SELECTION OF QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
SEPTEMBER 2011 PART 1
I had an incredible time in Malaysia. I could experience dreams which I have held in my heart for years, including being able to enjoy ice cream and dairy products which I was not able to enjoy for over five years. My blockages had eased and I felt free. I felt so alive and spent some loving times with the Kissey family.
At one point I had doubt during the Small Universe course that I was perhaps making up my experiences I was beaming with joy and my spirit felt at one with the whole universe, there was no separation and I felt an overflowing wave of love, compassion for all. As always words cannot describe how truly thankful I am to you, dear Sifu, for all the teachings you have shared with us.
— Parveen, UK
I am very glad of the wonderful results and enjoyable time you had at the Small Universe Course and your visit to Malaysia, though that is actually quite expected.
What you need to do is to continue your daily practice of what you have learnt from me, including at the Small Universe Course, and you will find even more wonderful benefits will come as a matter of course if you follow the three golden rules of practice:
- Don't Worry.
- Don't Intellectualize.
- Enjoy your practice.
Sifu, is it possible for sentient beings to use up all their merits and thus start back from the beginning? Is it a test and a reminder that we still live in Samsara and will experience the cycles in this life?
Yes, it is possible for sentient beings to use up all their merits. Even gods, when they have used up all their merits, may reincarnate as lower beings. Hence it is only sensible that we should continue to cultivate merits. In this way the merits will never be used up. But we should do so not with the intention of being reincarnate as higher beings, but because we sincerely believe it is right to do so.
From the Buddhist perspective, living in Samsara, or the phenomenal realm where karma operates, is not a test, but a result of thought. Because of countless thoughts, which in turn generate unending thoughts, Nirvana, or the transcendental reality where karma does not operate, is transformed into Samsara.
Nirvana is Samsara, and Samsara is Nirvana. It is a matter of spiritual perspective. When thoughts arise, it is Samsara. When no thoughts arise, it is Nirvana. Hui Neng, the Sixth Patriarch, explains this as "When thoughts arise, one becomes an ordinary person; when no thoughts arise, he becomes a Buddha."
The meaning of what I have just explained is of course more profound than what ordinary people take the words to mean, although the words mean exactly what they say. "No thoughts" is not merely when one is not thinking. It refers to not just no thoughts in his present personal mind, but to absolutely, perfectly no thoughts in his whole being, including the memory of every of his single cells, and extending to his countless past lives.
During my chi kung practice I feel I have been taking on forms of the snake and kung fu forms and patterns which I have not learnt. I start performing whilst in chi flow, my internal force has multiplied and I get overwhelming surge of chi which tightens all my muscles and then explodes (internal force). Sifu, would you recommend that I harness and develop this energy though practice of Tai Chi Chuan, Kung Fu or Wing Chun in addition to my daily practice of Chi Kung?
Your tremendous amount of energy flow and internal force is due to your Small Universe training. This was one main reason why the Small Universe was a greatly sought-after art by kungfu masters in the past. It is indeed amazing that today many Shaolin Wahnam students have a chance to learn this fantastic art.
Other people may also learn the Small Universe, or the Micro-Obit as it is more popularly called outside of Shaolin Wahnam. Most of them know only the techniques but they do not have the benefits this art is purported to give.
This is actually a norm today. Most kungfu and chi kung students today know only the outward forms of kungfu or chi kung, but do not have the benefits of their practice. They do not know how to apply their kungfu forms for combat, and have no experience of chi, which are the main benefits of practicing kungfu and chi kung. This was known in the past as "hok kei ying, shet kei chein" (Cantonese), which means "learning the external forms but missing the essence".
Many people may be angry at my above statements, thinking that we insult them. This, of course, is not true. We never insult them; we are just stating the true. If they are smart, they can benefit from this truth.
Coming back to your case, having tremendous energy and internal force is one of the many benefits of your Small Universe practice. You can use this internal force in any styles of kungfu, including Shaolin, Taijiquan, or Wing Choon. Or you can use it for other activities, like playing games, reading novels, writing poetry or enjoying your daily work. Having internal force is the cause. Being able to do better in various activities, like practicing kungfu and enjoying your daily work, is the result.
You should not confuse cause with result. Cause comes first, result follows. So, you need not practice kungfu to harness your internal force. It is the other way round. Because of your internal force due to your chi kung training, especially your Small Universe, you can do kungfu or anything better.
When you practice genuine kungfu, there are also other chi kung methods to develop internal force, like Golden Bridge, Cloud Hands, and Siu Lin Tou in Shaolin, Taijiquan and Wing Choon training respectively. In other words, even if you do not practice the other chi kung exercises, your energy flow and internal force from your Small Universe will enable you to practice any kungfu well. But if you also practice the other exercises, you will perform even better.
Here you apply your internal force for some particular purposes. For convenience, we call this the reactive benefits of internal force.
What will happen if you do not do anything special? Your internal force will give you good health, vitality, longevity, mental freshness and spiritual joys. In other words, you do not need to do anything special to apply your internal force to make yourself healthy or have more vitality. By itself, without you having to do anything special, your internal force will give you these benefits. For convenience we call this the proactive benefits of internal force.
How is it that with internal force you will have good health, vitality, longevity, mental freshness and spiritual joys, even if you do nothing special? It is because these benefits are a function of internal force. As an analogy, because economic life is a function of money, when you have a lot of money, without you having to do anything special, your economic life will be healthy, vibrant, lasting, and you will be free from financial worries and be able to enjoy what money can buy.
I was overjoyed when you shared a glimpse of chi kung healing at the course. In the past people would come to me, and out of nowhere I would talk about their ailments, and my heart would go out to them and I would think only if there was a way to help them.
After reciting sutras at night an image appeared in my third eye and it was a figure of a yogi in the lotus position with three marks across his forehead and holding a pitchfork with a snake wrapped around him. Sifu, would you suggest that the connections with the symbol of a 'snake' is a warning to become more mindful of my snake like mind, and to be aware of 'Mara' ?
When I was in Malaysia I had a dream where I heard crying and people being swamped by water. I suddenly awoke and knew something was wrong. I sent a text message to Joel to check for tsunami warnings but there was nothing. I also noticed that birds and butterflies were flying in odd directions, and the chi in the air was displaying unusual patterns. Later I discovered through news that there had been a tsunami and an earthquake in Indonesia
I wish to be able to harness this ability and not lose it. Is there a way that I can do this through our Shaolin Wahnam Arts? Is it alright to send a blessing to the suffering people? Is there more I should do to help?
Most, if not all, your questions will be answered by following the three golden rules I mentioned above, namely
- Don't Worry.
- Don't Intellectualize.
- Enjoy your practice.
For example, will you become a chi kung healer in future helping other people? Don't worry about it. Don't intellectualize on what will happen if you achieve or not achieve this aspiration. Enjoy your daily practice.
When you have progressed further n your practice, you will be in a right position to decide whether you wish to become a chi kung healer. Worrying or intellectualizing now does not help at all. It only adds to your confusion. But by not worrying and not intellectualizing, and by enjoying your daily practice, you are actually preparing yourself for that decision. And when you have arrived at that point of time, you will have the mental clarity and courage to make a wise decision.
Similarly, don't worry about and intellectualize on whether your vision of a yogi was a reminder of your being mindful of your snake-like mind, or worry about and intellectualize on how you could harness your ability of pre-monition to help people in distress. Just enjoy your daily practice, and as you progress you will come to a point of time when you can make wise decisions on such matters.
Irrespective of your worrying and intellectualizing, you are in no position now to know for sure that your answers are correct. Not only worrying and intellectualizing are unfruitful and therefore are unnecessary, worse they make you stressful and are detrimental to your progress But by enjoying your daily practice, you will progress to a stage when you can have right answers.
Notwithstanding this, I can give you some wise advice. Practicing high-level chi kung will give us a lot of wonderful benefits, including helping other less fortunate people, but it does not make us become God. In other words, there are many things high-level chi kung practitioners cannot do, one of which is to stop earthquakes and tsunamis.
You did not actually ask me how to harness your chi kung ability to stop earthquakes and tsunamis, you asked me how to harness your ability to see events happening across space and time. I have given you a good answer. Stop worrying, stop intellectualizing, and enjoy your practice. When the time is right, you will develop this ability. Many of our instructors and even students have this ability. But we do not highlight it, and we do not give this development top priority in our training.
If we attain this ability of seeing through space and time, it is wonderful, and we make very sure we will always use this ability for good. If it doesn't come, fine.
We never make attaining miraculous powers an objective or an aim of our training. Our aims are to have good health, vitality, longevity, mental freshness and spiritual joys. In the case of those practicing Shaolin Kungfu or Wahnam Taijiquan, we add combat efficiency. In this way we make our life and the lives of other people meaningful and rewarding. We never set out to save the world or to become champions in tournaments.
Are we being selfish? Of course not. We are being realistic. While we realize our abilities, which are generally higher than what many people have, we also know our limitations. If we can save lives and help others, we certainly would. But when we know that we can't, we would not deceive ourselves and others that we could. We would ask those in need of help to seek other more qualified people.
On the other hand, there may be occasions when we have the ability to help, yet it may not be right for us to help! This involves what we call "heaven's secrets". For example, you may have a vision that someone is going to die in an accident. From the human perspective, you may think you would do him a great service by helping him to avoid the accident. But from the cosmic perspective, you might be doing him a great dis-service. But you can send him a blessing, just like you can send the tsunami and earthquake victims your blessings. It is safe to say it is never wrong to send blessings.
How does one differentiate between human perspective and cosmic perspective? Most people can't, and many do not even believe in cosmic perspective. But how would you, as a Shaolin Wahnam student, develop cosmic perspective and awareness? A good answer is "Don't worry, don't intellectualize, and enjoy your practice". Some people may find the answer trite, but it is a good and fruitful answer. You already have much cosmic perspective and awareness, especially after the Small Universe Course. Just continue your daily practice.
How do you know you have arrived at a stage when you can make wise decisions regarding human and cosmic perspectives, or regarding other important matters? As a prosaic analogy, it is like asking how do you know when a mango is ripe enough for you to eat. You will know when the time is right. In other words, you will know when the mango is ripe, or when you can make wise decisions. Of course those who don't have a mango, or don't have a high-level art to practice, will never know regardless of how much they worry and intellectualize.
Joel has such a kind loving heart and the teachings you have given him have made him so happy that he is more loving towards me, and he is blessed with promotions at work. Thank you for bringing him into my life, Sifu. I could not ask for a better person to share my life with and I hope I bring him happiness in his life. He has held Kung Fu close to his heart and with blessings I hope he can attend the Kung fu course along with all the Wing Choon courses and may he be blessed with his journey to enlightenment.
I am glad that you realize that Joel is an excellent husband. How do you become a good wife? Here are three golden rules.
- Don't Worry.
- Don't Intellectualize.
- Enjoy being a good wife
Sigung, what is the difference between Eagle Claw and Tiger Claw?
— Peter, Ireland
Externally, Eagle Claw and Tiger Claw look different. In Eagle Claw the fingers are close together, whereas in Tiger Claw the fingers are open.
I am referring to the Eagle Claw form in traditional Eagle Claw Kungfu, and not to that of modern wushu. In modern wushu, where the forms resemble more realistically like those of an eagle, the fingers are quite apart, and it looks like a Dragon Hand except that the fingers are more open.
Internally, the applications of the Eagle Claw and of the Tiger Claw are quite different. Eagle Claw is generally used as a supportive technique to grip or lock an opponent while striking him with the other hand. But sometimes it is also used as a main technique to tear off an opponent's muscle.
The Tiger Claw is used as a combat-ending technique itself. There are three main combat functions, namely disabling muscles, dislocating joints and gripping energy points. In other words, a Tiger Claw master could end a combat with a Tiger Claw attack, whereas an Eagle Claw master would use his Eagle Claw to put an opponent in a difficult position, then finish him off with a combat-ending strike.
The force training methods are also different. Eagle Claw practitioners use such methods like gripping strong, elastic V-shaped branches, pulling poles drilled into the ground, and tearing barks off trees. Tiger Claw practitioners jab their fingers into beans, and carry jars containing water with their fingers.
High level practitioners of both Eagle Claw and of Tiger Claw use internal methods to train internal force. The techniques, understandably, are different. Eagle Claw practitioners naturally use Eagle Claw, and Tiger Claw practitioners use Tiger Claw. You can see some Eagle Claw internal force training at http://www.shaolin.org/video-clips-4/eagle-claw-england/eagle-claw-01/eagle-claw04.html . There is no special name for this method. It is just called Eagle Claw internal force training.
An excellent internal force training for Tiger Claw is "Fierce Tiger Cleanses Claws". You can see this method, as well as other Tiger Claw training methods at http://www.shaolin.org/shaolin/tiger-crane04.html .
I joined a Kung fu school here two years ago. They started teaching me postures and form work. At that point I was very pleased with the teaching. But when we started sparring, I felt something was very wrong. All sparring was in bad boxing mixed with some kicks, resembling bad full contact kickboxing. The explanation was short, but the forms and combat did not match. I found that nothing applied in sparring was taught to me there. I finally left the place.
— Augustus, Argentina
This, unfortunately, is the norm today. Even well known masters today say that kungfu forms are only for learning kungfu movements and principles. When they fight, they have to use Boxing or Kick-Boxing! They never explain why they learn kungfu movements and principles in the first place if they don't use them for fighting.
What they say, of course, is not true. The past masters in their lineage used kungfu forms for fighting, not Boxing or Kick-Boxing.
But what is more serious, though it may not be widely realized, is that their training methods are detrimental to health and personal development. Not only the students are subjected to internal injuries in their free sparring, tensing their muscles in solo practice also causes much energy blockage, and their attitude and philosophy often result in anger and aggressiveness.
I get to know your school. I started researching about it, and found every aspect of my wishes come true. Finally here is a school that trains real kung fu, not sanda or fanciful kickboxing. I am so happy. But then the sad truth comes to me. Why didn't I know about it before? There isn't an instructor here in Argentina. I beg for one instructor to be sent here. Many of my friends would be pleased to train what I like to call the real and so hidden, Kungfu
Our school, Shaolin Wahnam, is dedicated to preserve and pass on to posterity the wonderful philosophy and practice of Shaolin Kungfu, chi kung and Taijiquan. At present we do not have any instructors in Argentina, but we hope we shall spread the wonderful benefits of these arts to your country soon.
I suggest you contact Sifu Rama Roberto, our Chief Instructor for Latin America, or any instructors in Latin America. Sifu Rama's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org . For the other instructors in Latin America please see http://www.shaolin.org/general/instructors-list.html for their contact particulars. If you are interested in Shaolin Kungfu, please contact Sifu Jose Antonio who lives in Ecuador. His e-mail address is email@example.com
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- Shaolin Dragon-Tiger Set