It doesn't matter where the tension is, its release is always first in the heart.
A guru is a so-called spiritual teacher who is cashing in on their charisma and talent without having done enough spiritual (ego-reduction) work themselves. They preach selflessness but neither possess it (and it is a possession which has to be earned, always the hard way) nor, let's be honest, demonstrate it. Their so-called teaching will always appeal to damaged souls in dire need of a father figure: incomplete egos who have the sense to suss that until their egos are at least whole they cannot be controlled. Nowadays gurus are out of fashion, and instead psychotherapy is in vogue. Personally I can't see that there is much difference, and at least students of a guru are willing and capable of dedicated hard work in the service of their soul, which is much more than can be said of those with enough surplus cash to indulge their therapist each week.
Live the life you must live in order to have the energy to do the work you are driven to do. This is freedom, a freedom most of us squander in the childish need to conform. Such work is always creative in the sense that it is uniquely yours: a work that no one else can do and that would leave the world poorer for not being done.
What the democratic West consistently refuses to admit, even to itself, is that democracy, from ancient Athens where it all started to the present day corruptions of America and Europe, relies upon slaves to do its dirty work. The fact that those slaves now abide in China or Bangladesh doesn't, in my book, make them any less slaves. So next time you enjoy your morning coffee spare a thought for the poor indigenous fucker who slaves ten hours a day in the seering equatorial sun, six or seven days a week, for a pittance, picking the beans.
There comes a point in every spiritual student's life when they begin to realise that there just isn't enough time, and that even with all the will in the world they're only going to make minor headway along the path they've chosen, or rather, has chosen them. It is at that point of understanding the basic irony at the heart of all nontrivial work: that failure is built in and absolutely unavoidable, that the work, if they chose to continue, becomes a joy: worry-free.
There are feelings, which are simple and of the body and generally over quickly, to be replaced by further feelings, and there are thoughts about feelings: fantasies, indulgences, which linger, more in the mind than the body, and are the food for further thoughts, hindering the full functioning of the body. The former are unavoidable and best at least acknowledged if not enjoyed. The latter, which collectively constitute a culture, are to be avoided.
If the third eye is a golden flower of consciousness then it is only so when the dantien is so concentrated that it behaves as a black hole: emanating a gravity so strong that it holds together the entire being – a life – which can then let go of local tensions and begin to resonate its beingness, its essence.
Corework is basically mind in the dantien, or rather, finding and cultivating the ruthlessly detached mood that enables the mind to settle naturally in the dantien. It's difficult work that requires immense maturity – by that I mean a cultural detachment – an independence of spirit that only comes from knowing that I'm nothing and that death is always at hand. Sounds melodramatic, I know, but it's the way I feel it.
Attack is an injection of energy into a system, intended to upset a balance. Yielding then brings about a new balance. These two should always work together: without attack there is no forward movement, no creativity, no delight; and without yielding there is no togetherness – no home. Together attack and yield are a motor for advancing intelligently and courageously into the unknown.
A strong mind is one that refuses to either get down or go backwards, but also resists the childish lure of positive thinking. In fact a strong mind has little recourse to thinking of any kind: it instead takes its cues from the omens in its vicinity: it makes sense of the world by borrowing its energy.
Guilt – that feeling that things ain't the way they should be because of me – stems from lack of faith. A loving god cannot remain transcendent: their first true act of compassion is to become immanent to that which they love. To love (live) and remain aloof is to theorise love (life). The true lover loves that the Other's demand for love snaps them out of a selfish space and into the messy space of practical relationship, and thereby out of hell and onto the path to heaven. I cannot love and hope to keep my hands clean. To wash my hands, even publicly, cannot absolve me of the responsibility to act creatively, that is selflessly, with breathtaking abandon, and thereby love. Guilt is my punishment for refusing the gift of faith, of forwards.
There comes a point when you must stop worrying (about) your Taiji Form and just start knocking them out, one after another after another, otherwise you'll never develop the centripetal sobriety required for tight circles and lightning speed: your Taiji will never work for you and will remain a quaint ornament in your life instead of becoming alive and running the show.
We always assume the mind knows but it doesn't. The body knows and the mind, so full of arrogance, blocks that knowledge and imposes its own theories. The work is to get back into our bodies and enjoy: both them in themselves, and their direct tap into the real world. The world of mind is the world mind prefers and so makes: a tidy and well-behaved fantasy. The trouble is that the mind we are familiar with is not the mind of the body but a foreign mind: either an external installation, or an accident of evolution: a deluded opportunity to claim independence and autonomy without actually having to suffer them. The only way to battle this foreign mind, into retreat and eventual submission, is to live the life we would live if it weren't there: the one life, the selfless life.
Those with fantastic spirit are always going to seem a mess of contradiction to people around them. This is because their superior energy enables them to house manifold worlds. And this is why, if they desire to use that spirit to forge new worlds, they must live extra focused and disciplined lives.
The quality of Taiji ultimately depends little upon technicalities and more on the size and content of the heart that performs it. A Taiji heart is always endeavouring to be big enough to contain the active body that contains it, and should always be abrim with compassion. For this the dantien underpinning it must be cold and ruthless and strong. Without such support it doesn't matter how magnanimous and full of love the heart is, it will always falter and wither when the going gets tough, which it inevitability will, especially as death approaches.
During meditation we settle down and quieten the mind to become aware of two forces: concentration and emanation (or relaxation). Concentration is a focus in the dantien: a slight tightness in the belly that draws energy and strength into that region so that it can support the rest of the relaxed body above it. If you find your posture slumping or the head craning forward then you need more concentration. Note that this concentration is more physical than mental. Relaxation is the heart and head doing what God intended: emanating compassion and consciousness into the world. In this system the mind has a physical component: that part focused on the dantien, and a loving component: that part emanating from the upper centres. Thinking – the minds psychosis – doesn't have a place.
Practise spirit. The imperative given to my teacher by his teacher. Without a doubt the most important command you'll ever be given. If the work doesn't make you more intensely alive, more passionate, then it's not worth its salt. And if your teacher cannot teach spirit then they will end up holding you back: locking you, pathetically and tragically, in a system that promises much but ends up slowly killing you. It will of course be no ones fault but your own but it's still sad to see.
Remember that famous scene in Lady and the Tramp where they end up inadvertently kissing because they're both sucking the same strand of spaghetti? Effectively they are both yielding: catching a thread and drawing themselves along it by consuming it: making space – a hole – for it. This is yielding mind: an approach to life that makes the world new and fresh and exciting by withdrawing my expectations and projections, and allowing the world to rush into the vacated space.
Meditation is a time to silently feel things as they are: a time of disillusion and acceptance. Afterwards the ego will always try to appropriate what has been felt by voicing the feelings: anxiously filling the silent space the work has cleared. You'll know when ego has been finally subdued: the words will stop.
The stability offered by double-weightedness maintains a status quo and prevents me moving forward. When truly single-weighted I am as though drunk, each side of the body ever slipping past the other: swimming forward in an exuberance of sensuality that can only be maintained when the mind is firmly locked in the dantien.
The ceaseless chatter inside our heads is a desperate attempt to give our lives meaning beside, and in spite of, the relations we are all part of: to convince ourselves that there is an essence to our being and that this essence is formalised and therefore assured by resisting something as demeaning as functionality. This is pure ego: the notion that my being in and for myself must somehow transcend my being for and in others. But I can never escape relationship or relations. Even when peacefully and contentedly alone I am still relating to Earth through gravity, air through breathing, energy through metabolic process, etc. Mindfulness is a method for becoming aware of my reliance upon what is outside me, what is ostensibly other than me, for my continuing existence, and that in effect I am nothing in myself. Without such practice I eventually lose my energy, my warmth, and become the chatter, the repetitive monotony.
Mind in dantien is not easy: our modern minds have been debilitated by thinking and are no longer able to countenance, let alone generate, spirit. Mind in dantien is the mood of a warrior: ruthless, detached, alert, evoked by contemplating death: feeling its sobering presence and inescapable inevitability. Ruthless means without self-pity; detached means alone and happy to be alone; alert means awake and ever vigilant. Together these create the positive affect we call joy.
Feel, but feel the body: the heart beating, the blood surging, the nerves tingling, the lungs and diaphragm breathing, the cranium pumping, the fascia slipping, the hard earth beneath your feet, the cool damp breeze against your face, sounds resonating eardrum and body along with every other object in the vicinity. Where, amongst this effusion of feeling, is there room for the morbid self-attention of mood or thought, let alone opinion?
Spirit creates and revels in joy as an expression of its absolute acceptance of, and readiness for, death; and hence it is supremely alive: the closer to death I place myself (and it is a choice – the only choice) the more alive I must be to equilibrate that proximity. Ego, on the other hand, indulges in pleasure to avoid facing (up to) death, thereby living a lacklustre life.
Where on earth does heart come into all this? The heart is simply container, of all that is, but especially of time. The heart is the Universe, the one space, the unifier and unity that magically transforms contradiction into paradox (never orthodox). So the heart must be huge, which is why Buddhists work on compassion and Christians work on love: because it is love and compassion that expand the heart sufficient to contain not just my own world but all others too. The heart is eminently tolerant because by accepting all difference it sees no difference: it possesses the ground upon which all is rooted, it is the source of all essence.
Thinking doesn't help. In fact it positively hinders. A thinking person honestly believes that their thinking gives them an advantage, as though the teacher's instruction is not enough and needs to be supplemented by extra input. The best students are they who simply listen and obey, not because they are naturally slavish or lack creative desire, but because they know intuitively that any input from themselves is ego-generated, and until that ego is at least bypassed, if not conquered, it will always express resistance to the teaching and the teacher. Most of us have to learn this the hard way: wasting years doing our own version of Taiji until we finally have the humility and good sense to realise that it was all there in the very first lesson if only we'd listened.
Gravity is Earth's gentle but persistent reminder that my body belongs to her, and will be reclaimed by her on my impending demise. Relaxing the legs sufficient to be aware of this requires the mind to also relax by facing death. I effectively desentimentalize by shrinking mind into dantien. Then time delinearizes, twisting and turning on itself, writhing, with the intensity of my yielding. Being, essence, is then both central equilibrium and the yielding mind required to maintain that equilibrium.
Yielding, or the art of returning energy back whence it came, is continuous, never stops. It is the tightening belly, the contracting diaphragm, squeezing an expansion – an awareness – into the world. The way a seasoned fighter, once aware of danger, turns the mind of malevolence to face and thence dissipate itself.
We are all prey to something. If not lions, tigers and bears, then other's intentions; and of course our own bad habits, weaknesses, mental projections. There is use in this realisation: it keeps us on our toes, keeps the spirit ready, but to be complete we also need the opposite realisation: that the world is basically benign, and that everything will work out in the end if we just relax and stop being so paranoid. Together these present a workable system, that is, a method for becoming strong. Separately they will always end in failure.