30.4.16

The body and, especially, the energy can think for themselves. The last thing they need is a neurotic mind messing things up.
When you meditate sincerely and openly – refuse the temptation to go inside – effectively pray – then armour drops, heart spills forth, and reality comes so close that the only response is tears.
From a Taiji standpoint our basic choice in life is either use the legs to break the energetic connexion to Earth or use the legs to strengthen that connexion. (And, paradoxically, a strong connexion is only achieved by relaxing (weakening) the legs as much as is possible without collapsing.) This choice determines everything else in life, and ultimately the quality of death.
some of us [lone wolfs]
dissect methodically 
[our] collective chaotic memories 

movement in nothingness 
like luminescent particles
invisible but reflective 

hold together 
[by] mycelial networks 
the underground web
Relax the mind and trust the body. This provides an intelligence far superior to the ability to rationalise and calculate.
"It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer."
"I started abandoning things and feeling very zen about it."
When someone touches you softly they recognise, on an energetic level, at least for the duration, which may be most fleeting, that touch, if not everything, far outweighs their own selfish agenda. For me, this is a philosophy for life: to live guided by the magic of between.
An enlightened master has no agenda. Their life is guided purely by the sacred softness of encounter – of touch.
"Only those who have the patience to do simple things perfectly will acquire the skill to do difficult things easily."
Pull the head back – get it well out of the way – otherwise heart and soul will never be free of mind and ego – the work will never become spiritual.

Yang style Taiji, so my teacher told me, is largely about unifying belly and heart into one powerful energetic organ, which is then controlled by the mind of intent, by spirit, for the purpose of getting an angle – an advantage – on the situation particularly, and on life in general. I no longer have time for such nonsense.
Intent is the use of the mind to harness and control spirit.
The mind is clever: it learns quickly that the best way to close and control the heart is to break the body's energetic connexion to the Earth by tensing the belly – pulling it in and up.
Softness surrenders self to the transformative power of touch. So, a soft person is constantly being woken and lit up by the gentle spark of between.
"Make your ego porous. Will is of little importance, complaining is nonsense, fame is nothing. Openness, patience, receptivity, solitude is everything."

"Patience is the support of weakness; impatience the ruin of strength."
Individuality is wishful thinking. The part of us that we think of as individual – self – is ridiculously divisible – deconstructable – into millions of different facets, whereas the part that is truly individual – the soul or heart – isn't ours anyway.
As soon as my mind leaves the flow of life to circulate within itself, I become a silly sullied stagnant pool of self-congratulation and self-abuse – I lose time/energy, and dishonour all I work for.
Softness isn't just another quality; it's everything.
"Unless I can speak to God through my laptop, I’m never going to make a great record."

Do work that matters. Vale la pena.

29.4.16

"It is strange that the years teach us patience; that the shorter our time, the greater our capacity for waiting."
It doesn't matter how much talent you have – it's never enough.
The mind can only wander if I bring tension into the body. This tension is perceived by the world as lack of trust, and so, on some level, the world holds back some of its support and energy. Most of us get unconsciously resentful at this point, and take this stand-off of a relationship as permanent and irrevocable. But anything can change with work: our place in the world as well as the world's place in us.
You have to go thru it
If you wanna get past it
Only way to do it:
Move in and blast it.



And we are put on earth a little space
That we may learn to bear the beams of love
Mind is only useful when it becomes spirit. You could say the same for body.
Spirit leaps in just before the decision is made and tips the balance. In this sense all decisions are arbitrary.
Let yourself go and see what happens. That's life.
When you're sitting up and facing forward then there's no escape.
"…erratic strewn monuments to solitude and the elements…"
Reality exists beneath smugness and above tiredness.

"Well, my son really loves wildlife. And every time he draws a polar bear I want to tell him there probably won't be any by the time he's my age. That's kinda hard to deal with."
For medical cannabis to have any real value it would have to teach how to manage pain as well as taking it away. Whether it is used as such depends entirely upon the heart and mind of the user. There's a principle in there somewhere.
Insight happens when light pierces feeling.
Next time you are tempted to criticize another consider the possibility that they have fewer layers of mediation between self and reality and so are better than thee.
The more strongly the dantien is tied to Earth the more I can lean back and release the heart to God.

Beneath the seriousness there is always humour bursting to get out.
Often I feel the work is more about aesthetics than ethics. The indescribable beauty of creation – the miraculous bubbling forth of pure novelty from the fathomless depths – the way each Form is unimaginably different from all the others. This is the beauty of life, and our ethical duty is to appreciate it and be happy – to observe the process and say Good. And be damn thankful.
"Probably one of the reasons I don't work in the mainstream anymore is that I'm only interested in making the stuff I want to make."

28.4.16

We always need help – inspiration – so find it where you can – when you can – everywhere anytime – and be eternally grateful – otherwise it won't work.
When you put your hand on another creature and relax into the miracle of touch then you begin to realise that language is little to do with communication and more to do with reducing reality to its quantifiable externals. The work is about abandoning the world of discourse – the logos – and entering pure feeling and energy.
"It's easy to be miserable. Being happy is tougher – and cooler."

"It's more about when you come back from being out somewhere: in a minicab or a night bus, or with someone, or walking home across London late at night, dreamlike, and you've still got the music kind of echoing in you, in your bloodstream, but with real life trying to get in the way. I want it to be like a little sanctuary. It's like that 24-hour stand selling tea on a rainy night, glowing in the dark. It's pretty simple."

Through the work we live a life that is both creative and responsive, and eventually reach a place where these become one. This is the union of yin and yang in the act of yielding.
How poor are they that have not patience!
What wound did ever heal but by degrees?
Feelings are useful only if they encourage you to penetrate into and beyond the reality from which they bubble. Surfaces are there to be pierced not polished.
Very early on in life we learn to repress feeling (energy) in order to live like everyone else. Our work – our meditation – is about relaxing sufficient for those feelings to rekindle and resurface into consciousness. When this starts to happen it can be exciting or irritating or scary, depending upon one's basic character. The teacher's job is to encourage – to let the student know that what they are feeling is a sign of progress. Eventually the student learns to accept these strange twists and turns, and simply get on with it regardless. This can appear to be another form of cutting off from feeling but it is not – it is just that the student has finally found a purpose and a centre other than self.

25.4.16

"There are four quadrants of your consciousness. Upper left is what you know and what people know about you. Upper right is what you know about yourself but nobody knows. Lower left is what people know about you that you don’t know. And lower right is what you don’t know and nobody knows. And that’s where art comes from."
Ego and spirit are opposites to the point of mutual exclusivity. So, when the ego is free to the point of rampant, as it is in most of us bourgeoisie, then the spirit is dissipated: a fact that's obvious when you look into the eyes of the average person and see dull fear and depression masked by the sheen of selfishness or the twinkling gloat of puerile excitement. But when the ego is hemmed in, with discipline and duty, with vigilance and devotion, then the eyes shine with concentrated spirit and depth of soul.
"I realized that, in many instances, it didn't matter what you said, it mattered how you said it: the tone of the voice, the rhythm, the sound…"
To start with the mind is the engine of intent but, eventually, the heart takes over otherwise the head joins the intended line (which flows from the heart) and posture goes to pot.
"Something pulsates in my body, a luminous thin thing grows thicker every day. Its presence never leaves me. I am never alone. That which abides: my vigilance, my thousand sleepless serpent eyes blinking in the night, forever open. And I am not afraid."

A hard frightened mind clenches the sacrum so tight that all but the dullest life is choked out. Hence English tight-arsedness. It makes life easier to control, but only by killing most of what constitutes life.

24.4.16

"When the balance breaks, the heavens choose the most sensitive among men, and make them resonate."
Feeling's great. What's not is holding on to that feeling.
"it is starting from mortality and from the possibility of being dead that one can let things be such as they are"

23.4.16

Heart's soul's seat.

22.4.16


Progress requires the student to (eventually) give up their strength (of character) – abandon what it was that brought them this far – and embrace weakness. This is the real test that few are willing to countenance let alone accept. Faith is vital – the only way.

21.4.16

Once, my teacher, after bemoaning my lack of talent, looked affectionately at me and said: But what will save your bacon is your love of work.
Don't mistake collapse for tiredness: it is a passive-aggressive refusal to connect.
Prayer is defined as the raising of heart and mind to God in the absence of thoughts (the proviso added by Evagrius, the early Desert Father, according to my teacher's father, who was something of an expert). So, if there are no thoughts, and therefore no words, then it's simply a matter of posture – of extension and intention – alignment of both body and mind. This, of course, is pure Taiji, assuming you're not too obsessed by form and function.
"I’m not a pre-meditative photographer. I see a picture and I make it. If I had a chance, I’d be out shooting all the time. You don’t have to go looking for pictures. The material is generous. You go out and the pictures are staring at you."

When standing feel as though sitting (legs bent and accommodating) and when sitting feel as though standing (spine straight and erect).
God's existence is an irrelevance. What matters is that prayer, of some nature, is the only way to become naked enough to be. And it's not being special – it's just being – a simple object rather than thinking subject.
Remember: become the snake not the crane, yielder not aggressor.
If the head cranes forward then the lower back and waist are not working as they should.
"To achieve truth, the photographer needs to curtail his resources, which means he must make photography more difficult."
Don't mistake distraction for weakness: it is willful resistance.

We spend our formative years internalizing a multitude of experiences: positive and negative, which become lenses or filters through which all subsequent experiences are viewed. This is more a process of 'becoming through experience' than 'learning from experience.' The work is an excruciatingly slow process of removing these deep personal prejudices in order to be empty enough to be fully open and present. This is the only way to encounter the new, not by traveling to ever exotic places but by ditching old and established habits, by quietening the knowing mind and being energetically engaged.
The problem is that, unless you're vigilant and attentive, it all becomes a smug, self-satisfied slump.
"To wander for hours searching for the unknown requires faith. One must trust that unmarked time spent photographing will result in the world revealing itself, and that your translation of the world will be meaningful. That’s a tough mindset to maintain, because sometimes photos happen and sometimes they don’t."
we have to get out of our own way

20.4.16

It becomes meditation when you begin to appreciate that gravity and grace will do the work for you if only you stop resisting.

19.4.16


"the serpent is the symbol of absolute alterity, which endlessly deconstructs her self-sovereignty by opening the chasm of her ontological ground"
Without the head suspended from above Taiji is just another form of self-engrossment.
Motivation must come from the heart – the sheer and simple love of the work and its traditions – and not from ego (superego) – fear, guilt, duty, ambition, habit. About this my teacher was most adamant, and as you progress you'll feel its importance more and more. It's all about the joyful spontaneous act that springs simply from the desire to be done rather from any profit motive. Things that have meaning, for Heaven's sake, only in themselves, and for the grace they generate.

18.4.16

I read recently that if the average person were to confront real freedom then they'd either die of fright or, at the very least, run for the hills. I have my doubts. I suspect that the average person wouldn't even notice.
Freedom is always haunted by the abyss from which it emerges.
"The serpent symbolizes the organic cosmology represented by Earth, life, creative energy, and spiritual integrity."

The ridiculous irony in criticising the critical mind.
The intelligence to understand the limitations of intelligence.
"coming to terms with the reality of one's oppression, facing the truth beneath the constructed reality"

17.4.16

Spiritual work can all be summed up by one word: release. Letting go of tension, of self. This requires, above all, faith, of some sort, otherwise it's just too scary. Without faith, deep release is well-nigh impossible.

14.4.16

The best way to fight oppression and control is to reduce that part of you that is controllable, namely self or ego, and develop those parts that cannot be controlled – spirit and soul.
Spinal hygiene : awakening the serpent.
"I am trying to find myself.
Sometimes that's not easy."

A market economy flattens and depresses the world by assuming that everything can be reduced to a price. A gift economy elevates and lightens reality because it knows that every thing has an essence which is unique, irreducible, non-habitual and priceless. If you wish to live in the present – in and for the gift – then you must feel and honour the magic in even the tiniest of things. Then you'll find yourself always being showered by the lightness of grace.
If you want to get into energy then you'll need to relinquish as much control as possible because energy comes from freedom.
Taiji is a machine that converts doing into being, earth into heart, spirit into soul. The efficiency of the machine depends upon the mind.

Pain is inevitable so learn to use it.
Tighten up your act, and bring tone (discipline, containment, connectedness, elasticity) into every area of life. No time to lose, no energy to waste.

“When faced with a choice, do both.”

12.4.16

"Perhaps I am stronger than I think."
We quieten the mind not to find silence but to bring to the fore the subtle yet seething activity normally drowned out by our own fearful chatter.
humanity's self-constructed alienation from Nature
continuous open pathways of elastic sinew-osity

11.4.16

Bring joy to the work, never dread.

Rise to the occasion, but don't take the bait.
The main problem for men is that they perceive their tension – their holding-on-ness – their fear – as a strength, and are loathe to let it go.
Spirit mobilizes the mind which intends the energy which carries the body. This is the way of Taiji. Unfortunately, for most of us, mind attempts control by removing intention/energy and replacing it with thinking/force.
We could all do with a laxative: something to help us let go of our shit, and stop being such bloated testaments to constipation.
Use of force assumes a solid reality, energy a fluid one.

In the long run we're much more likely to become what we work against than what we work for. This is the unavoidable cyclical nature of Taiji – yin/yang – dynamic equilibrium.
Real work erodes an ego and crystallizes a soul. I saw that yesterday in the face of the sherut driver.
What originally took you forwards ends up holding you back.

10.4.16

a mathematic of feeling
which we call love
Forgiveness, the self-help books tell us, is letting go of the past, and is key to moving forward in life. But it is not enough to forgive: you too must be forgiven. It is not only your past that you feature in, you are also present in the pasts of all those you've known and encountered, and if they, for whatever reason, are holding grievances against you then their forgiveness must be sought. And if they are dead and gone then so much the worse for you because now you'll need to pay in some other way. But don't worry about it. When the time comes in your spiritual progress that such delicacies are seriously holding you back then what needs to be done will become clear and unavoidable.
The intelligence to do what needs to be done.

Reality is the vast, all-encompassing web of energetic connectedness. Love and fear are two extreme responses to this. Love surrenders to reality through release, and fear pulls away from it – disconnects – in order to exist in an alternative reality, a world, which we call self or ego. A spiritual life is one devoted to achieving and exploring ever deeper levels of release and surrender, of love. A secular life is devoted to increasing the self – building an empire – with wealth, status and progeny.
The intelligence not to think.
When the body ails, from illness or injury, then the mediocre student desperately seeks a remedy: some medicine or therapy that will remove the pain and discomfort, and restore the appearance of health. The good student however, after the initial shock and disappointment, allows the ailment to teach them to let go of the bad habits that brought it about, and adopt a few good ones instead. This means that by the time they have recovered, they are generally in better shape than they were before the ailment struck. This is an example of yielding: of turning bad fortune into good, turning a foe into a friend.

9.4.16

Mind: The Perpetual Intercourse

8.4.16

In a sense, all we're trying to do is lengthen the attention span.

7.4.16


"Pride makes us artificial; humility makes us real."
Grow old, gracefully.
A spiritual life is all about connexion and continuity – connectivity; the thread that no longer breaks. Grace (heart) rather than disgrace (self).
"Forty years it's taken me to enter into the Serpent, to acknowledge that I have a body, that I am a body and to assimilate the animal body, the animal soul."
We are so concerned with order – with justice and propriety – with membership and belonging – that we neglect the truth.

6.4.16

"God's Logos is the charged silence over which humanity finds itself interminably babbling."

Language enables us to keep reality at arm's length – to be replaced by a world.
"It is failure that guides evolution; perfection offers no incentive for improvement."
There is always a deeper level of release. This is what keeps the work both interesting and dangerous, and what makes it make me better.

4.4.16

"Working for a living leaves you no time to make money."
Count your blessings.

1.4.16

A temple near Osaka had a wonderful view over the sea. Rikyu had two hedges planted which totally hid the landscape, and near them he had a small stone pond built. Only when a visitor bent over the pond to take water in the hollow of his hands would his gaze meet the oblique gap between the two edges, and then the vista of the boundless sea would open up before him. Rikyu’s idea was probably this: bending down over the pond and seeing his own image shrunk in that narrow stretch of water, the man would consider his own smallness; then, as soon as he raised his face to drink from his hand, he would be dazzled by the immensity of the sea and would become aware that he was part of an infinite universe. But these are things that are ruined if you try to explain them too much. To the person who asked him about why he had built the hedge, Rikyu would simply quote the lines of the poet Sogi:

      Here, just some water,
      There amidst the trees
      The sea!

Let spirit steal time on mind.
When you've forgotten the umbrella simply walk between the raindrops. Sounds facetious I know but it's a nice image of how yielding harmonizes with nature.