Friday, March 22, 2013

Body, Energy, Emotion

All the concepts developed here come from Taoism. To facilitate the understanding of this text, these concepts will be explained in modern language without Chinese terms, or so little...

In our view, the universe operates according to three spheres: Earth, Man, Heaven (Sky). This worldview establishes this trilogy for a consistent cosmology. These three elements are, in Taoism, at the Man's level, the three treasures: jing (essence), chi (energy) and shen (spirit).

We, as human beings, are situated between heaven and earth. The earth is the nature but also the whole Yin, the manifested.

To address this question on the manifested versus the unmanifested, let's take an example: imagine that you hit a table with your hand. Faced with this possibility, several cases can occur; either you fear the pain it could create (without being sure that it's actually going to be painful). Either you think about everything but the pain, and are wondering what I'm talking about. The gesture, the possible pain, the full sensation of this action fall within the scope of "potential", everything is possible but we do not know what will be in the reality of action. We are in the unmanifested, the idea.

Now hit your hand on the table. Either it hurts you or it does not hurt you, but in both cases there is something going on in the physical reality. Part of the imagined action's potential is realized, felt. In the feeling, or on the feeling, is grafted a myriad of thoughts that have nothing to do with the planning  of the action, the action itself and its results. We are in the manifested, that in it's "birth", can be perceived. The original perception is hardly recognizable, because it is automatically tinted by thoughts that are only there to give vital limits to our ego, to reassure us.

The unmanifested does not exist in the field of perception of the five senses, in contrast, the manifested is perceived by the five senses and is constantly commented on by the mind.

Now let's get to the history of the ego. Very young, we do not disassociate ourselves from the things around us (before two / three years old), we are not separated from the world. Very soon, our entourage will explain that there is a difference between others and us, between us and the rest. After that, our perceptions will be slowly being invaded by thoughts, every action and perception will be "translated" by our thoughts for our mind. The reality will no longer be seen as what it is, but as what our mind makes it to grow our individuality, the difference between us and the world, this singular image to which we attach so much, the ego. This is the death of spontaneity. Being right, making discriminating choices to impose our thoughts are reinforcing mechanisms of the limited coherence that is our ego. The ego loves limits, rules, and what is understood by the intellect. He does not like the limitless, which can not only be understood by the five senses and what is not intellectual. The ego loves religion and can not love nondual spiritualities.

Now back to the three elements. On one side we have the Earth (yin manifested). On this yin is born the human being who will live in the world. On the other hand we have the Heaven that represents what is not of this earth (yang unmanifested).

In Man, we find the same three levels of understanding of the phenomena: body, energy and intellect. The body is our mechanical structure which operates in a global homeostasis, in a physiological balance. Hopefully, everything goes well, but if a part does not go well, a series of compensations will unbalance the body to compensate for what is not working perfectly. To put it simply, nothing really goes well in the body, but everything is done to make sure that the balance is held as a whole ... but consequently it is a delicate balance.

Energy is what allows us to enter into the world of perceptions of the body while already in the subtle. You can "feel" the energy, but most of the time you in fact only feel "manifestations" of this energy: heat, tingling, numbness ...

We can only feel the energy when we open the door to subtle senses, freed from the comments of the mind and  through the relaxation of the body.

Then there is the mind, the world of thoughts, which can not be seen and have no direct effect on the physical body.

It is the interaction between these three spheres that interests us. The body, in its tensions will cause the mind to comment and judge his own state. Thoughts will create an inner tension that results from the inability to move in the direction of all the comments that we do, of all the things that we imagine. These judgments and the non-acceptance of what is, these internal and external tensions, will manifestations that come from the mind and feed on energy: emotions.

Emotions are thoughts that will pass from the unmanifested to the manifested, through the energy of the mind to the body. Emotions are mental, created by our mind and source of new comments themselves. But they are also physical, as they are directly related to energy and body organs. Emotions are the bridge between the head and the body. They are the first cause of internal diseases in Chinese medicine. Mental stress, generated by repressed thoughts, will create a physical tension that will be underlying and emotion. This physical tension will be commented by the mind intellectually and become a source of rehashing that brings emotional stress. This vicious circle is the source of emotions that will last for months instead of a few seconds, of physical tension that will have no medical solution, sleep loss that can not be improved with chemicals ...

It should be understood that emotions, natural and inevitable, are the result of an internal tension and / or and external tension, just as fatigue is the result of the operation the being. Emotions are signs of disturbance of the peace in the functioning of the body / mind.

The etymology of the word "emotion" comes from the Latin "emovere" which means "shake, move". From Old French, the term emotion is used in the sense of "what is disturbing peace" rather than a sense of movement which will be the word "move."

Far be it from me to say that we should control, limit or suppress emotions, it would be silly! But in the understanding of their functioning, it is possible to "surf" on them, or with them, rather than being drowned in the roll of a wave that carries everything and makes us victims. This is the difference between someone who is witnessing an accident and who is the victim of this accident.

In the understanding of what we have just said, and from the Taoist school of ours, how can we go in this merger with the emotions, which allows us to live them without being their victim? We have three possible approaches: one by the body, the other by the mind and by the last one through energy.

We now understand why the mental approach, which is the source of emotion, seems complicated and difficult to use. Emotion is a feeling of the ego, good or bad, but that makes it alive and strong. Every strong emotion that overtakes us gives us limits and reasons to get into compulsive thoughts which make the happiness of the ego. Any attempt of release through the intellect forgets that 50% of emotions is physical. For all that is physical, it must go through the physical approach.

The physical approach seems interesting, but  we  are often simply wrong in our perceptions, mislead by our internal comments that develops interpretations of what we perceive. This solution still seems less dangerous than the mental approach.

In fact, emotions are primarily a manifestation between mind and body, we can use the term "energy." for them.  They are correspondence with the human sphere. The energy approach requires some education, an awareness, and real learning.

In our school, we will work with emotions in three stages:

-  feeling
- dissolving
-  waiting

Through a practice of the body, creating circulation and relaxation, we can feel better  the onset of emotion in its creation, even before its manifestation in the body.

We will experience areas of the body that are most affected by certain emotions and learn to let them relax in the acceptance and relaxation of the emotions. In a conscious expectation of all the mechanisms of our body / mind, we will enter a phase of silence where any mental or emotional event is obvious.

Not being "disturbed", but living fully with ourselves, this is our idea.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The role of the Master

Between the internet, the dvds, the vcds, most of the key information about the internal arts are almost public domain. If we are smart enough and if we are sufficiently investigative, there is no practice that can remain hidden. In a world where information is king, where knowledge is popularized and horizontal, where everyone knows just about everything about anything but nothing in depth, it is possible to believe that it is enough to become a great self-taught practitioner...

In the Taoist tradition, it is very important to have an initiation, a specific lineage to follow and to practice under the tutelage of a master.

It is only when the master endorses you that it is possible to teach the Way. There is no ambiguity, the teacher appoints the students and then they can teach. Before that, it is a decision of the student to pass on his knowledge before being invited to do so, thus separating from one's tradition and lineage.

This teaching without permission is the reason for the change in the quality of teaching.

We see more and more discussion forums where everyone spread their knowledge and their revolutionary mundane ideas and secrets for a perfect training based on magic machines or restorative or stimulating hormones. Exchanges are happening in a feint openness to reassure oneself on one's obvious superiority, on the strength of one's findings and his secret vcds (with less than 15 000 copies!).

On these forums, some publish their resume, other photos or videos, but why this need to talk about one's practice? Why spread the arts which once feasted on a comfortable discretion? Is this a need to reassure oneself or to check what is believed to be true? A desire for openness and sharing with the rest of the human beings or a way to get their hands on new recruits?

If these forums are not "traditional", they are our new tradition and we have to deal with it. I am the first to enjoy reading these "post" from practitioners, it is the same "voyeur" side that drives us to watch "American Idol". The vcds or dvds that reveal the secrets of ancient China are also from our time and they are sometimes useful, thus saving endangered arts. These media are often like a virus in a river: they poison everything in their path imposing death to life (but it is only a way of seeing it).

The movies are often a way of strengthening our illusions: the Chinese keep a sense of humor and remind us of a saying that is law in the middle kingdom: "You can always fool a foreigner".

What do we lack of in today's world of Chinese internal arts? There is a lack of teachers, guardians of traditions and who can advise about a road already traveled. However, there are more and more "coaches" that can lead to martial arts and combine one hundred disciplines to be able to answer any questions.

There are teachers, hustlers, artists, acrobats, practitioners, experts, thieves, historians, liars, psychotics, scholars and even humanists sometimes ... but where are the masters?

Without a master, we wander without answers, ready to do anything as long as we follow a direction or that we receive a validation of our practices that are cobbled together from Gandhi, Bruce Lee and the series "Kung Fu".

What is the definition of a Master?

A master is an expert who has trained everything everything he speaks of, he is the holder of a "global" style . This style, often old, is complete in itself and meets the life needs of the adept. He has no need to seek in other traditions that which he lacks, or to prove anything: he is the image of what he says. He is in his practice and in his life is an expression of his Way. He lives in the world and it does not wear pajamas to train. Each movement is a technique and everything is training for the master.

He is not older than 25, in general.

For us, in our tradition, an expert may have 10 years of practice, but a teacher must accumulate at least 30 years in a precise tradition.

We often hear in discussions that teachers are hard to find when it is so easy to go to a club on the corner of the street. It's true!

But if we reason this way, why work if you can steal? Why meditate if you can pray?

But if we remain locked up in a world that is not what we really want, the style is not one that we really like andthe teacher is not great for our taste but it is located not far from our couch, we should not be surprised to feel the need to rant on the internet at two o'clock in the morning.

Again, it is necessary to know what you really desire. Why choose a warrior path or a meditative path in an age like ours? Why take refuge in the energy work and meditative? What do we really seek through the excuse of a spiritual practice? Isn't it strange to practice? (as our 'colleagues' at work often remind us...). Are we in another reality or just a victim of a spiritualo-energetic-weird fad?

It is illusory to believe that our way is random and silly to think that this is a "hobby": who are we to be in this practice and how do we recognize ourselves in it?

It is the role of the teacher to guide us to find ourselves, sometimes to meet ourselves, in an ancient tradition, mirroring the identity of the human being. The same words and the same gestures that have released the masters of yesteryear are the practices of today.

It is certainly possible to name them differently, to make them evolve with machines and elastics, to save time by doing weight training, to use hypnosis or drugs, but the arts have been here for a long time, and they work in the same way as the tradition.

They are complete in themselves and do not need anything other than practice. Perhaps it is easier to hide one's ignorance in revolutionary innovations, but all that is acquired quickly and effortlessly is often suspect or even useless.

The master is the guardian of a tradition, often a road he is traveling, he can guide newcomers and put back on track those who are lost. He does only this: guiding and recognizing the best way for everyone when they come to him. He should not be "pleasant" or nice, he does not show what people want to see, but what they need. He must be in the image of what he teaches.

This is not a tourist guide, it is a mountain guide.

The teacher should not ask you to be like him, but to recognize you and meet you. Heoffers a return to yourself, by an illogical and tedious practice , without risk if only that of being successful. But he does not do the work, the responsibility is yours.

It is not necessary to dazzle the master, to flatter him, to become his friend (which can happen, but it has nothing to do with evolution). It is useless to talk too much or too tell too much, it is an illusion to hide. The only thing to do is practice. Do not overdo it, do not get locked into inaction or laziness: "If you do it, it works, if you do not, it does not work."

It is often easier to show off and lie (to oneself) than to seek the resistance of our ego, the difficulties of our body, but the master is here for that.

This implies that the master embodies what he speaks of, that he has your trust and that he is there when he should be.

If you do not follow the path you chose, if you do not follow the advice of the teachings, if you do not trust the practice, if you think you are right ... then it is better to learn forms on the internet and follow the advice of lights on the Minitel (it must still exist, a precursor to the French internet, NdT), but your place is not in a tradition.

Any intellectual research can feed the isolated mind, any physical practice without tradition is likely to strengthen the body, any discovery of energy causes changes in vitality, but only a way with a teacher can guide us to the changes that will the source of our "reversion".