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Anchor Yourself
T he Buddhists consider life to be in flux, a vortex of karmic vibrations that blow us around like leaves in the wind. This describes the state of our mind - forever moving, never stopping even in sleep. We are driven by what we perceive, for indeed our perceptions are our reality. This is how we see and judge reality. However, this is not true reality, but our perceptions of reality. Because this condition exists and because we have an extremely hard time dealing with the force of life, our problems persist. Furthermore, if we fail to get control of these forces, life will continue to consume us in the abyss of 'eternal seeking/never finding.'

grandmaster How do we overcome this state of flux? How do we gain the controls needed to find peace? This question has been asked since humans first appeared in the world. Only a few of the so-called enlightened beings seem to have found the answer. So few among so many have found the answers to this madness we call life. This fact alone should tell you something about the difficulty of finding inner peace. Or do you think you are among those special people who have found life's answers?

I say this with a smile on my face, because I used to think I was one of the enlightened ones until I discovered otherwise. We all like to think we are in control of our lives, our health, our relationships, etc. In truth this is not bad, because without this belief you would wind up in your local physiotherapists office. As long as you wish to play the fool's game it's better to think you are doing fine, than driving yourself crazy.

So go on thinking you are in control. this is what the majority of people do, why should you be any different? As long as you continue to justify your actions by this false reality, you will continue playing the game with yourself. This is a fool's game at best, for there is no winning, there is no peace, there is no end to the battle.

On the other hand, you can end the game, you can make the effort to break free of the illusion. The choice always has been up to you. The first step is to slow down a second and take a hard look at the source of your problems. The source is closer than you think. It is you.

The first step toward self mastery is the hard one. Sit back, close your eyes and relax. Now comes the hard part: you must decide to be totally honest with yourself. Your first inclination when you read this is to say, you are always honest with yourself. In reality the opposite is true, you lie to yourself countless times each day. And further more, you believe all your lies to be truth, fact, all of which justify your actions. This is the trap of the mind. As long as you believe this false truth the game will continue.

Make up your mind that you won't settle for the self-lies anymore. You must decide to face the inner truth and come to terms with what you discover about yourself. Sit back, and examine your life, your desires, your dreams, your relationships. Ask yourself if you are truly happy with your life. You will find that your feelings are deeply repressed within you. If you don't make extreme efforts to probe yourself, the truth will elude you. Even now, with all my pleas and rationale, you will not seek the answers. Your great self-lie will predominate and truth will be lost. In the Lankavatara Sutra it states:

It is like seeing one's own image in a mirror and in water...as a man clings to his own false assumptions, he erroneously discriminates between truth and falsehood, and on account of this false discrimination he fails to go beyond the dualism of opposites, indeed he cherishes falsity and cannot attain tranquillity.


dragon


You may ask, what will happen if you don't undertake this self examination and discover your real feelings and fears? The answer is: absolutely nothing. Your life will continue in the same way as it is now. The real questions are: Do you really desire change in your life? Do you see the need for self truth? Do you realize you are floundering like a fish out of water? Most people are so used to lying to themselves that the truth appears to them as lies. You are so programmed by the society you live in that truth has little chance of being observed. You are caught in a money world, a power world, a status world, a world of physical pleasures, always seeking but never finding. You have been drugged. You are now immune to truth. The only ones who have a chance to make the breakthrough are those who have had enough of the fool's game.

And they are usually the people who have hit the bottom of the barrel in life. They have been beaten down so many times they become open for change in any form. Only when life is about to end do you realize all your shortcomings. Of course then it is too late. Those who see the need for change are those who understand their impermanence in this world. Those who see the need for change see their deep rooted fears and doubts. Those that see the need for change see it because they are now ready to see it.

Are you ready? Only by trying will you find out. Give yourself a chance to find out by making some effort to improve your life condition. There is no task more worthwhile, for once you enter the deepest recesses of your mind, you will exist as a totally different person and you will emerge as the enlightened one, the Buddha.

If you are honest with yourself, you are among the minority, as most can not be brutally honest with themselves. The majority will perpetuate the great lie and continue their lives unchanged right up to the grave. However, once you realize your true state of being - fearful, unhappy, and bewildered of the meaning of it all - you are then ready to transform. The journey now begins. The next step is to obtain the tools you need to manifest the necessary changes in your life.

Rule one is to be patient. There will be many falls and bruises on the climb upward. There will be many detours that will lead you astray from the path you have chosen. Go slowly and study deeply, for it is easy to become sidetracked and fall back into the abyss of self lies. The fight for change can drain you quickly. Just when you think all is going smoothly, the bottom drops out again. However, if you are determined to find some relevance of peace in your life, you will make it. With perseverence all can succeed in finding inner peace.

Our methods are the tools we use to effect our escape to freedom. We cling to them but we are not attached to them. The methods are like a mountain climber's rope. They are the tools to get him to the top of the mountain safely. Therefore, he should take care of his rope and safeguard it, as his life will depend on it. But the rope is not his goal, rather it is the top of the mountain he wishes to conquer. The rope is but the means to do this.

Tai Chi Ch'uan, Shao-lin Kung Fu, Chan Meditation: these are our ropes. They hold us steady as we make our ascent to the top of the mountain. Our methods are something to hold on to, something to withstand the powerful winds of life that upset our equilibrium and blow us off the face of the mountain. Our methods anchor us to the face of the mountain. The methods safeguard us when the winds of change start blowing.

The term Kung Fu literally means to strive, to put forth great effort, to overcome. These are the ingredients for obtaining skill at something. The methods sharpen our skills to we reach the level of a Master. A master can be defined as one who has mastered the self, one who has freed the self from the great illusion. All this is possible with a method.

dragon


One method we study to release our true mind is called Tai Chi Ch'uan.

Chi has its therapeutic end. By focusing on the mind the skilled player can see the mind in action and how it deceives us. Tai Chi is a tool which we use to examine the moment in which we are living. Tai Chi demands our close attention to detailed structure when learning the Tai Chi Solo Form. This is the physical aspect of developing awareness of the physical body.

Tai Chi also advocates watching your mind. Without mind awareness we can never come to full understanding of everything that is happening around us. Tai Chi students will spend years just trying to hold their full attention to the quality of their form and the calmness of their mind. In this way the student starts to become more aware of both the internal and external forces that drive us with each passing moment.

The study of Tai Chi focuses on one main principle, that of the interplay of Yin and Yang. The general idea of Tai Chi is to restore the individual to a natural equilibrium. This balance is an aid to maintaining the health of body and mind.

The determined Tai Chi practitioner stretches towards a cosmic consciousness. This consciousness we speak of enables us to see the reality of the moment. Most fail to understand the underlying reason why people study Tai Chi Ch'uan. It has been said: "One who wishes to live in a martial arts world, rather then just to practice it on a physical level, must so train the consciousness to attain a self-discipline until, at last, the conscious mind will merge into an identity with the very principles of life itself. In the martial arts we call this, Wu-Shin and in Japanese it is called Mushin."

This is defined as the state of No Mind. By no-mind we mean the perfect state of clarity of the moment. This type of mind moves from a different source of knowledge. A clear mind is not feathered by extraneous thoughts and feelings. It acts out of the moment you are living in NOW. Its source of clarity is not based on the past, or the future, but the present. It is not disturbed by feelings of love, hate, anger, fear, for they cannot exist in the clear mind.

Tai Chi Ch'uan is an internal (nei-chia) system which functions from our inner being. The martial arts have many anchors to hold us fast in the sea of life. The methods vary from internal to external (wai-Chia) such as Shao-lin Kung Fu which deals with the perfection of the physical body, while recognizing its limitations.

Then there is Chan, better known as Zen, which deals directly with the higher realms of the human mind. It is here that the student starts to come to know the real self. If you look deeply enough into the human mind there comes a point where the soul itself is revealed to you. We come to better understand the very concept of God or Tao.

Truly the martial arts journey is a deep and extensive one that covers every aspect of living and dying. The martial arts examine all forms of philosophical heights - not just Eastern thought or Western thought, but thought in general. Of course many equate the martial arts with just fighting, but in reality our fighting skills are just one of our methods to gain control of our physical body. The true idea of Shao-lin is to stop fighting with everyone and everything around us and to live in harmony with nature and all its creations.

Our methods are our anchors in life. These are the tools by which a martial artist attains self-transformation. Now more then ever the Shao-lin methods are being revealed to the American people. People are searching out Tai Chi schools, Shao-lin schools and Meditation centers all over the country. People are discovering that martial arts methods do in fact work, and they are seeking to learn them. With these methods we become strong. With these methods change becomes possible. With these methods peace is possible in this life. The study of the martial arts has something for everyone.

From the young to the old, from the strong to the weak, from the intelligent to the un-intelligent, all can learn and benefit. It's not how you come to the martial arts that we look at, it is how you emerge that counts. The core of the martial arts is expressed in the relationship of good heath in body, a mind that is flexible and calm, a spirit that is illuminated. A body that is weak and sickly is of little use. A mind that is scattered sees nothing, and a spirit that is un-illuminated will never see God. Pick your method, find your teacher and start your journey now.

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