Of interest is the choice of 108 planets in Chinese Zodiac theory. We see 108 moves in Tai Chi Chuan;108 beads in the neckless, each bead representing a deity;108 rounds of yoga “sun salutation”;108 emblems/symbols, each representing a single manifestation of the supreme Hindu deity, Brahman. A string of prayer beads is used in Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and Roman Catholicism. The second in hierarchal order of the 108 symbols is the swastika, which is actually a “sun wheel.” The five planets/Elemental Energies are also referred to as the “Five Ancestors.”
Isaiah the Prophet gave council in reference to the benefits, or lack thereof, in looking to the stars for wisdom and guidance: “Stand now with thine enchantments, and with the multitude of thy sorceries, wherein thou hast labored from thy youth; if so be thou shalt be able to profit, if so be thou mayest prevail. Thou art wearied in the multitude of thy counsels. Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, the monthly prognosticators, stand up and save thee from these things that shall come upon thee. Behold, they shall be as stubble; the fire shall burn them; they shall not deliver themselves from the power of the flame: there shall not be a coal to warm at, nor fire to sit before it.” (Isaiah 47: 12-14).
“Hear ye the Word of the LORD, learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. For the customs of the people are vain:…” (Jeremiah10: 2-3).
While Hinduism proclaims 7 major energy centers in the body referred to as “chakras” the Chinese philosophy lists three centers. These are the Upper, Middle, and lower “dan-tien.” Disease is said to occur when there is some blockage in the flow of chi/energy through either the meridians or the chakra energy centers. The upper dan-tien located in the center of the forehead is considered the “third eye” or seat/throne of the will of man. Traditional Chinese Medicine has as its objective to manipulate energy/chi through the meridians and or dan-tiens so to enhance flow of chi. Methods used are meditation, martial arts (kung-fu, karate, tai chi chuan, etc.), acupuncture, acupressure, and various other modalities.
Stepping onto Enchanted Ground:
This short history of the spiritual philosophy behind the origin and objective for the practice of martial arts lays the foundation for further investigation. Let us pick up from where we left off above (Page 1) in this narrative after entering a dojo training venue. Upon looking more closely at the participants it is observed that not all have white belts. There are seen various colors ranging from white, to the black belt of the sensei. We learn that the beginner or Novice will wear white, then yellow, to orange belts as he progresses in skill. The next level is the Initiate wearing green and on to blue, then Apprentice-brown to red, and a Disciple or “5th dan” in black. The ladder continues: Master—6thdan; High master—8thdan; Grand master—10thdan.
What at first appeared to be a group of individuals being led by an instructor in Eastern style exercises has taken on more complexity. Why the hierarchy ladder? Is proficiency of the physical movements all that is involved in climbing the ladder? The answers are surprising.
The visitor also observes that shoes are removed when entering the dojo, the student bows upon entering, bows when addressing the instructor and calls him “master.” The student is to honor, respect, and to give full obedience to the Sensei/Instructor/Master.
“But be ye not called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for One is your Master, even Christ.” (Matthew23: 8-10).
The student or novice’s constant goal is to move up the hierarchical ladder, obtaining darker colored belts as one progresses. The instructor most likely will be wearing a black belt, and he too is a part of the hierarchy as he has ties to the Master above him, etc., until the Master at the 10thdan level is reached. Leadership organization is pyramid-like, with the Grand master at the top. We will come back to this subject later, but now it is time to learn a little about the history of the martial arts that are practiced today.
How It All began?
In mid-5thcentury an Indian Buddhist Monk, Bodhidharma, came from India to the Shaolin Temple (Hall of Three Buddhas) in Hunan province of China. He was the 28thin line from the founding of Buddhism five hundred plus years before Christ. He had revised Hinduism (referred to as Chan Buddhism) and he brought yoga to the Shaolin Temple monastery.
“Legend tells, that it was he who taught the monks the methods of physical movement combined with their meditation to enhance spiritual (occult) abilities. Through certain breathing, visualization techniques, and acts of worship, the monks were said to develop almost supra-natural psychic and physical powers.” Bodhidharma had written a small book (The Muscle/Tendon Change Classics) found at the temple following his death, which outlined
spiritual and physical exercises which would enable the Buddhist to reach “enlightenment.” Thus, from Indian yoga developed the martial arts of the Buddhist. https://secretdangersofmartialarts.wordpress.com/home/6-symbolism/ p. 17, 18
This book by Bodhidharma is given great respect by martial artists worldwide. It outlines the foundation of all martial art forms, including qi gong. The book presents mediation, attention to breathing, and visualization practices, which have great similarity to a book written in 1522-1524, The Spiritual Exercises by Ignatius Loyola. The philosophy of Ignatius’s book has very close similarity to those of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism.
“Many churches in this country (USA) are now offering what are known as ‘spiritual retreats’, which use as their curriculum Loyola’s book of spiritual exercises; along with yoga, Chinese qigong, Tai-Chi, labyrinth walking, and new age practice called, ‘contemplative prayer’” (a deceptive form of Eastern meditation). https://secretdangersofmartialarts.wordpress.com/home/6-symbolism/ p. 19
From Shaolin temple, the spiritual/physical exercises spread throughout China, to Korea, Japan, and Okinawa. Names of the various martial arts changed with the nationality propagating them; In China—Tiger, White Crane, Internal Chi-kung, Qi-gong, Tai-chi Chuan, Bagua-zhangand yoga; Okinawa—karate; Korea—Tae Kwon Do, Japan—judo, Jujutsu, Aikido.