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Interview with nonduality magazine







Venerable Guolin, abbot of the U.S. Shaolin Temple and President of the Shaolin Temple Overseas Headquarters, was converted to Buddhism at the age of 15. Since then he has dedicated himself whole-heartedly to learning, practicing, spreading and developing the Shaolin tradition for more than 20 years and won the reputation of Iron Arhat. Shi Guolin is well versed in Taoism and Confuscianism as well as Buddhism. He was the head coach of martial arts at the Shaolin headquarters in China. He is the successor disciple of the present abbot Master Monk Yong Xin and wa s assigned to be the inheritor of the 34th generation of the Shaolin tradition.


Fascinated by the diversities of culture and religion in the United States, he decided to share the Shaolin heritage with people living in this country and came to New York in 1992. Since then the number of his disciples and students has increased and is still increasing with each passing day.














NDM: What is enlightenment in the Shaolin tradition?


Sifu Guolin: You see these prayer beads that Iím holding. What are these prayer beads used for?


NDM: For counting?


Sifu Guolin: This is used for stilling your mind.  A clean mind.  An enlightened mind. Ok. This enlightened mind is clear, together.  Sometimes if itís not clear. This will make it together in one line.  It will make it very clear. This is enlightenment.


NDM: So youíre saying that enlightenment is when your mind is clear all the time?


Sifu Guolin: All the time. Maybe for you like this you have been meditating for a long time. Right. In your meditation, you are very clear. Out of meditation you go back, not clear. Sometimes clear, sometimes not clear. (Laughter) You go back to the meditation, enjoying. This feels good but itís not very good. You go back.  When you finish meditation and are outside in life, when you can keep your life like it is when you are in meditation, that is good.

Then sometime for a long time you are dreaming. (Laughter) So you cannot pass this one. (Pointing to the knot in the beads)


NDM: So that one would be what exactly?


Sifu Guolin: When you donít pass:


NDM: So when you donít pass that one what would be the obstacle? What would be blocking?


Sifu: Blocking?


Nicole Saunders: I think he is showing in order to keep your mind in meditation, you go through the beads, then you return and go through them again the other way.


NDM:  And the goal is to?


Sifu Guolin: To keep clear.  If you just keep going around the beads and you donít know how many circles you have made, you are like a machine. Like a machine, itís no good. Thatís why when you make one circle, you have to know its one circle to keep enlightenment.


NDM: When you do this do you also count the breath, your inhale and exhale?


Sifu Goulin: You can do it like this, inhale exhale and you count. Usually when you do this you count and say Namo Amituofo.


NDM: You chant this mantra in your mind?


Sifu Guolin:  Yes in the mind. Namo amituofo. Sometimes also count inhale and exhale.


NDM: With the chant together?


Sifu Guolin: Right.


NDM: And you look at a point in front of you, your eyes open?


Sifu Guolin: Yes the eyes are relaxed.


NDM: And when you practiced this meditation, how long would you sit for in the Shaolin temple?


Sifu Guolin: For a beginner level, fifteen minutes, Not for too long. Then after fifteen minutes, take a break if you want to continue you can do the other fifteen minutes.


NDM: And when you take a break do you walk?


Sifu Guolin: Yes and you massage the body. For our kung fu, you can sit for fifteen minutes or one hour, our kung fu is for that.


NDM: You also burn incense?


Sifu: We do the other way. They say that Zen Buddhism has eighty four thousand ways. There are many ways. Many ways make together. We are probably just one way.


NDM: And when you say for the beginners. They practice fifteen minutes and what do they do then? Do they do other meditations or is that it?


Sifu Guolin: Thatís it.


NDM: After you have been practicing for a long time, how long would you for?


Sifu Guolin: One hour. Now everybody lives in the city. Everybody busy, right. If they want to do a few hours, thatís impossible. Itís very important, you have to sit for the feet, at least fifteen minutes if you practice kung fu.


NDM: And the position, when you sit, what kind of position, do you do full lotus, half lotus?


Sifu Guolin: Whatever you can do. The better way, the traditional way is full lotus, this way is stable. Before, I could sit like this for hours, no problem. Itís very easy.


NDM: Without pain?


Sifu Guolin: Even whole day, no problem.


NDM: And would you do some kind of stretching before you do meditation?


Sifu Guolin: Very simple, because we have very flexible legs.


NDM: And what about standing meditation, like zhan zhuang?


Sifu Guolin: Zhaun Zhuang. Yes and forms and tai chi.


NDM: I have a question about wu bu zhui zhong (five parts pursue to the end) when you send the qi to the five parts like the lao gung points in the palm of your hands and the yong quan point in the soles of feet and the baihui point Ėtop of head?


Sifu Guolin: Wu bu zhui zhong is for the hands feet and head.


NDM: Do you have to know all the jingluo- meridians to do this?


Sifu Guolin: You donít have to, you know how I taught you to relax and tighten, with breathing the qi and each breath you can feel to the end.


NDM: Yes. So do you use some kind of visualization like light to help it go through? Or like a yin and yang symbol in your mind?


Sifu Guolin: You donít have to use yin and yang means. Relax and tighten is yin and yang, inhale exhale is yin and yang.

When your mind donít move or moves is yin and yang there are many yin and yangs.


NDM: Empty/full.


Sifu Guolin: Yes.


Nicole: So you donít visualize anything going through, you just think relax?


Sifu Guolin: Just take care of your training and your mind.


NDM: But it get to this point, how you push the qi through the meridians, do you see anything?


Sifu Guolin: Itís how you make to together. Mind, breathing and your body. Your body shows your inside, your mind. Itís more than enough.


NDM: How you move?


Sifu Guolin: Yes it shows our mind through your breathing. If your body is too tight, no good, legs are tight and no balance, no good. Others show your mind, no good.


NDM: So it has to be balanced?


Sifu Guolin: Yes everything qi, outside as one because you monkey mind too much is separate.


NDM: So it becomes one movement one breath.


Sifu Guolin: Yes, everything one. Because you are clear. Laughs.


NDM: So that applies to when you do the Xi shui jing, ot Xin yi ba or the other forms?


Sifu Guolin: Same thing. Yes. Xi shui jing, yi jin jing, everything. When you understand itís very simple.  Itís very difficult for the mind to understand.


NDM: So the sitting meditations that would help with some of the kung fu and moving meditations.


Sifu Guolin: Different people use different ways. Some people like sitting meditations. Some people like more moving meditations but sitting meditation is very good.


Nicole Saunders: I have a question. Is it possible to attain enlightenment from just movement without sitting and meditating? Maybe through kung fu?


Sifu Guolin: Yes of course, yes.  It is also one movement. How to look and be clear and keep the inside still while making a big movement.


NDM: I have a question about when you began to practice Qi gung. You practiced with your grandfather before you went to the Shaolin temple.


Sifu Guolin: Yes.


NDM: He taught you qi gung?


Sifu Guolin: Yes.


NDM: Was he a Taoist or a Buddhist?


Sifu Guolin: He was Buddhist. Our method of kung fu is the Shaolin method. Ancient method.


Nicole: So your grandfather was also from the Shaolin temple?


Sifu Guolin: He was not from the Shaolin temple but he was a Shaolin disciple. Not a monk but he had a Buddhist name.


NDM: So how did you decide to join the Shaolin temple and become a monk?


Sifu Guolin: I was young; I didnít know what a monk was at that time. (Laughter) I just wanted to make my kung fu high level. When I changed my mind I understand that Chan, Zen and kung fu and was the same and was very interested in this.  I wanted to understand. I wanted to become a monk. Zen and kung fu, Zen is very quiet, kung fu is very hard. How to mix them together.  I spent a lot of time studying this.


NDM: When you trained at the Shaolin temple, which forms did you do first, was it the Yi jin jing?


Sifu Guolin: No no. Ba duan jin and the forms first. Everything is the same but the forms differ.


NDM: Later on they taught you the Xi shui jing?


Sifu Guolin: Much later.


NDM: After how many years.


Sifu Guolin: Itís different form to learn and takes much longer, maybe your whole life.


NDM: itís a very advanced form?


Sifu Guolin: Yes, Yi jin jing, Xi shui jing is  a Shaolin method. Shaolin style Zen is a one name not two names.  The name is Yi jin jing, Xi shui jing. One name. Not Yi jin jing and Xi shui jing.  The real name is Yi jin Xi shui jing.


NDM: And if you practiced one like you practiced the one that you taught us , (Yi jin jing) after how many years should somebody practice that for, before you can move on to do the xi shui jing?


Sifu Guolin: A long time, you have got to be enlightened.


NDM: After.


Sifu Guolin. Yes because if you just move the arms around. Laughter. The form is not the method, itís just a technique. For example there are different angles, different movements.


NDM: So the intention of xi shui jing is to purify not just the muscles and tendons but the mind, to clean the mind.


Sifu Guolin: Xi shui jing for example, is not just your marrow, the real meaning is your mind, your heart.  The real meaning of Xi Shi jing is using kung fu to practice Zen Buddhism. Ok.  This name sounds no good. Yi jin, xi shui jing sounds good. Not many people really understand, Yi jin xi shui jing.


NDM: So the true meaning would be to cleanse the heart/ mind of your bad habits, negative habits?


Sifu Guolin: Yes but this is just the foundation. Yi jin jing form is the foundation of kung fu meditation.


NDM: So if you practice the xi shui jing, just the form and this breathing, moving the energy, itís not going to help?


Sifu Guolin: First you have to understand, what is xi shui jing? What is it?


NDM: Its nei gung, internal alchemy, transformation of not just the skin and bones or the marrow or the flesh , itís really to do with purification of karma, the past actions that cause conflicts and obstacles in the present. Negative things in the body/mind.


Sifu Guolin: You are talking about Xi shui jing?


NDM: Yes.


Sifu Guolin:  The Yi jin jing also has this. Its very hard yes.


NDM: So the Yi jin jing in the standing movements do the same thing, clean out the heart mind.


Sifu Guolin: Yes the same way, but itís a different level. You are talking about what Yi jin jing has. It has everything.  I taught you Xi shui jing, the other name is Chan or Zen Buddhism. Why you call it Xi shui jing, it is Shaolin style Zen Buddhism. Ok.  This I call Yi jin xi shui jing. The Shaolin way. Yi jin jing is not only for Buddhism. Many people practice this, itís from Damo (Bodhidharma) from India. But before Damo, (Bodhidharma) before Buddha in China we have Yi jin Jing.


NDM: In Taoism.


Sifu Guolin: Yes Taoism. This come from Taoism. Chinese culture. Da mo came to China and just used Chinese culture to show Buddhism. Ok. We use Yi jing jing, we use kung fu. Zen meditation, the level to teach your mind. 


NDM: To keep the mind still, silent.


Sifu Guolin: Yes, itís just a different name. (Laughter)  Chen Tai chi yang Tai chiis also like yi jin jing. This is for our body and kung fu, movement. We use yi jin jing method to show the Zen Buddhism. Xui shui jing is Zen Buddhism.


NDM: So if you know how to use the mind, breath, and qi you can do the same thing as you do in Xi shui jing.


Sifu Guolin: Tai chi, Shaolin, Wudang, everything the same thing. Different speed. Laughs. Chinese  gung fu cannot separate. Bagaua, tai chi, shaolin gung fu. It can use fast and slow or hard and soft. You can use it a faster way or slow way but it doesnít matter which way you use. if you like tai chi way like this, you have to use the faster way  to check. If itís correct or not. You have to know how to go fast. If you use the faster way, you have slow down, If you only know the faster way you cannot slow down, itís no good, It means you donít understand, or you cannot control the movement right. Or if you only know the slow way, you also donít understand.  If you donít know how to practice gung fu, it practices you I mean you cannot control, right.

Nicole: What I'm understanding is maybe the Buddhist way is to practice Yi jin jing, xi shui jing is not through an intention. Itís no intention so you donít use visualization, you donít think there is a point going here. You focus on the connection, how to make them together.


Sifu Guolin: Yes the different functions, how to make them together .


Nicole: How to make the mind. Body, spirit one.


Sifu Guolin: Yes, each part, inside outside, the mind, qi, body. All the functions of the body have a different function. How to make the inside outside is very important.


NDM: And the breathing is very important, what you said earlier (off record) about the breathing not being too hard, not too soft.


Sifu Guolin: Yes breathing, making too much noise is no good. Breathing function is the bridge to inside outside. Ok, if you make sound, itís no good.


NDM: I Have question about the medicine, dit da jow, when you get injured, when you were in the Shaolin temple did you make your own?


Sifu Guolin: Yes, I make my own.


NDM: How about now, you donít need it? Laughs.


Sifu Guolin: Laughs. Before I did but now everything is in my mind. Laughter.


NDM: I have a question about your new center here in Long island, this is going to be about teaching gung fu, tai chi, qi gung,meditation.


Sifu Guolin: Yes everything. Right now I want to train masters, to train sifus. To open a school to train and give the certificates. First will train ba daun jin, yi jin jing first. I use different levels.


NDM: So ba daun jing is the first level, yi jin jing is the second level?


Sifu Guolin: The forms are first levels and different levels. You can learn ba daun jin or yi jin jing or which one who like or the forms. Also yi jin jing and ba daun jing, you may know the forms but its still first level. Each from from yi jin jing I can make many levels.


NDM: How many?


Sifu Guolin: I can make nine levels. Like deep breathing can make three levels, inhale exhale, up down movement, left right straight movements, one level.  Twisting movements -one level.


Or the circles bending one level. Ba duaun jin  form, left side right side is one level. This is the foundation of qi adjusting your body. You have to concentrate and test.


Nicole: Are there other ways you can practice qi gung, I was talking to John when we were driving here how come people in the gym that work out with dumbbells, how can that not be a form of qi gung.


Sifu Guolin: It can but before you have to adjust your qi, inhale and exhale and when you do this keep your chi in the dantien, abdomen. Your center. If you put your center here, (pointing to bicep) you make them big, very beautiful but after a few months if you donít practice, it goes down and is weak. With qi gung its different. Any movement, you make you use your entire body.