Holy Hole in a Donut, Batman! (I can’t believed it worked)

Yesterday, I couldn’t sleep out of anxiety.

Going through the same list I always complain about: I don’t like my job and its hours. I deal with family drama. My sleep cycle is messed up.

The main solution to my problems is a better job. I get a better job, with better pay, then all I have to do is move out. Once I move out, I can workout anytime I feel like and maybe even have some space to myself to rewire my crazy sleeping pattern.

But would that be possible? When I got back to the US and got stuck due to COVID, my parents told me to never teach English again. I am to work a real corporate job and move up the ladder to become supervisor, manager, or whatever. No more teaching English.

For the longest time, I applied to many other positions from New York to Taipei to see if they can hire me. No go, no dice. I might get an email saying, “Thank you very much and good luck with your job hunt” but that was about it.

A few weeks ago, I was resigned that the only way I can move out is to work as an English teacher in Asia. Don’t get me wrong, I love the work and I sure as hell enjoy it, but job growth is limited and very few can retire working as one if one does it as a career.

While I was willing to go back to English teaching, I was wondering if that’s all I can do with my life. Will I not be able to do anything else? Will I not be able to even have my own home, so to speak?

I decided to go on Linkedin and looked at the same jobs and companies I used to apply. Then three thoughts came into my mind:

  1. From Og Mandino’s The Greatest Salesman in the World, “I will persist until I succeed.”

  2. From the first Billy Jack film, The Born Losers, well . . . “I am born to lose.”

  3. From my mind, “If I apply to become company president, the worst that will happen is that my resume will get laughed at. So what the hell!”

There is this one company based in Bangkok I have been trying to apply for about a year and a half. Every time I applied for a position I thought I would excel at, I would get rejection after rejection. That night, I decided to apply to almost every open position I saw on Linkedin. I might have even applied for a senior management position which I had no business applying for!

Tonight, I was checking my email before I sleep and I got an email from the company. I was expecting the usual “Thank you for applying and have a nice day” type of drivel.

Instead, I got an email from the company saying they are interested taking the next step in my application!

I still cannot believe my eyes. I am amazed at how far I went with this throwing caution to the wind approach. Basically, I have to take an assessment test before I get an interview. I am hoping that I will pass for the round. Soon enough, I hope I can get that job and move to Bangkok.

Seriously guys, this is a dream job for me and I never expected that I would be able to take the next step. I hope it won’t be my last.

If it is my last, though, I will still be happy. To me this is a sign that things are looking up and that if I can get this far in the application process of this company, I might be able to get farther in an another one.

Change in plans, 4/23/2022

Photo by Kai-Chieh Chan on Pexels.com

I have this problem of being too ambitious and swimming against the stream when it comes to cultivation.

Once I start one cultivation practice, I want to do more and more until I am satisfied that I can cover all my bases when it comes to self-improvement. In a sense I am spoiled due to my past “successes”. When I came back from my first foray in Korea I was practicing Zen for hours a day, since I was unemployed. On my second time in Korea I spend 3 weeks at a martial arts temple and of course I was doing all sorts of practices which made my time there wonderful.

But reality is reality and, I guess in my case, people need me to pull me into their problems. This is especially how I might stay late for work or deal with family issues. Also, my sleeping pattern is still erratic. It’s getting better, but it is erratic. Without a decent amount of sleep, most of my practices would be too difficult for me to do.

It also doesn’t help that some of the practices I do involves time to overcome internal resistance. My meditation practice is a perfect example. Sure it takes me 15 minutes to meditate, but I have to give myself a pep talk in order to sit down and meditate. I feel great after I am done, but I still have to push myself to do it and that takes time.

Also, and as frivolous as it sounds, I need to have fun dammit! I have a pile of books that I want to read and I hardly ever get to do so. If anything, I miss lying around and getting lost in a story. I downloaded a bunch of games to play but I never play them. The same goes for the movies I possess. If work and family doesn’t suck up my time, my cultivation does.

Last week, I did some qigong but I mainly focused on the readings. This disappointed me as I want to live a more cultivated life in which I deal with life’s problems in a more elegant fashion. Lately, though, I had to stay up late due to work and other errands. Last weekend also sucked for me since I spent most of it sleeping.

So I am going to try something new. I am going to get myself back into cultivation, but in more harmony with my current obstacles. This means working with sleep, family, and job and not against it.

First and foremost, I will still keep up with the readings. I still want to see to through to the end to find out if it helps me change my life for the better.

I am still going to do qigong three times a day. Since stress seems to come naturally to me like mud to a pig, I have to keep on “cleaning” myself from all the drama so that I won’t let the pressure get to me.

I am still going to do the creative visualization work to help make my rival’s life a lot happier. I am also going to do the same for myself; one visualization when I get up and one before I sleep.

I am also flirting with the idea of mediating five minutes a day, twice a day. The same with doing an Asian calisthenics workout, a la Japan’s radio taiso, as well. I am also thinking of doing a sitting isometrics and stretching workout. For now, though, I am going to add them one week at a time so I won’t get too overwhelmed.

Oh, I have to be brutally honest. As much as I talk about finding a new job, my efforts have been lacking. This time I am going to go for broke. That’s also part of the reason why I am doing the creative visualization exercise for myself, to motivate myself to get going and stop wasting time!

The picture I posted above to remind me to keep the dream alive.

I’m back and what’s next

The traveling was a pain. The red tape getting into Canada and back into the US was a headache. All-in-all, though, I really enjoyed my vacation. I enjoyed my vacation so much that I even told my friend in Vancouver that I want to move there.

Of course, the thing about vacations is that they put me out of rhythm when it comes to self-cultivation.

For the Greatest Salesman Course, I did the readings once a day only and that was it. I am now getting myself back to the habit of doing the readings three times a day. I am also adding another 2 weeks of reading my current scroll.

Qigong is another matter. Originally I was planning to do qigong for 100 days straight to prove to myself that qigong is a good fitness system. I was practicing qigong everyday until halfway through the vacation I stopped. I have read somewhere that I need to do three days of qigong to make up for one day I missed. Since I stopped doing qigong for at least 5 days, that is at least 15 days for me to do qigong to make up the days I missed during vacation.

So why not start over?

It sucks that I didn’t do 100 days straight of qigong (yet), but I have been able to prove to myself that qigong is good and good for me. I am still surprised that I lost belly fat in the process!

This time, as I wrote before my vacation, I am going to do three different qigong sets three times a day: one I get up, during office hours, and before I sleep.

Also, I am going to meditate when I get up as well. I feel like I have been in a rut for some time and I need that meditation to help me get of out that and to see my life in a different perspective. I need new ideas to change my life and I need it pronto.

I am also getting myself back into the calisthenics workout. I don’t need it as much for weight loss or athleticism as much as I need it for the endorphins. To be brutally honest, I am getting annoyed at work almost everyday and I need a way to make myself happy before I lose control. Again , it doesn’t help that work-life balance is almost non-existent in my job.

Last, but not least, I am going to try something new. I am going to use creative visualization to send positive vibes to a work rival. Long story short, this rival hates me and I don’t know why. I do try to get along with her but she refuses to let go any and all ill-will towards me. I told her straight up that I don’t want to be her enemy, but she wants to be mine whether I want it or not. Story of my life as it’s the same with almost every other rival I deal with.

So every night before I sleep I am going to imagine that she will get a promotion with a huge raise. She will get that promotion and will move to a better city like New York or Paris with a sweet apartment for her. She will work less hours, make more money, and live that Instagram worthy lifestyle. Of course I will add an affirmation about how this or something better will manifest for her.

That I will do every night for 100 days. If somehow she does get that raise/promotion or that our workplace relationship improves then I can use this tool to deal with other people; whether I work in an American corporation or teaching English in Asia.

What I need to also address is reality. It’s great if I can do all these things everyday but I know I won’t.

Boss might schedule a meeting during the time I should be sleeping. I still have that coworker who expects me to clean up his mess. He’s getting better, but he still tells me something in the vein of “Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope.” Also, now that the weather is getting better I will probably be expected to spend more time working in the office as my coworkers will take their copious vacations. At the same time, my home and family life almost resembles a Hindi soap opera where small problems get blown out of proportion, especially during Hindu and American holidays.

So the question is what can I do about this?

My only answer is this: as long as I keep up the Greatest Salesman Course, get at least 1 qigong practice in a day, and do the creative virtualization work to help out my office rival then it should be good enough.

Until then, I just have to keep on going or as Og Mandino writes, “I will persist until I succeed.”

This Week and Next

Photo by Chait Goli on Pexels.com

As I have written on my last post, I am going to start doing qigong 3 times a day. The first qigong set I will do is the one from David Carradine which I have been doing for a little over the past month. I have mentioned before that I would occasionally do Lam Kam Chuen’s set from one of his Taiji (Tai Chi) books, that will be set number 2. Set number 3 will be this night time qigong routine from this young lady.

As per usual, I am also doing my readings for the Greatest Salesman Course. I am also reading a passage from Dharma Master Kim Jae Woong as well as the Daily Readings from the Buddha’s Words of Wisdom by Venerable Shravasti Dhammika. At the same time, I chant the Amitabha Buddha’s name as well.

And yes, I am making sure I meditate 15 minutes a day each time I wake up.

That is for this week.

Next week, I am taking a well-needed vacation and going to Vancouver and Seattle. I have a few friends I am going to visit on both sides of the US-Canadian border. What this means is that I won’t be cultivating myself as much as I would like and usually do. Not that I am complaining as one of my Canadian friends is planning a lot for us to do and I am like “F—k yeah! That’s great!”

Og Mandino writes in his book that I don’t have to keep up with the readings while on vacation. I just take my vacation and simply start where I left off when I return. The thing is, I still want to maintain some cultivation efforts while I am out. On the qigong front, it is important to never skip a day.

So on my vacation, I will do the readings at least once a day. Once I get back home I will add another week of the regular thrice daily readings. There is no way I can do qigong three times a day, but I can do that at least once a day. Also, one of my friends in Vancouver is getting into qigong so it might be a case of me trying out her set and then her trying out mine. That I am also excited about.

So if you don’t hear from me for a couple of weeks, you know why.

Thoughts on My Qigong Life, 2022年3月25日

There are four parts I want to write about. They will seem disjointed in a sense, but they are somewhat connected.

Part I

Doing the same qigong set day in and day out can be boring. That is why I have been thinking of using free weights once in awhile for variety.

I once asked my qigong teacher-consultant about this to which she advised against it. The main reason, she writes, is because of acupuncture and how my holding dumbbells will cover the laogong points on my palms. If I do qigong with weights, it’s weight training only and can’t be counted as qi training.

As much as I have disbelief in qi and acupuncture, I will respect her advice and not use weights. After all, she knows what she is talking about.

I also have been wanting to get back into conventional exercise. Yes the kind when one moves fast or exerts oneself as what many fitness enthusiasts do. Yes, I see the value of qigong and other slower workouts, but it feels good to sweat once in a while. Plus the endorphin feels great.

For some time, it seemed more feasible. My work hours have been stabilizing. The family drama has cooled down. While my sleeping is still erratic, I have been sleeping a lot better whenever I go into slumber.

Then reality has slapped me in the face again. Last weekend, I was going to start doing a calisthenics workout when I got called into a family meeting. It wasn’t a big deal but the meeting went on for awhile and I had other chores to do. A couple of days later, coworker decided to push a bunch of work on me and that caused me to stay in the office a lot longer. It did get me upset since I hardly have time during the week to do anything else. When do I read, write, play video games, watch TV, or anything else leisurely? During the weekends. In the weekdays, it’s wake up, do qigong, go to work, and then try to sleep to do it all over again. Of course, I am still doing the readings for the Greatest Salesman Course.

It seems to me that qigong is the only thing I can do and I really need to put more effort in getting a better job with better work-life balance.

One way that I decided to deal with this problem is making My Qigong Life more of a Qigong Life. I usually do qigong once a day, mainly when I wake up. I have started adding another qigong session when I get back home from work. As a way to deal with my workplace issues, and a way to turn the other cheek, I am planning to do another qigong session while at work.

Part II

One of the problems I have with my job is that coworkers sometimes like to create more work for others and I am usually the target. I had one who was a rival who tried to pile as much on me as possible and complain about how she is being overworked . . . while she leaves the office 30 minutes to an hour early while I stay 1-2 hours later. There is this one guy who used to hint that I am the laziest worker in the company and he also would leave me more work to do.

What gets to me is those two, as well as a lot of others, frequently take vacations. The dude who called me lazy took a vacation every two weeks last summer. The girl who complains of being overworked used to take a week long vacation once a month and I would be called to finish both her work and mine, this resulted in me working 60-70 hours that week.

Last summer and winter, a lot of people were taking vacations as well. That meant more time in the office for me. That was when I was feeling nothing but fatigue and ennui. Plus the weather is getting nice and there is a chance more people will take more vacations.

Thinking about all of this depressed me. I just want to go to the office, put my time in, and go home to do more important things. I sure as hell don’t want to make this job into anything more than that. Not only do I not care to move up the ladder, I don’t even want to think of my job when I am not working.

That was when I was thinking, if people want me to stay in the office for more than 8 hours, why not do so on my own terms? The worst that can happen is I get fired, but this means other people have to pick up the slack which many of them don’t want. Sure I have to get the work done, but it doesn’t really matter if I get it done in 8 hours or 12, as long as it is finished.

That was when I thought of the idea of doing a qigong session while in the office. If I am going to do a whole pile of work, I might as well do so in a relaxed manner. There is no use for me being stressed out while I am stuck in the office. I haven’t thought of what qigong set I am going to do, but once I decide I will get to it.

Another idea popped in as well. I like to read, but I hardly get a chance to do so except in the weekends. However, there is no guarantee that I can do so. Sometimes family drama manifests. Other times I am trying to catch up on some sleep. Sometimes I have chores to do that will take a huge chunk out of my day.

Again, since people at work want me to stay in the office for longer hours, why not use that time to do reading as well? My plan was to spend 45 minutes doing the work and then 15 minutes reading whatever I want.

In fact, I tried that yesterday. After every 45 minutes, I would crack open a book and do some reading.

I am glad I tried it out since made my shift go by a lot faster. Yesterday I read parts of two books on qigong and it gave me new ideas to try out to improve my practice. I also felt a lot more refreshed that I want to try reading novels as well.

Funny enough, because I committed to working 45 minutes every hour, I somehow got more productive than I usually would. I wasn’t aiming for higher productivity, but I am glad it worked out.

Speaking of which, I do plan to read up on emotional blackmail, but I am going to put it off for a couple of weeks. I have to get my taxes done, plus I have a vacation coming up. Yes, I complained about others taking vacations, but this is my only one of the year. Besides, I talked with one of my coworkers about mitigating some of the problems he would face when I am gone such as how he can get more done with less time.

Part III

I am going to be honest. As much as I talk about trying to get a new job, I have been lazy. My guess is qigong and the Greatest Salesman course both make me too relaxed and happy at the moments I do both.

This is where I am going to get angry. I am choosing to get angry so that I can get myself the energy and motivation to find better employment.

It worked before. I wrote about how I used to work with a guy named “Will” in this post and this other post. Will’s betrayal got me so angry, that it motivated me to work my ass off to get a new job in Korea. This job was also difficult to get as I had to go through many rounds of interviews, online courses, and essays. In the end it was worth it.

I am going to remember how that one coworker I wrote about in the beginning of this post piled on a bunch of work for me at the last minute, and how he was callous about it, so I push myself to find a better job so that I won’t have to deal with this BS ever again (or at least for a long time).

Part IV

I am going to start meditating every time I wake up. 

Thoughts on My Qigong Life, 2022年3月11日

 

All I can say is that I am glad that I am doing qigong. Sure I wake up all grumpy and tired, but once I practice qigong I feel a lot more alive and awake. I do have to say, sometimes I feel that “energy flow” coursing through my body. However, I don’t want to delude myself that all of a sudden I am feeling the Force like the Jedi.

Science is first and foremost on my mind. There are a lot of questions I have about the existence of qi and the formation of Chinese medicine. First and foremost, who discovered qi and how? Who came up with the system of meridians and how did said person or someone else found out, for example, one can heal the liver by rubbing a certain part of the foot? These are a small sample of questions I have.

That being said, qigong is a great exercise. This is especially a great exercise for those who don’t like it at all! Furthermore, if someone is out of shape and is too afraid to workout to an exercise video or run around the block, qigong is a great way to start. Before long, one might feel the urge to do something more vigorous.

The main theme of My Qigong Life is a combination of being grateful how things turn out and learning to make lemons into lemonade.

For instance, I really wanted to get myself moving fast and end up sweaty everyday to lose the fat and improve my health. Unfortunately, there are people at work that get me to stay longer on the job which means less sleep or waking up later than I would like. Thanks to this situation and those people, I was “compelled” to really focus on qigong practice. I did like qigong as a supplementary practice and never saw it as a viable physical fitness option. Now I do and I am very glad for it.

I don’t want to bring up a sore subject, but I need to for my next point. So a couple of days ago I wrote a post about a racist issue I was facing, especially teaching English over in Asia. Due to that, and my current efforts in resolving this issue, I find myself feeling more stressed out that unusual. Because of this, I am now doing qigong twice a day. I do qigong when I get up and when I finish work.

I have been wanting to practice twice daily for sometime now and this horrible situation is giving me the push to do so. In fact, Sifu Anthony Korahais recommends this as well so I am glad that I am finally getting myself to do this.

As Japanese monk Nichiren once said, I am “turning poison into medicine”.

I try to separate My Qigong Life from my study into the Greatest Salesman course, but sometimes they do overlap. This month, I am focusing on building tenacity and persistence from Og Mandino’s book. The phrase I often repeat myself is “I will persist until I succeed.” It’s giving me the push to keep on doing qigong, to deal with my racial problem, and to really go for finding that new job.

More often than not, as I am counting down the days to finishing this 100 day qigong challenge, I ask myself what next. I love qigong now, but I am not renouncing other forms of physical fitness. If anything, I want to incorporate both. Maybe I can do my calisthenics workout after I wake up and then qigong before I sleep. Maybe I can do a more physical workout an hour a day, three times a week and qigong at night. Also, I also want to try Ba Duan Jin with dumbbells, too.

I don’t know at this point, I just have to think up a plan I can stick with. As it is, insomnia is a problem. Family drama can erupt, but things seem to have settled down. Work is also a wildcard and I might have to put more hours in to cover other people when they go on vacation. The question is always can I stick to the plan without any hitch?

Who knows? I do hope that I can change my job before then, though. Work-life balance is an uphill battle for me.

How’s it going 3/9/2022

사랑합니다

I know my last post on racism is not the most comfortable thing to read, but the uncomfortable truth is that racism exists. It’s not something I like to talk about, but it is a thing in our lives. Also, how is it I can talk about Buddhism and not address the issues in our society? The whole point of studying Buddhism is to learn how to deal with such problems. All too often, many people who practice and study Buddhism delve into metaphysics and forget that even the Buddha himself eschewed that type of talk.

In fact, there was a story in the Malunkyaputta Sutta in which a monk named Malunkyaputta expressed his dissatisfaction of the Buddha and his teachings. The Buddha asked why and his student went on saying that the Buddha never taught him things like how did life begin, how was the world created, will it be destroyed, and other esoteric questions. The Buddha bluntly told the student that he was not interested in those questions. The Buddha was more interested in understanding the sufferings of our daily existence and how to transcend them.

To this I agree and this is one aspect I love about Theravada teachings over the Mahayana. Metaphysical debates are fine, but in the end all of the teachings of Buddhism should gear towards how to deal with life’s problems. We have relationship problems, problems at work, problems at home or with family, problems with money, problems with our mind, and so on. Racism is one of those problems and, unfortunately, is rarely spoken about in the Buddhist community. I can go on talking about some of the racists issues I have seen over the years, but this would require a longer discussion.

Speaking of my own problems . . . .

I have to admit, that when I wrote about certain people as being toxic White saviors, that perhaps I am seeing things in not the most correct angle and maybe race doesn’t have anything to do with our dynamic. However, I cannot say for certain. At the moment, I will keep the appellation as it is since they did talk to me the way British colonials talked to Indians centuries before; as in how it is unfortunate that we Indians are born as Indians and raised in our backwards Indian ways, that we need the British to civilize us and abandon our culture.

Again, I must emphasize that I don’t think all White people are like this and there are always bad examples in every race. If anything, I feel fortunate that I have friends from different races and ethnic backgrounds as it made life more interesting and fun. Having friends from all walks of life truly makes the world my oyster.

For that matter, I don’t think all British people back then looked down upon us. Hell, there were more than a few who got into Hindu philosophy and yoga before it was cool.

Now that I have wrestled with this revelation of the past conflicts I had with certain people, I am going to do something about it.

This week, I am still writing the signs of what to look out for in terms of someone with a toxic savior complex.

Next week, I plan to restart and actually finish the book Emotional Blackmail by Dr. Susan Forward so that I have the strategies I need to deal with controlling people.

As much as that realization of the problem angered me it has given me a sense of peace. Before then, whenever I got mistreated by certain individuals I was always told it was my fault. Either I was too diffident or too confident. Either I was a nice guy or I come off as too cocksure. Either I am too compliant or that I stand out too much. Ultimately, it has less to do with me and more to do with them. That took a lot of pressure off of me.

I believe very strongly that everyone has the right to do whatever they want as long as it doesn’t harm themselves or others and doesn’t disturb other people. For example, I don’t go around punching others because it harms other people. I don’t play music too loud as it disturbs others. However, if I am in bus and sitting alone doing silent meditation and someone else complains, that’s their issue since I am not bothering anyone.

(Funny enough, that did happen. I was sitting alone in the third row of the bus and the person sat all the way at the end. Yet despite me not making any noise and sitting far from her, she complained constantly of my meditation even though she could simply ignore me and talk to her friends.)

Furthermore, as per Og Mandino’s instructions from last month, every time I think about those with a savior complex who tried to control my every move, I think to myself “__________, I love you.” In Dharma Master Kim Jae Woong’s book, Polishing the Diamond, he advises to say something like “I wish _______________ finds his/her Buddha-nature, so that s/he can serve the Dharma well. Barwon [or perhaps Sadhu?]!”

I am doing that. It is helping me take the edge off of the anger, but I still have to examine how those people acted and read up on how to prevent further manipulation.

Or as someone in the internet once said, “Do no harm, but take no shit.”

Martial Art Style Wars Revisited

One feature of the martial arts community is the style war. For those who don’t know, the style war is how practitioners of one style put down and degrade those who do a different martial art.

You can see this in martial arts films, especially with a nationalist bent. You can see this in internet forums or the comments sections in many sites. Even though it is isn’t the main theme, the style war is the foundation of many fighting games such as Street Fighter and Tekken.

I’ve experienced this on my own. First as a university student, with a wushu club. I even had people pick a fight with me in a coffee shop. Also, when I was working in China as an English teacher, I had a coworker who hated me for doing Taekwondo. There are many more incidents that I have yet to write about in that regard.

The first issue that has to be addressed is the most hackneyed and cliched phrase that everyone says: It’s not the art but the artist.

On that end, I can say that is a fact. My Taekwondo skills are quite mediocre, but I know some Taekwondo practitioners whose skills are very lethal. They were/are in good shape, have a killer instinct, and they really did a number on me when I fought them in a sparring/tournament context. I can never forget the face of the man who almost broke my sternum in this one tournament. Thanks to him, I couldn’t breathe properly for almost 3 months. Thanks to my chest protector, I am still alive.

For that matter, Brazilian Jiu-Jutsu has the reputation of being a very effective martial art, if not almost invincible. Yet, Japanese pro-wrestler Kazushi Sakuraba has defeated many members of the Gracie family, the creators of the Jiu-Jutsu style. That is why Sakuraba has earned the nickname “The Gracie Hunter”.

Nevertheless, the style war is an enduring and toxic area of the community and that’s why I want to discuss this.

One of the main problems with martial arts is that they are seen as religions.

Martial arts have no priestly class, prayers, or holy books. Nonetheless, due to history and traditions, each style has its own canon of techniques as well as dances/kata. A lot of styles, especially before the rise of Mixed Martial Arts, would even forbid the mixing of techniques from other ones.

As a result, each art has become heavily codified.

The history of Europe, the Middle East, and even parts of Asia are littered with holy conflicts of one religion trying to destroy another. Nowadays, there are many people who rather just stick to their own faith and not care about the religion or lack thereof of their friends and neighbors. Yet, due to that history of holy wars, there is still that vocal populace who still feel that their religion above all else must prevail.

The same can be said for martial artists. There are those who like doing what they are doing and have no problems with those who practice a different style. However, there is still that vocal group that express the superiority of their way and that others who practice differently should be ashamed of themselves. If you tell those type of people you practice a different art, they will interpret your statement as saying that their style is inferior.

I have had many encounters in which I told someone, in a friendly tone, that I love Taekwondo and other person took on a hostile attitude.

People who watch or play baseball never get into fights with those who watch or play football. So why is this a phenomena in martial arts?

One obvious answer is insecurity, which is also the answer to why people act the bully. They feel afraid of other people so that they need to project an image of intimidation. Funny enough, many who practice martial arts were once victims of school bullying, so it is possible they might have picked up on that behavior as a coping mechanism.

Another possible factor is nationalism. One aspect of Asian culture I have noticed living in both South Korea and China is the dim view many have of other Asian nationalities. I’ve heard Koreans say rude remarks about the Japanese and Chinese as well as the Chinese about Koreans and Japanese. Therefore, it is possible for a Chinese Kung-Fu master to disparage Taekwondo mainly because Taekwondo came from Korea and vice versa. Many British Asians, Asian-Americans, Asian-Canadians, and so on thankfully do not think this way as they all were raised in melting pot nations. However, there are those who still carry their cultural prejudices.

On the same vein, nationalist martial arts movies are also a factor. Not only do they use the style war as a plot device, they also use it as a way to prop up one’s cultural superiority over the other. One example of this is “The Way of the Dragon” starring Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris in which the Chinese heroes renounce their practice of Japanese Karate and even used Kung-fu to defeat an evil Japanese man and his American counterpart. The problem here is that the general populace see martial art movies as documentaries. I have known many non-practitioners pick up a lot of misconceptions because of watching those kinds of films.

(Of course, Mixed Martial Art competitions such as the UFC also brought about the proliferation of arm-chair martial artists)

Finally, and going back to the religion metaphor, some martial arts schools and organizations operate as cults. There is this all-knowing Soke or Shifu that everyone must worship, not just respect. There is an us-vs-them mentality and an elitist culture. There is also an enemy martial art/artist/organization that everyone must hate. Some also have no room for a personal life or autonomy. You might even get denigrated or kicked out for studying a different martial art. While incorporation of Asian culture seem cultish to the general public, it is not a sign of a cult.

I can go on, but if you are interested to know the signs of a cult, this article is a good start. I should know since I was part of a Buddhist cult.

While we’re at it, Bruce Lee is Jesus.

While Jesus is the central figure of Christianity, Jesus is also beloved by practitioners of different faiths. In Islam and Baha’i, Jesus is considered a prophet. Jesus is also beloved by segments of the Jewish, Hindu, and Buddhist population. Yet, despite how almost-universally Jesus is loved by many people no one can agree on Christ’s teachings.

While Bruce Lee is very popular and beloved in the Greater Chinese world of martial artists, martial artists from other parts of the world also highly regard him. Yet, despite how almost-universally Bruce Lee is loved by many martial artists, no one can agree on Lee’s teachings. This is despite the fact that we can easily access Bruce Lee’s writings and talks!

What I find really strange is that Lee was never into style wars and was willing to learn from other fighters when developing his martial art of Jeet Kune Do. While he mainly practiced Wing Chun Kung-Fu, he learned from boxers to develop his punches. He studied a little fencing for footwork. He also used body weight exercises from Indian wrestling. There is a rumor that he learned some Taekwondo kicks from Jhoon Rhee and I would not be surprised since Wing Chun doesn’t use the kicks Lee is famous for. Right before Lee passed away, he was heavily involved in Filipino martial arts.

Then again, just like how everyone does not follow Christ’s teachings, not everyone follows Lee’s. I will sound like a hypocrite, but I disagree with Bruce Lee’s view on the kata/martial dance. So there is that.

Unfortunately, due to martial arts’ “religious” nature, these people not only take it personally if someone does a different martial he or she also makes moral judgments. The other person might be judged as weak, childish, or even immoral for choosing the “wrong” martial art.

One of the links I put on the beginning of the post is about a coworker I met in China. He hated me for doing Taekwondo and talked me into learning Ninjutsu* from him. Despite my willingness to give up Taekwondo and learn his art, he still used my Taekwondo past as an excuse to continue his abusive behavior.

What my erstwhile coworker did not recognize is that the reason why he could choose Ninjutsu over Taekwondo was because he lived in Sydney and could get to his school by the metro. I lived in a small town in New England and only Tang Soo Do, Taekwondo, and Hapkido were available in my area. Funny enough, despite the copious amount of Korean martial arts in my area, there were no Korean restaurants or grocery stores, haha.

What my erstwhile coworker also did not recognize as to why I also stuck to Taekwondo was because when I tried to take another martial art in college, I got vilified for it. For that matter, his vilification also made me wary of getting back into Ninjutsu training.

One time an old college friend was pushing me into learning his style of Kung-Fu even going so far to tell me Taekwondo is bullshit. What he did not understand nor recognized is that Taekwondo saved me from committing suicide. Part of the reason I wanted to kill myself was because that coworker messed with my brain parts to a point that I felt both worthless and hopeless.

Then again, that’s how judgmental people are. They prefer to condemn rather than to listen to what the other person has to say. They prefer to assume negative intent from other people than do the brave thing and ask: Why do you do what you do?

I used to write a lot about that coworker in China, though in the end he has taught me a valuable lesson in developing thick skin. I even remember the nights I would train by myself only to look around me and realized that he (as well as other haters) were not around anymore. I gave up Taekwondo to please them and are not friends with them anymore. Had I stuck to my style and kept practicing despite their insults, would things be any different?

That is probably the only solution to this whole issue. The best thing to do is to not care what others say when in training. It is best to understand that people have their opinions and that some take their opinions more seriously than others; that if they want to start drama over a martial art they will. Also, if they hate a martial art very much, it is almost difficult to change their minds.

In that sense, it is one lesson I learned from the whole style war mess. It took a long time for me to learn this lesson, but I am glad I did.

If there is one regret I have, it’s that I never challenged those people to a sparring match. No, I don’t mean to spar against them and win. I would spar against them, lose, and then go back to training the way I want to train while those jerks walk around with their satisfied egos.

There is one last thing I want to say about the style war before I end this very long post.

Martial arts are competitive by nature. The whole idea of training in one, especially when all of them were founded from time immemorial, is to be sure one can defend him or herself or win in a fight. Since that is the case, why would a fighter want another fighter to learn his or her art if that gives the opponent the chance of winning?

Let’s say Brazilian Jiu-Jutsu is truly invincible and Taekwondo is actually ineffective. Wouldn’t the Brazilian Jiu-Jutsu fighter want the other guy to stick to Taekwondo so that said fighter could always ensure victory?

On a strategic standpoint, style wars are stupid.

*Yeah, I learned some Ninjutsu but not enough to even qualify as a white belt. So keep your pants on.

So yeah, I really need to workout

A couple of days ago, I wrote about how last week was rough on me. Nothing remarkable happened. They were the usual gripes I have been having: working, very little time to cultivate myself the way I want, lack of adventure and excitement that I had before the pandemic. The usual set of complaints.


However, what I lacked the most last week was exercise. I didn’t work out at all until Sunday. Then I realized why I needed to exercise, it helps me endure this boring phase in my life and even enjoy it.


Here’s where I talk about one of the few aspects of Nichiren Buddhism I agree with.
In Nichiren and Tendai Buddhism, it is said that we inhabit these ten worlds in our lives. These ten worlds mainly correspond to our emotions. Most of the time, external stimuli tend to push us into each of those worlds.


For example:


You wake up in the morning you are all grumpy from a bad dream or bad night’s sleep. You woke up in hell. You got yourself some coffee, now you are feeling okay. Not bad, but not good, very neutral. Now you are in the realm of human beings. You decided to go out for a run around the block. After your run, you feel damn good. You are now in heaven. After your shower, you feel hungry. Now you are in the ghostly realm. After you eat and get to work, the first person you talk is Gina. You like her because she has a good sense of humor. Back to heaven again. Next person you see is that jerk Elmo who always manages to put you in a bad mood, the realm of anger.


You get the idea. Whenever we encounter a positive or negative stimuli, it could put us in a good or bad mood which corresponds to the “world” we inhabit at the moment.


However, the reverse can also be true. Our reality can also be influenced by our state of being.
If you are in the realm of anger, all bad news becomes worse and even good news could ignored or be interpreted as bad. One day you are driving to work and someone cuts you off, you start thinking all of humanity is doomed to stupidity. You might get a text from your crush asking you to dinner, and the next you know it you are thinking that your crush is probably not worth your time anyways.


I can speak from experience. Many years ago, I visited a friend of a friend in Dalian. It is a city in Liaoning province, northeast of Beijing in China. It was a very beautiful city and very clean. My friend and his wife lived in a nice apartment. They even got me pizza which I love. Also, since modeling is huge over there, I saw lots and lots of beautiful women.


Yet I was miserable at that time because my girlfriend and I weren’t getting along and I was too preoccupied with trying to improve our relationship.


If you are in the realm of heaven, then all good news are great news and are problems pretty easy to resolve if they are not problems at all. For example, you get a text from your crush asking you to dinner, and now you feel the world is right. One day you are driving to work and some guy cuts off, you start thinking, “It’s a nice day, why bother getting bothered over this?”


Here’s where I speak from experience. It was the lockdown of 2020. I was supposed to go back to Thailand, but I lost my job and got stuck living at home in virtual house arrest. The year before I could go out drinking with my friends or I can travel to see nice cities or temples whereas now I had to stay put. Plus, there was my girlfriend in Bangkok who eventually dumped me.


Yet, for the most part I was feeling good. Sure I wasn’t happy at my situation but I was dealing with it the best way I can. Even when my girlfriend dumped me, I was sad for a bit but I let her go and wished her well. Why was this? Most of the time I was either meditating, doing qigong, or working out all three which made me feel good about living.


That’s the whole crux of the matter. How do we get and keep ourselves at a higher level of thinking or (as some people say it) a “higher vibration”?


If you ask many Nichiren Buddhists, chanting their mantra will get you there. Yet, there are other alternatives. Getting lost in your favorite activity helps. So does hanging out with your friends or your pets. Affirmations work as well as meditation and your choice of prayer. Some go for yoga and others jogging. For me? It’s cardio and qigong that helps out.


Last week, when I felt too miserable for words, I didn’t exercise at all nor did I do qigong. However, Sunday and today I made sure to workout and do qigong which made a world of difference. Do I want to change my life for the better? Yes. Am I depressed about how things are? Definitely no.


So therein lies my incentive to keep exercising and not skip out on qigong ever again.


If there is one advice I have for you, it is to find your happy. Find what makes you happy and never stop doing it. See to it that you revisit/redo what makes you happy so that you can get a proper perspective on your life, your dreams, and your goals.

What about my Buddhist practice?

ผมรักประเทศไทยรักมากมาก Photo by Alex Azabache on Pexels.com

This coming Sunday I will start studying Og Mandino’s Greatest Salesman course and also devote time to qigong. While it won’t be the forefront of my cultivation, I will also still make time for Buddhism.

So obviously I am done with Nichiren Buddhism. There were times I enjoyed the practice, but most of the time I didn’t. I still think it was due to my previous life as an SGI member. Would I go back to practicing Nichiren Buddhism? Possibly, but more likely no. I still have this crazy belief, though, that practicing this form of Buddhism does help absolve my negative karma as my life goes south whenever I do start practicing. Therefore, I might practice this form of Buddhism once a week to absolve some of it rather than everyday to absolve all.

Besides, I would like to also create good karma and acquire the wisdom to do so even in bad times.

I would like to meditate as well, whether in the context of Zen or Theravada. I would also like to meditate in the context of Creative Visualization. Unfortunately, the future is always in question as to when I can do so without interruptions. A couple of days ago, for example, my boss scheduled a Zoom meeting to be taking place during my free time.

The only form of Buddhism that I plan to enact is Pure Land.

Pure Land, for those who don’t know, is a type of practice in chanting the name of the Amitabha Buddha in order to reach the Western Heaven. The whole idea behind this practice is that it is too difficult for us to be enlightened on this Earth, so we’re better off going to Heaven and get enlightened there. Pure Land Buddhists are told to chant at least 10 times a day, but there are those who advocate chanting 25 hours a day and 8 days a week.

Do I believe in such a place? I am agnostic on it. I have no idea happens when we die since I haven’t died yet. I am also opposed to chanting the mantra all the time. It’s good to chant for a few minutes, but all the time sounds ridiculous to me. Also, I came cross some information from a Pure Land youtube channel that somewhat disturbs me and I might want to write about it soon enough.

What I do know is that I do enjoy chanting the name and enjoy spending a few minutes of silence after chanting. What I also like about the Pure Land practice is that it serves to remind me of my mortality and that I should not waste time on stupid things. What I also love is the simplicity of the practice.

As part of studying Og Mandino’s work I have to read these essays or “scrolls” three times a day. Before I read the scrolls, I will also chant the name of Amitabha Buddha 10 times. This means I will chant 30 times a day.

Do I expect anything out of this Buddhist practice? No, but I don’t mind.

 

Perhaps if I chant the name of Amitabha Bachchan, maybe I can be as manly as him. He one time fought a bunch of gundas with a fine bottle of scotch.