This is a contemplation I wrote for class in March 2016.
On Saturday, Sah-bum-nim Smith gave a contemplation and in it, he brought up the idea of chi and how different people take that concept to different levels. This got me thinking more about Martial Arts and spirituality. One of the hardest parts for me has been reconciling those two, coming up with how martial arts and spirituality fit together.
For the longest time, spirituality has been tied to religion in my head. Since I'm not a religious person, I didn't know what to think of it. Then I read this book called "The Warrior Within" - it discussed philosophies that Bruce Lee held. There was this part on 'Spiritual Realization'. It said, "when [a person] comes to a conscious vital realization of those great spiritual forces within himself [or herself] and begins to use those forces in science, in business, and in life, his[/her] progress in the future will be unparalleled". To me, these "forces" were his way of describing chi.
Also in the book, the author summarizes Bruce Lee's philosophies around spiritual realization with this statement: "The route to enlightenment and true peace of mind consists of self-knowledge, or, as Bruce Lee referred to this phenomenon, "spiritual realization"."
As I thought more about it, to me, these two statements meant that "spiritual realization" is just another way of referring to self-knowledge. And then to know oneself, so deeply that everything one does comes from an authentic place, is what it means to be spiritual. You don't have to believe that you're in touch with some higher power, or the universe (you can - I'm not saying it's wrong to, I'm just saying you don't need to) but just knowing yourself so well, so deeply - that's what gives you that power/feeling of connected-ness, that possibility where you're "progress in the future will be unparalleled" - as Bruce Lee put it.
Everyone has their own definition of chi, of spirituality, of "spiritual realization", and what those mean in the context of martial arts. I've only shared with you some thoughts, my own personal interpretation. The amazing thing about self-knowledge (or spiritual realization) is that you're completely free to come up with your own meaning, the point is to be honest and true to yourself.