Sifu Sippe Douma and Abram Grae

Sifu Sippe Douma in New Zealand


Sifu, when you asked a student to define her problem you said that she described her problem instead of defining it. I believe it is very important for our students to know the difference between describing a problem and defining a problem. Can you please elaborate?

— Sifu Sippe Douma, New Zealand


This is an excellent question that will help many people. Many people cannot overcome their problems because they have never defined the problems, they only describe them. As you rightly said earlier, once a person defined his problem, the solution often appeared.

Let us take an example. In a chi kung class, a student said that he could not generate a chi flow. He and many other people would regard that as a problem. He wondered how he could generate a chi flow. But that might not necessarily be the problem, though in many cases it was. He only stated the situation in which the problem occurred.

In other words, he described the situation from which the problem arose. He did not define the problem. His problem could be one of the following:

  1. What should he have done to generate an energy flow?
  2. What should he do in a future course to generate an energy flow?
  3. Should he ask for his money back as he did not generate an energy flow?
  4. Why didn't he generate an energy flow?
  5. Should he continue to practice chi kung if he couldn't generate an energy flow?
Another example may make clear the difference between describing a problem and defining a problem.

To attend a particular party, those attending must wear some fanciful dress. A prospective guest says, "I don't have a fanciful dress."

He describes a situation from which a problem arises. He does not define the problem. If he thinks "I don't have a fanciful dress" is the problem, he may think over it for days or weeks, and has mental stress, but will not have a solution, because he has not defined the problem.

The situation is that he does not have a fanciful dress, and to attend the party he must wear a fanciful dress. His problem can be one of the following:

  1. He wants to find an excuse to tell the organiser he is not interested to attend the party.
  2. He is undecided whether to attend or not to attend the party.
  3. He wants to buy a fanciful dress to attend the party.
  4. He does not want to buy a fanciful dress to attend the party.
  5. He does not know how to acquire a fanciful dress.
After defining the problem, it is not difficult for him to have a solution. For example, if he has decided to attend the party, he can buy a fanciful dress, or borrow one from a friend, or make one himself, or modify his normal dress to make it fanciful.

The above is taken from Question 1 December 2016 Part 1 of the Selection of Questions and Answers.


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