Chung-san: “My master only used three words to teach me.”
Master Chung-san’s teacher, Master Chung-woon, used three sentences to teach him.
“You’re going right.”
“It will be.”
“You’re going wrong.”
Master Chung-woon taught Chung-san only the method of practice and taught nothing about principles, effects, or experiences. He instructed his pupil to learn the principles through the experiences of the practice. When Daoist Chung-woon said, “Do this motion (posture) and breathe like this”, Master Chung-san would practice it and then say “It was like this when I did it.” If Chung-woon replied, “You are going right” or “It will be” then Chung-san felt assured and continued to practice. If Chung-san was practicing incorrectly then Chung-woon would say, “You’re going wrong” and he would say nothing else until Chung-san figured out what was wrong by himself. Chung-san would think, discover his faults, and then tell his master about them. Then his master would only say, “It will be”, and no more.
Che-ji-che-neung (learning and mastering by body) is a Kouksundo principle. Every person has different characteristics of body, mind, and lifestyle. Therefore the method of teaching must be different for each person. Moreover, knowing a lot of facts can actually interfere with one’s practice. One can be deceived into thinking that he/she has attainted something when they’ve only heard about it.
Understandings and feelings on a single matter can be different for everyone.
Even though people are using the same practice method they could feel and experience change in different ways. This is why Kouksundo instructors shouldn’t emphasize their experience over the practitioner’s experience. They should suggest “Try it like this”, instead of saying “If you do it this way you will become like this”. Instructors should say “Try this food because it is good for the body”, instead of saying “This food is good for your body because it has these ingredients which perform these functions”.
Chung-san: “A Kouksundo instructor must be accomplished in all ways. He/she should have the ability to talk about anything with anybody.”
A Kouksundo instructor should have an in-depth understanding of Confucian-Buddhist-Sun philosophy, the psychology and physiology of the human body, and eastern and western philosophy. Instructors with these qualities should, eventually, extend the knowledge of Kouksundo. Instructors should work on their self-development so they can sprout the seed of Kouksundo and guide modern people toward Kouksundo practice. They must believe in themselves before they try to persuade others. They can deepen their understanding of Kouksundo by digging deep into related studies. The more they understand people and the world the more their confidence in Kouksundo practice will deepen.
Chung-san: “Open your eyes so you can choose correctly. But close your eyes after you’ve made the choice.”
Life is a series of choices. Life can change depending on which choice you make. On making a choice, one should compare and examine all the alternatives and consider the loss and gain. But after choosing, one should focus only on the bright side and try to bring it to fruition. Everything has its light and dark side. If one becomes preoccupied with the shadow then he/she might not see the light. People who choose to practice Kouksundo should have faith in the practice method.
‘Perfection is for god, mistakes are for men’. If a priest makes a mistake, it is most likely that the church organization will be criticized. Kouksundo instructors and practitioners represent Kouksundo and must be careful about how they speak. But when an instructor makes a mistake one should realize it is not the fault of the practice method itself. The problem is with the person and not with the practice method.
Doh-an: “How do you break rocks and not burn in fire?”
Chung-san: “First, break the rock with the heart and then just place your hand on it. Fire cannot intrude if one has no thought that he/she is not inside fire. All things first form in the mind and then form in what we call reality.”
Reality depends on how it is made by the heart. Reality is a display of the mind/heart. Our reality today is formed from our heart. To change reality one should change their mind first.
Won-gi danbup’s difficult motions (postures) can be done if you first imagine yourself doing them. It is said that our heart has the capacity to do anything, but performs only within its perceived limitations. If you want to be something, then think that you are already what you want to be. And if you live the life that you want to live, it will become reality. If one wants to be a Dao man then imagine you already are. Act and talk like a Dao man and you will naturally become one.
Chung-san: “When you get questions about whether something is right or wrong, have an experience about what you are questioning and then adopt it according to whether it is in agreement or not with natural law.”
The principles of nature should be the benchmark for determining the rights and wrongs of daily living and dao practice. Nature’s heart is uninterested. Thus nature does not follow self-interest and self-desire. Nature follows the principle of common interest and common desire. But on the contrary, humans have self-interest and selfish desires. Nature does not interweave with different things, but helps different things. Therefore, people should take things that are helpful for both themselves and others. People should know that taking interest in others leads to benefits for themselves too.
Chung-san: “Other Dao practice organizations and religions have taboos. They inject people with the fear of punishment or hell in order to make people observe their taboos. But Dao has no rights or wrongs. Do what you want to do. However, if what you do isn’t natural and is unfit for you, then throw it away.”
When there are taboos, people become very curious about them. It is not easy for humans to free themselves from taboos. But when we actually carry out the taboos, we can realize that there is no point to them and the curiosity will go away. Of course, if one can be indifferent about taboos then one won’t have to experience them. Even when the taboo is attractive for you, one should not think about it if it is not fit for oneself.
Chung-san: “The human body is endowed with everything that is needed. Hence, if one knows one’s human body then one can know all the principles of the world.”
The human body is a microcosm. Humans are part of nature, so the law of the macrocosm also applies completely to the human body. In the I-Ching’s copula section, it says ‘近取諸身 遠取諸物’, which means, ‘Close to you, use the body to find truth. Far from you, examine each thing to find truth’. If one understands the microcosm then one can also understand the macrocosm. Human body-ism is a unifying theory which all different types of people can agree with, even communists and democrats. A single, fundamental principle penetrates the whole universe. This single, fundamental principle is present in all things. So, if one can penetrate into the essence of a single thing then one can understand every single part about the ever-changing whole.
Kouksundo is a practice of improving the foundation. A Kouksundo person gains the wisdom of grasping the fundamental principle behind the appearance or a matter.
Doh-an: “How did you memorize all 433 motions (postures) when you practiced in the mountains? You didn’t even have a book to study.”
Chung-san: “There is one principle for all danbups. If you grasp this single principle then everything else deduces from it. You don’t need to memorize them.”
The Song of Guidance to Truth explains the Jung-gahk-doh haeng-gong practice principle. The first statement says, “Central Energy operates to maintain all phenomena in the present state of the Universe.” If you can correctly realize this fundamental principle, then every motion (posture) of the Jung-gahk-doh stage logically follows from it.
Doh-an: “I do not know that principle and it is far more difficult to explain, but to make it easy to understand, the first step of practice must be Joong-gi danbup?”
It goes to Il-Shin Il-Shim bup, Jung-shim-bup and so on. Il-shin Il-shim bup divides into separate methods such as Jung, Joa, Lip, Chuk and Dong.
Joong-gi danbup’s first posture (Il shin Il shim bup’s Jung bup) gathers two hands, the left hand (Il-shin) symbolizing the body, the right hand (Il-shim) the mind, and is a posture (bup) that unites (Jung) the body and mind.
But words are only symbols. Don’t be tied to the meaning of the word. Interpreting a word can mistakenly set limits to its original meaning. People at different levels of Sundo practice might understand the same word in different ways. A word is simply a means to express the principle. A principle is something that is realized in the heart through practicing Dao. Therefore, a principle is hard to express in words. If one tries to force the meaning or expression of a word then its original meaning can be easily spoiled. Therefore, I do not deliberately interpret words because people at different practice levels have a different understanding of them.
Chung-san: “Dao doesn’t starve people. The descendants of humans are not infinite. People worry about the population explosion, but the population will not grow further when it reaches a certain point. If all the food on earth is evenly divided, then all life can live without hunger from the food produced.”
People worry about tomorrow. When people worry about tomorrow there comes desire. Desire increases when people don’t feel secure about their future. People feel insecure when they don’t save enough food for tomorrow. Some people say we overeat when there is not enough food to eat regularly. Some people say the body tries to store extra food when it doesn’t know when it will eat again. This also happens when people fail to moderate their eating after completing a fast.
There is a saying that the mind is the master and the body is the servant. Mind comes from heaven. Hence, it tries to go back to heaven and has an upward tendency. The body comes from the earth and goes back to the earth, thus, it has a downward tendency. We live when the body and heart are in harmony. And we die when that harmony dissolves. When the master (mind) cannot play his role, then the slave (body) acts as the master. Greed comes from the body and has no end. We can only perish when we follow the body.
Many of the problems on earth will vanish when all humans give up greed and practice sharing.
Chung-san: “Practicing Dao is like climbing a tree. To climb to the top you have to climb up the main trunk.”
To go to the top of a tree, one must climb up the main trunk. Climbing up the trunk is very hard, difficult, and dull so we are tempted when we see the pretty flowers and sweet fruits on the side branches. When our hands reach out for the flowers and fruits we become blinded by them and no longer think of going to the top. We stay on that branch and watch the sun go down. Sometimes, we make a wrong step and fall to the ground. If we break an arm or leg when we fall then we cannot go up again. On some occasions our neck breaks when we fall and we leave this world.
Therefore, even if it’s hard and dull we should climb up the main trunk. As we get closer to the top, sweeter and more beautiful fruits will tempt us. We should continue to resist these greater temptations. Then when we reach the top we can enjoy them.
When practicing Kouksundo, changes may be different for each person. Roughly speaking, there are over 70 kinds of changes. Over forty are mental changes and over thirty are physical changes. When changes happen to us we should only experience them and carry on with the practice. If we project meaning into changes it makes us judge them as good or bad. We try to promote changes that we judge as good and suppress changes that we judge as bad. But we should refrain from judging changes. We should observe these phenomena just as we watch scenery through the car window when we are travelling. We cannot reach the destination before sunset if we touch, taste, and check every single change.
Change is growth. The right kind of change comes to the person’s need for growth. The wasted actions of past days become purified during the process of change. Undergoing change makes the body, heart, and abilities more like a Daoist.
Master Chung-san always said, “I am imparting only no more or no less than what I’ve learned from my master.” I (Master Choi) fear that I may not have understood master’s teachings correctly and given them improperly.
Disciple: Can you express in a single word what Kouksundo seeks?
Master: Truth. The old word for truth is preparation. It means to prepare everything of the ten-direction world.
Disciple: Master, what is the minimum amount of practice needed to accomplish the Dao?
Master: At least 6 hours per day.
Disciple: You said something about nan-gong (difficult) practice in your lecture. What is that?
Master: A nan-gong practice is literally a very difficult practice. You practice according to the 4 seasons. In the spring you practice all day and accumulate inner energy. In the summer you lay white rocks on the ground, take off all your clothes, get on the rocks and receive all the light reflected from the rocks, and practice all summer. During the whole autumn you practice in a waterfall. When you finish fall practice then you can easily practice anywhere, even in the winter in a snow storm.
Disciple: Which mental attitude is good for living in the world?
Master: Being simple. You can learn much.
Disciple: I truly want to get into the Dao. Can you give me advice?
Master: There are two ways in get into Dao. First, you get dragged into it when you’re young. Second, you come in late because, after experiencing everything in the world, you realize everything is useless.
Disciple: Why were you born?
Master: To accomplish my destined life.
Disciple: Why did you descend from the mountains?
Master: I only come and tell that an evil energy is coming.
Disciple: How much do we have to practice to experience some change?
Master: If you take anyone walking down the street and give correct instructions then change comes in just 16 minutes.
Disciple: Tell us about holding the breath in danjun breathing.
Master: Holding is…… energy begins to leak out when holding after the inhale. Energy begins to soak in when holding after the exhale. The energy still moves through the nose and skin even if you’re not breathing. For the latter half of Won-gi danbup you should stop listening to the tape and gradually increase the length of your breath hold.
Disciple: What is it like when the danjun is filled with energy?
Master: It moves only a few millimeters.
Disciple: I’ve started Won-gi danbup but I don’t think I’ve accumulated enough energy so I want to begin again with Joong-gi danbup.
Master: Don’t do that. Finish won-gi danbup first. And then start over.
Disciple: When we circulate the function and control vessel, why do we pull it back as far as the ears instead of following its meridian pathway?
Master: When the fist-sized fireball starts spinning, the face can’t endure the dan-fire energy if it goes down the front of the skull. This is because the facial nerve is delicate. So we wind it back as far as the ears. We get frightened out of our wits when it comes down the neck because it is so hot.
Disciple: What happens when perfect circulation of the function and control vessel is achieved?
Master: Your strength triples, your skin changes, five times of your body weight can rest on any part of you, your eye light changes, your mind opens to a higher dimension so the brain can penetrate principles, and you can see energy.
Disciple: How much should I do the outer practice?
Master: If you circulate the function and control vessel perfectly, the external practice can be completed in a week.
Disciple: Many people say they have circulated the function and control vessel.