May 2008 (Part 3)
SELECTION OF QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Compassion and wisdom are two of the qualities that I feel you exemplify, and thanks to Sifu Lai's tutelage I'm sure you can comment on a righteous course of action.
— Sean, USA
Compassion and wisdom are the two cardinal virtues of Mahayana Buddhism.
There are different levels of compassion. Giving some money to a beggar to buy food is being compassionate. But some people may argue that it encourages him to be lazy. The intellectual may debate whether this is a sign of wisdom or an excuse for refusing to give some money. The compassionate, however, will not be interested in the intellectual debate. He will rather make a mistake by giving money to a lazy person than seeing a beggar starve.
According to the Buddha's teaching, there are three types of wisdom — language wisdom, illuminated wisdom and cosmic wisdom. Language wisdom is the lowest, illuminated wisdom is intermediate, and cosmic wisdom is the highest.
Language wisdom is derived from words. Intellectualizing that giving money to a beggar may discourage him from working is an example of language wisdom. Illuminated wisdom is derived from direct experience in our phenomenal world. Realizing that giving a beggar money to buy food will save him from hunger, irrespective of whether he is lazy to work, is an example of illuminated wisdom. Cosmic wisdom is also derived from direct experience, but is transcendental. Perceiving the intricate matrix of the beggar's poverty and your prosperity in relation with contributing factors in the past and inevitable developments in the future, is an example of cosmic wisdom.
At one time I supported a woman's right to have an abortion, but I saw a display on my university campus that depicted graphic images of aborted fetuses juxtaposed with images of the Nazi Holocaust and the Rwandan Genocide. They argued that the humanity of even a fertilized egg is undeniable as it is a unique genetic entity with 46 chromosomes, and that two human beings can never procreate and produce a living organism that is not a human being.
Your support of a woman's right to have an abortion is an example of illuminated wisdom, whereas your doubt or guilt of your previous conviction is an example of language wisdom, or a lack of it.
You supported women to have abortion if it could relieve them of suffering because you felt compassion for them. But having heard persuasive arguments that abortion destroyed life, you felt guilty because you accepted the language wisdom of pro-life advocators who were against abortion. Had you met pro-choice advocators who persuasively argued that abortion brought more benefit than harm, you would feel vindicated, even righteous.
If you view abortion with cosmic wisdom, you will have a different perception. One perception is as follows. Life is transcent. A foetus in an unwilling mother is unlikely to be happy, and when it is born it will continue to suffer. It has an opportunity to terminate its unhappy life to be born again in another willing mother and an expecting father. Would you deprive it this opportunity to cease this unhappy existence and seek a happier life, particularly when this opportunity will also cease the suffering of its unwilling mother?
While I noted how they caught my attention and made abortion an issue in a powerful way, I was not sure how to react to the fact that these pictures were extreme and that some people might not be ready to look at them. I have retained this opinion even up to this moment but this feeling was later balanced by the intuition that I felt toward there being a real need for people to see abortion for what really is and what it really does.
This is indicative of cosmic wisdom, which will enable you to make better choices. Even if your choce turned out to be a bad one, you can take comfort that you made the choice with sincerity and compassion.
For some reason, I could spend hours upon hours listening to the debates from the pro-life and pro-choice sides and because I could not find a single argument or description of circumstance that concretely justified elective abortion, I could not say any longer that I took a pro-choice stance, and thus became pro-life.
You limited yourself only to language wisdom. You should open yourself to illuminated wisdom and cosmic wisdom. Open your heart to each case, and be guided by righteousness and compassion. In most cases abortion is out of the question. But some special cases may call for exception.
It was not by my own courage or mental agility that I was able to effectively engage in a discussion about abortion, but instead I feel as though my prayers to be guided by the Holy Spirit were answered.
If your intention is noble and you ask sincerely with a one-pointed mind, God will always answer your prayers.
My biggest concern however, is that as a volunteer I am not being compassionate, and that I am not even taking a righteous course of action by standing in front of these graphic signs.
Generations of masters have advised that if there is a conflict between the head and the heart, listen to the heart. In other words, do what you feel is right, rather than what you think is right.
This does not mean you can act rashly or irrationally. First of all you have to think carefully. But after careful and thorough consideration, you still feel you should act differently, then follow your heart. When you follow your head, you follow the reasoning of man; when you follow your heart, you follow God.
From what you can infer, why do I take this issue so seriously? Of all the injustices that occur throughout the world, why does this one strike a nerve in me?
There are many possible reasons. But all these reasons can be summed up in the word “karma”, which is cause and effect. Some past causes result in your present effect of taking the issue of abortion most seriously.
But instead of pondering over the past causes, it is more fruitful for you to work on your present effect. An excellent way is to let go. Just let go. Don't cling onto this issue, ireespective of whether the over-riding cause is your sense of righteousness, your gloated ego or other factors.
You should have a sense of priority. Life — any life — is important, but some lives are more important than other lives. Your own life is more important to you and your parents than a foetus' life to its mother who intends to abort it. The foetus is not even born — that, of course, does not mean it is not important — but your mother bore you for your full term, delivered you probably in pain, and have nurtured you until you have grown fit and healthy.
Spend quality time with your parents rather than intellectualize about abortion. Leave the delicate issue of abortion to professional people who have been specially trained to do the job. They will do the job better than you.
I wish to ask if it is okay for me to commence practicing the Horse-Riding Stance. I would ideally like to do that for at least the recommended three months before starting other stance and forms.
— Nival, USA
Yes, it is not only alright but recommendable that you practice the Horse-Riding Stance for at least three months. There are only two steps.
One, make sure the form of the Horse-Riding Stance is correct. Pay particular attention to your body being upright. Most students lean backward after a while.
Two, follow the three golden rules, as follows. Rule number 1 is to relax. Rule number 2 is to relax. And rule number 3 is to relax. It is very important — repeat, very important — to be relaxed, not only physically but also mentally.
Being mentally relaxed means you do not think of any thoughts. You should also practice the Art of Flexibility after, or before, the Horse-Riding Stance, followed by chi flow.
When you can perform the Horse-Riding stance naturally and have developed some internal force and mental clarity, you can proceed to other stances and kungfu forms. You can learn from my book, “The Art of Shaolin Kung Fu”.
Then familarize yourself with the 16 basic Shaolin combat sequences which you can see at my webpage Basic Shaolin Combat Sequences. When you are ready, attend my Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course. Please see Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course.
Also, I was wondering, for quite a while actually, what homosexuality is. I know the definition, of course, but I mean in its essence, what is it? Is it a mental blockage? Can it be fixed? I'm not a homosexual myself, and I understand if this topic is too controversial for you to answer, especially to someone who you haven't even met.
My views on homosexuality is personal, and many other people may disagree. The views may be offensive to some people, but when asked for my opinion, I would give it honestly.
In my opinion, homosexuality is an illness. It is unnatural, and against the will of God, or by any other terms people of different culture call the Supreme. Nature or God creates men and women, and wants them to marry and have children.
Yes, it is a mental blockage. It is, in my opinion, not biological, but cultural.
Like any other illness, homosexuality can be overcome, and an excellent way is to practice genuine, high-level chi kung. A homosexual person may lack, or have excess of, certain chemicals in his body, just like cases of patients suffering from other forms of illness like infection, diabetes or anxiety. Chi kung training can balance his chemicals, and restore his normal healthy functions, including having wholesome desire for the opposite sex.
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- Zen Buddhism and Spiritual Cultivation
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- Is Wushu the Same as Kungfu?