We learn to fight so that we don't have to.
Well, it was at a very early age, when I was a child, as my father used to encourage it. I loved animals, ancient Latin, the Greek classics and philosophical discussions. I climbed high north German poplar trees and listened to the wind rushing through their leaves while I gazed into the distance. I learned at a very early stage that there is not only the force of gravity, which pulls us down, but that every living thing also has an urge to go upwards, to develop itself further. Ideals were more important to me than material things. Later I was so preoccupied by life, my studies, my profession and the quest for standing, power, titles, knowledge and status symbols – not to mention the management of our association – that I devoted myself fully to these and only saw the outside world from my own standpoint. This only changed much later #150; slowly but surely. It started with external things, and first with my own body: I no longer took pleasure in the great mass of muscles I had once found so desirable. When I managed to shed almost 25 kg I somehow felt closer to myself. In some vague way I realised that I was not my body, and I began to see it as merely a tool, like the eyes with which I perceived the outside world. I began to eat more fruit and vegetables, and when I ate an apple I tried to think of the tree. And when fish or meat (more rarely) were on the menu, I tried to be mindful of the fact and grateful to the animal. My interests became more refined and my tastes changed. I was no longer interested in throw-away products, ephemera and passing fads, my senses were directed towards old and classical things that had stood the test of time. I took pleasure in natural things, in what was real, an old clock, an old car and old books. I was in search of what is timeless, of substance that does not quickly pass. Then I was helped by strokes of fate, serious illnesses, disappointments, business and private setbacks and my own failure, which gave me the shocks needed to wake me up and ring alarm bells whenever I was on the wrong track. I started to search for what is really important and always valid in life, and to welcome my failures as a path to future success. I recognised the importance of consciously suffering to gain renewed energy, and voluntarily exposed myself to the often unpleasant character traits of other people in order to test my patience and practice modesty, for I am not free from pride, self-love and vanity. My attitudes changed, as did my way of looking at things. I no longer allowed all the negative influences, gossip, newspaper reports, television programmes etc. to get to me. I tried to see a positive side to things that had previously disgusted me, and to take a sceptical view of my previous preferences. I began to see things differently, and to observe myself. I learned to study Kernspecht like an exotic animal, and was particularly pleased when I caught him being angry and agitated. This immediately led to change and de-escalation, as I saw myself as ridiculous! One hard protective layer after another began to crack, and the better I understood myself, the easier it became to forgive the faults of others. All of us are absorbed by what we represent in the world, by what we believe and think is right. Our external senses deceive us and we are enslaved and hypnotised by the outside world, which we think is the only truth. It is only after working on myself for a long time that I now increasingly manage to divide my attention – as WingTsun intends – and not to become completely absorbed in the object of my interest. This means that different things are of equal validity to me, but not that I have become indifferent.
Naturally there are frequent setbacks and regressive phases, particularly when politics within the association demand my attention and I am unable to maintain my mental balance and remember that I also exist outside my role as the head of the organisation. I once used to laugh at former fighters such as Ueshiba (Aikido), who turned from warriors into lovers. Now I have understood that the strong person is peaceable and benevolent. We learn to fight so that we don't have to! It is only at the 1st level of WingTsun that we practice physical combat against another. On the 2nd level we apply the principles we have learned to daily life, in order to prevail in the world. And on the 3rd level we fight against our own inflated ego to defeat ourselves, to be reborn and become a new person, so to speak. Here we start right from the beginning again, by leaving aside the assimilated and incorrect things we considered so important at the 1st and 2nd levels and allowing other cogs we had forgotten in the great machinery of life, in our quest after "Give me more", to move to the foreground and come into their own. The 3rd level in WingTsun is something like a second education, a return to the school desk when we have already achieved something in life, when we stand for something and are a somebody. Those who have not yet achieved anything, have not yet proven their worth in life and have not yet fulfilled their wishes are not ready for this second education, which teaches us wisdom. A wisdom that has nothing to do with tricks, strategies and cleverness against others, but plenty to do with tricks, strategies and cleverness against everything that is wrong with OURSELVES. In this respect the 3rd level of WingTsun is just as ingenious and intelligently conceived as the first and second levels. True wisdom as I understand it only comes from love, from sympathy with one's fellow humans and the whole of living Nature. And in fact there is nothing that is devoid of life. Forbearance, consideration and understanding then come from the awareness that others cannot really act differently than their stage of development allows in each case. Anybody who is obsessed with thoughts of vengeance, or is dominated by the idea that others owe him something, still has a great deal to learn. For nobody owes us anything, we ourselves are debtors. Anybody who works on his own development and looks at himself first will recognise the same weaknesses in others, and have no difficulty in excusing them. Everybody has a cross to bear and lessons to learn. This is why nobody should be self-satisfied and arrogant enough as to condemn others because he believes himself to be at a higher development stage. A feeling of (actual or supposed) superiority is often the reason for violent aggression. We should stop taking ourselves seriously, criticising others (unless they regard us as their teacher), comparing ourselves with others and thinking we are more special or better than our fellow human beings. In fact the differences between us are only marginal and very superficial. We all respond to the hypnotic power of the outside world in a mechanical way, believing what our external senses tell us. Those who believe themselves or even openly claim to be "further" than others in a spiritual or inner sense are revealing their own poverty (to themselves) and showing that they have regressed. And nobody should look down on people who are not (yet) interested "in such things", or consider himself better or more valuable and force conversations of this nature upon them. Anybody who does act in this way should be self-critical and ask himself whether he is really working on his personal development, or whether he just imagines that he is, and whether the subject of spirituality is just another method he uses to strengthen his flawed and self-invented personality.
Do I feel I belong to a particular religious grouping? I study and respect many religious teachings and their prophets, though some religions (ways) are more on my wavelength than others. But in my understanding the deepest foundation of all religions must consist of the s a m e truth. Otherwise it cannot be t h e truth. The different religions only offer different ways of accessing this s i n g l e truth, and express it in different ways. In addition they give their followers, i.e. those who follow their way, simplified descriptions of the route and the rules to follow, so that these can also be understood and followed by ordinary people. All true religions live in the s a m e house, but because their believers are looking out of different windows and have a different angle of vision, they are unfortunately unaware of that fact.
Keith R. Kernspecht
P.S.: Let me stress that this is only my own, personal perception which has developed over many years. On no account do I intend to impose my opinions on others or injure their religious feelings. My aim is merely to provoke thought and warn against any form of fanaticism or sectarianism, for in the end all ways lead to God, under whatever name we worship him.