the fertile void
When you write on a regular basis what becomes apparent is the absolute impossibility of saying anything that is intrinsically true. The truth remains ever illusive, just out of grasp, always slipping away or changing shape. Then what's written, although eloquent and with beauty, fails and is thrown into the proverbial garbage can. As someone once said: the excrementa of the creative process. It then becomes clear that truth is in the process, not in what that process actualizes.
Nothing could be better than what is. There is no alternative to the lesson of this passing moment. The only choice I have is whether to learn or not. If I chose not then even though life presents another, I still waste time – the cardinal sin. And remember that the most common way of wasting time is to fill it with nonsense – to give the appearance of industry – a deceptive ploy we call avoidance.
The energy that drives you when young is exactly that which holds you back when old. This is why it is so important to undergo transformation on all levels. Youthful energy is neurosis sublimated – how can it be anything else given that youth is heavily conditioned? It is energy externalized, directed by the funnel and focus of ego at arbitrary targets, when the only valid target is the ego itself. The gun cannot fire at itself. Even when it backfires it just ends up injuring he who wields it. The freedom we strive for is not the freedom to get what we desire, but the freedom from desire, the freedom not just from want but from need too. Because ultimately all desire stems from a pathetic need to be loved. This is what a believer understands. For a believer the first fact is that God loves him, and then a life of faith is simply a life spent submerging oneself in that fact until it has become so internalized there is no part that does not believe.
Nothingness – the so-called highest level of taiji – is neither consciousness nor unconsciousness. It is rather a turning, a turning aside from all that is and can possibly be known. An ingenious trick for surviving the unknowable.


silence closes over our transient passage
What is objectionable about operant conditioning is not that it violates freedom but that the consequent behavior is graceless and low-grade as well as labile
For me, the best definition of taiji is Grand Master Yang Cheng-fu's (1883-1936). He said taiji is the art of concealing hardness with softness. The implication of this statement is that nothing is what it seems, and that everything contains but conceals its opposite. Yin and Yang become each other at the deepest level. Externally taiji is slow and calm and soft and relaxed, yet these qualities are only achieved with years of dedicated and disciplined practice. It is said that the teaching plants the seed which practice waters, from which the art sprouts and in time flourishes. Or, to change the image from vegetable to mineral: practice crystalizes and polishes the hard diamond at our core. And one thing we learn from practice is that the image (visualization) changes all the time – a case of creative expediency giving the lie to the law of the excluded middle.
The work requires two.
What possessed you to come? unanswerable, so I answered, To change. . .


It requires a very unusual mind to undertake the analysis of the obvious.
It is by losing ourselves in inquiry, creation and craft that we become something.
In taiji you'll often find yourself thrust, by the teacher or the teaching, into energy worlds where everything feels strange and you no longer know yourself. Don't be alarmed – these are indications of progress. Just be patient and accepting – stay open – don't resist – yield – and you'll gradually acclimatise.
People are afraid of anything that threatens their sense of security, and steep themselves in the anodynes of popular culture that temporarily allay anxiety at the cost of vitality and consciousness.


the beauty of the poem is its precision about imprecision

the teacher should not be an institutional hybrid but a veteran with experience of life
poetry is more than an artform, it’s actually a way of living
In my experience, therapy is part of the neurosis rather than part of the cure.


The big secret in taiji, the vital key that unlocks the gates to energy, is ward-off. Without ward-off the root will at best be merely physical, and the heart will not open selflessly as it aches to do. Ward-off is basically an extending, rounding arm, that draws across the back from the spine, and allows all tension in that side of the chest to sink down. If the leg also has ward-off, if it's hip and groin are similarly relaxed, then, assuming the weight is in that foot, the tension will sink all the way down into the ground. (Ward-off also extends up into the head – felt in the jaw and especially the temples.) Good meditators, by rounding the shoulders and sitting cross legged, are effectively practising ward-off, as are chi gung practitioners by standing in Riding Horse posture. But don't be greedy for that feeling, delicious though it is; if you overdo it the spine will collapse and the chest will cave in. The whole idea of ward-off is that it enables you to bring meditation into your martial practice, and good practice is always about balance and equilibrium.
Month by month things are losing their hardness; even my body now lets the light through; my spine is soft like wax near the flame of the candle.

sublimities & vastitudes
Faith is underfoot
For most of us, once we've survived rebellious youth, the spirit becomes a prisoner locked by tension in the body, guarded by the gaoler in the mind. We then chose to live with a broken spirit because life is easier that way. Taiji can be, should be, a means of healing the spirit, making it whole and strong, so that destiny can be met, and can start to unfold, meaningfully. For this you really need to be part of a sangha, a group of spiritual companions, that meets regularly. Group energy supports in a non-personal, unegocentric way, and for me, this is the teacher's main function: to create and maintain, through gravity and spirit, the sangha. Energy will then develop within the group naturally, simply by existing, meeting, and most importantly, by its members each devoting private time to practice. Without this last component the group cannot stride forwards, progress. With lazy members the sangha will stumble and stutter, stagnate, and finally become just another prison.


It's a great life, if you don't weaken.
we are precipitated into an absence of ground by the ground itself: Thanatos appears as this groundlessness, beyond the ground of Eros and the foundation of Habitus

My roots are threaded, like fibres in a flower-pot, round and round about the world.
It is very difficult, if not impossible, to relax inside oneself without the reassurance of external constraint. The usual constraints would be routine, duty, discipline, habit – things that give structure and therefore meaning to day-to-day living. The problem with these is that they are all a little depressing – they can get the spirit down. The first stage in taiji is the struggle to adopt a more natural constraint – more a pressure than constraint – that of gravity. We endeavour to become ever aware of the pull the Earth exerts on each and every part of ourselves – like a thin elastic or rubber skin stretched over the body, pulling us down onto and into the ground. This is a pressure from which there is no actual respite, despite the fact that we forget it all the time. By becoming gradually more and more mindful of the Earth and gravity, we learn to break free of our ourselves – we effectively switch allegiance from the petulant ego to the loving and sustaining Earth – allowing ourselves to belong to the Earth – to be a part of the Earth.


inspired by beauty and daring rather than by thoughts and moralities
Tension creates an illusion of permanence, blocking the natural process.
How to pass the time.

Watching him, it seemed as if a fibre, very thin but pure, of the enormous energy of the world had been thrust into his frail and diminutive body.
Everything is strange.
The world extended in space and time is but our representation.


lust for power and fear of death are the original sins


O Spirit of Gravity, do not treat me too lightly!


We live in a condition of weather
The irony of the natural process. The eyes of the fish. The turning of the tide. Eros takes me closer to death whereas Thanatos guides me through life. Like a handle from another dimension. It's a problem of seeming translation but really transduction. How to translate a simple revolving into piston action, and vice versa. How to marry opposites. Simple addition results in mutual annihilation whereas either/or is too exclusive. A combinatorial conditionality. A folded lawn. An expression that turns both parties. Transformation and delay. I become the Other and they become me, but not quite simultaneously. It is this lag – the wobble in the system – the humour of the natural process – that truly engenders.


I am very keenly aware of my aloneness.

If you are doing the work but are not progressing then the chances are you are not resting properly. In a sense rest is more important and more difficult than work because it requires me to be soft and courageous enough to allow change. Progress takes place during periods of rest, not during work. Work may provide insights and feelings, but these are still framed by the same values, and are generated by unsustainable level of intensity. The frame itself only shifts and adjusts when I relax and let these feelings and insights resonate through my whole being, which includes my environment. This is happiness – allowing change because you know you've earned it.
pure, and poor, and plain

Natural dignity.
Nowadays, a successful life is one that allows the liver to safely avoid facing any aspect of the unknowable. In Taoist terms, such people make perennially poor students: those that laugh at anything outside their box.

seeing & visionless

Goodbye to all that world
where we once talked
as if there were no end
to it       yet went on further
to fall off even from a globe
held sure by gravity
It is here and not here
a way to walk and say goodbye.

Ted Enslin
What is it that drives us to do the work, to dedicate a life to something as conventionally unrewarding as the internal? This question is our only constant, and any answer is only ever provisional, which is also its poignancy. I suspect that some part of us, call it soul for want of a better word, remembers and yearns for a time before time, a time before it became trapped in life, in living. It is our death instinct – Thanatos – which is not so much a desire to die as a yearning for freedom through dissolution. To melt into the vast ocean – Thalassa – beyond the reef, before time and evolution.


a miracle of pure centrality, pure absolved equilibrium
Learning taiji is not difficult, though it may seem so at the time. What is difficult is internalizing the taiji. This is a slow lifetime process of relaxing the accruing years of work into the depths of your energy and into the fabric of your being. A process of total reconditioning – changing your essence. It is a moot point, and somewhat irrelevant, whether the work peels away and reveals inner truth, or whether it creates it. Nature or nurture. And, in fact, when the work is successfully internalized, these two cancel each other out – negate each other – and it all hinges instead on destiny – the beautiful concept of a nature changing, honing, refining, to meet some purpose presently beyond itself. A life of service without the usual selfish landmarks or features, without history. A life subsumed in the becoming of energy.


He only is advancing in life, whose heart is getting softer, whose blood is warmer, whose brain is quicker, whose spirit is entering into Living peace.


The average person is "nine-tenths asleep, motionless, bored, and statically angry." Make sure you're not one of those.
Life comes from the earth and life returns to the earth.


Work to make the body energy. Source and channel. No longer a physical lump. Instead a nexus, a hub, a point through which and from which energy flows. For this the body must be strong enough for its physical mass and inertia to offer negligible impediment to the spirit.
turn the tables
Without an ever-present awareness of the possibility and proximity of death there can't be much of a life.
a tension between a scribe's respect for the integrity of his materials and a magician's freedom to transform them


My heart will know no peace / Till the hill bursts.


Goodbye old friend.
Humbled & awestruck.


Are you willing to be sponged out, erased, cancelled, made nothing? 
Are you willing to be made nothing? dipped into oblivion?
If not, you will never really change.


alive with the energy of the elusive forces of being and connexion

vague in the air and soluble,
with nothing heavy and nothing at rest

The past is never dead. It's not even past.


The more connected you become – to life, to energy, to destiny – the more solitary.
the realm of calm delight
Meditation is a process of distillation. With a mind hell-bent on release and opening, the only residue is the fine crystals of essence.
If you get an opportunity, practise in the earth: basement, cellar, cave, mine. The energy is stronger.
The intolerable shock of innocence. An antidote to sensation. The child-like privileges a crucial realm. A heterodox line of incendiary invocations. Interdisciplinary vitality. Insubordinate practices. Ooze out and become feral. Crazy textures give it a haptic affect. Never believe that space will suffice. An enforced total peace. A soft capture. The footsteps of consciousness. Energy is capable of transforming itself. A superior algebra of the spirit. Inhabit your body. The idea. The direction. Knowledge deploys order on a numerical prejudice. Irreducible to abstract forces. To dream nonsense and understand. Trimmed down to bare essentials. The collective anus ruptures. Cordon off the ignorant. Localize the blacksmith.


much of man’s character will be found betokened in his backbone
Love is the hastening gravitation of spirit towards spirit, and body towards body, in the joy of creation.
Freedom is that feeling, when the energy comes out clean and hot, immediate. Freedom from thought. Freedom from choice. (Thinking and choosing amount to the same thing.) So, if the present is not spent preparing a future, then that future must already be prepared. Thus destiny. Freedom implies and requires destiny.
Yielding is the ability to turn experience – energy – to your advantage.
There is no death
there is only dissolution


Your being is a lake into which has been dumped the corpses of past experience. The work requires two components: it must stir up the lake, unsettle, so that these corpses rise to the surface, and then it must dispose of said bodies. Beware a work that strives to calm the lake whilst keeping the past submerged. This is where a good teacher is essential; they won't let you get away with a false studied relaxation/softness – they will always be able to smell the taint of fester on your breath.


Your thoughts are your worry
mercy & relaxation
is it not necessary to mingle astonishment?
So I must practice coldhearted

me, I disguise myself as a man / in order to laugh


A person is simply a manifestation of habit.


I took the attitude that I was going to succeed, and I also knew that this was just an illusion.
Taiji as calligraphy – writing on the mind. Feel the traces your movements leave in the mind.
knowing I still have a long way to go, a lot more to lose

The Father forgives: the Son forgives: but the Holy Ghost does not forgive. So take that. The Holy Ghost doesn’t forgive because the Holy Ghost is within you. The Holy Ghost is you: your very You. So if, in your conceit of your ego, you make a break in your own YOU, in your own integrity, how can you be forgiven? You might as well make a rip in your own bowels. You know if you rip your own bowels they will go rotten and you will go rotten. And there’s an end of you, in the body.
Death hovers around with absolute generosity.

Thoroughly clean an organic lemon. Cut into pieces and throw into a blender with a handful of ice. Blend for at least two minutes. Add half a glass of water. Blend for another minute. Leave to settle. Pour into glass and sip slowly. Feel how it tonifies not just the body but the mind and energy too.
Strength comes when I face reality; weakness when I turn aside. There is no contention, no battle. If I fight reality I either lose and am destroyed, or win and reality is temporarily tamed – subjugated to my will. When, as I live my life, it slowly, or suddenly dawns on me that reality can be neither fought nor avoided, then I enter the yielding process: I yield to reality, I open up and let it into my being so that it can temper and strengthen me – mould me into what it is I am meant to become. The more I waste my strength on fighting or avoiding reality, the more severe it's lessons become, until I either wake up or die.
the greatest reward is failure


Tirelessly obscure the realm outside.
The enemy is anything that prevents me letting my energy out clean and hot: social pressures, friends' and family's expectations; but more usually my own laziness, fear or self pity.
KNOWING and BEING are opposite, antagonistic states. The more you know, exactly, the less you are. The more you are, in being, the less you know. This is the great cross of man, his dualism. The blood-self, and the nerve-brain self. Knowing, then, is the slow death of being... The goal is to know how not-to-know.

DH Lawrence


Practise whatever you find most difficult. This instruction, from my teacher, is perhaps the most difficult of all to follow. We all chicken out in one way or another.


the incomprehensible lightness and elasticity of her footfall

We are free only so long as we obey.

The opposite of the rational mind is what we call the Romantic heart. If the rational mind, so intent upon garnering certainties ends up creating those certainties, then the Romantic heart, yearning so for that endless expanse of reality that cannot be known, or certainly not pinned down, ends up drifting into the fantasy world of the imagination. How to keep things real? By balancing the two. Anything that becomes too much one thing – too pure – loses its grip on reality, and slips into an ideal that can only exist in the mind or heart. Whilst this may have a beauty, and certainly has an actuality, it is hardly relevant to me.
The good student is one compelled to work by a feeling for destiny. As such she must be aware that rest from work is as important as the work itself. Beware a compulsion born of anxiety; it will lead nowhere and you'll just end up chasing your own tail.
It is well known that much of what we see is in fact interpolated and extrapolated by the mind. This is the rational mind filling in the gaps, based on past experience. Effectively a layering of the past upon the present. The future that then unfolds is very much constrained by that seeing. This is how, at the fundamental level of simple sensing, we limit and impose our own future. Those that understand this as a crime to creation, and endeavour with all their heart and energy to break free from themselves and join with what is truly present, are my spiritual comrades, and I have learnt to take solace and inspiration from their documented inevitably creative actions.
Beware a world – a future – built on extrapolations; don't mortgage off your soul.