No life
But in the rim; no word but on the lips.

Sarah Hannah


living by fire only

stone never

gives in

to fire warmth a few feet


me around

cold walls

cold glass

Harriet Tarlo

Round Chapel, Hackney

Such a beautiful space this. Information and more pictures.

Tai Chi on Tuesday evenings 6.30-9pm.

Great photos these. Who took them?
A structure, however intelligently designed, becomes a cage if the student is obsessed with it. Thus a good student is one who is able to enter a mold but not be caged in it, to follow the principles, yet without being limited or bound by them.

Bruce Lee



Energy is important, but not all important. It is too easy to hide behind the veneer and excitement of energy – to rely on the ride. It is attractive because in the heat of the moment when immersed in its intensity, especially spirit, we become perfect – perfected by energy and the wisdom of the between. Problems, concerns, worries are all left behind, only to return in a rush when the energy subsides. Like taking a drug. But problems need to be faced. There is no other way. Relying on your strong and beautiful energy is another way of avoiding the issue. What we need is nakedness, starkness, simply being there, before energy manifests: the realisation that there is no escape and so we have no choice. The work we do should be melting all inner resistance to simply being humbly present. This requires a working environment where there are no concepts of success or failure, good or bad, me and you. Or at least a place where other concerns are far more important. The group and the school must cohere to such a degree that it is sincerely felt by all that we are all in the same boat, and that for all to move forwards each must be attended to and healed. And a faith that this will happen, in time, but only if obstacles are truly, honestly and courageously faced, and everything possible done to overcome them. There needs to be an honesty within the group that pushes each individual precisely and inevitably into their personal problem areas, and not, as so often happens, a complacency or cliqueiness or corruption which supports each others weaknesses, or worse still – makes virtue out of vice. The group supports each individual in their noble struggle, not just to do their work but to remain honest and open. And such work can only be done with support – it requires fresh energy and fresh eyes – fresh insight. The best and safest way to ensure that this is what happens and that this is what is there, is for the group to be in the world and of the world – without borders – reaching out with inquisitive and loving fingers, and embracing what it finds. Finally it is always reality that teaches: love, touch and healing, and the work we do should be always broadening our base – seeping into the earth and out in all directions – so that we come to include all there is rather than move in a direction that makes us special or different (separate). When you stand in front of another person it is of no importance how powerful or strong or wise or knowledgeable or understanding you are. All that matters is whether you love them – can you be fully present and totally with that person in your entirety? Ultimately it is your empty presence: your willingness and ability to bring in and accept the other that heals, not your energy. Any inner tension or blockage – any unresolved area – manifests as a condition: a place where part of you dwells and is locked so that you can be neither fully present nor empty to the other.


Mid February, Snow on the Wind

her finger tips
graze chill
beneath his shirt
along the ridge
and furrow of his ribs
to press home
in the heart's fold
till skin
and sinew quake
and pulse

Gael Turnbull


A very natural aspect of our humanity is our ability/tendency/willingness to be inspired and transported by beauty. A truly alive/aware person interacts with their environment so intimately that this sensitive aesthetic sense is their main unconscious motivator – their main source of those constant sparks that trigger their energy. What gets in the way of this natural process is self concern, or a certain type of self concern, which we call thinking. If your past looms large in you, vibrant and accepted, as it should, then it is also a source of inspiration, another part of the reality you inhabit. The same can be said for your present and your future. They all reside in you. It is when we begin to think about things, mull them over, worry them, belabour them, that we clog up and dampen our spirit with the wrong sort of fuel – a fuel that will never ignite. The openness we must develop is not the openness that just absorbs but the openness that is always springing into action. For this our spirit must be free, light and loose so that our essence – our intensely alive creative impetus – can charge the springing response with life and beauty – can be something other than conditioned – an unconditioned response, if you like. Then the energy that comes out of the coiled spring – the unloading – is such a transformation of the source energy that all sense of that source becomes lost in the creative beauty of the expression, and the spring (coiled metal) becomes a spring (water–life). Matter and substance through this transformation become the flow of life. Our bodies too – all matter and substance – must become transformed by the energy and movement that flows through – a creative deluge that thrusts us dancing into processes of growth and celebration.


          ... we

is the strangest sea.

Tony Baker



by moss,
mud, what


a web


Joseph Massey



Poetry, as long as it is poetry, must be the vehicle, the transparent medium, whereby the individual finds himself revealed at home in the unknown, with "each other" and with "all." I myself tend to work out of a most obvious and simple formality of syllables that even a child can grasp -- precisely so that it may be "seen through" and used. Not to count syllables, but to see, hear, that the syllables count. That every sound and pause confer meaning upon the moment in the making. This leaves "form" wide open, in the making. The poet's ear, breath, voice, must carry the specifics and in such a way as to invite others to share the breath, the voice, the uniqueness -- each in his own way.

The poems, insofar as language can for me, reveal one man's realizations of relation and offer the revelation in such a way that other may share the realizations AS OCCASION. A poem that does not taste to the mouth, that doesn't touch the heart, does not draw the relation of each man to each other and his whereabouts is for me inadequate.

The poem is yours or no one's.

Cid Corman


If you find yourself with (all) the answers then the chances are that you're snug in your knowledge, which is another way of saying that you're confined by the system you have either created or inherited but in both cases inhabit. And this system is undoubtedly closed, at least temporarily. The key to progress – to growth – is to ensure that your boundaries start to melt – bleed. This means that certainties evaporate, to be replaced by a seeming fog of not really knowing anything. Even capabilities fall away, so much so that each step and breath you make seem to be made for the first time – without the reassurance of past experience or habit. Of course living like this you do store knowledge, but in your energy rather than your mind – in your natural aspect rather than your unnatural one. Such knowledge can be voiced and applied in the same way that knowledge held in the mind can be, but it can only be accessed when your boundaries melt. Boundaries here refer not only to the limits of your experience or belief system, but also to the tensions and blockages you carry with you from whatever time. Unless these are tackled and in some way put to rest then there can be no clarity or selflessness, and no firm foundation either. It requires remembering everything to such a degree that your past comes alive – as though it happened yesterday. It is then able to thrust you fully aware into a significant future, rather than half asleep into an arbitrary one.


This picture is doing the rounds. Couldn't resist adding it here.



Love resides in the body. Love is the body. Your love stops being theoretical – of your thinking – when you relax sufficiently to be in your body – to be totally aware of your body – to be your body. If you can relax and be in your body then you can bring anything else there as well – breathe it all in. Your body then becomes a meeting place – where the world happens. Boundaries lose their necessity and the body – your only reality – softens and becomes energy, swelling and embracing. The only function of the mind is to ride this energy and sparkle. "Bright and empty, functioning naturally, The mind is not a place of thinking."
It’s not the completed step.
It’s the step that follows.

Stephen Vincent


Nature breaks through the eyes of the cat.

Irish Proverb


Maybe love is just seeing, feeling, connecting to the other's essence. Not letting all the other shit (of which there is always an enormous amount) get in the way.


Agnes Martin, Untitles #1, 1998

“I remember asking myself what the difference was between graph paper and Agnes’ grids—I decided it had to do with the difference between the loved line and the unloved line. Agnes’ line is extremely sensitive to the actual event of making the line.” Richard Tuttle



"I've been returning to Karin Lessing's poetry, that helps too. The way she cracks a line apart cracks my mind, in kind, open, creating the necessary curves of thought, a certain pace -- torque! -- that loosens the poetry in me." Joseph Massey

Torque, in taichi at least, is just the twist required to bind together two or more opposing forces that would otherwise not abide together, not without canceling each other out anyway. It enables yield and attack to be simultaneous rather than consequent. It is generated in the heart and waist (is feeling as well as physical) and from there extends into the legs and torso and arms to such a degree that all of you becomes a twisting (torquing) waist. It requires a certain attitude – a torque, pull, in the heart – a certain feeling for the other and the wonderful potential your coming together represents – before it comes into existence. It is greedy – consuming all it can – and advances right into the heart of all it touches, transforming. It's intensity – probably its most obvious characteristic – is all spirit, yet its extension – its ability to catch the before and after – is all soul. It makes peace, not by deadening spirit, fighting or otherwise, but by giving communal purpose: by forcing a third heart to spring into existence and convincing the other two hearts that their best function is to serve this living expression of their togetherness rather than themselves. Marriage. In a sense the more incompatible – opposing – the two energies torquing together, the greater the magic in that torquing. If that magic becomes the focus then differences are forgotten. Practising torque develops a very active and human – warm – compassion. It is the expression of life.
to speak of'
you said.
But I was driven.

I read aloud.

Old Lao-Tze's quiet field
his empty rivers.

Making speech a raft

Rae Armantrout


Bioenergetics is a therapeutic technique to help a person get back together with his body and to help him enjoy to the fullest degree possible the life of his body. This emphasis on the body includes sexuality, which is one of its basic functions. But it also includes the even more basic functions of breathing, moving, feeling and self expression. A person who doesn't breathe deeply reduces the life of his body. If he doesn't move freely, he restricts the life of his body. If he doesn't feel fully, he narrows the life of his body. And if his self-expression is constricted, he limits the life of his body.

True, these restrictions on living are not voluntarily self-imposed. They develop as a means of survival in a home environment and culture that denies body values in favor of power, prestige and possessions. Nevertheless, we accept these restrictions on our lives by failing to question them, and thus, we betray our bodies. In the process we also subvert the natural environment our bodies depend on for their well-being. It is equally true that most people are unconscious of the bodily handicaps under which they labor—handicaps that have become second nature to them, part of their habitual way of being in the world. In effect, most people go through life on a limited budget of energy and feeling.

The goal of bioenergetics is to help people regain their primary nature, which is the condition of being free, the state of being graceful and the quality of being beautiful. Freedom, grace and beauty are the natural attributes of every animal organism. Freedom is the absence of inner restraint to the flow of feeling, grace is the expression of this flow in movement, while beauty is a manifestation of the inner harmony such a flow engenders. They denote a healthy body and also, therefore, a healthy mind.

The primary nature of every human being is to be open to life and love. Being guarded, armored, distrustful and enclosed is second nature in our culture. It is the means we adopt to protect ourselves against being hurt, but when such attitudes become characterological or structured in the personality, they constitute a more severe hurt and create a greater crippling than the one originally suffered.

Bioenergetics aims to help a person open his heart to life and love. This is no easy task. The heart is well protected in its bony cage, and the approaches to it are strongly defended both psychologically and physically. These defences must be understood and worked through if our aim is to be achieved. But if the objective is not gained, the result is tragic. To go through life with a closed heart is like taking an ocean voyage locked in the hold of the ship. The meaning, the adventure, the excitement and the glory of living are beyond one's vision and reach.

Alexander Lowen, Bioenergetics, 1975


The great ancestral beings were vast, unbounded, intangible, vibratory bodies, similar to fields of energy. They created by drawing vibratory energy out of themselves and stabilizing this energy and by specifying or naming – the inner name is the potency of the form or creature. The comparable image is the creation of sounds, words, or songs from the vibration of breath. Aborigines refer to the Dreamtime creation as the world being "sung" into existence.

Robert Lawlor
I am filled with you.
Skin, blood, bone, brain, and soul.
There's no room for lack of trust, or trust.
Nothing in this existence but that existence.


Today's creation.


London Tai Chi Workshops 26-27 May

I'm teaching in South London on Sunday 27 May. All welcome.

Mark Raudva is doing the Saturday — highly recommended.

For more details hit Caroline's Great River Blog.

I am in London from 26 May to 4 June.

I will be available for private instruction if anyone wants it.


What I was trying to say in the Poetry posting below is that Nature is a plethora of possibility and that we choose our own path through this richness. The first chapter of the Tao Te Ching states that if your mind is full of success or failure then that is what will be realised – you'll either succeed or fail, but if your mind is empty then magic and miracle are allowed to fill the soft space you have created and take you beyond your imaginings and into your destiny. The problem is always how to create the empty mind. An empty mind is not a quiet mind. It is possible, through will, to quieten a hard mind full of opinion and conditioning. An empty mind is a natural one – one free of pressures – thoughts, ideas, opinions, habits, fears – that tend, through the illusion of free will, to draw a constrained and conditioned future to you. In a way the secret of life is to let your energy out as fully and as creatively as possible. What stops us from doing this is the mind – its workings are constantly creating a world of our own making – either a comfortable one or an uncomfortable one, an exciting one or a boring one, a happy one or an unhappy one. When the mind stops working in this dualistic expectant way then we have freedom – energetic interaction – in the sense that we constantly realise a little of all possibilities – or many of them – we travel forwards on a front rather than a line. The empty mind is bright and full of spirit so that it and your energy can dance, flit, from possibility to possibility and even between possibilities, and live a swirling richness that admits, accepts and creates a fullness that belies analysis or observation. When you come into contact with someone that lives like this then their very existence and presence is an act of compassion. They naturally share their richness. It is as though they lay down a carpet all around and beneath you that accepts and nourishes everything you are and do. They do not judge, or advise, or attempt to manipulate in any way. How can they? That would be using their constraining narrowing mind which no longer exists for them. Instead they are simply intensely present and intensely open, so open that they reveal other possibilities to you, ones your own tension has been preventing you from creating for yourself. They heal as a matter of course.

Another way of saying this is that compared to Nature there is a real paucity to the human mind and its creations, and that the purpose of softness is to remove the mind (and eventually the body as well) as much as possible so that Nature can come in and, if you like, take over for us.

Mount Sodom from the Dead Sea road. It amazes me that the Christian tourists here spend their time visiting Jerusalem, Galilee, etc. If instead they spent a few days alone in the desert then they would really begin to appreciate where Jesus was coming from.


It is the energy of the connexion that shows us the way forward.
Your heart is luminous

Dylan Thomas



A soft space is a creative space. For example, if I offer as a possibility the statement "The ground beneath your feet is a living entity, and not just a hard surface on which to purchase" and you bring this into an accepting internal soft space then the statement, through you, will change from being a possibility to being an actuality: softness will allow the statement to inspire your energy to that of an entity with such a relationship to the earth. This is life as communication. Even a ridiculous statement such as "I am a tiger" or even "I am dead" can be actualized by yielding. If the possibilities are endless then so is reality's richness.



A soft space is one that admits a plethora of possibilty: a listening space. A hard space is one predetermined – one that admits few possibilities – one ruled by law – the letter of the law indeed – forcing things into moulds. Hard spaces are often open in the sense that they expand and receive, but are always closed in the sense that they don't allow the objects and processes that enter them to be as they truly are: they listen but on their own terms and with their own agenda: heavy-handed (it always comes down to touch). It is crucially important, if you want your taichi to nourish your soul the way it can do and wants to, to invite it into a soft space each time you engage with it. This is the function of ritual: to set a mood that allows magic and miracle to enter the occasion. A good teacher is one that communicates well in the sense of bringing their soft space into the hearts of their students and inspiring them to open to possibilities they could neither have fathomed nor imagined alone, rather than one well able to transmit techniques. The tendency of soft spaces is to furl in on themselves – to effectively close up – simply because they are so overwhelming: they admit an onslaught, and the soft participant needs increasing resources of courage and energy to cope. Teaching is then an opportunity for the soft space the teacher carries to open up not only for the students but also for himself. One needs constant reminders of what one knows because one knows only softness and this is in one's energy and not one's mind, and this softness needs constant expression otherwise it becomes, or remains, a frightened child never venturing beyond its own nurturing.


Felt deeply, poems like all things have the possibilities of elements whose isotopes are yet to be found.

Louis Zukofsky



Mind in dantien.

It always boils down to this. Only then do we touch nature because only then is the mind where it naturally should be. Relaxation. Being willing to take and give things as they are. Nothing special. We become another natural object, planted and implanted, and what is around us and within us naturally reveals itself. If the mind is anywhere else then we begin to impose and project, and our world loses richness – it shrinks into what we think it is. The heart only fully opens from this foundation: it requires the ground to flow up through us, not esoterically but naturally. Natural just means relaxed – without thought or will.


in poverty
knowing nobody
water flowing in
from all sides

Frank Samperi