Jumping Off A Cliff, Book Excerpt

Having signed up for my classes, I committed to 3 nights per week of Zen practice: martial arts Tuesdays and Thursdays and meditation classes on Wednesdays nights, 7:30 sharp.  Just $60 a month for spiritual enlightenment- and, I would get in shape and learn how to beat people up too (or at least defend myself from getting beaten up)!  But deep down I was jumping off a cliff and I knew it. I left the Canadian Rockies Zen Centre that afternoon with a feeling of excitement and anxiety.

This Sifu, this Sifu-Dr. Kim, one part modern man, Hawaiian shirt, khakis, sandals, TV remote and all, the other part ancient monk with deep spiritual knowledge, was a complete enigma to me. I had no idea where he was coming from.  I mean, how much could I know after 3 brief meetings, but I knew that he knew something that I did not, and I wanted to know it too.

Before long, I learned that he was an accomplished author, sculptor, painter, and doctor of Chinese medicine.  He owned a hospital in Pusan, South Korea, where people would come for acupuncture, herbal remedies, massage, and moxibustion. He had written books on Psychology, Zen Buddhism, and traditional Korean painting and sculpting.

Sifu Dr. Kim was the Past-President of The South Korean Tae Kwon Do Association, through which he had a 7th Degree Dan Black Belt. He also had a 5th Degree Dan Black Belt in Kung Fu, and untold knowledge of more secretive forms of Buddhist martial arts that he learned in Zen Buddhist monasteries of South Korea.  In short, Sifu Dr. Kim was a renaissance man; artistic, spiritual, wealthy, a healer, and very lethal in the martial arts, but a renaissance man to the core.

He had a commanding interior presence and a strength I found difficult to resist.  I knew he had insights and power that I did not have and to sign up to “boil” in meditation in search of enlightenment and the realization of my true self was to take a gigantic leap of faith, one that caused me a deep tremor of anxiety.

As I walked home from signing up for classes, I knew intuitively that I had just stepped onto a path that would challenge me to the core of my being.   It is strange how we get these interior premonitions, how somehow “we know” the price we are paying by taking spiritual risks, and I knew this was a gamble and part of me knew there was danger involved.  My intuition was correct, but not in the way I would imagine.

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