"I have never missed a meditation in thirty-three years. I meditate once in the morning and again in the afternoon, for about twenty minutes each time. Then I go about the business of my day. And I find that the joy of doing increases. Intuition increases. The pleasure of life grows. And negativity recedes."
Meditation disciplines the mind to withdraw from the scene so that the heart can come to the fore. It is the time and place for feeling, not for thinking. Care must be taken because the mind can also create feelings – false feelings – the products of fantasy. The only reason to meditate, really, is to feel the real; and that is its reward: the knowledge that comes of feeling your own reality – your own connexions.
Humanity's curse is the fact that ego functions as a rather successful stand-in for heart. Ego creates and takes advantage, giving the barest minimum required to receive such advantage. Heart, on the other hand, when it is actively leading a life, is generous to a tee, full of excess. For me, a corrupt society is one that, through design or over-development, privileges ego over heart – our own society being perhaps the prime example – whereas so called primitive and barbaric societies tend to be of the heart, with complex codes of honour to protect them from the monoculture of ego and individualism.
Despite the seamless ease and aplomb with which we go about our daily routines, the mind, behind the scenes, is managing affairs with a frantic anxiety: so much to-ing and fro-ing, so much inefficiency and wasted energy, and all because the course we take is no longer a matter of life and death which would require spirit, but largely one of decorum and propriety, which promises safety and security but delivers a slack and arbitrary conformity saturated with neurotic tension. And it's all unnecessary, largely generated by a cynical and cowardly decision to leak and waste all energy other than the minimum required to travel the pre-established groove; nothing left to leap clear and traverse a crest or take to the sky. The Other, not just another person but any novel situation that demands more from us, any event, represents the “irreducible and inappropriable surprise” necessary to jolt us from our routines of body and mind. The Other demands hospitality, demands that I break my usual routines and quickly adapt to their intrusion. This is the gift of the Other, a gift I could never give myself.
My six year old daughter has, for the umpteenth time, head lice. As I was applying various smelly oils the conversation went something like this: "Dad, where did the lice come from?" "From another child's hair." "And where did their lice come from?" "Again, from another child's hair." "And where did their lice come from?" "Yet again, from another child's hair." "But dad, where did the first louse come from?" In that instant I understood the utter childishness of religion.
Bring awareness to the raw edge of pre-personal perception. Caress it, arouse it with spirit; because that is where energy, activity, is made; before thought and experience can suppress it. Action comes from there, not from within. True action is drawn from me, as long as I am simply empty vessel, fit for use.
The main fact of existence isn't being – that's a given – it's connexion, and the becomings affected by relationship. Affects and affections – feelings brought about by change. And in this sense everything that exists also feels.
Thinking is a withdrawal from feeling – from affection – into an inner sanctum – an interiority – that privileges fantasy over reality, and strives to make a future modelled on fantasy.
Intelligence comes from thinking, wisdom from feeling.
Thinking is generally a reactionary habit in that it struggles to repeat known feelings. There is, however, an inquisitive creative thinking that's always searching, questing, exploring new possibilities, new futures. Such thinking is never linear or logical or calculating, it is rather nonsensical and crazy – paratactical.
Taiji, like all authentic spiritual work, privileges giving over getting, sacrifice over acquisition, forgiving over forgetting. Yet ultimately what one gives is simply oneself: naked and needy sinner, stripped of potential: empty.
Yes, there is a beautiful purity, clarity, almost stark brutality to meditation: its refusal to allow any escape, its constant admonition, and only answer: "Just sit." In a sense Taiji is pure escape: from the anxious mind and into relaxation and energy. There comes a point in all serious Taiji students' lives when they will need to drop Taiji and just sit. For as long as it takes.
There is a story that Cheng Man-ching, having become terribly bored at the top of the Taiji heap, sought advice from a famous spiritual master who told him to meditate as a hermit for three years. Needless to say he didn't do it.