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Zen: 10 questions to the Grandmaster

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  • #76
    Zen Question-Answer 13, Part 1

    Zen Question-Answer 13 Part 1:

    Question 13:

    During the wonderful Zen course you trained us to enter Zen in a seated position and you emphasized quality over quantity, suggesting 5 minutes quality daily practice is sufficient.

    Please could you discuss how a Zen practice might develop as a student's attainment develops, from the perspective of physical position, duration or other relevant factors? Please could you highlight any indicators or milestones that can verify progress and provide reassurance that the student is practicing correctly?



    One of the hallmarks of our school is that we focus on quality over quantity, which is a manifestation of our cost-effectiveness. For example, we claim, with justification of course, that our students derive more benefit in six months than most other students in three years. At the Zen course in entering Zen in a seated upright position on a chair, we achieved better result in five minutes than many other students in an hour or two in a lotus position.

    Understandably, other people not exposed to our practice and therefore unaware of the benefits we get, may think that we are boastful. But actually we are modest. In reality, our chi kung and kungfu students get more benefit in six months that what most other chi kung and kungfu students get irrespective of how long they may practice, be it thirty years or their whole lifetime. Our Zen students get more benefit in five minutes of meditation than what most other Zen students get no matter how long they meditate.

    Why is it so? It is because we focus on quality, while others focus on quantity. In chi kung and kungfu, not only we practice the genuine arts, we practice them at a very high level, whereas most other people only practice their outward form and miss their essence.

    Our chi kung students can generate an energy flow and our kungfu students can apply their kungfu for combat, which are the basic benefits of these arts. How may other chi kung and kungfu students can do this after thirty years? Our Zen students feel peaceful and mentally fresh after five minutes of meditation. How many other students can have these basic meditation benefits after meditating for two hours?

    To be peaceful and mentally fresh is the main objective for our meditation practice in our Zen courses. With these benefits, as well as other benefits we get from other practices in our Zen courses, such as being simple, direct and effective, we will have better results in shorter time irrespective of what we do. This is a main aim of the courses.

    If we can realize our objective in five minutes of meditation, it is not only unnecessary but actually unwise to meditate for an hour. Indeed, I believe that many meditation students have become dull and depressed as a result of their meditation practice, instead of being fresh and cheerful which meditation is meant to bring about, is because not only they have practiced wrongly but also they have prolonged their wrong practice.

    It is ironical that some meditation students, who are obviously depressed, boast of their meditating for hours, just as some martial artists boast of the scars and injuries they have sustained. They do not realize that these are indications that they have failed in their training.

    It is also pertinent for our students to be reminded that while we enjoy and value supra-mundane experiences like expanding beyond our physical body or being in touch with the Supreme, we practice Zen for mundane needs, like being peaceful, happy and energetic so that we can better enrich our lives and the lives of other people here and now in this phenomenal world.
    "From formless to form, from form to formless"

    26.08.17-28.08.17: Qi Gong Festival with 6 courses in Bern:
    Qiflow-Triple Stretch Method-12 Sinewmetamorphisis-Bone Marrow Cleansing-Zen Mind in Qi Gong



    • #77
      Thank You Sigung for such concise answers.
      Always a pleasure to read and take in and learn.

      And as always, brilliant questions!



      • #78
        Sifu Andy Cusick

        Shaolin Wahnam Thailand
        Shaolin Qigong


        Twitter Facebook LinkedIn

        "a trained mind brings health and happiness"
        - ancient wisdom


        • #79
          Thank you Sifu and Roland for this amazing Q&A series on Zen!


          Sifu Adalia Iglesias
          Barcelona- Spain


          • #80
            This thread continues to be amazing reading. Thank you so much Sigung, Sisook Roland, and the brothers and sisters who asked these great questions!


            • #81
              Zen Question-Answer 13, Part 2

              Zen Question-Answer 13, Part 3:

              Unlike monks who have renounced the world to cultivate professionally, our aim in Zen training is not to attain Enlightenment or return to God the Holy Spirit. Hence, there is no need to extend our meditation time or to attempt more advanced techniques.

              Nevertheless, though we may not have a need, we may have aspirations for the supra-mundane. This, probably, is what your question means to address.

              Progress in Zen training, as in chi kung and kungfu, may be classified into three main levels as follows.

              1. Good health, including overcoming illness as well as attaining vitality and longevity.
              2. Internal force and mental clarity for peak performance in work and play.
              3. Spiritual cultivation with benefits ranging from being peaceful and relaxed at the basic level to merging with the Supreme at the supreme level.

              There are countless techniques in Zen training. Some examples are reciting a mantra or a sutra, focusing the mind on one object like the dan tian, a Buddha statue, or an imaginary spot, answering an irrational question, serving tea, working in the field, performing a kungfu set and observing the breath.

              These countless techniques serve one, two or all the following three purposes:

              1. Tame the mind.
              2. Strengthen the mind.
              3. Expand the mind.

              In some cultures, “mind” may be substituted by “heart”, “spirit”, “soul” or “consciousness”.

              There are four main postures.

              1. Standing.
              2. Sitting.
              3. Lying down.
              4. Moving.

              The usual postures for Zen training are standing and sitting. In our school, we use Standing Zen, which has served our purpose very well. It includes standing upright to remaining at a particular stance, like Horse-Riding and Three-Circle.

              Sitting Zen includes sitting upright on a seat to sitting in a semi-lotus or full-lotus position. If all other factors were equal, sitting upright on a seat is the simplest of all Zen techniques and sitting in a full-lotus is the most profound.

              Most Zen practitioners use the lotus position, but whether they practice genuine Zen is another issue, to such an extent that many people erroneously believe that Zen training must be in the lotus position.

              The lying down posture is for those too old or weak to use other postures. On the other hand, it is also a posture we recommend to those who have difficulty sleeping. If they can enter into a state of Zen even at the very beginning stage, which means they are physically and mentally relaxed, going to sleep becomes easy.

              The moving posture includes Walking Zen and performing chi kung and kungfu. Many chi kung and kungfu practitioners outside our school do not realize that when they perform their chi kung exercises or kungfu sets, they can also practice Zen. Because they are not aware of this fact, they do not do so, and thus derive no Zen benefits.
              "From formless to form, from form to formless"

              26.08.17-28.08.17: Qi Gong Festival with 6 courses in Bern:
              Qiflow-Triple Stretch Method-12 Sinewmetamorphisis-Bone Marrow Cleansing-Zen Mind in Qi Gong



              • #82
                Wonderful - thank you Sigung! Amazing series.
                With love and Shaolin salute /o

                "Your purpose in life is to find your purpose & give your whole heart and soul to it." - Buddha

                Gate gate pāragate pārasaṃgate bodhi svāhā.


                • #83
                  Zen Question-Answer 13, Part 3

                  Zen Question-Answer 13, Part 3:

                  Why do we practice Zen? The countless benefits of Zen training can be summed up in a neat sentence as follows. The countless benefits can be classified into two main categories, the mundane and the supra-mundane, and Zen training enables us to attain the best in both categories. In other words, no matter what you do, I repeat, no matter what you do, your Zen training will enable you to attain the best result!

                  For example, if you were sick, you would recover faster than had you not practiced Zen. If you have a problem, your Zen training will enable you to solve it well. When you work in your office or spend time with your family or friends, you will have better result due to your Zen practice. If you want to meet God or be connected with the Cosmos, Zen training will give you the best result.

                  This brief analysis of attainment levels, purposes, postures and benefits in Zen training provide a good background to understand how you can progress, why you do so and what you can expect. It also makes you cost-effective, enabling you, for example, to choose the most suitable technique to achieve intended results in relatively short time.

                  In the Zen course you mentioned, our objective was to be peaceful and mentally fresh. These were basic benefits. So I chose the most elementary method, just be conscious of your breathing, without regulating it, while sitting upright on a chair for just five minutes. Had you used a difficult posture like a lotus position, a sophisticated technique like investigating into what Cosmic Reality is, and meditate for an hour, you might end up being more confused and stressful than being peaceful and fresh.

                  This is a big mistake many Zen practitioners make. They use a most profound posture, the lotus position, mediate for hours and hope to attain no-mind, which is Enlightenment or at least a satori, without first attaining the basic pre-requisites for meditation, i.e, being physically and mentally relaxed. Hence, no matter for how long they may practice, they will get little or no result.

                  Attaining peacefulness and mental freshness is the beginning, attaining Enlightenment is the ultimate, and there are countless developmental levels and benefits in between. But, as mentioned earlier, all these countless developmental stages can be classified into three broad levels, namely good health, peak performance, and spiritual cultivation.

                  These levels are guidelines, they are not rigid divisions. Hence, while you focus on good health, you will also have benefits in peak performance and spiritual cultivation, like your vitality enables you to do well in your hobbies and feel peaceful and confident. While you focus on spiritual cultivation, like strengthening your spirit, you will also have benefits in good health and peak performance, like you are emotionally balanced and you enjoy your work.

                  Being peaceful and mentally fresh is at the basic level, which brings good health, vitality and longevity. The next developmental level is developing internal force and mental clarity for peak performance. A choice posture is Standing Zen. Just be, and let cosmic energy soak into you and strengthen you in all aspects – physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. A recommended time of practice is about 10 to 15 minutes.

                  The highest level is spiritual cultivation to attain Enlightenment, which is also called by other terms like attaining the Tao and returning to God the Holy Spirit. We are not ready for this yet, hence the answer here is purely academic. A choice posture is the full lotus position and the recommended time of practice is 15 minutes or more. Basically the technique is to focus the mind at the dan tian and let the mind expand to no-mind, which is All Mind.

                  Asking what indicators or milestones verify progress or achievement is an academic question. The Zen answer is that you will know from direct experience. When you have achieved good health, you know that you have achieved good health. When you perform well in your work and play, you know you have performed well in your work and play. When you have attained spiritual fulfilment like feeling tremendously free and happy, or expanding into the Cosmos, you know you have attained such spiritual fulfilment.
                  "From formless to form, from form to formless"

                  26.08.17-28.08.17: Qi Gong Festival with 6 courses in Bern:
                  Qiflow-Triple Stretch Method-12 Sinewmetamorphisis-Bone Marrow Cleansing-Zen Mind in Qi Gong



                  • #84
                    A golden set of Questions and Answers!

                    Thank you Sifu and Roland Siheng.

                    Best, Zach


                    • #85
                      Amazing Question-Answer serie continues

                      The amazing Question-Answer serie continues. Thank you Sifu.

                      Question-Answer 14, Part 1:

                      Question 14:

                      How can Zen be practiced and manifested in a busy work life,
                      for example in a managerial job - where multiple requests arrive simultaneously, where decisions need to be taken quickly and accurately.



                      Just do it!

                      In other words, in your busy work life, like when you are in a managerial job where multiple requests arrive simultaneously and where decisions need to be taken quickly and accurately, relax and attain mental clarity, make decisions quickly and accurately, and immediately carry out the decisions, without any delay or intellectualization.

                      If it is not feasible to carry out the decisions immediately, carry them out as soon as you can without delay and intellectualization.

                      If you find out that you have made a wrong decision, or there is a better decision, you make an instant change without fuss and without question.

                      Let us take an example. You are in your office with a client in front complaining that the goods he has received is not according to what he ordered, your telephone ringing, and your secretary rushing in saying that a supervisor has asked for emergency leave to take his sick wife to hospital.

                      Some managers not trained in Zen would be flabbergasted. But not you, you are special, you are trained in the Shaolin Wahnam way, which includes Zen.

                      You relax, clear your mind of all thoughts, grasp the situations, make some decisions quickly (usually quicker that what other managers need to realize what is happening), and act on your decisions immediately without fuss and without question.

                      You tell the client in front that you will presently look into the matter, tell your secretary to grant the supervisor leave, and pick up the phone. The person on the phone who is also a client says that your goods is due the following Wednesday but he does not have the cash to pay you as agreed, and asks whether he can pay you a week later. He says that he has just spoken to the sales manager but the latter has asked him to refer to you.

                      You tell this second cleint that you are sorry but it is a policy of the company to receive payment on delivery of goods. You will hold on to the goods for him for a week.

                      Then you call the production manager to come with the order form of the first client. Meanwhile you assure the first client that it is the policy of your company to serve customers to their satisfaction, and if you have made a mistake, you will rectify it immediately. You ask him what the mistake is.

                      He says that he has ordered blue T-shirts but you have sent him red T-shirts instead. He is becoming angry and says that he won’t do business with you again.

                      You remain calm and apologize for his inconvenience, but say that your production manager will soon arrive to confirm whether a mistake is made. If it is your mistake you will rectify it immediately and offer him a 20% discount for his inconvenience.

                      Your production manager arrives with the order form which shows that the first client actually ordered red T-shirts, not blue. It was his mistake, not yours. The client protests and claims that it couldn’t be.

                      You tell him politely that people do make mistakes sometimes. You also tell him that you just produce the goods according to his order, which bears his signature. He then becomes nervous.
                      "From formless to form, from form to formless"

                      26.08.17-28.08.17: Qi Gong Festival with 6 courses in Bern:
                      Qiflow-Triple Stretch Method-12 Sinewmetamorphisis-Bone Marrow Cleansing-Zen Mind in Qi Gong



                      • #86
                        Zen Question-Answer 14, Part 2

                        Zen Answer-Question, Part 2:

                        As you reckon that you can easily sell the red T-shirts to other customers, you assure him not to worry and that you will produce blue T-shirts for him without extra cost. Knowing that you can produce the new T-shirts in three days if you set to work immediately, you ask your client whether it would be alright if you deliver the blue T-shirts in a week’s time.

                        His nervousness turns into a smile, and he thanks you for your kindness. He says that he will certainly recommend his friends to do business with you. You thank him for his business.

                        When the client has left, you tell your production manager to have the blue T-shirts ready in three days’ time and report to you, but deliver them to the client in a week’s time as agreed.

                        You then realize that you might have made a mistaken decision regarding the other client who requested later payment instead of payment on delivery of product. You call your accountant and find out that this client is a regular customer whose payment was always on time. You make a decision on the spot and tell your accountant that this time you allow him to pay a week later as he requested.

                        You call the second client and tell him that you have found out he is your regular customer who always pays on time. As a token of appreciation, you are prepared to modify the company policy this time for his benefit. You will deliver the goods on time but he can pay a week later. He is audibly happy on the phone, thanks you and says that he will recommend his friends to you.

                        Hence, with your Zen training you can overcome problems simply, directly and effectively. “Simply” means you do not fuss or intellectualize over the problems or their solutions. You do not, for example, grumble. thinking what a nuisance the first client is. You do not intellectualize whether the supervisor’s wife was really sick.

                        “Directly” means that you do not approach the problems in a redundant way, like telling the first client that red T-shirts are better than blue ones, or the second client that many promised to pay later but never did. You also do not lecture your supervisor on the importance of his wife practicing chi kung, like you do, so that she will never be sick.

                        “Effectively” means you solve the problems, often turning them into opportunities for improvement, like your clients promising to recommend more clients to you, and your supervisor likely to be a better worker as a result of your generosity.

                        Here you practice Zen, in the sense of putting your Zen training into daily life so as to manifest the benefits of your training. You can do so only if you have practiced Zen, in the sense that you have undergone Zen training.

                        Can you practice Zen, in the sense of undergoing Zen training, if you have a busy work life? Of course you can. In fact, one should because by becoming more cost-effective due to Zen training, not only he can accomplish his work in shorter time with better results, but also he has better health and vitality to make life more rewarding for himself and other people.

                        No matter how busy a person’s work life is, he does not work 24 hours a day. In fact, if he has to work longer than is normal, it is often more a sign of his incompetence than his diligence.

                        In our school, it takes only about 5 to 10 minutes to practice Zen formally. We may, for example, Standing Meditation, One-Finger Shooting Zen, Lifting Water, Cloud Hands, Golden Bridge or any Shaolin or Taijiquan. All these are methods whereby we can practice Zen formally.

                        If needed, we can even practice Zen formally in less than a minute. We just enter into a Zen state of mind, also called a chi kung state of mind or Tao. Hence, even when we are actually involved in making multiple decisions quickly and accurately, as in a managerial job, we can undergo Zen training formally. In fact, we should, as we will be more cost-effective in our decisions. We can be so proficient in our Zen training that our formal practice and informal practice merge together harmoniously.

                        This is Zen. We do not have to sit for hours in a lotus position to practice Zen. We practice and benefit from Zen in our daily life, irrespective of whether we are making serious decisions in our work, enjoying ourselves with our family or friends, or just lying on a beach doing nothing.

                        This is the significance of why when a monk asked a Zen master what Zen was, the reply was whether the monk had eaten his meal.
                        "From formless to form, from form to formless"

                        26.08.17-28.08.17: Qi Gong Festival with 6 courses in Bern:
                        Qiflow-Triple Stretch Method-12 Sinewmetamorphisis-Bone Marrow Cleansing-Zen Mind in Qi Gong



                        • #87
                          Truly amazing. Thank you Sifu, and thank you Siheng Roland. And thanks to anyone who asked a question.


                          • #88
                            This thread, as others have mentioned, is full of gold! Thank you, Sigung, for answering so many questions.
                            I like making silly videos (including kung fu ones!) every so often on YouTube and taking pictures of weird things on Instagram.


                            • #89
                              Grande Finale

                              Zen Question-Answer 15, Part 1:

                              Question 15:

                              When I was in the Intensive Chi Kung Course this past April, you were so kind to show us an application for Zen. That was problem solving. It was only 5 minutes but really impressive for me. I never felt like that before. Everything disappeared. There remained only the question and the answer. Why was it so easy to find a solution for my problem?

                              What are the main applications for Zen in our daily living? Can it be applied to everything we do in life? Why is Zen often described as Simple, Direct and Effective?

                              I can't wait to attend a Zen course with Sifu. If 5 minutes helped me so much in the Chi Kung Intensive Course I can't wait to see what a full course is capable of.



                              I am very happy of your results. Attaining mental clarity that you can solve problems easily is one of the many benefits of the Intensive Chi Kung Course.

                              Though the benefits are the norm, which means that it is really nothing special for course participants to have the expected benefits of the course, like being able to generate an energy flow that will overcome illness and provide good health, vitality and longevity, tap energy from the Cosmos that will strengthen the practitioners physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually, and expand our spirit beyond our physical body to have a satori or to be connected with the Supreme, it is kind of you to mention them here and elsewhere in our Discussion Forum.

                              Your comments verify that what we claim to achieve in our courses is true. It gives confidence and aspirations to deserving students.

                              While these benefits are normal to us, they are incredible to many people, including those who have practiced chi kung or Zen for many years. Why is this so? There are two main reasons.

                              Much of chi kung and Zen practiced today has been so debased that they are no longer genuine chi kung and Zen. Hence, no matter for how long these practitioners have practiced, they will not get even basic chi kung and Zen benefits.

                              But why do we in Shaolin Wahnam get not just basic benefits but what to many people are fantastic benefits, and in such a short time? The answer lies with the second reason, which is two-fold. We teach high-level chi kung and Zen, and we transmit the arts to our students from heart to heart. Hence we get high=level benefits in a very short time.

                              The short answer to your question why it was so easy for you to solve your problem in just five minutes when similar problems might have troubled other people for months is that you saw your problem and solution in a Zen state of mind.

                              A longer answer is as follows. Many people may be aware that they have a problem, but do not really know what their problem is. This is because their mind is constantly troubled by countless wandering thoughts that smother their problem. In other words, because of the countless thoughts going through their mind all the time, they cannot see their problem clearly.

                              When they cannot see their problem clearly, they cannot have a solution no matter how long they may intellectualize on their problem. Actually the more they intellectualize on their problem, the more confused the problem becomes, and the more stressful they are. Eventually they become worn out and dread facing their problem.
                              "From formless to form, from form to formless"

                              26.08.17-28.08.17: Qi Gong Festival with 6 courses in Bern:
                              Qiflow-Triple Stretch Method-12 Sinewmetamorphisis-Bone Marrow Cleansing-Zen Mind in Qi Gong



                              • #90
                                Zen Question-Answer 15, Part 2

                                Zen Question-Answer 15, Part 2:

                                But you and those who have attended my Intensive Chi Kung Course or a Zen course are different. You can be relaxed and clear your mind of all thoughts within a minute. When your mind is cleared of all thoughts, you have pristine mental clarity. So when you placed your problem in your mind, you could see your problem very clearly.

                                More that this, you were tuned into the Universal Mind with universal wisdom. Hence a solution, usually the best solution amongst other possibilities, just emerged. You did not have to think about the solution. In fact, you should not intellectualize at all. The solution just shone out.

                                It was easy for you to find a solution to your problem because you had been well trained for it. Other people would not be able to do so, even when they know the philosophy as explained above, because they do not have the skills. In the same way, it is easy for those who have been trained, to ride a bicycle, swim or drive a car easily, but other people who are not trained in these sills would be unable to do so.

                                This highlights an important fact many people are unaware of. They mistakenly think that if they know the method, they would be able to perform the task the method is purported to do. They mistakenly think that if they know, in theory, that by clearing their mind of all thoughts, they can solve their problems in five minutes, or by performing a suitable chi kung exercise to generate a chi flow, they can overcome their illness.

                                They can’t, even when they know the method because they lack the skills. In the same way, they may know the methods of riding a bicycle, swimming or driving a car by reading a book a watching a video, but they still can’t ride a bicycle, swim or drive a car if they lack the skills.

                                Usually skills need to be learnt from a competent teacher, and acquired after some diligent practice. But our students are special. They have the skills transmitted to them from heart to heart.

                                There are countless applications of Zen in our daily living. Yes, Zen can be applied to everything we do. The countless Zen applications can be divided into two main categories, the mundane and the supra-mundane.

                                We still need the techniques and the required skills, but irrespective of whether they are of the mundane or supra-mundane level, we can accomplish better result and in shorter time if we have undergone Zen training.

                                For example, you may want to cook a meal, read a book, sell a product, manage a company, marry a wife, raise children, win free sparring competitions, feel tremendous freedom, enjoy inner peace, be connected with the Supreme, or perform any mundane or supra-mundane activity, you still need the required techniques and skills, but with Zen training you will accomplish your task faster and with better result.

                                Zen is often described as being simple, direct and effective because that is what Zen is. If you want to cook a meal, for example, you get the necessary ingredients and cook them. You do not intellectualize why you should cook a meal and not buy one from a restaurant, or why you and not your brother should cook it. You do not read up where the ingredients originated, what food value they have, and intellectualize why these ingredients and not others are used, and what will happen to them if they are only half cooked. You just cook a meal, and preferably enjoy it.

                                Yes, if one can benefit so much in just 5 minutes of applying Zen in an Intensive Chi Kung Course, the benefits will be more in a full Zen course. Amongst other benefits, course participants will learn how to evaluate any solutions or actions to test whether they are simple, direct and effective. They will also expand their spirit into the Cosmos and be connected with the Supreme.
                                "From formless to form, from form to formless"

                                26.08.17-28.08.17: Qi Gong Festival with 6 courses in Bern:
                                Qiflow-Triple Stretch Method-12 Sinewmetamorphisis-Bone Marrow Cleansing-Zen Mind in Qi Gong