Essays From The Master

A view of dual dragons: Path-anti Path

In popular myth the Shaolin are marked by the tiger as the king of the world and the dragon as the symbol of heaven. Between heaven and Earth all are said to live and strive toward perfection in all things. In the Komuso Ryu the tiger is again the symbol of the world, the world as the universe of mind and body known as the Ku. The compliment to the Ku is the Wu symbolized by the cobra, which is symbolic of the Underworld, the universe of power and image; this comes from the lore of Mao Shan which taught Yin Sen Shu, the forerunner to the Silent Way. In the Komuso Ryu the tiger and the cobra, though they appear to oppose each other, join to become the dragon which is the Kokoro or heart of all things. One path shows moving with the Tao and the other shows transcending the collective Tao in favor of a personal, individual path; each path meeting the source symbolized by the dragon. In these two approaches or dual dragons we can see the two currents of Asian geomancy also Feng Shui, one feeding the collective and the other building the individual. The dragon, symbol of the Kokoro, of the Komuso Ryu appears black because it is a shadow of the Tao or path in every variation of space time pointing to the individual having to bring forth its own fire or light. By balancing the tiger and the cobra within the Komuso adept becomes the dragon, embodies its own path rather than striving for an external path from outside one’s self.

In classical symbolism the dragon grasps the pearl of the moon showing the balance of matter, the dragon, and energy, which appear to be opposites but are not; this is also seen in the salute of the open hand over the closed fist. The individual has the option of striving for the Tao or the dragon without or embodying the dragon or the path within, each having its demands and a price that must be paid. The price for the external path is that one must adhere to it while the other price is that one must take responsibility for the path one has forged and its effect beyond one’s self because all one does affects all else. There are times when the two dragons will align and times when they will oppose one must know which and when as well as for how long. When the two dragons are not aligned one still has the option of going one’s way so long as one plans for resistance of not being aligned with the Tao of the masses, one always has a choice and that is the power of the individual and its threat to the collective. None of this is to say that the Tao is wrong for all rather the aim is to say that the Tao of the many is not the Tao for all and that each has its place. The tension between the individual and the collective is a power that both types can and should use in keeping with their own paths. In representing matter the dragon contains all other elements leading to energy which is the fire of the dragon which is both creation and destruction.

The dragon within is no less divine than the dragon found outside the self because any valid path leads to the truth. This is why the kanji for dragon or ryu is also used to mean a school or a society because such embodies a way or a path. Some see the dragon that they are not aligned with as the shadow of the one that they are aligned with or its reflection. If the outer dragon or nonaligned dragon is the shadow of the aligned dragon then no matter which one is aligned with or not one has only to be true. The dragon in a sense as one’s path embodies the prism of reality through which one perceives and interacts with transpersonal reality. Understanding the nature of the external path and the inner, personal path, as dragons shows life to be a dance of dragons. At times one flows with others, at times one contends with others and at times one reflects or compliments others but all is a dance which one makes life or death.

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