31.8.15

Mind coils round bones and being, gently but firmly squeezing. This we call concentration, then sobriety, then maturity.
There's more to destiny than breeding brats in our own image. Destiny is to become free, not to enslave those we love most. The most precious thing you can give a child is a taste, a thirst, for freedom. This can only come from example.
Progress comes when the student learns to abandon positions of strength: wealth, health, reputation, etc. Such positions, whilst they can be springboards, are more generally shelters concealing weakness and infantility, and so, if they are used to embolden, the ensuing courage is short lived and liable to result in injury to body or soul. To gain freedom of spirit I must first lose everything else. Who nowadays is ready to even countenance such sacrifice?

30.8.15

There are things, structures, and there is energy, communication. Two different worlds. Things are made of smaller things, and, ultimately, they too are energy, but energy frozen rather than energy flowing and free. If there were no things then there would still be energy. Things represent a drastic slowing down of energy. Without things energy would travel infinitely fast and there would be no time as such…
The Bourgeois Fallacy, Part 15:
Standard of living determines quality of life.

29.8.15


Relaxation, once it's passed the obvious – the trivial – must become an ethics, otherwise it'll do a damage.
The masculine mind (what the philosophers call logocentric and the feminists call phallogocentric) cannot exist in and for itself. Instead it searches for the high ground from which to observe and judge, constantly comparing, endlessly measuring, with a neurotic febrility that its rationality vainly struggles to conceal...

The sole purpose of the masculine principle is to fertilise – to complete with spirit, to animate, and then withdraw, and die, leaving the feminine to parturition and nurture. It is operant: it fights and fucks; or, at the most, flees, to fight another day...

The difficulty for men is then, once the kids have fled, to justify their continuing existence. And this is why life traditionally starts at fifty. A new life free of the imperative to do one's masculine duty. A spiritual life, a life working to dissolve the folly of masculine hardness, and recover, re-discover, the feminine ground/mind...

Spiritual work struggles to find, clean, and nurture spirit, only then to let it go in a final act of sacrifice.
Endeavours to dismantle ego very quickly become another ego trip. This is why it must take time, a lifetime, indeed, modestly chipping away the granitic block until at least some of it (hopefully enough) is rubble and dust. The conflagration, the ashes, must await the end. Until then it is spirit that smoulders as it patiently attends each rendition, each dance to death.

28.8.15

"The hard bit is how not to compromise."
The masculine mind tends to invest its position with authority through the spirit of seriousness, and by so doing works against energy.
Good grace comes from good faith, from authenticity.

27.8.15

Above all else guard your heart for everything you do flows from it.
Refinement is a process of releasing those parts that appear to be fused together.
Let the wick of your life be consumed completely by the gentle flame of the work.
Sink into your energy. Relax your mind. Relax into your energy. These are phrases I'd hear all the time from my teacher. He always felt I was a particularly lost case when it came to the strangling dominance of my logocentric mind: a mind centred on the word, the law, the acute observation, the sharp reflection, the skewed refraction. The trouble is that when you've passed through the system, especially the education system, with flying colours, then it is next to impossible to even conceive that the mind can simply be in and for itself instead of fearfully grasping for points of view outside itself from which to launch its scathing critiques. The required turn is from the masculine mind, with its irreparable insecurities, to the natural feminine mind, which, assuming it hasn't been repressed, corrupted or weakened by the masculine, is simply a sea of energy.

25.8.15

The Bourgeois Fallacy, Part 13:
One can always think one's way to truth.

24.8.15

"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act."
Make sure all of your structures harbour energy otherwise they'll weigh you down and hold you back.
Understanding is only useful if it compels you to live more intensely, more dangerously, more recklessly.

23.8.15

Spontaneity arises when I refuse to refer to anything but what faces me.

22.8.15

It is always satisfying when things fall into place, but, equally, it should always be exciting when they (inevitably) fall apart.
As soon as you say (or write, or create) something there should become apparent a subtle force or energy that is undermining what has been said. For me, this is the only reason to write: not to utter the truth but to unleash this energy, because this is the energy that will take me forward into the unknown, if I let it, whereas the uttered statement will start holding me back as soon as it is voiced. It is a difficult process – what Castaneda called Controlled Folly.
Until you let down that front (which first requires letting go of the fears that keep it up) the internal will never rise, the heart will never fill, except under exceptional circumstances, and the spirit will never be truly free. You will remain soulless.

21.8.15

Fascism smells of cheap deodorant.
"Eternity is in love with the productions of time."
No I without you.
Whenever I mention the word 'destiny' to a student, the question usually thrown back at me is: "What is my destiny?" (we are all fundamentally self-centered, after all). In a sense, our destiny is simply to spend a life repeating the same mistakes. Not to become the fool, but, through determined repetition, to gradually see ourselves for what we are rather than what we would like to be.
"the difficult happiness of being alive"
To get further than our natural talent could ever take us. For this we need a means of gathering energy. Taijiquan. Each Form performed catches a little energy, imperceptible in itself, but sometimes felt as a deepened understanding. This energy should be harbored in the heart, not the body. For this I must be, above all, respectful and honorable: I must be engaged in the practice for something higher than selfish reasons.

20.8.15

The work enters a place crawling with secrets.
What's your problem?

If you can answer this question then you have self-knowledge. And therapy cannot help – it's a matter for real work, not talking.

19.8.15

Spontaneity in Taiji has nothing to do with the indulgence of childish impulsive whims: suddenly desiring some goodie and then having the audacity to rush out and acquire it. It is more the constant availability of spirit: a readiness to pounce. The ability to always act decisively and incisively.

18.8.15

"Electroshock reduces me to despair, it takes away my memory, dulls my mind and my heart, it turns me into someone who is absent and knows himself to be absent, and sees himself chasing after his own being for weeks, like a dead man next to the living man he no longer is." (Antonin Artaud writing to his psychiatrist about the effects of the electroshock treatment forced upon him in the late 1930's.)

I suspect that any exposure to electricity causes the same symptoms, but in a milder form. The electronic gadgetry we spend our lives twiddling with effectively turns us into pacified, sedated slaves. Technological advancement, which is generally perceived by the masses as a path away from State and religious control and towards some sort of freedom, actually makes us more and more dependent upon, and slave to, those hidden powers that run the show by syphoning our energy.

Thích Nhất Hạnh recommends that once a month we spend a whole day in absolute solitude: no people, no books, no TV, no phone, no computer. I would go further and suggest that all eletrical circuitry is turned off, including the power for the house. Better still: take a tent into the desert. You will certainly notice the difference.

When you do the Form it should be as though that next movement is all your heart desires.

17.8.15

Heartwork, of which Taji is a subset when it is done well, is all about waking up and retraining the heart to desire and intend maximal connectivity. Intent – the expression of the joy of life – shifts from head to heart, and my actions become eminently affirmative rather than conditional.

14.8.15

"The teacher exhibited the same type of egocentric symptoms that he stigmatised in his students."

Sound familiar?
Like a good musician who, rather than fill the space with sound, explores the space with sensitivity.
"Life is filigree work. What is written clearly is not worth much, it's the transparency that counts."
Slowly, evenly, effortlessly. This is the surface effect of Taiji, its external manifestation, concealing a very different internal reality. (An automobile extends smoothly from A to B because it has an engine able to generate, harness and transform the energy from a series of combustive explosions.) The extended practice of Taiji gradually accrues a degree of awareness and control of its internal workings, not only to do better Taiji but to learn (internalize) some general principles of life.

"In one moment you lose all the tawdry aspects of your character. You have no more ego, ambition; you don't fight with people. You see how ludicrous it all is."

Tzimon Barto talking of the death of his 17 year old son.

13.8.15

"When we speak the word 'life' it must be understood we are not referring to life as we know it from its surface of fact, but to that fragile, fluctuating center which forms never reach."

12.8.15

The work is all about liberating desire from the object of desire. A process we call relaxation, and a state we call peace. Liberated desire is simply free energy: magic, illusion – possibilities destined never to actualize. If I am attached to the world then these become hopes and dreams. If I am unattached – always relaxing – then these proliferate until they envelop and consume me. I then exist equally as external and internal: a balance we call Central Equilibrium.
The Bourgeois Fallacy, Part 1:
Freedom is freedom of choice.

11.8.15

It's not what you do, it's that you do.
The good student doesn't get bored; not with the work anyway. She takes delight in the most inane and repetitive of exercises because experience has taught her that with lightness of spirit the work will always open up and begin to blossom.

"the self is nothing more than the fluidity of its perceptions"
Life is really very simple, or it can be, should be. It is just a matter of perception and affection. The more I slow down this process and intersperse my own thoughts, the more I distance myself from life, and the more trouble I ultimately create for myself. The problem with civilized society: a society that endeavours to create polite space by slowing down or inhibiting responses, is that honest feedback, preverbal feedback, is also repressed. As students of Tajij we strive to read (or listen to) the faintest and most fleeting of signs, signs that appear and disappear far too quickly for the mind to register. This is why the most important part of us is the part that feels: the heart, the obvious seat of the affections but also the organ that senses (perceives) pure energy. If the breath is the bridge between the body and the mind then the heart is the bridge into energy. Or maybe we should just call it feeling.
The work is to intensify my position – my point of view – without in any way casting judgement upon any aspect of the world I am viewing. Judgement both belittles and hardens: carves in stone and casts in stone. It always does the world a disservice. Ultimately, though, it is me who suffers most because my heart becomes similarly set: in a stone of stubbornness.

10.8.15

The Bourgeois Fallacy, Part 12:
Wealth and health are the path to salvation.
Freedom is a buoyant openness that allows the world to always take me by surprise.

I am nothing other than this becoming through affection...
"Everything that he lost, and everything that has opened up to him since, came from the same revolutionary process."
The more intense (internal) I become the more the immediate world grows and looms until I am surrounded by giants. And this is the paradox of spirit: the more intense and powerful I become, the more imperceptible, and not just because I contract, but because I no longer constrict that world with my habits of thought and expectation. We chose the world we live in. It can either be controlled and safe, in which case we suffer depression and boredom, or it can be magical and dangerous, in which case there is always the possibility of death. The difference is purely one of spirit.

9.8.15

Prayer is the practice of correct speech: the heart issuing from the mouth.

7.8.15

The Bourgeois Fallacy, Part 14:
It's never too late.

"This is not a personal happiness that elevates one, in a priestly manner, above life. It is an impersonal happiness that produces a freedom that is at one with the very becoming of life."
The organ of yielding is the heart.
"What we repeat is each time a particular suffering; but the repetition is always joyous."

6.8.15

Like water off a duck's back.
The subtle aspects of posture: bearing and poise, what we call lightness, are functions of ethical rather than physical stature. They indicate an honourable life.

5.8.15

The Bourgeois Fallacy, Part 10:
Society is necessarily stratified, with me in the middle: neither menial nor responsible.

The physical body is a machine which, when fueled by spirit, generates internal (intense, intensive) life appropriate to destiny. In time, and always with spirit (key and secret), this becomes the coherent though ever-changing energy-body of a warrior, true to destiny and nothing else. This is the only individuality worth considering. Anything else is subservience to ego and collaboration with the forces of subjection.

4.8.15

Listen to the rhythms of the heart, its beat being only the most obvious, rather than the prosaic garbage in the head. And yes I am disturbed by the endless irony in that statement; deeply in fact (but obviously not deeply enough).
Heart is master, mind the servant.
Rather than stepping away from reality by thinking on the images we are presented of it, use the mind to gently coax the natural curiosity of your cells.
The Bourgeois Fallacy, Part 6:
The unknowable does not exist.

3.8.15

No root, no fruit.
"A good gardener's sharp-edged knife promotes the fruitfulness of the vine by thinning the clusters and by cutting off superfluous shoots."
Lose heart, lose all.

2.8.15

The Bourgeois Fallacy, Part 8:
Talking makes things better.
What this work forces me to face, day in day out, is the immense difficulty, if not impossibility, of change.
What is it that blocks my heart from doing what it aches to do: fill with love? Is it hatred, anger, fear, anxiety, an overactive mind, an inactive mind, depression, carelessness, apathy, selfishness? This should be the point of interest and research of every one of us: the question our meditation and Taiji should constantly address.

1.8.15

Romantic love is the mind's attempt to force meaning and permanence onto fleeting feeling. It is the mind doing what it always does: exercising self-importance and greed by reading significance into events that would be best left in the heart.

Freedom, the only freedom we really possess, is whether to embrace the pondering slowness of choice or reject it for the sake of a truly connected life. A connected life is one that operates so quickly that it cannot be considered, cannot be thought (about), only actively engaged and entered. Life is then not something that happens to me but something I do.
The awfulness of language is that it inevitably homogenises life by assuming that it can adequately express, explain, communicate all levels of experience. In fact so pervasive is language that any experience or perception that cannot be reduced to speech, cannot be spoken, is treated as trivial and disregarded. In this respect language and capital are the same, and it would have been impossible for capitalism to have developed without the smoothing out, the averaging, the reducing of language. This is the exact opposite of the heart, which holds dear and resonates with all those experiences that resist the vulgarisation of representation. We all have amazing experiences that shake our very being, only to pale considerably once we've told all and sundry about them. In fact we use language to reduce the power of life – to constantly bring us back to ourselves. Some things – heart events – are best left in the heart, though the head will try to steal anything it can put to its own advantage.
A book requires an active imagination, a screen a passive one. The powers that be love the new technology because it makes passive sheep of us all. It shocks me now that my students are far more conservative and less mindful than their parents and grandparents.
This morning, as we were strolling to her grandparents, my daughter explained to me that animals (by which she means cats and dogs) are better than humans because they don't think to themselves all the time. Wonderful how children naturally intuit the truth.

Movement in Taiji hopefully brings about an intensive (internal) transformation as well as an extensive (external) one. I move not to change my physical location/configuration but to effectuate an internal journey of change and becoming. This journey – effectively a series of intense feelings – is felt in the heart, and always threatens disequilibrium. The degree of intensity then depends upon my ability to stay sunk and sober whilst undergoing the intoxication of heart work. In time and with practice I develop both a centre, focused and dense, and an openness, expansive and embracing, that on their own would destroy me but together offer the perfect instrument for navigating a meaningful and inclusive course through the vagaries of life.
To what extent is every experience vicarious, mediated – censored by a mind not really my own? This used to be the question on all our lips. Now it doesn't worry us, as long as experience is safe and repeatable.
"The truth of experience is its power or capacity to extend beyond any actual image we have of it."
A mind that listens to everything but itself.