Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Zen and Zhan Zhuang

At the time I was first learning the standing stake exercise, zhan zhuang, I was also reading a couple of great books on Zen: Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind and Hardcore Zen. The Zen idea has influenced my thinking on zhan zhuang ever since.

Over at the Taoist Meditation blog, there is a very nice post on this very topic. Below is an excerpt. The full post may be read here.

Zen meditation and zhan zhuang

Zhan zhuang is sometimes called standing meditation (and tai chi moving meditation). Meditation has different meanings in different disciplines, in Tibetan and most Hindu traditions, it is at-oneness with a spiritual figure, in most cases one suggested by a student's teacher according to the personality of a student, this is serious meditation. Or meditation can mean the modern mindfulness meditation tailoring to today's busy company executives looking for an easy way to rejuvenate one's tired body and mind. This is a kind of watered-down Zen meditation focusing on the here-and-now however one defines it.

Zhan zhuang is also about internal focusing or mindfulness. It focuses our attention to the internal dynamics of our chi cultivation, growth and balancing. In particular it focuses on our muscles and tendons, and the connectivity of these to deliver power, in tai chi lingo, such power is called Jing 勁。An internal perception of chi is crucial to the activation of Jing because its activation runs a route (chi channel) connecting our core to our peripherals. Delivery of power at peripheral (e.g. fist) is transmitted from the core (e.g. feet and pelvis) through an internally perceivable running route, the chi channel.

Many practitioners of zhan zhuang will have a good mental side-effect. His or her personality will become calmer. Most do not know why and therefore do not know how to manage it to get better results. This aspect actually has been promoted in the tradition of the art. Master Wang XiangZai was said to have conned the term "Martial art and Zen as one" 禪拳合一。

The essence of Zen meditation according to the Six Patriarch Hui Neng is "find one's true self" (明心見性)。How to find one's true self? A self which is not influenced by external events. For example, when  we are frustrated by our spouse, this is not our true self.  What is you? A common question in Zen Buddhism. Answers are very simple: for example, if you got a mirror, your can look at it to see your self; if you got people around looking at you (e.g when you are talking to them), you can infer your self from their facial expressions etc. Finding your self in a meditative state should be logically as simple as the above.


Zacky Chan said...

Out of all the different types of training I've experienced, none quite has the same great immediate and long term heavy effects of standing meditation. When I lose my bow and all of my training partners, I know I can return to just standing. Why I, or many others don't stand everyday, is a great mystery to me. Cool post! Great to be reading Cook Ding's Kitchen again.

Rick Matz said...

It's good to see you posting again. I think Kyudo must be a beautiful form of budo.