(reproduced from http://shaolin.org/general-2/happy-family-life/life04.html)
Grandmaster Wong, his wife and children
One of the most wonderful things that I have been gifted through our trainings and especially through Sigung’s wisdom and help is to enjoy a happy family life. It is one of the greatest gifts, I think, to love and feel loved within a family.
I would like to contribute the following question:
We are all different. We think, act and feel differently i.e. have different needs, aspirations, walk of lives etc. Apart from sharing our love and joy with our family members (family in a narrow and more wider sense), what are the skills and how can we train them to understand the other person better in order to be able to nurture them more effectively?
Answer by Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit
Indeed, having a happy family life is one of the greatest gifts in life. It is also one of the values we cherish in our school. As I have said often, we do not just practice chi kung or kungfu, we apply what we have learned to enrich our life and the lives of others.
We think, act and feel differently i.e. have different needs, aspirations, and walks of lives. It is precisely important to realise this fact in order to have a happy family life.
Let us look at the needs, aspirations, walks of lives and other relevant factors of our blood family and our Shaolin Wahnam Family.
We are all different. We think, act and feel differently i.e. have different needs, aspirations, and walks of lives etc. Apart from sharing our love and joy with our family members, both in a narrow and more wider sense, what are the skills and how can we train them to understand the other person better in order to be able to nurture them more effectively?
The first skill is to realise this difference. For example, we in Shaolin Wahnam have enjoyed the benefits of our arts, and naturally we want our immediate family members to have these benefits too.
It will be foolhardy and bring a lot of unpleasantness to force our arts on them. Although they are our brothers and sisters, fathers or mothers, nieces and nephews, they live their lives differently. Let them live the lives the way they want. Do not try to force them to live their lives the way we want. It is their lives.
But we can show by examples. If you happened to have an illness and recovered by practicing our chi kung, tell them not only the effect but also the joys of your practice. Remind them that you need to put in effort. If they do not listen, that is their choice, and also their right.
You now live life healthy and happily. Tell them that it is the result of your practicing chi kung. If they want to have this health and happiness, they can practice our chi kung. They have to pay the fees for the training, and most importantly they have to practice everyday. It won’t take up too much of their time. they need to practice just about 10 minutes a session, twice a day.
If they do not spend the time practicing our chi kung, they would waste the time anyway, and probably remain sickly and unhappy. But it is their choice. Don’t pay the fees for them, or force them to practice if they do not want health and happiness. Realising this difference in choice is very important in sharing love and joy with them, or at lease avoiding dislike and unpleasantness.
An excellent way to develop this skill is mental clarity and realisation. Our arts give us mental clarity. What is needed is to realize the different needs and aspirations.. You also show by personal example. You yourself, practice our arts everyday.
Another important skill is to talk about things that they like to hear, not about things you want to talk about or you want them to hear. What you say must be truthful. Don’t lie to them to make things pleasant.
For example, your brother may want a better paying job. Don’t tell him that he has no money. It is not what he wants to hear though it is truthful. Don’t tell him he can strike a lottery. It is what he wants to hear but it is unlikely to be truthful.
Tell him that he can find a job that he likes and pays better, but he must make the effort to find it. If he just continues doing his job, it is unlikely his boss will give him more money, or a better paying job will come to him. But, if he chooses not to look for a better paying job, it is his choice. He chooses a low-paying job over putting effort to find a better paying one. Don’t nag him saying that he has no money or that there are plenty of better-paying jobs outside..
Another excellent way to share your love and joy with your family members, irrespective of whether they are in your immediate family or part of the Happy Shaolin Wahnam Family, is to have regular get-togethers. Such get-togethers may be picnics, outings or dinners.
For your immediate family, you may have to organise such get-togethers. It is easier for our extended Shaolin Wahnam Family. Your regular class is a good get-together where you can practice your skills of sharing love and happiness. You can also attend my regional courses or intensive courses to share love and happiness with other members in other countries.
It is common, especially in immediate families, that family members spend their time playing with their mobile phones instead of with other family members. You may have to suggest a rule that mobile phones are not allowed in such family gatherings. If anyone has to take an important call, he (or she) must do so briefly away from the gathering, and come back to the gathering quickly. If he does this often, he has to shut off his mobile phone. Taking calls is not as important as sharing love and happiness at a family gathering.
A better way is to lead the conversation so skilfully that other people voluntarily shut off their mobile phones. The topics of conversation must be so interesting that they involve everybody in the gathering. And you must be ready to be a good listener, not speaking most of the time.
You may, for example, start the interesting conversation by saying, “Mom, tell us how you keep our family together when we were small”, or “Dad, how ddi you spend time with our family when we were tiny children?“ If anyone is disinterested, for which you must be on the lookout, you can ask that someone what he thinks of the conversation. If his answer is short, like “Interesting”, ask him to tell the gathering what he finds interesting.
You may need to pay for the gathering to get it going. Paying some money is certainly worthwhile for you to share your love and joy with your family members. Later, you may suggest that family members pay a share of the gathering, or take turns to pay for the gathering. If any of your family member is unable to pay his share due to financial difficulty, you may secretly pay for him without others knowing so that he will not feel embarrassed.
If anyone does not attend the gathering, you can suggest a heavy fine. You may say something like “The gathering is in honour of our dad and mom who sacrificed much for our well being. It is insulting to them if you don’t attend.” Of course you dad and mom won’t be paying for the gathering.
If you follow these golden guidelines, you will make your family members more loving and caring for one another. The guidelines are:
Recognize that different people, even your family members, have different needs and aspiration. Let them live the lives they want. Do not force them to live the lives you want.
Say something pleasant and truthful in their presence. Do not say anything that may hurt their feelings or sensitivities. Organize family gatherings regularly. Mobile phones are not allowed in such gatherings. Lead the conversation so that everyone will enjoy the gathering.
But how would you develop these skills or abilities. These skills or abilities are related to mental clarity and internal force. If you have mental clarity, not only you realise the importance of having a happy family, you are also in a better position to acquire the skills or abilities for it.
You need internal force to learn the skills and carry out the abilities. If you just know that having a happy family is important, that is not enough. You must be able to make your family happy. Internal force will give you the necessary energy.
The training in our school gives us mental clarity and internal force. They will make our family happy if you carry out the suggestions mentioned above. Having a happy family life is a wonderful value to cherish. But you need to put in some effort to be successful.
Grandmaster Wong, his wife his son and daughter-inlaw and grandchildren
The questions and answers are reproduced from the thread 10 Questions on Happy Family Life in the Shaolin Wahnam Discussion Forum.
(reproduced from http://shaolin.org/general/perception.html)
A New Year Gift from Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit
Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit
Many problems or misunderstanding arise because of confusion between facts and opinions. Logically, if you can differentiate between facts and opinions, you will be able to avoid or overcome many of these problems and misunderstanding.
What is even more important is that often opinion, or perception, is more influential than fact, or reality, in shaping our future. This does not mean we can ignore facts, but we must realize that a person’s perception of reality rather than the reality itself is more potent in determining the outcome of an event. Failure to appreciate this often results in problems and misunderstandings which can be avoided or overcome if we have clear perception.
Let us start with a story. A sifu asked a student to practice “One-Finger Shooting Zen”. A week passed, a month passed, two years passed, and the student was still practicing “One-Finger Shooting Zen” daily, while his sifu hardly taught him anything else.
This was a real story, the story of my sifu, Ho Fatt Nam, when he learned from my sigung, Yeong Fatt Khun. The daily practice of “One-Finger Shooting Zen” enabled my sifu to develop tremendous force not only for Dim Mak (an advanced kungfu art of dotting vital points) but also to heal people.
My sifu had a good perception. He promised himself that if he met a great master, he would do exactly what the master taught. Most other students would drop out. They had different perceptions. They probably thought that the master was fooling them. The reality was the same, a sifu asking his student to practice “One-Finger Shooting Zen” and hardly teaching him anything else, but due to different perceptions the results could be vastly different.
You can see the same principle operating in daily life though many people may not realize it. You are given a difficult job by your boss. Because you are a Shaolin Wahnam student and view everything the Shaolin Wahnam way (instead of the negative way), you perceive your difficult job as an interesting challenge and do your best. As a result you later gain a promotion – by your boss or by yourself becoming your own boss after having gone through challenging training.
Most other people in the same situation would have different perceptions. Some would try to pass the job to someone else, like you, knowing that they would still get the same pay. Others might do the job grudgingly and produce mediocre or poor result. The reality is the same – a difficult job to be done – but due to different perceptions of the same reality, the outcome can be very different.
Can the perception be always positive? Can there be any events, persons or beliefs that are so negative that you can’t have any positive perception of them?
One-Finger Shooting Zen is a treasure of Shaolin Wahnam
Yes, perception can always be positive if you choose to. It is your choice.
No, there are no events, persons or beliefs which are by themselves so negative that you can’t have a positive perception of. We are talking about perception, not the reality itself. In reality the event, person or belief can be negative, but you still can have a positive perception of it.
Suppose you have lost a lot of money in a bad investment. This is reality. No matter how you perceive it, you cannot change the fact that you have lost a lot of money. But your perception of this negative event will certainly and strongly affect what and how your future will enfold.
We may broadly generalize your possible perceptions into three categories: negative, neutral and positive.
You may perceive yourself as stupid, and you become depressed. You may perceive that the fault actually lies with your wife, who nags you, and you become angry. These are negative perceptions. And it is not difficult to see how miserable these negative perceptions will make you.
You may perceive it as a way of life, sometimes you lose, sometimes you gain. Or you may perceive that losing money is a price everyone pays to learn about investment. These are neutral perceptions. You may be down for awhile, but eventually you can get over it.
You may perceive it philosophically, regarding it a blessing in disguise. It is a wake-up call: you lose money in investment, not in drugs or gambling, which may make you addicted and is far worse. Or you may perceive it as a drastic learning opportunity. You promise yourself that eventually you will make back many times that money in an honest, wholesome way. These are positive perceptions that will lead to eventual success. Indeed, many people owe their success, spiritual or financial, to some initial setbacks.
If we just think of good things, are we just dreaming? No, we are not just dreaming. We dare to dream, but we are ready and capable of putting in effort to make our dreams come true. Our Shaolin Wahnam training gives us mental clarity that enables us to have noble perceptions, and tremendous energy that enables us to put in the necessary effort.
Thoughts create reality. This is a great cosmic truth taught by ancient masters and confirmed by modern scientists. An electron is a particle or a wave depending on how the investigating scientist thinks about it. The Buddha teaches that karma, which means cause and effect, is the result of thoughts, speech and deeds in that order of importance.
So, whatever events, persons, beliefs, problems or difficulties you interact with, always have positive perceptions of them. Try it out for a month, and examine the result yourself. If you find it beneficial use this New Year gift for this year and every year.
(reproduced from http://shaolin.org/general/qualities.html)
Having a good master is definitely a tremendous blessing in kungfu, taijiquan and chi kung training. As mediocre instructors are socommon nowadays – some even start to teach after having attended only a few week-end seminars – finding a great master is like finding a gem in a hay stack. Here are some guidelines to help you find one.
A living example
A good master must be a living example of what he teaches. A kungfu master must be able to defend himself, a taijiquan master must have some internal force, and a qigong master must exhibit radiant health, as these are the basic qualities these arts are meant to develop.
A master of kungfu, taijiquan or qigong does not enjoy the luxury of many coaches in modern sports like football and athletics who often cannot dribble a ball or run a race half as well as the students they teach. There are also some kungfu, taijiquan or qigong instructors today who cannot perform half as well as their average students, but they are certainly not masters, although as a form of courtesy they may be addressed as such by their students, or the general public.
Understanding Dimension and Depth
Besides being skillful, a good master should preferably be knowledgeable. He should have a sound understanding of the dimension and depth of the art he is teaching, and be able to answer basic questions his students may have concerning the what, why and how of their practice. Without this knowledge, a master will be limited in helping his students to derive the greatest potential benefits in their training.
However, especially in the East, some masters may be very skillful, but may not be knowledgeable. This is acceptable if we take the term “master” to mean someone who has attained a very high level in his art, but who may not be a teacher.
The reverse is unacceptable, i.e. someone who is very knowledgeable, but not skillful – a situation quite common in the West. A person may have read a lot about kungfu, taijiquan or qigong, and have written a few books on it, but has little kungfu, taijiquan or qigong skills. We may call him a scholar, but certainly not a master.
Systematic and Generous
The third quality of a master as a good teacher is that he must be both systematic and generous in his teaching. Someone who is very skillful and knowledgeable, but teaches haphazardly or withholds much of his advance art, is an expert or scholar but not a good master.
On the other hand, it is significant to note that a good master teaches according to the needs and attainment of his students. If his students have not attained the required standard, he would not teach them beyond their ability (although secretly he might long to), for doing so is usually not to the students’ best interest. In such a situation he may often be mistaken as withholding secrets.
The fourth quality, a quality that transforms a good master into a great master, is that he radiates inspiration. It is a joy to learn from a great master even though his training is tough.
He makes complicated concepts easy to understand, implicitly provides assurance that should anything goes wrong he is able and ready to rectify it, and spurs his students to do their best, even beyond the level that he himself has attained.
High Moral Values
The most important quality of a great master is that he teaches and exhibits in his daily living high moral values. Hence, the best world fighter who brutally wounds his opponents, or the best teacher of any art who does not practise what he preaches, cannot qualify to be called a great master.
A great master is tolerant, compassionate, courageous, righteous and shows a great love and respect for life. Great masters are understandably rare; they are more than worth their weight in gold.
(reproduced from http://shaolin.org/answers/ans15a/apr15-3.html)
You said that past masters took years to attain chi flowing at various levels. Why is it that we could achieve this in just a day?
— David, UK
It is just ridiculous but true that past masters took years to attain chi flowing at various levels, but our students can achieve the same result in just one day! It is understandable of others do not believe what we way, but there is no doubt that all the students present today (9th June 2014) on this Bone Marrow Cleansing Course know this is true.
How do we know it is true? It is like someone asking you how do you know you are now sitting on a chair. In both cases, you know from direct experience. You know you are sitting on a chair because you are sitting on a chair. You know you can direct chi to flow at the levels of your skin, muscles, meridians, organs and bone marrow, because you can clearly feel chi flowing at all these levels.
Now the question. Why did past masters took years to attain these skills whereas you take only just one day? There are a few reasons, like we understand the underlying philosophy of the art, we are generous to teach it, and our methodology is very cost-effective, but the most important reason is that I transmit the skills to you from heart to heart.
An analogy is becoming a millionaire. If you work to become a millionaire, you will take many years to succeed, if you ever will. But if a benefactor transmits the money to you, you become a millionaire immediately. If you train to have chi flowing at five levels, you will need many years to succeed, if you ever will. But if master transmits the skill to you, you have the ability to have chi flow at the five levels immediately.
On the other hand, when past masters as students learned chi kung they had to practice appropriate techniques for many months or a year or two to develop the necessary skills. Normally they were unaware of the skills though they had developed the skills through dedicated practice. With the skills chi first flowed at their skin level. This development was spontaneous.
As they continued their dedicated practice for many more months or another year or two, chi next flowed at their muscle levels. In the same way, after may years chi flowed at the levels of their meridians, organs and bone marrow.
It should also be noted that these students did not learn these advanced techniques of chi flow at various levels at the start of their learning career. It was only after a few years when they had won the trust of their masters that their masters taught them the appropriate technques.
Secondly, not all those who learned the techniques would developed the skills and eventually succeeded in the art. Only a small percentage, probably less than 10%, would succeed and eventually became masters themselves.
I remember reading some years back a Taichiquan book that stated whilst practicing you must concentrate on breathing, body weight, points on the body and the self defence aspect.
— Wiliem, Zimbabwe
It is helpful to know that different advice is applicable to different people or to the same person at different stages of his development.
If you practice on your own without a teacher’s supervision, it is best for you not to worry about breathing, body weight, points on the body, and self-defence aspects. Just practice whatever you can in a relaxed manner without any intellectualization.
I am from a small town in Zimbabwe, have tried some Karate which is not for me and am looking for some simple, practical exercise to do as my work involved sitting by a computer all day. I found a detailed simple 18 form Shibashi Taichi exercise which I am learning at “Everyday Tai Chi” and was wondering if you have some advice on application. I have included the chart.
“Taiji Shibashi” means “Taiji 18 Forms”. It is a set of chi kung exercises invented by a modern chi kung master from China, Sifu Lin Hou Sheng, in the 20th century. For a time, it was widely practiced n Southeast Asia. One could find Taiji Shibashi groups in most public parks, and any person could just walk in to join a group to practice. Instructors taught without charging fees.
Despite its name “Taiji”, these exercises are not related to Taijiquan or even to Taiji dance. In fact, Sifu Lin Hou Sheng practiced Shaolin wushu before. I guess that the term “Taiji” is used because the exercises are meant to be performed flowingly in a relaxed manner like what Taijiquan should be performed.
As a type of chi kung, Taiji Shibashi works on a physical level to generate energy flow. Students have to performs many forms for a long time, usually about an hour. However, most students perform Taiji Shibashi as gentle physical exercise, and not as chi kung. Like most other chi kung practitioners, they do not realize this fact because they do not know the difference between chi kung and gentle physical exercise.
Taiji Shibashi was not meant to be a martial art. Hence when Sifu Lin Hou Sheng invented the exercises, he did not have self-defence aspects in mind. It is therefore unwise of you to try to find combat application in these exercises where combat application was not there in the first place. You would have done extremely well if you could perform Taiji Shibashi as chi kung, which would then place you at the top 20% of Taiji Shibashi practitioners anywhere in world, even better than most Taiji Shibashi instructors. You would have a chance to achieve this feat if you follow my advice of performing Taiji Shibashi exercises in a relaxed manner without any intellectuzlization.
However, a genuine kungfu practitioner may still be able to use the Taiji Shibashi exercises for self-defence, although these exercises will not be his first choice for the combat purposes. For example, “Rase Arms” in Exercise 1 may be used to release grips on his wrists, “Open Chest” in Exercise 2 may be used to release a body-lock, and “Paint a Rainbow” in Exercise 3 may be used to deflect a shoot from a arestler.
If you want to learn self-defence, you should learn it from a competent teacher. Like most other people, you will probably be surprised that genuine arts of self-defence are rare today. Most martial artists today, including black belts, do not know how to defend themselves. They just hit and kick each other in free sparring. Worse, and usually without their conscious knowing, their training is detrimental to both their physical and emotional health.
Next I am contemplating a 36 sword form to compliment my tonfa katas.
Frankly I believe you would spend your time better by taking your wife out for a walk, or getting a wife if you haven’t one yet.
But if you still want to learn a sword set, perform it in a flowing and relaxed manner. Remember that performing with a sword is different from performing with a tonfa. They have different nature and characteristics..
I had an experience today I would be gracious for your feedback. I was riding in a car with a friend and her young child. Upon thinking of the child, I saw in my mind a red energy flow linking us together. This energy flow ran from my lower back and to the child. Upon observing the flow, I became aware that I could use this flow to direct energy from me to the child, or draw energy from the child to me. I could also direct blockages to or from the child in the same way. My initial reaction to this awareness was concern over the ability to potentially cause harm, as the last thing I would want to do is harm the child. So I did my best to let go of my focus on the energy flow.
Shortly after, I was driving home by myself several miles from the child and became aware of the energy flow connecting us again. This time, I felt the energy pressing into my lower back as if it wanted to flow into me. I resisted the flow and did my best to let it go (worried that I might be inadvertently taking his chi), but ultimately felt that I should stop resisting it. When I did this, I sensed energy flowing into me and instantly felt sick. I immediately began coughing out bad chi. However, after absorbing the energy the tension in the flow disappeared and it returned to the usual loving, positive feeling I always have toward the child.
During both moments of sensing this energetic connection with the child, I had a sense that the energy flow was a karmic connection. It felt very similar to when I sense chi blockages in myself; emotionally overwhelming and turbulent. I believe that in my becoming aware of this karmic connection, I may have unknowingly drawn bad chi out of the child and into myself as a sort of karmic balancing/cleansing between the two of us. I have felt the blockage in my lower back periodically throughout the rest of my day, and have also coughed out some more bad chi. But overall I feel fine, and the blockage seems significantly diminished after doing chi kung this evening.
— Ryan, USA
Chi, or energy, is connecting all of us. Everything is connect is not just poetically but factually true, but most people are unaware of it, and their mind power is not strong enough to cause much difference.
However, some rare people with miraculous abilities, like you having practiced high-level chi kung from our school, may see this connection and have influence on it. As I mentioned in my previous reply, you must also use this miraculous ability with great responsibility. We do so due to righteousness.
Even if we leave out righteousness and consider only self-interest, it is also to your self-interest that this miraculous ability must never be abused. Goodness always bring goodness, and evilness always results in evilness, is a universal truth. Many psychics leading miserable lives is clear evidence of this truth.
On the other hand, there are what are called in metaphysical circles as â€œheaven secretsâ€. You should not reveal or interfere with these heaven secrets indiscreetly. For example, at your mortal level, you may think that clearing somebodyâ€™s blockage is doing a service for him. But at a cosmic level, which most mortals do not realize or understand, this action may be a big disservice.
Then, what about patients seeking treatment from chi kung healers, who help their patients to clear blockage? Can that be doing a disservice to the patients? This is a different issue, and here heaven secrets are not involved. Here, helping patients clear their blockage and restore good health is certainly a blessing.
Here the patients ask for help. It would be different if the patients did not ask for help but the healers impose their healing on them.
What you did in the case of the child, i.e. to let go, was correct. When you feel some bad energy entering you, like in the case of the child, you can direct it to a plant or tree instead of taking it in. What is bad energy to the child or to you, is good energy to the plant or tree. Similarly, when you enter a cave and feel the energy there detrimental to you, the same energy is beneficial to other creatures like bats and insects.
I had one other experience similar to this several weeks ago with our family pet dog. I had a sense of “something wrong” with the dog (which was sitting near me as I practiced chi kung), then felt negative chi pushing into me from the dog which in that case I resisted the entire time. I also had a sense that it was a karmic connection between myself and the dog, and that the experience was somehow related to karmic cleansing. I have spent many, many hours with the dog since and have not had any other experiences like this.
Yes, like in the case of the child above, you have some karmic connection with the dog. And like the child too, if you feel the energy from the dog that enters you is negative, you can direct it away to plants or trees instead of taking the negative enrgy in. This negative energy to you and the doy will be positive energy to plants and trees.
Is it possible in rare cases to sense karmic blockages between two beings, and for my chi to cleanse these blockages by momentarily linking my energy flow with them? This is what these experiences have felt like. It was just like when my chi works on blockages in me, except I had another being momentarily as an extension of myself that was also a part of the cleansing.
Yes, it is possible to sense karmic blockages between tow beings. The connection is there all the time but most people are unaware of it.
When you emphasize on the link of energy between you and another being, you may cleanse blockages or cause them. Healing others by cleansing their blockages, or alternatively hurting them by causing blockages in them, require special skills. As you are not trained in these matters, it is unethical to do so. Even when you are trained as a healer, it is also unethical to impose the healing on a person if he does not ask for it.
I have prayed to Gaun Yin on what I should do about these experiences, and the answer was clearly “Let it go” so that’s what I will do However, any input you have on how to best handle these experiences in the future would be most appreciated.
Praying to and asking advice from Guan Yin Bodhidattva is excellent.
My supplement to Guan Yin Bodhidattva’s advice is described above, and may be summarized as follows.
Heaven secrets are not to be disclosed indiscreetly. What mortals think is a service may be a disserve at a cosmic level. Healing another person by clearing his blockage requires specialized skills, and should be performed only when one is properly trained, and when it is requested by the patient.
— Yaroslav, Canada
Your questions are interesting and important for the future of humanity. Our training has made me and those in our school very optimistic. Not only we wholesomlely enjoy the present, we forgive the wrongs that others may have done to us in the past and look towards the future with hopes and aspirations. If we feel we have wronged oursellves, we forgive ourselves It is not that we are irresponsible with our past, licencious with our present or uncaring with our future. In fact we hold high moral valuses, as guided by our Ten Shaolin Laws , and cultivate spiritually every time we train, and we train conscienciously every day. The wonderful benefits that we get are not just extrinsic, due to verbal or written teaching. More significantly they are intrinsic, due to our dedicated training that results in a purification of our body, intellect and soul. It is pertinent to mention that these are no empty words. These words accurately describe the benefits our students are getting. Many schools also say that their training purifies the body, intellect and soul. Even some schools teaching the most brutal form of martial art where students seem to take pride in causing hurt to their opponents or sparring partners also say that their training is spiritual. But an intelligent observation of the students’ results will tell whether the claims of the schools are true. If the students become more unhealthy as a result of their training, then it is obviously not true that their training purifies the body. If the students do not even realize that they are not getting the benefits their arts are purported to give despite having trained for a long time, it is obvious their training does not purify their intellect. If the students become more dull and depressed, it is obvious their training does not purify their soul. These conclusions are obvious, yet it is shocking that thousands of students all over the world are getting unhealthier and depressed as a result of their training, and are unaware of it. How do we justify our claim that our training purifies the body, the intellect and the soul. After practicing for some time our students overcome their pain and illness and attain good health. This justifies our claim that our training purifies our body, as a pure body is naturally healthy. When the body is chocked with impurities, like toxic waste, viruses and locked emotions, it fails in its natural functions and become sick or in pain. After practicing for some time our students have much mental clarity. They are clear about the aims and objectives of their training, and how well their training helps them to attain their aims and objectives. If you examine how and what they write in our Shaolin Wahnam Discussion Forum, their mental clarity is quite obvious. This justifies our claim that our training purifies the intellect, as a purified intellect results in mental clarity. The writings of our students in our Discussion Forum also show that they are happy and peaceful with themselves and with other people. In fact, many of our students often expressed how grateful they are for having practiced our arts which make them find life and the world so beautiful. This shows that their practice has purified their soul, for a purified soul will find beauty in life and the world. What has this explanation of purifying the body, intellect and soul to do with your question. It has everything to do with the question. Firstly, it explains how members of our Shaolin Wahnam Family and I look at the world now and in the future. We are grateful for the many good things in our world now. And we are confident that the world in future will be even better. We are living in a golden age. Many people may be surprised at this statement. They think the golden age was a few hundred years ago. No, a few hundred years ago you didn’t even have electricity or tap water, things that we take for granted now but forget how important they are in making life comfortable. A few hundred years ago most people did not have a chance to go to school. Now you can assess amazing information via the internet at the tips of your fingers! More significantly the above explanation will affect how you and many other people see our world in future — whether you will see it as a beautiful home or a doomed place where resources run out. This will become clear as I answer your other questions.
Meditation offers a variety of benefits. For example, it cultivates greater concentration and calm. But perhaps if too much attention is brought to studying the mental and physical benefits, the profound significance of meditation and practices may not be realized. How do we take the next step to the true wakening of spiritual consciousness?
Before answering the question, it would be fruitful to have a clearer understanding of the term “meditation”. It is derived from the verb “to meditate”, which implies thinking and intellectualizing.
Thinking and intellectualizing are in fact the very factors many schools of meditation, including the one I am most familiar with, advice their practitioners not to be involved in. In other words, if you wish to be successful, during your meditation you should not think and intellectualize!
Then, why is the practice called “meditation”? It is because of over-generalization as a result of mistaken translation due to insufficient understanding.
As “meditation” is a Western term, logically it originated from Western culture, referring to a practice employed by early Christian monks in their spiritual cultivation. It involved four processes, namely reading scriptures, praying to God, pondering over God’s words in the scriptures, and reflecting the Truth.
This morphological background is of much significance. It gives assurance to those persons who mistakenly believe that practicing meditation is against Christian culture, that early Christian monks practiced meditation to reflect on God.
Later, various other practices to reflect on God or on Cosmic Reality spread from the East to the West. Although internally they were different, externally they looked similar. Hence, the term “meditation” was used for all these practices.
It was also discovered that those who practiced meditation regularly had many mundane benefits, like reducing anxiety and improving metabolic processes. Soon scientific research proved that meditation enhanced physiological and psychological functions.
This background information enables us to look at both the question and answer with better insight.
We can better understand that if too much attention is brought to studying the mental and physical benefits, like greater concentration and calm, not only we may miss the profound significance of meditation, but also we may deviate from its original aim.
Indeed, this deviation or degradation has begun and has resulted in adverse effects on many practitioners often without their own knowing. Meditation is a training of mind or spirit, and thus mental and physical benefits like improved psychological and physiological functioning, are its bonus, not its goal.
However, not only many practitioners have neither obtained its goal or bonus despite practicing for many years, but instead they have obtained adverse effects! The first requirement as well as the first benefit of meditation is to be relaxed, yet many meditation practitioners have become more stressful the more they practice! Another tell-tale benefit of successful meditation is to be happy and free, yet many practitioners have become more gloomy and depressed!
Meditation, being a training of mind or spirit, is by itself non-religious. In other words, the same meditation exercise can be beneficially practiced by persons of different religions or of no official religion. Its successful practice will make its practitioners more devoted to their own religion, regardless of what religion it is, or more spiritually uplifted if they do not profess a religion.
Why is this so? Why is it that the religious will become more devoted to their religion, and the non-religious will be more spiritually-uplifted? It is because meditation enhances practitioners’ spirit. As all religions deal directly with the spiritual, the religious practitioners will find the teachings in their own religions come alive, whereas those who do not profess a formal religion will have their spirit enhanced. Hence, they become more caring, more compassionate besides becoming happier and more free.
Notwithstanding this, while we become more aware of the goal of meditation, which is the training of the spirit, it does not mean that we will neglect its more mundane benefits, like great concentration and calm, and better physiological and psychological functioning. These are desirable bonuses.
Why do so many practitioners become stressful and depressed when meditation is meant to make them relaxed and happy as bonuses? It is because they fail to realize that meditation is a cultivation of the spirit. Too much focus on studying the mental and physical benefits, ironically aggravates the problem because it further alienates practitioners from cultivating the spirit.
How does meditation, being a training of the spirit, bring physical, emotional and mental benefits? In other words, how does a meditation practitioner, for example, normalize his high blood pressure, overcome his aggressiveness or reduce his mental confusion by cultivating his spirit?
The real person is his spirit, not his body. It is his spirit that has a body, not his body that has a spirit. His spirit is the same throughout. His body, with its physical, emotional and mental manifestations, is changing all the time. Literally millions of his physical cells are disposed off from his body when he breathes out, and millions of new physical cells are born when he breathes in. He may be calm now, and agitated the next moment. Countless thoughts are going through his mind all the time.
When his spirit is well, it is manifested in a healthy body. If his spirit is sick or weak, it is manifested in his body too – physically, emotionally or mentally. To be well is the norm. It is natural to be healthy. To be sick is not. Hence, there is actually nothing fantastic in overcoming high blood pressure, aggressiveness and mental confusion. It is just restoring normalcy, returning to the natural state.
An important principle in traditional Chinese medicine is that all healing starts from the heart. In Chinese the “heart” includes the emotional, mental and spiritual dimensions. The physical dimension is the body.
I have applied this principle in helping thousands of people overcome so-called incurable diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, cancer, depression, phobia and serious viral infection. I do not have to use formal meditation. I use qigong practice and qigong healing, both of which include meditation.
In the same way, when a person is sick, he does not have to do formal meditation which will take a longer time for him to recover. He should see a doctor. By rectifying the bodily disorder, he can restore his spiritual health.
When a person is healthy – physically, emotionally and mentally – he is in a better position to aim for true awakening of spiritual consciousness.
This was in fact what Bodhidharma, the First Patriarch of the Shaolin arts, did at the Shaolin Monastery in the 6th century. He found the Shaolin monks sick and weak, so he taught them the Eighteen Lohan Hands and Sinew Metamorphosis to make them healthy and strengthen them so that they could better practice meditation to attain Enlightenment.
This is also what we do in our school, Shaolin Wahnam. We practice Shaolin Kungfu, Taijiquan or qigong to be healthy and strong so as to enhance our daily work and play as well as for true awakening of spiritual consciousness.
Awakening of spiritual consciousness has a very extensive range, but may be classified into three broad levels as follows.
At the lowest level, it is nurturing the spirit so as to be healthy in all the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual dimensions.
At the middle level, it is to strengthen the spirit to have mental clarity and internal force to attain peak performance in our work and play.
At the highest level, it is to expand the spirit into the Cosmos so as to attain spiritual joys and freedom, and eventually when we are ready to return to our Original State, called variously as Enlightenment, Returning to God’s Kingdom, Attaining the Tao or Union with the Supreme Reality.
But what should you do to take the first step to the true awakening of spiritual consciousness if you were not with Bodhidharma at the Shaolin Monastery or not learning from us in Shaolin Wahnam?
The first step is right understanding. You should understand what awakening of spiritual consciousness is and how to go about it. The second step is to set your aims and objectives. Then you should spend some time and effort to search for the best available teacher within your resources who can help you attain your aims and objectives. The fourth step, which usually takes the most time, is to respectfully practice according to what you teacher teaches. You should also periodically access your progress with reference to your aims and objectives. If you follow these five steps, you will be able to attain the best benefits in a relatively short time.
As mentioned above, awakening of spiritual consciousness has an extensive range. You should set your aims and objectives according to the level you are currently at, and progress accordingly.
If you, like many people today, are stressful, you should first nurture you spirit so that you can be physically and mentally relaxed. If, for example, you are still not satisfied with your work or family life, you should first develop mental clarity and internal force to improve your work and family life.
If you plunge straight to the most advanced level and hope to be enlightened over a summer vacation in an exotic land, not only this is unreasonable and unrealistic, but also you may aggravate your personal, work or family problems instead of enriching your life and the life of other people as spiritual cultivation is meant to be.
The above extract is reproduced from “Your True Nature: Wisdom of Living Masters” by Natalie Deane and Damian Lafont.