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Monks breathe life into temple

With their lessons in management and kungfu, 14 monks from the Shaolin Temple are breathing new life into four previously monk-free Buddhist temples in Kunming, the Yunnan provincial capital, officials said yesterday.

Over the next 30 years, the monks from the world famous monastery will help teach Buddhism practices and introduce their martial art and traditional medical knowledge to the region, Master Yanjiang, the abbot assigned to manage the four temples, told China Daily.

Four more monks from the 1,500-year-old temple in Hennan province will be sent to Yunnan by the end of the year, he said.

"The idea is to first help the temples with regular management, like chanting sutras in the mornings and evenings, and teaching them Buddhist practices," Yanjiang said.

The monks were sent to Yunnan as part of an arrangement between temples in the two provinces to "bridge their cultures and increase Shaolin's influence in Yunnan", officials said earlier.

Yunnan temples "will follow the business mode of the Jade Buddha Temple in Shanghai, a model for city temples, while the Shaolin Temple will be a model for countryside and tourism features," Yanjiang said.

The Jade Buddha Temple is known for its culture, charity and temple management. Since 2005, it has sent dozens of monks to study temple management at Shanghai's Jiaotong University.

Yanjiang said he was also considering enrolling new monks at the Yunnan temples and training them to become kungfu monks with the skills to put on performances of the martial art. There are also plans to establish charity organizations to help orphans and poor children interested in studying Buddhism, he said.

"We will try to promote a combination of Henan and Yunnan cultures to increase the influence of Shaolin," the abbot said.

The 14 monks have already had an impact on temple life, locals have said.

Dou Weibao, director of the Guandu district nationality affairs commission, said that before the Shaolin monks arrived, there were no monks at all in the four Yunnan temples.

"The only people working there were cleaners hired by the government," he said.

An incense seller at the Fading temple said her business has been brisk since the monks arrived.

"There used to be hardly any visitors, but now people are pouring in.

"They (the monks) will revitalize the temple and benefit people like me," the woman, who asked not to be named, said.

 Source : China Daily  Editor: Dong Wenwen
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