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The third Shaolin Cultural Festival began on the 8th October in London und ended on the 14th October 2014 in Oxford. It was a great event which was held by Songshan Shaolin Temple China, Shaolin Europe Association and Shaolin Temple UK (Britain Shaolin Culture Center). The first Shaolin Cultural Festival was held in September 2012 in Berlin and Vienna. The second was held in October 2013 in Boston, New York and Los Angles.
The Shaolin Cultural Festival was opened by the Venerable Grandmaster Shi Yongxin, Abbot of the Songshan Shaolin Temple China, with a press conference in London CUE cinema on the 8th October. On the next day, the Ven. Abbot and the Shaolin delegation visited the Neasden Temple of Hindu Religion, the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University, the London Central Mosque and the Islamic Cultural Centre. The abbot had a pleasant conversation with every leader of different religions. It was the first time for the Central Mosque for example to open its door for a leader of Buddhism. The Ven. Abbot Shi Yongxin paid also a visit to the Archbishop Kevin McDonald at the London Westminster Cathedral. Both sides had a friendly exchange.
Dr. Hojjat Ramzy warmly welcomed Ven. Abbot Shi Yongxin
At last the abbot and the Shaolin delegation drove to visit the London Singh Sabah Gurdwarra outside London. The Shaolin monks and Sikh warriors demonstrated their martial arts.
In the morning of the 10th October, grandmaster Shi Yongxin visited the London St Ethelburga's Church and met with Mr. Willesden, the bishop of the Church of England. Both sides held friendly exchanges.
The bishop Willesden and Ven. Abbot Shi Yongxin met each other happily
By all conversations with different religions leaders, the abbot stressed: “In the form of religious dialogue and cultural exchanges, the Shaolin Temple hopes to pass the healthy life idea to more people and make more contribution for human peace and development."
Through these visits the Shaolin Temple has deepened understanding and enhanced friendship with local religions in the equal dialogue and exchanges. Dr. Shamender Talwar of Unity of Faiths Foundation said: “The Vern. Abbot has met all religions leaders. It is really a mile stone of dialog for world peace.”
In the evening of October 10th 2014, more than 100 guests attended on the opening ceremony and charity dinner of the third Shaolin Culture Festival in Soccerdome in London. Mr. Ni Jian, Chargé d’affaires of the Chinese embassy in Great Britain, congratulated on behalf of the Chinese Ambassador heartedly to the Shaolin Cultural Festival. Among the guests were diplomats like minister-counsellor for cultural affairs of the Chinese Embassy Xiang Xiaohui, and Belarus's ambassador to Britain, Sergei Aleinik, and a lot of religions leaders and public figures like director of Oxford Islamic information center Dr. Hojjat Ramzy, director of London mosque and Islamic Cultural Center Dr. Dubayan, archbishop of Westminster in London, Kevin McDonald, priest Yeager of The church of England in the east Greenwich area, Sikh elders of London MaLhi, The greater London representative of British Queen, the adjutant of red bridge district Chen Deliang, Dr. Shamender Talwar and Ms Anna Prior of The Unity of Faiths Foundation, vice President of The Chinese community in London Chen Xianyao. Representatives of British Shaolin culture center and some other Shaolin centers attended also the charity dinner.
Ven. Abbot with leaders of other religions
Abbot Shi Yongxin explained in his speech the essence of the Shaolin culture. He said, the Shaolin Temple consistently advocated equal dialogue and exchanges with different religions to build a bridge for human peace and development.
Archbishop Kevin McDonald highly praised Shaolin Temple in the world's efforts and contribution in the religious cultural exchanges, which was beneficial to promote world peace and the harmonious coexistence between different religions.
After dinner the local religious leaders and guests visited cheerfully the painting and calligraphy exhibition of Shaolin monks.
Together for the Peace of the world
At 9:30 a.m. local time of 11th October 2014, the Shaolin Kung Fu Examination started officially with a Buddhist ceremony of the shaolin monks. 57 teams with 541 disciples from fourteen countries of Europe like Britain, France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain, Lithuania, Russia, Slovakia, Netherland, Denmark etc. attended the Shaolin Kung Fu Examination. From Asia was even Malaysia represented by a team.
Ven. Abbot opened the Shaolin Cultural Festival
Opening ceremony of the Shaolin Festival
Serious statistical work from the judges
To compare with the formal Shaolin Cultural Festivals (2012 in Berlin/Vienna and 2013 in Los Angles), the Shaolin Kung Fu Examination of this festival was enriched with new categories. There were altogether nine categories and sixty-one events in the Shaolin Kung Fu examination, such as the individual show, Boxing, Weapons, Sparring, Group form, Tai Chi Quan and so on.
After a fierce competition, there were 99 gold medals, 111 silver medals, 106 bronze medals won by the attendants from different countries of Europe. 8 teams won the Outstanding Group Award, such as the Shaolin Culture Center in Austria, the Shaolin Culture Center in UK, and the Shaolin Culture Center in Spain. There were 9 teams won the Best Organization Award, such as the Shaolin Kung Fu School, British Kung Fu Academy, and Chinese Tang-long Martial Arts center. At the awards ceremony, Ven. Abbot Shi Yongxin issued the certificate of the Outstanding Group Award, the Best Organization Award, gold medal and silver medal for the winners. Shaolin Dharmapalas Team presented certificates and medals for the bronze medal winners.
Ven. Abbot Shi Yongxin highly praised the performance of the competitors. He said, "Friendship is the first, competition is the second. Hope everybody can learn a lot from this kung Fu test. You see what needs to change and to make efforts into right direction in the Shaolin Kung Fu practice."
Winners of the Best Organization Award
The Shaolin Kung Fu Examination attracted many persons from all walks of life in London. The large Soccerdome was crowded and full of a warm and peaceful atmosphere. The calligraphy exhibition of Shaolin Monks, workshops of Shaolin medicine and shaolin Kung Fu were highly praised by the visitors. Also in the quiet meditation corner there were curious people were learning the method of meditation.
One of the high lights of this festival was the Shaolin Culture Forum on the 12 of Oct. 2014. It was not to find in the program, but initiated by the Ven. Abbot. 35 leaders of different Shaolin culture centers and Shaolin martial arts schools in different countries in Europe sat together with the abbot on the stage and talked about the “Shaolin of my heart”.
Shaolin Forum “Shaolin of my heart”
They shared their personal experiences with the audience. Ven. Abbot Shi Yongxin said at the forum, “The essence of Chan is from heart to heart. Through that we can help other people to find the right way to health and peace.”
Signature for Shaolin disciples
On 12th Oct. 2014, the meeting of the Shaolin Europe Association (SEA) e.V. was solemnly held in the Soccerdome of London. The chairman Ven. Abbot Shi Yongxin, the executive president of SEA Shi Yong Chuan and general secretary Dr. Ding Ding were present. Representatives of 17 association members attended it. It was a pity that a few representatives could not come to London. The SEA was founded in 2010 on initiation of the Ven. Abbot Shi Yongxin in Vienna. It should serve as a non-profit oriented organization to unite all Shaolin centers and schools in Europe. The last meeting was held in September 2012 in Berlin, Germany.
The 5th SEA Meeting
Dr. Ding made at first a report on the work of the SEA in the past two years. Then the members discussed the issue of membership fee and the applications of candidates. 12 Shaolin centers and schools were received as new members of the SEA. They were the Centro Cultura Traditional Shaolin Valencia, Shaolin Temple Spain Madrid, Shaolin Temple Academy Orpington Kent UK, Songshan Shaolin Wushu Association Bristol UK, UK Wushu Association, Damo Center Moscow, Shaolin Wenhua Montagnola Switzerland, Shaolin Scotland Woodstock, Shaolin Wushu Venezia a.s.d.,Traditional Wushu Association of Lithuania ”Shaolin” Anyksciai, Slovak Wushu Association Stupava, Shaolin Temple Athens. As the representatives of the new members entered the hall, they were welcomed with thunderous applause. Since now the Shaolin family was becoming bigger and well represented in the most countries of Europe. There were other nine organizations of Shaolin on the candidate list which should be voted in the next meeting.
Voting for the next festival
The members discussed also about the issue of the next Shaolin Culture Festival in Europe. The majority preferred for that the Shaolin Culture Festival in Europe should be held every two years. Two members of SEA from Spain and France competed for the holding of the festival. It was not decided where the next festival should be held in 2016. The Shaolin Europe Association and Shaolin Temple China should investigate at first the conditions of the two centers and cities.
Ven. Abbot Shi Yongxin with the SEA Members
After fast three hours of enthusiastic discussion the fifth Meeting of the Members of the Shaolin Europe Association ended in a satisfactory way.
At 7 p.m. local time of 12th October 2014, the Shaolin Kung Fu examination of the third Shaolin Culture Festival had a successful ending with a closing ceremony in London Soccerdome. Nearly one thousand people attended the closing ceremony, including Shaolin disciples from more than twenty countries and many local people.
According to incomplete statistics, there were more than 10 thousand visitors experienced during the festival the charm of Shaolin Buddhism medicine, chan (zen) tea, chan art of the Shaolin monks and so on.
As the holy origin for Chan-buddhism and Shaolin Kung Fu, Shaolin Temple held the Shaolin Kung Fu Examination in order to build a communication platform for disciples from all countries. "Who won the gold medal can have free access to Shaolin Temple any time and experience the life in the Shaolin Temple." Ven. Abbot Shi Yongxin said in the summary and he sincerely invited everyone to the Shaolin Temple to enjoy the Shaolin culture of 1500 years there.
Group photo with volunteers
In a thunder of applause and cheering, the Shaolin Kung Fu Examination of the third Shaolin Culture Festival had a successful ending.
At 10 am of 13th Oct. 2014, the Shaolin Temple monks held under leadership of Ven. Abbot Shi Yongxin a prayer for the world peace at the Shaolin Culture Centre UK (Shaolin Temple UK). Hundreds of students of the Shaolin Culture Centre UK, and Shaolin disciples from other European countries attended the ceremony.
On 14th Oct. 2014, accompanied by Professor Tu Wei-ming, Dean of Institute for Advanced Humanistic Studies of Beijing University, Ven. Abbot Shi Yongxin and the Shaolin delegation visited the Oxford Center for Christianity and religions studies, Centre for Islamic Studies and newly founded Oxford China Centre. Ven. Abbot had a fruitful exchange with Professor Zachhuber, director of the Oxford Center for Ven. Abbot Shi Yongxin welcomed them to visit the Shaolin Temple China and attend the Chan forum there.
At 2 p.m. local time of 14th Oct. 2014, the culture forum between Buddhism and Christianity was held in the St John's College of Oxford University ceremoniously. It was the final activity of the third International Shaolin Culture Festival. In the forum, Ven. Abbot Shi Yongxin, the Dean of Institute for Advanced Humanistic Studies of Beijing University, Tu Wei-ming, Oxford University professor Alister McGrath, Dr. Canon Brian Mountford and Cardiff University Professor Max Deeg made speeches from different views. They brought a wonderful cultural feast for students at the Oxford University and other participants.
Professor Alister McGrath said, only dialogue mode was the best mode of communication. Not for reaching an agreement, but for setting up a bridge of communication to solve the common problems. According to Canon Brian Mountford and Max Deeg it was not only necessary but also important to have a dialogue between Buddhism and Christianity.
Ven. Abbot Shi Yongxin introduced the Shaolin culture briefly as a practical way for health and peace and stressed the importance of physical and spiritual cultivation.
Form at Oxford
Finally, the third Shaolin Cultural Festival ended successfully along with the successful close of the Oxford forum.
This festival began with dialogs with different religions leaders and ended with dialog with world famous scholars. The meaning and effect of it could be recognized in the future.
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