SELECTION OF QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
DECEMBER 2012 PART 1
You say that one must have a healthy body before cultivating the spirit, hence, Bodhidharma taught the Eighteen Lohan Hands so that the Shaolin monks could better cultivate for Enlightenment. This is similar to the Roman idea of a healthy spirit in a healthy body.
On the other hand there is another concept that one must cure the spirit first before cuing the body. What is your view on this?
— Pio, Italy
It is not a co-incidence that the wisdom of the ancient Indians, Chinese and Romans was the same -- a healthy spirit in a healthy body.
In spiritual cultivation, there is a debate going on for a long time between two schools of thought. One school believes that the spirit or soul is the most important. The body is not important, it is a smelly receptacle for the spirit. The other school believes that although the spirit is the most important, the body is still important, especially when the spirit is still being housed in the body.
Bodhidarma belonged to the second school. Hence he taught the Shaolin monks the Eighteen Lohan Hands and Sinew Metamorphosis to strengthen their body so that they could better cultivate their spirit for Enlightenment.
Like the Romans, the Chinese also valued the other concept that one must cure the spirit first before curing the body. This is a manifestation of yin-yang harmony.
The real being is the spirit. It is the spirit having a body, not the body having a spirit. Hence, when the body is sick, it is a physical manifestation that the spirit is not well. Curing the sickness in the body is only overcoming the symptom, the root cause is in the spirit. The spirit needs to be cured.
This principle of first curing the spirit is much emphasized in traditional Chinese medicine. A fundamental principle in traditional Chinese medicine is that all healing starts from the heart. In Chinese, the heart means the spirit.
I always use this principle, and it has helped countless people overcome their so-called incurable diseases.
How do you apply this principle of "All healing starts from the heart" in helping people overcome diseases?
I always apply this principle, especially with patients suffering from serious so-called incurable diseases like cancer and cardiovascular disorders.
There are three steps.
The first step is to convince the patients that it is worthwhile for them to live. How well a healer can convince his patients is an art. If he just tells them to live, it may not be successful as they have suffered so much pain that they may prefer to die. But finding that the patients have dependent children, telling them to live for the sake of their children could be more successful.
The next step is to convince the patients that the healing they are going to receive from me will help them overcome their diseases. There are two ways, and I often use both ways. First I give them examples of other people suffering from the same diseases cured by me. Then I explain how and why the treatment will overcome their diseases.
Once I succeed in these two steps, the patients have begun their healing from their heart. The third step, implementing the healing procedure, becomes easy.
I have helped countless people overcome so-called incurable diseases. Success lies in the first two steps. Recovery becomes a matter of course because from the chi kung perspective, every disease can be cured.
Yet, with hindsight, I believe that the most powerful factor is my conviction that the patients can be cured, which they can readily pick up non-verbally from me.
Is prana the same as chi? Is yoga the same as chi kung?
— Maita, Spain
Yes, prana is the same as chi. Prana is in Sanskrit, whereas chi is in Chinese. Both refers to energy, the core of life and the universe.
Yoga is the same as chi kung. The philosophy, methodology and results are similar.
Both yoga and chi kung are arts of managing energy and spirit for health, vitality, longevity and spiritual development.
There are three levels in their methodologies. At the basic level, the focus is on form -- dynamic patterns in chi kung, and asana in yoga. At the middle level, the focus is on energy -- breathing exercise in chi kung and pranayama in yoga. At the highest level, the focus is on spirit -- meditation in chi kung and rajayoga in yoga.
The results can also be classified into three levels. At the basic level, the focus is on good health, vitality and longevity. At the middle level, the foucs is on internal force and mental clarity for peak performance. At the highest level, the focus is on spiritual joys, like expansion into the Cosmos and unity with the Supreme.
On the negative side, both have been debased from their original height, and true masters are scarce even in their home countries. Both have been debased to physical exercise, often exploited by opportunists to be marketed for sexual prowess. True yoga masters and chi kung masters are rare even in India and China today.
I thank you for the books, "The Art of Shaolin Kungfu" and "The Complete Book of Tai-Chi Chuan".
— Francois, Netherlands
Many people have kindly told me that these are two of the best books they have read on Shaolin Kungfu and Taijiquan. They give you a comprehensive understanding of the arts.
A good philosophical understanding of an art will help you to set aims and objectives for practicing the art. You should then seek a teacher who can help you to realize these aims and objectives. Bear in mind that good teachers in any arts are hard to find. So you may have to spend some time and effort searching.
Having found a good teacher you should practice in the way he teaches you. Don't make a common mistake of practicing in a way you think the art should be practiced. You should periodically access your progress with reference to your aims and objectives.
If you follow these guidelines, you will have good results in a relatively short time.
When I was approximately 11 to 13 year old my father recommended me training with dumbbells to grow more muscle mass as I was quite skinner compared to my brothers.
Muscles are required for physical work, but too much muscle mass may be harmful.
If you combine dumbbell training with chi kung, which must be learnt from a competent teacher, you will get more result in less time, and in a more pleasant manner.
Later after learning from a kungfu teacher I trained for four hours the same form (Si Ping Kun) with weights attached to my legs. I continued my training with other forms. I did 600 push-ups every day, and quite a lot of strength in my punches.
This is what many martial artists believe to be the way to success. It is following the no-pain-no-gain philosophy. In my young days, I did similar things, though not the same types of exercise.
Now I am wiser. We now use smart methods. Our students train for less time, which means they have more time to enjoy other activities, but get more benefits, in terms of force and combat efficiency as well as good health, vitality and mental clarity.
Most of the techniques in your book I have learnt, but especially with the theory in your book I am very glad, particularly concerning the internal force of Shaolin Kung Fu.
It is easy for students to practice wrongly when they learn internal force on their own. You should learn from one of our certified instructors.
Although you will have to pay fees, you will find it more cost-effective. Not only you avoid harming yourself through wrong training, you will also get a lot more benefits in a relatively very short time.
So I go on with my study again of meditation. I also practiced Kria yoga. Now I am eventually up to that point that I understand the text effectively. I want to specialize in the art of Chi Kung and want to bring out the knowledge in practice.
Meditation and chi kung are advanced arts, though they may look simple. They should be learnt from a competent teacher, not just from books or videos.
Editorial Note : Francois' other questions are found in the December 2012 Part 2 of the Question-Answer Series.
- Perception is Often More Important than Reality
- Reflections on my Experience
- History and Philosophy of Shaolin Flower Set
- Breaking through the Bride's Door
- How do Masters Spar