Natural Buddhist Martial Arts

‘However, within China the Ch’an school of Buddhism has always embraced martial cultivation within the context of a thorough mind development. Certain Ch’an temples – such as the Shaolin – have become very famous, but in reality many Ch’an temples have facilitated martial practice all over China. However, martial practice within the body is acknowledged as actually occurring within the mind itself, and it is through the mind that physical mastery is developed. Within the Ch’an tradition, there is no duality between the mind, body or environment, as all things arise and pass away within the mind. Martial perfection is nothing other than realising the Mind Ground.’

Xu Yun’s Letter to Chiang Kai-shek

‘In the early months of 1943 (when Xu Yun was in his 104th year), he had a conversation with the Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek (1887-1975) regarding the Buddhist teachings (Dharma), the philosophical principles of materialism and idealism, and the theology of Christianity. Thirteen years earlier, Chiang Kai-shek had converted to (Methodist) Christianity in 1929, and since that time had believed that China’s future could be moulded and directed from principles contained within the Bible itself, and this belief influenced policies such as the ‘Three Principles of the People’ and the ‘New Life Movement.’ ‘

The Hua Tou (話頭) Method.

‘These facts demonstrate that master Dahui did not refer to his own enlightening method as either a ‘hua tou’, or indeed a ‘kan hua’, and did not view what he was doing as some thing ‘new’ and ‘original’. In fact, the impression one gets from Dahui is that he is following an older tradition that has been forgotten by those around him.’

The Implications of Ch’an Meditation

‘The sutras lead the aspirant toward enlightenment at their own pace, whilst Ch’an, in its more direct method demands that the obvious is realised here and now, and its nature not endlessly talked around. The Ch’an masters use the language of the ‘uncreate’. This is the use of ordinary conditioned human language, in a manner that does not allow for the usual conditioning to operate, and thus deprives the intellectual mind of the fuel needed to create more delusive thought. This language manifests the ‘real’ in an non-dualistic and absolute manner and can not be understood with a mere shallow cleverness. Its impact is often decisive and is designed to take the practitioner through the three gates of entry into nirvana; namely ‘voidness’, ‘formlessness’, and ‘inactivity’. Voidness empties the mind of the idea of self and others; formlessness wipes out the notion of externals, and inactivity puts a stop to all worldly activities, whilst appearing in the world – in numerous and diverse circumstances – to act as a bodhisattva and deliver all living beings from suffering.’

How To Practice Ch’an Meditation

‘This task is not easy. The ego mind will attempt to throw-up all kinds of illusions to protect its privileged status of control over an individual’s destiny. Perhaps the greatest danger is the egotistical belief that enlightenment has been attained when in fact all that has happened is that the mind, after some initial, shallow training has merely experienced a temporary sense of ‘calmness’, and afterwards assumed the dishonest position that involves the stench of false knowing.’

Scholar Cen Xue Lu (1882-1963) – Xu Yun’s Editor.

‘Cen Xue Lu led an extraordinary life. He was directly involved within the Nationalist political and military movement that sought to end the imperial order and establish a modernisation of China very much in the Western model. He developed a reputation for sound and accurate scholarship, and later in his life became very interested in the Buddhist religion. He participated directly in the war against Japanese imperial aggression inHong Kong, and after 1949 assisted in the preservation of the Xu Yun biographical text. His diligence in the task of developing it allowed a Chinese readership to remember and learn about Xu Yun – at a time when Chinese traditional culture was being destroyed. This text, when translated into English (and other European languages) swept through a receptive Western world, bringing the life of Xu Yun to a new audience. Cen Xue Lu not only edited the Xu Yun text, but also protected it from external attack. His contribution to the preservation of Xu Yun’s memory is pivotal and vital. Without Cen Xue Lu’s presence in the world, it is unlikely that the Xu Yun text would have survived as it has to the present day. In this achievement, Cen Xue Lu should be remembered with respect.’