Remembering Miyamoto Musashi

Miyamoto Musashi (宮本 武蔵?) (c. 1584–June 13 (Japanese calendar: May 19), 1645), also known as Shinmen Takezō, Miyamoto Bennosuke, or by his Buddhist name Niten Dōraku, was a Japanese swordsman and samurai famed for his duels and distinctive style. Musashi, as he was often simply known, became renowned through stories of his excellent swordsmanship in numerous duels, even from a very young age. He was the founder of the Hyōhō Niten Ichi-ryū or Niten-ryū style of swordsmanship and the author of The Book of Five Rings (五輪書, Go Rin No Sho?), a book on strategy, tactics, and philosophy that is still studied today.

First duel

“I have trained in the way of strategy since my youth, and at the age of thirteen I fought a duel for the first time. My opponent was called Arima Kihei, a sword adept of the Shinto ryū, and I defeated him. At the age of sixteen I defeated a powerful adept by the name of Akiyama, who came from Tajima Province. At the age of twenty-one I went up to Kyōtō and fought duels with several adepts of the sword from famous schools, but I never lost”.
—Miyamoto Musashi, Go Rin No Sho

miyamoto-musashiAccording to the introduction of The Book of Five Rings, Musashi states that his first successful duel was at the age of thirteen, against a samurai named Arima Kihei who fought using the Kashima Shintō-ryū style, founded by Tsukahara Bokuden (b. 1489, d. 1571). The main source of the duel is the Hyoho senshi denki (“Anecdotes about the Deceased Master”). Summarized, its account goes as follows:

In 1596, Musashi was 13, and Arima Kihei, who was traveling to hone his art, posted a public challenge in Hirafuku-mura. Musashi wrote his name on the challenge. A messenger came to Dorin’s temple, where Musashi was staying, to inform Musashi that his duel had been accepted by Kihei. Dorin, Musashi’s uncle, was shocked by this, and tried to beg off the duel in Musashi’s name, based on his nephew’s age. Kihei was adamant that the only way his honor could be cleared was if Musashi apologized to him when the duel was scheduled. So when the time set for the duel arrived, Dorin began apologizing for Musashi, who merely charged at Kihei with a six-foot quarterstaff, shouting a challenge to Kihei. Kihei attacked with a wakizashi, but Musashi threw Kihei on the floor, and while Kihei tried to get up, Musashi struck Arima between the eyes and then beat him to death. Arima was said to have been arrogant, overly eager to fight, and not a terribly talented swordsman.
—William Scott Wilson

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His Most Famous Duel

On April 13, 1612, Musashi (about age 30) fought his most famous duel, with Sasaki Kojirō, who was known as “The Demon of the Western Provinces” and who wielded a nodachi. Musashi came late and unkempt to the appointed place — the island of Funajima, in the Kanmon Straits separating Honshū and Kyūshū. The duel was short. Musashi killed his opponent with a bokken that Legend says he had carved from an oar used on the boat that carried him to the island. Musashi’s late arrival is controversial. Sasaki’s outraged supporters thought it was dishonorable and disrespectful, while Musashi’s supporters thought it was a fair way to unnerve his opponent. Another theory is that Musashi timed the hour of his arrival to match the turning of the tide. The tide carried him to the island. After his victory, Musashi immediately jumped back in his boat and his flight from Sasaki’s vengeful allies was helped by the turning of the tide. Another theory states he waited for the sun to get in the right position. After he dodged a blow, Sasaki was blinded by the sun.

Musashi briefly established a fencing school that same year.

Teaching

Musashi created and perfected a two-sword kenjutsu technique called niten’ichi (二天一, “two heavens as one”) or nitōichi (二刀一, “two swords as one”) or “Ni-Ten Ichi Ryu” (A Kongen Buddhist Sutra refers to the two heavens as the two guardians of Buddha). In this technique, the swordsman uses both a large sword, and a “companion sword” at the same time, such as a katana with a wakizashi.

The two-handed movements of temple drummers may have inspired him, although it could be that the technique was forged by a means of natural selection through Musashi’s combat experience. Jutte techniques were taught to him by his father — the jutte was often used in battle paired with a sword; the jutte would parry and neutralize the weapon of the enemy while the sword struck or the practitioner grappled with the enemy. In his time a long sword in the left hand was referred to as gyaku nito. Today Musashi’s style of swordsmanship is known as Hyōhō Niten Ichi-ryū.

Musashi was also an expert in throwing weapons. He frequently threw his short sword, and Kenji Tokitsu believes that shuriken methods for the wakizashi were the Niten Ichi Ryu’s secret techniques (see Hayakutake-Watkin).

Musashi spent many years studying Buddhism and swordsmanship. He was an accomplished artist, sculptor, and calligrapher. Records also show that he had architectural skills. Also, he seems to have had a rather straightforward approach to combat, with no additional frills or aesthetic considerations. This was probably due to his real-life combat experience; although in his later life, Musashi followed the more artistic side of bushidō. He made various Zen brush paintings, calligraphy, and sculpted wood and metal. Even in The Book of Five Rings he emphasizes that samurai should understand other professions as well. It should be understood that Musashi’s writings were very ambiguous, and translating them into English makes them even more so; that is why so many different translations of the Go Rin No Sho can be found. To gain further insight into Musashi’s principles and personality, one could read his other works, such as Dokkodo and Hyoho Shiji ni Kajo.

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Meditation on the Tragedy of Confirmity

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With the U.S election upon us this entry seems somewhat appropriate given the respective track records of the two main candidates.

Ultimately the beauty of teaching and preparing lessons brings with it the opportunity for the teacher to evolve and deepen his or her own learning. Reading an article in High Existence I noticed the opportunity to adapt Nietzsche’s lesson on the tragedy of conformity into a positive affirmation I can use during my own meditation class.

This lesson and the affirmation compliments the visualisations I am using with my middle and high school students in order to make them feel more secure grounded and confident, therefore less reactive and more in control throughout the day.

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A traveller asked the wise man. “What attributes are found in every man?” The wise man replied ‘The propensity for laziness and fearfulness.’ They hide themselves behind customs and opinions.’

In your heart you know that you will be in this world only once, there is no second chance. Will you let laziness and fear control your being?

Will you spend your life in fear of your neighbor, in fear of someone who demands conformity and cloaks himself with it?

I am fearless, I am neither lazy nor timid, I do not fear inconveniences and my dealings with my friends display unconditional honesty and unburdened kindness.

Through my actions I reveal my true self. My strength my confidence. I am a unique miracle. I dare to show myself as I am. I will show my uniqueness with every last movement of my muscles, consistent in my uniqueness I am beautiful, and worth regard.

When the great thinker despises mankind, he despises its laziness: for it is laziness that makes men seem like factory products, things of no consequence and unworthy to be associated with or taught.

A man or woman who does not wish to belong to the masses needs only to cease taking him or herself easily; I will follow my conscience, which flows with strength and shines with confidence.

Adapted from Friedrich Nietzsche Lesson on the tragedy of confirmity

An Introduction to Wuji Quan

Wujiquan (Chinese (無極拳): Pinyin: Wujiquan; Wade-Giles: Wu Chi Chuan): ‘Ultimate Void Boxing’: Is a rare and Secret Ultimate Void Boxing Skill, and is said to be the Mother Art of Taijiquan; from Wuji comes Tai-ji. The Wujiquan System is composed of 36 ‘Characters’: 18 kinds of natural climatic phenomena, and 18 of Qi applications.

One of the rarest of traditional Shaolin Boxing systems, Wujiquan is also one of the purest of traditional Chinese soft-internal boxing systems(Neijia): being taught to very few in its entirety and only after years of rigorous training and testing for aptitude; it never became widely known, which meant that unlike the better known, Taijiquan, there was no opportunity for the system to undergo the experimentation and mixing with other systems and arts which during recent centuries led to the variety of styles which characterize Taijiquan.

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Wu Ji boxing comes from the “Yi Jing” or ”Book of Changes”. Taiji is born from the state of Wu Ji (complete nothingness, or complete harmony with the universe). Yin Yang, or a single continuous line running from one point across to another, is born from the state of Taiji (Taiji gives rise to Yin Yang). A single line stretching between 2 points gives rise to a surface area or square (Yin Yang gives rise to 4 directions or surface area). A surface area or square gives rise to 8 trigrams or a 3 dimensional cube (4 directions give rise to 8 trigrams or 8 directions).

“Wuji quan” is the martial applications and techniques handed down from Wu’s ancestors.

The Wuji quan curriculum

After students are trained in the elementary level of Wu Ji, two disciplines become the focus, one of which is called Hun Yuan and the other is called Ba Gua Zhang.

The training system incorporates: 

Wu Ji Health Exercise System.

Wu Ji Standing Postures

Wu Ji 12 single movement training

Wu Ji leg and root training

Hun Yuan Discipline ↙       ↓      ↘ Ba Gua Discipline

      Wu Ji’s 18 rules

Hun Yuan Palm (1)    Wu Ji internal strength secret  Ba Gua Palm’s Upper body work/ upper body energy

     ↓

Hun Yuan Palm (2)    Wu Ji medical knowledge skills   Ba Gua Palm’s Root and leg work/ root and leg energy

     ↓

Hun Yuan Palm (3)   Wu Ji Dim Mak or acupoint striking Ba Gua Palm’s 9 cross- pattern footwork

     ↓

Hun Yuan Palm (4)    Ba Gua Palm’s Spirit and energy training

Wu Ji’s methods of diet and nutrition

  ↘          ↓        ↙

      Soft silk palm technique

   Cloud hands palm

   Silk pulling palm technique

   Explosive palm technique

Wu Ji elementary level

The middle-aged and the elderly can also practice the Wu Ji’s Health Exercise System and Wu Ji’s 6 essential guiding principles.

Wu Ji’s five-animal boxing forms (Wu Qin Xi) including:

Head rotations, Crane drinking, Wolf observes all directions, Hen sleeps and Ape reflexes.

Wu Ji’s 32 body building boxing: in addition to the 5 aforementioned animal forms, it also includes: Opening the trunk energy and internal splitting energy.

Wu Ji Standing Postures (for juveniles)

Leg and root training and energy/power training (for juveniles)

Wu Ji intermediate levelwuji-becomes-taiji

According to one’s body condition, there are two disciplines. The Ba Gua discipline is for those who don’t have high blood pressure, and includes:

Upper body work/ upper body energy work

Root and leg work/ root and leg energy work, 9 cross-pattern footwork and Spirit and energy training (more information can be found in the form treatise).

The Hun Yuan discipline’s foundations are based on internal energy. The first set of Hun Yuan Palm, the second set, the third and the fourth can be found in the form treatise.

Internal applications and techniques

  1. Internal secrets: internal elementary training methods.
  2. Dim Mak or acupoint striking (please refer to the Form treatise).
  3. Medical knowledge skills:

Martial artists should be aware of proper diet and nutrition and watch what they eat and what their meals are composed of. Internal applications and techniques are practiced by both schools – Hun Yuan and Ba Gua.

  1. Wu Ji’s 18 rules are the main applications and techniques of Wu Ji’s internal skills. Internal skills can also improve the practitioners’ external skills.

In the beginning, people can work on their internal power by means of external exercises. When they get to a certain stage with their internal energy work, they should then focus on working on their internal skills and energy to improve their external skills.

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无极拳简介

无极拳来源于易经,(无极生太极,太极生两仪,两仪生四象,四象生八卦),它是吴家的祖传拳法。祖先吴岐仙所传,到我这辈已有6代。我爷爷不会拳法,是我太爷传给我父亲的。再往上推称吴岐仙是谁传的无法考证。

无极拳分为初级阶段拳法、中级阶段拳法和高级阶段拳法,还有共同学习的内路拳法。

无极拳的图解

无极拳初级练完后,可分为两大派,一派是浑混元派,另一派是八卦派。

无极健身拳

无极架子拳

无极十二单式

无极腿工

              混元派↙       ↓      ↘八卦派

                无极十八则

 

            混元掌(一)    无极内功秘诀  天门八卦掌

              

            混元掌(二)    无极医道术    地门八卦掌

               

            混元掌(三)    无极点穴术    九宫八卦掌

               

            混元掌(四)    无极武德学说  神门八卦掌

                           

                 无极善饮术

              ↘        ↓       ↙

               棉丝掌

云盘掌

丝旋掌

幻影掌

1      无极初级拳

1     中老年人可学习无极健身拳

1         无极健身六崇诀

2         无极小五禽戏:匀首、鹤饮、狼顾、雉睡、猿伸

3         无极三十二健身术:以上五种外、干疏、内搓等(见健身篇)。

2  无极架子拳  适合青少年

3  腿法、功法  适合青少年

2      无极中级拳

根据个人的身体情况,分为两大派系。走八卦派的,适合没有高血压的人。天门、地门、九宫、神门详见拳谱。

混元派是在内功基础上进行的。第一套混元掌,第二套、第三套、第四套详见拳谱。

3      内路拳法

1、内功秘诀:内功初级练法,内功层次划分,九言真经之一、之二、之三,最后为九阳真经。

2、点穴术(见拳谱)

3、医道术:摔打受伤的拿法、药法

4、善饮术:练功人吃什么、配餐等

内路拳法是两大派共同学习的。

5、无极十八则是无极内功拳术的主要拳法,用内带外。练拳人开始都以外功代内功。放拳练到一定阶段,内功大增,就要以内功代外功。

30 Challenges to Enlightenment

This is your chance to change your life forever…And join me on this journey to tame your monkey mind!

HighExistence has designed a legendary self-development obstacle course! 30 Challenges to Enlightenment.

Before you read further, you should watch the trailer to introduce the course.

Excited yet?! 

This thing is the culmination of the HighExistence team’s combined 25+ years of research in self-development, spirituality, science, and philosophy. They spent 6 months engineering the course, and it’s honestly unlike any self-improvement tool I have ever seen.

Over SIXTEEN THOUSAND people have now joined the tribe for 30 Challenges to Enlightenment.

What is 30 Challenges to Enlightenment, exactly? At this point you might be wondering: What is a “legendary self-development obstacle course,” exactly? What does it consist of? Oh-ho-ho, my friend, what a Pandora’s Box you’ve thrust open by asking such a question!

30 Challenges to Enlightenment is the ultimate life experiment. It’s an Odyssey of self-actualization. It’s a toolkit for disrupting your default state and claiming a High Existence. It’s the Hero’s Journey toward mental, emotional, and spiritual liberation.

It’s many marvelous things, rolled into one mega-empowering bundle. Philosophically, the course is rooted in Nietzsche’s idea of a “gymnastics of the will”—a practice of undertaking difficult life experiments to become stronger and wiser. The course includes three indispensable components:

The Challenge Mapphoto

The Challenge Map is the most iconic component of 30 Challenges to Enlightenment. A beautiful 24” x 36” poster, it’s simultaneously a habit-formation tool, progress chart, challenge list, work of art, and conversation piece.

The Challenge Map lists all of the challenges, providing a title, icon, and short description for each. For each challenge, there are 30 checkboxes—one for each day of the challenge. We used the Don’t-Break-the-Chain technique of habit development—as you check more boxes, you’ll feel averse to breaking the chain, so you’ll keep going.

The Challenge Map also divides the 30 challenges into 6 unique quests, which are based on the stages of enlightenment in the Zen tradition. The quests map out a natural progression toward self-actualization and spiritual realization, providing meaningful structure to your journey.

The most powerful thing about the Challenge Map is that it’s UNMISSABLE. 99.9% of self-improvement tools are either digital or relatively small and easily hidden. This leads to people ignoring or forgetting about them. You can’t ignore or forget about the Challenge Map, once it’s on your wall. It serves as a gorgeous, vitalizing reminder of your commitment to self-development, inspiring you to continue to undertake new challenging adventures.

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The Challenge Guidebook

The Challenge Map is all about action, but action is never complete without knowledge to back it up. That’s where the Challenge Guidebook comes in. It’s a 290-page eBook that contains in-depth sections elaborating on the science and philosophy of every quest and challenge within 30 Challenges to Enlightenment. It also contains an introduction that explains the philosophical framework for the journey and our grand vision for the course.

For each challenge, the Guidebook provides profound quotes, philosophical perspectives, actionable advice, thought-provoking Reflection Questions, and insights on the purpose of the challenge. At over 40,000 words, the Challenge Guidebook is truly dense and comprehensive—the most thorough articulation of the HighExistence philosophy we’ve ever created.

The Challenge Guidebook is a potent complement to the Challenge Map. Before embarking on any challenge, you will first read its description in the Guidebook. This will provide you with a deeper understanding of the challenge’s context and purpose, rendering it more meaningful and alluring. The Reflection Questions will prompt you to pause and reflect throughout the course on many aspects of your life, your reasons for undertaking challenges, and the obstacles which prevent your growth. They will facilitate a richer learning experience and further motivate you to complete challenges by helping you understand your “reasons why.”

The Challenge Tribe

The Challenge Map is about action. The Challenge Guidebook is about knowledge. And the Challenge Tribe is about community. The Challenge Map and Guidebook are immensely powerful on their own, but we understand that people are less likely to follow through in isolation.

That’s why, when you grab 30 Challenges to Enlightenment, you’ll gain access to an exclusive Facebook discussion group for everyone who is taking the course. Here you can find inspiration, make friends, get support and advice, and help others who are going through the same experience. This community will show you that you’re part of something larger and keep you motivated to continue with your quest. It will also provide a space for ongoing learning, enrichment, and connection that can last for the rest of your life.

Be(come) who you are…

Carl Jung once observed, “The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.”

30 Challenges to Enlightenment is designed to help you become the strongest, wisest, and most honest expression of yourself.

This course is engineered to help you overcome destructive habits, deepen self-understanding, and become a more enlightened version of yourself. It’s designed to allow you to liberate your mind, develop self-mastery, gain confidence, and discover bliss.

Once more, if you want to join the insider tribe—if you want to be the first to know when this thing is live and receive an epic gift—click below:

CLICK HERE

One thing is absolutely certain: After completing these challenges, you will not be the same.

Time is a Thief

“Because life is so brief and time is a thief when you’re undecided.
And like a fistful of sand, it can slip right through your hands.”
(Rod Stewart – “Young Turks”)

Let_Go_Of_FearBeing “undecided” is the same as choosing to not do something. At some point the decision MUST be made to take action. This is a highly promoted concept in personal protection. Choosing to do something to protect yourself has a much greater chance of survival than choosing to do nothing.

Now, timing is a key in choosing when to act! Learning to see the timing comes from training (i.e. practicing to make decisions). One of the ways that martial artists train for this is sparring. If you don’t decide on something to do, you get hit. Your first attempts at deciding what to do could also get you hit but you have now learned what variables go into decision making. This leads to better decisions. Since I live in Minnesota, it is inevitable that I’ll drive on icy roads in the winter. It usually takes a slip or slide or two to remember what to pay attention to after the first snow storm but it doesn’t take long to have the decision making for those situations back in good use.

quote-some-people-find-fault-like-there-is-a-reward-for-it-zig-ziglar-40-61-06The previous reflected physical and tangible things to make have to make decisions about. The problem is when we can’t take our decision making skills and apply them to non-physical and intangible things. How to chase your dreams is a great illustration here. How long have you hesitated in making a decision about what to do? How many opportunities have passed that would have let you achieve everything you wanted? “And like a fistful of sand, it can slip right through your hands.” This can be anything from finding that perfect job posting and not applying for it because “it’s not the right time” or allowing “I don’t know how” to interfere with moving forward.

These hesitations will cause nothing but resentment. It will build negative thoughts and create insecurity. The further a person goes down this path, the more they criticize others. More time is spent complaining about how badly things are going than about how well things have grown and developed. The only way that accomplishments can be made is through deciding to get them done.

Tony_Robbins-Stop_being_afraidFor many years, Tony Robbins has helped motivate people to work for and reach their goals. The idea struck me hard after reading his quote. I recognized the bunch of little things that I’ve been afraid to work on because I couldn’t believe the outcome would be more valuable than what could potentially go wrong. It has left me with more confusion about how to get these things done but that will change as the plan is decided and the work begun. I know that my students have seen some of this occurring but it can’t be helped because I’m not far enough along to have everything smoothed out. It should be seen by them, though, as the journey never ends and the work continues.

If you have enjoyed the posts here, please consider supporting our Kickstarter project, A New Home for White Tiger Martial Arts, with a donation. The project is running through the end of July 2016.

Zen Buddhism – Koan, a door to enlightenment

koan is a riddle or puzzle that Zen Buddhists use during meditation to help them unravel greater truths about the world and about themselves.

These succinct paradoxical statement or question used as a meditation discipline for novices, particularly in the Rinzai sect are intended to exhaust the analytic intellect and the egoistic will, readying the mind to entertain an appropriate response on the intuitive level. Each such exercise constitutes both a communication of some aspect of Zen experience and a test of the students competence.

The koan serves as a surgical tool used to cut into and then break through the mind of the practitioner… Koans aren’t just puzzles that your mind figures out suddenly and proclaims, “Aha! the answer is three!” They wait for you to open enough to allow the space necessary for them to enter into your depths—the inner regions beyond knowing.

To study Zen is to embark on a path of learning to stop resisting reality, and in doing so to free oneself from superfluous drama and the ceaseless ebb and flow of mental states.

Here are some koans that I hope are particularly useful and relevant to your own spiritual and martial arts journey.

Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 23.04.20Flow Like a River

There is the story of a young martial arts student who was under the tutelage of a famous master.

One day, the master was watching a practice session in the courtyard. He realized that the presence of the other students was interfering with the young man’s attempts to perfect his technique.  The master could sense the young man’s frustration. He went up to the young man and tapped him on his shoulder.

“What’s the problem?” he inquired. “I don’t know”, said the youth, with a strained expression. “No matter how much I try, I am unable to execute the moves properly”. “Before you can master technique, you must understand harmony. Come with me, I will explain”, replied the master.

The teacher and student left the building and walked some distance into the woods until they came upon a stream. The master stood silently on the bank for several moments. Then he spoke. “Look at the stream,” he said. “There are rocks in its way. Does it slam into them out of frustration? It simply flows over and around them and moves on! Be like the water and you will know what harmony is.” The young man took the master’s advice to heart. Soon, he was barely noticing the other students around him. Nothing could come in his way of executing the most perfect moves.

Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 23.08.40The Diamond Sutra

Out of nowhere, the mind comes forth.

The Way

A Master was asked the question, “What is the Way?” by a curious monk. “It is right before your eyes,” said the master. “Why do I not see it for myself?” “Because you are thinking of yourself.” “What about you: do you see it?” “So long as you see double, saying I don’t and you do, and so on, your eyes are clouded,” said the master. “When there is neither ‘I’ nor ‘You,’ can one see it?” “When there is neither ‘I’ nor ‘You,’ who is the one that wants to see it?”

Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 23.10.52

Moderation

An aged monk, who had lived a long and active life, was assigned a chaplain’s role at an academy for girls. In discussion groups he often found that the subject of love became a central topic. This comprised his warning to the young women: “Understand the danger of anything-too-much in your lives. Too much anger in combat can lead to recklessness and death. Too much ardor in religious beliefs can lead to close-mindedness and persecution.

Too much passion in love creates dream images of the beloved – images that ultimately prove false and generate anger. To love too much is to lick honey from the point of a knife.” “But as a celibate monk,” asked one young woman, “how can you know of love between a man and a woman?” “Sometime, dear children,” replied the old teacher, “I will tell you why I became a monk.”

“MU”!

The final koan, I will share with you is MU. This koan is one of the most famous of all and is the one most often used by the leading Zen masters of today: Because of this, the Chinese/Japanese character for MU is sometimes displayed in the dojo or teaching space where Zen students gather.

Joshu (A.D. 778-897) was a famous Chinese Zen Master who lived in Joshu, the province from which he took his name. One day a troubled monk approached him, intending to ask the Master for guidance. As he was about to ask for guidance a dog walked by. The monk pointed to the dog and asked Joshu, “Has that dog a Buddha-nature or not?” The monk had barely completed his question when Joshu shouted: “MU!”

The character for MU literally means “nothing.” Joshu’s answer was quite simply “Nothing,” which was not to say that a dog lacks Buddha-nature. Naturally, both Joshu and the monk knew that Buddha-nature is inherent in all creatures without exception, which is why Joshu’s “MU” should never be interpreted as a denial of this fact.

The only purpose of his response was to break the monk of rational thinking in trying to understand the truth of Zen and to get him to aspire to a higher understanding of reality beyond affirmation and negation, in which all contradictions disappear on their own. Joshu’s “MU” is neither a yes nor a no. It is an answer that surpasses the opposition of yes and no and directly points to Buddha-nature, to the reality beyond yes and no.

(http://peterspearls.com.au/the-zen-koan-mu.htm)

9 Bits of Wisdom from the Dali Lama

1. “Through violence, you may ‘solve’ one problem, but you sow the seeds for another.

2. Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.

3. The universe that we inhabit and our shared perception of it are the results of a common karma. Likewise, the places that we will experience in future rebirths will be the outcome of the karma that we share with the other beings living there. The actions of each of us, human or nonhuman, have contributed to the world in which we live. We all have a common responsibility for our world and are connected with everything in it.

4. It is under the greatest adversity that there exists the greatest potential for doing good, both for oneself and others.

5. The creatures that inhabit this earth-be they human beings or animals-are here to contribute, each in its own particular way, to the beauty and prosperity of the world.

6. To develop genuine devotion, you must know the meaning of teachings. The main emphasis in Buddhism is to transform the mind, and this transformation depends upon meditation. in order to meditate correctly, you must have knowledge.

7. Anything that contradicts experience and logic should be abandoned.

8. We humans have existed in our present form for about a hundred thousand years. I believe that if during this time the human mind had been primarily controlled by anger and hatred, our overall population would have decreased. But today, despite all our wars, we find that the human population is greater than ever. This clearly indicates to me that love and compassion predominate in the world. And this is why unpleasant events are “news”; compassionate activities are so much a part of daily life that they are taken for granted and , therefore, largely ignored.

9. The fundamental philosophical principle of Buddhism is that all our suffering comes about as a result of an undisciplined mind, and this untamed mind itself comes about because of ignorance and negative emotions. For the Buddhist practitioner then, regardless of whether he or she follows the approach of the Fundamental Vehicle, Mahayana or Vajrayana, negative emotions are always the true enemy, a factor that has to be overcome and eliminated. And it is only by applying methods for training the mind that these negative emotions can be dispelled and eliminated. This is why in Buddhist writings and teachings we find such an extensive explanation of the mind and its different processes and functions. Since these negative emotions are states of mind, the method or technique for overcoming them must be developed from within. There is no alternative. They cannot be removed by some external technique, like a surgical operation.”

H.H. The 14th Dalai Lama in ‘Dzogchen: The Heart Essence of the Great Perfection‘, Snow Lion Publications, Ithaca, 2004

The Path of Mindfulness

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The oldest evidence for walking on two legs comes from one of the earliest humans known, Sahelanthropus. Walking upright may have helped this species survive in the diverse habitats near where it lived—including forests and grasslands. Today the habitat of the modern humans are urban areas and walking no-longer is matter of life and death but quality of life.

As a low impact exercise over 10,000 steps are recommend each day so its not an exercise that will help you loose pounds like running will. However, the benefits of walking can not simply be measured in weight loss or even fitness gains. Walking is much more than that. Walking is about the maintenance of overall physical and mental health. A evolutionary leap that is one of the most natural parts of our lives.

As a child our first steps are greeted with joy and as an adult our last with sadness. Walking is central to our being whether as a means of movement, a health exercise, a de-stresser, a way to clear your mind, think or connect to your own body or nature. As a result it’s a natural choice for an active meditative exercise that everyone can do.

Here’s a simple set of instructions for one form of walking meditation that focuses on connecting you to your own body and your surroundings.

1. Be aware of your posture, reduce your speed, relax and regulate your breathing with long slow deep breaths .

2. Using your five senses, listen to your surroundings and take a moment to become aware of them. Turn your attention to smells and touch, smile and explore your surroundings with wonder.

3. Become aware of your body, its movements its sway and connect to the sensation of walking. Observe how your body feels during the process of walking and enjoy these sensations for short periods of relaxed mindfulness.

So if you’re in Beijing here are my top three parks in Beijing for mindful walking:

1. The Temple of Heaven

2. Beihai Park

3. The Temple of Earth

Check out this app that is designed to help you integrate mindfulness into your daily routines. https://itunes.apple.com/hk/app/gps-for-the-soul/id586099254?mt=8 or alternatively. Leave your phone behind and get rid of all technological attachments for a mindful walk.

Check out www.StudyMartialArts.Org for martial arts adventure travel and training options in Beijing and World Wide.

A Lesson on Breathing

From Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind

by Shunryu Suzuki

A path between a bamboo forrest.
A path between a bamboo forrest.

When we inhale, the air comes into the inner world.  When we exhale, the air goes out to the outer world.  The inner world is limitless, and the outer world is also limitless.  We say “inner world” or “outer world,” but actually there is just one whole world.  In this limitless world, our throat is like a swinging door.  The air comes in and goes out like a swinging door.  The air comes in and goes out like someone passing through a swinging door.  If you think, “I breathe,” the “I” is extra.  There is no you to say “I.”  What we call “I” is just a swinging door which moves when we inhale and when we exhale.  It just moves; that is all.  When your mind is pure and calm enough to follow this movement, there is nothing:  no “I,” no world, no mind nor body; just a swinging door….

Tozan, a famous Zen master, said,

“The blue mountain is the father of the white cloud.  The white cloud is the son of the blue mountain.  All day long they depend on each other, without being dependent on each other.  The white cloud is always the white cloud.  The blue mountain is always the blue mountain.”

This is a pure, clear interpretation of life.  There may be many things like the white cloud and blue mountain:  man and woman, teacher and disciple.  They depend on each other.  But the white cloud should not be bothered by the blue mountain.  The blue mountain should not be bothered by the white cloud.  They are quite independent, but yet dependent.  This is how we live….

When we become truly ourselves, we just become a swinging door, and we are purely independent of, and at the same time, dependent upon everything.  Without air, we cannot breathe.  Each of us is in the midst of myriads of worlds.  We are in the center of the world always, moment after moment.  So we are completely dependent and independent.  If you have this kind of experience, this kind of existence, you have absolute independence; you will not be bothered by anything.

BOOK LINK – http://www.amazon.com/Zen-Mind-Beginners-Informal-Meditation/dp/0834800799

www.StudyMartialArts.Org

The Way Of Nature in Beijing

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Bringing the way of nature into polluted Beijing from the inside out.

Living in Beijing, China’s capital has lots of benefits. In China’s annual 2012 expat survey, Beijing was voted in the top 3 of China’s most attractive cities for expats to live in.
Beijing’s Parks and open spaces are beautiful and full of life no matter what time of day you might visit them. Literally any open space buzzes with life. The old talk, play, stretch, sway, practice qigong or dance while the young chillout, cuddle or keep fit.

For foodies Beijing has an abundance of cheap and delicious eateries. There are traditional and exotic offerings available that are either local or from further afield. All of which can be easily obtained and many of which can be obtained without even leaving the house. Thanks to the numerous delivery services like Jinshisong, sherpa and many more. Yet, of course, food and parks aren’t the only thing on offer: Beijing also has a rich history and culture, as well as a maze of hutongs and hidden gems, all there for you to explore should you wish to leave your house. For many Beijing’s cultural scene is a legitimate draw and, for many, has more substance than Shanghai.

Beijing is a City of parks, restaurants, historic sites and culture, knitted together by an ever expanding subway system that allows its 20 million plus residents easy access around the city for as little as 2 rmb.

Beijing it seems has everything and in abundance. However, this abundance does not come without a cost. Air pollution, traffic and overcrowding are the biggest challenges that the city faces.

However, whether you’re a Chinese citizen or expat the truth is that we can do very little about these three things individually, without sweeping local and national policy changes and the time for them to take place. At present, too many of us continue to enjoy the convenience of cars, whether it’s our own or a cab, and quite frankly, even the most unsociable of us enjoy congregating from time to time. So what can we do individually to improve our environment?
Consider for a second the saying ‘charity starts at home’. Now why not replace the word ‘charity’ with this phrase; ‘Environmental change’. Maybe for the Beijinger, ‘Environmental change can and should start at home also’, rather than wait for local and national policy changes. Its up to us individually to be more proactive, by having more awareness and connection to our surroundings. We can do this very simply and cheaply by improving our own personal environments.  You can create your own personal oasis of peace and quiet away from the air pollution, traffic and overcrowding by introducing the following key elements (because no matter how peaceful, softly lit or less crowded your home is, it is unlikely that it will be untainted by Beijing’s air pollution).

The surprising and unhealthy truth is that almost all of the contaminants present in outdoor pollution can be found in indoor pollution! These pollutants include PAHs, solvents, organics, heavy metals, particulates, benzene, carcinogens and fecal material. As a result classrooms, offices and homes are introducing more and more air purifiers. But does the introduction of another impersonal home or workplace utility make any real difference without a very personal and natural mental shift? Does the introduction of yet another machine send the right message to students, workers or homeowners? What other measure can we take to protect our little oasis’s and improve our personal environments? Well the answer might just be in creating an oasis.

Below you will find my answer for the practical Beijinger who wants to avoid Beijing’s air pollution, traffic and overcrowding. Here is my list of air cleaning plants that you can order from taobao to create your own oasis without even leaving your home:

Bamboo Palm

 Bamboo Palm: Also known as the reed palm, this small palm thrives in shady indoor spaces and often produces flowers and small berries. It tops the list of plants best for filtering out both benzene and trichloroethylene. They’re also a good choice for placing around furniture that could be off-gassing formaldehyde. ://s.taobao.com/search?initiative_id=staobaoz_20130414&q=%D7%D8%D6%F1%C5%E8%D4%D4

Snake Plant

Snake plant: (Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Laurentii’) Also known as mother-in-law’s tongue, this plant is one of the best for filtering out formaldehyde, which is common in cleaning products, toilet paper, tissues and personal care products. Put one in your bathroom — it’ll thrive with low light and steamy humid conditions while helping filter out air pollutants. http://s.taobao.com/search?%20initiative_id=staobaoz_20130414&q=%BB%A2%CE%B2%C0%BC%C5%E8%D4%D4&cat=0

Areca Palm

Areca Palm: The top air purifying plant as ranked by NASA’s study is the Areca palm tree. The palm has been dubbed as one of the most efficient humidifiers and can be counted on to keep your home or office moist during dry times and continuously remove chemical toxins from the air. During winter time, it can literally replace the use of electric humidifiers altogether! http://s.taobao.com/search?initiative_id=staobaoz_20130414&q=%C9%A2%CE%B2%BF%FB%C5%E8%D4%D4&cat=0

Spider Plant

Spider Plant: A beautiful houseplant with long grassy leaves, the spider plant also grows rapidly. This elegant plant is great at removing poisonous gases as well as other impurities like formaldehyde and xylene. For better effect, it should be kept in the kitchen or near the fireplace, as these are the places where carbon monoxide accumulates a lot.

http://s.taobao.com/search?initiative_id=staobaoz_20130414&q=%B5%F5%C0%BC%C5%E8%D4%D4&cat=0

Peace Lily

Peace Lily: One of the best plants you can get that reduces harmful indoor toxins that may cause cancer is the Peace Lily. An easy-to-care-for houseplant, the peace lily is a great pollution fighter and air-purifier. It helps in removing benzene and formaldehyde present in the house. http://s.taobao.com/search?spm=a230r.1.4.1.VT1G0W&q=%C2%ED%CC%E3%C1%AB%C5%E8%D4%D4&rsclick=1

Gerbera Daisy

Gerbera Daisy: This bright, flowering plant is effective at removing trichloroethylene, which you may bring home with your dry cleaning. It’s also good for filtering out the benzene that comes with inks. A great place to have this little plant is either in your laundry room or bedroom provided it can get plenty of light there.  

http://s.taobao.com/search?initiative_id=staobaoz_20130414&q=%B7%C7%D6%DE%BE%D5%B3%FB%BE%D5%C5%E8%D4%D4&cat=0

Marginata

Marginata (Dracaena marginata): This plant is stunningly beautiful with glossy thin leaves with red edges. It is a famously slow-growing flowering houseplant with very few growing requirements. It also not only removes formaldehyde and benzene from the air, but is also capable of filtering out other toxins present. However, proper care should be taken while placing the plant inside, as it is poisonous to dogs.

http://s.taobao.com/search?initiative_id=staobaoz_20130526&jc=1&q=Marginata+%28Dracaena+marginata%29&stats_click=search_radio_all%3A1

Aloe Vera

Aloe vera: We all know that aloe vera is present in many skin care products. Not only does it help with skin burns but also with filtering various gas emissions from dangerously toxic materials. Claimed to possess tons of medicinal properties, this incredible succulent can also be grown as an ornamental plant and can easily be picked up anywhere there are plants being sold.

http://s.taobao.com/search?initiative_id=staobaoz_20130526&jc=1&q=%C2%AB%DC%F6%D6%B2%CE%EF&stats_click=search_radio_all%3A1

Chrysantheium morifolium

Chrysantheium morifolium:  The colorful flowers of these plants can do a lot more than brighten a home office or living room; the blooms which come in a mixture of different shades and colors also help filter out benzene, which is commonly found in glue, paint, plastics and detergent. This plant loves bright light, and to encourage buds to open, you’ll need to find a spot near an open window with direct sunlight.