Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Gongfu Practice: Role, Design, and Value

The value of one’s practice or, importance it seems to merit can vary tremendously. What is important to one person can be vastly different to another. Now here is the catch, often times the value of a practice cannot be fully understood until much later, and only then, when viewed from another space and time in comparison.

The equation of “Benefits - Costs = Value” is such a personally subjective concept, can it even be rationally understood at any given moment? Then imagine trying to understand the viewpoints of the multitude of long and short term moments all coming together as if they were facets of some larger design. Pictures of glimmering gems. Gems that could have been, simply pieces of glass shining in the afternoon sun. So, what does any of that really mean when it comes down to your gongfu practice?

In Wujifa the seemingly ordinary is often practiced for long periods of time. “Refining the ordinary until they become extra-ordinary” is a common saying. Depth is discovered both in a moment and over time.

“One’s heart is like one’s energy, they cannot be measured directly, only viewed through their actions to which they abide.”

Value is like beauty, and so it is with Wujifa and gongfu. Watching someone practicing Zhan Zhuang can be like watching a concrete pylons in the hot dessert sun in some forgotten parking structure of what pretended to be a life once upon a time. Watching someone first hand experiencing the gongfu of zhan zhuang can also be as if in the presence and majesty of a might redwood connecting, reaching forth, as one discovers it’s place between earth and sky.  How can it be that both can share such a different experience? How can something as simple as standing around have such different processes? How does one place valve on one process or discard another?

“A rut serves its purpose when one finds himself ankle deep in the mud.”

A Buddhist friend tells me “leave them alone, its fine as it is…” The meaning being that there is a lesson to be taught in what there is to experience. Take away the experience and the perfect lesson may also be lost. Understand that your quest may take you years to uncover, and the pointlessness only understood once you wash the mud off of your feet.

It seems there may be an unseen role, design, and value in what is happening that may not always be readily understood outside the moment. Understanding is a process of doing, and experiencing. Knowledge is not mere data, or methods gathered. Yes, methods and data can “artfully” point a direction. In direction there are some seemingly meaningful equations, in which the value is often simply a formulation of subjective understandings at that given moment in time. Growth is full of transformations.

What do you stand for?

You may have heard these questions before around these parts “What do you stand for?”  The answer may honestly be that you don’t know. As you go through life you get to experience life and how you open and connect with life or, how you disconnect and remove yourself from engaging with it.

The question of “How do you know?” is one worth discovering and exploring. Which leads to the question of, “Where to start?” In Wujifa we say “You are where you are and that’s where you start.” So simply stop for a second, notice and discover where you are standing, "your stance in life" right now. Gongfu is noticing this over time and revealing a simple meaning in the role, design, and value you bring to this exploration.

1 comment:

  1. This post is a real diamond, Rick... it's got some good feeling in there, and I love the few quotes you include.

    Looking forward to continuing studying this wonderful art form with you, continuing to grow and develop.