This morning’s neigong:
Don’t look for it…. It cannot be seen;
Don’t try to find that deep state:
Don’t think, instead just be present.
Feelings don’t require words;
Let them come and go;
Just watch whatever comes;
Thoughts, feelings – nothing stays.
Let go, let go, let go…
Be yin, be yang, be neutral;
Be totally in the present.
Nature’s wordless speech;
Can be experienced in this state;
On this late summer overcast day;
Natures freshness has begun turning in on itself.
Soon enough it will hibernate to heal;
The earth, wind, rain and sun nourish us all;
Each one will have it’s time;
Spring, summer, autumn and winter;
As does a human life.
It’s the ‘Way’ of nature – and a wise person yields to it.
Fasting Diet & Buddhism
Meditation in the bath in the mornings, rather than listening to a ‘lifestyle guru’ I like to play a ‘Dhamma Talk’ by one of the Buddhist Ajahn’s from the informative website of Amaravati Monastery.
This morning it was Ajahn Metta and just labelled ‘Dhamma Talk’. Her voice was very quiet and was difficult to hear above my abolutery splashing sounds, but I laid still to listen to see whether to change it – and am I glad that I didn’t!
She was discussing fasting and diet and how the ‘switch off’ for religous fasting was easier than a controlled diet and being a meditator and Buddhist, the process of watching her mind on a diet was important. I am currently doing the same thing with both intermittent fasting and a ketogenic diet so this was ‘gold dust’ for me.
I will summarise her points and add my own notes in my own way:
Pooh Bear said ‘the most delicious taste whilst eating honey is the moments before you put it in your mouth’. This is the rising of desire (our anticipatory mind).
If you recognise this arising, don’t push it away, investigate it fully. Ajahn Metta received the food, smelled it and put it on her shrine to examine her mind. The desire was to eat, it appeared that her body craved nourishment, when denied it eventually eased, but after a while would come back again. When denied again, it would appear with a different face, like sexual desire or ‘wanting’ something.
Her point was that desire had many faces but in fact was the same thing. Many lifestyle gurus would want us to use that desire to energise us to work for other things we may want in life, but Ajahn Metta was saying that if you just observe it, eventually it calms down, leaving you with an incredible sense of peace. I like that.
The problem is that if you don’t deal with the desire, it will inevitably control you and allow others to use it to suit them all of your life.
I realised that when I fasted and controlled my food the diet worked well, but when my mind fell foul of the different faces of desire I could get confused. When a diet guru says you can eat as much as you like of….. what happens? Gluttony means you overeat whatever you are allowed, it’s crazy but you’re being driven by a demon without realising it, thinking you are still doing good. I remember friends on the Atkin’s diet eating masses of meat and cream because it was ‘okay’ and failing because they didn’t realise that they were not addressing their real problem and desire was simply wearing another face!
Buddhism teaches you to watch your mind. Mindfulness and self examination are the key to success. A greedy person can be chasing ‘success’, food, wealth, sex and be allowing it to control their life from the outside in and their are many guru’s, businesses and politicians happy to exploit those weaknesses.
Diet is about being disciplined, not punishing yourself, but become your more ‘natural’ self by examining your thoughts, wants and desires and their results, that way wisdom can arise and the balancing is permanent.
I had been really struggling with diet over the last few years, 68 years old with dodgy legs I couldn’t move around enough and years of infection and strong antibiotics, painkillers, stomach and blood pressure meds had really taken their toll.
I have been vegetarian for over 40 years don’t smoke or drink and still practiced Tai Chi and meditation every day so I was in a reasonable place to clean my act up a bit more. I gave up all soft drinks and sugary food and that helped a bit and started to research.
Intermittent fasting was fairly easy for my disciplined mind and I started with a 16hr fast each day and my weight started to drop, I increased that to a 20 hour fast and it dropped faster, I lost 2 stone (around 12kgs) in 4 weeks and then it plateaued, so I researched further.
Humans were originally wandering ‘hunter gatherers’ so would pick the food in the area that they were in from the surface and plants and trees and hunt and ate animals. The further we moved away from that lifestyle, the more obesity and bad health has troubled us, medicine has negated some of those problems but now we have reached a crisis point.
When agriculture started we grew starchy foods underground and wheat and maize and that quickly became our easily stored and ‘go to’ foods. This was also fed to the ‘farmed’ animals changing them radically into nothing more than bloody plant and seed holders. Politicians and business very quickly took charge of this way of rooting, ‘enslaving’ and taxing people so instead of being relatively healthy and independent people living in small tribes they became ‘working slaves’ to feed the rich and powerful. Add religion and nationality into the mix to bind people into huge cultural and national ‘tribes’ and you can see the build up to the mess we’re in today.
Being vegetarian there was no way I could start eating meat so I looked at the alternative ways to reduce my starch, hidden sugar and general carbo hydrate levels to a more healthier mix.
A friend in Scotland Karim Belgacem out of the blue kindly sent me the book ‘Sapiens’ that helped fill in the societal gaps and I read about ketogenics and paleo dieting and they were on the same path as me, I watched the film ‘The Magic Pill’ on Netflix and that gave me a clearer outline to my thinking and studies, I re-arranged my diet to continue my fasting, now more on a 19 hour fast with a good vegetarian carb lite ketogenic style meal midday and something light a 5pm and my weight has started to drop again and I feel much healthier and cleaner inside.
I realised that I still had cultural ‘blind assumptions’ that I didn’t have the perspective to see before, that I still had to resolve my emotional attachment to food, whenever I saw food my anticipatory mind was already preparing me eat it, so watching my mind became far more intense. I also learned from friends with a far healthier attitude to food than me.
And the biggest lessons are:
You’re never too old to learn;
Whenever our problems seem big, it means our mind is too small and we need to change our perspective.
These articles have been written over a 40 year period and many appeared in Martial Arts Illustrated, Traditional Karate and Combat magazines.
Fasting Diet & Buddhism
Obesity – What Happened?
How To Change The World
3 Ways To Practice Tai Chi
Putting Your Head In Your Anus
Martial Arts Bullies
My Body Is Like My Dog
What’s In It For Me?
Why Are You Ignoring Your Oldest Friend?
Meditation, Sleep and Dying
Intensity In Meditation
Being A Good Student
Buddha Was A Proper Geezer
2 Triples For Happiness
Making Sense Of The Universe With Kata/Form
Find Your Own Martial Art
Why ‘Positive Thinking’ Doesn’t Work…
The ‘Empty Force’ Of Tai Chi
The Dark Side Of Pain
Cognitive Dissonance In The Martial Arts
Keep Your Child Safe!
Direct Knowledge Is Different
Principled Training And Existence
If I die tonight
Teaching Older People
Rules Of Self Defence and Bullying
I Should Be Dead
Iaido – The Cutting Edge
Back To Front Martial Arts
Winner Or Loser?
Rules To live by…
Guns, Violent Crime &The Elephant In The Room
How To Ruin Your Child’s Training
Compassion And The Martial Arts
How Tai Chi Saved My Life
Don’t Think – Feel
Kung Fu Kids Codes
What Tai Chi Gives Me
The ‘Taste’ Of Kung Fu
Why Bowing Is Important
Yang Tai Chi ‘Head & Feet’
Do You Train To Fight?
What Is Natural In The Martial Arts
Internet Tough Guys
Don’t Mess With My Martial Arts
The Magic Key
Tai Chi And Driving Your Car
Sanchin – Harmonising Mind, Body & Breath
Pain In The Martial Arts
Use Your Head!
Why Yang Tai Chi Is A Deadly Fighting Art
Fa Jing In Yang Tai Chi
I Don’t Believe In PMA
13 Dynamics Of Tai Chi
I Only Wanted To Be Kwai Chang Cain
The Path To Success
What Is Reiki
How To Deal With Bullying At School
Milk Of Amnesia
10 Essential Points Of Martial Arts Leadership
Peace Is Earned
Grading At Shi Kon
3 Most Important Points In Martial Arts Training
Who Are You Kidding?
The Power Chain
What’s Wrong With The Martial Arts?
Arousal In The Martial Arts
Women In The Martial Arts
Kata Doesn’t Work In A Fight
Connecting Hands And Feet
The Art Of Listening
The Language Of The Body…
The 4 Blocks Of Karate
Buddhist Alchemy In The MartIal Arts
Simple Neigong – Insomnia Buster!
Age With Dignity…
The Alchemy Of Tai Chi Chuan
The Best Martial Art And Teacher…
Martial Arts – The Masterkey!
25 Signs You’re Ageing In The Martial Arts
Martial Arts Biggest Secret…
Tai Chi Does You…
Chinto Kata (Gankanku)
Invest In Loss..
Soft And Slow Or Efficient…
Arrogance At Black Belt
Revenge Of The Stolen Pen
Move Like A Porsche
The Structure Of Kata
Training With Age
Power For Punching
The Yo Yo as a Martial Arts Weapon..
What Is Chi..
When Your Imaginary Opponent Wins
Healing In The Martial Arts
How To Get A Black Belt
Ethical Is Successful Business In Martial Arts
Vicars, Tarts and Martial Arts
Emotional Intelligence in Martial Arts
No One Fights With Swords Anymore
I Have A Dream…
Cultural Stories In Tai Chi Postures
The Simple Guide To Meditation
How To Be Happy
10 Stress Busters
Why Questions Are Important
Tai Chi Makes You Beautiful
The Speed Of Chi
Feather On The Breath Of God Qigong
Sanchin To Tensho
Defence Against The Self
Powerful Grading Speech
Why Karateka Can’t Make A Stance
How To Hammer And Screw Your Opponent
MMA Or Karate?
I Don’t Do Nice
Responsibility Of An Instructor
Positive Visualisation In Kata
It’s Not What You Do
The Meaning Of Life
How To Avoid Being Clumsy
Icebergs Instead Of Mountains
Kamae In Karate
Ignorance Of Youth
Hands Of A Clock
Chi – The Users Manual
There’s One In Every Martial Arts Club
Right Effort In Training
Grading In The Martial Arts
Yin Yang Tai Chi Method
Gossip In The Dojo
Training Children Need Parents Support
Kata – Wearing The Skin Of Your Ancestors
Sink, Swallow, Float And Spit
The Internet And Martial Arts
Magpie Mind And Tai Chi
Stand, Walk And Run Skills
Freestyle (Ji Yu) Kata
How To Stop Bullying
How To Do Kata
No Competition – No Fight
Waving Hands Like Clouds
The Importance Of Qigong In Form
Hand Healing In The Martial Arts
Mindset In Karate
Tai Chi – The Ultimate Skirmish Art
It’s All About Respect
Martial Arts Merchants
Europe’s Warrior Monks
Both Sides Of The Brain
Religion And Karate
In Memory Of Alan Emery
Translation Of Uke
The Old Days
One Foot In Life And One In Death
Perspective In Tai Chi
Dealing With Clumsiness
The Green Eyed Monster
A Street Fight
Simple Or Skilfull RBSD
The Bows And Pumps Of Tai Chi
Training For Pleasure
Want And Need In The Martial Arts
Deception And Speed
4 Elements And Martial Arts Training
Philosophy Is Important In Training
Bowing In Karate
Sensitivity In The Martial Arts
The Martial Arts And Violence
We live in a reductionist society. We are reliant on the few for everything we do and have. Our jobs, our income, our media, our entertainment, our religion and spirituality, everything is very carefully controlled.
We are encouraged to look outside, to aspire to external beauty, good jobs, good houses, money and these are all held like carrots for a stupid donkey. Even our religion is politically controlled and run. Our elections are like turkeys voting for Christmas.
We are never encouraged to look inside and explore the bigger inner universe, to challenge every bit of information that is fed to us. Thinking for yourself is only encouraged as long as it conforms what the top echelons want. When we REALLy start to fundamentally challenge the structure of society we are classed as fools and conspiracy theorists.
Yet we are an integral part of our universe, we can be educated to communicate and harmonise with it as opposed to attempting the impossible task of ‘conquering’ it – not realising that when we do it will bring our own demise. We are like lemmings running toward the edge of the cliff.
Looking inwards is the key. Developing critical thinking, emotional intelligence and the lost arts of wordless language, intuition and empathy are the answer. We cannot change the top echelon of our hierarchical structure and their dictatorial ways without changing the will the people and we cannot do that by pressurising and bullying them, revolution will only change the bullies.
The journey inwards is the answer, stillness and introspection are self education and cannot be stopped. If you want to change the world this is the way. When every person is able to think for themselves, find that necessary empathy and intuition, the world will change itself.
No more greed, hate, violence and anger because weakness, fear, distraction and apathy will be gone and challenged every time it appears.
This is my Dojo (place of learning the ‘way’) doorstep, as you enter you bow, as you bow you look down and this is what you see.
‘Shi’ means ‘warrior’ but more in the sense of ‘cultivated person’.
‘Kon’ means ‘spirit/heart’.
‘Budo’ means ‘to stop the spear’ or peacemaker.
‘Kan’ means ‘place/clubhouse’.
So, ‘the place of the peacemaker with a warrior spirit’….
As you enter the Dojo the doorstep reminds you to leave the past and and future behind and become fully immersed and engaged in the present. The bow is an act of mental cleansing, reminding you to respect yourself, your Dojo, your fellow students and coaches.
The self ceases to exist as you work on your emotional intelligence to develop patience, kindness, tolerance, compassion, resolve, courage and determination working as a team with coaches and fellow students to bring conflict to harmony.
Peace is earned. In this chaotic world it requires a warrior’s spirit and skill to ‘stop the spear’ without making violence worse.
That’s why we have reminders everywhere in the Dojo beginning as you enter the ‘place of learning way’….