The transcript below is from the video “15 Superpowers Monks Have in Real Life!” by The Finest.

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When you think of superpowers, you imagine Spider-man and his strong sticky web or ‘The Incredible Hulk’ with his, well, his hulkiness and green shin. But monks? Strangely, yes. They have more superpowers than you might think. From walking on water to sixth senses, here are 15 superpowers monks have in real life.

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Number 15: Maintaining Body Temperature

Most people know by now that daily meditation can add some profound effects on your mental health. You can feel more in control, calmer and with more ability and readiness to tackle challenges that are thrown your way. But did you know it could also do something incredible to your physical health? Tibetan monks have been found to be able to control the temperature of their skin with meditation. Which is no mean fit from a scientific standpoint. While their core temperature stays normal, their skin temperature can rise as much as 17 degrees Fahrenheit around their fingers and toes. And it’s no bluff. Harvard University scientists led by Herbert Benson, were able to study these monks, thanks to an agreement with the Dalai Lama who visited the university in the late 1970’s. They discovered that not only could they raise their body temperature, but a group in Sikkim, India, were able to decrease their metabolism by 64%. To put that into perspective, most people can only do this in their sleep by upto 15%. These monks truly do have superpowers.

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Number 14: Walking on Water

Shi Liliang was a huge fan of the 1980’s kung fu films when he was a child. He loved learning about the martial arts of Shaolin in Fang Shiyu. And he was inspired by flight on water and flying through the air. When he had a career as a driver, Shi Liliang drove past Quanzhou Shaolin Temple and realized that he hadn’t really moved too far away from his childhood dreams. He decided to join and become a monk and started his journey to walking on water. Now, Shi spends every day by running with iron bars on his feet. Within nine years, he can now walk nearly 400 feet on the water with the help of wooden boards for buoyancy and balance. He can stand on each board for around a second and manages to prance across the water as if it were a salad surface. As far as Shi knows, he is the only monk in China who can do this amazing feat. When he’s not walking or running on water, Shi runs on mountain roads, carrying upto 20 pounds of weight, running with steel plates on his back and practicing calligraphy. There’s no ‘Netflix and Chill’ for this guy.

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Number 13: Superhuman Strength

Superhuman strength is something that most people read about in fiction books and mythology or see in Superhero films. It refers to power and force exerted far beyond what is physically possible for a human such as throwing a car off someone who was crushed underneath. Over the centuries, people have tried to enhance their strength with substances, technology and exercises. Still, nothing has ever been in the realm of superhuman. In saying that, Harvard’s scientists have now proven that superhuman monks do exist. Scientists went to the Himalayas to study those monks and were stunned by what they found. Through techniques like praying, fasting, meditation, static dancing and psychedelics they were able to exhibit superhuman strength as a survival mechanism. An example of this was the monks being able to spend their winter nights 15,000 feet high in the Himalayas, drying their sheets with their body heat. There are even stories connected to Buddha where people could recall their past lives, know each other’s thoughts and shoot fire and water from the body. Well, of course, science can back all of these up, there’s a lot to be said for the power of the mind.

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Number 12: Throwing Needles Through Glass

For anyone trying to become a Shaolin monk, they need to master 72 different arts. They range in intensity and challenge. And one of the hardest skills to challenge to become a Shaolin monk, is being able to throw a needle at glass and puncture it. Think it’s not possible, then think again. Monks in training, throw a needle full force at a pane of glass being held up by two people with a balloon hanging on the other side. Once the monks throw the needle, it penetrates the glass and pops the balloon. Watching this happen in real-time is not all that exciting, because you can’t tell that the needle was really penetrated at all. However, when it was caught on a special camera that records at 25,000 FPS the results were phenomenal. Monks that have trained successfully, in this skill are able to throw the slither of metal through the glass which sends shards of it flying, popping the balloon fast. The monks say that it’s both focus and Shi that helped them to do it.

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Number 11: Finger Skills

Have you ever been able to perform a headstand or handstand? It can be quite tricky, right? As you’re trying to hold your weight up and balance, you’re trying to find the best position for your hands to be. Many of us then spend the next few days with a sore back, sides, neck, arms or entire body. Not monks though. They’ve got the skill mastered. In fact, they are showing us that the way we are doing it, is pretty darn average. In Shaolin kung fu, most people are able to perform an inversion stand with two index fingers. Ouch, right? Not to them. Two finger handstands are pretty hardcore. But what about one finger? The monk starts by balancing himself on outstretched fingers with one index finger stretched out on each end. Slowly, he pushes himself into an inverted position using the hand with the outstretched fingers. He then transitions to just one outstretched finger. The skill arrived in Chicago around 50 years ago and many people have been trying to master it ever since. Meanwhile the rest of us are trying to figure out how to do a regular handstand without falling flat on our faces.

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Number 10: Iron Crotch

Ask any man and they’ll tell you that being kicked in the nether regions is comparable to childbirth. Ask any woman and she’ll say he’s lying. But ask any monk and he’ll say that he doesn’t know what they are complaining about. It doesn’t hurt to be kicked down there. Pardon? This is one superpower that all men wish they had. To be kicked in the family jewels and feel no pain. Believe it or not it is possible, and it can actually be quite beneficial to go down this route. Monks practice an exercise called, ‘The Iron Crotch Exercise’, which is to make that area as strong as iron. To do so they stimulate tissue, blood flow and resilience by continuously increasing the stimulation level. Not only does this mean that it hurts less but it can also have some surprising benefits. The stimulation of constantly hitting it promotes increased testosterone production. Not to mention a higher sperm count. Even blood flow is better which can help the situation for men later in life. This is one skill that both monks and every day men can see the benefit of.

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Number 9: Tree Hugging

Tree hugging sounds quite lovely, doesn’t it? Monks go around hugging trees and it all looks quite sweet. But it might not be as sweet as it sounds if you happen to be on the receiving end of a hug from a monk who has been hugging trees. Okay. Let us explain. A monk in training will wrap their arms around a fully grown tree and use all their force on squeezing and hugging it until they have no more energy left. They will do this everyday and within a year some progress will start to show. They might be able to shake free a few leaves or even notice some movement in the tree branches. Within another year they should be able to shake the leaves of the trees without stopping. But every day of every year the monk will continue to hug the tree until they get out of it what they set out to achieve. And what is that? To uproot the tree. Over the years, they must use their force to wriggle the tree free until they succeed. Then if they ever have to clasp their opponent it will be easier for them to cause fatal injuries.

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Number 8: Iron Head

Imagine being able to run full force at a wall and cause more damage to it than your head? That’s a unique superpower that many monks have and it’s astounding. But before you start thinking that you can run at a wall and achieve the same result, know that it’s a long process. And probably a little painful. Monks wrap their heads in ten layers of silk, fit a sheet of metal to the top of their head then wrap it with toweling or more silk. This keeps the metal cap that is shaped to their head in place. They then hold their neck and head muscles in alignment and breathe in as they hit the wall and make an impact. They strike their heads against the wall repeatedly, then charge forward and hit the top of their heads again. Over the weeks, they do so with increased force. Over the months, the monk will remove some of the layers of silk then more every two or three months until their head is bare. Their then able to run at a wall and not cause any damage to themselves. We’re not sure what use this will have in the real world, but it would make for a fun party trick.

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Number 7: Iron Shirt

If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to handle heavy blows by your opponent or even sharp objects, then it might be time to spend some time or years with a monk. They will show you how to create your own iron shirt. And no, we don’t mean that they’ll grab a piece of iron, shape it to your body and give you a bit of clothing made of iron. They can actually mobilize their Chi Inner Energy and defend themselves against both sharp objects and heavy blows. That’s some pretty impressive stuff. Shaolin kung fu students start their training by sleeping on hard beds. For anyone with back problems that’s some pretty intensive training even to begin with. They then wrap their bodies in soft fabric and massage the areas. But that’s not all. Overtime they will hang a bar outside, dig a pit underneath it and put fine sand in it. Every day for three years they hang on the bar, fall into the hole with all parts of their body touching the sand and removes the soft fabric as time goes by. As their body hardens to the pain, they start hitting it with a wooden hammer followed by an iron one. By the time training is complete monks have an incredible tolerance to pain.

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Number 6: Skill of Light Body

To weigh, say 110 pounds doesn’t mean you need to apply 110 pounds worth of pressure when you walk, lie down or move in any way. There’s a skill called ‘Skill of the Light Body’ that allows people to use very little of their weight regardless of how much their body actually weighs. In Shaolin writings there’s mention of monks who can rest on branches weightlessly, similar to birds and bees even though they weigh 110 pounds. But before you hop outside and try it out with the chances of you falling to the ground pretty high, you must first go through a massive training process. It involves a giant clay ball being filled with water and carrying a heavy backpack filled with iron while walking on the rim of the ball. You would do that for hours everyday. Once a month water is removed from the ball, but more iron is added to your backpack. The goal is to keep walking on the rim of the ball, without tipping it over or falling into it. That process continues until the ball is empty of water. At the end of the training the person who has mastered, ‘The Skill of the Light Body’ will be able to walk on blades of grass without crumpling them.

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Number 5: Diamond Finger

Any Shaolin exercise done right can make you look pretty powerful and like you have superpowers. But this one, known as, ‘Buddha’s Finger’ or ‘Diamond Finger’ is something that’s just that little bit more special. In fact, it’s incredible. This Shaolin exercise involves your training to create a strong finger that’s capable of damage. At the end of the training you would be able to knock a hole in someone’s chest, scar a tree trunk or break a stone with just one finger. Basically, with enough training, your finger pointing can inflict some real physical damage on someone. It starts with poking trees and planks of wood to increase the strength in your fingers. Training moves on to making hard strikes and producing great bursts of force. The one finger handstand is also a side effect of being able to master, ‘The Diamond Finger’. Think about how such a skill could help you in everyday life. You’d be able to hammer nails into wood without the use of a hammer or cause severe damage in a fight if you were fighting for your life. While this skill can take several months, many monks have mastered it. That’s obvious in the heavily dented trees around any training facility.

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Number 4: Sixth Sense

Monks are wise people and they spend their entire life fine tuning that wisdom, foresight and intellect. They meditate, train and focus on self-improvement in every aspect of their life. For many monks, that has equated to a sixth sense that the average person could never hope to achieve in a single day or even in a few months. Monks are able to attune their minds and bodies to become more aware of the world they live in and their direct surroundings. Over time, they even manage to sense danger, even when others don’t. They can foretell their future and the future of others. And they seem to be aware of everything on an entirely new plain to the average person. This isn’t a skill they are born with or learn overnight. Monks and Buddhists understand their sense of self especially in relation to their mind, they treat their sixth sense the same as their hearing, sight, vision and so on. There’s an easy way to explain the difference between a trained and untrained mind. Most people have a one-step process, where they see an object. For example, I see a pen. Someone who is self-aware like a monk has two steps in the process. Their awareness makes them say, ‘I’m aware I see a pen.’

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Number 3: Endurance

No one will deny the fact that most monks have incredible endurance. That’s a given. Especially when you come to understand just how much training they do. But there’s a particular type of monk who has more endurance than others and they are known as, ‘The Marathon Monks’. According to legend they are amongst around Kyoto, the Monks of Mt. Hiei who run 1,000 marathons in the same number of days to reach enlightenment. It’s not enough that they have to run through 1,000 days. But they also have to stop at 250 temples and shrines a long the way to ponder life. Such is the complexity and challenge of this task that in over 130 years fewer than 50 men have completed the challenge. Those who do, are called, ‘Living Saints’ or ‘Human Buddhas’. The goal is not so much to improve their fitness either. It’s considered a spiritual journey that offers a monk plenty of time to think about life, what it means and how they want to achieve spiritual enlightenment. But you lost us at the word, ‘Marathon’ and then again at 1,000 of them.

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Number 2: Iron Bull Technique

When a technique from the Shaolin monks has the words, ‘Iron Bull’ in its name you know it’s going to be a good one. Perhaps most people could benefit from this monk’s superpower if they ever found themselves overpowered in a fight. The iron bull technique, is about, hardening your stomach to withstand blows and maybe even a potential stabbing. Students start by scratching and scrapping at their stomachs with their fingers and palms. That doesn’t sound like hard work, does it? That’s’ just the first step. Students in training then start using a blade to scrape at their obliques and stomach before moving on to a wooden then iron hammer when using hands and blades no longer brings about pain. This process will continue for several months before monks eventually learn how to absorb blows form long battering rounds without even flinching. You know you’re a master of the, ‘Iron Bull Technique’ when a strike, clash, cut or blow to the stomach is a mere tickle from an enemy rather than something that can bring you to your knees.

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Number 1: Pain Threshold

Have you ever sat in a vat of boiling oil and did anything other than scream? Of course you haven’t because sitting in a boiling tab of oil, would be most people’s idea of torture. Unless you are a monk, and then it’s just a walk in the park. In Nong Bua Lamphu, Thailand, a performance was held where monks attended a gathering and one of them sat in a boiling hot vat of oil with no consequences. That’s not something you manage to achieve over night. He sat in a state of calm and told his audience that the vat is boiling and can burn. But he reassured himself that it’s not like that. According to scientists this process is not physically possible, but monks have already proven scientists wrong on several occasions. For example, they can slow down their metabolic processes, alter their skin temperature without changing their core temperature and experience great amounts of pain without even flinching. Therefore, it’s not out of the question for them to sit in hot oil and make it seem like they are taking a leisurely bath.

Okay so Superman and Spiderman are pretty impressive superheroes. But as it turns out monks have some pretty remarkable real-life skills as well. Which one surprised you the most? Can you do any of these?




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