SELECTION OF QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
JUNE 2017 PART 2
How do Shaolin Wahnam attainments and skills correspond with each of the Four Stages of Enlightenment?
— Olli, Finland
The Four Stages of Enlightenment, especially in Theravada Buddhism, are
- Sotapanna, or stream entrant
- Sakadagami, or once-returner
- Anagami, or non-returner
- Arhat, or noble one.
An Arhat, which means a "noble one", and is the highest attainment in Theravada Buddhism, is one who is enlightened, but is not of the same level as the Buddha. An Arhat exists in the formless realm as pure consciousness, but he can be born in lower realms with a body if he wants to.
In Mahayana Buddhism and Vajrayana Buddhism, Enlightenment may be perfect or imperfect. In perfect Enlightenment there is totally no differentiation. There are three types of imperfect enlightenment. Hence, there are Four Stages of Enlightenment. In "Awakening of Faith in Mahayana", written by the great Bodhisattva Avshagosha, these Four Stages of Enlightenment are described as four Mirrors, as follows.
- Perfect Mirror -- empty of any differentiation.
- Reflective Mirror -- reflects all things and events in the world
- Transcending Mirror -- reflects only undefiled things and events.
- Illuminating Mirror -- inspires beings to cultivate towards Enlightenment.
When a cultivator has attained a Reflective Mirror, he can see all things and events in his mind. When he has attained a Transcending Mirror, he sees only undefiled or pure things and events; those that are defiled, like colored by prejudice or intellectualization, will not be seen by him. When he has attained an Illuminating Mirror, his mind will inspire him to continue cultivating to attain perfect Enlightenment.
Please note that the three Stages of Enlightenment, other than the first one which is perfect Enlightenment, are in random order.
It is irrelevant to compare the attainments and skills in our school, Shaolin Wahnam, with the four Stages of Enlightenment of Theravada Buddhism, or with those of Mahayana Buddhism and Vijrayana Buddhism. It is like comparing a computer with a car. They serve different purposes.
Our attainments and skills in Shaolin Wahnam are for use in our phenomenal world, to make our everyday life more rewarding and meaningful. The four Stages of Enlightenment are for leaving our phenomenal life and as a measurement in the progress towards the perfectly transcendental where there is totally no differentiation.
But we can make a comparison if we have to. The four Stages of Enlightenment are of a much higher level than that of our Shaolin Wahnam attainments.
The lowest of the Four Stages of Enlightenment of Theravada Buddhists, which is also lower than any of the Four Mirrors in Mahayana and Vijrayana Buddhism, is comparable to the first attainments in Shaolin Wahnam.
Cultivators of both disciplines have entered the stream, but while we in Shaolin Wahnam have entered the stream to learn how to make our phenomenal life more rewarding, followers of Theravada Buddhism have entered the stream to learn how to renounce their phenomenal life.
The moral training in our school, like practicing the Ten Shaolin Laws, is comparable to, but still of a lower level than, the second and the third Stage of Enlightenment in the Theravada tradition. We avoid evil and do good so that we may be reborn at a higher station in life in this world of desires, though some of us may go to higher heavens in the form realm and the formless realm. Cultivators of the second State of Enlightenment in the Theravada tradition return to the realm of desires only once, and cultivators of the third State are reborn in the form realm or the formless realms to continue their cultivation.
Our training of mind or spirit in Shaolin Wahnam is comparable to, but still of a lower level than, the second, third and fourth Mirrors in the Mahayana and the Vijrayana traditions. We can attain a one-pointed mind where we can see things and events very clearly, sometimes even across space and time, like the cultivators of the various Mirrors except the first one. In the recent Zen course in Dublin, for example, some of us could see things and events without our personal prejudice and intellectualization, like cultivators of the third Mirror.
In advanced courses like Merging with the Cosmos, some of us had a glimpse of our Original Face or God the Holly Spirit, but we returned to our phenomenal world with a thought of our dan tian, which started the transformation from the transcendental to the phenomenal. This is comparable to, but of a lower level than, the fourth stage of Enlightenment in the Theravada tradition, and the first Mirror of the Mahayana and Vijrayana traditions. But Buddhist cultivators do not return to the phenomenal realm, they remain in the formless realm or merge into the Spiritual Body of the Buddha, though, if some of them want to, they may return to realms of desires or of form as spiritual teachers and Bodhisattvas.
Which is the art that opens the path to bring Heaven down on Earth?
— Pablo, Venezuela
All the arts practiced in our school, Shaolin Wahnam Institute, bring heaven down to earth. Some of our arts go beyond heaven.
For convenience, we may classified our cultivation into three levels as follows:
- Live a happy, long life here and now.
- Go to heaven in the next life.
- Go beyond heaven to attain Enlightenment.
All great religious teachers of the world's known religions teach the same lesson on how to go to heaven in the next life after this worldly one, i.e. to do good and avoid evil. This is what we practice in our school. A practical approach to attain this aim is to practice our Ten Shaolin Laws.
To attain Enlightenment, which is called variously by people of different culture, like returning to God the Holly Spirit or merging with Cosmic Reality, is going beyond heaven. In Enlightenment, there are no heavens. In other words, in returning to God the Holly Spirit, there is nothing else, only God the Holly Spirit. In our advanced practice, like merging with the Cosmos, we may attain Enlightenment or return to God the Holly Spirit. But we are not ready for this most noble aim, so we just have a Cosmic glimpse and return to our phenomenal world.
I've been thinking about a proposal of 2 new courses for you to consider, which I think can be very useful for all students of Shaolin Wahnam.
The two new courses I propose are "Keeping Energy Intact" and "Projecting Your Reality".
— Sifu Adalia Iglesias, Spain
It is good that you think about courses that will benefit our students. However, the two courses you have suggested are not necessary because if we practice chi kung, keeping our energy intact and projecting our reality come naturally. There is no need to do anything special about it.
This is one of the many great things about chi kung. When you practice chi kung regularly and have a lot of energy, the benefits will come naturally. There is no need to do special technique to manifest these benefits.
If you have a lot of energy as a result of practicing chi kung regularly, there is no need to do something special. You do not need to perform some special exercises so that you can play games better, to read a book with better understanding, to run up a stair and not be panting, to overcome diabetes, to overcome pain, to overcome any diseases, to be healthy, or to have longevity. You will have all these benefits without having to perform any special techniques!
In the same way, you can keep your energy intact or to project your reality, without having to perform any special techniques, or to attain any special courses. You will be able to keep your energy intact, and to project your reality by just practicing chi kung regularly.
Just like if you are hungry, you will want to eat. There is no need to do special exercise for you to want to eat. When you have eaten, your body will produce the necessary chemicals to digest your food. There is no need to perform any special exercises to produce these chemicals. The processes are natural.
In the same way, if someone is sick, by practicing chi kung, he will recover. There is no need to direct his chi to the illness to overcome it. If someone is weak, by practicing chi kung he will become strong. There is no need to perform special exercise to direct chi to the appropriate parts of his body to make him strong.
This is called "wu-wei", or spontaneity, which is sometimes explained as "don't do anything and everything will be done for you". Many people are puzzled how can everything be one for you if you don't do anything.
The secret is that you must do "you-wei" first. "You wei" means "do the appropriate things, and then "wu-wei", i.e. everything will be done for you. In this case, the "you-wei" part is to practice chi kung correctly and regularly, then you can maintain your energy, and project your reality, besides many other benefits.
For example, how do you keep your energy after teaching a class, or giving a healing session? How do you project your reality, like manifesting your personal project successfully?
I do not do any special chi kung exercises to keep my energy after teaching a class or giving a healing session. I just practice my chi kung regularly, irrespective of whether I teach a class or give a healing session.
In fact, I do not keep my energy when I do anything. I let my energy flow. Energy, like cash, is useful when it is flowing. If your energy is stagnant, you may be in trouble. You have to practice chi kung to let the energy flow.
I also do not perform any special chi kung exercise to project my reality, like manifesting my personal project successfully. Like doing any other things, I let my energy flow. Besides merely completing the project, I ensue that it brings benefits -- to myself or others, or both.
What chi kung exercises are good for overcoming nervousness?
— Martha, Austria
All genuine chi kung exercise will overcome nervousness. One cause of nervousness is a lack of energy. All chi kung increases energy. When a person has a lot of energy, he has no time for being nervous.
Another important cause of nervousness is closing one's heart. In our school, every time a student practices, he smiles from his heart, which opens the heart and sets the spirit free. When a person is happy and free, he will not be nervous.
It is important that what he practices is genuine chi kung. If he practices gentle physical exercise, even when the techniques he uses are genuine chi kung patterns, he may not overcome his nervousness.
Nevertheless, certain exercises are particularly good for overcoming nervousness. These exercises include Dancing Butterfly, Lifting the Sky, Carrying the Moon, Pushing Mountain and Nourishing Kidneys.
I often attend religious retreats where I don't communicate with other people, and spend a lot of time on meditation. Do you think it is a good idea?
It may be a good idea for those who are ready to renounce worldly life to devote themselves to God, the Buddha or whatever term you call the Supreme, but it is not suitable for you.
I don't think you are ready to renounce worldly life yet. Not communicating with others is not suitable for you.
By communicating with others, one may attach himself or herself to these other people, and be abide with the phenomenal world. Not communicating with others is an effective way to cut oneself off from the phenomenal. But you are not ready for this.
The basic requirement as well as the basic benefit of meditation is to be relaxed and free. But you are not relaxed and not free. If you are relaxed and free, you won't be nervous for no apparent reasons. The reason, which is not apparent and which you may not know yourself, is that your are stressful and your spirit is close, which is the direct opposite of being relaxed and free.
Probably your meditation is faulty. You have become introvert. What you need is to open yourself, and communicate with others.
Is there a difference between the dragon force in the Five-Animal Set and in the Dragon Strength Set?
— Sifu Leonard Lackinger
Yes, there is a difference.
Firstly, there is a difference of intensity. The dragon force of the Dragon Strength Set is more powerful than that of the Five-Animal Set. This is presuming that the same practitioner is exploding both types of force.
Of course, a master exploding dragon force of the Five-Animal Set is more powerful than a student exploding dragon force of the Dragan Strength Set.
It should also be noted that the comparison is relative. The dragon force of the Five-Animal Set by itself is powerful. Even a student using dragon force of the Five-Animal Set can cause serious injury on an opponent.
The second difference is the nature of the force. The dragon force of the Dragon Strength Set is explosive, whereas that of the Five-Animal Set is penetrating.
A good example of the explosiveness, which also includes penetrating, was provided by Vero on her husband, Claude, at the Dragon Strength Course in Penang in December 2014. Vero is a sweet, small-sized lady, and Claude a handsome, tough-looking man. Claude held his petite wife tightly with both his arms. Vero literally gave a shake of her dragon force and sent Claude flying back many feet away. Claude felt injured after this flying sent-off, and had to perform some chi flow to clear the injury.
However, if a practitioner also separately learns how to apply release force and hit force with his dragon force from the Five-Animal Set, he may also send an opponent flying away. But the force will not be as powerful as the dragon force from Dragon Strength. Moreover, if it releases an opponent, i.e. sending him flying away, it may not injure him.
We switch off intellectualization when we practice. Do we switch off awareness too, like when we feel ichy or when some noise disturbs us in our training?
We switch off intellectualization so as to get better results. This is to follow the three golden rules of practice in our school, namely not to worry, not to intellectualize and to enjoy our practice.
We can also switch off awareness when it distracts us from our training, like when we feel ichy or when there is some disturbing noise.
It needs more skills to switch off awareness than to switch off intellectualization. The skills are also quite different. Actually we so not switch off awareness completely. We are still aware of the situation, but we do not allow it to distract us. For example, when we feel ichy, like when energy is flowing at the skin level, or when there is a loud sound, we are aware of the icheness and the loud sound, but we do not allow them to distract us.
Generally it is good to be aware of our surrounding. In combat, for example, we are aware of our opponent's move. Sometimes we are aware of his intention to make a certain move before he physically makes the move. When we enter a room, we are aware of those who are sympathetic to us and those who are hostile to us.
It is also helpful to know that intellectualization is not necessary bad. Often it is good and necessary. When I explain some important points to a class, I use intellectualization, as well as verbalization. When a manager presents a project to a board of directors, he needs intellectualization. But when we practice our arts, we switch off intellectualization because it distract us from our chi kung state of mind.
If you have any questions, please e-mail them to Grandmaster Wong via his Secretary at stating your name, country and e-mail address.
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- Shaolin 36 Leg Techniques
- Arribal at Chennai, the Old Madras