My Chinese Dream
In the summer of 2013, I realized a lifelong dream of moving to China. I was a small child when I saw my first Jackie Chan movie and instantly became obsessed with the magic of Kung Fu and the place it came from: China. The story of how I came to live in China is a long one, filled with trials and tribulations, hopes and dreams and disappointments, but that is a story for a different day.
I arrived in China with nothing but a bag of clothes and a scholarship to study for my master’s degree in Chinese Philosophy at Xiamen University (The most beautiful university in China, and maybe the world!). I had no money, no friends or family and I did not speak the language, I was undoubtedly in for an adventure. After settling into my university and getting over my jet lag I couldn’t wait to practice my art in the land it came from (I am a practitioner of traditional Chinese martial arts). It wasn’t long after I started training around campus that I began meeting new friends that also trained in one form or another of Chinese martial arts. I met and trained with practitioners of Tai Ji Quan, Nan Quan, modern Wu Shu, San Da, White Crane and more. All these men and women had different but equally outstanding skill, I truly appreciate the time we spent training, sharing and conversing with one another.
It did not take long for me to gain a reputation at my university as “the kung fu foreigner”. In my first year at school I began teaching a Traditional kung Fu class on campus, my students were fellow classmates at Xia da. They were a small group of dedicated Chinese students, not only dedicated to the physical art of Kung Fu but also the history, philosophy and culture it represents. I appreciate those first few students I had, they were the first people I ever taught and in turn I learned a lot from them. Later, after graduation I would move around to different cities for work; Xiamen, Fuzhou, Guangzhou, Beijing. Wherever I went I would train outside and eventually neighbor kids would come to watch me and want to learn what I was doing. In this way, everywhere I lived in China I taught Kung Fu. Classes were taught in Chinese (my students were all Chinese kids that didn’t speak much English), they all worked hard! This was how I got my start as a Kung Fu instructor. I am currently living in Detroit where I teach American born Chinese children the ways of our ancestors.
While the martial arts I teach and study daily come from China, I was and am taught by an American teacher: my Shi Fu, Mr. G. He is a great man who helped shape my life in profound ways. This is the story of his martial journey as it has been relayed to me over the many years I have trained with him.
Meeting an American Master
On an early spring day, I was sitting at the shop I worked in as a clerk, it was a slow day, so I was mostly browsing the internet. I had recently been accepted to my American University and would be moving to go to college in a couple weeks. From a young age I had wanted to practice Traditional Chinese Kung Fu, the kind my heroes from all the movies I obsessively watched did. Growing up in a small town I had been able to practice a few styles of martials arts since childhood; Karate, Taekwondo, Tang Su Do, but I could never find what I truly wanted, to train with a real Kung Fu master. I would go through the years training these styles, along with White Crain Kung Fu as a teenager but would never find satisfaction in either the style I was training or the teachers I had, I would become profeccient at a few styles but something was always missing.
Now that I would be moving to a metropolitan area of Michigan (Ann Arbor) I thought I may finally find a Traditional Chinese school to join. I entered “Kung Fu Ann Arbor” in the search engine and was happily surprised with the variety of results that popped up. I visited several websites, most were well designed with Yin Yang’s, Ba Gua diagrams, testimonials, biographies and lineages on the teachers and masters of the school. School hours were posted online, and class descriptions were given in detail. Because of my past experiences I went through the first four that came up after the search and gave them all a call to inquire about their school before deciding which school may be most suitable for me. Two of the schools did not answer the phone, the two that did answer sounded like every other American teacher I had as a child, they answered my questions in basic ways and when I asked deeper questions ( spirituality, meditation etc.) they either had no answer or had what I would consider a very American answer, meaning the art may have been Chinese but the teachers were certainly modern and American in their way of thinking. I was beginning to get discouraged, as I had been my entire life when it came to martial arts, but I decided to search further down in the search engine.
As I got to the fourth page of the search engine a website came up, unlike the other sites it was a dot org, not a dot com. The website said, “Ann Arbor Shaolin Kung Fu”, I was intrigued and clicked the link. As I clicked on the link the webpage popped up, on the right side was the Buddhist Dharma Wheel and on the left was a poem. The poem read:
With their limbs and bodies fatigued,
Their Hearts Could not be repressed.
They were more than brave:
They were inspired by the spirit of Wu.
Below the poem it read the following: For serious inquires only, Call Shi Fu Michael Gillespie and gave his phone number, nothing more, nothing less. Now I was very intrigued and decided to give the school a call. I called the number given and a man answered the phone “Hello” he said, “Hello I am calling to speak with Shi Fu Michal Gillespie”, I replied. “oh, this is.” His tone was very calm, I was a little taken aback, “oh, hello sir I am calling about joining your Kung Fu class?” “yup” he said and then paused. I was not entirely comfortable with empty space in a conversation so I tried to fill it “so” I couldn’t get it out before her continued speaking, “Why do you want to learn kung fu?” he asked. Wow, I thought, no other teacher started by asking me questions. Every other teacher was there to answer questions, this teacher was there to ask them. I told him about my martial arts history, that I was decent at a few arts and had always wanted to learn Traditional Kung Fu but never had the opportunity. “uh huh, and what do you think about fighting?” he asked. I responded that I think knowing how to fight is an important part of life but that martial arts are not only about fighting, I also wanted to develop myself as a person. “OK”, he responded, Class is on Wednesday and Saturday. You are welcome to come train with us. And that was that, I didn’t ask him anything, but strangely I didn’t need to. It was already clear this was not a man that minced words or fooled around, I knew I would go to his class and try it out.
Two weeks from the day of our conversation I had moved to my new city and was ready to attend my first class at the Kung Fu school. As I followed the directions to the address I was given, I arrived at an elementary school inside of a residential neighborhood. I walked around the back and saw a group of about 8 people, men and women all between the ages of 18 and 35. I approached them and asked if this was Kung Fu class, one man said yes and asked if I had spoken with “Mr. G”. I surmised that was what they call the teacher I previously spoke with, I answered I had spoken with him over the phone and he invited me to attend class. The student informed me Mr. G would not be there until near the end of class, but I was welcome to train with the group. I agreed and before long the man I was speaking with told everyone to line up as he stood opposite us. We bowed to our ancestors and began warming up. Most martial arts classes bow in and bow out of class and have warmups, at first everything was very familiar. After warmups and stretching however, things became altogether new. I have been active my whole life, I trained martial arts, lifted weights, played sports and ate well, one can understand why I believed myself to be in good shape. So, it took me by great surprise to learn that in fact, I was not in shape at all! After roughly an hour and half of training I was exhausted, sore, drenched in sweat and my legs were] shaking. This was my first taste of real traditional Chinese Martial Arts, I loved it!
As we were doing our last bit of training for the evening, I heard a student say, “G’s here”. I looked over toward the parking lot and saw a man walking toward us. He was wearing all black and had a black ‘mao’ style hat on, he was of an average build and height. We finished our training and the senior students went to talk to him. After they had spoken, I walked up to introduce myself, putting my hand out to shake his I said it was nice to meet him. He shook my hand, looked me up and down, pointed at my arms and asked me “where did you get those”? “where did I get what?” I asked. “those” he replied and I new he meant my muscles (like I said, I thought I was in shape). I laughed and told him I got them at the gym, That I love working out and being in shape. He paused for a while, “mm hmm”. Was all he said. “So how did you like Kung Fu?” he asked. “I loved it!” I replied. “Good, come back Saturday morning and let’s see”, he taught class on Saturdays. I told him I would see him on Saturday and with that he went off with the other students to practice more advanced things and I got in my car and left.
The Saturday morning class was on the second floor of an old church. It had an old wooden floor and a small stage at the far end, a very suitable space for practicing. For the Saturday class there were more students, between 12 and 15. When I arrived Mr. G was already there, surrounded by people. I did not get a chance to speak with him before we were all told to line up. We lined up with Mr. G facing us, “we will bow to our ancestors, for their sacrifice and preservation of the arts.” With that we all bowed together. After bowing the class was handed over to a senior student and Mr. G walked over to the corner and kept an eye on our training. After the warmups and stretching it was time for our stance work （步型）Mr. G walked around the class occasionally commenting for a senior student to help a beginner student, but not yet taking a direct approach with any students. After our stance work and line drill training Mr. G had all the students line up on the side of the room and asked three students to show us a form （套路）. First, I saw a longfist Form, then Praying Mantis, then Bagua. It was all amazing to me! This was the Kung Fu I had always wanted to learn! After we all saw the performances and clapped for the performers, we formed a circle around the teacher. He told us the history of the Shaolin temple, how monks and emperors alike would study together learning and sharing knowledge. He told the stories of war, thievery, revenge and revolution. He relayed a grand history of the arts we are studying and of the men and women who sacrificed and died to preserve the arts through the different dynasties in China. I was enamored, it was all so fascinating and magical to me.
The requirements to become a true Chinese martial artist are stringent. After telling us about the history of the arts, we were then given an idea of what it takes to be a student of his school, and this master. “You will train stance work for three months before you may learn anymore.” G said in a matter of fact way. He then went on to speak about a topic he would often bring up in future class discussions, the “white mans world”. He spoke about the need in this modern society to have everything right now, to advance quickly, learn before one is ready, lose weight with a pill, get a black belt within three years. He spoke of society’s obsession with possessions and sexy bodies, of getting that big house, nice car and attractive woman or man. We were told that traditional Chinese martial arts require patience, perseverance and a willingness to suffer now, in order to see benefits in the future. “If you have trained for less than ten years, you are a beginner, once you have trained for twenty years you may begin to know some things.” He told us with a mischievous smile on his face. “so, let’s see who here really wants to train Kung Fu.” And with that we were told to line up and bow out, we all faced the master, bowed to him and in return he bowed to us. The more senior students were sticking around to train technique but for me class was over. Before I left, I said goodbye to Mr. G and thanked him, “what did you think?” he asked. “I like it a lot, sir!” I replied. He told me t keep coming, I ensured him I would and with that my introduction to Traditional Chinese martial arts and to my teacher was complete.
A journey of a thousand miles…
Over the next few months I did not miss a class. On Mondays and Wednesdays, I would train with the senior students and on Saturdays Mr. G would attend class to watch over us and teach selected, specialized trainings to the more advanced students. When G was in class he did not speak much (he never spoke much) and when he did, it was always to the group and there was little time for questions. The most I would say to him is hello and goodbye, other than that I was pretty sure he did not know I existed. It was made expressly clear to the class that becoming profeccient with our basic stances, those being: Horse stance, Bow stance, Cat stance, Crane stance and Twist stance along with the more advanced drop stance and Cannon fist stance needed to be accomplished before the student was allowed to move on to anything else. The word profeccient in this case means not only being able to perform the stance properly but to hold it for a prolonged period and for it to be low enough to the ground to be proper. If you have never trained Chinese martial arts you may be thinking this should not be too difficult a task, let me be the first to tell you, you would be wrong! Doing a squat is easy, holding a squat for two minutes at a ninety-degree angle is near impossible for a novice, no matter how strong he or she thinks they are.
I am a man that loves a challenge! When we did not have class, I would train at home, first doing the normal workout I had been doing, lifting weights etc. Then doing our cardio and stance training. When first training stances we were told to try to hold each one for one-minute on each side, just holding the stances for this one minute was torture, but I did it, every day. Training in class was even more intense, there were plenty of days when I would return home from class, barely able to walk from soreness and just lay on the couch, unable to move for the remainder of the day. I was beginning to understand why the vast majority of people who begin training Chinese martial arts drop out before they learn anything more than basics, it is simply too hard, takes too much time and gives one no reward other than the feeling that you have worked hard.
About one year after I had started training at the school, I was working a job selling fitness equipment to put myself through college. I was still going to class regularly and training my basics diligently along with the few short drills I had been taught, and even though I had not felt a lot of progress I was still in love with kung fu. On a sunny day I was at the shop, no customers were around so I was working on my Hong Quan drill when I received a phone call, “hello?” I answered. “josh?” the person on the other line was Mr. G. “Mr. G, hello sir!” I replied, this was his first time calling me. “I just want to check in on you and see how you are doing.” he said, I replied I was doing good and working hard. “well that’s why I wanted to call you.” He said. “you may not realize but I have been watching, and I see you are a hard worker.” “yes sir”. I replied, not knowing what to say but very happy at his acknowledgement. He went on to tell me that he believed I had what it takes to become a “kung Fu guy”. I told him my life’s dream was to become a great Chinese martial artist and that I wouldn’t stop training. “I believe you”, was his reply. “but we have to talk.”. Uh oh, I thought, what did I do wrong? He then told me that every man must make a choice in his life, of which path to go down. A man cannot go down two sperate paths simultaneously, a man cannot serve two masters. This phrase caught my ear because Mr. G would not let any of his students call him Master. He told me he knew I was still engaged in “western style” strength training (lifting heavy weights etc.) and that while those exercises made my body look good, they did nothing for my kung fu, he then took a long pause. “but Sir” I began, doesn’t my weight training make me stronger? “in some way, yes. But not in the way I need you to be strong.” The way he needs me to be strong. He continued, “the western way of working out is largely about ego.” He stated. “large muscles, zero fat, that’s nice to look at but not good for much else” Now I felt attacked, it was true that I was feeding my ego by wanting to look good, but it was hard to admit. “yah but I like being healthy and being in shape!” I said stubbornly. “I’m sure you do.” He said and then he hit me with the ultimatum, “but do you want to be a kung fu guy?” he asked. “yes!” I said emphatically. “well then, I am going to need to you to trust me. Trust me with your body, do what I say to do, train how I say to train and I will teach you kung fu, deal?” Wow, I was thrown aback. I had been working out my whole life and did not want to stop, but I wanted to do kung fu so badly and after all these years I had found a genuine teacher. “OK” I said, I’ll do what you say. “great, just keep with the training and I’ll see you on Saturday.” Yes sir! And with that we hung up the phone.
When we hung up the phone, I was extremely excited. I had waited a year for this call, my teacher had not only acknowledged me but told me that I could be a “kung fu guy” If I gave up my old ways and followed his teachings exclusively. It would be difficult, but I finally felt I was on my way to becoming a Chinese martial artist. The following Saturday when I arrived in class it felt a bit different; I had a pep in my step and was sure I was on the right path. After class I met with Mr. G and was told I could finally start my first form. My first form! I was excited and already knew the form I wanted to learn, the same form my teacher had learned first those many years ago, Gong Li Quan (power boxing). It took a few months to learn the entire form and a few more months to learn the hidden movements and applications inside the form. Chinese martial arts are not obvious, one may know several forms, practice them diligently for many years yet still not understand the purpose of the forms they have practiced. This was another lesson I was learning, without a master to show the why and not just the how Chinese martial arts are incomplete and therefore there are many who practice the arts for multiple years but are still themselves incomplete martial artists, not truly knowing how to use what they practice.
About two years into my training with Mr. G I was improving at a good rate. I felt good about my progress and was happy to continue learning forms, strength exercises and fighting techniques, but an incident would occur that would forever change my understanding of the arts and of my own abilities. It was a winter day and I was training outdoors; I was practicing a movement in which I jump in the air, twist my body 360 degrees and land in a long low stance. As I landed my leg slipped on some ice I had not seen, and I heard a pop in my hip. After trying to rest my body for a few days it soon became obvious this was a serious injury, I went to the doctor who told me I tore a muscle and would need surgery. I was devastated, my Kung Fu was just getting good and I didn’t want to stop training. I spoke with my teacher about the issue, he then told me about something called ‘Qi Gong’. He told me it involved breathing and moving slowly, that it was something I could do even when injured or recovering and more importantly that it would help me in all aspects of my Kung Fu, thus started my venture in to the world of Qi Gong. I began learning my first qi gong form before my surgery, it was called “Shaolin temple five animals qi gong”. Though it moved slowly and didn’t focus on fighting at all it was challenging in a different way. In qi gong the way we breath and the movement of the body with the breath is essential. One’s breath must be slow and deliberate and one’s movements must follow one’s breath completely and organically. While the practice of qi gong looks easy when compared with the hard styles of Shaolin kung fu, it is equally, and I would say even more challenging to obtain skill in. Always being one that is up for a challenge I became equally enthralled with my qigong practice as I had been with kung Fu.
My surgery came and went and after another year I was healed, for all but the week of my surgery I had been practicing qigong everyday and had noticed changes in my body and mind. I was becoming more in touch with the world around me and the world within. I could move slower when I chose to and the connection between my body and mind was like it had never been before. I decided that qigong was just as important as kung fu and asked Mr. G to teach me more qigong, I wanted to obtain the very pinnacle of this art and medicinal practice. He told me it would be a step by step process, but he would teach me. My art was ready to take the next step.
Getting to know my teacher
Perhaps because qigong takes a long time to learn, or perhaps for other reasons it was at this time I was first invited to Mr. G’s home to train one on one with him. This was a very big honor for me, not many of his students had the opportunity to train alone with the teacher, let alone in his home. When I first arrived at his home I was greeted at the door by his wife, a wonderfully kind Japanese woman. I came in and was offered a cup of tea, I accepted the offer and proceeded to have a conversation with my teacher and his wife. We spoke of many things, kung fu, religion (my teacher’s wife and I are both Buddhist) health and purpose. After a great conversation I was invited to the living room to begin learning my new qigong form called Yi Jin Jing or ‘muscle tendon changing classic’. I was now learning details of qigong and the concept of Chinese medicine. My teacher told me “a complete Chinese martial artist practices forms, fighting and qigong”, if one element is missing that cannot be called traditional Chinese martial arts. This enforced my feeling that I was indeed practicing the real thing, I was training in the way our ancestors did, paying homage to the past and cultivating myself in the present and for the future. That first day of private training was very special to me and motivated me even more to continue on my path.
For the remainder of my time training with Mr. G I would attend class less and less and go train privately at his home more and more. I was learning qigong, forms, techniques and various other trainings. While it was still not easy to get an answer from him, I was at least more comfortable asking now. If I asked a question but was not ready to know the answer, he would respond in silence, looking at me in such a way that told me no answer would be given. If I asked a question that showed I had at least a cursory understanding of the subject he would answer with a smile and say “maybe”, and If my question came by way of my own self-discovery and desire for clarification or substantiation he would answer it, but only in the limited context of which I asked and would not elaborate. This method of teaching made me think for myself, it made me examine everything I did and make sure I understood all I could before going to him for an answer. Find out what you can first, examine your body, mind and spirit. Once you have found answers for yourself the teacher will help you reach the next step, where once again you will be on your own.
When I found out I had been accepted to Xiamen University I was very excited to go, except that I had to leave my teacher and stop our training. I was very happy when he and I spoke, and he told me not only to go to China but that we could train when I came home for the summer and we could stay in contact while I was gone. He would give me many things to practice while in China so that my training would not slow down. I still had about six months before I would leave and in those six months I would spend as much time as possible at Mr. G’s home, learning anything he would to teach me. I was not yet good enough to be proficient, but I was working hard at it every day, and my teacher knew that. He told me he saw himself in me, “to practice this stuff the way people like us do, you have to be a little crazy.” He would tell me. People like us, I was unsure exactly what he meant but somehow knew he and I and maybe all people who take Kung Fu as their lifestyle are a little insane. Why else would you devote yourself to an ancient practice that takes years to see great results and causes you pain daily? Crazy. I loved it, Yes, I am crazy! Yes, I suffer everyday for this art that is not paying me or giving me any worldly benefit, and I will train every day for the rest of my life. Yes, we must be mad!
My Shi Fu
Before leaving for China I had dinner with my teacher. It was then that I found out his lineage and learned some of his story. After all this time I had not asked these questions for fear of not getting an answer, but now that I would be leaving, I gained the courage to ask. Not all questions were answered right away, some took years to find out and some of his history I still do not know, here is what was told to me on that night. Mr. G first became interested in Asian martial arts when as a child he saw an episode of a courtroom based tv show that featured Asian martial arts. He began his journey by training Judo and Shaolin boxing with a Japanese master that had spent time with the monks of Shaolin temple. Later, as a young adult he would train with three separate Chinese teachers that all had a lasting impact on his life. One, a man from Guangzhou that taught Northern Shaolin styles along with Shuai Jiao. One, a famous man from Hebei and later Taiwan that taught Shuai Jiao, Shaolin temple boxing and various other styles, and one man who taught what would become my favorite style of Chinese martial arts: Baji Quan, from Hebei province. He told me though he had a few teachers he was never made a disciple; he was never the outstanding student in class, and he was never made to feel he was in any way special. He simply showed up every day, worked extremely hard and learned an extensive amount of material. In the 1960’s and 70’s in America there were not many Americans learning Chinese martial arts and Chinese teachers were very picky who they would share knowledge with. My teacher never pushed for more or felt left out, he did what was taught and performed when asked to. While he was not a “chosen one” he was a proficient fighter. He would often be told to fight the advanced students in class, and he would always give his all, leaving his opponent no choice but to succumb to his skill. In this way, my teacher earned his place in class and with all his teachers.
Though he did not look for fame or admiration Mr. G’s skills did not go unnoticed. He was approached by one of his teachers and was told he needed to become a teacher and pass the arts down to the next generations. He accepted and was then told he needed permission to do so from a counsel of men he had never met, a group of Chinese martial artists living in America that would decide his fate. Over the next two years he went to see this counsel, wrote them letters, answered various questions and performed various physical acts before finally being given permission to be a teacher of traditional Chinese martial arts. No fame, no glamour, just hard work, dedication and perseverance. After he told me these things, I felt I understood now why he was stricter than any teachers I had before. Why he kept to the traditional way and was unflinching in the face of modernity or the “white man’s world” For Mr. G Kung Fu was not something to do for fun or interest. It was not a way to get rich or manipulate people, it was not for ego or self-aggrandizement. It was a way of life, a method of bettering ones self, a discipline to be taken seriously and only those who felt the same as he would truly be accepted, just as it has been between masters and students in China for generations.
The last thing I asked my teacher before leaving for China was about our relationship. It had been a long journey to get where we were, and I was constantly reminded of how little he had taught me yet, but I had a request. Mr. G will never call himself a master, if you asked him, he would tell you he is a teacher that had the good fortune of being taught by great masters. Well, that is what he would tell you, what quite a few others would say is that he is indeed a master, and a great man. However, none of his students refer to him as master. Some teachers can’t wait to be addressed in this way but not my teacher, he never wanted any of his students to call him “shi fu”. My question was why? Why does no one call him master? He told me that the word master means more than teacher, it describes a relationship between two people master and student, and that relationship is to be taken with the utmost seriousness. After all his years of teaching he had not allowed any students to enter this relationship with him. The relationship between student and master is much like that of father and son, the student will do whatever the master says without question to the best of their ability. The student may only have one master and will follow that master’s method without interruption or adjustment. I understood exactly what he meant, and with a frog in my throat I asked him, “may I call you Shi Fu, sir?” He looked at me in the eyes, didn’t say anything and nodded yes. From that moment until today he has been my Shi Fu.
The relationship one has with one’s master is one of responsibility. While I was in China we would communicate, when I began teaching Kung Fu at my university, he would guide me behind the scenes. When I came home for summers, and once I moved back to Michigan, he would teach me as much as I could retain, and I would do anything he needed. Be it helping around the house, driving him places, or several other tasks large and small; if it needed to be done and I was around, I would do it. I loved that I was given the chance to prove myself, to be the best student I could be and show him I was dedicated to the art and to him. This is the relationship we still have, and I am still eager to show that I am a dedicated and attentive student.
After spending over a decade with my Shi Fu I have gained a great deal of knowledge, though I know I still have much more to learn. In later years I was told that in fact, while Shi Fu was never a disciple of any Martial arts master, he did become one man’s disciple. The man’s name is Doctor Li, a 9th generation practitioner of Traditional Chinese medicine. Mr. G studied with him for twenty years, learning a very special and unique type of xue wei 穴位 that focuses on emotional regulation. My Shi Fu believes this emotional balancing method is the highest level of Kung Fu he has obtained. Doctor Li passed away some time ago, before passing he told my Shi Fu he needed to pass on his family’s methods for fear they would be lost in the pages of time. I have begun learning these methods now and I hope that along with my Kung Fu and Qigong I will be able to pass along these traditional methods of self-improvement for future generations.
In our modern world material possessions, speed and convenience are valued over patience, persistence and virtue. My Shi Fu calls this the white man’s world and bemoans that we are all caught in the web of modernity. Everyone is trying to get somewhere, but what will they do when they arrive? He once told me, after I had expressed frustration with my progress as a martial artist and a man, “don’t confuse going fast with getting somewhere.” Following our traditional methods is a slow process, full of ups and downs, breakthroughs and pitfalls. Chinese martial arts are not for people who “want it now”, it is not for those who wish to master a skill after a short period of time or to get something out of it. The practice of Traditional Chinese martial arts is the practice of self-betterment, it is not for others, it is for one’s self. There is a saying “the man who desires to be a master, will never achieve mastery.” Our community is small, but something we all understand is this; Kung Fu is a lifelong journey, the learning never ends, it continues in perpetuity. I am happy to say I am that journey, though I have much yet to learn I have been blessed to have the guidance of a true master.