Suffering? Hell, it's part of the package!

If humility does not precede all that we do, our efforts are meaningless.
Don't resist, don't assist. Or, the flip side, resist AND assist. All or nothing.
It's all to do with the quality of the resistance. Is it elastic, rubbery? Can you bounce back, return to the fray?
Love is the support and challenge I give the Other, enabling them to reach beyond themselves. Or, as my teacher used to say: Make an offer they can't refuse.
Spend the day making love.

Progressive resistance training. Without resistance there is no strength. This, I suspect, was Cheng Man-ching's downfall.
Cruel to be kind.
Learn to stretch out the moment. This is meditation. And taiji. And good love-making.
Without the challenge of the Other how does one learn anything?
Live to fight another day.


I may possibly have been interested in qi (ch'i) before it became a cultural artifact shrouded in theory. The great thing about spirit is that it breaks all the rules.
There's a story about a great master reaching the end of his time. He knows the end is nigh so summons his two top students, both great teachers in their own right, for their final instruction. The two students are equally impressive but have very different characters, one a joyous though nervous extrovert and the other a deep though gloomy introvert. After they arrive and happy greetings are over the master asks them both to describe their respective practice regimes. Both of course feel they are practising exactly what the master taught them but inevitably it becomes clear that each has inadvertently designed a regime that best suits their particular character. So the shrewd master gives the simple, final teaching: "Both of you practice what the other has developed, for the rest of your days." It's all about balance. And breaking the mould.
Pride insists on going it alone, humilty begs for help.


the bourgeois intelligentsia, with their endless quest for worldly knowledge (which could never hope to be more than relative) and their tendency to dilettantism
Work the land: garden, farm, dig, forage. In the long run, it's the surest route to a root.

except for sudden moments of arrow-like aspiration, prayer needs silence and solitude

There comes a point when you realise that ideas are just highfalutin nonsense – excuses not to get the hands dirty.
God (the internal of the Internal) is a function of our whole being – our body, mind, heart and soul. We are primed to worship him despite the fact that most of us live in denial by worshiping instead external things – false idols.


Sitting: spine erect, chin tucked in, tip of tongue on roof of mouth, eyes hooded not closed, breathing long and relaxed. Everything seemingly serene. And yet inside a mind in turmoil. What to do? Bear in mind that if your body is sitting quietly as described then part of your mind is responsible for that because the body cannot do anything without the mind. This is the higher mind; the lower mind is the part in turmoil. So just switch your attention to the higher mind – dwell there – and try to ignore the lower mind. It's like an obnoxious child that demands attention – if you ignore it it'll eventually stop pestering you.
the cardinal virtues of justice, prudence, self-control and courage

that flash of a trembling glance


For the lazy student the most difficult thing to learn is how to work. For the good student the most difficult thing to learn is how to rest.
Read with resistance and imagination.
If you can't relax the shoulders then your inner smile is not broad enough.
In the fullness of time.

Failure always precedes success so if you want to succeed you first need to embrace failure.
Untimely and otherworldly.


A story is all the more true for never having happened.
I have become my own problem.
Without a thorough grounding in relaxation, rooting and above all humility, advanced techniques do more harm than good. They feed an already bloated sense of self-importance.

The curse of the clever student is their own cleverness, which never lets them go. And we're all too clever for our own good.
It's not what you do so much as how you do it. (How many times have I said that?) The degree to which both self and technique are lost in the doing so that all that exists is the doing.
A true story in is not one that describes actual events but one that brings about a transformation in the student.


held down by the dead weight of personal and collective egotism
You know it's spirit if it runs contrary to expectations.

We do not lack communication. On the contrary, we have too much of it. We lack resistance to the present.
Spirit, being weightless, has great speed. When the spirit is up and you're in the zone, your spirit is everywhere all at once. In fact there is a sense in which spirit has negative mass which means it's not bound by time in the way that matter is. Spirit senses the future by scouting routes opened up by intention – it knows already, before that intention has set the lumbering wheels of matter in motion. The rational logical mind attempts to do the same but it lacks the speed, vitality and elegance of spirit, which is why we have invented computers – to speed up the mind and mimic spirit. Mind makes a vulgar parody of paradise; a travesty. This subject was my teacher's lifelong interest and passion.
The only alternative to depression nowadays is madness. Or maybe craziness is a more palatable word.
The work is not so much rousing the spirit – that is relatively straightforward – just watch an exciting movie or take a cold shower or down a shot of vodka. The work is distinguishing then disentangling spirit from mind – freeing spirit from ego.
Spirit always confounds the mind.


More choice, more distraction, less work.
The lift of spirit is a premonition of the moment of death. Practising for that final fandango.


The revolutionary task is to risk one's life for the chance of changing intolerable conditions.
The Classics unambiguously state: If you concentrate on qi then you'll be weak but if you concentrate on spirit you'll be strong.
A mind so quiet it would hear a pin drop.

grow the secret
The real teaching is always happening on a level deeper than your present awareness, and must be uncovered with practice through time. As they say, time will tell.
The disapprobation of the bourgeoisie is all the confirmation I need.
The lesson to be taken is that we must all live double-lives: one full of the compromises we make with the present, and the other in which we plot to undo them. The struggle is to keep one's cover identity from taking over.

Spiritual work aims for a direct connexion with reality rather than one mediated through self.


Going away for 3 weeks so this space is likely to be quiet.
When you drive the same road day after day, it's easy to start thinking about the road not taken. Well, I try not to do that. You see, I was lucky, I picked a good road early and I stayed on it.


Internal and External are complementary opposites, like Yin and Yang. So the monk lives a life of rigid routine and obedience, effectively a prisoner (even his room is called a cell), so that his internal life can open up and burgeon. The opposite of the modern bourgeoisie who spend their time and energy on all manner of novel experience, belying total internal poverty.
In Taiji, we give by listening – lending the proverbial ear.
A day without work is a day without food.

Emptiness just means that all things are dependent upon other things for their existence.
Work alone to garner courage.
Work together to share courage.


Have you noticed how no one has a soul anymore? We are soulless, and so, despite our self-importance, inconsequential.


The good student is so in love with the work that the teacher is constantly drawing them back for fear they'll overdo it.
If you surrendered to the air, you could ride it.

the first of all poetic virtues – the heart's tone
What I lazily group under the general label bourgeois are attempts to deal with the problem of suffering by avoiding it. Nowadays such avoidance usually involves spending money on comforts, distractions, titillation, holidays. In contrast, a spiritual life struggles to understand suffering by facing it, embracing it and burrowing beneath it to an empty ground where pleasure and pain are of little consequence. This is exactly what happens during meditation: after some time every session becomes difficult – painful, physically and psychologically – but you persevere and sink into a broader deeper space, which we call peace, and compassionately watch over the self struggling with trivialities.
Sit down.  Shut up.  Listen!
Meditation investigates mind, emptiness.
Taijiquan investigates spirit, movement.
Both are crucial and critical for life.


If love isn’t willing to work, then it isn’t love.

Nowhere to go, nothing to do.
People don't treasure things anymore.
You should try it…


People often ask what to do when bad things happen. 
I think of Soen Nakagawa Roshi, who was asked, 
“Roshi, I am so discouraged. What should I do?” 
He replied, “Encourage others.”
Squaring the circle. Reconciling containment (circle) and release (straight line).
                    and to learn 
from the lichen’s slowness 
at work something of the slowness 
of the illumination of the self


God is simply the stream of tendency by which all things seek to fulfill the law of their being.

My eldest daughter's addiction to her iPhone – her inability to put it down without anxiety – the very real feeling (for her) that the phone somehow completes her – is an external reflection of the universal addiction to the noisy chattering mind – to our inability to put aside our egos without getting instantly anxious. My ego is no more me than my daughter's iPhone is her, so why do I not only cling to it but identify with it?
Lose your self in the movement, the energy. Instead of a stable self moving, become the movement, the flow.
Cheating is any layer of artifice, the first of which is language.
Life is a pilgrimage.