22 March 2006, 16:34
Shaolin monks said a prayer for the future of Russian-Chinese friendship in Putin's presence
Shaolin Monastery (Henan Province), March 22, Interfax - Russian President Vladimir Putin toured the Shaolin Monastery in China's Henan Province of Wednesday.
Accompanied by the monastery's abbot, Shi Yongxin, Putin toured the Shaolin grounds and was told about the history of the monastery and its life today.
Shaolin monks said a prayer for the future of Russian-Chinese friendship in Putin's presence.
The head of the state visited the rooms where the monks live. They are very modest and contain standard beds and small lockers.
Putin saw the prayer room and the room for meditation. He entered it during a session that takes place every six-eight hours. The room was silent, and a soft light was breaking through a smoke of fragrance.
The monks sitting in the lotus position were not embarrassed when the President appeared and continued their meditation that should bring them to enlightening - the heart of Chinese Buddhism.
Putin asked the prior of the Shaolin Monastery how much time the monks dedicate to meditation. He answered that meditation took some six to eight hours every day, and up to ten hours several days a year when the monks sit immovable in the lotus position.
Red badges with Chinese symbols on the monks’ robes drew the President’s attention and he asked the prior what they meant. The prior looked a little embarrassed when answering: ‘This is security clearance done for your visit’.
The Russian president saw not only both spiritual meditation of the monks and their physical training. He visited the gym where the disciples were training. Some dozen monks dressed in gray kimonos demonstrated several exercises for flexibility, body mastering and accumulation of energy.
After an ‘energy’ exercise a disciple came up to the president and asked to strike him thus testing his belly muscles.
The president chose to tap him on the shoulder. ‘I’d better not: suppose he strikes back’, Putin smiled being impressed with the training.
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