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Ch'an and martial arts

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Ch'an and martial arts
Answer
9/28/12 4:52 PM
So I went to a Shaolinian kung-fu and sanshou class today and it seemed to somehow conflict with meditation practice to me?
I mean Vipassana is all about watching sensations arise and pass but not taking much action, Metta all is about feeling love and compassion for all living beings. And this evening I spent an hour and a half fighting an invisible enemy.
I suppose it is always useful to train yourself to experience an unhabitual state of mind, but I have mixed feelings about it.

Do you think it does anything besides physical exercise?

RE: Ch'an and martial arts
Answer
9/28/12 5:07 PM as a reply to Svetlana Grishina.
follow your intuition, how about yoga instead

RE: Ch'an and martial arts
Answer
9/28/12 5:56 PM as a reply to Svetlana Grishina.
Svetlana Grishina:

I mean Vipassana is all about watching sensations arise and pass but not taking much action,



Is investigating the three characteristics of all phenomena when practicing vipassana not seen as 'taking action'?

And interesting article By Thanissaro Bhikkhu that argues against the practice of only watching sensations arise and pass:


http://www.dhammatalks.org/Archive/Writings/right_mindfulness_120810.pdf

RE: Ch'an and martial arts
Answer
9/28/12 10:05 PM as a reply to Svetlana Grishina.
The martial arts are not about fighting an invisible enemy, or, if you're sparring with a partner, a real one. For students who incorporate martial arts training into their Ch'an practice, the purpose is ultimately realising the truth of no-enemy. First of all, the physicality and movement of martial arts training is, traditionally, a yogic method for the development and circulation of energy throughout the body, which is crucial for powerful samadhi. Secondly, in coming to master the martial arts we progressively lose our fear of others who we might perceive as "enemies". While you might be under the impression that these practices encourage a violent attitude, most of our violent thoughts are actually sourced in our fear of others. Developing self-mastery and confidence in both the physical and the mental, we escape our weak-minded fears and adopt the authentic compassion that is our birthright. Furthermore, we lose that whole complex of fantasizing or romanticising violence. We discover the truth of violence by embodying it as a practice towards the destruction of our own delusions.

These are just some of the positive facets that have made training in the martial arts a crucial component of certain schools in Ch'an/Zen.

RE: Ch'an and martial arts
Answer
9/28/12 11:06 PM as a reply to Svetlana Grishina.
Insight meditation cultivates a connection to upekkha. Good martial arts practice cultivates a connection to mudita. On its own, it's a much more difficult route, but it's a nice complement. If it doesn't appeal to you, though, no need.

Some talks on this:

Power and Presence

The Warrior's Solution (Sound quality is terrible.)

RE: Ch'an and martial arts
Answer
9/28/12 11:41 PM as a reply to Svetlana Grishina.
What are you looking for in martial arts?

In my experience, in martial arts you can see aversion quite easily, as you are challenged to be in an unsafe (yet safe) ground. And that can happen in a gloves on situation, or in a easy but tricky to the mind taichi push hands drill.

The only conflict between meditation and martial arts is that they are time consuming, both requires some 2 or 3 hours of daily practice.

RE: Ch'an and martial arts
Answer
9/29/12 9:11 AM as a reply to fivebells ..
Nikolai .:


Is investigating the three characteristics of all phenomena when practicing vipassana not seen as 'taking action'?

And interesting article By Thanissaro Bhikkhu that argues against the practice of only watching sensations arise and pass:

http://www.dhammatalks.org/Archive/Writings/right_mindfulness_120810.pdf


I'll have a read of that - it's just that I'm under the impression that you're meant to be investigating them on a non-intellectual level somehow. So not consciously trying to find the 3 characteristics but somehow allowing your Satipanya to see them? Is that a misunderstanding? =D

Sam S:
The martial arts are not about fighting an invisible enemy, or, if you're sparring with a partner, a real one. For students who incorporate martial arts training into their Ch'an practice, the purpose is ultimately realising the truth of no-enemy. First of all, the physicality and movement of martial arts training is, traditionally, a yogic method for the development and circulation of energy throughout the body, which is crucial for powerful samadhi. Secondly, in coming to master the martial arts we progressively lose our fear of others who we might perceive as "enemies". While you might be under the impression that these practices encourage a violent attitude, most of our violent thoughts are actually sourced in our fear of others. Developing self-mastery and confidence in both the physical and the mental, we escape our weak-minded fears and adopt the authentic compassion that is our birthright. Furthermore, we lose that whole complex of fantasizing or romanticising violence. We discover the truth of violence by embodying it as a practice towards the destruction of our own delusions.

These are just some of the positive facets that have made training in the martial arts a crucial component of certain schools in Ch'an/Zen.


Thank you! This is exactly the kind of answer I was looking for =)) I know it's very silly of me, but it makes it alot easier for me to commit to a practice if I glorify its concepts somehow in my head =))
And also, everything you just said is definitely a big issue for me. I've managed to condition myself to see much phenomena as traumatising to an extent where it's becoming a mini-avoidant-personality-disorder, so I'll definitely join the london shaolin temple now =))

fivebells .:
Insight meditation cultivates a connection to upekkha. Good martial arts practice cultivates a connection to mudita. On its own, it's a much more difficult route, but it's a nice complement. If it doesn't appeal to you, though, no need.

Some talks on this:

Power and Presence

The Warrior's Solution (Sound quality is terrible.)


Oh but if it becomes a habit it will appeal. It's just that it isn't one at the moment =))
Thanks for the links - fascinating stuff =))

RE: Ch'an and martial arts
Answer
9/30/12 12:11 AM as a reply to Svetlana Grishina.
Svetlana Grishina:
Nikolai .:


Is investigating the three characteristics of all phenomena when practicing vipassana not seen as 'taking action'?

And interesting article By Thanissaro Bhikkhu that argues against the practice of only watching sensations arise and pass:

http://www.dhammatalks.org/Archive/Writings/right_mindfulness_120810.pdf


I'll have a read of that - it's just that I'm under the impression that you're meant to be investigating them on a non-intellectual level somehow. So not consciously trying to find the 3 characteristics but somehow allowing your Satipanya to see them? Is that a misunderstanding? =D


Hi Svetlana,

You fabricate the path you walk. Mental exertion and effort are fabricated activities of mind. One fabricates the conducive conditions to be able to discern how it all comes to be and how it all drops away. How does it drop away? Via developing dispassion for all compounding phenomena thus ceasing to fuel their very arising. How is dispassion developed? By seeing how the opposite direction, craving/clinging to phenomena, leads to mental stress. And you see that by recognising the 3 C's in such phenomena, and that grasping/clinging at such phenomena with those characteristics is counter-peace and pro-stress. Thus dispassion is given space to replace the bad habit mentioned.

I practiced discerning the 3 characteristics like so and had much success with progress because of it. Of course, they may suddenly dawn on one in practice, but I found actively discerning them to be a much more progressive approach. It isn't that complex in my experience and if I were waiting for months or years to realise the three C's in practice, I'd question the efficacy of my practice.

RE: Ch'an and martial arts
Answer
10/1/12 11:43 AM as a reply to Svetlana Grishina.
For what it's worth, I've done both a Shaolin kung fu style named Choy Li Fut and vipassana for many years. Each kung fu class starts with 10 minutes of a taoist qigong meditation called the microcosmic orbit. I do noting instead. I also note during the rest of the class while doing the kung fu moves. I find it helps me focus on paying attention to the moves. It's also an excellent moving meditation. I find it much easier to focus on than Mahasi-style walking meditation. I start with noting things like "turning", "kicking", "punching", and other labels that describe individual moves and refine as needed, while also noting the usual vipassana objects from the 4 foundations. As usual with noting, as more details present themselves, I come up with more precise vocabulary to note them as needed.

I view my kung fu practice as an exercise in concentration, technical precision, stress release and pushing my physical limits. Since there's always room for improvement in the way I perform any particular move, in terms of precision, power, speed and my understanding of the move's applications and usefulness for any practical situation, this is a perfect setting for a meditative technique like noting that works on moment-to-moment concentration on changing sensations and which breaks things into ever finer components. It really depends on what attitude you bring to it. I view both as just technical exercises. The imagined opponent in the kung fu setting is merely an object of concentration or a technical challenge to be solved. It has nothing to do with aggression or really any emotions. In any case, like all emotions, aggression can be vipassanized. You can note it and the physical sensations that go with it.

Further, on a purely practical level, I'm certain the two do not interfere with each other, since I was able to get the 2nd path exactly 3 weeks ago just 2 hours after a kung fu class.

RE: Ch'an and martial arts
Answer
10/2/12 11:55 AM as a reply to Jigme Sengye.
Thank you =)) that's all very useful info - I've been thinking about this and I believe I'm totally convinced by the usefulness of Kung Fu =)) But I'm still not convinced by the usefulness of doing useful things =D

RE: Ch'an and martial arts
Answer
10/2/12 2:03 PM as a reply to Svetlana Grishina.
Fair enough. The main reason I do it is because it's fun and the people I do it with are really nice. I hope you have lots of fun with it.