28.4.08

I'm process-driven, I'm not result-driven.

Stephen Soderbergh

27.4.08

Don't make a spectacle of yourself.

19.4.08

When there is no truth there are only conventions.

Francis Picabia

Convention is artificial support – comfort – a type of avoidance.

18.4.08

First agree.


Agree has the same root as grace: Sanskrit gṛṇāti he praises.

14.4.08

New Tai Chi class in Tel Aviv

This is the blurb for a new weekly evening Tai Chi class at Nomind (roof of Dereh Menachim Begin 55, Tel Aviv), starting Tuesday 13 May.
Tai Chi is the art of making and managing connection by yielding (accepting).

In this beginners' course we work on two fundamental connections: our body with the Earth, and our Heart with another Heart.

We work by opening, relaxing and melting into movement so that energy can flow naturally from Earth to Heart and from Heart to Heart.

Gradually, as tensions disperse and connections become stronger, we return to our true yielding nature: a place where the spirit is free to live creatively.
If you're interested then email me.

13.4.08

The best intelligence test is what we do with our leisure.

Laurence J. Peter

touch mulch house noise trunk
child leave trees tales lover
event delay water fresh norse
flint vocal shore snows begin
woven thule night shine often
nexus pygmy vulva offer grain
sleep crown wharf plums creek
flesh close black smile bumpy
bones broad ghost bless sable
dream daily birth talks berth
relax quiet crude cedar giant
depth years being round limit
organ white death pearl grief
heave clear place young wheel
image write world heart flake
inner exist ocean basis dizzy
space freed build means early
small earth river story demon
kalpa learn stone error three
occur yield today doing lives
sense aware smell dance quest
fresh think clean study rages
power feels dirty karma cares
being blend found outer panda
plant local anima allow canto
truth locus polis other lemon
hinge ictus woman holds liver
river probe angel going poise
still gland dwell semen cycle
green birds guard flood grass
thegn ochre trust khene words
horse every thorn otter heals
rocks brown hedge equal stark
fibre sound cheek drift mouth
chalk sooth until blood music
filed anger marsh faith storm
burst fruit whale bread prana
cloth light staff alone peace
berry swift imbue trunk hands
slept grows honey shape penis
naked grace woods whole bough
drift ducks beach frost scent

Hips



Notice the angle at which the femur enters the pelvis and how the bone veers from the vertical so that it points directly into the sacrum. We need to bring some openness and flexibility into the sacroiliac joints and the pubic symphysis. A basic knowledge of anatomy is vital. Without it we tend to be held back by misconceptions and misunderstandings. This sort of knowledge really clears the air.

Heaven & Earth

“The body – our own – is now base” as Charles Olson famously put it. The body is base (noun and adjective) and the body is the place, the place we are, the place we come back to, otherwise we lose touch – we lose Earth. The body is of the Earth. And it holds the heart – is hearth to heart. Heart is of the heavens. When full of heart we fly, or at least float. Lightness in Tai Chi is heart. Joy is heart. A full singing heart feels as though it can achieve anything, and it can, as long as when it sings the body keeps hold of the Earth. Balance in life is managing these two tropisms – the urano- and the geo-, working with both all of the time. This requires maturity and a sense of humour. Maturity is having enough life experience not to be frightened. A sense of humour is the ability to reconcile conflict with laughter.



The Olson quote comes from volume 10 of the Journal of the Charles Olson Archive: The Chiasma. If you'd like to wrestle with Olson's prose, a labour of love I found enormously rewarding 25 years ago, then the book can be downloaded as 5 pdfs: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5. Browser pdf plugins often malfunction so I suggest right-clicking these links and saving rather than left-clicking.

Softening

Softness is all about melting boundaries – about bleeding one entity into another – about purposefully fraying & tenderizing the edges of things – so that things (including time slots) lose their compartmentalized definition and start to merge almost together. Whereas clarity sharpens the focus – separates things out – gives things space (and time). If we consider these as active verbs: softening and clarifying, then we can feel that they offer tendencies or processes that quite happily operate together without hurting each other. In fact they need each other otherwise life ceases – the creative process stops.

12.4.08

Compassion

Compassion is abiding and residing soul to soul with the other. This is only possible if you have conquered fear – basic fear – fear of death. You must be prepared to die for the other and with the other. Feel the togetherness that is beyond this life – beyond time.

Coccyx


Liberate your tail. The thigh joins the sacrum via hip/pelvis/sacroiliac. This should leave the coccyx free, free to extend and straighten, either down the supporting leg or anywhere it wishes. And the feeling is as though it has a will of its own. With practice you can lengthen its energetic aspect: create for yourself an energetic tail, the usefulness of which becomes revealed as it develops. Extending the spine downwards enables it (requires it) to also extend upwards. In the picture above the spine is symmetrical with the thoracic curve central. The cervical curve mirrors the lumbar curve and the sacrum mirrors the cranium. If the coccyx becomes free then it establishes another curve, almost poking backwards. The head has an equivalent to the freed coccyx – an upward tail of energy that issues from the crown. This crown tail also has a will and intelligence of its own. In this miracle of a body of ours there are many creatures waiting to be awakened.
Freedom is freedom from self.
You're your own worst enemy.

11.4.08

Compassion

Compassion has nothing to do with becoming embroiled in another's agonies. Compassion involves loaning your clarity of spirit for the other to see a path through their morass. An act of true compassion always strengthens both parties.

10.4.08

Happiness and Creativity

The Hassidics have the right of it when they say our first responsibility is to be happy and to enjoy ourselves. Real happiness has nothing to do with external circumstance and everything to do with an internal attitude to life. In a sense happiness is the easiest thing of all to achieve because is all it requires is a change of mind; but of course the mind is the hardest thing of all (to change). But of all possible activities, which is the one that most readily engenders happiness? For me, and I suspect for all, it is the creative process: the enjoining (enjoying) of spirit in the creation of life, and the subsequent breathing of soul into that life. As teachers it is our responsibility to give our students the means to improve their energy (i.e. stock Forms and exercises), but that is less than half of it. It is also our responsibility to encourage, enthuse and enhearten them to live creatively. This is only possible if we eradicate all calculation, criticism and judgement from not only our minds but our being. Then the act of teaching itself becomes a creative process.

Painting by Sam Stout

9.4.08

Yielding

Most of what passes for yielding is not yielding at all but avoidance. Yielding means not resisting. Yielding and resisting are antonyms. Resistance is simply the effort to keep something out or away, so not resisting – yielding – means to allow that something in or close. Avoidance (the other alternative to resisting) is withdrawing from the thing – taking yourself away from it – replacing real life with a comfortable one. Now the one thing we all want to avoid at all costs, as human beings and probably as living creatures, is pain: we don't want to suffer, even though we know deep down that pain and suffering are not only unavoidable but necessary indicators of spiritual growth. To advance we must learn to yield to pain: learn to stop resisting it – allow it – relax into it – accept it as the positive indicator it is. When something becomes painful then it becomes testing: it starts to test our commitment to relaxation and openness. As taichi practitioners the one pain we must not only endure but daily search for is pain in the legs – to keep the legs relaxing into and through the pain and let that pain flood the whole body. When we yield pain cleanses the body and fires the spirit as nothing else can.

7.4.08


Renunciation - is a piercing Virtue -
The letting go
A Presence - for an Expectation -
Not now -
The putting out of Eyes -
Just Sunrise -
Lest Day -
Day's Great Progenitor -
Outvie
Renunciation - is the Choosing
Against itself -
Itself to justify
Unto itself -
When larger function -
Make that appear -
Smaller - that Covered Vision - Here -

Emily Dickinson

Breathing

Breathe the world in. Awaken the creative impulse. Take your independent place. A true teaching empowers, doesn't limit or restrict. Open, enter and seduce. Work the pelvis: fuck the world and everything in it. Surprise yourself. Life doesn't need a teacher, it needs to be lived. Let emotions dance. Arise and enter the soul of the music. Smile and sing. Touch together. Express above all. Joy and happiness. Breathe you out.

6.4.08


Photo: Mara Moore

5.4.08

God is a verb, not a noun proper or improper.

Buckminster Fuller

4.4.08

When you lose yourself, you find the Beloved. There is no other secret. I don't know any more than this.

Ansari of Herat

3.4.08

Sinking

Bending & straightening legs with spine vertical but allowing flexibility & relaxation in the sacro-iliac joint, hips & coccyx. The pelvis rocks back very slightly on lowering the body, & rocks forward very slightly on rising. The inguinal folds of the groin should always be completely relaxed. The bum should certainly not be held in with muscular effort. Everything must relax into place. Strength is in the character (alignment & relaxation) & not in the muscles. The coccyx feels as though it is lengthening down – uncurling – as the body sinks. This vestigial tail then feels as though it enters the Earth, drawing energy from there & up the spine. On sinking the feet (and tail) feel like hypodermic needles – plunging into the Earth. On rising, the needles continue to insert down (the feet push down even more) as the plungers of the hypodermics (the legs & belly) pull to draw energy up.

2.4.08

Yielding

Yielding is the ability to open the heart and allow the other’s energy into your body. Rooting is the ability to relax this energy down into the Earth. Opening yourself to the other is only possible if you enter them as they enter you. A yielding mind is an opening and entering one, not a retreating one. Competition (pushing hands) is ruinous.

1.4.08

Body

Incorporate – bring into the body or make a body of. The heart expands, reaches out, and brings into the body. What is created must then be of the body – must image the body working well.
Love is latent in the soul like fire in the flint.

Arab saying