Two weeks into the Kung fu course.
If you want change, how could you not change here?
On the surface we’re stripped away from our normal lives, disconnected; and even if we were “disconnected” at home, we’re even further removed here. We don’t think about food, we don’t worry about the schedule, it’s not that everything is planned and handed to us it’s more like we’re working together and with each part taken care of it feels like there is nothing left undone. In between our training we all do chores, we all collect firewood and we all take care of whatever work may need to be done, in exchange the gears within the temple walls keep turning.
It’s fascinating watching how the process in this place changes people, how it changes us, ourselves. I’ve been here before but I’ve never been able to settle and soak in; after just two weeks it’s every easy to let go of my social life, and my life within society. There is an entire community here, loving, supportive and forgiving and within in it there seems to be no sense of time yet the perpetual changes of the weather, and the seasons, and ourselves is very clear.
It seem easiest to see the differences in other people and hardest to notice the changes in ourselves, we can see who’s lost weight and who seems calmer but what can other people see in me? What can I identify as new within myself? It’s a bit like talking to a friend in the middle of a midlife crisis, it seems suddenly we know all the answers for them yet struggle to plan for ourselves…this makes me try to apply that same kind of advice and insight to myself, obviously the world around me is changing so surely I am changing too.
So much change brings up so much introspection…it seems here that our bodies change most easily, it’s our personalities that will likely change last. This diverse group of global explorers that have gathered here brings many, many languages, experiences and perspectives all into one place, and in this place, we get to subtlety experience each other’s perspectives. We do everything together, we share meals together, we share training together and we share our experiences with each other. As we go further into understanding each others’ stories and histories we learn more about ourselves. What I can see in those around me are only the things I can identify within myself; like some kind of real life experience of “oneness.”
The guide in this place is like no where else, the orchestration of such complexity is flawless, Li Shifu running this temple is the epitome of Mastery, perhaps even its’ apex. He has refined everything. Within the peaceful and calm setting of this mountain Li Shifu has had many years of practice, years of contemplating and refining everything from temple life to martial arts and it shows on every breath and movement that he takes.
In the way Li Shifu became a Master, we become whatever we practice. The parts of ourselves that we like and wish to cultivate we now have space and time to grow, and the stressed and frustrated people we once were are left somewhere on the airplane, or on the train, or maybe as close as the hotel in town but those people we once were do not come up the mountain with us. Here we are disconnected.
Right now we’re practicing Gong Fu, and so our fitness and exercise focused selves are being strengthened, nurtured and reassured. This is just the beginning, beyond physical practice we’re all finding determined, stronger selves slowly emerging, becoming more energized with every morning run and with every kick…who knows who will we finally become…
Post written by this years gong fu course participant. Alex Bechtold