Input for your Zen Meditation

My Aunt a Nun of the Good Shepherd Order Sister Mary Vincent Borromeo fondly called “Tita Tess” is really into Meditation. She has even gone to India to do more in-depth meditation.

Well to my great enrichment, she came to visit me and my family. She told me she just came from a 3 day retreat in Tagaytay the home of the smallest volcano in the world “The Taal Volcano” in Philippines. This place is really the rest capital of the Philippines. It has so many retreat houses there and known for the wonderful delicious “Dilis” fish only found in the sulfuric lake of Taal surrounding the small volcano.

She said the 3 day Zen Meditation was very intense. From 5:30 in the morning up to 7:00 pm they were sitting for meditation. It was like a mini Shaolin temple come alive again. Words from my Sifu came alive in my head again “You must live Shaolin inside you.” My understanding of it was like, you must have this Shaolin temple of meditation living inside you, this place of rest is a refuge you can go when the world around gets too chaotic.
She continued it was very physically straining. To discipline yourself to sit is a great physical discipline. It is not easy to do.

And it was explained in that intensive Zen Retreat that by sitting “you are not wasting your time!” You are recharging yourself, you are developing the peace inside you, you are finding your answers, and it is an imperative even biblically “Be still…. And know that I am God” It is like you cannot know God if you are not still. His is the small voice that only when you are still you will hear.” In short You need to be still to find your balance. Unless you want to go on running around like a headless chicken.

With these explanations it was a great input in me. It gave great results in my resolve to the the workouts; I was doing stance meditation again in the evenings before I sleep. And when I woke up. I realized that the few weeks I was not consistent, I felt turbulence in my mind and body. I needed this stillness, indeed it to make me at ease and calm my mind. Indeed it is not a waste of time.

Then she continued, “Our teacher would shout in a loud voice while we are sitting in silence “Attention! Attention! Attention!” like we were soldiers. It was not enough that we were seated and still we need to be in attention, our minds have to be in what we are doing.”

All focus was in the breath “ We were reminded, that putting your thoughts in your breath, putting meaning as you inhale (gratefulness for the gift) and exhalation (offering it back) is a must. Appreciating your breath for indeed it is life; it is something so concrete that if you stop breathing you are dead. Breath and the realization of it almost naturally bring you to gratefulness for life. Mind on your breath, observe your breath, you may count your breath.

So I did come back to breathing meditation. I did 100 breaths in the stances I was in before I slept. There was no disconnect I was aware and grateful. I was reminded of GK Chesterton who said the whole world was becoming one big divorce court. We divorced God from Business, divorced our practice workout from our spiritual development, many martial arts say this is not part of your religion it’s just a workout. But not so with the real Shaolin Martial Art. It cannot be divorced. As the saying went “My strength is as the strength of ten because my heart is pure. Great strength can only come with strength of conviction that you are doing what is right. Only in defense of good will your power come and overcome.
I asked my kung fu brother it is hard not to think of fighting when you do your forms and power training he said “trust that if you are in right as ex. Defense of your family, defense of yourself if you are in the right…the power will be there”. It has been a Shaolin Zen Kung Fu principle that your mind body and spirit be exercised to become stronger.

Attention! Attention! Mind your breathing! Shout it silently. No divorce!

An enlightening reminder

I brought my kids early to UP Dilliman for their summer soccer game. Since I was there I ran a loop for health and well being. I was grateful for Kung Fu to give me the proper warm up for the legs before the punishing run. But I realized I was not enjoying it as I should, something was wrong.

Then I realized my self talk whispering in my head, these things talking in my mind was saying “I had a late night so of course I was not feeling too well, nothing than sleeping early for an early rise, then I realized I was just looking at the road, I was looking down not up.” Voila! I now started looking at the majestic trees overhead and it was magic, a 100% change in feeling and experience. Now I let all this beauty minister to me, I felt their shade, I felt the breeze and I realized what I missed in the first round. Everything became beautiful because now I saw it. I looked at it and imbibed it. I meditated on it, chewed it, nurtured the feeling, and now was circulating possitive chi. Wow I wish it all for all you friends, relatives and family. Cultivate the positive thought! Most importantly let it result to a feeling then you got it. Do not stop at the mental activity turn it into a feeling then you really got it. Then do not let anybody take it away from you. Better yet be grateful for it.

Amazed Myself

by Sifu Vince
(Manila, Philippines)

I am aware that learning continues even through what you experience with your students.

but last night was an amazing one. I usually teach the first 2 small forms first because few people have the discipline of the boring stuff. Meaning the first 2 forms will get a student moving already before the dead stances which can be very trying in the modern world.

So last night I started my student on the real first form. All stance work, no hand movements, everything was a workout focused on the inside.

I told him you need the pain, the pain must become your friend, on the deeper level of things the pain (correct Pain) has to be understood and checked by the teacher, do not just seek pain ok. Well the pain will take out the mind from mundane musings or jumping monkey, it will bring you to yourself and your body. That is how it becomes your friend, etc. etc.

His eyes opened and said “Wow I really needed this lesson now, because he had a very trying day. Negative thoughts and feelings were hard to shake off.” this lesson was really important for his life now… in reality.

I also was surprised at they how, why, where of all these things. For I just happened to be in that area and I gave him a lesson. It was the right time, the right place, etc. Both of us were surprised. When the student was ready the teacher just appeared.

sometimes I wonder is kung fu really a calling of some sort? Thats how it feels, you really tap into the spiritual realm its just unmistakable.

Anyways, I clearly and intently taught him the boring but deep stuff. very late in the evening he texted that he was amazed at what happened and so was I.

The Fut in Choy Li Fut

by Sifu Vince
(Manila, Philippines)

One thing that attracted me to this art is that it had higher meaning to movements as my old wise Sifu told me. the word FUT in Choy Li Fut means BUDDHA. In the naming of the art integral to it was its religious or spiritual meaning.

In its history we also see that Fut (Buddha) or Buddhism was to be studied. Founder Chan Heung would not be taught the art by Choy Fook if he did not study Buddhism.

To relate this to us now, For whatever religion you might be in its study must be integral to the system. My Sifu Ty then asked me what my religion was I said “Christian Catholic” He continued how enlightened are you about your religion? he showed me in many paralellisms to his Buddhist religion of how much he knew even of my faith.

His reason was “Since I am in the Philippines, I should be enlightened or know about your religion. And it is so sad to know that many of your country men really do not know about it.” He advised as i thread his path of Kung Fu that I should seek enlightenment even or especially on this path.

So back to the name, you can already see the values inculcated in this system. Choy and Li were his teachers. He named the art after his teachers. A very honorific system. He did not even name it after himself but named it after his teachers and his faith.

Now as I teach I also emphasize this to my students, the values of respect for elders, persons in authority, and learn and growth in your faith.

Inside the forms are many movements that also instill these values. The child praying to buddha, the seated meditation, the one legged prayer posture, and the universal praying hand, etc. Meaning not all movements are just about fighting but has higher meaning to bring or usher one to enlightenment.

Do not let one posture pass you without a positive image or thought then you will cultivate more positive energy.

It can be done

by Sifu Vince
(Manila, Philippines)

I was just telling one student that my Master Johnny said. In his calculation with the practice of his system of kung fu a person increases his power by 5000 percent. But at higher parallelism Peter Kreeft who I consider has kung fu in his mind said suicide rate has increased to 5 thousand percent too. Therefore the worlds need for enlightenment just got more dire.

I have been feeling bad that many want to learn kung fu with me but I could not oblige because of the distance etc. But as the title of this writing says “It can be done.”

Yesterday was the first time I taught over the internet. Jose carlo a new student from Cagayan de oro was able to get lessons from me through skype. I was happy to know that he indeed learned and was satisfied with our 1 hour session.

I had to adjust the computer many times though when I would move further from the camera to show the posture. And with the help of my son who was the one I would show the parameters of the movement we had a good teaching experience.

It could be done! my first cybernet teaching course live! I was thinking of getting a blue tooth headset or a wireless one so that he could hear me even if I went far from the microphone of the computer.

It was a great experience.

Also on the end of Carlo he got a video cam so he could capture everything I was saying and the movements too. I also could write something like the chinese terms and concepts. I now look forward to his progress. Hung Sing is at work here… “Always Winning” it can be done.

The Thrilling Thrill of Teaching

by Sifu Vince
(Manila, Philippines)

What is a teacher without a student? he is not a teacher.
Funny to say it but in Kung fu language you will hear more such as ” It is hard to find a good teacher but harder to find a good student!”
and the musings do not stop but when a teacher and a student kind a come to the right mix of which there is a chinese kung fu term for that again “/.,*&^” time and place equanimity or affinity or divine appointment. But you will know it is it.

Well again I find it funny and amusing. I have been teaching for some time being a little white and tall I look a little downward to my students. Now a new student has come a tall one where I giving the lessons is looking up to him. And truly he has come far and wide to be gifted with this art so accidentally but fatefully met.

the minute we met I knew he was a seeker, but more surprises come as we meet the second time I get to know he writes. And here his mind meets his muscle let me introduce to you my new student with something he has written.
“Be Water, My Friend”
By Keith Jensen
This season, we’ve experienced a lot of ups and downs. We won 2 in a row, lost 5 straight, and then won 4. We’ve become a streaky team¬¬—and it’s quite a roller coaster ride.
Being present to the journey, I’ve noticed that as a team we tend to get high or low on ourselves depending on how our season has been going. Coach acknowledged this after a lackluster effort in the first half against Rain or Shine during which we went down by 20 points. He pointed out that we had become lazy in practice after winning previous games and said, “We’re starting to think we’re better than we really are!”

It’s a common mental trap that naturally seduces the minds of athletes. Players and teams will become attached to the idea of winning; entangling themselves in the duality of the game. Self-identifying as a “winner” or “loser” blocks the ability to have an objective perspective, and lures people away from acting and reacting in the present moment.
Bruce Lee came to this truth. He said, “Empty the mind. Be formless, shapeless, like water…”
You cannot fit the preconceived form of “winner” or “loser” into the shape of a new game.
Winning cannot be the reason to play. Yes, losing can be incredibly painful. But it can also be beautiful: when the lesson in the loss is recognized and the agony of losing is contrasted with the ecstasy of winning. It is this excitement, the energetic charge, caused by the coin flip of winning and losing, that makes the game so fun. The glory lies in the Yin and the Yang. The highs and the lows are experienced as the thrill—the very reason we ride the roller coaster in the first place.
“Running water never goes stale. You gotta just keep on flowing.” –Bruce Lee Please insert your text here.