31.7.13


to stoop
to plunge
to bedew
If you operate within the bounds of legality, morality and respectability, it is not because you have been caught by such arbitrary strictures, but because it is never a good idea to present the powers that be with a target.
Larger than life.
Become a force of nature, answerable only to destiny. Then, and only then, you'll bring a breath of fresh air to everything you get involved in, and nothing that experiences your energy will ever be the same again.
The courage to let go of everything: tension, values, expectations, sanity, and eventually even life.

29.7.13

Non-duality is not an homogeneous oneness. It is more the ability to stand back and let the two face-off and contend – interact – play together. Without taking sides. The outcome always takes me by surprise. 

28.7.13

I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted, and behold, service was joy.
Taiji is ultimately an act of remembering. Traditionally they talk about remembering what it was like to be an embryo in the womb, without thoughts or cares, just energy and floaty movements. But really it's remembering pure energy, not creating energy or becoming energy, but remembering – a relationship with the past. Energy as memory. Memories from the future as much as from the past, or rather from that perfectly chaotic virtual that never was and never will be. A messianic promise. In this sense taiji is a perfect vehicle for remembrance – for honouring and connecting to a friend or colleague, even an ancient master, who has passed on. It keeps the relationship alive, growing, developing. After death we tend to put aside those aspects of their character or energy that repelled us, that pushed us apart, disconnected; and instead we feel only those attractive qualities, the connexions. And so in death we become beautifully connected, and continue to learn from the example – the memory – of the other.
Just finished my morning practice (prayer) on my mother's patio in dreary Stockport, surrounded by her five cats who have always loved taiji, or maybe it's just my delightful company. I was struck by the constant activity in their tails, and began to realise that my own tail, not my coccyx but my energy tail, which is like a cats, a long extension from the spine/sacrum, is similarly active – a perfect mirror to, and expression of, my spirit. When my energy extended forward my tail extended back to balance; when my spirit dropped my tail slunk between my legs, etc. This is yet again just Central Equilibrium – the principle that allows me to be energetically active yet physically stable, the principle that states that there is a physical correlative to every aspect of energy and mood.
let the nettle
sting
your skin into song

the invisible is real

What makes our civilized world, for me, barbaric, is that we have chosen to control our environment rather than ourselves – we are decadent. If you ask the average Westerner to stop thinking and quieten their mind, they'd look at you blankly. As one of my students said to me recently: "How on Earth can I stop thinking – that's all that the mind does!" Yet ask a hunter-gatherer, like an Australian aboriginal, to do the same and they would have no problem, because there is nothing in their mind that is not natural. Our noisy and full minds are indications of arrogance and disconnexion, both of which are products of fear.

Every pore of the skin has to become an eye.

27.7.13

Thinking occupies the mind and gives us a sense of control. But our energy remains unengaged, and so we are anything but in control. It is the contention of taiji that the body and the energy have their own intelligences and sensitivities, which come into play only when the mind is relaxed and quiet. Such relaxation is the opposite of "pulling yourself together," it is relaxing the mind apart from itself, from thinking, and letting it become the energy it is. It then simply fills the body, which wakens, energized and fresh and, wonder of wonders, natural: soft, gentle, loving and totally connected.

A good teacher has no need to speak.



5 hour workshop in London on 27 July

Many thanks to the 15 attendees
I loved your company

26.7.13

A truly relaxed mind is a mind out of focus, an undiscriminating mind. What looms out of the mist, and something always will if the relaxation is sustained, is not will or intention or clarity, but a portal to reality – the heart of the embrace.

Truth hurts, but in the long run it's better than a pat on the back.

25.7.13

If a student didn't feel destined for this work then they wouldn't do it, certainly not for the length of time it takes. The bummer is that such feelings make the work that much longer. This means that those that succeed make good teachers, largely because they've made all the mistakes. As teachers they then need the sense of humour to accept that, despite their experience, their students inevitably will, and probably need to, make the same mistakes.

Having a root means that you are comfortable sinking all you are through your legs and into the Earth. It seems to require physically strong legs, but it is more the mental strength to accept that you are nothing more than that root. Any desire to be special, any feelings of inflated self-worth, and the legs will push up into your chest. A heart at peace is not just an empty heart, but a connected heart, content to be simply channel. A humility that inevitably comes when real life rubs against you for any length of time.

The peace we seek is on the far side of suffering.

24.7.13

And there is in this
connection
departure from loneliness


"I have enough problems with my own ego without having to contend with yours as well."  This was something my teacher yelled at me once when I was being obnoxiously resistant to the teaching. If you're doing the work to tackle your own ego then you must ensure that those of others don't stick to you and draw you down. This is where the Tibetan adage: "The worst enemies are your nearest and dearest" comes in.
Life without fully integrated death, as concept and as boding inevitability, is incomplete and therefore fraught at core. This is the source of that low grade, often barely perceptible, anxiety that plagues us all. The refusal to admit and honour death is a refusal to grow up. Without it we will always be whining children living under the presumption that life owes us a living. It is not life that makes us truly live but death.

23.7.13

Without the regulating feedback from partner work the only guarantee is that I'll get it all wrong. This sounds severe, and it is. The relationship with the Other rips me out of my cozy little world from which it is impossible to conceive correctly because I just don't have the vantage, and offers the possibility of perfection.

22.7.13

What is there about our way of perceiving that makes us not see the delicate interdependencies in an ecological system – that give it its integrity? We don't see them and therefore we break them.
A transmission of energy is like a disease you never really recover from.

No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.

even in death relationships continue to grow

21.7.13

The only orthogonal in my life is my verticality – the fact that I spring upright from the Earth. All else is turning – polar coordinates and angular velocities. This requires me to conceive life as master – actively at center – subject only to laws of energy and karma. Yielding is then accepting the Other as center long enough to bind as relationship, after which the relationship becomes central. Closure is retrieving the center.

Before I can effectively tackle my own ego that ego must be free and exposed. This means that it must first have won the battle over the forces of oppression and repression that strive to make me a well-behaved object – a slave.

20.7.13

Truth shakes the roots


Nowadays, given that we civilised creatures have forgotten how to fight, it seems a little silly to conceive of yielding as a means to winning the fight. Maybe it would be more helpful to think of yielding as a technique for pooling your spirit with that of another in order to break out of the external and into the internal. It is the fundamental contention of taiji that such a move is not possible without the other. Access to the Internal requires us to borrow energy – inspiration – from somewhere, from anywhere.

That's a weight off my mind.

If youth is the time when you have the energy to party all night, then old age should be the time when you have the energy to work all night. The time in between is the time it takes to learn how to access such energy. Obviously this work is not hard physical labour, rather it is simple connexion – staying connected – serving the connexion.

Don't let considerations of health and safety limit or control your spirit. They have insidiously become the new idols of the bourgeoisie, entrenching us with negativity in a world not worth living in.
Chaos, that pure intensity from which the external world we know has extended and condensed, is a realm of infinite speed where time is always zero. Out of that chaos things come into being, effectively by slowing down, and the world is made, time is made. The objects of this slow world are anathema to that divine chaos from which they sprang – they limit and hinder its infinite creativity; and so the two worlds polarise and become opposed. The Internal is a shimmering intermediary realm: glimpses of the divine. It is the energy of that chaos breaking through in ineffable whispers to the frozen world we insist we reign over. Rationality polices and plugs this endless leaking in a desperate attempt to barricade what we know against that terrifying unknowable. Our job, as students of spirit, is to open the gates, melt the ice, and dance with delight as we invite energy into our lives.

True yielding doesn't just make space for the Other, it draws the Other into the Internal; if only for a moment.

19.7.13

circularity becomes a given

18.7.13

Spent two days this week on a compulsory driving course for all drivers who have had their license for five years. For some reason, maybe appropriately, they bunched me with the young religious guys from Bney Brak – the poorest city in Israel with the highest proportion of orthodox religious jews. The teacher was also orthodox, possibly a rabbi, I couldn't be sure. The course, what I understood of it, was excellent, and I was very impressed by the attentiveness and the intensity of the students. At one point one of the more passionate young men said, “Sometimes I find myself getting so angry with another motorist. What should I do?” The teacher replied: “The first thing you must do is thank God for giving you an opportunity to work on your anger.”
There are two stages to correction: breaking a bad habit, and established a better one. There is usually a time between them when the old habit has largely gone and the new one is not yet established. This is a time of inefficiency and reduced performance, but also a time of grace and potential oracles.
The paradox of this work is that only by bringing all my energies to bear upon the present moment do I enter the internal – that elusive realm never to be present in the normal sense of the word. The internal is a promise of home, intimations from a pure past or future that will never have the vulgarity to be present. It represents the next level, which I enter fully only when I have learnt to love and live life so intensely that such love, again paradoxically, liberates me from the shackles of life.

the fabric of causality is porous
Imagine a lost child, lonely, distraught and weeping. What could be more natural than the urge to embrace and comfort that child, and what could give more honest pleasure and fulfilment than such an act of kindness. The work we do, the decades of stripping away layer after layer of tension, eventually reveals such a child in the heart – our true nature finally exposed. This is the point at which we can begin to relate.

singular events are not rare; rather, they are legion!
The act of worship, of repentant affectivity, of putting the Other first, liberates the mind, soul, essence, internal, from the fetters of ego. This is the deep meaning and necessity of relationship and of taiji partner work. It is our fundamental feedback loop without which it all goes horribly wrong: I liberate myself by becoming the Other. The key, as always, resides in the heart.

17.7.13

Yielding is an embrace – making space for the Other in your loving heart whilst throwing your arms behind them.

16.7.13

Content to simply be a relaxed mind in a relaxed body, or is it body in mind? Such contentment is full enough, and allows no room for self. Self gathers in disconnected spaces – thrones of disconnexion – and then convinces itself of its own sovereignty: the lord of its own castle and nothing beside. Much so called happiness is the self feeling full of itself, for whom our contentment would be a let down, in fact would be perceived as depression.

15.7.13

A process is the interaction of random events upon a configuration of constraints that results in a nonrandom but indeterminate outcome.

14.7.13

"Let's assume that whatever I find difficult doesn't exist."  Sounds preposterous doesn't it? Yet this is what we tell ourselves every moment of every day.
The good student is duty-bound, tied by destiny to a life of ego-erosion, and so, for them, the only honest response to the truth is to moan and complain, to bewail the immensity of the work each truth proposes. It is the perennially mediocre student who responds aesthetically to the truth, who loudly advertises their delight in such beautiful and mind-shattering statements. The only reason they respond in this manner is because their ego has absolutely no intention of doing any of the work required to internalize such truths. At least the poor student, who laughs and mocks, is honest.

13.7.13

Chance and disarray play a necessary role in complex systems, because, without them, a system lacks the flexibility necessary to adapt and becomes defenseless in the face of novel perturbation.

12.7.13

The most sublime act is to set another before you.
the authenticity of the unseparated
I'm convinced that most diseases, from cancer to depression to diabetes, are the result of something that should be flowing not flowing.
The poor teacher tells you how special they are, whereas the good teacher shows you how special you are.
Let go of self-image and inhabit the body. Can't have both.

It's as if fundamental principles are now somehow immaterial to our quest for a more comfortable, healthier life.

11.7.13

A broken heart and a fractured mind held together by the force of destiny.

Tension is the result of holding something together that is not true.

10.7.13

In these currents
only the still
can see the river.

8.7.13

It is well known that all pity starts in self-pity. The same could be said for taking life too seriously – that it starts in taking oneself too seriously. The difficult lesson to learn is that we are at our best when we join in and forget ourselves; when we stop being a self and become a process, of and for change. Gregory Bateson famously said: There are no objects, only relationships. What matters, what's real, is not life but how I relate to life, not self but how I relate to self, not the Other but how I relate to Otherness. I am real, of consequence, only in my relations.

5.7.13


Whatever we do in taiji we do with an eye to equilibrium. So when we sink our energy we do so not to collapse or become depressed, but to force rising energy to manifest and balance that sinking.

The Otherness of the Other is another name for the Internal which is another name for the Energetic which we also call Spirit or the Real or the Deep. These are all names for different ways of approaching the beautiful but terrifying reality of connectedness. Terrifying because I can only connect to connectedness once I've jettisoned my baggage, my self, and all notions of self-defence. In the realm of connectedness we are all naked and all equal – all differences dwindle in the face of such awe-inspiring and humbling beauty.

A martial art becomes spiritual as soon as I realise that the real enemy is not the Other but my own stubborn inertia.  The Other is in fact my salvation but only once I've understood yielding as the art of allowing their Otherness to break open the box confining and defining me.

4.7.13

Unless the heart allows itself to be pulled down by the Earth, it will never become soft and humble enough to properly open up to the Other. And only if I encourage the belly to be pulled towards the heart of the Other will I lose myself sufficient to win the fight.

The mystery and beauty of life lies not in the rules and principles that govern it, but in the shimmering detail and infinite texture that refuses analysis. The fact that as soon as a principle is discovered and understood, natural energies come into play to disturb and unsettle the surety of that understanding. These are the energies that ancient wisdoms strove to encourage and connect to, and that modern rational thought has tried its very best to throttle and deny. In taiji the yielding mind is one constantly searching for the unaccountable. It knows well that rules and principles are just devices – tricks – to get us going, and that as soon as spirit manifests they largely go out of the window, or at least become elastic, and retreat into the background. The secret to all this is lightness and humour. The perfect antidote to rational understanding is uncontrollable laughter.


The strings of the heart, connecting me to all other hearts, are elastic, and in constant tension. In this sense the belly is also a heart, connecting with the Earth; and the crown of the head, connecting to the Heavens. Everything connects through gravity – pulling-energy. We are all in the same boat, of the same creator. Our differences stem from the differentiating mind and the stubborn ego, which naturally, though fearfully, strive for advantage, and in the process leave the world of energy and make everything a thing, an object, a commodity, a possession. It will often take death and loss to wake us to what is really important in life.

The shortest path between two truths in the real domain passes through the complex domain.

apposite & opposite; and thereby composite

3.7.13

Fundamental progress has to do with the reinterpretation of basic ideas.

Give me a place to stand, and I will move the earth.


Miracles must not be multiplied beyond necessity.

2.7.13

captivating & marvellous

Arms become legs, legs become arms. Similarly hands and feet.

1.7.13

The two sides of taichi: 

Earthwork: connecting to, and exchanging energy with, the Earth beneath your feet in order to develop a stable but fluid foundation. 

Heartwork: connecting to, and communicating with, other human beings, especially ones who threaten to upset your balance.

Both connexions are physical and energetic, and involve the same principles of equilibrium, relaxation, softness, yielding, elasticity, spirit, etc.
governed by a weird kind of vitalist calculus, in which the petrification of knowledge can be countered by generating creative possibilities through algorithmic thought