January 2005 (Part 3)

SELECTION OF QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Cosmic awareness

From left, Phyliss (USA), Reto (Switzerland) and Tim (USA) attuned themselves to the cosmos during Standing Meditation at the Intensive Chi Kung Course in Malaysia in November 2004.

Question 1

What is the purpose of this cosmos and what is my role in it?

— Reto, Switzerland

Answer

Depending on their needs and aspirations as well as developmental stages and whims and fancies, different people will have different answers to the same question. I shall generalize the countless, different answers into three archetypical levels.

At the lowest level, the level of ordinary people, the cosmos has no purpose. It simply exists. A person's role in it is to live his life as best as he can. This includes staying away from illness and trouble, providing well for himself and his family, and enjoying the pleasures of life as much and as long as he can.

At the intermediate level, the level of those who are aware of the spiritual dimension, the cosmos provides the time and space for their learning and development. Their role is to improve themselves, physically and spiritually, so that when the inevitable hour arrives, they will enter heaven and live happily ever after.

At the highest level, the level of the spiritually awakened, the cosmos has no purpose! But the reason for this realization is different from that of the ordinary people (see above). The cosmos is an illusion, a creation of mind. It exists because of our ignorance. Our purpose, when we are ready, is to cast off the ignorance, to break down this illusion, to liberate the personal mind to attain Universal Mind, called variously by different peoples as God's Kingdom, the Great Void or Enlightenment.

Question 2

May be I should not ask such a question as I am still on the first level, meaning that I am still bothered by some minor illnesses and of course also far away to even finding out who I am and where I want to go, but the question bothers me still. I think if I have found out what this is all about, may be I am also able to know what I am supposed to do.

Answer

The fact that you ask the question shows that you are different from ordinary people. At the least you are spiritually concerned. And the fact that you are coming to my Intensive Chi Kung Course in Malaysia places you in an elite group.

Other people, understandably, may accuse us for being egoistic. In fact some time ago some people in a public discussion forum in the internet viciously attacked us in Shaolin Wahnam for being different. They were unhappy why we placed so much emphasis on internal force training when most other kungfu practitioners trained externally. They were unhappy why I charged US$1000 for my intensive chi kung courses when most chi kung teachers charged much less. And they were indignant when we mentioned that many of our students had overcome so-called incurable diseases like cancer and endometriosis by practicing our chi kung.

We did not want to waste time arguing with them, accepting that they had a right to their opinion. We need not apologize for being elite. We are indeed proud that we have the opportunity to practice arts that were once the prerogatives of emperors, generals and very special people, and are happy to share these arts with those who believe in our philosophy, methods and benefits.

You are right in believing that even if you are not ready for serious spiritual cultivation to find out who you are and where you want to go, knowing the answer theoretically will set you towards the right direction. This is known as “Right Understanding”, an essential first step that will prevent you not only from wasting a lot of time but also from deviating from the right path.

While we are very clear about our philosophy, the onus of our school, Shaolin Wahnam, is practical results. You will be able to confirm many of the points mentioned above during the coming Intensive Chi Kung Course itself.

For example, at the lowest level you will be able to experience using cosmic energy to overcome your minor illnesses so that you can live life as best as you can. At the intermediate level, you will experience spiritual cultivation in opening your heart and expanding your spirit. At the highest level, if you are ready, you may have a glimpse of your Original Face, or God or whatever name different people refer to the Supreme Reality.

Yes, you will experience all these during the Intensive Chi Kung Course itself. This is one good reason why I say that those who attend the course are elite. Not many people have the chance to know of such an opportunity in the first place. Those who may have heard about the course, may not believe in what is claimed to achieve, or even if they believe they may not value it. Only a very few out of thousands of people may have this opportunity and grasp it.

Question 3

I am very sorry if you have responded to such a question earlier, but I have not found out how I could search for your answer to such a question or a similar question.

Answer

There is an excellent way using the Google search engine to search for various kinds of answers in my question-answer series. I think it was Anthony who revealed this method in our Shaolin Wahnam Discussion Forum .

At the Google search engine , type my website address and the relevant key words in the search box and press “enter”. For example, if you wish to find out my answers concerning “internal force”, type "http://shaolin.org internal force" and you will be shown links to webpages with this information.

Wushu

A beautiful wushu demonstration. Modern wushu, which is widely taught in China today, is different from traditional kungfu.

Question 4

I just finished reading your book “The Art of Shaolin Kung Fu” and it has given me great inspiration to lean Kung Fu. I have been practicing Wado Ryu Karate for a little over a year now and would like to take the step to the next level with Shaolin Kung Fu. Can I go to China and train at a temple for the summer between my class semesters? I understand your point in the book on needing a experienced and competent teacher and feel this would be the best approach for learning.

— Jonathan, USA

Answer

I am glad you have found my book inspiring and have decided to train Shaolin Kungfu. But going to China today is not a recommended way to train genuine traditional Shalin Kungfu, simply because the kind of Shaolin Kungfu described in my book is not taught in China today, not even in the modern Shaolin Temple.

What is generally taught in China today is modernized wushu, which is different from genuine traditional kungfu, although the outward forms may look similar. Three crucial differences are that genuine traditional Shaolin Kungfu emphasizes on internal force development, combat efficiency using typical kungfu patterns, and spiritual cultivation, whereas modernized wushu does not.

I would suggest you learn traditional kungfu from local teachers in your country. They may not teach you the kind of things you have read in my book, but you will learn traditional kungfu forms so that when you ready you can come to Malaysia, where I live, to attend my Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course where you will be trained in internal force, combat application using typical Shaolin patterns and spiritual cultivation.

Question 5

I am currently compiling books of qigong theories. I was just wondering if you could write to me some basic to advanced qigong theories you think I should know.

— John, Australia

Answer

First of all, be aware that “theory” in the Chinese or Eastern context is different from “theory” in the West. In the Chinese context, “theory” means “generalized explanation based on practical experience”. In the West, “theory” means “speculation based on reasoning”.

The following are the theories in the Chinese context that you or anyone interested in qigong (chi kung) should know. They are listed from basic to advanced levels.

  1. Life is a meaningful flow of energy.
  2. When this energy flow is interrupted, disorder occurs.
  3. When this energy flow stops, death results.
  4. To overcome disorders and maintain life, this energy flow must go on harmoniously.
  5. Qigong is an excellent system to ensure harmonious energy flow.
  6. After maintaining life, energy flow enhances life (such as enabling you to enjoy your sleep and food, work without unnecessary complaints, play games without feeling tired easily, as well as feel joyful when listening to birds sing and admiring star shine.)
  7. After maintaining and enhancing life, energy flow enables you to produce better results in whatever you do (e.g. solve problems today instead of thinking about them tomorrow, play three sets of tennis instead of merely watching from the side.)
  8. Energy flow can open your heart to experience joy.
  9. Energy flow can expand your mind or spirit to experience freedom and peace.
  10. Energy flow can enable you to see your Original Face, also called God, Tao or merely Going Home.

Question 6

Also, you may not be able to answer this, but how many years would it take for me to become a qigong master. List of skills I have already mastered are shooting energy (fa jing), when I push my hand down I can make it zap in a yi ji jing manner, I can build a ball of chi then project it to heal my sprained ankle etc, and I can perform considerably well “Lifting the Sky”, “Pushing Mountains” and “Carrying the Moon”.

Answer

Contrary to what you believe, I can answer this question easily and more thoroughly than what you probably think.

Semantically speaking, if you have mastered those skills, then you are already a master. But you may not be a master of qigong. And according to the ten qigong theories mentioned above, you may not even be a qigong practitioner.

The aim of qigong cultivation is to enrich our life as well as the lives of other people. But your aim in your training, as suggested in the skills you have emphasized and mastered, is to impress or please spectators.

How long one takes to become a master of qigong, demonstration skills or any art, depends on various factors, such as his learning ability and intelligence, the methods he uses and how he trains, as well as his criteria for mastery. Some people may claim themselves to be masters after three months of reading, whereas others may still practice diligently towards what they conceptualize as mastery even after thirty years.

Shaolin Kungfu

A kungfu master demonstrated a pattern from Pak Mei Kungfu. The initiated can readily tell the difference between traditional kungfu and modernized wushu by comparing this picture with the picture above.

Question 7

I have been practicing the “Lifting the Sky” exercise for about a weeknow, but I don't seem to get the tingling chi feelings that others areexperiencing. I would appreciate if you can kindly give me instructions onhow to perform this exercise.

— Harshi, India

Answer

The instructions are clearly and fully explained in my books, “The Art of Chi Kung” and “Chi Kung for Health and Vitality”.

You did not get the tingling chi feeling because you did not perform the exercise correctly although you faithfully followed all the instructions. How could this be?

This could be because what you performed was only the technique and not the art. Many people do not realize that the technique by itself is not the art. The technique is just the technique, that is a way to attain the art. To attain the art, it is more important to have the necessary skills. Skills normally need to be acquired by learning from a living instructor.

An analogy will make this clear. Suppose you have not learnt how to swim from a living instructor, but you have read about the techniques of swimming. If someone throws you into water, although you use the swimming techniques learnt from a book, you would still be drown.

Question 8

I have had a great deal of difficulty with being mindful throughout my daily life. Often times domestic issues, loud noises, or minor inconveniences throw my concentration off. Although once I realize that I am in a harmful mind state (ie anger, arrogance), the harmful thoughts naturally dissipate, but when I am distracted I do not pay attention to my mind. Since you seem to be such a spiritually developed person, I was hoping if you could give me some advice on improving my daily mindfulness.

— Ray, USA

Answer

You can improve your daily mindfulness by being mindful everyday. For example, when you sit on a chair, be mindful that you sit on a chair. Be mindful of the hardness or softness of the seat, and the spots your buttock is in contact with it, as well as your feet on the ground.

When you eat, be mindful that you eat. Be mindful of what exactly you eat, the texture and taste of your food, how you chew it and how you swallow it into your stomach.

When you speak, be mindful that you speak. Be mindful of the meaning of your words as well as the tone you say them. Be mindful of your feeling when you say those words, and also the feeling of your listeners.

At first you have to put in some effort in being mindful of these everyday doings. Gradually you can be effortlessly mindful. This is everyday Zen.

LINKS

Overview of the Questions-Answers Series

Selected Reading

Courses and Classes