INTELLECTUAL KNOWLEDGE AND DIRECT EXPERIENCE
Sifu Matt Fenton
Certified Instructor, Shaolin Wahnam USA
14th March 2011
Have you ever seen the film the 40 year-old Virgin? If yes, do you recall the scene where Andy says, "it feels like a bag of sand," and the result? If you have not seen the film, this was a very telling scene. The character was describing something he had no practical experience with, to a group of people who did have a great deal of practical experience. They could see right away that he didn't know what he was talking about.
Sadly, this seems to be the case today with many internal arts students and teachers. What makes it even worse, is that they may not realize they lack the experience (while in the movie, Andy knew he had no experience). However, even if they are blind to their own lack of experience, this lack of experience is still clear when they speak/write if the listener/reader has direct experience with the subject matter.
This is something fantastic about Shaolin Wahnam. The experience! I have been involved in martial arts for many years, but it wasn't until learning from Sifu that I began to experience much of what the internal arts are all about. Since then, it has been quite easy (and often painfully so) to see when people are just talking, and not knowing.
When one has experience, they can discuss what they have experienced clearly. It is no longer theoretical, it has become practice. This is why one of our three most important guidelines is "Don't intellectualize." We value the experience much more than just knowing about what it might be like.
I believe this is what Sihing Andrew was prompting you to do. Stop listing off things like a table of context in a text book, and touching lightly on topics as if doing a summary. Explain, directly, what it is you mean. Ask, directly, what it is you are asking.
If you go back through this entire thread, you will see this has been hinted at by many. Please don't mistake this as if we are trying to point out your short comings. It is of little consequence to us what you know or don't know. But it is for your own good to know what you know, and even more so to know what you do not know.
Originally Posted by Teknix
I believe words can and are a guide. If I meet a man in person, he will use words mostly to teach me, and as pointers. He might show me techniques he used to achieve the chi flow.
I think this is the big difference between your view and our view, and I think the cause of many of the problems.
Written word is good for intellectual knowledge. It helps give you an idea of what to expect, what may happen along your path, or remind you of points that you learned and need to practice. It can teach theory. If you are very, very lucky, and you follow the written instruction perfectly, it can help you experience chi kung at a basic level. However, you have to put into action the instructions. Unfortunately, building chi/internal force at the dan tian does not fit into this basic level.
At one of Sifu's courses, the instructions are rather limited (compared to a book). It is not the words that Sifu uses. He literally transmits skills. For instance, you may not know how to gather force at your dan tian. Sifu will give the instruction, "Now, gather force at your dan tian. Don't worry about how, just do it." And you'll be able to do it instantly. That does not come from the written word.
From what you've written thus far, I can see many parallels with my search. I was searching for the truth, and wanted to experience things for myself. It was only after I found what I was looking for that I realized how strong the search had become. Even though I found what I wanted, a big part of me missed searching. Searching had become my experience, rather than a means to and end. It was very hard for me to break the cycle of search, collect, digest, search, collect, digest. I got so caught up in the search that this felt like progress. It wasn't.
If you want the written word, and you want it for free, go to the library. If you are lucky, they will have a book by Sifu (Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit). Read it.
The above discussion is reproduced from the thread “ Seeking Guidance ” in the Shaolin Wahnam Discussion Forum.