Yielding, and its concomitant quality of softness, is a way of life. Our way of life. To draw out the element of unconditionality lurking in everything, an element that cannot be confronted, directly, but must be seduced by the same element in ourselves – by spirit. Then asked to dance.


"I retired from everything except work."


If it doesn't kill you, it makes you stronger; even if it cripples you.

Meditation is an exercise that extends the attention span.
The task for all of us is exactly the same: to break out of class and into humanity. So, whether you are middle class, working class, rich, poor, black, white, male, female, educated, uneducated, first world, third world, jew, arab, straight, gay, these categories must be left behind so that you can become simply the expression of your own magnificent spirit. Sounds easy but in actual fact it is without doubt the most difficult task you could possibly undertake.
Back in 1998 my teacher suddenly abandoned the British Tai Chi Chuan Association, the organisation he had founded in 1970 and which, at its height, in the mid eighties, was the largest and most vibrant Taiji centre in Europe. Admittedly it had been slowly declining ever since he and his family were evicted from the Upper Wimpole Street premises in 1993 due to neglect. In actual fact the decline had started years before then. For some time John Kells had been bored with the Yang style Taiji he was teaching because he felt it wasn't an adequate vehicle for either his Irish spirit or his Celtic vision (he was a true visionary if nothing else). He was playing around with little technical nicknacks he'd picked up here and there – the figure 8 exercise in Taiwan, Chen style push hands from Nitsan Michaeli, his own no-contact rebound – in the hope of injecting a bit of spirit into his complacent students, and maybe developing a new and fresh style of Taiji. And then suddenly he just stopped showing up – leaving it up to me to keep things ticking over. I asked him why and he just said, "I'm tired of being a crutch."
It always seems a miracle, don't you think, to see such joyful carefree children with such depressed mediocre parents. The parents' pain seems to run off them like water off a ducks back. But just wait until those children are their parents age. They'll be carbon copies.
willing the event as such

Pain is the work that needs to be done. The choice that faces us all is whether to buckle down to it or avoid it. Most, of course, chose avoidance. We engineer an anodyne life that backgrounds pain in the hope that pleasure will come forward. But, to the soul, such a life is clearly false because painkillers reduce our ability to feel anything – they dampen the spirit. Hence depression – an inability to grasp the bull by the horns because letting go, walking away and becoming busy with something else is always presented as such a tempting option.
What motivates? Fundamentally, for me, a deep deep desire for justice. So deep, so fundamental, that the word hasn't formed yet. A wordless world. An egoless world. Paradise.


"As soon as we stop paying attention to a particular moment it falls into the past and no longer forms part of our present. Thus the distinction between past and present is fluid and dependent upon one's level of attention."
When solitude is disturbed, loneliness sneaks in.
Genteel poverty.

Every model is provisional – waiting to be displaced by the next instance of brain chemistry alteration. Reality is in relationships, not in things, per se. Laugh and the world laughs with you, weep and you weep alone.
What motivates? At least once a month this should be pondered.
I met Rupert Sheldrake a few times back in the mid 80's. His wife Jill Purce was a friend of a friend. He was terribly Oxbridge (probably still is). On one occasion he asked me what I did.
"That's all?"
"But Taiji's just something you do for ten minutes in the morning isn't it?"
Despite his sensitivity and his remarkable ability to think creatively, he couldn't step out of his class conditioning for the life of him.
Challenge reality with the intensity of your spirit, and it willingly responds with the gift of an event. Disgust reality with selfish demands and it will treat you with the contempt you deserve (by either giving you what you want or not giving you what you want, it matters little).


The present moment is not simply richer but enlivened by full spirited participation. This is what we mean by giving – nothing to do with being nice or helpful.

Meditation strives to use spirit to create time. This is its paradox. Even though sitting still, seemingly passive, your heightened awareness becomes pure activity in its intensity and presence – what Blake called Imagination – and this activity ignites the ever elusive present moment into presence. Such moments then endure as long as there is spirit to fuel them.
The only way to access the present moment is through spirit. In a sense this defines spirit – spirit is the energy of the ever unfolding yet infinitesimally thin present moment.
If you receive the grace of great teaching and yet refuse to give it due respect by taking it into regular practice, then it will, in all likelihood, end up doing more harm than good, if only because you'll have the external experience – so will think you know – and yet nothing has been internalised.
If we were to experience the full glory of the present moment then the shock would consume and as likely kill us. This is the sense in which spirit makes life by bringing to death.
It's not only the words that need to stop – the voices – but the images too. Being awake means entering the realm of pure perception.


Generally what needs to change is not what you do but how you do it.


Time starts now.
Whilst busy thinking, chattering, worrying, you cannot be aware of the flows and forces operating upon you, externally or internally. Every now and then one of these messages is strong enough to dredge you from your stupor and for a short time you marvel at the richness of reality, only to succumb yet again to the seduction of self absorption. This is the way – bouncing ever to and fro – until something in you breaks and you no longer expect the best of both worlds.
"I care not where my body may take me as long as my soul is embarked on a meaningful journey."
Rational thought, we are told, developed in Greece, amongst the idle rich, pampered by fledgling democracies which functioned because over half the population were slaves. Little did they know that they were unleashing upon the world the means of their own enslavement.

All or nothing.
Consider a tall man – his relations with the world. To partake, his head bows forward, eyes look down, heart drops, groin pulls back: all of which have a terrible effect on spirit, and so, on life. A warrior, on the other hand, is short, relatively: small but central, centred, in the midst of giants and ogres. Head pulled back, eyes wide open, heart cast up, groin thrust forward: leading with purple glans through the cosmic vagina (Castaneda's phrase) of time, and ever into living presence.
The rational mind operates from above by looking down upon a world and making judgements. It's use demands the sacrifice of root, the source not only of physical power but also creative power – heart and intention (true mind).


"The heavens call to you, and circle about you, displaying to you their eternal splendors, and your eye gazes only to earth."

all the antitheses with which timid mediocrity attempts to split the world
The trouble with learning to quieten the mind is that then the company of those with undue internal noise, which of course is the vast majority of humanity, becomes tiresome and tiring in the extreme. This is your burden – to bear the other's suffering with compassion and impeccability – to maintain peace of mind in the midst of their disturbance – to swallow them whole with a heart that cannot do otherwise.
The mind quietens so heart can take centre stage. But ego always waits in the wings, ready to throw in its critical tuppence worth.


"There are not only two worlds, but three: the world of vision, the world of sight and the world of memory: the world we create, the world we live in and the world we run away to. The world of memory is an unreal world of reflection and abstract ideas; the world of sight is a potentially real world of subjects and objects; the world of vision is a world of creators and creatures."
Tense hips (repression) and tense shoulders (anxiety) indicate one far more embedded in their own world (internal or social) than the real external world of flows and forces. A teacher kick-starts the long, slow process of relaxation so that reality can get inside and erode these tensions.

"Without unceasing Practice nothing can be done: Practice is Art. If you leave off you are lost."
Spiritual work amounts to training spirit and body to move naturally in opposite directions.
Careful not to believe your own publicity – you'll appear both full of yourself and foolish.
I have a student here who also takes rowing lessons with the top rowing instructor in Israel. Apparently, one particularly grueling lesson, she exclaimed, "Good God, why am I doing this!" to which he replied, "To make your lungs and your heart strong. And when they are strong everything in your life changes."
"The imagination is not a state: it is the human existence itself."

to the eye of a man with jaundice all things appear yellow
One little secret I've discovered along the Way is the use of yerba mate tea to stimulate the correct sort of elastic tension in mind and body, a tension – intention – without which spirit can be neither gathered internally nor directed externally. Coffee doesn't have the elasticity, without which there is no fluidity to directed movement; no energy, only force.
Body is the instrument with which to develop and project spirit.
Without a heart ever lifting to God, the heavy, relaxed shoulders of Taiji will bow you down and, eventually, under.
The most treasured moments are those of simple solitude. Richly attended by ancestors and angels. That's when infinity gets close.


"Francine, let's never let a silly thing like love come between us again!"
Working hard to get stronger is a straightforward if not easy matter. But working so hard that you get weaker takes a certain type of crazy courage, without which softness – that rarest of qualities – forever eludes.
"At the dawn of history we lost something precious, the absence of which has made us ill with narcissism."
The master, above all else, offers a path with heart, a path into heart. To take the path requires a transmission of energy, and a mountain of work. Poignantly, there is no room for passengers, despite the depth of your affections. Gradually all ties to the world are severed, and it passes you by, rather than vice versa.


And we are put on earth a little space,
That we may learn to bear the beams of love

Every thing possible
to be believed is an
image of truth.
Problems arise when you fail to go all the way. As well as letting yourself down, you miss the natural return – the inevitable bounce back.
A creature of habit really appreciates an event.


Fraught, frayed, frightened, frazzled. Spirit always leaves at least one of these. Inevitable residue, similar to muscle ache the day after exercise. Par for the course.
Where on Earth is all this going? Wish I knew. Actually glad I don't. Sure I'd chicken out.

Reflective thought is only bad if it distances you from life, if it packages and discards – consumes – like the professional tourist ticking off destinations. Reflection can be creative – it can create an event of foresight – but then this must be worked with like a Trojan – or Spartan – before transformation is effected.
Make rather than take. This is a principle that operates on the level of perception.
Much better to talk with spirit than about spirit.
Conversation with my teacher about 30 years ago:
"How are you feeling?"
"Not too good – think I'm coming down with the flu."
"Ah, sign of progress!"
"Well you have to think that otherwise it wont be."
Strictly Speaking All Knowledge is Particular.

Meditation brings you to a place of peace so that you can let yourself fall apart.
"The sources of art are enthusiasm and inspiration: if society mocks and derides these, it is society that is mad, not the artist, no matter what excesses the latter may commit."


Millennia ago we sold our soul to the devil – traded it for an ego, a sense of self. Now we must go through hell to trade it back. And that journey is a becoming porous if not transparent; allowing energy to flow through each and every pore; holding on to nothing; becoming light.
A real teaching has two parts: an external form which the student struggles to internalize, and an internal transmission that slowly – as the decades roll by and the practice accrues – externalizes. But don't expect many to notice.
Talking, writing, teaching – all a struggle to understand. Once it's understood you know to keep quiet.

"These days a regular guy can't afford to be regular."
Instead of going into therapy to talk about your problems, in the vain and vague hope that they'll quietly go away, work with them: grapple with them, wrestle them, fashion them into a machine, a weapon, with which to burrow through the veil of crass convention that envelops everything nowadays, and into the heart of reality.


"If you ever manage to quieten your mind then the shit will really hit the fan."
John Kells

Something my teacher growled at me many years ago. And it's because there is absolute dissonance between reality as is, revealed only when the mind stops, and the world constructed by that mind, which is basically a fabric of social and personal neuroses.


"From wretch to warrior, love gives a man his strength, often at the cost of his mind."
The courage to walk into battle knowing it's your last. A tall order.

No matter
what it is
I’m doing

I’ve never yet
got over the

I’m pretending
to do what
I am.

John Phillips


Courage is finding the will to overcome your fear.


"It is precisely the unthinkable that must be thought."
Mind must be dislodged from its rational perch, dismantled piece by piece, then reassembled with a natural inclination for energy rather than thought. This is basically a descent into madness followed by an ascent into sainthood.
In moving be conscious of what you displace. Swimming in air.


Stopping the internal dialogue is not a forceful matter of pushing the lid down on a boiling pot. Rather it is a matter of switching one's attention and allegiance from mind to spirit.
The portal to the next moment is here, now, but in the realm of spirit. And for us – warriors, dancers – spirit is very real – nothing like the abstract spirit of the religious which is mere wishful thinking – "If I think it and believe it then maybe it'll be true" – a naive misplaced faith in mental formation. For us spirit is an intensity of presence that conjures sufficient magic to turn this here moment into the centre of a creative universe. When I rouse my spirit in the way my teacher taught me then all around teems and seethes with life. Dwell on past events or future possibility and you'll miss it. Due vigilance.
"Only when the inner dialogue stops can the hidden parts of ourselves be seen and revealed."

This says it all really. Psychotherapy is for those without the sobriety and discipline – without the stomach and heart – for this Herculean task of simply shutting up.


The end justifies the means: force.

Unending movement: energy.



Graffiti in TLV

The failure of cautious practice.
"It's OK to be human, but try your best not to be."  
John Kells

In the world – the human universe – but neither of it nor caught by it. You're better than that.
"Never hesitate to trade your cow for a handful of magic beans."
Root: k-hole standing up.
Renunciation & constancy.

the linear expectations of the bourgeois mind
Root: mycelial rather than rhizomatic. (Although all concepts have their uses.)
Lose the mind to find Mind.
The world doesn't need more nice people – if it did then bourgeois society would certainty be fulfilling a function. It needs more seers – more people who see.
"Throughout most of our history, nothing – not flood, famine, plague, or new weapons – has endangered humanity one-tenth as much as the narcissistic ego, with its self-aggrandizing presumptions and its hell-bound spawn of fear and greed."


We are all wonderful engineers. We engineer a world, a life, a society – a folly – designing, building, repairing, so that we never need face the flaws in our character that prevent us from becoming in any way fully conscious. This is our brilliance, and, ultimately, our downfall. And by the time we discover the folly it's all too late.
Softness is the space between the eyes which expands into a plane of compassion hovering over your world.
"frankly happiness is based on the heart considerably more than it is on external circumstance"
Look and you pull out of the picture. See and you fall into the picture. We look with the eyes but we see with the heart.
Shoulders fall from spine and drop to hips. This is the downward consequence of gravity. Earth drives up through heel, sacrum, heart, head, like a cool spear. This is the upward consequence of gravity. Surrender to each. Be aware of each. Feel how one generates the other.


Remove evolutionary forces, as we seem to have done to our species, and we don't just stay still, we devolve.
A good life is not one that maximises pleasure and minimises pain but one that consciously works through karma – one that isn't wasted.
"Never surrender to the momentum of mediocrity."


sometimes i can get really into a normal thing just by fucking with the way i perceive it
Out in the moshav with Tai yesterday, we passed a boy riding a hoverboard. "Is it difficult?" she asked him. "Only if you're frightened," he replied.


Gilda, the neighbour's dog, a pitbull cross, was always chained up – had once nipped a stranger. Always needy, she gave me such greetings: pure excitement and affection. Now, reprieved, she is free to roam and eat at will, so has become fat and depressed, unable to muster enthusiasm for anything. But she's happy, and of course that's all that matters.
before everyone got blinded by options and retreated into fitting in
break the habit of automatic pilot


The freedom that lies beyond culture.
"Just being told by an unsmiling guy in a white coat that you're going to be dead in four months definitely turns on the lights. It makes life rich and poignant. When it first happened, and I got these diagnoses, I could see the light of eternity, à la William Blake, shining through every leaf. I mean, a bug walking across the ground moved me to tears."

"Not what I have, but what I do, is my kingdom."


The unassuming clarity of emptiness.
If I have correct posture, of mind as well as body, then every action, every thought and feeling, every response to the world, takes me into my root, and that root, duly stimulated, sends up a jolt of energy that lifts the heart. In this sense happiness (maybe joy would be a better word) comes from the root, from the Earth, and is simply a lifting of the heart to God.
Tension, bad tension, results from holding onto something that is not true. Without letting go there is no clarity, only wishful thinking.
"A man lives by believing something; not by debating and arguing about many things."

Only when I empty of self can I fill with what is, and thereby come alive.
"the inward harmony of coherence which is its soul"
Positive in the sense that simply by being I am giving.
Don't let the desire to be, or to have, something special cripple you. It is singular enough to be simply you.
The compassion not only to see both sides but to harbour them.


heaps of money hoarded by the hidden class
"Everything is expressed through RELATIONSHIPS."
Relax the body, settle the mind and present the soul.
What does this mind/body/spirit serve? The answer should be, I guess, life itself – where service and expression come together. But for most a more honest answer would be self or ego – the congealed sum of all attachments.
Depression mourns a spirit lost to the forces of conformity.


"Intellect confuses intuition."

"The only problem in art is to achieve a balance between subjective and objective."


An obligation to give.
In an act of trust – trust in life, in being – the mind lets go, relaxes, and the body, centered in dantien, sinks down to earth, and the spirit, centered at heart, rises heavenward. The hands then reach out to the Other with something to offer.


If a situation isn't going your way then you have three courses: get your revenge on life and the world by sulking – being unhappy, miserable, depressed; changing the situation – redesigning it to your own liking or taking yourself out of it altogether; changing your mood, energy, heart to better fit the situation. This last one is a spiritual exercise we call yielding.
Prenatal mind. Mind before ego, before the sentimental coochy-coos demanded conditioned response. When we breathed via navel and swam and grew and only knew the maternal love of warm water.

Lungs & heart need aerobic work. Lots of it.
Continuity. Connexion through time. Joining the dots, the moments; an elastic thread, stretching, tightening, breathing never breaking.


"Far from being a psychological trait, the spirit of revenge is the principle on which our whole psychology depends."
Three years to learn relaxation.
Three years to learn tension.
Three years to learn spirit.
Tighten & lighten. Belly tightens, heart lightens. These should go together, require each other, demand each other. A true duality. The value of unity is two. When belly tightens as it should then you'll feel the heart expand and lift; when the heart lightens as it should you'll feel the belly squeeze. Two poles of an elastic, living continuum.

"Generally, the more weight you put on, the less effective you are."
Mr Nice Guy doesn't get the job done.
When you enjoy a work of art (a poem, a flower, a single malt) do you analyse what's said or do you let it transport/transform you? Of course both. Always both. Work on the one that doesn't come natural.


An antic disposition.


"The way in which I create myself is by means of a quest. I go out into the world in order to come back with myself."

They go together, yield and attack, as two poles of a continuum. Can't have one without the other.
Matter & time. It's just a matter of time.


till other voices wake
us or we drown


God is Love. Not entity but feeling, emotion. Reality is in feelings not in things.
Great minds think alike, fools beg (sic) to differ. Truth versus opinion.


Work the two poles of being: that which threatens to be constantly overwhelmed by life, and that that can be neither touched nor reached. The rest will take care of itself.
Time to upset the apple cart.
It doesn't matter how much talent you have or how much instruction you've received, eventually you'll reach a seemingly impassable wall. You can then either stop, rest on your laurels, become an institution, an expert, a teacher, occasionally banging your head against the wall, or you can drop everything, lighten the load, and start scaling.
Remember playing Cops & Robbers or Cowboys & Indians as a kid? How much more exciting it was to be a Robber or an Indian, to be a minority fighting against an oppressive majority? (The modern version of the game, played by kids here, is Americans & Al Qaeda.)
"The struggle for us all is the same — to become good students."
John Kells


"It's ridiculous what I do. I can't believe in it – but I have to."
It's a mean spiteful mind that says this not that.
For the heart to be effective it must be light and open. But for it to be light and open without floating away on a wave of self indulgence it must be firmly anchored by a fiercely dense dantien.
Dantien is centre of the universe. To get there requires a mood of grim, detached determination yet once there one beams out at the world with a heart of compassion. This is a paradox, a tension, that cannot be resolved by the mind, only embraced and contained.
"Be aware that everyone else is thinking far too hard about themselves to be thinking about you, whoever you are."
Pull yourself together. Mind in dantien. A taut, focused determination to be useful, supportive, exemplar and challenge to everything in your world.


"truth is not naturally sought, rather one is involuntarily driven to the truth"
All is energy and everything is in its rightful place. The univocity of being. This is where the work is taking us.
The majority is always wrong, even when they're right. It's a matter of grammar.
"Ghosts appear in place of whatever a given people will not face"

We live in terribly corrupt times, where most proudly champion selfishness over principle. The least we can do is reverse this trend for and in ourselves. And there is value in such resistance – it helps keep the smouldering spirit alive.


About 15 years ago I was crossing London Bridge on my way to teach a Taiji class in Bermondsey when I received a phone call from my teacher:
"Listen Steve, I'm only going to say it once — SOFTNESS IS THE ACHE IN EVERY DREAM TO BE A BETTER SOUL."
And that was it.
These words, and especially the energy of their saying, still resonate unsettlingly inside me.
"I'd rather roll my body in these songs."
Depression results from dwelling in an unnourishing past.
When it comes to behaviour, 'good' is obedience to what is established whereas 'bad' is breaking the law, breaking the mold, breaking (with) things. Very rarely, if at all, is 'good' an active positive force. This is a typical bourgeois inversion of true value.

"There's a whole world waiting for you on the other side of ordinary."
Slowly dismantling the safety net.
closer to madness than madcap
Nothing is more terrifying than the prospect of a life without fear. This is because the fear becomes so institutionalized, so foundational, so built in to all our psychic and social structures that (even when it is finally noticed) a life without it is both inconceivable and unimaginable. And this is why enlightened human beings are the rarest creatures on the planet.


"The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal."

"The world is a harmony of tensions."
Think the legs as extending all the way up to the top of the hip bones (iliac crests); attached to the sides of the pelvis rather than underneath. I got that from a professional dancer. It's the sort of conceptualisation that changes not just the work but the life.
The only comfort the master's words provide is the comfort of knowing that you have your work cut out for the next couple of lifetimes at the very least.
Recollection of an idle chat with my teacher about 20 years ago.
JK: I heard Bob Dylan today on the radio – Blowing In The Wind. It sounded weak and dated.
SM: But he was a great songwriter and he did write about freedom.
JK: Yes, precisely the sort of freedom I already have too much of.

Our freedom is not economic freedom or political freedom – not the freedom to make choices or develop opinions (which tend to follow the herd anyway), but freedom of spirit – the freedom to be at your best when required, which means freedom from resentment and self-pity, freedom from ego.
the dynamic force of life in its singular unfolding

Just graft away.
Not much more to say.
Experiment: that which one does in order to provoke a novel occurrence, to elicit a new event, to produce a new body.
Love is an exercise in depersonalization.
"The divine escapes men's notice because of their incredulity."


a solid devotion to using up and making do

"it is only amidst dysfunction that the structure of a situation is revealed"
For and against opposing each other
This is the mind's disease.
Nomadic. Moving around: place to place, principle to principle. Moving on. Following the bison; the game. Following the nose. Shifting view, vista, vantage, perspective; change of scene. Switching lenses, not to see better, more clearly, but different. Questioning everything. Testing everything. Looking, actively, for difficulty. Searching for weakness. A mistrust of, an unease in, strength, knowledge, established and establishment. A life shrouded in mist and mystery.
If truly present then all thought of time, of past and future, is erased. A naked intensity that makes the hackles rise. We call this becoming animal.
Seek out slippage planes, border zones, boundaries. Neither one nor the other. No man's land.


Psychotherapies assume that one is defined by one's vocabulary. One hell of an assumption. But just in case, we suggest an extended, deep vocabulary, ever growing, honing, enriching.
The humility to fall; the arrogance to rise. The intelligent student acquires an elastic rubbery fabric so that this oscillation becomes natural. On the way down beg for rock bottom (then you'll bounce higher), on the way up be like the sun at midday, knowing you'll rise another day. The Eternal Return.
"Private property has made us so stupid and partial that an object is only ours when we have it. Thus all the physical and intellectual senses have been replaced by the sense of having."
We think we live in a world dominated by a clutter of objects, of things. We assume that everything is such a thing, in possession of mass so inertia so momentum and so time, slowness. Then what blocks our engagement with spirit is the seeming impossibility of conceptualizing a thing without mass and without time, at once everywhere. Because, in fear posing as wisdom, we have invented an image of man that puts thinking first, that requires something to be first held in the mind before it can be experienced. This is the image that your teacher, if he is a teacher, strives to erode in you, by offering an alternative with spirit at centre, constantly stressing it as a more appropriate model for a martial artist and for someone trying to wake up. Eventually though even that image begins to fall away as, having found the ground, you begin to grow up and realize that Earth and Heaven are sufficient.
Don't make choices; make balance.


a very deep and dubwise center of gravity
Depression is glorified sulking.
"a non-unitary vision of the subject as situated beyond the liberal model of an entity that coincides with self-reflexive individualism and is consequently capable of self-correcting agency, transcendental consciousness and moral universalism"
What could be more selfish than the path to enlightenment? Look instead for the company of those who have worked on their character by actively and passionately helping others. They're the real people.
Without the assurance of dogma or the cynicism of doxa.


Always be willing to venture into areas you have no expertise for, even if it means your downfall.
Education wows the world with learning but stifles originality.


Spiritual work is about freeing the heart of the mundane. To achieve this we must first give something back, so we offer our body, our mass; we sink and relax. And the big secret is that the same relaxation that releases the body down also releases the spirit up, and that upward release is our first glimmer of God.
The path(s) into reality are fraught with danger. The jealous god.
"Your Form is great, but it needs to bleed more."
John Kells

A few moments with a great master and you have enough material to last a lifetime. Then, as always, it's simply up to you.
If you really want to learn, and you really want to change (do you, really?) then you should let your teacher's words haunt every practice session, and, if possible, every moment. They will anyway, subconsciously, but they'll also be resisted, tooth and nail, subconsciously. Success requires the battle to be brought out into the open.


to embody the entire dialectic of one's philosophy
Whatever turns you on.
"to articulate a supreme fiction one must first strip away all other fictions"


"God is a reality of spirit."
We work with what we know in order to expose what we don't know. The work generates a fire that makes the spirit burn with a special sensitivity and courage that beckons truth, that forces reality to reveal itself.
The dantien needs to be worked, physically, muscularly, like any muscle, with impassioned sequences of belly contractions alternating with lumber spine extensions – bowing then arching the spine – pelvic rocking. The passion, the intensity, comes from the connected continuity through the sequence rather than the force exterted, and so can be done anywhere at anytime: whilst walking, waiting, reading, even conversing. Driving is ideal because the exercise also improves posture (we all tend to slump as we drive, unless you have a good bucket seat) and brings the mind to attention, to a place of cold, quiet vigilance; a mood we call ruthless.
"The will to originality is not the will to be peculiar and unlike anybody else; it means the desire to derive one's consciousness from its primary source."
Mind in dantien, the instruction, the reality, (at) the core of our work and life. But not a useless, flaccid mind, wanting to wander, but an intense ruthless mind, a mind in tension, a mind that tones the body so that body can effectively obey the mind. Then mind and body are unified in tension, in an intensity we call spirit.


"To be radical is to grasp things by the root."
Depression is a luxury the warrior does not afford himself.
Life is the only part of reality we occupy. It is not revealed by thinking but by living.
Rather than quibble about details, practice. It'll all come out in the wash.
We relax in order to institute the correct sort of tension. We call this tension, centered, always, at dantien, awareness or mindfulness.

"In order for language to operate, part of being must be subtracted from those very operations of language."

Meditation is the nurturing of this part of being.
Responsibility & frivolity.
Contradict yourself.
"We must learn to use and erase our language at the same time."
The teacher's job is to get a rise out of the student. First a rise of ego, which he ruptures, and then a rise of spirit.

We spend the whole day talking to ourselves, reinforcing the self, glorying in self – effectively praying to the self. No amount of physical tension could compare to that.
"The joyous affirmation of a world of signs without fault, without truth, without origin, offered to an active interpretation."
Coarsened by a moneyed democracy and an odious parliamentary circus.
"It is not my job to battle your ego. That is your job."
John Kells
When you place yourself in the world strongly, with an upright spine, willing to bear the burden not only of your own existence but of those you love, then that presence becomes a challenge to reality to reveal itself.

"In my free time I do differential and integral calculus." (Karl Marx)

What more beautiful way of describing meditation: getting the mind around the infinite and the infinitesimal.
Prayer is about acknowledging and accepting that a true life is a life of service. And then begging for the strength of character to live it.



"If the labourer consumes his disposable time for himself, he robs the capitalist."

Labourer = Spirit
Capitalist = Ego
People no longer think (for themselves) nor work (for others); they simply have opinions.
"Necessity is blind until it becomes conscious. Freedom is the consciousness of necessity."

Does middle-classness condemn one to mediocrity? I suspect so. The good student is classless, living on the fringes, materially, spiritually, emotionally.
Live for the disarming moments.


"Whatever proves an obstacle to our mechanisms of wish fulfilment, or our fantasy of reality, is real."
Simply put we have two aspects. We have surface self represented by ego and we have deep soul represented by spirit. For most of us the former dominates, especially on the day to day. Spiritual work is any activity that aims to weaken ego and strengthen spirit so that the soul can, at least for a little time, be acknowledged and put to the fore.
"Victory over fear is the first spiritual duty of man." Creating a safe environment in which fear never seems to appear is not the answer. It is what we call avoidance.


"Taiji is not difficult, it is impossible."

Spirit makes the impossible possible. When spirit rises it is as though a light has been switched on, and suddenly you can see, and it's all rather straightforward and easy. But without that light everything is a real struggle. A poor teacher demonstrates externals. A good teacher helps you find the switch.
"Bread for myself is a material question. Bread for my neighbor is a spiritual one."
Don't be mistaken into thinking that just because you have the words, the vocabulary, you also have the knowledge. Acquiring knowledge is a long slow process of making the words your own – discovering what they really mean besides anyone's, especially your own, opinion about them.
Love for God is simply the very natural tendency of spirit to lift upward, like a vapour rising from the chest, the heart. God's love for us is simply the very natural draw from above, from outside, from the Other, a constant call to our spirit to acknowledge, lift and love. Two sides of the same coin.
"Freedom is the power to create out of nothing, the power of the spirit to create out of itself."

Don't you find it irritating when someone asks, "What are the benefits of Taiji?" I used to waffle on about relaxation and health and strength, not believing a word of it myself, but now I usually answer, "It makes the world a better place," or, if I want to get my own back and be really irritating in turn I say, "It keeps God happy." Then the response is, of course, "No, I mean what are the benefits for ME." End of story.
Imagine the almighty sigh of relief the Earth would breathe if 99% of humanity disappeared overnight. Some indictment…
Excess or lack, they both work. When one has plenty, surplus to needs, an excess, then there is the confidence to play, a lightness of spirit. When one has not enough but the task must be done then necessity will, if you let it, rouse fighting spirit and a miracle will happen.
Being in love. Falling in love. That blissful achy breaky heart of love. A natural state. A natural process. Love (is) natural process. And this is why we need God – to give focus to love, to purify our love.
The leaves are gathered round the window like pointed ears.

"in the penumbral light of a virtuality that is neither being nor nothingness"
I have a student here, a psychotherapist, who insists that most peoples' problems stem from an inability to spend time alone – a fear of loneliness. And I think I agree. Yet her idea of being alone is to spend an evening sitting in front of the TV pigging out on a large tub of ice-cream, so I guess there are degrees of alone. Meditation is, if you like, pure alone time – solitude without even your thoughts for company; time spent listening to what tentatively emerges from the shadows when we are, truly, alone.


"To transform the paralysis into aporia, to break a path for myself..."
Without alibi.


A student matures through practice rather than age. These should go together but, as we know, most no longer practice and so grow old without growing up.