MEDITATION AND CHI KUNG OR TAIJI DANCE
As in all great martial arts, moral values and spiritual cultivation are much emphasized in Taijiquan. It is of interest to note that "cultivating heart, nurturing nature", or "xiu xin yang xing" in Chinese, is a Buddhist term, reminiscent of Zhang San Feng's time at the Shaolin Temple.
In Taijiquan context, "cultivating heart, nurturing nature" may be interpreted as "basing on high moral values, cultivate spiritually to attain the Tao".
The main methodology to achieve this most noble aim is through training energy and cultivating spirit, which means chi kung and mediation. If you wish to practice Taijiquan you must follow this procedure. If you do not practice high moral values, you will not be at peace, and your spirit or soul will be disturbed. You will not be able to practice chi kung and meditation successfully.
If your heart and soul are not peaceful, and your mind and energy not co-ordinated, your physical movement will be listless and you will be sick as your psychological and psychological systems will not function naturally.
To be peaceful emotionally, mentally and spiritually, and to practice mind training and chi kung successfully, you must not neglect sitting meditation. You must also not neglect proper training methods, like the Ten Essentials of Taijiquan . If your training is internally and externally integrated, you will derive the benefits of Taijiquan, namely good health (including vitality and longevity), combat efficiency and spiritual fulfilment.
(As Zhang San Feng mentioned that sitting meditation was essential, why don't we in Shaolin Wahnam practice sitting meditation in our Taijiquan and Shaolin Kungfu? Our needs and aspirations are different. Zhang San Feng and his disciples aimed at attaining the Tao, or returning to God the Holy Spirit. We are not ready for this ultimate aim yet. Our aim is lower. We aim at living a long and rewarding life here and now. Standing meditation and flowing meditation, which are an integral part of our training fulfil our needs and aspirations more effectively. Later, if the need arises, sitting meditation may be taught in our school.)
You must not be dogmatic in your training; you must be adjustable to expedient needs, following the principles of the Eight Trigrams or Bagua, and the Five Elemental Processes or Wuxing in the constantly changing situations of the world. Use the Wudang Taijiquan set to practice chi kung and meditation so as to attain physical, emotional, mental and spiritual development, and eventually to attain the Tao.
Adjustability is very different from changing its form and losing its essence. Normally a Taijiquan sequence is performed in a continuous flow, but if for some reason, like enjoying the stillness of the moment or building energy at your dan tian, you stop at a particular pattern, you are adjusting for expedient needs. The Box-Arrow Stance is performed with the body upright, but if you find that you miss your opponent by a small distance, you may for that situation, lean forward to bridge the gap. This is adjusting to expedient needs according to the interaction of Bagua and Wuxing. The essence remains the same -- you derive good health, combat efficiency and spiritual fulfilment from your Taijiquan practice.
On the other hand, if you perform a Taijiquan set without training energy and cultivating spirit, but even add music so that your performance is like a dance, it is not adjustment for expedient needs but changing the form and nature of Taijiquan completely. Or you bounce about and use kick-boxing instead of Taijiquan techniques for combat, it is not adjusting to expedient needs but changing the form and nature of Taijiquan completely. In both cases, the essence is lost. You would be unable to derive good health, combat efficiency and spiritual fulfilment from your Taijiquan, irrespective of how long you may have practiced.
All these teachings must operate in yin-yang harmony so as to achieve the micro-Cosmos in you, which mirrors the macro-Cosmos in the Universe. When yin and yang are in harmony, the internal and the external are integrated, and all your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual systems will function perfectly. You will never be sick, and never have any physiological and psychological mal-functions. You will have good health, vitality and longevity. If you follow all this advice and methodology, you would have received Zhang San Feng's transmission.
Zhang San Feng emphasized that there was no other way to practice Taijiquan other than following his teaching as explained in his Treatise. We often say that most people today do not practice genuine Taijiquan; they only practice Taiji dance. It is worthy of note that this statement is a direct observation based on the teaching of the First Patriarch of Taijiquan himself.
Wong Kiew Kit
2nd September 2011