Years ago, some time between the discovery of fire and the invention of Facebook, there was an online forum about Jiulong Baguazhang. One of the forum’s most thought provoking series of posts was created by Shigong John Painter, lineage holder of the Li family arts collectively known as Daoqiquan.
He called each post a Morning Chan Lesson and it has been my pleasure to get his permission to start re-issuing them on Facebook. What you will read are either his words or the words of others that he chose to convey a lesson. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did the first time around.
So, what is a Morning Chan Lesson? Here is Shigong Painter’s answer:
“Chan: A method of self-cultivation that evolved in ancient China was the Chan method. The original versions of Chan had no traditional instruction. It was called the “gateless gate”. Masters of Chan training may have studied many disciplines such as Buddhism, Daoism, Yoga and even Tibetan shamanistic concepts.
Each master drew from his personal experience those things he felt would aid him in achieving awareness and spiritual insight. Chinese Chan eventually evolved in Japan into Zen practice, yet the early Chan teaching is more freely expressed and possessed of the Daoist nature.
The core of the Chan concepts is to remain free from attachments and experience things as they are, not as we wish them to be. This practice relates to all Daoqiquan martial training which seeks a gateless gate method of combat and draws from many concepts and principles all evolving into the formless form or Wu-wei (Spontaneous action without pre-thought).
The Li family in their philosophy of Xinfu dao (acceptance of the way) makes use of the concepts found in Chan as well as other Daoist and Shamanistic principles. The Li clans were not strictly Buddhist nor did they follow the Daoist religion. They preferring to stay close to the original un-perverted teachings of Lao Zi and the idea of using meditation to experience the non-duality of life in the present moment as described in early Chan teaching.
My lessons called “Morning Chan” are simple short though provoking ideas to be used as a daily meditation, nothing more, and nothing less. They are not wholly Buddhist, Daoist, or Christian in nature, but are derived from my own teacher’s writings, my own experiences and wise sayings from people I feel have something to challenge our minds.
They are not presented to start a philosophical discussion, religious debate or a history lesson from well-meaning group members. They are not even intended to spark your comments. They are just words that have helped me on my journey and may be of benefit to you. For some, a Morning Chan may help them reflect on the way during Quiet Sitting and for others it may be just a waste of time. Diversity is the spice of life.
The core of Daoqiquan philosophy and gate to internal energy are the Si-de or four virtues: Honesty – Humility – Patience – Sincerity. Are half-truths told to yourself or others a part of your daily routine? If so, ask yourself why.
Fortune cookie philosophy results from simply reading and not reflecting. Wisdom comes from allowing the message to permeate. As one of my good students says to me “I will sit with this.”
This is the way to use it. I hope they are of benefit to you.”
Morning Chan Lesson
Understanding the Self
Those who find the true self through contemplation
Cannot be seduced by anything
Those who truly understand what some call life and death
Cannot be threatened by anything.
– Li, Zhang-lai