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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"Taiji is continuousness and continuousness is Taiji". Looking at it from this point of view is sagelike and saintlike.
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.
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.
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.