31.7.07


Of many questions never
answered I return
to give the questions up and
she may take them
if she will or laugh
that I am bothered
by them. Love if anything
is practical.
Her wildest ecstasy is
common sense.

Theodore Enslin

30.7.07

Hips, sacrum, pelvis, the whole complex, must relax before any real energetic connexion can be made with the Earth. Any attempt to use force (muscle) to tuck the bum in will result in disconnexion. Everything must relax into place. Once the root is established energy is mobilized by sinking the root. The waist then follows this movement by turning. The body follows the energy – feels as though it is playing catch-up. It also feels taut and infused, despite the relaxation.

29.7.07

Enlightenment

What we need most, we learn from the menial tasks:
the novice raking sand in Buddhist texts,
or sweeping leaves, his hands chilled to the bone,
while understanding hovers out of reach;
the changeling in a folk tale, chopping logs,
poised at the dizzy edge of transformation;

and everything they do is gravity:
swaying above the darkness of the well
to haul the bucket in; guiding the broom;
finding the body’s kinship with the earth
beneath their feet, the lattice of a world
where nothing turns or stands outside the whole;

and when the insight comes, they carry on
with what’s at hand: the gravel path; the fire;
knowing the soul is no more difficult
than water, or the fig tree by the well
that stood for decades, barren and inert,
till every branch was answered in the stars.



John Burnside

28.7.07

Venus


harboring tons with little to say stretched
on wooden models and tapiocas of time
till soon I shut my door and start to grind

Clark Coolidge, from Counting On Planet Zero


Wonderful book this and well worth purchasing. Poetry as rich as Nature intended.

Freedom

At Tel Aviv airport yesterday afternoon, awaiting my flight to London, I noticed an Israeli gentleman with a large expensive looking video camera, filming various scenes. Roneet and I were ordering ourselves a couple of fruit smoothies when he came over, heard my accent and asked if I was English. I replied that I was, at which he immediately held up his camera, pointed it at me, started rolling and said – Say something about William Blake. Not one to miss the chance of appearing on camera I supressed my initial irritation and warbled on for a few minutes about the great man, ending by saying that what made Blake the first Romantic was that he saw the damage the Industrial Revolution was doing to England and the English (workers), and realized that the grime of industrialization was really just symbolic of the grime of self and conditioning – i.e. his vision & poetry has spiritual depth. The man with the camera thanked me, but then held up the camera again and said – Now say something about the Industrial Revolution. When that was over I was ordered to comment also on the Arts & Crafts movement. When he finally stopped rolling he introduced himself, apologized for his abruptness and told us that he was making a film about the British Mandate in Jerusalem, and asked us if we would like to hear about his own spiritual vision. I said Yes, because I like mad people. He told us that the soul is part of the Earth's energy, which we borrow whilst in corporeal form. It goes back to the Earth when we die (as does the body). Whereas the spirit comes from the stars, and wants desperately to return. The soul feels the spirit's unease (homesickness) and offers it various activities through the life to distract and occupy it. I thought this quite beautiful, even though it may be half-baked Kabbalah, for all I know.

In Tai Chi of course we relax to allow our energy into the Earth. In time this relaxation and bonding with the Earth, if it is done properly (for which one requires correct instruction from a qualified master), releases the spirit and allows it to fly to wherever it wants. We are essentially two creatures: an Earthbound one and a heavenly one. Contentment and happiness are achieved when we learn to release each completely from the other so that they can return home, whilst still residing within us.

This is what we call Freedom.

27.7.07

Visit to UK

I shall be flying to London on 27 July. Back here on 13 August.

22.7.07

Relaxation

Relaxation is the process by which we enter the world. That's how active it must be. It is an energizing process. It must operate from within and from without. We are familiar with the within – with releasing muscle tension to allow the body down and out, and with relaxing the mind so that it settles and finds peace, however transitory. But we must find the without, which requires making connexion – opening up so that the forces and presences around us are allowed to pull our structures: physical, emotional and energetic, whichever way they will. Tension happens when we resist these pulls, either out of ignorance (insensitivity) or because we are conditioned to make life more of a problem than it really is. In reality none of us can be mountains – completely and independently stable – and it is foolish to attempt to be. Rather the image of the sapling, rooted yet bending to even the gentlest breeze. The sapling doesn't pull away from the wind – it's nature means that it springs into the wind with a force equal to the one the wind gives it – the wind energizes it. What we must do is find a natural behaviour – one that doesn't rely on ideas or images – that allows us to be energized by the forces around us. What this requires first and foremost is integrity. Physical integrity: rooted with no breaks – no weaknesses where we might snap. Emotional integrity: an internal clarity and honesty that allows us to freely feel what we feel with no attempts to block or overide these feelings with either the body or the mind. Spiritual integrity: never losing sight of the main force in our life – the one thrusting or pulling us into an energetic and connected future.

21.7.07

Hardness is what comes between us.

20.7.07


walking thru woods
coming upon lilies
the past life
a lake
haunting


Frank Samperi

Yielding

One thing we must all ask ourselves is “Has our yielding – our response to the other's energy and presence – become stylized, affected or habituated?” The usual image of the yielding individual, especially in the softer Tai Chi classes, is that of the shrinking violet: a sensitive soul meekly retreating, by moving back or aside and by collapsing the chest cavity, from energy devoid of spirit or power that probably wouldn't hurt a fly anyway. It is difficult to imagine a situation in which such softness/weakness would be in any way effective or useful, other than the artificial one created for the Tai Chi class. Such a practice is simply going to over-sensitize (weaken) an already over-sensitive individual, although it will probably also give them a feeling of self-worth within the school, especially if they are conforming to a standard set by bad practice within that school. If the energy coming towards you is of no threat then there is no need to yield – just take it in and enjoy it, and/or give the “attacker” a good slap to wake them up.

Another thing we must all ask ourselves is “Are we teaching our students anything that will be useful to them in situations other than the contrived ones we present them with in class?” Ultimately it is not how strong, or rooted, or soft you are that counts, it is how able and willing you are to engage with life. When the unknown beckons do you whole-heartedly throw yourself into it with no thought of self-preservation, or do you flinch, or worse still are you still asleep. Ultimately it is what we lose that counts, not what we gain. Naked before God and Creation.

19.7.07


The real plot was invisible
everything possible

Susan Howe

Standing firm

The problem with labels like “sticking” and “yielding” is that they give the impression of actually doing something. “Sticking” really is just relaxing into the touch and into the connexion. Neither pulling away from the contact nor listening nervously with an artificially light touch. When you relax into the connexion then your energy streams into its core and root, and you become the connexion in the sense that the connexion becomes your frame of reference and everything else is experienced from its vantage point. The reason a quiet mind is necessary is because a noisy mind is constantly pulling us out of this energetic reality and into its own fearful and disconnected reality. Neither does “yielding” mean withdrawing the point of contact, either by turning or by going back. Withdrawal is retreat. Instead yielding simply means receiving energy without having one's balance or equilibrium compromised. To maintain balance one must effectively give as good as one gets, at each instant. It is not enough to be able to receive and then to give; they must go together. We must practice in such a way that the energy and pressure from the other person drives us into our place of power – coils our spring, so to speak – so that as they apply their energy/pressure they instantly feel it biting back into themselves. This instantaneousness is generated with a clear spirit and has nothing to do with aggression or applying your own energy – it is a fact of the clarity of the connexion, a clarity you can carry with you at all times if you so wish.

18.7.07


No cry is exultant enough
for my thanks, for my heart that flings open its hinges
and slants my ribs with light

Derek Walcott, from The Bounty


Thanks to Elberry for sending me this. For someone with a poetic sensibility, an image like this can change their life, or at least their day: an internal instruction.

12.7.07

Tel Aviv



Click image to enlarge, or here to really enlarge.

Poetry

Nice article on Shelley (the poet) in Saturday's Guardian, by Ann Wroe

But for him love was a revolution-weapon: the active principle, as strong as electro-magnetism and, he surmised, the same force, by which the universe worked and by which men would be perfected. The germ of that force - like the tiny, compacted light of the sun and the stars - lay deep in the heart of man.

When men and women faced their oppressors armed with light and love, rather than revenge, they would be unconquerable. And, however crushed by outward chains, they would be free.

Shelley's importance for us, now, is not merely that he is a political poet. It is that he is a transcendent spiritual poet. If our age does not want such a voice, if it prefers to bring him down to a more secular, acceptable and ordinary level, that is a reflection on us, not him. Despite all the advances of his own industrial age, as he wrote in 1821, "we want the creative faculty to imagine that which we know; we want the generous impulse to act that which we imagine; we want the poetry of life."


The complete article is in the Comments.

Absorbing

If you think about it, it is not possible to move forwards confidently, assuredly and relaxedly unless you are able to absorb what it is you are moving into. By absorb I mean bring into and through yourself and into the earth. A sink. Such a process of absorption requires a quiet attentiveness easily disturbed by a noisy mind. A noisy mind is one constantly bringing your past and future into a present that is far happier with neither. If the mind is noisy – thinking – then listening is compromised, and so is connexion. If you are properly absorbing then turning is only ever an afterthought. You do not turn – you are turned. The forward movement or impetus is then directly proportional to what you absorb.

This is especially relevant if you wish to deal with the world as it is rather than as you'd like to make it.

11.7.07

Beware the uneasy peace that comes from narrowing or controlling your world.

10.7.07

Trust

Spiritual work is all about stripping away the ego – laying yourself bare and naked before God and creation.

The ego must be replaced by love, and the foundation – prerequisite – of love is trust.

You will not have the courage to do the work properly if you cannot trust.

Trust is an aspect of relaxation. Relaxing into a relationship. Emotionally relaxing into the relationship.

The constant presence in our life is the Earth and it is the Earth that we must firstly begin to learn to trust and love and connect with before we can do the same, in a strong and meaningful way, with others, including God.

Without the proper presence of the Earth in your life, body and energy, the love you give and offer will be tinged with need and anxiety – will not be freely given – no matter how magnanimous or generous you appear.

This is why we sink and relax in Tai Chi, and develop a root – a connexion with the eminently neutral Earth, who has no preferences, bias or side, and who is always totally physically and energetically present, so much so that we forget her and take her, and our connexion with her, for granted.

Without a good firm connexion with the Earth not only are you not as potent as you could be, but in some fundamental way neither are you trustworthy: others cannot unconditionally relax into you.

The Earth is stronger and more reliable than you can ever be. If you allow her to support you as she wishes to do, then you begin to take on her qualities. Then, and only then, can others let you support them.

This is why a Tai Chi School must first and foremost be a place that encourages – admits nothing but – trust. That allows no cliquiness, back-biting, gossip, etc.

Not only must everyone in the school trust and love all others there, but they must also be perfectly honest and open with each other, so that any annoyance, anger, irritation, dislike, mistrust, etc. can be aired and dealt with as soon as it arises.

Honesty with yourself is even more important. This means knowing how you feel, and knowing why you do what you do. Your motives should be simple and clear, not only to yourself but also to those with whom you work and share. Naked before God and creation.

Nothing should veil or weigh down the heart.

In this sense, trust means a healthy two way communication – to be totally present and totally involved with the object of trust. No manipulation and no unspoken motives. The only motive is the desire and need to love.

Sink

fall or drop to a lower place or level; "He sank to his knees"

pass into a specified state or condition; "He sank into Nirvana"

go under, "The raft sank and its occupants drowned"

descend into or as if into some soft substance or place; "He sank into bed"

plumbing fixture consisting of a water basin fixed to a wall or floor and having a drainpipe

dip: appear to move downward; "The setting sun sank below the tree line"

(technology) a process that acts to absorb or remove energy or a substance from a system; "the ocean is a sink for carbon dioxide"

sinkhole: a depression in the ground communicating with a subterranean passage (especially in limestone) and formed by solution or by collapse of a cavern roof

slump: fall or sink heavily; "My spirits sank"

bury: embed deeply; "She sank her fingers into the soft sand"

9.7.07

Spirit is the life force within an organism manifested in the self-expression of the individual.

Alexander Lowen

8.7.07

Mind the body.

4.7.07

Looking beyond

For me the worst sort of emptiness (hardness really) is the refusal to look beyond yourself. Being in the process, rather than locked into a condition, is having it in your heart to look beyond all the time: looking beyond is the process. Of course this looking must spring from a place of power, and it is only by springing (exchanging energy) that we truly dwell. Then our root is the process – the creative process – and not the place. Spirit is released from earth and a peaceful death is possible. Always bringing spirit back to earth (earthing the current) will lead to depression and the inability to work from and with the heart.

Refusing to look beyond is an arrogance: being convinced that the world is as it appears to be, or worse still, as one would like it. People who are fearful, frightened, shy, timid, sensitive, are often so because there is some aspect of looking beyond that they cannot turn off, and so the world that comes in is always slightly too much. For such people there are two therapeutic paths to ease their discomfort. The first is the wrong one: allowing an external agency to convince that the answer is a desensititizing – cutting out the looking beyond (assertiveness training). The second is simply coming to the realisation that wholeness and healing are not only possible but inevitable and, what's more, your birthright. And the only real teacher is life itself, which teaches best when engaged whole-heartedly. Such engagement is possible when you realise you have nothing to lose. Such realisation is possible when spirit and humour (lightness) are allowed in. It is you that allows this.

3.7.07

Rid yourself of repeating and rid yourself of style. Then you're free.


Ornette Coleman

Heart

If you let it, the stone of the heart will break into a thousand pieces, and from each will seep a rich juice fusing them all into a living organ of softness and love. This seemingly drastic step is necessary for all of us – the hardened heart must break and heal before it can truly love. If there is a fact to the human condition then this is it. This soft heart has the power of malleability, allowing your energy to extend on a limb and a smile to wherever, taking your attention, awareness and affection with it. A heart-centred reality is one of branching pseudopodia, and the beautiful consequence of this – touch.
A winning smile & a willing heart.

1.7.07

Nitsan Michaeli

I have added a page to the taichiheartwork.com website dedicated to Nitsan.

My page has also changed.