31.12.14

Turning, forever turning. Away from what is known, understood, glimpsed; toward nothing in particular. Turning for its own sake; for the sake of the energy it evokes. Turning disrupts vectorial space: no longer uniform or three-dimensional, space becomes alive with ever-shifting centres of intensity. Turning is the one thing Taiji has that meditation doesn't. And this is their fundamental difference: meditation is about acquiring an awareness of unmediated presence whereas Taiji is all about losing one's self in a world of energy.
Meditation without mediation.
Reflect on the content of doubt.
Delete the word.
Place the intricate housing.
Haunt structure.
Give back to history and evolution.
Start again.
Stripped of innate character.
A circle is not sufficiently tortuous.
This eternal question of gravity.
Stopping the world as middle and end.
Expression embodies a difference.
Sensitive aggregates are themselves creative.
Mechanics pave the way.
Unleashing dangerous revolutionary flows.
Absorbed under close surveillance.
This insatiable desire for ambiguous positions.
The invention of new emotions.
Prefabricated models of meaning and commitment.
You will find lift while proliferating escape plans.
A mutant form of liberation.
Concerned neutrals can achieve a revolution.
The paradigm of resistance imprisoned.
Capture the pressing need.
The euphoria of creation is based on conformity.
How can a new identity be enforced?
Challenges.
A return to the tragic note.
It is unclear where this is going.
Who can help but hear a lament?
Strategic belief.
A connection colonized the body.
The intolerable clash of innocence.
An antidote to feeling.
A heterodox incendiary line.
Our shame in being human.
Interdisciplinary vitality.
Unruly practices.
Filtered and go wild.
Crazy textures giving a haptic affect.
Never believe that space will suffice.
A forced peace.
A smooth capture.
Traces of consciousness.
Energy is able to transform.
A higher algebra of spirit.
Inhabiting the body.
The idea.
Direction.
Irreducible to abstract forces.
To dream nonsense and understand.
Trimmed to basics.
Rupture the collective anus.
Delimit the ignorant.
Locate the blacksmith.
"A man is infinitely more complicated than his thoughts."
Meditating through the early hours. At one point the dogs started barking, set off by the arrival of wild boar. Strange creatures, they only come at night – huge black shadows that pass very close and make your hackles rise. And this is the thing about meditation: if you relax the mind quiet then the mysterious world of energy will open up and possess you. But use tension (force) and energy will always evade you.

30.12.14


Benefit from the pores of immanence.
Listening is not simply being ready to hear, but being prepared to follow. Ready, always, to change. (Derrida makes much of the fact that the French verbs être and suivre have the same first person singular, so that je suis means both I am and I follow.)

29.12.14

The good student is in love with truth. But also, if not equally, with work. So when she finds something challenging and difficult which she intuitively knows will take her closer to the truth, she rejoices and starts immediately. And the real sign of a good student is that they cannot stop.

28.12.14

Taiji traces time.

24.12.14

...to shake up entrenched habits of mind and received ideas...

22.12.14

Were you there
or here now—
such a slight sound
what was your step makes.

21.12.14


Yielding is a process that creates temporary, novel, ad hoc structures for turning aggressive forces against themselves.
…the subject must free herself from alienation in order to allow her own personal liberty to emerge…
Eschew a life impoverished by certitude.
Even with the best will in the world, the best ear to hear, the best heart, any and every communication is fraught with interpretive variability, and therefore endangered by the possibility and probability of misreading. This is what gives the cosmos, gives Nature, its infinite richness: mutability – the fact that life and existence are effectively a game of Chinese Whispers.
"The name is a kind of provisional formulation of an event, a relatively stable if evolving structure, while the event is ever restless, on the move, seeking new forms to assume, seeking to get expressed in still unexpressed ways."
If the principal focus of your Taiji is not Yielding, and the dominant energy is not Spirit, then it is not Taiji. My teacher would go further and replace the word Taiji in this statement with Life.
Listening with approval; never judgment. Like a good therapist – a psychoanalyst say – who struggles to remain as open as possible so that the patient's mind, feeling freer than usual, can stop thinking (worrying) and start to reveal itself. The analyst says as little as possible – remains out of sight even; just nods and prods every now and then.

20.12.14

reinvent the world every day

todo el corazón
…unsettle binary structural oppositions and set the machine in motion…
Nothing disarms
Like softness.
Thinking is a defence mechanism against the call of spirit. The ultimate act of avoidance: it creates so much internal noise that energy is effectively blotted out of consciousness. When we talk of listening in Taiji we don't really mean listening to words or thoughts, but listening to energy – attending the pain and suffering of the Other, their intention and intentions, and, through the ethical act of yielding, becoming appropriate to that energy. This becoming has nothing to do with thinking about what is heard and then deciding how to respond; such a process always takes me out of real time, out of their time, and disrupts the natural rhythm, the flow, of the relationship. It is more an unconscious, or at least unthinking, change of heart, brought about by a call to respond, a responsibility to rise above the morass of my own suffering and attend to theirs. Nothing is quite so healing as such an act of compassion.

19.12.14


Ever have a feeling of terror and panic when, for example, you see something in the darkness that is momentarily unrecognisable? This is a true response to a world that hasn't yet been identified and named, a world effectively unsullied by language, but clearly rich with feeling. We don't realise it but our usual perceptions, as well as giving us information about the world, push that world away, to a safe distance, at least, giving us, we hope, sufficient time to process the information, and choose a course of action. Meditation is a space and time where/when we endeavour to remove mental formations from the mind. Not only thoughts but any mental acts designed to keep the world at bay – to protect us from the onslaught of reality. Such formations are always fear-based, hiding behind a facade of reason and propriety. To maintain a poised equilibrium whilst being bombarded from all sides by a world intent on getting in and waking us up: this is meditation. The Internal opens up when we have eradicated all interiority, all self, all selfishness; in particular all self-pity.

18.12.14

signifying in a language of mute traces

16.12.14

"Everything depends on the intentionality with which he makes you exist for him."

15.12.14

I am subject, not self. Subject to a multitude of forces and limitations: natural, social, cultural, political, historical, ancestral, relational, internal, mental, destinal, divine. My formative choice is in which to foreground.
poised for passage

13.12.14

...what allows you to see clearly is not a mode of identification, but rather a mode of palpable experience, a pathic mode...

Ever mindful of the Earth's claim to my body. Each joint attached by a taut barely elastic thread of gravitational flux pulling ever downwards. This is how we face death, and this is how we eradicate ego – by allowing it no space in which to flourish. Ego thrives on my selfish and neurotic desire to be free of Earth, free of death.
...the body has both territorial sides which stabilize it, and cutting edges which carry it away...
The honour in living a life stripped, as much as is humanly possible, of all illusion if not delusion. This is the meaning of relaxed shoulders: constantly drawn down by broken (bent) elbows and wrists until gravity becomes embedded in my being. A veil unfurling, dropping to the ground, all around. A connexion to the grim reality of what Buddhists call suffering but which we call life. The life of a warrior.

12.12.14

"I often see through things right to the apparition itself."
Tension is stratified: laid down layer after layer. Relax one and you reveal another, more ingrained, more refractory; each demanding new terms of engagement, new tricks to dislodge.

11.12.14

"The division is that between the contingent, multiple and changeable self of my experience and the essential, simple and unchanging self that I know I must be."

The secret of spirit is that it changes everything, and so all discourse goes out the window.
A movement, a flow, a letting, so rich, that, for all intents and purposes, its dimensionality is infinite. And so, any attempt to represent it, to pin it down or define it, will, necessarily, clot and stanch it. Instead, go with the flow, and rightly see any attempts, from self or from beyond, to regulate it, as the work of the enemy of spirit and process, as an imposition of state. This is the function of meditation: to clear the mind, recognise the enemy, and find a way through.
( g ) l i s t e n i n g

10.12.14

...the essential gap, discrepancy and impropriety at the heart of every identity...
Every concept is accompanied by its equally valid opposite. Take the beautiful concept of destiny: the singularly significant life, a divine thread invested by the gods, the resonance of greatness echoing out from an evental assembling of power that a life can be when the destined focus their mind and spirit. This is always accompanied by the equally beautiful concept of multiplicity: a life lived as a series of almost arbitrary situations, void of singular power, by the absolute awareness of the sacredness of every possibility. Destiny is for the hero, strong of spirit and strong of ego, destined, above all, to suffer in the struggle to fill a life with power. Non-destiny is for the non-hero, void of ego and significance, yet full of a gentle spirit that invests each trivial action with poetic grace. The Greek tragic hero and the Zen master.

9.12.14

Movement, real movement, is terrifying because it is always a movement into the unknown.
The heart doesn't take sides, doesn't argue. Is all it desires is connexion and love – giving and receiving. It is the organ of pure compassion. Both male and female: rushing forth to penetrate and settling back to receive – embrace – simultaneously.

8.12.14

The idea of meditation is not simply that I train my mind to give up its neurotic chatter, but that I strive for such whilst the body is aligned and aligning energetically. Spiritual work – that which endeavours to free the spirit from the ego – requires a rigorous physical component – real hard work. This is not to say that the energetic has the same structures and follows the same rules as the material – nothing could be further from the truth. The two fundamental laws of the commonsense material world: that of cause and effect, and that of non-contradiction, simply do not apply to spirit because in the world of spirit time is otherwise. Time is not something that binds one inexorably to a plodding linear trudge, but a swirl of energy that can be dipped into, slipped through or past, played with, as long as one has the requisite softness, lightness and humour.

7.12.14

A hero is someone who, through force of character and force of destiny, changes the course of things. Things such as lives and history. A hero creates events.

5.12.14

How am I in the world? How is my subjectivity constructed? These philosophical questions are maybe best considered in relation to my attitude to inevitable times of difficulty or wretchedness. Do I try to remove the misery (talk to friends, visit the therapist, get high, etc.) or do I sink into my wretchedness, intensify it, and allow it to open up new becomings that I could neither have anticipated nor imagined. The first approach is what in Taiji we call avoidance: constantly putting off difficulties to a later time. It is a slack and ultimately unhealthy attitude to time and destiny. The latter we call yielding: confronting a problem as it happens, albeit slant, and allowing that confrontation to rouse my spirit and transform me into a capable and inevitable victor. Yielding requires me to believe not only in my own capacities, and in the power of spirit, but in pure time, or, what in Taiji, we call destiny.

2.12.14

"an ethical and political commitment to a life of continual self-transformation, unhindered by unnecessary conceptual and social constraints"
Seek to live the truth rather than know it. An eminently practical philosophy.
When you sink in Taiji the knee releases forwards and out (away), and the hip releases back and in (toward the tailbone). This stretches the femur and tends it to horizontal. Both releases affect the heart: the releasing knee causes the heart to open and melt forward, and the releasing hip causes the heart to focus and centre itself.

1.12.14


The vigilance of one in constant pain.
Listening, as we all know, is immensely difficult. On a simplistic and trivial level, that of receiving information and processing it, we do it all the time with various levels of success. This we call selfish listening because it is a listening by which the self survives and flourishes – a listening that is always comparing what is heard to what has already been assimilated. Taiji listening is largely just this: a listening sufficient to win the fight. True listening, on the other hand, listens from a place other than ego, a place of emptiness where the only thing in attendance is death. A listening with no interest in what is heard. Pure listening. Pure connexion.
Love and attachment (dependency) are inversely proportional.
Freedom requires the utmost vigilance.
The more I release into the ground, the more energy the ground provides, and the more my heart opens and reaches forwards. All the joints of the body must release, not only hips, knees and ankles, but sacroiliacs, vertebrae, shoulders, occiput, jaw. This is our faith.

30.11.14

Watching movies, for me, is a sign that I'm getting unbearably lonely.
The subtlety of spirit.
We practise not simply to become better at what we do, but to encourage the Other to reveal itself. The other side of the story. And there is always another side. The story is never complete.

28.11.14

Spiritual work is all about breaking the spell of ego, of selfishness, of the cozy world. This always requires the falling under a different spell – that of a teacher and a teaching – for however long it takes. Eventually however that spell must also be broken so that you can enter the world as it is: a ground – a battle ground – of spirit.
The past decade, for me, has been informed, if not governed, by three quotes:

1. Every entity has feelings, including electrons (AN Whitehead)
2. In my past life I was a cloud, and I was very happy being a cloud (Thich Nhat Hanh)
3. I fell in love with Taiji (John Kells).

The first two stress my continuity with the rest of creation, in particular with a non-organic life independent of awareness and consciousness, and the third expresses just how all-consuming my passion and devotion to Taiji must become.
A root isn't simply a connexion to the Earth, it is a becoming Earth: a becoming silent mind, a becoming physical body, and, eventually, a becoming free spirit. We also call this becoming natural.
The first stage of Taiji is the development of a root. This is a protracted process of switching allegiance from unreliable modes of support such as family, State, culture, identity, ego, to the eminently reliable physical support of the Earth – the ground beneath one's feet and the all-embracing field of gravity. This work (and it is work – hard work) must become central to one's life otherwise it just won't happen. Without a daily practice regime that steadily becomes the focus and core of not only the day but a life, there may still be hope (attending weekly classes) but no progress beyond the superficial adoption of a Taiji veneer.

27.11.14

The true artist doesn't make things, he makes life, a life.

25.11.14

The external is known – captured – by naming. Giving and calling a name doesn't simply attach a label, though, it bestows an essence and permanence that then resists the energy from which the named emerge and immerge. Reality, or at least the world, the mind, is then a space littered with names, and, it would seem, by its very nature, language provides such spaces and little else. Our struggle is to clear the space of names and naming so that it can fill with flux and becoming. Poetry has always been a means of using language differently, stretching and twisting it, to transform the mind and evoke energy and spirit. When the poem is over the world is momentarily freed of my hardness, my discourse, and starts to hum. Taiji, of course, is also poetry, created from a language of movement and posture.
The heart contains and the mind flows.

20.11.14

Ward-off is not a barrier to hide behind but a container to burst out from.
Reality is modelled on the heart, rather than vice versa.
Sink & relax to rise & shine.

18.11.14

Beware the Taiji slump. It is only the lower dantien that connects and roots into the Earth so that the upper dantien can reach for the Heavens, leaving the middle dantien (heart) free to interact with whomever I'm facing. This means that I need to get used to splitting my mind three-ways so that I can work all three connexions at the same time all the time.

17.11.14


My engagement with Taiji should be such that the principles reach out, migrate and colonize every aspect of life and being. Not so much tools to tinker with but viruses that infect and transform.

16.11.14

Unlike mind based spiritual work such as meditation, Taiji has no deep interest or attachment to the concepts of awareness or consciousness. We work for softness – nonresistance – because then the body, or rather the energy, listens and becomes what it hears through a subtle tuning/turning.
Try to remember the feeling of a heart rent by grief or rejection – lost love. The unbearable openness, the known world crumbling. The good student feels this as truth, and that gives her the courage to not only bear it but, through decades of practice, to eventually transform it to bliss. The poor student feels simply pain which they endeavor to avoid at all costs. The mediocre student also feels it as pain, a pain they pull away from only to realise that it was simply the pain of being intensely alive. They must then not only live with regret but also with the knowledge that, in all likelihood, they will always lack the courage.
The biggest mistake of the mediocre student is to convince themselves that they are more advanced than they really are.

15.11.14


...one of the constant features of all petit-bourgeois mythology is this impotence to imagine the Other. Otherness is the concept most antipathetic to "common sense"...

14.11.14

Taiji is a conveyer belt from which drops Form after Form, each one complete, unique and perfect in its own way. My only concern is to keep the belt rolling – sustain production. Everything else – quality, expression, meaning, progress – will work itself out.
If therapy aims to heal the wounds, or at least plaster them over, then spiritual work opens them up and encourages them to bleed. Wounds, traumas, are not negatives to be vanquished for the sake of an integrated ego – conformity, but gateways to the soul of creativity. Ask any artist worth their salt.
For God's sake hold your tongue and let me love. This line of John Donne's, still breathtakingly radical in its anti-Platonic implications (God is not the law, but passion), should be our mantra. For God's sake leave the head and get back to the body.
"dissent is what makes society liveable"

13.11.14

Artists take risks to discover new feelings; feelings that may or may not develop into emotions or coalesce into thoughts.
Do not become enamoured of power.

When the heart drops the belly rises, and when the belly sinks the heart lifts. This is the nature of relationship in Taiji – never locked, always equilibrating – elastic. A locked relationship is one ruled by anxiety. Equilibrium, founded on trust and relaxation, is always breathing, expanding and contracting, letting go only to return, differently.
Yielding is a technique for transforming the trivial into the significant and vice versa.
The first stage of yielding is a willingness to engage amicably and equally with all and sundry.
Spirit: always ready for a fight, especially one you may lose.
Yielding works by injecting a little lightness (light) into an otherwise heavy (dark) system.
Let it roll.
Yielding is a joyful (affirmative) technique for transforming force into energy. It does this by playing with the equilibrium between active and reactive forces such that turning moments are introduced into the system. The play is creative – spontaneous and unconsidered – and is an attempt to restore equilibrium by creating new configurations. Ask any master of yielding what they do in the heat of the moment and the reply will always be: I have no idea.

12.11.14

Practice through repetition can take two forms: the repetitions generate gradual improvement – the case of learning a skill, or the repetitions create a series of events – this would be more like repeating a performance (or repeating a well-known Form) where success is measured not by accuracy but by the life and spirit invested in or generated by the performance. For example Miles Davis performed If I Were A Bell thousands of times in the 50's and 60's, yet each recorded instance, of which there are numerous, is a singularly beautiful event: each comes alive on its own terms.
Personal talent should not be used as protection or legitimation, but rather as a means of leaping, raw and naked, more thoroughly, wholeheartedly, into the void. This is difficult, and requires a willingness to live a life accompanied by a special form of intensity we call pain.
We tackle the ego by concerning ourselves with what we are rather than what we have.
intensive relations of resonance
Whenever a significant spiritual breakthrough is made, something in life will always test it. The severity of the test – the drama – is, as much as anything, a measure of that significance. And it is precisely the breakthrough that enables not only survival but progress.

10.11.14

Dedicated longtime students must, at some point (hopefully before it's too late), ask themselves if their devotion and loyalty is serving them or is it just a sign of dependence and fear of breaking a long corrupted relationship. It is really the teacher's responsibility to attend to such situations but they generally don't: a case of mistaking weakness for hope.
Taiji is for those who, through a quirk of fate, suspect that there is far more to reality than the ego (and all its social and cultural extensions) lets on.

9.11.14

I suspect the reason children generally possess such a light carefree physicality is that their heads haven't yet learnt to lock onto their environment in order to force it to conform to their expectations of it. They are largely free of ideas and ideals, but with wonderful imaginations. They live in a world of make-believe, which, in a sense, is the best form of faith.
It is the bass frequencies of diaphragm and fascia that need to be filled out – relaxed into – to give my music depth and substance. And when they are relaxed there is always that feeling that they are tuning to a pulse outside of self. The erect supple spine gently swaying in a cosmic breeze.
The problem with the creative mind is that it is eminently capable of thinking planes of existence that the body and spirit would need decades of dedicated thankless work to even contemplate navigating. This is what in Taiji we call the curse of talent.
In order to house the crazy multiplicity of becomings and contradictions that is reality in all its glory, without losing one's mind (without actually becoming schizophrenic), requires a life devoted not to thought or creativity or expression, but to the opposite of these: no-mind. Only once one has achieved a level of control over the ego can the heart-mind, empty then of self, fill with the cosmos.

"Cease activity and return to stillness
And that stillness will be ever more active."

8.11.14


A good teacher is someone who shows you where you are failing. They are, and will always be, the least popular people on the planet. There is a Taiji adage: the best teachers have the fewest students. If a good teacher wants to earn a respectable living by teaching then he has to learn to constantly bite his tongue.
...the Subject never occupies a central position; it is merely a form in which many events converge...

7.11.14

When walking allow the movements to help clear the mind, and enjoy the time rather than hurrying to get where you're going. Walking the neighbour's dog taught me this. Nothing, for me, is quite so pleasurable as accompanying the unbridled joy of a dog doing what dogs are meant to do.
The mind is under alien (ego) occupation, and our task is, through disciplined guerilla (energetic) activity (Taiji), to eventually liberate and win it back. Only then can life return to its source.
The combination of relaxed movement and a quiet mind allows active affects to emerge from the energy, the unconscious, the depths. These feelings become pointers, embryo thoughts, inklings, that affect, correct, my life. It then truly becomes my life. And this is the responsibility, the destiny, of all of us – to use life to investigate life so that life can draw us to live a better life – one less conditioned and less conditional – one that realises a humanity and then rejects it as yet another snare, another distraction.
...repetition that disappears in appearing...

6.11.14


…over time, the exercise of will tends to negate or contradict itself…
The Other is the moment that brings about a rupture in time.
Meditation teachers are very fond of imagery. One popular image used to promote the notion of stillness is that of cloudy water being allowed to settle so that it becomes clear and transparent – see-through (like most images, it privileges the sense of seeing over the other senses). If we take the image further we can see that the settled sediment becomes a thick sticky mud and there is always the possibility that our refined stillness will cause us to become entrapped in that sludge – stuck in the mud. Taiji turning stirs up the sediment, causing it to rise and swirl around us. As the turning becomes more vigorous turbulence sets in and the swirling (energy) takes on a life of its own. Now the image illustrates that creativity requires a shift from the passive extensive realm with its neurotic concern with what's out there, to an active intensive realm where visibility is reduced to zero but life springs spontaneously and unpredictably forth from our own power.
Turning, perhaps the most important principle in Taiji, is not just a technique but a philosophy and a way of life. Greeting the becoming present, fresh and open, without the advantage of an extrapolated past. Turning my back on the past, the has been, which doesn't mean ignoring it but storing that energy in the back and developing hindsight. Returning with the light expectation, the hope, of change.

5.11.14

A crystalline quiet; or at least an inorganic one.
"A path is formed through constant treading; a thing exists through constant naming."
a mind untrammeled by convention

4.11.14

Taiji is a Taoist art and as such its fundamental principle is that of balance. In particular the balance or equilibrium of yin and yang. Neither choosing one over the other nor allowing them to fuse into a deathly stillness but keeping them always distinct (clearly distinguish full and empty) and always moving (suddenly appear, suddenly disappear). The mind eventually becomes mature and understanding enough to hold both together, and then one's whole being resonates with the hum of their oscillation.
a time without tutelary present
The sinking associated with relaxation isn't just a release to gravity, it is also a sinking into time – back into time. A revitalisation of one's energetic past – a pure past that was never quite present – aswim with all that was and all that could have been – a tense language fails. Such a time is total – nonlinear, non-sequential – containing future(s) as well as past(s); an energetic continuum where life and death have neither relevance nor dominion.

3.11.14

Building a new discipline is the problem of our times.
Whenever the teacher says something that the student finds threatening, either to their ego or their world order, the first response is always fear, we can't help it. This fear expresses itself in incredulity and protest – this is natural. It's what happens next that is all important. The good student will go home, clear their mind, relax and dwell on what has been said until they at least feel, if not totally understand, the truth behind it. They then act upon it. The mediocre student will almost immediately appeal to rational argument in their defence – they will build a case for their own position and create all sorts of rational but incorrect reasons for the teacher having uttered what they did. They resist. The poor student resorts to ridicule, mockery and laughter – they are so terrified that they cannot countenance any part of what was said – they basically have no idea.
It is spirit that keeps our equilibrium dynamic, and prevents it from doing what it always threatens to do: congeal or set. This is the teacher's job: to periodically inject you with spirit, shake up your being and allow a new becoming.  Progress.
…awakening does not initiate the awakened into 'reality' as we live it, but into the Tao, which is hidden from us by our 'reality'…

2.11.14

The thing that no philosopher has fully appreciated, not since the Greeks, is that to think the unthinkable – namely difference – requires an athlete's body and a warrior's spirit. Something has to hold you together and stop you from being destroyed by the tornado unleashed by true freedom. So, instead of the physical world offering a multitude of possibilities and the calculating mind anxiously making choices, the quiet mind creates a virtual ground which the body navigates, without thinking, with the aid of spirit.
The mistake made by philosophers is that they endeavour to think difference rather than live it. If you live difference, which paradoxically requires a very tight, restricted, impeccable, disciplined life, then you won't be able to keep spirit out.
Existing not as a subject but as a work of art...
A good person listens and gives accordingly. A not so good person sees and takes advantage. Spiritual work hinges on the conviction that beneath all the accumulated shit we are fundamentally good people, and that life takes on more meaning when we have the means to become better.
It doesn't matter how advanced I think I am, how much work I think I've done, if I can't listen and take correction whenever it's offered (which is all the time — every second) then I'm useless. Remember, the work reduces us to the obedience of God, or Spirit, or Whatever; it doesn't, or shouldn't, puff us up.

1.11.14

"Meditation is not a withdrawal from 'reality' but a confrontation with the latter as it is incarnated in our selves and as it forms the background to our selves."
Meditation and fighting represent two temporal extremes. Meditation slow and passive, the gap between stimulus and response so stretched that effectively there is no response – only quiet acceptance or disinterest. Fighting struggles for a sensitivity that is so quick and immediate that effectively there is no gap between stimulus and response. Two extreme solutions to the problem of clearing the mind sufficient for spirit to manifest.
"Art has this strange prophetic function: it is made in the present, from the materials at hand, but calls out to something else. This is its future orientation."   And this is the nature of progress: never a linear trudge from past to future through a passing present, but a call from/to a possible future (the lyrical dream), which, when heeded, vitalizes the present and brings new meaning to the past.
Welcome change.
The work must be light – full of joy. This is most important. Playful.
I cannot fight ego because 'I' is ego. The only things I can usefully fight are those parts of me that the ego has installed as impediments to spirit, namely fear and laziness. When spirit is strong and pure (detached from subjectivity) it will eventually subdue the ego until it is little more than an embarrassment. Fighting fear and laziness is a lifelong campaign. And remember: the worst form of laziness is working hard at the wrong thing: working in the service of ego.
There is always something rather pathetic and inconsequential about domesticated animals. We naturally sense that by robbing them of their wildness and spirit, and making them dependent upon us, they have been reduced to mere shadows of what they would be in the wild – in their natural state and habitat. This must be how the powers that be, all the more insidious and dangerous for being largely invisible, feel when they look at us.
When spirit is up, roused, when danger is in the air, everything changes, or, rather, everything becomes different, different from what it was, different from itself. Spirit changes the very nature and structure of consciousness.

30.10.14

"…the ego ridicules the spirit and it should be the other way around…"
To fail in everything, and still creep forward.
One cannot think and be present at the same time. And it is our duty, as spirited martial artists, to live a life where every situation demands presence.
We no longer have any excuse, only alibis, for turning away from this responsibility.
Just imagine how much strength you'd need to wield and crack a giant whip of around 60kg. This is the strength needed to put the body to energetic use.

When the heart begins to open, and operate as it should, we realize that it is the seat not only of feeling but also of memory.
We don't realize this because we no longer remember a condition prior to it, but when the mind thinks or calculates it doubts the heart. This doubt casts a pall – a heaviness – over the heart, effectively ruling it out as a usefully functioning leader of action, requiring the mind to make decisions instead. This is disastrous because the mind, eminently capable of working things out in its own time – on its own – is hopeless at working in real time – its timing is always off because it neither listens like the heart nor transforms like the heart. The head uses time whereas the heart makes time.
Art is all about feeling rather than knowledge. In particular it is about new feelings, feelings that have never been felt before. So, what makes us martial artists is that we work with feelings rather than techniques as such.

29.10.14

"A man's true secrets are more secret to himself than they are to others."  And hence partner work.
The first time I experienced good posture – one capable of not only enduring spirit but also of generating spirit – was during, and after, heavy squats. The spine has to be strong and even otherwise it would fail.

Correct posture is a function of right attitude to what's outside yourself more than it is a matter of alignment. A function of your ability to simply be joyfully present for the Other. Correct posture is an ethical statement.
The mind is naturally lazy and resents both the body and physical work. So, the first stage of taiji: relaxation, pacification, passivization, should be appreciated for what it is: only the first stage. The second stage is very much the opposite: getting into movement and intensity – tension, but a passing tension: energy. For this the work rate needs to be upped, not necessarily the hours but certainly the intensity, the passion, the speed. The Form is no longer a slow, flat, drift through space and time, but a breathing, heaving body, working faster (or slower) than the mind can manage (control). Movement for its own sake – energetic and energized. This is the martial aspect of taiji – fighting the enemy – your own mind; a fight from which spirit naturally rises. The sheer joy of physical work.
To live otherwise, and better. No, not better, but more justly…
Good teaching brings about transformation, in both the student and the teacher. Such is only possible by example; words will not suffice.
I have my work cut out…
"All I know is that my best work has come out of being committed and happy."

28.10.14

…the organism's attention to self-maintenance ultimately leads to a form of rigid and life-denying self-enclosure…

"By Spirit I mean a certain power of transformation…"

27.10.14

The natural condition of the heart is light, open and joyful, with a generous receptivity (a natural and effortless yielding). The Other – otherness – is natural (and necessary) stimulation to a healthy heart. The head, on the other hand, is always perplexed by otherness because, by definition, it cannot know it. Approaching otherness (anything real) with the head (mind) will inevitably crush the heart and rob it of its natural condition. This is the fundamental problem for all of us, the solution of which can only ever be the command decision to switch from head to heart.
Let the feet take over from the eyes as your major source of security.
When a root has been established the Earth becomes a source of energy that thrusts up through the body, battling the thinking mind's attempts to control from on high by depressing both the posture and the heart. In time, this fountain of energy from the root washes the spine, eradicating the ego-mind's physical foundation – a point on the spine opposite the solar plexus – and forcing the spine to effectively lengthen to include the lumbar region – a source of deep silent confidence. So, the individual has a choice: either worry from the solar plexus and develop a blocked hardened (and therefore safe) heart, or relax from the sacrum with an open (and therefore often unbearably vulnerable) heart.

25.10.14

irreversible & asymmetrical
Vitality resists the fall into inertia; and taiji endeavors, by eradicating agitation and anxiety, to find and honor the source of vitality.
impossible & necessary
…a context, always, remains open, thus fallible and insufficient…

24.10.14

The formulaic is the fall of spirit.
Pathways, especially those of indefinite reach, draw the heart, if you let them; a sense of heart leading, even prior to embarkation.
Exceed expectations

23.10.14

The first stage of taiji is the fall of tension – sink and relax. The second is the instigation of turning and the separation of full and empty. The third stage is the rise of spirit.
the assertion of the dynamism of spirit over the seductive inertia of matter
the duty to believe
The point is never a catch phrase or punch line, not a thought held onto or followed, but simply the projection onto the ground of the axis of revolution. Like a spinning top or gyroscope that appears to be still or traces a seemingly random, though very rich, line: the intensity of its rotation focuses, funnels, the mind to its point of contact, as mass is flung outwards.
Whatever is strong and/or established must be deconstructed. Whatever is weak must be brought up to strength, and deconstructed. Then all form is transitory – a passing through – appearing then disappearing.

21.10.14

"The center is void; all the action is on the margins."
A constant zigzagging between vulnerability and affirmation.
A productive asymmetry that functions as a permanent fissure – the possibility of expression.

20.10.14


The majority oppresses with force (force is oppression), with mass, advantage in numbers. The minority then has no recourse other than to yield – to slip between the planes of oppression and somehow turn the weight of the majority against itself. This is a natural state of affairs, and is why force favors the strong and spirit favors the weak. So, if you are interested in spirit better become weak, not in your self, but comparatively.
The Other is vital not as something to empathize with or show compassion towards – nothing so sentimental and weak. The Other, if I let it, always brings me to my own nakedness, my own weakness, and therefore to a source of pure unadulterated strength, the source of spirit.
Eradicate the dead heart of the system.
Nothing empowers like a worthy opponent. I learnt this from my teacher. Although it's only possible to learn something you already know.
A great artist doesn't create beautiful surfaces, she creates weapons that can be used to rupture surfaces and dive to unfathomed depths. She does this by living an impeccable life devoted to expression.
If a music/poetry/philosophy doesn't demand that I live a life other than the one on offer, then why bother with it?

It is not, and has never been, a matter of knowing, or of awareness, or even of consciousness. The internal things we work with cannot be known, and the more we try to know them, which means set them within external frameworks of reference and representation, the more we ruin them. This is why, it is, and has always been, a matter of faith.
The student of the Internal must learn to live and love a life that welcomes any threat to its being.
Only through an encounter with the Other, with otherness, with pure externality, can the Internal open up and be perceived. This is because my being is necessarily external – hard, enduring, structured – and, for the internal element it contains, and which contains it, to be released, this being, and the structures it is composed of, compose it, must be disturbed if not ruptured, temporarily, or not.
A master, through acquired knowledge/experience and a revealed/revealing humility, is someone capable of self-correction.
...vague impressions of brevity between the two and hence no more reckoning save possibly algebraical...

19.10.14

Like a ball bouncing from foot to foot.
When still always be primed to leap into action, and when moving always be ready to perch – poised and balanced – on one leg.

18.10.14

"For me, it's not about relaxing. It can get music flowing in a way that's really uninhibited, and I want to spend as much time in that place as possible."
Trouble with words: they're so damn lazy.

Burning desire requires work movement.

17.10.14

"Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it."
A single-weighted stance is clean, quick and marginal, whereas a double-weighted one, by clinging to a centre of stability, is corrupt and constipated.
Process privileges change and motion over stability.
Learning something new, especially something as strange as taijiquan, obviously requires an external reference or standard: the teacher's taiji and the teacher's spirit. Once the learning is complete though, the real work, that of erasing external referents, internalizing the taiji, and coming to your own energy and power – spirit – becomes imperative.
…the ethical imperative to engage with the present and be worthy of it…
Rational thought, being necessarily linear and objective, cannot come to grips with process, with the in-between of things, because process is wonderfully ungraspable. Try and you'll ruin it. Process can either be stood separate from and observed, in which case I'll be left behind pretty quickly, or joined and enjoyed, in which case all objectivity and linearity need to be abandoned. What takes their place though, viz spirit, is well worth it.
The future unfolds, not through the choices I make, but because of my listening and my yielding.
The reason we fill our minds with ceaseless chatter and our lives with endless activity is because the void is terrifying and must, we believe, be filled at all costs. Taiji, being a moving meditation, suggests that instead we move mindfully from one leg to the other, from one single-weighted stance to another, always passing through double-weightedness, never settling into it, and simply be comforted and quietened by the movement, like a baby being rocked to sleep. When the body moves correctly – single-weightedly, that is: energetically – the mind cannot think about other things because it is fully involved and committed to the movement. Then the energy cleans and conditions my being, preparing it for the beckoning unknown – the days' encounters.
Grasp the concept spirit yet.
embodied & embedded

16.10.14

Salvation, ultimately, lies neither in knowledge nor understanding, but in abandoning these and the security they offer. Salvation lies in the Other: in taking a risk and leaping into the unknown that they present.

15.10.14

"I am rooted, but I flow."

Tension in the hips, shoulders and jaw blocks internal movement, allowing us to privilege the external. This is effectively enslaving ourselves to a world we can only realise through the senses - the world science concerns itself with. The world of feeling, on the other hand, the world of the artist, requires the internal to be mobile and motile, always ready to move and be moved, not so that I can wallow in sentiment, but so that I am motivated to act prior to thought without being careless. This is heart.
…emphasise the machinic yet vibrant quality of the lived body…

14.10.14

It is not possible to think anything real. Thinking necessarily deals with images – representations – and in order to function at all it assumes a whole system of axioms and values, so much so that thought generally says far more about that system than it does the object of thought.
Sink and relax is a simple admonition to let gravity in, to feel its constant infolding, its endless operation, its process. The effect of this, as well as a deep strength that builds from the ground up, is a complete disaffection with fantasy. Fantasy is an indulgence that creates reality without the need for connexion, without the need for heart, and the major breakthrough for the student of spirit is the understanding, which must come from their own work, that everything perceived or thought is fantasy, and that the real resides in the heart. This breakthrough marks the opening of the heart, an initiation into a world of feeling, which requires years of preparation, detaching from the illusion of sensation and the selfishness of sensitivity, which most of us take for feeling. It is a breakthrough that many spiritual seekers neglect and miss in their greedy search for full consciousness. The upper dantien, the one in the head, cannot open without the heart. It's higher light is meaningless without the deep dark stirrings of heart and the rooted practicality of belly.
Where in life we do everything we can to avoid anxiety, in art we must pursue it. This is difficult.

13.10.14

المثل وشظايا الزجاج هش
for a work of art to succeed its creator must fail

…dedicated to the surprise of the event…
And why do we work with containers and containment? To acquire the discipline and power to confront the uncontainable.
The question to ask ourselves is this: If there was absolutely nothing to worry about, would I still worry? Then where does that worry come from? After much soul-searching it will become clear that it comes from being conflicted by choice.
Practice is time well spent.
Roundness is containment, and in taiji everything is contained and everything is container: body, mind, form, practice (time). Containment is neutralization, and hence yielding. So, practice contains and neutralizes laziness in a way that laziness cannot contain practice. By containing activity, spirit is reabsorbed into the core. This is discipline, which becomes power, without which there is no progress.

11.10.14

In spiritual training breakthrough is often marked by illness (injury) - a washout of strength, making it impossible for you to resist the impending changes.
The freedom we desire, more than anything, is freedom from anxiety. This is true for every human being. Most of us go about achieving such freedom by designing a life for ourselves that is relatively stress free, that is, we endeavor to avoid anxiety and it's occasion. This could be called the material approach to the problem of suffering. The spiritual approach, on the other hand, realizes that avoidance is inherently wrong: anything avoided now will catch up with me later, at a time when my mind and energy are less able to cope with it. But equally wrong is a passive attitude to anxiety: dealing with anxiety by not caring less, by detaching from occasion. Instead we need a transformative attitude: one which engages heartfully with the occasion, and believes, wholeheartedly, in the power of heart to melt through constrictions and disconnexions. This is supremely active – always forwards – and also extremely difficult to sustain. But, alas, this is the work, ever and forever at hand.

10.10.14

faith is a proclamation that enacts life

…scraps of an ancient voice in me not mine…
To repeat is to repeat not what you did, but what you failed to do – the missed opportunities.
Don't affect lightness by withholding the body, and don't feign heaviness by deadening the mind.
The arms are loose ropes, hanging from sunk shoulders, thrown up and out by vigorous turning, a turning that gathers power into the root so that the empty leg can extend, reaching out for new territory, which is immediately and voraciously claimed. This is how we move through life: borrowing footholds and gathering power.

9.10.14

a freedom that does not evade responsibility but which constitutes it

"The possible pales to lucidity next to the felt turbulence of the critical."
Learning taiji is like building a house: painstaking and laborious. There comes a point though when that house is ready to be lived in, an activity completely different from the building.
"We are a we. But not because we keep company. But because our boundaries flow in and through one another."
If I'm not prepared to learn, particularly from my own mistakes, then there is no hope.
Stop worrying and start to live.

…love is understood as that act of spiritual daring that attempts to eviscerate the old self in order that something new might come into being…
We are two abysses – a well staring at the sky.
An infolding of gravity.
We don't realize it but most of our energy is spent preventing the future from unfolding the way it should – resisting our destiny – hiding from what we are.

8.10.14

Let taiji do the breathing for you.
…faith…is an openness to love, love as giving what one does not have and receiving that over which one has no power…
"He is just like a work of art. He does not really teach one anything, but by being brought into his presence one becomes something."
Neither resist (go against) nor assist (go for), but turn. This is yielding. The turning creates a vortex which draws the world's energy in (centripetal) as it throws my energy out (centrifugal). This exchange – this turn – means that both parties are transformed, and that a relationship has been created, established, deepened, without which it cannot be called yielding.

6.10.14

The most important concept in taiji, the one without which it cannot possibly be called taiji, is yielding: turning the world to one's advantage without in any way resisting or going against it.

5.10.14

The Internal is that which cannot be externalized, explicated, explained, isolated, represented... It accompanies everything: a whisper, a trace, a touch (of humour), and is intensely alive, quickly retreating into the shadows when approached coarsely, yet venturing out with a delightful grace when it has the space and inclination. We value softness and lightness, and do all in our power to develop them, because they encourage the Internal. It doesn't matter what you practise: taiji, yoga, meditation, painting, healing, unless the practice is inspired and enlivened by the Internal it doesn't amount to much.

4.10.14

The more still and disciplined my dantien, the more my heart is free to move.
…we find beauty not in the thing itself but in the patterns of shadows, the light and the darkness, that one thing against another creates…
A made up mind cannot listen, so the first stage to listening is unmaking the mind.
Meditation is a natural process of sitting and waiting, patiently, for the knot to unravel.
Ideally, Platonically, perfectly, I am all heart, a fount of loving energy, endlessly transforming the world around me. A sacred heart. Sin is any act that takes me away from this, any thought even. In fact thinking, especially reflective thought, is itself a sin because it diverts and contorts heart energy for its own selfish ends, it cannot help but, that's what thinking is – self-serving, a survival mechanism. So when I think, when I shift from heart to head, that beautiful heart energy that should be radiating out, instead twists and wraps around myself, drawing in to the head where it feeds the mind. We all break out of this pathological loop regularly, daily, whenever experience forces us to forget our own self-interest for a moment. But we then slip back into the mind, forget our heart's involvement, and mentally process the experience: organize it into a form that can be stored and profited from. We do this – compound our sin, make it respectable, admirable even – largely because we believe there is no choice, or because the alternative – remaining in and with the heart – is deemed impossible. Spiritual work is any practice that endeavors to get back to heart where we belong – a journey home for the proverbial prodigal son.
Is all the teacher asks is that each day you spend a little time alone, put aside your fears and problems, and remember your true loving nature. Is this too much to ask?
Yielding enables me to survive the onslaught that unjudgemental listening opens up. It enables me to face reality and be truly myself – all heart.

3.10.14

"There's still a sense that you need to keep some of the unknown because that's where the soul resides, or something."
an affirmation that interrupts time
breach the horizon of expectation
…not knowing is the ultimate resistance the event can put up against the economic accounting of time…
My teacher was always adamant that practice is not primarily the place for working out technical problems, but simply an arena of and for work – the passing of time doing taiji. So my struggle is always to not evaluate in the process of working, otherwise I am never in the process but outside it, judging. The practice of taiji is an exercise in justice without judgment – in doing what needs to be done without having decided or known what needs to be done. Again, this paradox arises from judgment requiring the imperiousness of stillness and justice being a refusal to refuse flux and change.
When I stand still, the most stable stance – the one that best supports and maintains that stillness – is a double-weighted one. But when I move: walk, run, dance, etc. it is those instants of single-weightedness that generate and renew the movement. Always in motion, search out tension – the need to freeze in order to observe, use and profit by the world. The clash between you and world, between inside and outside, is not primarily perceptive or sensory but motile: the world moves you, and you move the world.


Interesting that, according to my dictionary, which admittedly isn't the best, the first recorded use of the word relax to mean "become less tense" dates from 1935 – nervous tension must be a modern phenomenon. And also interesting that implicit in the word relax is the belief that the relaxed state has been experienced before – it is a state the word requests you return to.
Habit repeats the past, spirit reveals the future.
To be light I must yield to gravity.

2.10.14

The unity … of a life is the immanent unsituation of its matter, its body. In situation, by contrast, a life is incrementally pulled out of itself, into habit. It is put to work: death by attrition.
Generally we seek stability in order to push certain forces – especially gravity – into the background, so that we can indulge in excess – live a life that exceeds subsistence – the absolutely necessary – and starts to contribute to culture, if only minimally. In taji, on the other hand, we seek a special kind of stability – central equilibrium – which foregrounds gravity as cleanser and creator – an in-system event-trigger – of all we are and all we can, could and should be.
felt long before being thought out
...when our intentions are reduced to zero then, all of a sudden, we realize that the world is magical...
Sinking should undermine the self – eradicate it – and buoy the spirit.

…the artist who stakes his being is from nowhere, hath no kith…
The warrior's verity or certitude, the only thing he knows for sure, is that by embracing death, by entering the fray convinced that he is already dead, he increases his chances of both success and survival. The spirit is only truly free when it faces and embraces death. A final irony that works its way into every encounter.
As I practice taiji I endeavor to become so embroiled in its twists and turns that the Form is pushed into the background where it belongs, and spirit comes to the fore – into the fire. The temptation, of course, is to concentrate on formal and technical trivialities – the disease of the inveterately intermediate student. The function of practice is to go beyond technical problems, not to indulge them.
"…to be a well-rounded person, you have to experience good and bad, wonderful moments and pain… You need to meet people who have no exposure to kindness, who lack any opportunity and have no way out, like the homeless, the mentally ill, and you've got to learn empathy for them…"
Things have value only if they take me out of myself. This value is, of course, invested by me in my impeccable engagement with reality. An engagement that insists upon reaching beyond the mind and into heart, beyond language and into true feeling, beyond ideas and ideals and into things in and for themselves.
…the chance of an encounter with the other, the unfamiliar, the alien, the strange, that, exceeding the past and the present, comes from the future, and is not convertible into an object of value…
The secret, if there is one, is simply confidence, the confidence to act. Without this I do not live in real time – I'm always too late – and there is no feedback, neither positive nor negative, and so no guidance to my progress, no wisdom in my life. As teachers we must be so careful not to say No to our students all the time. Not to batter them with our knowledge and expertise – our ego. Instead we must be constantly (re)inventing ways to stimulate and encourage their talent and spirit so that they develop the confidence to find out for themselves, the confidence to embark upon the proverbial voyage of discovery. This is the greatest gift to bestow.

1.10.14

True events always resist evaluation.

30.9.14


prior to all certainty

29.9.14

We observe the breathing because that endless alternation of in and out, tension and relaxation, models very well the workings of reality. And, as always, the parts of the series to pay special attention to are the changes: when in switches to out and relaxation rolls into tension. On one level these changes are external – consequences of endless movement in a finite system – return is inevitable. But on another level they are internal – the workings of spirit as precursor to all that is. This is the level that interests us.
Restless feet that yearn to be unshod, to leave the civilized and civilizing comfort of old shoes.
Bide your time.

28.9.14

Feel the world then feel yourself in the world.
The theological fallacy: the notion that God, the Internal, Spirit, can be adequately approached and then understood by the mind. The only way to approach God, and ultimately the only way to approach anything, is with the heart – is with love.
Each practice session is as a grain of sand: negligible in itself. And yet we practice diligently: simply for the love of it.
The work is a work of erosion.
Roundness is patience. A round posture develops a round mind. A featureless space enveloped by a smooth isotonic surface.

26.9.14

Taijiquan is an exercise in patience. Patient in the sense of not rushing an outcome, but also of enduring hardship (work, injury, disappointment, etc.) without complaint.

25.9.14

It's not the past or future that are illusory but the present and presence. The illusion of irreversible time. The future doesn't really change the past but it does call to it, and the present only becomes real – a bridge – when I am responding to that call – allowing myself to be pulled across – drawn by connexions already humming rather than pushed reluctantly by a past already cold.
All spiritual work hinges on one basic belief: that the most fundamental desire is to give.
If you desire clarity – the clarity that arises when the body and energy are working correctly rather than the illusion of clarity that stems from an overactive mind contemplating its predicament – then work with cross-energy.
It's never one or the other – always both. The external only becomes boring when it is stripped of its internal. If I want to rise up and find the light then I also need to dig down into the damp darkness otherwise I have nothing to give – no energy – and can only observe the cold light of day. The name of the game is always connexion – touch – across which pours a world of feeling.

23.9.14

Cross-energy: when one side is earthed the other comes alive, as though by magic.
Before forgiveness can be bestowed it must be begged for, otherwise whatever is given is tainted. This is the meaning of prayer: not just asking God for forgiveness, but remembering each occasion of sin (where sin is any action or thought that has impeded my own or somebody else's spiritual progress).

Be suspicious, especially of your own achievements and abilities.

22.9.14

Taiji: mindless movement performed mindfully.
Circles, circles, everywhere – set up by turning, always turning. Sinking in taiji is a sinking into circularity – falling, or rather being sucked, into a maelstrom, or rather two maelstroms, each rising up through the body from a foot like spinning funnels, channeling energy both down and up. Such energetic structures only reveal themselves when the Form is practised quickly. The Form is a celebration of movement, above all, turning, and if practised as such then the shapes the body takes as it turns are a consequence of that turning: of centrifugal and centripetal forces, and as soon as movement stops and those forces dissipate, then the body collapses. This is our path to lightness.

21.9.14

Sitting on a park bench, awaiting the next appointment, surrounded by large fig trees. The one closest to me is magnificent, and as I let my eyes follow its trunk upwards into the branches and billowing crown, I also feel, but differently, its roots extending under me. That tree, seemingly twenty feet away, contains me.
Impermanence. There are no things, only change. So, rather than viewing objects as actual entities, see them as containers of process.

Internally each of us is as a ball of yarn with many loose threads dangling. Each of these threads represents a possible becoming – a journey that beckons our embarkation. But also each thread is a vestige of the past – a fragment of our ancestry, genetic or energetic, put in place possibly millions of years ago. So, when we take up the challenge of our destiny and follow one of these threads, instead of swallowing hook, line and sinker, the external demands of society and species, then we are travelling both forward and back at the same time – breaking through the constraints of presence into a true future by remembering a true past.
Eschew the external, especially its claim to represent reality. The external is the detrita of process, in the same way that the artist creates art, the poet writes poems, yet the finished work reveals little of its making, quickly becoming a representative of some dubious artistic identity, a commodity to be bartered or rubbish to be binned.
Will expresses from a position of fullness and presence. Spirit calls from a place of emptiness and absence.

19.9.14

True attack is not explosive but ingestive, not destructive but capturing. We are hunters of energy and spirit.
Thinking is useless, you must simply act.

The function of thinking is not to reveal truth: there is no moral relation between thinking and truth. Thinking simply clears the air – locates and removes obstruction to my flight through life. Thinking creates simulacra (it cannot do otherwise – how could I possibly hold the infinite variables of real life in my puny mind?), not as imposters to truth, but as handholds to haul myself along then immediately leave behind as I struggle with the pitfalls of progress (forward movement) and strive to keep the flow of energy clean and strong.

18.9.14

Taiji is the study of turning.
True humility doesn't give rise to fawning weakness but to ruthless detachment, a detachment from all aspects of self, from everything the mind makes up. Without it the shoulders will always hunch and you'll find yourself reveling in images of the world rather than listening to, or rather being part of, what's there.
in gold refine thy soul,
crown more than self
impassioned stream beyond the years
When a new life is conceived it is not just a union of sperm and egg, but of an infinite array of effects and energies: time, place, mood, weather, wine, etc; they all bear on the quality and the character of that life. What makes the life a life though is its desire to grow, develop and above all express itself, in its being and its becomings, by consuming experience.

The only rule for life is to always express what you feel, and allow that expression to change how you feel. That is, to keep spirit alive.
Taiji is a difficult union – a marriage – of heaven and hell – form and energy. Once the Form has been learnt, which doesn't take long, it needs to be conditioned – elastified – brought alive and taught to breathe. This happens when the energy it contains threatens to burst out.
To cut through concepts, ideas, images – representation – with the intensity of pure action.

17.9.14

A call to arms.
A faith in operations always beyond my sensitivity and knowledge.

Spirit is our only hope.
If my sensitivity – that feeling of being special – isolates me then I'd be better off without it.
…the nonorganic life that runs through the universe, giving it shape and form…
A secret is not a static content that is either hidden in a box or out in the open … Secrets are always in motion, always being secretly perceived.

16.9.14

The quality of taiji lies not in how accurately it conforms to some ideal, but in how much joy it expresses – in how much energy it contains.

Taiji is something to do, not something to worry about (am I practising enough? is my Form good enough?). And that doing is a big affirmative statement, full of joy and enjoyment. Never feel guilty for not reaching an unreachable ideal. It is a mean teacher that plays that game. And if you feel something is wrong then make a correction, or beg a correction from someone better than you.
Consciousness so easily succumbs to the illusion of finality.
The feast is forward. Perhaps my teacher's most beautiful statement. It is a phrase worthy of a lifetime's study. Forward is not simply moving ever onwards – refusing to retreat – but living affirmatively, without guilt, without lack, productively rather than acquisitively, joyously rather than sadly, through the body rather than the mind, light of spirit rather than heavy with depression.
True communication is not a battle of opinions but a sharing of intimacy.
Taiji is all about striking a better balance so that life and love can unfold as they should. A balance between internal and external.

The Dao that can be spoken is not the true Dao. The apophatic turn. So why speak? Not to utter truth, or to approach truth, but for catharsis: to achieve the correct emptiness – a feeling of having emptied: the sudden silence as the music stops. And this is our tremble: an oscillation between a silence about to descend and a silence about to sound.

15.9.14

I am a little world made cunningly
Of Elements, and an Angelike spright…
Distinguish two types of understanding. One that uses experience of the internal to arrive at a richer external, and the other that uses novel configurations of the external to enter the internal. One tries to calm down the trembling and the other to heighten it. And again this is central equilibrium.
If we take the world to be a collection of things and reality to be an energetic web of connexion, then the external is everything that relates to the world, and the internal is the energetic trace of the workings of reality.
We all have a stumbling block which will, in all likelihood, be the death of us. Even with the best teacher in the world, would we listen?

My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears,
And true plain hearts do in the faces rest…

14.9.14

I still remember the awe that struck me when I lifted my first stone and learnt that there is a completely different world beneath: damp, dark and alive with tender roots and creepy crawlies; a world that would have scorched and withered had I not gingerly replaced the stone.
"Those rampant, many-footed things that pullulate in damp and darkness under big flat stones."