ULTIMATE AIM OF SHAOLIN KUNGFU AND TAIJIQUAN
The ultimate aim of Shaolin Kung Fu is to achieve enlightenment, and the ultimate aim of Taijiquan is to return to the void. Are the two aims compatible or the same thing?
— Maurice, United Kingdom
The two aims are the same thing.
To be enlightened means to be free from cosmic ignorance. In Buddhist teaching, due to ignorance a person sees cosmic reality which is undifferentiated, as the phenomenal world which is differentiated into countless entities. Once ignorance is cleared, i.e. when one attains Enlightenment, he will experience cosmic reality as it really is, where everything is one and where the knower is also the known.
In Taoist teaching, originally there is the Great Void where there is no differentiation. Due to the innate features of yin and yang, the Great Void is transformed into countless entities in the phenomenal world. When one attains the Tao, he will transcend the phenomenal world and experiences reality as the Great Void which is devoid of all differentiated entities.
In Western terms, attaining Enlightenment or returning to the Great Void is the same as returning to God. Here, God refers to the Holy Spirit, which is omniscient and omnipresent. Attaining Enlightenment, returning to the Great Void or returning to God is of a higher level than going to heaven. It is the highest attainment any one can achieve.
It is understandable that many people today, including most of those who practice Shaolin Kungfu and Taijiquan, do not believe in these aims. When many practitioners do not even believe that Shaolin forms can be used for combat, or internal force is a fact in Taijiquan, you can realize how outlandish it is to them to say that the ultimate aims of these great martial arts are to attain Enlightenment and to return to the Great Void.
But we at Shaolin Wahnam earnestly believe in these aims, though most of us are also not ready to devote our full time to their realization yet. Nevertheless, we are inspired and grateful to know that our arts can lead us to our greatest achievement if and when we are ready. Meanwhile we realize that while the phenomenal world we live in is an illusion (when viewed from the transcendental perspective), we make the best and noble use of our phenomenal life while we are here, and the arts we diligently practice everyday serve our purposes exceedingly well.
Reproduced from Questions 1 in Selection of Questions and Answers — June 2003 Part 1
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