24.4.17

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.

23.4.17

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.

22.4.17

"Intellect confuses intuition."

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

21.4.17

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.

20.4.17

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.

18.4.17

"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.

17.4.17

An antic disposition.

15.4.17

"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/attack) as two poles of a continuum – can't have one without the other.
Matter & time. It's just a matter of time.

13.4.17

till other voices wake
us or we drown

12.4.17

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.

11.4.17


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

10.4.17


"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.

9.4.17

"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 (singular) is always wrong, even when they're (plural) 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.

8.4.17

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.

7.4.17

"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."

5.4.17

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.

4.4.17


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.

3.4.17


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.

2.4.17

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.

31.3.17

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.

30.3.17

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"

29.3.17


"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.

27.3.17


"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.

26.3.17

Practice

"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.

23.3.17

"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.

21.3.17


"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.

20.3.17

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

19.3.17

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.

Subjective reason conforms to anything.
It is what it is. No more no less. Only the mature student can accept and appreciate this.
Suddenly I realize
That if I stepped out of my body I would break
Into blossom.
Reality – the real – is whatever's alive. And we include inorganic life. Always subtle, never explicit; different never the same; shimmering, dancing, giggling. Appearing, disappearing. Approach with a light heart, and a clear head.
"No regrets. Fuck regrets. That's like camping out in the past. Who wants to do that?"

18.3.17


The work aims to wrest control from head to heart. Not really control, more like organizing principle. The heart embraces differences, like a benevolent parent who loves regardless of the child's erratic behavior, whereas the head is like a little tinpot dictator trying to force things into the same mould.
I suspect that the visions of a prophet, be it an Isiah or a Nietzsche, rather than being glimpses of future events, are actually intimations of an image of man that their heart felt when they channeled into their divine source.
True movement changes not only location but everything.
Touch never rests, it penetrates, it works. Work is penetration. Never content with surface.
What is the function of humanity? To send back a little love, through prayer or meditation or, more naturally, by simply nurturing and developing goodness of heart.

Reflective thought indicates bad posture. More specifically, at least one vertebra has managed to move into a position usually behind or to the side of its natural place, thereby reducing the spine's whiplash power and the ability of mind to break free of thinking.
We relax in Taiji not to become floppy and useless but to generate the correct sort of tension; what we call intensity.
Spiritual work aims to break mind out of the boundaries of self – out of thought – and into/onto a plane of extension/extensity/extensivity we call the divine. In Taiji we manage this by training legs/dantien to grab the ground with animal intensity, thereby supplying the heart with a steady stream of spirit which, with our vertical spine, we whip upward rather than outward, breaking free of Earth's gravity and extending joyfully to God, maybe. Simple really, just difficult to do, and its getting more and more difficult the more our culture weakens its individuals by encouraging them to rely on its crutches of money, morality and medicine.
Don't forget to tweet your sense of moral outrage. About as radical as the young get nowadays.
Worship ancestors, pray to saints. This is a tried and tested method for unburdening the self of the self.

17.3.17

Thinking may seem to help but in the long run it only makes matters worse.
Solitude & servitude.
We are never alone. Solitude is simply a time we eschew the living – the noise of life – for the company of the dead. A quire of saints – those who have previously trodden the path and who accompany us every step of the way, guiding, protecting, encouraging, enthusing. One day you will be one such, given the courage to persevere.

16.3.17

The necessity of a practice of affirmation. The constant questioning of the dominant 'image of thought.' Enchanted materialism. An affirmative route between empowerment and entrapment.
"The spirit hates cowards. It broods heavily in the presence of fear."

"No matter how thin you slice it, there will always be two sides."
Of all the people on the planet, those with the best balance, with the most well-defined dantiens, are the surfers, the boarders, and their ilk, and the reason they have fantastic balance is because they insistently search for more and more difficult waves to ride, waves that demand a level of spirit that would, at the very least, paralyse the average person. And the only reason they improve is because they are not only willing to fail, they expect failure, they welcome and invite failure because they know that this is the only way. Investing in loss.
The principal fact of the work is failure. A principle of failure.
The dominant fact of the human being is range. Not only the ability to roam enormous energetic distance but the drive to do so. Nomadism. Each dwelling, each moment, each emotion, preparation for an impending movement, for change. So Yin & Yang – Taoism – is human experience imprinted on reality, rather than vice versa, and it is this that makes it a workable model.
"To make things 'perfectly clear' is reactionary and stupefying. The real is not perfectly clear."

15.3.17


A rude awakening.
"Life is whole only when it isn't subordinate to a specific object that exceeds it. In this way, the essence of entirety is freedom."
Here we are, caught at a crossroads, an evolutionary conundrum. We have managed the miraculous: dredged ourselves up from claustrophobic animal intensity (inclined spine) into serene angelic extensity (vertical spine) but by doing so have lost our source of power – the very muscles and ground that maintained our previous inclination and the spirit that inclination demanded. Hence depression, consumerism, secular pride, stupidity, and all the other modern malaises. If we wish to escape this trap then we'll need to work with an image of man that only our hearts can concoct. Our own Zarathustra. And in this sense our work on ourselves sets the scene, programs the future possibilities of man.
"I find myself only by losing myself."
The Way is only difficult if you pick and choose.
"We have only two certainties in this world – that we are not everything and that we will die."
Softness comes into the heart, in time, if we allow life to wear down our hardness, pierce the shell of civilized comforts we work so hard to surround ourselves with, comforts we pray will keep us from ever needing to look at anything uncomfortable or painful or disturbing or real. Then the first act of the soft heart is forgiveness, forgiving the pain, indeed thanking the pain for waking us up, and the real journey begins. In this sense, even the most advanced is merely preparing to begin.
Sovereignty, loyalty, and solitude.
At the very core of our work, its essence, is failure. It's what gives it its tremor, its beauty, its nothingness – makes it so rich, so generative. Death clears the way.
"The sovereign being is burdened with a servitude that crushes him, and the condition of free men is deliberate servility."

"Why, in the case of the ear, is there withdrawal and turning inward, a making resonant, but in the case of the eye, there is manifestation and display, a making evident?"
Personal power and charisma, like intelligence, talent and good looks, are wonderful qualities to possess but have absolutely no bearing on spiritual level. And they become a real curse, when the time comes, as it inevitably will, when you begin to realize that they're not only holding you back but destroying you.
In meditation we turn the mind inward, we objectify the subject, but not the critical mind, no lasting good ever came of that, but the compassionate mind, the mind of compassion, the mind that lets things be and thereby gives them permission to change.

14.3.17

lucidity destroys one's equilibrium

13.3.17

The critical mind commodifies everything and thereby sustains a market economy.

"Love can only consist in failure … on the fallacious assumption that it is a relationship. But it is not. It is a production of truth."
Daily solitary practice is our little sacrifice. The sacrifice of valuable time, time that could be spent playing with your dick, in order to suffer for the soul. And this is the point here: practice is not pleasurable, not fun, not enjoyable. Most of the time it is downright difficult and grim, but the good student gets on with it anyway, by not allowing themselves a choice. Nowadays everyone is spoilt for choice.
Good work serves spirit and develops soul. Bad work serves ego and develops empire. (Not the right adjectives but you know what I mean.) Whether work is good or bad depends entirely on you. There's plenty of good menial work around, and plenty of bad spiritual work.
When Jesus instructed those listening to give their wealth to the poor and needy I suspect he wasn't really interested in helping the poor – the chances are they'd only spend it on drugs or the lottery anyway – but in cleansing and preparing the souls of those he was instructing. Any new journey of significance starts with a sacrifice, and the greater the sacrifice the higher the chance that the journey will bring about real transformation.
The critical mind is a powerful tool but, for our purposes, it only proves effective, in the long run, when directed back at itself.

12.3.17


"Love without risk is an impossibility, like war without death."
Have you noticed how people don't really think anymore, they just have opinions? Thinking, be it for oneself or against the self, against the State, seems to be a lost art. People are no longer prepared to live a different life to the one society presents them with. The liberal left are especially guilty of this hypocrisy – railing against injustice and poverty, sneering indignantly at Donald Trump, yet all the while enjoying the excesses of a middle-class lifestyle, which can only exist because the lower-classes don't have it.

11.3.17

Life moves in one direction. Move with it.
Who is the better human being: someone who pinches each erotic impulse in the bud in order to present a morally upstanding pillar of society or someone who lets their spirit flow into the world, hot and active?
Always err on the side of saying yes.

Having an opinion doesn't amount to thinking for oneself. Real thought is not a way of ordering the world but a means to emptying it.
"To move well is to live well."
Self-pity is the consequence of looking at oneself weakly, and wishing things were better. And this can only come from an overweening sense of entitlement.
Power comes from the legs and, especially, the lower back. Finesse comes from the belly. Without power you are nothing. Without finesse your power will lack sympathy and appropriateness – you'll be insufferable.
Our main tool of de-intensification is language. We use words to label, to generalise, to categorise, to tidy up the world and force it into a scheme, a scheme of things. And then, in the safety of our own boudoir, we attempt to re-intensify that scheme by writing poems, elegies and laments to the loss of grace posing as paeans to human insight. Intense utterances are only ever grunts and groans, with the occasional scream thrown in when things get really intense. Think of sex, not to become aroused, but to do things better.

When you look at it, and the only way to move on is by looking at it, seeing the truth of the situation, the only reason we don't engage fully with things, with the intensity we are capable of when at our best, is self-pity: the awful, lingering slackness of indulged reflection, simply for the sake of justifying our own weakness, laziness. I agree totally with the Hasidim: our first responsibility to God, and therefore to our own spirit, our own better self, is to be happy, and this means to let out a constant stream of intense energy, engaging the immediate in a grip of power and transformation. As my teacher used to say: You are always at least 50% responsible for every situation you find yourself in. So just make sure that 50% is your best.
Relax the grip of fear and start to work with tension.
The exercises of this art are designed to bring energetic and spiritual transformation. But to achieve this the secret of each exercise must be known. A secret is like a visualisation or a state of mind or, perhaps more accurately, a configuration of spirit. And remember, the best secrets, the real secrets, are secret because they can't be told, they have to be found out for oneself.
Once, when I was a kid, my father explained how to tell the difference between the cold tap and the hot tap when they're not labelled. The cold usually comes straight from the mains so has high mains pressure whereas the hot is usually from a cistern in the attic so has the low pressure of a head of water. So just test the pressure of each tap by trying to stem the flow with a finger, or simply by looking. What we want, energetically, is to tap into the fresh mains rather than develop a stagnant head.

10.3.17

Through the work we arrive at a pitch of intensity where joy and happiness are not responses to a favourable situation but, in fact, a way of living, a way of life – the only way.

9.3.17


"There's no need to fear or hope, but only to look for new weapons."
Mind heals the body; body heals the mind. They belong together. And, in fact, the work reveals – and if it doesn't then you're doing it wrong – that mind and body are, as Spinoza would say, merely different attributes of the same substance or, rather, different modes (models) of the same attribute.
"The money you pay me gets you through the front door and that is all. Now we need to strike a bargain. I am prepared to teach, if you are prepared to practice. And if you're not then I would prefer never to see you again."
John Kells

And it is, purely, a matter of preparation. We are constantly preparing ourselves to begin. And in this sense the reality we inhabit is messianic. There is always something – some Other – about to arrive which threatens to change (invert) everything. And it is this future, this dangerous prospect, this change of heart, which we work and pray for.
You are what you think, so better get a grip of that shitty mind and start thinking something worthwhile. Or, better still, shut it up and become imperceptible.

Only on two occasions did I ever mention feelings to my teacher. The first time I told him that I had just felt 'energy.' He was faintly amused by my excitement and said, "Welcome to the human race!" The second time he was less charitable. I told him that I had felt my head suspended from above for an entire Form, to which he replied, "What do you want from me, a fucking medal?" I then realised that feelings of this sort were entirely my own business, to be worked with privately, and that they had no bearing on either my character or my progress. They simply indicated that I had done a little, though not enough, work.

8.3.17

"The real is what resists symbolization absolutely."
It's all about timing.
Back in the early eighties, just before I started Taiji, I visited an osteopath for a bad back. He had recently completed a course on craniosacral therapy and prosperity consciousness, and fancied himself as a bit of a New Age guru. He instructed me to compile a list of the ten things I most wanted in life. "Like what?" I asked. "Like a great well-paid job, a beautiful girlfriend, a nice apartment in Islington… But don't be greedy…" I found the whole exercise rather distasteful and childish but I completed it. "Now, each evening read through the list aloud ten times, and the energy of the Universe will bring those things to you." I only had to do this once to realise that it was an exercise in pure selfishness, with zero spiritual content. Then I thought, maybe instead of wishing for these things I should wish for a mind that no longer wanted such trivia. And then I realised that what I most wanted in life was not things, not material possessions, but a destiny, a direction, a lifelong course of work and devotion that would consume me until it eventually killed me. A couple of weeks later I met John Kells. So, I guess, in its way, the exercise worked.
"Things never pass where you think, nor along the paths you think."

I have received a teaching, for better or worse, and I'd like the time to see it through, for better or worse. Those who have not received a teaching could never, in a million years, understand this.
And what's the magic ingredient? Softness. Without which none of it really fits in place, and none of it gets inside.
It doesn't take much experience to realise that the only time we really learn or progress in life is when circumstance and necessity force us to take a path we would normally avoid like the plague.
With connexion comes responsibility and obligation.

7.3.17

"If a student tries to use me then I shall use them back unmercifully." (John Kells)

This is, actually, unavoidable, because the last thing the master is prepared to do is waste either time or energy. And this statement shows how great teachers always speak in principle. Even at their most personal and idiosyncratic (psychotic), their utterances easily generalize up and into each person present. Any form of abuse or misuse will eventually backfire.

"Bring something incomprehensible into the world!"
All your life you will hear people telling you that the way you live your life is wrong. And the only times you'll really suffer is when you listen to them. The voice of reason, the voice of normality, is precisely the one to ignore.

5.3.17

Sit, sit, sit, and eventually you will come face to face with two possibilities that are impossible to conceptualise or imagine: God and Death. The prospect of endless continuity and the prospect of abrupt discontinuity.
"To become imperceptible oneself, to have dismantled love in order to become capable of loving. To have dismantled one's self in order finally to be alone and meet the true double at the other end of the line. A clandestine passenger on a motionless voyage."
The big secret of Taoism can be summed up in one phrase: Lightness comes from heaviness. Lightness does not engender more lightness. It either disappears altogether or it starts to condense, becomes heavy, falls. There are no states, only stages of transition. Even enlightenment, I suspect, which always seems a little puerile as a concept – a cozy destination – an end in sight – is subject to decay and corruption. The enlightened master doesn't sit upon his throne spouting spiritual platitudes but works the garden, sweeps the floor, cooks the food, not out of magnanimous selflessness but out of absolute necessity.

"The problem is no longer getting people to express themselves, but providing little gaps of solitude and silence in which they might eventually find something to say."
Spiritual states are not holiday destinations. They are the consequence of tens of thousands of hours of dedicated devotional practice.
Beware ill-gotten gains. When it comes to wealth, provenance is everything. And when it comes to karma, ignorance is no excuse. As my son once said to me: Dad, if you have more than enough then the chances are that somewhere along the line someone has been ripped off.
"There is an invitation beyond the wall of knowledge, which is not to some regressive state before the mind can operate, but a transcendent state that’s beyond where the mind can go. That’s what spirituality is. It’s going where the mind cannot go."
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. This is not just a sentimental platitude but a general law. A principle. Yin and Yang. Those at the bottom can only rise up; those at the top can only sink down. And all the while the middle-class cringe in their affluent bubbles, living long lives yet never growing up, in the pathetically vain hope that they and their progeny will remain forever in the middle.

If you receive great teaching and out of laziness, forgetfulness or disrespect you do not practice then there will be a price to pay.
That feeling of substance meaning provides – something to hold onto, something to hold you down – is exactly the feeling we are trying to go beyond. Because where we're going there is no substance, no mass, no gravity.
"I say things that contradict each other, that are in real tension with each other, that compose me, that make me live, and that will make me die."
Peace is on the other side of pain.
Reality is on the other side of meaning.

4.3.17

Filling the head with more and more information and knowledge doesn't make it more open but closes it off. Real openness means emptiness, a welcoming, ever-draining emptiness.

"The blindness that opens the eye is not the one that darkens vision. Tears and not sight are the essence of the eye."
The ego, especially the superego, hates to be mocked, to be laughed at, to be made fun of. It gets angry, then turns to all manner of external standard to justify its indignation. So, as a simple spiritual exercise, start laughing at yourself, poking fun, being a little silly, inconsistent, contradictory. And enjoy the upset it causes, to your self and to those around you.

3.3.17

days, days and
years of it,
work, changes
It would seem that there is a world of difference between protecting oneself from life-threatening danger in order to live a full and worthy life, and protecting oneself from criticism and feedback in order to continue a life of selfish narcissism but, in actual fact, it's quite a fine line.
"We are given over to absolute solitude. No one can speak with us and no one can speak for us; we must take it upon ourselves, each of us must take it upon himself."

Develop backbone. It is the engine for spirit.
Laziness, and its consequences – apathy, anxiety, depression – must be fought tooth and nail.

2.3.17

"A spectral moment, a moment that no longer belongs to time."
An enflamed vocabulary.
Point of Failure. Just enough tone to keep it together. A balancing act; funambulist: poised, trembling, alone, alive. No sense of being stuck in the middle.

1.3.17


Spiritual work, when stripped of religious undertones and New Age overtones, is simply the investigation of mind. Mind is a space, or a medium, into which flow all sorts of phenomena: especially, for the average person, thoughts and feelings. When we latch onto these thoughts and feelings (remain average) then they become worries and emotions – obstructions in mind and obstacles to peace. When we detach from thoughts and feelings – allow them to arise and allow them to pass – then we enter and permeate the space into which they venture or, rather, that space enters us. Spiritual work starts, always, with relaxing our mind of worries and emotions – gaining some control of self-indulgence – so that we can commence the amazing journey into true mind, which is never really our own, but rather a general universal space, available to all, on/in a very different dimension to that of the observable physical world. Without first quietening the mind and accessing the inner peace that our internal chatter smothers then higher levels on the spiritual path are simply inaccessible.
"Real fearlessness is the product of tenderness. It comes from letting the world tickle your heart, your raw and beautiful heart. You are willing to open up, without resistance or shyness, and face the world. You are willing to share your heart with others."
Can't see the wood for the trees. 

The beauty of this phrase lies in the word wood, which denotes both a large collection of trees, and the material from which each tree is made. So the adage is warning of the danger of being unwilling to either step back and see context or step in and see content – basically the danger in staying where you are.

The Bourgeois Fallacy

I was emailed yesterday with a request for the complete Bourgeois Fallacy, or what could be called A Bourgeois Manifesto – a set of flippant observations I made some time ago. A Manifesto of Spirit could be compiled simply by reversing each of the below – Freedom is freedom from choice; I am entitled to absolutely nothing; Death, pain and suffering are the best teachers; etc.
  1. Freedom is freedom of choice.
  2. I am entitled to the best of all worlds.
  3. Death, pain and suffering are best avoided.
  4. Propriety (property) is preferable to passion (spirit).
  5. Time is always reversible (it's never too late).
  6. The unknowable does not exist.
  7. Depression is preferable to madness.
  8. Talking makes things better.
  9. Consume and conform and everything will be OK.
  10. Society is necessarily stratified, with me in the middle: neither menial nor responsible.
  11. There's always someone else to blame.
  12. Wealth and health are the path to salvation.
  13. Thinking is the path to truth.
  14. Standard of living determines quality of life.
  15. Everything of value is quantifiable (money can buy you love).
Settle down and grow up.

28.2.17


"The emphasis on practice is because it is the only time in your life you can steer your karmic situation."
Compassion is practised by doing things for others. Giving of what you possess: time, energy, wealth, health, to those you feel need it. Real things, actual things, for real people, actual people. Not only in the mind. There is no other way.
"The trouble with Westerners is that they want to witness their own enlightenment."
Grace is something given for free, for no reason. It is beyond our normal economy of this for that. When it comes, which it always will, when you least expect it, then best be ready, best be grateful.
"The problem is that ego can convert anything to its own use, even spirituality."

"All of us, as bodies, are in the active position of figuring out how to live with and against the constructions – or norms – that help to form us."
Real progress always happens unawares – takes you, especially, by surprise. Others may have seen it coming, but for you its always a consequence of grace.

27.2.17

The Jewel in the Heart: a gentle pilot light, always ready to set you aflame. Look at it, into it; ask it, nicely, to lead the way.
Savour the moment. Learn from it by savouring it. It will never happen again quite like this.

25.2.17

Truth is sincerity of fiction – the shock of the new – rather than precision of fact.