Three Roads to Old

Shao lin gong fu is a living system that seems very much like a religion, although opinions vary on defining that. Master Don once said “Kung Fu is everything, yet it is nothing” and he was being quite literal. The salute of honor, of the book and the fist are direct signs of the extensive knowledge of shao lin priests. (A sign of many meanings see: https://sites.google.com/site/utsjingwu/articles/origins-and-meaning-of-the-kung-fu-salute-by-shuai-zheng-2012 )
The nature and content of this knowledge is placed under three acquired masteries that create the fourth, which as you will see, nature creates anyway and a monk’s time is short to vast accomplishments.
From time immemorial and all over the earth, the 3 traditional priestly schools, called the “School of Life” by the Egyptians, have always been Theology, Agriculture and Medicine.
In shao lin, these are to attain shifu, nongfu & daifu. Mastery of the body, mind and spiritual awareness, mastery of agriculture and also wild foods and mastery of medicine, the knowledge of blood and dust.
Even tho these studies are vigorously pursued and attained, they are continuous and life long, for they are wells that exceed us no matter how much we learn and grow. After this life time of study, practice, mastery, the priest has become finally Lao-fu, which is sometimes called “a wild tree” but generally means “old/good at it”. Laofu is the last title of the fulfilled monk which as I already pointed out, will be awarded by nature of its own accord one day and it is the priests challenge not to attain the status, but rather to prepare for it’s coming, as powerfully as he is able.
Venerable is a title of respect for brothers past 75 and most commonly used. A monk’s laofu is a deeply personal, individual and in that universal way, sacred journey. Nobody calls anyone laofu lightly ever, lest it provoke “venerable wushu”. None the less, the monk in his priesthood becomes laofu at the last of his terrestrial career, even tho he may qualify for it quite young. It is an honest title that can not be taken out of it’s time, nor can it be denied in it’s time and it is the culmination of devotion and the record of a price paid. Monks strive so that it is also a testimony of wisdom, strength and grace, a good value for the price of life, paid anyway by all, whatever else they may find.
So this is the life of a shao lin “compartmentalized”, a less than desirable concept which goes against the grain of the truth he knows. He knows there is not shifu, not nongfu, not daifu or laofu, there is only he and all in a great continuation and communion. It is the life of those who must follow it. Gong fu is in the monk before he is one. A priest is of shao lin, his acceptance an acknowledgement of that. His performance and success falling to him.
In the highest realm of earthly gong fu, the one who approves is the self, as is the one who guides. A man after a great journey, finds his self at one, bearing the natural and obvious title he did way, way back before his training began – “he who is most his self”.
May these apologetics give grace, wisdom and peace.
~ Laofu
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