Kauai is a very special place. When I visited it last May with Anthony Spinicchia and my wife, Christina, I had never been to Hawaii before, but I immediately understood why so many people speak so fondly of it. The natural beauty, the wonderful weather, the peaceful feel of it -this will be an incredible setting for a course with Sigung (Grandmaster Wong)!
One morning, while I was practicing near the beach at the Kauai Beach Resort, I had an experience that showed me just how special a place Kauai is: I was visited by the spirit of the founder of a nearby Hindu Monastery.
The previous day, we visited the Hindu Monastery, which is just up the road from the hotel. We could only visit part of the grounds, but there were beautiful temples, reflecting pools, and gardens overlooking a river. The feeling of tranquility reminded me of the Kek Lok Si Buddhist Temple in Malaysia. Inside one of the temples, I couldn’t help but notice the striking image of the monastery’s founder, Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami. He looked like a Hindu Santa Claus with his big white beard, kind eyes, and jolly demeanor. The deep happiness he exuded was one of spiritual joy, the kind that comes from advanced spiritual cultivation. We paid our respects and then left the monastery to continue exploring Kauai’s other wonders.
The following morning, I got up around sunrise to go practice by the beach. I had a wonderful session, and I finished it as I normally do, by going into standing meditation. I cleared my mind and was enjoying the stillness, when after some time, I realized that even though my eyes were closed, I was looking at a mountain. It was one of the mountains near my practice spot on the beach. As I continued looking at the mountain, a familiar-looking man with a bright, white beard and orange robe stepped out from behind it. He was so big that I wondered how the mountain could have hidden him. In his right hand, he held what looked like a staff or trident. I can’t be sure because the top was hidden from me by a light as bright as the sun. A moment later, I recognized him: it was Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami! I’ll never forget what he said to me: “Why do you limit yourself?” As those words bounced around in my head, he rapped the bottom of his staff on the heavenly ground by his feet, and I felt the light, accompanied by an indescribable energy, wash over me. Although I couldn’t pinpoint it, I felt a subtle change within me. A few moments later, I regained my awareness and realized the master had disappeared back behind the mountain. I paid my respects to him and then opened my eyes to see that I was staring at the same mountain from the same angle and distance as when my eyes were closed!
In the months since, at various times, I have heard his voice again in my head, saying, “Why do you limit yourself?”, and each time, I have become aware of some way I am doing just that, along with how that limitation is causing me unnecessary suffering. That awareness is priceless to me because once I have it, I know that it’s just a matter of time before my daily Shaolin Kung Fu and Chi Kung practice helps me break through it for good.
I look forward to visiting the monastery again during the Shaolin Hawaii courses, along with some of my Shaolin Wahnam family.
This is going to be a very special trip.