Excellence Reporter: Master Ian, what is the meaning of life?
Ian Cameron: The meaning of life will be different for everyone. No matter how close we are to family, friends or colleagues, you cannot rely on others to give our lives meaning. It is important to realise that it is down to ourselves. We must find something within that stays with us under any circumstance.
Having a practice, whatever that may be is one way of not only moving toward fulfilling our potential, but in knowing who we are. Nowadays there is always something a bit more attractive ‘over there.’ This causes a state of unease, always slightly dissatisfied.
The practice of a WAY focuses the mind and brings us into the here and now. A true WAY has no easy answers. It is having no easy answers that makes WAYS all the more valuable. The reward is in the practice itself, if you have found a path, there is no need to look further. Staying with the path you have chosen is important. As we all know, life doesn’t always go our way, but having a WAY teaches how to face adversity, how to see that it is all part of the ups and downs of life. Everything changes, sometimes for the better, sometimes the opposite. There is no escaping of this fact, however, it is acceptance of the situation and dealing with it directly, and not postponing until later, when all that will happen is that it grows and becomes a real burden. Deal with it early. This requires you to face things as they are, and not as you want them to be. An approach like this gives you the power to live your life, and not be pulled around by circumstances.
With WAYS, such as martial arts, there are plenty of failures, many setbacks, knockdowns, feelings of not improving. When you begin learning there is the honeymoon period when there is the feeling of making great strides forward. Later, these strides forward become smaller and harder. This is the testing time, and the time, although it doesn’t feel like it, when you learn the most. Do you stay with it, or walk away when the going gets tough? You are now facing yourself, not an opponent, much tougher.
There is a saying from the Tai Chi Chuan Classics, “Do not give up what is near, for what is far away.” In other words, don’t run around aimlessly wasting time trying this or that. What you are after is closer than you think. You have the means to give meaning and purpose to your life.
I believe that having a practice gives, if you like, ‘fighting spirit’. A spirit to see things through, encourages fortitude, endurance and gives meaning to whatever you may do.
~Ian Cameron first studied Tai Chi Chuan with Sifu Cheng Tin Hung in Hong Kong in 1971, and he has been teaching in and around Edinburgh since the late 1970s.
During that time, whilst steadily building up the Five Winds School, he has acquired a reputation as one of the foremost practitioners and teachers of the art.
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