Monday, December 9, 2013

Suburban school boy to Shaolin monk (video)

Amanda Cable; Pat Macpherson (ed.), Wisdom Quarterly
Shaolin monk demonstrates pain tolerance by breaking bricks with his head using a sledgehammer, indicating that most of us live nowhere near our human potential (Reuters).

(Nat'l Geographic) "Myths and Logic of Shaolin Monks" (kung fu documentary, see Part 2)
Ahmet gave up the trappings of suburbia for the good life.
He's the ordinary north London boy who became a Chinese warrior monk. And his story is as astonishing as it is inspiring.
Matthew Ahmet is 20 and he's hard, very hard. His head is shaved, and his body bears the ravages of a violent life. A mark on his forehead shows where a metal bar came crashing down on his skull. His forearms have been sliced repeatedly by razor-sharp knives, and his left arm has a "punishment" burn from boiling water.
So when he sits down, flashes a beautiful smile and talks about spreading happiness and peace, it comes as a great surprise. Matthew left his home in Enfield, north London, at the age of 17 to become a Shaolin Buddhist monk in China. In doing so, he renounced all the worldly belongings that are the staple diet of teenage life and entered upon a grueling regime of training, sacrifice, and punishment. Each mark on his body bears testament to this new and extraordinary life. Ahmet says:

Publicity poster for Ahmet's Shaolin show
"Recently, I went to visit an old schoolfriend of mine, who is at Manchester University. I met him at the digs he shares with his friends and I was stunned. There were dirty clothes everywhere, unwashed dishes and belongings just thrown around. In China, I wash my own robes in a bucket of cold water, which I also use to bathe in. I sleep on a bunk bed with no mattress, lying directly on a plank of wood. Everything in my new life is so neat and disciplined that I can't imagine being a typical student now."

Does this earnest young man, who looks like a feral youth but who is in fact gentle and thoughtful, miss anything about his "old life"? He says with a brilliant smile, "Hot showers. When I do go home, I love the luxury of being able to have hot water running over my body." More

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