"Doc, I want to move to Shaolin for the rest of my life!"

It's the same question, every day, all the time, but it comes in different packages. Some come dressed as desires to become Shaolin monks, others, as deep rooted wishes to leave the world as we know it, and take up a mystical fanciful life that we all seem to desire in some fashion. But first, before you shave your head and pack your bags, take a look at this email, and the response that I sent back:

    "This e-mail was supposed to only be this long but recent events have forced me to write you mail to clarify my situation.Actually,most of it is irrelevent shit but i just have to speak out to you about it so that you inturn can answer my question at the end of it.

    I live in South-Africa,and you should know that it is the southern most country in africa. Now,that doesn't mean that I am a native African.Anyway,my country was ,at a time the most successfull third world country in the world,I mean fuck-it,our currency was stronger than the US dollar ! But now,all that has changed.Since 1994 we have been plunged into third world darkness and have been shooting ourselves in the foot ever since ( Kinda like apple ). Our country is governed by the ANC,the african national congress which is supposedly a democratic party.Ok ,that is actually a halftruth. Our country is RULED by the ANC/SACP alliance. ( SACP = South african comunist party. ) Now,let me ask you : Where the fuck in the world does a democratic party ally itself with a communist party ?

    Now,in 2001 our country is a international joke ! Our currency is 1 eighth of its value than in 1990. The ruling democratic party enforces Affirmative action and black empowerment. I,myself am not a racist,but this black empowerment shit realy pisses me off. And,that alone doesn't mean that I won't be able to find a job ( becuase I'm white ). It also means that if I start my own business I will be taxed into ruin because I was ' previously advantaged ! ' But no,the black empowered peoples don't get taxed becuase they were ' previously disadvantaged '

    Another stupidity is the recent R 40 billion (Approx $4.7 Billion) arms deal. What the fuck man.What do we need arms for.Who the fuck is about to invade us ?!?

    What do I have to complain about ? I live in S.A where a car gets hijacked every 2 mins with a 80% succes rate. With a HIV infection level of 56 % of which  93% is black. Where I get taxed a 200 % customs levy for importing electronic goods. Where I pay a 14 % governement levy on petrol fuel.Where land invasions are supported by the government. Where the provincial premiers are all ex. convicts who don't even wear suites to parlament.

    I tell you,i can't fucking take it anymore. I now look forward to working my ass of for 13 years ,saving all my earnings and moving to Shaolin where I can build me a cottage of bamboo on top of ShaoSan where no one can find me .There I can be a hermit and wouldn't have to worry about shit like this.There I can be free to be myself and not sell my sole for a feeble price. Where I can sit on my roof and look down at the temple and wonder where it all went wrong .

    Having said all of this i ask you. Is it just me,or is everything realy out of sync ? I mean,everyone can't be wrong.I must be missing something ? Right ?"

    Well, this puts all of the previous emails into perspective. Remember, I get emails every day about people wanting to move to Shaolin to become a monk, etc, etc. All incredible fantasies. Sometimes by very immature and completely lost people. Sometimes, like yourself, by people who are far too savvy of their surroundings, and are just "tired of it all". Hey, I get there too every once in a while. I understand.

    But, I understand what you're saying. It was about ten years ago or so that I was down in the southern most part of Chile, waiting to fly to Antarctica. I met some white people (Dutch, I think) that had lived in South Africa, and they had told me all about it. What was really impressive, other than the fact that these particular people were large and malodorous, was their racism, and their desire to use me to export their monies out of the country. They had wanted out. I just never understood it. Until recently.

    It's always a sad day to see your world turn to shit. And with what's going on in SA, (and, it seems, the rest of the world), it is going to shit. And there really isn't anything that you can do about it. Except, leave. The AIDS thing is only going to get worse, as is the racist shit. But, life has a funny way of righting itself. No doubt the AIDS thing will wipe out a large percentage of that population over the next twenty years, and the demographics, and subsequently, the politics of the country will change. The earth has a way of finding balance. It's we people that can't.

    But, as for living in Shaolin, it might be better than what you're dealing with, but I don't think it's a great answer. Life for foreigners in that village is rough. Dengfeng is better, but, life is still rough. The people are great, and it's nice to get up and train everyday without having to think of any of the typical daily shit we deal with on a daily basis. But, life is much different there than it is where you and I live. It would take a lot of getting used to, and it might not offer you all that you would want. And no doubt, with time, there will be facets of that life that will eventually irk you.

    I'll suggest to you what I suggest to everybody. Shaolin, or Dengfeng, is not a place that you want to go to with the idea of moving there forever. Shaolin is a place that you want to visit first, for a variable period of time, depending upon your wishes and needs, so that you can properly evaluate the area, and make sure that you can tolerate the varied living conditions, and, more importantly, the culture. That's when you make a decision about it.

    Interestingly, I've been going back every six months. It's been suggested to me that I might as well move there, as it's rapidly becoming a "second home". I've always found that idea as a bizarre and ridiculous one, devoid of any intellectual thought or analysis. But, I always seem to go back. Regardless of how much I hate it there.

There you have it. Basically, life has its ups and downs where ever you are. The idea here, is to make the best of it, regardless of where you live. But, every once in a while, everybody needs a trip somewhere. To escape, to learn, to readjust. Shaolin is that perfect place to do that.