Happiness in A Sieve

Preface: I haven’t really wrote about Buddhism on this blog, but it is also a big component of my time here. This is a little snippet about it.

One of the most important “goal” in Mahayana Buddhism is to escape from the continuum of the Six Realms of Existence (God, Titans, Ghosts, Hell, Animal, and Human), in street lingo, when your ass dies your soul leaves your current body and enters another realm where you will live again in another body as a different being, and this all depends on your “street cred” in the current life, so if you did lots of good shit in this life, you will live well in the next life, if you did lots of shady stuff you will have to suffer in the next life, if you really didn’t do much, then you follow the natural order and continue to not do much, in the next life.

So how do you escape this never-ending cycle? There are countless ways and each individual needs to attain enlightenment through personal expressions of insights from Buddhism teaching, basically you can’t just read them books, you also have to actually go out and do things and through personal experience, obtain knowledge that is purely original to you. Kinda like research in college, or not. One of the main doctrines in this quest for enlightenment is understanding that “Happiness lies in a Sieve” (pls don’t confuse this with Nectar in a Sieve, different audience, different meaning). No matter how happy you feel at the moment or throughout your life, it is ephemeral as it is literally slipping through a sieve as we are speaking. Sadness also lies in a sieve, it too slips gently through the holes without a moment of rest. What this means to the Buddhist trying to gain enlightenment is that “emotions” are just products of our thoughts meant to trick us into feeling a certain way or reacting in a specific manner, the tricking begins with the mind and ends with the body and our actions. What regular normal folks can learn from this, is that we can’t place too much weight on things in life, lighten up a bit, don’t stress too much on things, if things don’t go our way “oh well then, no biggie”, if things do go our way “oh well then, no biggie”. You know this makes sense, cause people nowadays can be a little “exaggerated”, and over time that exaggeration becomes a habit and it becomes real.

Now why do we need to escape this continuous cycle of the 6 realms? Well you don’t need to, no one will force you, and you will live a perfectly awesome life without doing so. That’s the chill part about Buddhism is there ain’t nobody telling you to believe this or that, or this is the ultimate truth, this is the creator, this is why we are created, this is what you have to do. No, there ain’t none of that. They has something called “yuanfen” which is basically similar to Swiss psychologist Carl Jung’s concept of synchronicity, it literally means that what we experience and do in this life is influence by our actions in all of our previous lives. And only when the time is right, the person is willing,  and the “yuanfen” there, may you be on the pass to learning Buddhism.

Personally, there are still way too many awesome things in this life that I haven’t experienced or learned (you know what I am saying?), so I ain’t really interested in enlightenment at the moment, but maybe when I am older and have seen this world, maybe then will the “yuanfen” be there and the timing be right.

Coldest When it’s About to get Warm

This is an idea that is much easily understood when it is “self-experienced” rather than being explained to or told about. But I am a very stubborn person, so I am going to try the impossible.

It’s actually a very universal idea, in regards that it can be applied to almost anything and would fit right in. Let’s start with the seasons and the changing of the planetary weather on earth. The hottest time of the year is around summer solstice (which is June 13th this yr), it’s “official definition” is that it occurs exactly when the axial tilt of a planet’s semi-axis in a given hemisphere is most inclined towards the star that it orbits, basically when earth looks at the sun and says “what’s up”. Summer solstice is also the exact same time that the earth starts to “get cold”, this occurrence is not manifested in temps above ground, but the earth itself is actually getting colder by the day as it continues to turn. Basically the idea is that the start of any conversation is the when the conversation begins to end. I hope you don’t think I am a dumbo for stating the obvious.

How can this be applied to other things? Well let’s talk about my training at shaolin, using the logic establish above, the most painful and hardest moments of training is actually the beginning of my success and the good times. So if we can add this layer of understanding to our thinking, we can definitely introduce a new color to our spectrum of life. However, it can also offer a harsh dose of reality, using this logic, when you are reaching the apex of your success in life, it is also when you begin the downfall of your failures. It is true, we see this in athletes that play more years than they should, and than their body allow them to. AKA Shaq.

Overall, this little fact of nature here shows us that there exists cycles in life that we are unable to change. But by understanding these cycles we can view our current lives with a more accurate perspective, and take out some of the “stubbornness”, “over-confidence”, and “ostensible bliss” that can sometimes cloud our judgement.

PS: The above is written by a Chinese dude training at a temple in china, so it’s completely normal if you don’t understand, if you are an Aussie,  sorry just know that I didn’t write this for y’all.

What is Kungfu?

When I say the word kungfu, most of my White friends would start inmitating Bruce Lee sounds and pretending to be a martial arts master. But the word kungfu is not directly connected to martial arts in any way, as most tend to misuse it. The word “kungfu” in Chinese simply means “time spent (practicing something)” or “a learned skill”, most of the time it is use to desribed an amount of time/effort or to compliment someone’s skill in an area.

The word “kungfu” ‘s written form is very symbolic of its meaning, the writting is comprised of two horinzontal lines and two diagnol lines coming through them. It examplies the idea that it is simple to practice something, but to master it takes years upon years of dedication and creative ingenuity. People aren’t seperated by what form or techniques they use, they are seperated by their kungfu, their time spent in one area and their skills acquired in that area.

One can have kungfu in almost anything; writing, cooking, singing, even skills like chopping vegetables can be considered kungfu. More modern activites like skating or basketball are areas as well, most of the time kungfu is used to described mastery of “physical activities” (yes writing is a physical activity, a manifestation of mental thoughts).

Movements can be Zen: Why Shaolin Monks Aren’t Fighters

Most people tend to assume that if one practices deadly martial arts movements day after day, one is then obligated to use those skill-sets once in a while simply for the sake of having them. But that is not the case with Shaolin monks, which is why they are usually absent on the scene of MMA, Muay-Thai, and Kick-boxing stages. Many young fighters come to train at Shaolin and then go back to fight in their respectively leagues, but they end up missing out on a major part of Shaolin’s culture.

The spiritual or zen culture of martial arts is unique to Shaolin,  created by turbulent history. Around 483 A.D, Dharma first came to Shaolin from India to spread the thinking of Buddhism (it is rumored he meditated in a cave up in the Song Mountains for 9 yrs, a steep climb that we do every morning for conditioning). Back then, the monks in Shaolin were all fragile and saggy from sitting around all day, and doing nothing but meditating and reading texture, kinda like the really spiritual version of Asian video-game fanatics today. Dharma saw this and was like WTF, how can you reach Enlighten when your body is so weak and you are bedridden every other wk. So he started teaching the monks there what would later become the father of all martial arts, 13 simple breathing techniques that he derived from Yoga movements in India, they stressed the combination of movements with breathing and help to improve circulation of blood and chi throughout the body. These movements not only help to improve the physical and spiritual well-being of the monks dramatically, but also introduced a new way to reach Enlightenment, through quiet personal meditation and the practice of certain breathing directed movements.

During the centuries to come, the Shaolin temple would suffer countless raids from nearby bandits. Fueled by survival instincts, these breathing movements meant to direct chi and improve circulation through the body became deadly attacks meant to fend out enemies. Over time, more forms would be created based on the blueprint of its forefathers, some from observing the ideologies behind different animals’ way of attacking its prey, some from simple ingenuity of the monks, but their purpose remained the same. Shaolin monks still practiced martial arts in order to reach a personal peace that allows the mind to clear out all distractions, a prerequisite on the route to Enlightenment. But as the world is changing, and as Western ideologies of  capitalism and democracy becomes the norm, more and more Shaolin monks are learning to adapt to reality as they began to teach for money, practice for performances that have nothing to do with Zen or Buddhism, and slowly shying away from the spiritual wealth of martial arts and leaning on the monetary benefits of having those “certain sets of skills”.

Chinese Wisdom: Your Body is the Universe

One of the new ways I will be sharing my experiences in China with you all is through the discussion of some of the “Chinese Wisdom” I am currently learning to understand and appreciate. For those of you who are Asian, these might sound “remotely” familiar to the “Confucius Says” jokes or even “rants” by your Asian parents and relative. I just hope that doesn’t get in the way of you enjoying my posts and trying to pry open the vault of wisdom it holds.

One of the first concept I learned from Chinese Medicine after I got injured at Shaolin was the intimate relationship with natural universe and our bodies. All the laws of the universe, from it’s patterns of growth to the Circadian rhythms of plants, are all exemplified in the human body in ways both obvious and unfathomable. Like nature, our body takes time to change such as growth in height and of body hair, but change is also happening constantly in our body such as when we produce proteins and renew enzymes every single second. The constant state of change and activity is one of the principle similarities, another is the balance of opposite, the Yin and Yang. Just as our bodies are constantly growing and changing, it is also constantly decaying and dying. For every new cell generated, waste of the dead ones must be transported out of the body, it is always working and striving for a state of balance.

Whenever one has a question about life or about the world around him, one has to look no further than ones own body, because all the answers to questions of philosophical depths to cutting edge science can be answered by observing and understanding our own bodies. Whether you believe that we are creations of Gods or a product of time and constant change, our body is the most intricate and enigmatic object known to man. Even the most advanced computing technology of today is no match for the human brain, a mere part of the human body, though a very important part. Until the day of Singularity comes, when Artificial Technology can reach the same efficiency of human thinking, I firmly believe that all the questions we have today (from chemistry to physics to psychology to math to even bio-fuel) can be answered by further researching and analyzing the human body.

That is how great I think our body is, which is also my reason for respecting all human beings no matter their background, ethnicity  sexual choices, income, education, or personal belief. Because I believe the human body is absolutely wonderful and beautiful, almost as beautiful as the human soul. So the next you disrespect someone, think of it as disrespecting yourself,  because respecting yourself and your body means respecting others who share the same human body.