December 2008 (Part 2)
SELECTION OF QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
First of all I would like to compliment you for your excellent book on Zen.
— Bengt, Sweden
Some people may think I am crazy, but I believe I am only a conduit for the book, “The Complete Book of Zen”. Frankly, I myself am impressed with the profound wisdom found in the book.
But the profound wisdom is not mine; it is from the great Bodhisattva Guan Yin, the Bodhisattva of Great Compassion. When I wrote the book, I often prayed to the Bodhisattva for guidance. I believe the words of wisdom flowed from the great Bodhisattva through me into the book.
Is the Karate warm-up (junbi undo) founded by Goju-ryu founder Chojun Miyagi healthy? It seems to be a blend of yoga, qigong, and Chinese calisthenics. The reason I ask is because GM Miyagi died of a stroke at 65. May be it is not so wise to blend methods causing energy imbalances.
Firstly I would like to state that I have great respect for Grandmaster Chojun Miyagi, though I may disagree with his philosophy and practice. One of the things I disagree with is blending yoga, qigong and Chinese calisthenics. By themselves, each of the three disciplines is a great art, but blending them together is not combining their essence into one.
If the philosophy and practice of one art are in contrast with another, combining them would destroy their essence. For example, if one performs qigong as calisthenics, as most qigong practitioners actually do today, he would debase qigong into some form of gentle, physical exercise, thereby missing the essence of qigong.
But more significantly, though many people may not realize it, is the depth of understanding and attainment in the arts, of the person who combines the arts. Grandmaster Chojun Miyagi was a great master of Karate. There is no question about his deep understanding and attainment of Karate. But he was not a yoga, qigong or calisthenics master, and thus his understanding and attainment in these arts might not be deep.
Indeed someone with a deep understanding and attainment of yoga or qigong would not combine it with other arts because he knows that his art is complete by itself, which means that there is no need to add teachings from other arts to it. He would also know from direct experience that combining with other arts may detract from its own essence.
Therefore, I would speculate that Grandmaster Chojun Miyagi performed only the outward forms of yoga, qigong and Chinese calisthenics but using the essence of Karate. This, as you have rightly suggested, could cause energy unbalance.
Because of his dedication in performing his warm-up which incorporates yoga and qigong, he might have developed much intrinsic energy. But because of his muscular tension in his Karate performance, he would have built up much blockage. When the energy derived from yoga and qigong could not flow smoothly due to blockage, it could lead to serious problems, like a stroke.
I have been reading some books of a Indian philosopher, Jiddu Krishnamurti. He seems to have achieved enlightenment, talking about concepts like “the observer being the observed”, but in his personal life he didn`t seem so happy and after reading his books one feels slightly depressed. Am I too low level to understand?
No, you are not too low level. In fact, your understanding of cosmic matters is of a higher level than many people, including philosophers and those who claimed themselves as Enlightened.
First of all we need to differentiate between “enlightenment” in the conventioanal Western sense, and “Enlightenment” in the Buddhist sense. In the Western sense, “enlightenment” like the age of enlightenment in Western philosophy and literature, refers to an understanding of the underlying reasons. For example, when a person says he is being enlightened by a speaker on the importance of being puntural, he means he now understands from the speech why it is important to be puncture. “Enlightenment” in the Western sense usually involves intellectualization.
The Buddhist sense of “Enlightenment” is vastly different. When we say that a master is Enlightened, we mean that he has attained the highest spiritual fulfillment, called variously by people of different cultures as achieving Buddhahood, returning to God the Holy Spirit, union with Brahman, or merging with the Tao.
In this Enlightened stage, there is no differentiation at all. The subject becomes the same as the object; the knower becomes the same as the known. Everything there is, is One. No intellectualization is involved. In fact, as soon as there is intellectualization or thought, there is diferentiation. There is difference between the thinker and his thought, and this starts the process of countless transformation from the Supreme Reality to the phenomenal world.
Hence, the Indian philosopher you mentioned did not achieve Enlightenment. If he had, he would not talk about concepts like “the observer being the observed”. As soon as he talked about any concept, there would be differentiation between him and the concept. This would instantly bring him into the phenomenal realm. Only in the phenomenaal realm where there is differentiation into countless entities that there can be someone talking about concepts and others listening, which in this case form three separte types of entitites — the speaker, the concept and the listeners.
In Enlightenment, there is also no differentiation into emotions. In other words, there is no happiness and no sorrow, no being highly spirited and no being depressed. It is all One.
Do you have a branch in Sweden, or are you planning to start here? (I know there is one in Finland).
At present we have no branches in Sweden. Hopefully Sifu Markus, who is our certified instructor in Finland, may spread our arts to Sweden, or some aspiring Swedish students may travel to Finland to learn from him.
First of all let me thank you, Sifu, for bringing these wonderful Shaolin arts to wider audiences and thank you also for the question-answer series. I have practiced kung-fu here in Finland with Sifu Markus this spring and I have enjoyed it very much.
— Juho, Finland
Thank you for your kind words.
As Markus is your sifu, you should address me as “sigung”.
I am glad that Markus is spreading the wonderful benefits of our arts in the Scandinavian countries, and other Shaolin Wahnam instructors are doing so in other parts of the world. The main reason I founded Shaolin Wahnam many years ago was because I did not want these wonderful arts to be lost.
As many kungfu practitioners know, most kungfu masters were, and still are, very secretive. The masters might have good reasons to keep their secrets, but this would also result in the essence of the Shaolin arts to be lost, though the external forms may be passed on.
Hence, today most Shaolin practitioners have no or little opportunity to develop internal force, and do not know how to apply Shaolin patterns for combat, to the ridiculous extent that when we teach internal force and Shaolin combat application, some people call us liars!. But that is their problem, not ours. I am happy that you and many other Shaolin Wahnam students are enjoying the wonderful benefits of the Shaolin arts.
For the last two years or so I've been very tired as a result of kind of an emotional burn-out. I've been slowly getting better and with these arts. I'm confident that I'll be able to live my life fully sometime in the near future.
I am glad that you are getting better and better. This is expected if you practice our arts the way you have been taught.
You need not wait to live your life fully in the future; you live your life fully now. This is Zen, an essential aspect of our Shaolin training.
For example, when you eat your breakfast every morning, you are fully aware of your eating your breakfast and enjoying it. You don't have to enjoy your breakfast the next day. If you have something important to do, you do it now and enjoy doing it; you don't say you will do it tomorrow. This is living our Shaolin arts.
My problem is that sometimes the following day after practicing (I usually practice at evening) I feel like the energy gets stuck somehow. Symptoms are: a feeling of sluggishness, an inability to focus, and a feeling of heat in the head. Also usually later that day I get quite tired. I also feel the areas that the energy gets stuck. In my perineum I feel a constant pressure, uncomfortable tingling in the pubic area and also a constricted feeling in the chest.
Your problem is due to the following, especially during your training but also at other times of the day. You tense your muscles, you do not open your mouth eoungh to breath out, and you probably intellectualize too much. If you check these three mistakes, and have a more vigorous chi flow after your kungfu training, you will overcome your problem.
This problem is not due to my practice only as I have had these feelings with other types of energy practices I have done and I believe it is a result of generating too much energy and not being able to keep it all flowing as a result of internal blockages.
I would recommend that you stop practicing the other types of energy arts for the time being. You probably have practiced these other energy arts wrongly, and you do not have any competent teachers to check on you.
Even if you have practiced them correctly, I am quite sure their results are not as wonderful and beneficial as those from practicing our Shaolin arts. To others who have not been exposed to our Shaolin arts, I may appear to be patronizing, but my advice is sincerely given for your benefit.
Generally after practicing I do feel fine for the evening. The bad feelings arise the next day and usually only after several days of continuous practice. As a result of this I've had to cut my kung-fu practice so that sometimes I do only chi kung and generally I've been trying to keep the chi flow part longer.
The fault is not in your practicing too much, but in your not relaxing enough and not opening your mouth wide enough to breathe out. Many people do not realize that breathing out is very important. They mistakenly think that when one breathes out, he looses energy. This is a common mis-conception.
The truth is that when one breathes out, he activates his energy flow because even if he does not consciously breathes in, energy from the Cosmos will flow into him, provided of course that he does not tense his muscles or intellectualize unnecessarily. It is the energy flow, not the actual amount of energy, that gives vitality.
Even when a person has a lot of energy, but if he tenses his muscles, which results in his energy flow being blocked, he will become tired easily. On the other hand, a child has less total energy than an adult, but because he is relaxed, which means his energy flow is smooth, he can run and jump for a long time yet not being tired.
- Living Everyday to Open Your Heart
- Opening Your Heart to Cosmic Energy
- From Patterns to Sequences to Sets
- My Sifu
- Gong-Ans: Beyond Words, Thoughts and Intellect