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What is a Sifu?

The world in which you were born is just one model of reality. Other cultures are not failed attempts at being you; they are unique manifestations of the human spirit.

Wade Davis

The world can only appear monochromatic to those who persist in interpreting what they experience through the lens of a single cultural paradigm, their own. Yet, for those with the eyes to see and the heart to feel, it remains a rich and complex topography of the spirit.

-Wade Davis

Today is my Sifu's training anniversary. Sifu John A. Fey, 12th Generation successor to the Laam Loong Pac or Blue Dragon Lineage. Musician, Mystic, Teacher, Friend, Ordained Chan Buddhist and Ordained Taoist Priest, Christian, whose task is to keep the signal of ancient traditions and knowledge clear and bright for future generations. A world where ancient traditions and languages are facing extinction at an accelerating and astonishing rate. Most folks in our modern world can scarcely even imagine the depth and breadth of ancient traditions he is entrusted with keeping alive and passing on clearly for future generations.

One of the things that these arts have taught me is to honor, pay respect to, and remember those who have shaped my life. To celebrate the decisions that people have made in the past that were honorable, long-lasting, and filled with heart. My Sifu-student relationship with Sifu Fey has been the most unique and long-lasting one in my life (Not including family, Hi Mom! Yo Darby! Hey Holly!). I have been profoundly lucky to have experienced and witnessed something so dense with life and fulfilling on many levels. Our culture has no actual examples of this kind of relationship in this modern age. Is he my friend? Yes, though that is the least important in the hierarchy of essential relationship parts. Many times in my training, if I were to hold friendship in too much regard, it would get in the way of my learning.

Looking at this relationship from our cultural perspective, here is the problem. A Sifu doesn't just teach movement skills, meditative skills, crafts, or art. That is what he appears to be doing. A Sifu instructing by way of movement skills, meditation skills, craft, and art (and many things I am yet unaware of ), leads your body/mind to a place of our shared yet hidden humanity. A place that the student could not see without the Sifu's pointing and suggesting that we look. It is like trying to teach the difference between Taupe and Mauve to a person unaware of wearing eye covers or teaching a student how to feel/embody the difference between Mozart and Stravinsky unaware of the earplugs in their ears. We don't know what we don't know.

And yet, tirelessly and though emotional confusion and the student's endless frustrations, these riddles unfold, and part of themselves they would have defended with their lives saying "It IS Not There!" suddenly see it appear! Not only that, but they could see that it was clearly in front of them all along!!!!! And the Sifu was correct! He wasn't just yanking their chains! The Sifu could see it all along. He could see "You" couldn't see what was right in front of your face. Whew! That is a profound relationship.

It is a relationship based upon trust, even in the face of ignorance and ego. If the Sifu says to stand on your head and stack greasy bb's, he probably has a reason. For me, over the last 35 or so years, everything he has pointed me towards brought me to the new place of astonishment that was staring me in the face all along. Some of the revelations would unfold quickly; some appear slowly over decades. Some are quantifiable, some more abstract. There are many things I just have not been able to see yet! I know this to be true, and I keep an open mind to the mystery while clinging to my stubborn ignorance. It is the dicotomy of learning. It is in the trusting that he has done the work, walked the walk, and continues to learn for himself and that his only desire is that I get to see it for myself someday when I am ready to see it. Why? Because these parts of us are essential parts of our human nature. So he keeps pointing—day after day, year after year.

Ask yourself what does it feel like to be wrong? Then, give it a little time….

Ok? Now, I am going to answer this for you. It feels the same as being right!!!!!

Finding out that we are mistaken jars us and makes us cringe. Finding out we were wrong from the very beginning. That is embarrassing; we fight it. It is profoundly uncomfortable. It takes honesty and humility to admit that you didn't understand and were wrong. It also takes love, patience, and kindness. That is Sifu's job - to keep pointing at the Moon till you see the Moon and not the finger pointing at the Moon!

A good Sifu only provides the circumstances and activities to see the truth for ourselves. You have to walk through the door and do the work. Only you can make changes to your life and your perception. If the Sifu is making it about himself, they are a fraud. If a Sifu constantly reminds you that they are the one making the changes in you, they are frauds. But if the Sifu leads you to places where You discover - time and time again - hidden parts of your own life, and it feels like your own discovery - stick around and let the unfolding of yourself happen for as long as you can.

This is why I honor the day that my teacher, my Sifu, started training and eventually became mind/seal Lineage holder for the Laam Loong Pac Lineage. Sifu John Fey, time after time, has led me to parts of me that already existed that I couldn't see. All the while keeping the long tradition of passing these lessons along from teacher to student and letting the discoveries be /my own/.

Oh, look! It's the Moon! Look what I can see!

I would be remiss in letting you think this was just about me. I am the least important person in this equation. In the considerable scope of things, I am only important to myself; the person who makes an effort to protect and guard the lessons for future generations of people like me is essential. Not all things should be evaluated on the same scale; some things are inherently more valuable for humanity.

Thank you, Sifu, For your Patience, Kindness, Truthfulness, and Mental Fortitude. Also, thank you for your dedication to preserving ancient Arts that preserve essential parts of our human nature.

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Thank you for writing about Sifu. I would like more people to carry on his teachings and am grateful for your work. It will attract more of us. Things happen the way they are supposed to. . .

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