Take your shoes off, they make you sick.
"In whatever way the self is taken, it will prove to be appearance. It cannot, if finite, maintain itself against external relations. For these will enter into its essence and so ruin its independence."


The teacher helps take off your blinkers. But then it’s up to you to respond honestly to what you see.
The infantile fantasies of the bourgeoisie. Forever stuck between a rock and a hard place, between life and death. Neither one nor the other.

Stay firmly on your path and dare. Be wild two hours a day!

"Genghis Khan was said to have asked a venerable Taoist Immortal for the secret of longevity and was told that a pure heart and few desires were what was required."
Hell is quibbling over points too fine for their own good. Anxiety.
Forgotten time. What a blessing.

The demands of love. The work is simply a response to these.
A mind tempered by the spirit of compromise.

Each one of us is a set of shifting molecules, spinning in ecstasy.
Too smart by half.
Monks of old would pray for calamity and catastrophe because they intuitively knew that only in suffering does the subject improve – get closer to God.

The most intensely alive people I know at present – my masters – are those who are either terminally ill themselves or those who have lived through a recently deceased loved one’s terminal illness.


No fine grain without tilling the soil.

the same infantile fantasy: the magical omnipotence of thought

The ability to dwell, quietly and peacefully, in your center, we call, for want of a better word, maturity. It is a place very few come to, except accidentally and transiently. Our aim is, through rigorous practice, to get there methodically and systematically – basically whenever we want to. It is the only stability, being free of external structure, able to offer total energetic and spiritual freedom.
Never tolerate disrespect.

It takes a long long time. Of that you can be sure. And, unfortunately, intelligence doesn’t shorten the process, it just ensures that fearful defenses are elaborate, respectable and, so you think, fully justified.
In the long run.


It's very important to go through periods where you sound just rotten and you know it, and you have to persevere or give up.
Destiny awaits behind one’s conditioning – beneath one’s fate. It can only be lived internally so don’t be disappointed if it fails to manifest.
There are not two kinds of human being, savage and civilized. There is only the human animal, forever at war with itself.
When I started Taiji I had an array of expectations: a world view richer than my rational one; a teaching based on oral transmission rather than books; a teacher who would wake me up to energy and spirit; a discipline to unify mind/body/spirit. But most of all I just wanted something I could practice all the time.
A play of viscosities.


entering into an experience that takes you over


The big breakthrough – the point of no return – comes when you start to love the work more than you love yourself. You know you’ve reached this point when you find every spare moment filling with practice rather than idle thoughts. It seems that it’s a simple matter of changing the mind, and, in a sense, it is, but this change requires a spirit and belief, which, unless you’re very fortunate, takes years to cultivate.
All consuming.
Practice is our name for the work that needs to be done to turn a mere act of mimicry into a true living reality. To make the Taiji yours rather than a copy of the teacher's. A physical incorporation and an energetic internalization. It is an ongoing process which will never end.


committed to the moment and its infinite potential of possibilities

The work should always be enjoyable, not because it gives pleasure but because it rouses the spirit. If it fails in this then you are practising dullness – working against the grain.
We are inhabited by spirits and stones – potential events and stumbling blocks. Gather the stones into a bag and shrink into dantien. Distribute spirit evenly throughout.


"Few men realize that their life, the very essence of their character, their capabilities and their audacities, are only the expression of their belief in the safety of their surroundings."


the firmness of rubber, without any stiffness whatsoever
All in all.

The maturity – the ethical grace – to step outside the self and simply see.
Architects spend an entire life with this unreasonable idea that you can fight against gravity.
Staving off disaster just makes it all the worse when it finally hits.
Difficulties are self created. If we weren’t so damned attached to our tensions, our neuroses, our illusions then the work/life/death, would be so much simpler and easier.
eadem sed aliter


Respect is putting the other first. Disrespect is putting self first.
Giving to the other has nothing to do with indulging their selfish whims and everything to do with using your sensitivity and intensity to wake them up to the fact of your encounter. From me to we. This is yielding.
A passion for dispassion. An interest in disinterest.
The modus operandi of the average person is to indulge the self whilst turning a critical eye to the other. Being perverse Taoists we reverse this.
Be one but know the other. The Taoist imperative. This statement alone demands a lifetime’s study.


Dantien offers anchor or refuge, necessary to manage and navigate the awful openness the work demands. The more open you become, the more closed and reclusive you appear. This, yet again, is Central Equilibrium.
You cannot change how someone thinks, but you can give them a tool to use which will lead them to think differently.
How to locate the dantien

Sit up, either bolt upright or reclining comfortably, it matters little, and take a slug of good vodka or poitín. Swirl it around the mouth then throw back the head and let it trickle down the throat. Watch, feel, as it, and its heat, its trace, slowly descend; and keep watching, because, eventually, as it recedes, cools and coils,  into the distance, it ends up at dantien – your very own vanishing point. Dantien is your place of illimitable depth. A moldering dungeon containing all manner of forgotten entities, patiently biding their time until you have the energy and spirit to revive them, and to which you venture at your peril.


Spirit is naturally curious – a natural curiosity. But to become aware of it the mind must come back to the body and shut up.

When the heart is touched one goes weak at the knees. We’ve all had this feeling at some point. Sinking is a technique in Taiji whereby the legs are allowed to relax to the point of almost buckling in order to stimulate the heart to lift.

We are inclined to think of hunter-gatherers as poor because they don’t have anything. Perhaps better to think of them for that reason as free.
Old age has become a protracted process of putting off the fateful day to a time when it will have zero power or meaning.
Touch is an event within which a possibility opens up for both touching entities to take each other onward and upward.
Spirit at the heart. Touch as necessity. This is our work.
Far better to be touched and revulsed than not touched at all. Even in revulsion there is beauty.
The trouble with not stopping is that you never get to start. The fresh start. Don't be afraid. Start over. And believe what comes out.


As dew drops 
from the leaf, 
its heart lifts to the heavens.
Spirit, the impulse to give, is at the heart of everything we do. It is what makes creative endeavor successful in itself – attractive, resonant, authentic, lively. Pregnant with a meaning incommunicable by other means. Spirit implies surplus, excess, or, maybe, simply an improvident and possibly imprudent refusal to either account or be sensible.
break through language to touch life
Practice a sunny disposition.
Root to lift spirit.
Meditation: time to make light.


Sweep the chimney.
A simple but protracted process of giving up all support: mommy/daddy, education, culture, teaching, body, sanity, ghost.
tyrannies begin as festivals of the depressed


Freedom is not a matter of mastering the environment but mastering the mind.
A being so unified with spirit it bursts out of itself and becomes.
A subterranean heartbeat consumes me in its machinations.
Yielding is the art of changing the mind to suit the occasion. I’m here so may as well enjoy myself. Without it, it’s impossible to live with the Tao.
Life is not something that happens, it’s something you do.
The deathly comforts of servility.
A lizard scurries up the mosquito net showing her pale green belly and casting a similarly scurrying shadow across the sheets.
You don’t really know something until you’ve let it change you. Forever. This is a process we call internalization.


the tension of restriction can be highly creative
In the right environment there is no such thing as depression. Depression (lack of spirit) is a luxury we should never afford.

It doesn’t really matter what you do. What matters is how you do it. This our first principle.
Everything I say must be understood not as an affirmation but as a question.
A centre of gravity (dantien) so strong that it allows me to expand out of myself and into the space I enter. In a dangerous environment this would be a necessity. Otherwise I’d be dead.
Central equilibrium. An uneasy peace. Dynamic, delicate, dangerous.


Pain is part of the game.

Softness enables natural shape; allows nature to take shape.


the wild spirit of antithesis and paradox
Something wonderfully reassuring about being proved wrong. Of course you knew all along but were stubbornly clinging to an outmoded model, and can now let it go with a smile.
A practical philosophy reveals a love of wisdom through practice.
If you’re a child, there’s nothing more fun than going downhill.


Selfhood is a side effect of the coarseness of consciousness; the inner life is too subtle and transient to be known to itself.

Language and its use has far more to do with the desire to deceive and manipulate than it does with any urge to illumine or enlighten.
Philosophy – love of wisdom.
The wisdom of love.
A practical philosophy – putting wisdom into practice through love.
Putting love into wisdom through practice.
The wisdom of Taiji is in its principles.
The daily practice of Taiji – a journey through principle into love.
The first principle.
Love of God.
Then we realize what we knew all along.
Only God is real.
All else fleeting figments of the divine imagination.


When my teacher first met his own great Taiji master, one of the first things Dr Chi asked him was what aspect of Taiji interested him the most. John said: Pushing Hands, to which Dr Chi replied: Ah, good; me too. John told me in that moment he realized that if he’d answered The Form, or (God forbid) the Martial Applications then that would have been the end of the relationship.
People are given a false alternative: the choice between an unenlightened belief and an enlightened unbelief.

Plow your own furrow.
It's not the dread upon your head, but the love in your heart that makes you Rasta.
Practice keeps us on the straight and narrow.

I♡Techno. The affirmative heartbeat. Simple, unresolved, endless.
To bypass consciousness without becoming unconscious it is necessary to get into energy.

An education enables you to go at the world armed only with a set of categories.
"The meditative states that have long been cultivated in Eastern traditions are often described as techniques for heightening consciousness. In fact they are ways of bypassing it."
Necessity is the mother of invention. The degree to which our divine minds have been inundated with thoughts and feelings is testament to our own diabolical laziness. In our wisdom (read fear) we have made such a boringly benign environment for ourselves that it is totally unnecessary to engage any creative use of our spirit. And so our minds are hell bound to entertain themselves with things of absolutely no importance.
Controlled folly: relaxing into the present moment as though it’ll last forever, knowing full well that it’ll be over in the blink of an eye.

Most of meditation time is patiently awaiting the crust that has accumulated since last time to crumble away. Then maybe there’ll be a few moments of venturing into the real – the unknown. This is how it goes.


Put a wedge in the sledge and stay till the end.
There comes a time when you must make a choice. This life or that? The choiceless Internal life of slowly seeping into energy and learning the call of spirit, or the mask of ego with its ceaseless distractions. There just isn't time for both, though I know many busy sinking because they insist that there is.
Remember when you were a kid and you couldn’t wait to grow up? Well I’m still waiting.
Where other animals differ from humans is in lacking the sensation of selfhood. In this they are not altogether unfortunate.
Sit until the mind explodes.

Love is pure giving, with no consideration of profit or loss. Unaccounted and unaccountable.
Relaxation is our way of leaving consciousness and entering energy. Abandoning hard for soft.

Clearly distinguish sensation and feeling. If I were to suddenly slap your face, you would have a sensation of shock then stinging. But you would feel angry, annoyed, confused, insulted. If you manage to find a way through these feelings then you’d realise that the slap has simply roused your spirit and now you do indeed feel more awake. Feelings are just opinions – interpretations – and change willynilly.
The teacher dwells in a reality you aspire to. Otherwise why bother?
the old anthropocentric conceit

Time with the teacher is fuel for practice not a substitute.
Free will is a trick of perspective.


The mind can only wander if the body tenses up to compensate for its absence. This is the major assumption behind our work. And so far everything I’ve discovered confirms it.


I would like to paint the way a bird sings.
A living teaching is something to develop a relationship with, not to take from when you feel like it. Respectful practice is our way of giving something back.

How much practice should I do? Daily, dutifully. Enough each session to lose yourself. Consider it the most important thing in life, otherwise it won’t get done. My teacher used to say the only reason to miss practice is either if you’re too sick or if someone important to you desperately needs your time and energy. And if you miss a session then struggle to catch it up the next few days. It sounds childish I know, which is why formal practice is best established whilst in your twenties, whilst still a child.
Everyone discusses my art and pretends to understand, as if it were necessary to understand, when it is simply necessary to love.
It all starts with formal practice: a well-defined time slot each day filled with the work. Until this is established the student is not really a student – more a hanger-on, a dilettante, an amateur. It doesn’t take long for formal practice to develop a life and reality of its own, an Internal life through which you connect daily to both teacher and teaching. It provides a connexion of softness and intimacy, which nourishes in a way nothing in external life can. Those too lazy or frightened to get into practice never understand what a teaching is, never get to appreciate that it is both a living and a loving entity.
A lifetime commitment.


Taiji is what you don’t want it to be, what you dread it becoming.

I continue to work hard, not without periods of discouragement. But my strength always returns.
Dig and delve unceasingly.
Watch a good movie and the chances are that your mind will hardly wander at all. So the fact that it wanders during class or during practice is basically for want of entertainment: because you're bored. How puerile. But herein lies the secret to quietening the mind: let the work engage you the way a good movie does. Find it totally fascinating and engrossing. Open up to energy – a world forever present and available, far more interesting than you.
I suspect in years to come people will make a link between our plump, comfortable, infantilising society and the popularity of Harry Potter.
Only when you begin to realize that your own whinging ego is not only the least interesting thing in the whole universe but also the major obstacle to any spiritual progress, will you start the long ordeal of reducing it.
Nature is more depth than surface. Colours are the expression on the surface of this depth; they rise up from the roots of the world.
After all that work you come to Nothing. This is the way. The Way.


Under this fine rain I breathe in the innocence of the world. I feel coloured by the nuances of infinity. At this moment I am one with my picture. We are an iridescent chaos.
When you start to feel energy – those first glimmers – it slowly dawns that you've been feeling it all along but in the background, the foreground being completely dominated by your own feelings, your own self.


If I think, everything is lost.

You will only learn if you manage to make the metaphors real. This, for me, is the beauty of humans – their magical ability to blur the real and the imaginary. And this is energy – the sum total of everything that could be happening but isn’t, yet is. Pure potential.
True freedom is freedom from your own selfish desires, be it for wealth or health, happiness or enlightenment; it all amounts to the same thing. Take your mind off the enemy, even for a moment, and you’re shackled – effectively dead.
Right now a moment of time is passing by! Become that moment.
For the love of God. A five word mantra to reprogram the heart-mind.
Mindfulness is not just a technique for doing things better – carefully, consciously, conscientiously – it is a way of adding spirit to the mix.

The temptation, always, is to use force. This should be resisted but rarely is. We all have to learn, the hard way, that force may seem to get the job done and give us what we want, but the results are always flawed and ultimately unusable. Then the long slow task of undoing the damage – unraveling – in order to start again. As my teacher once said to me: Progress is a series of going back to square ones.
Time to practice.

Motivation is everything. So be honest. What drives the work? What is at the core of this compulsion to work the Internal at every opportunity? If you find it’s something other than love of God, something less selfless, like fear or duty or habit or, God forbid, ambition, then simply change your mind. Mindfulness is not just bringing the mind to bear, it is also the ability to be fluid, to yield, to make it what it needs to be.


listen to tighten 
the strings of the harp
Make something (of) now.

Emphasize asymmetry: be single-weighted.
Time to walk the walk.
Peoples lives are too full, their closets too full, minds too full. Overcrowding, everywhere, on every level of the human universe. Meditation offers a sane solution. A start.


Teach by example.


The resistance of a mind that always knows best. This is the source of all our problems.

A tiny adjustment to posture changes everything, absolutely everything. This is our Butterfly Effect – the consequence to working with(in) a natural system of infinite depth and texture. Effects (externals) can never be foreseen or designed, not without reducing and depleting the system.
A cold ruthless detachment so deep that by the time it surfaces it’s become a warm friendly concern.
The key is humility and sincerity; these two qualities bring harmony. This is the true meaning of Delight.
Mind is the means to giving shape and direction to energy, nothing more, certainly not a place of thinking, judging or discriminating.