Taming your Monkey Mind with Martial Arts & Meditation Training

Terry Hodgkinson Sifu at Shaolin Temple in China

Terry Hodgkinson Sifu at Shaolin Temple in China

Contrary to what most people think, Kung Fu or Gongfu, the martial arts often depicted in Chinese movies, is not just about self-defence or physical fitness. It is a philosophy and a set of specific skills honed throughout centuries in order to develop the body, the mind, and the spirit – which in traditional Asian cultures are seen as parts of the same whole. In Kung Fu, the spiritual and the physical realms are distinct but not separate, and when cultivated through mental and physical exercises, will result to a growth in our personal awareness and consciousness. This growth in turn will reflect in our health, our relationships and our interaction with the rest of the universe.

Terry Hodgkinson Sifu, long time martial arts and meditation teacher and author of a groundbreaking book “Memoirs of a Wandering Ninja – Walking the Path of Enlightenment” asserts that martial arts are some of the best ways towards self-discovery and the awareness of the true-self.

An essential element of Kung Fu is self-control which enables you to control not just your movement, but your mental and emotional states. This is achieved through grounding yourself in your “power center” or the life force, which in Chinese philosophy is called tan t’ien, or the sea of chi. Chi is the energy that Kung-fu masters draw from the tan t’ien to places inside and outside the body. And that is how they can achieve some amazing feats like breaking a pile of bricks. However, breaking bricks is only for demonstration; the real benefit of this inter connectedness is when it is applied to enhancing the quality of our life journey.

Kung Fu exercises help you locate and ground yourself in this centre or tan tíen area, using specific breathing techniques and movements. The effect is liberation from your mind’s restless thinking known in Zen Buddhism as the “monkey mind” and delivers you into the awareness of the present moment where your true power resides. It is here that you are in full control of your personal responses no matter how stressful, pressured, or intimidating your external circumstances are. It is about controlling your feelings and your ego so that you respond from your true centre rather than from rapid thoughts or from fleeting emotions.

Terry Hodgkinson Sifu in meditation

Terry Hodgkinson Sifu in meditation

A black belt, for example, will remain calm and detached in the presence of an opponent. He does not allow his ego to get in the way of his movements. Beginners can be dangerous as they respond with emotions and can unintentionally hurt you or themselves unnecessarily, which is contrary to the spirit of martial arts training. In Kung Fu, we see each other as partners, catalysts towards improvement, not opponents. You work with each other, not against each other; true competition is where you are focusing on yourself to become better in all that you do. After all, the original meaning of Kung Fu refers to one’s expertise in any skill achieved through hard work and practice, not only martial.

And that is why success in martial arts is not just the colour of the belt but the improvement of lives. By being able to manage energies and feelings, being able to detach from the ego, and being able to let go of the need to be right, students become masters over their own feelings and their actions – they cease to react to situations but rather, they act from their core. They have learned to be grounded, to be centered. That is why you notice real Kung Fu adepts remain calm and serene in the most adverse situations.

Harmony within and without is what Kung Fu is all about. This is the harmony that seeks higher common good, the Way. Part of the training in martial arts is learning how to fall and to trust that you won’t get hurt, yet even if you do get hurt you have the inner strength to continue on. As the ancient Oriental proverb says, “Fall down seven times, stand up eight.”  This experience frees us from any fear, which is a very liberating moment for all martial arts students.

So while it is true that Kung Fu and other martial arts equip you with the necessary skills to defend yourself against external attacks, but deeper than that, the discipline provides you with the skills to defend yourself against internal attacks – your ego, your fears, your feelings, and your reactions. This is a path to enlightenment, peace and happiness.

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Getting to the Root of the Problem with Skilled Life Coaching

Puzzle head black and white

I have clients come to me for many different reasons. What I’m about to share with you is an actual client session that happened today and how the client came for one reason only to realize it was something entirely different they were here for. This is where an expert coach can help a client figure out exactly what the missing pieces are to their success. I am not sharing everything that was said, only some of the more substantial dialogue to help get my point across.

Coaching Clients Terry Hodgkinson

 

 

 

 

 

First session in Personal Life Coaching and Hypnotherapy.

Me: Okay, tell me what you want?

Client: I don’t know why I’m putting on so much weight?

Me: Okay, so what is it you want instead of putting on so much weight?

Client: I just can’t seem to keep the weight off and I’ve been working on it for a very long time, years even and it just seems to be getting worse as time goes on. I’m really stuck!

Me: Are you open to doing a little exploratory investigation, into the reasons this might be happening and why the change towards what you want is not occurring for you right now?

Client: Absolutely, I need to get to the root of my problem, that’s what I want!

Me: Okay, let’s start with if you have any medical conditions?

Client: I had cancer years ago but I’m okay now. I have digestive issues. Other than that I think I’m good.

Me: Okay, what do you do for exercise?

Client: Just jointed a gym again and I’m going almost everyday out of the week.

Me: How long has it been since you had a gym membership?

Client: Years!

Me: Okay, at least your back on track with getting in consistent exercise now, it’s just a matter of keeping with it.

Client: Yes, that’s what I aim to do.

Me: What are your eating habits like?

Client: Well I always seem to be hungry but on the most part I think they are pretty good. Well my intention is good at least.

Me: Okay, please explain.

Client: Well I bought protein shakes as a meal replacement at breakfast but I usually have the protein shake and the meal too. So I try to replace my lunch time meal but I end up having food again with my shake. I have dinner but then usually when I get home from night school, at 10 or 10:30pm I eat again.

Colourful head

Me: What time do you go to bed?

Client: Around 11 or 11:30pm

Me: That’s not much time for your digestion to work and do you think that might be too much food your eating during the day?

Client: Well I was always told that if you want energy you have to eat a lot and sometimes I get tired even exhausted especially in school at night and I think I need to eat more to get my energy back so I can be better at learning.

Me: Do you know what process in your body takes up a lot of energy?

Client: No

Me: Digestion. If you are eating all that food during the day your body is going to take time and energy to digest. Not to mention that if you are eating right before you go to bed and then sleep you will not have digested your dinner in the morning when you wake up and then you put breakfast on top of it? That’s a lot to digest, that’s a lot of energy being used up. Are you an athlete?

Client: (laughs) Umm no, quite far from it actually!

Me: Well if you were that might explain why you need all that food as you might be using it for the excessive energy that an athlete would require.

Client: Wow, I never looked at it like that before. I always thought I wasn’t eating enough for my energy.

Me: It actually might be the other way around. You are most likely eating too much and your body is in the process of constant digestion. This could be a very good reason why you have little energy and digestive issues as well.

Client: I’m always tired, actually I’m always exhausted.

Me: What about stress? Would you say you are experiencing a little or a lot right now?

Client: Well depends.

Me: On?

Client: I have a really good job. A few years back I was promoted to managing people in my department and I suck at it. Well not really at knowing what needs to be done but rather at the managing people part. I can’t stand when I’m confronted, challenged or someone is in competition with me. This creates massive stress for me.  I was actually fired in my last job because I couldn’t deal with the issues facing me, in regards to handling conflict with people I was in charge of managing.

Me: Tell me some more if you would?

Client: Sure. I seem to back down and give up when I’m confronted. If I’m challenged, I give in and let the person have whatever they want rather than put up a fuss, even if I know I’m right. When this continues, I start acting like a little frightened kid and start to avoid by coming in late, ignoring people, missing deadlines for work assignments. It get’s worse if the stress of the situation is prolonged. I don’t take as good care of my personal hygiene as I should and I withdraw, just not caring about my job anymore. That’s how I got fired on my last high paying job.

Me: Sounds like some heavy self-sabotage going on there?

Client: Yes, I just don’t like any conflict or competition, I’ve never felt as though I could handle it and once again I find myself in that same position with people in my new job now.

Me: If you are going have a position in working with people in this capacity, you are more likely than not going to have these kinds of issues come up. It’s just part of what comes with working with people as a supervisor. There may be a deeper issue here.

Client: Like what?

Me: Like poor self worth, where you feel you are not good enough to stand up for yourself, even if it comes to holding on to your job?

Client: Sniff, sniff. (facial expression takes a sudden change, looking very sad)

Me: (I give the client a minute then…) What do you think of what I just said?

Client: (Begins to cry) Yes, I think you are right. (Cries more now, reaches for kleenex box)

Me: Could there be a void inside of you that you are trying to fill up due to this lack of self worth?

Client: What do you mean?

Me: All that food you are eating, seems like you are trying to fill up a hollow space on the inside?

Client: (Sobs now, blow nose and in almost broken english do to sobbing says) Wo..w, yo..u know I thin..k you are right. I’ve never realized it before, I feel terrible, why couldn’t… I se…e it?

Sad young woman.

Me: Perhaps you just weren’t ready to see it. However you did come to me wanting to get to the root of the problem correct?

Client: Yes

Me: (Time for some initial pre-framing to create room in the clients mind to allow for change) Well, I think we may have just discovered it. The good thing is that it’s a huge realization and a wonderful one at that. This means that with a little time and some resources you will be able to heal your self worth and grow stronger day by day. Eventually reaching  your personal and professional goals. Now isn’t that something to feel good about and worth smiling for?

Client: (a few more sobs then a smile) Yes, it’s just going to take some work I guess.

Me: Absolutely it will. However, keep in mind that the work you do from this point forward will be steps that are only leading you closer to your long term happiness and freedom. No longer will you have to struggle, in endless self-sabotage cycles like you have done so in the past with many chronic symptoms to show for it, like your poor digestion weight management and loss of career advancement opportunities.

Client: Ya, that’s true and I certainly look forward to that day. (lets out a big  breath with a sigh.)

Me: (Time to begin re-framing the client’s perception) Here’s an idea to start off with. Instead of freezing in uncomfortable situations at work, imagine that you start dancing instead (client looks kind of funny at me). Imagine it’s simply a role you are playing, when you begin to treat it as such, as if it were part of a big play that includes the different roles of your life, then you can enjoy yourself. So imagine that your self worth is strong and you can dance instead of shrink. Okay, maybe you don’t break out into a full fledge boogie in front of everyone in your work environment, instead you imagine that you are dancing up a storm in your mind and darn right enjoying yourself too. You are relaxed, playing, having fun and it becomes easy for you to handle any strife or competition you are faced with, you just dance right through it!

Client: (Big smile) Wow, I like that!

Happy Young Woman With Hand Over Heart

Me: So let’s work on helping you to heal and gain the necessary resources for this to happen first at the subconscious level, then it will be easy at the conscious level, during your everyday activity. Are you ready for the hypnosis part of your session now?

Client: Oh yes!

During hypnosis about 20 minutes into it.

Me. And imagine now that you have all that you need and desire. You feel stronger than ever before and all those new resources and skills are working perfectly for you, EXACTLY when and where you need them the most. You are at work and the old strife and conflict of the past from others, THAT IN THE PAST use to bother you so much, once again rears it’s head. You may not have all the answers to solve the issues at the moment but YOU KNOW one thing for sure!  This time instead of running away, you grab its hand and begin to SWING YOUR PARTNR ROUND AND ROUND, breaking into the most fun and energetic dance off you have ever known! As a matter of fact you never knew it could be SO MUCH FUN to dance a gig like that!

Client: (relaxed laying back…all of a sudden breaks into the biggest smile and laughs…she’s dancing in her mind, – at that moment I anchor that state of mind for her and further strengthen and then help her to utilize it)

At the end of session.

Client: This was awesome. Finally I feel I have deep clarity into the real issue and I feel much better. Thank you.

Me: Thank you for being open, honest and sincere with regards to your personal growth. I’m really looking forward to seeing you dance!

I hand her a copy of the recording and remind her to listen to it once each day or better yet a few times each day if possible, before our next session in a week. I want those positive anchors installed to continue to grow and strengthen for her, with spaced listening repetition.

Terry J. Hodgkinson – Life Coach, Hypnotist, NLP, Reiki and Meditation Therapist.

Terry J. Hodgkinson’s Websites:

www.PositiveChangesEtobicoke.com

www.TaoJourneys.com

www.ChungFuMartialArts.com

www.TerryHodgkinson.ca

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Hippies and the I Ching. Peace, Love & GroovIChingness? (Part Four)

 

Note: You may benefit from reading the first three parts to this I Ching series before reading this forth addition. Click here to read part one,  part two. part three.

Over the years the I Ching has gotten a bad rap. Many people put it in the same category as fortune-telling where you would go and see some one who would do a reading for you and tell you about your future. While this is true, that people did indeed use it for the purpose of profit of others’ fortunes, the truth is the I Ching was meant for one’s own personal wisdom. For one’s own personal counsel where there would be no need to seek out someone else to help you understand the laws of nature and change, you could ascertain them yourself if you understood how to use the book.

Tie Dye I Ching

In the 60’s the hippies got ahold of the I Ching and it became associated with…”the counter- culture generation that never wanted to accomplish anything worthwhile, a generation of misfits, of dropouts and nonconformists”. Certainly anyone who had intentions of making something of themselves in life and achieving grand goals, wouldn’t be caught dead reading such an esoteric, useless book that seemed to assure certain people that it was fine to have absolutely NO ambition in life! Now don’t get me wrong I actually loved the hippie culture and I believe it brought a needed course correction and exploratory flare to the stiffness and over regimented style of the 50’s.

But then something quite extra ordinary started taking place. CEO’s, business people, musicians even scientists, started to embrace the I Ching wisdom for their own personal and professional needs. Musician George Harrison, who composed the Beatles song While My Guitar Gently Weeps, recalls he “picked up a book at random, [the I Ching] opened it, saw “gently weeps”, then laid the book down again and started the song”. Actor Mark Rylance revealed that he used the I Ching in 1987 when making a crucial career choice between the National Theatre and Steven Spielberg. He chose the theatre, and has never looked back.

So the I Ching was recognized for being a useful helper and a tool for guidance on many levels. Click here if you would like to read a a partial list of known people the I Ching has influenced at one time or another. 

I personally never knew any of what I speak of above regarding the I Ching and who used it or why they used it, when I first started using it. Then again, I was 16 at the time. I was first introduced to it when I was 14, my martial arts instructor would read pieces of hexagrams such as, “#3 Difficulty at the Beginning, #4 Youthful Folly, #6 Conflict, #16 Enthusiasm or#18 Work on What Has Been Spoiled” to name a few. This was to help us in our martial arts training to become better practitioners of the art and skill. It might as well have been written in a different language at that time, I really didn’t understand much of it. With time however, and further usage, reflection and meditation I started to gain a better awareness of it’s wisdom. Without a doubt reading the I Ching and consulting it in times I needed clarity in certain situations helped me out personally in innumerable ways.

Now I take groups of people to the very home of where the I Ching was born…China. Each year I take interested seekers to the Taoist Wudang Mountains where we study the I Ching and they get to learn how to consult the book for their own use. We also practice Tai Chi and meditation with the Chinese masters on Wudang Mountain. The sight seeing and the wonderful organic food we get to eat are a bonus. You can learn more about the trips I lead here —-> Mastering the Tao Nature Within

~ Terry J. Hodgkinson Sifu

Below is the forth part regarding Carl Gustav Jung’s foreword in the Wilhelm/Baynes addition of the I Ching. Enjoy. Please leave comments or questions. Thank you.

Carl Jung Synchronicity

“Although this procedure is well within the premises of Taoist philosophy, it appears exceedingly odd to us. However, not even the strangeness of insane delusions or of primitive superstition has ever shocked me. I have always tried to remain unbiased and curious — rerum novarum cupidus. Why not venture a dialogue with an ancient book that purports to be animated? There can be no harm in it, and the reader may watch a psychological procedure that has been carried out time and again throughout the millennia of Chinese civilization, representing to a Confucius or a Lao-tse both a supreme expression of spiritual authority and a philosophical enigma. I made use of the coin method, and the answer obtained was hexagram 50, Ting, THE CALDRON.

In accordance with the way my question was phrased, the text of the hexagram must be regarded as though the I Ching itself were the speaking person. Thus it describes itself as a caldron, that is, as a ritual vessel containing cooked food. Here the food is to be understood as spiritual nourishment. Wilhelm says about this:

The ting, as a utensil pertaining to a refined civilization, suggests the fostering and nourishing of able men, which redounded to the benefit of the state. . . . Here we see civilization as it reaches its culmination in religion. The ting serves in offering sacrifice to God. . . . The supreme revelation of God appears in prophets and holy men. To venerate them is true veneration of God. The will of God, as revealed through them, should be accepted in humility.

Keeping to our hypothesis, we must conclude that the I Ching is here testifying concerning itself.

When any of the lines of a given hexagram have the value of six or nine, it means that they are specially emphasized and hence important in the interpretation.[5] In my hexagram the “spiritual agencies” have given the emphasis of a nine to the lines in the second and in the third place. The text says:

Screen Shot 2016-08-11 at 5.09.43 PM

Thus the I Ching says of itself: “I contain (spiritual) nourishment.” Since a share in something great always arouses envy, the chorus of the envious[6] is part of the picture. The envious want to rob the I Ching of its great possession, that is, they seek to rob it of meaning, or to destroy its meaning. But their enmity is in vain. Its richness of meaning is assured; that is, it is convinced of its positive achievements, which no one can take away. The text continues:


Screen Shot 2016-08-11 at 5.10.11 PM
Thus the I Ching says of itself: “I contain (spiritual) nourishment.” Since a share in something great always arouses envy, the chorus of the envious[6] is part of the picture. The envious want to rob the I Ching of its great possession, that is, they seek to rob it of meaning, or to destroy its meaning. But their enmity is in vain. Its richness of meaning is assured; that is, it is convinced of its positive achievements, which no one can take away. The text continues:

The handle is the part by which the ting can be grasped. Thus it signifies the concept  one has of the I Ching (the ting). In the course of time this concept has apparently changed, so that today we can no longer grasp the I Ching. Thus “one is impeded in his way of life.” We are no longer supported by the wise counsel and deep insight of the oracle; therefore we no longer find our way through the mazes of fate and the obscurities of our own natures. The fat of the pheasant, that is, the best and richest part of a good dish, is no longer eaten. But when the thirsty earth finally receives rain again, that is, when this state of want has been overcome, “remorse,” that is, sorrow over the loss of wisdom, is ended, and then comes the longed-for opportunity. Wilhelm comments: “This describes a man who, in a highly evolved civilization, finds himself in a place where no one notices or recognizes him. This is a severe block to his effectiveness.” The I Ching is complaining, as it were, that its excellent qualities go unrecognized and hence lie fallow. It comforts itself with the hope that it is about to regain recognition.

The answer given in these two salient lines to the question I put to the I Ching requires no particular subtlety of interpretation, no artifices, no unusual knowledge. Anyone with a little common sense can understand the meaning of the answer; it is the answer of one who has a good opinion of himself, but whose value is neither generally recognized nor even widely known. The answering subject has an interesting notion of itself: it looks upon itself as a vessel in which sacrificial offerings are brought to the gods, ritual food for their nourishment. It conceives of itself as a cult utensil serving to provide spiritual nourishment for the unconscious elements or forces (“spiritual agencies”) that have been projected as gods — in other words, to give these forces the attention they need in order to play their part in the life of the individual. Indeed, this is the original meaning of the word religio – a careful observation and taking account of (from relegere) the numinous.

The method of the I Ching does indeed take into account the hidden individual quality in things and men, and in one’s own unconscious self as well. I have questioned the I Ching as one questions a person whom one is about to introduce to friends: one asks whether or not it will be agreeable to him. In answer the I Ching tells me of its religious significance, of the fact that at present it is unknown and misjudged, of its hope of being restored to a place of honor — this last obviously with a sidelong glance at my as yet unwritten foreword,[9] and above all at the English translation. This seems a perfectly understandable reaction, such as one could expect also from a person in a similar situation.

But how has this reaction come about? Because I threw three small coins into the air and let them fall, roll, and come to rest, heads up or tails up as the case might be. This odd fact that a reaction that makes sense arises out of a technique seemingly excluding all sense from the outset, is the great achievement of the I Ching. The instance I have just given is not unique; meaningful answers are the rule. Western sinologues and distinguished Chinese scholars have been at pains to inform me that the I Ching is a collection of obsolete “magic spells.” In the course of these conversations my informant has sometimes admitted having consulted the oracle through a fortune teller, usually a Taoist priest. This could be “only nonsense” of course. But oddly enough, the answer received apparently coincided with the questioner’s psychological blind spot remarkably well”…. TO BE CONTINUED – – Carl Gustav Jung

 

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Therapeutic Communication Model

Upcoming events in Toronto

Turtle Qigong/ Tai Chi Practice Saturday July 23

Travel Pictures, Stories, Tea and Laughs

Events in China

Mastering the Tao Nature Within – Retreat to the Taoist Wudang Mountains 

Events in India

Awaken your Inner Guru – Retreat to the foothills of the Himalayas in Rishikesh

Therapeutic Communication Model

Written by Terry J. Hodgkinson, July 13th, 2016

Communication is many things to many people. Did you know that communication can be used as a form of therapy? I can hear you now; “well of course communication is therapeutic!” And you would be right in saying so. However, not all communication is intended to be conducive for positive results, never mind therapeutic!

Terry Hodgkinson & Anjali Hill

Through my journeys as a Wandering Ninja, my wanderings have taken me to many teachers and I’ve studied many valuable tools for self empowerment and actualization. None have been more powerful and healing as the communication model I am about to share with you now. The picture is with me and Anjali (Rita) Hill. I studied advanced therapeutic communication with her back in the mid 90’s.

At first glance it looks simple, perhaps too simple to really be all that I have said it to be. Rest assured I would never introduce something to you that I have not practiced and experienced first myself and offered to others who are close to me to benefit from, and benefit they have for many years now! On the Enlightenment Intensive retreats that I facilitate we use this communication model quite extensively as one of the components of the Enlightenment Technique, on the journey to having a direct experience of the truth aka Satori.

So I ask you to take a few moments and work at grasping the understanding and simple  power of this model. Have a look at the picture below:

Theraputic Communication Model by Terry J. Hodgkinson

This picture comes from a set of manuals I created for my martial arts organization called Beyond Kung Fu Studios. It was mandatory study for all those who wanted to join the instructors training program and eventually teach at our martial arts schools. We held true to the concept that interpersonal communication was ultimately important. If you had excellent communication skills with those you were closest to then your communication ability and feeling of being centred within would carry forward to your students, even in group situations, and you would  be a more effective communicator/teacher.

Sure you can look at this model and think, “Ya nothing special” or you can take a little time and put some effort into practicing it! If you do, I’m quite certain you will notice substantial results if you stick with it for a bit. I don’t mean months: I mean even in one session, which could be an hour of your time that you can experience a significant shift within.

The first step is to understand the components to the communication model thoroughly. i.e.

1. choice

2. affinity

3. reality

Once you and your partner, whom you are entering into a communication session with, understand these key therapeutic principles you will be on your way. However, it’s not good enough that you simply ‘understand’ them. You must both agree on and embrace these components whole-heartedly, for your communication cycles to be pure and effective.

When you hold the components I’m describing here, in a way to be almost sacred, and understand they are a container of sorts, a guidance system that you adhere to, then you will be making great progress in your communication with yourself and your partner.

To begin, decide who will be the listening partner and who will be the speaking partner first. You start by the listener asking a question (or in a way presenting an instruction to their partner) while maintaining full, soft attention on them. (There are three sample questions that can be used for practice at the bottom of the explanation sheet I’ve provided just above.) Once the question has been presented the listener doesn’t say anything else until the speaking partner has finished their full expression, then a simple but sincere “Thank you” is spoken.  The speaking partner should take a little time to receive the question, contemplate it, notice what comes up as a result of that contemplation and then express whatever that is to the listening partner. This cycle (receiving the question, contemplate, notice what comes up as a result of your contemplation and then communicate that to the best of your ability) can take 5 minutes but shouldn’t take too much longer than that. After the cycle is complete and the listing parter has said “thank you”, switch over; the speaking partner becomes the listening partner and the listening partner becomes the speaker and the communication cycle begins again.

When you are the listening partner your ‘part’ is to listen with undivided attention on your partner and not commence so such things as the usual social niceties that most of us do almost unconsciously while interacting. You know, mannerisms like when you shake your head yes or no excessively in reaction to what your partner is saying. or blurting out things like  “oh yes I know what you mean” or “I hate that/I love that”. These kind of responses often are the norm in everyday communication but they tend to persuade the person you are in communication with, even if  unintentionally, in a way that might suggest you are agreeing or disagreeing with what they are saying.  This can influence what they say next. In the communication model I share with you here, it calls for a neutral listening parter, one whose intention is to simply understand their partner’s expression or communication, from THEIR point of view without any judgement or overboard response on your part. That doesn’t mean you have to be a cold, or robot like, it’s merely a simple kind line to not over indulge in the usual norms of interacting that come with their own inherent meaning. What we are doing here is cleaning things up a little, adding a little Zen touch, making communication cycles pure, therapeutic in nature.

Generally speaking it’s best if you are new to this communication model to have someone experienced in this work who can be present as a third person referee. Their sole job is to make sure the components  and structure of the model are being followed. This is important, due to the fact, when you get emotional and chances are you will,  you often become emotionally charged from the feelings you are experiencing and the component guidelines and structure tend to take a step back out of ones immediate awareness and such break down. Also all communication should be free from guilt trips or directly involving your listening partner. What this means is you don’t want to say something like, “I really hate it when you do this, you’re such an idiot!” or “I don’t know why I’m talking, it’s not like you are capable of understanding me anyways!”. While you feel warranted in saying such things, it won’t help build the affinity that is required to help the healing magic work in communication. If that was true then people would have wonderful communication all the time, yet all too often the reverse is true. When people hear this kind finger pointing or accusing language they tend to detach, shut down or do the very opposite; become quite aggressive!

The third party is there to hold the communication container together, to make sure the two people in communication are flowing within the guidelines and also respecting of each other’s time in the balance of speaking and listening (known as communication model structure).

There is more I could say on how exactly this communication model resolves issues from ones past and helps heal as well as create greater respect building a natural loving cohesiveness between the two communication partners.  But I think I will leave that for another article.

On a personal note: I’ve healed many old emotional wounds from childhood practicing this communication model. When you are not received well in your communication (your ability to feel like someone has really understood you) with another then old, un-received communications of yours that have not been delivered will tend to stack up in your mind’s outbox. Sometimes for many people they stack up so high that they can’t really see their way anymore and break down as healthy, functional human beings. If people continue to have unresolved communication issues, this can result in neuroses, or even psychosis.

So if you are ready for a change and crave greater connection with important people in your life while needing to feel lighter, less weight on your shoulders, and a greater sense inner contentment, I urge you to give this a shot! If you need further guidance with this model all you need to do is reach out and contact me. I’m available for a free consultation and assistance.

Interpersonal communication

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Did the I Ching Teach Synchronicity Before Carl Gustav Jung? (Part Three)

Note: You may benefit from reading the first two parts to this I Ching series before reading this third addition. Click here to read part one. Click here to read part two.

So what does synchronicity mean anyways? According to the  Merriam-Webster dictionary it means:

“the coincidental occurrence of events and especially psychic events (as similar thoughts in widely separated persons or a mental image of an unexpected event before it happens) that seem related but are not explained by conventional mechanisms of causality —used especially in the psychology of C. G. Jung”

Long before I had ever heard of Carl Jung or his synchronicity concept, I was having my own “coincidental occurrence of events”.  The ironic thing is that during my teen years I was consulting the I Ching pretty much on a daily basis, but never took the time to read the foreword of the only translation I used for many years . Of course it was written by none other than Carl Gustav Jung; coincidence? I think I skimmed over it once; at that age, I only saw a lot of complicated words that I could neither make head nor tail of and pretty much said, “screw it!”.

Youthful Folly

I remember one time I grew tired of consulting its wisdom. It seemed at times to really peeve me off, especially when I didn’t get the answer I wanted.  So I started questioning the accuracy of the I Ching and with a rebellious nature, I thought, “this is a load of crap, it can’t really show me insights about my life and changes to come. It’s got to be me just believing it to be so right? I mean it’s just a book!” So I pulled out three coins and tossed them six times (the standard method I was taught and used for consulting its wisdom back then) and wrote down the corresponding lines. Then I checked them on the chart at the back of the book and arrived at Hexagram #4, Youthful Folly. I read it and a few specific paragraphs practically jumped off the pages and punched me in the face:

“The Judgment

YOUTHFUL FOLLY has success.

It is not I who seek the young fool;

The young fool seeks me.

At the first oracle I inform him.

If he asks two or three times, it is importunity.

If he importunes, I give him no information.

Perseverance furthers.

…A teacher’s answer to the question of a pupil ought to be clear and definite

like that expected from an oracle; thereupon it ought to be accepted as a key

for resolution of doubts and a basis for decision. If mistrustful or

unintelligent questioning is kept up, it serves only to annoy the teacher. He

does well to ignore it in silence, just as the oracle gives one answer only and

refuses to be tempted by questions implying doubt.”

 After I picked my jaw up off the floor, my rebellious nature yelled out “This is just a coincidence!” After all I was a teenager, need I say more?  I continued with my line of thinking: “Go on, roll the coins again, and you will get something that is more favourable; it’s just a crap shoot anyways!” So I did. I wrote down the line formations with each roll, not paying any attention until I finished. I then glanced at the formed hexagram, then at the one I had rolled first. “No F*#^ing way! It can’t be??” But it was… I had just rolled the EXACT SAME HEXAGRAM. #4, Youthful Folly! Can you say BOOT TO THE HEAD!?! This time when I picked my head up off the floor, I started to wonder; what are the odds?

I certainly don’t know because I sucked at math in school! I never claimed to be brilliant, only that I was a seeker of knowledge and the knowledge I was interested in sure wasn’t math! The I Ching in its wise way and most appropriately, had just bestowed upon me the royal finger!

Up yours, learn something!

I licked my egotistical wounds and  never again questioned the legitimacy of the I Ching or its accuracy for that matter. From that point on we had an understanding and respect for each other. Me, I respected the Book of Changes as kind of a living entity. The I Ching, I imagined respected me realizing that I was a mere mortal, trying to find my way in this ebb and flow of existence. Thank you I Ching, Yijing or Book of Changes, for accepting me as your student. Inserting my full and gracious martial art bow here. – Terry J. Hodgkinson

Below is the third part regarding Carl Gustav Jung’s foreword in the Wilhelm/Baynes addition of the I Ching. Enjoy. Please leave comments or questions. Thank you.

“The manner in which the I Ching tends to look upon reality seems to disfavor our causalistic procedures. The moment under actual observation appears to the ancient Chinese view more of a chance hit than a clearly defined result of concurring causal chain processes. The matter of interest seems to be the configuration formed by chance events in the moment of observation, and not at all the hypothetical reasons that seemingly account for the coincidence. While the Western mind carefully sifts, weighs, selects, classifies, isolates, the Chinese picture of the moment encompasses everything down to the minutest nonsensical detail, because all of the ingredients make up the observed moment.

Thus it happens that when one throws the three coins, or counts through the forty-nine yarrow stalks, these chance details enter into the picture of the moment of observation and form a part of it — a part that is insignificant to us, yet most meaningful to the Chinese mind. With us it would be a banal and almost meaningless statement (at least on the face of it) to say that whatever happens in a given moment possesses inevitably the quality peculiar to that moment. This is not an abstract argument but a very practical one. There are certain connoisseurs who can tell you merely from the appearance, taste, and behavior of a wine the site of its vineyard and the year of its origin. There are antiquarians who with almost uncanny accuracy will name the time and place of origin and the maker of an objet d’art or piece of furniture on merely looking at it. And there are even astrologers who can tell you, without any previous knowledge of your nativity, what the position of sun and moon was and what zodiacal sign rose above the horizon in the moment of your birth. In the face of such facts, it must be admitted that moments can leave long-lasting traces.

In other words, whoever invented the I Ching was convinced that the hexagram worked out in a certain moment coincided with the latter in quality no less than in time. To him the hexagram was the exponent of the moment in which it was cast — even more so than the hours of the clock or the divisions of the calendar could be — inasmuch as the hexagram was understood to be an indicator of the essential situation prevailing in the moment of its origin.

This assumption involves a certain curious principle that I have termed synchronicity, a concept that formulates a point of view diametrically opposed to that of causality. Since the latter is a merely statistical truth and not absolute, it is a sort of working hypothesis of how events evolve one out of another, whereas synchronicity takes the coincidence of events in space and time as meaning something more than mere chance, namely, a peculiar interdependence of objective events among themselves as well as with the subjective (psychic) states of the observer or observers.

The ancient Chinese mind contemplates the cosmos in a way comparable to that of the modern physicist, who cannot deny that his model of the world is a decidedly psychophysical structure. The microphysical event includes the observer just as much as the reality underlying the I Ching comprises subjective, i.e., psychic conditions in the totality of the momentary situation. Just as causality describes the sequence of events, so synchronicity to the Chinese mind deals with the coincidence of events. The causal point of view tells us a dramatic story about how D came into existence: it took its origin from C, which existed before D, and C in its turn had a father, B, etc. The synchronistic view on the other hand tries to produce an equally meaningful picture of coincidence. How does it happen that A’, B’, C’, D’, etc., appear all in the same moment and in the same place? It happens in the first place because the physical events A’ and B’ are of the same quality as the psychic events C’ and D’, and further because all are the exponents of one and the same momentary situation. The situation is assumed to represent a legible or understandable picture.

carl-jung-

My argument as outlined above has of course never entered a Chinese mind. On the contrary, according to the old tradition, it is “spiritual agencies,” acting in a mysterious way, that make the yarrow stalks give a meaningful answer. These powers form, as it were, the living soul of the book. As the latter is thus a sort of animated being, the tradition assumes that one can put questions to the I Ching and expect to receive intelligent answers. Thus it occurred to me that it might interest the uninitiated reader to see the I Ching at work. For this purpose I made an experiment strictly in accordance with the Chinese conception: I personified the book in a sense, asking its judgment about its present situation, i.e., my intention to present it to the Western mind”….TO BE CONTINUED. – Carl Gustav Jung.

Terry Hodgkinson leads TRAVEL RETREATS to the Taoist Wudang Mountains for personal development and spiritual enhancement. The I Ching is part of the study on his retreats. For more information, click on Wudang, China Retreat, Mastering the Tao Nature in You For information on Terry Hodgkinson’s retreat to India, click on Awaken Your Inner Guru

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Is “Good Fortune” Part of the I Ching’s Guidance? (Part Two)

“Perseverance brings good fortune. It furthers one to cross the great water.” You hear this more than a few times in the ancient Chinese book of wisdom called the I Ching. Or as stated in part one of this multi-part blog series on the I Ching, the book is also known as: Yijing, Book of Changes.

Such forecasts for better or for worse regarding “crossing the waters appear in eleven of the sixty-four hexagrams in the ancient divination book. Sometimes it will even tell you that it does not further one to make the crossing, for at this time there are great risks and the last of sixty-four hexagrams speaks of a “little fox”: “if…after nearly completing the crossing [he] gets his tail in the water, there is nothing that would further.”

High Wave

3000 years ago crossing a great water (river, lake or ocean) was no easy feat. It can still be tricky in modern times although we have humongous boats and sturdy, steel-reinforced, bridges to make it safer that were nonexistent in ancient times. So if you crossed the great water back then, you were doing so most likely because you had something very important to attend to, something that required your immediate attention and therefore the need to cross trumped any risk involved. Otherwise, why else would you be so haphazardness in your actions? So if you were thinking of doing so, that is, making a big decision in your life that had risk involved and the consulted oracle (hexagram) you received said, “crossing the great water brings misfortune”, it’s probably not in your best interest to do so at this time, unless you have a huge ship or steel reinforced bridge in your back pocket to do so safely. Even at that, keep in mind that big ships can sink too…everybody remembers the story of the Titanic right?

There are times where the consulted oracle recommends, “crossing the great water” and also says that doing so will bring “good fortune“. Well just incase that isn’t self-explanatory, let me help, “you got this man,  you’re in the zone, bust a move…or simply that’s a big GREEN light that says go for it pal!”

Below is the second excerpt  addition from Carl Jung’s foreword in the Wilhelm/Baynes I Ching or Book of Changes. The first one came with part one of this I Ching blog series and if you haven’t read it I would recommend reading it first. You know the old saying; “don’t put the cart before the horse”,  or in our modern day one might say; “don’t push the gas pedal until you have slipped that baby into drive!” or something like that anyways.

– Terry J. Hodgkinson

Enjoy the excerpt below and remember, change is not always easy but it is consistent. Contact me if you would like an I Ching reading done. I’ve been doing it for years for instructors, students, staff members and friends. It’s now one of the services I provide along with many others. Of you can  join us on my next travel retreat I lead to the Taoist Wudang Mountains in China. Here I do a reading for all trip participants as part of the trip package. Can you imagine being up in the mystical misty mountains amerced in the vibrant, spiritual energy of the Tao… while having an Yijing reading done? It’s quite magical I tell you! Don’t believe me however listen to what Joyce had to say from last years trip:

 

Carl Jung foreword excerpt:

“I am greatly indebted to Wilhelm for the light he has thrown upon the complicated problem of the I Ching, and for insight as regards its practical application as well. For more than thirty years I have interested myself in this oracle technique, or method of exploring the unconscious, for it has seemed to me of uncommon significance. I was already fairly familiar with the I Ching when I first met Wilhelm in the early nineteen twenties; he confirmed for me then what I already knew, and taught me many things more.

I do not know Chinese and have never been in China. I can assure my reader that it is not altogether easy to find the right access to this monument of Chinese thought, which departs so completely from our ways of thinking. In order to understand what such a book is all about, it is imperative to cast off certain prejudices of the Western mind. it is a curious fact that such a gifted and intelligent people as the Chinese has never developed what we call science. Our science, however, is based upon the principle of causality, and causality is considered to be an axiomatic truth. But a great change in our standpoint is setting in. What Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason failed to do, is being accomplished by modern physics. The axioms of causality are being shaken to their foundations: we know now that what we term natural laws are merely statistical truths and thus must necessarily allow for exceptions. We have not sufficiently taken into account as yet that we need the laboratory with its incisive restrictions in order to demonstrate the invariable validity of natural law. If we leave things to nature, we see a very different picture: every process is partially or totally interfered with by chance, so much so that under natural circumstances a course of events absolutely conforming to specific laws is almost an exception.

Carl Jung

The Chinese mind, as I see it at work in the I Ching, seems to be exclusively preoccupied with the chance aspect of events. What we call coincidence seems to be the chief concern of this peculiar mind, and what we worship as causality passes almost unnoticed. We must admit that there is something to be said for the immense importance of chance. An incalculable amount of human effort is directed to combating and restricting the nuisance or danger represented by chance. Theoretical considerations of cause and effect often look pale and dusty in comparison to the practical results of chance. It is all very well to say that the crystal of quartz is a hexagonal prism. The statement is quite true in so far as an ideal crystal is envisaged. But in nature one finds no two crystals exactly alike, although all are unmistakably hexagonal. The actual form, however, seems to appeal more to the Chinese sage than the ideal one. The jumble of natural laws constituting empirical reality holds more significance for him than a causal explanation of events that, moreover, must usually be separated from one another in order to be properly dealt with…” – by Carl Gustav Jung

READ PART THREE

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Is the I Ching aka Yijing or Book of Changes a fortune telling book? (Part One)

I’ve been involved with the study of the I Ching for… let’s just say a very long time, as in decades. I don’t really want to give away the exact amount of time or I’d for sure be dating myself!

I Ching, Yiching or Book of Changes

If you talk to many people who have heard of the I Ching aka Yijing or Book of Changes, they would say that it’s nothing but a fortune telling book. Even some Chinese people, the culture from where the I Ching originated often say this! I know this because I lead tour retreats over to Wudangshan, the heart of Taoist teaching in China. The reason people say the books is for fortune telling is because there are those who use the I Ching to make money from telling people their future, however this is not what it’s meant to be used for. The true meaning of it’s usefulness resides in it’s teaching of understanding the cycles of constant change. In my limited knowledge of the I Ching, my understanding is that it cannot tell you about your exact future, like a fortune teller or a psychic might try to do. It can give you a glimpse at how things might turn out however, if you follow or don’t follow a certain course of action.

As many years as I’ve been studying this ancient book and still feel that I’m a beginner in understanding it’s vast depth of wisdom. Sometimes I wonder if the structure or format of it’s trigrams and hexagrams are even of this world at all.  The deeper I get into my studies with it, the more I wonder if the core base of knowledge does not come to us from another dimension or world of understanding? Ya I know, sounds crazy right? Welcome to my world!

Bagwa Yin Yang

I’ve been personally consulting the I Ching since I was 16 years old on matters in my life. I have to say it’s helped me out a number of times I’m I’m incredibly grateful for this! In my next blog I will explain a little more about my personal experience regarding consulting the I Ching as well as share more factual information on this great body of wisdom.  Over the years I’ve also given a great many consultations for students instructors and students at my martial arts schools and friends.

Below is an excerpt from Carl Jung’s foreword to the Wilhelm/Baynes version of the I Ching aka Yi Ching. I will add more of his foreword in blog posts to follow.

– Terry J. Hodgkinson

“If the meaning of the Book of Changes were easy to grasp, the work would need no foreword. But this is far from being the case, for there is so much that is obscure about it that Western scholars have tended to dispose of it as a collection of “magic spells,” either too abstruse to be intelligible, or of no value whatsoever. Legge’s translation of the I Ching, up to now the only version available in English, has done little to make the work accessible to Western minds. Wilhelm, however, has made every effort to open the way to an understanding of the symbolism of the text. He was in a position to do this because he himself was taught the philosophy and the use of the I Ching by the venerable sage Lao Nai-hsüan; moreover, he had over a period of many years put the peculiar technique of the oracle into practice. His grasp of the living meaning of the text gives his version of the I Ching a depth of perspective that an exclusively academic knowledge of Chinese philosophy could never provide…. ” – by Carl Gustav Jung

…TO BE CONTINUED

READ PART TWO

P.S. I named my third martial arts school after a hexagram in the I Ching called Chung Fu. Click here to read more about the meaning of Chung Fu.

P.S.S. Each year, I lead travel retreats to the heart of Taoist teaching at Wudangshan in China. Click here to learn for more information.

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Pain and Freedom A Personal Memoir by Dan Woo

 

Henry David Thoreau said,

“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.”

I am fortunate in life that I have friends who not only hear a different music but step with it also. They range from (vocation wise)  musicians, therapists, students, business owners, inventors, martial artists, massage therapists, medical doctors, store clerks, ex CIA agents and yes…even lawyers. Dan Woo is a lawyer, a friend and my dharma brother! He has given me permission to post his recent essay and pictures here. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have. Thank you Dan! – Terry J. Hodgkinson

PAIN AND FREEDOM

By Daniel D. Woo (© 2016)

Saturday, January 30, I attended an all-day retreat at the Seattle Insight Meditation Center (http://seattleinsight.org/About/Who…) led by two teachers in the Insight Meditation lineages.

In addition to several 30 minutes unguided silent sitting meditations, the teachers had the participants practice two self-inquiry walking meditations. The first one required contemplating two questions during 30 minutes of mindful walking:

(1) Where is my physical Dukkha; and

(2) How does this lead to personal freedom?

Dukkha was originally translated from the Sanskrit by scholars as “suffering.” This is the First Noble Truth in Buddhism: “Life is suffering.” Later more modern scholars determined that Dukkha more properly includes a continuum of “suffering” from mild unease, discontent, anxiety, through heightened states of anger, rage, fear and every kind of negative, afflictive, toxic and deadly emotional states.

The Second Noble Truth is that there are causes for Dukkha. They are desire (thirst, needs, wants, and similar states of lacking), aversion (ranging from avoidance to fears) and delusions (ranging from denial, illusions, conditioned and habitual reactions and responses, opinions to insanity). The Third Noble Truth is that there can be an end to Dukkha, and the Fourth Noble Truth describe the means to such end, through the Noble Eightfold Path.

This recent Dukkha exercise was a short experiment that compressed the actual 18 months personal experience for me perfectly. I am sharing my experience and a variety of practices that always afforded me (and never deprived me) in any single day of states of appreciation, gratitude and joy, despite my physical condition. In those states is freedom.

Background Health Problems: Because of pain when walking or running in 2003, I went to a sports medicine clinic where x-rays and bone scans were taken. I was informed that due to previous soccer injuries, my left hip had advancing osteoarthritis which would continue to deteriorate until I would need a new hip implant. By the end of 2009, I no longer could run or play any sports because of severe pain in my left hip, including a complete loss of feeling in the left lower body when the pain came. In January 2010 after more x-rays and a bone scan, I was told that I had severe osteoarthritis but advised not to get a hip implant until some issues resolved over the safety of certain kinds of implant devices. The osteoarthritis advanced until May 2014 when my hip gave way and I fell. On August 13, 2014, I had a total left hip replacement surgery. On August 18, 2014, my body had a massive allergic and inflammatory response to the medications. Urgent Care had to pump me up intravenously with medications for two hours to stop the swelling and allergic reaction. The next night on August 19, 2014, a 4” x 6” piece of skin ballooned out from and then fell off my lower left leg exposing raw meat. This opening developed into an open wound which didn’t close until early March 2015. I had related post-surgical or open wound complications including infections, edema, inflammation, etc. Finally in late November 2015, I was able to walk again without pain.

Because the Urgent Care doctors on August 18, 2014 (and later my family physician) were unable to identify what caused my allergic swelling and inflammatory reaction, I was told not to take any kinds of medication, whether OTC (over the counter) or prescription, for pain or anything else. Thus for 18 months, I went through daily intense pain and disabilities without the aid of any pain-killers.

By the 4th of November 2014, new bone growth into the roughened outside metal of the hip implant device was holding the implant firmly into place, as this X-rays shows (x-rays edited for privacy).

Dan's exray

 

A Bag of Bones: I grew to appreciate having skin. For two months, my wound drained copiously before my doctors sent me to the Wound Care Clinic where for about 5 months, a tight high tech fabric was wrapped around my left leg from below the toes to just under the knee, immobilizing my ankle. Now I appreciate having skin even more. There’s a very old description of a man being a bag of bones. Here I am typing now, a man wrapped by an unbroken sheet of skin.

How does this kind of Dukkha lead to freedom?

Full Mind; More Pain: Self-inquiry or investigation provides insights into the mind and sensations. In the Four Foundations of Mindfulness (Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta, also known as Vipassana Meditation and Insight Meditation) taught by the Buddha, a student develops in the following order:

  1. Mindfulness of Body (from gross to subtle)
  2. Mindfulness of Feelings
  3. Mindfulness of Thoughts
  4. Mindfulness of Objects of Thought.

Over years of daily practice, I found that I can and in the past did increase my physical pain unknowingly with my thoughts, conscious and unconscious. Thoughts build physical pain into something it’s not. It’s as if I had an infinite pain amplifier that goes up a level every time the knob is turned by a thought. What are the turnings of the knob? Thoughts such as the following:

  1. I don’t deserve this.
  2. I did something wrong in the past and this could have been avoided.
  3. I need this to go away right now.
  4. I think this will get worse.
  5. I can’t live in my own skin with this pain (or in my case for many months, I didn’t actually have all of my skin).
  6. Why can’t the doctors do something right away?
  7. Why don’t the doctors know how long this will last?
  8. This will last forever.
  9. No one appreciates my pain.

The Great Compassion Practice. I had learned early in my practices about the mind and pain. I wrote in another blog in Satiama about how in October 2003, practicing Tonglen (the Tibetan Great Compassion practice) ended over 12 years of personal chronic back pain with periodic disability with acute spasms. (See http://www.satiama.com/tonglen-and-letting-go-of-pain-by-daniel-d-woo/ )

What I See: Mindfulness practices help develop the ability to see reality without all the limitations and filters of conditioned training, education and culture or the filters of difficult emotions. When angry, the phrase “I see red” is commonly used. We don’t see the full spectrum of colors and shades when caught in the self.

On May 5, 2014, after my hip failed and I fell, I drove 1.5 miles to a grocery store. On the way I noticed old people in walkers or using canes and injured young people using crutches. They hadn’t just popped into existence. My eyes noticed them in particular because I knew that I would have to talk to an orthopedic surgeon about my hip.

On May 10, 2014, I had a lunch planned with a friend in my neighborhood. When I hobbled from a parking lot into the restaurant, the first person I noticed was a large young man in a wheelchair waiting for take-out. After lunch I hobbled a few stores down to a consignment shop where one of the workers kindly showed me where the used canes were.

Light and Colors: In June 2003 when I was in my 6th month of daily meditation, mindfulness and contemplative practices, I was swimming in a large indoor pool where one wall was glass. The rising sun’s light shown directly on the pool. In the midst of a lap, suddenly time seemed to stop, the colors became intensely vibrant and I could see every drop of water as I continued swimming and the effects of direct sunrays, intersecting sunrays, refracted sunrays and reflected sunrays with each stroke. I got out of the pool saying to myself what happened? I don’t know even today but my take-away was that I thought I knew colors and light, but I didn’t. So what else didn’t I know?

In the 18 months of pain, I always knew there was light and colors if I only breathed and opened my eyes. And I could see.

This photo of our cat Willie was taken on the 10th of November 2014, almost three months after a total left hip replacement surgery, a few feet away from my bedroom. I didn’t know then that it would be another year before I could walk without pain. Willie was enjoying the light coming through a window and I enjoyed watching Willie in the light.

Png5

I Am Not Alone: There is a famous parable in Buddhism about grief and suffering.

Kisa Gotami and the Parable of the Mustard Seed

A famous parable of Buddhism is called The Parable of the Mustard Seed. It is found in the foundational texts of Theravada Buddhism. It revolves around a woman named Kisa Gotami, who lived during the time of Buddha’s life when he had already achieved nirvana and was traveling to impart his teachings upon others.

“Kisa’s only child, a very young son, had died. Unwilling to accept his death, she carried him from neighbor to neighbor and begged for someone to give her medicine to bring him back to life. One of her neighbors told her to go to Buddha, located nearby, and ask him if he had a way to bring her son back to life.

Bringing the body of her son with her, Kisa found Buddha and pleaded with him to help bring her son back to life. He instructed her to go back to her village and gather mustard seeds from the households of those who have never been touched by the death. From those mustard seeds, he promised he would create a medicine to bring her son back to life. Relieved, she went back to her village and began asking her neighbors for mustard seeds.

All of her neighbors were willing to give her mustard seeds, but they all told her that their households had been touched by death. They told her, “the living are few, but the dead are many.”

As the day became evening and then night, she was still without any of the mustard seeds that she had been instructed to collect. She realized then the universality of death. According to the Buddhist verse her story comes from, she said:

“It’s not just a truth for one village or town, Nor is it a truth for a single family. But for every world settled by gods [and men] This indeed is what is true — impermanence” (Olendzki, 2010).

With this new understanding, her grief was calmed. She buried her son in the forest and then returned to Buddha. She confessed to Buddha that she could not obtain any of the mustard seeds he had instructed her to collect because she could not find even one house untouched by death.

Here is a passionate interpretation of what Buddha imparted upon Kisa Gotami at this point from The Buddha: His Life Retold, by Robert Allen Mitchell:

“Dear girl, the life of mortals in this world is troubled and brief and inseparable from suffering, for there is not any means, nor will there ever be, by which those that have been born can avoid dying. All living beings are of such a nature that they must die whether they reach old age or not.”

As early-ripening fruits are in danger of falling, so mortals when born are always in danger of dying. Just as the earthen vessels made by the potter end in shards, so is the life of mortals. Both young and old, both those who are foolish and those who are wise – all fall into the power of death, all are subject to death.

Of those who depart from this life, overcome by death, a father cannot save his son, nor relatives their kinsfolk. While relatives are looking on and lamenting, one by one the mortals are carried off like oxen to the slaughter. People die, and their fate after death will be according to their deeds. Such are the terms of the world.

Not from weeping nor from grieving will anyone obtain peace of mind. On the contrary, his pain will be all the greater, and he will ruin his health. He will make himself sick and pale; but dead bodies cannot be restored by his lamentation.

Now that you have heard the Tathagata [a term Buddha used to refer to himself], Kisa, reject grief, do not allow it to enter your mind. Seeing one dead, know for sure: ‘I shall never see him again in this existence.’ And just as the fire of a burning house is quenched, so does the contemplative wise person scatter grief’s power, expertly, swiftly, even as the wind scatters cottonseed.

He who seeks peace should pull out the arrow lamentations, useless longings, and the self-made pangs of grief. He who has removed this unwholesome arrow and has calmed himself will obtain peace of mind. Verily, he who has conquered grief will always be free from grief – sane and immune – confident, happy, and close to Nirvana, I say” (Allen, 1991).

Kisa entered the first stage of enlightenment from her experience. She decided to become a disciple of Buddha’s and went on to become the first female arahant.”

(This version comes from http://christicenter.org/2012/11/bu….)

Having learned that there is no such mustard seed, I approached my own experiences not as something unique, but as something that others have experienced, better, worse or the same. Right after the August 18, 2014 surgery, I was first moved to a recovery room and then to a hospital room. Before being released from the hospital, I could hear loud cries of pain from other patients and I practiced tonglen for them, wishing that their pain would be absorbed by me and that they would be free of physical pain, paradoxically releasing my own pain in the process.

The Lotus Grows from the Mud. Every experience no matter how painful can be the foundation for growth. Every experience may be used in some way in the service of others. Because I was immobilized for long periods of time, without adequate sleep (a common side-effect for patients who have total hip replacement surgery), or lying down with feet elevated to reduce the edema and other swelling from the surgery and the complications in my left leg), I was physically isolated by necessity. I found that FB (which I use as a spiritual means of spreading Dharma) became an inspiration for me from articles, blogs, images posted by others and a means for me to post informative links or images for healing.

Hakuin’s Zen Butter Pill Meditation: Healing Practice, Pain Reducer and Sleeping Aid.

I had been practicing Hakuin’s Butter Pill Meditation since early 2003.

The start of each meditation begins with:

“Of the essentials of preserving life, nourishing the breath has no peer.

When the breath is exhausted the body dies.”

This contemplation soon merges into an appreciation of the moment. The simple truth is that appreciation (gratitude) enters as the self dissolves, and as the self dissolves, everything becomes clear.

Hakuin Ekaku (1686-1769) traveled from Japan to China and there earned the Butter Pill meditation from a Taoist master. This practice became his daily practice. Below is a translation of Hakuin’s instruction:

“There is a remedy especially efficacious for debilitated people. Its properties for relieving exhaustion of the vital breath are particularly wondrous. It counteracts a rush of blood to the head, warms the legs, settles the bowels, brightens the eye, augments good wisdom, and is effective in casting aside all evil thoughts.

The recipe for one dose of the soft butter pill is as follows: one part of the ‘ real aspect of all things,’ one part each of ‘the self and all things,’ and the ‘realization that these are false,’ three parts of the ‘immediate realization of Nirvana,’ two parts of ‘no desires,’ two or three parts of the ‘nonduality of activity and quietude,’ one and a half parts of sponge¬ gourd skin, and one part of ‘the discarding of all delusions.’ Steep these seven ingredients in the juice of patience for one night, dry in the shade and then mash. Season with a dash of the six perfections then shape everything into a ball the size of a duck’s egg and set it securely on your head.

Practitioners who are just beginning their study should not concern themselves with the properties of the medicine nor the amount used, but should merely contemplate the fact that a delicately scented soft butter-like object the size of a duck’s egg is suddenly on their heads. When a sick person wishes to use this remedy he (or she) should spread for himself a thick cushion, hold his back straight, adjust his eyes, and sit in a correct posture. He should then shift gently to position himself properly, and set about meditating.

Repeat three times the words:

‘Of the essentials of preserving life, nourishing the breath has no peer. When the breath is exhausted the body dies.’

By doing so, one can truly carry out this contemplation. Those who have this duck egg with the consistency of soft butter on their heads feel a strange sensation as the whole head becomes moist. Gradually this feeling flows downward. The shoulders, elbow, chest, diaphragm, lungs, liver, stomach, backbone, and buttocks all gradually become damp. At this time the various accumulations in the chest, and those of lower back pain, stiffness and constipation all drop down at will, like water flowing naturally to a low place. This sensation is felt throughout the body, and it circulates moving downward, warming the legs, until it reaches the soles of the feet, where it stops.

The practitioner should then repeat the same contemplation. The overflow that penetrates downward sinks in and accumulates until it steeps the body in warmth, just as a good physician gathers together various aromatic herbs, brews them, and pours the concoction into the bath. The practitioner feels that his body from the navel down is steeped in this moisture. When this contemplation is being practiced, because it is induced only by mental activity, the sense of smell becomes aware of exotic odors, the sense of touch becomes wondrously acute, and the body and mind become attuned. Suddenly the accumulations dissolve, the bowels and stomach are harmonized, the skin becomes radiant, and the energies increase greatly.

If this contemplation is conscientiously brought to maturation, what disease cannot be cured, what magical art cannot be performed? This is indeed the secret method for maintaining health, the wondrous art of longevity.

This treatment was first devised by Shakamuni Buddha. In the middle ages it came down through the Tendai school, where it was used widely as a treatment for extreme exhaustion. Yet seldom in this degenerate age do we hear of this miraculous treatment. How sad that people today seldom gain knowledge of this Way. When I was in my middle years I heard of it from the hermit Hakuyu, who maintained that the speed of its efficacy lay only in the degree to which the practitioner endeavored. If one is not laggard one may obtain long life. Don’t say that Hakuin has become senile and is teaching old-woman’s Zen. Perhaps if you just get to know it, you will clap your hands and laugh out loud. Why? ‘Unless you have seen disorders, you do not know the virtues of an honest minister; unless you have accumulated wealth, you do not know the determination of an honest man.’“

As with any practice, repetition and practice makes the new and uncomfortable easier to practice. For me, I discovered a few years ago, that if I have any trouble falling asleep at night, I could begin Hakuin’s Butter Pill Meditation and in under a minute, fall asleep. During the 18 months of pain, this continued to be true.

The Butter Pill practice as a cooling practice. We had record-heat during the summer and fall of 2015 in Seattle. One more medical complication occurred in July 2015 when the legs went through a staph infection that was successfully treated with antibiotics by my doctor. The skin on my legs were so painful and tender from the infection and afterwards that even hot air was painful. I decided to use the Hakuin Butter Pill meditation differently, substituting for the warm butter egg with an ice-cold healing elixir when my legs became painful. In the Adam Sandler movie, “The Waterboy,” he is resurrected at a critical moment in the last game with ice cold pure water from a special flask that preserved all of the water’s healing properties. In a way, the same transformation of pain took place with this derivative version of the Butter Pill Meditation.

Other Gratitude Practices. There are many resources for different forms of gratitude practice. In my own life, I’ve adopted a number, including smiling, laughing, reading encouraging and inspiring words, expressly verbally gratitude, and balancing every turn of the mind that brings up a negative with a positive. Over years of practice, my awareness of the negative mind and its appearance automatically starts a conscious awareness of what is already good. I’m especially grateful for practices that makes each day appreciated and the world appear with all of its polarities, rather than only the world of discontent and complaint.

One of my practices is to be surrounded by reminders of gratitude in wall hangings or post cards, or on my desktop computer, or even in my mobile. Since my mind can be faulty in memories or lazy in thinking, reminders blast away the negative. Below are two of such reminders.

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My indoors meditation tableaux also includes reminders

Dans Table of Meditaiton

The Heart Sutra and Emptiness of Self: The Heart Sutra encompasses all the teachings of the Buddha in a few short verses, including the “emptiness” of self. In thirteen years of practice, I found that I am not an empty self when I am filled with self and all of its manifestations: selfishness, self-centeredness, self-seeking, driven by ego. The 18 months period of pain became another living example for me that there is pain, and there is pain. In the former case, I can ensure that I have ratcheted-up amplified pain by being filled with “self.” In the latter case, there is space and boundless capacity for all possibilities in this very moment, including the reduction of pain.
The following new translation of The Heart Sutra is from Thich Nhat Hahn (http://plumvillage.org/news/thich-nhat-hanh-new-heart-sutra-translation/ ):

“The Insight that Brings Us to the Other Shore

Avalokiteshvara

while practicing deeply with

the Insight that Brings Us to the Other Shore,

suddenly discovered that

all of the five Skandhas are equally empty,

and with this realisation

he overcame all Ill-being.

“Listen Sariputra,

this Body itself is Emptiness

and Emptiness itself is this Body.

This Body is not other than Emptiness

and Emptiness is not other than this Body.

The same is true of Feelings,

Perceptions, Mental Formations,

and Consciousness.

“Listen Sariputra,

all phenomena bear the mark of Emptiness;

their true nature is the nature of

no Birth no Death,

no Being no Non-being,

no Defilement no Purity,

no Increasing no Decreasing.

“That is why in Emptiness,

Body, Feelings, Perceptions,

Mental Formations and Consciousness

are not separate self entities.

The Eighteen Realms of Phenomena

which are the six Sense Organs,

the six Sense Objects,

and the six Consciousnesses

are also not separate self entities.

The Twelve Links of Interdependent Arising

and their Extinction

are also not separate self entities.

Ill-being, the Causes of Ill-being,

the End of Ill-being, the Path,

insight and attainment,

are also not separate self entities.

Whoever can see this

no longer needs anything to attain.

Bodhisattvas who practice

the Insight that Brings Us to the Other Shore

see no more obstacles in their mind,

and because there

are no more obstacles in their mind,

they can overcome all fear,

destroy all wrong perceptions

and realize Perfect Nirvana.

“All Buddhas in the past, present and future

by practicing

the Insight that Brings Us to the Other Shore

are all capable of attaining

Authentic and Perfect Enlightenment.

“Therefore Sariputra,

it should be known that

the Insight that Brings Us to the Other Shore

is a Great Mantra,

the most illuminating mantra,

the highest mantra,

a mantra beyond compare,

the True Wisdom that has the power

to put an end to all kinds of suffering.

Therefore let us proclaim

a mantra to praise

the Insight that Brings Us to the Other Shore.

Gate, Gate, Paragate, Parasamgate, Bodhi Svaha!

Gate, Gate, Paragate, Parasamgate, Bodhi Svaha!

Gate, Gate, Paragate, Parasamgate, Bodhi Svaha!”

The Tigers and the Strawberry: An ancient Taoist/Cha’n (Zen) story describes a hungry monk walking. He hears something behind him and sees a tiger running after him, so the monk runs until he comes to an edge of a deep gash in the earth. He climbs over one lip, hanging on to rotted old roots and the tiger reaches the top and snarls at him. Below him, he sees a second hungry tiger and above him, he sees two rats chewing away at the roots holding him up. The monk then notices a fresh ripened strawberry with reach and with one hand holding on to the roots, he uses his other hand to pluck the strawberry, which he smells and then eats, exclaiming “Ah!”

During my 18 months of pain and disabilities, I always found that strawberry (metaphorically).

The Turtle and the Wooden Ring.

“Every spiritual tradition has stressed that this human life is unique and has a potential that ordinarily we don’t even begin to imagine. If we miss the opportunity this life offers us for transforming ourselves, they say, it may well be an extremely long time before we have another.

Imagine a blind turtle roaming the depths of an ocean the size of the universe. Up above floats a wooden ring, tossed to and fro on the waves. Every hundred years, the turtle comes, once, to the surface. To be born a human being is said by Buddhists to be more difficult than for that turtle to surface accidentally with its head poking through the wooden ring.

And even among those who have a human birth, it is said, those who have the great good fortune to make a connection with the teachings are rare, and those who really take them to heart and embody them in their actions even rarer—as rare, in fact, “as stars in broad daylight.”

The quality of life in the realm of the gods may look superior to our own, yet the masters tell us that human life is infinitely more valuable. Why? Because of the very fact that we have the awareness and intelligence that are the raw materials for enlightenment, and because the very suffering that pervades this human realm is itself the spur to spiritual transformation.

Pain, grief, loss, and ceaseless frustration of every kind are there for a very real and dramatic purpose: to wake us up, to enable, almost to force us to break out of the cycle of samsara and so release our imprisoned splendor.” (Sogyal Rinpoche, from Glimpse of the Day)

Below is an image of a new turtle hatch from Morgan Edwards. It’s a perilous journey for the hatchlings to make it from the nest to the sea.

 

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If the moment between the time the rats chew through the roots and the fall into the jaws of a waiting tiger is a lifetime from birth to death, and if birth is rare and precious (as it is), then Dukkha doesn’t have in permeate every moment with amplified pain.

That is where freedom is found, in our own abilities to transform.

In a separate 2014 blog, I wrote about some of these same practices and other spiritual tools with other common forms of Dukkha in a blog titled “Are you screaming at me? Stopping the noise” at http://www.patheos.com/blogs/americanbuddhist/2014/03/are-you-screaming-at-me-stopping-the-noise.html .

If it were not for the ancients to those present today who have provided tools for ending Dukkha, and my willingness to begin practices, I could have had a completely different experience during the 18 months period of physical pain.

I am grateful for all teachings that present themselves. My gratitude was reflected back to me in a fortune cookie that was given to me during the lunch break from the meditation retreat on January 31, 2016. The fortune simply said “You appreciate the good will of others.”

I bow to the universe.

Appreciate Goodwill

About Daniel D. Woo: Daniel works as a lawyer in Seattle and continues to learn about the strength of the heart.

30 January 2016 SIMS

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Mastering Your Effort -Memoirs of a Wandering Ninja

From Terry Hodgkinson’s book, Memoirs of a Wandering Ninja

“The story you’re about to read from my book is based on my own personal experience as a student in martial arts who struggled for years to learn. I was a slow learner with an uncoordinated, awkward teenage body. Years later I became a teacher and then owned and ran martial art schools to help others. My experience struggling to learn and acquire true skill (mastery) proved to be amazingly useful in having an indepth understanding of the art as well as in teaching others”. – Terry Hodgkinson Sifu

Chapter 10 Mastering Your Effort

Even the Most Difficult Change Can Occur With Persistent Effort

In the School of “the Way” there were many different contributions to a student’s progressive learning. Studies included basic movements, self-defense, forms (katas) combative fighting skills, philosophy, and meditation to name a few. Students would learn different levels of skills before moving on to others, with basic skills treated like the building of a foundation for a house. With a good foundation secured properly, when the walls and roof are added, the house has less chance of collapsing.

A student whose nickname was Gray began his studies when he was only 12. He loved the teachings of the Way. Gray came from a troubled family background and looked toward the school to help him gain confidence. His friends Montaro, An, and Cheung started training at around the same time. While they all trained together it was obvious that Gray was no natural when it came to learning or developing skill. He lacked coordination, balance, and flexibility. Gray’s friends and most others seemed to pick up things easier than he did. He didn’t mind. He was enjoying his training even though he found it challenging. He always remembered what Master Chameleon said when he started: “No matter what happens, no matter how difficult things seem, you have to have the attitude of never giving up!”

When it came time for testing on the application of martial art techniques, Gray wasn’t able to progress as fast as his three friends, so they advanced ahead of him. Soon he

made new friends in class as Montaro, An, and Cheung were enjoying their next level of training. After a while there came another testing and Gray’s new friends moved on to another level while Gray still remained in the original class to continue working on his coordination, balance, and flexibility.

Montaro, An, and Cheung moved up yet another level and Gray was happy for them. After a year, Gray finally got to the second level. He made many new friends to practice with. With the passage of time, many of his new friends moved on to higher levels of training. Montaro, An, and Cheung were still training but much further ahead than Gray, who didn’t mind because he was happy to see his original friends doing so well.

Gray continued to practice every day and work on his weaknesses. After another year he was rewarded for his discipline and moved up to the third level. At his new level of training he met more friends and enjoyed training with them.

Many years later, Gray managed to achieve his black belt and felt good about his accomplishment. His friend Montaro had achieved a black belt years before Gray, while An and Cheung got involved with other things and stopped training.

Gray had become an instructor and enjoyed teaching very much. Gray’s friend Montaro stopped training shortly before Gray became the manager of the “School of the Way”. Many years later Gray had become known as the Gray Tiger Master, which simply meant he had become proficient in all aspects of the training. As the years went by, the Gray Tiger Master lost touch with his original friends. Over the years he met many other people as he continued to teach and share his knowledge. One day a new student, a young girl named Lei, a 13 year-old who absolutely loved the training, was having trouble grasping some of the moves.

Chapter 10 Picture 1 Memoirs of a Wandering Ninja

“Lei, don’t worry,” the Tiger Master said. “If this is something that you really want to get, you only have to remember one thing.”

“What’s that, Master Gray?”

“No matter what happens, no matter how difficult things seem, you have to have the attitude of never giving up!”
“Thanks, Master Gray, but you make this look so easy. I bet you never had any problems like I am having.” The Tiger Master just smiled warmly.
It was getting close to the time when Lei could do a grading for her next level but she was still struggling with her techniques. This was having a noticeable effect on her enthusiasm but she kept at it. Master Gray was kind and patient, repeatedly telling her she was doing very well, though she didn’t think he meant it, because it wasn’t how she felt at all. When Lei had only a few classes left before the grading class, she asked her parents to come in for moral support. They sat at the back among many other visitors. Master Gray was conducting the class and Lei was focused on getting her technique down smoothly. As she struggled once again with her coordination and balance she became so frustrated she stopped practicing.

Chapter 10 Picture 2 Memoirs of a Wandering Ninja

“Lei, is everything ok?” asked Master Gray.

“I think I should just give up now. I will not pass the test and I’m going to be left behind. I don’t think anybody has ever had as much difficulty as I am having in the training. I mean I really enjoy it, but I just can’t seem to get it right.”

“Lei, if you like the training, all you need to understand is that it’s not important how fast you progress, only that you keep at it. You are not the only one who has had difficulties with acquiring coordination and balance.”

“Like who? I don’t see anyone else in the class having challenges like I do.”

“That’s because you’re not looking in the right place,

Lei,” said the teacher.
 She looked around the school training floor at everyone who was training. “Where? I don’t see anyone.” “No, not there, Lei,” said Master Gray. “Look right up here.”
“I don’t see anybody beside you.”
The Tiger Master had a big smile on his face. Finally,

Lei got it. “You mean you, Master Gray?

Chapter 10 Picture 3 Memoirs of a Wandering Ninja

How can that be? You move so well, so gracefully, so skillfully, absolutely effortlessly, like poetry in motion.”

The Tiger Master laughed. “I can assure you, Lei, it hasn’t always been that way. When I started my training I was close to your age and I can say that I struggled at least three times harder than you are now.”

“Oh, come on, teacher. You’re just saying that to make me feel better.”

Then Lei’s mother stood up at the back and gasped. “Gray, is that you?” she asked, walking toward the front. “My gosh, Gray, I haven’t seen you in 25 years.”

“Is that you, An? Oh my, it has been a long time.” “You know Master Gray, mom?” asked Lei.

“Know him? We started training at the same time and he is telling you the truth, Lei. Everybody left Gray behind in the training. Oh Gray, I guess I should call you Master Gray now…wow!”

Lei was stunned. “Wow, you were telling the truth, Master Gray. I would have never believed it if I hadn’t known that my mother trained here in the old days.”

Then another person stood up at the back and stepped forward. “I remember Gray, too. I started around at the same time as An and Gray and when I got my black belt I moved to another city for work. When I left, Gray was still a few years away from getting his black belt and I had my doubts that he was going to do it, but I’m happy to say he proved me wrong. Do you recognize me, Gray? Montaro. I have my children enrolled here now, too.”

After everyone had a chance to catch up a little, Lei said, “I feel so much better now, Master Gray. I thought I was the only one who was taking a long time learning.”

“I’m glad you feel better now, Lei. It doesn’t matter how much time it takes to get something. If you really want it badly enough and it’s realistic, then you only have to continue to do your best and repeat the phrase to yourself: ‘No matter what happens, no matter how difficult things seem, have the attitude of never giving up!’”

At the end of class, Lei had a big smile on her face and as the class was preparing to leave she asked, “Master Gray, why are you known as the Tiger Master?”

Master Gray replied, “The tiger is the largest of the cats and is legendary for its tenacity. When things get tough for the tiger, its wisdom is shown by displaying a ferocity that perseveres, demonstrating extraordinary effort! I am called the Tiger Master, Lei, because I’m here to help you master your effort!”

“Never, never, never give up.” — Winston Churchill

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Mastering the Tao Nature Within on Wudang Mountain China

 

Tao Journeys 

China’s Wudang mountains have been shrouded in mysticism for thousands of years. Located in central China’s Hubei province this sacred place has long been known for its traditional Taoist culture. Many people in the history of China, including some emperors, sought out secrets in Taoist alchemy on Wudang, hoping to discover and achieve the ever-elusive realm of immortality.

Wudang Mountain Top

These days people don’t go to Wudang under the guise of finding immortality. Rather they go to discover knowledge and practices that will improve their health, to see the ancient architectural complex still in existence, be awe-inspired by the towering cliff temples, spend time at limpid waterfalls and experience first hand how Wudang Mountain blends in with nature harmoniously.

Originally called the Taihe Mountain it was renamed Wudang Mountain in the Song Dynasty some 1000 years ago. In 1994, the Ancient Building Complex on the mountain was included on the World Heritage List by UNESCO. It represents the highest standards of Chinese art and architecture over a period of nearly 1,000 years. Noted temples include the Golden Hall, Nanyan Temple and the Purple Cloud Temple.

Construction of the Ancient Building Complex started in the Tang Dynasty (618-907). During the reign of Emperor Taizong, the Five Dragon Ancestral Temple was built on Wudang Mountain. In the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), about 33 palaces and structures including the Yuxu Palace, the Grand Purple Cloud Palace, the Yuzhen Palace and the Palace of Harmony were built. Then the grand and magnificent building complex was formed. At present, the extant building complex includes the Palace of Harmony, the Grand Purple Cloud Palace, the South Cliff Palace, the Yuzhen Palace, relics of the Yuxu Palace and the Five Dragon Ancestral Temple, Xuanyue Gate (a huge archway) and the Fuzhen Temple.

Wudang Temple

Wudang Mountain martial arts, noted for its exercise of the internal organs, meditation and breathing techniques, developed along with Wudang Mountain Taoism. Taoist priests have always put equal emphasis on spiritual practice and the promotion of the health. They derived the principles of for martial arts from Taoist theories and applied Taoist practical approaches to martial skills, thus gradually developing Wudang Mountain Kung Fu, which integrates ancient Chinese philosophy with extraordinary martial skills.

In the Ming Dynasty, Wudang Mountain Kung Fu reached its height through the outstanding efforts of a Taoist priest named Zhang Sanfeng, and gradually became one of the major schools of Chinese martial arts. If you have trained martial arts you might remember seeing in movies the depiction of wudang martial arts versus Shaolin martial arts. Where the Wudang arts are based in Taoism, its counterpart Shaolin was predominately Buddhist in practice. While this tension between the Chinese areas and schools makes for entertaining movies there is little if any factual information to declare the depiction true. If you have seen the classic fabled martial arts movies Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and the new rendition of The Karate Kid with Jackie Chan, then in the filming you will see some temples and landscapes of mysterious Wudang Mountains.

The Hall of Yuzhen is the cradle of Wudang Kung Fu. In 1417, Ming Dynasty Emperor Zhudi decreed Wudang to be the “Grand Mountain” and ordered the construction of the Hall of Yuzhen for Master Zhang Sanfeng. On January 19, 2003, Wudang Mountain’s 600-year-old Yuzhengong Palace was accidentally burned down by an employee of a martial arts school. A fire broke out in the hall, reducing the three rooms that covered 200 square metres to ashes. A gold-plated statue of Master Zhang Sanfeng, which was usually housed in Yuzhengong, was moved to another building just before the fire and so escaped destruction.

Wudang Toaist Kung Fu Academy

With a subtropical monsoon climate, Wudang Mountain can be divided into 3 layers of climate zones: with 1200-1600 meters above sea level, the annual average temperature of 8.5°C; with 750-1200 meters above sea level, the annual average temperature of 12°C; and with an altitude of 750 meters and below, the annual average temperature is about 15.9°C, sharing the same weather in other places of Shiyan city.

With pleasant weather of neither too cold in Winter or hot in Summer, Wudang Mountain is suitable for any time visit, especially in spring and autumn.

Join Terry Hodgkinson Sifu, Dr. Patrick Porter and other guest teachers on a transformational trip to the Wudang mountains Nov. 30th – Dec. 12th 2015.

Watch the trip webinar here:

 

Learn about Wudang Mountain in this short video:

For Wudang trip details see:

www.TaoJourneys.com

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