The Truth of Pa Kua chang and Walking the Circle
Pa Kua Chang, or Bagua Zhang as some refer to it, is a strange martial art where in one engages in walking the circle until one finds the truth of one self.
Like a dog chasing his tale until he finds Buddha.
Like Black Sambo turning tigers into…liquid gold.
Dong Hai Chuan was a likable fellow with a fascination for martial arts. He practiced Shaolin Kung Fu, so the legend goes, and reached a point where he was so good he took to the road and began wandering, searching for teachers able to teach him more.
His search led him through the Wudan Mountains of rural China, back where the mystic temples stood, and legends had it that ancient knowledge existed in pure form. His search led him to an obscure religious sect whose practitioners believed that one could discover the truth of the universe by…walking the circle.
So Dong walked the circle, day after day, in search of his divine nature. For nine years he walked the circle, and one can well imagine the taunts of passersby.
“Look at the old man chasing his shadow!”
“Hey buddy! Put it on a straight line and you might get somewhere!”
“Har de har har!”
Yet, rain or shine, under blazing sun and through freezing snow, Dong continued his trek, searching for the truth of himself.
At last, some nine years into his journey, he mentioned to the monks of the mysterious sect that…wasn’t it odd that…the tree he was walking around seemed to be chasing him? That the tree actually seemed to bending?
Was the tree bending? Or was something in his mind bending? Or was something in his mind merely becoming…unbent?
The monks glanced at one other, and one gently offered, “Another two years.”
So on went Dong, round and round, circle after circle, nose after tail. And perhaps this is where he combined his Shaolin with the endless walking of the circle. Perhaps this is where the circle became imbued with the art of violence, and became not just a repository of religious fanaticism. Perhaps this is where the artistic blend of self with the fanatical pursuit of God becomes…whatever it becomes.
Did Dong finally manage to catch the truth of himself?
No mention of ‘the bolt out of the blue’ striking the once young lad is made in the histories. What is known, however, is that he achieved a high degree of competence, that he was so profound at circle walking that he was able to defeat the Emperor’s bodyguards, and become chief instructor of that legendary ‘clan.’ And there are tales of him disappearing under the attacking hand, of tying mighty warriors in delicate knots just to watch them fall, of speaking to his followers even after death.
Bolt out of the blue or competence, this writer believes that competence is the more valued. But, that said, we come to the heart of the fable.
We know not whether Dong found himself, but we do know that a person who walks in a circle is insane. Such purposeless activity, especially in this godless world, is the heart of insanity. Yet…is insanity not merely an attribute that others cannot find? Does not one have to go ‘in’ sane to find true sanity?
The fellow who pounds his palm upon a stone, hour after hour, day after day, year after year…does he make strong the hand? Or finally divine that the universe truly is constructed of space?
That child who will become old doing his kung fu forms, does he fight hordes and legions in his mind? Or does he empty his mind of all hordes and legends?
That acorn…will it really become an oak?
The acorn might fall down an abandoned gopher hole, and it might root into fertile soil…but it is time that makes the mighty oak, and the endless and insane desire to grub into the earth…just to find the sky.
We are all grubs…but have we found the earth? Will we see the sky?
Look to Dong Hai Chuan for the answer to that one, but only ask if you are walking the circle, if you are pursuing yourself with Pa Kua Chang, round and round, year after year, breath after breath.
The author engaged in walking the circle, did Pa Kua Chang for two years, until people began to bend over, lightening filled his legs, and energy stripes barber poled out his arms…you can find out about his Pa Kua Chang at Monster Martial Arts.