To escape the trap of meaning . . . a poem must do something more than "be." It must also act. And a poem that moves, that allows itself to be a kinetic force traveling through space-time, truly does escape the trap of meaning.

Burton Hatlen


Spirit is in the torque – a twist of attitude.



Breathe into the belly, letting it expand fully. Then breathe out and let the belly deflate. At the end of the out-breath continue breathing out by contracting the belly as much as you can. Now feel the centre of contraction in the belly – the place where all the muscles seem to be pulling into. This is the dan tien.

Dan tien II

The (lower) dan tien is associated with chi and the development of chi. Chi is breath, or the energy of breath and breathing. To develop the dan tien breathe into and from the belly. Then the abdomen behaves like a bladder or balloon that expands and contracts in time with the breathing. This bladder has an elastic quality: when it expands beyond a certain point then contracting tension starts to build up, and when it contracts beyond a certain point expanding tension builds up. The natural interplay of yin and yang: elasticity.


Dan tien I

Internal means inside: to/from the inside. Home, back to the womb, my own womb, my own centre. From this place – my place – there can be no commentary – no holding back, only being and what being gives me: experience – being being. Here every moment is full to the brim so there is no time, certainly no time for time or words. When I am inside – internal – then my awareness extends outward from a centre of stability and knowing, touching and affecting everything I experience. Such awareness is goodwill. When I am not internal I must rely on my senses because I am not centred so not aware. By sensing but not touching I take without giving – I wound with the same fear that keeps me external.


Spring to life


mirror facing mirror
nowhere else




In a sense strength is the one thing we shirk because we know that when we are strong – when we feel strong – then we are operating very much within our limits rather than pushing through and beyond those limits. It can easily be shown that the body, and therefore all our aspects, works best when it has to work very hard – at what we call “the point of failure.” At this point the situation/moment becomes energetic in a way it rarely does when comfortable because such situations demand all our resources, even those we didn't know that we had. This mustering of resource is achieved with spirit which takes over from mind and body in commanding the situation, and transforms everything in that situation in the process. Spirit is the energy of transformation and as such it cuts through all physical and mental (moral) laws and conventions – laws that only operate under stable external conditions. Spirit brings a different stability – the stability of charge and change rather than the stability of time and again.


You don't have to die to go into the Kingdom of God; in fact you have to be alive to do so.

Thich Nhat Hanh


Listen to your heart—literally, listen to the beating of your heart.

Tarthang Tulku
Courage transforms fear into interest.


Defeat means to defeat the mind of contention that we harbor within.

Morihei Ueshiba


Poets invest the language with the Internal.


My true love hath my heart, and I have his,
By just exchange one for the other given.

Sir Philip Sidney
Joy springs open the joints.


The way of moving in Tai Chi, I was told, should be like the action of drawing silk out of the cocoon: slow, smooth, steady. If you do not pull firmly enough, nothing will happen; if you pull too sharply the thread will break. Cool, gentle and firm was the way to wind the fine thread onto a reel: this was for many years the image which I understood. So when I heard Chen Xiao Wang’s explanation of the name, I was startled. He likened the internal movements of chansijin to the writhings of the silkworm as it creates silk from within itself. The taiji body wreathes and writhes in an ever changing pattern of connected turnings. It was not the silk, it was the worm.

Kinthissa, Turning Silk: A Diary of Chen Taiji Practice, the Quan of Change
Freedom is the most terrifying prospect on Earth.


Happiness, and its corollary suffering, are largely childish concepts that most maturing adults at some point in their life understand to be unimportant. There is only life and my engagement with it. If I engage passively – if I let life live me – then I basically live in the past, even if that past is only microseconds past: I just don't have the active intensity to engage life as it happens. If I dwell in/on the past then I live life through the mind, and that mind can then label and categorize as much as it likes because it has the luxury of time to do so. But if I actively engage life as it happens – if I live on the white hot edge of life's keen blade, then there is literally no time and so no mind and no language and no labels. To live this intensely requires a spirit that literally burns all duality to a crisp – a fighting spirit that battles any attempt to get it down, either from within (me) or from without. To master such spirit takes a lifetime. And once it is mastered there is little point, other than to teach, in living within the body – it holds you back with its heavy and probably failing functionality, and the master will often chose to pass on to a form of existence free of corporeal trappings. This is martial spirit taken to its highest level.
Of course we want people to be happy. It isn’t a sin or anything. But I wouldn’t
wish continuous happiness on anything. Why not? It would deprive them of
presence. They wouldn’t be able to act. We have to be contrary (but not contrary
to anything) in order to live. In order to feel life. This seems embarrassingly trite.
And perhaps that is closer (than happiness) to the fact. When the fact is what

Alan Davies



Softness is a quality that develops as we listen to the Internal with the Internal. Softness indicates Internal awareness. The Internal cannot be verbalized, can barely be felt, yet it is most of reality. The rest – in which we find no rest – is the External: a small and trivial subset of reality: the only part our minds can wrest, and so that's what our minds do – for dear life. As human beings – creatures of God – we are perfectly suited to dwell in the Internal with full awareness. In fact this is what every cell in our bodies yearns for. So we have to train very hard from an early age to deny ourselves this reality and instead opt for the boring flat and shallow unreality of the External. The thinking mind is the bastion of the External. We think to give ourselves the seeming security of an external reality, but at the cost of losing almost everything.


Candor: to reveal ourselves to ourselves...

Allen Ginsberg
Action is only meaningful if connected. A connexion is an interface across which energy flows equally in both directions: influence and exfluence.


Nothing is more abstract than reality.

Giorgio Morandi

Jolly balance
Happiness and work are interdependent: we are happy when working well, and we work well when happy. Work is the result of exchanging energy with my environment.
Every wonderful quality – honesty, trust, generosity, courage, etc – will work against you if you let it restrict your behaviour rather than open up the world. And it opens in its giving. This is the spirited equilibrium central to every act, and in this sense equilibrium is spirit – the energy of balance – staying centred by engulfing everything equally.


Photo: James Clancy
Dance your heart out.
And our attachments to language are among our most perennial and unassuageable. It is through languages that we attach to what we think. And we do think that we think what we think. And so we’re pretty much most of the time attached to it. Zen is all about letting go.

Alan Davies
Happiness comes when we finally realise that (our) external mirrors (our) internal: that what happens (to us) – what by chance befalls – is the world responding (to us). Happiness is love reciprocated – the eternal reciprocity. Central Equilibrium.
From Greek to Irish, a great majority of the European words for "happy" at first meant "lucky." An exception is Welsh, where the word used first meant "wise."

Online Etymology Dictionary


Tension is the grip of the mind on the body.
Only emotion endures.

Ezra Pound


Quietening the mind isn't creating silence, it is breaking the habit of language.


I live my own reflection: no matter what I do or where I am, I gaze into a mirror.
I create the external with my mind and I create the internal with my spirit.

Photo: Rita Harris


My guru gave a single precept:
draw your gaze from outside to inside
and fix on the inner self.
I, Lalla, took this to heart,
and naked set forth to dance—

Lal Ded
Yielding means not resisting, neither the pressure of the external nor the draw of the internal.


First Thought, Best Thought.

Chögyam Trungpa


Practice hugging – taking the other into your heart; and shaking hands, which is a modest version of the same thing.