"In Chinese martial society, the success of the student is not determined by his/her external appearance, or by how strong or weak s/he is, but rather by the student's morality and how s/he thinks."
(Excerpt from YMAA International Training Manual)
The Martial Morality (Wude) is the most critical part of Shaolin training. In old times, the master would teach these moralities first, before any physical training could commence. The Shaolin practitioner has a great responsibility to uphold the highest ethics and morals in society. Because the students are learning great skills and dangerous techniques, they must use them wisely and morally.
There are two aspects to the wude that the student must learn and explore:
The Morality of Mind
The Morality of Deed
The Morality of Mind
This aspect is internal in nature and requires study in order to achieve the highest level of training in Shaolin. It is crucial that you be able to balance your emotional mind with your logical one. The emotional mind can supply you with the power and endurance to meet all challenges. Yet it is the logical or "wise" mind that helps you make intelligent decisions and harness the fire supplied by your emotions. In order to maximize your training, understanding of the morality of mind is key.
Will (Yi Zhi) - "I shall develop a strong mind and commit to my goals." A strong mind is required to build a strong will. The wisdom mind must make the decisions and keep the emotional mind in check. The sincerity of your actions and thoughts affect the strength of your will. Without a commitment to yourself and to your family the will can never strengthen.
Endurance (Ren Nai), Perseverance (Yi Li), Patience (Heng Xin)
"I shall never give up and always be patient."
A strong will develops your patience and strength. Success is achieved by the strongest willed, not necessarily the smartest person. Cultivating these three elements develops a profound mind, which enhances your learning and understanding of the universe.
Courage (Yong Gan) - "I shall be brave and carry out wise and righteous actions."
Courage originates from the wisdom mind. It is different from bravery. It means you have an understanding of the situation.
The Morality of Deed (Xing De or De Xing)
This aspect is considered crucial because it involves your relationship with the instructor, your classmates, other martial artists and the general public. Only students with the highest morals are worthy of being taught Shaolin. You must not abuse Shaolin and use your skills to harm innocent people. There are five aspects to understand and study.
Humility (Qian Xu) - "I will always be humble."
You must learn to control your feelings of pride. When you are vain and too proud, you lose the ability to think deeply and to continue learning. By remaining humble, you strive to continuously improve and learn. No matter what skill level you reach, there is always a deeper level.
Respect (Zun Jing) - "I will respect myself and others."
Respect is necessary in order for a harmonious relationship to develop between you and others. First, you must learn to respect yourself. Without self-respect, you cannot know how to respect others. When you gain an understanding of yourself, you will see more deeply the spirit of others. The respect of others must always be earned, never expected or demanded.
Righteousness (Zheng Yi) - "I shall be righteous and wise in my actions and in my thoughts."
Righteousness is a way of life. Never hesitate to do what is right or just. The wisdom mind should determine the right from the wrong. Practice this morality and you will reach high levels of enlightenment as you achieve a guiltless conscience and a moral spirit.
Trust (Xin Yong) - "I shall keep promises I make to others and to myself."
You must become a trustworthy person to others as well as yourself. You must develop a personality that others can trust. Never make promises you cannot keep for trust is hard to gain and easy to lose.
Loyalty (Zhong Cheng) - "I shall be loyal to my family and friends."
Loyalty is the root of trust. Be loyal to your family, friends and teachers. Your loyalty to them will be returned. Loyalty allows for the development of mutual trust; which becomes a powerful bond.