Mastery arrives when you no longer need one – when the work sustains itself.


What mighty flaw
make faith?


"The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved."
Devoid of danger – life-threatening danger – our lives lack spirit, and spine – personal spire – never acquires the strength to engage life with the intensity it demands, to be meaningful, to be full.
Be outlaw.
Dragon: lead with fire and let tail trail behind.


"True creation is incompatible with lies, hypocrisy and the spirit of conformity."


Forgive quickly
Kiss slowly
Love truly
Laugh uncontrollably
Heart: secret of the golden chrysanthemum.
Progress is gradual; very gradual. Letting go of baggage so that centre can inch down spine to rest/nest in sacrum. Then spine gently arches back and heart blooms upward – petals endlessly burgeoning into field/fold – heart of gold.
Unfold, unravel, into the light.
"Civilization is the limitless multiplication of unnecessary necessities."

Not so much a blinding light. More a fireside glow.


g u t s
o v e r
f e a r
"Our intention is to affirm this life, not to bring order out of chaos, nor to suggest improvements in creation, but simply to wake up to the very life we’re living, which is so excellent once one gets one’s mind and desires out of its way and lets it act of its own accord."
We relax so as to work better, not to fall asleep.
Never let the bastards get you down.
Festival of Light.
Depression is lack of the right sort of stimulation – lack of spirit.
Earth the body, unearth the spirit.


"Once we open up to the flow of energy within our body, we can also open up to the flow of energy in the universe."
Softness is not just lack of hardness, it is a way of life. In a sense it is protection, not for me so much but for the world from me; an envelopment of energy I create with my spirit, like swathing things in fine gossamer or cotton wool; putting the Other first with real, sincere interest. A mark of respect; a point of honour… Those words again.

It doesn't have to be exact, but it does have to be real.
The teacher endeavors to seduce the student out of the world of fantasy and into the world of energy.


Entelechy: that which realizes or makes actual what is otherwise merely potential.


There is nothing soft or humble about the rational mind. It is a weapon designed solely to conquer and colonize new territory.
"We use hypnosis not as a cure but as a means of establishing a favorable climate in which to learn."

Power (a vital aspect of reality) is the ability to take the other with you. This can be understood in different ways, for example: support and rear a family, introduce to beauty (artistic impulse), or intitiate into process (internal teaching).
To teach effectively you need to find something in the student you admire – a stimulant – something to work with and from – otherwise you'll get bored rigid.
The only choice, really, is whether to be inside looking out or outside looking in. We suggest the former.
All good things come to an end. It's the bad things that tend to linger.
"The heart is like a garden: it can grow compassion or fear, resentment or love. What seeds will you plant there?"

You know when you get so drunk or stoned you can't remember fuck all the next day? Well get a friend to video you when in such a state and then study it. Guaranteed to be much closer to true than to normal.
Home is where the heart is.
Release the demons submerged beneath your mind.


Make a song and dance of it.

A watched pot never boils. A quiet attentive meditation session lasts forever: each second, each heartbeat, each breath acknowledged. If the time flies then either you've fallen into a slumber/stupor or the mind has wandered.


Preening our selves, we forget to enjoy the process.


"You beg for happiness in life, but security is more important to you, even if it costs you your spine or your life."
Global warming, over-population, mass extinction, world poverty, none of it really matters because we – me and mine – are OK. Sounds a little selfish, n'est-ce pas? But this is the message we give the world by blinkering ourselves within this bloated bubble of consumerism.


Simplicity starts at home.

Originally I tried to truck it as a scientist, in the tender belief that scientists searched for truth. But, after attending a few scientific conferences, delivering 'learned' papers, and observing the 'truth seekers' in action – in the flesh – I realised that the only thing they really searched for was a pension.
Sit down, shut up, and go into a very deep trance!
Even if you have the One, there will always come a time when you need the Other.
When the physical body is centred at sacrum and the energetic body in dantien, as they should be, naturally, then the head moves, sways, always, in the breeze, so to speak, and the calculating mind, prime ally, prince, of ego, cannot adequately function. So mind, ever contrary, ever controlling, shifts physical centre up to mid-spine so that perceptions, thereby tensely stabilised, can mould a tidy scientific world that can, most profitably, be engaged rationally. But this is not reality, not even close, and to believe so makes you, to me, far more narrow minded and faint hearted than any religious person I've ever met.
Don’t remove my pain
It is my chance to heal.


Truth is not in a statement – there is no final word – nothing to be discovered, in particular. Truth, for us, is the spirit of discovery – what Daoists call Beginners' Mind.
Become a process philosopher. Be a process.


"I am happy even without a reason."
On a pilgrimage aimlessly.
That's not an interruption; that's just part of the flow.

the magnanimous cruelty,
which is in me
like a hill
Good design doesn't just look good: it works good, feels good and lasts good. Ages to perfection.
"It takes two to know one."
Earth-gravity heals wonderfully, if only you let it.
We all have experience of boors – louts in love with the sound of their own voice. Well we all have a boor inside our own heads.

Intelligence may help in the beginning but eventually it becomes a real hindrance because in its efforts to help it serves the wrong master.


Problems occur when we smother what's there with demands.
Happiness – lightness of spirit – a lifting heart – is our natural state. We just need to uncover it.
"Be soft in your practice. Think of the method as a fine silvery stream, not a raging waterfall. Follow the stream, have faith in its course. It will go on its own way, meandering here, trickling there. It will find the grooves, the cracks, the crevices. Just follow it. Never let it out of your sight. It will take you."

Just mind your own business. What business? The business of minding yourself just sitting. At least, you should be clear that you're sitting.
If you want to develop and investigate spirit then first you need to wake it up by attempting something that is so difficult it requires spirit to succeed. This, for me, is the value of weight training. Each time you put extra weight on the bar and attempt a lift you've never managed before then spirit naturally enters the fray.
Spirit, in a sense, is power, intensity, integrity: energy that has become so concentrated it has taken on a life of its own.
Do it with heart otherwise you'll lack lustre.
Work hard but don't be greedy.

Stretch out.
It all happens naturally when the spirit lightens. Things happen when you're happy.
Natural curiosity is blocked by fear. But fear is the opposite (the opposer) of love too. So maybe curiosity and love go together.
The stark simplicity of a devotional life.


Gregory Bateson pointed out that the ego is so dominant nowadays – we have become such control freaks – that each of us is infected with a degree of anxiety and tension unbecoming to the natural state, and a stiff scotch actually relaxes the mind and brings it much closer to what God intended. That's my excuse anyway…

A wall is very powerful. It will lift your heart and sink your belly. If you let it.
If listening is an empty yet welcoming space (heart) for the world to come into then looking is a refusal of the mind to judge or dismiss once (re)cognition has taken place.
Notice things that others don't. Develop a compassionate relationship with everything that's out there.


Every coin has two sides. But you need another (otherness) to turn it over for you.
"Far from creating independent thinkers, schools have always, throughout history, played an institutional role in a system of control and coercion. And once you are well educated you have already been socialized in ways that support the power structure, which, in turn, rewards you immensely."

When the middle-class start getting all liberal and magnanimous then you know it's only because they feel so safely entrenched that they can afford to be. The same with the ego (which for me is symbolized by the bourgeoisie). When it starts expressing intimations to truth and enlightenment (which would require its demise) then you know its only because it feels safe and cozy inside an empire well protected by personal, domestic and social forces. Such people aren't ready to be serious students.
Like an El Greco saint whose waxen body's about to melt, and whose tender spirit yearns upward.
The probing mind looks out into the world. Make sure the other end is in the heart and not the head.
It wasn't that I didn't listen, it's that I wasn't ready to hear. But what to do? Carry on regardless, work your balls off, and live in hope.
"the privileging of detached theoretical reflection over absorbed activity is a fundamental error at the origin of Western thought"


Cardboard suburbs full of plastic people.
Heart heals
Head harms


"The pathology is to want control, not that you ever get it, because of course you never do."
Get to the bottom of things. Under-stand.
A rising spirit lifts the world.

Develop a vocabulary intolerable to secular pride. Fear God.
If the mind's neurosis is its fidgety craving for sense and meaning – its inability to sit still – then the mind's psychosis is its conviction that such meaning accurately depicts reality.
Everywhere you look there's confirmation.
Face down your fears.


The lengths that I will go to
The distance in your eyes

Get a map. Ignore the paths.
In Taiji we practice an external Form in order to nourish and nurture an Internal life. This won't necessarily happen by itself; I know many Taiji masters whose art has remained largely external and whose practice has had little effect upon their character. The bridge between external and internal is made of those terribly unfashionable words: faith, respect, honour, sacrifice, discipline, dignity, devotion, honesty, sincerity, courage, love, which, even if just voiced meaningfully (from the heart) at the start of each practice session – a little prayer – will direct energy inward and upward.
The secret to life? Don't look down. Sounds trite, I know, but bear in mind that taking instruction doesn't mean imposing a new behaviour pattern upon oneself – that would be tense and external – but finding it in your heart to do what's asked naturally and willingly. Softly, softly.
Mind designs and desires, obstructing what is meant to happen. Hence lives devoid of meaning, devoid of spirit.


Always have a plan, but don't follow it.


Cut out the deadwood.
To reach for the stars understand rooting.
To find the Earth understand rotting.
"I don't count my sit-ups. I only start counting when it starts hurting. That is when I start counting, because then it really counts."
Terrified of the dark, we introduce a little light, and then are fearful of our own shadow. So we chose to live in the full glare of exactly the wrong sort of illumination, where surfaces gleam and sparkle and the depths are encouraged to remain hidden.
The average person lives like a pathetic little kitten that's been chased up a tree by their own gremlins and can't, for the life of them, get down.


Without recognising the mysterious principle
It is useless to practice quietude.
We are trying to reach a point where heart, mind and spirit are all recognized as just different words for the same thing.
We live lives built on and of repression, hence the noisy mind – instrument of repression – vulgar veil. Quietening the mind in meditation doesn't bring peace, or not for long. It rather provides a space for those repressed feelings, desires, demons, to surface into and reveal themselves. This is called nurturing the Internal.
The mind must be willing to accept and embrace all that you are, warts and all. For this it must become big hearted and compassionate, and it must give permission for the zits to erupt, despite moral conditioning.


"Just remember that you don't have to be what they want you to be."

"No tree, it is said, can grow to heaven unless its roots reach down to hell."
Sit, and watch time roll by.
The Ascent of Spirit.
Internal quiet allows fragile structures that would normally be destroyed by noise to develop and endure. This is refinement.
The teacher gives exercises, which, if practised in the right spirit, deal with whatever's holding the student back. Their practice will always be difficult, and probably painful, but, rest assured, there is no other way.

If you practice in the right spirit then heart/work is something of a tautology.


"It isn't the mountain that wears you out; it's the pebble in your shoe."
Don't be fooled: there is always an inside; what my teacher called the Internal of the Internal. So no matter where you are, there's always deeper. But, from such depths, always a surface; cleansed of experience and knowledge. The deeper you go the more superficial you appear.
"Praying five times a day helps me clean my mind."
There comes a point when you need to start running counter intuitive. Even intuition is conditioned.

Rushing around, busying ourselves with what amounts to little more than keeping up with the Jones's.


Compassion is the quality of mind with which we approach the world. A mind based in the inclusive heart, rather than the divisive intellect.


Bear (bare) in mind that any political commentary, here and elsewhere, says as much about the structure of the psyche as it does about society in general.
A relaxed system requires more energy to sustain than a tense one. This is why students yawn during class – as they relax they get tired because they don't have the energy to sustain the relaxation. And this is why tense nervous energy – coffee energy – is not what we would call energy; it is more a restriction of freedom in order to force action, or what we would simply call force. Energy, for us, is more like an internal motility – a range of possibility and potential – degrees upon degrees of freedom. Energy is basically freedom.
"The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum."

"The best way out is always through."
The only way to find out where you're going is to remember where you've been.
How it is we have so much information, but know so little?
What would you rather be: improving or perfect? They simply require a (very) different mindset.


People ask me what I miss about England. Three things only: beer, apples and laughter.

"The indoctrination is so deep that educated people think they’re being objective."
Left behind the BBC – the bourgeoisie – for the deep blue sea. Until you choose exile it's impossible to appreciate the grip the establishment has you under. This is what immigrants could teach us if only we drop our fearful blind arrogance and listen to the superiority of their spirit. It is only the Other – the radically Other – that knocks you off your pedestal and puts you in your place – your true place rather than your proper place.
Yearning for the unbearable.


Happiness is a relaxed body and a soaring spirit. During meditation we concentrate on the body sinking and relaxing on the out-breath, and spirit lifting and escaping on the in-breath. In time it becomes increasingly clear that body and spirit are incommensurable – of different worlds – and that concentrating on the breath is a technique simplified for the linear mind's convenience.
"Those who have been hurt the most often have the greatest ability to heal."

Develop an indomitable spirit.


Make fun (of your self).
The teacher wakes you up to what you knew all along.




Spirit generates difference, novelty. It ensures this time is different from last time is different from next time. It makes sense of time.


Opinions are, most of the time, mere expressions of prejudice; trivial attempts by an overweening ego to appear significant or important.
This looming consuming conflagration.
The more we live lives of avoidance the longer those lives become.


"Your willingness to look at your darkness is what empowers you to change."

Slavoj Žižek: "It is easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism."
Idle thoughts from idle minds.
Listening for the unhearable. Looking for the unseeable. Opening to the imperceptible. Nothing to do with feeling; everything to do with faith.
A spiritual life is concerned, almost exclusively, with the part of reality that remains ever nonpresent to the ego.
"Faith in the impossible."


Learning to be content with less and less.
The struggle out of mediocrity (forgetfulness) and into goodness (awakening) is largely reductive. Paring away distraction until truth is unavoidable.
External work increases one's lot.
Internal work decreases one's ego.
Principle #1:
Practice makes perfect.


"Everything inspires me. Sometimes I think I see things others don’t."

"The best advice I've received is to be myself. The best artists do that."
…a total break from bourgeois values which desperately struggle to lock the spirit in the secular desert with its puerile cornerstones of health, sex and longevity.


Eventually spirit breaks through to regions the body or mind cannot sustain. Then we have total failure to countenance, failure not just of structure but of the very fabric. It will seem, to those without the heart to understand, that such ventures are foolhardy in the extreme, but really, by the time you get there, you'll have very little say in the matter.


"I am trying to counter the fixity of architectures, their stolidity, with elements that give an ineffable immaterial quality."
For that final release, the spirit must have tightened so taut that all slackness, all sloppiness, is squeezed out.

Iterate then reiterate.
Consider the samurai sword – its provenance. First the geologist locates a lode. Then the miner mines. The mineral processor, using magnets and surfactants, separates oxide from gangue. Metallurgist smelts. Smithy anneals. And finally the swordsmith beats and folds, beats and folds, fashioning a blade the warrior can use. Spirit has as many, if not more, stages, from first arousal to final liberation.
This never ending process of refinement.
My God! I'm bigger than I thought.
Snuff out the moral imperative.

Everything we need to know is already in the body, locked up, in all likelihood, by years of repression. Just have to release it.
Dismantle bad habits; construct good ones.
Every now and then let the cat out of the bag.
The best way to cut through the mind is to find problems that only the heart can solve.
Trust the body. It's all you have. Source of all solutions.


When you get to my age then everything is confirmation.
"It is the task of the architect to give life a gentler structure."
Certitudes are platitudes. See, there's another...
Absolutely fundamental to Taiji is the concept of relaxation. It means letting go of false images so that truer ones can manifest to take their place. It is only possible when I have sufficient faith, faith that if I let go of what I am holding onto then something more apt will take its place. This is the nature of spiritual progress – never by design, always through faith.
A spiritual life endeavours to return the spirit that animates it to its divine source.

Relaxation requires a smile of acceptance.
"a line is a dot that went for a walk"


When it starts to get you down, stop and rest, do something else, then come back to it and repeat. This is the process of work. Progress largely depends on how effectively and efficiently one manages this process.
Know your place.
Compassion, not just for those you love or pity, but for the air that enters your lungs and the ground that accepts your feet.

The reasoning, reasonable mind generally serves well. Just make sure the servant doesn't usurp the master.
Many are called, few are chosen.
"The wilderness is the mother of all living things. It is always true and never trivial."


a mindful unknowing
As light as the finger on the angler.

The knowledge that interests us is the kind you only find out for yourself through the work – a knowledge uncovered when mind and spirit are sufficiently cleansed and awakened to receive and house it. Such knowledge, when it first begins to dawn, must be treated tentatively and respectfully, not grabbed at and mauled, otherwise it will change into mere information, dressed in words and images that anyone can share. And this is the loneliness of our path – what we discover through our labours cannot be shared – we can only pass on seeds to potentially receptive students who still need decades of practice to fully understand.
With the Other there is no guarantee that I'll get it right, but without the Other I can only get it wrong.
Proceed with faith rather than understanding and with each step you enter a new world. This is what we mean by living on the edge.
So used to looking out with a critical eye and turning a blind eye to our own failings. The work is all about reversing this gaze: through toil and devotion slowly slicing through self-image and developing the courage and maturity to look behind – inside – and see what's really there.
Conventual rather than conventional. Coming together, but in faith rather than custom.


The good student leads with their spirit. Then willingly weathers the havoc that inevitably wreaks on mind and body. In fact that havoc is taken as confirmation that good effective work has been carried out. This is the reason our value system largely reverses that of the middle-class. Theirs is a system founded on fear – fear of pain and discomfort, of extremes, of spirit.
A frame of mind.
The desire for truth must be stronger than any other. This is what we mean by honesty.
The daily and private drama.
Not just breathing but aspiring.


Become an alchemist, a sorcerer: work with spirit.
Integrity. Be an integral function of universe.
"Faith returns to its Sunday school every time it nails its language into positive propositions about just what it has faith in."
Free time. Sit and watch its gentle passage. The heart, the metronomic heart, insists, like a clock, and don't you find it beautifully apt that a second of time is basically a heartbeat? What more natural measure? But it's the breath that rides time, relishes and plays as it ebbs and swells. It's in the breath we find true ecstasy.
The very reflection turns to diffraction.

Knowledge destroys spirit, and vice versa.


"locked by misorientation and built of misinformation"
Practice is the first line of respect. A bargain struck between teacher and student: I'll teach if you promise to practise. If you do, even just a little, then at each lesson you'll give something. If you don't, if you fail to uphold your end of the bargain, then you can only take because you have nothing to give. The teacher will always know, even if they don't mention it or acknowledge it to themselves, because the energy the student develops by facing the pain of practice is felt most distinctly by the teacher as a jolt which shocks them into full teaching mode. Without this stimulant all the teacher can do is go through the motions, use the lesson for their own benefit, and take your money. What they should do is tell the lazy student what they think of them and maybe suggest another discipline, because by agreeing to teach, even seemingly, under such circumstances, they become lazy themselves.


The British vote in a pompous hypocrite, the Israelis a belligerent bigot, and the Americans a vulgar imbecile. Says a lot about national character?
"There are no solids. There are no things. There are only interfering and non-interfering patterns operative in pure principle. And principles are eternal."

The system misguides, at every level, so we must develop a healthy skepticism if we wish to survive its machinations. Question everything they feed you, and refuse to play the game.
"Don't fight forces, use them."
Collapse indicates too much reliance on the external. An obvious example would be sitting down to relieve a tired body: the body literally collapses into the external support of the chair. But any reliance on the external will encourage collapse, which is why we must constantly test and question all we take (for granted) and all we know (for sure).
"All human advances occur in the outlaw area."


Taiji is the art of concealing hardness with softness.

Outside soft like a beautiful woman, inside a tiger ready to pounce.

External and internal are poles apart – our two extremes – yin and yang. The reason a Taiji master looks soft and gentle, slump shouldered and pot bellied, is because inside they are the opposite. Outside weak, inside strong.


"What's your problem?"
The answer is key to moving forward.
"where theos and logos cancel each others’ unquestionabilities"
"What was your teacher's secret?" a smug student of a colleague asked me the other day.
Blank stare.
Spirit is in fact the only secret. In a culture and civilization that founds itself on knowledge and wealth – on building structures – cathedrals and shopping malls – spirit, which cuts through such lumbering edifices like a hot knife through butter, is the great enemy, the Devil himself. When it flares up a different world becomes possible – one we call reality – a world brimming with energy and mischief, running a contrary economy to our usual one of equivalence and exchange.
A love that surpasses understanding.
Don't mind (too much).

The teacher offers you a worthy part – a path with heart – in a grand drama of the spirit. Your job is to play the part to the best of your ability, and stay in character.
Spirit is the energy of process.
Responsibilty: an obligation to respond to spirit with spirit, to be responsive, to live on the edge, encouraging (giving heart to) every instance of spirit, and recognizing depression (the inevitable outcome of a rampant ego) as the enemy of spirit, heart, and, therefore, man.


Anything that doesn't involve another is a head trip.


"Life should be lived to the point of tears."

"Freedom is nothing but a chance to be better."
Encourage heart to come to the fore and take a lead – stand up to bully-ego.
When heart sits properly, unburdened by pressure from above, it will naturally yield to pressure from below and start to bloom.
We all have something to expiate, otherwise we wouldn't be around.
A faltering heart simply lacks courage. There's no getting around it.


"for equalities are so weigh’d, that curiosity in neither can make choice of either’s moi’ty"
Time well spent.
Nothing exists in itself or for itself, solely. Every thing in relation. This is the basis of process philosophy, Eastern or otherwise. So, the significance of a thing is not its thingness but its resonance, its betweenness, its usefulness.
The Daoist embodies contradiction – marries Heaven and Hell. Occupies a middle ground never actually touched because being is an oscillation from one extreme to another, a bipolar hum. Such becomes pathological – unbalanced – only when poles lose sight of one another, when I lose the bigger picture. Wisdom is the ability to embrace, embody then disembody. To disentangle spirit from mood so that this present moment can extend into all.


What makes it meaningful other than my insistence that it be so? It's all in the positivity – an absolute faith in the underpinnings of life.


When the knee hurts then soften the hip. You do that by teaching it to smile.


expressions of one dedication and passion
Look on the bright side.
"The end result was a fighter who fought alone, and who drew from his own silent convictions all the impulse he needed to forge ahead; without complaints; without the necessity to be praised."
Nothing heals like laughter.


Things will probably get worse before they get better. And vice versa.
How to keep the spirit fresh and light, unburdened by the weight of habit and expectation? This is an art unto itself, and if you have it then it matters little what you do for all you do will be charged with energy and delight. The secret is a childlike imagination that sees magic everywhere, and never gets down for long.
Things continue because of will, divine or otherwise. Things change, on the other hand, because something disrupts will. This is spirit, devilish or otherwise.
Tighten the anus, lift the rectum (especially important as you get old(er)
When I meet St Peter at the Pearly Gates and he asks: What have you done that's fucking amazing? I shall reply: I've worked with, and brought solace to, three Holocaust survivors.

Belief is the structure that mind lays on faith to make it workable – profitable. A familiar case of mind (over)ruling heart.
Faith is an open willing heart.
The loyalest students have the most damaged souls. And the best instincts.
Resentment is an ivory tower – a cozy prison of our own making – where we lock ourselves away from true compassion – from God's love – and burrow into fantasy – the worst aspect of the imagination. This is why there is so much suffering in the world. Hope is to look honestly at ourselves during quality quiet time (meditation) and realize that the only way forward, the only way to help the world, is to leave that ivory tower and brave reality. Grievance dissolves away when we refuse to sustain it with the energy of holding on.
Trust the unfamiliar.


Never mind.
Beware the paunch of middle age. A sure sign of depression.
Faith or fear? It's your choice.
"Dwelling upon the self too much produces a terrible fatigue. A person in that position is deaf and blind to everything else, and the fatigue itself makes us cease to see the marvels all around us."


Meditation: time to feel the sacredness of life.