March 2005 (Part 3)

SELECTION OF QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Monkey God, the Great Sage Equal to Heaven

A picture showing the Monkey God accompanying his master the Great Venerable Tripitaka journeying to the West in search of Buddhist sutras. Behind them are the Great Venerable Tripitaka's two other disciples, Wu Neng and Wu Jing.

Question 1

I've been told that there are a few living immortals, mostly in China in remote areas.

— Sean, USA

Answer

When people say there are living immortals, they probably use the term “immortals” figuratively, meaning humans who have special powers or remarkable longevity, but these persons, remarkable they may be in many aspects, will still die one day. Real immortals, however, never die.

The above explanation is meant for our everyday context. An immortal's life as an immortal is actually not eternal, but it is so unimaginably long in our human scale, in terms of thousands and millions of human years, that we humans regard an immortal's life as eternal.

In the cosmic context, immortals die. When they have out lived their good karma which made them into immortals in the first place, they reincarnate. If they have acquired further good karma during their immortals' lives, they will reincarnate as better or higher immortals. If they have acquired bad karma, they will reincarnate at lower realms as lesser gods, humans, titans, spirits or even as animals.

Cosmically speaking, no one ever dies. When a being, be he (or she) an immortal, god, human, spirit or animal, has lived the allotted time dictated by his karma, he reincarnates, i.e. he changes his bodily form.

What bodily form and in what environment he will be reborn into are dictated by three main factors — his karma, his cosmic knowledge and his last thought. If a human has acquired good karma, has knowledge of the afterlife, and thinks happily of going to heaven at the moment of his physical death, he will be reborn as a heavenly being. If he has bad karma, is spiritual lost, and his mind is tormented by pain or fear at the moment of physical death, he will be reborn in lowest realms of animals, ghosts and hell beings. This is a great cosmic truth.

Question 2

Do you know of any living immortals who have students?

Answer

The term “living immortals” is sometimes used in advertisements by fortune tellers and other professionals dealing with mystical matters to describe themselves, suggesting that they have miraculous powers like real immortals. On the other hands, highly spiritual masters, especially those of Taoist training, are sometimes described as living immortals by other people. I know some of these living immortals of both types above, who have students.

In fact, many members of the public described my own master, Sifu Ho Fatt Nam, as a living immortal because of his miraculous powers he sometimes demonstrated in the course of helping people. Some of my classmates studied Taoism with my master.

I also know of real immortals! What I am going to describe is meant for those who believe in immortality and relevant topics. I would request skeptics to skip the description below to avoid the possibility of their intelligence or sensitivity being unintentionally insulted.

Two immortals are of particular significance in our school, Shaolin Wahnam, though we normally keep this knowledge in low profile. They are the Monkey God and Immortal Li.

The Monkey God is a very high level god, honoured by the Heavenly Jade Emperor as the “Great Sage Equal to Heaven”. Later the Monkey God becomes the “Ever Victorious Buddha”, mainly for his credit in helping his master, the Great Venerable Xuan Zhang (or the Great Venerable Tripitaka) to bring sacred Buddhist sutras from India to China.

My master, Sifu Ho Fatt Nam, was a chosen disciple of the Monkey God! Initially against his wish, my master was chosen by the Monkey God to help people. Worshippers usually address the Monkey God respectfully as the “Great Sage Lord”, but we, the disciples of Sifu Ho Fatt Nam, addressed him as “Sigung”, which means the teacher of one's teacher.

I am not sure where Immortal Li was also my teacher's teacher, but he too chose my teacher as his medium to help people. Immortal Li is one of the eight famous Taoist gods. He was a handsome scholar and Taoist cultivator while in his human life, but before he could return to his physical body after meeting the Taoist Patriarch, Lao Tzu, in his astral travel, his attending disciple in a hurry to see his dying mother burnt the master's physical body. Immortal Li could not return to his own physical body, and had to enter the body of a crippled beggar who just died.

When I was learning Shaolin Kungfu from my teacher, Sifu Ho Fatt Nam, Immortal Li often descended from heaven on earth to help people through my teacher. Sometimes my senior classmate who learned Taoist mysticism and I would gather around the Immortal. The Immortal addressed us as “ti-tzu” (“di-zi” in Romanized Chinese), which means “disciples”, which can also includes the disciples of one's disciples. Nevertheless, immortals and gods usually address their followers as “ti-tzu”, so I am not certain whether the term “ti-tzu” was meant to be special disciples due to our relationship with our sifu who is his chosen medium, or just his followers in general. Whatever it is, I am extremely proud and grateful to be Immortal Li's ti-tzu.

Immortal Li was very significant in the founding of Shaolin Wahnam. At one time while studying in my sifu's house which also served as a temple, I was in financial difficulty and was contemplating to leave my job as a school teacher to enter business. I asked Immortal Li for advice and guidance. In his typical poetic way he replied, “You have a jade in your house, wherefore search outside?”

Jade in Chinese culture is often taken to mean a priceless treasure. But I took the meaning literally. I was thinking of a real jade. In fact my wife had a beautiful jade given to her by her god mother as a wedding present when she married me. Then it struck me that the Immortal meant it symbolically, which is a common practice when immortals and gods speak to their followers to test if the followers have the karma and blessing to benefit from their advice. The jade in the house was my sifu himself, a priceless treasure of the Shaolin arts.

Question 3

Is immortality one of the goals of the practice you teach?

Answer

The answer can be yes and no.

No, immortality is not a formal goal in my teaching. I am just too far off to be qualified to teach it. The main goal in my teaching is health, vitality and happiness, regardless of whether my students learn chi kung, Shaolin Kungfu or Wahnam Taijiquan.

Even when Shaolin or Taijiquan students practice combat application, which is an essential aspect of their training and takes up a major part of the training time, the main goal is health, vitality and happiness. This is evident if you have an opportunity to observe our training sessions.

It can also be noticeable to an informed, observant viewer of our video clips /general/videos.html. For example, unlike the norm in most martial art classes, students do not hurt one another in their sparring, are still bouncing with energy after a vigorous session, and there is much comradeship and laughter in their practice. But of course we place great emphasis on combat efficiency too.

Nevertheless, immortality and related topics are often discussed in our classes. More significantly, the meaning and purpose of immortality and related topics like inner peace, spirituality, cosmic awareness, enlightenment and God become immediate and real, and not just talked about, because our students experience them or at least their manifestations directly in class.

For example, I am now (18th February 2005) in Killarney, a beautiful lake district of Ireland. In a powerful Sinew Metamorphosis session yesterday, more than half the class experienced cosmic realization, some cried in joy, some knelt down in gratitude, and a few felt they were in touch with God.

Immortal Li

Immortal Li, one of the famous Eight Taoist Immortals

Question 4

I am relatively new to kungfu. I understand the importance of stretching properly, especially the legs, before performing strenuous movements. However, I can't help but wonder over the possibility of pulling or tearing leg muscles when suddenly confronted by an attacker. I don't fear injuring my arms because we generally use our arms more. Will my legs one day be conditioned so that I won't injure them when performing high kicks without having warmed up?

— Nick, London

Answer

Stretching is an important aspect of kungfu training although many kungfu schools do not pay much attention to it. Stretching is part of footwork training, which with stance training forms a fundamental aspect of kungfu training called “ma bo”, which means “stance and footwork”.

If you practice stretching regularly, your leg muscles will be flexible enough that you will not pull or tear them when kicking during sparring or real fights.

Although kungfu exponents may practice high kicks, they normally do not use high kicks in real fights because of many innate disadvantages. This does not mean that high kicks are not used at all in kungfu fighting. They can be used when the combat situation is suitable for high kicks. But using high kicks indiscriminatingly is very silly.

In real fights as well as friendly sparring and solo practice, you should not injure yourself at all — including your arms, of course. Yet, many students today not only injure themselves routinely in sparring but even in solo training through incorrect hard conditioning and tensing themselves. You should look out for these possible mistakes in your training.

Question 5

I've been learning T'ai Chi Chuan for about 6 months. My Master (Grandmaster of Kung-Fu and T'ai Chi and also a black belt Karateka) teaches the Tang-Lang Style.I've asked him a few times about this style, but his answers were a little confusing. His German is not very good, so this may also play a role. On the internet I found a lot of information about Tang-Lang or Praying Mantis Kung-Fu, but absolutely nothing about Tang-Lang T'ai Chi. Maybe you could shed some light on this particular style.

— Jochen, Germany

Answer

I have not heard of Tang Lang Tai Ji (Tai Chi) I wonder whether it is Tai Ji Tang Lang instead. In some languages, like Spanish and Malay, Shaolin Kungfu is called “Kungfu Shaolin”.

There are a few different styles of Tang Lang or Praying Mantis Kungfu, such as Tai Ji Tang Lang (or Cosmos Praying Mantis), Qi Xing Tan Lang (Seven-Star Praying Mantis) and Kuang Ban Tang Lang (Plain Plank Praying Mantis).

A legend has it that a Praying Mantis master (I think it was the famous third patriarch, Xing Long Chang Lao (Senior Priest Dragon Star) told his inner-chamber disciples to go into the woods to look for praying mantis. One came back with a praying mantis with a circular design on its back, another with seven dots, and the third without any marks.

The Praying Mantis Kungfu spread by the first disciple was accordingly called Tai Ji Tang Lang as the circular design resembled a Taiji symbol, the style spread by the second was called Qi Xing Tang Lang as the seven dots resembled seven stars, and the third was called Kuang Ban Tan Lang as the praying mantis did not have any marks on its back.

Tai Ji Tang Lang or Cosmos Praying Mantis has no connection with Taijiquan. This style is also called Mei Hua Tang Lang, or Plum Flower Praying Mantis, as the circular design on the praying mantis brought back by its first master also resembled a plum flower.

Kuang Ban Tang Lang or Plain Plank Praying Mantis is also known as Lohan Praying Mantis because of the various Praying Mantis styles, this is the one that retains its Lohan origins the most. It is therefore “harder” and more forceful than the other two Praying Mantis styles which are “softer” and more fluid.

Sifu Ho Fatt Nam

Sifu Ho Fatt Nam being awarded by the King of Trengganu, one of the states in Malaysia, for his outstanding community services

Question 6

I have a question which has troubled me for many years and hope you may be able to help. I am 24 and I experienced a lot of anger from my father during my childhood years. I have never been able to relate to people well and I feel a very strong force of fear at the base of my spine.

— Aaron, USA

Answer

Your problems are due to repressed emotions that distort your meridian system, called energy network in Western terms. For whatever reasons and irrespective of whether you were justified in doing so, you felt angry at your father but you could not express your anger.

Hence, you pushed your anger deeper and deeper into your body. This caused energy blockages.with far reaching consequences that may not be easily traced to these repressed emotions.

Some of these adverse effects are noticeable, like your inability to relate to other people and strong feeling of fear that you mentioned. Other adverse effects may not be noticeable by you, or even by Western doctors.

For example, you may be more prone to catching infectious diseases, your eyesight might be failing, your sexual desire and performance may be dissatisfactory you may be going to the washroom many times at night. All these are related to your energy blockages due to repressed emotions, but you and most people may not see the connection.

Question 7

I also overeat. I have thin limbs but a big belly and I get strong impulses to eat even though it feels bloated and heavy almost all the time. I have tried fasting several times, but I start feeling emotionally terrible and a point is reached where I cannot continue. As well as bloated my feeling towards other people in my belly are very negative and so people do not like me.

Answer

When a person is hungry, chemical and other reactions in his body make him want to eat. After having eaten sufficiently, his body chemistry changes accordingly and he would not want to eat further.

The food he has eaten will be changed into flesh, bones, tissues, cells as well as vital energy and other essential things that maintain and promote his life. This makes him feel well, physically and emotionally. He likes himself and other people, and other people like him too. All these are natural, and they happen to everyone all the time.

The force that ensures all these occur is chi, or intrinsic energy. When this chi is blocked from flowing to where it is needed to perform all these natural functions, you may keep on eating though you have become bloated, and your body does not develop wholesomely despite that you have eaten a lot.

You feel terrible because your negative emotions choke you. Naturally other people would not like you to when you are constantly negative towards them.

Fasting is not a solution. It would make your problems worse. Your problem is not that you have taken too much food, but that you do not know how to stop when you have eaten enough. This is due to energy blockage that distorts the natural functions of your body.

You should work on the root cause, which is energy blockage. Once you clear the energy blockage, you will restore your natural physical and psychological functioning, which in turn will make you feel well and well-liked. An excellent way to clear energy blockage is to practice high level chi kung from a master.

Question 8

This has made me impossible to work with other people. I am dependent on my parents, and I have a son, of 2, so it is a difficult situation. I have been practising standing like a tree for three months, and can feel certain powerful changes, but still have this problem with my eating. My deep question I think is whether it is necessary to fast or whether I should just be patient? Have you met anyone with a similar problem who has overcome it.

Answer

Yes, I have met many people with a similar problem who have overcome it. They came to Malaysia to learn chi kung from me and soon overcame their problem.

Fasting will not solve your problem. Neither should you just be patient. You are only 24, at an age when you should be full of vitality and dreams, but you are now pathetic like an old man of 70. It is really a shame. But you can overcome your problem, like my many students did, by practicing high level chi kung from a master.

Not any type of chi kung is suitable. In your case, standing like a tree is not suitable. You may build some force but if the force is locked in your body, it would make your problem worse.

And you should not just learn from a book, a video or an ordinary instructor. You need a master or at least a competent instructor skillful enough to help you clear energy blockages and recharge you with vitality and hope.

I would strongly recommend you to attend my Intensive Chi Kungfu Course to be held in Malaysia from 21st to 25th April. As you are dependent, you may find my fee expensive. Years ago, I would ask you to attend my course with my compliments, but now I won't. Doing so would be doing you a dis-service.

Experiences over experiences have proven to me that if students do not pay for their courses, they would not value them, and some actually believe they were doing their teachers a favour by attending. If you don't value the course, you would not practice the exercises diligently and consequently your problems will not be overcome.

But if you sacrifice much to attend my course, you will value it and practice diligently. When you have overcome your problem, you will say that the course is worth ten or a hundred times the money you pay for it, as many of my students actually did. You can read their comments in my Comments page or at the Shaolin Wahnam Virtual Kwoon and Discussion Forum . So, raise the money, apply to my secretary for the course and look forward to a life of good health and youthfulness again. If you are dis-satisfied with the course, you can ask for a full refund.

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