Queen Mary Olympics Lecture Series

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8 May 2012

Time: 6:30pm
Venue: ArtsTwo Lecture Theatre, ArtsTwo Building, Mile End Campus

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Sports, Martial Arts, and Religion in China: The Case of the Shaolin Monastery

Professor Meir Shahar

What is the purpose of physical exercise?  Should athletic achievements be measured by the Olympic criteria of speed, height, distance, or strength, or should the practitioner aim at the higher goals of spiritual liberation?  This lecture will outline the evolution of the Chinese martial arts tradition, which features a unique synthesis of military, therapeutic, and religious goals.  The Chinese martial art is a multifaceted system of physical and mental self-cultivation, which is simultaneously intended for self-defense, health, and religious perfection.  The lecture will focus upon the renowned example of the Shaolin Temple, in which Buddhist monks have been practicing the martial arts for fifteen hundred years.    

Meir Shahar received his PhD in Chinese studies from Harvard University.  He is the author of several books on Chinese religion, literature, and the martial arts, including Crazy Ji: Chinese Religion and Popular Literature, and The Shaolin Monastery: History, Religion, and the Chinese Martial Arts, which has been translated into numerous languages. Meir Shahar is currently Associate Professor of Chinese Studies at Tel Aviv University.