In these modern times the mighty western civilization has swept across the whole world sidetracking many countries and people into materialism. But “as soon as a thing reaches its peak, it reverses its course.” In these countries people find that material gains and goods can’t solve many problems, especially not spiritual ones. This leaves many people puzzled. So we see Eastern philosophy and exercises gaining popularity, for instance Buddhism, Taoism, Yoga, Tai Chi, and Chi Kung.
After 10 years of teaching Tai Chi and Chi Kung to western people, both in Taiwan and Canada, I find there are very few people who persevere in their practice. In contrast, many Eastern people practice Zen Buddhism, Taoism, Yoga, Tai Chi, and Chi Kung their entire lives, making it a part of their life style. That’s why you can see so many old Yogis doing Yoga in India and seniors practicing Tai Chi & Chi Kung in parks in China & Taiwan. This is because they know there can be no substitute for practicing and the personal benefits are so great.
Here is a Zen story:
One day a person asked Zen master Jhaojoe, “May I ask, what is the meaning of Zen?” Jhaojoe answered, “I would very much like to tell you…but now I have to go urinate. Think about it. Even for such a trifling thing I have to do it for myself. May I ask whether you can do it on my behalf?”
So no matter what you want to learn; Buddhism, Taoism, the matters of life and death or Yoga, Tai Chi, and Chi Kung…for your health you have to rely on yourself. Others cannot do it for you. I always tell my students that when I stretch my body I get flexible. They cannot get the flexibility from me. It is the same with a Zen master. You can’t always get the answer from him or her because the answers are their own answers, not yours. Everyone has to find their own answers by themselves.