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Questions to Grandmaster on Wudang Kungfu/Taijiquan & Zhang San Feng

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  • #16
    Thank you very much Sifu for such complete and profound answers. Thank you Tim for the opportunity. Looking Forward to enjoy the courses!
    Last edited by Angel; 16 June 2018, 09:31 AM. Reason: grammar

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    • #17
      Dear Shaolin Wahnam Family,

      If I may, I would like to ask Sifu another question:

      Dear Sifu,

      In the Treatise of Zhang San Feng you mention: "When you have the unity of spirit and energy, you have accomplished the essential practice of Taijiquan and in life. It is a sign showing that you have practiced correctly and live your life well. It is a sign that you have attained the essence of Taijiquan and have a meaningful, rewarding life".

      I remember that in Ireland you also mentioned us to live our lives wholesomely.

      Can you please explain what are the most important aspects for leading a meaningful, rewarding and wholesome life?


      Thanks again to Sifu, Tim Siheng, the Fully Alive Team and all the participants of this thread.

      With Love, Care and Shaolin Salute,

      Santi

      Comment


      • #18
        The Scholar-Warrior-Monk

        Classically , there were four types of Shaolin monks: administrative, scholar, warrior ( or martial ) and service monks.

        As Sifu taught , today in Shaolin Wahnam , we do not really need go to war to be warriors or shave our heads to be monks or write classics to be scholars . We aspire to their ideals, such as the clarity of thought and intellectual depth of a scholar, the courage and righteousness of a warrior, and the compassion and cosmic wisdom of a monk.

        The Partriarch of Internal Arts , Zhang SanFeng , was adept at Confucian scholarship , wrote treatises , a master of Shaolin Kungfu and a Taoist immortal : we may generally say that he is a Scholar-Warrior-Monk

        The Taoist Sage Lao Tze , was a royal librarian and author of the Tao Te Ching who eventually rode on a buffalo …..disappearing into the western mountains to be a hermit : we can generally say that he is a Scholar-Monk .

        The 1 st Zen Patriarch in China and Originator of The Shaolin Arts , venerable Bodhidharma , was a southern indian prince who received training in the arts of war and buddhist meditation at the King’s palace : we may generally say that he is Warrior-Monk .

        The 6 th Zen Patriarch , venerable Hui Neng , despite being illiterate , was famous for an enlightening winning poem in a temple competition and whose teachings were recorded in the famous Platform Sutra : we can say he was purely a service monk ( ie neither a scholar nor a warrior monk ) who became an Enlightened Monk .

        Sigung Ho Fatt Nam was a Taoist Master , Zen Master , Shaolin Qigong-Kungfu Master , Master Healer and avid photographer : Sigung is certainly a Scholar-Warrior-Monk .

        Sifu , if Zhang San Feng taught four un-Enlightened students ( each a lay scholar , a lay warrior , a monk , a lay scholar-warrior respectively ) aiming to become Immortals ( ie still in phenomenal realm ) and if all other things are equal….how will the four rank in descending order of relative speed ( ie 1 st , 2 nd , 3 rd , 4 th ) to attain the abovementioned aim ? Perhaps also possible ranking in absolute time frame ( ie months , years , decades , lifetimes , etc ) ?

        Would the ranking be the same if the aim is to become Enlightened Monks ( ie Attained Zen or Merged with the Tao ) ?

        Much thanks to dear Sifu ...

        to able brother Tim and fabulous Fully Alive Team
        Last edited by Damian Kissey; 17 June 2018, 04:59 PM.
        Damian Kissey
        Shaolin Wahnam Sabah , Malaysia .
        www.shaolinwahnamsabah.com

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        • #19
          A Question, A Legend, A Master....

          Thanks Siheng for this thread, I was hoping it would appear at some point and here it is.

          And thanks to our Sifu /Sigung for his ongoing support, wisdom, answers and kindness.

          My question is;
          In the treatise of Zhang San Feng it mentions the 5 Elements of Wuxing, the 8 Bagua, the 10 Essentials and the 13 techniques.
          From my limited experience it seems the full 72 pattern Zhang San Feng set integrates all of the above principles. It is also apparent that to learn all of the above could potentially take a lifetime to master. or even many lifetimes.

          With regard to the Tajiquan course this year at the UK Summer Camp do some or all of these principles apply in the short form abridged ZSF set, and would Sigung be teaching us any of them in detail on the summer Camp course and what would be the best way to learn and master those above principles?

          Best Wishes
          James
          O\
          Last edited by James L; 18 June 2018, 12:13 AM.
          Aaahhhhh!

          Comment


          • #20
            Question 4

            Hi,

            Here is the answer to question 4...

            Question 4

            How could a practitioner of other styles of Kungfu other than Taijiquan benefit from following the Ten Essentials in Wudang Kungfu practice? Does such practitioner need to be of a high level or can a beginner benefit as well? Is it possible and how can one benefit from following these Ten Essentials to enrich ones daily life?

            Sifu Angel Guillermo, Shaolin Wahnam Puerto Rico



            Answer

            It is worthwhile to remember that at the time of Zhang San Feng in the 13th century, what he practiced was Shaolin Kungfu. It was called Wudang Shaolin Kungfu to differentiate it from Henan Shaolin Kungfu practiced at the northern Shaolin Monastery at Henan which started at about 6th century. Wudang Shaolin Kungfu was later shortened to Wudang Kungfu.

            Wudang Kungfu was earlier than southern Shaolin Kungfu at Fujian Province about the 17th century by about 4 centuries, longer than the histories of many martial arts today.

            We should also realize that there are two main types of Wudang Kungfu today, one initiated by Zhang San Feng at the end of the Song Dynasty, and the other initiated by Fong Tou Tuck in the Qing Dynasty, separated by more than 500 years. Both were derived from Shaolin Kungfu. The Wudang Kungfu of Zhang San Feng, which is more popular, is relatively “soft”, whereas the Wudang Kungfu of Fong Tou Tuck, which is relative unknown, is “hard”.

            The term “Taijiquan” (Tai Chi Chuan) was introduced in the 17th century by Chen Wang Ting who used the principles of yin-yang to describe the philosophy of his martial art.

            As Shaolin Kungfu is the greatest martial art (please see https://shaolin.org/shaolin/greatest.html ), the Ten Essentials in Wudang Kungfu are beneficial to any style of kungfu other than Taijiquan. In fact they are not only beneficial to all martial arts but also beneficial to life.

            The Ten Essentials of Wudang Kungfu advocated by Zhang San Feng are as follows:

            1. Empty your mind of all thoughts
            2. Do not tense any muscles
            3. Loosen your waist
            4. Principle of false-real
            5. Principle of sinking and pressing
            6. Using intention and not using strength
            7. Co-ordination of top and bottom
            8. Integration of internal and external
            9. One gentle, graceful flow without any break
            10. Movement in stillness, stillness in movement

            It is interesting to note that we in Shaolin Wahnam follow these ten essentials before I found the Ten Essentials.

            (Part 2 follows)

            (Continued from Part 1)

            “Empty your mind of all thoughts” and “Do not tense any muscles” are essential conditions to enter into a chi kung state of mind, or entering into Zen or Tao. In Western culture it is entering into a heightened level of consciousness. I discovered them while teaching chi kung to the public, confirmed by the great modern chi kung master from China, Yan Xin, who first used this term. Later when I taught Shaolin Kungfu, especially in overseas courses, and other types of kungfu including Taijiquan, I found these two principles as well as other principles very useful for teaching triple cultivation, i.e. cultivation of body, energy and spirit.

            “Empty your mind of all thoughts” and “Do not tense any muscles” are the very problems faced by most people today, including those who do not practice any martial art. Most people are stressed by myriad thoughts coming to their mind at all time. Most people are tensed without their knowing. Hence, by practicing Wudang Kungfu, which pays much attention to these two principles, one can overcome these two problems.

            Most other people who practice other styles of kungfu as well as other martial arts tense their muscles. They believe that if they do not tense their muscles they will not have strength. They do not know, both the knowledge and the ability, how to use internal force. Indeed, we in Shaolin Wahnam are amongst the very few in the world to have this knowledge and ability. We are so used to emptying our mind of all thoughts and not tensing any muscles that we sometimes forget this fact.

            “Loosening the waist” became noticeable when I started teaching Taijiquan. This principle, of course, helps me tremendously in my kungfu performance as well as in daily life. I believe that in my student days my waist was rigid when I practiced Shaolin Kungfu.

            I understood the “principle of false-real” when I practiced Shaolin Kungfu. “Sounding the East and Attacking the West” is a very important principle. I appled this principle when I used no-shadow kicks.

            “Principle of sinking and pressing” became prominent when I taught Taijiquan. I remember that I was puzzled by “remaining in the middle”, which is one of the 13 techniques of Taijiquan. Then I discovered that it involved body-movement, especially sinking.

            Pressing became prominent recently in my kungfu teaching, though I might have used this principle unconsciously in my early years when sparring with other people. The ever-victorious strategy of apply a trained combat application on an opponent involves pressing.

            “Using intention and not using strength” was emphasized when I taught Taijiquan informally. It was particularly important when I taught “Lifting Water” to Ken, a student in Australia who was also a Taijiquan instructor. I specifically asked him to have an intention of chi flowing to his hands when dropping his arms, and chi flowing into him when raising them. It produced tremendous result. I might use intention in my Shaolin student days, like striking or kicking an opponent, but it was not emphasized.

            “Co-ordination of top and bottom” is important in all styles of kungfu, but it is especially emphasized in Wudang Kungfu of Zhang San Feng, or today Taijiquan. It is expressed as whole body movement, like in shoulder strike or elbow strike. In other styles of kungfu, like in Shaolin Kungfu, only the hands move, like in “Beauty Looks at Mirror” and “Fierce Tiger Speeds through Valley”.

            “Integration of internal and external” reminds us that in internal styles like Taijiquan, external form is also important. It is the external form that gives internal meaning. For example in a palm strike, it is the internal force that damages an opponent, but with the external form of the palm strike, one cannot use his internal force. This principle, which is one of the 10 essentials, is particularly significant in Wudang Kungfu and brings out the best in any external style, like Karate and Taekwondo.

            (Part 3 to follow)
            Tim Franklin

            http://www.theguardianlions.co.uk
            A story of finding Courage and Wisdom

            www.zenarts.co.uk Classes and Courses for Shaolin Kung Fu, Taijiquan and Qigong in Bognor Regis, Chichester, West Sussex

            Fully Alive on Facebook Energy Flow for Health and Happiness

            UK Summer Camp Qigong, Taijiquan, Shaolin Kung Fu, Spiritual Cultivation with Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit

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            • #21
              What is the concept of spirit - energy?

              Dear Sifu,

              This question is from Juan Antonio in Spain (translated by Ángel)


              Dear Sifu,

              I would like to understand better the unión between energy and spirit.

              We cultivate energy and spirit but the concepts may be very different to other disciplines.

              What is understood, or what is the concept of "spirit" in Shaoling Wahnam?
              What is understood, or what is the concept of "energy" in Shaoling Wahnam?

              Thank you very much,

              Juan Antonio
              Tim Franklin

              http://www.theguardianlions.co.uk
              A story of finding Courage and Wisdom

              www.zenarts.co.uk Classes and Courses for Shaolin Kung Fu, Taijiquan and Qigong in Bognor Regis, Chichester, West Sussex

              Fully Alive on Facebook Energy Flow for Health and Happiness

              UK Summer Camp Qigong, Taijiquan, Shaolin Kung Fu, Spiritual Cultivation with Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit

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              • #22
                What is the concept of "flowing with the Cosmos"?

                Dear family,

                Another question has sprung to mind. :-)

                Please could Sifu explain the concept of "flowing with the Cosmos"? Please could he describe what that might look like, feel like, sound like when we are flowing with the Cosmos? Could Sifu also provide any tips on how to detect when we aren’t flowing with the Cosmos, and offer suggestions for ways to get back into flow?

                Thank you Sifu for answering these questions and your inspiring teaching.
                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.

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                • #23
                  Question 6 from Paz

                  Thank you Paz for this question. And also thank you for the the excellent questions asked. When I read the answers to your questions I am reminded overtime how lucky we are (good chi flow) to be able to both train these arts, and also be able to apply them to everyday life to enrich not just our life, but others as well. Thank you...

                  Question 5

                  When a person cultivates his/her spirit, does that have an effect on his/her family and environment, without them doing anything directly or even without knowing about it? Could he or she even change the nature that surrounds him/her (plants, stones and animals)? like improve the feng shui of the places?

                  What would be the most priority and needed principles that the legacy of Zhang San Feng in the practice of Taijiquan that could contribute to the daily life of a student? How could different benefits vary in students who are in a beginner, medium or advanced level? What could be the main limitations for a student who doesn’t achieve good results in his/her practice?

                  Paz


                  Answer

                  When a person cultivates his (or her) spirit, it, i.e. the environment, as well as he (or she), due to his uplifted spirit as a result of correct cultivation, will have an effect on his family and environment, though science in its present stage of development has not explained the betterment. The family or people in the environment have not done anything special, or even know about the spiritual cultivation of the person.

                  I remember reading a classic that the filial piety of a son was so great that it moved heaven to do its work for the son. I also read in another chi kung classic that the good thoughts of a people could affect the environment.

                  We can verify this happening in our school. Although I haven’t performed a scientific research, I believe that most students in our school have a happy family and a happy environment. Whenever our students practice our art, they cultivate their spirit.

                  How does this occur? How does the spiritual cultivation of a person favorably affect himself and his environment?

                  When a person cultivates his spirit, he becomes peaceful and happy. His sense or feeling of peace and happiness spreads and influences other people. This is expressed in the English proverb that “Birds of the same feathers flock together”.

                  You can test out this experiment easily. Speak to someone peacefully and happily. You will have a favorable response. Now speak the same things to someone anrily or rudely. You can be sure that the response will be different.

                  I just had a real event yesterday. I took advantage of a few holidays to visit Sekinchan (a small town in Selangor, Malaysia) famous for rice growing and seafood. A car was parked blocking the entrance, and a stream of cars could not come out of their parking lot. No one dared to ask the driver of the blocking car, who was outside his car, to move the car away.

                  I approached the man and asked him to move his car away so as not to block the stream of cars moving out. He did, but he told me that he blocked the way so as to find out who spoiled his rice plants. He was the owner of a wide field of rice plants, and some people had maliciously stepped on them. I told him that it was wrong for people to spoil his rice plants, but it was also wrong for him to block the entrance. I also told him that if he could forgive these people, he would be richly rewarded, which was true in Cosmic dimension though it was not normally explained in our phenomenal realm.

                  I later told my wife and Wei Foong, who were with me in the trip, that I had kungfu and would be ready to use it if necessary. On hindsight, I realize it is because of my spiritual cultivation. Even if I did not know any kungfu, had I spoken to the man peacefully and happily, which are the fundamental benefits of spiritual cultivation, he would respond favorably.

                  (Part 2 follows)
                  Tim Franklin

                  http://www.theguardianlions.co.uk
                  A story of finding Courage and Wisdom

                  www.zenarts.co.uk Classes and Courses for Shaolin Kung Fu, Taijiquan and Qigong in Bognor Regis, Chichester, West Sussex

                  Fully Alive on Facebook Energy Flow for Health and Happiness

                  UK Summer Camp Qigong, Taijiquan, Shaolin Kung Fu, Spiritual Cultivation with Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit

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                  • #24
                    Question 5 on Wudang Kungfu, Taijiquan and Zhang San Feng -- Part 2
                    (Continued from Part 1)


                    How does spiritual cultivation affect the environment? Theenvironment, in fact the whole universe, is undifferentiated energy, or consciousness, known as “spirit” in some culture. When we cultivate spiritually we improve the quality and quantity of this energy or spirit.

                    In our phenomenal realm, we differentiate this energy or spirit into myriad things. Hence, when a person cultivates his spirit, the improved energy or spirit has a favorable effect on his family and environment.

                    When a person practices spiritual cultivation he can change the nature that surrounds him. It is difficult to believe, but it was true that the famous chi kung master from China, Sifu Yan Xin, could change the molecular structure of liquids. His experiments were confirmed by world renowned scientists.

                    Many years ago before my travels overseas, in an experience a chi kung instructor from our school sucked chi from a luxuriant plant. After a few days the plant withered. Then he sent chi to it. After another few days the plant became luxuriant again.

                    If the weather permits, we practice chi kung, which includes spiritual cultivation, in the open. The chi we emit is bad, but it is good chi to other beings, like ants and plants.

                    “Feng shui” is about chi in places. When we practice spiritual cultivation we improve the chi, thus improving the “feng shui” of the places.

                    The most priority and needed principles that the Legacy of Zhang San Feng in the practice of Taijiquan will contribute to the daily life of students, depend on individuals. Most people cannot relax and empty their mind of all thoughts. If you are a martial artist and want to be successful in sparring, you must perform your movements in one flow without any break.

                    But I can say that all the principles in the Legacy of Zhang San Feng are important. The three courses we have this year -- in England, Puerto Rico and Malaysia -- are wonderful opportunities to highlight them and put them into our daily life.

                    Briefly, the principles of the Legacy of Zhang San Feng are as follows:

                    1. Empty the mind of all thoughts
                    2. Do not tense any muscles
                    3. Loosen the waist
                    4. Apply the principle of false-real
                    5. Apply the principle of sinking and pressing
                    6. Use intention, not strength
                    7. Co-ordinate the top and bottom part of the body
                    8. Integrate internal and external aspects of training
                    9. Perform patterns continuously in one gentle, graceful flow without any break
                    10. Movement in stillness and stillness in movement

                    Personally, I would place as the top priority the principle of emptying the mind of all thoughts. This is listed as the first principle in the Legacy of Zhang San Feng, which is in line with our Shaolin Wahnam philosophy, i.e. the best things are taught first, which contrasts sharply with what many people believe that masters teach their best things last — if they ever teach them.

                    Incidentally, emptying the mind of all thoughts is also the problem faced my most people. No matter what they do, whether walking down a street or eating their breakfast, myriad thoughts come to their head.

                    Some people, due to some odd reasons, confuse emptying the mind of all thoughts with the inability to think. When asked to empty their mind of all thoughts, they believe they may become morons. It is just the opposite. If we can empty our mind of all thoughts, we attain pristine mental clarity.

                    When we have mental clarity, we can perform anything better. The more mental clarity we have, the better we perform.

                    (Part 3 follows)
                    Tim Franklin

                    http://www.theguardianlions.co.uk
                    A story of finding Courage and Wisdom

                    www.zenarts.co.uk Classes and Courses for Shaolin Kung Fu, Taijiquan and Qigong in Bognor Regis, Chichester, West Sussex

                    Fully Alive on Facebook Energy Flow for Health and Happiness

                    UK Summer Camp Qigong, Taijiquan, Shaolin Kung Fu, Spiritual Cultivation with Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit

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                    • #25
                      I wanted to thank Sifu very much, for the insightfully answers to my questions. They have been very revealing for me and very appreciated. Thank you very much!
                      Definitely, as you say Tim, I also feel very fortunate to be in touch with this wonderful arts, which allow us to live and share with those around us with: happiness, calm, health, well-being and prosperity, among countless other benefits!
                      Thank you very much Tim and Barry for opening the space to receive such splendid answers from Sifu.
                      The courses will be great!

                      Best wishes,

                      Paz

                      Comment


                      • #26
                        Applying the principles to every day life

                        Dear Sifu,

                        I'm very much looking forward to summer camp as always.

                        I've been thinking about how to concretely apply the specific principles of Zhang San Feng to everyday life.

                        I have been thinking through them one by one and how I would apply them to typical daily situations like high profile office meetings or dealing with family situations or teaching students in a class environment or even eating a meal or studying for an exam.

                        In some cases the 'application' is very obvious like

                        - Empty the mind of all thoughts
                        - Use intention, not strength
                        - Perform patterns continuously in one gentle, graceful flow without any break

                        But for most of the others it is not so obvious, for example :

                        - Loosen the waist
                        - Apply the principle of false-real
                        - Apply the principle of sinking and pressing
                        - Co-ordinate the top and bottom part of the body
                        - Integrate internal and external aspects of training
                        - Movement in stillness and stillness in movement

                        I would be grateful if you could help 'unlock' some of these and how the specific aspect of wisdom of each of these principles can be applied to such non combat and even non physical everyday exchanges.

                        Thank you!

                        Omar

                        Comment


                        • #27
                          Question from student in London

                          Dear Sifu,

                          Thank you for continuing to answer the questions until July 1st.

                          A student in London has asked the following:

                          Question for Sifu
                          Does Chi gong help us to find the truth ( light) and falseness ( shadow ) in us and see what is true and false in others and in all things.

                          If so
                          How does it do it.

                          Can chi gong help the body find intuitively its own acupuncture points to help close or open channels. That help energy flow. What else is opened and closed?

                          I’m asking these questions because of what I’m noticing in my chi gong movements.
                          Nothing specific just a general impression.
                          Tim Franklin

                          http://www.theguardianlions.co.uk
                          A story of finding Courage and Wisdom

                          www.zenarts.co.uk Classes and Courses for Shaolin Kung Fu, Taijiquan and Qigong in Bognor Regis, Chichester, West Sussex

                          Fully Alive on Facebook Energy Flow for Health and Happiness

                          UK Summer Camp Qigong, Taijiquan, Shaolin Kung Fu, Spiritual Cultivation with Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit

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                          • #28
                            Originally posted by Tim View Post
                            Question 5 on Wudang Kungfu, Taijiquan and Zhang San Feng -- Part 2
                            (Continued from Part 1)
                            Part 3 of question 5:

                            (Continued from Part 2)

                            Three principles that I list as contributing to daily life are as follows:

                            1. Apply the principle of false-real
                            2. Integrate internal and external aspects of training
                            3. Perform patterns continuously in one gentle, graceful flow without any break

                            My choice of the three principles is much influenced by the fact that I am a kungfu master. But I am sure that these principles help me not just in kungfu but also in daily life.

                            I applied the principles of false-real in much of my sparring. I give a feint move to distract an opponent, then strike him will a real move. In daily life, distraction is very important. Many successful persons distract their opponents, then materialize their intention.

                            To classify kungfu into external and internal is for convenient. All martial arts are internal and external. A karateka needs to be calm when in combat. His calmness is internal. In the past, a ninja needed a lot of patience to wait for his opponent. His patience was internal.

                            Martial artists can beat their opponents because their movements are in one continuous flow. If their movements were staccato, they might not have won. Performing various movements in one flow is important in daily life. If a businessman is staccato, not only he would waste time, he might not be successful in his endeavor.

                            While these principles are important to all students irrespective of whether they are at a beginner, medium or advanced level, they are also progressive in importance. In other words, emptying the mind of all thoughts is relatively important for beginners, integrating internal and external aspects of training is relatively important for medium students, and performing patterns continuously in one gentle, graceful flow without any break is relatively important for advanced students.

                            If beginners do not empty their minds of all thoughts, which will result in mental clarity, they will be unable to practice their art or be successful in their daily life. Similarly, if medium students cannot integrate internal and external aspects of their training, or advanced students cannot perform their movements continuously in one flow, they may fail in their art or daily life.

                            For example, in their daily life if beginners do not have mental clarity, they will fail in whatever they do. If medium students do not have perseverance in their work, i.e. do not integrate internal and external aspects of their training, they will not be successful. If advanced students do not perform their task continuously in one flow, they will waste a lot of time.

                            The Legacy of Zhang San Feng is not just to be successful in Wudang Kungfu or Taijiquan, but more significantly in our daily life.

                            <End>
                            Tim Franklin

                            http://www.theguardianlions.co.uk
                            A story of finding Courage and Wisdom

                            www.zenarts.co.uk Classes and Courses for Shaolin Kung Fu, Taijiquan and Qigong in Bognor Regis, Chichester, West Sussex

                            Fully Alive on Facebook Energy Flow for Health and Happiness

                            UK Summer Camp Qigong, Taijiquan, Shaolin Kung Fu, Spiritual Cultivation with Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit

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                            • #29
                              Sitting Meditation

                              Have you wondered why we don't practice sitting meditation? Well here's the answer...

                              Question 6

                              In Sifu’s incredible translation of the Treatise of Zhang San Feng he explains that meditation was an essential part of the cultivation, and SIfu goes on to explain why we don’t emphasise sitting meditation in our school, preferring the expedient means of standing meditation and flowing meditation due to our different aspirations.

                              I’m curious to know Sifu’s view of how separate meditation practice might have been integrated into Zhang San Feng’s training. Does Sifu have a view, for example, of how long he might have sat in meditation (compared to how much he might have practised Wudang Kungfu), what type or method of meditation he might have practised, and how would this aspect of his spiritual cultivation have contributed to his development and attainment?

                              Although we have different aspirations, I’m sure many in our school do practice some form of meditation, perhaps sitting on a chair as I do, in addition to our other qigong and Tajiquan practice.

                              Could Sifu recommend any specific meditation methods that if practised, would complement our Tajiquan training, whether they are the same or different from what he has taught on various Zen courses in recent years? I have a suspicion the answer may mirror some of the ten essentials such as being relaxed and not thinking of anything, but I'd love to hear this from Sifu.

                              Matthew



                              Answer

                              It is significant that in his Treatise Zhang San Feng did not specifically mention sitting meditation (in a lotus or semi-lotus position). By meditation, we mean spiritual cultivation. He emphasized the cultivation of energy and spirit.

                              However, sitting meditation was a very important part of Zhang San Feng’s cultivation. There was no mention of how much time Zhang San Feng spent in sitting meditation, but I believe he would have spent more time in sitting meditation than in his kungfu practice. That was the norm of spiritual cultivators. Monks at the Shaolin Monastery, including kungfu monks, spent more time in sitting meditation than in anything else. After all, sitting meditation was the paramount path to the highest attainment of spiritual cultivation, called variously as attaining Buddhahood, merging with the Tao, or returning to God the Holy Spirit.

                              Our aim is not to attain the highest spiritual cultivation. There are five aims in Shaolin Wahnam:

                              1. To be healthy.
                              2. To have vitality.
                              3. To have longevity.
                              4. To have mental clarity.
                              5. To have spiritual joys, like being peaceful and happy.

                              For those who practice kungfu, we have another aim, which is to have combat efficiency.

                              There are two reasons why I don’t teach sitting meditation.

                              My practice of sitting meditation has made me very powerful, so powerful that I don’t want to carry this burden. I also do not want others to carry this burden too.

                              This was the immediate reason. I taught sitting meditation every night at Shaolin Wahnam Association, the for-runner of our Shaolin Wahnam Institute. But after discovering this tremendously powerful burden, I stopped teaching it.

                              (Part 2 follows)
                              (Continued from Part 1)

                              The second reason was, and still is, that we could attain in standing meditation what serious spiritual cultivators hoped to attain in sitting meditation. Benefits of meditation, in any form, range from being relaxed as the basic to merging with transcendental Supreme Reality as the highest, with all other benefits in between.

                              We can attain all benefits in standing meditation, except perhaps the powerful burden I mentioned earlier. Standing meditation is safer and faster.

                              Meditation is not just sitting crossed legged or in a lotus position. It is the training of mind, or spirit. There are four positions for meditation, namely standing, sitting, moving and lying down.

                              These four positions were not mentioned by Zhang San Feng in his Treatise. But he emphasized that cultivation of energy and spirit was very important. Anyone who misses cultivation of energy and spirit would have missed his teaching. In Zhang San Feng’s training, every movement involved cultivation of energy and spirit. We have benefited from Zhang San Feng’s teaching. Every movement in any of our arts is cultivation of energy and spirit.

                              I spent more time in sitting meditation than in practicing Wudang Kungfu. But if we are to compare the time in practicing kungfu, especially Shaolin Kungfu, I would have spent less time.

                              I spent a lot of time in sitting meditation, but I also spent a lot of time in standing meditation, like standing at the Wuji Stance before and after each practice. Spiritual cultivation has contributed very much to my development and attainment.

                              I am peaceful and happy, not just during meditation, but also at all times. Many people have been kind to mention that I am wise and courageous, two of the qualities we aspire to cultivate in our school. In my younger days, I sparred with many people, including masters and professionals, and I remained undefeated.

                              Every time we practice our arts, we perform triple-cultivation, i.e. we cultivate our body, our energy and our mind or spirit. It is not just in formal practice, like meditating on a chair or performing Taijiquan, but also in our daily life that we develop our desirable qualities. When we walk along a street, for example, our mind is free of irrelevant thoughts, or when we carry on our daily activities we do so with vitality.

                              Taijiquan as taught by Zhang San Feng is triple-cultivation, i.e. cultivation of energy and spirit besides cultivating the body. A useful piece of advice is to make every movement a masterpiece.

                              The answer here indeed mirrors all the Ten Essentials of Taijiquan. During the time of Zhang San Feng, it was called Shaolin Kungfu. As Shaolin Kungfu is the best martial art (please see https://shaolin.org/shaolin/greatest.html for its justification), these Ten Essentials are not only excellent for any martial art but excellent for daily living.

                              <End>
                              Tim Franklin

                              http://www.theguardianlions.co.uk
                              A story of finding Courage and Wisdom

                              www.zenarts.co.uk Classes and Courses for Shaolin Kung Fu, Taijiquan and Qigong in Bognor Regis, Chichester, West Sussex

                              Fully Alive on Facebook Energy Flow for Health and Happiness

                              UK Summer Camp Qigong, Taijiquan, Shaolin Kung Fu, Spiritual Cultivation with Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit

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                              • #30
                                Understanding and translating part of the Treatise...

                                Question 7


                                Sifu’s translation/explanation of the Treatise contains the following:

                                “All these aspects operate in yin-yang harmony to achieve the micro-Cosmos in you, which mirrors the macro-Cosmos in the Universe.”

                                Does this statement suggest that the correct practice of genuine Tajiquan leads to the attainment of the small universe and the big universe?

                                Does Sifu have a view of whether this would have been a consequence/effect of the correct practice or perhaps a goal of the practice? What is Sifu’s considered view of whether Zhang San Feng, already a master in Shaolin Kungfu, would have already achieved the small or big universe before he started cultivating on he Wudang mountain?

                                Part of Sifu’s explanation of the Treatise includes the following:

                                “when dynamic energy has become dynamic to the extreme, quiescence begins. This is symbolized as extreme yin creates yang, and extreme yang creates yin.”

                                In this boundless (and expanding) universe, I’m really curious about the idea that there are limits to how dynamic energy could become. Absolute stillness seems more comprehensible to me as a concept than there is a limit on how energetic something could become. Could Sifu please elaborate on how such limits exist and how energy cannot simply get more and more dynamic to an infinite extent?

                                Matthew



                                Answer

                                The statement does not suggest that correct practice of genuine Taijiquan will lead to the attainment of the Small Universe and the Big Universe. Any practitioner who wishes to have the Small Universe and the Big Universe must learn the methods to do so.

                                The statement mentions that there are two aspects to one reality, and these two aspects are represented as yin and yang. When yin and yang are in harmony, they are manifested in a person as a micro-Cosmos, which mirrors the macro-Cosmos of the Universe.

                                Let us take a reality as practicing Taijiquan. This one reality, i.e. practicing Taijiquan, can be manifested as yin and yang, which are for health and for combat. If a person practices Taijiquan just for health, or just for combat, it is not harmonious. This disharmony is not just manifested in him as a person as the micro-Cosmos, but also in society as the macro-Cosmos.

                                This is the consequence, effect or goal of correct Taijiquan practice. If the correct practice is of a low level, the practitioner will take a long time to have little benefit. If the correct practice is of a high level, the practitioner will take a short time to have much benefit.

                                Unfortunately, most people who practice Taijiquan today do not practice correctly, and usually they are unaware of it. Not only they cannot use Taijiquan for combat, they do not have good health that practicing Taijiquan would give.

                                Zhang San Feng was already a master of Shaolin Kungfu before we went to cultivate on the Wudang Mountain. I believe he already had the Small Universe and the Big Universe. On the Wudang Mountain he continued his cultivation to merge with the Great Void.

                                In another part of the Treatise, Zhang San Feng mentioned that when dynamic energy comes to an extreme it starts to become quiescence, and when quiescent energy comes to an extreme it starts to become dynamic.

                                This is necessary so that our world, or the universe, can carry on. If something continues to be dynamic or quiescent infinitely, the world, or the universe, will be unable to continue harmoniously.

                                Let us take an example at the micro-Cosmic level. When we perform Taijiquan movements, we are dynamic. Then when we have completed the movements, we become quiescent. Then when we perform Taijiquan movements again, we become dynamic. This process goes on harmoniously.

                                At the macro-Cosmic level, when people work in the day time, they are dynamic. At night when they sleep, they become quiescent. When they wake up in the day time, they work again to be dynamic. Again this process goes on harmoniously.

                                Your idea of energy becoming more and more dynamic is closely linked to the theory of an expanding universe. Please remember that it is still a theory -- not a fact. If we continue with this theory, and using the principle of extreme dynamism leads to quiescence, and extreme quiescence leads to dynamism, we may conclude that eventually the expanding universe would collapse and be quiescent again. Then the Big Bang may start and the universe expands.

                                <End>
                                Tim Franklin

                                http://www.theguardianlions.co.uk
                                A story of finding Courage and Wisdom

                                www.zenarts.co.uk Classes and Courses for Shaolin Kung Fu, Taijiquan and Qigong in Bognor Regis, Chichester, West Sussex

                                Fully Alive on Facebook Energy Flow for Health and Happiness

                                UK Summer Camp Qigong, Taijiquan, Shaolin Kung Fu, Spiritual Cultivation with Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit

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