11 Actionable Teachings from Shaolin Philosophy to Support Your Daily Life

Flying monks, running over water, and breaking bricks with their hands are just a few of the images that come to mind when thinking about the Shaolin Temple. But there’s so much more to this sacred site than meets the eye.

The Shaolin Temple is a Buddhist temple in China that’s famous for its martial arts. What’s less known, however, is the Shaolin philosophy and the practical life lessons these monks have to offer.

This temple is more than just a school of fighting. It’s also a place of learning and enlightenment.

The monks who live and train at the Shaolin Temple study not only martial arts but also Chan Buddhism which contains unbelievable wisdom.

Whether we’re dealing with conflict or simply trying to find inner peace, we can also apply principles from Shaolin’s philosophy to our everyday lives.

Even without being a Shaolin monk.

Here are 11 teachings from the Shaolin Philosophy to support you in your daily life.

1. Discipline Leads to Self-Control

The first teaching of Shaolin philosophy is that discipline leads to self-control. This means if you want to achieve anything in life, you must be disciplined.

Without discipline, your goals are unattainable.

To be successful, you need to set your goals and then take action toward them.

You can't achieve anything if you don't have a plan or aren't willing to work hard.

That’s why the Shaolin philosophy teaches its followers to be disciplined in all aspects of their life. Including their thoughts, emotions, and actions.

If you’re interested in learning discipline and self-control, there are a few simple techniques from the Shaolin you can try.

For example, one exercise is to sit in a comfortable position and focus on your breath.

Once you have found your center, start to count your breaths.

Every time you inhale, count one.

Every time you exhale, count two.

Continue counting up to ten, and then start over again.

This may seem like a simple task, but it can be quite challenging to maintain your focus for an extended period.

However, with practice, it can help you to develop the ability to control your thoughts and emotions.

2. Attention Leads to Dissolving Inner Chaos

Meditation and mindfulness are two of the most influential aspects of Shaolin’s philosophy.

Shaolin monks have been practicing meditation and mindfulness for centuries, and luckily, their teachings can easily be applied to our daily lives. Even if it’s not to the extent the monks apply them.

Meditation is basically the practice of training your attention and awareness.

And mindfulness is the practice of being aware of your thoughts and emotions in the present moment.

When you focus your attention and are aware of your thoughts and feelings, you'll be able to dissolve your inner negativity and chaos.

As a result, you can find inner peace and harmony. These are two of the most substantial things Shaolin monks strive for.

There are many different ways to meditate. And the Shaolin philosophy teaches its followers to find the method that works best for them.

If you’re new to meditation, there are a few simple techniques you can try.

One way to meditate is just to focus on your breath while being in a comfortable position.

Another way is to focus on a specific object or thought. These two ways are specifically for practicing your focus because it’s the foundation for meditation.

Whichever method you choose, the important thing is to be patient and consistent with your practice. Meditation takes time and effort, but it’s worth it!

3. Focus Leads to a Clear Mind

In today’s age of constant distraction, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and scattered.

There’s no doubt that focus and concentration are powerful tools in such a time. And few people know this better than the Shaolin monks. For centuries, these monks have been perfecting the art of focus and concentration through their strict training rules.

But it’s not just through their training that Shaolin monks have mastered these skills.

Besides their meditation and mindfulness practice, they also train several specific techniques that help them sharpen their focus and maintain mental clarity.

Shaolin monks start each day with a period of silence and stillness. This allows them to clear their minds and focus on the present moment.

Additionally, they often engage in breath control exercises, which help them slow down their thoughts and remain calm under pressure. And they also regularly practice visualization exercises, to better focus on their goals.

You can also practice all of these at home on your own.

There are many things we can learn from their example. By following it, we can learn to cultivate our own powers of focus and concentration and use them to achieve success in whatever we set our minds to.

4. Being in the Present Moment Leads to Experiencing All That Life Has to Offer

For Shaolin monks, the present moment is the only moment that truly exists. The past is gone and the future is not yet here, so there’s no point in dwelling on either. Instead, Shaolin monks focus on living in the present moment as fully as possible.

That means being aware of their surroundings and paying attention to their thoughts and emotions.

It also implies being open to new experiences and being willing to let go of old attachments.

Being in the present moment is essential for Shaolin monks for a variety of reasons.

For one, it allows them to be fully focused on their training and meditation. Additionally, it helps them to be aware of their surroundings and to react quickly to any potential threats. Finally, it enables them to maintain a sense of inner peace and tranquility.

Shaolin monks practice being in the present moment through a variety of methods, including mindfulness meditation and Tai Chi. Through these practices, they learn to quiet their minds and focus on the here and now.

In doing so, they become more aware of their thoughts and emotions and are better able to control them.

That’s how they learn to live in the present moment more fully and experience all that life has to offer.

5. Acceptance Leads to Inner Peace

Shaolin philosophy is built around the principle of acceptance.

This principle teaches us to accept ourselves for who we are and also others.

When you can accept yourself and others, it’s easier to find peace within yourself. It’s also important to forgive those who have wronged us.

Holding onto anger and resentment will only hurt us in the long run.

Instead, we should try to let go of these negative emotions and forgive those who have hurt us. By doing this, we can move on from the pain of the past and focus on enjoying the present moment.

The practice of acceptance is at the heart of many of the training exercises that Shaolin monks undergo. Besides techniques like mindfulness meditations, there’s another common exercise in how the monks train acceptance.

They stand in a river or stream and allow the water to flow over the body.

This exercise isn’t only physically challenging, but it also requires a great deal of mental discipline. By remaining still and accepting the flow of the water, they learn to let go of their attachment to things that are constantly changing.

By following the principle of acceptance, we can create a more positive and peaceful world, both within ourselves and with those around us.

6. Kindness and Compassion Lead to a Better Place for Everyone

Another important principle of Shaolin philosophy is kindness and compassion.

This means being kind and caring towards others, even if they’re not kind to you. It’s necessary to remember that everyone is fighting their own battles. And we should be compassionate towards them, even if they’re not always compassionate towards us.

One of the best ways to practice compassion is through volunteering.

By giving our time and energy to help others, we can develop a more compassionate attitude towards them. Additionally, it’s important to be patient with people and to understand that they may not always act in the way we would like them to.

We should also try to see things from their perspective and have empathy for them.

By practicing kindness and compassion, we can make the world a better place for everyone and create more positive relationships with those around us.

7. Patience Leads to Reaching Goals

One of the perhaps most known lessons we can learn from Shaolin philosophy is perseverance.

No matter how difficult life gets, we should never give up. We should always keep fighting and strive to reach our goals. That’s what Shaolin monks do every day with their training.

One of the best ways to develop perseverance is through practice. This could mean practicing a martial art, such as Tai Chi, or it could mean practicing meditation.

By regularly doing these things, we can train our minds to be more patient and never give up, no matter how hard things get.

In addition to practicing patience, it’s also essential to have faith. Faith helps us believe in something, even when it’s hard to see the results.

When we have faith, we know that things will eventually work out, even if they are tough right now.

8. Humility Leads to Understanding and Appreciation

The principle of humility is a noteworthy mindset of Shaolin philosophy that goes hand in hand with kindness and compassion.

It means being humble and not thinking that you’re better than anyone else.

Because in the end, it doesn't matter if we have money, power, or reputation. We're all humans made out of flesh and blood.

That means we’re all equal and no one is more special than anyone else.

One of the best ways to practice humility, and how Shaolin monks do it, is through service.

By serving others, we can remember that we’re not above them and that everyone deserves to be treated with respect. It’s also important to be grateful for what we have and not to take things for granted.

When we are humble, we can see the good in other people and appreciate them more.

9. Generosity Leads to Abundance in the World Around Us

The Shaolin monks have a saying: “If you want to be rich, first help others become rich.”

But generosity isn’t simply about giving to others. It’s also about living in a way that brings benefit to all.

That means being generous with our time, energy, and resources.

It implies helping others, even when there’s no immediate benefit to ourselves.

And it indicates living with an open heart so that we can truly connect with others.

The monks train generosity daily by giving food to beggars, helping someone carry groceries, or simply offering a kind word to someone who looks like they need it.

Besides that, the monks often open their monastery to visitors, providing them with a place to stay and teaching them about the Shaolin way of life.

The Shaolin monks teach us that by being generous, we create abundance in the world around us.

And by being generous, we also enrich our own lives.

10. Inner Strength Leads to Overcoming Any Obstacle

Shaolin monks are known for their amazing physical strength, but they also have great inner strength.

This inner strength is truly inspirational. It comes from their belief in themselves and their ability to overcome any obstacle.

Their inner strength is often put to the test during the monks’ famously difficult training regimen.

Shaolin monks must endure long hours of physical activity, including running, martial arts, meditation, and breathing techniques. Apart from that, they follow a strict diet and sleep schedule. And they start each day already with a series of exercises designed to build physical strength and stamina.

This comprehensive approach to training leads to a strong mind and body that can withstand any challenge.

In addition to their physical prowess, Shaolin monks are also known for their mental toughness. They maintain a calm mind even amid chaos and can focus completely on the task at hand.

This unshakeable focus allows them to perform feats of mental and physical strength most people would deem impossible.

By pushing themselves to their limits daily, Shaolin monks develop the mental and physical strength needed to overcome any challenge.

Most people underestimate the phrase “Believe in yourself and you’ll achieve anything”. Shaolin monks are the best example of how true that is.

The inner strength of Shaolin monks comes literally from their belief in themselves and their ability to overcome any obstacle.

We can all learn a lot from their example.

When we face challenges in our lives, we should remember the Shaolin monks and believe in our ability to overcome obstacles.

11. Detachment Leads to Acknowledging That We’re More Than Our Possessions

In my opinion, the most important lesson we can learn from Shaolin philosophy is about detachment.

This Buddhist principle holds that attachment to material things leads to suffering as nothing in this world is permanent and everything will eventually change.

By learning to let go of their attachments, the monks strive to find true peace. This means not getting too attached to things, whether they are material possessions, people, or ideas.

The Shaolin Temple has many different methods for teaching detachment.

For example, living a life of simplicity.

Shaolin monks own very few possessions and what they do have, they use for their training or to help others. They also engage in physical labor, such as cleaning the temple grounds or growing vegetables, which helps them to develop a sense of detachment from the fruits of their labor.

The monks are also not attached to their own identities.

They see themselves as part of something larger and more important than themselves. This allows them to let go of their ego and focus on their spiritual practice.

In our own lives, we should strive to live with less, letting go of our attachments to material possessions and focusing on what’s truly important.

And we should especially remember that we’re not our possessions or our titles.

We’re so much more than that.

The Shaolin Temple Is More Than Just a Place of Worship

The Shaolin Temple is a school that teaches its students how to live their lives in a certain way.

And the lessons we’ve discussed here are just a few of the many things we can learn from the Shaolin monks.

By studying Shaolin philosophy, we can learn how to live our lives with more purpose and meaning.

We can also develop inner strength, detachment, generosity, and other meaningful virtues.

So next time you’re feeling lost or uncertain, remember the wise teachings of the Shaolin monks and believe in yourself.

You have the power to overcome any obstacle.

Just believe.