Most stability amounts to a freezing out of change : the troll petrified by the cold light of day. This is what the mind learns to do – set things in stone so that it can analyse and dissect at will. A monstrous violence to all that lives – to life itself. Ethnic cleansing, moment by moment : the ego denying all that fails to conform to its own image. And all because, in our intelligence, we have managed to create a world devoid of immediate feedback – bereft of spirit. One in which karma is so delayed that we can pretend it wasn't our fault. The slowly growing tumour of congealed repressions – pregnant with meaning and significance – blasted or excised so that our paltry existence can continue as usual.
Truth is the integrity of action not the correctness of speaking for the first is the spirit & practice of truth & the second only the preparation & theory which like the title of a book often leads us to expect more than we meet with.John Clare, 1820's
The process of domestication that constitutes civilized living wears us down through lack of spirit so that, energetically, we become smooth eggs, pressed into imposed forms maintained by our own anxieties. When we are truly alive: charged, intense, wild, ready for death as much for life, our energy is supremely intricate and delicate, as far from smooth convexity as can be imagined. Fractal, prickly – as though covered (especially back and neck) with hackles that rise and penetrate the enveloping space at the slightest stimulus; a hair-trigger sensitivity that demands immediate response rather than deep meaningful feeling.
...there are both clearings and glades. A glade is a space you find. A clearing is one you make or that has been made. It is a common perception of people now that they don't have time and space, that life is taken up with making money, working, getting from here to there, rather than the primary process of leading a human life. So the clearings first of all make time and room for that to happen. They are little spaces of quiet where things can be seen clearly...
from an interview with Thomas A Clark
from an interview with Thomas A Clark
In taiji the body (and therefore the mind) contains both full and empty (substantial and insubstantial) all the time. As the classics say, full and empty should be clearly distinguished. One side of the body is full and the other is empty. One side stable and secure allowing the other to be free and expressive. This is cross-energy – the line from weighted (stable) foot to opposite empty hand behaving as a whip. The freer the line is of tension (holding-on) the snappier the energy. Without this principle of single-weightedness taiji contains no lightness – no humour – and becomes what my teacher used to call "sack-of-potatoes taiji."
The only goal is the fulfilling of your own soul's active desire and suggestion. Be passionate as much as ever it is your nature to be passionate, and deeply sensual as far as you can be. Small souls have a small sensuality, deep souls a deep one. But remember, all the time, the responsibility is upon your own head, it all rests with your own lonely soul, the responsibility for your own action.
DH Lawrence, Aaron's Rod
Taiji is all about connexion, and through that connexion – which is always beyond the self – becoming something other. We are realists because we acknowledge whatever is to be connected to as more objectively real than ourselves: the ground beneath our feet, the stars above our head, the moment we inhabit, the other before us in all their unfathomable mystery – we can rely upon them all to be themselves in an honest uncomplicated way, far more than we can rely upon our own subjectivity, with all its vacillations and vicissitudes. Our difficulty then is to connect and become – to courageously take that uncharted path – rather than dwell in our own thoughts and feelings. Most energy work connects long enough to have a feeling and then disconnects in order to indulge that feeling. Any feeling is a retreat from the connexion back into self – an interiorization – which is why in taiji we emphasise forward, forward, forward – never back and never settling into equilibrium (despite our interest in central equilibrium). The energy of forward – spirit – is also the energy of connexion, and is always upsetting the established order to create anew. As my teacher would stress, true equilibrium is not a state but a deepening process – always moving, always shifting, to find new terrain and new becoming.
Writing (or speaking), far from being an act of creation, is really an act of erasure – one writes to rid oneself of thoughts and feelings, knowing that if they can be expressed in words then they are pale and rather pathetic shadows of anything remotely real. We must ensure that reading (or listening) is much the same – ephemeral – so that what lasts – what becomes permanent – is not the words but the energy – not the external but the internal.
The function of the mind in taiji is not, we have by now established, to think, that is to create its own artificial reality, but to create a stable and relaxed space for the manifold dimensions that make up the adept to open up and energetically engage. The principle dimensions are those of the three main energy centres – belly, heart, head. The heart – centre of connexion with the other – requires my arms to spring into ward-off in order to activate – that is my elbows spring up and out, my upper back is plucked up and my head sinks a little into my shoulders – the feeling is one of slightly crazed readiness and expectation. The belly – centre of connexion with my own power – requires that my elbows sink into my lower spine, pushing it forward and down, causing the shoulders to drop – the feeling is one of icy cold, ruthless – almost mean – focused detachment. The head – centre for non-worldly (spiritual) connexion – requires my neck to be relaxed, my head to be as though suspended from above, and my attention in the occiput (where spine inserts into brain) – the feeling is one of delirious out-of-time-ness where every time and every experience is available to be felt and accessed. Clearly the requirements of these three realities contradict each other – I cannot think their superimposition. So instead the mind creates a benevolent space expansive and open enough to allow these three (and in fact many more) dimensions to function together. This is a matter of heart and compassion and this is why we call true mind heart-mind and false mind thinking-mind.