Full text of Shaolin master Shi Heng Yi’s talk titled “Life Beyond Knowledge” at TEDxYouth@LakeManalapan conference.
Listen to the MP3 Audio here:
Shi Heng Yi – Shaolin master
Good morning, good evening, good afternoon to everyone. May these sharings bring benefit to all beings today and of all times.
Some of us are still lucky, having parents, a teacher or a mentor that are sharing with us their knowledge and experience, and give us guidance. But there will be the moment when the only person left to rely on is yourself. It is, therefore, my first suggestion to question and ask yourself, “How can I learn to properly navigate without guidance?”
In the previous talk, my aim was to encourage people to spend some time investigating the different mental states that your mind can find itself in. With the proper methods and a dedicated amount of practice, you will be able to develop and cultivate yourself in such a way that your mind regains the ability to discover and realize things that you haven’t been able to see before.
Now, just take a moment to imagine. You’re the captain on the ship located on the vast ocean. What you are facing is stormy weather, dark and heavy clouds; and the ship is carried along the up and downs of the waves. In such a situation, I strongly trust that it is not enough to purely rely your actions on intellectual knowledge. It is a great asset if you are able to learn and read the signs of the ocean, and be able to see the chances that are beyond any learned knowledge.
To sharpen the senses and being able to see possibilities beyond what the eyes are able to see, this truly is a sign of right knowledge.
Now, not everyone wants to become a sailor, and not everyone is facing the same circumstances and the same situations, but there are methods and there are insights that can make it possible and easy for us to safely find our way. In order to shed light to the world, indeed, there is a saying, “There is one earth that we are living on, but billions of different worlds are existing on it.”
Before we continue to go deeper into the possibilities, let me introduce you to the world where I am coming from.
When is the time that I can influence my life? When is the time that I can direct my life? It is exactly NOW. The greatest challenge, but also the most difficult one, that will bring out the most outstanding discoveries is to cultivate and master yourself.
To regain control, we must train the mind to be more present, to live in the here and now, and to find the answers within ourselves. To perceive every moment as they are, and to feel the most subtle changes within, to continuously work on it; that is the essential practice.
What does my body? What do my feelings want to tell me right now? The martial art is an instrument; an instrument able to teach us many things about ourselves and about the way of life. All practices have one single goal – to regain balance. Starting step-by-step, with the small things in life, and to implement these principles with the purpose of bringing out the best of ourselves. The master guides the way, but the student walks him.
There are many ways for the expression of the Shaolin way of life; it can be calligraphy, it can be the Buddhist practices. But the most well-known expression today, is the martial arts. Regardless of their appearance, the ultimate goal remains the same; it is to explore and discover the potential that lies within the human body, and especially mind.
Our body is regarded as the vehicle that transports us from place to place. Therefore, a great amount of time is dedicated to the practice and exploration of ourselves. When you are starting your first steps in the Shaolin Kung Fu, it is often also known as ‘walking through the valley of pain’ because at some extent and at some point, dependent on your level of practice, it is impossible to ignore all the different layers of perception that your body and mind is going through.
We think we know our body, but being perfectly honest, we don’t. There is so much more to learn, so much more to know, ever since we are looking for answers.
Now, please, apologize if you’re misunderstanding what I’m about to say but, despite the common opinion that the Shaolin teachings are derived from religious background, they are not. Let’s assume you’re asking me, “how is the weather today?” I could answer, “The forecast said, it’s raining. The newspaper said, it is cloudy. My mother told me, it is stormy.”
If I rely on the forecast, I’m wrong. If I rely on the newspaper, I’m wrong. There can only be one real answer, which is not based upon belief or any conceptualized idea; it is by watching up the sky, answering.
So, therefore, the next suggestion I would like you to consider is, derive answers from action and experience, and don’t rely them on intellectual knowledge and conceptualized ideas.
Now, talking about conceptualized ideas, I would like to share with you a final story. Who would have guessed it’s another mountain in ancient times. It has been a great honor being able to walk along one master site, with the only obligation to not talk.
So, the story goes that master [Lautzer] took one of his disciples on a walk, to take a glimpse at the early morning sunrise. When they arrive, just on time when the first sunrays meet their eyes, the student is filled with such a joy that he speaks out, “This is so beautiful!”
When they returned back, master [Lautzer] never took the student for a walk again because no matter how many words you speak, no matter how many sentences you write down, experience cannot be replaced by words. Words are limited. Sentences are limited. Books and stories are limited. Their only purpose is to guide and confirm your findings, but these findings must come by your personal experience.
Now, as a result of such teachings and cultural stories, the amount of words used in the Shaolin temple is very little, because ultimately, it is your actions, it is your behavior, it is the small and subtle movements that serve as the ultimate expression of your understanding.
To summarize this talk, and as a guideline for yourself to keep in mind, these are the three points to be remembered. Take full responsibility in your hands, and learn how to properly navigate. Observe more; free from judgment, free from discriminating.
Lessen the ignorance and try to create immersive and integral moments. And lastly, practice to see and also hear, beyond the obvious things. This world is not going to remember you by your personal achievements; it is going to remember you by the contribution that you have given to this world.
May all of us be blessed with the greatness of life. Thank you.