Monthly Archives: June 2015

IS QIGONG PRACTICE REAL; IS EATING FOOD REAL?

(reproduced from http://shaolin.org/answers/sp-issues/qigong-practice02.html)

Real or Illusion?

Is the qi experienced by the students in this class in Ireland real, or are the students just creating an illusion of qi?

Question

I understand that it may be judged by long term effects of qigong practice, but I am afraid that during the time that is required to evaluate the effects more or less realistically, I’ll be creating a sustained illusion that might become hard to get rid of later.

— Tatnana, Russia

Answer by Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit

You are creating unnecessary problems for yourself. Qigong practice can be judged by long term effects like good health and vitality, as well as by short term effects like tinkling feeling at the fingers and sensation of warmth over the body.

Students at my intensive chi kung courses experience such short term effects on the very first day of the course, and the long term effects a few months later. They do not have to evaluate whether these effects are true because they know they are from direct experience. Besides, getting rid of illusion is irrelevant because they do not have to create any illusion in the first place.

In other words, after a qigong session on the first day of my intensive courses, some students feel tingling sensations on their finger tips while others feel warmth over their body. They do not need any intellectualization or scientific instruments to evaluate whether the tingling or warmth sensations are real because they distinctly experience these sensations, and they trust their own experience.

The question as whether these sensations are an illusion does not arise because they know very well they did not attempt to create any illusion. They also do not bother to question whether the illusions still arise despite their not consciously creating them. They simply enjoy the sensations, which are pleasant and which indicate the reality of qi.

After a few months, some find out from direct experience that they no longer suffer from the illness they suffered before, while others find out that they have more energy to carry on their day. They do not intellectualize or use scientific instruments to evaluate whether their new found health and vitality are real or merely illusions. They simply enjoy their new life.

Some consult their doctors, not to test whether their feeling of well-being is real, but as a follow-up of their previous medical treatment, and are glad to be confirmed that they are no longer sick. They usually attribute these long term effects to their qigong practice, and not wasting time questioning whether their recovery is due to other factors.

Real or Illusion?

Are these Shaolin Wahnam practitioners really enjoying their food on the Blue Mountain or have they created an illusion that they are on the Blue Mountain enjoying their food?

Question

Is there something that could help to ensure that the practitioner is focusing on qi instead of creating a realistically-felt sustained illusion ?

Answer

Firstly, I shall answer your question. Yes, it is simple. Just do it. In other words, the practitioner focuses on qi, and not creates a realistically-felt sustained illusion.

You will have a clearer picture if we ask a similar question as follows. Is there something that could help you to ensure that you really eat your food instead of creating an illusion that you are eating your food? Of course, it is simple. Just eat your food. Don’t create an illusion that you are eating your food, even you have the mental power to do so.

In the case of eating food, there will be no problem at all that you can do it as you have been doing it for years. There is also no problem at all that you know your eating food is real, and not an illusion, because you can easily confirm it from your direct experience. You will also not need any intellectualization or scientific instrument to evaluate your eating food to ensure it is real.

But it is not so in the case of practicing qigong. Do you know why? The reason is that whereas you have direct expereince in eating food and therefore can readily confirm its reality, you do not have any experience in practicing qigong (genuine qigong and not merely gentle physical exercise) and therefore cannot confirm its reality. Hence, you have to depend on intellectualization or speculation, which, unfortunately, is based on your mis-information.

Now let us reverse the situation. Suppose, for the sake of this explanation, you had never eaten any food before, suppose you lived through direct exchange of qi or energy with the Cosmos by practising high-level qigong. You would then have no doubt at all that qi is real and not an illusion. But you might wonder if you ever tried eating food, whether the food was real or an illusion.

Notwithstanding this, when you practice qigong, you just practice qigong. There is no need to focus on qi during your practice. When you have generated a qi flow, you will recognize it, even when you did not try to focus on it in the first place. In the same way, when you eat an orange, you will experience the taste of an orange, even when you did not try to focus on its taste in the first place.

If you do not experience the taste of an orange, it means that actually you are not eating a genuine orange (though you may think you are), or you eat a genuine orange wrongly, like shoving the orange right into your throat without chewing and tasting it. Similarly, if you do not experience qi, it means that actually you are not practicing genuine qigong (though you may think you are), or you practice some genuine qigong exercise wrongly, like performing it as physical exercise.

LINKS

Reproduced from Questions 4 and 5 in Selection of Questions and Answers — May 2009 Part 3

IS QI REAL OR JUST AN ILLUSION?

(reproduced from http://shaolin.org/answers/sp-issues/qigong-practice01.html)

Qi is Real

For those who have experienced qi, like the students here in a regional qigong course in Austria, they know qi is real as surely as they know the nose on their face is real.

Question

I would like to practice qigong, but there is a question in my mind that has been preventing me from doing it so far. From my meditative practices in the past I know that the mind can create any illusion with ease and quickness, be it a change in emotions, a vision, strong sensations, etc.

— Tatnana, Russia

Answer by Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit

You have become a victim of intellectualization. The reason which you think prevents you from practicing and benefiting from chi kung is not valid. It is self-made and self-limiting. Your first step is to clear away this mental blockage, not just for the sake of practicing chi kung but to free yourself from your self-made mental imprisonment.

Your meditation practice has resulted in a perverted view which you need to erase for your own benefit. It is true that the mind can create illusions, but this is harmful only if your mind is weak or if you are unethical. If your mind is week, you may mistake the illusions for reality.

In fact, many people are victims of this weakness, often without realizing it. If their children are late from school, for example, they may conjure illusions that some accidents might have happened to them. If their colleagues at work gather together, they may conjure illusions that their colleagues are talking bad about them behind their back.

On the other hand, if a meditator has a strong mind but lacks ethics, he many conjure illusions to confuse people. Politicians often do this. They conjure illusions that appear to benefit the public but actually benefit the politicians’ own interest.

Question

For the practice of qigong it is required to focus on learning to feel qi instead of just practicing external movements.

Answer

This is your mistaken conception, which is the result of your mistaken intellectualisation. In the practice of qigong, it is not necessary to focus on learning to feel qi. You should also not just practice external movements.

Then, what should you do? Very simple – just do it, i.e. practice qigong. How do you do so? Learn from a good teacher.

It will be easier for you to comprehend if we use an analogy. Suppose you want to swim or to play football. What should you do?

Very simple – just do it, i.e. go swimming or play football. How do you do so if you can’t swim or play football yet? Learn from a good swimming or football teacher. You don’t swim or play football by intellectualizing that you should be able to drink a lot of sea water or survive a few fractures before you can swim or play football.

Qi is Real

When qi enables you to bounce happily up a mountain slope like these two “young men” – Sifu Rama and Grandmaster Wong, who are above 50 and 60 respectively – you just enjoy the benefit instead of worrying whether qi is real

Question

But how is it possible to know if what you focus on and feel is real qi and not another illusion?

Answer

In principle it is the same as saying how is it possible for you to know your nose on your face is real and not just an illusion.

Anyway I shall answer your question. It is possible to know that qi is real, or your nose is real, from direct experience. Of course, if you never had any direct experience of your nose, you would have difficulty telling the difference between reality and illusion.

In the same way, if you never had any experience of qi, you would have difficulty telling the difference too. Indeed, this is the case with many qigong practitioners today. Those who had no experience of qi, would not know whether qi was real or an illusion. They would still ask what qi is. Some may vehemently argue that qi is an illusion. But those who have experienced qi, knows that it is real, as surely as they know the nose on their face is real.

LINKS

Reproduced from Questions 1, 2 and 3 in Selection of Questions and Answers — May 2009 Part 3

THINKING NOTHING DOING NOTHING AND SMILING FROM THE HEART

(reproduced from http://shaolin.org/zen/zen10.html)

thinking nothing doing nothing

Sif Anthony Spinicchia — Thinking Nothin Doing Nothing



Question

What is the difference from a Zen perspective between “Thinking nothing and doing nothing”, and “Smiling from the heart”?

Sifu Adam Bailey

Answer by Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit

From the Zen perspective, which is another way of saying from the viewpoint of seeing and describing things simply, directly and effectively, “thinking nothing and doing nothing” is thinking nothing and doing nothing, and “Smiling from the heart” is smiling from the heart.

The difference is self-evident. It is like asking what the difference between a cat and a dog is. From the perspective of seeing and saying things simply, directly and effectively, a cat is a cat, and a dog is a dog. The different is self-evident. If you look at a cat, you know it is a cat, and is different from a dog.

From the intellectual perspective, which is another way of saying from the perspective of using words for academic pleasure, if not for confusion, we may logically argue that a cat is a dog, and we may also logically argue that a cat is different from a dog.

For example, we can argue that a cat has four legs and a tail. A dog also has four legs and a tail. Therefore, a cat is a dog.

On the other hand, your neighbour, John, has only two legs and does not have a tail (though he may have a tail-bone). So John is neither a cat nor a dog.

On the other hand, we may also argue that a cat meows and a dog barks. Meowing is different from barking. Therefore, a cat is not a dog. But John, if he wants to, can meow and bark. Therefore, he is a cat and he is also a dog.

Although the argument is logical, we can easily see the fallacy of the argument because we are familiar with cats and dogs. But many people may not understand why thinking nothing doing nothing and smiling from the heart is the same or different because they are not familiar with them. Yet, the principles are the same.

The logic involved is as follows:

If A is B,
and B is C,
therefore, A is C.

The logic is flawed. Many people suffer unnecessarily because of their flawed logic, and they do not realize it. Some common examples in daily life are as follows.

I practice chi kung. Chi kung does not cure my illness. Therefore chi kung does not cure illness.

Many people practice kungfu. When they fight, they use Kick-Boxing. Therefore, kungfu practitioners use Kick-Boxing for fighting.

A friend helps another in need. Mary does help me when I am in need. Therefore, Mary is not a friend.

The logic is flawed because in the examples above, A is not B, though A may have some features of B. And B is not C, though B may have some features of C. Therefore, A may or may not be C

In the case of cats and dogs, cats and dogs are sets, whereas having four legs and a tail is a sub-set. Different sets may have the same sub-sets, like cats and dogs having four legs and a tail, but they also have different sub-sets, like cats meowing and dogs barking, which make the sets different.

Practicing chi kung, practicing kungfu and having friends are sets. In each sets there are different sub-sets. In the set of people practicing chi kung, for example, there is a sub-set of practitioners not having their illness cured, and there is also a sub-set of practitioners who have their illness cured. Using a sub-set to represent a set is flawed.

When we practice Zen, we would not make this mistake. In the spirit of Zen, we would perceive those who practice chi kung but their illness is not cured as those who practice chi kung but their illness is not cured. We would not make a flawed conclusion that practicing chi kung does not cure illness. In other words, we call a spade a spade.

Hence, thinking nothing doing nothing is thinking nothing doing nothing. Smiling from the heart is smiling from the heart.

But these two skills can have similar benefits, besides having different benefits. In the same way, cats and dogs can have similar features, besides having different features.

In both thinking nothing doing nothing and smiling from the heart, you are relaxed, peaceful and happy, and are tuned into Cosmic Reality.

But their benefits can also be different, both in nature and in degree. For example, when thinking nothing doing nothing you are free from intellectualization and activities. In smiling from the heart, you may intellectualize if you want to though you normally don’t, and you are involved in some activity. These are differences in nature.

Although both thinking nothing doing nothing and smiling from the heart result in mental clarity and happiness, the degree of mental clarity and happiness is not the same. Usually thinking nothing doing nothing gives you more mental clarity, whereas smiling from the heart gives you more happiness. These are differences in degree.

Smiling from the Heart

Grandmaster Wong and Sifu Anthony Spinicchia — Smiling from the Heart

For information about the Zen course, please contact Sifu Roland Mastel

The above is reproduced from the thread 10 Questions to the Grandmaster about Zen in the Shaolin Wahnam Discussion Forum

SELECTION OF QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS JUNE 2015 PART 1 BY GRANDMASTER WONG KIEW KIT

(reproduced from http://shaolin.org/answers/ans15a/jun15-1.html)

Hawaii

Dr Damian, Dr Roseline, Mrs Wong, Grandmaster Wong, Dr Hoo Kok Chong and Sifu Anthony Spinicchia at the Polynesian Cultural Centre in Honolulu, Hawaii

Question 1

Thank you for your generous teaching earlier this month in Hawaii. The wisdom you shared will benefit me a great deal. But your presence was the biggest gift, as you are a living embodiment of Zen. Observing your approach to life directly has allowed me to see and remove unnecessary layers from everything I do, taking me closer to Zen in all aspects of my life.

— Ryan, USA

Editorial Note: These questions were asked soon after the Hawaii courses in July 2014, but due to a long waiting list, they are only released now.

Answer

I am glad that you have benefited much from the courses in Hawaii.

As many students in our school have realized, all teaching in Shaolin Wahnam is a teaching of Zen. The hallmark of Zen is being simple, direct and effective.

At the mundane level, Zen training enables us to get the best result in whatever we do. At the supra-mundane level, Zen training leads us to the highest attainment any being can achieve.

Question 2

My mother was quite frustrated during the Intensive Chi Kung course. She was a bit overwhelmed by the pace of the exercises, and found it difficult to enter a chi kung state of mind with the sounds people were making during chi flow.

I told her that despite her frustration she was still receiving lots of useful skills, techniques, and philosophy. And that it would just be a matter of practicing these things when she got home in order to deepen her skills.

Answer

As I mentioned during the course, I thought your mother was your girlfriend! In fact I asked Anthony, “What’s the name of Ryan’s girlfriend?”

Anthony answered in surprise, “That’s his mother, not his girlfriend!”

Chi kung practice will certainly keep your mother healthy and youthful.

The noise made by other course participants was a bonus, not a distraction. If your mother could enter into a chi kung state of mind and enjoy a chi flow, which she actually did, it would be easily for her to practice at home when conditions are more ideal.

Her frustration, therefore, was unnecessary. In fact she did very well at the course. What she needs to do is to continue her daily practice following the three golden rules of not worry, not intellectualizing, and enjoying her practice.

chi flow

Chi flow in our school can be an interesting, noisy affair

Question 3

During many of the practice sessions at the course, we did not do standing meditation at the end of chi flow for more than a few seconds. Do you still recommend performing standing meditation regularly after chi flow? If so, do you recommend an ideal length of time for the standing meditation portion?

Answer

We usually complete any chi kung exercise with standing meditation, even for a few seconds. This will allow our chi to settle down at its normal condition.

The time of standing meditation at the end of a chi kung exercise may range from a second to half an hour or more, depending on various factors, like our conditions and objectives. I

If you are short of time, you may stand upright at a meditative state of mind for a second. If you wish to build internal force, enhance mental clarity or expand into the Cosmos, you may stand for half an hour or more, in which case it becomes the main part of the exercise, though you may not initially intend it to be, and the chi kung part becomes preliminary.

Question 4

You have always taught us to think of the dan tian at the end of chi flow. If I spend a few minutes in standing meditation after chi flow, should I think of my dan tian again a second time before completing the practice session?

Answer

It is not necessary but it is useful.

If you spend a few minutes in standing meditation after chi flow, irrespective of whether you thought of your dan tian before standing meditation, you can complete your chi kung session without thinking of your dan tain again, or for the first time if you did not do so earlier.

In other words, you may think of your dan tian before proceding to standing meditation. Or you may just go straight to standing meditation without thinking of your dan tian. You can also complete your chi kung session form chi flow without going ino standing meditation.

All the three procedures above are correct, although the result, if all other things were equal, may be slightly different. Of these three procedures, the first is the best, the second is rhe next, and the third gives the least result. But a skilful practitioner using the third procedure will get better result than a less skilful practitioner using the first procedure.

Now, in another comparison not mentioned in the three procedures above, after your chi flow and standing meditation, if you gently think of your dan tian before completing your session, you will have better result than if you do not think of your dan tian, if all other things were equal.

The following philosophy will explain the difference of result. By gently thinking of your dan tian, you gather your chi at your dan tian. If you perform a few minutes of standing meditation without first thinking of your dan tian, you will also gather at your chi at your dan tian. Because chi will naturally and spontaneously gather there if you stand upright and be relaxed. However, if you think of the dan tian first, you have a head start.

As an analogy, in a race even if you do not get set but just stand leisurely, you can still run when the signal is sounded. But if you get set first, you will have a head start.

When you complete your chi flow without thinking of your dan tian, your chi will eventually settle down at your dan tian, though it will take a longer time. If you gently think of your dan tian before completing, you assure the gathering of chi at the dan tian.

As an analogy, after a race if you don’t walk about to let your breathing returns to normal, you can still perform other activities. But if you walk about leisurely to let your breathing to return to normal, you can perform the same activities better.

focusing at dan tian

Focusing at dan tian is a good way to complete a meditation session

Question 5

I was very interested in your thoughts on advanced practitioners lowering their level of practice to avoid over training. Looking back on my practice over the years, I very regularly experienced intense cleansing symptoms that I think may have been in part from over training (even though I only practiced 10-15 minutes twice a day). Since returning from Hawaii, I have been experimenting with training only once a day for 10 minutes. Do you think it would be wise to increase this amount?

Answer

Whether you should increase the time of your training depends on whether you have reached your optimum training time, i.e. the time that gives the maximum benefit.

An optimum training time is a theoretical concept, and may vary from person to person, and from time to time for the same person. By theoretical concept is meant that we cannot be exact for its duration; we can only estimate it.

Nevertheless, there are some factors that help us to estimate wisely. If we feel fresh and energized, and derive a lot of benefits, we can conclude that we are before or at our optimum training time. If we feel tired and uncomfortable, and experience a lot of cleansing, we can conclude that we have exceed our optimum training period, and have over-trained.

From experience, we have found that our students get the best benefits by training for about 15 minutes. Students of most other schools may have to train for an hour or more. With further improvement of our teaching methodology, we can now shorten our optimum training time to 10 minutes.

It is worthwhile to remember that the purpose of training chi kung is to enrich our life. If we can get a lot of benefits in shorter time, it means we have more time to enjoy life wholesomely.

Question 6

When performing Cosmic Shower, should I open the Bai hui and visualize energy from heaven during or after performing the Carrying the Moon pattern? Can Cosmic Shower be performed without any chi kung pattern at all, if I initiate a gentle chi flow with my mind first?

Answer

In Cosmic Shower, opening the baihui and visualizing energy from heaven are performed after Carrying the Moon. You may also perform these two techniques during Carrying the Moon.

When you are skilful, you can initiate Cosmic Shower without performing Carrying the Moon or any chi kung pattern. You can initiate a gentle chi flow, then procedure to Cosmic Shower. You may even have a Cosmic Shower straight away without Carrying the Moon or any chi kung pattern. This is a useful skill if you want to be fresh and have no jet lag on a trans-continental flight.

self-defence

Self-defence is of utmost importance in any martial art, but it may be a big surprise to many people that many martial artists cannot defend themselves, otherwise they would not be randomly punched and kicked in free sparring

Question 7

Years ago, I attained a 2nd degree black belt in Northern Shaolin Kung Fu. It took for a good many years. Almost every class had sparring involved. I learned what it meant to face an aggressive opponent. I did get bruised ribs, broken fingers, things like that.

My teacher has since retired. I am currently practicing my forms and techniques. Without a sparring partner can I attain a level of where I can adequately defend myself?

— Andy, England

Answer

Yes, as you have good kungfu background, you can defend yourself by practicing on your own, provided of course what you practice is correct. Indeed, that was how past masters became very combat efficient. They normally trained combat on their own.

It may be a big surprise to many people that what many martial artists, including those at black belt levels, practice for self-defence may not be correct. If their practice is correct, they should be able to defend themselves. They should not sustain a lot of hits from their free sparring. In fact self-defence training today is so bad that that they take being hit for granted. It is ironical that they call their art an art of self-defence. Theirs is actually a free and generous exchange of punches and kicks!

The fact that you asked the question of whether you could defend yourself by training on your own clearly shows that you have not learned to defend yourself. In your sparring you punched and kicked your sparring partners, and be punched and kicked by them. If you could defend yourself, you would not have bruised ribs and broken fingers. You would have asked whether training on your own could improve your self-defence, which is different from asking whether you could defend yourself.

While we place much importance on self-defence, combat efficiency is not top on our priorities. We train Shaolin Kungfu because we want to have good health, vitality, longevity, mental freshness, spiritual joys irrespective of religion, and peak performance in both our work and play. We do not merely state these aims as theory. We walk our talk. We ensure we have these practical results.

For example, when our students spar, they never sustain injuries. This means they can defend themselves. They are not sick or in pain, and they enjoy their work and play, which shows they have good health, vitality and spiritual joys.

I would recommend that you attend my Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course in Malaysia. I offer such a course only about once or twice a year. Because of my tight schedule, there is no Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course this year. You should not miss the next one when it is offered. Please check my website for available dates..

Question 8

I would like to ask Sifu Wong if masturbation, premarital sex and having sex with prostitutes are considered a sin or wrong.

— Jussi, USA

Answer

It depends on various factors, like who asks the question, who answers it, and the situation involved.

If a lonely person asks a pimp this question, it is likely that the pimp will say it is not wrong, and encourages the lonely person to indulge himself.

If a religious person askes a priest, it is likely that the priest will say it is a cardinal sin, and asks the religious person to pray to God.

In this case, if you ask me, I have to consider your situation.

If, for example, you are happily married with a lovely wife, I would say, yes, it is a sin. Don’t be a fool. Spend your time with your wife, no matter how tempting masturbation, premarital sex and prostitutes may be.

If you are sexually hungry, but cannot find a willing partner or are not brave enough to find a prostitute, I would say masturbation is not a sin, and ask you to enjoy yourself, but do not do it too often and do not feel any guilt about it.

If you have a willing partner, who of course must be human and not underage, provided both of you are not puritan in your religious or social beliefs, I would say that premarital sex is not a sin, and advise you to add love to sex, and ensure that your partner enjoys herself.

If you prefer a prostitute to masturbation, provided you are not puritan in your religious and social beliefs, I would say having sex with a prostitute is not a sin, and strongly advise you to take precaution not to contact any disease and also be kind to the prostitute.