These words were written by Thoai Tran (trantq@njmsa.UMDNJ.EDU). This work was a series of articles posted to alt.skate-board by Thoai in the mid 1990s.


A Note from the author

I know.. I know. Call me the biggest Schmuck or geek or loser for trying to correlate skating to life with metaphors and stories. Those of you who may have read some of my writings might have noticed that I am notorious for this... But to many of us (including myself), skating is is the nourishment that keeps my soul fresh and fulfilled..It makes me happy when my days are mediocre and sad. It makes me happier even on my better days. It provides the fulfilment that goes beyond anything this apathetic world can offer.

I will be posting a series of articles, collectively called "Zen," in which I will *attempt* to describe this profound beauty, this harmony with oneself and with the universe whenever I step on that board. Please forgive me if I sound like the biggest loser (I am!) for contributing such writings here, but I hope that you will find my some of my ideas enjoyable to read...and if you enjoy them, drop me a line or few. Ideas or constructive criticisms are always welcome too.

Thank you,
"skate to to skate"

Part One: Autumn Foliage

An impatient skater once cried out to master Ch'an..."I have skated for almost a year now, and yet I can't get any better. I cannot do a kickflip. My ollie is not as high as my friend's. I practice and practice, but I just can't do these tricks. I see all these maneuvers in magazines and videos, and it seems that everybody is doing them...except for me. All these little kids do these complex flips and make them look so easy. I see people doing crazy things down huge flight of stairs. Every other skater is getting better and better, developing more and more intricate tricks with each passing day; but not I! I am so frustrated! "

Master Ch'ian picked up an orange leaf that had fallen from a tree and said:

"This leaf that has fallen down from the autumn skies...does this leaf chose to come down whenever it wants? Why does it wait for this time of the season to change its colors, to lose its green lushness, to fall from the tree that has given it life?"

"Why do the blacknecked geese begin to make their annual migration during this time...and not during the summer or spring? Why must they wait for this exact moment; when, in fact, they have the ability to do it anytime of the year?"

"Time takes its natural course...Just as this leaf is patient to wait for fall to change into its illustrious colors, so you too must be patient when you skate. A trick will blossom into its magnificent colors as inevitably as this fall foliage when you have patience with time...when you build it slowly and perfectly. You cannot backside ollie without first learning to ollie straight...and you cannot ollie successfully if you can't roll away smoothly...Time takes its natural and inevitable course. "

"Look at this leaf: it is unique, it is special. It is completely different from the other leaves that surround our feet. There is no other leaf that has the same patchwork of colors, the same patterns of vasculature, the same feel. Your skating should be like this should be special and strictly your own. No other person can dictate to you what is beautiful in skating...because beauty is within your own soul. Once you realize this, your skating will blossom as inevitably as this fall foliage."

So spoke Master Ch'ian.

Part Two: Revelation

I searched long and hard for the elusive master, the only one who can enlighten me about skating. I had watched countless hours of video footages and absorbed countless photographs of skaters and skating, but I needed to find meaning in the one thing that I had dedicated my life to. Yes, skating is is indeed exciting. It is a test of adrenoline whenever one pushes to the furthest limits. But there is something else as well: a sublime and profoundly beautiful element that goes deep into the soul. I searched long and hard for someone who can explain to me this beauty, so I can finally be in complete harmony with myself and with my art...But my searches all ended in failure...and here I sit, contemplating where I will go next, whom I can talk to...A voice is suddenly heard: "You seek for the master who can tell you what is beautiful, what is sublime about you art? Imagine a beautiful painting that is on display in a museum. A passing viewer of a painting finds it beautiful by appreciating the overall images and their metaphorical representations. Another individual notes the techniques and appreciates the smoothness of the strokes, the detailed lines, the blending of various colors to give the perfect shades and contrasts. It has been said that a characteristic of a masterpiece is that it has so many elements to appreciate. Some elements may be manifested immediately after a quick glance; while others may be revealed only after a closer and more scrupulous look. But realize that, you who seek meaning and beauty in your art...realize that the collective elements that you find beautiful may not be shared completely by another individual - hence beauty is a subjective phenomenom relative to each individual..."

"Your skating is an art. Like a beautiful painting that hangs in an art gallery, skating has so many elements to be appreciated...old school, new school, vert, street, freestyle, downhill, and so on. Each individual may find all, some, or just one of the elements beautiful. But remember, you who seek meaning in your art, remember that you should never look down on something that you may not love or appreciate, because that something is part of the collective beauty that is appreciated by someone else. Furthermore, remember, you who seek beauty in your art, remember that no one can ever explain to you what consitutes beauty in your art. No masters, no philosophers, not even the professionals who has been idolized for many years...You seek for the master who can enlighten you about your skating? You seek for the master who can explain to you what is beautiful about your skating? Seek within yourself..."

So spoke the master within myself....

Part Three: Flowing Stream

Master Ch'an visited a skatespot where skaters from the area came and performed their art. On that day, a local skater was doing long 50-50 grinds on a waxed ledge. Master Ch'an applauded after each time the skater came off the ledge. This was rather unusual for the skater, who had never been applauded for doing a regular 50-50 grind. After the skate session had ended, the skater approached Master Ch'an and asked:

" You applauded whenever I did 50-50 grinds on this ledge. Why did you find this trick worthy to be applauded, when, in fact, there are so many other tricks which are more difficult and complicated than that? A 50-50 grind is simple, is not even beautiful! I can show you the other tricks right now, then you will be truly impressed!"

Master Ch'an replied:

" How can something so small and insignificant be so important in the whole scheme of things? Look at this rock that I am is indeed plain and simple. It has no monetary worth, and not too many people will find this beautiful. But if I were to throw it into a flowing stream, this small and insignificant rock would change that stream completely and forever. It would change the way the stream flowed by adding a new source of turbulence and displacing millions of water molecules to travel in different directions. Indeed, the stream would forever be different with this rock in it..."

" Like a rock that is so essential for making the stream the way it is, your skateboard is an essential part of you. It is part of your body and becomes incorporated into your being. Indeed, many skaters have noted how their board doesn't seem at all like a separate entity when they skate. This is completely true because your soul absorbs your board completely, making its reality one with yours. You are one with your skateboard..."

" And like the stream that continue to flow despite having an external rock placed into it, your skating must also flow continuosly, despite having a board placed beneath your feet. Tricks should be landed smoothly and consistently to maintain this everlasting flow. A 50-50 grind, simple as it may be, is a reflection of the stream within you, the reality that is everlasting and is beautiful. Therefore, my friend, if you land a new trick that you had spent many hours practicing, remember to do it again and again, until it perfect...until you are at a point where you can do it anytime, anywhere. The stream continues to flow whether it is in the woods or in the open, whether it is during the daytime or night-time. Remember my friend, when you go skating, don't be dependent on others to decide what is cool and what is not. You should skate to satisfy your own thirst for absolute perfection. Surely a stream won't change its course of direction or stop flowing because there are people standing nearby. So you too must not change your skating when other skaters are around you..."

" My friend, when you realize this, your skating will become a stream that flows to absolute perfection..."

So spoke Master Ch'an.

Part Four

A young skater once remarked to Master Ch'an:

" You don't wear the latest skate clothes. You don't even have on real skate shoes. If you are going to skate, you might as well have the image that goes along with it! The girls aint going to like you if you sport those 10 dollars no name jammies from PayLess. Get with the program man! "

So began Master Ch'an:

" A little seedling that sprouts out of the forest floor requires the crudest and simplest requirements for life. Requiring just the water that comes down from the clouds above, the all-encompassing air, and the minerals found in the forest soil, this little seedling will grow, and develop into a mighty oak or spruce tree. Placing a pair of Airwalks or Etnies by this seedling won't stop it from growing. It just keeps growing. Placing t-shirts with logos of skate companies by this seedling won't hinder its inevitable growth into a tall tree. Hanging a pair of baggy Levis on one of its many branches won't cause it to die...

" Like a seedling that requires only the simplest elements for life, your skating requires very few elements for you to grow and develop into a mighty fortress that stands tall and proud among your peers..

" Use your infinite curiosity to break away from the shell that has encapsulated your skating and prevented you from sprouting out of the soil of mediocrity. You will grow...

" Use your dedication to hold your body strongly within the skating foundation. Let it provides the minerals and nourishments for your inevitable growth. Let it provides the sunshine that gives your skating life. Through the violent rain, the freezing cold, and the sweltering heat of summer does this young tree remain attached to its very foundation. You too must remain attached to your skating during moments when friends are away, when the last skateable spot suddenly has "No Skateboarding Permitted" signs, when your art is viewed as obscene and unlawful, when no one is there to support your art. Indeed, you will grow...

" Use your creativity to blossom and give rise to countless leaves which will absorb completely the brilliant light - the essence of skating and of life. A seedling which is transplanted into a distant forest, where it is surrounded entirely by plants and trees of different species, can still grow tall and mighty.. Your skating too, although different and strictly your own, will inevitably grow, despite being surrounded by mediocrity. Use your creativity to blossom among the endless rows of common maple trees. Indeed, you will grow...

" But most importantly, use your love for your art, for your skating, to grow. This is the one thing that no Airwalks, Stussy shirts, or Levi pants can ever replace. Fashion comes and goes, like so many other trends. But the sun, and the rain, and the minerals will always be there to nurture the seedling and help it grow. Seek within yourself the qualities which are eternal, infinite, and everlasting. It is so easy to say "Hey, check out these Airwalks. I love the way they look." But saying " I love skating" requires something which lies deep within your soul, something which outlasts even the most beautiful shoes...

" Remember this, and your skating will inevitably grow...

So spoke Master Ch'an.

Part Five: Songs of Life

I had a grudge against rollerbladers. I did not like the way they imitated skaters, wore the same style of clothing, use the same skate lingo, and pull off those lame easy tricks. I was disgusted to see rollerbladers everywhere, including at all the skate-spots. I listened to many skaters, as they condemned rollerblading, giving lists after lists of attributes that make our sport so much better, so much more beautiful. Master Ch'an was in the area, so I decided to drop by and discussed with him my impressions about rollerblading. Surely the master himself must agree with me...and perhaps may even give some of his own reasons.

This was what Master Ch'an said:

" Every morning, I am greeted by this wonderful lark. It sings the most beautiful melodies as it flies down to one of the trees outside my house. It sings exactly when the morning sun is coming up, as though to greet the brightness of the day and welcome the inevitable sunshine. It does this every morning, regardless whether other birds are present. It does seem to particularly care about the other birds, because it does not stop singing when they are around. It does not stop singing to see what the other birds might do, to comtemplate its differences, to feel superior or inferior to them. It just sings and sings, every morning, day after day. It is the lark's inherent nature to do so, to do what is natural and perfect for itself. It is content with its own nature."

"My friend, too often have I seen arrogance among skaters. Like this lark that is content with its own being, if you are happy with who you are, then why should you let other people bother you, upset you? If you love what you do so much, then why should you stop and reflect on your differences with others? Why should you stop your skating to condemn others? It is your own inherent nature to skate. You skate because it is natural, it is a reflection of you, not because others aren't the same as you or aren't part of your reflection. Does this lark stop singing because other birds are around? So you too must not stop skating when other people, who may not have the inherent nature to skate, but perhaps to ride a bicycle, or drive a car, or do things on rollerblades...when these people are around. Another bird can sing beautiful melodies just before twilight or can fly longer distances. Does that make this lark or the other bird inferior or less beautiful? Absolutely not, because it is still beautiful with its own special inherent nature. "

" My friend, let skating become the locus of your universe. Let it become part of your reality, part of your inherent nature. Skate because it is natural for you and for you only. Like a lark that sings the most beautiful melodies, use your skating to bring refreshing melodies into your life. Don't stop skating when others are around you. If you see rollerbladers around you, don't get upset and let them ruin your skating. Why should others ruin what is natural, what is inherent, or perfect for you? Learn to appreciate the beauty of your own skating, as well the beauty of others. Sing your own melodies that will greet the burning sun within you."

"Just shut up and skate"*

So spoke Master Ch'an

*T.A. Paterson

Part Six: Shining Star

One night, Master Ch'an reflected.

"I come here to skate at this spot each night. I am always alone. The groups of kids which came here together had departed from this place together. The sounds of the boards popping against the ground, the crackling grinds on the waxed curbs, and the yellings and screamings had since departed with them too. As I sit on this board, catching my breaths after a long session has just ended, my eyes gaze at the stars that line the blackness of the night's skies..."

"Each of those stars that my eyes are fixed upon is so far away from my body and my world, and from each other. Each has a certain shine unique to itself. One star seems to have a constant shine; while another sparkles on and off, on and off. Another star appears to have a brighter glow, perhaps indicative of a closer distance to my world; while that little speck above me is barely noticeable. Each is so far away, so alone in the infinite vastness of the universe. Yet each shines ever brightly, for years and years, and for many years to come...and for many years, each has been looked at, scrutinized, and mapped out by traveling sailors who look above for guidance..."

"The road to the stars is never easy. It is always traveled alone. While others are engaged in futile mimicry of fleeting trends, I find myself alone at this spot, to pursue that which is eternal and infinite, to self-cultivate my own spiritual being, to be in harmony with myself, my skateboard, and my infinite universe. While others are engaging in senseless competition, to see who has the higher ollie, to see who can do the most flips, to see who has the better skate clothes, I find myself alone to cultivate my own development and perfect my own art...Thus my spiritual development will indeed shine."

"While others wait for the telephone to ring, I find myself alone at this spot, because I am the one who has decided to go skating, regardless whether others just happen to be in the mood to do so, regardless whether others are planning a get-together. I have taken it upon myself to do what is natural and perfect for me, because the road to the stars is walked upon by my own two feet..."

"Although other people may not agree with my ideas, have the same tastes, dress the same, or look the same as me, that does not justify my looking down on them, feeling superior, or becoming arrogant towards them. Like a fruit that looks so fresh and ripe on the outside, but is rotten with maggots and worms in its core, an arrogant skater is nothing but a spoiled fruit that ruins the whole barrel. I am alone, but younger skaters shall look up to me for guidance because I am the only one who shall show them the right directions when they are lost. I am the only one who shall show them how to slide their front foot during an ollie. Although my repertoire is limited in the number of complex maneuvers and intricate flip tricks, I am willing to extend my hands to others when they need my help. Like the familiar star that greets the lost traveler, I will thus shine..."

"Like a star that is fueled by unmeasurable amount of energy, I am fueled by my love for skating. All tangible materials are fleeting and shall be lost with time. The skate shoes that I wore when I first started had since long disappeared, to be replaced by the different ones, with different colors, and different styles. But they too shall disappear with time, and many skaters will disappear with them. But this fuel within me, this love, is intangible and all encompassing. It shall continue to burn, long after the night's darkness is replaced by the morning's brightness. Friends come and go, and they too shall disappear into the night's darkness after the skate session has ended. But the love shall remain to shine in the darkness of night. Even when the clouds cover the skies and prevent other people from looking at this brightness, it does not matter to me, because I know that it is still burn for me and me only. Even when my flesh is covered by different styles of clothing, it does not matter, because that glow shall remain the same..."

"The road to the stars is never easy...It is always traveled alone...but it always good to have love as your traveling partner..."

So shines the star...

Part Seven: Reflection

I have looked at this old dusty mirror for many years now. Its dullness has distorted my view of reality, causing me to see things differently, to convince myself that I am looking at the truth; when, in fact, I have seen nothing but false delusions. I have been deluded for too long now, and it is time to take a wet cloth and clean the dust, the dullness that covers this mirror, the false projection of reality that has forever prevented me from seeing the truth. With a glass cleaning bottle and cloth, I will remove all the fleeting dust particles that have distorted the reality that was, the reality that is and that will be.

My skating has been forever dull. It is covered with these fleeting objects that have prevented me from seeing the truth. But as the dust which covers my mirror shall be removed with a wet cloth, so do all these superficial objects shall be removed with the sweeping motion of time. The layers of clothing, the shoes, the trends, the fashion styles, the competition, the pride, the arrogance...all of these will be lost with time...inevitably. Only the eternal qualities shall remain to shine, to manifest themselves as the reality that was, that is and that will be...

My friend, take a moment and look within yourself...look at the mirror which you call your skating. Is it covered with these superficial objects which have clung onto your soul and prevented you from seeing the truth? Everything will disappear and be lost with time, but only the eternal qualities will remain. The current style of clothing will be lost with time, to be replaced by different ones. Invitably. The shoes will be worn out, disappeared, and forgotten. The girls which clapped at you whenever you skated by will seek different bad boys to applaud at. Inevitably. The people whom you skated with at the spots will put their boards down to pursue different hobbies and fads. The last skateable spot will be made illegal. My friend, when all of these are gone, will the love still be there? Will that love still be there to shine; or will your skating, like the dust which covers this mirror, be lost with time's sweeping hands?

My friend, reflect on this. Seek within yourself the qualities which are hidden beneath the layers of superficial objects. The love...the feeling of contentment and happiness for what you do...the harmony within yourself as you incorporate your surrounding universe whenever you step on that board, as you become one with your skating...the dedication to the purest and most fundamental truth. My friend, even when a mirror is dull and covered with dust, it still has the innate nature to shine brightly and reflect the pure and essential truth. The truth will always will always be there. What is that essential truth?

My friend, reflect for yourself...

Part Eight

Why do I hear all these beautiful melodies whenever I go skating? So many melodies, each so different from all others, with its own natural time course, its own flowing rhythmn, and characteristic mood. One melodic line is joyous, with its galloping rhythmn and simplicity; while another is somber and introspective. One melodic line is triumphant, with notes that steadily ascendthe scale; as though to indicate a rise in the spirit when all obstacles are overcome. Another melody is sad and pathetic, with notes that steadily descend the scale. So too the tears during moments of despair. Infinite number of melodic lines, all integrated to form this harmony that encompasses every note, every time signature, every mood, every rhthymic pulse... Each melody, each song, is a world onto itself, a separate universe; but each is so important in creating this harmony that's within me. All the universes become just one timeless and complete simultaneity, no more...and no less. A single additional note to just one of the infinite melodies will forever disrupt this harmony. Likewise, a deletion of a single note will forever change this harmony within me...

Why do I feel this harmony whenever I go skating? My board is a world onto itself, with its own characteristics, its unique features. Each of the four wheels beneath my board rolls at different rates. Occassionally, the spinning bearing makes an almost predictable and rhthymic clic, as though to indicate that speed is perfect, that no additional work is required of more, no less. The front truck is somewhat looser; thus the board can turn immediately with minimum notes modulating up and down the scale, with total disregard to rigidity or stability. And how symmetric and simple this deck is. Like a fugue held together by counterpoint, this deck too consists of identical parts - that is, seven layers of tightly bound hard maple wood. My board is indeed a wonderful melody...

My body is a universe onto itself. Each of the millions of cells within me is governed by its own sets of laws, its own dynamics, its own preprogrammed destiny. The pulse that beats within me is a reflection of my own reality and existence. It too is rhthymic, occassionally accelerating during strenuous exercise; but always returning to its preprogrammed a central tonality, from which notes may occasional deviate from, but to which they will always and inevitably return...

Like the harmony that encompasses all the infinite number of melodies, the harmony that I feel whenever I go skating is all-encompassing. All the melodies suddenly lose their respective distinction and characteristic. I am no longer aware of my body or skateboard. I am no longer aware of the cars that pass by me, the pedestrians that walk by me, the tall buildings that surround my body. I no longer realize the smoothness of the asphalt on the street or the roughness of the cement on the sidewalk. The sounds of this urban jungle, through which I ro alone, wild, free...

No other trees can grow in a sandal forest,
A lion lies usually in a thick bush and strolls
Alone at ease in quiet and familiar
Haunts from which all other beasts and birds have fled

...the sounds of the jungle: the honkings of the cars, the yellings of the aggravated people, the crackling noises of the airplane above me, they all suddenly lose their distinction...They cease to exist! Their respective reality suddenly dissolves into this all-encompassing reality within me. I and they are just one simultaneity...timeless and complete.

Whenever I go skating, I am no longer aware of the superficial clothes that cover my body. Like an extraneous note that ruins the complete harmony, attachment to materialistic trends will forever disrupt the harmony within me. Why do I want to add unnecessary elements that will ruin what is already perfect and complete? Being arrogant, disliking others because they do not look the same as me, feeling inadequate because I do not have the latest shoes, throwing my board twenty feet away because I can't land the latest the things I do not want to add to my skating, to that which is already perfect and complete. Likewise, I do not want to remove the important elements that will change this harmony within me. Patience...commitment to skate for its own sake, because it is natural and perfect for me...helping others who may need my guidance...indifference to the other people's attitudes. Why do I want to change what is already perfect and complete?

There were moments when I landed every trick I attempted; and even tricks that I practiced for many days, but just couldn't land no matter how hard I tried. The feeling was always triumphant. The spirit was elevated to an entirely different plane. There were also moments when nothing seemed to go my way, and all the problems in the world seemed to be on my shoulder for me to bear...and no tricks were ever landed. One melody is triumphant; while another is gloomy. But this harmony is constant and shall continue to flow despite the ups and downs of life. All the emotions just dissolve away, for the only thing that is felt is this harmony. Everything else in my life is transient, but whenever I go skating, my life is always complete.

This is the harmony of skating...

Part Nine: Clean Karma

The Ch'an master was once approached by a group of skaters. They all exclaimed: " Master, we have heard of your wisdom and have traveled long to ask you to tell us the secrets to skating well. We will wait here patiently for you. We do not mind staying here for hours listening to your infinite wisdom. Teach us..."

The Ch'an master looked at them keenly, pointed his finger at their boards, and replied: "Secret to skating well: if it rolls, then push it."

The Ch'an master was once approached by an older skater who wanted to learn about harmony. He implored: "You, oh great Master Ch'an, know the secrets of being in a peaceful state with oneself and the universe. How do I know if I am at peace with my skating? Is there something special I should feel? Is there a criterion that must be met to be in complete harmony with my skating? What are the rules that I must follow to be like you, oh great venerable master? "

The Ch'an master looked at the old skater, but did not answer. The skater was suddenly enlightened.

The Ch'an master was visited by an angry skater who cried out agitatedly: " I have this board! I can land tricks so easily one day. But now, I can't land anything! " He threw his board twenty feet away. It landed with a thump.

The Ch'an master answered: " Light too consists of both particles and waves. When one takes either away, one ceases to see. " The blind skater suddenly saw.

The Ch'an master visited a skatespot where a girl was skating by herself. She told Master Ch'an her problem: " I don't know of too many girls that pursue this art as fervently as I have. But I find myself alone. The guys look at me differently, as though my art is a joke to them. I am so frustrated! "

The Ch'an master calmly taught: " A single ripple that emanates from a point in the middle of a pond always start small. But with time, it becomes bigger and bigger, as it reaches for the edge of the pond; and ultimately, it will encompass everything along its path. You who find yourself alone at skatespots, reflect on this..."

An angry skate items distributor accosted the Ch'an master and shouted: "Who the hell you think you are telling all the kids not to worry about the clothes? Fashion gives the kids a sense of identity, of belonging, of being accepted by their peers. It is impossible for a kid to be a complete skater if he isn't sporting the latest wear! "

The Ch'an master thus spoke: "Your shoelace is untied. An untied shoelace prevents you from walking properly and speedily. One trips over one's ignorance, so it is better to take it off and walk barefooted. " The Ch'an master walked away...the owner tripped.

Two skaters approached the Ch'an master and asked him to judge which of the two is better. The first skater ollied a garbage can. The second fronside 180 the same garbage can. The first 360 flip it. The second switch 360 flip it. so on and so on and so on. The skaters nervously asked: "Master Ch'an, which of us is the better skater. "

The Ch'an master threw some wrappings in the garbage and said: "Winners always put unnecessary trash in the garbage. " Both skaters were losers.

So said the Ch'an Master...

One day, the Ch'an master came to the town...

The first skater, a weary veteran of many years, approached him and said: " Oh venerable sage, I have skated for many years, and have exhausted all the tricks found in magazines and videos. I did all the styles: vert, street, free. I have gone through the cycle of sponsorship and traveled around the workd to give demos. I don't know what to do now..."

So the Ch'an master advised: "Now it is time to go skating."

The next skater, dressed in the latest style, came up to the master and asked: " Oh enlightened one, what kind of shoes do you recommend for skating? When I go to the skateshop, what kind of things should I look for in a skateshoe? "

So the Ch'an master answered: "When looking for skate shoes, ask yourself the following question: what kind of shoes does the hawk wear while it is soaring gracefully in the air? Then the perfect shoe shall be manifested immediately. "

Another skater spoke about girls. He said: "I notice that a lot of girls have been interested in me ever since I started skating, which is cool and all, but sometimes it's kinda annoying. What advice can you give me about this? "

The Ch'an master replied: " My young friend, it has always been known that crossing a horse with a donkey gives a mule - an animal that is not capable of being productive. "

Next, a woman came up and shouted: " I think skaters are a bunch of degenerates! All they do is skate, skate, and skate! Those baggy clothes they wear are disgusting! Tell your friends they are all losers and I hope they break their bones! "

The compassionate one directed to the audience of skaters: " My skating friend, a great boulder on top of that mountain cannot be moved by powerful earthly winds. Likewise, a mind in complete harmony with one's skating is unmoved by words that blow out of other's mouths. Indeed, you are all losers. " Nobody argued...

A young skater spoke rather sincerely: " I know this old guy who skates by me. Often, he tried to give me advices about skating, which is kinda lame because his old school style is completely different from mine. I just laugh and skate away because it's like comparing apples to oranges, am I right oh venerable sage? "

The Ch'an master answered with patience: " An elderly man who uses medicinal practices to help others is often called "doctor." A sick man who refuses his prescribed medicine is often called "stupid." "

So taught the Ch'an master.

Part Ten: Four Elements

Shi, who has just started skating several months ago, came up to the Ch'an master and said:

" I am only a beginner. I love skating because there is so much to do on this simple board. There are so many styles, so many people who can work magic with their board. But my question to you, oh venerable one, is how I can tell who are the good skaters? What tricks must I do to be considered good? What advice can you give me, oh venerable one?

The Ch'an master pointed to the distant sea and answered:

" My young friend, you want to know how you can tell good skating? It is very simple....go to that distant sea, and count the number of grains found on that beach. Then you will truly grasp what is good in skateboarding..."

Shi bowed his head and continued:

" Do you mean to say that a tailslide is just as beautiful as an intricate flip trick? That cannot be! Something as intricate and complex must be better...I have spent days practicing on this particular one, and minutes landing a tailslide! How can that be?"

The Ch'an master pointed to the skies above and answered:

" My young friend, the universe that we find ourselves under is infinite and all-encompassing. All the things we see are manifestations of one energy, being converted from one form to another, but never created or destroyed. Both a tail slide and a more complicated flip trick are part of this infinite energy flow; each is a variation of that which is already perfect and complete...You add or remove energy; just as you cannot add or subtract beauty to that which is already perfect and constant..."

Shi bowed his head once more. So he continued..

" Oh venerable one, so what is the purpose of skating then, if beauty doesn't exist? If everything is relative, then aren't skaters just subjecting themselves to a trivial activity that has no meaning or relevance? I think that skaters must have a goal! Without one, it is illegitimate...meaningless! My goal is to become professional before I turn 20! It gives my skating meaning..."

The Ch'an master pointed to the burning sun and remarked:

" In the relentless heat of the tundra,
a lion lies on the crusted and burning dirt.
Under a shriveled tree that has lost its life
to the flames of its stark reality,
it exists where no other beasts have dared to venture
or embark through the burning desolation...

The lion has no reason to stay or not to stay. It is perfectly content with its own nature..."

Shi reflected for a moment. He continued...

" Oh venerable one, then what are the important things in skating then? How should I approach my skating then? What should I look for? "

The Ch'an master scooped a handful of dirt with his hand and answered:

" All the minerals and elements necessary for life are found in this moist soil that I have in my hand..."

He handed Shi a shovel and told him to plant a young sapling on top of the distant hill..

Part Eleven: Counterpoint

The two disciples, Shi and T'sa, often walked by a pond on their way back from skate sessions...

The sky's blueness and the moving patchwork of clouds are reflected on its water. The reflection is a photograph of what is seen above; in essence, the fundamental truth. A sudden breeze causes the trees by its bed to sway and the countless water droplets, accumulated from previous showers, to fall into the water. Countless ripples resonate everywhere, criss-crossing each other's path, and disturbing that once serene water. The image is suddenly distorted. They sky cannot be clearly seen anymore...or the clouds...or the truth that was once captured by the tranquil water.

Shi remarked: " Man, ever since I started skating, things have been great! I am becoming more popular among my peers. Everywhere I go, whenever I mention the fact that I skate, people have remarked how cool it is. Even girls seem to dig what I do. I have never been successful with the ladies...but man, I tell ya. I don't have to smile or nothing. Just carry this board, and fame and prestige automatically come my way. This is great! Skating is great! " T'sa said: "Hell yea! Skating is cool! "

A small carp suddenly finds itself out of the pond that has previously given it life. In this environment - the same one that has ample oxygen and gases for nourishing other beasts, it twitches in agony on the dry surface. Its mouth gasps for life, its gills trembles uncontrollably. It screams for the supportive medium that has the essential elements for its own life and development. Its body flops around. Perhaps an instinctive drive to push itself back into the water, but unfortunately, it always return to the same hostive environment...

Shi continued: " Hey that was pretty funny how you tried to help that kid today. That kid was pathetic! He didn't understand that when you ollie, you have to slide your front foot forward! Had it been me, I would have skated on. I mean, why go through the trouble of using your time to teach some kid to ollie, when you can use that time to perfect your own moves? Didn't the master say that we should strive for our own perfection? That is what I am doing: I am doing it for my OWN good! Let them watch! "

T'sa reflected for a moment, but did not answer. He saw the small carp, groveled for it with both hands, and carefully placed it back into the water. Shi laughed out loudly: " You are a fool! There are millions of fishes in the water. What difference does it make to help this one puny fish?!?"

T'sa replied: " I don't know...I guess it made a difference to that one.."

A nest is on a limb of a tree that stands by the edge of the pond. The limb is above the water. In the nest are several fledglings, most of which have fully developed feathers; but only one doesn't have the feathers that naturally develop with time. One by one, each of the birds drops from the nest, stretches its wings, and flies away into the woods. Marveling the beauty of flight, the last one decides to do the same. It moves to the edge of the nest, drops from it, and stretches its wings. Unfortunately, it just drops into the water...

Shi boasted triumphantly: " Check this out! I learned all these tricks today. I just skated for several weeks, and I already learned backside 180's and kickflips! I can't wait until tomorrow: I am going to try heelflips and 360 flips. Dude, I am on a roll! "

T'sa answered cautiously: " But you couldn't ollie up a curb! Shouldn't you be practicing that???"

Shi laughed mockingly: " Who cares about my ollies? Skating is about learning as many tricks as you can, in the shortest amount of time. That, my friend, is the essential goal! "

Part Twelve: Pure Karma

Shi asked the Ch'an master for help with his skating. He said: " Oh venerable master, I am just learning to skate. What must I do to become good? "

The Ch'an master ordered Shi to skate up and down the block several times.

Shi asked surprisingly: " But sir, why must I do this? It is stupid to just skate like this...How can I ever learn new tricks by just skating up and down this block? "

The Ch'an master replied: " Son, it is well-known that medicine that tastes bad is actually good for you. "

Shi and the Ch'an master walked home after the skate session. Along the way, they encountered many people who jeered them. " You shitheads! I bet you don't even skate. You probably carry that board to look cool! Bunch of posers! " " Hey you losers, why don't you stop skating and get a life! " " You are sorry! You can't do anything! Why do you bother skating? "

Along the way, Shi became more and more infuriated. He exclaimed: " Oh sir, why don't you allow me to give them a piece of my mind?!? How dare they mock us?!? They call us posers! Argghh! I am going to take this board and drive it across their faces! "

The Ch'an master smiled and said: " My angry friend, there is no need for that. A diamond in scorching fire remains indestructible. A skater who is content with his skating is unaffected by the burning passions of others..."

Shi was exhausted after the skate exercises. He cried out impatiently: " Oh wise one, I tried to concentrate on my skating. But I cannot feel the harmony that you have told me about. Am I thinking improperly? Should I direct my energies to concentrate on something different? "

The Ch'an master directed his cane towards to cloudy sky and said:

" My impatient friend, sit here and reflect on how cloudy the sky is right now. Sit here until all the clouds disappear into the distant horizon. Then observe how clear the sky is. Observe how absolutely nothing covers the clear sky. Then begin skating. "

Shi understood what was meant and skated without a thought...

The sky became clear...

Part Thirteen: Yin is Yang, Green is Blue

Pochu told Ch'an about his day: "Today was terrible! I couldn't land anything! I feel as though I am not a complete skater." Ch'an: "How was yesterday?"
Pochu: "Oh yesterday was great. I landed everything, including tricks that I had been practicing for a long time. I believed that I was invincible yesterday, since noone could match the quality of my performance. "
Ch'an: "Ah...such is the vanity of man who tries to throw a spear to the heavens. Even if powerful muscles cover his arms, the spear always come back down to the earth. A skater who accepts both the falls and the successful landings, both the good times and the bad times, with a calm smile is a brilliant star that remains in the sky."

One day, Shi saw a skater who landed a trick perfectly. Shi cried out to Ch'an: " Did you see that? That was the most beautiful trick I have ever witnessed in my life! It was perfect! Flawless! How did he get his skating to be so perfect? "

Ch'an urged: " Why don't you go and ask him for yourself. " Shi approached the skater and said: "Dude, that was beautiful! How did you get your skating to be so perfect? " The skater: "But my friend, I am not skating."

A younger skater was rather confused. He asked: " Am I skating new school or old school? Does new school include all the flip tricks, while old school include the grinds and grabs? Where is the line that separates the two? In other words, what is the difference between old school and new school skating? "

The Ch'an: " Green is blue... Yellow is white... Colors are nothing..."

Pochu: " Oh enlightened sage, I have noticed how a lot of skaters listen to rap. Many of my friends, however, listen to punk. I feel as though I am not a complete skater if I don't listen to either. What is the perfect skate music? "
Ch'an did not reply.
Pochu: " Sir, what is your response? "
Ch'an: "I have already replied."
Pochu: "But I did not hear anything."
Ch'an: "Indeed, silence IS the greatest skate music."

T'sa often skated past a beggar on his way back from skate sessions. The beggar had a bowl which contained various offerings from the townspeople. T'sa decided to give the beggar some offerings.
He said: "Here you go my good man, here is $20 dollars for you. Go to a restaurant and buy yourself a shirt."
The beggar: "Thank you kind sir, but I cannot accept your money" and graciously gave it back.
T'sa offered him a shiny new pair of Airwalks and said: "Here are some shoes to help you on your journey."
The beggar: "Thank you, but I cannot accept your shoes" and gave them back.
T'sa: "I am willing to give you whatever I have. Just tell me what you want."
The beggar:

To taste the sweet water...
To hear the loud silence...
To see the great blindness...
I want perfection,
so I just need nothing

T'sa skated away contented...

Absorbed like space
Free like unfettered clouds
I am not even skating.

Part Fourteen: Skate Koans

The Contest The Ch'an decided to enter a contest. When he arrived, many skaters approached him and exclaimed:
" I am representing Company X. I shall win for Company X. "
" I skate for Company Y. I shall win for Company Y. "
The Ch'an had a flawless run, so the judges decided to give the prize to him. The Ch'an refused, offering to give the prize to another skater.
" What? But you had a perfect run! " They all laughed.
The Ch'an replied: " I have won for skating. "

Endless Perfection

Shi wanted to reach harmony with his skating, so he went to the Ch'an master and said: " I want my skating to be perfect. I want to feel this harmony. Please show me the way..."
The Ch'an did an ollie.
Shi observed this, and simply nodded..
The Ch'an did another ollie..
and another, then another, and another...until Shi cried out: " Enough already! I am tired of seeing the same thing again and again! "
The Ch'an: " Ah...get out of my sight and don't come back until you REALLY want your skating to be perfect! "

Always Shut the Door Behind You

Each night, the disciples would enter the Ch'an master's room to discuss with him the day's teachings and experiences..
T'sa entered first and closed the door...
The Ch'an: " How was your day? "
T'sa: " I tried to help this younger skater with his moves. I will help him whenever he needs me..."
The Ch'an: " Harmony is outside waiting for you. "

Pochu entered the room and closed the door...
The Ch'an: " How was your day? "
Pochu: " I was called a "poser" by others. I graciously accepted that comment as a blessing.."
The Ch'an: " Harmony is outside waiting for you. "

After Pochu's visit, Shi bursted through the door and exclaimed:
" Master! I did wonderful today! I am in harmony with my skating.. It is perfect! "
The Ch'an: "Dammit, you forgot to shut the door behind you! "

Right Medicine is Good Skating

One day, a skater approached the Ch'an master for advice. The skater told her problem:
" Oh wise sage, I have noticed how there are many ways to do an ollie. For example, a friend places his front foot in the middle and plants his back foot completely on the tail. Another friend places his back foot on the tip of the tail, while the front is at a slight angle. I am sure there are countless other ways. What is the correct way to ollie?
The Ch'an: " Come with me. Perhaps we will see which is the correct way to ollie. "
Along the way, a woman approached the Ch'an and told him about her aching stomach. The Ch'an realized her problem and gave her some pills for headaches...
The skater was shocked: "What? You just gave her medicine for headaches when she had an aching stomach!?! "
The Ch'an: " Ah...My friend, do you see now that you cannot give the same medicine to every individual, who may have different ailments and needs??"

Surely A Parable

Shi told all his friends about how good his skating had become. His friends usually smiled and congratulated him..

During the next meeting, Shi told the Ch'an master about the statements he had made to his friends and remarked how upset he was that his friends did share his enthusiasm..

The Ch'an told a story:

" There was an elderly woman who lived on the outskirt of the village. During her daily chores, she often noticed a magnificent deer standing on the edge of her yard. It had a splendid golden fur that shined brightly even during the mid day. She was very impressed by such splendor, so she decided to lure the deer to come closer by placing a plate of food by her door. Surely the deer came and surely it ate the food, while the woman gazed on with wonder and amazement. She did this everyday, and on each day, the deer surely came and surely ate the food. One day, she suddenly realized that her food was almost depleted, so she decided not to give the deer any more food. The next morning, she was awoken by strange noises. "What? A thief? The wind? My imagination? she thought to herself. She got out of her cot and entered the adjacent room...and much to her bitter grief, that same splendid deer was there, surely eating her surely last food..."

" My friend, don't invite unneccessary guests into your skating...Let others gaze at your splendor from afar...Surely then, you will shine..."

It's Inside Mind You!

Shi came in for his morning teaching. He exclaimed: "Master, I am here! Please show me the way to harmony with my skating! "
Ch'an: " Where is your board? "
Shi: " I have left it outside. "
Ch'an: "Are you sure? Go and check again."
Shi went outside, and his board was still there. Shi came back and said: " Yes, my board is out there. "
Ch'an: " Are you really sure? Go and check again. "
Shi left the room fuming, saw that the board was still there, and yelled: " It is out here! "
Shi came back. The Ch'an asked: " Where is your board? "
Shi roared: " Fuck!!! My board is out there!!! Go see for yourself!!! "
The Ch'an: " Ahh...But MY board is always inside. "

Heavy Burden

Pochu and Shi skated back from their morning teaching and met an angry man. The man yelled: " You skaters are a bunch of losers!!!!Get out of my sight you pieces of shit!!! "

Pochu and Shi skated to their spot. Shi couldn't ollie. He tried so hard, but he just couldn't get his normal height. Pochu, however, was skating normally...

That night, Shi confronted Pochu about the day's session.

Shi: " Damn. How come I sucked so bad today? I couldn't even ollie! "

Pochu: " didn't let those insults behind! Instead you carried them around in your mind and let them become the weight that prevented you from soaring high. "

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