Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Gongfu Practice: Role, Design, and Value

The value of one’s practice or, importance it seems to merit can vary tremendously. What is important to one person can be vastly different to another. Now here is the catch, often times the value of a practice cannot be fully understood until much later, and only then, when viewed from another space and time in comparison.

The equation of “Benefits - Costs = Value” is such a personally subjective concept, can it even be rationally understood at any given moment? Then imagine trying to understand the viewpoints of the multitude of long and short term moments all coming together as if they were facets of some larger design. Pictures of glimmering gems. Gems that could have been, simply pieces of glass shining in the afternoon sun. So, what does any of that really mean when it comes down to your gongfu practice?

In Wujifa the seemingly ordinary is often practiced for long periods of time. “Refining the ordinary until they become extra-ordinary” is a common saying. Depth is discovered both in a moment and over time.

“One’s heart is like one’s energy, they cannot be measured directly, only viewed through their actions to which they abide.”

Value is like beauty, and so it is with Wujifa and gongfu. Watching someone practicing Zhan Zhuang can be like watching a concrete pylons in the hot dessert sun in some forgotten parking structure of what pretended to be a life once upon a time. Watching someone first hand experiencing the gongfu of zhan zhuang can also be as if in the presence and majesty of a might redwood connecting, reaching forth, as one discovers it’s place between earth and sky.  How can it be that both can share such a different experience? How can something as simple as standing around have such different processes? How does one place valve on one process or discard another?

“A rut serves its purpose when one finds himself ankle deep in the mud.”

A Buddhist friend tells me “leave them alone, its fine as it is…” The meaning being that there is a lesson to be taught in what there is to experience. Take away the experience and the perfect lesson may also be lost. Understand that your quest may take you years to uncover, and the pointlessness only understood once you wash the mud off of your feet.

It seems there may be an unseen role, design, and value in what is happening that may not always be readily understood outside the moment. Understanding is a process of doing, and experiencing. Knowledge is not mere data, or methods gathered. Yes, methods and data can “artfully” point a direction. In direction there are some seemingly meaningful equations, in which the value is often simply a formulation of subjective understandings at that given moment in time. Growth is full of transformations.

What do you stand for?

You may have heard these questions before around these parts “What do you stand for?”  The answer may honestly be that you don’t know. As you go through life you get to experience life and how you open and connect with life or, how you disconnect and remove yourself from engaging with it.

The question of “How do you know?” is one worth discovering and exploring. Which leads to the question of, “Where to start?” In Wujifa we say “You are where you are and that’s where you start.” So simply stop for a second, notice and discover where you are standing, "your stance in life" right now. Gongfu is noticing this over time and revealing a simple meaning in the role, design, and value you bring to this exploration.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

What do you stand for?

What do you stand for? This is such a simple question and yet this simple question is one of many that can uncover the principles and beliefs held at ones very core.  When one sincerely explores this question not in word but in action and in the doing then both conscious and unconscious answers can be revealed if you keep an open mind to the question. What do you stand for?


What do you stand for? Some may say to develop, explore, and notice mental and physical connection or even to help develop internal strength of some kind.  What is the presupposition that these practitioners stand upon? What else do they notice? What else are they putting time and energy into? What happens when people start asking these kind of questions? What do you stand for?

What do you stand for? Some say to simply stand and others say they find it simply enjoyable. There are so many types of drugs in the world. There are many types of medicine and even placebo effects. There are also so many forms of nutrition, nourishment, and sustenance. Without awareness a drug, a medicine, even nourishing foods can lead one to a place where it is insensible. What do you stand for?

What do you stand for? Is it to solve some sort of puzzle or to stand on your principles? Is it to be part of a practice that you believe will make you better in some way? Is it to be part of some group or organization? Is it because you were told too or simply standing alone on faith? Are your reason coming from somewhere deep inside or motivated by some external forces? What do you stand for?

What do you stand for? Does it change as time passes? Does it grow, develop and evolve over time? Does the answer reveal different faces and answers? Is what your stand for some kind of reflection, a mirror, a manifestation of something more? Do why, what, where, and when, like reason, form, place, and time simply present an opportunity to practice learning how to observe? Are there different chunk sizes that are most useful like bricks are useful in building a wall, or how walls are useful in building a home? Does chunk size have anything to with the Wujifa saying “You are where you are and that’s where you start!”?

What do you stand for can be, fundamentally very personal or even superficial, yet the question can still be asked and explored. Many would say that this one question can be so very helpful to making progress and at another time a waste of valuable time.  You are where you are and that’s where you start.

As for an answer to this question simply remember if the answer is at hand what is there to worry? If there is no answer, worrying isn’t going to help. The question “What do you stand for?” is simply a question. Ovation or disdain or ignore it all together.  As the heavy weight boxer Muhammad Ali said “The man who views the world at fifty the same as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life.”  And as the erotic writer Ana├»s Nin said “Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death.” Just simply remember “You are where you are and that’s where you start.

No creature is fully itself till it is, like the dandelion, opened in the bloom of pure relationship to the sun, the entire living cosmos. ~D.H. Lawrence