In this chapter, we will discuss the views of art and creativity in the Principle of Harmony. Our first step will be to discuss the traditional notion of the "DO" in the Orient, for though it literally translates as "art", it does not mean art in the western sense. There is an important difference which must be clarified in order to appreciate martial arts more fully. After doing this, we will discuss the views of Wonhwa Do in reference to traditional notions. Of particular interest will be the specific concepts of beauty and also of the creative process itself.
I. The Concept of "Do"
A. Its meaning
We have mentioned that DO translates as "art" and, as we would expect, there are many works of art in Asia produced by masters of the decorative arts. We are now familiar with Asian landscapes, watercolour studies, pottery, architecture, etc. However, Do also translates as "path" or "way" and because of this, a broader sense of meaning is imputed to art, and to the practitioners of the various Do. As our founder explains, Do refers to a way of life. It is a lifelong endeavour to tread a particular internal path, with the hope of reaching a certain desired destination. This was the nature of the art which the Shaolin monks were engaged in, and their approach illustrates that this is no longer "art" in the usual sense of producing "pieces" of art.
B. The Object of Creativity
The objects of creativity which we are accustomed to seeing fill the galleries, museums and concert halls all over the world. The greatest of these art objects are called "masterpieces", and that word brings to mind certain well-known paintings, sculptures, symphonies, books, etc. And as we can learn from some study, the individuals who produced these masterly artworks were not always the most admirable, balanced or wholesome people. Still, the objects they created are often remarkable.
The concept of the DO however has a different focus. Because it is a way of life, the main object of creativity is not a finished artwork though beautiful objects do result. Rather, the object of creative focus ends up being the artist himself, with the art receding slightly into a supportive function. This is because a DO does not pursue art for its own sake, but rather views art as a medium for spiritual development. This characteristic is what transforms a particular art into a path or way of life.
The DO aims at producing a beautiful artist, and whatever beautiful pieces he produces along the way are then seen as external achievements which reflect the more important internal accomplishment of personal mastery.
To restate is simply, rather than a great piece of art, the object of creativity
of the DO is the artist himself. One grandmaster stated that "The ultimate
aim of the art of karate lies not in victory or defeat, but in the perfection
of the character of its participants." (G. Funakoshi) In the martial arts,
such a statement is fairly typical among its best devotees.
The DO then has a distinct purpose: through discipline and purification, the student can achieve personal harmony. This provides a necessary basis for the development of social harmony as well.
C. The Kinds of Do
There are various kinds of DO in Asia which can serve as media for development. Under a master's guidance, a student would find the particular DO which most suited his character and then commit his life to that path. Some of the traditional DO are painting, flower arranging, the tea ceremony, dance and calligraphy. The military DO are horsemanship, archery, swordsmanship and various other weapon and bare-handed styles.
D. The Concept of Beauty
With such a focus on the development of the human being, the concept of beauty upon a DO is heavily related to the notion of virtue. This requires the aspirant to strive towards the achievement of inner balance and harmony. This will result in virtuous behaviour or, as Lao Tzu preferred to say, in normality. This concern with virtue is based upon the traditional Asian (Confucian, Buddhist and Taoist) views of ideal man, and the DO serves as the means to attain this ideal.
In relation to the Asian arts themselves, there are general cultural notions of what creates beauty, but no articulated philosophy of art which is universally accepted. It is observable however that there is an affinity between the characters of a virtuous man and a beautiful artwork. A virtuous man is altruistic and humble; he is modest and somewhat self-effacing. These attitudes are mirrored in the arts, where there is a marked preference in composition for space rather than for mass. Thus, Oriental music, painting, and sculpture are often characterized by a certain sparseness, restraint and understatement which is reflective of the modest gravity of an ideal man.
It is of value to note that beautiful art is considered to have a beneficial effect upon character development. Hsun Tzu, a disciple of Confucius noted that:
"Music is an expression of joy, an irrepressible part of human emotion. Men cannot be without joy, and joy invariably breaks out in voice and finds expression in movement . . . Music is the constant harmony; ritual is the invariable propriety. Music establishes union and harmony; ritual maintains difference and distinction."
From such views come the concern with the quality of art which man should surround himself with. For beautiful things will support noble aspiration, and ugly things will undermine it.
E. The Process of Creativity
Traditionally, as one embarks upon the DO, there is a definite process of creation which can be observed. It is certainly valuable for us to touch upon it here.
An aspirant's first step upon the DO was to find a master. Finding a master in the olden days was harder than it is now. For example, it was not easy to gain admittance to the Shaolin monastery. Pilgrims hopeful for admission were ignored at the gates for days, as they endured scorching sun and drenching rains. If they persevered, they would be admitted to the monastery and assigned to kitchen, herb gathering or janitorial duties which could last for years. If they passed through this, they would be taught stances alone for many more months. If they could endure this, then movement would be introduced. Much later, hand techniques would follow, and still later, leg techniques and so on. This process extended for years and even decades. Stories abound of such traditions, but their essence is the same: the DO is a path towards spiritual development, and it is so rigorous that only the most sincerely determined students could traverse the entire path. Every step has a purpose though it is often incomprehensible to the student, especially in the beginning years, when the student still has no understanding of his master's ways.
Of critical importance upon the DO was the development through the years of a heart-to-heart relationship between the master and student. This is unfortunately difficult to achieve through modern commercial training methods where the student no longer lives for years in the master's monastery or home. Still, an excellent teacher can come to know his student relatively intimately, not through conversation, but through observation of the student's behaviour throughout the class periods.
Only with the passage of time would a student begin to realize the seriousness of a true master's commitment. For the term "mastery" does not refer to technical expertise alone, but originally, in the Ch'an (zen) sense it refers to the mastery of human nature. And therein lies the reason whey the study of martial arts was originally a life-long DO: what is occurring is not only defence training, but the exposure, discovery, development and even repair of the human spirit. And this can never be a short term project.
The term which is sometimes used to describe the operation of the master is "transmission". What this refers to is a non-verbal communication of content by the master from spirit to spirit. The student's sensitivity to this process was developed by forcing his powers of observation and intuition to become sharper. This was done by the master's reliance upon movement and non-speaking in order to conduct instruction. Without being told extensively, carefully and repeatedly what and how to do things, the student was forced to rely upon observation, imitation and repetition, and with time, it might become possible to begin discerning with master's shimjung cloaked within the brusque actions of his instruction.
If one was sincere, sensitive and also fortunate enough to have a good instructor, the treasured result of such a heart-to-heart relationship would be the blossoming of virtue within the student. As the master's benevolence was discovered, the natural response of loyalty would be evoked from the heart of the student, and a transition from apprenticeship to discipleship would be made. Upon the DO, this is one of the great treasures to be discovered. It is because of such an occurrence that spiritual lineage is important to practitioners of a DO: there is a transmission of Shimjung from generation to generation, and it is a mark of deepest connection and historical continuity, bonding a disciple to the past, and allowing him to connect others in the future to an unbroken line of heart. In this way, the master who loves is rewarded by immortality in the hearts of his disciples.
A typical story which illustrates this point follows: Two opposing armies converged upon a battlefield one day, but one of the two generals fell ill. He explained that he could not draw his bow that day and this disturbed his officers for they felt that this would demoralize their men. The general, an older man, then asked who the leader of the opposing army was, and upon hearing the name he pronounced that he would survive that day. His officers did not understand why their general was confident of this. Later on, when the two generals finally confronted one another, the younger asked the elder's name. Upon hearing it, he drew his bow and fired his arrows into the air. He then explained that he had come prepared to shoot that day, and so he had. But he had also recognized that the older man had taught the bow to his own master. And so he bowed respectfully to the old master and departed. This story is a small example of the kind of deeply-rooted feeling incurred by discipleship.
II. The Concept of Wonhwa Do
A. The Scope of Wonhwa Do
As a DO, Wonhwa Do is not only an art of self-defence but a way of life. As in tradition, its object of creativity are not only the techniques of its system, but more importantly, its practitioners.
B. The Purpose of Wonhwa Do
The purposes of Wonhwa Do reflect this concern with creating a harmonized way of life among its practitioners. Thus, beyond the basic purpose of self-defence, there are other essential considerations which merit review.
A main purpose of Wonhwa Do is the restoration of man's original human nature. Basically referring to the unification of mind and body, this nature was discussed extensively in the third chapter of this book, and through it Wonhwa Do is able to provide far-reaching yet clearly elucidated ideals for lifelong human development. We will review these ideals momentarily, but the main point here is that Wonhwa Do is purposed to restore the original human nature of man.
Also, Wonhwa Do is purposed to promote a new view of ethics. Through this, the confusion in values which is eroding society can be confronted effectively. Thus, the Wonhwa Do way of life is concerned with the creation of an ethical society.
And finally, Wonhwa Do is purposed to accomplish the unification of martial arts. As had been explained in the introductory chapter, this must be approached from both an internal and external standpoint.
Firstly, since the goal of any true DO in the traditional sense is for internal perfection, the internal understandings of these arts must be unified. Mainly due to the differences and limitations of the underlying philosophies of martial arts, such a unification has been hitherto impossible. As in philosophy of religion, division prevails and conflict sometimes erupts. This is extremely unfortunate, for in the end, the various DO have similar commitments to opposing evil, achieving perfection and preserving a peaceful world. Through the Principle of Harmony, the underlying philosophies of the martial arts can be reconciled and elevated.
Secondly, through the harmonization of the underlying philosophies of martial arts, the external unification of their defensive techniques becomes more plausible.
CThe Wonhwa Do View of Human Nature
As we had mentioned earlier, Wonhwa Do has the advantage of a clear philosophical understanding of human nature. This allows us to have a much more specific idea of what we are striving towards through our training.
Firstly, the Wonhwa Do view of human nature reveals the "correlativity" of man. In other words, by clearly identifying Sung Sang and Hyung Sang, it provides a specific understanding of mind-body unity. And by identifying yang and yin, it explains the value of the harmonized family.
Secondly, man's "individuality" is explained by identifying Individual Images, which account for the God-given uniqueness of each person.
Thirdly, the Wonhwa Do view of human nature explains the "Original character" of man: his Shimjung, Logos and Creativity. By identifying these most essential human characteristics, it presents clear focal points for the direction of effort towards character development.
Fourthly, the Wonhwa Do view of human nature identifies the dual consciousness within original man: "object-consciousness" and "subject consciousness". By explaining the former, it clarifies the meaning of being centered upon the Origin. And by explaining the latter, it provides guidelines for the proper exercise of authority and dominion.
Fifthly, the Wonhwa Do view of human nature identifies the three "Standards of Harmony": the harmonized individual, the harmonized family and the harmonized world. This clarifies the three main areas in life upon which our happiness depends.
Finally, the Wonhwa Do view of human nature identifies the "Fallen Nature" of man. Through this, the exact barriers which obstruct the development of original human nature have been identified.
Once again, the reason all these understandings are of vital importance is that the DO is concerned with the artist as well as the art form. Thus, the ideal of original human nature is a basic part of the concept of art in Wonhwa Do.
D.The Concept of Beauty
Wonhwa Do features a uniquely clear understanding of the nature of beauty, based upon the Principle of Harmony. The three major factors which determine beauty are: the Purpose for which an object is created, the harmony of elements within the object, and finally the character of the artist or observer who appraises the object.
1. Purpose of Beauty
The first determining factor of beauty is Purpose. To understand this, it is necessary for us to refer back to the Principle of Harmony. It will be remembered that there are two kinds of Purpose in the universe: whole-purpose and individual-purpose. The former is concerned with the maintenance and development of the larger being and the latter is concerned with self-maintenance and development. Both purposes are necessary for existence, however the whole-purpose is primary and it encompasses the individual purpose. The former is concerned with the maintenance and development of the larger being and the latter is concerned with self-maintenance and development. Both purposes are necessary for existence, however the whole purpose is primary and it encompasses the individual purpose.
What this means is that, in order for something to be beautiful, it must exist primarily for the benefit of the larger being. In simpler words, it should embody the whole-purpose before the individual purpose.
What this means is that, in order for something to be beautiful, it must exist primarily for the benefit of the larger being. In simpler words, it should embody the whole-purpose before the individual purpose.
For example, a form in Wonhwa Do has two purposes. Its whole-purpose is to elevate and inspire those who would observe it; its individual-purpose is to provide practice and development for the performer himself. If the performance places priority on the whole-purpose, then it is beautiful.
There is a deeper level to regard Purpose from: the Principle of Harmony identifies the Origin as the source of Purpose. Thus, it is also necessary to reflect seriously on the Purpose for which the Origin originally created, for this will provide man with a true "standard" of judgement. From the Principle of Harmony, it will be remembered that the Origin was motivated to create the world because of Shimjung. It was this irrepressible impulse which caused the Origin to create objects with whom He could relate and experience joy. The simple directness of this motive exemplifies a true Purpose for the creation of man-made objects. In other words, when man creates something, it should be no less than the expression of an Original, centered heart.
In summary then, to determine the beauty of an object, the purpose for its creation needs to be compared with Original Purpose: If an object was created with a pure, benevolent motivation, then it embodies a good purpose. Also, if an object is created with the purpose of benefitting others (whole-purpose) before itself, then the object in question fulfills the first factor of being beautiful: its Purpose is good.
2. The Harmony of Elements
The second determining factor of beauty is the harmony of elements within an object. The true standard for the determination of harmony is derived from the Principle of Harmony within the cosmos. There, it is seen that one of the main natures of the Cosmic Law (Give and Take Action) is the harmony of correlative elements; through it, the beauty of the universe is possible. This same law applies to man-made things: there must be a balance between the subject and object elements in an artwork.
To clarify this, let us first regard harmony between internal and external elements in two examples: a photograph of a Wonhwa Do form, and a person. In the photograph, there would need to be harmony between the determined and dramatic emotion (internal element) and the colours, lines, shapes, and spaces (external element) of the photograph. As the diagram illustrates, if these elements were harmonized, i.e. if the emotions were effectively captured by the image, there would be harmony between the internal and external elements and beauty would result.
In a person, there would need to be harmony between mind (internal element) and body (external element) of the photograph. As the diagram illustrates, if these elements were harmonized, i.e. if the emotions were effectively captured by the image, there would be harmony between the internal and external elements and beauty would result.
Secondly, let us regard harmony between yang and yin in the same examples.
In the photograph, there would need to be harmony between strong (yang) colours, lines, shapes and spaces. Thus, a highly lit fist might be balanced against a muted background; the oblique line of a high kick might be balanced against the evenness of the floorline; the solid shape of the body might be balanced against the thinness of the uniform; and the dynamic image of the fighter might be balanced against the static space of an open stage. As long as there is balance between such elements, the photograph will be a beautiful one.
In the human personality, there would need to be harmony between courage (a yang virtue) and humility (a yin virtue) for example. These are of course only two of many moral virtues. In any case, if there is balance within the personality the result is beauty.
Emotional INTERNAL EXTERNAL Colour,
Content Form, etc
3. Human Character and Beauty
The third determining factor of beauty is character; specifically, the character of the person who is creating or appraising the object. Based upon the Wonhwa Do view of man, a person of character is one who possesses "object-consciousness". If such a person is considering an object which has both a true Purpose and also harmony, then the essential beauty of that object will be actually perceived and appreciated.
One thing this means is that the beauty of anything must be finally determined by man. For example, if a form is beautiful, but an insensitive person does not recognize it, the essential beauty of that form is wasted or lost. However, if the form is appreciated by a sensitive person, beauty is attributed to it. Furthermore, because man is imaginative and can add meaning to what he perceives, it is possible for a person to project even more beauty onto a form - or any other object - than it essentially has.
The other way that character affects beauty occurs in the creative act itself: the artist produces works which reflects his own character. If his character is beautiful, the resulting artwork can be also; however, if his character is distorted, then this also would be projected into his creations.
According to the Wonhwa Do view of man, character and personality have to do with achieving harmony and balance between the intellect, emotion and will, based upon Shimjung; this constitutes a well-rounded personality. A person of such character can produce beautiful art. Let us make a small example: In its theme, subject matter and plan of movement, the Form of Creation expresses the miracle of creation with great power and beauty. Executed by two students equal in technique but not in character, the results would be different: A performer with good character would project that into the form, harmonizing both internally and externally with it. However, if placed in the hands of the performer with poor character, though the movements would be executed, the beauty of the form would be damaged by the performer himself, as he projected his inner imbalance, disharmony and self-centeredness into the form. In this way, character affects beauty in Wonhwa Do, and this holds true of course for any other DO or creative act.
These three - Purpose, harmony and character - are the main factors which Wonhwa Do philosophy identifies as essential in the determination of beauty. Though we have discussed them briefly and only in a martial arts context here, these ideas actually open a door for the realization of beauty in all of the arts.
E.The Creative Process
In Wonhwa Do instruction, the traditional elements of the creative process can be discerned. However, because of its unique understanding of the original characteristic of "creativity", Wonhwa Do philosophy is able to explain the inner workings of the creative process. There are four basic factors which that process depends upon. They are: "Purpose", "subject matter", "plan" and "technique".
1. The Establishment of Purpose
Purpose or motive is the first essential factor which the artist must establish. For the creation of art cannot rest upon idle manipulation of material; there must be a purpose behind the act of creating. And a good artwork firstly depends upon a good initial Purpose.
From the Principle of Harmony we can recall that true Purpose is generated by Shimjung; that is, the benevolent heart of original character. An artist with Shimjung would only incline to pure purposes and motives in creating anything.
The Purpose of an artwork would also be affected by the consciousness of the artist. Thus, in Wonhwa do, the artist should possess the attitude of object-consciousness. In that case, his creative ability would be properly centered and motivated.
2. The Selection of Subject Matter
Once a pure and centered motive is established, the second thing the artist must do is to select appropriate subject matter for the piece of art. This can be based upon historical people, events and places, or upon imagined situations or things, which would best fulfill the artist's purpose.
The proper selection of subject matter has to do with evaluating what themes would best fulfill the particular purpose of the artwork. For example, to select themes for Wonhwa Do, martial subject matter and themes are most appropriate. The form of the "Victory of Heaven" or the form of the "Tiger" are clear examples of this. That subject matter is what helps give each form its uniqueness and personality.
3. The Formulation of a Plan
Finally, once the Purpose and subject matter have been established, the artist must then create a plan. This will require him to first decide upon a medium of expression which is best suited to his task. Then, taking into consideration the nature, strengths and limitations of the chosen medium, he must work out a plan which will bring the piece of its final, desired form.
Once again, using the forms of Wonhwa Do as examples, once the subject matter has been decided - the theme of the "Victory of Heaven" for instance - the next step is to create a plan of technique and movement. It would be necessary to search earnestly for the most appropriate and expressive combination of strikes, leaps, falls, throws, pauses, etc., which would capture the feeling of the subject matter most perfectly. This is one example of how the "plan" is formulated.
4. Creative Technique
Technique refers to the actual skills which an artist uses to execute artwork. As the diagram illustrates, skill is considered more of an external element when compared to the internal elements of Purpose, subject matter and plan. This is so because the quality of a work of art rests heavily upon its internal aspects. If its Purpose, subject matter and plan are beautiful, fine skill will have something substantial to work with. However, if the internal aspects are not beautiful, no amount of skill can compensate for poor internal content.
For example, in the creation of a Wonhwa Do ballet, the internal aspects must be established first: there must be a purpose which is consistent with the ethics of Wonhwa Do; the subject matter must be of some appropriately challenging and heroic situation; and the plan must incorporate dynamic movements, powerful music and dramatic lighting and staging. Once these internal elements are established, fine technique will help the artist create a beautiful martial piece. It is for this reason that constant drill is needed in Wonhwa Do. Through this, the skills necessary for superior execution are honed. This gives the student the external technique to bring out the most beautiful internal aspects of the forms of Wonhwa Do.
INTELLECT SUBJECT Mind Materials
5. The Dynamic of Creativity
There is a particular kind of dynamic within the mind of the artist during the act of creation. This involves the mind's three functions: the intellect, emotion and will. The intellect is the capacity to think; the emotion is the capacity to feel; the will is the capacity to decide. The three of them are in Coaction constantly during creativity as they guide the actions of the artist's hands and feet.
For example, in the creation of a Wonhwa Do ballet, thought is necessary for the movements to be matched to dramatic music. Then, emotion must measure the intensity of feeling generated by the movement and music. Then the will must push the artist to keep creating until a beautiful balance is finally achieved.
To develop the ability to do all these things, the Wonhwa Do student must constantly strive to perfect the techniques which are appropriate to his belt ranking. For by disciplined effort in this way, his internal creative capabilities will be exercised and strengthened.
The brings our discussion of the Wonhwa Do view of art to a close. We had started the discussion with an explanation of the nature of the traditional DO. Then, as we moved on to the views of Wonhwa Do, similarities were noted. But more important than these similarities are the differences, especially in the way that human nature and creativity are revealed.
Thus, through the Wonhwa Do view of art, much valuable working insight is provided into the nature of beauty, and into the technique, process and dynamic of creativity.
And more fundamentally, we stress the twofold aspect of creative activity: the external aspect of achieving technical mastery, and the internal aspect of achieving personal mastery. The former is object; it is the valuable means to the goal. However, the latter is the subject; it is a major part of the goal itself. Thus, what the Wonhwa Doist is actually doing through his study is "creating himself", and this is the first step to creating a good family and a better world. These are the main "artistic achievements" which a Wonhwa Doist should accomplish in his lifetime.
It is our hope that this study will lead the reader into a more deeply satisfying experience of not only Wonhwa Do, but of the creative art of living itself.