Spirit beckons. It is the better part of me that has already leapt the abyss and is challenging me to follow.
Spirit is both key and weapon.
I practise to awaken spirit, because it is only with spirit that I dare venture into the unknown, and it is only by thus adventuring that I grow – become my potential.
life's work
"Finally one must simply drop the reserve."

an eminently serious sense of humour
this fluidity and generosity of attention
Over time, and with practice, the wisdom of taiji eats its way into my being and begins to change me and my relationship with it (and hopefully with everything else), until I have become it. This wonderful process is all a matter of practice – in as many environments (places, seasons, moods, company, attire) as possible. It's like painting a large picture, each session being a different brushstroke, a different colour, a different angle.
"silence is always awaiting a crisis of attention"
A technique is external whilst I am in control performing it.

a complex realism


Listening is impossible without silencing the ego.
"our desire to possess beauty leads us to imitate its image rather than its processes"
We live constantly with uncertainty because we don't know the future – we never know for sure the consequences of our actions. This is what my teacher called the humour of the natural process. However, we must act with certainty – with strength and conviction – knowing that each act is effectively not only making positive choices but erasing infinite possibilities too. I must be aware that my power is my ability to carve my own path through time – make my own life – and then take absolute responsibility not only for what I have made and what I have done but for what returns to me – for the consequences of the consequences – my karma.
"What we learn isn't what we're taught nor what we study. We don't know what we're learning. Something about society?"

Two things will stifle spirit: doubt and vested interest.
Only through practice will you discover and develop your own vocabulary – your own way of working and thinking the principles.


A vulgar or selfish life is one dominated by the use of force. An honorable life, on the other hand, is devoted to energy and connexion. Force is used when one wants to make sure, which implies that it issues from a state of ignorance. Energy manifests when one has the humility to be natural and the belief to let nature take her course.
Each Form lives on. Even those uneventful. And your energy – that shimmering resonance that makes you complicated and dangerous – is the summation of this infinite series converging on the ever elusive present.
My hardness is my individuality, my singularity, my uniqueness, my isolation and autism – my self, whereas my softness is my commonality, community and communication, my belonging, my invisibility – my ability to let self dissolve in the service of energy.


"Forgiveness is acquired. It is not inherent in the mind, which cannot sin. As sin is an idea you taught yourself, forgiveness must be learned by you as well, but from a Teacher other than yourself, Who represents the other Self in you. Through him you learn how to forgive the self you think you made, and let it disappear."
give your skin that pure capacity
To forgive the unforgivable is the only true way to change – the only real way forward.


"the surge is always there, carrier of a thousand temporalities"

A technique has internal grace when I perceive it as an invitation to become a better soul.


We construct a real which is a rational one, we construct a real, among many possibilities, which is a rational one, among other possibilities, just as we pour concrete over the ground.
As though enveloped inside, under, an elastic skin. Pulling not pushing.
Every teacher learns that giving too much information is worse than giving none.
Taiji, indeed all spiritual work, gradually takes me back in time, through the mire of my personal history, to that very first time I said no – the first time I decided to withhold my energy. I don't remember the details of the occasion – maybe they will come later – but I do recall the unforgivable sense of victory and achievement that accompanied that mean and cowardly act. It is now a reasonably simple though lengthy matter of breaking the ensuing habit – reprogramming myself. This, if there is one (there is), is the switch waiting to be flicked, the switch that turns life around, the switch that enables me to face forward.


"music isn't useful unless it develops our powers of audition"

"The confluence is no longer a low synthesis but a high opening that leads, further upstream, to other openings."
We are the proverbial salmon, swimming for ever upstream, against the current, toward the source.
The desire to emulate, to be true to something outside myself, be it the impossible principles or the teacher's grace, causes my energy to hold back and dam up in both anxiety and anticipation. The truth that sets us free is not truth to some external or eternal standard – not the truth of the misguided scientist, but the truth of the artist – authenticity. To be true to my own essence, spirit and destiny.


"You work and work and work and have the life that you have, and once in a while, sometimes once in a decade, you see a few things you've got and think, yes, that's authentic. You try to stay true to that little moment whatever the costs."
Feeling is a trace of energy moving or flowing through the body or mind. Emotion is what happens when feeling disturbs.

The aim is to feel, as deeply and intensely as possible, yet not to become attached to these feelings. Attachment – indulgence – stanches the creative process.
Listening, over time, makes me porous – soft, empty.
The master is the provider, not of wisdom, per se, but of work, labour, things that must be done. The wisdom – the wit – is there to help correct – tune – the student's attitude – his posture and stance – to the work.
Every creative person knows that when it's going well – when they're really cooking – they are just a medium for the creative process, and that what's going on has little to do with them – their ego – and everything to do with the spirit of the event they are participant to. The feelings attached to such participation can range from excitement to fear to humiliation to no feeling at all, and, as such are unimportant. The important thing is to allow creativity to flow through you regardless of how it feels. We must learn to be unattached to both the feelings – what happens during – and the products – the residue – of the creative process. The downfall of most artists is their desire to capitalize on their gifts.
Turning – free turning as opposed to controlled turning – is only possible from a single-weighted posture.


What is already known cannot be experienced as an event. This is why forgiveness is so important – it helps us forget what we know, and starts the world anew.
Without bending the legs (sinking) the chest cannot relax (hollow) and the ego will never dissolve.
"do not stray back into the valleys of certitude"
"Every conceivable entity is nothing less than an item of equipment. No being can be reduced to its presence-at-hand."
Whatever there is to learn has to be learnt the hard way.

Life is a protracted process of leaving home and everything it represents. First the family home – that of our parents – then the security offered by our own identity – our arrogance: possessions (including spouse and children), knowledge, beliefs; and finally, on death, our own body and mind.
Every creative person knows that their spirit has an intelligence far superior to that of their mind, and their main concern when working is to engage the spirit and disengage the mind. Each artist discovers or develops their own techniques – procedures, rituals, superstitions – to enable this switch.
Develop an intelligence that ruthlessly cuts through its own selfishness – its refusal to face what's really there.


"How do we identify ourselves, and how do we settle into other people's expectations for our identity?"
The long term benefit of taiji is a purer motivation. Each practice session an answer to a call, a call to arms. No longer any thought of self-gain.

"It may be that our being is not at rest, it may be that it is not in motion, it may be that our being is disturbed."
The taiji master's spirit is coiled up. This is why whenever it releases there is a turn – a twist.
If your compassion in any way weakens your stance, your posture, which it inevitably will if that compassion contains even a hint of pity, then, in the long run, it will end up doing more harm than good.
"We don't forgive to help the other person. We don't forgive for others. We forgive for ourselves. Forgiveness, in other words, is the best form of self-interest."
The only way to stay open is to go forward.

When the foot moves out to step forward, the body must move back and down otherwise the root rises. Similarly when the energy bursts out.
"Life, my life, work, my work, my labor, my project, this desert with or without a masterpiece, with or without a Mount Carmel summit."
The most dangerous world to live in is the one where you get your own way all the time. This, precisely this, will be our downfall.
Every creative person learns that when the juices are flowing – when their energy's coming out hot – unimpeded by fear or constraint – then everything's alright. It's not structure and order that heals the world but the teeming profusion that is creative spirit.
exploding with life and nativity

out on a limb
– a limn –
numinous detail
Yield: play the system to subvert the system.
"A lake under mist, the sea, a white plain, background noise, the murmur of a crowd, time."


The ball of the foot listens and invites – draws me and the earth together there. The heel simply supports. The ball is soft, the heel hard.


Force their hand

The teacher should endeavour to simply teach and correct form. It is then up to the student to uncover the internal workings (energy) of such techniques by practising. Too much information feeds ego – both the teacher's and the students'. A little bullshit – philosophy or charisma – can offer light relief but should be used sparingly.
"knowledge through concepts regiments the nauseous herd under the pure generality of the one"
Every exercise, no matter how trivial or seemingly harmless, has its secrets, which are only revealed through extensive practice – losing one's self in the work. Once the exercise is 'discovered' it too must be forgotten in the doing – by attending – listening – to the environs – like a hunter – or the hunted.
with process comes the making of paths, channels, trajectories, evolutions and dissolutions


The social world is problematic because there are always strong conservative forces at play within it – social interaction tends to maintain a status quo and work against the sort of change we desire. Others, en masse, expect and ultimately demand you be like them.


For a seed to grow it needs earth, water and sunshine. Earth for support and nourishment, water to sustain growth, and sunshine to catalyze or trigger energy conversion. The same for the seeds planted within the student by the teacher: to develop and come to fruition they need the Earth – a root, they need water – practice, and they need sunshine – spirit or grace – the feeling that the gods of taiji are ever watchful and supportive.


"If we are requisite, upright, alert, tensed – if we are alive, it is because we know, because we hope that the unforeseeable will happen, that it will be unconnected to what is already there or already assembled, that it will catch us off our guard and that we will have to negotiate."
When you start to learn taiji you are effectively invited to participate in a series of events: classes, practice sessions, and everyday events which have transpired because of your taiji yielding (listening) mind.
Refusing to filter as a matter of prejudice.
Listening is true only when I am prepared for what I hear to change me. Then listening is an act of spirit. Without a willingness to change, listening cannot help but be judgmental.

Each moment, or rather each event, has a spirit which we must uncover and engage if we want to live up to our potential. This spirit is the energetic (unspeakable and unwritten) meaning, for us, of the event. If we miss it at the time, which is easy to do, then we must relive the event – mull it over – meditate on it – until its secrets become clear. The work is the process of making sense of life, but not a sense that can be expressed or that settles or appeases me, but a sense that wakes me up.

A good teacher wakes you up to the true nature of time.


"time never stops bombarding you with unexpected jostles"
When a student goes to class three things happen: homework is handed in to be corrected, new things are learnt, and new homework is assigned. It should be the same with a taiji class. Note the emphasis on homework. Without it very little can be achieved.
This is taiji – the long drawn out process of remembering the light natural innocence of life in the womb.

Requires, eventually, a sense of humour, a lightness, a refusal to allow time to become bogged down with a heavy, serious mind. This is why we work with gravity. When the body is allowed to sink – flow downward with its true weight – then the mind will free up – lighten – and begin to remember.
Time well spent


But what is the point? To be present with and from the heart in such a way that I accept (yield to) any change – any chance – so that there becomes no distinction between what I am and what befalls me.
The thinking mind always misses the point.


gravid with lux


Your teacher, if she's qualified, impregnates you with an endless resource of memories. Not ordinary memories – more like ghosts or spectres – energies you need years of toil to make sense of. This process of maturation, which only practice can bring about, means that these memories are more real when finally remembered than they were when they originally occurred. In fact the student is usually oblivious to the energetic workings of the teacher, much to the frustration of the teacher, whose destiny it seems is to toil largely unheeded and certainly underappreciated. It is very important that the student acknowledge, in their heart, each memory with a dedication of thanks for the teacher. Without this they are effectively claiming them as personal insights and breaking the tradition. Such arrogance will harm their progress and damage their karma.
"the predicate is an act, a performance in motion and not a state attributable to a subject"
I know it sounds clich├ęd but the most important thing is to practice as though your life depended upon it, indeed knowing your life depends upon it. A disciplined, well-hewn, rooted form containing a wild, voracious, impatient – basically uncontainable – spirit. The spirit must be wild because I want it to trespass insensitively into every dark corner of my body and my psyche, wakening and cleansing until I become the fearless machine god intended.


"the void is not nothingness, it is pure possibility"
"born of ocean to puncture sky"

"I am never separable from my relations with the world, it is these relations that make me, make me come about, come undone, become."
Energy is a vast ocean of desire, and I, if there is such a thing, should rightly be abandoning myself to its surges and tides, letting it flow over and through me, becoming its endless process. Instead though, I struggle to bundle my being into a package called me – ego – a floating island, solid in its own right but always adrift, an island huddled with others in a veritable archipelago we call family or nation or society. The vain struggle of the ego is to find the bottom of the ocean – a common floor that will affirm and confirm its solid existence, upon which it can anchor itself and find meaningful – enduring – community. But such a quest for knowledge is doomed to fail because as it focuses on the meaning of existence it forgets how to be alive – it always forgets spirit.


a power to be affected

Conceal your weapons.

Investigate the use of the hand when you touch or caress someone gently. The foot should touch the ground in the same way.


Unless my listening deeply unsettles me then it is not listening, it is presupposing.
"a slow but persistent motion that has gradually warmed my thoughts"

The limb rotates about the line of its middle digit.

Don't listen to second thoughts, was one of my teacher's catch phrases. First thought best thought, was one of Trungpa's. First thoughts are miracles – creative, crazy, adventurous, non-linear intuitions that seem to come from nowhere and take the breath away – all potential beginnings. Second thoughts, on the other hand, are reactionary – reactions to first thoughts – and tend to be considered, deliberated, rational, cautious, conservative, and conformist – a multitude of reasons to say no. First thoughts spring from the world of spirit, and testify to the thinker's energy and courageous originality. Second thoughts are what happens when spirit (force for change) meets stubbornness (reluctance to change): stubbornness tends to win the day; and even if it decides to go along for the ride, unless it softens and starts breathing with spirit too, it will always be biding its time with an “I told you so” when spirit falters, which it inevitably will because there is never enough energy to carry hangers-on.
"not the beliefs inside our head but the desires inside our heart"

Do I exist to be noticed by others or do I exist to get closer to God?
The external is abandoned like a house eaten from within by woodworm.
Single-weighted means serving one master. Without it you'll never get to the essential core of anything. It is key to both depth and destiny.
An internal teaching is a teaching assured. A vast bank of memories, each generously waiting to be remembered, even though they never actually happened to me. Effectuated through transmission, the plug that taps me into the lineage, and a life dedicated to intensive practice without which it all remains a frustrating confusion of whispers.


"A man goes to knowledge as he goes to war, wide awake, with fear, with respect, and with absolute assurance."

Stillness in taiji is never a freezing out of movement. Rather it is a state of maximal movement – an intensity of possibilities. But not the intensity of an explosion waiting to go off, which is really just a contained tension, but the intensity of absolute freedom – of not knowing and not caring to know. It is the most difficult state to both maintain and manage – very few have the stomach or heart for it. The strength we work so hard for is simply the strength to be free – to contain freedom.


Learning is never what one expects.

"It is said that all encounters in this world are a kind of reunion."

Taint the world with your own stench as little as possible.

"Everything new in our lives must be repeated to the point of exhaustion before we open ourselves to it."

Develop a taste for invisibility.
"Body in accord with mind
Mind with energy
Energy with spirit
Spirit with Nothing"


The only way to become free (of something) is to yield (to it).


Some thrive in light, others in shadows.

We strive for balance not for its stability but for its plethora of possibilities.

For me, this low grade anxiety that haunts us all is the product of living lives without real spirit – without the presence and the very real possibility of death. And not just our own death but the death and the suffering of those we fail to live up to or take responsibility for. Every culture and every soul is haunted by the injustices they have both suffered and perpetrated, more now than ever before (because there is more injustice in the world today), and yet we have forgotten how to appease the dead either with prayer or respect – we have no notion of allowing ourselves to house the souls of those we destroy or love – we have forgotten how to truly promise – that truth is neither statement nor sentiment but a promise kept.
The student must be acutely aware, when approaching the teaching and using the principles, of the difference between the “letter of the law” and the “spirit of the law” – between the spoken or written words that couch the teaching and the true spirit that those words inevitably fail to convey. The struggle for the student is always to go beyond technique – beyond partitioning and utility – and into the soul of the work. Again this is only achieved through love.
Yielding essentially means bearing gifts – when you yield to the other you give them exactly what they want. However, you then make use of the strings inevitably attached to every gift.
We live lives dominated by the percussive impact of our heels upon the ground. This aggression then becomes bound up with our stubbornness – our hard-heartedness – our refusal to listen to energy – and even though civilized and mild-mannered (spiritless) we become essentially angry and violent creatures, albeit with an anger directed largely at our own destinies – our own source. Each time the heel strikes the ground with force the top of my leg effectively batters my sacrum and insults if not injures the tail, making the release of spirit a virtual impossibility.
The good student should endeavour to emulate the master by starting to yield before she gets out of bed in the morning.


an imperative to experiment
It also boils down to this: either I use my mind to design my future (planning and/or worrying), in which case I am effectively alone, or at least without grace, or I relax my mind and let my developing energy create my future, in which case I am with god, and whatever then unfolds (a relaxing into destiny) is meant to be. The first path leads to success or failure – either the future lives up to expectation or not. The second is simply an irreproachable life.
"more a visionary insurrectionist than a hard-line ideologue"


A posture is single-weighted when the end of the spine – the tail – extends down the supporting leg and into the ground. A posture is double-weighted when the tail is denied passage through either leg because the mind refuses to make a clear choice for fear of making the wrong choice. The seeming strength, stability and comfort that double-weightedness offers is founded on a refusal to be clear and energetic – is founded on moral weakness. Beneath each show of strength and might lies a vulnerable child who failed to receive enough motherly love.
It boils down to this: does one work to live or live to work? I find those that chose the latter the best company – their very presence nourishes. Comrades and companions on a lonely path.

"an idea of happiness inseparable from the idea of redemption"
Having said that I have to admit that everything I do and say is underpinned and undermined by subtle doubt – a feeling that there is a switch inside of me waiting to be flicked which would invert everything in my being. I also suspect that without this I would also be just another turd.
My work, my taiji, for me, is ultimately not for me at all. There is a deep conviction that I am serving, servant to, if not slave to, the Dao, the gods of taiji, the truth, which remains ever other, ever outside of me, outside my possible experience. The notion, so common here, that one use taiji to make one a more effective human being, a better merchant, remains horribly alien to me, a notion I have absolutely no sympathy with. I would always choose pure and poor – empty – over rich and full. The feeling that bears on me, every moment, all the time, is that there is always another form pressing, urging, impatiently waiting to be performed. If I fail to attend to this then my life loses honour and I am, as my teacher would quaintly say, just another turd.
"reality a spatiotemporal sea of forces, with its depths and its tides of transformation"
Begin with love.

Spirit inaugurates giving
the recipient thus consecrated
"A choice is far from being innocent."
"to place oneself in positions whose tensions and paradoxy border on the aporetic"


Our only hope as a species is to evolve out of barbarism – this rapacious consumerism – this madness – and into a feeling for energy and spirit – into giving, or what the religions call love. This is the conviction that drives the work – the knowledge that the work must be done, for the sake of our future and our nature, and that there is nothing more worthwhile.

on the threshold
and at stake


"Everything is full of gods."
"Stability is often the stabilization of misery, the stabilization of conditions of oppression, in which case the appropriate practice is a destabilizing one."

linger at the edge

Double-weightedness does two things. It stabilizes and promotes the self – the individual as communicating subject/object, and it staunches the flow of energy through the body to and from the ground. It forces the individual to be selfish by denying them any natural energy or spirit to give. Exchange is then reduced to a bartering of possessions rather than a giving and receiving of energy.
"It's very strange how the destiny of a man, if it exists, is going with him, following him."

older than looking
this listening
older than listening
this lonesome

Thomas A Clark
Meditation slowly teaches me to stop fearing lack, absence, emptiness. Then my space can empty of me – my desires and attachments – and fill with energy and spirit – with delight.


Living a life dictated by ego is a total waste.

Be virtuous – good at what you do: efficient, capable, patient, accepting, and above all bristling with spirit.
"a way found by forsaking
the forgetting of trust"

In order to make the progress that is required – which is always more than is possible – we must bring taiji – or at least its principles and concepts – into our daily life. We must become mindful – our own analyst.
The rational mind is essentially double-weighted – always shrinking from edges, extremes and excesses in order to find that reasonable – stable, comfortable and boring – middle ground. Ensconced in the central keep of a concentric castle with numerous curtain walls protecting it from the great beyond – from reality. This has nothing to do with the balance we struggle for in taiji. In taiji we exist on that wonderfully charged boundary between the known and the unknown – between kith and otherness – between kin and the Other.
To draw the mind out of its selfish fantasies and into presence as energy. Then, and only then, the heart is central, involved in every aspect of being, including thinking. So central and involved that there is no time or space for sentimentality – for indulging in feeling.