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We All Need Something, But What Is It?

We are all searching for something: something that will bring blissful peace, inner serenity, something that will calm our fear of the unknown. But the thing for which we are constantly searching seems to remain a mystery. People are always looking, yet never sure if they are looking in the right place. It is a never-ending search, searching here and there, and never finding an answer.

grandmaster Each path we take only leads us back to where we started. This search can be a futile,frustrating and, at times, a heart-breaking task. Never reaching the end of our search, we keep trying new ways, only to be detoured back to the original path, exhausted, disgusted, defeated.

For more messages from Grandmaster, see the Archives.

But what is this thing that we search for? Allow me to tell you a short story. Let us return to the 6th century BC, the time of the living Buddha, whose family name was Gotama. His personal name was Siddhartha. His father was Suddhodama, ruler of the kingdom. His mother was queen Maya. Siddhartha was overly protected by his parents. They did not want their son to know the hardships of the world, so they confined him to the palace. There he was given all he could ever want - a life of peace and plenty, with all his earthly desires granted.

But the young prince had a curious nature, and he wanted to know what lay beyond the walls of his palace. So one day he ordered one of his servants to gather up a horse and chariot. The huge palace gates opened to reveal a world which was very strange to Siddhartha. He saw aged people, hungry people, people living in despair and sickness.

As his chariot moved through the city streets he noticed a man lying on the ground. This man lay motionless as people stood about him sobbing. Siddhartha asked his driver, "What they were weeping about?" His driver answered, "They are weeping for the death of their friend." Siddhartha asked, "What is death?" His driver answered, "It is the end of everything, where life ends, where you cease to exist."

Siddhartha, looked at his driver and asked, "Will I die?" The driver answered, "Yes master, you to will grow old, become sick and die." Upon hearing this Siddhartha said, "Turn the chariot around and return to palace. There is no need to travel any further. You have instilled in me anxiety that will follow me always. No more can I enjoy this world, for now I know my fate, and with this knowledge comes dread of the unknown. Now I know I must find the answer, or the whole of my life will be lived in silent controlled terror. I must come to know why this will happen to me and if there is any means of escape from this fate."

Why are things the way they are?

This is what we are searching for, the answer we seek - why are things are the way they are? Why must we and all around us die? Why were we born into this world only to suffer and die. Is there a way out of this quagmire? Is there a true purpose to life, or is it just a swift taste of existence and nothing more, a meaningless romp through time, which only fades into oblivion?

This knowledge of death unhinges us. Our inability to know the unknowable disturbs our every thought. This was what drove Siddhartha to become the living Buddha. He realized he must face this fact and find an answer. For if he did not the whole of his life would have been spent in silent fear of the unknown.

He realized that everything life had to offer was meaningless and a waste of precious time. He knew what he had to do. He did not know if it was possible to find a answer or not. What he did realize was that if he did not try then he was condemned to the fate of old age, sickness and death. And so the great search began for the young prince.

He also realized any half-hearted venture would only result in failure. And so he gave up everything and went into the world to find out who he was, and how he might find the path out of the quagmire of life and death.

Think about life for a moment and how humans live. When we are young our parents protect us, just as the Buddha's parents protected him. They shield us from the harsh realities of life. Parents want their children to be happy, so while we're young, everything is just games and fun. But eventually the truth is revealed to us and we become like the Buddha, filled with fear and uncertainty. Then the childhood games are over, and the realities of life and death are revealed to us. Then we go searching for happiness.

Unfortunately, people do not know where to look. We look towards wealth, material things, fame etc. It is only a matter of time before we realize that none of these things calm the inner fear. So we look for love and we seek people who will love us and calm our fears. But nobody can calm your fear, for everybody is too busy trying to calm their own fears. It's like the blind leading the blind. Each partner hopes the other will be of some help, but they are just two lost souls going down with the ship and holding hands for comfort.

It doesnŐt take a genius to realize that you are alone in the world. No one can stop your approach to your inevitable end. You are alone, no matter how many people surround you, no matter how many love you. Nobody can quell the fear, not your parents, or your priest, or rabbi, or the wisest holy men. They too are searching for their own answers.

You can find the answer

There is one who has the power to help, and this person is you. Like the Buddha you must leave the false comforts of the world and venture into your mind for the answers you seek. There is hope, there is a way to know, the answer does exists.

When the answer is found life takes on a different meaning, its purpose becomes evident. Old age, sickness and death are seen for what they are. You come to understand that these changes are but illusions, dreams, that are happening to a false self. You come to know as Christ did, and the Buddha, that you are more than the body. You are not who you think your are, but rather a spiritual being moving through time in search of self identity. Once you contact your spiritual nature you will find the peace you seek. You will know, as Christ as told us in the Bible, we are all souls and the soul can not die.

The study of the Tao or Way is the reason why I and so many others have chosen the path of Shao-lin. Shao-lin is much more than it appears to be. Most see only the combat, the fancy fighting methods. These are but shadows or dreams. They mean little in the scope of it all. In China the Buddhist Monks at the Shao-lin Temple practice Shao-lin. Monks donŐt believe in violence. They are not concerned with fame or wealth or power. Shao-lin is used as a tool to strengthen their self discipline. Shao-lin is a method seeing the physical form for what it is. If you study Shao-lin completely you will easily understand why it is practiced. The physical aspects of the arts are only the surface. The roots of Shao-lin go deep and touch the very fibers of your soul.

A true practitioner of Shao-lin is more than a warrior of combat. He/she is a warrior over the self. As they say in Shao-lin,"The greatest of all battles is the battle over the self." Once we win that, we can face the harsh realities of life, knowing the truth of who we are and why we are here. Then, like the Buddha we will have the opportunity to see naked truth.

Life is bittersweet

It is human nature to try to hide the sorrow and hurt that resides deep within us. Every day someone asks you, "Hey, how are you doing?" Your answer is always the same, "Fine, how are you?" Each person lies to the other. You are not fine, because each day brings new problems and fears. Of course life can also be wonderful. This is the natural flow. But no matter how wonderful, we must face lifeŐs constant dilemmas, never finding a resolution. Each of us tries to smile, but beneath the smile is a person suffering the flow of change. No one is immune to life problems. Even the Chinese with their wonderful outlook suffer the pangs of life.

There are those who will read this and say, no, life is wonderful, I have no problems that I cannot handle. But the fact of the matter is we all suffer, and we suffer whether we handle the problems or not. This is the Yin/Yang of life and none of us can escape it. The Buddha could not, Jesus could not, in fact nobody has ever found a way to change the flow of natural forces.

It may surprise you to know that in 1990 over a hundred and ninety thousand people committed suicide in China. The majority were women. In this country the majority of suicides are men. It is said that each of us has thought about or will think about suicide at least once in our life. We all face deep misery at some time. It is inescapable. While some are able overcome this feeling, others fall victim to it and take their own life, thinking that it is the only answer. Sadly however, few really understand that even death wonŐt stop the constant cycle of birth and death. Dying is only the first stage of rebirth.

There is an old Italian saying, "When the game is over, the king and the queen must return to the starting box." If you understand the laws of karma and rebirth, you know that these poor souls will return through rebirth to suffer again until they finally figure it all out. There is no escape from the game, until you stop playing.

At the beginning of each of my Shao-lin classes, as my students line up for training I say to them, "There is a war going on out there, so take refuge in your training now and enjoy clearing your mind, if for only a short time." I tell them to train with the intent to fortify their will power, to energize their determination, to look at the face of reality.

Shao-lin training can help, as the Buddha found help in his views, and as Jesus found peace in his God. We can not escape, but we can understand, we can come to know change and to deal with it at a higher level. We can learn to see life in its true perspective, as an adventure, a chance, a miracle. As the Buddha found a way to relieve his great anxiety, and as Jesus found peace and discovered the cause of his suffering, you too can find what you need by following the proper path. By following your path the answers to some of life most perplexing questions will be answered. And you will learn methods to help you deal with constant change and your fears will be put into perspective and under control.

Life will never be a joy ride. It's not meant to be. It is a testing ground, a place to move up or down the heavenly ladder of human progress. The choice is yours. You have the potential to find the answers, and when you do suicide becomes unthinkakble, because no one in their right mind would throw away this wonderful opportunity to advance to a higher level of being.

This has been and always will be mankindŐs true quest. Unfortunately, because of our self delusions it is hard to see. This is why training becomes imperative if you are to discover truth. Without a path you are lost, like a leaf in the wind, blowing this way and that, out of control. Simply put, you are lost.

Peeling away the masks

It is said we wear many masks. Our true face is hidden even from ourselves. The only way to freedom is to peel away the masks, one by one, until we expose our real face. The moment you see your true face, anxiety will disappear. This is what happened to the Buddha. He saw reality for what it is. He saw who and what he was. The mask was removed. When he came to this great realization of life, fear disappeared.

He came to know the secret of living in this world without being tormented by it. He surrendered himself to life, knowing he was but a part of existence. He came to know existence and non-existence as one and the same. Buddha learned how to drop all distinctions. He came to know the illusions of the mind, and the cunning of the human ego. He saw fear exposed and when this happened he realized the joke was on him.

It is much like the Wizard in the "Wizard of Oz," who meverybody feared. But those who know the story know what happened when the Wizard was revealed. He turned out to be a little old man, who could harm no one and suddenly, all fear was gone. The three heroes of the story, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion, each got a gift from the Wizard to help them overcome their hardships. But these gifts were only false gifts because it was their own minds that caused the suffering. They always had the means to overcome, they just did not know it, until someone pointed it out to them.

This is what training can do for you. With the right guidance you to can find yourself, and in so doing banish your anxiety. Life takes on a different flavor, a different direction. As in a famous quote, "Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy." So you learn to let go and live a different kind of life, one that is filled with new meaning. One that finally makes sense. One that offers new and exciting horizons, in this life and in the next.

There are many paths to the top the of mountain, no single path is the only path. The Shao-lin path is a way among many ways. The important thing is to find what path suits you and then stick to it. But follow it with wholeheartedness. To me Shao-lin has it all. It addresses all the needs of my mind, body and spirit. For me nothing is more important than holding fast to my training. In this self determination I have found the peace I seek, I have found the answers to my questions. I go on facing what must be faced each day.v It is no different for me than it is for you. We all face the same thing each day - it is called life. However, how we view life makes all the difference in the world. Only by following a path, a direction, a method will you have the chance to find the real you. When you do, the world and all it contains will vanish. And in its place the Tao will manifest itself.

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