Saturday, August 26, 2017

The elitism of Chinese martial arts

Continuing this post, in a FB discussion Eric mentioned that the difference between contemplative and embodied spiritual practices was that the former were more inclined toward elitism, while the latter more originated in the common folk and hence were more inclined toward addressing political inequities. My anecdotic experience is different. In the martial arts traditions of China, of which I've been a practitioner, the masters and their lineages are considered like iconic spiritual leaders, a special class. People pay them inordinate amounts of money and they are showered with gifts and free food/lodging constantly. And of course they are considered masters of True Reality, not just their particular martial skill set. And due to that I haven't seen much if any involvement in political class struggle, since they are in the elite and like it that way.

Like with any meditative tradition, they assumed what they were connecting with in those states was Ultimate Reality. Hence they were revered like priests of God (or Tao). Granted many of the Chinese martial traditions, like Buddhist meditative ones, also had a good set of ethics and used their martial powers only to defend against abuse of power. And their beneficent intent was to teach others this well-rounded skill set. But like Buddhism they too didn't involve themselves in broader political struggle to change the socio-economic conditions of class. It seems to have been an inherent deficit of such elite traditions, as if transforming one's self was all that was necessary.

 Kind of like the elitist integral movement! It's why I look to the collaborative commons now, a truly syntegral development. 

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