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Standing still, not standing still


I am still here, I just haven’t been in to mood to post much.

London was great. I was lucky, and the weather was beautiful – blue skies, and hot sunshine, mmmm! There seemed to be cherry trees in bloom everywhere, and the scent at night was heavy and soporific. Of course, the main thing was that I caught up with S again. It was wonderful; we just picked up our friendship as if we’d seen each other last week, not seven months ago. We practised zhan zhuang together in Earl’s Court, went to see Ai Weiwei’s sunflower seeds exhibit at the Tate Modern, and generally had a good time hanging out.

Speaking of zhan zhuang, I did quite a bit, in parks or the gardens of the Youth Hostel where I stayed. Got a few funny looks, but that’s only to be expected!

I’ve been working a lot on the standing recently, getting a fair bit done most days. I’ve been working mostly on the basic health stances, working on opening up the kua to take the pressure off my knees, and working on loosening up the achilles tendons. I’m about ready to go on to more of the shi li stances, and also practising some of the more advanced health postures. I’m finding Lam Kam Chuen’s books very useful as guides for the time being. (S and I almost wandered over to Hercules Street from the Tate Modern to check out the Lam Association offices but decided that it was too hot and a bit too far, so we went to Covent Garden instead).

One of the pleasures of the standing has been the reconnection to nature as I practice in the garden. In the early mornings I have ducks and wild geese flying low over my head. A little later, I can enjoy the songs of the blackbirds, and the hoarse calls of the crows. In early evening, the birds are all settling back down into their roosts, and I slowly hear them all go quiet, until at last the final holdouts cease their lonely songs. This is also when the bats emerge, flittering overhead in the dying light. Then, at late night practice, I listen to the owls hunt, calling each other through the darkness. Something snuffles and crunches in the darkness – a hedgehog, perhaps?

Of course, I don’t do all of these slots every day! It just depends when I have time. But it’s nice.

In the garden, the trees I’ve planted are starting to bloom. The pear tree has the most; it’s very vigorous, and has put out a lot of flowers. The cherry tree is also doing well. The apple trees may bloom later this year, or it may be that they need to establish themselves, in which case I’ll see the results next year. The first five that I planted are all already much taller; they’re prospering, it seems. Good job I put a few handfuls of concentrated manure in the hole… Tomatos, chilis, and sunflowers are all germinating… Need to get a rambling rose planted soon, and to look at getting sweetcorn, rocket, beetroots and climbing beans underway…

The house move is in progress; hopefully all will be completed soon. I need to get deposits off for the anatomy course, and for the meditation leadership course. I’ve made contact with the local group of Thich Nhat Tran’s Order of Interbeing; they should have a meeting soon, but it seems they don’t get together very frequently. There’s also a branch of the Western Chan association nearby, who meet several times a month, so I’ll get in touch with them too.

Life goes on!

Shaolin controversy

2

I don’t travel much in China.

I would love to, don’t get me wrong – but obviously, I’m working in the week, and my martial arts classes have always been on the weekend, and that means I’ve been afraid that going off on trips on the weekends would just totally disrupt what little training routine I have…

What this means is, I’ve never visited any of the martial arts ‘destinations’ such as the Shaolin Temple, Wudang Mountain, Chen Village etc etc…

Still, I’m disturbed by a recent article in the UK Independent, which was brought to my attention in a blog post by Dojo Rat.

The issue is the policy taken by the Temple’s Abbot, Shi Yongxin, to aggressively reclaim the Temple’s brand, using the legal tools of intellectual property protection, and so on – leading Dojo Rat to comment “Damned Capitalists“. This worries me, since it reflects what I think may be a seriously misguided understanding of what is likely happening there (and, again, I must emphasize that my views are also speculation, since I don’t know anyone at the Shaolin Temple).

I’ve written about this before, at this blog’s old home, but I need to explain my thoughts in more detail.

Ask yourself: “what is the purpose of a Buddhist monk?”.

The answer only takes one word…. ‘meditation’. That’s it. A monk takes his vows in order to retreat from the world, so that he can obtain the seclusion necessary to focus on meditation and thus achievement of Nirvana or Enlightenment (for the Theravada and Mahayana branches respectively). Of course, this is not universally true, but it’s the ideal.

Thus (influenced particularly by a very famous monk from the Himalayas, who I won’t name because I don’t want my blog to be blocked again), the Western public thinks that Buddhist monks should be unworldly, unconcerned with things like wealth and and profit and property management etc etc.

And they’re right to think so.

But….

How do you think all those meditating monks get food to eat?

How do you think that the walls around them are kept sturdy, and the roof doesn’t fall in on their heads from neglect?

The fact is, a temple or monastery is a complex organisation, and it needs a lot of monks who don’t meditate – in order to support those who do. What’s most relevant is that this is not a modern thing, it’s always been the case.

In The Zen Monastic Experience, Robert Buswell Jr has this to say about the job of Abbot in a Zen monastery:

While the position of abbot would seem to bring with it much prestige, the monks typically view it as an onerous one. The heavy workload and constant responsibility do not endear the position to many of the monks qualified to serve, and the monastery family may have to go through considerable machinations to cajole someone into accepting the job.

[There follows a long anecdote on the extreme lengths some monks will go to in order to avoid being appointed abbot]

I noted among the meditation monks a muted feeling that they are above the dictates of the abbot, since he is only an administrator, not a meditator. The abbot is, as often as not, relatively inexperienced in meditation, and some of the practice monks are patently supercilious toward him. The rector, who is superior in rank to the abbot, is the director of the meditation unit, and the practice monks place their respect more in him than in the abbot.

Buswell was writing about his time in a Zen monastery in Korea rather than China, but to my limited knowledge the difference is not great. He has a great deal more to say about the economy of the monastery which, having been gifted land by devotees, is landlord to many farmers who pay rent to the monastery’s administrative branch – which is how the practice (ie meditation) monks are fed.

In China, of course, there was the Cultural Revolution. The temples were closed, or destroyed, and the monks were forced back into lay life. Over the last couple of decades, of course, things have become far more tolerant, and religion is acceptable again. Old monks have returned to the temples, and a new generation of monks has emerged from those too young to remember the days of the 60s and 70s.

However….

As Red Pine points out in Zen Baggage, although the Chinese government has returned the temples to the monks, it hasn’t returned the farmland. As a result, these monasteries are left high and dry, financially unable to maintain themselves.

This is the context in which we have to look at what’s happening in Shaolin. As I understand it, the abbot there is reclaiming the Shaolin name, and getting rid of all the hangers-on who were trying to exploit it – with the purpose of generating a revenue stream that will allow the temple to return to its proper role as a centre of Buddhist contemplation….

Even monks need to eat… and that means that even monks (via their despised administrative officers) need money…

I rather feel that we should be feeling sorry for Shi Yongxin in his thankless role, rather than accusing him of selling out….

[See also: Chinese Buddhist monks enroll in MBA programs]

An afternoon in good company

3

They didn’t say much, but I enjoyed hanging out with them.

Not everyone has a pet dragon

Not everyone has a pet dragon

He's got rhythm...

He's got rhythm...

These guys weren't impressed, though

These guys weren't impressed, though

Old friends helped each other out

Old friends helped each other out

Down to the last drop

Down to the last drop

Not sure if the poor old horse was impressed...

Not sure if the poor old horse was impressed...

Mini-monk... looks like something out of Alien?

Mini-monk... looks like something out of Alien?

Later on, things calmed down:

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021020092188

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021020092150

Plastic people

5

Here’s another miscellany of links that I found interesting:

I’m a few days away from a month of travelling and holidays. I’m looking forward very much to the clean air of Wales, and practicing yiquan under the apple trees in my parents’ garden 🙂

I have a great deal on my mind, which is buzzing with things I want to blog about. Not sure where to start; I need to get everything in some kind of order…

Hermits, monks and acrobats

1

I don’t know whether you’re the same, but I tend to keep interesting pages open in browser tabs until I get round to blogging them. At the moment, I must have a dozen such pages open, and Firefox is getting slower and slower, so here’s a rag-tag of links.

More about Red Pine, aka Bill Porter. Quite apart from him being a fascinating person, he said something extremely interesting about Buddhism in China. Like most foreigners, I’m aware that Buddhist monasteries suffered a lot during the Cultural Revolution, with monks being forced back into lay life (if they weren’t killed), monastic lands being confiscated, and so on. Although there is a religious revival in contemporary China, the assumption is that there’s no longer any learning; that modern Chinese Buddhism is starting afresh, as it were. It’s natural to see that this must be the case, and the online Buddhist fora I belong to certainly assume this to be the truth.

As so often in China, though, the reality is more complicated. I’ve spoken to a monk myself whose temple survived the Cultural Revolution unscathed – because Zhou En Lai ordered the People’s Liberation Army to protect it from the Red Guards. The monk said that the temple was basically under siege for several years, with the monks inside, the Red Guards outside, and the PLA in between… There were a lot of temples in the same situation, I gather.

Furthermore, Porter has explained the relationship between hermits and monks in a way that I hadn’t considered. I suppose most of us Westerners think of hermits as reclusive, rejecting the world and society. This probably comes from the Christian tradition, especially the Irish, I guess, who sought out the most remote and inaccessible locations for solitude. Even this is an inaccurate understanding – many of the early Christian hermits, especially in Egypt, were constantly in touch with society. In Chinese Buddhism, it’s completely wrong to think of hermits in this way. Porter compares monasteries to universities, where monks learn the fundamental concepts and practices of their particular brand of Buddhism, be it Zen or Pure Land. Some then go into the hills, and can be considered as graduate students – learning to take the basic ideas, and make them their own, to truly live them. Even in the hills, a hermit is never far from other hermits; they get to know each other, and the established hermits teach newcomers the skills they will need to survive. Eventually, local villagers may help once they believe that a given hermit is truly committed.

Eventually, after years in the hills living close to nature, the hermits will often return to the monastery. The insights and experiences they have acquired in their time away from the modern world equip them to become the ‘Professors’ – those who can inspire new monks in training with the true nature of Zen. It’s this stage that Porter discusses, and which suggests that Buddhism in China today can rebound more quickly, and in a more authentic fashion, than many outsiders think. The Cultural Revolution broke up the monasteries, but those were the undergraduates. The majority of the hermits, it seems, passed through that time almost completely unaffected, in some cases completely unaware of what was happening outside their mountains, and are now re-emerging. The reconstituted monasteries are thus regaining teachers who belong to the authentic Chinese tradition, and who possess the knowledge gained before the monasteries were broken up. I find this extremely encouraging.

Some interviews with Bill Porter, aka Red Pine:

And now for something completely different.

Here’s a couple of parkour clips I really like, found via this Guardian article.

Red Pine in Beijing

2

I went to The Bookworm this evening to catch a talk by Bill Porter, aka ‘Red Pine’. I’d been planning to go for well over a month, but hadn’t thought to pre-book a ticket. As it turned out, the talk was well over-subscribed, and I was lucky to get a ticket on standby.

He was talking about his new book, Zen Baggage – a personal pilgrimage around the significant historical sites of Zen (Ch’an) Buddhism in China. I actually bought the book about six weeks ago, and I’m not going to say anything about it now as I hope to review it at some point.

Since I’ve already read it, the readings were only mildly interesting. It was the conversation afterwards that gripped me. Porter, let’s just say, has made the hard choice to follow what he loves, even though it led to poverty. I have to respect that, especially in light of the choices I’m weighing. It turns out that he’s a friend of Daniel Reid – “He turned to Daoism, I turned to Buddhism, and we balance each other out”. Apparently Reid lives in Yunnan now. I’m vaguely aware of his work, although my friends H. and S. are big fans.

Anyway, I had a brief and enlightening chat with Porter after the talk. It seems that the book for which he is most well-known, Road to Heaven, will be re-published in September this year. I’ll look forward to getting a copy. I had planned to take my copy of Zen Baggage along for him to sign but, since I was kept late at work, I didn’t get a chance. Instead, I bought a copy of Cold Mountain.

No…. NOT the American Civil War novel that got made into a film a few years back! This is the collection of Chinese poems by a Daoist, or possibly Buddhist, hermit, made famous by Jack Kerouac in The Dharma Bums. Which is where I first heard of them, and I’ve been looking for a copy ever since….

Meditation on life


I finally made it to the meditation class at the Koan Abbey last Thursday night. My friend H and I have meant to attend on a regular basis, but we’ve both found that, as lecturers, we’ve been overwhelmed by paperwork – so actually, we’ve only been on one occasion a few weeks ago. After my last blog post about meditation, I decided that I would make the effort and get there again! H had to cancel at the last moment, so I went alone. We arranged to meet up later that evening, though.It turned out to be one of those meditation sessions that has unexpected outcomes.

Essentially, the class is two hours of sitting and walking meditation, with occasional sessions of stretching to loosen the joints.It surprised me how much cracking came from my shoulders! I still find it a little difficult to sit properly; the meditation cushions are much thinner and lower than the ones I’m used to, so it’s a bit tougher on my legs.

Chan meditation often focuses on breathing from the dantian, and there was a lot of this on Thursday, along with attention on awareness of the body. Perhaps because it was already on my mind, it seemed to me that the breathing was stimulating a lot of massage of the internal organs, especially the intestines and liver. The walking meditation also was interesting in terms of posture and weight; my Achilles tendons were definitely taking a lot more strain than usual when I walk – which is good, I think, as it means I’m sinking my weight. However, my knees often hurt, which is not good – it means that I’m not yet able to take the postural improvements I’m seeing from zhan zhuang, and transfer them into everyday usage. Not yet, anyway, not automatically. I worked on this a little during the zen walking, and my knees did stop hurting, so the weight was perhaps being transferred a little better.

By the end of the class, I was feeling much calmer and clearer in my thoughts. As I went to meet H, I became aware of a strange feeling; it felt as though my qi had been stirred up, and was swirling around my body as it looked for a new balance. It was a very odd sensation, and not one that I remember having experienced in quite that way before. It left me in a rather unsettled – no, not unsettled, maybe ‘detached’? – frame of mind, which lasted until the following day.

On Friday, I finish work early and, after doing some shopping at the Xidan bookstore, I went to the Stone Boat in Ritan Park for a late-afternoon beer. A large group was on one of the other tables; it seemed to be a meetup for New Zealanders in Beijing. I couldn’t help but overhear a lot of their conversation, which was about which posting they might be applying for next etc…

I heard a lot, and still.. didn’t hear anyone sounding really happy. A strange thing happened then; I suddenly remembered an occasion, over ten years ago now, when I almost fell into a still, black, freezing sea, with hundreds of cold stars shining steadily in the moonless sky. I saw those stars again, it seemed. as I listened to the chatter in the Stone Boat. I don’t know why that memory rose again then, but I think there must be some meaning. It’s true though, that over the past few years, I have oscillated between the pursuit of money and career success on the one hand, and meditation and martial arts on the other. At the moment, I’m having to make choices about direction again. It’s not unimportant that the times when I’ve had dead-end jobs, but was working hard on studying Buddhism and martial arts are the periods when I was happiest and, made the closest friends. On the the other side – money is helpful, and no-one wants to die a pauper!

H and I met up again yesterday; she came to Yiquan class, and we went for a drink afterwards. We chatted about a lot of these things, as she shares a lot of my views. We talked about attachments, and what we are trying to achieve. Neither of us has had a conventional career path…. We talked about romantic attachment… I’m single again, she has a new boyfriend… Also, is our study of martial arts an attachment? We could, after all give it up and work exclusively on meditation. For me, I think not… I do feel, somehow, that the study of neijia is something I feel driven to do, and somehow, it is intimately connected with karmic development…

I saw someone on Twitter asking the other day for articles about the connection between meditation and martial arts; I’ve lost the link, but perhaps I’ll write up my thoughts on the subject.

As for a conclusion…. Well; this is another stream-of-consciousness post, I’m afraid. Part of the process of trying to figure out “what it’s all about”, and “what next”…

Musings


In yesterday’s yiquan class, I was talking to Karula, the German girl who’s been staying in Beijing for a month. She studied taijiquan in Germany, and came to China specifically to study yiquan. She’s been training every day, and has the bruises on her forearm to prove it. She speaks better Mandarin that I do, and mentioned that I’d misunderstood what Master Yao said last week: it seems he said I can use his brother’s book to help me understand what is going on, I just need to be careful of some differences. That’ll be useful.

We practised a couple of the more unusual yiquan postures: ban fu shi chengbao zhuang (bending over expanding-embracing post) and xiang long zhuang (landing dragon combat post). The first is standing, but bent forward with the arms and forehead resting on a support, and is apparently good for the intestines. The second is a long stance, with 70% of the weight on the forward leg (it’s usually 70% on the back), arms raised, and the torso twisted so that you’re looking backwards… It needs reasonably good balance, and is developing waist power, I think!

Karula and I tried some tui shou, as the the German guy who’s usually with her wasn’t at class. I thought they’d come together from Germany, but it seems he actually lives in Beijing, is a long-term student of Master Yao’s, and was just helping to translate. Anyway, something interesting occurred, as I was pretty tired: as Karula tried to press me, I deflected her force and – in that slightly dreamy state you get when you’re tired – I found my hands “sticking” to her arm and going almost automatically into taiji’s “cloud hands”, which demonstrated that it is an effective joint-breaker. Hmm. Of course, I didn’t break her elbow, but it became clear that it could be done! It made me think about my views that sparring practice is necessary in training: yesterday, that application of cloud hands emerged spontaneously – but I’m not sure it would have been so clear, or at all useful, if that had been a real fight rather than a training session….

Speaking of training and sparring, a Serbian girl lives downstairs from me. She started attending wushu classes for the first time shortly after I moved into my apartment, and showed me some of what she’s learned. Even though she and her fellow-students are all novices, her teacher has already got them started on the short staff (bian gan), similar to what I studied for a short while with Sun Lao Shi. She’s already way better than me! There’s many possible reasons for that of course 🙂 but one is certainly that they train the form in class, but then also do free-form sparring, learning to apply what they’ve just studied – so learning to improvise, improve reflexes, and so on! Of course, it helps that she’s fluent in Mandarin!

I was planning to go out with friends to have dinner last night, but it got cancelled at the last minute. That left me at an unexpected loose end, so I headed down to Houhai to see what was up. I’ve noticed that since the Olympics there are many more touts – in some sections, almost every bar has a young guy or two outside trying to lure in passers-by, plus lots of “lady bar” pimps. They’re getting a lot more aggressive as well; I think a lot of people invested heavily in bars for the Olympics and, when the visitors didn’t arrive in the numbers that were expected, found that they are not recouping their money. That’s just my theory, but it’s a fact that these guys are barely stopping short of physically dragging people off the road and into their bar! One of these lads got particularly in my face last night, well beyond what I thought was acceptable, and it led to a bit of a scuffle and name-calling. Nothing more serious! I should, of course, have let it pass but I notice that since I started training yiquan I’ve got a bit more of a temper. I expected this – those of you who knew me in Singapore may recall that I said for quite some time that I didn’t want to study xingyi, because I was worried that xingyi is by nature pretty brutal, and I was concerned about the effect it would have on my temperament. Well, yiquan is derived from xingyi and, yes, I’m finding that its directness and ferocity are having an effect. I’m going to need to start balancing my training with meditation – which would be a good thing to do anyway.

Heh, on the topic of aggression on the streets, this is of course one reason why I want to develop my ability to protect myself if need be! Dragoncache thinks I’m being over-stressed about this, and he’s probably right but… on the other hand…. there’s a recession coming, and hard times with it. China’s a pretty safe place, of course, but on the other hand, you know, there are a lot of people here who have got used to an ever-improving economy, and may not be prepared for the money drying up. At the back of my mind, I recall the TV scenes of the riots in Indonesia in ’97….

So on that note, a couple of links:

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not walking the streets in fear! China is very safe 🙂

And as for that scuffle with the tout… I felt bad afterwards that I’d let myself be provoked. When I sat down later, though, I started reading my copy of The Compass of Zen, which I had in my bag, and it opened to the page about the Avatamsaka Sutra, and I read:

The Avatamsaka Sutra teaches that everything is truth. In Hinayana Buddhism, for example, getting angry and then acting on that anger is not such a good state. But the Avatamsaka Sutra displays Mahayana Buddhism’s extremely wide view: like everything else in this universe, anger is also truth. For example, a child misbehaves and plays in a dangerous street. The parent sees this and becomes very angry. The parent scolds or even spanks the child. “How many times have I told you not to do that?”. The child’s behaviour is the truth: it is not good or bad. The spanking and the scolding are also neither good nor bad, and they are also the truth. Whereas the Hinayana view is to try not to act on anger, in this view – the view of the Avatamsaka – the anger and the scolding and the spanking are meant to prevent the child from causing harm to himself and others. They are simply truth.

I’m going to think about this.

Be careful what you wish for…

1

… you might get it. So the old saying goes, and wow, it’s just hit me…

Up until this morning, this post would have read as follows:

The good news: my contract’s been renewed. Even better, it will begin at the start of September, rather than October, as I’d previously thought. That’s good, because it’s a whole month that I won’t need to live off my not-so-substantial savings… I won’t have to live like a monk due to poverty 😉 I’ll be able to do the month-long yiquan course, go back to Singapore to sort my things out there, and then come back to teach…

… but on the other hand, it means that I won’t be able to live like a month through choice! I had been planning to spend September going to a couple of temples in Korea, and passing a couple of weeks on retreat.

However….this morning, I opened up my inbox to find two significant emails:

  1. One opening up the possibility of freelance work, that potentially could earn a (for me) substantial amount of USD. It would need a lot of my time over the summer.
  2. A request for help from a temple in Korea that would let me stay on retreat free of charge for several weeks, plus would establish a substantial connection with the abbot. This would take up most of my free time over the summer.

I don’t think I can do both. If I do the first, I can still do the yiquan course. If I do the second, I could perhaps still do one or two weeks of full-time yiquan training.

Damn.

Do I choose money or karma?

Disclaimer: of course, it’s possible that one or both opportunities could fall through, especially if I faff about and dither…..

Divide by zero

7

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it before, but about a year ago someone asked why I study martial arts. It was someone I’d met through Facebook, someone I don’t know in real life, but who is herself involved in martial arts (Sunmudo, actually!).

I couldn’t answer. In fact, it left me incapable of continuing the conversation, and we’ve barely been in touch since.

“Why do you study martial arts?”.

Such a simple question! But whenever I tried to grasp the answer, it slipped away from me. It was there, but I couldn’t see it, only the shape of its absence. I’ve thought about it almost every day since, sensing how close it is. I couldn’t find the answer, though…

Ever since then, whenever someone’s asked, I’ve given the usual glib answers – but I’ve known that they’re not the real reason.

Why am I studying martial arts? I began to wonder, myself. This elusive question… It seemed to cause a mental paralysis. I could function perfectly well as long as I didn’t think about it. As soon as I did, though, my reasoning ability left me; there was a hole that I could never quite focus on…

A year….

Then today it hit me. It’s been my own personal koan. Aren’t there Zen monks who spend their lives contemplating one specific question, waiting for it to finally wear down their intellectual, rationalising mind, until they break through beyond into direct experience?

I’m studying martial arts because I want stillness and an empty mind. Clarity. A mind like a clear pool, where all the silt has settled.

Meditation does this. Regular sitting practice, in my own experience (never mind books, or what people say), has shown me this. After my first Vipassana retreat, I had a taste of it, and it lasted for almost nine months. It wore off. Right after that, I began my MBA, and that knocked my meditation practice into a cocked hat; I’ve never managed to get it back on track.

I’m working on fixing that. But even so… anyone can be calm when they’re on retreat. The hermit is untroubled… but in the city, how do we maintain stillness of mind? Of course, regular sitting practice develops mindfulness; meditators do get stronger, and can maintain their calm mind in daily life. What about when we’re faced with existential fear – like, for example, finding yourself broke and stranded in a foreign land? (Not that I’m in that situation, I hasten to add! It’s not impossible to imagine, though!)

The key to this breakthrough may have been in that visit to the Yiquan Academy. After the zhan zhuang, I was pushing hands with a bigger, stronger, opponent who was doing his best to push me backwards into a coatstand. The zhan zhuang, though, had left me calm, centred, able to observe and react impartially, without emotional engagement.

It only struck me later: that is what I’m looking for. That is why I’m studying martial arts, and the internal martial arts in particular.

The health benefits aren’t the reason, though they help.

The ability to defend myself isn’t the reason, though it will be great if I ever get that good.

I’m studying to try to reach that calm, to maintain that clear pool, even when someone is trying to knock me silly, or flatten me. When I’m faced with the really big fears. When there’s nowhere to go but through. Meditation in motion – just like it said on the tin. Baguazhang, taijiquan, and yiquan – they’re all getting me there. I just didn’t realise it till now.

Meditation training with extreme prejudice, perhaps.

Do you think I’m crazy yet? Or are you perhaps thinking, everyone knew this, what’s the big deal? Well… I could have repeated it to you before, because I’ve read it in books. Now, though, I’ve directly experienced it – and it went so deep it took me a while to realize what had happened.

Wow.

Now I really can’t wait to get started with the yiquan.