SELECTION OF QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
JULY 2017 PART 3
Sifu, you have been saying about over-training during these courses. How do we prevent over-training, and what should we do when we have over-trained?
— Romelio, Italy
Over-training means practicing our art or any aspect of it correctly but excessively. The benefit is too much for the physical body to bear.
Over-cleansing, the result of over-training, is different from deviation. Deviation occurs when an art or an aspect of it is practiced wrongly.
There are two main ways to prevent over-training:
- Reduce the time of training
- Reduce the intensity of training
Reducing the intensity of training can be accomplished by not going too deep into a chi kung state of mind. In other words, do not be too deeply involved in the training. The student, for example, may look at birds flying by, or leaves moved by breeze.
When students realize that that they have over-trained, they can do the following:
- Perform combat sequences and kungfu sets
- Spend time on physical outdoor activities
- Spend time with people they like
- Stop practicing for some time
I have a lot of thoughts going on in my mind. How do I eliminate these irrelevant thoughts?
— Sylvia, Austria
Just do it, i.e. just eliminate irrelevant thoughts.
Instead of asking how you can eliminate irrelevant thoughts, actually eliminate irrelevant thoughts. It may not be easy at first, but if you do it, instead of talking about it or thinking about it, you can succeed.
You may not succeed immediately. It may take time. But if you persist on eliminating irrelevant thoughts everyday, you will eventually find that the irrelevant thoughts will become less and less.
Suppose you find yourself driving to a steep cliff. What do you do. Don't start asking how do I stop driving to the steep cliff. But just do it, i.e. stop driving to the steep cliff. You may stop your car, or turn your car away from the steep cliff.
You have said that Taijiquan is an internal art, and that one can develop internal force without borrowing from other internal force methods. Can you please explain?
— Ubaido, Italy
Taijiquan is an internal art, which means that by practicing Taijiquan alone, without borrowing from other internal art training, a Taijiquan practitioner has the benefits an internal art can give, such as better combat efficiency, good health, vitality, longevity, mental clarity and peak performance.
It is because by practicing Taijiquan alone, a practitioner can develop internal force, and it is the internal force that gives the above benefit. If he just practice any set of Taijiquan, he will develop internal force.
He can also select certain patterns from a Taijiquan set and practice any one of these patterns many times to develop internal force. Some of these patterns that are effective in generating internal force are Lifting Water, Grasping Sparrow's Tail, and Cloud Hands.
When a practitioner performs a Taijiquan set for demonstration, he usually performs these patterns once, twice or just a few times. If he practices them for developing internal force, he can practice them, or any one of them many times, like 20 times, 50 times or even few hundred times if he is ready.
However, more than 90% of Taijiquan practitioners all over the world today do not have internal force. This is because they do not practoce their Taijiquan in a state of Tao. The two requirements to be in a state of Tao are to be relaxed and to be free from irrelevant thoughts at the same time.
You also have said that Taijiquan is a wonderful martial art? Can you please tell us what wonderful benefits Taijiquan has that other martial arts do not have?
The word "quan" in "Taijiquan" denotes that it is a martial art. Literally "quan" means "fist". Here, it figuratively means "martial art" or "kungfu".
For example, in Chinese, Shaolin Kungfu is called "Shaolinquan", Xingyi Kungfu is called "Xingyiquan", and Wing Choon (which is "yong chun" in Chinese) Kungfu is called "Yongchunquan".
But unlike many other martial arts, Taijiquan is gentle. Indeed, the more relaxed a practitioner is, the more efficient his combat will be. This is interesting. In Taijiquan, if you are tensed or agitated, your combat efficiency will be affected.
Secondly, combat efficiency in Taijiquan deos not depend on size, age and gender! In many other martial rts, if you are bigger, younger and a male whereas your opponent is female, you have obvious advantages. But this is not so in genuine Taijiquan. You may be smaller in size, older, and female, yet you can defeat an opponent who is bigger, younger and male.
If you want to test your combat ability with your friends, but both you and your friends do not want to sustain injuries which are not uncommon in free sparring in other martial arts, you can engage in Pushing Hands. This is not exactly the same as free sparring, though Pushing Hands test combat skills, it does not necessarily mean that one who is better at Pushing Hands is a better fighter. But it serves as a substitute for free sparring -- a wonderful facility many other martial arts may not have.
Another wonderful benefit Taijiquan has over other martial arts is that Taijiquan training is spiritual cultivation, but it is not religious. As far as I know, the only other martial art that shares this wonderful benefit is Shaolin Kungfu.
Both Taijiquan and Shaolin Kungfu started as spiritual cultivation. In Taijiquan, practitioners aimed to attain the Tao, in Shaolin Kungfu, practitioners aimed for Enlightenment.
In other words, when Zhang San Feng, the First Patriarch of Taijiquan, taught his Wudang disciples the art that later evolved into Taijiquan, the main aim was to attain the Tao. When Bodhidharma, the First Patriarch of Shaolin Kungfu, taught the Shaolin monks the Eighteen Lohan Hands which later evolved into Shaolin Kungfu, the main aim was to prepare them for Enlightenment.
Other martial arts were practiced for health and combat, while many were practiced solely for combat. Some martial arts were even detrimental to health.
Hence, there are many wonderful benefits of practicing Taijiquan that other martial arts may not have. These wonderful benefits include being gentle while being combat efficient, being powerful irrespective of age, size and gender, the substitute of Pushing Hands for free sparring, and spiritual cultivation irrespective of religion.
Was your advice of stopping meditation only related to Vipassana meditation or Anapana as well? A year ago a teacher gave me the instruction to focus on the rising and falling of the abdomen, which was exactly the same instruction given in the monastery. I did not practice it after leaving the monastery. Now I follow your advice. I guess that the teacher's advice was meant for my needs at that time and your advice is due to a changed condition in my life.
— Franz, Russia
My advice applies not only to Vipassana meditation but meditation in general.
Focusing on the rising and falling of the abdomen by itself is not Vipassana meditation, although some instructions on Vipassana meditation may also concern focusing on the rising and falling of the abdomen. In the same way, a human is different from an animal, although both a human and an animal eat food to live.
The teacher, like me, gave you good advice for your condition at the time. When conditions have changed, the advice would be different.
Editorial Note: Franz' other questions can be found at July 2017 Part 2 issue of the Question-Answer Series.
Some of your words have an impact on me. When I asked questions, and only on this occasion, I went deaf to whatever was being said and forgot it right afterwards! I really want to listen and take the advice, otherwise I would not have asked, but it takes a huge effort to not lose track of the words and even give them a meaning. It is like my mind blocking me from this information. Why? And how can I overcome it? I guess that I don't follow advice and try to be smarter than you, is connected with this problem.
There are many reasons why you do not follow advice. Thinking you are smarter can be one of the reasons. Another reason, which is different from the first reason given above, is that you don't believe the advice is useful. A third reason is that you don't have sufficient energy to listen.
You can overcome the problem by doing the following.
Firstly, make sure that the person you seek advice from, is worthy of giving you his advice.
Then you access whether the advice can satisfy the following factors:
- It can solve your problem.
- It is honorable and legal.
- It is within your means to carry out the advice.
Most importantly, act on the advice if you find it helpful.
You said that "In our school, we regard the mind and body as one unity. If you separate them, you can be in big trouble."
As I remember the monks correctly, being able to separate them anytime anywhere at will is a desired result of training. I understand that the aims of training are different, but trouble goes beyond that. Can you please elaborate what you mean?
I mean what I say, and say what I mean.
I say that if you separate you mind from your body, you can be in big trouble, and I mean that if you separate your mind from your body, you can be in big trouble.
The monks may have a good reason to say that being able to separate their mind from their body anytime and anywhere at will is a desired result of training. I don't know their reason, but I can suggest one. If you are training for astral traveling, separating your mind, which is your spirit, from your body may be desirable.
Even if he has this special skills, a master does not astral travel everyday, he only does so once a while. For almost all people in everyday situations, their mind is with their body. If their mind is not with their body, they can be in big trouble. And this applies to you and the monks, even if you and they have the skills of astral traveling.
By the way, Theravada monks, the monks you are referring to, are not interested in astral traveling. They are more interested in attaining Arahathood. Vijrayana monks may be interested in this miraculous ability.
Some persons generously and selflessly provided help when I needed it. Because I might never meet these persons again but still wanted to give something in return I decided to bless them, though I never did that for another person before in this way.
I went into meditation to calm my mind by focusing on breathing for 5-10 minutes. I mentally formed a blessing for this person. I could feel something like the counter action of the sending action effecting me. Because of that I reasoned that my blessing must have had an effect on the person somehow. Is that correct? I would like to hear your thoughts on that matter. Is this the same way how you transmit chi over a distance?
For most people, when they give a blessing, they themselves are blessed, though they may not have craved for the benefit.
If the mind of a person giving a blessing is very powerful, his blessing will reach the other person. Both the person giving the blessing and the person being blessed will benefit, though the person giving the blessing never craves for the benefit.
I don't know whether the person you blessed, had any effect from your blessing. Basing on the level of your mind as revealed in your e-mails, I don't think your mind is strong enough for your blessing to reach the other person. Nevertheless, you yourself will benefit irrespective of whether the other person received your blessing.
Your conclusion that the other person received your blessing because you felt some counter action, was incorrect. There could be other reasons for your feeling, like your feeling was only your imagination, or the feeling was due to your blessing being blocked by some factors
It is not the same way when I transmit chi over a distance.
If you have any questions, please e-mail them to Grandmaster Wong via his Secretary at stating your name, country and e-mail address.
- Over-Training and How to Deal with It
- Two Categories and Two Approaches of Meditation
- I Laugh for the Future and for Life
- Why Can't Kungfu Practitioners Use Kungfu for Combat?
- Viewing the Altantic