Learning and mastering the taiji Form takes many years (some would say decades), a process of disciplined work, of using the mind and will to train and refine the body. Yet this is still only the beginning. Once the Form is mastered a new work must be undertaken – the work of freeing the spirit and energy. This is achieved by cutting through the mind and will, which are still aspects of ego. In the same way that an experienced fighter will defeat his opponent by breaking their rhythm, so the master of taiji defeats his own ego by upsetting its rhythm. This requires great maturity, and probably significant age, because upsetting the ego is always painful – always involves suffering. If there is no pain then the ego has not been breached. And by pain I don't mean pain in the legs, I mean the insecurity that comes from feeling deeply one's absolute insignificance. Contrite – ground to pieces.
The ground beneath my feet is my oneness, a single share in this marvellous planet and existence.
My hands are my twoness, my dexterity, the possibility of making something by managing relationship.
Sanity is sound mind, but also the possibility of peace through wholeness (shalom–shalem) and completion. The notion that without the Other I will always be anxious.
3 a : to reverse the sides or surfaces of : invert <turn pancakes> <turn the shirt inside out>: as (1) : to dig or plow so as to bring the lower soil to the surface <turn the compost weekly> (2) : to make (as a garment) over by reversing the material and resewing <turn a collar> (3) : to invert feet up and face down (as a character, rule, or slug) in setting type
b : to reverse or upset the order or disposition of <everything was turned topsy-turvy>
c : to disturb or upset the mental balance of : derange, unsettle <a mind turned by grief>
d : to set in another especially contrary direction
Heuristic learning – to learn from mistakes. This is the natural way of learning. But first it requires the humility to recognise that a mistake has been made in the first place. This, in a sense, is the acceptance of that strange and somewhat repulsive concept of Original Sin. The unfashionable notion that at heart I am far from perfect, if not decidedly wayward.
1 : recollection, memory (keep that in mind) (time out of mind)
2 a : the element or complex of elements in an individual that feels, perceives, thinks, wills, and especially reasons
b : the conscious mental events and capabilities in an organism
c : the organized conscious and unconscious adaptive mental activity of an organism
3 : intention, desire (I changed my mind)
4 : the normal or healthy condition of the mental faculties
5 : opinion, view
6 : disposition, mood
A stubborn student is one who works but who insists on doing it their way. Ultimately they have no one to blame but themselves for their lack of real (energetic / spiritual) progress. And ultimately, we are all stubborn, and our vigilance should be directed at that – the struggle for endless correction.
Once you have achieved moving with awareness, then you will be able to identify energies.
In olden times, when you moved house, two ceremonies would be undergone. The first would take place in the house you were leaving, thanking the place for sustaining and sheltering you, and asking it to release you from its clutches. The second would be in the new house, a blessing to change its and your energy sufficient for an initial connexion to be made which can then deepen with time. Taiji can be used in such a ritual capacity. Gather with a few taiji friends and do a few hours together, relaxing, releasing and opening to the beckoning changes.
The psychotherapist and the taiji master are both concerned with your destiny; they both struggle to help you abandon aspects of your past in order to embrace a better future. But whereas the therapist attempts this by chatting, helping you remember the past, face up to it honestly, understand it, the taiji master asks you to perform regularly a sequence of movements that will not only help you relax (forget) but will also help you acquire the energy and power necessary to welcome that destiny.
Practising taiji in the Carmel mountains (hills really) near Haifa yesterday. Just me, the stone beneath my feet and the sun over my head. A farmer passed by in a jeep and called across:
"Taiji?" (I was still warming up so it wasn't obvious)
How times have changed.