"Pride (hubris) needs putting out even more than a house on fire."
Build a wilderness chapel.
Use words to express wonder rather than surety. Become a poet.
A quest for the sublime.

Does God exist? ask the faithless.
Do I exist? ask the faithful.
Since the Renaissance we have struggled to delineate an ordered and benign world that does not require faith to navigate. A bland spiritless humanism.
"The stuff of spirit is a smoke-like substance of finest particles that gives rise to all other things; its particles are of less mass than any other substance and it is constantly in motion: only movement can know movement."
Faith is natural. It all hinges on this.


Strength of heart comes from soundness of faith.

Weeping makes the heart grow lighter.
Look at all the great people of history and probably not one of them had a 'balanced personality' but I can guarantee they all had fantastic spirit.
Then there is a harmony of transmutations.
Bourgeois wisdom provides arbitrary tweeks to accommodate an overweening ego. An attractive and respectable face to a hideous selfishness.
"The primitive mind sees disorder in itself and enlists every discipline to keep from contaminating the world. We see all disorder outside ourselves, in the world and in other people; our anxiety is that they will contaminate us: botch our composure, snatch our opportunities, queer our luck."


If you want to see what's there then look away.
Even trivia can be useful, add colour, difference, to the moment.
Work, soul; love, fear; all different senses, tenses, of the same thing.
Faith enriches a world, a soul. Knowledge depletes it.
The work is a long, slow, but inexorable purification of motive. It all depends on motive, on source. The true destination is always back the way you've come.

What do you see when you avert the eyes?

Avert, avert, avoid
pollution, to be clean
in a dirty time

O Wheel, aid us
to get the gurry off


A brutal honesty. But only with oneself.
Repent, sinner! Locate, admit and root out points of pride.
The shapes we give the Internal (they're always imposed) never last for long – or shouldn't – but need to run their course – need to be worked out.
A good heart breaks bad fortune.

The Bible is not a historical index but a psychological map, and unless understood as such it does more harm than good.
A living teaching not only transforms you, it transforms itself too.
Fundamentally, what the teaching gives you is the opportunity to exercise faith.
The good student simply cannot lie. Certainly not live a lie.


Bend. One way then the other. Until you break. This is life. And death.

In a nutshell:

Always ready to back down. This is yielding mind. But only if that readiness hones and disciplines the spirit.
Anything of importance is not a choice. Choices are trivial. What this means is that, at a deep level, nothing is voluntary. This is why it is impossible to learn by copying externals. The master does something because he has to – because with an act of spirit he has ordered his mind and energy in such a way that he has no choice but to do what's done. If you merely copy externals then you will never get to the spiritual source of that movement. To get there you will need to copy the total life that's lived by the master, and to learn this takes decades of dedicated practice, and even then there are no guarantees.
Form is neither structure nor container. Form is a machine that generates content – energy – spirit. This is the essence of Daoism.
To forget self, first think for yourself. See your culture and conditioning for what it is: mere culture, mere conditioning, with no absolute value.

May you have warmth in your igloo, oil in your lamp, and peace in your heart.

Eskimo proverb
A point (dantien/now) and a line (spine/time). With these we dig and delve as though life depended upon it.
Love is nice, but without fear it's just a little slack, flabby and indulgent. Fear of failure brings tone, spirit and effectiveness to your energy. Too much fear of course paralyzes but just enough is literally vital. Deadlines. A sense of urgency. No time to lose.
Strange that nowadays if obsessed with self you're called normal but if obsessed with something other than self you're labeled obsessive/compulsive.
When they shake off their wine, then they will repent.


We are many layered creatures of incredible depth. So, when an anchorite claims to be on a wonderful journey, despite never leaving their cell, they mean a journey through these layers. For those on a spiritual path this is not a choice to make or take but the only way to live.
Up & down:
Meditating, praying, rooting.
Energy as being (passive).

In & out:
Breathing, eating, fucking.
Energy as doing (active).
Break out of prison.
Break into a smile.

Break up from school.
Break down in tears.
We are generally happiest when we forget ourselves. When we become so absorbed, engrossed, involved in activity – in energy – in relating and relations – that we forget our loneliness and our feelings. Meditation is a time to forget self without props, trappings or extraneous activity to distract us from our own presence.
There’s nothing of so infinite vexation
As man’s own thoughts.


'How did you get her to talk?'
'I listened.'
Spinus erectus. Climbing a ladder to God.
Shabbat shalom. Peace & quiet. A seventh of the time, at least.
Mind is a refuge for those who don't understand (energy).


The harmony of form and spirit.

Let your heart guide you. It whispers, so listen closely.
"Boredom is part of my work. I accept it and embrace it."
Let it all play out.


"One way of looking at speech is to say that it is a constant strategem to cover nakedness."
I'll drink to that.

If we were to inspect the contents of our bellies, we would see that there is very little fire and an awful lot of shit. The spiritual aspect of dantien tends to be both masked and inhibited by digestive activity. This is one reason many spiritual disciplines advocate times of fasting – so that the digestive system can have a rest and a different kind of work take place – a work of energetic refinement and densification. Light and heavy.
The heart has its reasons that reason does not know.
Fire in the belly.
Embedded in a scheme of things I cannot hope to comprehend.
Better a red face than a black heart.

Intensional asymmetry.
Live a life that privileges energy over mind. Right a balance.


"But the real truth is that there never is any such thing as one truth to be found in dramatic art. There are many. These truths challenge each other, recoil from each other, reflect each other, ignore each other, tease each other, are blind to each other. Sometimes you feel you have the truth of a moment in your hand, then it slips through your fingers and is lost."
It is not enough to regularly dip toes into the water, or even to paddle. At some point one must take the plunge and become thoroughly and forever drenched.
through the master the decisive impulse, the decisive moulding

Any professional gambler will tell you that there is really no such thing as a truly random or independent variable. So, whilst it may not be possible to predict future events, it is certainly possible to recognise and ride a lucky streak. This is also yielding.
I was not afraid or ashamed because I was pure


It's not enough to be happy. Instead, be happiness – a generator of hap (an old word meaning luck) regardless of who you are, what you think or how you feel. This is saintly. This is sanity.


Trust depends upon contact.
You know when you worry, and you can't get it out of your mind – the worry niggles constantly – any respite temporary, only for the worry to flood back, with a vengeance? Well this is what your relationship with the teaching and the work should be like. Let it worry you, but not to death, or, if to death, then to life.
"Whoever believes all the miracle stories about the Baal Shem Tov is a fool, but whoever denies that he could have done them is a heretic."
a teaching not yet grasped in words

The word worry is from Old English wyrgan meaning to strangle.
Being is becoming is belonging.
Ego – trickster and imposter – has made home and throne in chest and head. It infests heart and mind with its filthy agenda. It turns everything to its own advantage, including efforts to dethrone it.


Worry does nothing but make noise in your quiet.
Who looks inside, awakens.

Mind is for seeing, heart is for hearing.
Fᴏʀɢᴇᴛ sᴇʟғ – ʙᴇᴄᴏᴍᴇ ᴏɴᴇ ᴡɪᴛʜ ᴛʜᴇ Tᴀᴏ
Kᴇᴇᴘ ᴛᴏ ᴀ ʏɪᴇʟᴅɪɴɢ ᴍɪɴᴅ

These our mottos. Each, in its way, versions of the Heraclitan declaration that Everything Changes (πάντα χωρεῖ). Each a beautiful contradiction. Like saying I never lie. Any declaration, any statement, necessarily misleads by attempting to lead. Support and Trust. Yin and Yang. One becomes the Other, yet remains distinct. Reality : resonance.
A light heart lives long.


Small loss small gain, big loss big gain. Or, to put it another way: short-term difficulty leads to long-term advantage. Or, to put it another way: what you need is the opposite of what you want.
The moving finger writes...

By the year 2050 a quarter of all species will have disappeared from the planet.
Taijiquan, being a Daoist art, is all about yin & yang: their separation, purification (refinement), combination (balance) and transformation – one, in excess, into the other. Yin is pure listening, and yang is pure utterance – spirit.
The corner shop costs almost double the super yet the same things taste better from there.
Relax the basal loops of language – unhinge the mind – let memories flow and flood.
Of what am I utterance?

If they ask you, 'What is the evidence of your Father in you?' say to them, 'It is motion and rest.'
If you want to see pride in action then speak to an expert.
When I consume an item I take in too its energetic provenance and signature.


Belief in one's entitlement to a life of abundance does not constitute faith.
If you are lonely when alone, you are in bad company.

shrewd as snakes and innocent as doves
The middle-class are so proud of the range of choices open to them nowadays – opportunities everywhere to express taste, preference and opinion – and yet the range of their spirits is miniscule. This is because when faced with a choice one habitually chooses the easy option, and this is precisely the option that will not exercise the spirit.


"We can learn to be whole by saying what we mean and doing what we say."
Quorum, minyan, group energy – a class of like-minded, heart-joined students (critical mass: ten individuals) – the only way to work on soul and spirit in the absence of pride. When it comes to this game private lessons just don't hack it.
Inscrutably involved.

this gravity elastic feeling to let go and fall together with you
"And so we turn the page over. To think of starting. This is all there is."
The Internal does not possess the same laws and structures as the External. They are completely different – worlds apart. And only a blatant materialist – someone who has never experienced the Internal – would suggest otherwise.
"The last thing the world needs is another expert," my teacher would invariably mutter whenever he heard an advanced student pontificating to beginners. The pride of thinking you know – now that's a tricky one. I love the story of Suzuki, the Zen master, who, whenever consulted about specific life problems by students, would usually answer, "Mmm... I just don't know," and yet the student would walk away so comforted and relaxed by the master's presence that they suddenly knew themselves. Now that's real knowledge.


The course of true love never did run smooth.

Let grace come and this world pass away.
Punctuality is the first sign of respect, and the first indication of intelligence. The right place at the right time. It's the least you can do.
Put store by nothing. Knowledge is either trivial or unreliable. Real essential principle can be neither written nor uttered. It is between things – ever elusive yet always there. This is the paradox of language – it can only say things that aren't true. The truth it cannot touch, only, maybe, point, vaguely. And what's the use in that? By the time you register, it's gone. This is the poetic structure of reality which we inevitably coarsen and defile with our prosaic structures of cause and effect, rational logic, non-contradiction, etc.


Just when I thought there wasn't room enough for another thought in my head, I had this great idea—
Screw your courage to the sticking place.

Through the Thou a person becomes I.

It is the only way.
I've said it before, and, I dare say, I'll say it again: a student is someone who studies. That means regular lessons with a teacher, and even more regular sessions of homework. As a general rule, approximately 10% of study time is lessons with the teacher and 90% either on your own or with other students, if you have the gumption to organize a study group. So, generally speaking, however you arrange it, at least three quarters of study time is in solitude, struggling courageously with the teaching and with your own resistance to it, which, even with the best will in the world, is always considerable. The numbers have to be stacked like this because, inevitably, less than 10% of your own practice will be effective, so in order to have anything real to offer the teacher and the class – and it's always a good idea to come bearing gifts – you really have to put in the hours. And, as my teacher never tired of saying, "If there was an easier way then believe me I would have found it."
A labour of love.
Daily devotional practice honours and nourishes an internal life – a life of soul – without which you're just another two-dimensional cardboard cutout.
Solitude is the place of purification.

"Everything is full of sacramental substance, everything. Each thing and each function is ever ready to light up into a sacrament."
When the teacher teaches is all she's really trying to do is help you become someone she'd want to spend time with.


Passion makes every detail important.
Yielding, as concept – principle – becomes an obsession. It means stepping in to attend to detail, and standing back to see the bigger picture, at the same time. Two contrary movements generated by one selfless impulse.
A word to the wise is enough.

Smile to God. Smile for God. The humour of the natural process. Lightness.
Good things come to those who wait. So, sit and wait. Become a waiter. Attend the present moment, and all its demands, with gracious, selfless service.


Being is so active that not only do all nouns become present participles but so do all adjectives.
When, as teacher, you witness a student becoming softer – a sight that warms your heart – then is all you know is that they're working really hard. This is the way in which softness comes from hardness.
Spirit is lightness and light.

I speak only one language, and it is not my own.
My teacher once quizzed me: "What is the most important quality in Taiji?" I immediately answered, "Softness," to which he barked, "No! Lightness!" Put softness above lightness and at some point you'll grind to a halt and fall into depression.
"Madness does not come by breaking out, but by giving in; by settling down in some dirty, little, self-repeating circle of ideas; by being tamed."
Destiny is the life that comes out of you when you place spirit first. Fate is what happens to you when you put self or ego first.
Learning to live ought to mean learning to die.

Before you can commence the arduous process of learning to quieten the mind and wake up the spirit, you must first grow up and learn to think for yourself.
Whenever I talk in class about destiny there is always someone who pipes, "But what is my destiny?" (we're all self-centred if nothing else). I once replied facetiously, "To save the world!" And then I realised that I was entirely right – that is indeed everyone's destiny.


"A thing constructed can only be loved after it is constructed; but a thing created is loved before it exists."
The delicate play of internal energy is far more delightful than anything the mind can come up with.
more song than substance

Taiji without eyes: all ears.
"I am not absentminded. It is the presence of mind that makes me unaware of everything else."
Education turned my head. Turned it into a cruel instrument.
Ultimately, it's not in the words, it's in the touch. Hence, proximity, unless you've been touched, in which case, you could be a million miles away.


It is like turning from a march to a dance.


Most of what constitutes society is there solely to prevent us from falling apart and becoming sobbing emotional wrecks at the realisation that we have traded our souls for the key to social admittance – an ego.
"There is nothing irrational in exercising other powers than our reason. It is rational not to reason, or not to limit oneself to reason, in the wrong place; and the more rational a man is the better he knows this."
We have a knowing self, a need-to-know, where thinking and its attributes takes place, and we have a compassionate self – a loving being – where the heart largely operates. These two selves should be clearly distinguished, partly because each operates best in its own dimension, but also because the knowing self works against the compassionate self – always tries to profit from what it knows – always imperialistic: territorializing and colonizing. So, rational thinkers – scientists, mathematicians, philosophers – remove the heart and its affects from their field of both operation and investigation because they know from experience that feelings cloud their thought processes, and artists largely suppress rational thought because they know that it reduces risk and creativity (a process they call negative capability). In Taiji, and most other energetic and spiritual disciplines, the ego/self is identified with the knowing and known, and as such is contained discretely in a confined cell of the humble mind's making. Then the compassionate self – the angelic self – naturally expands outward to connect and interact – play – with the energy it finds itself in the company of. In Taiji this is what we call Ward-off energy – energy drawn from our back by embracing arms that contain and imprison the consciousness. Two examples spring to mind: a class of Zen monks all facing the wall so that their backs commune compassionately, and Miles Davis who, in the late fifties was soloing with such concentration, refinement and sensitivity that he would turn his back to the audience, hunch over his trumpet and microphone, and flare energetically into the auditorium.
Je ne sais pas. Il faut croire:

Happiness is what you feel when you forget your self-importance and simply allow yourself to be. Just another beautiful creature in this miracle Universe.
Homo sapiens? Sounds like wishful thinking to me. Homo anxius or homo sollicitus would be more appropriate. How about homo avarus? No, homo superbus beats the bunch.
That constant background anxiety, caused by incessant internal logorrhoea, twists and freezes the mind into all sorts of unnatural contortions. Meditation gives it permission to slowly thaw, then unfurl and uncurl, to take its natural fluid form.


When it comes to fabricating our world view we are very biased editors. This is why most religious orders demand a vow of obedience. Otherwise it's all, especially so called spiritual work, another form of empire making by picking and choosing – egoistic imperialism.
fastened by a leash of longing

“Those who know the Tao can hold that to call children delightful or old men venerable is not simply to record a psychological fact about our own parental or filial emotions at the moment, but to recognize a quality which demands a certain response from us whether we make it or not."
Stone in the belly
Jewel in the heart
Star in the head

Start by saying it. It won't happen by itself.
We all have chakras – energy centres – but not many have energy in them. For that you need to work – hone the mind into an instrument – a weapon – of intent.
All spiritual work has but one agenda: the erosion of pride. And, for me, the decrepitude of old age is proof enough that this project is never finished.


stronger than all self-defensive forgetfulness

Love means simply an overflowing of the strength with which one feels oneself filled when living in true self­-oblivion.
If you find yourself drifting off during meditation then you should probably be getting more sleep.
A faith that compels me, daily, hourly, through practice and prayer, to work on and with my soul.
As meditation deepens, sense of Identity reduces to a mere sense of Being. This happens naturally, though slowly because courageously, as bearings are abandoned.
But when thou doest alms, know not thy left hand what thy right hand doeth.

In order to see and hear with any degree of accuracy and precision we must learn to keep the head still, which means adopting certain physical tensions, especially in the neck. What this means – to cut a long story short – is that our minds end up strongly privileging solidity over fluidity, permanence over transience, stasis over motion, sameness over difference, habit over change, and we find ourselves living in a rigidly safe (and boring) world because the mind is like a spoilt child – what it wants it usually gets. But, of course, despite our best efforts – subtle or forceful – the world is not really like that so the mind is in a state of constant stress trying to force its world to behave the way it wants. Hence anxiety, hence stiff necks, hence sore backs.
"Faith is not about compliance without proof or the leap above proof. It is the act of the faithful person, an act which, as such, is the attestation of an intimate consciousness of the fact that it exposes itself and allows itself to be exposed to the absence of attestation, to the absence of parousia."
If I were truly relaxed whilst sitting in meditation then my head – the part of my body furthest from the cushion – would be gently swaying in the proverbial breeze. Without this natural movement the mind will not relax, will not take its natural shape and will not lose the forced clarity – the traces – of thinking and thought. Quietening the mind may start by removing its furniture, but eventually the room itself must be swept away by the fluid substance – the ocean – of pure mind.
The world we live in is not the world that is here but the world our mind has admitted from what is here. The world we chose not to see is far greater, in size and richness, than the world we admit.


It is as hard to see oneself as to look backwards without turning round.
Our only problem is that we refuse to see what's there.
A mind that creates harmony rather than makes choices.
Quid ergo amo, cum deum meum amo?
Why is the Other so important? Because the Other is exactly what I need. This fact indicates the structure of both Being and Reality, and proves that goodness exists as a/the major force in Universe. I am never complete, but always compleatable, if only I forget myself and wake up to what is staring me in the face.
la passion du non-savoir


Silence is a language that is nourished in solitude.
"From that first moment in the schoolroom at Chartres my secret, imaginative life began to be so important and so distinct from my outer life that I almost have to tell two separate stories. The two lives do not seem to influence each other at all. Where there are hungry wastes, starving for Joy, in the one, the other may be full of cheerful bustle and success; or again, where the outer life is miserable, the other may be brimming over with ecstasy."
Yielding in Taiji contains two components: deferential turning aside of one half of the body, and ushering through by reaching around with the other half. The same turn of the waist effectuates both actions simultaneously; the same turn of the mind creates both moods (deference and ushering) simultaneously. Imagine a school teacher standing in the middle of a zebra crossing, helping a train of ambling school children cross the road: one hand beckons the closest child and encourages it to pass to the other side as the other hand reaches behind that child to connect to the children yet to cross – the teacher turns and extends his arms along an effective timeline. And this example shows clearly the structure of a moment. It is not a discrete static parcel of time, but a passing through – an infinitesimal juncture between past and future, between coming and going – and the most effective way to deal with it is to divide your attention somehow between immediate past and imminent future. Much of Taiji training is learning to split your being into two parts: a conscious part that deals with what is ensuing now, what is passing, in a material concrete way, and an energetic part – emanating largely from the back – that connects with energy and spirit – subtle indications of potential materializations, of things yet to come. So, ward-off is a posture that limits and delimits the conscious extent within a shroud or cocoon of energy which the arms usher round from the spine. Like one of those cape-wearing superheroes whose cape, as well as shrouding them in mystery, also averts normal perception so that ESP can take over. The miracle of all this, from our perspective, is that it is the one action on our behalf that stimulates two seemingly opposite effects in our being. The same as when we sink and relax – that one humble trusting action releases both the body down to Earth and the spirit up to Heaven.


Joy is the serious business of Heaven.


destroy the reasonable deceptions of man and recover the natural and unreasonable order
"for they constantly forget that they are animals and that whatever their bodies do affects their souls"
Double-weightedness (equal distribution of body weight between left and right sides) whether standing or sitting is a forced attempt to create an artificial unity and an unnatural sense of stillness and stability. This wouldn't be so bad if that stillness wasn't then used as a pretext for absent mindedness. It's really not a matter of being still or quiet anyway but of choosing not to be distracted by the inevitable noise.
enslaved to the pressure of the ordinary


It is weight that gives meaning to weightlessness.

Do you have the heart to hear the Truth? Do you have the courage (which is also heart – a raging heart) to practise Truth?
One morning last week, whilst in Sinai, we caught a cab South towards Nuweiba to spend the day at Little Head – next to Ras El Satan – where the reef and breeze are both better than where we were. The cabbie – a Bedouin boy who didn't look old enough to drive and probably wasn't – drove the whole way with his left hand on the wheel and his right palm facing up as though holding a delicate flame. I looked into his face and he was deep in prayer. He was remembering God. And this is the trick: never squander an opportunity to pray. The only antidote to forgetfulness is remembering. Become religious.
Play becomes joy, joy becomes work, work becomes play.
At best you are nothing more than an expression of God's intention. God intends you. Darkness is forgetfulness of this. Enlightenment is no longer being able to forget.
In darkness because of forgetfulness.


"There is no foreground or background, only a continuity of interlacing relationships."
My teacher was always giving me – as budding teacher – guidelines. One was that if a student hadn't got into serious practice within six months of starting Taiji, then they're never going to. Another was that serious work needs to commence before the age of 27. At this age, when most are establishing a career, starting a family, galavanting about the globe on ever more exotic and expensive holidays, the spiritually inclined student is starting the process of giving up the world for the sake of following and developing a relatively undistracted internal life.
"I believe in an art that is born out of man’s need to open his heart."
As parents we encourage our children to try lots of different things in the hope that they'll find something they love doing – something that suits them really well. Then we just pray that they'll find within themselves the courage and fortitude to persevere, so that they become really good at something, at least. We know, from our own experience, that it is only by persisting through thick or thin – by driving through the inevitable barriers – that character and strength, inner and outer, are developed. And the more difficult the trials and tribulations along the way, the stronger one eventually becomes. This is the rationale behind all practice. So, for example, learning to play the piano well develops general character as well as a specialized skill, otherwise it would be a very limited and limiting use of time.
I'm only trying to do what I can't do.

"My art is rooted in a single reflection: why am I not as others are? My art gives meaning to my life."
Experience brings wisdom. But, it is the experience of repeating the same practice, day in day out, to join the creative process of generating meaningful novelty by coming to the absolute unrepeatable uniqueness of the Now. Not the experience of trying lots of different things for a short time – that's just childish. The experience of depth that forever deepens, rather than surface that forever flattens.
"The longer you look at an object, the more abstract it becomes, and, ironically, the more real."

Meditation is simply looking at the self. Staring it down.


Happiness is an internal state – a function of internal quiet and centredness. Nothing whatsoever to do with the external state of affairs. Otherwise your happiness, which is purely your responsibility, would be at the mercy of circumstances always beyond your control. This is our peculiarly Taoist stoicism.
To be is to be vulnerable.

A music that gently marks the passage and flow of time without recourse to drone, clamour or beat.
"Forming grammatically correct sentences is for the normal individual the prerequisite for any submission to social laws. No one is supposed to be ignorant of grammaticality; those who are belong in special institutions. The unity of language is fundamentally political."
Words do not really describe reality – not adequately – they deny reality. Reality is where words are not; where words dare not go.
"All currency is neurotic."
Most students nowadays are not students at all. They don't study – practice – all hours of the day. They don't respect the teaching. They don't even acknowledge that there is a teaching. They will smile and nod knowingly when you tell them something that pleases them, and they will protest and regard you with pity and contempt when you tell them something that threatens their cozy world view. They sincerely believe that ego will disappear just because they decide it should. They basically behave like spoilt brats – spiritual tourists. They know nothing of reality because for them knowledge is merely information gathered along the way. What they all have in common is that they want want want and so feel it is their God given right to take take take. They are exhausting.
Love without attachment is light.

Peace lies in finding the true war. I think it was Norman O Brown that said that. The true war is the one that's raging, whether we like it or not, whether we know it or not – we always feel it – deep down beneath the sheen of bourgeois serenity: the battle for our soul.
A path lined with giant guardians, sombre sentinels, silent witnesses to divine progress.
"I believe that the very process of looking can make a thing beautiful."
Ever wake up feeling too tired, too rushed, too distracted to practise? A voice tells you that you can't possibly give it your best shot so why not wait till evening when everything's out of the way and you're more settled. Well that's Satan fighting back, filling your head with excuses to prevent any attack to his sovereignty of your being.
Silence is so accurate.

We say we're not religious, yet we worship Ego with as much dedication and devotion as zealous fundamentalists their God.
"I have to change to stay the same."
Modern comforts would better be called dire distractions.


Extend (frequency) range out of perception, out of comprehension. Down into deep time (infinite time) where span is but a blink – of no significance – and up to a high fizz (infinitesimal time) where spirit dances at seemingly infinite speed, and takes otherworldly shape. Otherwise we remain lodged in, and ruled by, the mundane rhythms of heart and breath, the tedious vulgar economies of the human mind.
One works without thinking how to work.
"The worst thing you can think about when you’re working is yourself."
The stone in the belly – focus and weight – where a quiet disciplined mind wants to settle, should more appropriately be called the plumb in the belly. That small ball of lead better suits the essential nature of dantien – its feeling of concentrated essence – its density and mass always pulling the spine into verticality. Taoism is heavily influenced by Chinese alchemy – the art of extracting essence from substance, from things. Imagine the early chemists' amazement when they discovered that when certain rocks from the Earth were crushed and heated very hot, a trickle of dense shiny liquid appeared which cooled into metal with all its remarkable qualities, not least its ability to be fashioned into jewellery and weaponry. The very concept of essence – the idea that things have an essential nature somehow independent of external character and form – is the foundation of our concept of the Internal.
"You paint the way you have to in order to give. That's life itself, and someone will look and say it is the product of knowing, but it has nothing to do with knowing, it has to do with giving."
Quiet mind is not just quiet; neither is it inactive, nor passive. It is centred, anchored ruthlessly in dantien, so that it can intend – move energy, clearly and effectively, by stretching wherever it needs to go. This is good tension (the correct use of the word). The only reason for bad tension would be if the mind stopped being quiet and the resulting anxiety caused you to tighten up in an effort to hold things together and get things done. This is actually quite a complex and difficult procedure, and could only possibly be learnt if placed at a very young age in an environment saturated in chronic anxiety. Sound familiar?
I used to meditate until I learned to stop thinking.

Engagement with great Art is not, ultimately, sensual nor intellectual but spiritual. The same with Nature. The same with Time. But for this we need to surrender self, and sacrifice our precious time, our internal space. We need to give.


"The enormous pitfall is devotion to oneself instead of to life."
Tension is our way of compensating for an undisciplined mind.
Heart yearns to love and be loved. Ego demands to possess.
I paint with my back to the world.

We spend a life expecting the world to miraculously kowtow to our desires. Happy when it does, miserable when it doesn't. How childish can we get?
"Nothing will work unless you do."
We must ask ourselves why the mind is so dominant, so lordly and all-knowing. Is it because it is virtuous and strong or is it because the heart has become weak and unsure, no longer capable of standing up for itself, in which case mind is little more than a schoolyard bully. The mind, the self, needs to be taken down a peg – made to know its place – then heart can find its place, its space, to open up and flourish. Mind and heart should be clearly distinguished otherwise they trespass into each others territory and confuse each other. When distinguished they can happily do what they are designed to do – approach and obey spirit, each in its own wonderful way.
Ego would rather you die than give up control.
Doing what you were born to do. That's the way to be happy.
"small memorable phrases he called pebbles to slay Goliath"
Dantien anchors mind as root anchors body.
Lao Tzu: Soft, like ice about to melt. Transforming by unforming. Brink, break, point and place of failure. Becoming liquid. Always, potentially, the point, place, of tears.
Physical tension indicates that you're using the body to do something that the mind could manage much better if only it were quiet, if only it could intend.
"Fear is always built on a lie. Always! You can never adequately deal with fear unless you deal with the lie behind it. Deal with the lie and the fear will die."

"Deplorable mania, when something happens, to inquire what."
Something bizarrely ironic about the Church declaring that anything but the humble way is heresy.
A few days ago, whilst in Sinai, I met someone who had just holidayed in highland Laos. "How was it?" I inquired. "O it was wonderful! Totally unspoilt by tourism." Mmmm, I thought, so now you can claim to be one of the first spoilers of Laos, as I can claim to be one of the last spoilers of the fragile Sinai reef which is tragically disappearing at a rate of knots.
Transformation, not information.


My Redeemer, redeem me, for I am yours; the one who has come forth from you.
You are my mind; bring me forth!
You are my treasure house; open for me!
You are my fullness; take me to you!
You are repose; give me the perfect thing that cannot be grasped!

"The life of a saint is not the life of a great man or woman, but of God's life in an ordinary man or woman."
Tense shoulders are a barricade protecting ego from anything that may potentially threaten it.
Instead of curling up like a dormouse into the comfort of opinion, open out into the world of energy and spirit. It's much more interesting. And you never know, you may even glimpse God – when you least expect it. Grace befalls always when you least expect it.
this humble project of transformation


the instantaneous surprise of an Other

"They are perhaps unwavering and fixed and my fitful perceiving the cause of their inconstancy."
Becoming energy, where energy is simply movement – a wave passing through a vast population called a body – a Mexican wave – becoming swarm/shoal. This precedes spiritual work otherwise it's all in the head.
"Human evolution is itself, I suppose, a process of becoming divine."
Never worry unduly about what other people think or say about you. If they are negative the chances are they are either not getting what they want out of you, or you are not conforming to their value system, either of which should indicate that you're getting something right.
Divine Love is the surrender of self.

It's really very very simple. Jesus lives in your heart, Satan in your head. Whom do you love the most? If you say the heart (the centre of which is always God, whichever way you look at it) then invest a little time each day proving it, because the rest of the time you're confirming the opposite. And if you refuse this challenge then you're full of shit.
If the work doesn't bring you low then it's just another ego trip.
Be gracious, not greedy.


Always aware of the medium we breathe and move through, the forces that operate (especially gravity) and the passage of time. This is humility, or what The Cloud of Unknowing calls imperfect meekness, imperfect only because it is not the be all and end all. Perfect meekness is the spark and dance of spirit within this mindful continuum which your bountiful compassion triggers and stimulates. Humility only comes with subduing the Adamic ego – heroically tackling original sin.
stifled by the anxieties, wealth and gaieties of time


From thought to energy, from front to back, from knowing to unknowing, from head to heart.


"Self-knowledge is the only way to get and keep the virtue of humility."
Thought thwarts heart.
Every aspect of being, informed and regulated by the softness of touch.
freedom from over-identification