Showing posts from February, 2011

Memories of Taiwan: Third eye blind

The sun has set behind the Kaohsiung skyline as our bus rattles along in the congested rush-hour traffic. I lie back against the head-rest, feeling the vibration on my scalp through the velour, and try to doze. Every now and again a jolt throws me back into the real world and I see flashes: flashes of the faux wood-panelled interior of our vehicle, the slumped, silent silhouettes of my fellow Chen Pan Ling practitioners, chaos passing in every direction, the smoky-red stain on the horizon and the neon glow of the pea-soup sky.

We’re travelling from the Fo Guang Shan monastery into the city centre for our respective appointments with blind masseurs/masseuses. “Go on!” James had said to me in 2009. “Do it. You’ll feel like a new man.” But for whatever reason I declined – a decision I’d come to regret deeply. In fact, the moment I saw them arriving at the Kingship Hotel (each on the back of a scooter) and being escorted in through the foyer to the elevator (aided by the directions …

Memories of Taiwan: Synchronicity

It’s almost midnight and I’m limping in the blue shadows of the monastery grounds finally deserted by the maelstrom of day-time activity. I'm limping because I’m alone and no longer inclined to hide the pain in my lower back – pain that stabs like a thick syringe-needle with every step and the slightest knee lift. It is an injury I sustained in my very first training, and which scans will later reveal to be a prolapsed disc in the lumbar spine. Here’s a tip: don’t travel for almost 36 hours, then attempt long xing (dragon form of xingyi) without a sufficient warm-up.

What am I doing? Oddly enough, I am searching. I’ve arranged with my photographer friend Lucia to take photos at the following dawn for the cover of my book “Essential Jo”. I’ve carted my gi and hakama all the way from Australia for just this purpose. I have come completely prepared – except that I have no jo (4 foot staff). You’d think that a Buddhist monastery built on a bamboo-forested mountain would have su…