31.10.17

"Whoever does not detach himself from the ego never attains the Absolute and never deciphers life."

"I await joyous surprises while working, an awakening of the materials that I work with and that my spirit develops."
You know sometimes you laugh so hard you begin to cry, or vice versa? Well that is the brink, where yin turns to yang, the place a good Taoist knows he needs to dwell, despite its unbearable intensity, or rather because of. As if she had any choice in the matter.
If you must natter away to yourself then address your Internal aspect, not to complain but to get to know, to familiarise.
Decades of gruelling reducing work simply to become humble enough to begin to approach the Internal without scaring it off or, rather, without it scaring me.
The older I grow, the more I find myself alone.

The form is always the measure of the obsession.
An open mind is empty, a closed mind is full. An open mind listens, a closed mind speaks.

30.10.17

The important things in life choose us not us them.
We all have our glaring autisms. The skill is to get them to work for you rather than against.
"What I am looking for is not happiness. I work solely because it is impossible for me to do anything else."

peaceful if breaking if breaking
Figure & ground. A lone figure rising from the ground.
"Dedicate your time to sitting upright, not seeking achievement, not seeking enlightenment. This is the ancestral way."
Sitting in a field. A field of gravity.
If the wobble doesn’t make you giggle then you’re far too serious.

29.10.17

"His spare time he occupied by drawing circles with compass and pencil on a piece of paper. He applied himself to that pastime with great industry, with his elbows spread out and bowed low over the kitchen table."
Reach the point where nothing and everything amount to the same thing: a general flattening or razing to a ground zero from which the world can spring afresh with virtues and values unbesmirched by human mind.
A teacher that doesn’t rock your boat is merely massaging your ego.

The tragic fact of life is that the one thing I really need to hear in order to make the change is the one thing I will probably never listen to for as long as I have the strength to resist. This is why the smallest real change takes such a long time, because most of that time is spent beating about the bush.
Bear in mind that most of our efforts amount to little more than polishing a defective mirror, a mirror that can never tell the truth.
The basic standing posture of the martial arts is Riding Horse: standing as though seated on a horse, lumber spine strong so that the thoracic spine leans back slightly (arms in front helps align the spine correctly). Dantien sinks with gravity, heart lifts with spirit, and you become two balanced but very different vectors.

The known is flat, boring, deplete of energy and spirit. The act of knowing robs and defiles, the way an early photograph was believed by Native Americans to steal their spirit. The unknown, on the other hand, is exciting and unpredictable; dangerous. Spiritual work teaches that it is also more trustworthy because it bestows life and grace – something knowing can never do.
Purge the world of demons and you also kill off the angels.

28.10.17

A spiritual life without a spirited teacher is nothing.

27.10.17

here by myself away from the clank of the world
This Pampers™ Generation.
This pampered generation.

26.10.17


Find joy in service otherwise self-worth relies upon being better than others.
The most wonderful feeling is to be useful – to give. The most horrible feeling is to be used – to be taken from.
the provocation of an unfathomable reserve

A pair of hummingbirds at the lavender. He brash and vulgar in his iridescence. She soft and muted in her drab.
Thinking forgets energy.
One thinks to find meaning. One stops thinking to create meaning.

Engage with spirit (love) rather than control with mind (fear).
In order to be moved I must stop moving.
Relax and let body sink and heart lift. These should always go together. We call it Central Equilibrium. It is the prerequisite for both good posture and for the manifestation of energy.
Work it out.
As a kid I remember regularly whining: I'm bored. And I'd always get the same response: Well make yourself useful.

25.10.17

Discipline: choosing difficulty.

Thinking is not bad, necessarily, but our inability to turn it off and abide contentedly in internal silence is. The problem with thought, language based thought especially, is that it is only really possible if I create, or find, internal tension – prejudice – to support it. It seems to be incapable of using something as inherently neutral and healing and earthing as the ground from which to spring.
A thing is nothing other than the difference between that which is in this thing and that in which this thing is.

24.10.17

Without internal quiet there is no solitude.
The reality of spirit is so far from today's flat ontology that one could say there is a fair degree of incommensurability between reality and world.
In meditation one simply sits, passive, allowing the agencies of energy, within and without, to operate and slowly manifest a soul.

If you can't muster a smile then you're getting it wrong.
Overtime, over time.
The molten snow 


is flowing downhill 


Just like water. 

23.10.17

Relaxation in Taiji is never a slump into mediocrity, never a settling in the middle, but a vital drift to two extremes. One an extreme of substance, of self, of contraction and withdrawal, of gravity – my own and Earth's. The other an extreme of activity – of light and lightness – of exuberance and expansion – of madness and spirit. For us relaxation is contradiction – the joy and play of being one and the other rather than either/or.
Joy is the consequence of trust (in the natural process).

Far from stressing you into strength, the work, when it really works, brings you to the brink.

22.10.17

Self is heavy with habit. It is its own momentum; necessarily self repeating. Spirit is weightless, at once everywhere and nowhere. Together they make change and time. Without the other nothing would be or become.
The master is one who has finally learnt to serve, and is now ready to pass this learning on. And that is all.

21.10.17

This life that struggles to connect yet always returns to separation.
Gaze into the eyes of the other and what do you see? Your own reflection. It's inescapable.

Blessed with difficulties.
Thinking is akin to murder: it may seem to solve a problem but the consequences are dire.
Meditation is concerned with movement through time – with process. How do I pass from this moment to the next? We recommend what I call 'becoming amoeba': breaking open and spilling into the unfolding future. This requires full attention to the present moment itself rather than its contents, the sort of attention you only seem to get for extended periods with those with severe disabilities or painful illness/injury, where each breath, each movement, each moment is a laboured ordeal requiring utmost concentration. Such people are really present, and although they may start off angry or bitter or frightened or just plain sorry for themselves, these emotions quickly dissipate since they don't help – they do nothing but waste energy – a luxury ill afforded. And because such people are getting something fundamental right, which most of us get fundamentally wrong, their company should be sought and treasured rather than shunned.

19.10.17

a simplicity, an impoverished surface

18.10.17

Spirit changes everything.

Thinking is fine but to put any real store by it – how stupid can you get?
The beauty of mistakes is that they often reveal a deeper truth lurking beneath the surface. The Freudian slip.
No one to blame but myself. This one really sucks.
We never know, we can never know. So is all we can do is do knowing that that doing will make good in time. This the rationale and reason to practice.
So what is it all about? This strange phenomenon called life? What is the meaning of it all? To become animal, or angel, or, preferably, both. To investigate extremes through acts of spirit, rather than stay fearfully stuck in the boring middle. To access and put to use your inner power which is always a power to become, a power to change, a power to switch dimensions, to flip realities and suddenly BE. To confront death, not at some future date but NOW, fully awake and fully alive, and scream FUCK YOU!

17.10.17

The student must realise that it is her readiness brought about by her own hardwork that stimulates the next stage of the teaching to reveal itself. The teacher has very little say in the matter. Without that hardwork it will, week in week out, become very monotonous. Some students prefer things this way – it's less threatening than the challenge of something new – but I can assure you the teacher doesn't.
It would be nice to have a few real students – ones that practice – but from what I hear this is the sentiment of most teachers nowadays.
If the student needs explanations then they're not ready to be taught.
Our technologies haven't just enslaved us, they have moulded us into willing slaves. They have made us totally dependent.
I am an optimist because I believe in spirit, yet a pessimist since I don't believe in humanity. We are nothing special, and the sooner we get our childish minds around that fact the sooner we can get on with this project of presenting our spirit to life.

"The interiorization of the technology of the phonetic alphabet translates man from the magical world of the ear to the neutral visual world."
The teacher is someone who knows you better than you know yourself in one crucial respect: they know what you need next in order to make real headway into destiny.
Destiny is a future that makes life worthwhile. The faintest whiff of success.
"The way I paint cannot be passed on because it is always a question of how profoundly or emotively I can paint something that is elemental. This has to come directly out of the spirit of my life, so it is not a theory I can give to another artist."
Nowadays we are all accustomed to the sight of a child enrapt in a screen – swallowed by the visual – willing to forsake food and friends for a few more minutes enslavement. But, oh, to be so enrapt by the simplicity of touch.
A warrior path to develop warrior spirit. The spirit of fighting a battle that cannot be won because somewhere along the line our species took a wrong turn – a selfish turn – and lost the apparatus – the direct access to power – to win through, spiritually, except in the rarest of special cases. And yet, despite being doomed to fail, one chooses to live this choiceless life because without just a little warrior spirit nothing of any true worth is possible.

Most spiritual work lacks one vital ingredient: spirit.
a constant interplay between the materiality of life and the spirituality and light of idea
Thinking requires you to vacate the body.
Correct posture blows the mind.
Relaxed body. Fierce spirit. Mind doesn't come into it.

"I know I use a very insistent kind of imagery, being a hopelessly sick and obsessive person, but I'm constantly trying to correct the tyranny of my own obsessiveness, so I never stop arguing with myself."
Amazing how many spiritual people one meets nowadays with no spirit.
"The hidden background of any situation is in general more powerful than the visible surface."
The best way to reduce the self is hardwork, especially physical work or work helping others. We all know this, instinctively.
Sinking, a concept as important in seated meditation as it is in Taiji, involves, as does every action, a relaxed and a tense component. The relaxed component is simply letting go to gravity with a vertical spine; feeling the draw as a flow of energy. The tense component activates the spinus erectus muscles – the pythons either side of the lumber spine – to extend the bottom end of the spine down into the earth and the top end upwards out of the crown of the head; rather like driving a stake into the ground. Then, as you work, softly but firmly, the energy of the earth coils itself upwards around your spine like a runner bean creeping up a beanpole or like a dozy snake woken by the charmers shawm. Most practitioners make the mistake of allowing the belly to drift up and back in order to alleviate the strain on the legs, in which case this coiling energy has nothing to coil around. Keeping the bum in – sinking the dantien/sacrum down and forward into the posture and leg(s) – corrects this weakness.

Every theorist hopes to triumph by reducing the world to their own favored terms.
Innocence is sweet; maturity savoury – and far more wholesome.
I know it's a terribly unfashionable sentiment, but spiritual work must have some abnegative discipline – a sacrificial structure – to be in any way effective on the longterm. A lot of so called spirituality nowadays consists of pampering and indulging the self in the hope that that will stimulate it to reward me with good feelings which I can then chose to interpret spiritually. But such an approach, on the longterm, just strengths and bloats the ego – a sure path to decadence and corruption. Read any well established spiritual or religious text and they say the same thing: prayer is most effective when it is impossible to pray, love is most effective when it seems impossible to love, practice is most effective when it's the last thing you want to do. Yet again it all boils down to giving yourself what you need rather than what you want. This is maturity.
When you listen to energy rather than the thoughts in your head then you are exercising spirit. But when you listen to those thoughts instead, thereby losing touch with energy, then you exercise self or ego, regardless of the content of those thoughts.
Content to simply sit for as long as it takes for self to withdraw into the darkness of its lair and for the energetic body to emanate into full glory.

The rigors and rewards of this Parmenidean life.

16.10.17

Spirit thrives on danger. So, the safer we make our world, the less spirit. It's obvious really.

15.10.17

"I try to get a mature and resonant feeling into the surface through labor and attention."
Amazing how many spiritual people one meets nowadays without a practice.
In Taiji, overall form stays largely the same but content changes radically. These changes – changes in energy, in spirit, in feeling and emotion – register in tiny fluctuations of form – what my teacher called shimmer – and it is these little changes that give both the work and the worker spiritual life.

Clotted with self. Sometimes my teacher could coin such an apt phrase. This one was invented to describe a particular student who was literally paralysed with self obsession. No spirit, no movement – everything stifled – and all for the sake of her creature comforts.
"Each thing has an essence. A chair is what it is, deeper than all the events and surface effects through which it is manifest. To say otherwise makes change impossible."
You try living, out of country and culture, on your own, sustaining a vision that goes completely against the grain of those you find yourself living amongst. This is how exile becomes a test of spirit.
Sacrifice everything but spirit.
"We have not made a beautiful world. As the world deteriorates and our options become more limited, the example of what's possible in art becomes more important and, simultaneously, more tragically isolated."

Perfect balance. Is that an oxymoron?
Arguing with my brother-in-law yesterday that we ought to give our children more freedom and more responsibility. "Yes, that's all well and good but what happens when something unexpected happens?" he asked, constantly fearful of his own children's safety. "Well that's when we see what they're made of," was my answer. And as I gave his question more thought I realised that the whole raison d'ĂȘtre of the bourgeois life was the minimization, containment and domestication of the unexpected, of spirit.

14.10.17

"I found one had to do some work every day, even at midnight, because either you're professional or you're not."
The work investigates the remote possibility of a reality beyond self. A becoming object.
real objects always exceed their contexts, always withdraw from our control, and are always filled with surplus and surprise

The imagination, when properly stimulated, is totally non-subjective.
The sobriety of one who has learnt to live with hunger.
a love of wisdom about what lies outside knowledge
The only thing that really cuts through ego is touch: a listening touch, a respectful touch, a touch that invites exchange, admits change. I have known many people who loved to fuck but were afraid to touch.
The real cannot be made present without ceasing to be real.

13.10.17

12.10.17

"I want my pictures to be things. I want them to be made up of marks that are physically and individually self-sufficient."
Your energy is heavily populated with figures from both past and future. Ghosts and spectres.
Remember with your energy rather than your mind.
Despite our pathetic efforts to cling to the various surfaces we encounter, life, for all of us, is a journey into depth. A journey into heart.
I rarely draw what I see. I draw what I feel in my body.

11.10.17


For me artists are always closer to God, despite their morals, or lack of them, than the so called men of God, the religious and their clergy, simply because they are creative.
: breaking, always, into tears, into life, into presence
Do you chose to go with what you like/want or do you chose to go with/into truth? And if there is any correlation between these two paths then that correlation is negative.

10.10.17

When I am present to life then life presents itself to me. I must be prepared to take whatever comes with faith and gratitude. Knowledge doesn't come into it.
Lord, grant me the strength to bear this awful openness that breaks me out of habitual self and into presence, which is always your presence.

Knowledge enables me to look on whereas faith puts me in the thick of things.
When you have the honour of watching a real artist work then you realise that the thing created documents an intense act of prayer.
Presence is an awakening to the world at hand. Touching, as though, every thing.
Think of thing as present participle as well as noun.

9.10.17

folds between hard positions are harboring potential

"To go up the mountain is one thing; to be happy up there is another thing. To be free, not longing for what you left behind, is a fundamental question of temperament, outlook and nature."
My daughter surfing TV last night:
—Why's there never anything half decent on TV?
—You could turn it off, you know.
—Yeah, I could, but the quiet is so annoying.
ADVICE TO STUDENTS

Don't think about what you can get out of it. Think about what you can put into it.

—Sean Scully
Natural way best way. Just don't make the mistake of assuming that natural means easy.
This humble struggle to become a little more compassionate and a little less selfish.

I received an in-depth lesson this weekend on the crucial differences between Armani Jeans, Louis Vuitton, Moncler and Hugo Boss from my son and my nephew. I now feel thoroughly enlightened. I just hope that when the Messiah comes he wears designer gear otherwise no one will notice him.
The whole idea of Taiji is to lose self in the doing, and to develop a feeling for energy. Self shrinks; energy expands.
Boarding the train this morning with the kids, I asked the guard:
—Do you need to see our tickets?
—No! I trust you!
Felt good to start the journey with such a blessing.
"The reason I love boxers is this: when they win they thank God, and when they lose they blame themselves. Or to put it another way: put in more than you expect to take out."
The infinite richness of the void; what's left when you find the courage to strip everything away.

7.10.17

The problem with thinking – and it's a big one – is that it inevitably privileges its own process above all others; it denies the possibility of a realm that cannot be thought – an unknowable; and it assumes that because only humans think, they are therefore naturally more privileged than other entities and objects. Our work aims to focus on that part of us we share with every other thing in the universe – energy and spirit – rather than the agency that sets us apart.
Strength in vulnerability.
When we learn to love, our fine intellect will know where to go.
Meditation is a struggle to switch allegiance from mind to energy, from thinking to breathing. This is our leap of faith.

6.10.17

"Art is a dance between a problem and a possible solution, between a wound and love, so that the wound is transformed and the love is directed by its mission."

"Sometimes my joy, the thrill of painting, deserts me. Then I am left with my theories, my issues, my ideas about right and wrong, as if art were a problem instead of an affirmation. I have to live through these times and wait patiently for another Angel to tap me on the shoulder."
You won't understand by learning to think, but by learning to love.

5.10.17

First visit yesterday to the family doctor – just for a check up. A beautiful man – Mikki Nissim – appropriate name for a thaumaturge. In one sense brimming with experience and confidence – settled comfortably in himself; in another sense trembling with listening energy – alert to the possibility of the unexpected; and in another sense desperately needing something other to make better sense of life. And this is how we should be: a self built on the past, a spirit glimpsing the future and a soul yearning for God.
Peace, if it leads to a dull flabby spirit, only able to fire up when the temper is lost, is far more deadly than war.

3.10.17

Spirit enables you to proceed courageously and decisively, without knowledge or foresight. In fact, spirit, when it burns, makes things so new that prior knowledge hinders rather than helps.

2.10.17


rooted in a carnal setting
Lie to the world and it will have no choice but to lie to you.
A true encounter calls me to withhold my self and share my energy. Self travels inward to its sanctum making me hard (in a good way – solid) to the core, and energy flows outward making me soft (in a good way – melty, fluid) as butter.
"In spite of insomnia, headaches, and worries, perhaps in a better state than ever before."
Converse with all things.

The world perceives me in the same way that I perceive it. So, compassionately or anxiously?
First encounter is so important because habits are instantly set up. This is one reason why vigilance is vital. My teacher had a saying: Once is a habit. He also used to say that if you get it wrong the first time then treat the next time as the first time.

1.10.17

objects can only ever interact on the inside of an intention
Become a philosopher, with as much emphasis on philo as sophia.