The mind is the source of all confusion, and the body is a forest of impure action.
Sutra on the Eight Realizations
Sutra on the Eight Realizations
If we use the word true to mean free of tension then true mind is simply an awareness of connexion, so soft and subtle that there is barely a distinction between awareness and energy. Mind becomes untrue when, out of fear, it tightens and disconnects. Such a mind then has a choice: to conquer fear, relax and reconnect, or to indulge the fear and remain tense and disconnected. This latter course, once established as a habit, leads to the creation of self or ego, which, simply put, is the consolidation of fear and tension. Thinking is the minds attempt to make something meaningful of disconnexion.
A moment is a span of time – to be precise the time it takes to move my weight from one foot to the other. If my attentions remain clear – unhindered by thought – at least for the duration of a moment then the heart will direct the energy in my body. The mind calculates and gauges and in doing so destroys creative impulse – energy – or weakens it to such a degree that it lacks the power to do anything of its own. The heart then remains locked up in the cage of the chest – safe but sad – unmoved.
This hardness – awareness and attendance to such – is necessary for life to start to have meaning and significance beyond its simple living. Living life is one thing, but to live in such a way that each moment accrues not only experience and wisdom but spirit, requires me to be intimately ruthless with myself. Indulging ego is how we fritter away our vitality. Cutting through ego by honing essence is how we acquire enough fire to burn through the bounds of our own humanity and into freedom. No special practice is required – just a piercing and total honesty. Tai Chi simply offers a clear arena in which we can readily exercise such honesty.
Sensitivity has two stages – feeling and response. Ego can interpose at either stage. Firstly, it can block or bias feeling by taking my attention away from the real and into itself: we call this ignorance. And secondly, it can bring itself into the processing of the feelings so that my response becomes habitual – based on taste and personal preference – rather than true: we call this selfishness.
True softness and true hardness are not only complimentary, one is actually a function of the other. The (untrue) hardness we rail against in Tai Chi is really just tension and ignorance, or to be more precise: fear. Such hardness is our natural enemy because it prevents anything useful from developing. True hardness on the other hand is the steel at my core – my essence – and it gets harder – anneals – the more I keep it in my sights – the more I focus in on it. The work at hand is to shake my essence free of tension (ego) so that it can really gleam. True softness is then the field of pure energy that naturally manifests around this true hardness. The purer the hardness the purer the softness. I touch things with this softness. I am my hardness yet I manifest as softness. My hardness is my significance – it is what makes me a force to reckon with. My softness is my beauty – it is what draws the world of energy in – it makes connexion.