Perceived Value and True Masters

Goku Half & Half

Goku Stands in the Shadows

A visitor to the site wrote to me recently asking, “By charging people money for this information aren’t you undermining everything it stands for?”

That’s a forthright and important question.  It’s also one I’ve struggled with for years.

Truth be told, he meant no disrespect by the question, as he was coming at it from a Buddhist perspective of compassion which I completely agree with.

I’ve practiced Shaolin Gong Fu for 10 years, and have taught it for free ever since I was capable enough to do so. My family and friends have sometimes said I’m a fool to give it away for free, but for me, Shaolin Gong Fu is sacred.

Shaolin Gong Fu originates in Buddhism and is (or at least used to be) a martial art that can enable someone to attain the level of Arhat, as taught by Bhodidharma. To charge for that just seems disrespectful. Of course I can understand if it’s your business and livelihood. That’s a different situation.

It’s my understanding that the lower the level, the more complicated and expensive. A great way is simple and free. The only thing you lose is karma, and what you gain is priceless… how could someone put a price on eternal enlightenment?

Buddha Shakyamuni didn’t charge money. He asked you to let go of your attachment to money altogether. Charging money for salvation is the complete opposite of the teachings being promulgated, and is a great hypocrisy.

So that’s the battle I faced when I decided to charge for the book. I rationalize it by saying that I’m not offering salvation to people or trying to start a practice. Just, possibly, lead people to an upright practice that can truly improve their lives or even save them from a downward spiral toward somewhere they don’t want to go. But that’s up to the reader, and it isn’t the main focus of the book.

There’s still a part of me that contests, and I can see both sides of the equation. I kind of feel like I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t, so, as the Buddha Law suggests, I try to walk the Middle Road.

Free to Perceive

A cell drawing of Super Saiya-jin Goku

Super Saiya-jin Goku

Regarding the ‘getting stuff for free’ thing. Sometimes people don’t value the lessons because they are free.

I taught a Shaolin Gong Fu class at University a few years ago. Sometimes I’d get students and sometimes I wouldn’t, even though they liked the class. They wouldn’t come because they didn’t lose anything by not coming. I imagine that if there were already a financial investment that they’d feel more obligated to show up.

On the other hand, in my senior year I had one faithful student that showed up every time. He was thin and weak in breath but loved Shaolin and wanted to become strong. He valued our time together more than anything and he reciprocally motivated me to work harder.

It essentially comes down to perceived value. What you receive might be the greatest in the universe, but if you don’t value it like the rarest diamond then you might disrespect it or even throw it away like garbage. You might figure that if you lose it, so what? But if you paid for it, even if it was a pet rock, well, by golly you’re going to value it. And the more your money means to you the more you’ll value it.

I would think that a true sage could pick a rock up off the ground and peer into its inner dimensions, the microcosmic matter and life that lay within, and truly value what’s inside, while a normal person thinks that rocks are useless and walks right by.

So it’s this little game we play here on planet Earth, giving people something they value in a way that they will perceive it as valuable. If you don’t do it like that then it’s completely up to the other person whether or not they want to value it, and it takes a lot of patience and compassion to continually wait for the person to come around. Of course, that’s what all great masters have.

The Eye of Ones’ Heart

Blind Boy Offers a Coin to Majin Buu

A Blind Boy Offers a Coin to Majin Buu

I’m reminded of a scene in the Majin Buu arc of Dragon Ball Z where the Fat Majin Buu, an evil being who had a spirit of a holy and high level deity inside him (a Kaio-shin), comes across a young blind boy.

He asks if the boy is afraid of him, as everyone else in the world was terrified of his very image.  The blind boy says no, because he can’t see like other people can.

After Majin Buu realizes what’s wrong with his eyes, he places his hand on the boys face and projects energy into his head.  You think that he’s going to kill him like he does everyone else.  But he doesn’t.

After removing his hand the boy opens his eyes and can see!

The young boy receives the gift of light.  More grateful than anyone he had ever met, the boy reaches into his pocket and pulls out his only item of value, a small coin, and offers it to Majin Buu with all his heart.

Majin Buu doesn’t value money at all, but he loves food.  So he picks up the coin, bites it, and spits it out.  “Tastes yucky,” he says.  He then tells the boy to wait there and flies away.

Majin Buu travels to a nearby town where the villagers are afraid of him as usual.  He blasts one of the villagers with his energy beam and transforms into a carton of milk!  He then flies off and returns to the boy.

Majin Buu Gives the Boy Some Milk

Majin Buu Gives the Boy Some Milk

He offers the boy the milk and and the boy is grateful for the food.  He sits with Majin Buu on the cliff for a while and they chat.  He is genuinely unafraid and enjoys the time with his new friend.

Now granted, what the boy was drinking was “made of people,” but that’s beside the point!  I chalk that up to the evil that controlled Buu’s actions and the wacky humor of Akira Toriyama.

It’s a notable moment because this was the first compassionate act that Majin Buu ever performed.  And it happened because of the boy’s perception.  His perception was different than all others, and it was the first step toward driving out the evil inside Majin Buu’s mind.  The subsequent reaction of events led to a climactic battle between good and evil that changed the world.

The Awareness of Value

A Victorious Goku Gives the Thumbs Up

A Victorious Goku Gives the Thumbs Up

In Goku’s case, he understands how to value something right from the start!

Not a single one of his masters ever charged him a penny, and what he received was priceless.  He cherished and valued every moment of it and took full advantage of their time together to learn and improve as much as possible.

Goku himself is essentially penniless and cares not for money.  He occasionally wins cash prizes from the martial arts tournaments but he doesn’t enter the tournaments for the money, he enters because he loves to fight.  Chi-Chi handles the money after he’s earned it.

From Master Roshi, to Kami, North Kaio, Kaio-Shin, Dai Kaio-Shin, all the way from bottom to top, never once do any of these teachers ask for money.

What do they ask for?  Goku’s heart.

They want him to perceive their training as valuable.  And when he does, incredible things happen.

Goku becomes their greatest student of all time.  Each teacher, in sequence, one after the other, is amazed at Goku’s progress and ability to rise up, to break down his own internal barriers and defeat himself.  That’s what makes Goku #1.

In all truth, Goku perceives everything as valuable, not just his martial arts training.  He even perceives his opponents as valuable, which is why he tries not to take away their lives.  He gives them chance after chance to redeem their wicked ways and turn around.  Whether or not they choose to do that, again, comes down to perceived value.

Could you imagine a Goku that didn’t perceive everything and everyone as valuable?  He’d either be fat and lazy like Oolong or vicious and selfish like his brother Raditz.

And Goku had been this way throughout his entire life, not just when he matured and had his own family.  Goku could see the inner beauty in even the ugliest of creatures.

Perhaps that is what made Goku the greatest master of all.

8 responses to “Perceived Value and True Masters”

  1. LnddMiles says:

    Pretty cool post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say
    that I have really liked reading your blog posts. Anyway
    I’ll be subscribing to your blog and I hope you post again soon!

  2. Kareem Abdul Andall says:

    ….What LnddMiles Said!!..And Thanx 4 The Deeper Gems To Be Gleaned From One Of My Favorite Animations. You Seem Like The Type Of Person I Could Watch Anime With And Have Intelligent Convo About The Stories Told…What I Would Like To Know Is Where Are You Located, And Do You Still Teach Shaolin Gong Fu For Free?

  3. Derek Padula says:

    @Kareem Abdul Andall

    Hi Kareem. I live in Los Angeles now, and yes I still teach for free. Though lately I’ve been busy with research for the book and web development training. A couple people have asked for lessons so at some point soon I’ll probably start up again. Thanks for the comment!

  4. Gabe says:

    I have had the blessing of training with some of very great martial artists that are completely unknown including one who is in my opinion the greatest martial artist I have ever met. One thing I learned from him among the plethora of others is that it would be nice to offer classes for free, but psychologically, most people don’t respect “free” things. Similar to the idea of “No Pain, No Gain” most people see free things as cheap and useless, so you could say “No Cost, No Sacrifice” meaning that if they aren’t giving up something then they don’t feel obligated to give anything to what they learn. The master instructor I learned the greatest from taught me for free and allowed me to train in his dojo for free, he even gave me a key, I valued the whole thing and because of his generosity I was able to train like I wanted and became better than I had ever imagined. I would like to teach for free too, but unfortunately I am stuck.

  5. valentin says:

    yo no hablo igles asiq no entendi nada lo unico q entendo fue goku

  6. Edgar says:

    Valentin wrote in Spanish but with some orthographic errors:

    "Yo no hablo inglés, asi que no entendí nada; lo unico que entiendo fue Goku."

    Which I would translate as:

    "I do not speak English, so I didn’t understand anything; the only thing I understood was Goku."

    Not sure, but I think he was kinda being a "troll."

    Nowadays, it is common to show some "hip-sarcastic-indiference" on young people (I believe Valentin is from Mexico as this is something common, but not sure on other hispanic nations) from Mexico, like trying to write in the way they talk. For example, replacing hard "c’s" and "qu" with "k" to sound more rebellious. But I am not sure if this was the case. (He just wrote "q" instead of "que" which is kind of another variant).

  7. Marianne says:

    What a beautiful article about perceived value; you certainly did an excellent job to commend Goku! Remember the questions I wrote on the ‘Goku Digital Paintings’ article? Well, this article partially answers some of those questions and also backs up why Goku is “void of desire”.

    However, there are some things I still wanted to point out again along with several (answerable or unanswerable) questions:

    (1) Is there an episode in Dragon Ball where they showed Chi-Chi handling the money? Or is this only an assumption by the viewers?

    (2) You mentioned in your blog, “…[Goku] tries not to take away [his opponents’ lives].” I could not agree more with this statement if we are only accountIng DBZ since the following events unfolded: Goku spared Vegeta, gave Frieza another chance, and wished for Kid Buu’s reincarnation (Cell was Gohan’s main opponent but even if he wasn’t, I would not doubt Goku would show the primary villain of the saga partial kindness. Similarly in Dragon Ball, he made a stupefying stunt (in my opinion) and let Piccolo Jr. ate a Senzu Bean. I haven’t read the entire Dragon Ball manga nor watched all of its anime counterparts, so I’m not sure if Piccolo Jr. was the only villain whom Goku showed kindness (please correct me if I’m wrong).

    On the contrary, in Dragon Ball (where the series preserves Toriyama-sensei’s humorous tone as it is not that violent), Kid Goku killed several opponents (including a primary villain Piccolo Daimao). To me, the series only started getting serious and a “little” dark during the King Piccolo and Piccolo Jr. Sagas. On several movie franchises, Goku also killed several primary and secondary villains. Reading Kazenshuu English interview translations, I learned that Toriyama-sensei had little involvement on those movies, however, he supervises the plot and script of the productions. (I was just thinking what was going on his mind that he bought Goku to this low level.)

    What about the underling Yakon during the Buu Saga? Goku purposely (and I think, insensitively) killed Yakon. I hate the fact that Toriyama-sensei undermined the primary protagonist’s amiable personality during the Buu Saga (especially after his noble sacrifice during the Cell Games). He had a haughty personality. From a Saiya-jin perspective (or much more, Goku’s), techniques, skills, abilities, and power-ups are toys or play things; and to fight, defeat, and even kill opponents at full power is a challenging game (during the Kid Buu Saga when they’re almost defeated, Vegeta even said ‘This is the worst game ever’). I mentioned most of the following on a previous comment, but didn’t realize until now that most of them transpired during the 25th World Tournament. Here are the scenes I found notable:

    (a) asking Gohan to calm down because Supopo-Bitch will not kill the badly hurt Videl;

    (b) his attempt to blast Supreme Kai (I’m glad that he had it under control unlike Vegeta who didn’t hesitate to kill the audience);

    (c) his elation to fight Majin Vegeta on his only day on Earth (when he should be spending time with his family after 7 years in the Other World; of all the days that Goku could pick, it has to be the day of the Tenka’ichi Budōkai when he would not be able to spend a quiet and peaceful time with his family/friends);

    d) saying that Gotenks would challenge Good Majin Buu since the kids are stronger than him (which is certainly not authentic). By the way, I admired Goku when he surrendered in the Cell Games because he was truthful at that time, unlike in this point of the story;

    e) usually asking the following questions regarding opponents, guardians, and power-ups, ‘Is he strong?’, ‘Is he powerful?’, ‘Is it a strong power?’;

    f) asking Gohan he could talk Videl or Bulma “into doing it” to satisfy Old Kai’s wishes;

    g) tempting Old Kai using Bulma’s chest (in the anime) and Bulma’s dirty pictures (in the manga) [What has even gotten into Toriyama-sensei’s mind? At that point, Goku wouldn’t be able to ride Kin’toun. How surprised would he be had Toriyama-sensei actually showed it.];

    h) asking Majin Buu to change the order of the challengers so he could fight Uub (Vegeta mentioned that it’s certainly not like him to break the rules);

    i) in the 2008 special, he cheated and asked Vegeta to look the other way so he could finish Abo and Kado;

    j) in the 2013 movie, he asked Shen Long to power him up to Super-Saiya-jin God (according to some viewers, he sort of cheated since he is asking for a short-cut to power-up to SS God);

    k) finally, he left his family behind to train Uub saying that he “…will come back every so often”. A 5-year time lapse must have occurred between the DBZ and DBGT series. Then it is shown in the earlier episodes of DBGT that it was Goku’s first time to meet his then 10-year old granddaughter, Pan.

    Also, in two episodes during the Androids/Cell Saga in the anime (but not in the manga), Goku punched Gohan in the stomach: the first one was when he was sparring with Gohan to prepare for the Androids’ arrival in three years; the second one was to stop his child from throwing away his life (this is the scene after they thought Imperfect Cell killed Piccolo Jr.).

    I apologize for this long comment, as well as any inconvenience since I’m cluttering this section. I do not expect immediate answers to the unanswerable ones for now, but do expect some thoughts and answers to those ones that are. Just as always, I will be looking forward to more of your posts since I may stumble in on some answers. Hopefully, I’m not becoming a nuisance after repeating almost all of the same questions.

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