EXPERIENCING SATORI AT INTENSIVE SHAOLIN KUNGFU COURSE
No worries, no thoughts of things outside of practice, no thoughts of practice - nothing but joy and peace so deep and true that I cried tears of happiness.
-- Joshua Lawson
When I applied to take part in the November 2004 Intensive Shaolin Course I had four main goals:
- to improve my sparring/combat efficiency
- to go home knowing I was practicing properly so that I would continue to develop
- to deepen my qigong practice
- to add the spiritual element that Shaolin Kungfu is known for, but which has been lacking from my previous training and practice.
In regards to sparring, I was amazed at the improvement from just one week of methodical training. By the end of the course I was feeling much smoother, more relaxed and confident, and was amazed at the ease with which kungfu patterns could be applied.
Even after three weeks of travel in China with no practice partner, I returned home and my practice partners were shocked at my improvement! My defenses had become so natural, even when my practice partner attacked me from the side when I wasn't expecting it, I automatically defended with proper stance and technique ("Golden Dragon Plays with Water"). This was a delightful confirmation of the effectiveness of a short period of proper training and practice!
As far as qigong practice, I'm truly in awe. I was very happy with my qigong practice before the course. Instead of the gentle exercise many call qigong, I have been fortunate enough to practice genuine qigong, though at a low level, that has kept me happy and healthy for the past several years.
Little did I know how just how low a level I was practicing at! Within the first several days of the course, I felt my qigong reached a level that previously I could only imagine attaining after many more years of practice.
It is now so joyful and natural. There are so many aspects of qigong from the course that have completely changed my practice, I could go on for some time about it, but I will try to keep my thoughts brief.
Learning to practice stances as qigong has completely changed my feelings on zhan zhuang. Stance practice used to be my most dreaded part of practice. I never thought I could enjoy practicing stances. Since the course it has become something I look forward to every day when I wake up.
Learning to practice all kungfu as qigong is perhaps the most important. Generating qi flow from practicing a kungfu set or from sparring is truly an amazing experience.
All of these things alone would have made the course more rewarding than I had hoped, and yet they pale in comparison to my most cherished experience. This came when you taught us "One Finger Shooting Zen". The first thing that impressed me was how powerful it was. During the very first practice session I felt the internal force filling my fingertips, almost like a balloon that was too big to fit in my fingers was being blown up inside.
After we finished I enjoyed my qi flow more than I ever had. The longer it went on the more relaxed and free I felt until there was nothing left .... no worries, no thoughts of things outside of practice, no thoughts of practice ... nothing but joy and peace so deep and true that I cried tears of happiness. And this lasted the rest of the qi flow and all during the standing meditation.
Afterward when others asked me how it was, I couldn't speak. I was so overwhelmed with the beauty of everything that all I could do was smile and cry and share hugs with my brothers and sisters, several of whom were in a similar state! Even now, when I try to talk about this (or as I sit here writing about it) there is a smile on my face, tears in my eyes and joy in my heart.
I thought this was going to be a one-time experience (I was sure the joy from this would last my entire life) but it recurred twice more during the course. During the last practice session this pure joy of being came again, and when you guided us in expanding our spirits the experience became something more than my words can describe. The closest I can come to explaining it is that I felt my spirit/my self expanding, like a drop of water growing outward until this drop of water that was me touched the ocean and then....the water was still there, but it was no longer a drop. There was only ocean.
Somehow these words seem feeble in comparison to the experience, but I have no other way to describe it, other than to say that it was the most moving and meaningful experience of my life. I am left humbled and full of gratitude to you and a great love for others, for my life and for the world I live it in.
I cannot thank you enough, Sifu, for what you have shared with myself and so many others. My hopes and goals for the course were all met and exceeded and I gained so much more that I had never expected. I look forward to seeing you and my siheng and sijie soon.
With joy and gratitude,
P.S. During our farewell dinner I wanted so much to share some of this with you and the others, but every time I even thought about it I would begin to cry tears of joy again, and that if I stood up I would only be able to smile and cry! I shall endeavor to share more this time.