Excellence Reporter: Dr. Yang, what is the meaning of life?
Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming: Depending on each individual, each has his/her own definition of life’s meaning. Here, I am sharing my personal definition of the meaning of life.
Definition of Life
First, we have to understand the definition of life. As recognized by all cultures, there are two lives coexisting in our body: physical life and spiritual life. From a Chinese conceptual framework derived from the Book of Change (Yi Jing, 易經) about 4000 years ago, there are two dimensions coexisting in this nature, the Yang space (Yang Jian, 陽間) and the Yin space (Yin Jian, 陰間). The Yang space is the material space while the Yin space is the spiritual space. The Yang space is the manifestation of the Yin space. These two dimensions are coexisting and cannot be separated.
A human life is derived and developed from these two spaces; thus, we also have two lives coexisting in our bodies. The physical life is governed by recycling and has limited life while the spiritual life can be long lasting if the proper conditions are provided. If, after physical death, the spiritual life does not find the new physical residence, the energy of one’s spirit will gradually vanish and be dissolved within nature forever. However, if the spirit is able to reside in a new physical residence, it will continue to grow and evolve.
The Big Picture
If we assume the above definition is correct, the meaning of life can be interpreted in various ways. What are the purposes of our existence? Is the meaning of life just physical, just spiritual, or is it both? What are our life’s missions as human beings?
We must first have a clear recognition that we are part of this Great Nature and cannot/should not be separate from it. The big picture, therefore, is that our existence is intimately connected with the Great Nature. We are here to evolve with nature or the Dao and in order to fit in this great picture, we have to follow the Dao.
However, since our spirits are still in their infant stage, we still don’t have any idea of what is this Great Nature or the Dao. For this reason, the first step to understand the meaning of life is continuing to search the meaning of the Dao. Only when we are able to understand the Dao, will we know the role of how we fit in.
The Small Picture
In order to have a long physical lifetime for spiritual learning and evolution, we must appreciate the physical life we have, protect it and love it.
In order to build up the spiritual credit in the Yin dimension so the spirit can grow and evolve, we must follow the Dao, be righteous, benevolent, and natural.
Remember that our mind connects with spirit (i.e. the Dao) while our deeds or actions (i.e. the De) are the manifestations of the Dao. These two (i.e. thinking and behavior) cannot be separated. Morality in Chinese language is called “Dao-De” (道德) because they are involved with both your thinking and action.
To conclude my thought, my understanding of the meaning of life at this stage is that one must continue to follow the Dao and search for its meaning this lifetime until one is reincarnated in the next life.
~Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming:
-President of Yangs Martial Arts Association, YMAA International.
-Board of Directors of YMAA Publication Center
-Vice President of the International Wushu-San Shou Dao Association
-Co-Leader of the 1994 North American Martial Arts Demo Team
-Honorary Member of the American Shiatsu Association
-Honorary Advisor of the Martial Arts of China Historical Society
-Honorable Appointee to the Eastern U.S. Kung-Fu Federation
Dr. Yang has been involved in Chinese Gongfu since 1961. During this time, he has spent 13 years learning Shaolin White Crane (Bai He), Shaolin Long Fist (Changquan), and Taijiquan. Dr. Yang has more than thirty years of instructional experience: seven years in Taiwan, five years at Purdue University, two years in Houston, TX, and 24 years in Boston, MA. On November 29, 2005, Dr. Yang conferred the title of Taiji Master to one of his senior students (Roger Whidden)for the first time, which by tradition bestows the honorable title of Grandmaster upon Dr. Yang.
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