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