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A Short History of Shao Lin Monks and their Martial Arts The original Shao Lin temple was built in 495 AD by the ruling Bei Wei emperor for an Indian monk who came to China to preach Buddhism The name Shao Lin derived from the fact that its original temple was located within a small forest on Shao Shi mountain Shao came from the name of the mountain and Lin comes from the Chinese character that stands for forest The origin of Shao Lin being its own sect of Buddhism dates back to 540 AD when and Indian Buddhist named Bodhidharma Tamo in Chinese traveled to China to see the ruling Bei Wei Emperor At that time the Emperor had started local Buddhist monks translating Buddhist texts from Sanskrit to Chinese The intent of this practice was geared towards allowing the general population to practice this religion The Emperor believed that this act would lead to Nirvana but Tamo disagreed Tamos view on Buddhism was that you could not achieve your goal just through the good actions performed by others in your name Tamo then left to meet with the local Buddhist monks at Shao Lin Originally Tamo was refused entrance to the temple because the monks thought he was just an upstart or foreign meddler Rejected by the monks Tamo went to a nearby cave and meditated until the monks recognized his religious prowess and admitted him to the temple Legend has it that he bore a hole through one side of the cave with his constant gaze in fact the act that earned him his recognition is lost to history When Tamo joined the monks he observed that they were not in good physical condition Most of their routine paralleled that of Irish monks of the middle ages who spent hours each day hunched over tables where they transcribed handwritten texts Consequently the monks in Shao Lin lacked the physical and mental stamina
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