Why I only ever wanted to be Kwai Chang Caine. I was a typical South London council house boy doing Karate until that first Sunday afternoon in 1973 at 3pm when I watched the first episode of Kung Fu that turned my life upside down.
Here was a Martial Artist and Buddhist priest that had nothing and yet had everything. How can that be? Listening to the wisdom dispensed from the Buddha I realised that suffering came from ownership, if you owned nothing you had everything. Happiness was simply an internal habit and unhappiness came from wanting to possess, keep or reject anything. Engage in everything but possess nothing – let life play with you instead of trying to own, control or possess any part of it.
I went to Tai Chi and my first teacher was like Kwai Chang Caine, he carried everything he owned on his back and basically lived on the floor of friends homes. He was incredibly patient with this stupid, angry and violent South London boy and would come early to sessions to push hands and discuss martial arts with me. He gave me my first copy of the ‘Tao Te Ching’ that opened the floodgates of wisdom to me, I’d never bothered to read books at school and failed all my exams, but I understood the words of Taoism almost as if I recognised them from a former life, this led me into a life long study of Taoism, Buddhism, Zen , Eastern and subsequently Western and other philosophies, I never had to struggle to understand the ideas, only to implement them.
My life has taken many turns over the years and they are many stories for other times – I’ve been relatively wealthy at times and more often than not just getting by, but I’ve always wanted for nothing, just enjoyed what life brought me, both the good and the bad and put integrity, inner happiness and non possessive engagement first. The more frugally I live, the happier I am, the less I own, the happier I am, anyone that really knows me will validate this.
More than 40 years later, I’m still Kwai Chang Caine at heart and a happy man – irrespective of what life throws at me.