In Bitterness will is Born

Here at the temple the courses are over, alongside myself only a few have stayed back, to which we are faced with a sense of bitterness within this fortress of solitude. The requirements are a daily regiment of physical labour alongside coping with the winter elements, Shifu gives us further instructions to use this time to calm our hearts, to which may be more difficult than the latter. In nature, winter is a time of slowing down and refinement, now more than ever is a good time for introspection, though, that may prove to be harder than it seems to truly face oneself.

In my dreams at night I see my character is tested, to which times I fail to embody the person I have been training in my year at the temple, perhaps I am to recognize these depictions and be cognizant of them, but I’m not sure… I complete another 7 day fast of no food and water, Shifu tells us “in bitterness will is born”, and so I thrust forward in experiencing this, however, Shifu clarifies, you can fast for days, but if you’re still dreaming then it’s no good, the “cup is leaking”, it’s about the thoughts. It seems that constantly maintaining balance is bitterness enough, the true challenge is to bring harmony between inside and out. Still, within, all this my time here is a blessed opportunity to have this chance to put in that work, and so to be able to be grateful in relation to it. Much like a brief couple days of sunshine that we get here makes us appreciate its warmth ever so preciously. This time at the temple feels like a shield away from the outside world, some days the winter clouds block all sides of the view of the mountain making seem like an endless dimension of white. It’s hard to describe peace, quietude and bitterness at the same time. Regardless, for me there is still work to be done… 

In the Yi Jing the hexagram Fou (P’i) – heaven over earth explains: The superior person does not forget danger when he is in security, nor does he forget death when he is well, nor disorder when affairs are in order.

Cheng De