On March 22, Russian President Vladimir Putin paid a visit to Shaolin Temple in central China's Henan Province. Abbot Shi Yongxin showed Putin around and explained the stone tablet story about Emperor Li Shimin of Tang Dynasty starting from 618AD, visited martial arts practicing chamber and the meditation room.
In an interview with CCTV, China Central Television Station, Abbot Shi said it's an exception to invite Putin to visit the Shaolin meditation room.
He said the room has never opened to the public.
"It is essential that the monks in Shaolin Temple meditate in this room. Only by meditating more than 10 hours a day in this special room, can one reach a lofty realm." explained Abbot Shi.
By showing Putin the meditation room and monks' life, Abbot Shi hoped to let Putin have a deep understanding of Shaolin Temple and a good understanding of the eastern culture and Buddhism.
Abbot Shi said President Putin had been very glad during the visit and appreciated the Kong Fu of the monks very much. He held that President Putin's visit was not purely personal behavior, as a president, he represented the will and voice of the majority in Russia.
"From his visit, one could see China's rise and the charm of Chinese culture in the world."
Abbot Shi said during the visit, President Putin was very kind to everyone, he shook hands with monks and talked with many of them.
"We talked, and felt very cordial like old friends. There was no hindrance at all, he is also very humourous. "
During the visit in Shaolin Temple, Putin gave Shaolin Temple a blue and white colored porcelain vase made in Russia. Meanwhile, Putin got a surprised gift: a set of the 'Secrets of Shaolin Kong Fu'.
Shaolin monks performed 24 special skills and Putin applauded after each performance. In particular, 8 year old Shi Xiaoguang's performance being called 'a boy worshiping the Buddha' attracted Putin very much. After his performance, President Putin carried Xiaoguang in his arms and then held him on his shoulder to have a photo with everyone there.
Abbot Shi told President Putin that Xiaoguang practiced Kong Fu very hard and Shaolin Kong Fu was just inherited through hard work generation after generation.
He explained that Shi Xiaoguang goes to bed at 8:00 in the evening and gets up at 5:00 in the morning. He will run for some time and then practice Kong Fu. At 8:30 am he will have cultural lessons and finishes the course at 11:30 am. At 2:30pm, he begins to practice Kong Fu again. In the evening he will have one hour course too.
President Putin held an exclusive talk with Abbot Shi at the end of the tour discussing cooperation in Buddhism and sports as well as Shaolin cultural exchanges between the two sides. They mentioned Judo. Abbot Shi said Japanese Judo founder Chen Yuanbin was originated from Hangzhou, east China. Chen studied many years in Shaolin Temple before he went to Japan. President Putin said he believed this was true, but it was controversial in Japan.
Shaolin Temple in Songshan Mountain was noted as the No1 famous temple, the cradle of Buddhist Chan sect and the cradle of world famous Shaolin martial arts. With modern development, Shaolin Temple started to use new method to vitalize Shaolin culture.
In 1996, Shaolin Temple became the first one to establish their own website with many readers. At present, Shaolin Temple has foreign liaison office and all their offices are equipped with modern communication devices such as broadband, laptop, digital cameras and fashionable mobile phones.
According to Shaolin Temple staff, after President Putin's visit, tourists to the temple increased by 20 percent, especially foreign tourists.
By People's Daily Online