Here is a brief look at a quick draft of some writing I’ve been doing regarding my history and experiences here at the temple. I would appreciate all feedback! It’s undecided what I want to do with all the writing I’m doing but I plan on keeping all in one place and doing something with it one day, even just as practice with writing I find it relaxing and stimulating for the mind and hope that you guys can enjoy it. You will find throughout all the errors and notes written, and mostly a lot of poor grammatical errors but those just make it more authentic right ?
“No sympathy for the devil; keep that in mind. Buy the ticket, take the ride…and if it occasionally gets a little heavier than what you had in mind, well…maybe chalk it up to forced consciousness expansion: Tune in, freak out, get beaten.” ― Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Preface – 4th June 2018
Aberystwyth is a large town in West Wales with a population of roughly 10,000 people and a few thousand university students. It is surrounded by agricultural farmland and a network of single track lanes connecting the fields and nearby villages. It was late evening and the last of the sun was casting a deep purple hue across the sky melting into the velvet blue clouds starting to fill the night sky. Had it been an enjoyable stroll under the lights of the promenade it would of been very calming. However, I was not paying attention to anything other than what was racing through my mind and couldn’t have enjoyed the scenery if I tried. Two days before my final exam at university I was going full throttle down one of the small side roads leading out of town with no idea and no care in the world if I was going to come back and finish them. The heavy hunk of metal getting thrown around corners at 50mph was my recently purchased 1998 Yamaha Virago. The old headlight had barely enough power to see 10 feet ahead of me but it done the job. All I cared about was putting the broken up tarmac behind me and punching it as fast as possible, I had too many conflicting thoughts filling my mind to make room for any reasonable thought *of how reckless It was. I didn’t give a damn.
I was wearing my prized dark brown oxford branded leather jacket and matte black helmet. Both my heavy duty denim jeans and black boots were grazed and clearly well worn, fitting the look of a gang rider and driving like one. It was lucky nobody got in my way. Unsure whether it was the tears in my eyes or the rain on my visor, making sure there was nobody around I skidded my back wheel to a stop in a lay by next to an old farm. The bike was left running as I jumped over the barbed wire fence and landed in wet mud and whatever mix of excrement was on the field. The disused farm was left abandoned since the time I had been studying and from many journeys on my bike on this familiar route away from traffic I was sure it was quiet enough. The river Ystwyth flowed wide and hard through the empty field and conveniently I had my best boots on, in the moment before leaving it could have been quite easily my old trainers with holes. My feet sank ankle deep into the mud as I trudged through to the bushes on the far side. Through the waterlogged grass and smashing my way through the tall reeds growing out of it, I came to the end of the field. Through a combination of quickly boiling anger and deep sorrow that weighed more than the ocean itself, I shakily pulled off my old backpack and ripped it open tearing at the already twice sewn seams. Without any conscious decision acting solely out of instinct and unaware of how much time I had I threw the contents of the bag into the densest part of shrubbery I could find and shook the bag upside down to make sure it was empty. I wasted no time on covering my tracks whilst navigating the flooded field back to the bike, scraping the shit off my boots and opening the throttle once more down the road. Filled with the rage of a charging bull and no care for my own safety I made off down the small winding lanes once again.
For the most part of my life up until the last 6 months, I had always made rash decisions, blindly followed others, gave into peer pressure (or should I say taking the easiest option), and generally leading myself into a variety of bad situations with even worse outcomes. I was not living a conscious lifestyle, generally with the best intentions and never wanting to harm anyone; but seldom when the time came to make such decisions would I make the right choice. I had done things most people would never dream of doing before I was even eighteen years old and to this I am not in the slightest part proud of my actions, but this does not mean I regret now even a single on of those. My decisions, actions and karma have resulted in the position I am now and have put me on a path where I have the opportunity to reflect deeply on my past experiences, take what good I can from those, dispose of the negative feelings holding me back, and step forward confidently into a more conscious lifestyle living in the here and now.
I often used to contemplate the thought over my mind; Have my past actions and decisions affected my ability to change? Is it possible that through years of excessive heavy drinking, use of narcotics, smoking, lying, stealing, indulging in cheap thrills for brief momentary gratification, that I cannot pull myself out of this trap? This was an absolute waste of time and energy. It was a refreshing realisation that no matter what depth you have dug a hole into unhealthy routines and keep making negative decisions, you are the architect of your own mind, you have the ability at any time to build a new path out of that hole you buried yourself in and begin the task of climbing out.
Miao He is my Dharma name, it translates to Wonderful Peace or Harmony (Insert Chinese Symbols Here). I am a 36th generational disciple of the Shaolin Temple Europe. Whilst I live at the monastery and continue down the path of Shaolin this is my name, and how I am addressed by anyone in the temple.At the relatively young age of 8 I took up Shotokan Karate in my home town in South Wales with the KUGB (Karate Union Great Britain), little did I realise how fortunate I was to have such a close link to the teachings of Sensei Keinosuke Enoeda. Sensei Enoeda had brought Shotokan Karate to the United Kingdom from Okinawa, Japan, in 1965 and shortly after became the chief instructor of the KUGB. Many more years down the line one of his renowned students and Karate practitioner Andy Sherry took over the chief instructor position. I was fortunate enough to have trained under two of Andy Sherry’s students on the KUGB Senior Welsh Squad, and on a rare occasion under Andy Sherry himself. After approximately 6 years I achieved my 2nd Kyu under Christian Whale and continued after a break for another year with Paul Smith. It has always been the plan to go back and complete my 1st Kyu and finally my 1st Dan black belt, and I will always remember the unforgettable teachings from all the great senseis I had the honor of training with.
From the martial arts I have always kept close but hidden away, my love for strict discipline. I have massive admiration for those who have great self discipline, and I spent much energy in the past day dreaming of what I could achieve, the limits I could push my body, and the goals and desires I could reach if I had just one breath of discipline. During karate I would lose myself in strict training achieving a state of mental flow, I would temporarily find my Ikigai.Ikigai roughly translates as ‘the happiness of always being busy’ but is often referred to as a persons ‘reason for being’, it is heavily related to a strong mental flow where one can achieve total concentration when fully committed to something they feel passionately about and enter a state of timelessness. But most importantly it is the state of being where one gets up in the morning with a strong purpose that often lasts a lifetime. Most people find their flow temporarily in activities or certain things they truly enjoy, for myself it was always a variety of high intensity sports like skateboarding, surfing, climbing and mountain biking. But these things only gave me temporary satisfaction and I was left with a space in my mind for the bigger picture. I was ready to find my Ikigai. After arriving at the temple initially as a volunteer to work whilst traveling around Europe, it was only one month before I took the refuge ceremony and made my request to become a disciple. The months I spent traveling prior to arriving at the temple were used exploring my spirituality, meditation, and generally going deeper to find a ‘purpose’ for my life. It was then through my own private research and speaking to others about meditation that I felt exploring Buddhism was the best option, I had reached a point of complete dissatisfaction with my life and it was becoming self destructive.
And that’s it for now. I hope you enjoyed reading a little about my background and some insight into my past, any comments and suggestions are massively appreciated. If you enjoy some of the writing I had a week of poetry and haikus uploaded which can be found on my home page or just scroll to the bottom here for most recent posts.