September 2008 (Part 1)
SELECTION OF QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
To be honest, Shaolin Kungfu is just a sport like football, mountain-climbing, etc. It has many health benefits, but it cannot lead to enlightenment.
— Dobi, USA
Despite your honesty, your opinion is mistaken.
Shaolin Kungfu was not only a martial art but also an art for spiritual cultivation. Hence, if one practices Shaolin Kungfu the way it was practiced in the past, it is a martial as well as spiritual art. However, only very few people in the world today practice Shaolin Kungfu the way it was practiced in the past.
We are proud and not afraid to say that we are amongst these very few people. Practicing it as a martial art, we are able to use Shaolin techniques for combat. Practicing it as an art for spiritual cultivation, we develop spiritually, like feeling peaceful and happy, and some of us experience satori or a glimpse of Cosmic Reality.
Today most people practice Shaolin Kungfu as a sport. They are unble to use Shaolin techniques for combat, though some of them may be formidable fighters using other martial art techniques. They become stressful or aggressive, which indicates that they have not benefited from spiritual cultivation.
Shaolin Kungfu being practiced as a sport and it being a sport are different issues. Genuine, traditional Shaolin Kungfu is a martial and spiritual art, but most people today wrongly practice it as a sport.
It is the same case with Taijiquan and chi kung. Like Shaolin Kungfu, Taijiquan is actually a martial and spiritual art, but most people today practice it as a sport. Chi kung is actually an art of energy management, but most people today practice it as gentle, physical exercise.
While some may have health benefits, many others who have deviated in their practice of Shaolin Kungfu have become more unhealthy. They have sustained a lot of internal injuries as well as have become aggressive.
Practicing genuine Shaolin Kungfu, Taijiquan and high-level chi kung can lead to Enlightenment, called variously by different people as Attaining Tao, Union with the Supreme or Returning to God. This does not mean that every practitioner can reach Enlightenment.
It is the same as saying that buying a lottery can lead you to become a millionaire, but this does not mean that everyone who buys a lottery will become a millionaire. Just as only very few people amongst the many who buy lotteries become millionaires, only very few people amongst the many who practice these art attain Enlightenment.
Secondly, becoming a monk is not noble, it depends on the reason why you are becoming a monk. Powered by your ego, nothing is noble. Motivated by compassion, even snake-hunting could be noble.
Again, your opinion is mistaken. Your mistake is due to your confusing right intention and right effort with wrong intention and wrong effort.
Becoming a monk is one of the most noble things any person can do. He makes the great renunciation of all worldly desires and pleasures so as to solely cultivate for Enlightenment. Attaining Enlightenment is the right intention. Becoming a monk for this purpose is the right effort.
But if a person becomes a monk not because he wants to cultivate for Enlightenment but because he wants to flatter his ego, then both his intention and effort are wrong.
Whether snake-hunting is noble is determined not just by being compassionate. Other factors should be considered, such as his means and result, and whether his action brings beneficial or harmful effects to himself and other people.
Suppose a person sees a snake approching a frog. He thinks the snake is going to eat the frog. Feeling compassion for the frog, he chases the snake away. Then he realizes that the snake may come back to eat the frog. So he hunts for the snake. He spends many days snake-hunting.
Irrespective of whether he eventually finds the snake, his snake-hunting, even motivated by compassion for the frog, is neither noble nor wise. His presumption that the snake would eat the frog may be wrong. It would be more noble and wise if he spends the time taking care of his parents instead of snake-hunting.
Let people not fall into these traps, for this life is short and they would regret it. One needs some basic skills in life to survive in the world, and in this world one can practice with the mind to reach enlightenment if it exists,
As your opinions are wrong, your advice is unnecessary and may bring harm to those naïve enough to follow it.
You should have more respect for those who cultivate for Enlightenment than presuming they are not as smart as you. Cultivating for Enlightenment is not a casual thing like picking up a book and throwing it away when you don't like it.
It calls for much courage and determination. Unlike you who are not even sure whether Enlightenment exists, they have dispersed their doubt and are very sure of their path before dedicating their life to this most noble task.
Have you ever met an enlightened person?
Yes, I have met not just one but a few enlightened beings. I speak with conviction because I speak from direct experience.
I have had this nudging feeling that I am doing something wrong since I don't get the desired effect. I still sleep really bad, I am nervous, unfocused, easily angered, underweight, hiding myself socially.
— Nik, Sweden
Your most serious mistake is to worry unnecessarily. This is more serious than not perform the techniques correctly.
There are three aspects in any chi kung training, namely “jing”, “qi” and “shen” or form, energy and mind.
Form, or the physical techniques of the chi kung exercise, is emphasized in low-level chi kung, but in high-level chi kung the emphasis is on mind. Hence, low-level chi kung pays much attention on correctness of form. But in high-level chi kung, the attention is on the chi kung state of mind.
Ours is high-level chi kung. If you worry about whether you are performing correctly, you may come out of the chi kung state of mind and recieve little or no benefit. Sometimes you may even have adverse effects.
We strongly advice our students not to worry — even when they really make mistakes in their physical techniques. They may have some minimal negative effect due to their physical mistakes, but the benefit they obtain from the practice due to their high quality of mind more than compensates for the minimal negative effect.
You will have a clearer idea if we quantify the effects. Suppose the negative effect due to physical mistakes is -1, but the beneficial effect due to high quality of mind is +6. When they balance out, you have +5 as benefit.
Now, suppose you worry unnecessarily. Because mind is most powerful, its adverse effect due to incorrect practice is powerful too. You have a negative effect of -3. Your physical techniques are perfect, but form is the least powerful in generating benefit in chi kung, and so you have a beneficial effect of +1. When they balance out, you have a negative effect of -2.
Why is your benefit so little when you worry or intellectualize while practicing high-level chi kung? It is because you have gone out of your chi kung state of mind. Strctly speaking, you are not performing chi kung; you are only performing external chi kung forms or gentle physical exercise.
Now, let us look at those who practice low-level chi kung, where form is used to generate an energy flow. If they perform their form perfectly, their beneficial effect is +2. If they worry or intellectualize while practicing, their negative effect is -1. When the negative and the beneficial effects balance out, they still have a beneficial effect of +1.
Why is their negative effect only -1 when yours is -3 when both of you make the same mistake of worrying or intellectualizing. It is because they operate chi kung at the low level of form, whereas you opereate at the highest level of mind. As an analogy, if they use a bicycle and you use a car, even though you make the same mistake, their adverse effect is less serious than yours..
I have been going back to your instructions from the course time and time again without finding me doing something different.
Of course you and most other students performed chi kung very differently at my course and on their own, but you and most other students do not realize it. At the course, with my instruction and transmission, you performed at a high chi kung state of mind, whereas on your own your chi kung state of mind was lower.
When you worry or intellectualize, you may not even be at any chi kung state of mind. Hence, although the external form of the exercises is the same, the result is very different.
My intuition tells me that I am trying too hard, doing it too much, and not relaxing enough physically, mentally and emotionally. Since I have been having this nudging feeling that I am doing something wrong have I been looking for signs or thoughts like :“Is this a sign I am doing it correctly” “Is this a sign I am doing it wrong”.
You are right. Now you have defined your problem. The next, logical step is to eliminate the problem, that is, stop worrying and enjoy your practice.
Instead of feeling relaxed, fresh, focused and energized, I end up hasty and unfocused. If I practice too late in the evening I can't sleep the whole night.
This is due to your worrying and intellectualizing. Have you known anyone who can sleep well when he worries and intellectualizes?
On the other hand, at the early stage of your chi kung training, if you have performed your chi kung well, without worrying and intellectualizing, you may also not be able to sleep. This is due to a different reason. You have too much energy that you need not have to sleep.
But if you still want to sleep, then lie in bed, perform “Lifting the Sky” for about 15 times with your eyes close, then go to sleep. It is as simple as this.
- Combat Skills against Boxers
- Some Fine Points in Four Gates Sequence One
- Simple in Language, Prodound in Meaning
- Stances in Shaolinquan and Taijiquan
- Combat Applications of Shaolin Sword against Sabre and Samurai Sword