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Protecting the Gold

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending a lecture by Stanley Henning on Chinese martial arts. I learned many things and will write about some things as I collect my thoughts.

One thing Stan said really stuck in my mind. He mentioned that one of the reasons monks learned martial arts was to protect the precious statues and other valuables stored in the temple. This would apply to the Shaolin monks as well as those of other temples.

If you have wealth, you have to protect it from thieves and robbers. So the monks would help to feed the poor but would fight against robbers. Do you see the irony?

The more the temple has, the more it needs protection... the more it needs trained fighters.

Maybe if the temples did not have valuables, they would not need so much defense. Perhaps poverty would be a better way to ensure peace.

We normally think of monks and priests as being unattached to material things. Material and "worldly" things should be beneath them. Should they risk their lives to protect statues and use their martial arts skills to kill robbers? Is a statue worth more than a life, even of a robber?

And does having wealth endanger the monks (and people living nearby) by attracting robbers?

Just something to think about.


Charles C. Goodin