31.5.09

I'd have to get philosophical to say anything more and poetic to say anything beyond.

Photo: Richard Dockray, Lake District, England

Awareness

Awareness – a quality we can bring to place or action if we have the presence of mind to do so – encourages energy, openness, aliveness. Where the mind goes, so the ch'i. Not the thinking mind, but the aware mind – the awareness. So, when I turn my mind into my sacrum, for want of a better place, I feel it begin to fizz – move from within – micro-movements but definitely palpable – it comes alive as though waking from a selfish slumber. If I keep my awareness there then these stirrings begin to creep into the adjacent structures: muscles, ligaments, pelvic bone, spine. Life invested by awareness is infectious – all natural objects and situations are ready to be sympathetic to it. To resist awareness requires a recalcitrant refusal to connect. This refusal has to be continuously renewing itself otherwise is would fail and the softness of awareness would flood in. We call this stubborn refusal selfishness or thinking. Thinking is all about maintaining control: working out solid reasons not to connect on natural terms, or working out how to swing things to one's own advantage. Sometimes thinking confounds itself with its own inconsistency and a moment of quiet self-realization – self-awareness – creeps in. But really thinking – the ultimate idle luxury – needs to be reined in and replaced with awareness if any peace of mind is to be achieved.

30.5.09



Birthday Girl.
Ware & wise

29.5.09

Torque is the balance of centrifugal and centripetal.

Feelings, love & spirit

Feelings and emotions (not the same thing) interpose themselves between my essential nature and the world beyond that nature, giving me the impression that I am intrinsically separate from what is outside. Love is neither a feeling nor an emotion. Love is what is all around when I manage to see beyond my feelings and emotions. Love is simply connecting energy – the substance from which the universe is built, and my insistence on not being (with) love all the time, and instead being with fear, is just my terror at the prospect of dissolving into pure connexion – emptiness. Spirit – that sense of urgency – is the energy that allows me to cut through fear, and at the same time maintain a supremely active togetherness: allows me to play with life and existence on the level of love without becoming love. Spirit simultaneously binds me together and threatens to rupture every cell – a swirling union of contradictions. The warrior dwells with spirit rather than love or fear. Spirit is his weapon of choice because of its keen blade – able to cut through anything, including love, including life. And this is the wonder of creation – that the universe needs disconnexion as much as connexion, selfishness as much as generosity. The warrior simply rights the balance by introducing torque.
Burn in the heat of the moment.

28.5.09

The way a good fighter reluctantly defeats, or a good hunter reluctantly kills, or a good thinker reluctantly thinks. Done out of necessity rather than from a sense of indulgence.

26.5.09

FORM IS APPEARANCE
STRUCTURE IS RESISTANCE

FORM APPEARS
STRUCTURE SUPPORTS
PLACE

FORM, APPEAR
STRUCTURE, RESIST
PLACE, YIELD


Carl Andre

25.5.09

The only way to open (to) the present and welcome (in) the future is to release the past.

24.5.09

The dominance of the scalar physical quantity, inertia, in the Newtonian physics obscured the recognition of the truth that all fundamental quantities are vector and not scalar.

A N Whitehead

In Tai Chi, of course, our quantities are twisting vectors – they have torque and direction. Without spirals there is no life – no coming together of male and female, spirit and substance.

22.5.09

Feelings – my response to the world – are the beginnings of everything.

21.5.09

I can only proceed honestly and truly with a clean slate, and if I proceed with love then each action cleanses in its making – each action wipes itself from my history.

20.5.09

There once was a curious frog
Who sat by a pond on a log
And, to see what resulted,
In the pond catapulted
With a water-noise heard round the bog.

Basho, trans. Alfred H Marks

18.5.09

Spirit

Any warrior will tell you that happiness, and the pursuit of happiness, are the ultimate distractions. The warrior's only concern is to be ready to die, and he knows this is only possible if he is fully alive. The juncture between life and death is a ridge of pure spirit which the warrior seeks and struggles not to slide from. From this ridge the world is different – everything in existence is either for you or against you – indifference does not exist, and it is the power of your own spirit that corrals and secures even inanimate objects as allies in your work to become fully realised. This world is so tight – so without slack – that it would suffocate the average person – or at least knock them senseless.

17.5.09

The Present

Grab it by the throat and yank it into you, then it propels you into the future. Otherwise it becomes an open indulgent space – slack and spiritless.

Nature

One of the rules of natural structure is that parts tend to reflect the whole – nature is fractally organized – a consequence of an evolving world built on communication, interaction and interdependency. Natural selection. Things mirror their environment: sympathetic resonance and absorption of energy. Harmonization. Influence. Acclimatization. You are what you eat.

One of the rules of karma is that you are what you are and where you are for good reason, and that reason is certainly not to resist but to yield – to allow the environment in and your energy out – the outside in and the inside out. Then, and only then, the next stage becomes revealed. Progress through growth. One of the requirements of meeting the now is the shedding of all superfluity – willing to surrender what you have to be fully present.
Eight forces sustain creation:
Movement and stillness,
Solidification and fluidity,
Extension and contraction,
Unification and division.

Morihei Ueshiba

16.5.09

Ingestion

For most of us the body is the instrument with which we get things done. We spend time and energy doing things: energy is used to rearrange the world we inhabit. But the body is not just an instrument for use, it is also, and I suspect primarily, like the man says, a palace for the crownĂ©d truth to dwell in. The body receives the world and the energy of the world, and then resonates with the world and truly reflects the world – a part of Nature – natural. So when I see that red hibiscus I can either register and label or I can receive it into my body; and I don't mean to receive the experience – another sensation to store in my memory, I mean to receive the actual essence of the flower – to open up and let it find the room in the palace of my body where it naturally wishes to reside and abide. Then in each of the multitude of rooms in this palace there trembles a different essence, and I do truly carry the world in me and with me. This attitude to living is all heart, and because of this and because I am taking the physical world into my physical body, the breathing is all important – as much as anything I breathe the world in and I smell the world – I smell that red as much as see it. Not surprisingly, the more civilized we have become – the more molded by convention and filled with business – the more vestigial the olfactory sense has become.

15.5.09

There are some nice little clips on Youtube of Cheng Man-ching teaching.

14.5.09




The Art of Peace is the principle of nonresistance. Because it is nonresistant, it is victorious from the beginning. Those with evil intentions or contentious thoughts are instantly vanquished. The Art of Peace is invincible because it contends with nothing.

Morihei Ueshiba, The Art of Peace

13.5.09

Spirit

Spirit makes the yin separate from the yang, and spirit brings them swirling together again: the energy of proliferation and the energy of unification. So, if I move my hand and keep it soft and relaxed it stays the same – just moves in space. But if I work my hand with a little spirit then suddenly it has a front and a back, a left and a right, a top and a bottom, four fingers and a thumb, three joints within each finger, etc. and each part is invested with an independent spirit, and when these parts work together and work each other then the hand undergoes transformation as it works – it constantly changes shape and size. Not only this – the spirited writhing of my hand and its parts infects the rest of my body which then demands to join the party and similarly twist and turn. The same when I watch a dancer dance or a child play with a gentle joyful spirit – my body sympathetically stirs into similar activity: spirit communicates, which doesn't mean that it tells me things, it means that it makes me join in. As is usually the case, words convey information or establish distinctions and heirarchies – their presence indicates that natural communication has already ceased.

12.5.09

The importance of radical consistency for an artist: to refuse to mark out an aesthetic territory which is then colonised, but to move confidently on, to create structures, large and small, for continued experiment.

Robert Sheppard
Impeccability – firmness of spirit – the unwobbling pivot.

11.5.09

Day after day train your heart out.

Morihei Ueshiba

10.5.09

Spirit never complains.

9.5.09

Learning and teaching should not stand on opposite banks and just watch the river flow by; instead, they should embark together on a journey down the water. Through an active, reciprocal exchange, teaching can strengthen learning how to learn.

Loris Malaguzzi

8.5.09

Breathing

In yoga they say that when the out-breath is thorough then the in-breath takes care of itself. Most of us, I have found, hold onto a little of our stale air – don't deflate fully on the out-breath – and use this residual internal pressure to keep a semblance of good posture and attentiveness. Holding onto air is holding onto tension, and holding onto tension is holding onto false image, allowing us to live largely in our head. For the Tai Chi student there are two problems with this: firstly the retained air blocks the passage through you into the Earth, compromising your root and (therefore) your ability to connect to anything, and secondly your spirit – the part of you that should be responsible for good posture and attentiveness – is encouraged to slumber. The problem for everyone is that this retained stale air becomes the foundation upon which internal strength is built, giving that strength a core of weakness, disconnectedness and self-interest. We should build on essence, and this will happen only if we can relinquish on each out-breath – surrender ourselves and start the in-breath afresh and renewed.

Posture

The relative disposition of the various parts of something; especially the position and carriage of the limbs and the body as a whole; attitude, pose.
A particular pose adopted by an animal or bird, interpreted as a signal of a specific pattern of behaviour.
A state of being; a condition or state of affairs; a condition of armed readiness.
A mental or spiritual attitude or condition.

from New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary

7.5.09

Find stillness in the movement, and then movement in that stillness. This will be natural movement.
Learn to yearn for criticism. A positive and consuming attitude to all feedback will propel you through life, and make life the transforming process it should be.
If you wish to see the truth then hold no opinions for or against anything. To set up what you like against what you dislike is the disease of the mind.

from Faith-Mind

An in-depth and thorough look at this remarkable text is here.

No blame, no things;
no arising, no mind.

6.5.09

Mind

The natural place in the head for the mind – its throne – is atop the spinal column, pretty much mid-brain. This is the place a healthy mind will always return to: a mind whose normal state is calm and peaceful. Because it is a place of rest and repose – a place that requires peace and brings peace – it is without sensation – without striking feature, other than that peace; much like the eye of a storm. So we cannot intend or concentrate the mind there and expect it to relax, instead we relax it and let it gradually begin to settle there, which it will, in time. The best practice I have found is to simply turn the head from side to side, becoming aware of the movement, and then becoming aware of the vertical axis within the head about which it turns – an extension of the spine upwards. The mind will settle on this line – the still point within the movement – with the awareness. We never relax by trying. Instead we gradually become aware of the situation and the details of the situation. The relaxation we are after is not a lifeless slump but the natural state that becomes revealed when we fill with awareness.

5.5.09

Life & Sensitivity

Sensitivity is fineness of feeling, and it is a wonderful thing. Problems arise when we have opinions about what we feel. Those opinions disconnect us from reality and plunge us into a fantasy world of duality: a self-contained and terrible distortion of reality. We should dwell in the world rather than in our sensing of the world, and the only way to do this is by yielding to reality, which means letting it fill us to overflowing – yield to our passions – and spewing it forth – as a tree yields fruit – simultaneously and together. My being alive is then a process of transforming the world around me. This is as good a definition of life as I can muster.

3.5.09

I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.

Mark Twain