Ok, ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention please? Well, I see, everyone of you is in pretty good shape today, right? I guess maybe you had sweet dreams last night. And now, let me tell you a good news, that is today we are going to visit a famous tourist attraction which you have been expecting for a long time. That is The Shao-lin Monastery.
First let me give you some general ideas. The shaolin monastery was first completed in 495, during the reign of Northern Wei Dynasty. In 527, Bodhidharma, the disciple of Sakyamuni of the 28th generation came here to practice Zen creed. As it was concealed in the thick woods of the shaoshi hill, it was given the name Shaolin Monastery meaning “temple in the woods of Shaoshi Hill”. As you know, the shaolin monastery is widely known not only for its ancient and mysterious Buddhist culture, but also for its martial arts, that is Kungfu in Chinese, which enjoys a tradition of some 2000 years. So that’s the saying “Chinese Kungfu taking the first place under the heaven” and “the best kungfu originating from shaolin monastery.” In the year 2000, the temple sightseeing zone was designated to be one of the AAAA-grade tourist attraction of China by the National Tourism Administration
Please take your valuable things along with you and get ready to get off the bus.
Well, here we are! Now we’re standing in front of the Front Gate Hall. Please look up at the plaque hanging above the lintel, and you’ll find the plaque bears three Chinese characters, Shaolin Si, the name of the tempel. This is said to be handwritten by Emperor Kangxi of the Qing Dynasty. This work is very precious because the emperor seldom wrote.
Ok please follow me. Just now, we have visited the Front Gate Hall, steles, ginkgos, and the Hall of the Heavenly Kings, and now, we are just in the principal hall in the temple, the Hall of Mahavira. This hall is enshrined with three main Buddhas in the central part. They are Sakyamuni Buddha sitting in the middle and Pharmacist Buddha of the Eastern Glazed World and Amitabha Buddha from the Western Paradise sitting on both sides. Along the gable walls, sit 18 Buddhist Arhats, who were enlightened Buddhist monks. On both sides in front of the Hall of Mahavira, stand the Bell Tower and the Drum Tower symmetrically. They were rebuilt in 1994 used to report hours for the temple. Normally the bell is used in the morning, while the drum, in the afternoon, hence the saying “morning bell and afternoon drum”. In front of the Bell Tower is the stele called “the Stele of Li Shimin” telling the story about how the monks from the Shaolin Monastery rescued Prince Li Shimin from being pursued and attacked by Wang Shichong during the late Sui Dynasty. Li Shimin, who later became the Emperor of the Tang Dynasty wrote the inscriptions on the stele personally,and left with a signature of Shi min on the stele.
Ok please come with me, we are going to the next hall. So now, the pavilion in front of us, not like the Zangjing ge and the Abbot’s rooms we visited just now, enjoys a moving story. It’s named Dharma’s Pavilion or Lixue Pavilion, that is “Standing in the snow” in English. It says: After Boddhi Dharma came to China, many Chinese Buddhist believers wanted to be his followers, and Shengguang was the most prominent of all of them. He always followed him whenever and wherever he went and served Dharma whole-heartedly. But Dharma didn’t agree to accept Shengguang as a disciple. Shengguang didn’t loose heart and became even more steadfast. On a snowy night, he begged as usual with Budhidharma outside, standing in the knee-high snow. The master set forward a prerequisite: he would not meet his demand unless it would snow in red flakes. Shengguang drew out the sword and cut off his left arm and stained the snowy ground. Bodhidharma was so moved that he passed his mantle, alms bowl and musical instruments on to Shengguang and gave him a Buddhist name of Huike. He was regarded as the secend founder of the Zen sect. Emperor Qianlong wrote a phrase on a plaque in commemoration
Alright everyone, now we are in the last hall, Pilu Hall, also called a Thousand Buddha Hall. It’s also the largest structure of the Shaolin Monastery. This is just the highlights of the sightseeing zone. So until now, the visit in the Shaolin Monastery is almost over. I think you may have some questions about the temple, or you want to take some photos. So, please do remember, you have half an hour. After half an hour we will gather at the Front Gate Hall, and make sure you’ll be there on time. And then we are going to the Pagoda Forest. Thank you for your attention!
Shaolin Temple, in the region of Song Mountain, Dengfeng City, Henan Province, is reputed to be ’the Number One Temple under Heaven’. The temple is the cradle of the Chinese Zen Buddhism and the Shaolin Martial Arts such as Shaolin Cudgel（棍棒）. One can see wild flowers and pines on the mountain. With birds singing and a brook spattering, a beautiful scene full of life and vitality(活力) is revealed to the visitors.
Shaolin Temple embraces many exciting attractions, such as the Hall of Heavenly Kings (Tianwangdian), the Mahavira Hall (Daxiongbaodian=Great Hero), the Pagoda Forest, the Dharma Cave and the Shaolin Temple Martial Art Training Center. Visitors may follow the guide about the Shaolin Temple.
First we see the Shanmen Hall(The Front Gate Hall). Hung on its top is a tablet reading ’Shaolin Temple’. The tablet was inscribed by the Emperor Kangxi (1622 - 1723) during the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911). Under the stairs of the hall crouches(蹲伏) two stone lions made in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). The hall enshrines（祀奉） the Maitreya Buddha(摩珂迦叶). Two sides of the corridor behind the hall’s gate are paved with inscriptions on stone steles made during several different dynasties.
Next we arrive at the Hall of Heavenly Kings. On both sides in front of the hall stand the statues of two guardian spirits of buddhist law known as Jinggang in China,nameed “Heng”, “Hha”.The gate of the hall is guarded by two figures depicting Vajra (Buddhist warrior attendants). Inside the hall are figures of the Four Heavenly Kings who are responsible for inspecting peoples’ behavior, helping the troubled, and blessing the people.
Then we come to the Mahavira Hall(Daxiongbaodian=Great Hero). The complex’s center is right before your eyes. Both important celebrations and regular prayers are held here. 18 Buddhist Arhats(罗汉) stand along the eastern and the southern walls of the hall. Buddhas of the Middle, East and West are enshrined in this hall, respectively Sakyamuni Buddha（婆娑世界的释迦牟尼）, Pharmacist Buddha（东方净琉璃世界的药师佛） and Amitabha Buddha（西方极乐世界的阿弥陀佛）. Figures of Kingnaro (紧那罗王=the founder of Shaolin Cudgel) and Dharma (the founder of Chinese Zen Buddhism) stand beside those three Buddhas, a placement which is very different from other Mahavira Halls. At the feet of the pillars（柱子） in this Mahavira Hall are stone lions（麒麟） that are more than one meter (about 3.33 feet) high. On the ground there are 48 small food-pits, 20 centimeters (about 7.87 inches) deep. It is said that they are the footprints left by monks when they practiced Shaolin Martial Arts.
Zhang jing ge used to be the libery of buddhist Scriptures（手稿、经文）.It was rebuilt in 1994.It is enshrined with a white-marble（白色大理石的） Buddha donated by a Buddhist from Burma(缅甸) in 1996.
The Dharma’s Pavilion is enshrined with a bronze statue of Boddhi Dharma in the middle and four other ancestors of Zen Buddhism on both sides. It is also named “Standing-in-Snow Pavilion”,which came into being after a moving story from Buddhist doctrine.
Standing on both sides of the Dharma’s Pavilion are the halls with a statue of Boddhisattva Wenshu and Boddhisattva Puxian separately.
The largest building the Pilu Hall,also called a Thousand Buddha Hall, is the last hall on the central axis of the temple.
Unexpectedly, we come to the Pagoda Forest, a graveyard for Buddhist dignitaries（高僧） through the ages. On average, the pagodas are less than 15 meters (about 49 feet) high. The layer and the shape of a pagoda depend on many factors, such as one’s Buddhist status, attainment and prestige during his lifetime. The Pagoda Forest in Shaolin Temple is the largest of China’s pagoda complexes.
Outside the temple we continue walking to the northwest, and then we will take a look at two monasteries, named the Ancestor’s Monastery and the Second Ancestor’s Monastery. The first monastery is built by a Dharma’s disciple to commemorate Dharma’s nine years of meditation in a cave. It has a big hall supported by 16 stone pillars on whose shafts（轴） are exquisitely （精巧地）carved warriors（勇士）, dancing dragons and phoenixes. The second monastery is a nursing home of the second ancestor Huike who cut his left arm in order to show his sincerity to study Buddhism from Dharma. In front of the monastery are four springs created by Dharma to help Huike to fetch water easily. They are called ’Spring Zhuoxi’ and each has its own distinctive flavor.
The cave we see next is the Dharma Cave. In this cave Dharma patiently faced the wall and meditated for 9 years. Finally, he reached the immortal（不朽的） spiritual state and created the Buddhist Zen. The cave is seven meters deep (about 23 feet) and three meters high (about 9.8 feet). Many stone inscriptions are carved on both its sides. There is a Meditating Stone in the cave. It is said Dharma’s shadow was reflected upon the stone and embedded on it because of the long time of his meditation facing the wall. Unfortunately the stone was ruined during the war.
The Shaolin Temple Wushu (Martial Arts) Training Center comes last. Its perfect scenery makes it an ideal place for practicing the Chinese Shaolin Kung Fu. Shaolin monks have been practicing Kung Fu for over 1,500 years. The system was invented by Dharma who taught the monks basic methods to improve their health and defend themselves. The Martial art performance shows the true Chinese Shaolin Kung Fu. For example, Tong Zi Gong, performed by teenagers, is a kind of martial art to train one’s flexibility and strength.
In a word, Shaolin Temple is worthy of a visit. It will give you a better understanding of Chinese Buddhism and the martial arts.