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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
The Shaolin Temple Story: Explore Shaolin History, Culture, Kung Fu, and Chán (Zen) Tradition by James Martin is a stunning depiction of how the temple plays a role in the traditions, history, and culture of China. This book explores a personal connection with the Shaolin Temple and its influence throughout China’s history, from Japanese pirates to Shaolin Kung Fu. Incredible photos are incorporated to help depict an impact that dates back over 1,500 years. The images help highlight the various points raised while providing a visual history of the temple. This book is an incredible resource that shows the amazing beacon the temple has been to Chinese culture. It comes to life through Yongxin’s eyes with vivid explorations that permit you to truly understand why the temple still resonates today.
The temple and Shaolin tradition have become synonymous with both Chinese and Chinese Buddhist culture while Shaolin Kung Fu has become a symbol of friendship worldwide. The book explores why these two facts are important and how the temple is still influential. This is an amazing reference work that takes you into this temple and allows you to understand every facet of it. With the temple as a focal point, you see history unfold such as how Shaolin monks helped lead an army with Emperor Taizong and how warrior monks fought against Japanese pirates. The monks are an important element of the culture, such as the monk that waits outside the Guest Hall, no matter the weather. The rich history of this temple is obvious by the way Shi Yongxin explores every aspect of it down to the temple’s influence on Buddhism, sutras, and Kung Fu.
The location is an important part of the temple’s history from the ginkgo trees outside to the nearby Songshan mountain. The origin can be traced back to the Zhou Dynasty when the Duke determined the location was ‘in the middle of heaven and the earth.’ The temple remains a feature of Chinese culture and the restoration of the revolving repository was completed in 2012, while calligraphers undertook the task of copying the Tripitaka scriptures. Stepping into this world fuses enlightenment, the fundamentals of Buddhism, dharma, sutras, and Kung Fu. The Shaolin Temple Story by James Martin is an amazing source for those eager to know more about this aspect of China’s history, culture, and traditions with superb photos, fascinating details, and an incredible journey through history.