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Luohan anyone?

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  • Luohan anyone?

    Anyone practising any of the different luohan forms as a spiritual practice? Perhaps parallell to Chan meditation?
    Luohan =arhat, is there a reason the term is used?

  • #2
    Sal Canzonieri, in "The hidden history of the Chinese Internal Martial Arts", writes "Shaolin Luohan Quan, ..........., all represent a very ancient history of Chinese martial arts that are associated with health and mental well-being besides physical fitness and self defence. "
    This mental well -being, which I equate with spiritual training, can be practiced in different ways.
    Chan is known for focusing on the essense of the mind. One such example is Silent Illumination as taught by Chan Master Shen Yen.
    This method is used without frustration.
    Undoubtetly one can also use the koan path using frustration to build up doubt, a method used in many spiritual tradition (including christianity) to get a spiritual breakethrough.
    Or, in line with daoist tradition, one can combine moving, standing and sitting practices to open up the internal channels in the body, learn to use the three dantiens and so forth.

    Question is, which of these approaches is most relevant to the luohan methods originating in Shaolin?


    • #3
      What is then this spiritual stuff? Do I start bathing in Qi and then become one with the universe?

      Well, my feet are still firmly planted on the ground. But there is quite a lot of meaningful work that can be done. As for me, working in a psychiatric clinic, the road goes through balancing the emotions and the mind.

      Take the exercise The martial monk pushing the grind stone, from Shaolin Lohan Drangoon Qi Gong, taught under the name of Shaolin Luohan Zhuang Kung by Shi De Hong and also part of other Shaolin Systems.
      First you learn the movement. Weight forward, hand forward. Weight back, hand back. And then, the mind must inhabit the body. Think mindfulness, think Satipatthana sutra. You learn to feel the body, your body.
      Can you feel how the legs connect to the torso, and the torso to the arms. Can you move everything in unison? Liuhe, the external harmonies followed by the internal harmonies.
      Can you sink the Qi?
      The head is heavy, its weight rests on the neck. The arms are heavy, the shoulder girdle rests on the thorax. The upper body rests on the waist , the torso rests on the hit-joints, and the feet spreds out on the ground.
      When stressed, worrying or having anxiety, your body and mind tend to move towards fight and flight reactions. Your autonomic nerve system move towards sympathetic activation, your mind starts to search for danger, and the muscular work is geared towards lifting you up.
      This is no good. So instead in your practice you create a different behaviour, that of sinking which de-activate fear reactions.
      Add breathing 4-7 breaths per minute, and continue being mindful with continuous and unbroken focus, and both body and mind shifts towards a more relaxed and social state.

      This is a good start on a journey that might lead to more striking power, better mental health, or why not your chosen version of spirituality.


      • #4
        Moving further in to the realm of emotional well-being :

        Having your back straight, turning your attention inwards an changeing upward-moving muscular behaviour, you are now ready to move on to releasing emotions.

        When doing the movement, in this case moving the grind stone, is there in any part of your body something that does not feel right? If you focus, can that be interpreted as an emotional reaction?

        That can be experienced as an impulse to push away, or that your body wants to contract, or some sensation in your internal organs.
        Can you stay with the experience and work with it until it releases on its own accord?
        If so, you are releasing old emotional reactions, moving to a state when you are not bound by them.

        What happens if you try the exercise with a partner, doing martial applications?
        Any emotions? Can you release them either in practice or afterwards?
        Rest, continue another day, until all emotions connected to this exercise are released.

        This method is used in traumatherapy as well as in a gradual spiritual training regimen.

        Anyone using any Luohan system in this way? Or in a similar way?


        • #5
          If you browse through kung-fu forums, you might find a general dislike towards the spiritual side of the martial arts. And there is a point to this. If you want to be a martial arts hero, a genuine kung-fu fighter, a teacher focusing on this aspect will be of little help. And a teacher not knowing the difference between teaching a fighting art and a spiritual art will eventually make a fool of him/herself.
          But if you have had the unfortune of experience violence, this aspect of the traditional CMA might appeal to you.
          Above else, if it is useful, pursue it. If not, do something else.


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