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Monday, January 30, 2012

Master the five elements and then you can see the other world

From the Chronicles of Tao
By Deng Ming-Dao

The Grand Master summoned Saihung as soon as his disciple had returned to the mountain.
"You think you're talented, don't you?"
Saihung nodded confidently.
"You're not. You've been lucky. If you want to be good, you need meditation. Your internal system must be perfect. It is the internal that is the source of power, and you must go deep inside and use the totality of yourself in order to develop."
"I have won tournaments and challenges."
"You can be better if you meditate before your practice. It will unleash unusual energy."
"I already know internal martial arts. I can fight."
"But you do not go deep enough into meditation, and the spiritual, after all, is higher than fighting."

"Perhaps I'm not interested. It's great fun out there. I have, in my wanderings, been in the Peking Opera, joined a circus, and learned from many boxers. I would never have been able to do this if I had no been a wandering Taoist. Members of a holy order can't learn the most brutal parts of martial arts. I want to learn the ultimate techniques, and I'd never be able to do that here on the mountain."
"You think your skill is so great?" asked the Grand Master casually.
"Yes, I do."
"Then fight me. If you win, I will introduce you to many masters. You'll be free to enter the outside martial world. But if you lose, you return to your studies. Agreed?"

Saihung looked at his master. Standing on a terrace overlooking a vast view of mountain ranges, they seemed alone at the top of the world. Saihung asked himself why he had climbed all the way simply to talk with this recluse who lived such a spare and severe life. Life seemed better down below, and in spite of years of training, the Grand Master looked like any other old man. Saihung judged his master's weight. Saihung knew he outweighed him.

"I agree," said Saihung with a confident smile.
"All right," returned the Grand Master. "Fight!"
Saihung attacked immediately with strong and sure whirlwidn strikes so swift that most men would have fallen simply because of their slower reflexes. The Grand Master, however, only retreated calmly before Saihung's advance. He let Saihung try all but not even a single blow touched the Grand Master's robes.

Saihung grew angry, and gathering in his full might, charged his master. The Grand Master gracefully launched himself in a spinning leap over Saihung's shoulders. Saihung turned and struck out, but a whipping force sped by his face. A moment later, a devastating slap turned his head. It was the Grand Master's sleeve.

His master now took the initative, and Saihung backed frantically away from his spinning arms. Through his blocks, he could seee the Grand Master glaring ferociously at him as sleeve after sleeve came. Before long, his arms had been whipped numb. He dropped his guard. His master struck him with a plam blow, and Saihung flew across the terrace.

Saihung lay stunned on the stone pavement. The Grand Master came over t ohim. He was kind and smiling again. Helping Saihung up, he patted him reassuringly.
"You've lost," the Grand Master said softly. "You lost beacuse you do not have enough concentration. I won because my concentration is complete. Concentration is impossible without meditation."
Saihung stood up and caught his breath.

"I'd still rather be a wandering Taoist. Look at you. Yes, you're a holy  man. But what has it gotten you? You're starved. You live in a damp room on a lonely mountaintop. You're a nobody. Are you successful? Do the gods listen to you? Will you go to heaven? How do you know there's even such a thing as heaven?"

"You can only see the godds and heaven by mastering this world," replied the Grand Master patiently. "Then you can see the next world."
"I admit that if I were to see heaven, I might believe, but how can I go to heaven? Wouldn't I fall out of the sky?"
"Not the body," laughed the Grand Master. "Your spirit travels to heaven and returns. That is the way."
"Your spirit? Can come out from the body?"

"Oh yes. But you must control the senses. When you realize that this world is an illusion, you can control the senses, master the world, and travel on."
"The world is an illusion?"
"Yes. Nothing is real."
"What do you mean, 'Nothing is real?' Of course this world is real!"
"It isn't. It's illusion. Once you  master your senses and the five elements, you will know that too."
"I don't believe you. How do I know what 'mastering the senses' and 'masters the world' mean?"

"Master the five elements and then you can see the other world. But you have to study if you want to achieve this. Contemplate this. Make a decision. Some things must be begun in youth to aceive success later. A tree grows from a seed. I know it's difficult for yout o believe. You're young. You haven't seen fruit. That's why I shwo you. But you cannot always demand complete proof efore you begin something. In some things, you  must have blind faith. The gods are supreme. They will know."