October 2000 (Part 3)
SELECTION OF QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
I felt the need to try your Standing Meditation exercise, but I did it lying down. I relaxed my body and went into a meditative state. I saw myself walking by what I thought was a tunnel. There at the end of the tunnel was a small bright light. Curious, I decided to go in and see where the light originated. The light was so intense. There was this immense feeling of love, compassion and contentment.
Then I heard a voice say, "Now is the time to ask for something". I asked that my back injury be fixed. (It had been injured 20 years ago, causing me a lot of morning stiffness and pain). Then the voice said, "Now would be a good time to leave", and I obeyed. At the same time something else happened. I started doing the Small Universe and it felt wonderful! The next night a thin, dry, black-like substance came forcefully out of my mouth. It lasted only a couple of minutes but the expulsion force was tremendous! The next morning my back was no longer stiff. It was a miracle.
One day a huge person at work suddenly lunged at me. Surprised, my body immediately went into a type of "warding off" stance. I remember strangely feeling very calm and relaxed. Then I heard a voice tell me, "Find his center core". But I did not understand and I guess the voice realized this because he said, "Lightly move your hands up...higher... higher...there... now move them closer together". My hands continued to move to what seemed to be an ever increasing feeling of energy. Then the voice said, "there, right there". My opponent suddenly went onto his toes, arched like the letter "C" and started going backwards. He went about 3 feet until his momentum was stopped by a safety shower. Afterwards, I could see that he was really puzzled. So was I.
Sifu, after being in "The Light", my outlook toward my life and others has changed. The things that are "God given" are the true treasures in life. I appreciate this living world more and the people on it. My love for my family and friends has increased to limits that are too hard to explain. Some of the thoughts from your book on Zen seem to come from my own heart.
With this in mind, could you please tell me anything about this voice I have heard, this guiding spirit? Why should I be blessed by their attention?
— Clyde, USA
I do not know who this kind being is or why he (she or it) wishes to help you; but I can offer some possibilities. One, this is a manifestation of your past good karma. Some time in your past lives, you cultivated to a high spiritual level and the experience was imprinted in your consciousness. Performing the chi kung exercise correctly led you to a deep level of consciousness where your past experience surfaced to help you.
Two, that was actually another being outside you, and for some reasons, he (she or it) manifested in your deepened state of consciousness to help you.
Three, in you deepened state of consciousness you have touched the Universal Consciousness (often called "God" by some cultures), and the Universal Consciousness manifested as the voice to help you.
After someone has experienced the Small Universe like I have, is it wise to try to do it again? My energy flows well and my health has already greatly improved since doing it the first time.
Your experience of the Small Universe was the result of divine help or help from your deeper level of consciousness. Usually, but not always, once it has been generated in such a way, the Small Universe will go on naturally, sometimes without your conscious knowing.
Irrespective of whether it is going on naturally, it is unwise for you to mettle with it if you are ignorance of the required skill and technique. If you wish to rekindle the Small Universe should it has stopped, or to enhance it if it is still going on, you should do so only with the supervision of a master.
But as you are already obtaining wonderful benefits from that experience, it is better to leave thing as it is, and count your blessings. Should you want to do something, it is best to further increase your blessings by being charitable.
Charity is of three levels. The lowest level is the giving of material benefits, like monetary donation. The second level is the giving of service, like taking care of elderly people, especially your own parents if you are so blessed still to have them living with you. The highest level of charity is the giving of teaching, especially spiritual teaching. One should give teaching only if he is qualified to do so. Giving false teaching, in whatever field, is being uncharitable.
I started Shaolin Kung Fu almost two years ago, at the age of 41. Despite many of my friends trying to persuade me otherwise I know that the benefits are boundless.
— Craig, UK
Shaolin Kungfu is the greatest martial art in the world. Please refer to greatest art for a justification of this claim. But I must stress, as I have often done, you must practise genuine Shaolin Kungfu, which is very rare nowadays. One can start practising genuine Shaolin Kungfu at almost any age.
I began enhancing my studies by starting to meditate only a few months ago. I have found it frustrating to initiate my meditation beyond a certain point where I began to feel that inner peace and calmness that I strive for.
Meditation, which is called Zen in Shaolin nomenclature, is an essential part of genuine Shaolin Kungfu. In fact I would go to the extent of saying that if there is no Zen in the training, it is suspect whether the kungfu being practised is genuinely Shaolin. And Zen is found not at the highest level only, but right from the start.
Here I am referring to Zen or meditation in the true sense of the word, and not to the outward form of merely sitting cross-legged. Hence, when a beginning student enters a heightened state of mind while practising a basic Shaolin exercise like "Lifting the Sky" or Horse-Riding Stance, he is in Zen or meditation. Obviously, to enter Zen one needs to learn from a master, or least from a competent instructor, and not just from a book or video.
If you practise Zen or meditation correctly and sufficiently, you will inevitably attain inner peace and spiritual joy. This is a fact, and in principle is similar to saying if you eat correctly and sufficiently you will satisfy your hunger, or if you drink correctly and sufficiently you will satisfy your thirst. Hence those who say they practise meditation but are still restless and confused, actually have not practised meditation, or they have practised meditation incorrectly or insufficiently.
Don't think that attaining inner peace and spiritual joy is fantastic achievement available only in high level meditation. In fact such attainment is basic and occurs at the beginning of one's meditation training. I am now (August, 2000) giving some Taijiquan and chi kung courses in Segovia, Spain, and presently just returned from completing a course on the "Fundamentals of Taijiquan". In this course, where meditation was an integral part of the training, virtually every student felt peaceful and joyful after each session. How do I know? Many students explicitly said so, and one could also see the feeling of joy and peace on their face while they were performing the Wuji Stance.
The results are spasmodic until I realised that it seemed to be my breathing that appeared to be incorrect. I personally believe that this forms one of the corner stones of anyone's ability to practise martial arts and achieve results.
Both your conclusions above are incorrect. This is an example of the fact that many people, especially those learning on their own from books or videos, often draw wrong conclusions from their intellectual reasoning. It is also an example showing that if one wishes to get good results from such arts like meditation or kungfu, he should learn from a master.
The fault in your meditation may or may not be your incorrect breathing. There are many meditation techniques, including those at the highest levels, where the meditator needs not worry about his breathing and yet attains wonderful results. If you are in doubt, some good advice is to forget about your breathing -- just breathe naturally in your meditation.
Incorrect breathing in meditation is not a corner stone deterring good result in martial arts. In the first place, many martial arts, including many kungfu styles, do not practise meditation formally. Some examples are Choy-Li-Fatt Kungfu, Wing Choon Kungfu, Karate and Taekwondo. Some exponents of these styles may say that they practise meditation, but in reality they seldom do. Yet the exponents can be formidable fighters.
Can you advise on the best methods of breathe control to use in meditation?
Different meditation methods will suit people of different abilities, conditions and needs. But the best methods naturally come from the greatest teachers of meditation, namely the Buddha and the great Budhidharma. Of the world's religions and spiritual disciplines, Buddhism is the one that pays the most emphasis on meditation, although many Buddhists themselves may not realize this fact. There are, figuratively speaking, 48,000 meditation techniques in Buddhism!
The method most favoured by the Buddha for most people is as follows. Sit in a lotus or semi-lotus position. Half close your eyes and focus on the tip of your nose. Breathe naturally. Just be gently aware of your breath. For example, if you take in a short breath, be aware that you take in a short breath. If you breathe in a long breath, be aware that you breathe in a long breath. That is all to it.
If you think the method is simple, you are perfectly right, but bear in mind that "simple" does not mean "easy". All great teachings are simple -- and profound. Only mediocre teachers and learners try to make simple things difficult.
Also bear in mind that this method is taught by the greatest of teachers, and if you practise it correctly and sufficiently you may achieve the greatest attainment any being can ever achieve, i.e. nirvana or enlightenment. But you, like most people, are not ready for such cultivation yet. Nevertheless if you just practise correctly and sufficiently this simple method of being aware of your natural breathing, you will certainly attain inner peace and spiritual joy.
The method taught by Bodhidharma is also very simple. Bodhidharma is the First Patriarch of Zen, which means meditation. The method is as follows. Sit in a lotus or semi-lotus position. Do nothing and think of nothing. Dozen, the founder of Japanese Soto Zen, commented that if one can do just this, he is not cultivating to be Buddha, he is Buddha.
This method, which is the best for those who are ready, is not suitable for you and most people. You will get better result by following the Buddha's method of being aware of your breathing. If you cannot sit in a lotus or semi-lotus position, sit upright in an ordinary chair.
Editorial Note :
Craig promptly replied as follows:
Sifu: Thank you for your response. I have already begun using the information you have provided and I am finding that if I half close my eyes and focus on the tip of my nose and breathe naturally, as you said, it works. Using this method, I am beginning to find that I can overcome the initial frustration of starting my meditation. It feels like there is a very gentle breeze blowing through my body. It's wonderful!
I attended a public kungfu seminar where the grandmaster leading it said that qigong was only used for maintaining good health and for generating more energy in kungfu practice, while the claim of qigong being able to cure cancer and perform other miracles is all bullshit. Having spent some time training in China, I was saddened by his remark. I would like to hear your response.
— John, Australia
Everyone, including the grandmaster you mentioned, has a right to his opinion, but I would certainly disagree with him.
There are many different types of chi kung, and some types are, as that grandmaster said, only used for maintaining good health and for generating more energy in kungfu practice. But there are also types of chi kung that can effectively overcome cancer and other chronic, degenerative diseases, as well as enable the expert exponent to perform what lay people would consider miracles.
I say this with conviction because I say it from personal experience. Many people have recovered from cancer after practising chi kung from me. Some of them have kindly recorded their experiences in my webpages. Overcoming Cancer and Experiencing Happiness from Within by Laura Fernandez Garrido is one example. Many other chi kung masters also have remarkable success with cancer patients.
In fact, one major reason the Second World Qigong Congress awarded me the "Qigong Master of the Year" award in 1997 was because of my work in helping cancer patients. The paper I presented in the Congress, Qigong: a cure for cancer and chronic, degenerative diseases? A global interest, explains why cancer can be overcome through practising qigong (chi kung).
Interestingly, the main contribution of Professor Fang Li Da of China, the recipient of the other prestigious award at the Congress, "Qigong Research Scientist of the Year", was also on qigong overcoming cancer. In her paper, Professor Fang provided abundant scientific evidence that cancer patients overcame cancer by practising qigong.
Many people would think that medical professionals would rush to investigate these claims. But reviewing the history of western medical discoveries and from my own experience with western doctors, I won't be surprised at all if they are not interested.
There are a few reasons why although practising chi kung can overcome cancer, not many people believe it. One important reason is that genuine chi kung is actually very rare, and what the public regard as chi kung is usually some form of external chi kung dance which has little therapeutic value.
In the same Congress, in front of about a thousand delegates and some dignities I performed what some people might call a miracle. I was invited by the Congress on the spot to demonstrate distant chi transmission. When I asked for volunteers, more than 50 people (whom I did not know) rushed on stage. As the stage could not contain all of them and I did not like to decline some, they stood both on stage as well as on the floor.
I was led to another part of the building, from where I transmitted chi to the volunteers. The result was fantastic, as many people said. Moved by my chi, the volunteer swayed about, some vigorously, and some made interesting noires. One volunteer prowled like a panther, and another walked like a duck! If any responsible organizations wish to conduct some public experiments on distant chi transmission, I shall be happy to offer my service.
I have been doing wushu here for a while now. I enjoy the art and feel that it is something that I would gladly dedicate a large portion of my life to learn. But I have a problem that not only concerns the wushu practise but school as well. Sometimes I have a real hard time concentrating. Is there a good way of overcoming such a problem?
— David, USA
I am glad you like wushu, but do you really know what it is? It is wise to know something about its history and philosophy before deciding to dedicate a part of your life to it.
It may be helpful to know that wushu, as it is practised today, is a demonstrative form, and not a martial art. Modern wushu is different from traditional kungfu. Practising wushu will make you fit, agile and elegant, which are admirable qualities, but it will not enable you to defend yourself, build internal force, expand your mind or develop you spiritually.
The ability to concentrate is a problem faced by many students, not only in wushu and school work but also in many other fields. As wushu is a physical art -- which does not actively train the mind -- there is no technique purposefully designed to develop concentration.
On the other hand, mind training is much emphasized in genuine traditional kungfu. Indeed mind training and energy training are the two dimensions that differentiate great kungfu from conventional physical exercise. Every movement in great kungfu, like Shaolin and Taijiquan, is a training of energy and mind.
There are many methods to train the mind, but they may be classified into two main approaches, namely focusing the mind and expanding the mind. Generally, focusing comes before expanding. In mathematical terms, one first brings his mind to one, then lets his mind expands to zero.
One good way to train your mind is as follows. Stand or sit upright in a totally relaxed manner. Breathe naturally. Gently focus on your breathing. Then forget about your breathing. Practise this method daily for at least six months. This method is bafflingly simple, but if you persevere in your daily practice, you will be amazed at the result.
I am a college athlete and I wish to improve my game play. I believe chi kung is helping because I am more focused and relaxed when I play. Right now I practice Lifting the Sky, and Carrying the Moon. I know you have said before that trying to teach yourself advanced exercises from a book is not advised, but are there any exercises in books that I could learn?
— Philip, USA
"Lifting the Sky" and "Carrying the Moon" are probably two of the best chi kung exercise for your needs and situations. Breathe in and out gently as you perform these exercises.
Those used to the Western concept of exercising may attempt breathing in and out forcefully, thinking that as this enlarges their chest and enables them to take in more air, they would be stronger. This is not so in chi kung, where you are not just breathing in air, but actually taking in good energy and giving out negative energy.
After performing either "Lifting the Sky" or "Carrying the Moon" about 30 times, just close your eyes and relax. Do not think of anything, but intuitively enjoy the peace inside you and the energy glowing in you.
If you just practise the simple chi kung exercise according to my instructions above daily for six months, you will not only have more energy for your game play, but also mental freshness for your college studies and inner peace in your daily life..