- English: Shaolin
Shaolin si, "Shaolin Temple," should not be understood in translation. In English a temple is a single or at most a few buildings. Here there is no temple. The whole complex of hundreds of structures or any part of it might be the temple, comprised by the Chinese word si. English "monastery" might comprise many buildings of the larger monasteries. Their distinguishing feature is their use by a religious community living under a rule. Here there is no monastery. The monasteries in China fell victim to the revolution, which spurned religion of any sort. The entire complex is mainly concerned with education and tourism. The schools are under military discipline, emphasizing martial arts. They do intend to keep alive ancient Chinese medicinal and self-defense arts, carefully separated from the Buddhist religion. The major goal, however, is showmanship in the service of sustainable tourism. The "monastery" solicits and seeks international interest and participation. This policy results in an influx of wealth as well as personal satisfaction of the Chinese.
The total complex of hundreds of structures might be divided into "the authentic complex" and "the modern complex," which are terms that have been used. Very little of the ancient survived the revolution. However, most of the ancient buildings have been rebuilt in "authentic" style; that is, with architectural features that the scholars believe are characteristic of ancient periods. The modern complex, on the others hand, discards authenticity in favor of mass education. There were never any more than a few hundred monks, but thousands of students yearly from all over the world are trained in courses of varying lengths.
The auhentic complex
A qilin statue sits outside a building in the Shaolin Temple grounds