Dearest Wonderguest, I have spent a great deal of time researching spirituality. Much of that research has fallen into the category of "eastern philosophy." Originally zen studies were most interesting. From the aged riddles of the Book of Equanimity, I learned how confusing subjective reality can be. I, having been lucky enough to live in the same town as Louis Steinberg, began to practice yoga -- 0f course this was only after the urging two of my very dear friends and what they have come to call the "JR Delay." This path of study has opened my mind to new experiences and helped me better communicate with the people around me. Recently I discovered that I was surrounded by people who practiced the martial arts. Ninjas, everywhere. This perhaps peaked my interest in learning self defense. Having been the victim of random attacks and the not so innocent victim of less-than-rouge fists, I decided that this might be beneficial. This research of self defense seems to clash with the harmonious nature of yogic practice. Well at least, I thought so until I stumbled onto the center portion of my Venn diagram. The point in which spirituality and yogic practice are mashed so closely together that its cosmic equivalence might be considered a black hole. The incredible Shaolin Monks....
The Shaolin Monastery…
was founded in 464 AD (for a proper date on the Chinese calendar here’s the format…uh… figure it out?) and is largely regarded as the most famous Mahayana Buddhist Temple. According to legend, Bodhidharma himself paid a visit to the temple. In doing so, the Dharma ranger brought his brand of wall-gazing Buddhism to the Monks at Shaolin.
Now this is where the story leans more towards legend: Apparently before leaving the temple, Bodhidharma left behind the book Yijin Jing (Muscle/Tendon Change Classic) which was written in ancient Indian. The Monks used these techniques with extreme rigor and in doing so achieved the skill and fame which they enjoy today.
The Monastery is home to many monks. Some are preforming monks and others are monks immersed in the study of Zen. Regardless of their position at the temple they all practice what is commonly called Shaolin Kung Fu. Intense is the best way to describe Shaolin Kung Fu training(this is definitely not the best way). Through a series of harsh and controlled activities, the Shaolin Monks practice to make their bodies extremely tough. For fun, scroll through the video below to any point and see how intense this training is!
Shaolin monks are often revered for abilities such as uprooting trees, one finger push-ups, and being on the blunt end of a whole heck of a lot of pain. This list of exercises is enough to spark any imagination. It may seem a list of ridiculous feats near impossible to accomplish but consider for a moment if being a Shaolin Warrior was your day job. Instead of collating documents, you would be challenged to balance on a spear day in and day out. It’d be extremely different. To say the least, extreme!
Sword makers of old understood that the more they heated the steel, the stronger the blade would become. The mightiest tools have always been forged in the fiercest fires, and, likewise, the trials of man’s life sharpen the tenacious ones into razor-edged forces that shape the annals of civilization. To the initiated, life’s sufferings are turned to purpose, and this is why the greatest achievements in history are often preceded by the greatest defeats, because life, like the aged swordsmith, knows to test the metal it’s forged with before setting it to its Herculean tasks. Whether one defiantly taunts adversity or nestles into safety, life is suffering, and suffering is abound on life’s road to enlightenment.
Contention 2: Enlightenment is the purpose of life; we are all already enlightened.
Among the countless teachers professing to be enlightened, one of the most common yet ironically dualistic claims is that each of us is enlightened already. Christ, Mohamed, Zoroaster, Osho, David Icke and even Scientology’s L Ron Hubbard all pointed out that divine wisdom is our true nature. Yet, simultaneously, they say reaching for enlightenment is our reason for being, the so called great answer to life. Wait what! Become what I already am? Not being enlightened (or rather, aware of the inherent enlightenment ever-present) we struggle to wrap ourselves around how this double-talk isn’t some cosmic catch-22. If reaching for enlightenment is the highest purpose, then survey a thousand pedestrians on what they want more than anything and how many would say “divine understanding?” Not many.
There is a calculated purpose, though, behind why countless methods of realizing our divine nature within a single lifetime have been known to humanity for millennia, such as Kriya Yoga or sun-gazing, yet go widely unheard-of in general. Delusion is mandatory for existence. Yes, the transcending of mind, a necessary step, is often misunderstood to mean forfeiture of critical thought, and this is one of many pitfalls, but the harder pill to swallow and the reason for epidemic ignorance is this: Without deception, without lies, there is no meaning to anything.
Contention 3: There IS a soul; the soul DOES reincarnate.
Imagine the soul this way: energy, the pulsating power rippling through existence, the animating essence behind your beating heart and thinking mind, is inherently incapable of being either created or destroyed, according to the first law of thermodynamics; this power that drives you is absolutely eternal. This notion, for many, is proof positive of the immortal soul and its propensity for reincarnation. For the “seeing is believing” mind of western understanding, there is Dr. Ian Stephenson’s Expansive study into reincarnation back in 1975, lauded by the Journal of the American Medical Association as a “painstaking and unemotional” collection of cases that were “difficult to explain on any assumption other than reincarnation.” This study has been a vital resource in the tipping of the collective scales toward acceptance of this ancient belief structure. European Cases of the Reincarnation Type is the title but the study continues.
Ok, so what are you getting at?
So on the pretenses here that enlightenment is the ultimate purpose of life, reincarnation is an absolute, and this life cycle will continue indefinitely until the soul realizes its oneness with all existence, let’s take this train of presumptions one step further. When Hunter S. Thompson took his life after the end of the 2005 football season, perhaps it was because he understood this great truth: like water and breath, entertainment and distraction are a finite resource. Man’s inability to sit with himself in a quiet room can be seen as the root of all modern man’s problems in a perfect way, because distraction itself serves only one enormous overarching purpose: delaying pain. And pain, further still, is what we feel when we fear what we’ll realize when there is nothing left to worry about. When there is nothing left to consider, you are simply a human “being” (not a human ‘doing’ or a human ‘having’), just being, or, in other words, enlightened. Entertainment, therefore, is our barrier to enlightenment.
Because we are all enlightened by default, all of civilization and its achievements can be seen as a massive distraction from this state of is-ness. When we are enlightened, the cyclical cosmic ride is over and we merge with the almighty oneness of existence, the Godhead. Here is the point. In order to perpetuate existence, collectively we must be distracted from the truth, because the truth is there is no existence (Descartes said, “I think, therefore, I am,” but I only think I am, therefore, I am what I think). If it seems at times that everything is a lie or too crazy to be true, that is because it is… Everything the senses perceive and interpret is a fabricated dream we are collectively creating to allow the Godhead (us) to experience itself as the illusion of less than everything. That old stoner question of “if God is so powerful, can he make a stone that not even He can lift,” has an answer: You are God, and you have told yourself the stone is too big so you can experience your only limitation, lack of limitation. Without believing the illusion that you are separate from the mountain, moving mountains makes no difference.
So what does any of this have to do with creation?
Creation, in every conceivable form, from writing a novel, doodling a stick-figure, building a desk, or amassing an empire, all expand the Godhead. Here’s how. Your unique experiential wisdom, through what you create, is transformed into a vessel for others to divine new relative wisdom, previously unexperienced.
When we consume escapism and distraction (TV, drugs, games, work, sex, anything at all), it eventually leads to boredom (“I’ve already seen this movie, heard this story, been here, done that a million times”). The boredom, in its beautiful necessity, drives us to create (a new game, new idea, new records and feats), adding to the collection of consumable distraction from is-ness for the hive. Rinse. Repeat. But every creation is meaningful in its own way, as a portal to move another into your same state of consciousness. This is why the greatest art wells up the strongest emotional charge.
Starting in the mid-60’s, Dr. David Hawkins lead a 40 year global kinesiological study on levels of human consciousness, with hundreds of thousands of subject. His findings systematically proved man’s divinity. His map of levels of consciousness (above), on a graded scale, showed how even the most ignorant of racist rants (terrible) holds value, because there is wisdom to be found for an audience of child-rapists (more terrible).
When we create, we activate a higher level of our minds, advancing ourselves. But through advancing ourselves, we contribute to the advancement of humanity as a whole via the ones we affect and the ripple effect. When Roger Bannister became the first in history to run a mile in under 4 minutes, he lifted a veil of possibilities that 36 others, in only the subsequent year, followed him beyond. When you create, the realm of the possible expands.
When you learn you have the power to move mountains, you’ll know you were already the one who put them there.
Jakob Boehme, a simple shoemaker born in the 15th century, suddenly realized one day that “God was a binary, fractal, self-replicating algorithm and that the universe was a genetic matrix resulting from the existential tension created by His desire for self-knowledge.”
Talk about incredible! A man whose education consisted of the Bible and proper sole curvature came up with a postulation that unifies religion and contemporary quantum theories of the universe during a stroke of intuition. The man has gone on to inspire such minds as Friedrich Nietzsche, to Georg Willhelm, to Philip K. Dick to Adam Weishaupt.
His work integrates, involves, and unifies kabbalah, alchemy, theosophy, sacred geometry, yin and yang, cosmology, and enlightenment.