31.3.09

It's never too late.
When the heart opens two things naturally happen: self-concerns fade and energy becomes apparent – we effectively fill with energy. We take a chance: stop being separate and join in on terms other than our own.
Joy is the feeling of opening.

30.3.09

A gap
in the
black

clouds
where
the sun-

set clots.


Joseph Massey

29.3.09

Humility

Strangely, one of our numerous paradoxes: humiliation – the process of becoming humble – of learning humility – is only possible if I clearly and unequivocally take my true place upon this Earth. Tantamount to finding my true self – my divine nature which completes the divine design – and banishing false idols – my ego and its various manifestations/infestations. My true nature rejoices in humiliation because it is the only way it becomes more revealed. My ego smarts and complains. And gradually I become firmer and happier on the ground. This is the only way I can heal the world. Teaching – offering my example – and touching – giving my heart – will happen naturally as a matter of course.

28.3.09

The courage to search for humiliation.

26.3.09

Learning

Don't shrink from strangers. Open up and welcome them in, and trust that this is what is meant to be. It is the only way to learn: to embrace the unknown.
No reserve.

25.3.09

Ground

Ultimately is all I have is the ground beneath my feet. And my big heart – my willingness to share. The work at hand is therefore to become so transparent that I offer this ground – this magnanimous simplicity – in and with every aspect of my being: my presence, my touch, my smile, my words, my warmth, my care, my support, my trust, my love, my giving, my receiving. Everything I give comes from it and everything I receive goes back to it. This is my wealth and my health.

24.3.09


Photo: Prema Hahn-Michaeli

Therapy

Psychotherapy – talking it through – is something I advise most of my students into at some point. There always comes a time when the work you do stops being effective – stops opening the wounds – and instead smooths and soothes you in a cocoon of expertese and habit – albeit good habit, but still mindless repetition. You are stuck – nothing is moving in your life – and even though your Tai Chi may feel fresh and interesting it is only because it circles round and round – judiciously skirting and avoiding precisely those issues that you need to face to break through. This is the time to take a new tack – a completely new tack – start anew and afresh. Entering a course of therapy – letting a skilled therapist cast light into those dark places that you dare not face alone – is often just the change required. Having seen things we hadn't previously noticed, we can then redirect our efforts in the Tai Chi – adapt and invent – so as to attack our problems more accurately, more effectively and more compassionately.
Force of habit.    The real enemy.

23.3.09

Just as digestion and the blood's circulation happen on their own, so genuine action, decision, understanding, and feeling arise, in truth, from a larger grace and intelligence that lies outside the ego's grasp.

John Welwood

22.3.09

Will is external and comes from within.
Spirit is internal and comes from without.
Spirit thrives.

21.3.09

WRITING: AN ACT CLOSE TO DIVINATION

For the Yucatan Mayás, the center of the world was called Xocen—"Read Me"—and the book was the origin of the world. "It is a natural book and was not made by anyone. The book turns its own pages. Each day a new page is turned, and if someone tries to turn it themselves, it bleeds because it is alive" (myth of the origin of the glyphic book quoted by the ethnologist Henri-Michel Boccara).

Names of gods, cities, dignitaries, sovereigns, dates of enthronements, ceremonies, births, deaths . . . the Mayas, like other Mesoamerican peoples, recorded everything, from the most minor to the most major of life's events, with glyphs or abstract symbols. But their love of signs was part of a genuine aesthetic in which writing was considered an art form in its own right, an autonomous medium in which scribes competed with painters and sculptors, on stone, wood, ceramics, jade and shell.

Bérénice Geoffroy-Schneiter, from Primal Arts vol.2
Embody the experience, the work, the understanding and the knowledge: take and make them into the actual body.
Flow joyfully into life.

20.3.09

To be healed I must learn to heal.

19.3.09

Softly as in a morning sunrise
The light of love comes stealing
Into a newborn day.

Oscar Hammerstein II
Connexion & growth.

18.3.09

Luck

There is part of our energy that precedes us considerably, forges a path and helps create the circumstances needed for spiritual growth. It is our own grace meeting the grace of God.
Talk the things that dare not be spoken.
Never blame the world for your own response to it.
Don't look down.

16.3.09

A natural tendency is one generated by its opposite.
Joy is the condition for connexion.
Happiness is the consequence of connexion.
Internalizing the world and externalizing the self.

15.3.09

Relaxation is letting go of personal neurosis and settling into the willing support of the external world.

14.3.09

Instruction becomes spiritual when it is taken to heart.

13.3.09

Love

Just spent an afternoon with my 4 year old nephew in a café called the "Funky Monkey" in Davenport, Stockport, reading him books – Dr Seuss, which was wonderful, and a dreadful Disney version of Tarzan. I then took him home – just a kilometer away – where he decided to paint me a picture:
"So that you wont forget me."
"Do you think I'll forget you?" I asked him.
"No," he said, "because I think you love me."
those sounds that flowed in, the
in-fluence

Seamus Heaney

12.3.09

We have a choice: to be with our thoughts or with others – in our head or in our heart.

11.3.09

Hidden Creatures

Modern man values individuality and personal freedom so highly precisely because he knows, deep down, that civilization – that thing he holds so dear – has robbed him of his real power. Civilization has at its foundation the assumption that base primal energies can and should be sublimated to more constructive and refined ones, and that the loss of physical satisfaction that accompanies such sublimation is more than compensated for by the creative and material gain. I call these primal energies our hidden creatures. Hidden because they have been suppressed for so many years, and creatures because when released they transform us into something vibrantly alive and beyond our normal self. These creatures/energies can be tamed but only if they are first unlocked and then investigated. Learning to wield these energies is far more satisfying than pretending they don't exist or indulging them every now and then by taking drugs, losing our temper, fucking, etc. Unlocking them requires us to let go of our normal grip on the world – the grip that keeps things as they are – and let ourselves be possessed, as though by a strange animal. But then in the midst of this abandon we must be able to retain a centred stability – a spiritual core – otherwise we indulge the creatures rather than investigate them. This spiritual core is our true soft strength – our ability to stay centred in the mist of abandonment; whereas the power of our grip on our known world would be our hard manufactured strength.
ward-off famine and cure illness

10.3.09

Enthused passion – divine inspiration – will transform your art from a bag of tricks to a living teaching.
Closedness is a scar – a smarting memory of past injury.
The opposite of a critical mind is a compassionate one.
Work is the energy you expend becoming more whole, more open and more loving.

Ceramic by Guy Arad-Adar
breath your silence
articulates      I

touch your thighs

& feel the weather


Joseph Massey
Critical mind means closed heart.

8.3.09


Joseph Massey has a new book of poems out - a comprehensive collection, published in England. Highly recommended.

Spiritual Bypassing

This taken from John Welwood's Toward a Psychology of Awakening:

Starting in the early 1970s I began to perceive a disturbing tendency among many members of spiritual communities. Although many spiritual practitioners were doing good work on themselves, I noticed a widespread tendency to use spiritual practice to bypass or avoid dealing with certain personal or emotional "unfinished business." ... I call this tendency to avoid or prematurely transcend basic human needs, feelings, and developmental tasks spiritual bypassing.

Spiritual bypassing is particularly tempting for people who are having difficulty navigating life's developmental challenges, especially in a time and culture like ours, where what were once ordinary landmarks of adulthood—earning a livelihood through dignified work, raising a family, keeping a marriage together, belonging to a meaningful community—have become increasingly elusive for large segments of the population. While still struggling to find themselves, many people are introduced to spiritual teachings and practices that urge them to give themselves up. As a result, they wind up using spiritual practices to create a new "spiritual" identity, which is actually an old dysfunctional identity—based on avoidance of unresolved psychological issues—repackaged in a new guise.

In this way, involvement in spiritual teachings and practices can become a way to rationalize and reinforce old defenses. For example, those who need to see themselves as special will often emphasize the specialness of their spiritual insight and practice, or their special relation to their teacher, to shore up a sense of self-importance. Many of the "perils of the path"—such as spiritual materialism (using spiritual ideas for personal gain), narcissism, inflation (delusions of grandiosity), or groupthink (uncritical acceptance of group ideology)—result from trying to use spirituality to shore up developmental deficiencies.

Spirit

Tai Chi is about connexion and about energy. To begin with we connect with the Earth or the ground – what's beneath us – and with the other person – generally in front of us, and we learn to pass energy from one to the other. This energy is physical energy, and its deployment naturally realigns and strengthens the body, gradually making it a better conduit for such energy. As we gain more and more experience it starts to become clear that as well as there being a physical energy that flows across connexions, there is also an energy of connexion. This both makes the connexion, and is made by the connexion, and we call it spirit. It is like an electric spark that immediately brings the connexion beyond the physical and into realms of pure energy.

Purim tomorrow.

7.3.09

Wend
Mend
Listen with agreement.
Tai Chi is as much to do with finding the duality in unity as it is in finding the unity in duality. For there to be a connexion there must be two distinct things: two things but one union.

6.3.09

If there is nothing to be afraid of then there is nothing to defend.
Tai Chi is based on a contradiction – it is all to do with connexion yet its main practice is alone and private. The only way to resolve this is through spirit.

Not-doing

The waist turns but turning the waist is incorrect; the body moves but moving the body is incorrect. Things should happen in response to another, not in order to get an advantage. As soon as I do something I lose the other even if that doing is connecting. If I lose the other then I also lose my place because ultimately I am defined by my connexions.

5.3.09

Connexion

Every moment contains subtle feedback – a true reflexion of who, what and how I am. This information only becomes available to me when I have developed the maturity to accept criticism graciously and gratefully. The first few years of meditation practice are just this – biding one's time until the ability to connect on terms other than purely one's own has developed. The practice during these wilderness years seems aimless and fruitless, but they are working and the spirit is waiting until the time and conditions are right for the next stage to begin. This next stage is one of pure connexion – joyful embrace – where everything can be taken in because you know deep down that there is nothing to be afraid of.

4.3.09

The best way to temper (soften) a critical mind is to turn it on itself.

3.3.09

The mind can only indulge itself when it leaves the body, and when it does so the breathing becomes shallow and thin. So we discipline the mind by breathing fully and deeply.
Relaxation is a swelling into wholeness: an expansion into true shape.

2.3.09

At the very best, a mind enclosed in language is in prison. It is limited to the number of relations which words can make simultaneously present to it; and remains in ignorance of thoughts which involve the combination of a greater number. . . . The intelligent man who is proud of his intelligence is like a condemned man who is proud of his large cell.

Simone Weil, quoted by Fanny Howe
in addition to waking up to our ultimate spiritual nature, we also need to grow up — to ripen into a mature, fully developed person

John Welwood

1.3.09

mist
must get

lost
in me


John Martone
Deep breathing keeps everything mobile.