What is Zen

Zen is becoming a hit nowadays as more and more people are paying attention to mental health and meditation. What is Zen? Zen is the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese character “Chan (禅)“,which is interpreted in many different ways, such as living simply or habits. However, it is over-analyzed. Zen is a word that was originally translated from the Indian Sanskrit term “dhyana” and it means meditation.

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Zen as the Feeling of Being Home

There are different interpretations about Zen. It is a state, a method, and most importantly, it is a spiritual home. Some people believe that Zen is a state of awareness. From their point of view, despite the differences in appearances, everything is equal in the world. Some others see Zen as a method which helps to show the wisdom of every single creature. Finally, Zen is the spiritual home to some people. There is nothing as reliable as home. Zen can bring the feeling of being home to people and help them find their original selves.

A very famous monk called Huineng once said that Zen is when a person can remain in inner peace despite all the external temptations. One’s spirit is free when he orshe is not limited by the appearance of objects, which is called “Ding” (stable) in Chinese. The highest state of life, according to Huineng, is mastering both Zen and Ding.

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Zen is also a method for modern people who are very busy to relieve their stress.  Through meditation, you will awaken your true nature.

 

The Story of the Four Friends

Once upon a time, there was a businessman and he had four friends. He was very generous to his first friend and always offered him the best; the second friend was very sophisticated, so the businessman valued him a great deal and always tried to impress him so he could show him off to others; he didn’t give his third friend any special treatment because that friend is very ordinary, however, the businessman was still satisfied with this friend because he was very reliable; as for the fourth friend, the businessman barely noticed him.

One day, the businessman was going on a trip to a faraway place. At that time, traveling was a sweaty and dirty undertaking that nobody enjoyed. To make the journey more tolerable, he wanted to bring one of his friends with him. When he asked his friends, all of them rejected him with different excuses, except for his fourth friend. The first friend told the businessman that he is not obligated to go on this trip, which broke the businessman’s heart. The second friend told him:“I know that you are very nice to me, but that cannot be the reason for me to go with you, because there are so many other nice people in the world.” The third friend offered him company, but only for the beginning of his trip. Only the fourth friend followed him without saying a word.

 

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A lesson of what is the most important in life

In this story, the businessman is you and the place that he is traveling to is death and the story is trying to tell us what is important in life.

The first friend is our body, throughout our lives we are trying to satisfy our body’s desires, which we cannot take away with us when we are dying. The second friend symbolizes money and social status. Most people are fighting for these two things for their whole life, yet they can only be left behind once we die. Families and friends are the third friend in the story. They are very important and precious to us, but even they cannot stay with us until the end of our journey. The only friend that can stay with us forever is our mind/spirit, which are easily forgotten or neglected by us.

What this story really teaches us is that finding our true self and our spirit is a very important lesson in life.  Through Zen, through meditating, we can start paying attention to and listening to our heart and find our spiritual home.

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Written by Bota @ InteractChina.com

Posted by Yuqing@ InteractChina.com


About Interact China

“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide”

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 12 years of solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we are well positioned to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and directly bring you finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

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The Philosophical History of Kung Fu

The Birth of the Art

The most ancient of martial arts, Kung Fu can be traced back to more than 4,000 years ago when it originated in China as a form of battlefield combat. The Yellow Emperor, who rose to power in 2698 BC, was passionate about writing about several fields, in particular medicine, astrology, and martial arts. He propagated different forms of martial arts, and during the Zhou Dynasty, a philosophical element was given to martial arts that is present in modern-day Kung Fu. This philosophical take was based on ideals of Confucianism and Taoism, and in Taoism, the Ying and Yang (universal opposites) were spectrums for the hard and soft techniques in Kung Fu. The Taoist I-Ching system of divination gave mystical elements to Kung Fu philosophy, enforcing a sense of spirituality. For Confucians, martial arts is one of the “six arts” that should be practiced in life, alongside calligraphy and music, among others.

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Elite Warriors from the Shaolin Temple

A few hundred years after Buddhism had made its way to China, the arrival of an Indian Buddhist monk, Bodhidarma, brought his religious influence to the martial arts. He came to the newly established Shaolin Temple, and there is still much discussion amongst historians of whether he introduced the religious element to the Kung Fu practice or if this was already in development by the monks who lived at the temple. Regardless, since then, Shaolin monks have dedicated themselves to Kung Fu and have become elite warriors that have spread their influence and knowledge throughout China. Engaged in numerous military campaigns, they are known for bringing and keeping peace in their province. Experts have travelled to visit them and learn from their Kung Fu secrets, many of which include rigorous daily training hours that are highly demanding for the body and mind. Spin offs of the Kung Fu practice have propagated across China; for example, rival Taoist monasteries have trained different styles of Kung Fu that focus on heavily internal training. Popularity, intrigue and admiration for the practice grew.

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Kung Fu Today

In the early 20th century, Kung Fu became mainstream and ceased to be practiced solely by an elite group of expert warriors, adapting to the likes of ordinary people across China and the world. A Chinese cultural recovery was much needed to re-establish thousands of years of building Chin prestigious cultural reputation and pride after the European and the Opium Wars from 1860 to 1939. In an attempt to recapture the Chinese spirit, the government encouraged and made martial arts accessible to the public. This led to a spread of Kung Fu adaptation into literature, film, and several athletic associations devoted to the modernised practice of the art. The central governing body for Kung Fu was established in 1928, and Kung Fu competitions began taking place thereafter. In 1936, Kung Fu was in the global spotlight during its introduction to the Berlin Olympic Games.  In 1949, Kung Fu values and ideals were aligned with the Communist Party of China (CPC), and because the CPC did not recognize religious beliefs, Kung Fu was modernised as a sporting version called Wushu. Wushu was present in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, and is currently now practiced by many universities and schools, as well as athletic centers in China and around the world. It is clear that what defines Kung Fu practice today is what has always shaped it in the past; its philosophical disposition to the people  who can practice and master it.

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Written by Monica @ InteractChina.com

Posted by Yuqing@ InteractChina.com


About Interact China

“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide”

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 12 years of solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we are well positioned to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and directly bring you finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Tailor Shop, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.


P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team! 
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Martial Morality

People who do not do kung fu might think of martial arts as somehow encouraging violence, but the exact opposite is true. Practitioners of Chinese Martial arts attach great importance to wude (武德), or martial morality, which is a set of ethical standards strictly followed by Martial arts practitioners as a creed. Chinese Kungfu

Martial arts are the way to train in developing good habits of mind and body and morality is an integral part of this training. In kung fu, the level of a person’s achievement in martial arts is in direct relationship to their morality. Morality is not as simple as “thou shalt not lie, cheat or steal”. It is a total way of acting and thinking.

Martial morality deals with two aspects; “morality of deed” and “morality of mind”. Morality of deed concerns social relations; morality of mind is meant to cultivate the inner harmony between the emotional mind and the wisdom mind. The ultimate goal is reaching “no extremity” (closely related to the Taoist concept), where both wisdom and emotions are in harmony with each other.

 

MORALITY OF DEED

Morality of deed includes Humility, Respect, Righteousness, Trust, and Loyalty.

Humility or being humble, admits in a sense that there is something above or beyond your reach. It is the foundation for all learning. Imagine if you felt there was nothing more for you to learn, you would then stop improving. However, by being humble, you will realize that there is always a gap to fill by constant practice and learning and you will always be looking for ways to better yourself.

Respect is the foundation of your relationship with your parents, teachers, your fellow students, other martial artists, and all other people in society. Respect makes a harmonious relationship possible. However, the most important type of respect is self-respect. Respect must be earned; you cannot request or demand it.

Righteousness and Trust, if the kung fu student has these traits he or she will stand up and fight for what he or she believes is right and just, wherever they can.

Loyalty involves faithfulness to ideals of family, teachers, friends, culture, nation and martial style. Without this loyalty, the style would undergo many changes and proper techniques will eventually be lost through time.

 

MORALITY OF MIND

 

Morality of mind consists of Will, Endurance, Perseverance, Patience, and Courage.

Will. The study of martial arts is a lifelong commitment. It is not a hobby that a person drops after a few months or years of practice. It requires a lifetime of devotion and a guiding force through times of personal trouble, laziness and self doubt. Only the will can provide such force.

Endurance, Perseverance, and Patience is the manifestations of a strong will. People who are successful are not always the smartest ones, but they are always the ones who are patient and who persevere. Through cultivating these three elements you will gradually build up a profound mind, which is the key to the deepest essence of learning.

Courage In facing the truth the martial artist must stand up to any situation and deal with it in a courageous way. Courage is different from bravery. For example, if you have the courage to accept a challenge, that means your mind has understood the situation and made a decision. Next, you must be brave enough to face the challenge. Without courage, the bravery cannot last long and be blind and stupid.

Any Chinese martial arts practitioner must understand, demonstrate, and promote these concepts, and work to reestablish martial morality as an integral aspect of all martial arts training.

by Xiao Xiao @ InteractChina.com

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Tai Chi Chuan and Ancient Chinese Philosophy

Tai chi chuan is a time-honored scientific way of maintaining physical and mental health. It is an art for strengthening man’s organism, developing his intellect and ennobling his soul. Based on the theory of yin and yang and of the unity of man and nature expounded in ancient Chinese philosophy, it helps the self-actualization and physical and spiritual emancipation of man.

 

Terminology

Chinese Kungfu

The name “Tai chi chuan” is held to be derived from the Taiji symbol, commonly known in the West as the “yin-yang” diagram.The term Tai chi chuan translates as “supreme ultimate fist”, “boundless fist”, “great extremes boxing”, or simply “the ultimate”. The concept of the Tai chi (“supreme ultimate”) appears in both Taoist and Confucian Chinese philosophy, where it represents the fusion or mother of Yin and Yang into a single Ultimate. And its theory and practice evolved in agreement with many Chinese philosophical principles, including those of Taoism and Confucianism.

 

Yin and Yang

 

Chinese Kungfu

Yin and yang are inseparable from each other; as extreme yin becomes yang and extreme yang becomes yin, the two transform into each other all the time. A similar relationship exists between emptiness and solidity in tai chi chuan movements: the two opposing aspects, coexisting in a single entity, are interdependent and interpenetrable, with each transforming itself into the other all the time.

The philosophy of Tai Chi Chuan is that, if one uses hardness to resist violent force, then both sides are certain to be injured at least to some degree. Such injury, according to tai chi theory, is a natural consequence of meeting brute force with brute force. Instead, students are taught not to directly fight or resist an incoming force, but to meet it in softness and follow its motion while remaining in physical contact until the incoming force of attack exhausts itself or can be safely redirected, meeting yang with yin. Application of strength in taijiquan, for instance, is such that the movements appear to be slow and gentle but are actually charged with powerful force — just like a steel rod wrapped in cotton.

 

Contradiction and Unity

 

In fact, all tai chi chuan movements contain a unity of opposites: advance and retreat, upward and downward, slow and fast, stretching and bending, opening and closing, forward and backward, right and left, releasing and withdrawing, rise and fall, inhale and exhale, pull and push. Such a dialectical relationship also exists between motion and stillness in taijiquan exercise.

Chinese Kungfu

The theory of taiji, with all its implications about the transformation of yin and yang and their contradiction and unity, is explained in writing in Lao Zi’s The Classic of the Way and Its Power (Tao Teh Ching) and graphically described in Zhou Dunyi’s Treatise on the Taiji Diagram. These simple yet profound philosophical ideas form the theoretical basis of taijiquan and serve as the guiding principles for the performance of all kinds of taiji movements.

To the minds of some Westerners, Oriental culture is a baffling mystery, and so is the Chinese art of tai ch chuan with its indescribable charm and grace. For them to appreciate the true value of tai chi chuan, it is necessary to know more about the philosophical ideas underlying it.

by Xiao Xiao @ InteractChina.com

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Taoism Philosophy in Chinese Kung Fu

Many people have a misconception that Chinese Kung Fu are about fighting and killing. It is actually based on Chinese philosophy and about improving wisdom and intelligence. Taoist philosophy is deeply rooted in and had a profound influence on the culture of China martial arts.

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Taolism

Taoism (also spelled Daoism) refers to a philosophical or religious tradition in which the basic concept is to establish harmony with the Tao, which is the mechanism of everything that exists. The word “Tao” (or “Dao”) is usually translated as “way”, “path” or “principle”, although the word also means “nature” as in the nature of all things as well as the natural world.

Chinese Kungfu

The life goals or three jewels for a Taoist are compassion, humility and moderation. Taoism is about living within nature’s laws and in harmony with the cycle of nature. It is about recognizing that everything is interconnected, that everything you do affects everything else around you. Taoists seek to live in harmony with the Tao. Kung fu aims to keep us in harmony and balance.

 

Taolist Philosophy

 

Taolist developed the concept of Yin and Yang to explain that all things have two aspects. Both are necessary and harmony can only be achieved through seeking a balance of Yin and Yang energies. Examples of Yin and Yang are hot and cold, bright and dark, male and female.

Chinese Kungfu

In Taoism, Qi (pronounced chee) means air or breath; Qi is considered the basis of life. Very simply put, Qi is a kind of vital energy or force that is fluid and constantly changing form. Qi is an important energy which can be used to attain equilibrium. In the human body, Qi (along with blood and fluid) travels along channels known as meridians which lead to the organs. The flow of Qi can be regulated through the use of points along these meridians to enhance health and wellbeing.

 

Taoist philosophy related to Kung Fu

 

Kung Fu and traditional breathing exercises also aim to enhance the balance of Yin and Yang and the flow of Qi through the body. This has a positive impact on overall physical and mental health and is a great form of preventative health care.

Chinese Kungfu

Some basic examples of Taoist philosophy related to Kung Fu:

“Control of breathing and effective use of Qi to maximise inner strength, physical power, and promote sound mental health”

“Nothing in the world is softer and weaker than water;

But, for attacking the hard and strong,

there is nothing like it!

For nothing can take its place.

That the weak overcomes the strong, and the soft overcomes the hard,

This is something known by all, but

Practiced by none. “

by Xiao Xiao @ InteractChina.com

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The Principle of Yin & Yang

Theory of Yin-yang is an ancient philosophical concept used in traditional Chinese medicine for indicating various antitheses in anatomy, physiology, pathology, diagnosis and treatment, and for explaining the health and disease processes.

 

What is Yin & Yang?

Chinese Kungfu

Yin and Yang are two fundamental principles or properties in the universe, ever opposing and complementing each other, the ceaseless motion of which gives rise to all the changes in the world.

This Symbol (Yin-Yang) represents the ancient Chinese understanding of how things work. The outer circle represents “everything”, while the black and white shapes within the circle represent the interaction of two energies, called “yin” (black) and “yang” (white), which cause everything to happen. They are not completely black or white, just as things in life are not completely black or white, and they cannot exist without each other.

The yin and yang represent all the opposite principles one finds in the universe. Under yang are the principles of maleness, the sun, creation, heat, light, heaven, dominance, and so on, and under yin are the principles of femaleness, the moon, completion, cold, darkness, material forms, submission, and so on. All the opposites one perceives in the universe can be reduced to one of the opposite forces.

The shape of the yin and yang sections of the symbol, actually gives you a sense of the continual movement of these two energies, yin to yang and yang to yin, causing everything to happen: just as things expand and contract, and temperature changes from hot to cold.

 

Cyclical

 

Chinese Kungfu

This production of yin from yang and yang from yin occurs cyclically and constantly, so that no one principle continually dominates the other or determines the other. All opposites that one experiences—health and sickness, wealth and poverty, power and submission—can be explained in reference to the temporary dominance of one principle over the other. Since no one principle dominates eternally, that means that all conditions are subject to change into their opposites.

This cyclical nature of yin and yang, the opposing forces of change in the universe, mean several things. First all phenomena change into their opposites in an eternal cycle of reversal. Second, since the one principle produces the other, all phenomena have within them the seeds of their opposite state, that is, sickness has the seeds of health, health contains the seeds of sickness, wealth contains the seeds of poverty, etc. Third, even though an opposite may not be seen to be present, since one principle produces the other, no phenomenon is completely devoid of its opposite state. One is never really healthy since health contains the principle of its opposite, sickness. This is called “presence in absence”.

by Xiao Xiao @ InteractChina.com

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