But not Ultimate
shramanera Kuo Ehr
Off and on I have had
doubts about practicing T'ai Chi Ch'uan and although many people have
benefited from doing it, I had heard of none who had transcended birth and
Even more puzzling was the
short lifespan of two of the most accomplished T'ai Chi Ch'uan Masters--Yang
Pan Ho (first son of the founder of the Yang School, Yang Lu Chan) and Yang
Chen Fu (Great grandson of Yang Lu Chan). The former lived 53 years and the
latter 55. This contradiction (since T'ai Chi is supposed to promote good
health and longevity) coupled with the apparent lack of peace and tranquility
in the T'ai Chi Masters I have come in contact with made my doubts stronger.
T'ai Chi is a combination
of martial art and Yoga which ideally transcends fighting and transforms the
body and mind. The body becomes cotton-soft on the outside and steel-hard on
the inside. The mind attains the sagely state. The ideals as stated in the T'ai
Chi Ch'uan Classics certainly are fine, but has anyone attained them? The life
of Master Chen Wei Ming will give some answers.
Master Chen, during his
youth, was sickly and began doing T'ai chi Ch'uan to improve his health.
Through proper instruction and perseverance in his practice, his health
improved and he mastered the Art of T'ai Chi Ch'uan. At the age of 60 he was
living in Shanghai and because of his skill, the little-known art became widely
respected and many students came to study with him. At that time, the person
from whom I learned about Master Chen was a student of the Master's and received
instruction in his home outside of Shanghai. Over a two-year period in
weeklong intervals, he received private instruction and witnessed the behavior
of the Master. He relates that on the two-hour ride from Shanghai to his home.
Master Chen sat in full-lotus posture meditating. The days of his residence
began with two hours of sitting meditation followed by one hour of walking
recitation of the Buddha's name. Afterwards the Master himself did T'ai Chi
Ch'uan and then began instruction.
For many years this routine
was Master Chen's standard practice and at the age of 80 he knew beforehand
when he would depart this world. Three weeks prior to leaving he assembled his
family and instructed them, "I am going to die in three weeks. From now
on, no talking. Don't disturb me." He then increased his sitting
meditation and Buddha-recitation and after two weeks passed he instructed that
only water be given to him--no food.
On the day of
departure—three weeks as predicted—he bathed himself, put on fresh clothes,
and called in his whole family. At that time he individually instructed each
one in an appropriate manner and when finished, he told them a11 to recite the
Buddha's name with him aloud, saying that now he was going to depart. After a
few minutes, with the words "Namo A Mi Two Fwo" (Namo Amitabha
Buddha) on his lips, he left this world for the Western Land.
I am happy to report that
at least one T'ai Chi Master had some real kung fu—but not from reliance on
T'ai Chi Ch'uan alone. Many masters of T'ai Chi Ch'uan believe in the Buddha,
because they have entered a mysterious and inconceivable, realm and realize its
vastness. But few truly follow the Buddha's teachings. How rare are those with