Back to the beginning, with new insight.


A process is simply an object seen from a standpoint that is n+1 dimensions lower than that object's dimensionality.
the sound of gently falling rain: persistent, saturating, gravity made visible


Work. First and foremost!
That is to say, doing, doing, doing!
The 'faith' that goes with it will soon put in an appearance – you can be sure of that!


the love in the world passes into the love in heaven, and floods back again into the world

the utopia of motivated life
to approach the non-knowing at the heart of all knowledge is an undertaking that is meticulous, grave, and always to be taken up again
Taijiquan is a martial art – there's no getting around it – a fighting art. And the fundamental problem for all serious martial artists is how to work – how or order one's life – such that one's energy is always ready to engage – to fight; how to minimise the risk of being caught off guard. The only way, really, is to develop the heart to the point where it is in charge of my welfare – where it leads any engagement I have with the world at large. The courageous heart, the honourable heart, the generous heart. Not the mind, which will always need to calculate and therefore be too slow, not the physical body, which will lack initiative and flair, and not the ego, which cannot help but be cloyingly narcissistic and therefore always doomed to fail. So our problem – our work – becomes that of liberating the heart energy from the physical and the mental; and learning to trust the heart. Hence the taiji mantra: Sink and relax.


with an obstinate tenderness


Languages are instruments of group narcissism, played so as to tune and retune the player; they make their speakers ring in singular tonalities of self-excitation.

we need to act in defence
of quiet because quiet itself
is without defences
vectors of affirmation and prophecy
The teaching is a thread of absolute reality that my dedication and my patience – my vigilant attitude to time – draws into the very core of me, until that core itself becomes real – hard, dense, tense, taut – pure impacted spirit – so alive it threatens death at every turn. Then, and only then, the rest of me can relax.
Our fall from grace – from paradise – was when we left the heartworld with its openness and its dangers, and retreated into the headworld with its closed structures and its seeming safety.
The work is a series – a rhythm – of dedicated days, ferocious forms, mindful breaths, throbbing heartbeats, penetrating intensities.
the real has not been tamed, not even in the great bubble of irreality that encloses citizens of affluent society like the womb protects a fetus


Liberate the devil inside – the duende – your charisma (which becomes charm, which becomes charity – same root), and just hope it doesn't get you into too much trouble.
All spiritual work comes from our deepest desire – to touch God – the infinite. To reach a place where my limitations no longer hold me back. To release the infinite in myself.
The ego is the great imposter, a fine actor capable of emulating not only the finer aspects of heart and soul, but also their affects. This is deeply humiliating, in exactly the wrong way. It is the ego we should seek to reduce, by revealing it as the vulgar and trivial rascal it is.
The heart is rightly antigravitational, and the main function of sinking is to release it from the clutches of the physical, which includes the ego. Then the erotic, thymotic, and spiritual urges of the heart come clean and can lead the life without risk of repression.
Habit provides solid surrogates of security, which may be stable but do not allow for the living presence of conviction.


Taiji is a step into battle. Armed with shield (wardoff) and sword (or ax) – a shield that readily transforms into sword, and vice versa. The warrior is fearless and ready to die with and for his comrades. Such empassioned courage we call the thymotic drive. In a milder form it is the courage required for any creative act, which always has destruction at its core.
When the inside of a thing coincides perfectly with its outside, that is called dissolution or death.


a culture of generosity


It's the energy that sinks, not necessarily the body, and never the heart.

from the desert to the shopping mall, from the hand axe to the ballot, from sitting around a bonfire to using the microwave


For everyday people the evidence of the moment remains out of reach; at best, the crutches of habit will help them.
Rationality, and its offshoot morality, require me to quench spirit, propose myself as subject, and engage the world as observer and commentator – I become the objecting and objectable subject.
the heroic energy of a warrior
Democracy, to work, requires, I suspect, an unaccounted underclass (think the slaves of Athens or the manufacturing Third World for the West) and an unaccountable overclass (the invisible few that have always run the show).


Softness is the measure of the person. Not strength or wealth or confidence or intelligence or even beauty – they are all, to some degree, ego based. Softness is totally independent of ego, which is why we value it so highly. Every person is softest when their ego is laid low, when it has skulked into the shadows.


beauty is the spark at contact

Meditation reduces viscosity.


My significance lies not in what I am but in what I do – the use I put myself to. There is something substantial to action, to movement, which, for want of a better word, we call energy, and ultimately spirit. The body moves slowly but the energy flies at great speed. This is because I am with the movement and not with the body. Such movement is always equilibrated: rising requires sinking, exiting requires entering. Body as stable nexus.
Openness without softness will at best be temporary, and at worst be entirely conditional.
to unground the human by forcing it back onto the ground

The low-grade anxiety which, let's face it, we all endure, is, I suspect, not so much due to the death of God, or disconnexion, or being subsumed into the bland populace (the Democracy Blues), but the nagging suspicion that the world we live in is not only unsustainable, but collapsing around us. Taijiquan, this wonderful art of the yielding root, then becomes indispensable.

the impossibility of maintaining cynical distance


Meeting and parting, we assemble different forms, make different patterns.

We all come to class burdened with problems, but what overrides them is a willingness to let them go.

Nurturing others we nurture ourselves.


Free me from the illusion of individuality.


Standing stable on one leg with the other suspended is not necessarily a single weighted posture. Only when the path from earth through heel, leg, hip, sacrum, spine, shoulder, arm, hand, fingertip, other, is clear and clean, with an unimpeded flow of sinking energy down and rising energy up, can I claim to be truly single weighted. Then the sinking energy is gravity and the rising energy is joy.

I suspect that any teacher worth their salt will only need to say two words to any prospective student: "Just sit." How that student sits will depend hugely upon the energy invested in those two words, of course.
Taijiquan is a martial art – all about being in the thick of the fight.
an embrace of carnality and its carnival

Progress depends upon three things: correct teaching, practice (as much disciplined work as I have the heart and stomach for), and talent. The first and last are a matter of karma, whereas the middle is entirely up to me.
A contented mind, one that thinks it knows, that understands, will always be smug. Meditation, if you give it time, will take you beyond this and into the heart.
When I sit and meditate, crosslegged atop a firm buckwheat cushion, which compensates somewhat for lack of lotus, it becomes apparent that I have three main dimensions or realities upon which I operate. The first is the physical, based in the lower belly, close to the earth, the second is the mental, based in my head, up in the clouds, and the third is the divine, based in the heart, which may be the middle but has nothing middling about it. It is the only part of me open to the infinite.
No matter how well I restrain the mind with moral stricture or rational structure, at some point it will turn mean and nasty. This is because it evolved to help me compete and survive, and so will always serve those selfish ends.
An overdeveloped mind is poor compensation, and ultimately no valid substitute, for an underdeveloped heart.


I don't think that people can ever get past the fact that they have a heartbeat, and that they pick up on things which bounce back their heartbeats to them.
The taiji you learn, by all rights, belongs to your teacher. To make it your own you need to practice long and hard – long enough to realise that your initial interpretation of the teaching was grossly distorted by your perceived relationship with the teacher. The teacher will always strive to make the most of the time he spends with you – will work to bring out whatever it is he feels is special in you – for his own sake, for the sake of the relationship, and also because he knows that you cannot connect on any terms other than your own – you are just too selfish, arrogant and stupid to really feel where he is at. So when you work with the teacher you feel special not because you are but because you lack the humility to connect with the teaching properly. Your own practice is the antidote to this, and as such it faces head on three feelings: boredom, disappointment and failure. Boredom because practice involves endless repetition; disappointment because your own work rarely, if ever, lives up to the experience of working with the teacher; and failure because success, it quickly becomes apparent, is not even a faint possibility. Practice is done for the hell of it. Not to feel good or worthy, not to please your teacher, and certainly not to compete with your classmates, but simply because it is to be done. There is a truth in one's engagement with the teaching which only practice honours.
Practice is the expenditure of time and effort in repetitive process to create a finer energy which makes me a better person.
A teacher is someone, or something, that turns my head and compels me to face whatever it is I am spending most of my energy avoiding. Any activity can be avoidance, especially spiritual work.


playful & provocative


Let’s just say, creativity is our main capital, the only capital that we have.
compassionate economy
Peace is an art and, like all arts, an adventure, possibly the last one left to us, and certainly the greatest.
We are, almost without exception, full of anger – repressed spirit. Much of it is inherited: from our ancestors, our class, our race. It manifests as an area – a scab – a slab – of tension in the mid-back. It blocks our power and keeps us in chains, all the more insidious for being largely invisible. Any spiritual work that fails to tackle this problem, first and foremost, is playing into the hands of the oppressors, whoever they be – old enemies, the ruling class. I would also list the ego, but that is really ally to the oppressor – the cowardly collaborator.
Your own freedom shouldn't count. It is the other's freedom. It is all about: how can I protect you, so that you can be free from sorrow and blockages, and wounds that you have? So, we're always freeing each other.


Repudiation befits a secured ego-nature. Internal discord disputes the first abyss. The innermost have vanished. A plaything for the whims of spirit. The wealth of conscious life benefits singleness. Unreal imagining and the language of flattery. Moulded into shape by the foresaken utterance. Pure conception and a simple reciprocity. Good and bad moments are inverted and transmuted. The absolute estrangement of nature and power. This sacrifice a self-existent reality. Judging moments as noble or base. The non-ego has position only in the ego. Formal aspects. Strictly speaking. Loss of self and the objective ground. Talking of tearing everything up. Rent and broken by something real. The game of whole numbers. An honest soul manifested in thirty airs. The madness of the magician. Style and truth in a piping falsetto. Haughtily soothed by placid harmonies. A heart jeering the vault of uniformity. Wisdom principles predominate. And folly descends to the depths of my throat.
Not so much a monument to bullshit as a testament to self-congratulation. It's the problem with insights: something felt is verbalised, and thereby stolen by the ego for its own gratification. Real work always goes the other way – from idea (lets do some taiji) to reality (doing taiji), from interest to boredom, from hope to disappointment, from the expectation of success to impending failure.
This long drawn out process of learning to live with who I am; at the same time as letting go of everything I am.


Tides, waves, ripples.

rediscover & reinvent

this irreducible responsibility of the one for the other
The New Age fallacy claims (hopes) that spirituality does not need sacrifice at its core: that I can have the best of all worlds. In fact, it assumes that this is my birthright as a white middle-class Westerner. But an important, indeed vital, component of humility is the appreciation that my privileged state of well-educated affluence depends upon other people, somewhere on the planet, being kept in poverty and misery. With this realisation comes a determination to make the most of my advantages, and use every spare moment on my spiritual work.
machines get smarter and we get stupider
Meditation is a time of confronting the self. The aim is to strip everything away until I am left with just the bare essentials: my physical being, my breathing (rhythms necessary for life), and my empty mind (consciousness). It is a negative activity – I subtract things – I do not add anything. It is all about sacrifice – letting go.

the Other exceeds any designation


this point of necessity
in increasing degrees of density and intensity
Seated meditation establishes and strengthens my convexity – I become present as subject and object combined – the centre of my own unambiguous space. Taiji, on the other hand, with its mysterious principle of single weightedness, develops my concavity – a listening, accommodating presence, always shifting, indeed swarming. It does this by constantly shifting weight from full to empty foot, so that I am never still, never settled. The presence I present is then a mirage – vaporous – changing, shifting. I am effectively in disguise, even to myself.
Man as Other comes to us from the outside. His exteriority, that is, his appeal to me, is his truth. This surplus of truth over being and over its idea is, perhaps, the very presence of God.
an openness to silence


practice should take us bodily into alterity
an intimacy without which the social never coheres
Morning practice is a summons to spirit – a provocation as much as invocation – to reveal the theme of the day: a shape, a feeling, a principle freshly exposed.

Listen to the spirit, and it will guide you forward.

flow into each other's otherness