Mortality and Mourning:
For the last few days I have had a lot of thoughts on passing from this life. I have been meaning to write some down, but, got busy with stuff. Still the th ughts have been in the background music area. LZ gets depressed, at the end of the year, say ehhhhh, another gone, we are reach our end, our years grow faster and fewer. I of course reailize that also, I just do not let it take over my emotions. Generally do not think about it in depth. I recall a Chan book saying, something like, a Chan mind is living life, practicing for dealth. Always ready for dealth, by living fulling in each moment.
I try to keep that in mind, also the “this life of suffering is over in passing.” thoughts. “There is nothing I can do to stop death, I can only be ready for it.”
Last year my last alive Uncle on my father’s side, wife passed over, shortly afterward, my last alive Aunt on my father’s side, passed. It was hard on my Uncle, he lived within blocks of his last sister. That got me to thinking truly about the passing on of time and changing of generations.
About a week ago, I was informed of the depth of my Kung Fu Shifu’s (Sensei) illness. It was shocking to hear he was not recovering as I had heard, but in a hospice. This made me very sad. It got me thinking more, of life and death. His state of mind, knowing death is at his door. It is at all of ours, but knowing for certain, almost when, hearing, smelling it’s breath…scary
I am guessing his training helped…hopefully.
Today is Shifu’s birthday in the states as I write this, I wrote to his son yesterday. Today I received the news Shifu passed away today on the anniversary of his birth. I am sad beyond words. When I left the states a couple of years ago, I had a last Friday night closed-door ( private for only senior students and those with invites) practice session him and my classmates. I had a feeling then, it would be the last I would see him. I shook it off as my morbid side taking over in front of the big sailing journey ahead. Sometimes I hate being right!
Those who have studied in an “old school” style martial art they understand the Sensei/Shifu, student relationship. The word Shifu/sifu also means father in Chinese. We think in Kung Fu circles as “sifu/shifu” as the father, classmates brothers and sisters. My relationship with Paul Eng is like me the adopted son. This being I was already a “graduated” instructor when I came to train with him and my teacher was a blood relative as well as Kung Fu relative. My school was part of “outside” or black sheep group of the Northern Shaolin Tai Chi Praying Mantis group. We were labeled as “hollywood”. My Shifu at the time thoughts and actions where outside of tradition, and he was well involved with “hollywood” and the movie scene.
I left the LA school to open my own, then afterward again relocated to Northern Ca, where I went to studying with Shifu Eng. Through the years I was accepted more and more within the main group, the U.S. Chuk Kai Tai Chi Praying Mantis Federation. That took, effort and is a whole “nuther” story, the new years. I was sponsored to join the main federation by Shifu Eng and another “uncle” as my old Shifu had retired from the martial art world. Through the years I continued to studying with Eng Shifu, sometimes with an absence due to life conditions, gas prices, transportation. It was about a 2 hour drive to the school. If I was out of work, I could not afford to travel. As with others though, I returned to continue training.
Over the years I was considered more a part of Eng Shifu’s school, by the Federation but at the same time, separate because I had my own school. I had two identities. I was always invited to school events. Shifu knew I did not eat meat so would always make sure there was something there for me to eat. He knew I did not drink beer or whiskey, so would always give me a cup of his brandy or cognac.
Anyway, I was treated as family, more so than I was by my former Shifu. I alway found this heartwarming. I started training with Eng Shifu about 1983 until 2012. I remember in my early days of training with him being surprised at how many students had been with him over 15-20 yrs. Most students stayed 6-7 yrs average with a teachers in the states, those are dedicated, rare ones.
Shifu could be fearsome at times with his temper, everyone jumped when he got pissed off. It was not often, but shocking when it was shown. However he will be most remember by his kindness, patience and teaching skills. He truly loved his students, I remember a couple of times seeing tears of joy at some school gathering and at his birthday party two years ago.
I am so pleased I sent him a little something just before Christmas, he knew I was thinking of him in his dark hours.
He will be greatly missed. There is a mass of condolence messages posted on FB on the Tai Chi Mantis Page. He touched a lot of people in his long teaching career. I am off today and had planned on going to Kyudo, with the news, I could not.
This is not really a post about what I am doing, or a point to it, more of just for my therapy. All this gives me a little more push to continue to teach and honor Eng Shifu. I recall him saying on a couple of occasions, since you will be carry on the line you need to know (something something something) …
Sifu Paul Eng
Fu Jow Pai / Hung Gar / Northern Shaolin Tai Chi Praying Mantis
1941/1/8 – 2015/1/8
May he rest in peace, free from suffering. _/|\_