"Perhaps after all it is a matter of loosening the joint."

Never be afraid to go back to square one. Take it as a sign of progress.
Spirit, when it rises inside, does two things: it gives you the courage to take risks, and, by unifying your being, it maximizes the chance of success of said risks. Very similar to adrenaline.
So, what to do when it slowly begins to dawn, after most of life is done, that the very foundation upon which you’ve built your empire is the very thing that needs to go before you can go any further?
What is the present moment but an encounter of spirit – my spirit meeting the spirit and miraculously making it new.
Live sacrificially! my teacher once snarled at me. Yet in a sense this is what we all do – we sacrifice spirit, vision, vocation even, for the comfort of conformity and the false peace of possessions. We basically sell out. (This is what I mean by bourgeois.) But, of course, my teacher meant the opposite of this – a sacrifice of self for the sake of spirit – for God's sake.

What would you rather: the pleasure of getting what you want or the delight in receiving what you could never have imagined?
Anything indulged is a pathetic attempt to avoid loneliness.
Hopefully too intelligent to believe your own publicity, which is what thoughts and feelings amount to – little more than opinions.
Let go of the past – glories, traumas – points of pride, blocks of fear – and see the present moment for what it truly is. This is all we ask. Pity it’s such a tall order.
The cutting edge.


The work is about letting go of fear by learning to access and trust deeper and deeper energies.
Love is simply giving. Not giving in order to get, but simply giving. You love because you give, and you give because you love. The good student is in love with the work, and that is why they work – out of love.
Few comforts here.
If you want a correct relationship with the world – one that doesn't involve either expecting more than your due or wallowing in self pity when you don't get it – then the mind must be firmly and ruthlessly ensconced in the dantien.
Maybe, just maybe, this is it. Maybe it never gets any better (or worse) than this.

God gave us a body and the present moment. The knack of losing both by mulling over things is our invention – a cowardly response to loneliness.


What will save you is your love of work.
The power of words lies not so much in their signification as in their ability to evoke energy. And this is communication: not passing information from one place to another but creating a communal energetic space where transformation can take place.
The difference between belief and unbelief is purely postural. When the spine is clear, even and smooth then the heart naturally lifts upward out of itself. And this lift is love of God.
A heavy heart sees what it wants to see – heaviness. Only a light heart – so light that it lifts – sees what’s really there.

What I'm after is to demonstrate that man is spiritual.
The world we inhabit has been flattened and stripped of energy by our own opinionated minds. And we have no one to blame but our selves.


How are you? The vacuity of the question belies the answer.


this orgy of false being
Beware middle-age spread.

Words from the mouth reach the ear
Words from the heart reach the heart
The student is becoming serious – starting the slow transition from mediocre to good – when they find that they're giving up things in their life to free up more time and energy for better Taiji.
The bourgeois economy can be reduced to one word: profit. To take more than is given, and to barricade oneself behind these takings. Spiritual economy is the reverse of this: to give rather than take. Not because that makes you a nice guy, but to disrupt the wealth and health of ego in the belief that this creates the best conditions for an encounter with spirit – an event of spirit.
My teacher once told me that whenever he feels lost or stuck in his own practice, he always returns to the principles of softness and roundness.
"If every man had exactly what he wanted, he would be no better than he is now."

"It is so important not to be there when the bomb drops." This was a favourite phrase of my teacher's, which he used to illustrate yielding – the knack of sussing out and dealing with situations before they happen by having your spirit out there.


"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 historical index but psychological map, and unless understood as such, 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.