“Marathon Monk” Runs Away From Worldly Concerns

Genshin Fujinami

For more than seven years, Genshin Fujinami dressed in white from head to toe while covering the backwoods trails of Mount Hiei in one of the world’s most grueling feats–a punishing quest that combined starvation, isolation and the equivalent of a lap around the equator.

For 1,000 days, rising well before dawn, Fujinami embarked alone, rain or shine, on his journey, running or briskly walking more than 50 miles–that’s almost two marathons–each day as the trial neared its climax. Along with his white robes, his only gear was a pair of straw sandals, a long straw hat, candles, a shovel, a length of rope and a short sword.

The rope and sword weren’t for survival. If for some reason he could not complete his daily trek, he was to use them to kill himself.

Continue reading “Marathon Monk” Runs Away From Worldly Concerns

The Zen Habits of Master Hsuan Hua

What is Zen?

Zen Buddhism is a way and a view of life which does not belong to any of the formal categories of modern Western thought. It is not a religion or a philosophy; it is not a psychology or a type of science. It is an example of what is known in India and China as a “way of liberation,” and is similar in this respect to Taoism, Vedanta, and Yoga. A way of liberation can have no positive definition. It has to be suggested by saying what it is not, somewhat as a sculptor reveals an image by the act of removing pieces of stone from a block.
– Alan Watts, The Way of Zen

If Zen has no positive definition, then everything is Zen. And if everything is Zen, then naturally every blog is Zen too. Right?

Actually, this argument is a perfect illustration of New Age rhetorical misdirection. While one can say that everything is Zen in its transcendent sense, such a statement cannot serve as the premise for an immanent logical conclusion. In other words: Zen proves nothing, by definition.

Applying transcendent or non-dual definitions to conventional worldly contexts is a popular tactic amongst false gurus. Continue reading The Zen Habits of Master Hsuan Hua

Investing in Loss, Investing in Ego

Manjusri
Manjusri, destroyer of illusion
Credit: Jpatokal

“Tell me, Subhuti,” Buddha inquired, “Can an arhat think to himself: ‘I have attained the realization of an arhat’?”

Subhuti, his disciple, replied, “Of course not. With such a thought, he would be grasping to the illusory notions of an ego, a personality, and an individual self. Any so-called arhat who holds these notions is a fake.”
~Diamond Sutra

The meaning of “investing in loss”, as originally recommended by the late Tai Chi master Cheng Man-Ching, was to neutralize a superior force through the practice of non-contention:

Now when I say, “Learn to invest in loss,” who is willing to do this? To invest in loss is to permit others to use force to attack while you don’t use even the slightest force to defend yourself. On the contrary, you lead an opponent’s force away so that it is useless.

Against genuinely applied force, the method is so difficult to apply that it usually fails; thus, it is called a loss. After becoming familiar with every misapplication of wuwei, the non-contention principle, one can eventually start using it correctly and effectively; thus, it is called an investment.

Investing in loss can be a tiresome and disheartening method, but it is a reliable one. Sadly, the term is often misapplied as a catch-all justification for fruitless endeavors. Not every loss qualifies as an investment. Continue reading Investing in Loss, Investing in Ego

Learn To Concentrate with Xzibit and Team Ryouko

zhu
zhu: concentrate; focus

What do you get when you combine Nichiren Buddhist chanting, Tae Kwon Do, four booty shakers in short cheongsam dresses, a muk yan jong and a pimped out Cadillac?

My New Year’s Eve plans? No, it’s an Xzibit music video. Continue reading Learn To Concentrate with Xzibit and Team Ryouko

The Nondual Perspective on Subjective Reality

The principle of Subjective Reality—that the universe is consciousness and nothing more—has been employed by authentic spiritual traditions for millennia. Its intended function is not to reveal Universal Truth, but to prepare a seeker for the next stage in their development by dispelling their material illusions.

In other words, Subjective Reality is a spiritual colonic, which for best results must be followed by healthy wisdom food. New-age teachers who skip this critical lesson are like surgeons who excise a tumor, but neglect to close the incision afterwards. Continue reading The Nondual Perspective on Subjective Reality

Learn How to Meditate: A Simple Guide

Excerpted from Learn How to Meditate by William Bodri

Everyone is looking for a way to still their thoughts, shed their worries, and attain mental peace.  That is the purpose of meditation… 

There are all sorts of meditations in the world that can help you learn how to cultivate a peaceful mind… They work using different principles of mental pacification, but they all involve teaching you how to detach from the thoughts and impulses in your head (and in your body) that normally bother you, distract you and impel you…

Confucius was actually one of the people who taught the steps of this process in the most detail. He said the first thing to cultivate, when dealing with every facet of life–and not just spiritual or character development–was mental “awareness…” 

First you have awareness, then stopping, and then stillness which is almost, but not quite complete. If you keep cultivating this stillness through meditation, it will expand so that you achieve the fourth step of the path, which is a state of true peacefulness…

That’s a state that Eastern sages call “samadhi.” Continue reading Learn How to Meditate: A Simple Guide

Who Destroyed Shaolin Village?

By day, I am a mild-mannered software developer; when darkness falls, I step away from the computer for more vigorous pursuits.  During the past few days, I’ve been moonlighting as a private dick.  My latest case: to find those responsible for the destruction of the Shaolin Temple village, and bring them to justice. Continue reading Who Destroyed Shaolin Village?

Defining the Internal Martial Arts

The classification of Chinese martial arts into two families—internal and external—is generally accepted without question. Despite its popularity, the precise definition and significance of these families is not universally agreed upon.

What is the origin of the internal/external categorization? And what should it mean to you as a martial artist? Continue reading Defining the Internal Martial Arts

Shi Yongxin on Life After (Fear of) Death

Shi Yongxin

Shi Yongxin, Abbot of Shaolin Temple, speaks on the greatest benefit of studying martial arts:

The ultimate Shaolin Kung Fu is to train to have a mind that does not stir. If you develop a mind that does not stir, then you won’t be afraid of death. Not being afraid of death does not mean not loving life. In contrast, you will love life even more. To love life is the real purpose of learning zen! What kind of life is worth loving? Only a life without worries and pain is worth loving. To reach a state where there is no worry and pain, one must practice to have a mind that does not stir. Martial arts zen is a path towards a mind that does not stir.

Translation provided by Kah Joon Liow, author of Shaolin: Legends of Zen and Kung Fu