In pursuit of Vacuum
In time we discover that carrying a grudge or a bad memory takes much more effort and will than letting go. It surprises us how we managed to carry that load for so long, and why. What need was driving us so compulsively to torture and terrorize our minds into hording all these mixed and meaningless emotions? Because they defined us? Because we couldn’t live without our pain? Because, as...
When souls meet each other, what truth they can exchange! It is uttered in...– Speech is not as great a help as contact; but the privilege of meeting one another is great. When souls meet, what truth they can exchange! It is uttered in silence, yet surely always reaches its goal. - Bowl of Saki, April 29, by Hazrat Inayat Khan
Every ailment is nothing but a blockage of Qi.
Voice 1: You know what? I miss living with my family.
Voice 2: It's just because you're in China, so far away. Once you're back, you'll be grateful you've moved out.
Voice 1: Perhaps I should be moving back in. Besides, I'd like to think I'll be spending a significant amount of time traveling anyway. So what's the point? It'll save me money.
Voice 2: But you love living alone!
Voice 1: There's more privacy, I know.
Voice 2: And you have your small garden, and your apartment is exactly the way you want it. And you've decorated it beautifully in the past few months. Your friends come over and you have fun. When you leave the house, everything remains untouched until you're back.
Voice 1: Yes, untouched.
Voice 2: You sleep deeply. There's no noise.
Voice 1: It wasn't wrong to move out. I needed that.
Voice 2: Precisely!
Voice 1: But what if I don't quite feel I need it any more? It's not that I don't enjoy living alone. It's that I feel I might enjoy more seeing my family every morning and every night in the next few months. Perhaps I can move back, and then out again in another year or so? No?
Voice 2: When we turn around, we don't end up going back to where we started, you know.
Voice 1: Why not, the starting point moves?
Voice 2: It was never stationary to begin with. It moves when you move.
Voice 1: ... *momentarily silent* ... I miss the cats. I miss late night conversations with my mom. Watching Friends or the Big Bang Theory with my sister as we eat pizza in bed. Lord of the Rings marathons. Thinking the same thoughts at the same time. Completing each other's sentences.
Voice 2: This is nostalgia talking. Once you're back, it'll vanish. Besides, you can't recreate that. That point has moved. All points move!
Voice 1: Who's Nostalgia?
Voice 2: That's like a voice. But not really. It's more like an image, an idea, or a memory that provokes a strong feeling.
Voice 1: Nos-tal-gia. Hmmm.
Voice 2: Do you get it now?
Voice 1: I'll retrace my steps.
Voice 2: You can't. It's not the same path. The path changes.
Voice 1: The path and the point change?
Voice 2: One changes because the other does.
Voice 1: Which one changes first?
Voice 2: You don't get it, do you?
Voice 1: ... I miss cuddling with the cats. Smelling their hair, and sneezing. I miss cat hair.
Voice 2: You can't smell, or cuddle, or sneeze for that matter. You have no body. You're an imaginary vibration of imaginary vocal folds inside someone's mind. And maybe that too is imaginary.
Voice 1: I even miss my dad's silence in response to my non-stop chatter.
Voice 2: What's happening to you?
Voice 1: I wonder.
Voice 2: So you've made your peace with all that was bugging you.
Voice 1: *Pause* Let's just say I feel I have a larger capacity for forgiveness.
Voice 2: Interesting. Too much Buddhism permeating these walls if you ask me.
Voice 1: Wait. No, that's not it; it's not a capacity for forgiveness. It's a capacity for not bearing anything that needs forgiving. A Letting-Go.
Voice 1: A Letting-Go?
Voice 2: Yes, indeed, a Letting-Go.
Voice 2: Let's talk about this when you're back home.
Voice 1: I don't mind.
Voice 2: ...
Voice 1: But do you have a theory? I feel you already know what will happen.
Voice 2: Well, yes and no. I'm happy to explain --
Pakinam: Can you both please shut up?! I'm trying to sleep here!
Voice 1 and Voice 2 nod, exchange a few words in whispers, quietly leave the field of no-where and trot back to their caves.
*Yes, there are two now.
Sleep is comfortable, but awakening is interesting.– Bowl of Saki, April 25, by Hazrat Inayat Khan
Real Life Friend Requests
While brunching with John in town today in our favorite Gong Pao Chicken place, I received my first real-life “friend request” (as Tobias jokingly called it when he heard the story later). A girl in her twenties placed a piece of paper in front of me, right beside my plate, and hurried off from our table, standing a few steps away from where we sat. “My name is Meng Qianqian....
Shaolin camp's new disciple
I was greeted with what I initially regarded as a pleasant surprise this afternoon during lunch: a fresh English-speaking foreigner who has just arrived in Xialong. Tobias, an Austrian, is a tall sturdily-built 21-year-old who intends to spend the next year learning Taolu Kung Fu. Slightly timid, and in the initial phase of panic, he reminded me with myself when I first arrived here. He looked...
This is a five-minute video I compiled; a glimpse into the daily scene in Xialong, essentially a Shaolin temple-run boarding school for Kung Fu, Sanda, Qi Qong and Tai Chi, where I’m spending a few months. Let me take this chance to apologize for: a) The quality of the video. My camera is a cheap point-and-shoot. And I had to downsize the file so I can upload it easily. b) The quality of the...
Theorizing about hearts
Reading in Buddhist philosophy, and in an attempt to understand Absolute Love and Relative Truth, I’ve come to the idea that perhaps we carry several hearts during our lifetime, and that only few people realize the existence of any number of them. We have past hearts, that still carry love for those who disappeared from our lives, then there are child hearts, faithful to times past and can...
Xialong, the name of my school, means “Little Dragon.” After being...– The owner of the school is also the father of Chinese star actor and martial artist Ashton Chen — known by his Buddhist Dharma name Shi Xialong. Chen’s Sifu and master was none other than the current abbot of the Shaolin Temple (impressive, I know!). Chen started wushu training shortly...
This graph speaks to me
“It took me a long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to me in an instant, while I was chained to a wall and being tortured. I realized somehow, through the screaming in my mind, that even in that shackled, bloody helplessness, I was still free: free to hate the men who were torturing me, or to forgive them....
The only thing I seem to be mastering at a very fast pace is how to injure myself; straining my knees, twisting my ankle, over-stretching my legs, pulling muscles, you name it! We sort of do everything here: running, jumping, squatting, stretching, doing peruettes, “flowing”, skipping, waving arms, and bending spines in all possible directions. I feel I’m learning something...
You throw a stone into a deep pond. Splash. The sound is big, and it...– Professor Ebisuno, 1Q84.
Kung Fu Soulwork
In this part of the world, martial arts is more a meditation than a sparring technique, more so in the Shaolin tradition. It’s that central point that connects Heaven and Earth, the spiritual and the material realms, the physical and the meta-physical — which, according to Buddhism, are not separate. The separation is only a trick of the mind. And the union, in a manner of speaking,...