Forgiveness frees me from the past, whilst grace allows me into the future. The present is where forgiveness and grace become one.


Most importantly mind. State of mind. A mind in control of only itself. Because reality is made in my engaging with it, and this engagement is where my mind is – this is my mind. The mind is never of itself or in itself, it is always spilling into the world, and what spills back is mind but not my mind. If I create reality – if I have the desire – then there is immense intelligence in that creation, not mine but that of me with the other.


You know, verse
is a lovely thing.

It issues,
like the vapors,

from the rock

Charles Olson
Root is a point of return
To affirm is to unburden: not to load life with the weight of higher values, but to create new values which are those of life, which make life light and active.

Gilles Deleuze


At heart each of us is singular – unique – never a statistic – unaveragable. Essence is that singularity. But we are also bound into a process of becoming, which isn't simply a slow revelation of who we are but, hopefully, a subtle transformation of that essence. Connexion makes this possible. Real togetherness touches and thereby changes essence. Connexion is the possibility of change.


To say we each have ‘a life’ and to say that we each have an unconscious thus amounts to the same thing.

John Rajchman
The heart is properly nothing, but only when its foundation – the belly beneath it – is something. The belly's confidence allows the heart to hover and receive – touch everything.
this vitality at the heart of things
live as a complex one


We castigate ourselves with a transcendent that we can never achieve and whose only function is to reinforce that very castigation.

Todd May
When the heart is clear and empty it allows free passage and fills with warmth.
Go deeper. Otherwise it's all lip service.


Root is a point of departure


Softness dissolves boundaries. In particular those between me and the world, and between me and my future. A way forward – the possibility of forward.


Faith seeking understanding

Anselm of Canterbury


As soon as I dwell in something – a body, a home, an organization, a belief – my being congeals and I begin to lose heart.


Metaphor instigates metamorphosis – becoming. This is why the imagery we use – the vocabulary – is all important. It is our way of going beyond meaning.
To have gravity strongly without being heavy. For this I need to let gravity flow through me rather than pull me down. This is the first stage of Tai Chi – to relax sufficiently to allow energy to flow unimpeded through the body and mind.



The spirit of experimentation
It's not what I do that is important, but the spirit in which I do it.


Root systems remember the soil
from which they were removed.

Whit Griffin
The pondering reflective mind tends to fall and settle into holes where it quickly chokes on its own energy. A healthy mind roves and swarms over surfaces. In fact for a healthy mind there is only surface, endlessly convoluted and extensive. The first surface is my own body, and all other surfaces are extensions and reflexions of my body's surface. Even the inside of my body is surface – lung and gut – breathing interfaces – where I meet and confront the world beyond – also of surfaces. Yielding is the act of becoming one surface. Only then can I open essence to essence with what it is I touch.
Softness is not just a quality or a principle, it is the key to opening what we call the world of energy. This world is not just a world of which energy is a part – all worlds are such – it is a world in which only energy exists. For example, that red shirt left bedraggled across the chair possesses the energy of red, the energy of cotton, the energy of weaving, the energy of the water, detergent and machine that washed it, the energy of the sunlight and warm air that dried it, the energy of me and my moods that since wore it and flung it, the energy of the shape it now finds itself in, the energy of the friend who wore it before me and gave it to me, the energy of his generosity, the energy of whom he has become in the meantime, and the energy of that becoming, etc. etc. All these energies reside on the object – as though clinging to its surface – or the surface of its fibres. When all are stripped away, assuming such a thing is possible – when I remove its vocabulary – everything that can be said about it – then I have its essence – its singular energy. Of course it is not possible to prove that essence exists because there is no way of stripping an entity of everything it has. But my softness – my total immersion in energy and so my refusal to countenance force or will – provides a surface upon which essence shimmers and reveals itself. Softness befriends.


the path strewn with a storm's detritus
Sensitivity tempered by principle : principle freed by sensitivity.


The imagination is continually at work filling up all the fissures through which grace might pass.

Simone Weil
Detachment sustains connexion : cool sustains warmth.


real & alive
life has
to turn
Without practice – the will to practice – the desire to practice – none of it is real.
Becoming is the path through a plethora of possibility. The path rather than a path because really I have no choice. What makes life difficult – unclear and diminished – is resisting becoming: the path is the same but wet and muddied. How the path is underfoot – firm or treacherous – depends upon my faith.
haunt the fringes


Practice: repetition with a difference
Friends comfort me in being who I am.
A teacher stimulates me to become something else.
Comrades comfort me in that becoming.


the limit and the infinite clasped together in an embrace from which things will come

Deleuze & Guattari
Destiny is not a call to act but a call to become


Spirit and heart are the agents of becoming


The heavens project onto body and mind as spirals.


Relaxation, if I get it right, settles me deeper – closer if not into the bone. The emotion associated with this still core is a cool granitic detachment. From here my attention registers and my intention caresses the world. I am the centre of each thread of intent – the more I intend outward the deeper my root, necessarily.
a change of heart
Spirit & solitude


Magical transformations of the world
Depth of feeling
Hardness is a mind already made


Motions & aspects
The will to a system is a lack of integrity.

Friedrich Nietzsche


School tells us things that have already been said, whereas real education releases the passion to makes things anew.


Love is the excuse we give ourselves for doing something crazy: throwing ourselves into the arms of destiny.


Destiny is a force compelling me to expose sensitivities out of kilter with those around me. These sensitivities define me in my singular essence – something facts can never do.


An atheist may be simply one whose faith and love are concentrated on the impersonal aspects of God.

Simone Weil
The pursuit of excellence


Well-phantoms echoing outward – a hoard of spasms.

Ray DiPalma


Connexion is a gift, and vice versa.


the desire to expose and engage the exquisite delicacy of essence


The earth is not one element among others but rather brings together all the elements within a single embrace

Deleuze & Guattari
a conductivity that knows no bounds


Intent or intention is mind made active by spirit. It is not an energy but a force that directs and carries energy, and consequently the use of such always drives me into my centre and, if correctly aligned, my root. An action started without intent is weak and undirected, and can only succeed if habitual – if it slots into an established pattern of successful action. For example, for most of us breathing is unintended yet successful because we have a habit of breathing (imagine the power of that first breath!). Intending an action is basically a way of both committing to that action, and taking responsibility for the action, and for this reason most of us prefer not to use intent if we can possibly get away without it. In fact for most of us intent is half-hearted at best, and has the option of failure built in: how often do we fail to do something or fail to complete something that we tell ourselves we intend to do? In Tai Chi we endeavour to intend every action we make, and to extend the intent through to completion (no momentum – no slackness). In itself it is discipline, training the energy to follow the dictates of mind and spirit. And like everything in Tai Chi (and life) it is a stage to be passed through – on the way to emptiness – unintended pervasive heart. All saints, no matter how gentle and loving, will have had ferocious intent, because without it heart will always fall short.
something almost dastardly, in a life that does not move with dash and freedom

Robert Louis Stephenson


Language carves up the world


quickness of apprehension, and celerity of reply


A warrior leaves nothing to chance, yet takes risks all the time. In control of all his faculties, yet always surprised by what he feels, what he thinks, what he intends.
gravity is the square root of levity

Thomas Meyer


The primary objective of a school, be it a childrens' school, a Tai Chi school, or whatever, is to draw the unsuspecting student into an artificial world. This world is generally a tidy and consistent gross reduction and distortion of the world at large. In fact, we could call it a systematic misrepresentation of that world. It misrepresents not so much by deceiving (although that as well), but by advocating and encouraging a studious mode of engagement that is slavish and undiscerning – essentially passive. This is why the one thing schools do not produce is independent spirits.


The three connexions:

Centering – myself;
Rooting – Earth;
Yielding – other.

Each is very different, although there is overlap.


Collapse and rupture are the only enemies.


By and large


Everything a test of passion.


Whatever cannot obey itself, is commanded.

Friedrich Nietzsche
For most of us communication amounts to voicing what is on our minds – sharing the contents of the mind. But what if the mind is quiet? Is there then no communication? On the contrary, then there is real communication – a sharing of pure mind – because then and only then is there real togetherness (the contents of the mind constitute a barrier to such). This is a great gift because it teaches and heals – such quiet purity is infectious.


Inside pours out; outside flows in. We call this living.


On the whole
Inside and outside are inseparable.

Maurice Merleau-Ponty


Touch the ungraspable


true philosophy . . . is no more historical than it is eternal: it must be untimely, always untimely.

Gilles Deleuze


Stretching and compressing time's elastic fabric.


It is burden that makes us world-bound, heavy, mundane; and it is an unlightening burden that eventually kills us – breaks our back, crushes the heart, denatures the fabric. The bodhisattva/saint is essentially a free man who has chosen to burden himself with impossible task. He does this to stick around, as example, as teacher, as healer. His skill lies not in what or how he teaches, but in the facility with which he balances and regulates his innate lightness with the anchoring task of universal liberation.


Heart is the unconditional realm


To elevate thinking, release the neck.


Spiral; curl; whorl; twist.


No point
except that
of failure


Good faith
I am well & glad, as I trust, are you.


The mind is a screen upon which the film of life plays – perceptions, thoughts, feelings, emotions. As meditators we spend at least part of our time reducing the contents of the mind so that we can sense the screen – our frame and ground. This gives us presence of mind: we remain aware of the mind and refuse to get lost in the contents of the mind. We then use relaxation with a tender spirit to help the mind expand. This gives us mental space – we begin to lose the frame. We then sink into mind, allow ourselves to be subsumed by mind, and we lose the ground by becoming that ground.
the other person appears here as neither subject nor object but as something that is very different: a possible world

Gilles Deleuze
the other
is now
with another


Not from not
but in in.

Robert Creeley


Spirit is the name of the game.
When John Kells asked Dr Chi what he should practice when he return to London, Dr Chi said: I suggest you practice spirit.
We use it all the time – we cannot do anything without it – but it tends to become obscured and smothered by the doing – the coarse energies hide the subtle.
Spirit is the very first energy: that which initiates.
However, our egos enslave spirit in order to get things done – in order to build an empire.
The first fact of ego is disconnexion, it has no intelligence beyond itself – it builds the world from scratch – borrowing from other experience if it lacks its own (education).
The first fact of spirit is connexion, it has infinite intelligence because it is totally connected, but only when it is free.
This is why the newborn babe is so powerful – it is pure spirit – unsullied by ego and experience – and it draws you helpless into that world of spirit too – if you have the heart not to resist.
So our prime aim in taiji is to free the spirit – to disconnect it from the act it initiates so that it can perpetually hover – never to be brought down to earth. (Spirit levitates.)
We do this by investigating relaxed movement with a microscope – looking intently at each particle of an operation, and finding the spirit that drives it.
Spirit always lifts – a spark of optimism or potential.
When I live with and by spirit then I carry with me many possibilities – there is a palpable sense that anything could happen – a deeply nourishing but also dangerous excitement.
If you were here with me now then I could help you feel spirit in two minutes, it's that simple and that easy – much easier than chi.
It's the energy that opens things, in particular the doors to the heart.
Spirit is not personal – that which resides in me is not mine – it simply manifests when I create the right environment for it.
Spirit is the opposite of rooting energy. This is why, if I have Central Equilibrium, they belong together.
If you love poetry then you know spirit.
It brings life, and it generously gives life – my spirit can invest even inanimate objects with a lively spirit – a shimmer of being and the promise of becoming.
I think of it, sometimes, as the fascia of the universe.
Because it is ultimately connected and knows no ownership, spirit can only be free if all spirit is free, hence the bodishattva vow, and hence the tendency for free spirits to support the oppressed.
When your practice suddenly opens up and becomes exciting – that is spirit.
When a beloved friend phones you out of the blue and your heart soars – that is spirit.
When you walk down a dark alley and danger in the shadows makes your hackles rise – that is spirit.

For Lee



The present is as much a trap as the past and future, especially since we have anaesthetized risk and danger out of it – a comforting space of superficial stimuli – cushions everywhere. To venture into the future properly – ready and capable of sensing and engaging its subtle demands – I need energy and commitment. A commitment to spirit – the spirit of that future. And this commitment is life-long, at least in my heart. I must decide, formally and with ritual, at some point, that everything is sacrificed for the sake of this life of discovery. No burdens, no waste. All intensity and focus.


Solitude is the place of purification.

Martin Buber
When we direct at least some of our energy to dismantling our selves, then the fingers of the future extend through the skin of conformity, and draw us forward. Time loses its usual logic. What happens to me is not the logical outcome of a succession of past events, but a necessary incoming to a beckoning destiny.
the possibility of unknowing


the impossibility of knowing


Truth is not a correspondence with being but its parabolic intensification beyond being's achievements.

John D Caputo
beautiful space
bare faith
singular image
human light
Soft spirit abides in the narrow space between things. It keeps them apart and it holds them together. It allows them to be more than themselves by virtue of operating together. An individual is fulfilled in the act of togetherness. We cannot go on alone. To be alone is to be guilty. Guilty of choosing separation.


To decide to become a philosopher seemed as foolish to me as to decide to become a poet.

Karl Jaspers
A loving space is one that allows, encourages and supports relaxation. Relaxation as a consequence of trust. Relaxation as entering the process of becoming what God intends: fulfilling a promise, living intention, meaningfully. (Loving rather than love – the process rather than the commodity.)
Life is at the point of failure – that place we no longer have the strength to get it wrong.


The reason for self-awareness is to become self-creating.
there are no facts only interpretations and this too is an interpretation

Gianni Vattimo
If as a teacher I help remove a student's tension, I must also give them a root – a connexion to a place of unlimited energy – and also awaken the desire to use that root. In this sense desire and destiny are the same thing.


Aporia : dwell at the point of failure.
For the sensitive, intelligent, inquisitive student, insights abound – a veritable profusion. Each is the creative expression of a feeling – a trace of energy passing through the body in anticipation – messages from the future. It is not enough that such insights gain expression and respect. They need to be worked with intensively, laboriously and always physically over a long period of time (years) to force them into each and every cell – internalization. Having them at my fingertips requires their physical manifestation – my hard work makes them real. Having them at the forefront of my mind, couched in the vulgarity of language and the swagger of knowing, teaches nothing, it simply encourages my students to become imposters like myself.
All laws, rules, principles must be looked into – deconstructed. Even Central Equilibrium, the principle at the core of our understanding of energy: is it not simply a gross approximation and generalization – an aesthetic imposition, an excuse for self-congratulation? The principles aren't necessarily incorrect, it's just that going at reality in any way full of anything but openness and love is foolish because we simply end up making the world in our own image.


I may believe that I have the power to disconnect and walk away unscathed, but we all know that is impossible: the price of disconnexion is too much for the soul to bear.
the falsetto of reason

Samuel Beckett
Experiencing is not the receiving and processing of images but a joining so total that I lose myself – my identity, my individuality, my balance and equilibrium, my knowing – to the experience.


Blindspots aren't the places and things I don't know, but precisely the things I am sure that I do know.


the wisdom of earthly relations

Allen Ginsberg
Off the beaten track



to the nacreous edge
Karin Lessing
Had he perhaps chased butterflies too much?
Submerge individuality, and release spirit. Essence.
What interests me personally is . . . the beautiful newness that explodes – tragically – also violently – but which aspires towards the most gentle newness

Luigi Nono


A moral life is one constantly remolding experience according to established codes: an encoded life. An ethical life is one true only to itself. My struggle, or one of them, is to root out moral coding and break it. Live ethically rather than morally.
True creativity always springs from a destructive act. It has nothing to do with making things. It is spirit destroying the known world so that the unknown can spill forth, if only momentarily.
Tai Chi is my undoing


If architects want to strengthen a decrepit arch, they increase the load that is laid upon it, for thereby the parts are joined more firmly together.

Victor Frankl
A path of stones across a raging river. The teacher's job is to point out the next stone. If a step appears too difficult then intermediary stones must (and can always) be found. The teacher needs to ensure that the path revealed is the student's and not his own.
We suffer because we will not let go.


It is according to opinion that we suffer.

Tai Chi aims to waken and hone the spirit so that it, and only it, leads the way. In this sense it is almost the opposite of psychotherapy, most of which aims to heal the ego in order to become better integrated socially – an ego amongst egos.


The job at hand is to find the work in myself and myself in the work. Then we belong together.


We are habits, nothing but habits – the habit of saying ‘I’. Perhaps there is no more striking answer to the problem of the Self.

Gilles Deleuze
The grip of fear holds me to an image, and stops me being me.
Cleverness turns bad when used to deceive.


Destiny is in many ways the opposite of habit. If habit is my past extending forcefully by way of the present into my future, then destiny is my future extending energetically by way of the present into my past. Destiny is the meaning in my life – a meaning that only becomes revealed when I develop a feeling.


The precision of naming takes away from the uniqueness of seeing.

Pierre Bonnard



Habit is the means by which we use the present to project the past onto the future.


The artist must train not only his eye, but his soul.

Wassily Kandinsky
Suspend belief
Belief is a knowing so deep that it resists being dredged into full consciousness. And like everything subjective, it needs to be occasionally tested to see if it's real.
Being is becoming


the aim is not to rediscover the eternal or the universal, but to find the conditions under which something new is produced

Gilles Deleuze
The unknown is indistinct and indefinite until one has sufficient experience of it – until it becomes known. In fact, it may be so indefinite that one doesn't realise one has ventured into it – the student who can work energetically but can't feel what's happening and so refuses to believe. We must realise that this process of gaining experience to reveal terrain is itself limiting. What we should be developing is negative capability – the ability to function all the better for not knowing. Charitably.
My snowshoes need new leather straps
But for now they’ll have to do

Bob Arnold
Most of us live inauthentically: out of accord with our true nature, and incompletely – not fully engaged. Any 'real work' or 'internal discipline' should make us more authentic – more from our core and more total. Tai Chi should be such a discipline but often, especially once the student has advanced beyond learning the Forms, becomes yet another exercise in avoiding full engagement. Of course totality is never reached, so Tai Chi should be a journey towards and into totality, a life on the edge – poised on the brink: Central Equilibrium.


My atheism, like that of Spinoza, is true piety toward the universe and denies only gods fashioned by men in their own image, to be servants of their human interests.

George Santayana
The only power worthwhile is the power to change.
When I relax deeply the parts of my body fall apart, and a space – a connective space – opens up, not so much in the body as between the body. This space is continuous and connects all parts. In this sense, relaxation is a process of deunification – shattering the lump into a working multiplicity. What makes it possible is a well-maintained and conditioned connective space – "betweenness." What makes it work well is spirit. Spirit doesn't rule or control, it plays.
Connexion is democratic and liberating. Each connected entity neither commands nor obeys the other – both serve the connexion, and in the process both become free.


The Other precisely reveals himself in his alterity not in a shock negating the I, but as the primordial phenomenon of gentleness.

Emmanuel Levinas
the wisdom of love rather than the love of wisdom
The text that deserves the closest reading is that of our own intuitions.


One of our struggles is to ensure that belief and love – the two cornerstones of spiritual work – do not become mere habits of self-inflicted suffering; that is, habits of avoidance. Our work – whatever we do – should always affirm life; that is, fill us with joy.
Desire: await what the stars will bring.


the issue is never to reduce the unconscious or to interpret it or to make it signify . . . the issue is to produce the unconscious, and with it new statements, different desires

Deleuze & Guattari
Look into all hearts
Plumb the dark and deepest: eschew the clear light (of the ego).