation of strong and weak, and the combination
of the spirit and the form. Not only does it require the practice of the mind, the spirit, the Qi, but
also the lower limbs, bodily movements, and footwork. One cannot grasp and internalize this
Shaolin Wushu pulling the pulley even in a lifetime. Thus the more one practices, the more
inadequate one feels, yet the more healthy, spirited, and natural one feels!

This is much more profound than the Taichi and Yongchun that I used to learn! The first time I
approached Master, he said that traditional Chinese Wushu is about to vanish, and I did not
understand why because there are so many people practicing Chinese Wushu. Later, after I
began to practice Shaolin Wushu, I began to feel its breadth and depth, which was so different
from the Wushu that I had been learning for twenty years.

Master not only healed my physical problems, he also stimulated my mind and made me
understand myself more and taught me good Shaolin Wushu. It is difficult to repay his
benevolence. Feeling that traditional Shaolin Chanwuyi is becoming lost, and in an effort to show
my gratitude to Master and to contribute my efforts in protecting traditional Chinese culture, I
have decided to help Master to live up to his promise to his master (Master Xingxing) to spread
the Shaolin culture so that more people can benefit from the profound knowledge of Chanwuyi.

Exploring the Qi

Healing Diseases

The first time I experienced Master's Qi was when he treated my disease. In the first treatment,
he told me to lie on the bed and put my hand on my lower abdomen, in the place below the
navel where the Dan Tian is, and observe my own breathing. He said to focus on the abdomen
when breathing in and focus on the nostrils when breathing out. I closed my eyes and did as
instructed. At that time, I didn't know what Master was doing to me but only felt my intestines
making noises and felt warmth on my body.

After a while, Master used his finger to press in the middle of my stomach (Zhongwan meridian).
I felt very painful at that time. Master told my friends who were also inside the room to feel the
hard patch in my stomach and said that there were a lot of stagnant things inside my abdomen
that had accumulated over many years. Master pressed his fingers on my abdomen again and
told me to rest.
On the second morning, my stomach and abdomen was all bloated, like there were a lot of
things inside, like having eaten five pieces of bread and drank three glasses of water. I felt very
full and uncomfortable. I told Master my condition, and he replied, "I have eased the stagnated
food and Qi inside your body so that they can be eliminated from your body."

I was too uncomfortable then and could only wait helplessly for the poison to be excreted. In the
afternoon, I excreted a little, but the abdomen was still very full and uncomfortable. Then
Master applied his one-finger Chan on my abdomen to direct it, and I again felt my intestine
make noises. But the fullness in the abdomen still remained. That night, I followed Master's
instructions to use Chan Tong in my nostrils. On the following morning, I applied some more
Chan Tong in my nostrils in the morning and excreted somewhat after breakfast. The full feeling
in the stomach reduced a little, but the lower abdomen was still bloating, and there were still a
lot of things inside the abdomen.

Master explained to me, "The poison has now traveled down from the stomach to the

On the following day, we were scheduled to return to Hong Kong. In the morning, Master asked
me if I had excreted everything, and I answered, "No."

Master smiled and said, "The professor's poison is really virulent." Master was compassionate
and applied Qi direction for me once again before we left. This time, I did not feel the intense
pain I felt the previous time, but only had my intestines making a lot of noises, and it felt like
wind. But my lower abdomen was still feeling very full and bloated. When we parted with
Master Dejian and returned to Hong Kong, I continued to take two pills and applied Chan Tong in
my nostrils.

The abdomen discomfort remained. The following morning after we returned to Hong Kong, I
applied a few drops of Chan Tong in the morning, and excreted everything in my intestines very
smoothly. My body felt very light, and my stomach and abdomen felt "empty"; all the former
feelings of bloating had disappeared. Although my body felt a little tired, my mind was sharp.
I have met many Qi masters in the past, but this experience was completely new to me: the
feeling of wind inside the intestines, the Qi rumbling inside the abdomen, and the bloating of
the stomach and the abdomen, and the comfortable feeling of complete emptiness in the
intestines. This is the Shaolin one-finger Chan practice! Master does not show his one-finger
Chan practice easily, so people do not know about it. He later told me that in most cases,
stagnation inside the body can be eliminated by taking medicines and practicing. But he felt that
my condition was too serious and my life was in danger, so he treated me with one-finger Chan
practice; this practice is not meant for healing symptoms, but to save life in an emergency.

I once saw a photograph in which the subject called himself a Shaolin monk (don't know if he
was really a Shaolin monk or just an actor) who was sitting face to face in front of another
person, with their hands clasped together. The caption of the photograph was that the monk
was applying Qi to the other person, just like what one sees in martial arts novels. This
photograph shows that ordinary people, even some monks who practice internal Qi, do not
understand the truth about Shaolin Wushu!

It is unfortunate that there are too few people who understand Shaolin one-finger chan! This is
because when one has achieved such a high level of Wushu, one would not easily show his/her
Wushu to other people in order to gain status in the world of Wushu. Master never fights with
others, never harms people, and he uses Wushu only to save lives. He uses his own Qi--one-
finger Chan and two-finger Chan to heal people who were brought to him by fate. This is not
performance but the compassionate and selfless act of a grandmaster! I was so fortunate to be
able to experience it first-hand!

A Wushu Lesson

One day, Master was teaching me Shaolin Wushu Lianhuan Zhuang inside Longyang Cavern. I
was not doing it properly and he demonstrated to me. It was quiet in Longyang Cavern, and
Master was calm. He stood still for a moment and then began demonstrating Lianhuan Zhuang,
ignoring others, his mind united with spirit, his fists like moving clouds and flowing water, his
mind like an ancient well without ripples. I watched Master practice the movements and felt
very peaceful--and then felt a void inside! Master kept practicing, I kept watching; one focused
on practicing, the other focused on watching, we had entered the realm of Chan! I gradually felt
a gush of "wind"; this wind was cool and kept blowing around me. This was Master's Qi.
"This is cool!" I said in awe, in joy, in peace, in void, a feeling that cannot be described.

"Dew is cool," Master quietly said.

He told me to close my eyes, and then I felt a cool gush of Qi flowing from my Yin Tang to my Dan
Tian. My Dan Tian slowly bloated. I felt that a force was pulling my Dan Tian, up and down, up
and down. I felt very quiet, comfortable, peaceful. My Yin Tang felt very cool and I saw light in
front that was the void, very comfortable.

Master asked me, "Where do you feel my finger is placed?" I answered, "I think it is on the Yin
Tang." My eyes were closed and could not see what Master was doing, but I could feel a force
pulling at my Yin Tang but was not sure, so I could only say I "think."

Master said, "Open your eyes and see." Master was standing about seven feet away from me! He
said that a moment ago he was applying Qi on my Yin Tang, and then gradually retreated to the
place feet away.

"Master, why did I feel coolness?" I asked.

Master said to me, "Qi is cool, like dew, both are cool."

I asked again, "But I often feel that the Qi from other people is warm, some are even hot. I have
met some qigong masters in the past, and those places that they pressed with their hands are
warm. I have never felt such coolness. Why is that so?"

Master answered, "There is clear Qi and murky Qi. If the Qi is clear, it is cool. But only people
who practice in the correct way can have strong Qi. People who are not virtuous cannot emit
clear Qi. If you feel warm or hot sensations when people press on you, this is not real Qi. When
people ingest a lot of food with high caloric content, their Qi will be hot. It is not that Qi is the
hotter the better."
I asked again, "Does murky Qi have therapeutic effect?"

Master said, "If a person emits hot Qi, this person has a lot of desires. For someone who is
peaceful, his/her Qi should not be very hot. If a person with strong desires applies Qi on you, his
desires will have an effect on you, and this has a negative impact on your mind and your body."

"Master, some people told me that their illnesses were treated by qigong masters and improved.
So can I explain it this way: There is clear Qi and murky Qi, and there is strong Qi and weak Qi.
Many qigong masters have very strong but murky Qi. Only individuals at high levels of practice
can have clear Qi. This is like water coming out from a tap, the water can be strong, but it can be
dirty or clean. The cleanliness of the water has nothing to do with its strength. Which is to say, if
there is dirt on the ground (like a patient's disease), one can clear the dirt using dirty water, but
this leaves a pool of dirt on the ground? In other words, a qigong master with strong, murky Qi
can apply Qi to clear a person's stagnates and make him/her feel comfortable for a while, but the
desires of the qigong master will be left inside the patient's body and have negative impact on
his/her mind and body. This can explain why some diseases can be relieved by qigong masters
with murky Qi, but this is harmful to the mind and body in the long run."

Master did not reply, but looked at me and smiled.

I asked, "What is the pre-requisite of practicing clear Qi?"

Master said, "Being single, keeping strict Chanwuyi's vegetarian diet, abiding by the rules,
developing the mind and a virtuous character." Master also said that it is difficult for people who
have married to develop strong, true Qi because frequent sexual relationships will block and
reduce Qi. This was why grandmaster asked Master to become a monk before he taught him the
esteemed Wushu Xinyiba. If one does not abstain from martial relationship, one cannot achieve
high levels of internal Qi and cannot apply Qi as s/he wishes.

Master also said that having a vegetarian diet and simple food are also pre-requisites to
practicing clear Qi, because ingesting meat and hot and spicy food will confuse a person's
thoughts and creates a lot of desires, which are road blocks to clear Qi. Thus it is very difficult for
people who cannot maintain abstinence and a vegetarian diet to achieve strong, clear Qi. On the
other hand, how many people in this world can fulfill these two criteria? Thus most of the
commonly known qigong may not be the essence of Qi.

Master's explanation has improved my understanding of qigong and has solved the question in
my mind as to why some people who have been treated by qigong masters often feel that there
is improvement in their bodies but they have mental problems; some become more depressed,
some become more anxious and stressed. Very rarely do we see people treated by qigong
masters feeling very comfortable. But of course, this is only my personal observation and can
only be taken as reference.

An Enquiry from the Perspective of Brain Science

As a scientist, I am curious about things that I do not understand. I will try to feel and understand
novel things and try to explain these new observations using scientific methods. Through the
healing of my physical problems and the learning of Wushu, I have come to experience the
energy of Shaolin qigong. In order to examine this issue in a scientific way, I invited Master
Dejian to the laboratory of the Chinese University of Hong Kong to use neurophysical equipment
to measure the phenomena. Master agreed without any hesitation. In the past, I have invited
other qigong or Wushu masters to come for testing, but most declined. I have tested one once,
but no observable effects were found.

Many patients whom Master has treated with one-finger Chan said that they felt coolness,
warmth, lightheartedness, clarity inside their bodies. From the scientific investigator's point of
view, there can be two possibilities: one is that these are the patients' hallucinations; the other is
that Master Dejian can affect other people with his energy (i.e., Qi). Therefore we have
conducted a scientific research from the brain science perspective to better understand this

Based on these western research findings, we have some basic understanding of the healing
effect of mind-power. In order to further understand how the Qi from mind-power or Chan
practice can affect the brain activities of another individual, we invited Master Dejian to
participate in an experiment where he would direct his Qi onto the Yin Tang point (i.e., front
head). We simultaneously measured the brain waves of both the recipient and Master Dejian.
Furthermore, we invited twelve adults who did not practice Shaolin Wushu to point at the Yin
Tang of others, just as Master Dejian does, to see if the brain wave findings, if any, were unique
to Master Dejian and not just anyone.

Brain waves (EEG) are the electrical signals produced by brain cells when they communicate with
one another. These signals can be detected via electrodes placed on the scalp and stored in the
computer. Our brain is composed of billions of neurons. Neurons in different parts of the brain
need to act in concert in order to allow us to think, speak, move, and feel. The activity level and
the degree of coordination among neurons can be reflected by an index called coherence. In
reality, coherence refers to the degree of similarity of the activity level recorded at two
electrodes placed in different areas on the scalp.

For instance, Figure 1 shows that electrode A and electrode B are recording brain activities of the
same frequency band at exactly the same time; this is coherence. On the contrary, Figure 2
shows that electrode C and electrode D are recording brain activities with different frequencies;
this is non-coherent. In simple terms, the higher the coherence, the greater the coordination
between the two brain regions.
In the experiment, we measured EEG using sixteen electrodes placed across the scalp to
measure the activities in the left brain and the right brain, and then to calculate their coherence
in order to measure the coordination of the left and right brain. The sixteen electrodes are
placed symmetrically on the left and right (e.g., electrode A paired with electrode B, electrode C
paired with electrode D in Figures 1 & 2, and so on) side of the scalp, to give eight coherence
indices. The experiment was carried out with two participants in a group, and the researcher
measured the EEG of the two participants under the resting condition as well as under the
direction condition. If the participant doing the directing can influence the recipient with his/her
thoughts, then the EEG of the recipient will appear to be different when compared with the
resting condition.
Our result indicated that when Master Dejian was applying Qi on the meridian of the recipient,
the EEG coherence index of the recipient was noticeably higher. Among the eight coherence
indices, seven showed significant increase, with p<.02 (see the black bar in Figure 3). Statistically
speaking, there is a great likelihood that this increase wasn't due to chance, with X2 = 4.5, p<.05.
These results demonstrated that Master Dejian was able to influence the recipient using his Qi
and increased the degree of coordination of the left and right brain of him/her.

But is this phenomenon a result of just the posture, meaning that anyone posing as if applying Qi
on the meridian will have the same effect on the recipient? Or is it a unique effect exerted by
Master Dejian by his over twenty years of Chan practice? To answer this question, we invited
twelve individuals to be the control group (individuals who do not practice internal energy) and
measured their EEG when they posed to apply Qi as well as when they acted as the recipient. For
four of the control group participants, none of the eight coherence indices showed any change
when comparing the recipient condition and resting state (see Figure 3 for recipients 1 to 4).
Only three participants showed significant increase in two or fewer coherence measures (see
Figure 3 for recipients 10, 11, and 12). Statistically speaking, there is high likelihood that the two
coherence changes were due to random error, X2 = 4.5, p>.05. Our results indicated that not
everyone can influence the EEG of others using their mind-power, and the person who could
have long-term practice.

Now that we have shown that Master Dejian can influence others with his Qi, the next question
is: whether the EEG changes in the recipient are related to the changes in Master Dejian's EEG.
When the recipient was in the resting state (before Master Dejian applied Qi), five of the eight
coherence indices were lower than Master Dejian's coherences, t(4)=6.9, p<.005. The black bar
in Figure 4 shows the difference in the coherence indices between the recipient and Master
Dejian when in the resting condition. Then, when Master Dejian applied Qi on the recipients,
their relatively low EEG coherence was increased and became closer to Master Dejian's EEG
coherence measures (the grey bars in Figure 4), t(4)=2.2, p>.05. These results suggested that
when Master Dejian applied Qi on the recipients, their EEG coherence on the two sides of the
brain increased, which also became closer with Master Dejian's coherence. Thus this experiment
indicated that Master Dejian was able to use his internal energy to influence the brain
functioning of another person.
Based on the above data, I wanted to further examine whether Master's brain functioning is
different from normal people. Therefore we measured the resting EEG of Master Dejian and a
control group of fourteen adult volunteers aged between twenty-four and forty-seven (average
age thirty-six, ten years younger than Master Dejian). We adopted an index (cordance)
associated with brain perfusion developed by Professor Leuchter of the University of California
(Psychiatry Research Neuroimaging, 1999, 125-140), which reflects the activity of the brain (see
Figure 5A). The higher the index value, the more active the brain and the better the functioning.

For the normal control group, their mean resting EEG in the anterior region was -0.21, and the
mean resting EEG for the posterior region was 0.46. We used these figures as comparison with
Master Dejian's measurements. Results indicated that the values for Master Dejian's anterior
and posterior brain regions were 1.06 and 1.61 respectively, about three to five times of or one
standard deviation above that of normal adults (see Figure 5B). These results were the first
experimental evidence that shows that the brain activity of Master Dejian, who has been
engaged in long-term practice of Chanwuyi, has a more active brain than normal individuals.
Using Qi to Heal Incurable Disease

Motor neuron disease is a brain and central nervous system disease. The symptoms are loss of
muscle tone and atrophy and painful muscle contraction. The symptoms usually begin in the
hands and gradually affect the legs. The muscles quiver, tense, and some patients will have
difficulty swallowing and speaking. When the disease becomes advanced, most patients cannot
take care of themselves, and some are even paralyzed. There is no cure for this disease in
western medicine, and generally speaking, 50 percent of the patients die within three years,
one-year survival is about 20 percent, and ten-year survival is 10 percent. Master Dejian helped
a patient with motor neuron disease regain his ability to take care of himself, using his Qi. The
patient was very grateful to Master Dejian, and he voluntary wrote his experience and allowed
us to publish it. The patient, who is an actor in China, described his own case as the following:

I had a minor injury during a movie shoot in 1994. It did not seem serious at that time, and I only
felt a bit of neck pain and couldn't straighten my neck. But gradually, I felt unwell and my
movements became difficult. In the following two to three months, my thumbs felt weak when I
put on my socks, and the muscles around my left thumb began to atrophy. I was then given a
diagnosis of motor neuron disease at the neurology department of Shanghai Huashan Hospital.
My disease was further confirmed at the Shanghai Labor Department: that I had completely lost
the ability to work.

In 2002, I began to have difficulty in using the chopsticks and pen, and my shoulder muscles also
began to atrophy. In 2005, I had some family problems and my mood was affected severely. My
condition aggravated acutely as a result. When I had emotional upheavals, my body cramped so
badly that I couldn't even walk or get onto my bed. I couldn't lift my arms, couldn't turn my
shoulders, couldn't stand upright; even my thinking was becoming fuzzy and I couldn't speak
clearly. Because my limbs had lost their functions, I couldn't move around on my own, and I
became disabled. Modern medicine offered no cause or treatment for this disease, and I was
only able to sit and let my condition worsen. I couldn't understand it at all. Later, an American
expert told me that this disease is still not understood by modern medicine.

In January 2007, I went to Beijing, and in the Beijing airport, I was tripped over by a small, one-
cm bulge on the corridor (I had been tripped over twice in Shanghai). Because I couldn't use my
hands to act in protection, I fell flat on the floor and I had multiple injuries to my face. I was
covered in blood and got twenty stitches to my face that night at the Beijing Xiehe Hospital.
May 23 of the same year, I met Master Dejian by the introduction of Mr. Zhaomiao (a formal
director for the CCTV). He was very friendly and chatted to learn about my disease. I thought to
myself that even American experts had given the verdict that my disease was untreatable, so this
kindly monk must only be comforting me. After a while, Master Dejian began to apply qigong on
me. His hands and fingers worked on the front and back of my body and on my limbs. I could
faintly feel like I was stung by insects or bees, and I felt very comfortable afterwards. I started
using nasal drops and herbal medicine on May 24. Treatment went on for ten days, and I left
Songshan on June 3. These ten days were the most memorable days in my life.

1. I could sleep, I could eat, and I felt happy.

2. From the first day, my knee and ankle felt acute pain. In the past, these joints felt stiff and
numb; now I could feel that this was comforting.

3. My legs felt much better when I walked. Some strength came back, and I am quite confident
that I will not get tripped over again like what happened in the airport. Now I could go to the
market to buy food alone by myself.

4. I could eliminate very smoothly; in the past, I had constipation.

5. When I left Sanhuangzhai, I took the two thousand steps on my own without any help from
others. I am confident that next time I go up Sanhuangzhai again, I could walk up by myself
instead of being carried by others.

6. I regained my independent living.

When I returned to Beijing, I stayed at a friend's home for about a month, using the medication
every day. When I returned to Shanghai, I stopped medication for a short period. I felt that my
body was recovering, and I felt deeply grateful to Master Dejian. I am an actor, and acting is my
career. I got this untreatable disease which devastated me. Out of the hopelessness, Master
Dejian treated me, and I became better so much so that I could regain independent living. I have
regained hope, faith, and am looking forward to getting back on the stage. This is my greatest
comfort, and the biggest gift I can give to Master Dejian!
(Source from "The Shaolin Chanwuyi: A Chinese Chan Buddhism", Ch.4)

When people first get to know Shaolin Chanwuyi, they often have many questions. I have
compiled a list of common questions asked by beginners as the following:

Basic Concepts in Chanwuyi

What is Chan?

Chan is wisdom in daily living. One cannot understand Chan unless one searches for it
throughout one's life. Chan is the relationship between life, the environment, and nature. Chan
practice aims to facilitate people to lead a natural life and to live each day in calmness,
tranquility, and serenity even when one faces difficulties. Chan is a culture and way of living; it is
human dignity.

What is the benefit of Chan practice in daily living?

Nowadays, people are under constant pressure from work and from making a living, which
makes it easy for us to get angry and difficult for us to maintain a calm mind. In addition, human
beings have greed and chase after fame and fortune, burning ourselves out. When we fail to get
what we want, these longings and cravings create in us disappointments, misery, anxiety, and
anger. Human greed, anger, and cravings cause us to live an undignified life and prevent us from
maintaining a mind in tranquility and serenity. The greed, anger, and cravings are the causes, and
our hardships and fatigue in life are the outcomes. Chan practice elevates human wisdom and
allows us to enter the realm of tranquility and joy. Through Chan practice, we can begin to
understand the harmful effect of greed, anger, and cravings on our physical and psychological
health, as well as its detriment to harmony in our family and society.

What is seated Chan?

There is a misunderstanding that sitting in the cross-legged Buddha position is equivalent to

seated Chan. The sixth grandmaster once said, "What is meant by seated Chan ? Chan exists
outside of all physical impediments and all values. Seated means to stay focused and
unperturbed. Chan means to stay still and reflect on oneself." (Seated Chan No.5).

Thus, seated Chan is a mental state and not an external posture. The sixth grandmaster clearly
pointed out that one should not care about the external posture, "Some people said that
'seated' means keeping one's body physically still. This is not true, and these people are
misdirected. But many people still keep on doing this and even go on to teach others. This is a
big mistake." (Dinghui No.4). Seated Chan means "stay internally focused" and "meditate". This
is a form of training that helps people control their emotions, to prevent them from succumbing
to external attractions, to focus their attention, maintain a calm and tranquil mind, reduce
miseries, to become wiser, and to achieve a state of oneness with nature.

What is focused Chan?

The scripture from the sixth grandmaster explained focused Chan, "Having no regard for the
form is Chan; staying internally calm is 'focused'." (Seated Chan No.5). Chan is a mental state, not
a sitting posture. One should not be too absorbed in one's daily living, no matter in what
situation. People who do not practice Chan often react strongly to external events. For instance,
they get very happy over a pay raise; very miserable over the loss of a job or failure in business.
But for those who base their lives in Chan, they try to deal with daily events with calm and peace
and stay unperturbed, just like an ancient well where there are no ripples.
What is the relationship between Chanwuyi and seated Chan?

Chanwuyi is a way of Chan practice. The practitioners aim to achieve a state of seated Chan and
lead a life of tranquility, perseverance, and dignity.

What is meant by Chanwuyi?

Chanwuyi is a school of thought in which Chan, Wu, and Yi complement one another. It
advocates living according to the theory of Chan, to achieve the state of seated Chan through
Wu (martial arts). And in turn, through the practice of Wu, one gets to understand one's own
mind and body. The basic principle of Chanwuyi is to improve one's physical and psychological
health through practicing Chan and Wu. At high levels of Chanwuyi practice, one gets to
understand one's meridians, internal organs, circulation of the blood and Qi, and one's mind.
One thus gets to be an expert in medicine so much as to be able to heal others.

Practitioners of Chanwuyi do charitable deeds to cultivate one's own Chan mind. Thus Chanwuyi
is a trinity, with each component having equal importance. It is indeed a unity. In the present
day, there is a common misunderstanding that Chanwuyi is the combination of Chan, Wu, and Yi
(medicine). Some people misunderstand that sitting with the legs crossed in the Buddha
position, knowing one or two types of Chinese martial arts, and having knowledge of Chinese
medicine means understanding Chanwuyi. But such unrelated practice of the three components
is not Chanwuyi. The traditional Chanwuyi from traditional Shaolin culture is a united and unique
theory. Chanwuyi is one concept but not the combination of three different concepts.

Why do people have such a misunderstanding?

Chanwuyi is unique to the Yonghuatang of the southern branch of the Shaolin Temple; the
Chanwuyi was passed down from generation to generation within Yonghuatang and was seldom
revealed to others. Therefore only very few Shaolin monks have inherited this method. Some
people who did not belong to Yonghuatang used their imagination to interpret Chanwuyi, and
this created many misunderstandings. The current master of Yonghuatang of Shaolin Temple is
Master Dejian. He is the eighteenth-generation master of the Yonghuatang.

Who created Chanwuyi?

Chanwuyi was not created by one person, but is the fruition of eighteen generations of monks of
the Yonghuatang of Shaolin Temple, who continually improved it generation after generation
into a complete body of knowledge.

Who founded Yonghuatang of the Shaolin Temple?

Yonghuatang of the Shaolin Temple was founded by Master Wuyan Zhengdao. He was the abbot
of the Shaolin Temple and also the chief of all Buddhist Chan monks in northern China. He was
known as the leading monk. During his service as abbot of the Shaolin Temple, Shaolin
Chanwuyi flourished as never before, and this set a firm foundation for Chanwuyi.

Do all Shaolin monks practice Chanwuyi?

No, not all Shaolin monks practice Chanwuyi. Some Shaolin monks practice under the Jingtu
branch who focus on prayers, and some monks do not practice Wu at all. Traditionally, the
Shaolin Temple is divided into eastern, southern, western, and northern branches, and only the
southern and western branches exist today. Yonghuatang belongs to the southern branch, and
Chanwuyi is unique to this branch. The Wu practiced by the southern branch is different from
other Shaolin Wu in that Chanwuyi emphasizes the training of the mind, the focus, and the Qi.
The main goal is to develop a virtuous character and virtuous mind through the practice of Wu.
What is the aim of practicing Chanwuyi?

The aim of practicing Chanwuyi is to help people lead a happy and natural life, to learn to train
the mind and body in everyday living. All Shaolin Wu are developed from activities of daily living.
One can practice Wu when one is walking, sitting in a car, cleaning and doing house chores,
taking the stairs, and even sleeping. Wu practice is a way to train one's bodily movements and
mental state. One can practice Chanwuyi when walking, standing, sitting, and lying down.

Practicing Chanwuyi in daily living

Will technological advances have an impact on Chanwuyi practice?

The advancement of technology has the ultimate goal of improving the quality of life of people,
as well as to promote a harmonious society. Technology, when put to good use, will be beneficial
to people; when put to evil use, it will be harmful to people. The practice of Chanwuyi focuses
on nurturing the mind, to understand oneself, to help others with a compassionate heart, and to
serve society. All other things are not important.
What are the barriers to practicing Chanwuyi?

The major source of barriers is the negative inside one's mind. What is "the negative within"?
These are wrongful thoughts and behaviors, e.g., things that one should not say or do. In order
to eliminate the negative thought within, one has to practice to change and achieve the state of
having an enlightened mind to reach nature. One has first to understand oneself in order to
change oneself, to relinquish greed, anger, and cravings. The major barriers to achieving this are
the three malices: the first is greed; do not harbor the thought to want something that one does
not need, and one can maintain a calm and peaceful mind. The second is anger, hatred, and
jealousy. The third is cravings for things out of one's reach. If one can stay away from these three
malices, then one can develop a healthy body and a virtuous mind without outside help and can
get down to doing real work.

What is the relationship between Chanwuyi and Buddhist teachings? (The Four Truths in the
Suffering Path of Spiritual Pursuit)

Buddhism teaches that life on earth is a path of suffering, a transient stage from birth to spiritual
attainment. From birth, human beings experience aging, sickness, and death. These are things
that human beings must go through since birth. Despite life being a process of suffering, human
beings can still live with a joyful heart, because there is joy inside the suffering. The key is how
the person views the sufferings. To live on the mountains is hard, and the materialistic life in
cities is very alluring. But people practicing Wushu on the mountains live a joyful life. They can
help those who climb the mountains to seek treatment of their illnesses, to help people regain
their health. To take joy in other people's joy is the way to be joyful in the world of suffering. This
is what Buddhism means by helping others gain happiness and facilitate people to attain

What are the pre-requisites to practicing Chanwuyi?

There are three pre-requisites to practicing Chanwuyi. The first is to have a virtuous character
and be selfless. The second is to have great perseverance to endure hardship, loneliness, and to
push on in the face of difficulties. The third is a high ability to learn.
What is the food consumption requirement to learning Chanwuyi?

The first thing is to improve one's diet, since many diseases and emotional problems are caused
by an unhealthy diet. The practitioner must refrain from meat, fish, eggs, Chinese chives, spring
onion, garlic, coriander, ginger, mustard, chili, pepper and food with strong taste. If one does not
have the determination to change one's diet, it will be very difficult for one to practice Chanwu,
not to say the attainment of Chan tranquility.

Why is improving the diet so important in Chanwuyi?

It has been documented in the Lankavatara Sutra that an unhealthy diet is harmful to Chan
practice: "If one is not disciplined in one's diet, one will have many cravings. Cravings breed
greed. Therefore one should be disciplined in one's diet. Excessive eating breeds greed, and
greed corrupts the mind and indulges it in lust. One can never be liberated." In addition, the
Compendium of Materia Medica also pointed out that long-term ingestion of meat can harm a
person's mental health. It was recorded, "spring onion causes inflammation, and voluminous
ingestion causes harm to the mind"; "long-term ingestion of garlic harms human nature"; "one
should not eat garlic because it harms the mind," etc. Therefore if one is prepared to practice
Chan, to be able to attain the state of enlightened heart to reach nature, and to live happily and
wisely, one must first improve one's health.

What is the basic step in practicing Chanwuyi?

The most important thing is to have the determination to adopt a vegetarian diet, to develop a
virtuous mind and character, to reduce greed and cravings. When one can do these, one can
begin to start practicing traditional Shaolin Wu. To train the circulation of the Qi is the main
practice in traditional Shaolin Wu. The most important thing is to nurture the Qi inside the body
in order to strengthen the body and facilitate absorption from the daily intake of food. The basic
Shaolin Wu training involves passive Dan Tian breathing, active Dan Tian breathing, and tranquil

(Source from "The Shaolin Chanwuyi: A Chinese Chan Buddhism", Ch.5)

What is the difference between the martial arts practiced in Chanwuyi and other forms of
martial arts?

The major practice in Chanwuyi is to practice the heart, the mind, and the Qi. The ultimate goal
is to attain control of the heart and mind. One's greatest enemy is oneself; therefore, one often
finds it difficult to control one's cravings and emotions, causing miseries in one's life. For
example, some people do not want to have temper tantrums but cannot control their anger;
some want to sleep well at night but suffer from insomnia; some hope to have a clear mind but
often feel confused. Chanwuyi is a school of thought that helps people to improve their control
of themselves, to control their heart and mind, through which to improve their physical and
psychological health. Thus Chanwuyi is not a way to train the limbs and body, but to train the
heart. "Heart" means Chan. Thus Chanwu is the practice of martial arts to train the heart.

What is meant by passive and active Dan Tian breathing?

Passive Dan Tian breathing can be practiced by putting your hands on your Dan Tian, and then
observing the Dan Tian when inhaling, the nose when exhaling. The main point is to guide the
breathing with the mind. Active Dan Tian breathing is built on the foundation of passive Dan Tian
breathing, with the following additional steps: to tighten gently the anus and abdomen and to
close the lips when exhaling, guiding the breathing with the mind.

What is the benefit of Dan Tian breathing?

Breathing is essential for life. But many people cannot even control their own breathing, not to
say their mind or emotions. Thus learning to control one's breathing is the first step in learning
to control oneself. This is the basic step in the Chan practice to attain enlightenment of the heart
to reach nature. Daily practice can improve one's emotion and calm one's mind. In addition, it
can improve one's physical health. Clinical research evidence has shown that daily practice of
Dan Tian breathing is effective in improving emotions, sleep quality, and intestinal problems.
Thus, Dan Tian breathing is the first step to Chan practice, as well as to improving physical and
psychological health.

What is the relationship between the Dan Tian and Qi?

Life is dependent on breathing. Before birth, the human fetus already breathes inside the
mother's womb. Qi cannot be touched or seen, but it is the source of life. Without Qi, one would
not have the energy to walk or to talk. The Qi inside the Dan Tian is life itself. Chanyi (medicine)
puts a lot of focus on the Dan Tian and Qi. Where does Qi come from? It comes from the Dan
Tian. And the Dan Tian is closely connected with the nose. When the nose is unblocked, the
brain is unlocked. Where does one's energy come from? It comes also from the Dan Tian. Many
things have been said about the Dan Tian, including the upper Dan Tian, mid Dan Tian, and
lower Dan Tian. But no matter which Dan Tian is referred to, the human being is a complete
body. If the breath is deep, one will have longevity; if the breath is short, one will not live long.
Thus whether one is healthy or not depends a lot on the Dan Tian. Every individual needs to
train his/her Dan Tian since long-term ingestion of an omnivorous diet will block the Qi. We need
to stir up the blocked Qi, thus we need to train our Dan Tian.

What are the most important things in practicing traditional Shaolin Wu?

There are five major principles in traditional Shaolin Wu:

(1) Six combinations: Combining the heart with the mind, the mind with the Qi, the Qi with
strength, the shoulder with the thighs, the hands with the feet, and the elbows with the knees.
(2) Three sections: the human body can be seen as the three sections of the extremities (hands
and elbows), the trunk (the lower back and abdomen), and the roots (legs and feet).

(3) Four extremities: the hair, fingers, teeth, and tongue.

(4) Five elements: metal, wood, water, fire, and earth. The five elements of the body are divided
into the outer five elements and the inner five elements.

How does traditional Shaolin Wu compare with other schools of Wu?

The difference in schools and forms are not important. As long as one has a compassionate heart
no matter which school of Wu one practices, it would be beneficial to the body. Different schools
of Wu have developed different styles. But all require the use of the heart and mind. Take the
Shaolin Xinyiba as an example; this is not limited to Shaolin, but is also applicable to other
schools of Wu as it is about the control of the heart and the mind.
Does Shaolin Wu focus on combat skills or health maintainance? Does it require a balance
between firmness and softness?

Historical records had it that Shaolin Wu had been used on the battle field for protecting the
country and upholding justice. There were thirteen renowned monks who helped the emperor
during the Tang Dynasty. Shaolin monks also fought to protect the frontier of the nation during
the Ming Dynasty. Thus many powerful styles of fighting have been developed by Shaolin monks.
But the use of Shaolin Wu in combat is secondary to its use in promoting health, through striking
a balance between firmness and softness. In sum, Shaolin Wu is practiced to enhance physical
and psychological health and not for performance or combat.

Is it bad to practice in an environment that is noisy and busy?

It is not ideal to practice in busy and noisy places, but better than no practice at all if one can't
find a quiet place. It is important, however, to try to quiet down and keep a stable mind even in a
noisy environment. When interrupted during practice, one gets startled easily and this is an
impediment to practice. One has to maintain a quiet mind during practice.

Why do people practice Wushu for a long time but became unhealthy when they get older?

It is related to the type of Wushu we practice. If one is the kind of Wushu boxing that is powerful
and ferocious, it may be harmful to the physical health by blocking the Qi or damaging the
internal organs. Many people like to learn those kinds of Wushu because they look powerful and
the movement is beautiful, but this may not be good for the body. Traditonal Chinese Wushu
emphasis is on training mind and body and may involve very simple rather than complicated
movements. Those kinds of Wushu can benefit the physical and mental health and are suitable
for all ages.

What is the major aim of practicing tranquil standing?

Every method originates from "Empty oneself". When practicing tranquil standing, one has to
maintain natural breathing and a correct posture. The energy will slowly sink. The Buddhist
scripture says, "All intentions boil down to virtual pursuits." The more one intends to achieve,
e.g., in breathing, strength, understanding, the more one gets confused. One only needs to stand
naturally and practice with the mind being purposeless, and one will gradually understand. The
practice of tranquil standing causes the body to exhale the used energy and inhale the new
ones, which facilitates metabolism and puts strength on the heels.

(Source from "The Shaolin Chanwuyi: A Chinese Chan Buddhism", Ch.5)

What is Shaolin Chanyi (medicine)?

Chanyi is the name for traditional Shaolin medicine. It is a unique branch of Chinese medicine
developed over generations of clinical practice of Chanwuyi by Shaolin monks. Its basic theories
include pathology, pharmacology, health promotion, health maintenance, etc., all based on the
foundation of Chan and Qi. The training of a virtuous mind is the prerequisite to the training of a
strong body, and psychological health is the foundation of physical health. There are thousands
of orifices and meridians in the human body. Unblocking the orifices and meridians will
strengthen both physical and psychological health.

What is the similarity between Shaolin Chanyi and Chinese medicine?

Shaolin Chanyi is similar to traditional Chinese medicine in that it is based on the theories of the
circulation of the Qi and blood, meridians, pulses, yin-yang, and the five elements. The causes of
human diseases, according to both Chanyi and traditional Chinese medicine, are abnormalities in
the weather, lifestyle and dietary habits, and emotions. All persons are affected by the changes
in weather (spring, summer, fall, and winter). Whether one gets sick or not depends on one's
physical condition and immune defense mechanism. Lifestyle and dietary habits, emotions, and
physical training can all affect one's immune defense mechanism.
What is the difference between Shaolin Chanyi and Chinese medicine?

Shaolin medicine was developed based upon Chinese medical theories. It is a branch of Chinese
medicine unique from all other branches. First of all, Shaolin Chanyi emphasizes the healing of
the mind and the purging of evil thoughts and cleansing of the mind, as it advocates that all
human diseases stem from evil thoughts. There is a saying that "all diseases stem from the
mind". Negative thoughts originate from human greed, anger, and cravings, all of which harm
the internal organs and the circulation of the blood and Qi. For instance, anger will harm the
liver, being worrisome will harm the spleen and stomach. Therefore, to heal a disease, one must
first heal the mind. One must first purge the negative thoughts and quiet down the mind before
one can treat the psychological and physical problems. This concept is different from traditional
Chinese medicine.

In addition, Chanyi emphasizes a healthy diet because it believes that "diseases enter the body
through the mouth". Many diseases are related to an unhealthy diet. Thus Chanyi advocates the
adoption of a healthy diet over medication, to take vegetarian food, and reduce the ingestion of
food that causes inflammation in order to improve physical and psychological health.
Furthermore, Chanyi emphasizes "blockages cause diseases". Many diseases are caused by
blocked orifices and blocked circulation of the blood and Qi. Chanyi utilizes different methods to
unblock bodily orifices and the circulation of the blood and Qi.

What is the main Chanwuyi treatment method?

The main treatment method of Chanwuyi is training the Qi and unblocking the orifices. It
teaches the practitioner to use his/her own breathing to guide the Qi and unblock the orifices.
Other means include the use of herbal medicine and adopting a healthy diet. For serious
conditions, Chanyi practitioners can also apply one-finger Chan to unblock the patient's
circulation and orifices.
Master Dejian collects herbs in the mountain

What is meant by unblocking the Qi?

Smooth circulation of the Qi and blood will lead to a natural and tranquil mind. But human
emotions, cravings, and unhealthy diets can cause blocked circulation. Prolonged blocking of the
circulation will have a negative impact on physical health. For instance, when one is unhappy or
angry, one would feel pressure building up in the chest to the extent that breathing is
interrupted, sometimes even causing dizziness and neck pain. According to the theory of blood
and Qi circulation, this phenomenon is caused by blocked Qi in the chest.

Chanyi unblocks Qi circulation using methods including guided breathing exercise, mind-body
exercise, Chinese herbal medicine, dietary restriction, purging of evil thoughts, etc. For example,
when one feels blocked Qi in the chest, one can practice "smoothing the Qi" to guide the Qi back
to the Dan Tian. When the blocked Qi dissolves from the chest, one would feel more

To practice tranquil standing every day is another method. Tranquil standing is beneficial to
unblocking the circulation of blood and Qi. To practice tranquil standing in the morning has the
beneficial effect of exhaling the blocked Qi accumulated from the previous night and inhaling the
fresh morning air. This is what is meant by "exhaling the old and inhaling the new". Chanyi also
utilizes supplementary Chinese herbal medicine to unblock the circulation. There is also the
adoption of a healthy diet so that there would not be too many residues built up inside the body.
Built-up residue is one of the causes for blocked circulation. Finally, to "purge evil thoughts" is
also a way to unblock the circulation in Chanwuyi. Human emotions are one of the causes for
blocked circulation. When one's negative thoughts are purged, one's mind can become tranquil
and the circulation will become smooth.

What is meant by unblocking the orifices?

Blocked circulation causes diseases. Minor diseases begin by blockages of the surface orifices. If
the blockages are not treated, failure in the bodily mechanism will result, leading to serious
illnesses. The major causes of blocked orifices are: (1) unhealthy diet, (2) inappropriate
treatment, (3) extreme emotions, (4) careless dress and grooming, and (5) not wearing warm
enough clothing. These reasons can cause blockages inside the body, which will aggravate from
the surface to the inside, causing the death of tissues in the internal organs and inability to
inhale Qi. Thus Chanyi advocates the unblocking of the surface orifices in the human body, which
include the seven orifices of the nose, mouth, ears, eyes, pores on the skin, and the two murky
orifices in the lower part of the body. Through the method of guiding, for example, using
Chinese herbal medicine, bathing of the nose and tranquil standing, to unblock the nose and
pores on the skin. Passive Dan Tian breathing and active Dan Tian breathing can also help
unblock the nose, mouth, and the murky orifices in the lower part of the body.

What are the three types of individuals that Chanwuyi cannot help treat?

Chanyi advocates that "life is in one's own hands", and therefore requires individuals to help
themselves in improving their own health through improving one's diet, mental state, and
lifestyle habits. There are three kinds of persons that Chanyi does not treat:

(1) Those who refuse to improve their diet: patients have to refrain from spring onion, Chinese
chives, mustard, chili spices, ginger, meat, fish, etc., food that creates heat and then
inflammation. If the patient does not refrain from these foods, there is no point in healing
because no medicine would do any good.
(2) Those who get angry easily: This is because anger can cause a large amount of blood to rush
to the head, which would cause inflammation in the nose.

(3) Those who frequently "leak Qi": this means over-indulgence in sexual relationships. Extreme
lustful acts are harmful to one's energy, weaken the immune system, and dry out the liver. This
will invite different diseases to enter the body.

What is the relationship between Chanyi and Buddhism?

Buddhist teaching has often likened itself to the medical practitioner: the Buddha is a great
healer, the teachings are the medicines, the monks are the nurses, and the lay people are the
patients. Buddha has been named "the Great Doctor", taking on himself the responsibility to
heal mental diseases in the public. Medicine is not only a means to purify the human spirit, but
also a practical way to do charitable deeds in the real world for Buddhists, especially those under
the Chan branch.

(Source from "The Shaolin Chanwuyi: A Chinese Chan Buddhism", Ch.5)

Shaolin Chanwuyi is a way of Chan practice that focuses on practicing Chinese Wushu as a way to
clear one's mind, to improve self-control, to improve mental health, to enhance physical health,
to get enlightenment, to become wiser and happier. Thus the function of practicing Shaolin
Wushu is to train oneself to achieve the state of Chan so that one can improve one's mental and
physical health. That is an explanation of Chanwuyi--practicing Wushu as a way for Chan training
in order to heal oneself.

However, there has been much confusion about Shaolin Wushu and concern some "magic
tricks", such as stabbing the iron bar to the throat or slicing a watermelon on the stomach
without hurting the person. Those are the tradition folk art performances in China, and
traditionally Shaolin monks did not practice this type of performing arts. Due to the flourishing
economical development of mainland China, the word "Shaolin" has been used as an
advertisement of this type of performing arts. Making thing worse is that some businessmen will
claim that these performers are Shaolin monks, but in fact they are performers who only wear
the monk's outfit. In tradition, Shaolin monks, like other monks in Buddhist temples, dictated
their life for polishing their minds and souls and also to do charity deeds. No genuine Shaolin
monk will show off his/her Wushu, nor act like a performer on stage.

Since the goal of practicing Shaolin kung fu is to get enlightenment, all disciplines of Shaolin
Chanwuyi should live with Buddha's teachingnamely to clear one's mind, to develop
virtuous character, and to do charitable deeds. Without a kind and gentle
heart, one should not learn the Shaolin traditional Wushu because this type of
Wushu is to train the heart, mind, and Qi. If one practices Wushu without a
kind heart and peaceful mind, one will be hurt by one's own negative thoughts
and unblocking the Qi circulation. It will do more harm than good! Thus
clearing one's mind, developing virtuous character, and performing charity
deeds are pre-requisites for practicing traditional Shaolin Wushu.

Clear the Mind

Shaolin Chanwuyi is an approach of Chinese Chan Buddhism that, like other Chan
approaches, aims to obtain a peaceful mind, enlightenment, and then achieve a
higher level of spiritual attainment. To have a clear mind means to develop
wisdom to understand the meaning of life, the truth about the world, the logic
in nature, and the truth about self. In order to obtain enlightenment,
followers of Chanwuyi will study the scriptures and teaching of the Buddha,
but they do not say incantations or focus on prayer. For Shaolin monks who are
practicing Chanwuyi will be working and performing necessary tasks that
benefit the temple, the followers, and the world. In addition, they will spend
the rest of their time practicing traditional Shaolin Wushu as a way of
obtaining a higher level of spiritual enlightenment. They will not spend their
time praying and chanting in the temple, they will not practice religious
ritual or superstitious acts daily.

For instance, a day of life for Master Dejian starts at three in the morning.
He begins to practice Shaolin Wushu for two to three hours, then he will rest
of a while and have breakfast. After breakfast, he will be involved in the
construction work of the temple till noon and then have lunch. He will then
practice Wushu again after lunch. After a rest, he will receive visitors for a
few hours before dinner. After dinner, he will retreat to his cave and
practice Wushu for a while before going to bed. Thus Chanwuyi is a Buddhism
practice that emphasizes training oneself in regular daily living; it does not
advocate exclusive practice that separates one from society.

It is the tradition for Chanwuyi practice to obtain enlightenment from within

but not rely on the external teaching or focus. Thus followers will spend time
in meditation and self-reflection. However, the method of meditation in
Chanwuyi is also different from some other approaches. That is, it is a common
view that meditation is to sit still with crossed legs. For Chanwuyi,
meditation is a state of mind that can be obtained by practicing Shaolin
traditional Wushu, by performing daily activities, by doing household chores,
or by interacting with others. Thus Shaolin Chanwuyi is an approach that can
be applied in daily life including walking, standing, sitting, sleeping,
working, playing, and resting. It is a philosophy of living, and it is also a
method of living so that individuals can become wiser and happier.

Develop a Virtuous Character

Abiding by the Rules

Those who want to learn Chanwuyi must first follow the Buddha's teaching and
develop a virtuous character. To help us to become a kind person, to
facilitate our practice to develop virtuous character, the five commandments
of Buddhism are followed by all disciples of Shaolin Chanwuyi:

- No killing.

- No stealing/greed.

- No obscene thought and behavior.

- No dishonesty/lie.
- No drinking.

Scripture from the Sixth Grandmaster

Besides trying to avoid misbehaviors, the followers of Chanwuyi should also

perform good acts. The scripture from the sixth grandmaster has been
considered the key scripture representing the Chinese Chan Buddhism. The
following are the teaching from Master Huineng that serve as a guideline for
developing good deeds:

If the mind is peaceful, one doesn't need to worry about the commandments;

If one's acts are virtuous, one does not need Chan meditation.

To nurture one's kindness by looking after one's parents; to foster one's

righteousness by having compassion for others.

To develop one's humility by live harmoniously with all levels of people;

To nurture one's endurance by not bad-mouthing the other's misbehavior.

If one can have the patience as starting a fire by just rotating wood, one
will like water lily that grow out of muddy environment.

Good medicine usually does not taste good, as good advice is not easy to take.

If one is willing to correct one's errors, one will become wiser; if one
insists on wrong behaviors, one's mind is not righteous.
One should live like this in everyday life, and don't misunderstand that one
gets enlightenment by solely doing charity deeds.

One can find wisdom only in one's mind; one doesn't need to look for it

If you listen and practice the above, paradise is right before your eyes.

Master Huineng explained it simply that it is most important for a human to

have peace of mind and be virtuous. Secondly, one has to respect and take care
of one's parents and maintain a good relationship with them. And one must not
lie, should correct oneself if wrong, and accept other people's critique of
oneself. This is a good way to practice Chan.

The last couplet, "One can find wisdom only in one's mind, one doesn't need to
look for it elsewhere" explains the essence of Chan Buddhism; that is, one
gets enlightenment and becomes wiser by self-reflection and training, not
depending on others' teaching. This is also what Master Dejian often refers to
as the negative thoughts in one's mindwe need to conquer it ourselves rather
than totally depend on help from others. Every individual has wisdom inside
his/her mind; if one can clean the mind and be virtuous, one can become a
Buddha. In sum, as disciplines of Chanwuyi, one performs all good deeds and
avoids all bad deeds.

To Relinquish Greed, Anger, and Ignorance

As Buddha said, suffering is caused by human greed, anger, and ignorance.

Suffering includes mental and physical problems including depression, anxiety,
obsessive behavior, all sorts of body pain and tumors, and illnesses. Shaolin
Chanwuyi has followed the teaching of Buddha to educate and train disciplines
to control greed, anger, and destroy ignorance. To do so, one must understand
the harm of greed, anger, and ignorance. However, it should be noted that
controlling greed does not mean that one becomes passive and non-motivated. In
fact, most true Chanwuyi followers are very motivated and active in life. They
are professionals in various domains and also actively do charity work. They
feel energetic because they are practicing Chanwu and have a kind heart
because they live by the order of Chan.


Humans have unlimited desires, but our resources are limited. Given this fact,
we cannot satisfy our unlimited desires with limited resources! Thus people
are often kept working hard or even exhaust themselves to satisfy their
desires. But when there are not enough resources and desires cannot be
satisfied, they become unhappy and anxious and also very tired. Most of the
psychological problems such as depression or nervous breakdown can be related
to unlimited desires (i.e., greed), and in turn affect physical health. Most
of the body's pain and chronic illnesses (e.g., high blood pressure) can be
related to psychological problems.

In order to relinquish the pain caused by desires, Chanwuyi practitioners do

not work relentlessly to satisfy their desires, but establish reasonable
desires. Some people mistakenly think that Chan requires individual to have no
desire, and do nothing, getting nothing. This is a misconception! To eradicate
desire does not mean having no motive to improve, but rather having no
unjustified desires. To let everything be, to not try to chase after things
that do not belong to oneself, and not to chase after things that one doesn't
need, but to work hard to carry out one's responsibilities. A student should
work hard on studies, a teacher should work hard to educate, and no one should
crave for things out of one's reach.


Individuals feel anger because things and events happen not in the way he/she
wants. Mothers get angry at their children usually because the latter do not
behave according to the mother's requirement such as not doing homework, not
waking up in the morning. Company managers and supervisors get angry at their
lower-level staff because the latter did not perform the way he/she wanted,
such as he/she did not finish the job on time or failed to make a business
deal. Spouses get angry at each other because the latter did not perform up to
his/her expectation such as forget to buy a birthday gift, did not do the
laundry, etc.

People living in the city can get angry more easily because they have a very
stressful lifestyle with plenty of work and social activities. Thus, according
to Chan's principles, individuals get angry easily because they react to the
environment without self-control. In other words, individuals are manipulated
by the environment, and his/her emotion is dependent on the external factors.
Since life is full of unexpected events and full of things that do not work
out the way we want them to, individuals are constantly irritated and live
with anger and unhappiness. Followers of Chan will learn to control their
internal emotion, including anger, and are not affected much by external
events. Practitioners of Chanwuyi learn to control their mind, heart, and Qi
so as to maintain a peaceful and tranquil state-of-mind, and do not get angry
easily. Modern medical scientific studies have reported that negative emotion
and bad temper are related to many chronic illnesses such as high blood
pressure, lower back pain, and even cancer. Anger can reduce the level of the
immune system, making one get flu and colds easily. Therefore practicing
Chanwuyi not only will improve the mental state (e.g., being happier and
peaceful), but also will improve the physical health of the individuals.


Ignorance means not having the wisdom to understand the meaning of life and
not knowing what is right and what is wrong. If people do not understand that
they have to control their greed, they will continuously chase external
materials or events. In order to meet their unlimited desires, they may become
obsessive about ideas and things and act irrationally. It is very common for
individuals who are in sorrow to look for ways to meet their need and
sometimes become blindly faithful. In addition, when one does achieve the goal
from outside forces (a person or a method), one may become ashamed, lose self-
confidence, and is no longer self-reliant. Although one may succeed sometimes,
there are bound to be times when one fails. If one keeps on being
superstitious, one will continue to chase after people stronger than oneself
(e.g. clairvoyants, fortune tellers), and one falls deeper into the trap and
feels more despair. Buddha taught us the law of living and ways to get
enlightenment and never educate people to be superstitious and be in
ignorance. All superstitious actions can be considered as not a genius
Buddha's teaching. In sum, one has to relinquish ignorance in order to live
comfortably, but not rely on external powers.

Do Charity with Compassion

All disciplines of Chanwuyi have to develop a compassionate heart and do

charity. Yet what is a compassionate heart, a heart to benefit the world?
Compassion is loving and giving without expecting return. In order to practice
traditional Shaolin Wushu, one must do charity in order to develop the kind
heart with compassion. As Master Xingxing once said, Shaolin Wushu is very
powerful and can be fierce and needs to be balanced by a gentle heart with
compassion. Otherwise those who practice Shaolin Wushu will be harmed
internally by the power of the Wushu. Thus compassionate acts can not only
help those being helped, but are also beneficial to the one giving the help.

Some people will be unhappy if they are not thanked or complimented by those
they have helped. I often hear people say, "I treat you so well, see how you
treat me in return." This is not a compassionate heart, but a conditional
exchange. If one has a compassionate heart, one will love and help others
without asking for things in return; thus they will not feel disappointed or
unhappy. Their minds will also not be influenced by emotional reactions; they
only have a simple and peaceful mind filled with nature.

To develop a compassionate and charitable mind, it is best to start with the

people around one, but not try to save all humankind at the beginning. Our
family is the most important people around us. Have we given them enough care?
When one's parents are getting old, do we look after them with a compassionate
heart or do we feel that they can no longer give us anything and have become a
burden? An individual with a compassionate heart will care about one's parents
without expecting anything in return.

We can also have a compassionate heart toward our children. Many parents
arranged for their children to attend many classes and activities and thought
that these were good for their children. But sometimes there are ulterior
motives to these acts; that the acts will somehow pay off. They will look at
the success of their children as a proof of their own success, the return they
expect to get. Many parents hope for their children to have good academic
achievements and good conduct because when they do, they can show off in front
of other people. If the parents treat their children with a compassionate
mind, they will develop the talents of their children, without expecting
anything in return. They will also understand that the meaning of life is
cause and effect, to be natural, develop wisdom, and be virtuous. They will do
things to make sure their children will have a bright future, do things with
the aim of having their children live happily, instead of using their children
as their pawns and chips in their game of life.

Many times when problems appear in a marriage, it is because the love between
the couple is conditional. If the couple can have a compassionate mind, many
problems can be solved. Sometimes the wife blames the husband because he does
not spend enough time with her or he does not understand her. These feelings
appear because both of them have conditional love for each other. If one can
love and take care of one another with a compassionate mind, one will not get
upset, angry, or disappointed. Thus a compassionate mind is an important part
of Chan practice. But it is not enough to have a compassionate mind. We have
to put it into action. That's why we call it compassionate mind, compassionate
act. When we can care about our parents, children, siblings, partners with a
compassionate mind, we can further extend it to our friends, colleagues,
society, and the world.

Some people wish to save the world once they start to practice Chan. The first
thing they want to do is to save the world, to save all people in pain. But
they have forgotten the people around them, their families, and friends. This
will create psychological pain and stress and is not what we encourage. We
should first start with being compassionate to the people around us, and then
extend it outwards to all the people we know, and then further extend it to
people we don't know. Chan practice should be done step by step. If one is too
impatient, one will choke and have the opposite effect. This is harmful to the
mind. By and by, this will result in bodily illnesses.

(Source from "The Shaolin Chanwuyi: A Chinese Chan Buddhism", Ch.6)

True followers of Shaolin Chanwuyi are vegetarians with a special diet. There
is a rumor that the monks in Shaolin Temple are not vegetarians. It is not
true according to Master Dejian; he said that being a vegetarian is very
critical for mastering the traditional Shaolin martial arts. Thus it is
traditional for Shaolin monks, at least in the southern branches, to follow a
very strict vegetarian diet, otherwise they would not be able to practice
Chanwu (i.e., utilize martial arts as a way to achieve Chan enlightenment). In
addition, according to the theory of Shaolin Chanyi, it is better to maintain
health through a healthy diet rather than curing diseases with medication.
Healing through the diet is much better than healing through medicine. A
vegetarian diet is the key. Master Dejian often says, Fish creates fire,
meat creates phlegm; radish, white cabbage, and tofu will give you a lifetime
of safety and health.

Chanwuyi as a Chan practice emphasizes training a calm and peaceful mind. As

our bodies and emotions are affected by our food intake, followers of Chanwuyi
are very careful of what to put into the mouth and then the body. The
following is a true story served as an example to illustrate how diet can
affect the persons mental state adversely. There was a thireen-year-old girl
who was diagnosed with schizophrenia with auditory hallucinations by a western
doctor. Her parents were very worried, and took her to see many western and
Chinese doctors, and three clinical psychologists, to no avail. The western
doctor suggested the parents send the girl to a psychiatric institution for
treatment, but the little girl refused. She had heard that Master Dejian has
helped many patients and asked her family to take her to Master Dejian. After
about half a month of Chinese medicine and Qi therapy, her auditory
hallucinations were reduced. She and her family were very happy and planned
for her to resume her study at school.

When everyone thought that the little girl was recovering, news came that her
condition had deteriorated and she needed to be hospitalized. The reason for
the re-ocurrence of her symptoms was that the family took her to a feast of
barbeque meat and spicy hotpot. All the treatment effort had been wasted, only
because of the unwillingness to stick to a good diet! This story is a very
good example of the importance of abstinence from meat and hot and spicy food
in order to maintain a clear mind.
Special Vegetarian Diet

All followers of Chanwuyi, especially those who want to achieve the higher
level of Shaolin Wushu, will not eat meat, fish, or eggs, and only eat grains
and vegetables. In addition, some of the vegetables to also avoid as they are
considered hun cai include spring onion, Chinese chives, and garlic. In
addition, Chanwuyi practitioners will not eat ginger, mustard, too hot spices,
and chili food. According to Chanwuyi theories, meat, hot and spicy food has
high protein, high fat, and high energy content and can stimulate blood
circulation in the human body. If they are not properly digested, they stay
inside the body and cause inflammation of the body and affect the blood and Qi
circulation. The blockage of blood and Qi circulation and the inflammation
inside the body will significantly affect the mental and physical condition
adversely. It is also a significant factor affecting individuals to develop a
calm and stable mind.

Since the Shaolin martial art is to train the mind and heart, individuals will
find it very difficult to master Wushu if the body is not purified by the
restricted diet. If one is practicing Shaolin Wushu but does not follow the
restricted diet, what s/he is practicing is only four limbs and body and
cant be considered as traditional Shaolin Wushu no matter the duration of

The comparison of western, Buddhism, and Shaolin Chanwuyis guideline on

vegetarian diet (x: not recommended)
Master Dejian said that in order to learn Chanwuyi, one first needs to adopt a
vegetarian diet, meaning avoiding all meat, fish, egg, and hot and spicy food
including ginger, spring onion, and chili. One should eat fresh vegetables,
fruit, mushrooms, soy, and grains every day. He also stresses that the way to
cook is to boil or steam and to avoid using oil to fry. He does not advocate a
particular type of vegetable; as long as they are fresh and seasonal, then
they are appropriate food. He also does not specify any amount to eat each day
and says that its best to be natural; just eat what you want to eat. The
diet component of the Chanwuyi is different from other Buddhism vegetarian
diets in which ginger and spicy hot foods are avoided by followers of
Chanwuyi. It is because avoiding these foods will help to unblock the
intestines of the practitioner, boost digestion, and increase appetite. That
is considered a requisite for practicing Chanwuyi.

High Nutrition, Low Calories, Low-Protein Diet

Master Dejian often says, Cows eat grass, and they are huge and strong.
Human beings do not have to eat meat to grow muscles. Take a look at another
example, the gorilla. They eat only grass, fruit, and nuts, all of them
vegetarian, but their mean weight is eight hundred pounds! Eating meat can
help humans grow, but will also leave sources of diseases inside the human

Prof. Colin Campbell from Cornell University, who is also the chair of the
World Foundation of Cancer Research, believes that animal protein is one of
the most poisonous substances in nutrition. His conclusion was drawn from his
research China Plan, where he discovered that in Chinese villages where
the diet is mostly vegetarian, the people have lower risks of developing heart
diseases, stroke, osteoporosis, cancers, and diabetes than city people who eat
meat basically.

Absorbing protein from meat is the cause of many diseases. Professor Campbell
pointed out that animal fat contains a large amount of saturated fat, and
saturated fat will increase the concentration of low density cholesterol in
the blood (LD2), which is harmful to the body because this kind of cholesterol
is associated with the incidence rate of many degenerative diseases (for
example, heart diseases, hypertension). On the contrary, protein absorbed from
vegetables is beneficial in that it reduces LD2 concentration in the blood. In
addition, the Oxford Vegetarian Study published findings that vegetarians have
a significantly reduced risk of cancer mortality by 39 percent. In addition,
vegetarians contract degenerative diseases ten years later than people who eat
meat. In sum, some scientific evidence supports the Buddhist advocacy of
vegetarianism being beneficial for health.

But we need to eat an abundant amount of protein, and the most healthy source
of protein comes from soy (yellow bean, black bean, flat bean), nuts (walnut,
almond), and grains. In fact, all plants have some amount of protein, so if we
eat a variety of vegetables, beans, nuts, and grains every day, we should be
able to get enough nutrition. According to the WHO recommendations, an adult
should eat thirty-five grams of protein. Four ounces of tofu or one cup of soy
milk contain twelve grams of protein, and four ounces of nuts contain twenty
grams of protein.Thus eating an appropriate amount of beans and nuts means
we do not need to worry that our bodies do not have enough protein.
Avoid Eating Hot and Spicy Food

Chanwuyi place a strong emphasis on not eating hot and spicy food, which
include spring onion, garlic, mustard, and other hot food, because Master
Dejian believes hot and spicy food is similar to meat in being high energy
food. Ingesting hot and spicy food is closely related to dry feces and
constipation. Advocating this intervention's avoidance of hot and spicy food
is somewhat inconsistent with modern health research. Some studies have
reported that garlic is useful in reducing blood triglyceride and
hypertension, and some studies even reported that daily intake of six hundred
grams of garlic can lower 6 percent of blood cholesterol. Because Americans
generally have hyperlipidemia and hypertension, some dietary intervention
advocates the daily intake of garlic. But these studies only report some of
the functions of garlic, but for other strengths and weaknesses there is still
no scientific conclusion.

Master Dejian's recommendation of avoiding hot and spicy food is based on the
clinical observation and self-reflection of generations of Shaolin monks over
hundreds of years and is thus very invaluable. Furthermore, the average
vegetarian, if s/he has a balanced diet, usually does not have hyperlipidemia
or hypertension (except those with genetic predisposition). Thus they do not
need to specifically eat garlic to reduce hyperlipidemia and hypertension.

Bencao Gangmu: Discussion on Meaty Food

One day, Master took out a very aged book from his bookshelf. The book was
written by Li Shizhen of the Ming Dynasty, Bencao Gangmu. He turned the pages
to the section on Vegetables, and said to me, From the perspective of
health promotion, individuals with disease should not ingest hot and spicy
food. This is not only promoted by Buddhism, but also from the perspective of
Chinese medicine. Li Shizhen also mentioned this in his book. Although
different spices have their medicinal effect, long-term ingestion is harmful
to the body. You should spend some time to read and educate others.
Li categorized vegetables into three categories in his book: hot and spicy,
soft and smooth, and mushroom (scroll 26 to 18). There are a total of thirty-
two types of vegetables in the hot and spicy category. These include common
vegetables such as Chinese chives, spring onion, garlic, youcai, mustard, and
ginger. Although there are some therapeutic effects from these vegetables, the
book explicitly stated that long-term ingestion of these vegetables is harmful
to the body. Below is the summary from Bencao Gangmu:

Chinese chives: Frequent ingestion causes tiredness and dull eyes

This vegetable has a bad spicy smell. Even if one cooks it, it is harmful to
health maintenance.

When this vegetable is not yet out of soil, it is most harmful to humans.

Spring onion: Spring onion is dissipative; frequent ingestion causes


Cannot overdose, is harmful to body hair. Causes weak Qi to rise and closes
down the organs.

Garlic: Long-term ingestion is harmful to the mind. Causes forgetfulness,

is harmful to the eye, stops circulation, and causes diseases. Gives off a

Large garlic: Tastes hot. Harmful.

Should not ingest for prolonged periods of time. Is harmful to the mind.

Caixin: Individuals with waist or leg diseases should not eat too much of
this. This will aggravate the problems and is harmful to the Yang Qi. People
with inflammation, oral cavity diseases, and those who smell must not eat it.
It can also cause worms inside the abdomen.

Southern Chinese like to eat Caixin, and most people think that Caixin is a
very healthy kind of vegetable. But according to the Bencao Gangwu and
Master Dejian's experience, frequent ingestion of Caixin is harmful to
individuals with disease.
Mustard: Long-term ingestion will turn warmth into heat. The dissipation of
the heat will burn out the person and cause liver diseases.

Ginger: Long-term ingestion is harmful to the mind and intelligence and

also harms the heart.

If one eats ginger during the eighth or ninth lunar month, at springtime,
eye diseases will result. It also reduces longevity and muscle strength.

Long-term ingestion causes stagnated heat and harms the eye.

From the above information, we can see that some hot and spicy food is harmful
tohealth after long-term ingestion. Therefore sick people should avoid eating
hot and spicy food. Healthy people can eat these in moderate amounts.

But there is one thing to note. Not all hot and spicy vegetables stated in the
Bencao Gangwu are harmful with long-term ingestion. Some of these vegetables
are seldom eaten by modern people and we do not discuss them here. Some of
these vegetables are good for health and should be eaten in greater amounts.
These include carrots and radishes.

Carrot: Sinks Qi, facilitates the chest, abdomen, stomach, and intestines,
soothes the organs. It is healthy food and has no bad side effects.

Radish: Sinks Qi, digests wheat, eliminates phlegm.

Counters the bad Qi in the organs. Fights poison from noodles.

When one overeats, eat it raw to help digestion.

Eating raw raises Qi, eating cooked sinks Qi.

Very effective in digesting the stagnates, relieving alcohol poisoning,

circulating the blood.
Lankavatara Sutra: Discussion on Meaty Food

Master said to me, From the perspective of health promotion, one should not
ingest meat or hot and spicy food when one is sick. These foods can be eaten
in moderate amounts when one is healthy. But for people in the practice of
Chanwuyi, whether or not they are sick, they should refrain from these foods
because they are harmful to the mind; it creates greed, anger, and desire,
which are detrimental to practicing and meditation. The Buddha has indicated
this in the Lankavatara Sutra.

Lankavatara Sutra is an important scripture in Buddhism. Bodhidharma came to

the East with four scrolls in the Lankavatara Sutra and passed it to Huike and
instructed him to learn the scripture by heart. According to Huikes
biography, Bodhidharma said, I believe that in the land of China, only this
scripture can help the people transcend to the other world.

This scripture recorded Dahui Buddhas conversation with Fotuo. In the latter
parts of the scripture, Dahui Buddha is asked about eating meat:

You Buddhas and people going after the Buddhist road,

Why would you consume alcohol, meat, and spring onion?

I only wish that the almighty can speak in compassion.

Foolish people are greedy and dirty,

They eat like a wolf or a tiger.

Those who kill to eat are guilty, those who do not will have good fortune.
Listen to me, and you can decide whether to eat or not.

Dahui Buddha, after asking, answered: I hope the almighty can understand
that we have explained to people the good and the bad about eating meat. I and
the other buddhas wish to explain to people who eat meat the reasons for not
eating, so that they can understand. We meant well, and it is clean
everywhere, and there is no more disease. We have all stopped and have become
buddhas. The evils always die. If one doesnt listen and eats meat, does
Buddha have to come to save lives again?

Buddha answered Dahui, Thank you! Thank you! Listen! When I think of your
good deeds, I will speak for you. Dahui said, I will listen.

Fuotuo answered Dahui:

I have once had families, and had been dirty,

I did not grow clean things and smelled bad.

All meat and spring onion, chives and garlic,

All kinds of alcohol, those in the practice should always refrain.

They should also refrain from sesame oil, and to sleep on a bed with holes,

Because there are many small worms inside and this is horrible.

To eat without moderation will cause indulgence, indulgence will cause

Hallucination will cause greed, thus we should not eat.

Eating creates greed, greed causes desires,

Desires cause lust, and one will not be able to transcend.

Fotuo showed that meat and spicy vegetables create lust in humans and cause
anger and desires, which are all roadblocks to a compassionate heart. From the
modern psychological perspective, Fotuo may be referring to some psychological
problems, such as anxiety, mania, stress, and suggests that these problems may
be related to the ingestion of meat and spicy vegetables.

According to my clinical experience, I have a few cases of stress and anxiety.

With the patients consent, I suggested to them to refrain from meat and
spicy vegetables, and their psychological problems improved after they adopted
the vegetarian diet. Thus, while there is not yet scientific evidence to
suggest that eating meat and spicy vegetables are related to mental problems,
my clinical experience suggests that if the patients complement their therapy
with a vegetarian diet, the effect can be surprisingly good. To treat
psychological disorders through adopting a vegetarian diet is at once simple,
with no side effects, and very economical. It is worth trying!

(Source from "The Shaolin Chanwuyi: A Chinese Chan Buddhism", Ch.7)

Chinese Wushu originated from the Shaolin Temple, and there is a saying All
forms of Wushu came from Shaolin. According to the archives in the Shaolin
Temple, there were 708 forms of Shaolin Quan (i.e., fit). Practicing Chanwu is
the door to understanding Chan as practicing traditional Shaolin Wushu
requires concentration of the hands, eyes, body, methods, and footwork, which
is akin to walking meditation. The important substance of Chan is Qi. One has
to achieve thoughtless serenity, wherein one can use the mind to guide the Qi,
use Qi to guide power, to use power to reveal the form, to use the form to
cultivate the spirit, and to use the spirit to reveal ones true self. This
is the way of attaining the union of Universe and Self through mind-body

Among the different forms of Shaolin Quan (i.e., fit), Soft Quan, Xinyiba, and
Luohan Quan together represent the highest form of Wushu. The Quan requires
the unity of movement and stillness, the balance of yin and yang, the mix of
strength and gentleness, and the integration of internal and external forms.
The most famous is the six coherence principlethe coherence of the hand
and leg, elbow and knee, shoulder and pelvis, mind and thought, thought and
Qi, Qi and power. When one can unite Chan and Quan, one can achieve
unfathomable depths of the power Wushu.

According to Master Dejian, Shaolin Wushu is much more than boxing and
weaponry, which only trains the body. Within the Shaolin Temple, there are
three major branches of Shaolin Wushu. The branch that Master Dejian learnt is
the Yonghuatang, which follows the Chanwuyi tradition. The other two branches
primarily focus on fighting and performance. The essence is internal
enlightenment, not for fighting but for training ones virtue. This is the
highest form of Chan, which cannot be explained or described verbally. It is
the spiritual heritage passed on by generations of Shaolin Chan masters and
has to be understood by the heart. In order to master Shaolin Wushu, one has
first to train oneself. If one does not reach a high level of spiritual
enlightenment, one cannot control oneself.

According to Shaolin teaching, Chan and Wushu have the same origin. Therefore,
in order to reach the highest level of Shaolin Wushu, one has to have a sound
philosophical and scientific understanding of Chan. In Buddhism, understanding
and practicing Chan is the way to virtue. Wushu is only a means used by the
monks to achieve self understanding and spiritual enlightenment. Bodhidharma
came from the West and taught Kungfu without using one word. He relinquished
all secular and materialistic considerations. One can be strong only when one
relinquishes all desires. Authentic Shaolin Wushu is achieved through the
application of Chan, Wushu, and the medical concept (i.e., Chanwuyi) in
everyday life. It is through physical Wushu practice that the most positive
living and the highest level of Chan enlightenment is achieved.

The essence of traditional Shaolin Wushu is to nurture and circulate Qi,
through which to improve mental and physical health and to achieve a high
level of enlightenment. There are three major aims of practicing Shaolin
Wushu: the first is Chan practice, the second is strengthening the body, and
the third is to learn Chanyi.

1) Chan Practice:

Chan is Qi, and Qi is Chan. Traditional Shaolin kungfu can be considered as a

form of qigong, but it is different from other qigong exercises that do not
emphasize Chan principle. The Shaolin traditional Wushu emphasis is use the
mind to guide the Qi, use Qi to guide power, use power to reveal the form, use
the form to cultivate the spirit, and use the spirit to reveal ones true
self. From the practice of Qi, one will achieve enlightenment step by step.
This is the major foundation of Shaolin Chanwuyi and the way to attain the
union of Universe and Self through mind-body practice. Practicing Shaolin
Wushu requires concentration on the hands, eyes, body, method, and footwork,
in order to attain a state of selfless and voidness, which is akin to the
principle behind sitting meditation. That is why the learning of Shaolin Wushu
is a form of Chan practice.

Master Xingxing once explained that this way of Chan practice is called Xingyi
Chan, and the aim is to develop ones mind and character through practicing
Chanwu, with the ultimate aim to attain a selfless state. He also said that in
practicing Chanwu, the greatest enemy is not other people, but oneself. The
most difficult thing to train is ones mind, to control ones evil thoughts,
and to attain self control. Through Wushu practice, we can gradually learn to
control our own hands, eyes, body, thoughts, and finally to develop the
control of ones mind, and then finally to use our mind to direct our
internal Qi. By and by, we will gradually learn how to control our instinct.
This is the gist of traditional Shaolin Wushu, Chanwu.

If one wants to achieve the level of the unity of the mind and Qi, one must
practice Chan, because only when the mind is as quiet as still waters, and
when one becomes selfless, can on unite the mind and Qi, to enter the state of
Chan, all the way to the highest level. This is also why Chan and Wushu cannot
be separated and is also traditional Shaolin practice. What Master Dejian
teaches is for the learner to focus on nurturing the mind, developing a heart
of wisdom, righteousness, and without cravings. Only when one has developed
ones mind can one attain quietude, unity of the mind and Qi, ultimately to
the level of Chan in Wushu.

2) Maintaining Body Health and Strength:

It is not sufficient to have a healthy mind but not a healthy body. Without a
healthy body, one cannot work or do charity work or even nurture oneself. One
of the main aims of health-promoting practices is to facilitate the
circulation of blood and Qi to support the health of the internal organs and
to nurture, facilitate, and circulate Qi. It is important to nurture the Qi in
the Dan Tian. The Qi in the human Dan Tian is the Qi of life. When the Qi
in the Dan Tian is sufficient, the meridians all over the body will have good
circulation; this is very important for maintaining health and improving

While many people know the importance of the Dan Tian, and there are many
popular ways and methods that teach people to deposit Qi in the Dan Tian or to
develop the Qi in the Dan Tian, these are different from what Master Dejian
teachesto direct the Qi using the mind naturally. What is meant by being
natural is to naturally direct the Qi in the Dan Tian. This method is simple
and safe for beginners starting with developing Qi in the Dan Tian. When one
gets more advanced, one begins to unite the Qi in the Dan Tian and Qi in
nature, so that the Qi can enter the tissues of the body and can go unblocked
all through the body. It will be stored inside the body, and one achieves the
ultimate aim of health.

Why is Qi so important to the human body? Theories in both Chinese

medicine of qigong recognize that blood originates from Qi. If the Qi is
strong, ones strength is strong too. Thus, to have strength, one has to have
enough blood that circulates the body, and in turn one needs to practice and
nurture Qi. This, in fact, is the key.

3) Chanyi (The Chan Medical Approach):

Chanyi originates from generations of Shaolin monks who practice sitting

meditation and slowly reflect on their own bodies and understand how the
meridians and organs operate. They organize their observations deductively
into a unique school of medical theories. Thus, by practicing traditional
Shaolin techniques and qigong, one will also gain an understanding of the
internal organs and meridians of the human body. This is one of the most
crucial steps in learning Chanyi, and is in fact its foundation.

(Source from "The Shaolin Chanwuyi: A Chinese Chan Buddhism", Ch.8)

Practice naturally: We have mentioned earlier that Chan is nature. Thus

practicing Shaolin Wushu must be in a natural way, the breathing, the
movement, and the posture are very natural. We have to breathe naturally, move
naturally, everything has to be done naturally, without any stress or
hindrance. We have to be relaxed in both the mind and the body, in a state of
perfect naturalness. If the breathing is not natural, and any movement hurts,
one must have done something wrong.

Practice step by step, cannot rush: Practicing internal Qi requires a long

period of time, and one cannot be impatient and practice for only a day or
two. If one practices with persistence, one will succeed one day. If one is
impatient, ones mind cannot be peaceful and one will not achieve the proper
level regardless how long one practices. Being patient is very important for
practicing Chanwu.

Practice with persistence: Practicing is like eating; we need to do it every

day. While it is difficult to make gains, it is very easy to lose gains. It
often takes months and years to learn to do a set of Wushu correctly, but once
you do not practice it, it will be lost in only months. Thus persistence is a
must in practicing Shaolin Wushu and should be done daily. This is not only
beneficial to the physical health, but also a very effective means for
developing the mind and virtuous character.

Practice with a vegetarian diet: If one does not carefully monitor ones
diet and eats large amounts of hot and spicy food such as spring onion, this
is very detrimental to the practice of Shaolin Wushu. Thus to practice the
Shaolin Chanwu, one has to pay attention to ones diet.

Focus on Adjusting the Body, the Qi, and the Mind when Practicing

Adjusting the Body: When practicing, one has to pay attention to the
posture. Shaolin Wushu can be practiced by walking, standing, sitting, or
lying down. However, no matter how one practices, one must take a posture that
is as natural as possible. One must not be stressful or anxious. Only a
natural and comfortable position can facilitate the circulation of the Qi. To
take an analogy to illustrate this point, imagine a plastic pipe. If it has
knots all over its length, water cannot flow smoothly; even if you pump water
inside the piping, the water cannot flow very smoothly. But if you untie the
knots, water will flow naturally, without one having to use any force. To
relax the body is like untying the knot of the piping; the internal Qi will
flow naturally.

Adjusting the Mind: Adjusting the mind means controlling ones thoughts.
Beginners often have unfocused thoughts when practicing. One first has to
learn to relax ones thoughts. When wild thoughts intrude into ones mind,
do not anxiously push them aside. Just observe them naturally dissipate, or
focus ones thoughts to observe ones Dan Tian or other bodily parts. Just
have a wish to try to concentrate and stay focused, and do not forced oneself
to do so. By and by, ones mind will become tranquil.

Adjusting the Qi: Adjusting the Qi means controlling ones breathing. There
are two ways to adjust breathing, Passive and Active. Passive
breathing is to breathe naturally and slowly and observe each breath. Focus on
the Dan Tian when breathing in, and focus on the nasal when breathing out.
Ancient Chinese calls this gentle fire. This kind of breathing can relax
the entire body and then the brain. Active breathing means directing the
breathing using ones mind. When breathing in, one has to expand the abdomen
and bend the lower back. When breathing out, one has to contract the anus
gently, keep the mouth closed, and contract the abdomen. Ancient Chinese calls
this fierce fire. This helps increase the speed and strength of the
circulation of the internal Qi. Passive breathing and Active breathing
supplement each other; the gentle fire helps nurture the mind and facilitates
it to reach the state of void and quietude. Fierce fire trains the Dan Tian
and fills the Dan Tian with Qi.

(Source from "The Shaolin Chanwuyi: A Chinese Chan Buddhism", Ch.8)

Chan practice was founded by Bodhidharma in the Shaolin Monastery and became
one of the most important methods of traditional Chinese practice of the mind
and body. It had very far-ranging and important impact on the Chinese culture.
Chan in Chinese can mean quiet deliberation. The aim is to use different
ways of practice to develop wisdom and a virtuous character, thus giving
liberation to different types of wisdom inborn to humans. Although Chan
practice is over a thousand years old and was recommended by many great men in
history, it has not received much attention nowadays. Some even mistake it for
ancient supersitition. This misunderstanding may have stemmed from the way
China and the West developed knowledge, thus making Chan practice something
unacceptable to mainstream western medicine.

The Chinese way of accumulating knowledge is through long-term observation and

deductive reasoning, while the western way is by evidence and inductive
reasoning. I believe the two approaches are complementary. But since our
current understanding of Chanwuyi is mostly in the Chinese tradition
accumulation of observation and experiencethere is a lack of scientific
development. Thus, from the western point of view, the Chan medical approach
does not have any scientific basis.

In order to promote Chan practice so that it can be applied in the field of

medicine, we see a need to apply the western scientific approach to study Chan
practice. Thus, in 2006, we utilized functional magnetic resonance imaging
(fMRI) to study Dan Tian stimulation and its effect on the brain. This article
has been published in the American Journal of Chinese Medicine (Volume 34,
pages 207-216). The following is the conclusion from the study:

Dan Tian is a very important region of the human body in Chan and qigong
practice. The word Dan Tian has very profound meaningsancient Chinese call
medicines that can give people longevity Dan. To plant this Dan in a
field and make it grow, this is the meaning of Dan Tian. Many kinds of
practice often call for directing the mind on the Dan Tian. Some advocate
directing the saliva to the lower Dan Tian (about one-third of an inch below
the navel), also known as precious liquid return to the Dan Tian.

There are many reasons for directing the mind or moistening the Dan Tian: in
Chinese medicine, the lower Dan Tian is the meeting place of the Ren meridian,
Du meridian, and the Chong meridianthree of the most special meridians in
the human bodya place where the real Qi is deposited. The area of the Dan
Tian includes a few important acupuncture points (e.g. Qihai, Shimen,
Guanyuan). To direct the mind on the Dan Tian means stimulating these
acupuncture points. That is why practicing the mind to turn into Qi is the
first step to Chan practice.

Traditional Chinese practice and medicine gave very abstract descriptions of

the Dan Tian, to make it a bit mysterious and difficult to accept to modern
people. Thus we tried to take the approach of modern brain science to gain
some understanding of the relationship between Dan Tian and Chan practice.
From a physiological point of view, the Dan Tian is only one point on the
surface of the skin; its sensational reaction is the same as any other point
(e.g. hand, foot) on the skin. There is research evidence in brain science to
show that stimulating the skin on the hands or feet will activate the motor
cortex of the brain, but not other regions. If the Dan Tian is also just
another point on the skin, stimulating the Dan Tian would be the same as
stimulating other points on the skin, so will the reaction of the brain be.

On the contrary, if the Dan Tian isnt just another point on the skin, but
a central place where real Qi gets in and out, the source of the mind,
then the reaction of the brain should be different. We hypothesized that the
Dan Tian is closely associated with the frontal lobes of the brain, because
the frontal lobes mediate many higher human cognitive functions, e.g.,
analytical ability, flexibility, planning, inhibition, and affective balance.
These have things in common with the goals of Chan practicegaining wisdom
and developing a virtuous character.

In 2006, we invited ten volunteers to undergo fMRI on the reaction of the

brain to stimulation of the Dan Tian and the hand. The results confirmed my
hypothesis, that stimulation of the hand is associated only with activity in
the motor cortex, but stimulation of the Dan Tian is associated with activity
in the frontal lobe, temporal lobe, thalamus, insula, and the cingulate gyrus.
These results show that the Dan Tian isnt just another point on the surface
of the skin; upon stimulating it, many important parts of the brain are
activated. This is a first step in research on the Dan Tian in brain science,
but the results are very encouraging. I have plans to examine whether there
are any changes in the brain before and after Chan practice.

Stimulating the Dan Tian (A), as compared to stimulating the hand (B), was
associated with more extensive brain activation (as indicated by the white

(References: Chan, A. S., Cheung, M. C., Chan, Y. L., Yeung, D. K. W., & Lam,
W. (2006). Bilateral frontal activation associated with cutaneous stimulation
of Elixir Field: An fMRI study. The American Journal of Chinese Medicine, 34,

(Source from "The Shaolin Chanwuyi: A Chinese Chan Buddhism", Ch.8)

In order to master the Shaolin Wushu, one must begin the training on
strengthening the force of the lower limbs and the internal energy (Qi). There
are four basic practices that all disciples of Chanwuyi will do daily
regardless of how long they have learned Shaolin Wushu, because these forms
are considered the foundation and the basis of all forms of Shaolin Wushu.
Without practicing the tranquil stand and the two forms of Dan Tian breathing
(i.e, passive vs. active Dan Tian breathing), all the Wushu styles or Quans
are only stretching exercises without the function of strengthening the mind
and body and obtaining higher level of enlightenment, and cannot be termed
Chanwu. For those who are interested to learn authentic Shaoin Wushu, the
following four foundations are essential.

Tranquil Stand: As Master Dejian said, Tranquility is the essence of all

Shaolin Wushu. He also mentioned that some grandmasters in the Shaolin
Temple only practice tranquil stand and could achieve very high levels of
proficiency. The tranquil stand looks easy, but it takes time to realize the
essence of it. To practice tranquil stand, one should find a place with fresh
air early in the morning and stand squarely on both feet to about the
shoulders width. Raise the hands gently in front of the chest, like a
standing monkey. The eyes and mouth close slightly, push the tongue to the
roof of the oral cavity gently, and direct the center of gravity forward to
the front part of the foot. Stand quietly for five to thirty minutes.

Passive Dan Tian Breathing: Can be practiced either sitting or standing. If

sitting on a chair, the two feet should step squarely on the floor, and then
sit naturally. Put one or both hands gently on the abdomen below the navel,
and close both eyes gently without any force. Passively observe the abdomen
when breathing in, and observe the nose when breathing out. Breathing in and
out, in and out, and observe the Dan Tian (the Dan Tian is located about three
inches below the navel). When one practices, one cannot be eager and wish to
have a quick return. This is called passive Dan Tian breathing because one
passively observes the breathing in and out of the body without interrupting
or directing it. One cannot be too eager to look for any reaction, because
when one is anxious, one cannot quiet down. To quiet down and relinquish all
cravings and wishes, allow oneself to calm down, to calm the mind, to achieve
the state of quietude.

Active Dan Tian Breathing: This can also be practiced sitting or standing.
Put the hand on the lower abdomen where the Dan Tian is. When breathing out,
contract the anus and the abdomen gently, close the mouth, and open the eyes.
When breathing in, close the eyes and relax the whole body. The active Dan
Tian breathing is to direct the Qi consciously to the Dan Tian. When
practicing this, one also has to avoid being too eager and impatient. This
method is more difficult than passive Dan Tian breathing, but is very useful
for nurturing and practicing Qi and for the practice of Shaolin Wushu.
Shoulder Relaxation: This method is taken from the Yijinjing (the book of
body transformation), and is especially useful for the neck and shoulders.
Practising for a few times after prolonged sitting not only can relax the neck
and shoulders, but also can facilitate blood circulation to the brain, and
refresh the mind in a very short period of time. Place both hands in the
middle of the shoulders and the neck, and then use the shoulders to lead the
arms to make a circular motion. When one is familiar with this, one can also
bend the lower back a little forward, and lift the heels.
(Source from "The Shaolin Chanwuyi: A Chinese Chan Buddhism", Ch.8)

Master Dejian has placed much emphasis on the practice of Dan Tian breathing
as one will improve his/her mental and physical health after practicing it for
a while and also will obtain enligthenment. When I asked him what is the
brains reaction to this kind of practice, he said according to his years of
internal reflection and clinical observation, the nose is linked to the lungs
as well as to the Dan Tian, and the Dan Tian is the place where the Qi of the
body is deposited and is connected to the brain. Master Dejian further told me
that all the Shaolin internal practice that he practices is for enlightening
the mind and thus should be closely related to the brain.
fMRI Experiment

Thus I conducted two experiments in Hong Kong to find evidence to support

Masters years of experience and his theory. The first experiment was an fMRI
experiment. The fMRI scanner is a machine that can see into the human brain so
that we can observe the association between the areas of the brain that are
activated and the cognitive and behavioral activities one is engaged in. In
order to examine the relationship between brain activities and the Dan Tian
breathing practice, we used fMRI to scan the brain under Dan Tian breathing
and normal breathing. Preliminary findings (see figure below) suggest that
under the Dan Tian breathing condition, the anterior cingulate cortex is
activated. By contrast, under normal breathing conditions, the area is not
The right-sided image shows enhanced brain activity (indicated by the arrows)
at the anterior cingulate cortex during Dan Tian breathing, whereas the left-
sided image shows no such activation during normal breathing.

Modern brain science finds that the anterior cingulate cortex mediates our
self-control, reaction, attention, and flexibility. Abnormality in this brain
region is associated with many brain disorders (e.g., autism spectrum
disorders, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder). This area is very
important in modern brain science, as it is regarded as the control region of
higher cognitive functions. Thus these preliminary findings are consistent
with Master Dejians theories. Dan Tian breathing can enhance brain activity
level and thus may improve brain functioning. Thus the conjecture that Dan
Tian breathing can improve the ability to control, attention, and mental
health is a reasonable one and warrants further research on Master Dejians
clinical experience.

Electroencelography (EEG) Experiment

The other study utilized EEG to measure Master Dejians brain activity when
undergoing Dan Tian breathing. According to the method developed by Prof.
Richard Davidson in the USA, we measure brain activity level using the alpha
power asymmetry ((logR-logL) at T3 and T4) as an index to brain activity.
Professor Davidson pointed out that this index is closely related to an
individuals attention, positive affect, and the immune system, thus
proposing this as an index of brain activity. We compared Master Dejian and a
control group of fourteen volunteers (beginners, or with no experience with
Dan Tian breathing practice) on their brain activity index in the frontal
lobes when they were undergoing Dan Tian breathing or normal breathing to see
if there were any changes. A positive value shows that the frontal lobe is
more active when undergoing Dan Tian than normal breathing; a negative value
shows that the frontal lobe is less active when undergoing Dan Tian than
normal breathing.
Our results showed that there was no significant change in the control group
comparing Dan Tian and normal breathing, t(13)=-.258, p>.05 (see figure
above). In contrast, when Master Dejian was in the Dan Tian breathing
condition, his frontal lobe activity index was significantly higher than the
change in the control group, t(13)=-4.573, p<.01. These results indicate that
Dan Tian breathing can enhance the activity of the frontal lobe after long-
term practice. Furthermore, because the frontal lobe is the control center for
human planning, creativity, and inhibition, Dan Tian breathing can improve
brain functioning. Since the brain is the control center of human
intelligence, improvement in brain functioning can naturally improve
intelligence. From this scientific perspective, it is possible that practicing
Dan Tian breathing may improve intelligence.

(Source from "The Shaolin Chanwuyi: A Chinese Chan Buddhism", Ch.8)

Xinyiba, according to Master Dejian, refers to Buddha (Xin), Chan (Yi), and
Power (Ba). Xinyiba is also known as Plough. This highest form of Shaolin
Wushu was developed over a thousand years of self-sufficient farming
experience of Shaolin monks, from movements that resemble their physical labor
and exertion. The movements are simple and do not involve fancy postures. It
is the best training for the mind, thoughts, power, and Qi.

There is a saying that practicing Quan without Ba is like untrained fighting.

There is an old Chinese saying in the Shaolin Temple: Can teach you ten Quan
styles, but not teach you one Ba. The Ba is refered to the Xinyiba, the
much coveted but rarely taught form of Wushu of Shaolin monks. This form of
Wushu is very powerful and destructive; thus it is rarely taught and has been
kept within the walls of the Shaolin Temple for many years. Only a few
carefully selected Shaolin monks of high diligence and morality would be
taught this Wushu. Master Deijan said that the way does not have a form, and
its form depends on the person who teaches it.

To practice Xinyiba, one has to understand the three sections, four ends, yin
and yang, five elements, and six coherences. First, the Qi has to be
smoothened and all emotions and desires relinquished. The movements should be
made along a straight line and could be performed in any place at any time.
The primary training is on the mind, thoughts, and Qi; training on the lower
limbs, movement of the body, and footwork were also emphasized. Xinyiba is
very flexible and unpredictable; the body is guided by the mind and can react
to any change of situations. Power is released through rolling and adhering
movements. Every movementup and down, back and forth, left and rightshould
be seamlessly connected without breaks, rolling to jump, directing the
internal force outwards, uniting the inside and out, and getting ready to

These postures are akin to the soaring dragon and pouncing tiger. When the
practitioner has perfected his kill in Xinyiba, he should not fight with
others since the internal force is so powerful that it will hurt his opponent.
Hence only individuals with virtue and integrity should learn Xinyiba.
Otherwise they will hurt themselves and others, which is the antithesis of
Buddhist compassion. The purpose of Xinyiba is to train the Qi and gentle
force, directing the Qi into the muscles. This on one hand fills the body with
internal energy to be able to release the power with a simple movement, and on
the other preserves internal serenity to maintain bodily health.

(Source from "The Shaolin Chanwuyi: A Chinese Chan Buddhism", Ch.8)

China Songshan Shaolin Chanwuyi Charity Foundation

The China Songshan Shaolin Chanwuyi Charity Foundation is a registered
charitable organization in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
(Registered no.: 91/9045). The aim of the foundation is to protect, to conduct
research on , and to educate the public about, the Chinese traditional Shaolin
Chanwuyi culture, to advocate the Shaolin spirit of practicing Chan through
Wushu, and promoting Chan through Yi (medicine). The charity foundation is an
independent organization and is not under any temple. We welcome interested
individuals from different religious backgrounds to join our efforts in
promoting Shaolin Chanwuyi.

Henan Songshan Research Institute for Chanwuyi

This institute is located in the city of Dengfeng in the Province of Henan, in

Sanhuangzhai of Songshan's Shaoshi Peak. It is housed inside the Sanhuangzhai
Monastery in Songshan, Dengfeng. The director of the institute is Master
Dejian, the eighteenth generation from the Yonghuatang Chanwuyi of the Shaolin
Temple. The institute is an independent non-government organization supported
by public donation. Its aim is to discover, pass on, and promote the Shaolin
Chanwuyi culture based on traditional Shaolin culture.

(Source from "The Shaolin Chanwuyi: A Chinese Chan Buddhism")

1) Chan, A.S., Cheung, M.C., Chan, Y.L., Yeung, D.K.W., & Lam, W. (2006).
Bilateral frontal activation associated with cutaneous stimulation of Elixir
Field: an fMRI study. The American Journal of Chinese Medicine, 34, 207-216.

2) Chan, A.S., Sze, S.L., & Shi, D. (2008). Traditional Chinese mind-body
exercises improve self control ability of an adolescent with Asperger's
disorder. Journal of Psychology in Chinese Societies, 9, 225-239.

3) Chan, A.S., Cheung, M.C., Tsui, W.J., Sze, S.L., & Shi, D. (2011). Dejian
mind-body intervention on depressive mood of community-dwelling adults: a
randomized controlled trial. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative
Medicine, DOI:10.1093/ecam/nep043.

4) Chan, A.S., Sze, S.L., Cheung, M.C., Lam, J.M.K., & Shi, D. (2009). Dejian
mind-body intervention improves the functioning of a patient with chronic
epilepsy: a case report. Cases Journal, DOI:10.1186/1757-1626-2-9080.

5) Chan, A.S., Cheung, M.C., Sze, S.L., Leung, W.W. & Shi, D. (2011). Shaolin
Dan Tian Breathing fosters relaxed and attentive mind: a randomized controlled
neuroelectrophysiological study. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative
Medicine, DOI:10.1155/2011/180704.

6) Chan A. S., Sze S. L., Cheung M. C., Han Y. M. Y., Leung W. W. M., & Shi D.
(2011). Dejian mind-body intervention improves the cognitive functions of a
child with autism. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine,
2011, doi:10.1155/2011/549254.