Archive for the ‘Martial philosophy’ Tag

Heaven and Hell   Leave a comment


A Classic Zen Tale from Japan

There was a great samurai who was traveling the country looking for answers on the nature of the universe.

He went to a famous Zen Buddhist master and asked him; “Please tell me the nature of Heaven and Hell”

The master scowled and replied back, “You stupid samurai, you‘re supposed to be such a “great warrior” how dare you ask me this question. You are such a fool if you do not know the difference, and who do you think you are bothering me with such an inane question. Go away idiot!”

Enraged, the samurai drew his sword and held it above the masters head letting out a war cry as he did. “I’ll kill you for you what you have said”

The Zen master calmly pointed his hand towards the samurai and said, “That, is Hell”

Embarrassed, the regretful samurai sheathed his sword, fell to his knees, bowing profusely and apologized by saying, “I am so sorry master, you have enlightened me. Thank you, thank you, thank you, for your great words. I appreciate you sharing your wisdom with me.

The smiling Zen master tipped his head, opened his arms and said, “And that, is Heaven.”

Reading List, Books and Periodicals   Leave a comment

Master Yang Chen Fu

There are so many books…Taoist, Buddhist, Qigong, and Taiji. There have been hundreds of books in my life and it may take me that many years to flesh out this list, but I will do my best!

Since Taiji is a Taoist art I will start with some of the works from the Taoist canon.  I list them somewhere between the chronological order that I read them, their historical age, and their relative importance (to me) as it pertains Taiji, Taoism, Buddhism, Qigong, Meditation, Chinese Medicine, and Philosophy, etc.

Books and sets of books:

1.     Tao Te Ching (Dao De Jing)  by Lao Tzu “The Classic of the Way and it’s Virtues”   I have read many translations of this “source book”, my favorites are by Jonathan Star and another by Stephen Mitchell.  The Tao Te Ching is  full of wisdom in 81 easy to digest verses and it is the second most popular book ever written topped only by The Bible.

2.     Chuang-Tzu (Zhuang Tzu) A compendium of stories and fables; a perennial Taoist text.  Master Chuang writes in a humorous story style that is compelling.

3.     The Art of War (Sun Tzu) Another text over two thousand year old from the Taoist canon. Sun Tzu was a great general and sage, he wrote this famous classic on conflict resolution and strategy that could have been titled “The Art of Achieving Peace”

4.     I Ching (The Classic on Changes) Perhaps the oldest book ever written. It was later added to by various sages, in an attempt to understand the nature of “change” and how events must unfold based on the mathematics of their energies and the balance and harmony of  the same.

5.     The Complete Book of  Tai Chi Chuan by Wong Kiew Kit A great book, one of the first ones I read on Taiji.

6.     The Tao of Taijiquan by Jou, Tsung Hwa Another great book on the history and philosophy of Taiji as well as an overview of the different forms or “family styles”

7.     Tai Chi Chuan Applications by Dr. Yang, Jwing Ming Dr Yang is a prolific writer (I admire his energy!) I have many of his books. This one is the best book I have found describing the applications of Taiji. Written for beginners yet it contains information most advanced Taiji people have never learned.

8.     The Taoist Classics (4 volume set) by Thomas Cleary Mr. Cleary s a true genus; translating many books. This set has 15 books in 4 volumes and it was recently released in soft cover.  Mr Cleary’s work is sometimes a bit difficult, and I prefer simpler translations, still I highly recommend him because of the large amount of work presented.

Vol.  1     Tao Te Ching; Chuang-Tzu; Wen-Tzu; The Book of Leadership and Strength; and Sex, Health, and Longevity

Vol.  2     Understanding Reality; The Inner Teaching of Taoism; The Book of Balance and Harmony; and Practical Taoism

Vol.  3     Vitality, Energy, Spirit; The secret of the Golden Flower; Immortal Sisters; and Awakening to the Tao

Vol.  4     The Taoist I Ching; and I Ching Mandala

9.     Classics of Strategy and Counsel (3 volume set) by Thomas Cleary Another great set, this one contains 12 books. Lots of great philosophy from places as diverse as  Greece, China, Japan, The Middle East, Persia, and others.

10.    Chronicles of Tao by Deng Ming Dao This is a compelling story, an account of a modern day Taoist’s life. One of the best books I have ever read.

11.   Awaken Healing Energy Trough Tao by Mantak Chia I have 8 books by master Chia and while I would say, most are beyond the understanding of beginners, I do recommend this book as an introduction to the “Mantak Chia, Healing Tao approach.” Covers opening the “microcosmic orbit” a basic Taoist technique of meditation.

12.     The Roots of Chinese Qigong by Dr. Yang, Jwing Ming  I have many of his books. This one is the best book I have found describing the basics of QIgong Written for beginners yet it contains information most advanced people have never learned.

13.  Iron Shirt Chi Kung by Mantak Chia Another great and classic book from Master Chia  Read the first one first however. This book works with standing postures and will help you get very thorough understanding of advanced Zhan Zhuang   I would not attempt to do some of the breathing techniques in these books with out instruction however.

14.   Chinese Medical Qigong Therapy by Jerry Alan Johnson This 1100 page book is the most comprehensive book on the subject I have owned it since 2001 and keep reading it and reading it, like many of my books..absolutly huge and definitive this book is a must if you want to “go pro” and get TMI.

15.   Cultivating Stillness translated by Eva Wong This is one of those “lost texts” that offers a rare insight into Tao. Written with a slightly Buddhist influence it compels one to contemplate the thinking of the Chinese and their approach to meditation.  Also it contains symbolism to help elucidate the reader towards understanding Tao.

16.     The Art of Peace by Morihei Ueshiba One of the great masters from Japan; Morihei was the founder of Aikido. Paralleling Taoist thought from a martial artist that was also a pacifist, this book helps define the meaning of life.

17.     Tai Chi Explained by Alex Dong Master Alex was the first Taiji master I had, he is the son of my current teacher and the great grandson of Tung Ying Jie, the founder of our lineage. Alex grew up in Hawaii and brings his Chinese history into English for us all. A wonderful and simple book for all Dong practitioners, written by a personal friend of mine.  http://www.alexdongtaiji.com/store/

18. Red Book by Tung Ying Jie translated by Alex Dong. A great classic of Taiji finally in English thanks to master Alex.  Tung Ying Jie was the primary disciple of Master Yang Chen Fu the inventor of the famous “slow set” Yang style Taiji, the most common exercise practice on the planet. This work has been quoted by many other Taiji Authors but it has never before been available in English; now you can get the “Founders” work!  http://www.alexdongtaiji.com/store/

19. Yiquan and the Nature of Energy: The fine art of doing nothing and achieving everything by Fong Ha Master Fong Ha was a student of the great Tung Ying Jie, since then he has branched into a unique method called Yiquan. Master Ha is the worlds foremost authority on this amazing method and he is one of my teachers. Book available here:  http://fongha.com/shop/

20. Taoist Health Exercise Book by Da Lia Master Liu published this book in 1974 it is a small and simple primer on Taoist arts. if you can get a copy… someone recently gave me a copy of this older classic work.  Pretty cool!

There will be many more soon…patience…

Periodicals:

There are three that I recommend.  All are superb,each for a different reason.

1.     Qi Journal This excellent magazine is well produced and has very pithy articles about Qigong, Taiji and all things Taoist.  Also many books are available through the magazine. You can find it at Borders or Barnes and Noble, or subscribe. This is the best publication for the “Way” and I support it because we have so few available.

2.     Tai Chi Magazine Going on 33 years of publication this is the only magazine dedicated to Taijiquan. Another great source for finding books and videos on Taiji. Again this should be available at Borders or Barnes and Noble.

3.     The Empty Vessel I love this magazine. Always good stories and articles. Not as fancy as Qi Journal but simply produced and I am sure the traditional Taoists would be proud.


Qigong Lesson #1 “Wuji” A Philisophical Perspective   1 comment

Wuji

“The journey of a thousand miles, starts under your feet.”

For all people on the Way, there are many paths with side excursions and a few distractions and even some “deviations”.

Any well thought out journey starts somewhere; indeed today even scientists think they can explain the origin of the universe. As fantastic as “the big bang theory” is….would you believe  that well over 2500 years ago the planet’s original “scientists” the Taoists, had a similar theory?

According to the Taoist cosmology, before anything “existed” there was something they called “Wuji”.  This (literally) means “the Void” or “without form” or “the beginning.” From this  “Void”,”Tao”  emerged, Tao being translated as “the Way” or “path”.  An interesting side note corresponds to religious texts….”God created the Heaven and Earth”. For the Taoists you might look at it this way…’From the void, Tao emerged and created the heavens and Earth’.

Is it not sort of enlightening that Taoist thought can merge science and religion and validate both simultaneously? I tread lightly here  so as to not evoke sensibilities, but let’s assume that the science of things is always open to scrutiny, and admit that religious texts were written thousands of years ago and are famous for using metaphorical language. Anyway, I’m only attempting to give some perspective to Wuji.

If you are still following me (and wondering what this has to do with Qigong) consider this, finding a “place” without form gives us a connection to divine origins. Notice my choice of words, crafted somewhere between the scientific and religious terminology. It is here where we see one way that “all things are connected”.

Along the Way we often find that science and religion merge into philosophy. By extrapolation it is easy to see that our physical self’s are connected to an understanding of the merger of the two (science and religion) into a philosophy. In the Taoist arts this philosophy is applied to the physical realm so that practitioners can assimilate cosmic energy directly into themselves.

One can see that practicing Qigong is an endeavor using a philosophy combined with science and spirituality, to nurture the physical self that contains our “Self” self.

Now don’t ever get put off by the talk of spirituality or the word “cosmic” as Taoists define these words in a general sense, for instance, tonight I am “inspired” to write this page,  and so these words are coming from my “spirit” and as I post this message it is sent (via satellite) into the cosmos.

This stuff is not rocket science, nor is it some intangible “cosmic” thing; the fact is, this concept is so simple it is woefully misunderstood.  My approach to Qigong (energy cultivation) is equally pragmatic, I’m not asking anyone to make any leap of faith; only to see the truth. With this understanding, we can now “start” the journey, also know, that by reading this, you already have…..

Copyright Cory Williams 2009

Next lesson

 

The One Tao

The Way

Man follows the way of   Nature,

Nature follows the way of  Earth,

Earth follows the way of  Heaven,

Heaven follows the Way of  Tao.

First there was the One, Tao

Then there came the Two,  Heaven and Earth,

The Two begets the Third,  Heaven, Earth and Humans

From the Three came the ten thousand things…

The Tao contains everything and yet it is nothing…

Always giving, and yet it is never exhausted…

Extending everywhere and yet it is nowhere to be found…

It is the greatest treasure, and at the same time,

It is the simplest of things.

It will never come, and it will never go.

It is the eternal….