So I was talking to a fellow Kung-Fu practitioner who I've known for a long time. He was telling me how he felt like he was in a state where he was not allowed to scream, go crazy, vigorously and physically vent out his frustrations...that he always had to keep them bottled or "filtered".
By having done so much bottling and filtering, he said he felt like he has had the joy of life sucked out of him and thrust into an existential vacuum.
He said, "life keeps getting harder and harder, I'm being becoming duller and duller of a person, and I keep getting sadder and sadder, because I lost my confidence in my ability to handle it all."
I told him, "I know what you mean, I have had some major life changes, but I'm making a concerted effort to being positive and thankful for everything that I do have."
He replied, "If I were to try to put a positive spin and attempt a happy disposition, I'd really be wearing a mask. It's kind of like trying to improve my Kung-Fu techniques by wearing a different uniform."
I got engaged into the dialogue instantly. "So what do you need to do to improve your techniques?"
He: Improve the foundation.
Me: What's the first thing you have to do to improve your foundation?
He: Figure out what I'm doing wrong, or what's missing.
Me: And then?
Me: So how is your life circumstance any different?
He: I guess it's because I haven't figured out what is wrong or what's missing.
Me: I don't know if that's it, though.
Me: We both come from Taoist philosophies, that is physical manifestation of our training, no?
He: Haha, well, to say that it is instantly negates it, but I get what you're saying.
Me: So, ultimately, we know whatever in life happens, is what it is. And we have to be fine with it.
He: So to be able to blend with any change that life thrusts on us...yeah I get that. But still.
Me: Well, yes and no.
He: Of course, that's the Taoist answer!
Me: Haha, no no, this is more concrete than that actually. It's actually the opposite of the blending and adaptability you were talking about. What's the opposite of adaptability?
Me: Right, because changing implies movement. Unchanging implies?
He: Haha stillness.
He: Uh, so in order to deal with changing and difficult life circumstances, I have to inflexible, unchanging of my ways? I don't get that - then how do I cope, if my current mechanism is broken?
Me: If you're in wavy waters, you stand in a solid Front Stance, and a wave comes, do you fall or do you stay standing?
Me: You're allowing yourself to interact, when the only motion you need to exert is stillness.
He: I get it. I suppose it's one thing to be able to have a still mind in a quiet room, but the real test is can you maintain a still mind when you're in the middle of 5pm traffic.
Me: Pretty much.
He: So basically I need to do more Tai Chi.
Me: Well, there's a time to interact and a time to be still.
He: Actually, I disagree. I think there is an ultimate - that is to be able to interact with stillness.
Me: True, I do agree with that, however, if we have not mastered stillness, we cannot interact with stillness. If we cannot demonstrate pure stillness, ie, holding that Front Stance against the most vigorous wave, it may not be a good idea to try interacting just yet.
He: So I have to train my stillness.
Me: Yes, but training stillness doesn't mean to stop listening to yourself, either. Part of attaining stillness requires you to listen to yourself - not with judgement, just to listen. Do certain things make you sad? What does it mean to be sad? Do certain things anger you? What does it mean to be angry?
He: That sounds like Krishnamurti! haha
Me: Haha! And if Krishnamurti heard you say that, he would probably say, "Why do you feel a need to attach my name to anything?"
Anyways, our conversation went much longer and deeper than this, but this was the crux. But the heart of it is that if emotion leads to thought, which leads to action, let's examine where this emotion comes from. Our temptation is to stay fixated on the thought part, and over analyze, over-reason, over-spin everything...when we really need to understand the emotion that got us to the thought in the first place.
I'll stop here! lol