"All I know is that somehow, with the physical work, a way has to be found to wake the body up to work in a uniform manner. This involves pain, perseverance, guidance, patience and mindfulness. Guarding that one doesn't disappear up one's own arse in the process."
Thanks to the human heart by which we live,
Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears,
To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.
the unimaginable touch of time
Forgiveness is a refusal to dwell with/in the past. It allows the heart to move lovingly forward.


The mind quietens during meditation so that I can shift from the world built of thoughts, to a world populated by feeling and the energy of those I feel for: the world of heart unfolding and unravelling.


"I have never missed a meditation in thirty-three years. I meditate once in the morning and again in the afternoon, for about twenty minutes each time. Then I go about the business of my day. And I find that the joy of doing increases. Intuition increases. The pleasure of life grows. And negativity recedes."
What is it in my mind that is preventing me from living a life – loving a life – living a love – in and from the heart? This is the question our work addresses.
What do I have when I have nothing? No wealth, no youth, no knowledge worth knowing, only the most tenuous of connexions to a teaching so internal it ever threatens to vaporise.
Meditation disciplines the mind to withdraw from the scene so that the heart can come to the fore. It is the time and place for feeling, not for thinking. Care must be taken because the mind can also create feelings – false feelings – the products of fantasy. The only reason to meditate, really, is to feel the real; and that is its reward: the knowledge that comes of feeling your own reality – your own connexions.
Whatever happened to anti-establishment? The young are such slaves to conformity nowadays...


...had the nagging suspicion that I'm not mature enough to live in the darkness...
Humanity's curse is the fact that ego functions as a rather successful stand-in for heart. Ego creates and takes advantage, giving the barest minimum required to receive such advantage. Heart, on the other hand, when it is actively leading a life, is generous to a tee, full of excess. For me, a corrupt society is one that, through design or over-development, privileges ego over heart – our own society being perhaps the prime example – whereas so called primitive and barbaric societies tend to be of the heart, with complex codes of honour to protect them from the monoculture of ego and individualism.

Corruption is what happens when fear overtakes love – when the heart falters.
Body, mind and spirit are meant to simply serve the heart. Then, and only then, life and love become synonymous.
Honesty, being a matter of truth, is of the heart rather than the mind. Only spirit can act out the heart.


The eyes of the fish are the key to understanding Taiji. They represent the seeds of otherness, without which there is no possibility of change.


Despite the seamless ease and aplomb with which we go about our daily routines, the mind, behind the scenes, is managing affairs with a frantic anxiety: so much to-ing and fro-ing, so much inefficiency and wasted energy, and all because the course we take is no longer a matter of life and death which would require spirit, but largely one of decorum and propriety, which promises safety and security but delivers a slack and arbitrary conformity saturated with neurotic tension. And it's all unnecessary, largely generated by a cynical and cowardly decision to leak and waste all energy other than the minimum required to travel the pre-established groove; nothing left to leap clear and traverse a crest or take to the sky. The Other, not just another person but any novel situation that demands more from us, any event, represents the “irreducible and inappropriable surprise” necessary to jolt us from our routines of body and mind. The Other demands hospitality, demands that I break my usual routines and quickly adapt to their intrusion. This is the gift of the Other, a gift I could never give myself.
My six year old daughter has, for the umpteenth time, head lice. As I was applying various smelly oils the conversation went something like this:
"Dad, where did the lice come from?"
"From another child's hair."
"And where did their lice come from?"
"Again, from another child's hair."
"And where did their lice come from?"
"Yet again, from another child's hair."
"But dad, where did the first louse come from?"
In that instant I understood the utter childishness of religion.
Bring awareness to the raw edge of pre-personal perception. Caress it, arouse it with spirit; because that is where energy, activity, is made; before thought and experience can suppress it. Action comes from there, not from within. True action is drawn from me, as long as I am simply empty vessel, fit for use.


The main fact of existence isn't being – that's a given – it's connexion, and the becomings affected by relationship. Affects and affections – feelings brought about by change. And in this sense everything that exists also feels.

Thinking is a withdrawal from feeling – from affection – into an inner sanctum – an interiority – that privileges fantasy over reality, and strives to make a future modelled on fantasy.

Intelligence comes from thinking, wisdom from feeling.

Thinking is generally a reactionary habit in that it struggles to repeat known feelings. There is, however, an inquisitive creative thinking that's always searching, questing, exploring new possibilities, new futures. Such thinking is never linear or logical or calculating, it is rather nonsensical and crazy – paratactical.

New feelings mean new relationships.


Taiji, like all authentic spiritual work, privileges giving over getting, sacrifice over acquisition, forgiving over forgetting. Yet ultimately what one gives is simply oneself: naked and needy sinner, stripped of potential: empty.
Yes, there is a beautiful purity, clarity, almost stark brutality to meditation: its refusal to allow any escape, its constant admonition, and only answer: "Just sit." In a sense Taiji is pure escape: from the anxious mind and into relaxation and energy. There comes a point in all serious Taiji students' lives when they will need to drop Taiji and just sit. For as long as it takes.

There is a story that Cheng Man-ching, having become terribly bored at the top of the Taiji heap, sought advice from a famous spiritual master who told him to meditate as a hermit for three years. Needless to say he didn't do it.


flow & flower
In the same way that for Buddhists there is no first cause and hence no God, for us Daoists there is no first principle and hence no end to the delving into what we contingently take as first principle. Our method though is instructive: we don't consciously undermine or resist or doubt; instead we believe – work with a heart full of love – and slowly, slowly, deeper principles, or deeper interpretations, reveal themselves.
"Violence is the fact of no longer permitting the other to ask questions."


"Life is about learning how to flow with your basic goodness. It’s about entering the heart and making it the fount of your being."
Relax, slow down, simplify, and love everyone unconditionally.

The strength to disregard ego and listen to spirit. This takes decades to acquire.
Meditation is a time to stop and look at what you are and what you've become. And just look. Don't judge and don't consider what to change. The fact that you have looked is sufficient to slowly bring about natural changes. This is the basic difference between intelligence and wisdom: intelligence works with things whereas wisdom works with energy.


Instead of being afraid of that feeling of becoming nothing when I relax, I must learn to love it.
Reality is the world unencumbered by ego, to be entered only by a spirit freed from the chattering mind. Then perceptions change and the world becomes energy.
What takes time in this game is developing sufficient sobriety and detachment – humbleness – to face things as they are.


A subtle tension in the perineum plucks the empty foot cleanly from the earth.
Spirit always threatens to disturb the peace and quiet of meditation; a threat that keeps us alive.
Taiji, being a martial art, always privileges spirit over soul; passion, intensity, fire over depth, suffering, the void. In this respect it is quite unlike most spiritual disciplines. And as always with Taiji, any privileging is simply to right a balance.


"Love isn't just about two persons. It's everywhere around you."


unconditional passion—a passion for the unconditional
The work is my oyster.


Listen, learn and create.


Don't judge : feel!
"Prayer has to do with hearing, heeding, and hearkening to a provocation that draws us out of ourselves."
Energy must be capable of destabilizing the structures that contain it otherwise it will not manifest. This is why in Taiji we are constantly softening and weakening our form, mental as well as physical: to beckon and seduce energy into (our) being.
The event is the unconditional that is astir in these local conditions.
...to twist free from the finite containers in which I find myself deposited...


The journey for all of us, like it or not, believe it or not, is the long arduous trek from head to heart, from slavery to paradise, calculation to love. And like the good book says, despite the trivial distance involved, and even with a qualified guide, you get little change from forty years, wandering endlessly in this deserted no-man's land where you're neither one nor the other. It's impossible without a beacon of love, whatever that may be for you: the prophet, Christ, Buddha... some potent living image to draw the heart home.


Taiji proposes nothing that would not occur naturally if I managed to relax and let my spirit rise.
The fight at hand is always against injustice, within as well as without.


¿What about Nature?

Form is emptiness. Or, more specifically, softening, melting, emptying generate Form. This is the miracle of Ward-Off: the emptying chest brings the strength and energy from the back down the proffering, supplicating arm. But that emptying must remain active otherwise the connexion – to the energy and the Other – is lost. This, for me, is also the secret of Natural. When I empty my heart of self and my mind of thoughts then I become consumed by energy: pure, fleeting form.


Delight dances,
everything works.
Quieten the mind to become drunk with energy and sober with spirit.
my heart isn't only mine


Moods, even good ones, are mere opinions: projections of self to avoid having to listen.


At each moment's inception is a tiny but potent burst of spirit which we feel as a call to connect and respond, but which we largely override in the interests of (maintaining and protecting) self and status. This is our responsibility – to answer the call of spirit to spirit with spirit.
Fail to heed first impressions and life will end up dribbling away on projects and people unworthy of your energy.


Turn: inside out.
Deep but lite.


Ever seen a so-called spiritual teacher totally full of their own emptiness? They are nothing if not demonstrative: hugging all and sundry, wearing a heart they feel is full of love but is really bloated with self. Such folk – you'll meet many on the New Age festival circuit – indeed do have a spiritual calling, they've just never had the good (or bad, depending upon how you look at it) fortune to find a teacher able to convince them of the absolute necessity of plain and humble daily practice.
  • Hips, shoulders, jaw
  • Knees, elbows, temples
  • Ankles, wrists, bridge of nose
Bridge of the nose and temples are also the inside and outside peripheral vision respectively.
When meditating endeavour to maintain strength – a slight arch – in the lower back, otherwise the upper body will tend to collapse as the heart-mind softens.


Happiness, for me, has never been valid measure. Like unhappiness it is largely a matter of opinion. The work is to pierce the superficial mind, that of self and its opinions, with a whetted spirit, and feel the real.
Practice whittles away the ego and hones the spirit.
Simple advice: find someone whom you admire deeply and study (with) them.
The furthest thing from the mind of the good student is remuneration.


Taiji as the practice of respect. To return and look again. To give, at least, a second glance. Not just an attitude, respect is also a common sacred space where the respectful can meet and exchange – work – knowing that magic will transpire. Practice is fundamentally the practice of respect – the absolute willingness to place something above oneself, to suffer reduction for the sake of a purer spirit. Without this, communication is merely a clash of opinions.

I know two Buddhist meditators: one follows the Tibetan Mahayana path and the other practises Soto Zazen. What amuses me is that they both deride the other's way as too mind based. The Zen practitioner complains that Tibetan meditation is all visualisation and mind games, whereas the Mahayana guy criticises the stiff upright posture of Zazen as a tense structure upheld by mind. I suspect that they're both correct.
In Taiji we constantly return to Earth and her forces, her sensuality, her demands, her gifts. This returning gradually erodes the shell of our interiority – the armour that has built up to protect self and thought – allowing energy to flow in and through, effectively giving Earth access to every recess.
Rather than reject thinking as such, we reject the separation – the disconnexion – that thinking requires.