Master Lao Nai Xuan, the teacher to Richard Wilhem. Richard Wilhelm considered him to a true Master of Taoist Yoga, Taoist philosophy, rituals and teachings of Confucius. Richard Wilhelm translated the most used I Ching still in today's standards, as well as many other classics. Master Lao would qualify I believe as a true Master. But was he satisfied with his own understanding of his teachings?
The current age we live in seems to favor commercialism, marketing and making a business model of anything we can get our western hands on. A rather strange occurrence over the last 50 + years has been the marketing of the East Asian Traditions and anything that can be deemed as not mainstream health and wellness; we use to call it alternative health at one time.
The marketing of Karate is a perfect example how things really took a wrong right turn in the Karate traditions. Anyone can become a Black-belt, if you pay the fees and can perform the so call "Dan" test and past with average favorable results. Its all about the brand not so much upholding the lineage Masters tradition anymore; anytime money enters the equation things become slippery and agenda based.
The Age of the Absent True Master
In today’s 24/7 digital culture, I believe “experts” are a dime a dozen. In contrast, to a true master, remains rare and valuable. I see many so called self declared Masters out there teaching parts of lineage systems under new names or business plans for their agenda, this is really sad. They opted out to hold the torch for their lineage Master and rather push their book, DVD or workshop. Everyone needs to stop doing this and honor the real Masters.
I can remember when you had to have above average credential to publish a work with a publisher, now everyone has a something on sites like amazon.com or ebay.com. This has created alot of confusion; so the slick can make alot of money from the naive public. Hardly anyone is promoting the true teachers and most of the books out there are from someones private teaching or family system. Its a double edge sword of exposure; the traditions longed for people to come forward and share their traditions, now its really become likened to Pandora's box..a chaotic mess.
What is True Mastery?
True Mastery a mix of factors. First, one of the most important things in achieving mastery is to recognize how you think about it in the first place. That is, when you look at your own capabilities, do you see them as fixed, unchangeable, and simply part of your DNA, like hair color? Is it really a matter of just doing your time in a system and being there the longest because everyone else has quit or moved on? Or do you look at them as actually malleable, things you can improve, you can get better at? Too many people take that first view — that being good at something depends on whether you have it or you don’t or just doing time and paying your fees to get the certificates. Poof...I am now a Master, please bow to me.
The problem with that belief, as many true Masters would teach is that’s incorrect. It’s not how mastery works. Indeed, if you start with that belief that you’re either good at something or you’re not you won’t achieve mastery. Period. But if you think you are capable of getting better at something, then you have a real shot. Along with thinking about mastery in the right way, the next component is what you actually do because true mastery is really, really hard. I think that’s one reason why few people really achieve it today. It requires enormous amounts of work and persistence. It requires time. It requires grit. It requires effort. It requires setbacks. This is the true meaning of the universal meaning of Kung Fu. And many practitioner's aren’t willing to accept that deal. We want to achieve mastery without pain. And that’s not possible.
Another point is you also have to come to grips with your mind around this unhappy fact: "you can never actually achieve mastery". When we become content and satisfied we lose the edge; the tangible skill will surely weaken. As time goes on previous levels will no longer serve us it has to evolve. You will get closer and closer and closer to it, but you can never reach it. That’s the nature of true mastery. A great teacher friend of mine said it best "We are striving to be less incorrect each and everyday we practice as well as when teaching"; true wisdom is it not!
It does not matter how good you are at something, how blessed you are with the opportunity to improve, no one can ever achieve full mastery. Tai Chi Chuan Master Yang Lu Chan never achieved full mastery. Bruce Lee never achieved full mastery. Bagua Master Tung Hai Chuan never achieved full mastery. Mastery is ever evolving, and that makes it simultaneously frustrating and alluring. So I think the way we can get better at achieving mastery is just to get real about what it takes. And what it takes is thinking about your ability as something you can change and elevate. It requires a lot of pain, effort, and hard work, (Kung Fu) and it brings a certain amount of frustration in realizing that you can never actually achieve it fully.
Key meaning: Cultivation of the Tradition
All of this is my insight and to enter the realm of encouragement; take it as just that. I consider my teachers in my life to "be Real Masters"; but they would probably just remind me that gifts are malleable and fluid, like the wisdom of the Tao. Yes, we’re all born with certain gifts and important. But those gifts can grow, mature, and develop. Great men and women in any field recognize their natural gifts but then hone those gifts over time. If we believe that our level of mastery is only a function of our innate makeup, we will never reach our fullest potential.
Famous Kung Fu Masters are born with great talent, but without developing that talent, they would have remained average amateurs. We can always get better. A true one always tell you that no matter one’s level of success, they can always can become better. If we could resurrect people like Yip Man or Taoist Master Lu Tung Bin and ask them what their perfect work of tradition was, I doubt they would be able to name a single aspect or technique....Cultivation of the Tradition is key; Perfection is impossible and a misleading concept.
More to come in on this in coming days enough for now...