31.3.06


“Daffodils, that come before the swallow dares, and take the winds of March with beauty.”

The house in the background is where we live and work. Built in the 15th century with Elizabethan and Georgian additions.

Not here much longer: should be in London before April is out.

Hopefully we'll see the magnolia bloom one last time.
Holding on causes death. John Kells

Longevity

I suspect what keeps you young is what my teacher's father calls questing. Being so consumed with interest in what is happening now that you forget all about what happened before. A constant process of rebirth. Giving up what you know – investing in loss – realising that what is important is learning, not the knowledge you accumulate, and that true learning requires a tabula rasa – a blank page – the open face of the good student, full only with wonder and the grace to be present and ready. This is precisely what poor old Cheng Man-ching in the video below lacks. To me he looks bored and I feel sadness when I watch him. I suppose settling into being better than everyone around is a seductive trap to fall into, but like my teacher says, it's actually easy for anyone to find things they're useless at, as long as they're honest with themselves and they don't have a habit of avoidance – of brushing things they'd rather not face under the carpet. Cheng Man-ching was famous for two things: being a peerless boxer, and being a bad teacher. Every discipline on earth abounds with bad teachers – those that either don't know their stuff – haven't received correct teaching or haven't done it justice with their own work and intelligence – or are afraid to teach all they know in case the student overtakes and usurps them. The teacher must find students of good (impeccable) character with whom he can feel relaxed, open and stimulated, but above all free, otherwise the teaching process will not be taking him into unknown territory – into areas where all are learning, especially the teacher. True teaching happens when the intense togetherness of teacher and student thrusts both into realms where even the teacher feels vulnerable and vigilant – under attack, if you like, by a living aspect of the teaching that is struggling to wrench both into heightened awareness – into the new. Merely to survive such a situation the student must cling on to the energy of the teacher, and not worry about understanding or remembering. It is not the teacher who is teaching, it is the teaching that is teaching, and the teaching teaches both, or all, the difference being that the teacher can probably make immediate use of what has transpired whereas the student may have to wait decades before he truly comes to terms with it. This is, if you like, the natural process, and is what my teacher means when he says the natural way is the study of life by life's awareness. This is the process that keeps you young, at heart at least, and is the one that, if you become completely consumed by it, will continue after death. Over that death has no dominion.

30.3.06

Tied
to a
tide-line

biding
my
time

till a
sea-change
sets me
free

Sam Ward

Perhaps as close to formal perfection as is humanly possible.

29.3.06


Flying Monks by Ricard Matthieu

Those Tibetans know a thing or two.

Thanks to Helen Wheatley - Victoria's mum - for sending me this postcard.
The art of being - melting from the heart. John Kells
                  Wilderness


You are the man
You are my other country
and I find it hard going

You are the prickly pear
You are the sudden violent storm

the torrent to raise the river
to float the wounded doe

Lorine Niedecker

Perfectly describes the teacher and the student's relationship with the teacher. LN also called it Wild Man.

Big Dave Rogers is The American Pilot at the Soho Theatre until 8 April. Pat saw it at Stratford last year and was very impressed.

28.3.06

Yang Shou-chung (1910-85)

Yang Cheng-fu's eldest son.
JK studied him him in 1978.
Strange how Yang style masters all seem to die at 75 (Ip Tai Tak as well as CMC & CCT).
So much for longevity.

By the way Yang is pronounced Yung or Young or Yeung or Yong, never with a short 'a'.

Responsibility

The responsibility is to be open. John Kells

Spirit

Spirit is the effervescence of real interest in something other than yourself. John Kells

27.3.06

Chi Chiang Tao


Photo: Barbara Richter

“Never let friends stick to you: never let strangers touch you.”

Responsibility

Becoming is connectedness, pure and simple.
Your awareness of becoming will bleed into the unawareness of those about you.
Your posture must be strong enough to bear the significance of the inspiration you imprint upon others.
Whether positive or negative, you must be fierce enough for your becoming to stride on unabated.
John Kells

26.3.06

O my floating life
Do not save love
for things
Throw things
to the flood

ruined
by the flood
Leave the new unbought -
all one in the end -
water

Lorine Niedecker

Cheng Man-ching


A video clip of Cheng Man Ching strutting his stuff. Note his shifty feet. I'd like to see a demonstration of his short energy although I'm not sure he had any American students good enough to respond to it.

Made in New York by Ken van Sickle in 1970.
The tall student is Ed Young, the shorter one with the black hair is Tam Gibbs, and the student with the long hair is Ken himself.

Thanks to Simon O'Connor for sending me the link.

Relaxation

Perhaps the three parts of the body where tension manifests and gathers most strongly are shoulders, hips and jaw. Each is associated with a dan dien. The shoulders with the heart of course, hips with the belly, and jaw with the brain. By tensing the shoulders we keep our heart to ourselves – crushed and tight. If the shoulders relax down and out – down and away from each other (we have already established that when something relaxes it wants to split into its component parts) – then the chest cavity expands and opens and fills with energy of the heart. Breathing improves – the diaphragm cannot do its work properly if the shoulders pull together. We become aware that we have two nostrils feeding two lungs, each in a different side of the body.

Sinking into the deep postures of Tai Chi should open the hips in a similar fashion. The hip joints – where the femurs join the pelvis – should soften and move away from each other, opening the pelvis at the front and relaxing the sacrum. The belly and legs then start to behave like another pair of lungs – breathing energy to and from the ground as our weight shifts from leg to leg. Sinking must be an expression of such relaxation, and not forceful, otherwise the knees will suffer and the work will not touch your internal aspect (will not affect).

Relaxing and softening the jaw feels like smiling – a subtle, knowing smile. Become aware of where the jaw bone meets the skull beneath each ear and let these joints soften, open and relax down (use gravity) and away from each other – as though the face is widening. Let this softening and widening move up into the temples as well – as though you are trying to expand out the natural depression that is each temple. The brain can then start to breath, as did our heart and belly. It exchanges energy with the heavens through the crown of the head and with the world through the eyes, ears, nose and mouth. Start to think of these organs as channels through which you breathe energy – in and out – rather than simple sensory receptors. The more you can smile the face open the stronger will be the breathing.

Once the softening and relaxing of each dan dien is established, that softening and relaxing will begin to become contained. The containing energy issues from the back of each centre and furls around to embrace the breathing process. I suspect this is a natural consequence of any natural process – enough energy eventually develops to protect it. It is effectively ward-off energy – and if you allow yourself to fall into a steady state of relaxation then this is precisely what will happen – your condition will ward-off rather than attract and enter. To keep the relaxation dynamic the breathing of each centre must feed the process of change and development – the forward thrust – rather than simply gather for its own sake and satisfaction. Dynamic implies relationship and interaction. The value of unity is two. Your improving relaxation and togetherness should always be encouraging the world to reveal the next stage – the next hurdle – rather than settling into itself. In a way this is what a true teaching is – something that leaves you forever incomplete. As soon as you achieve settlement and unity (double-weightedness) the teaching throws you into the next stage which leaves you feeling more wretched and incapable than ever before. The good student breathes a sigh of relief when this happens – there is nothing he distrusts more than comfort and expertise.

25.3.06

You, island in this page
image in this page

What if things really did
correspond, silk to breath

evening to eyelid
thread to thread

Michael Palmer

Suspension of disbelief

Be suspicious because anything may be everything. John Kells

24.3.06

There is much that is precise
between us, in the space

between us, two of this
and three of that

Michael Palmer

Eternity

"Australia is probably still the only country in the world to have elevated a graffiti writer to the status of national public hero. Arthur Stace was an alcoholic from the slums of Sydney who found God while listening to a Baptist preacher in a hostel in the 1940s and took to writing the word "Eternity" on the ground in chalk. He rendered it in meticulous copperplate script more than half a million times across Sydney over the next three decades, becoming an urban legend before his death in 1967 at the age of 83. He has since been honoured by a plaque, a range of council-approved merchandise and was the centrepiece of celebrations when the word "Eternity" in his trademark hand was lit up in 100ft-high letters on Sydney harbour bridge to mark the new millennium."

From a piece in today's Guardian.
As if we could kill time without injuring eternity! Henry David Thoreau

Gerda Geddes

A Memorial Service for Gerda Geddes will be held at the church in Coull near Aboyne, Aberdeenshire, Scotland at 2pm tomorrow (Saturday).

An obituary appeared on Caroline Ross's site and another in the Telegraph a couple of days ago.

23.3.06

Security

Security is a false feeling - a memory - and as such should not be indulged. John Kells

22.3.06

Chi Chiang Tao


Photo Barbara Richter, 1976

Forever forward

The other is sacrosanct. But that shouldn't put you on the back foot – shouldn't intimidate. Your feeling for the other should draw you forever forward, through the posture, through the work and through your life. When the other is not present – during solo practice – you find or create a surrogate – an image of the other. This can be the imaginary opponent (shadow boxing), or an image you have of your teacher doing the posture, or the corrections you've been given, or something broader – a feeling for perfection whether it be the perfect posture, the perfect union, or simply the deep conviction that to be in the process of constant correction – getting closer all the time – is the only way to live. There is nothing quite so soul destroying as standing still.

The reason most people die a miserable death (like a dog in a ditch as the Tibetans say) is because spiritually they have ceased living a long time before that point. They have settled into comfort and conformity and rejected the bitter and vicious bite of life. The only healthy way to cope with life is to bite back – pluck up your spirit and engage – become an onslaught equal to that you are faced with. This is what your teacher expects when you are in his company at least. His job is to fully represent – to become – just for you – an image of reality. He shows you the way things really are – he becomes the onslaught you have to face – a force of nature – and to properly engage you must become equal to him – better than you are. Your teacher represents real life, and the process of your interaction represents the natural process which should constantly be drawing you out of yourself and into it's whirling workings. Life forces you to be your best. If you aren't regularly touching this bleeding edge then your practice is coming from the wrong place – it is all arms and legs with no real feeling for either the other or the beyond.

Take Dr Chi for example. If you look at his postures they look pretty bad – no ward-off, knees collapse, head cranes forwards, but the feeling that comes from those photographs is immense. Spiritually he's flying high and he's stopped caring whether his body can keep up – he's long left the physical far behind. He's so forwards, so engaged, that he enters your soul and truly inspires, even from a photograph. One gets the feeling that somewhere he is still at work, still loving Jesus – for him the ultimate image of the other – no longer hindered by either his physical frailty or mundane concerns.

Yielding is not getting out of the way, it is attracting.
Chi Chiang Tao

21.3.06

Relaxation, talent & sacrifice

We talk about relaxation in Tai Chi & in a way it all comes down to this. Not just relaxing our muscles but relaxing the fearful grip we have the world under, so that it can then begin to open up & reveal itself. The external and the internal world. When the external world opens up many more opportunities present themselves - you become more involved in the rough and tumble of living (this doesn't mean you become more busy - just more involved). When the internal world opens up you begin to feel and work with energy, spirit and heart. When you start working with these then you actually become more talented, or rather your talents can begin to reveal themselves properly. What is striking about people is that they all have something wonderful inside that is bursting to express itself. What prevents it is tension, particularly self-image. Holding on to false images. Idolatry. If people (students) can leave this aside, even for a moment, then they will always have the talent and ability to at least get thoroughly involved in the task at hand without getting tense and anxious. Such total involvement requires you to lose yourself - to stop suffocating with opinions and expectations - so that your energy can do the job. This is wanting to happen - desperately - so to prevent it requires even more desperation - hardness - the real enemy.

Relaxation is letting go. Not just of tension but of everything. Small loss, small gain. Big loss, big gain. If you put the barest minimum in then you'll get the barest minimum out. If you put everything in then you'll get everything out. And in our game anything less than everything will not succeed. Relaxation and sacrifice amount to the same thing.

20.3.06

Perseverance

The secret is to persevere with the work rather than to persevere with the way you are.
Like the little stream
Making its way
Through the mossy crevices
I too quietly
Turn clear and transparent

Ryokan

19.3.06

Dance of Vitality

Each loop of the figure of eight should be accompanied by an opening and swallowing in the heart. Really this action of the heart should generate each loop, but to start with we do figures of eight with the arms and waist, and later the hands, feet and eyes, and later still each toe, balls of feet, heels, insteps, ankles, calves, knees, groin, coccyx, sacrum, perineum, hips, belly, kidneys, sternum, heart, scapulae, thymus, clavicles, sternal notch, shoulders, neck, Adam's apple, head, back-brain, mid-brain, fore-brain, temples, eyebrows, ears, nostrils, mouth, chin, jaw, tongue, back of throat, crown, armpits, elbows, forearms, wrists, Tiger's mouths, heels of palms, middle of palms, fingers, tips of fingers, etc. to train the heart to open and get involved. The individual character of each place is felt and dwelt upon. Each involves and requires a slightly different action in the heart, and clearly such practice will develop a richness and depth to the heart as well as awakening these parts of the body and developing an energy component to each. The more parts we can acknowledge and bring into some independent and dependent play – shake loose – the more of the correct sort of energy we will contain – the energy of connectedness – the real dance of vitality.

Reminds me again of my teacher's father who does something similar - but far less selfishly. Before he goes to bed each night he prays. His prayer involves bringing to mind, in turn, each person he has ever known, and re-establishing, in his heart at least, connexion. It takes so long now he has to do half one night and half the next. I don't think he's ever had a casual connexion in his life – one that he has subsequently forgotten. It's all about honouring the connexion and, with all your heart, wishing them well. Many of the Irish are like this – you feel when you meet for the first time that it's permanent – for life.

Practice

The usefulness of practice is that it makes you     move on.

18.3.06

Chi Chiang Tao


Photo by Barbara Richter, 1976.

No one could touch him because he had touched them first - compassion.

Beginner's Mind

Just a whisper of technique. Any more and you become tight and limited. The expertise acquired through practice should be tempered (or countered) with beginner's mind otherwise your practice reduces your possibilities rather than expand them. Beginner's mind is really just an excited innocence – a mind with no expectations – open and willing for anything. As one practices and gets 'better' one gradually slots into a smooth groove along which one flows with ease and grace. This groove is a trap - a slick means to getting closer to another without actually having to open to them. Our culture abounds with such slickness – style & fashion – flash & attractive but empty of heart. A bit like masturbation – dubious momentary pleasure followed by an enduring wretched emptiness (so I'm told). This is why it is important for people of experience to teach – they inspire with their experience and expertise, and the students inspire with their fresh openness: beginner's mind is infectious.

17.3.06

Love

Email from Corinna this morning:
Did you know that in Danish
Love = Promise ?
I am amazed everytime I come across the word.

16.3.06


Verne & John, Hugo & Sue, 25 years ago.

Sue Clark is one of my favourite people. If anyone knows her whereabouts can they let me know.

Chi Chiang Tao



All these photos of Dr Chi were taken by Barbara Richter in 1976.

Relaxation & Connexion

When you properly relax, the two halves of the body feel as though they are falling away from each other, loosening their grip and finding their own space & place. Fibres unknit. Tension is a tight congested holding together or holding on – things fearfully cling to whatever is closest. It is only when things relax away from each other that a proper and natural interaction can develop. If things are naturally connected, which all things are, then the relaxed space between is quite alive with the energy of connexion, allowing the spontaneous and continuous creation of the Third Heart – the governing engine of connexion. The nature of an interaction will then depend upon this Third Heart which is allowed to develop and flourish in the nourishing space between, rather than upon the will of either of the interacting entities. This principle of relaxation – the opening up of the space between and the filling of that space with the energy of connexion – should pervade your being. The two halves of the body relax away from each other. Muscle fibres relax away from each other, as do the cells within those fibres and the molecules within those cells. You will then begin to develop a natural energetic presence, and a natural wisdom that stems from your whole physical and energetic being, not from the thinking mind. This is quite apart from ch'i or physical strength or intellectual prowess which require active cultivation – the use of will or mind – and naturally decline with age. If you follow the route of relaxation and connexion then as your faculties inevitably decline you become more and more connected and more and more imbued with, and composed of, the energy of connexion because that is all you have left. I'm thinking in particular of my teacher's father. I visited him just before Christmas to help him with his computer. As I was sitting at the screen he hovered behind me watching and placed his hand on my shoulder with the lightest of touches. Instantly my whole body was charged with his energy which was so fine and alive and pure and unlike anything I had felt before. A frail old man, bent almost double and breathing with difficulty, yet easily the most energetic and remarkable person I think I have met. What is also strange is that when he touched me I suddenly saw the world as though through his eyes – his touch made me him for a moment – and it was a beautiful place – far more so than the world I usually inhabit. His world was the natural and real one – the one of connexion. My world was my own – curled up into itself with brooding dullness. What is interesting is that he has reached such an advanced level by living a life that has constantly and willingly (and happily) put others first.

15.3.06

Chi Chiang Tao


Photo: Barbara Richter

Perfection.
From Dick Farmer's website.
no time
like the present

there's the road
curving away



I'm suffering

from the
humidity



moonrise

is as red



as someone somewhere



this one

does it now

Robert Grenier

Becoming

Discussing unconditionality with JK yesterday. That what is important is not who you connect with or what you believe in or who you love, but to be a connector, a believer and a lover – to be in the continuous process of connecting, believing and loving. Practising. Regardless. This is how Dr Chi was able to yield to JK before he got out of bed in the morning: yielding mind.

“In any real interchange it is the Third Heart that counts. Fixation on either (or both) of the other two negates potential. It is the same with belief. To be a believer is to be a positive being – a believer is someone who is becoming. Becoming leaves no imprint. There is no mind to deliberate or be backwards. Even a concept of forwards, although useful to combat backwards, is forgotten. Becoming swallows what is commonly known as destiny. Real connexions you make are on your becoming route, and each Third Heart a cog that impels or pulls you along the spiral natural process. This kind of connexion requires this kind of believing and this kind of becoming. Light and embracing, but embracing as a giving from the heart rather than capturing. No matter what any other person might be doing, your becoming brings the Third Heart to its own life, and your positivity is sufficient for its nutrition. And the inspiration of the Third Heart is nutrition for your becoming. The activity is so rich that like or dislike do not come into it, and all one's functions are warmed – irradiated – by its glow.” John Kells

Dance of Vitality

Mark has posted a downloadable video clip of the Dance of Vitality – the pinnacle of Yang Style Tai Chi. JK learnt it from Chu Gin Soon.

14.3.06

Joe Massey reading. More.
Taught by
the largeness
moving within himself
the truth
which is felt
has only
fixation by
internal means of
transcription.
for Sam

12.3.06

Destiny

Form and content are, in a way, irrelevant, because what's important is neither what you say nor how you say it but who you are.

11.3.06

daode jing


Thomas Meyer has a new translation of the daode jing (Tao Te Ching) out.
It is stunning, both as translation & object.
the best direction is barely felt
the next best is like a friend

fear follows after that
dismiss the last as useless

a lack of trust makes
things untrustworthy

quiet and in few words
finish what was begun

so that people say
it simply happened on its own
This website is a useful resource.

Daigu Ryokan (1758-1831)

Found this on the web:

Like Han-shan in China, Ryokan is loved as much for his antics as for his profound poetry.
Ryokan became a priest at age 18 and took to a life of wandering. He eventually met his teacher, Kokusen Roshi, and settled down to study Zen, ultimately becoming his most esteemed student. When Kokusen Roshi died, Ryokan inherited his temple. But the duties and regularity of being temple master didn't suit Ryokan, and he resumed his itinerant life.
He next settled in a small hut he called Gogo-an on Mt. Kugami, where he lived by begging.
Ryokan's love of children and animals are legendary. He often played games with the local children, attested to in his own poetry.
His reputation for gentleness carried sometimes to comical extremes. One tale is told that, one day when Ryokan returned to his hut he discovered a robber who had broken in and was in the process of stealing the impoverished monk's few possessions. In the thief's haste to leave, he left behind a cushion. Ryokan grabbed the cushion and ran after the thief to give it to him. This event prompted Ryokan to compose one of his best known poems:
The thief left it behind:
the moon
at my window.
When Ryokan was 70 and nearing the end of his life, he met a young nun and poet named Teishin. Though Teishin was only 28, they fell in love. They exchanged several beautiful love poems.
As Ryokan was dying, Teishin came to him and held him at his moment of death. It was Teishin who collected and published Ryokan's poetry after his death.


Ryokan's hand.

10.3.06

what
I move so
thickly through into
very furry
Robert Grenier

Gerda Geddes (1918-2006)

Mark texted me last Friday that GG had died.
As far as I know she was the first Westerner to teach Tai Chi in UK.

Detail

The figure of eight can be thought of as either a circle that has been twisted in which case tightening the curvature to pull towards the centre of the circle (the node or nexus of the eight) requires an increase in energy or intensity, or it can be thought of as a central seed from which expand in turn two embracing loops, in which case a surge or pump of swallowing (open-expand-embrace-close) energy is required each time a loop is generated. In the first case a full-size image already exists of the eight, and the body or mind just traces it out. In the second case the eight exists in tiny embryo form and is “grown” anew each time it is expressed. Both are useful. If the intensity is increased when tracing or generating figures of eight then the eights want to speed up and reduce in size (tighten), but also we find that if the body remains relaxed then those parts of the eight that are generally slack (those parts the body finds easy) tend to flesh out with intricate details. These details are in fact tiny and very fast figures of eight embedded within the path of the main figure of eight. A figure of eight requires two waist turns (left followed by right or vice versa) so an intense figure of eight with much detail will require many waist turns - a vibrating waist.

9.3.06

Containing duality

The wonderful thing about the figure of eight is its contained dual nature – it is a continuous closed figure containing two loops. We find that there seems to be a law of proliferation in place that naturally generates smaller figures of eight within each of the two loops of a larger eight. These smaller eights can be in any plane. So if you make a figure of eight with the hips or waist then the two arms naturally want to create their own figures of eight which can be thought of as being contained or generated by the eight in the waist. What this implies is that figures of eight always come in pairs – if there's one there must be another somewhere and there must then be a larger one that contains those two, and so on. It is important to have a feeling for this. So when figure of eighting with the waist try to feel the similar eight in the imaginary opponent's waist and try to feel (be aware of) the larger eight containing the two of you (the relationship) (feel this expressing in various planes). As well as you doing figures of eight there is a larger one somewhere doing you. Also be aware that because all this is natural there should quite soon come a point in your work when relaxation and heart (compassion) replace concentrated effort.

8.3.06

From ECHO

misunderstood as a measure of distance. It
takes no time in that sense, repeats nothing,
figures the shape of the flames. Gesticulate.

a failure of translation. In sleep the language
he spoke was one he didn't know. Waking it
sounded the same. Waiting there it seemed a
succession of names, a level field of things in
constant motion, exchanging identities.

neither followed nor following. Two are there as
she counts to one, to one and one then three five
eight defining the spiral, to double sevens to
begin, to instauredness. Left arm and right arm and
the figures like the fire. There must be a
different metric, a gesture and that's all, this
this and so on, concomitance, like writing but
it's not writing, the pieces actually are.
Michael Palmer, from Codes Appearing: Poems 1979-88

Respect

  Awakened
by the ticking

not the alarm.
Jospeh Massey
Try to find and stay with the gentle thread of connexion that runs through your day.
Once you've caught it often enough you'll never shake it off.

7.3.06


The view South from Dingle peninsula, just West of Dingle town. The mountains are on the Iveragh peninsula.

heart

           at night
above rivers
the distant past visited
& whispered
itself

Borrowing

How do you progress? A big question. Is all Dr Chi could say was “Somehow.” My teacher's advice to me was “Be different.” I remember once him yelling at me to get it right. “But how?” I implored. “That's easy,” he said, “just stop doing it wrong.” High standards indeed and something he is well capable of, always having had terrific spirit. Spirit empowers and makes you altogether capable. But if you're needing to learn something that you don't have within in order to progress then rousing spirit isn't really going to help – it's just going to make you more completely you : Self-yeast of spirit a dull dough sours. This is where the principles of Tai Chi come in. Remember the first lesson where your teacher explains yielding? “You can never guarantee to be stronger than your opponent, but you can always chose to be weaker.” Listening. Putting the other first. Borrowing. To be different you need inspiration from somewhere – you need to borrow energy. Your teacher is constantly trying to lend you some in the vain hope that you may make a little progress. The trouble is that most students abuse the energy – they quickly learn how to channel that good energy into aspects of themselves rather than allowing it to be the instrument and stimulus for change it was intended to be. This really is abuse, and it's dishonest, and extremely ugly to boot. It's not real borrowing because nothing is given in return, apart from the class fees which don't count – they just get you in the door. What you should return is honour and reverence – you should make every effort to assimilate and become the borrowed energy – become more like your teacher. All teachers have experience of good students. You only need one in a class to make that class work. The student is so interested and willing to learn and change that they stimulate the teaching to express itself and as a teacher you quickly find stuff coming out that you didn't even know you knew. This is a natural process – a healthy energy circuit - and unfortunately it tends to happen more readily with beginners than with old hands who feel they've heard it all before and on some level cut off. (If your teacher tells you something again then it's because you haven't heard and accepted the first time, not because they are forgetful or have a limited repertoire.) The important thing here is that the honour and reverence you need to show the teaching and the teacher you must in fact show everything: your life can only effectively contain one message, and you can only effectively be, and be in the process of becoming, one thing. If you manage this then you can borrow energy from everything – nothing is beneath you – you are becoming all the time. This is openness and connectedness. The heart has a front and a back door – you can receive into one and give from the other and become a channel for heart and soul. This is what life should be – a powerful thrust rather than a series of static compartments. There is nothing more exhausting and ageing than having to constantly switch from one mode to another. If people can't take you the way you need to be then leave them behind.
The hills
aligned

with clouds
aligned

with the
windowsill

levitate.
Joseph Massey

5.3.06

heart

       an echo
resounds
in his palm
a word spoken
in its listening

We drove into Kerry ostensibly to view a venue at Inch for a 5 day residential Heartwork retreat I'm planning to run in September. If anyone is interested then get in touch (email at top of page). It should be appropriate for beginners as well as old Tai Chi hands.

This is the smallest of the Blaskets.

4.3.06


The Great Blasket (Blascaod Mór) - An Fear Marbh (The Dead Man) - taken looking West into the Atlantic from Dunquin (Dún Chaoin) on the Dingle (An Daingean) peninsula. Inhabited until 1953, the island, 2 miles off the coast, apparently produced more poets and storytellers than any comparable area in Ireland.

Prehistoric beehive hut near Slea Head, Dingle peninsula, County Kerry, Ireland. Slea Head is the most Westerly point of Europe.

"Ringforts are the most numerous and widespread field monuments in Ireland. These sites were commonly referred to by the terms Fort, ráth, lios, cathair or caiseal, the individual site names often incorporating one or other of these terms. Ráth and lios usually apply to earthen banked ringforts and cathair and caiseal to stones cashels.
The majority of these were enclosed farmsteads of the free farmers of the Early Christian Period, the banks and fosses acting as a fence to prevent livestock from straying and to protect against cattle raiders and wild animals. The small size of the sites suggests they were occupied by a single family, the houses, farm buildings and storage places occurring within the enclosed space. They would have been inhabited from ancient times to 1200AD.
These huts were often found attached to each other with a doorway leading from one to the other. These houses were generally made of stone because stone was plentiful. They were generally round like a beehive and a special type of craftsmanship is apparent in the building. They were erected in the form of a circle of successive strata of stone, each stratum lying a little closer to the centre than the one beneath and so on upwards until only a small aperture is left at the top which can be closed with a single flagstone or capstone. No mortar was used in building. The stones have a downward and outward tilt so as to shed the water. This method of building is called corbelling.
This Cashel is called Cathair na gConchúireach (Caher Conor). It is now occupied by five structures, one souterrain is visible and one of the structural stones in the cashel wall bears an inscribed cross."

3.3.06

Practice

They say "practice makes perfect." Of course, it doesn't. For the vast majority it merely consolidates imperfection.
Henry Longhurst

This is why it is imperative to receive regular instruction, and to listen to that instruction. If you are honest with yourself then you can find little instructions everywhere. However, for the big ones you need someone you trust to wake you up and point the way, otherwise there is always the tendency to practice what you know rather than what you need to know.

2.3.06

heart

          beneath
its sacrifices
and
offerings
an atonement

1.3.06

Survival

Someone threw one of my rhetorical questions back at me:
"How do you survive the onslaught of energy impinging and impressing on you all the time?" Can you say more about this? In the absence of a survival strategy - surely that way madness lies?
ENGAGE IT : Everything I say addresses this problem. There are no easy answers other than to start the work and then continue, and to have the intelligence and grace not to die before you've finished.

WARRIORSHIP : Really it is simply a matter of taking yourself in hand, and living a simple true life that gradually makes you stronger and better connected (can't have one without the other). And learning that the truth has a bitter taste, not a sweet one. Facing up to things is difficult and grim (will definitely require SACRIFICE) but will ultimately empower.

Most of what you feel - of what comes in - is rubbish - figments of an overactive ego. Imagine a heavy barbell on your shoulders and having to squat with it. The pain and discomfort will be intense and there will be so much telling you to quit but if you manage to connect to the truth of the endeavour - the heart of the exercise - that fine subtle line of posture and attitude then you will succeed. This is what we mean by connectedness. It has nothing to do with being nice or sociable with worthless idiots and everything to do with feeling, finding and living the truth.

Become interested in ESSENCE and comsumed by a fascination for TRUTH.

And most importantly of all, find and follow GREAT TEACHING.

Yielding

Yielding is assimilation.
Assimilating and being assimilated.
John Kells