Sunday, February 10, 2008

An Extreme Pilgrim

Most of us could probably claim to have been one of these within any context during the period of our life time
I watched one of the programmes created by the BBC including Pete Owen-Jones, a vicar in a Sussex parish
"I hope to enter worlds where rule book and doctrine are replaced by an individual relationship with God and where the attainment of enlightenment is won by hardship, privation and pain" states Pete.
Pete arrives at the famous Shaolin Temple, a seven-hour train journey from Beijing in the Hevan Province, right in the centre of China. The Shaolin Monastery occupies a central place in Chinese cultural history, as it is the ancestral home of all martial arts.

Pete says "The Church of England in particular is incredibly intellectual. You know, huge libraries full of books and theological bookshops. But we don't do anything physical. It's going to be very challenging indeed."

Pete is thrown straight into a gruelling routine of Kung Fu, the central technique in Chan Buddhism (also known as Zen Buddhism in Japan).

Whilst embracing energetically all the rules and methods of the discipline he struggles with the "heart" and sole principle of the belief system and to my dismay, very quickly becomes frustrated with the whole experience
Only when he joins a small band of renegade buddhists that live on a mountain top away from everything and everyone, including the famous Shaolin temple and its inhabitants, does he gradually become ENLIGHTENED!
He eventually realises that adherence to codes, dogma, formal structure and literal instruction is what blocks the arrival of enlightenment. As soon as he relaxes, stops worrying about progress and methodology it is naturally awakened within
Good programme, really interesting and a lesson for us all, whether religious or not!
Check it out and let me know what you think

Useful links:
Shaolin International Federation
Travel China Guide

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