OPENING THE HEART AND THE HEART OF CONFIDENCE
We know the heart is the ‘emperor’ organ, its condition affecting all other organs. My own feeling is that just as cleansing is a lifelong process, so too is opening one’s heart.
Can Sifu kindly explain the importance of an open heart during the stages of cleansing, building and nourishing?
Are there any practical measures students can take to keep their hearts open during phases of difficult or deep cleansing, when they may not be able to smile from the heart as freely as usual? Or while building, to remain humble?
Could Sifu also comment on the ‘heart of confidence’, as well as faith, in relation to cleansing, building and nourishing?
Sifu Fleur Chapman
Yes, opening one’s heart is a lifelong process. This does not necessarily mean that an open heart will be close after some time and needs opening again, and the process goes on indefinitely.
Once we have developed the habit of keeping our heart open, it will remain open without much effort from us, though it may be close again due to some unforeseen circumstances, like being exposed to prolonged grief and disappointment. But when we sense it is close, we can reopen it again, and keep it open irrespective of the circumstances.
An open heart will enable a person to have a positive outlook in life, which in turn will enable him to view all circumstances positively. As perspective is often more important than reality, having a positive outlook will be a very important factor in making his life happy and meaningful.
He may be in a negative situation, but he still can have a positive perspective of it. His positive perspective may not change his present negative situation but it will much affect how the situation will turn out to be. It can also affect his present emotional, mental and spiritual well-being.
Let us examine one or two examples. Suppose he has lost his job and is in a difficult economic situation. Although there may be many different outlooks, all these can be classified into three categories – negative, neutral and positive.
He may feel that his boss and all other people are against him. Or he may not care at all, and wait for another job to present itself. Or he may take this as an opportunity to get a better job or become a boss himself. While one of the outcomes is likely to happen as well as his emotional, mental and spiritual well-being will depend greatly on whether he views his losing his present job negatively, neutrally or positively.
Suppose he is diagnosed with a so-called incurable disease. He may think he is going to die, or he may submit himself to a lifetime of medication, or he may start practicing a high-level chi kung like ours to cure himself and eventually enjoy good health, vitality and longevity. Indeed, some people ended up being chi kung masters because they initially wanted to overcome their illness
An open heart will give us a lot of benefits no matter what we do, including undergoing the processes of cleansing, building and nourishing. On the other hand, a close heart not only negate good results but may also turn benefits to harmful effects.
When a student is undergoing cleansing, some symptoms like pimples, rashes and pain may appear. If his heart is close, and despite knowing the philosophy of cleansing, he may stop practicing chi kung and thus miss the wonderful benefits that his continued practice will bring.
It is important to maintain an open heart when undergoing the process of building. If he closes his heart, especially when he practices high-level chi kung like ours, the tremendous energy developed from his training may harm his internal organs. If his heart is open, the tremendous energy will flow, making his organs healthy and strong.
Opening the heart is even more important during the process of nourishing. A close heart, which often results in negative thoughts, may cause him to abuse the high level of mind or spirit that he has attained. The law of karma is inevitable. Abusing his mental or spiritual power, though it may bring him some immediate benefits, will certainly end up with him living a miserable life.
If his heart is open, he will experience much peace and joy. Not only he will make his own life meaningful and rewarding, he will also enrich other people’s lives.
Smiling from the heart, which we do every time we practice chi kung or kungfu, is one of the best ways, if not the best way, to keep our heart open. During periods of difficulty, including deep cleansing, when students may not be able to smile from the heart as freely as usual, there are other ways to open the heart.
Practicing “Dancing Butterfly” is an excellent way. When chi flow opens the heart, which is a natural result of this exercise, the student can start smiling from the heart to enhance the good result. Sometimes, students even laugh as if for no apparent reasons.
Another good exercise is “Separating Water”, which opens the lungs as well as the heart. But this is a powerful exercise, and must be practiced with care.
Having good thoughts is another excellent way. When a student experiences deep cleansing or over-cleansing, while he may slow down his practice and thus the cleansing, he should also say to himself that despite the discomfort he may have, he is actually getting benefits. This will open his heart.
It is a two-way process. When you have good thoughts you open your heart. On the other hand, when your heart is open, you will have good thoughts.
It is important to remain humble when one is very successful in building. As I have mentioned a few times, becoming vain when one has become very powerful is a common cause of many advanced practitioners to fall.
An effective check-point for those who may become vain and then fall, is to remind themselves of the truth that even when they have become very powerful, they are still very far from the supreme attainment our arts can give, and that is attaining Enlightenment or returning to God the Holy Spirit.
They are not even near to becoming immortals who can roam heavens at will. Realizing these facts can help to check their vanity.
Another effective way to check their vanity is to remind themselves why do they practice the art, which has made them very powerful. Building tremendous force is a mean, not the end. The end is to lead a meaningful, rewarding life for ourselves and other people. Being vain will distract from this noble aim.
We in Shaolin Wahnam are indeed very lucky. Not only we understand the philosophy of cleansing, building and nourishing to attain our noble aims, we also have the techniques and skills to do so, and in a funful way.
The questions and answers are reproduced from the thread Stages of Cleansing, Building and Nourishing: 10 Questions to the Grandmaster in the Shaolin Wahnam Discussion Forum.