Only when self recedes – when I realise my absolute irrelevance – do I see the world as it really is. Otherwise I am constantly curling up in my own impressions and opinions. Emotional involvement and attachment are ways of convincing myself of my own importance, and are the opposite of real connexion.


Let your erect open posture project the heart, fearless and hopeful, out into the world.
Second thoughts weigh heavy on the heart and do untold damage to the spirit.
Be here now. But how to be? Obviously not just taking space as though you have a God given right to it, but softly – as listener and lover. On a planet already catastrophically polluted with the ugliness of human kind, this becomes increasingly important. Give graciously – make the world a better place – for others.


Weave a thread. Spin. This is the continuousness of Sun Lu-tang, and the mindfulness of Thich Nhat Hanh. The prana of yoga, the great river of Taiji. The skein of consciousness; the plotting of time. The work: to smoothly join the dots with a mind at peace.


wherever there is money there is unforgiveness

What a surprise: depression ends up being the result of assured survival. And we really thought it would be happiness? Have to work for that.


The mind can only see what it's wired up to see, so don't be fooled. Trust the heart instead.
Submerge yourself in your own heart if you seek the meaning of life.
If you don't care to belong to others, don't. At least belong to yourself.
Weave, weave, weave. Weave your own thread.
Work is any activity, or non-activity, that gets you out of mind and into energy. If this use of the word energy confuses or alienates then simply reword: out of thinking (worrying) and into the imagination. Any artist (or child) knows that the imagination does not belong to them. It is, they know, an intersection of their own ethereal being with reality at large, and only when they have the courage to leave the stifling safety of the known and gaze awestruck into the unknown do the images come alive. And this is heart, always forward, even over the precipice, whereas mind ever retreats into its own interpretations.


If you have the courage to work then it'll all slowly begin to make sense.


"Oh, is this your buried treasure? The light in the heart."
Yielding, simply put, is the fine art of turning the tables. Its skill lies in affecting the internal and external configuration – the moves – to make this at least appear to happen naturally. Obviously it must happen before thought, before observation even, which means it's all a matter of spirit and therefore of transformation: transforming myself to meet the situation but also transforming the situation to meet the limitations of my own abilities and desires: in other words, picking the fight. This is where yielding becomes seduction.


Allowing the superego, especially the collective one, to overrule heart and spirit may be a quick way to short term peace but it is also a sure way to long term hell.
Hop to it.
When the work starts to rock your foundations you'll feel pretty shitty. You won't know if it's a good thing or a bad. Just assume it's good. This is faith.
Be happy with what happens. This is softness.
"What does the brain matter compared with the heart?"

The next revelation changes everything and reveals me as fool, though never fraud, I hope. This is the way, and it's why we have two, why we are two. Two legs, two hands, eyes, ears, and so on. One hauls me onward and the other rests. And, as every weight trainer knows, growth happens during rest.
Learn to channel your strangeness. For that you need to not only think outside the box but live outside it.
Struggling with the impossible helps me achieve the possible. And all combinations thereof.


Kill one demon and the next immediately rears its ugly head. No peace for the wicked. It must be this way otherwise the student would waste years in self-congratulation.
Stay open to possibilities above and beyond both experience and prejudice, or remain a stuck-in-the-mud forever. And such possibilities always go against the grain – clash with the past.
Cheng Man-ching famously pooh-poohed aerobic exercise by dismissing it as "smothering the mind with sweat." Yet there is something real and honest about sweat (and blood, and tears) that Taiji rarely approaches, except in the hands of bright-eyed beginners and bushy-tailed masters.

We work on external stillness in order to achieve internal motility – energy. Intention is then the direction of this energy by the mind. It can only be approached through relaxation, otherwise the heart freezes over and there is no energy, only force.
Eventually communication – prayer – is everything. Or, rather, all that's left.
Energy, if you like, is the fine detail that becomes apparent when you listen with the heart.
Energy and connexion are, pretty much, the same. Or, rather, energy is the working of connexion.
In these modern times skepticism masquerades as intelligence, and superficiality as cool.

"Through repeated visits to these edgelands I came to enjoy solitude and to experience what nature has to offer. With time I came to a realisation…"
I remember, when a little kid of four or five, asking my mother why animals and birds are so scared of us. I just couldn't understand why they would flee when I meant no harm. She couldn't give me a satisfactory answer. But today, sitting on a park bench and watching a crow going about its inquisitive business, I realise that we have lost the ability to listen to Nature communicatively because we can't perceive or use either energy or intent, which is another way of saying that we can't give our undivided attention – our heart – any longer. And it is a giving – a gift – a present – a presence. In the presence of the gift, and in the giving of presence, self melts away and the world of energy opens up.
Energy, not money, makes the world go around.


The rest of creation must look upon human kind as a bizarre and offensively arrogant anomaly. Far more content to live in their heads than in the real world. So out of touch with (their own) nature and energy. Always building safe and secure environments so their spirits and hearts can slumber. Time for a change.
Stop thinking, and rejoin Nature — the natural process — the world of energy.


Taiji is not aerobic exercise, so make sure it isn't an excuse not to run. The one thing most of us are in dire need of, especially as we get older, is hard physical aerobic work – something that gets the heart pounding and the spirit soaring.


"Nine tenths of the ills from which intelligent people suffer spring from their intellect" (Proust). This is why heartwork. In the hope that one day we'll have the courage to hand over the reins to a far better part of ourselves, not just occasionally but for all time.
Nowhere to go; nowhere to turn. Finally, nothing to do but face the music. This is the awfulness of meditation, without which it's just a fine art of avoidance.


Until you've at least started to tackle self-pity there can be no honesty, so no clarity, so no work, so no spirit. It all depends upon what, deep down, you really want. Do you want to be happy or do you want to be connected? They are not mutually exclusive but neither are they necessarily correlated. With connexion comes danger and responsibility and choicelessness, so the last thing you can afford to be is self-concerned.
If you have a heart then you don't really need an ego, not such a dominant one anyway. This is why the ego perceives spiritual work as a threat, and why it puts up all manner of resistance, including injury and illness. So beware.
At the root of relaxation is forgiveness.


"The meaning of life is that it stops."

Let Earth – her energies and forces – into the body, until every cell resonates with her power and presence. Out of fear we resist this natural process of becoming ruthless until strength wanes with age or illness, and Earth comes crashing – crushing – in with a frightful vengeance.


When force is on the offing, how can spirit be in the air?
You don't turn somebody on by tell them off. You may subdue their ego but you'll also hurt their spirit, and the ones that tolerate this and come back for more are the ones whose spirits are already in agony – the damaged souls.
A secular life is built on pride.
The cardinal sin of heartwork is allowing the mind to weigh heavy on the heart. If this happens just say a prayer – request a heart of compassion. It's as simple as that. But then it's up to you to give something back.

The cardinal sin of Taiji is allowing the qi to rise. Try too hard – too earnest, too eager – too much effort – and this is precisely what will happen.
If you don't learn to quieten the mind then you'll never hear the heart, and you'll never know what you really feel. And of course this is why the mind is so noisy, to drown out the heart, since most of what it says inconveniently contradicts what the mind wants to believe.
Life flows from the heart.
Spiritual work starts when the heart breaks open and its kernel – what my teacher called the jewel in the heart – becomes exposed. The work then nurtures, purifies and protects this gem, allowing it to grow and take its rightful place as centre of my being.
Optimistic, in the sense of forgiving.


Tongue touches palate; headtop presses up. Forcelessly, always forcelessly.
Heart is natural; mind is artificial; not putting too fine a point on it. The biggest mistake a practitioner of Taiji can make is to try and create central equilibrium in head-space rather than allowing it to establish and develop naturally in heart-space, at heart's pace.
Anus tightens; rectum lifts, up to dantien. Gently. Always gently.
"Believing means liberating the indestructible element in oneself, or, more accurately, liberating oneself, or, more accurately, being indestructible, or, more accurately, being."
Too busy to practise? What crap. It's amazing how much time you can make when you set your heart on it.

"Taiji is continuousness and continuousness is Taiji". Looking at it from this point of view is sagelike and saintlike.
Exercise compassion, practise courage, and don't judge.
Head has a brain which education trains and develops until my whole being is centred there. Heart has a bairn which spiritual devotion tends and nurtures until, fully grown, it takes my place.
Make no mistake. Now there's a tall order!


Is ego really as bad as all that? A question I'm often asked. Well, yes, it is. Because your ego is not you. It is a coarse, vulgar imposition that runs roughshod over the fine and unique energy that is really you. But for this fact to ring true, you must already suspect it; you must already have a sense of true self (spirit) beneath the crass and boring predictability of ego. And, perhaps surprisingly, in my experience what blesses people with this feeling is a so-called 'unhappy childhood' because it is under early conditions of unreasonable physical or emotional stress – when the fledgling ego fails – that true spirit breaks through and saves the day. Such experiences, if you let them, become the beacons that guide a spiritual journey, at least until a great teaching has been found. And this is why the modern bourgeois penchant for spoiling children – indulging their petty little egos – is so deleterious in the long run; it sets them up for a long, selfish life working proudly for external pleasure and success yet running for all their worth away from internal truth and God, both of which can only be approached with the utmost humility – with a contrite heart.
"God gives the nuts, but he does not crack them."


"There is no beauty without strangeness."
What a person says or believes about me says far far more about their own character than mine. So why worry?
Every point of time presents a choice: carry on the same or change. A forking of the ways – energetic bifurcation. The bloom. The point where both are not just possible but both are present. This is the edge, the arĂȘte, the juncture upon which we strive to dwell.
When you truly move, everything changes: the hard & fast becomes fast & furious. Be mindful of this and the mind will inevitably soften.
Find the edge and dwell. This is reality, not your bourgeois comfort zone.
Roots and branches. Foot roots into Earth, and Earth branches into leg. Always and, never or. This is communication.
If only it was as easy as being a member of the club! But unfortunately it is not. Things must also be learnt. Or rather things must be unlearned. Usually the hard way, that is, painfully.

Any balance is always dynamic – always teetering and tottering – otherwise it freezes, sets and dies.
Nothing is entire unto itself. Everything circulates and communicates. Every contained loop must be supported; must seep into the world. This is why the figure of eight is not just a beautiful concept, it is a law of nature.
Anyone who has walked out on a cold frosty night and has felt those icy fingers creeping over the skin knows that there is a spirit to coldness – it is not simply lack of heat as the scientists, who know nothing of spirit, try to tell us.
Bow the head in gratitude; lift the eyes in expectation.
We spend a life turning and running away from any evidence that threatens to invert all we know. This is pride. The opposite of humility. It is a tragic waste of a life.
As my teacher once said about some professed master: I don't care how much he knows, if he's hard (to the touch) then he hasn't started yet.

If you're stuck, which most of us are in some way or other, then consider the distinct possibility that to go further you'll need to give up everything you've gained so far.
Proof is in the touch.


Prayer beads. The string of pearls. Events threaded onto connectedness and continuity: mindful time. In the recitation, the realisation, the flow of worship, one loses the pearls, particulars, as the thread of time and the medium of mind equivocate, equilibrate and equivalate. Become one.


Meditation (the sort I recommend) is not-doing: waiting, waiting, waiting, in the full knowledge that I'm running out of precious time.

our end is embedded in our beginning
"I need solitude for my writing; not like a hermit – that wouldn't be enough – but like a dead man."

Work is in the listening, and the temptation, all the time, is to be lazy and stop listening, or listen just a little and interpolate-extrapolate the rest from experience – be an expert. Beginner's mind is listening mind – listening like it's the first time – listening with all your heart.
The therapist's mind is full of different models, and their task starts with fitting the patient to one of these models. The therapist then treats the model. In this sense we are all therapists in our approach to reality; we all listen with the mind rather than the heart.
Beware the teacher that tells you what you want to hear. The chances are they're either bored with you or with themselves. If the teacher's words, on some level, don't put the fear of God into you then they're a waste of time.


Energy is pure movement.


The turn we all need to make is out of self-centredness and into the bigger picture.
The present moment is not the negation of past and future but their intimate union.


Bourgeois Fallacy, Part 16:
Everything of value is quantifiable (money can buy you love).


A simple choice – the only choice: heart or mind. Rule of thumb: the more developed the mind the less the heart, and vice versa.


The average life: a life that runs from sensation to sensation; that demands to be entertained, pleased or rewarded; that spends its powers for self or family or nation. What could possibly be the alternative? A life of prayer; of adoration; of stringing together the moments in the worship of something above and beyond self and family and group. Not because this something exists, necessarily, but because this is the life the heart demands, when it is full.
"There are some things one can only achieve by a deliberate leap in the opposite direction."
Whilst the mind is independent the heart will never be free. The mind should be quiet and still; simply taking in the world without commentating upon it. Then the heart will come out from its shell, and slowly grow, until it blooms. And you take your rightful place in the world as just another of God's obedient creatures.
joining and thrumming hymns of hope