Liao Fans Four lessons

y father passed away when I was young. My mother persuaded me to learn medicine instead of studying and passing the imperial examinations because it would be a good way 1 to support myself while helping others. Perhaps, I could even become famous through my medical skills; thus fulfilling my father's aspiration for me.

One day, I met an elderly but distinguished looking gentleman at the Compassionate Cloud Temple. He had a long beard and the look of a sage. I immediately paid my respects to him. He told me: "You are destined to be a government official. Next year, you will attain the rank of Learned First Level Scholar. Why are you not studying for the examination?" I told him the reason.

I asked the elderly gentleman for his name and where he was from. He replied: "My family name is Kong and I am from Yunnan Province. I have inherited a very sacred and accurate text on astrology and prediction. The text, written by Shaozi, is called the Imperial Standard of Governing the World. By my calculations, I am supposed to pass it on to you and teach you how to use it."

I invited Mr. Kong to my home and told my mother about him. She said to treat him well. As we tested Mr. Kong's ability at prediction, we found that he was always correct whether it was for big events or for minor everyday matters. I became convinced of what he had said and again began to think of studying for the examinations. I consulted my cousin who recommended Mr. HaiguYu, who was teaching at the home of a friend and became Mr. Yu's student.

I then asked him to make predictions for the rest of my life. Mr. Kong's calculations showed that I would pass such and such a test in such and such a year, the year that I

"I would die at the age of fifty-three, on the 14th day of the eighth month would become a civil scholar, and the year that I would receive a promotion to become an Imperial Scholar. And lastly, I would be appointed as a magistrate in Sichuan Province. After holding that position for three and a half years, I would then retire and return home. I would die at the age of fifty-three, on the 14th day of the eighth month between one to three o'clock in the morning. Unfortunately, I would not have a son. I carefully recorded and remembered everything that he said.

The outcome of every examination turned out exactly as predicted. Mr. Kong had also predicted that I would only be promoted after receiving a ration of two hundred fifty-nine bushels of rice. However, I had received only twenty bushels of rice when the Commissioner of Education, Mr. Tu, recommended me for a promotion. I secretly began to doubt the prediction. Nevertheless, it turned out to be correct after all, because Mr. Tu's replacement turned down the promotion.

It was not until some years later that a new Education Commissioner, Mr. Yin, reviewed my old examination papers and exclaimed, "these five essays are as well written as reports to the emperor. How can we bury the talents of such a great scholar?" The new commissioner wanted the magistrate to ensue an order for me to become a candidate for Imperial Scholar under his authority. After undergoing this eventful promotion, my calculations showed that I had received exactly two hundred and fifty bushels of rice. From then on, I deeply believed that promotion or demotion, wealth or poverty all came about in due time and that even the length on ones life is prearranged. I began to view everything in a detached manner and ceased to seek gain or profit.

After being selected as an Imperial Scholar, I was to attend the University at Beijing. During my year long stay in the capital, my interest in meditation grew and I often sat in silence, without giving rise to a single thought. I lost interest in books and did not study at all. The following year I went to Nanjing. Before I was to enter the National University there, I paid a visit to Master Yungu, a venerable Zen Master at Qixia Mountain. We sat in meditation, face to face in the Zen hall for three days and nights without sleep.

Master Yungu said: "The reason why ordinary people cannot become sages is because of wandering thoughts. In our three-day meditation, I have not observed a single thought arise in you. Why?"

I replied that Mr. Kong had clearly predicted the entire outcome of my life. I had seen that the time of life, death, promotion, and failure are destined. There was no need for me to think of anything. The master smiled and replied: "I thought you were someone of remarkable capabilities! Now I realize you are an ordinary person!"

Feeling confused by what Master Yungu had said, I asked him to explain. He told me that an ordinary person's mind is forever occupied by wandering and imaginary thoughts, so naturally his or her life is bound by the mathematics of destiny. We cannot deny the fact that destiny exists, but only ordinary people are bound by it.

Destiny cannot bind those who cultivate great kindness or those who have committed flagrant wrongdoings. Since I had lived my life just as Mr. Kong had predicted and done nothing to change it, I had been bound by destiny. Thus, I was a typical ordinary person. Taken aback, I asked Master Yungu if we could change our destinies. He answered: "We can re-create our own Jh destiny and seek good fortune. It is the true teaching and is found in Book of Songs and Book of History."

To be continued

Selection from Liao Fan's book of Four Lessons, written in the Ming Dynasty for his son on how to become a better person and change his destiny for the better. This book is available free through the Centre by request. Please write or call for your copy.

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There is no such thing as overnight success, you just don't see the work that has gone on hidden from view. All the work that is done is never wasted, it just helps you to get closer to your goal.

V Success Whateve r he thud of the post as it lands on the doormat interrupts my Qigong practice. Later when I pick it up, I immediately open Qi Magazine before everything else and flick through the pages to see what the articles are about. I often find that they resonate directly with my experience or they answer questions that are on my mind. They are written so clearly - with a confidence and clarity that I envy I find myself wishing I could write like that too.

It is easy to be envious of others' ability or success -more d if fi -cult and yet rewarding to take steps on the path myself. They may be faltering at first, clumsy or awkward, but time and practice develop the skills.

Whenever I put pen to paper, my emotions become involved. In a way, that helps me to see how I feel about things. Yet I imagine that is more relevant to me than to my potential readers. However, we all experience emotions, although not always consciously. Sometimes we stay in a situation which is provoking strong sentiments and are not aware of them until we burst out in a temper, have an accident or become ill. The permutations are manifold.

So I suppose that writing is as good a way as any to become aware of feelings such as discontent, self-pity, resentment, anger, fear. Just feeling them allows them to move and change. This is why we need to acknowledge the negativity and yet not get overwhelmed by it. It is in us, but not who we are, not our identity.

For years I would feel guilty for having negative feelings and want to do anything to get rid of them. Distraction of various kinds would provide temporary relief, but actually the longing to get rid of the feelings tied them to me more firmly - I needed to understand how to let go.

How do I do that? I welcome them, albeit reluctantly at times. Let's consider envy. I hate feeling envious and want to be happy. Yet envy is there and has a story to tell. As I listen to my body, I start to see that behind

"For years I would feel guilty for having ne'à feelings. "____i

the envy lies fear of action, of being exposed to the opinions and judgments of others. At that moment, I recognize my responsibility for being in the situation and my perspective changes - I rediscover my centre and appreciate all of it. This means that I become open to change. Yet this will not happen without a willingness to feel the hurt.

When we practise Qigong, the first step is to relax. As we begin to relax we become aware of negativity and tension, which we hadn't realized was there before. Instead of pushing it away or pulling a muscle to stretch it, we simply feel the tension and acknowledge the feelings -the reality of where we are on the path in that moment. We may shake, wobble or lose our balance as one way of releasing the tension, rather than grimly holding on with muscle strength. Eventually we learn to relax the muscles and let the bones bear our weight as the negative energy passes out of the body into the ground.

Even after years of practice there are (in my case anyway) still residues of tension. At times I have felt embarrassed and humiliated at the fear and anxiety inside me 'after all this practice ' then I remember not to identify with the feelings and to listen to my body. The feelings pass. When my mind is calm, I can decide what to do.

Now that this article is in print, since you are reading it, you m ay t hi nk I have succeeded in my wish to write for Qi Magazine. Indeed I have, and yet I also succeeded in the attempts that have not been printed. It has all contributed to this effect - all steps on the path by Helen Massy. [email protected],qimagazjne. com

Introducing a new column on Wing Chun where Martin Gale will share his thoughts on training, developing skill and the underlying philosophies and principles. As with anything its always good to start at the beginning.

Time To Grow

When we are born we know nothing. We are unaware about even where we are or where we are going. We are oblivious to dangers and oblivious to what is right or wrong or what is good or bad. It would seem that from our earliest time of conception that we are quite vulnerable and out on a limb due to our lack of knowledge. Of course as we grow we develop by obtaining information, through observing and experimenting ourselves or from the guidance of others. So over a period of time we become more aware of what's what and this enables us to make the choices we need in order to progress.

When you begin to study Wing Chun, you will probably have about as much information available to hand as you did the day you were born, which will leave you in a position of insecurity as to where you are and where you are going. So you need some way in which to begin to grow and proceed on your Wing Chun journey. When we are little children, one way to learn the fundamentals of something is to play. We play with simple toys such as fluffy animals, slotted boards and shapes and building blocks. These early toys give us a chance to experiment safely with holding, feeling, coordination, and spatial awareness, which are all basic tools we need to acquire in order to progress. The way you can start to play and to grasp the fundamental ideas in Wing Chun is training Dan Chi or single sticking hands. This early training tech-ni que g ives you a chance to experi-m en t s afel y with the three main hand positions Bong Sau, Tan Sau, and Fuk Sau to understand how they work together to protect the centre line. Just like the simple toys Dan Chi will enable you to start

working on basic skills such as sensitivity, relaxation, posture, coordination and spatial awareness. Once you have an understanding of Dan Chi, you then need to find your feet. As small children one of the biggest progressions we make is learning to walk. We stop moving around on all fours and start to stand on two feet. In order to walk we need to learn to balance, sink our weight, and coordinate our limbs

"Start to play and to grasp the fundamental ideas."

so that we can move correctly. To learn to move in Wing Chun, you can use the skills you have already acquired from training Dan Chi, but instead of standing still, you can step and turn and use hand techniques to change or maintain the centre line that exists between you and your training partner. Learning to step is probably just as big of a progression as learning to walk. You still need to find out how to move whilst maintaining balance, weight distribution, posture and coordination. After learning to walk, you can then try to run or maybe just jog. In progressing from walking to running means we have more confidence and feel we are ready to go with the pack and start to make choices. Chi Sau in Wing Chun gives you an opportunity to run. You progress to using two hands, which means you have reached a level where you can start to interact fully and learn from others around you. Training Chi Sau will also help you to understand deeper the importance of centre line theory and staying relaxed at such a close quarter distance whilst enhancing your reactions and improving your sensitivity.

As you practice more Chi S au, you wi l l become more aware and start to notice things that were not apparent previously. This changing awareness is like a chain reaction and will enable you to try new ideas over and over again, which will help you to work out what works and what doesn't.

Our level of Wing Chun can be measured by the level of our Chi Sau, and this in turn can be made as a comparison to run along side our lives and eventually the two can become the same by Martin Glae. [email protected],

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