Thursday, November 22, 2007
Shaolin Kungfu, Yoga, Tai Chi ... 1000 Tools but Few Takers!!
When I say, 'Shaolin Kungfu', what is the first thing that strikes you? Jackie Chan and Jet Li fighting 10 bad guys! Kungfu Hustle! Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon! Monastery with a large ground and 1000 students lined up in files being taught Kungfu by a master for a competition!
Recently I was watching an interview on TV of a National Geographic photographer Justin Guariglia. He spent eight years of his life in Shaolin Monastery with the monks there trying to unravel the truths behind Shaolin Kungfu, their tradition, history and above all, the point of all the martial arts. He was given full access to the entire monastery after five years of his stay there.
By the way, anyone and everyone, especially photographers and film makers, is not allowed into the monastery. The reason is simple - the truth behind Shaolin school of Kungfu is replaced with the film makers' or photographers' own interpretation. The Shaolin monks do not trust them and they have a good reason to do so.
Justin Guariglia released a book of photographs of the Shaolin monastery and discussed the history in the interview. He says how Shaolin is misinterpreted as a school where people like Kungfu for fighting or for competitions. Shaolin monastery was founded by Bodhi Dharma (a disciple of Buddha about whom Swami Nithyananda talks very frequently) . He traveled from India to China and started Shaolin monastery for Zen monks as a place for meditation to get enlightened. It still is a place to realize one's true potential. Kungfu in addition to other meditations and yoga practices was introduced as a means for enlightenment. I saw the book having various mudras (hand gesture meditations) that are a part of Ashtanga Yoga by Patanjali, the father of Yoga.
Now the interesting point that he noticed (and I saw during the interview) is that the monks do not fight against each other when they are practicing Kungfu. Each one practices on his own. They select a secluded spot and practice. They consider it as a meditation to achieve the Ultimate Bliss. This is the underlying truth of the highest school of Kungfu.
What has happened all along is that these techniques for Self realization have been adulterated by people to suit their own needs. Martial arts like Kungfu started off to help people realize their true potential but now it is just another fight between 10 people. Thanks to Shaolin monastery, that the true spirit of Kungfu is still preserved.
The same is the case with Yoga. What started as a 360 degree approach to enlightenment has now become a mere physical exercise. Different meditation techniques, Yoga, Kungfu, Tai Chi etc., which work with mind-body system through breathing techniques and physical movements, are techniques developed by enlightened masters to help us experience the bliss that they were continuously in.
Enlightened masters have been continuously providing tools and techniques. It is our suspicion, our ignorance and our ego that blinds us from their compassion. All they want to do is to share that boundless joy and bliss, which has no reason, no cause, no ending. But we do not see them... the truth is we do not want to see them because we feel comfortable and secure with what we have. If someone/something removes that comfort zone, we panic; we feel dead; we feel we are no one.
Just think - if the absence of that comfort zone makes us feel we are no one, then what is point of holding on to it?
at 10:41 AM