u know how u become a shaolin monk? the lay disciples who are children and teenagers go to shaolin because they were 'bad' kids. in some way or another its like a wierd juve for them. only the best of the lay disciples become 'shaolin' monks. although in the past there were differences. for instance there were at a time more purely buddhist monks then wu seng or warrior monks. although times changed, the wu seng traditionally were very devote buddhists, just as much as the normal buddhist monks, only they practice shaolin gung fu. if you understand the teaching of damo(bodhidarma) you would understand that he taught a very different method of buddhism then most then or now practice. for instance when he arrived the monks were very physically weak and couldnt sustain long hours of meditation, so he taught them the 18 lohan kuen, the classic of sinew metamorphosis, and bone marrow and brain washing qi gong. known collectively as the yi jin jing(COSM) xi su si(bmbwqg) also on arriving he found the monks to be to caught up with reading sutras and pondering over such things. so he taught and emphasised action meditation, meditation and experienceing nirvana in the present. ok now, we all know that chan(zen) was created at shaolin temple. shaolin gung fu is a expression of chan philosophy, like buddhism it has to be taught in a heart to heart or mind to mind manner. in the past masters would have only few students and transmitt the knowledge to the best students. there is so much to understand even on a basic level few even after years and years of practice even scratch the surface, because they are not taught properly and because their understanding is to superficial to really percieve the mysterys of shaolin gung fu. it sounds mystical and whatnot but its true. and no art that i have come across anyhow, places more emphasis on the mind or intent, and the spirit. now this of course is nothing really, if your not a buddhist of the chan sect and you dont understand chan or believe in the teaching etc the gung fu will not and doesnt have to be spiritual or religious, but you can still be very good. the bulk of the monks are not buddhist, or religious, even though they take the vows they arent buddhist. few act like monks and even fewer understand what they preach on buddhist views. although the monks that do practice buddhism have a deep understanding. the monks also, do not practice taoism, at all, vaj is completely wrong there, and the misconception that taoism and chan buddhism are intertwined is bs. vaj is entitled to his own oppinion but with a intimate study of shaolin chan buddhism and how it is practiced, vs taoism, they are more dissimilar methods then similar, only philosohpys and teachings get people confused because they are similar. the same could be said for christianity and buddhism even though i know vaj would seriously refute this because of the "creation-creator belief" held by christians, but then again, thict nat han(spelling might be wrong) has a different view and so does the dali lama. anyway, the monks arent spiritual, no one lives in shaolin temple besides i think the abbot and maybe a few others like shi su xi but really no one lives or trains there, let alone practice buddhism.