31.3.16

Similar to children, who are afraid of the dark because the absence of visual comfort allows their imaginations to run riot, so adults are afraid of the quiet, especially inner quiet, because they may then hear spirit and soul, both of which have a very different agenda to the self.
Feel small.

30.3.16

One of the consequences of living a life mediated by language is that we are constantly withdrawing from the world and into our own thoughts, and so the world has no choice but to withdraw from us.
"the foolishness of humans causes them to face everything and call it theirs although everything withdraws when they approach"

"So strangely soft you cradle me."
Most of what passes for mental formation – recognition, thought, anxiety, criticism – comes into being because the mind is too frightened to be quiet.
Ego insists on entertainment, and if there is none at hand then it will force the mind to invent some. This is how we get into bad habits.

28.3.16

"Vulnerability is not something that we can immunize ourselves against. It is, instead, the very infection — one might even name it love — that connects us. It is what makes the divine, the human, the animal, the mineral, the vegetable, hang together. It is the very condition of the possibility of a life together."
The problem with most religion is that it quickly becomes, in the hands of manipulative and misguided priests, a matter of denial and repression rather than communion and celebration.

27.3.16


When Taiji is performed well: with belly released to Earth and head lifted to Heaven, then it can properly be called a Dance of the Heart.
The belly's connexion to Earth is the beast in me, and the head's connexion to Heaven is the angel in me. Then, the heart's connexion to the Other is the human in me. Without Earth and Heaven – beast and angel – ego develops and obscures the heart. Thinking is the reason we disconnect – it is only possible by retreating into the solemn cell of the mind – by putting a safe distance between me and reality.
The more you practice the more you'll get out of the lessons you attend. This is obvious. But what is less obvious is that the more you practice the more the teacher gets out of the lessons (he will be inspired by your enthusiasm and energy) and so the more the other students get from the lessons. This doesn't just go for Taiji but for any course of study. Practice doesn't only improve you, it improves the world.
Single-weightedness means not being locked into how you are but being light and flexible enough to have a multitude of becomings at your disposal.
Learn to listen to the heart because the teacher will, sooner or later, lead you into places the mind fears and the body loathes. Only the heart will feel the truth.

26.3.16


Nothing's perfect. Work with what you have – with what's available.
Sad, to me, that we find ourselves in a time where there is nothing more important, more pressing, more vital than personal happiness.
Endless patience, endless love. A meeting.

25.3.16

The reality we perceive and occupy is a function of our spiritual level.
We repeat the Taiji Form day in day out to slowly deconstruct all that obscures the heart, all that is unessential, artificial: ego, superego, id, the whole shebang.
The history of Western civilization, from the Torah and the Greeks to now, has been a gradual process of replacing the heart with the brain as the essential human organ. Christ may have tried to reverse this trend but the Church put pay to that.

24.3.16


Instead of wasting energy resenting your lack of charisma and personal power, use that energy to develop some. Meditate to cleanse the soul.
Much of our tension and resentment has no real foundation but is invented by the ego as an excuse to keep the heart, which rightly belongs to all its connexions, all to ourselves, because then and only then are we sovereign individuals.
Last time my mother came here to Israel we took her to the Marcel Janco museum in Ein Hod. After an hour admiring the artist's wonderful work we sat outside in the soft light drizzle. As we chatted a coach full of school children arrived, and as they filed out of the bus I said to my mother: "Beautiful children, aren't they?" to which she replied: "Beautiful to look at, but then they open their mouths and they're so ugly!" And there you have it: the beautiful soul clear in the child's apprehensive face, and the ugly ego pouring from a mind and mouth full of demands and self-promotion.

23.3.16

The softness of a selfless touch is the most valuable thing there is: it can change a life – inspire a new course – a fresh beginning. The enlightened master is simply one who feels this touch all the time and so is ever beginning.
Forget self and become one with the Tao. This requires me to first forgive the self – forgive the past – put it to rest – and become all heart and soul. An enlightened master is simply one who has completed this task. They appear to float because, for them, the upward draw of Heaven perfectly balances the downward pull of gravity.

22.3.16

Quite revealing that most of the fathers at my daughter's school's Purim party dressed up as women. The one day of the year when they acknowledge their feminine side.
Truth has nothing to do with facts. Truth is in and of the heart.
Burn your bridges. It's the only way to ensure progress.

21.3.16

Be patient. Try and rush and it'll all grind to a halt and you'll end up having to invent it and then it'll never be true and you'll spend a life sustaining a lie which will end up killing you and you'll have no one to blame but your ugly self and the fear on which it's built.
Spirit advances, always restless. Mind dithers and delays and, if it can, retreats into the safety of what it knows. This is why mind without spirit is deathly.
Just had a wonderful energetic exchange with a baby in a pushchair. I looked her in the eye as her mother trundled her past the bench on which I'm sitting, and her face broke open into a smile of giving. The mother was oblivious of course because she was busy with her phone, which I am too.

Body and soul. A beautiful song. The body melts downward in response to the call of Earth, eventually dissolving into food for her smaller creatures. The soul looks upward, answering a constant call to prayer, eventually leaving the body and rising to meet its maker. Bliss is the feeling of being caught in the middle – in the heart of the tear; where tear is both this gentle rent of my being, and the eye's – the mind's – response to the truth.
Disturb the peace, and find a deeper one.

20.3.16

The noisy chattering mind is a man-made invention designed to distract us from the call of destiny. Enlightenment is first a state of internal quiet such that that call becomes evident as a general field of energy, and then a process of connectedness within that field such that all self – all decision making – either falls away altogether or recedes largely into the background. Meditation is a time when the student receives intimations of these truths, and therefore a deeper thirst for their reality; a time of renewed enthusiasm, literally.

19.3.16

Infantility is the basic assumption that the world revolves around me. As Ambrose Bierce beautifully put it: An egotist is a person of low taste – more interested in himself than in me.
"gloriously lured into being by the primal call of divine love"

"For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy."
Relaxation is near impossible to sustain because of fear. It is terrifying to accept that release into a field of entropic dissolution effectively generates the containment – the natural fabric – required for life to not only persist but flourish. This is a real mind-fuck: a matter of faith, and therefore heart.
Refinement is a matter of energy rather than edification. Education appears to refine but it is really the discipline (suffering) involved in learning that counts.
Whatever's hard-won sticks.
Even the doing of Taiji ultimately disturbs being.
Cultivate the mind, in both the widest sense (compassion) and the narrowest sense (intent). Thinking doesn't come into it.
Prayer is the lifting of heart and mind to God. And humility is the foundation of prayer. The word humble comes from Latin humilis which literally means 'on the ground' (hence humus meaning soil). This is simply the first principle of Taiji: when energy sinks to Earth then spirit rises to Heaven.
"The heart is the dwelling-place where I am, where I live. The heart is our hidden center, beyond the grasp of our reason and of others; only the Spirit of God can fathom the human heart and know it fully. The heart is the place of decision, deeper than our psychic drives. It is the place of truth, where we choose life or death. It is the place of encounter, because as image of God we live in relation: it is the place of covenant."

18.3.16

Pray for something unforeseen and unforeseeable; pray for an event.

15.3.16

The more content we become with our modern bourgeois comforts: our iPhones, our skiing holidays and our antidepressants, the less likely we are to do even a tap of real work. People have to begin to realise that they are being controlled and that the only way to break free of that control is to acknowledge and develop that part of them that does not come under the remit of ego or self.

Christianity, with its glorification of suffering and its evil purges of everything pagan, pretty much erased the world of energy and spirit, at least from general awareness, paving the way for the Renaissance, the Age of Enlightenment, Capitalism, and these present plights of over-population, consumerism and medically assisted longevity. Aren't we lucky!
Don't use force. Don't try to make it happen. Just relax and let it happen. And if that doesn't work then you're not ready. Be honest.

14.3.16

What makes the work energetic is your ability to quieten the mind (or at least keep it on the job) and use that mind as instrument of intent (mind and spirit working together to direct energy) rather than thought. What makes the work spiritual is your devotion to dismantling the self in order to put the other first. There is absolutely no reason why these two approaches should go together, so make sure you don't confuse them.
Pray this morning that your actions today will make the world a better place for others. And remember that tomorrow you will be another.
In English a person with poor spirit is called 'spineless.' If you want to investigate and work with spirit then you need to strengthen and activate the lower back and belly muscles. So, for example, if you raise the arms above your head you'll feel the lower spine arching (extending) with the strain. Now raise the relaxed arms by purposely activating and tensing the lower spine. To use that area you must really mean what you do and say. This is spirit.

13.3.16

Instead of concentrating all the time on the energy coming into you – on perceptions – try to get a feeling for what comes out – try to feel how you affect not only those around you but also the space and the time you occupy.

"Like being outside of thought, or maybe being thought itself, or a conduit. Maybe some spiritual experience I can't put into words. Definitely being between things, where I like to be, uncharted. I don't try and rationalise these things, I just end up going in circles. It's nice not really being able to express something in words, it's beyond it. It feels like I am trying to explain that state. I have no idea, it's fucking awesome though."
The only thing you can be sure of in this life is that the system is rigged. So if you're interested in any sort of mobility, whether class, social or spiritual, then you're gonna meet a hell of a lotta resistance, even within yourself.
What makes a student good is not how well they perform in view of the teacher, but how well they perform when away from the teacher. Out of sight, out of mind is a sure sign of mediocrity.
It matters little what makes you take up Taiji: relaxation, fighting, callisthenics, spiritual quest. What matters is that you practice sincerely and assiduously on your own between classes and allow your motives to slowly develop into more noble and less selfish ones. At some point you will need to leave your master, and maybe also Taiji, and branch out on your own in order to complete the task. When the time comes, don't be afraid.
When you hit the spot then you'll swoon – into reality.

There is really no conflict of interests between becoming and being. We learn this from meditation. I can only be consistently present, for any duration beyond the fleeting, when I attach the mind to the process of change, when I ride the breath like a surfer riding a wave. And this analogy is one of my favourites because, like the surfer, we must be able to abandon any point of reference outside of our own body otherwise we'll tumble off the board.
Thinking is the most addictive drug there is.
Watching the breath (during meditation) gets you out of the thinking mind and into the energetic mind.
"I think the mood and vibe you put into something is more important than anything else. The essence of it is what really makes something what it is."
Unravel the knitted brow,
Iron the rumpled spine (from nape to small),
Open the airways
And BE.
A Taoist master who will not tolerate negative feedback is a contradiction in terms.
Move the attention from front to back brain: stop thinking and start being.

12.3.16


Prayer starts off with talking to God, but quickly develops into the practice of looking at your issues: facing them, admitting (to) them, opening them, owning them, seeing where they come from, then begging forgiveness and promising to make up/right, and be better.
Soft, in the sense of natural.

11.3.16

When you issue energy then it's already returning. Not in a mean way, but as a matter of course. This is because any string of moments has continuity (within and beyond itself) but also has looseness — each moment slightly out of phase with its neighbours. This is the circularity of time.
Touch should be so light that it's all energy and no force. Or, as Yang Cheng-fu used to say: "I'm not a meat-hook so don't hang on me."
As soon as you realise that you're happy then you know it's about to end. That's life. And it's why a sense of humour is necessary and vital: without it life would be insufferable.

"No amount of skillful invention can replace the essential element of imagination."
making contact with unknown ontological depths
Internalization is a process of refining energy by purifying motivation.
You know you're getting old when you find yourself fancying your students' mothers.
I just wanted to send my love and best wishes for a speedy recovery from this latest bout of lassitude and laziness. May force be laid aside so that energy can be always with you.
Back in the mid-eighties I had a course of lessons in the Bates method of visual re-education, popularized by Aldous Huxley in his marvellous book The Art of Seeing. The teacher was a sprightly spinster in her nineties who had been taught by a pupil of William Bates himself. The only exercise I have kept up is what was called Palming: placing the warm hands over the closed eyes in order to both simulate complete darkness and stimulate the eyes with energy from the palms. After teaching me the exercise she said that I must practise daily. I was rather proud of my ability to discipline myself so I keenly asked her how much she would recommend. "Five minutes," she announced, "every waking hour." I managed three or four days before lapsing miserably.

The work is artistic, not because it's creative, but because it's all about authenticity. Who (what) am I? Can I work from the heart? Can I find and expose my soul?
Soul is pure undiluted presence.
The Way is not difficult. So the texts tell us. In that case, why does it take so long? Either I'm particularly stupid or, deep down, I don't really want it, and so don't deserve it.
The end result is not an everlasting self in paradise, but the annihilation of self and the merging of soul with God. In other words: nothingness.
Soul is the pool from which spirit emerges then merges.
"The body is crucial. Our body does not belong just to us. It creates a relationship with the world. And this relationship is the most interesting thing of all."

Spirit is the energy of transformation / transduction. Without spirit, mind (intent) will not appear from nothingness, energy cannot flow from mind, and body will not follow energy.
Essence and presence are the same thing.

10.3.16

Beware "the mind-set of mastery and privilege that renders us indifferent to the suffering of others and unmindful of our own vulnerability."
Born in the spirit of justice & compassion.
When you humbly solicit advice from a true master then you must realise that what's offered is not just another opinion from which you can pick and choose, but an obligation to both listen and learn. This bond of obligation is what lends power to both the advice and your pursuant action.
If God lived on earth, people would break his windows.

Old Yiddish proverb

Thinking / Feeling. Two mutually exclusive attitudes to reality.

9.3.16

Move freely, move naturally and explore.
"Truth is spherical rather than linear; so it has to be contradictory."
The function of art is to reveal the beauty in ugliness, and to expose the kitch in beauty.
Our passions are most like to floods and streams,
The shallow murmur, but the deep are dumb.
As the human race became weaker it felt compelled to develop a forceful mind – a mind ever full of its own thoughts rather than love of God.

I suspect that the reason we were told to say our prayers before bed when we were young is because that revived awareness of the soul – of the sum total of all one's connexions – helped ward off evil spirits and bad dreams. Sitting for five or ten minutes before drifting off does a similar job.
After an hour's meditation the two poles of the mind, which are usually twisted together in order to think and judge, separate and drift apart revealing a peaceful expanse into which the things of the world enter, clear and clean of the words that have adhered to them. This is a place I could never have reached without that hour of sitting.

8.3.16

"I wanted to make a work not for my generation, nor my children’s generation, but for a distant future to which I have no tangible relationship."
OK so there's no transcendence any more, but that doesn't have to mean that there's no depth.
Use of force is a sign of weakness.

Thinking is the mind using force.
Our verticality – posture – has a double aspect. We sprout up from the Earth on two straightening legs; a forceful action that works against the pull of gravity, and puts compressive stress on the pelvis and lower spine. Then we connect the crown to the Heavens and allow the pelvis and lumber spine to relax and lengthen downwards with gravity into softening legs. This latter aspect is unusual and takes a lot of practice. Without it there is no softness. Softness is non-resistance, so, internally, at least, we are not resisting gravity but constantly surrendering to it.
Taoism is all about balancing external and internal. This requires us to first discover the internal aspect of external things, and then work on that internal: acknowledge it, encourage it, tease and tickle it into play. The external then becomes what it yearns to be: simply container of internal life. So, this morning I walked about a kilometre to the local shops to buy bread. On the way I bumped into a student's mother walking her dog and we had a little chat; then I sat on a bench and spent a couple of minutes stroking a stray tomcat whom I've befriended. On the way back I took a slightly different route in order to pass through and admire an acre of waste ground that the local residents have transformed into a beautifully flourishing vegetable garden. By the time I got home a good hour had passed, and I had the bread (the external), but I also danced, inside at least, with the cheerful light energy (the internal) I had borrowed from the exchanges engaged along the way. This, of course, cannot be forced or planned or bought and sold. It is a world of grace which demands only belief and patience – in a word: love.

7.3.16

First connect coccyx to Earth then crown to Heaven, and then act. We make these connexions not to garner power but to cleanse action of selfish impulse.
I have two beings: being in and for myself, and being in and for the world (for others/otherness). In this time of selfishness and individuality the first of these is put first. Spiritual work (meditation, prayer, chanting, mindfulness, Taiji, etc.) is primarily about being for/in the world. This doesn't mean becoming another selfish turd successfully operating within society, it means living a life of utter respect for, and total dedication to the spirit of otherness.
Unlocking a double-weighted body/mind doesn't just make it more agile and spirited, it makes it far more sensitive and responsive. In fact, a body of two interrelating single-weighted halves behaves like a pair of dowsing rods, collecting messages from the ether and translating them into impulses and intuitions. It is only possible if the stiff ego has been dismantled and replaced by a well-toned core. Such people really are of the world rather than of themselves: light, full of mischief and humour.

6.3.16


Retrain the legs to be sources of energy rather than instruments of force. This means softening the legs rather than hardening them, and thoroughly internalizing the principle of single-weightedness. When something has been internalized then it is with you all the time, even when you sleep. So, to internalize a principle, you must become obsessed by it to the extent that you find it in everything you do. Then, effectively, you are practising all the time.
We are happy when full of ourselves, and yet energetically (spiritually) we're in best shape when empty of self. This is a real bummer.

5.3.16

Much of what amounts to depression results from living in the brain rather than from the heart.
The physicality, the sensuality, the sheer pleasure of moving gracefully through space and time.

4.3.16

"There's got to be something more than The Sale."

Stop judging and start joining.
If you're not ready to hear a secret then it's best not to hear it – you'll only misinterpret it, and that's liable to lose you a decade if not a lifetime.
The important thing is to sit – practise. Of secondary importance is the quality of that practice. Or, as my teacher used to say: Never let high standards prevent you from practising.
Meditation is a humble effort to convince the ego to take a pew and show some respect. A very gentle war of attrition, which doesn't always work.
Ego is a bit of an obnoxious bully. When it leaves the room everything breathes a sigh of relief and starts to communicate.
Enlightenment means referring to nothing but your own centre positioned in a connective continuum of/in/with/by/through infinite connexion. Ego is the fallen angel: an artificial centre made to escape the control of this continuum. But by escaping control the ego also loses benefits.

It means giving up things in your life
and it means being unhappy
but you know what the fuck
you're unhappy anyway right get real
who the fuck's happy you know
so just work with unhappiness
as a medium...

3.3.16

Depression is a result of hiding, especially from sadness. You don't solve a problem by pretending it doesn't exist.
"In a pinch it's not brains that counts but guts."
A cumulative presence.
The work is a basic reprogramming according to the following equalities:

energy = happiness
force = sadness

Follow this and you can't go wrong.

"Knees forward and away."

I found that pearl in a marvellous book called The Thinking Body by Mabel Todd, first published in 1937 and still in print, which I read in the early eighties, just before I started Taiji.
The thinking mind tends to enslave the body and take it for granted – how else could it possibly allow itself to be distracted from the here and now? – and it's only when the body fails, or threatens to fail, through injury, illness or ageing, that we appreciate this. The body is not only a vehicle for a rampant mind. It has its own wisdom and knowledge, which is of the world and energy rather than mind and intellect, and so, in many ways, far superior.
Brave enough to be simply present. No more. No less. Then energy is inevitable. Anything else is forceful.
do not steal
do not lie
do not be lazy
If the prospect of work doesn't make you smile in delight and anticipation then you need to change your mind.

A good teacher is not just someone who tells you exactly what you need to hear, but someone who makes you listen. And if what you need to hear is the last thing you want to hear, and they still make you listen then they are truly great.
There is absolutely nothing strange or complicated or esoteric about the truth. It is so simple that it's impossible to explain – no one would believe, or would be prepared to believe, it's that simple. Instead the lives we live, and the realities we create for ourselves, are ridiculously over complicated and sophisticated and, let's face it, so far from the simplicity of truth that it's unreal. It's like when you tell a lie and then you have to tell a whole string of lies to cover up the first; eventually you lose all sight of the truth and is all you're left with is the anxiety and bad karma of lying.

2.3.16

To be present, moment to moment, which is what's required for energy to spontaneously manifest, I must be constantly letting go of the residue – gains, insights, sensations, profits – of previous moments. Then, paradoxically, through the grace of spirit, something else accumulates sufficient to break through the rigid frigid skin of objectification, and the world begins to flow and dance and laugh. This is the world of energy. The mind doesn't have to be completely quiet or totally still – that would be enforced and we all know that force is anathema to energy. It just needs to be soft in the sense of letting go of what's gone, and keen in the sense of welcoming what's coming.

1.3.16

NEW TAIJI CLASS STARTING SOON

Beginners: welcome
Intermediate: tolerated
Advanced: fuck off!