Shaolin

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Shaolin

Post  Legend on Tue Sep 14, 2010 9:06 pm

Overview

Affiliation: White Clan (aligned with Wu-Tang and The League of Beggars)

Clan Headquarters: Mount Song Shan, Zhongyuan Province.

Current Leader: Fachang, Shaolin Elder

Lost Dragon: The Immoral Monk

Weapon: The Immoral Monk uses a Polemace.

Kung Fu Style: Shaolin’s monks are famous for their unarmed Praying Mantis Style Kung Fu. Upholding their belief in human goodness, they learn to master defensive techniques and disabling moves, and prefer using unbladed weapons to avoid unnecessary killing.

Location: Song Shan is the Central Mountain among the Five Great Mountains of Zhongyuan Province. Great pilgrimages are made here by Buddhists to visit the holy Shaolin Temple, home to the much admired Clan of Shaolin.

Clan Overview
The clan is a strict discipleship of Buddhist Monks, sometimes referred to as “The Noble Clan,” because their disciples demonstrate righteousness and mercy in all their deeds.

“A disciple of Shaolin must vow to reform evil when he finds it and to bring peace where he can.” They believe that even the worst evil-doers can be reformed through the clan's light. When proven false, the fault lies not in their opponents, but within themselves.

“You should not take life, make others take life, or take delight in death." To become a student of Shaolin, you first need to rid yourself of ego.” Passing Shaolin’s gates, and earning discipleship, means giving up all worldly possessions, vanity, and selfish desire. Then one must commit to endless meditation upon the Buddha’s merciful teachings. Coinciding with this, one must make a suitable temple of one’s own body where the Buddha’s seed may thrive. “Take this body and hone its endurance and skill to defend those who cannot defend themselves, so that they too may thrive. Then die with the true understanding that ego is emptiness, and all life is one.”

Never before or since has a clan held fast to such noble purposes.

Style: These disciples are merciful monks, thoughtful and reflective, residing in harmony, and gentle in their speech and movements, unless provoked to righteous action… in which case they are harsh and swift in their dealings of justice or punishment.

Clan Slogans:
“Always hold Buddha’s mercy at the forefront of your mind.”
“The path to Buddha is a seed within you. All you need to do is water it.”
“Empires rise and fall, yet Shaolin remains as the spiritual light for The Land.”

Common Farewell: “Never forget that all life is precious.”

Membership Requirement: One joins the clan when one achieves Cheng 6 of Losing Self and proves their honesty and virtue. At this point one is required to shave one’s head in the name of piety, cast off one’s worldly clothes and don the simple robes of a disciple. In time honored tradition, only men are permitted to join Shaolin.


Clan History

The Holy Shaolin Temple was built by Emperor Xiaowen of The Wei Dynasty nearly one thousand years ago, and founded by a monk named Batuo, who was renowned for his scholarly Buddhist teachings. Batuo brought with him many young disciples, and taught them daily from the transcribed words of the Buddha’s own disciples. Batuo wished the temple to become a haven for Buddhists of Indian decent, so that they might visit and thereby transmit their knowledge to The Land.

No such visit was more acclaimed than that of Bodhidharma, who came to live there and taught the young disciples Chan, or Meditation Buddhism, and its potential for sudden enlightenment. Batuo was so impressed with the teachings of Bodhidharma that he immediately adopted his meditations as the highest order of The Temple.

Bodhidharma observed that Batuo’s monks were grossly out of shape from spending all their time seated in meditation. He meditated long and hard on this problem, gained enlightenment, and introduced a series of postures that he called the Eighteen Hands of Lohan. It was soon revealed to the monks that this technique was more than just an exercise -- it was also a means of defense, both mental and physical, and it would eventually form the basis of all Shaolin martial arts.

Years passed and the monks perfected the Eighteen Hands of Lohan, and then passed them down to new disciples. Over the generations, more and more movements were added and mastered. But it was not until the Tang Dynasty, when ex-militia of high status took sanctuary at Shaolin and began learning the practice, augmenting it with real combat maneuvers, that it was introduced as Shaolin Kung Fu to The Land, and blossomed to include seventy-two basic maneuvers.

The fame of Shaolin Kung Fu spread far and wide, and the soon to be Emperor, Li Shimin, called upon the monks to train his troops to defeat his chief rival Wang Shichong. The monks accepted and helped to turn the tide of battle considerably. Once Li Shimin became Emperor, the Shaolin Clan was given a place of honor as advisors to his court, and he granted them funds to spread their influence to other monastaries and fortify The Holy Temple. It soon became common to find monks making year long pilgrimages to seek entry to Shaolin, and with them came spies from other clans. The Elders were forced to become selective of their new disciples and bar their gates from uninvited visitors.

During the Imperial reign of the Ming family, from which the current Imperial Emperor has succeeded, an unsealing of Shaolin’s gates was announced for a select number of new disciples. One talented monk from Shantung Province, named Wang Lang, was graciously admitted, but it so happened that the true grace of his entrance fell upon Shaolin. For one day during outdoor meditation, he chanced to witness a little battle that would change Shaolin forever. That battle was fought between a tiny Praying Mantis and a Cicada many times its size. When to Wang Lang’s surprise the mantis arose victorious, he carefully brought it with him to his chambers, and began to study its movements.

This was the origin of Shaolin’s revered Praying Mantis Style Kung Fu, which was widely adopted by the clan. Generations of students in direct lineage from Wang Lang have added many variations to his technique, among them Plum Blossom, Seven Stars, Secret Door, Jade Ring, and Dragging Hand.

This calls to mind the present Elder of Shaolin, Fachang, who is also of the noble lineage of Wang Lang, and the story of his most infamous student, The Immoral Monk.

“The Legend of The Immoral Monk of Shaolin”

The story goes as follows: The Elder Fachang, who had not left The Holy Temple farther than a stone’s throw in over a decade, decided to see what life had become like in the village below. With five of his most trusted disciples, he went down the mountain and was greeted with praise by all whom he encountered. From every merchant came similar cries: “Master Fachang, try my wares!” “Our pleasure to feed you, Master Fachang, by my family’s hearth!” “Master Fachang, no cost to you!” And many other similar entreaties, for this village, once a decrepit piece of land, had prospered well of late in the shadow of Shaolin Temple. Fachang humbly denied their supplications, one by one, and continued his walk. Eventually, his constant escapes from attention wore him down, and he asked his aide to knock upon the door of a modest cabin.

Fachang waited, and waited, and had grown weary of waiting when at last his aide returned. “I am sorry, Master. The parents are away, and the only one at home is a small boy, no older than ten years of age. He says we may not enter.” Fachang was charmed by this. He went to the door of the cabin himself, and knocked. Once more, the boy answered the door. “As I told your friend, my parents are away. You may not enter.”

“My boy,” the Master said, “clearly you do not know who I am.” The boy glared at him suspiciously. “My disciples and I mean you no harm, and surely your parents would—” But before the Master could finish, the boy slammed the door in his face.

All five disciples stepped forward, faces flushed, knuckles white on their staffs… but Fachang held up his hand to halt them. “This boy has taught me much,” he said. “Six lessons on pride in barely a single moment.” The disciples were astounded as their Master listed his lessons. “First, although I appeared humble in the village, indeed I was too full of pride to accept their kind invitations. Second, I allowed my pride to lead me here to exhaustion. Third, upon hearing our entry denied, I believed my noble position could reverse the outcome; again, pride. Fourth, the phrase “Clearly you do not know who I am?” also came forth from injured pride as I realized that indeed, to this boy I was no one. Realizing this, I felt shame, and tried to coerce him by telling him we meant no harm and presuming to usurp the voice and will of his parents. Yet another sinful display of pride.”

“But Master,” his aide said, after a long silence wherein Fachang merely stood, smiling at the closed door. “Those are only five lessons on pride.” “Yes,” the Master answered. “And the sixth is the overwhelming pride I cannot halt for this boy who has honored his parents’ wishes, with rightful force, against five armed strangers.”

The boy, Guangxian, would later be inducted to Shaolin, receive the name Faxian as his clan name, and become Fachang’s personal student. In time, he grew, tall, strong and wise -- wiser, perhaps, than Fachang imagined.

Faxian was so disciplined in his martial arts training that soon other disciples began to look to him for their lessons, ignoring their trainers. Soon he was training by day and studying by night, taking little sleep. Often he was assigned to travel along on peace-keeping missions for the clan to settle disputes and enforce the will of The Imperial Emperor.

And than the day came when he appeared before Fachang to announce, “Master, I have learned Praying Mantis, Plum Blossom, Seven Stars, Secret Door, Jade Ring, and Dragging Hand. All seventy-two Shaolin arts are known to me.” Fachang knew this to be true, and meditated long and hard on Faxian’s miraculous progress, before proclaiming to the order that Faxian was indeed the reincarnation of Wang Lang.

Word spread throughout the Buddhist community that Shaolin had discovered a master of masters, and Faxian’s followers grew. If a mission was placed by The Empire upon Shaolin, Faxian was the monk they demanded. He was always successful, even in disputes with other clans, and rumors spread that his Kung Fu was the greatest in The Land.

In time, the fame and accolades upon him grew too heavy a burden, and he again came to Fachang, saying, “Master, I have no more art to learn. I grow weary of teaching, and deeply concerned by the darkness I see rising in other clans. I believe I must meditate in seclusion. I must leave Shaolin.”

Fachang nodded, understanding the needs of his student. “Leave the Temple, my son. But never leave Shaolin. Indeed, you cannot. For you are Shaolin.”

Turbulent months passed, wherein Fachang was requested, by The Imperial Emperor himself, to send disciples to battle against the minions of The Heavenly Demon Clan, who were slaughtering nobles and seizing power in nearby cities. Many Shaolin monks were slain, and Fachang sent messages down the mountain for Faxian to return and lead the clan in battle. Each time the messages were returned with the same answer, “Forgive me. I am not ready.”

More monks were slain, and Fachang was deeply concerned. His concern grew when rumors began circulating that Faxian had indeed left the order. He was seen wearing common clothes, eating meat and drinking wine in taverns. He was even reported to be frequenting a brothel. For these transgressions and his unwillingness to assist them, the disciples had begun to refer to Faxian as “The Immoral Monk.”

Fachang refused to believe these rumors and again came down the mountain. As Faxian’s parents had long since passed on, he expected to find him living in the very cabin where they had first met, and he was correct. He knocked at the door, and this time Faxian allowed him to enter.

There in the center of the small room, Fachang saw three of Heavenly Demon’s highest-ranked disciples, bloodied and bound by chains to restrict their movements. Shocked, he asked Faxian, “What is it you are doing, my son?”

“I am learning,” The Immoral Monk replied.

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