Tai Chi

Trying to put it all in a nutshell is proving more and more difficult:
Tai Chi is a system of exercise and a practical philosophy. It has at its foundation two principles: natural and yielding. Natural means relaxing the mind and the body so that we can move and interact effortlessly, spontaneously and joyfully. Yielding means opening up to the world of energy, which happens when the mind and heart come together. It develops sensitivity, softness and tolerance, as well as a bright and lively attentiveness. Eventually the world of energy replaces the thinking mind as our constant companion.


Without a centre honesty is impossible.
Not just vulnerable – precarious too.

From L. precarius "obtained by asking or praying."



The older I get the more convinced I become that the only thing worth teaching and practising is to connect to and unselfishly assist others. This is the message in the work I do now. It means taking one's role as teacher and effective therapist – as someone who gives energy – really seriously, and allowing that sense of responsibility to bring uprightness and dignity to one's life. The work regulates itself in the giving to others, not in the giving to the work. In Israel I have heard many times teachers tell me that they have found that only when they really attend to their students' problems and forget their own do their own start to resolve. This is what we must impress upon our students – that they are teachers as well – that their good energy, when freely and confidently given, helps others in ways they could never imagine, and that help brings meaning and depth to their own lives. The world rests on all our shoulders, individually and collectively.
When we properly connect then essences touch, and when that happens it is forever.


As an extremely rich and complex organism interacting with other extremely rich and complex organisms (which includes the Earth), we have to admit that most of that interacting is happening on unconscious levels. We then have two options, we either limit ourselves to what we feel and think, make decisions based on what we feel and think, live a life around what we feel and think, or we soften.

Seduce with Softness

Not only allowing but encouraging the world to open up and reveal itself in all its glory – as it is, and not how we would like it to be. It has at its core a belief that things are exactly as they should be – a belief in God. Then we have no wish to change things – just to join and become: to learn the lessons life is presenting us with.


What works in me is not mine but
ancient survivals

Robert Duncan


Soul: accumulation of gestures.

Demon: compressed accumulation of suppressed gestures.

Bob Perelman
Do your cockles need warming?
Faith, the hardest resolve. Once you suspend judgment, trust follows. But o to allow that vulnerability over the false notion of control...

Jess Mynes

Tai Chi

For me Tai Chi is about developing depth & breadth of soul by containing & managing conflict. The battleground is always the body – ultimately the only thing we have, and the manager is always the heart – the centre of love & connexion. It isn't about reconciling opposites or complimenting one energy with another; it is about having the heart & sense of humour to allow different worlds and different dimensions inside the same space. Almost an act of tolerance, not for moral reasons, but because it is the only way I have found to get the heart to keep on breaking open and spilling into life & existence.

This is why I choose to live in Israel.

ahhhh mmm

I'm oversensitive today

Robert Grenier


Relaxation means opening up to energy. It happens naturally when we stop constraining ourselves with business, thoughts, concepts, limitations. There exist many different energies, but the fundamental ones – the most prevalent and inescapable – can be categorized as (1) those defining existence, and (2) those defining life, or perhaps more accurately, those defining livingness. Existence is a quality we share with all other entities in the universe, regardless of whether those entities are alive. Life, or livingness, is a quality we share with every other living entity in the universe.

All entities have two things in common. They all attract energy and they all give out energy. By attract I don’t mean gravity, and by give out I don’t mean, for example, the light reflected from the surface of objects that enables us to see them. These are only facts of an object's physical existence, and not its energetic existence. To open up to and become aware of energy (not the energy of the physicist, which is crude) we must admit a magic ingredient into the argument. We call this ingredient heart, love, compassion, etc. Now perhaps the most important question we can pose here, important because it establishes (even proves) whether God exists or not, is: Is love only something man-made which we bring to a situation, or is it something already and always there which we open up to and relax into (stop resisting) in our moments of lovingness? For me, at least, the latter is fundamentally the case (which doesn’t mean the former is not admitted): there exists a subtle substance that is everywhere, which, if we open to it, melts boundaries and allows entities to attract & receive energy, and create & give energy – allows entities to function naturally & energetically. This is what constitutes existence – a deep and subtle communion with God, and communication with each other. It is the goal of most meditation – to reach a place of sufficient inactivity so that real activity – the connectedness of things – becomes revealed and entered into; and many established spiritual practices involve approaching God by withdrawing from life (and all its turmoil) through simplification, and entering instead existence – a fully loving existence.

But Tai Chi is fundamentally different from meditation in that it involves moving, and as soon as we start to move we need to firstly feed the energy for that movement (which requires food, which requires hunting, which requires the taking of life), and secondly we need to start making decisions; i.e. we need to enter the other of God’s two great gifts – life.


The middle where we meet

is not the place to stop.

Martin Carter
Never allow your teacher to overrule your instincts, and be wary of one that attempts to do so. Such acquiescence on your behalf will only result in depression and inner conflict.


Home is where the heart is.

In all innocence

Innocence knows nothing. And because it knows nothing it connects, but it doesn't connect to things, necessarily, it opens possibilities beyond itself. It admits a world far larger and richer than itself, and in that admission it brings the world alive. This is a miraculous achievement. It is, like softness, a very attractive quality – it draws things in, inviting and enticing. It suffers, and not just because it is so easily taken advantage of, but because it proceeds without knowing and without having to know. Innocence is only possible because it connects on levels beyond its comprehension and beyond its consciousness. In a world where strength and wisdom are measured by what we know of ourselves – by the harsh glaring clarity of knowing what we are and what we want, innocence throws us back into the real world – the one of pure unconscious connexion.


When the earth mushrooms up though us, opening the heart, clearing the head, we feel our place, and there is an irrevocable logic to that next breath or next step. It allows us to enter the world as a creative part of it – as a creature of God.



bound by

road signs
and wires.

Low tide:
wide swaths

of mud
rub in.

Words, we
have none.

We're lost
in the tone



with the
wind's pitch.

Joseph Massey

This from Joe's latest little book – Within Hours – from The Fault Line Press, who don't seem to have a website. If you want a copy contact Joe or email me & I'll forward.

Sand mandala by Eitan Kedmy



The foot cannot relax into the Earth until the spine relaxes into the leg. The spine cannot relax into the leg until the Earth comes up and frees the head. The Earth cannot rise until the foot relaxes into it. This is why progress is little by little.



Earth thrusts up through sole and spine, entering the head. There it expands, dissolving anxiety (thought), filling the brain with an open and attractive emptiness – a feeling that it can and does contain everything. The head then becomes as the heart. In fact the whole spine frees up, poised above whichever heel, lengthening down and up. This is just relaxation.



My therapist (one of them – I have many – sound counsel is one thing that is not in short supply here) is constantly telling me that we create our own reality. It is the fundamental truth of existence: we are totally responsible for everything that befalls us. And the only way to cope with this truth is to enter it openly & wholely – without the possibility of blaming any one or any thing for anything, because if we truly enter life then everything is always in its rightful place.

It is the giving – the entering – that heals us.


All the leaves
are down except
the few that aren't.
They shake or
a wind shakes
them but they
won't go oh
no there goes
one now. No.
It's a bird
batting by.

James Schuyler
Writing in earnest requires an engagement that doesn't cease. James Schuyler wrote that poetry requires a certain "force" in order to approach it. I think he meant force in terms of ferocity, passion, and attention. That's true of life too. You know all of this, but poetry keeps you honest to it.

Jess Mynes


Rather than fearing the worst, hope for the best. Or better still, create the best. Or, more accurately, don't let fear prevent your natural good energy bringing the best to you.


Spelling the letters to make words, they really
made knots.
These knots are propelled and snarled
by will itself, and by the cunning
of syntax—
a force that meddles
with the relations of things.

Rachel Blau DuPlessis


I have been given 3 bits of wonderful advice regarding relationships since I have been here in Israel, the first from Nitsan: "Relationships are easy: just stop thinking in terms of me and start thinking in terms of we." The second from Prema, Nitsan's wife: "The only chance a relationship has is if you can both put love of God before love of the other." The third from Miriam, wife of my 91 year old student Yosi, married 60 years: "Enjoy their good points and overlook their bad ones."
I'm beginning to realise that what inhibits my own progress more than anything is taking myself too seriously. It is a condition that stops life being the breathtaking ride it should be. Humour & lightness – basically good energy – offer a buffer that prevents the world from crushing in and flattening us. That humour also softens and transforms whatever it touches, as we all know. It also makes and gives time – a fascinating prospect.

When my children came to visit me in Israel last April my son begged me to let him bring his paint cans so he could tag the wall. The answer was no.


Tense shoulders indicate morbid fantasizing: shrouding the heart with disconnexion.


No technology.


The fundamental quality that develops soul is humility. It is by feeling your own insignificance in the face of, especially, suffering, your own and others', that soul deepens, enrichens and permeates your physical and energetic structure, softening and tenderizing as it goes. Softness without soul is not possible.

Without soul a teacher cannot really teach – there can be no transmission.

Photo: Lyndy Stout
Bet Café, 09:45, Ramat Aviv

for Ofer

Much life in the clouds
Ball of pen rolling on page
A bus empties & floods the sidewalk
I fall in love 3 times
Writing brings the world alive
Caffeine hits
Nostrils cool, skin puckers, edges sharpen
Watching breasts walk by
Coffee in a glass
Beseder gamur
Palms against concrete
This clarity the fruit of my anger
Scooter takes the bend at such an angle
Ella from the right becomes Blossom
Gives the day a lilt
Potted shrubs still bloom mauve & crimson
The fullness of life is the emotional content
A full spectrum


Jacob's ladder – the bridge between Heaven & Earth – is the spine.
A holy man is always accompanied by angels.


Ultimately I suspect the only way to come to fullness or wholeness is to really experience life as a continuing and developing communication – conversation – with God. It is only by consistently reaching beyond ourselves that we allow ourselves to softly fill. Our periphery – the trembling torn edge of life – must in no way be hard, clear or well-defined. It must become as a mist, and there must be fluid exit and entry across that boundary, an activity that is felt as a tender poignancy – almost a tearful sadness. It is only by abiding (suffering) within such a space/reality that we develop soul.