Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Curiosity and the ordinary

The question came up about how one stays curious while they study the ordinary in Wujifa. As we have said before there are many different keys one can use that can help them understand the practice of Wujifa. Curiosity and the ordinary are two of the keys we can use to explore the practices and to aid one in making progress within the Wujifa practices. First of all, thank you Dan for asking this question in the comments to the post ‘Ordinary and Extra-ordinary’. Second, are you curious about what the answer might be to this question? Good, let’s see what we can find here.

Heraclitus the Greek philosopher said, “From out of all the many particulars comes oneness, out of oneness come all the many particulars.” In Wujifa we seek to understand the connections that lead to oneness and the more connected we become the more ability we have to engage with many different situations. You could say the singularity is what everything has in common. Then again, this whole concept could be just a little too much on the ‘woo-woo’ side of the fence.

Let’s clarify a few things first. The first is the question of what is one willing to do to create change? How much faith and will power does one have? Many people who talk about wanting change, if they are really honest with themselves, may only wish for change and aren’t willing to do the work that is involved to engage change.

Another common problem that many people have is they believe they can’t do it, so their truth is they don’t do it or only half heartedly try. They believe in their limitations. There is another set of people who believe it may be possible, and then it seems they find every way possible to distract themselves from doing the real work. They believe "it’s not their fault". Another type of person simply makes up stories about how they just need to put the time in. They believe simply practicing a specific type of Zhan Zhuang or practicing some special secret tai chi form or qigong for 10 or more years they will automatically get it only to be disappointed. These people overlooked critical benchmarks, tests, or verified results and applied analytical thinking to their theories. Many may have even worked very hard toward achieving their goals. Missing the opportunities to adjust and correct themselves by simply missing practical and verifiable benchmarks they could have applied along the way.

Questioning, testing, being open to the possibilities yet remaining grounded in where they are in the moment; this we could call being functionally curious. The functionally curious are testing and verifying and exploring the possibilities. This is the real key. Most people are curious for a moment and then close their eyes and fall asleep following without thinking. Remember the kind of curious I’m talking about is more like an explorer or a scientist. The kind of explorers who have “passion” and the kind of scientists who are willing to “test” it out and look for the facts and not simply believing in fairy tales and stories told by others. The kind of curiosity that drives people forward to do the “work” with the satisfaction of finding out for themselves

Aristotle said “Bring your desires down to your present means. Increase them only when your means permit.” In Wujifa we say “You are where you are and that’s where you start.”

Maybe I side-tracked a bit from Dan’s question; although hopefully there are some insights above that may be helpful. Here is the bottom line; people become “bored” when they aren’t being congruent.

People give up, quit, make up stories, become distracted when they are afraid to look, really look, at where the incongruence lies. They hide in their stories, emotions, their understandings and beliefs. The ordinary isn’t really all that ordinary when you stay open and awake, testing and exploring. The ordinary is something that only seems common when one falls into a trance. While practicing the basic and the ordinary there are many thing to be noticed along the way.

I’ll end here with a quote from Heraclitus the Greek philosopher also said something like “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” Notice the river and the man for what they are these are the secrets to the common and ordinary.


  1. One cannot see the depth of the pond when the water is murky.

    I've long been curious about how everyday stuff works and would stay involved just long enough to find an answer that satisfied my basic curiosity. Not much depth.

    This kind of satisfaction of curiosity is often based on what someone said. Not much personal experience.

    The knowledge gained with this level of curiosity has served me well in the more mechanistic areas of life but became a stumbling block when applied to a practice of depth. Part of my frustration.

    It took me a long time to "get" that collecting data on how internal strength works is not the same as understanding the "how" of internal strength through the experience of developing it. A shift.

    My functional level of curiosity in the external mechanical world is dis-functional when applied to my internal kinesthetic world. Understanding.

    Applying the same curiosity but to a deeper level reveals...

    How do you stay curious? How about a reframe: At what level do you stop being curious and why would you do this?

    There are many lessons to be learned from curiosity...

    Thanks for the great post!

  2. It's a special person who can practice the ordinary and be curious. So if you are special, then you can, do it... or if you are truly ordinary you're already doing it.

    If you are ordinary and "wanna be" special or special and want to, be ordinary, then you simply need to notice something overlooked... curious? Then take action, do the work, find out.

    Actually Wujifa and all the wonderful benefits and insight people get from it... honestly it's simple... it's something you do... you have to work for. If you are being shallow and lazy you won't want to do the work. It's that simple. If one is lazy for example they simply get what they get... which is being lazy. If one just wants to find a shallow overview then that's what they will find. What might people might find "really" helpful? Define, define define, or to get really clear about this question "what do I REALLY want?" and revisit that question from time to time and see what kind of results they are getting and why.

    It's like like the guy who sees a pretty girl he thinks he'd like to date. The first step is getting over there and talking to her, right? It seems many people would rather daydream about it than explore the possibilities and do it. If one just sits there they'd end up with what they'd end up with... and that's the daydream. If they get out there and notice all the possibilities and take action they will discover how to connect and be social... or maybe discover something completely different like maybe they should have taken a bath before going out in public. ;^)

    You are where you are and that's where you start. Where you take it after that depends on what you notice and take action on. Curiosity "real curiosity" brings some form of "action" be it daydreams or getting out and doing it and finding out what's real

  3. What do you do when there's all these different isolated aspects of your personality and they all want different things? I get so far with part of me, and then something shifts and I'm a different person who wants different things. How can I integrate my personality more? I think that's the first curious thing I've said in a long time. Maybe I'm just one person using all these different strategies. I think for a long time that I've been practicing Wujifa using the motivations of the different aspects of my personality, and not coming from what the deep part, as you said REALLY wants. I have been too identified with the surface strategies.

    Thinking about it... the next level underneath all the strategies I've been using is that I want all the unpleasant things to go away.

    Under that... I just want to feel okay.

    Under that... the assumption that there is something fundamentally wrong with me. That I'm not okay.

    and then the fog rolls in, and I shoot right back up to looking for something to take my mind away from the unpleasant feelings.

    I have been practicing stance all these years to make the bad feelings go away. I have been using stance to manage my feelings so I don't go insane and so I can live a normal life.

    Some things happened that really effected me on a deep level. There was a long hike that broke my body for a while, and some deep work in school that brought something up and felt like when I touched into the darkness at Ben's training all over again.

    It's been different this time. I've felt like a sealed-off room I kept in my heart has broken open and spilled into the rest of me, and I've been running from this, but I can't. The rules of the game have changed, and it's been very disorienting. I feel like I'm living in a new world, but have been resisting discovering what this new world is all about. Hmmm...

    Anyway, thanks for letting me spill my guts here. I know you really didn't have a choice in the matter, but thanks anyway. Love you guys.


  4. Dan,

    Stand and relax... open the body... connect...

    Many people notice what gets in the way when they take the time and really explore and train. It's funny how much we can feel as we connect more and in how deeply we do this. Notice how this gift can bring more life along with it as well.

    The foundations we build on can and does change. Like CXW said "Isn't it wonderful" when I was framing it in one way CXW re-framed it in another. This is gongfu and a gift we rediscover when we keep our eye open.

    Let's talk sometime soon my friend!