The reason it is recommended in meditation to observe the breathing is because that endless alternation of in and out, tension and relaxation, models very well the workings of reality. And, as always, the parts of the series to pay special attention to are the changes: when in switches to out and relaxation rolls into tension. On one level these changes are external – consequences of endless movement in a finite system – return is inevitable. But on another level they are internal – the workings of spirit as precursor to all that is. This is the level that interests us.
It's not the past or future that are illusory but the present and presence. The illusion of irreversible time. The future doesn't really change the past but it does call to it, and the present only becomes real – a bridge – when I am responding to that call – allowing myself to be pulled across – drawn by connexions already humming rather than pushed reluctantly by a past already cold.
It's never one or the other – always both. The external only becomes boring when it is stripped of its internal. If I want to rise up and find the light then I also need to dig down into the damp darkness otherwise I have nothing to give – no energy – and can only observe the cold light of day. The name of the game is always connexion – touch – across which pours a world of feeling.
Before forgiveness can be bestowed it must be begged for, otherwise whatever is given is tainted. This is the meaning of prayer: not just asking God for forgiveness, but remembering each occasion of sin (where sin is any action or thought that has impeded my own or somebody else's spiritual progress).
Circles, circles, everywhere – set up by turning, always turning. Sinking in taiji is a sinking into circularity – falling, or rather being sucked, into a maelstrom, or rather two maelstroms, each rising up through the body from a foot like spinning funnels, channeling energy both down and up. Such energetic structures only reveal themselves when the Form is practised quickly. The Form is a celebration of movement, above all, turning, and if practised as such then the shapes the body takes as it turns are a consequence of that turning: of centrifugal and centripetal forces, and as soon as movement stops and those forces dissipate, then the body collapses. This is our path to lightness.
Sitting on a park bench, awaiting the next appointment, surrounded by large fig trees. The one closest to me is magnificent, and as I let my eyes follow its trunk upwards into the branches and billowing crown, I also feel, but differently, its roots extending under me. That tree, seemingly twenty feet away, contains me.