November 15, 2013

The Infinite Tao.

Lujien, China Wudang Kungfu Academy. Photo: David Arenson

I came to China with the intention of learning Tai Chi as well as the more internal alchemical principles of Chi Kung.

I’ve ended up sometimes feeling I’m on a wild goose chase, yet it’s mostly been both exhilarating and rewarding. That said, it is difficult to find good teachers who speak English, and the schools are largely commercial operations with the intention of making money.

My school, China Wudang Kungfu Academy is at the foot of Mount Wudang. The school is filled with fascinating people, and definitely some of the most interesting personal stories I’ve heard. Real people breaking away from their lives to find themselves.

For some it is the fulfilment of a lifelong dream, some were inspired by kungfu movies as kids, or just followed an inner calling.

Noel, an intellectual from France, had an epiphany one day after a sleepless night—his software business he’d spent years developing—was not all he was—not all he wanted for his life. He gave it all up that very day. Now he has embarked on a three-year sojourn in China studying wushu.

A typical day involves a minimum of four hours’ training in Tai Chi and Chi Kung with a Master or Coach. There is group training as well as private training. All practice is performed in the school’s Taoist Temple, which is the ideal backdrop for one’s learning.

The school is overseen by Master Chen, an imperious kungfu talent with an educational vision—plans are afoot to expand the school of currently over 100, to a 1000. When students are not practicing the numerous forms of Tai Chi, they focus on building internal energy.

The wushu (self-defence) students train seven hours’ daily starting with a gruelling early morning run up the mountain. Some of the training can be relentless, yet they are more gentle on the foreigners, who number about 10% of the school.

This eclectic collective of internationals (men and women) from mainly US, Germany, Brazil and France, ranges in age from their teens to forties—an eccentric crew of brave people in search of their dreams.

Tai Chi Lake, WudangShan, Hubei Province, China. Photo: David Arenson

The Tao is infinite, eternal.

Why is it eternal?

It was never born; thus it can never die.

Why is it infinite?

It has no desires for itself; thus it is present for all beings.

~ Lao Tzu

I had never been to China and one hears many stories, some quite negative. There are so many scaremongers amongst us. Even a Chinese friend of mine kept sending me warnings of diseases and crimes and seemed to see everything as dangerous.

The reality was quite different, pretty much all the negatives are grossly exaggerated. I felt safe 100% of the time, walking on my own at night, even walking in the mountain at night.

The hard part is when you make the decision is when you have to face doubts. When you actually take the jump, it’s often much easier than you imagined. I believe in following one’s path and staying true to it. Everyone has things they know they need to do and experience.

Sometimes it feels impossible. In time, opportunities appear as if by magic. And then the timing is perfect.

Coming to China was taking a different path. The road diverted and at the fork, I took the “road less travelled.” Instead of suppressing my dreams, I stepped forward right into them. What is it inside a person that inspires him/her to take a different path?

Overcoming a limited belief requires ignoring that little voice in your head that says, “I can’t”, “I’m not good enough”, “only so and so people can do that” —one could spend a lifetime coming up with excuses.

Society generally places limitations on what people perceive to be their range of possibilities. Most people are most likely to “play it safe.”

So we get pacified by entertainment, Facebook, smart-phones, empty addictive high-calorie foods.

China shows me its secrets that more is possible…that is the Infinite Tao.

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Editor: Bryonie Wise

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