Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas: The Real Reason for Celebration

This is the Christmas holiday season again and my favorite time of the year. We All have so many reasons to celebrate here in the United States because most of us have something to eat, a roof over our heads, and no war raging around us. We are all truly wealthy in an economic sense but this kind of wealth has little use to us in Reality. That is why this time of year is so important to All of us here and around the world. Although the date, December 25th, is an arbitrary date for the birth of Jesus - he was actually born in the Spring - the celebration is what is important. The sad thing, though, is most people have no idea of the magnitude of the great gift Jesus gave us. Established Christianity teaches a superficial interpretation of the teachings of Jesus. Their interpretation has the same problem that All Established Religions have. It and the rest are All interpreted by the left-brain, thinking perspective of the Ego and therefore can Never "hear' the Truth in his teachings. There has Only been One Truth from the beginning of time and has Always been, and Always is, immediately available to each and every human on earth. This Truth is the same for everything in the Universe so it may very well be understood by All of Nature. It is our Ego that gives us humans the arrogance to think we are something extraordinarily special in this Universe. We Are Not! We are actually lost and separated from who and what we really are - thanks to the Ego. So let's get to the heart of the matter - the One Truth.

This One Truth that Jesus was teaching and few have "ears to hear" is Experiential, Not something that can be rationalized or explained. It must be experienced! The teachings of Jesus, which were called "The Way" by him, were called that for a very important reason. A reason that is oblivious to All Established Religions. You see, Jesus walked this earth as a man, just like any other man, long, long ago. No one knows when. While he was an ordinary man, he Awakened to his True Nature that remains hidden by most people's Ego and he realized the Great Illusion that we think is reality. He Experienced the God within us All and over time mastered his Ego. He gained the Wisdom to understand that Cause and Effect, Karma, was the barrier to becoming his True Nature and through his Path with Heart Overcame Karma and, thus, Overcame this material world. His words to his disciples, "I have Overcome this world"! To Overcome anything means you had to be a part of it first. Now, add such teachings of his such as after he performed some unbelievable "Miracle", his disciples were in total awe of this event. His words again, "you can do this and So Much More"! It was no big deal. It was nothing beyond our own abilities - completely Natural and Normal. To those of us "with ears to hear", we understand exactly what he meant. To those of you who are unfamiliar with the way they spoke back then, the phrase " with ears to hear" means to understand. Today we say, "can't you see" or something similar. Back then, Wisdom was generally passed down through word of mouth instead of written material. He made it very clear that few had the "ears to hear" and the rest "knew not what they were doing". It was not their fault then anymore than it is today. The rule is the same though. Only relatively few Can Understand at any point in time. I think it has to do with the evolving soul like the evolving of everything in Nature, but this is pure speculation. All I know is that there are relatively few truly Awakened people while the great masses remain Asleep and are completely oblivious to the One True and their True Nature. Now for the punch line.

Our True Nature is Being One with God. We always are except the Ego hides this very well with all of it's interference. There is no place to go to find yourself and God except within you. We are not supposed to be here in all of this suffering. God is pure Altruistic, Non-judgemental, Objective, and Blissful Love. Period!! Jesus had spent lifetimes Overcoming Karma to Overcome this material world full of pain and suffering yet the Love of God, our True Nature, filled him with such overwhelming Empathy that he literally risk everything by coming back here as a human to show us how to do what he did. Repeat: HOW TO DO WHAT HE DID! His teachings, "The Way", told us exactly "the way" to Overcome this world and join him as his equal. He came close to getting caught up in the vicious web of Karma several times and had to go cleanse himself, get Centered and One again every time. He did this when he went into the desert for 40 days. Just as he had to get away from the chaos to get Centered, so do we. You must find the time.

Jesus accomplished the most difficult thing in the world most likely over many lifetimes of trying to get it right yet he risked everything by coming back here out of Love to show us the Way Home. He did not take any so-called "sins" from us by dying on the cross. He did that to prove how unimportant this material body is and in grand fashion, I must say! You will never "get to Heaven" by just Believing that he was fully God incarnate. Until each of us follows "The Way" back to Home, Heaven, our True Nature, God, we All will die physically, go to a place of complete Peace, Love, and Bliss until it is time to return to School - this material world where all pain and suffering exists. We will All Awaken some day when it is time and hopefully find a true Path with Heart that follows "The Way" that Jesus risk All to come here to show us. If we dedicate our lives to mastering ourselves and our Ego, we just may Overcome this world as Jesus did and never have to come back. Now that is something to really celebrate!!

Merry Christmas to All!

"Hearken to the word; understand knowledge; love life, and no one will persecute you, nor will anyone oppress you, other than you yourselves."
 ~ Jesus

"Ask, and it will be given you;Seek, and you will find; Knock, and it will be opened to you."
 ~ Jesus

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
 ~ Jesus

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Path of Practice

I am writing these posts on T'ai Chi Ch'uan to help everyone interested in learning this incredible "tool" for mastering yourself and rediscovering the Divine within us All, our True Nature. This "Way", this Path, is at the core of the teachings of every Sage to ever walk this earth - Lao-tse, Chuang-tse, Buddha, Muhammad, Meso-American Men of Knowledge, Jesus, of course, and many more throughout all time and all cultures. Tai Chi is but one path out of many that will Awaken us to the "God within" if practiced diligently. There are only two Ways to achieve this Enlightenment according to Bodhidarma, the great Buddhist Sage and founder of Zen. Though there are many paths, they all fall into two categories: Reason and Practice. In the end, however, all Practice becomes Reason.

Here is a good article for beginners. Starting your Practice and incorporating It into your life can be difficult for many so these tips should be helpful to those of you who have difficulty getting motivated and staying focused. Those of you who stay true to your daily Practice will begin feeling the ecstasy originating in your Center, your tan tien, after a few months. Once you start reaping the fruits from your labor, your life will change, your Awareness of what is truly important in life will become clear, and your Practice will become your Path with Heart.


The Path of Practice

by Richard Farmer

The Path of Practice So many people tell me how hard it is to practise or to find time to practise, so I thought I would sit and write some thoughts about my own journey with practice in the hope that they may be of benefit to you. The essential points to get clear are:

    * Where are you going to do it?
    * Who is going to practise?
    * What do you need to help you today?
    * How long do you have today?
    * These questions will tell you - what to practise.

It is important that you have somewhere to practise as by laying your Tai Chi in the same place you build an atmosphere which is conducive. Perhaps the addition of a candle, if it is inside, also helps, but it is not vital. How much space you need depends on what you want to practise, for an exercise or Shibashi for example, you need only enough space to stand up in. To practise the Form you need a bit more and if you do not have enough space, usually by shifting things around you can make enough room. If need be you can shift some of the foot positions, I had one student who developed the Form to fit an L-shaped room!!! He had to make a conscious effort to stay straight in class though. So if you don't have enough
room, make some.

Of course this is true at a deeper level, there are a thousand reasons why we can put off practice, and usually when we need to play the form the most, we feel least like doing it, so it is about being flexible as well as making space.

Space for what? Well, for a start, you. You may think that or a practice to be worth anything you must do at least an hour at 5.30 am. outside in the mist! It must consist of the entire exercise sequence and half an hour of Form before you have breakfast - but with that kind of schedule you will only get round to it about once a month, if ever! Here is the crux of the matter, which You are we talking about? The idealistic, mythical You or the realistic everyday You? Again if we don't recognise who is talking we may never practise and what a shame that would be. So we must engage the everyday You, this is the one that needs and wants the practice and benefits of Tai Chi.

Playing and practising Tai Chi Chuan can be split into two kinds: Practice as a way of becoming Tai Chi and nourishing and supporting us for the coming day; and practice as a way of refining the Art of Tai Chi Chuan.

Let us consider the first. To become Tai Chi is to use the movements to invite ourselves into the body and into the moment. When the mind rests in the body we are in a state of balance, we are not pulling into the future, nor dwelling on the past, but being nourished by the present. Something I say to myself to remind me is "Be peaceful outside, soften the muscles in movement, be peaceful inside, relax the mind, rest here, now". To practise this Tai Chi I may use an exercise or series of exercises - it may take one minute or it may take twenty, whatever I have time for. How long is not the point. The point is to remember everyday to relax, to live, to become present in movement, in the moment as it and I move. A day begun with this reminder has a different flavour than one begun rushing about. So to stand in the Attention Posture, for example, balanced and released has accomplished what practice is for - Tai Chi.

The second aspect of practice, the perfection of Tai Chi Chuan, will take some time. The disharmony of the past will not be undone overnight. So day by day, bit by bit the pieces of the jigsaw are put into place sometimes slowly and
sometimes swiftly. In the RDTC Short Form Book the Practice of Principles section details the stages of Tai Chi Chuan. To supplement that, here is an overview.

    * Know the sequence
    * Uniting the body into one unit using the Yang, spine and Yin Cycle model.
    * Develop concentration.
    * Understand the Chi ball or circle or sphere or the shape of each posture.
    * Move with the dynamic or wave of movement that each posture creates.
    * Use Chi and intention rather than muscles and control.

These are themes of attention and when a posture has these elements it can be said that Tai Chi Chuan is present. Of course some postures will be complete before others, usually the ones we prefer, in fact the reason why we prefer some
postures over others is because these themes are present and so is the Tai Chi, and it feels good. If a posture feels bad, check back over these themes and build the picture.

Practice at this stage would mean taking a sequence out of the form and looking at it through the eyes of the themes, consciously looking for and integrating them. I would choose a day when I had a little more time than a minute or so and through this looking I will become more confident and enjoy that sequence more. This will of course encourage me to approach my practice with joy.

So to have a successful and regular practice, ask yourself:-

Q: What do you need and want today?
A: I want to just relax in the moment, something simple.
Q: How much time do I have?
A: Just five minutes.

Solution - I would choose a simple breathing exercise.

A little everyday is worth more than a lot occasionally, do what you can and above all enjoy the journey - we are not in a hurry. More haste less speed is definitely true of Tai Chi Chuan. Playing Tai Chi like this builds up a positive experience and this makes us relax and want to practise more. It is of course a circle, in this case a circle which will lead you to, rather than away from, Tai Chi Chuan

~ Richard Farmer

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tai Chi and Taoism

Here is an article explaining the correlation of Tai Chi and Taoism. The two are so fully integrated that the Practice of Tai Chi is Taoism expressed and is thus a true Path to Enlightenment. A worthy Path with Heart indeed!


There exists a long history of movement and exercise systems which are associated with Taoism. In some sense one can see elements of all of these as contributing to the climate from which Tai Chi emerged.
Lao Tsu, the founder of Taoism, wrote:

Yield and overcome;
Bend and be straight.
-- Tao Te Ching (22)
He who stands of tiptoe is not steady.
He who strides cannot maintain the pace.

-- Tao Te Ching (24)
Returning is the motion of the Tao.
Yielding is the way of the Tao.

-- Tao Te Ching (40)
What is firmly established cannot be uprooted.
What is firmly grasped cannot slip away.

-- Tao Te Ching (54)

Stiff and unbending is the principle of death.
Gentle and yielding is the principle of life.
Thus an Army without flexibility never wins a battle.
A tree that is unbending is easily broken.

The hard and strong will fall.
The soft and weak will overcome.

-- Tao Te Ching (76)

There are some interesting inspirations for the movement philosophy of Tai Chi within the writings of Chuang Tzu, for example:
"The pure man of old slept without dreams and woke without anxiety. He ate without indulging in sweet tastes and breathed deep breaths. The pure man draws breaths from the depths of his heels, the multitude only from their throats." And:
"[The sage] would not lean forward or backward to accomodate [things]. This is called tranquility on disturbance, (which means) that it is especially in the midst of disturbance that tranquility becomes perfect."

This approach is reflected in the entire movement philosophy of Tai Chi Chuan. There is, moreover, a long tradition of Taoist monks practicing exercises. Some of these were referred to as tai-yin or Taoist Breathing. Exactly what these were and what their origins were is obscure but they are mentioned in Chinese chronicles as early as 122 B.C.
Then in the sixth century A.D. Bodihdharma (called Ta Mo in Chinese) came to the Shao-Lin Monastery and, seeing that the monks were in poor physical condition from too much meditation and too little excersize, introduced his Eighteen Form Lohan Exercise. This approach gave rise to the Wei Chia or 'outer-extrinsic' forms of exercise.
Later in the fifteenth century A.D. the purported founder of Tai Chi Chuan, the monk Chang San-feng, was honoured by the Emperor Ying- tsung with the title of chen-jen, or 'spiritual man who has attained the Tao and is no longer ruled by what he sees, hears or feels.' This indicates that already at this time there was a close association between the philosophy of Taoism and the practice of Tai Chi.
In the Ming dynasty (14th to 17th centuries), Wang Yang-ming a leading philosopher preached a philosophy which was a mixture of Taoism and Ch'an Buddhism which had certain associations with movement systems.
In any event the principles of yielding, softness, centeredness, slowness, balance, suppleness and rootedness are all elements of Taoist philosophy that Tai Chi has drawn upon in its understanding of movement, both in relation to health and also in its martial applications. One can see these influences (of softness and effortlessness) in the names of certain movements in the Tai Chi Form, such as:

  • Cloud Hands
  • Wind Rolls the Lotus Leaves
  • Brush Dust Against the Wind
  • Push the Boat with the Current
  • Winds Sweeps the Plum Blossoms
Moreover the contemplation and appreciation nature, which are central features of Taoist thought seem to have been reflected in the genesis of many Tai Chi movements such as:

  • White Crane Spreads Wings
  • Snake Creeps Down
  • Repulse Monkey
  • Embrace Tiger, Return to Mountain
  • White Snake Sticks Out its Tongue
  • Grasp Sparrow's Tail
  • Golden Cock Sands on One Leg
  • Swallow Skims the Water
  • Bird Flies into Forest
  • Lion Shakes it's Head
  • Tiger Hugs its Head
  • Wild Horse Leaps the Ravine
  • White Ape Devotes Fruit
  • Yellow Bee Returns to Nest
The story comes to us that Chang San-feng watched a fight between a bird and a snake and in this event saw how the soft and yielding could overcome the hard and inflexible. Particularly significant here is the reference to the White Crane (The Manchurian Crane, Grus japonensis), with its red crest an important symbol for Taoist alchemists.
Certain features of Taoist alchemy and talismanic symbolism have also penetrated the Tai Chi forms. As part of their contemplation of nature the Taoists observed the heavens and were keen students of astronomy and astrology. Movements of the Tai Chi Form such as :

  • Step Up to Seven Stars
  • Embrace the Moon
  • Biggest Star in the Great Dipper
  • Encase the Moon in Three Rings
  • The Smallest Star in the Big Dipper
  • Meteor Runs After Moon
  • Heavenly Steed Soars Across the Sky

Reflect this Taoist astrological concern.
Symbolism was a potent force in Taoist thinking. Taoist magic diagrams were regarded as potent talismans having great command over spiritual forces. They invoked the harmonizing influence of yin-yang and Eternal Change; the Divine Order of Heaven, Earth and Mankind; and the workings of the Universe through the principal of the Five Elements. These were symbolized by the Five Sacred Mountains (Taishan, Hengshan [Hunan], Songshan, Huashan and Hengshan [Hopei]), central places of Taoist development and pilgrimage.
Thus it is no surprise to find that the symbolism of names has, in important ways, infiltrated the forms of Tai Chi. There was a numerological component to this symbolism as well. The number '5' has a special mystical significance to Taoists (and to Chinese in general). There are the symbolic five mountains, five elements, five colours, five planets, five virtues, five emotions, five directions, etc. all of which have a mystic significance. Hence we see five Repulse Monkeys or Five Cloud Hands in the Tai Chi form. There are many instances where the numbers '1', '3', '5' and '7' figure prominently in the structure of Tai Chi.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Ten Guiding Principles of T'ai Chi Ch'uan

The practice of Tai Chi requires you to learn how to properly align, balance, and move your body. Beginning in early childhood, you soon start learning bad habits in your posture, balance, movement, and proper breathing. These bad habits cause you to waste a lot of energy and can eventually cause medical problems. Tai Chi training teaches you how to stand, balance, move, and breathe properly again so you can stop wasting energy and move effortlessly again. This requires you to regain control over your mind to quiet your thoughts because the mind leads the chi (intrinsic energy) which in turn leads the body. Whenever a stray thought interrupts this natural flow, you lose your focus in the Present and thus your alignment, balance, and expression of energy. Through dedicated Practice of your Tai Chi form(s) while adhering to and refining these basic principles, you will begin cultivating and storing your chi. Once you experience your chi radiating from your Tan Tien (Center), you will understand why people have dedicated their lives to mastering Tai Chi for well over 1000 years!


The Ten Guiding Principles of T'ai Chi Ch'uan

(1) Straightening the Head

Stand straight and hold the head and neck naturally erect, with mind concentrated on the top. Do not strain or be tense; otherwise, the blood and vital energy cannot circulate smoothly.

(2) Correct Position of Chest and Back

keep chest slightly inward,, which will enable you to sink your breath to the dantian (lower belly). Do not protrude your chest, otherwise you will feel uneasy in breathing and somewhat "top heavy".
Great force can be launched from the spine only when you keep the vital energy in your lower belly.

(3) Relaxation of Waist

For the human body, the waist is the dominant part. When you relax the waist, your two feet will be strong enough to form a firm base. All the movements depend on the action of the waist, as the saying goes: "Vital force comes from the waist." Inaccurate movements in taijiquan stem from the erroneous actions of the waist.

(4) Solid and Empty Stance

It is of primary importance in taijiquan to distinguish between "Xu" (Empty) and "Shi" (Solid). If you shift the weight of the body on to the right leg, then the right leg is solidly planted on the ground and the left leg is in an empty stance. When your weight is on the left leg, then the left leg is firmly planted on the ground and the right leg is in an empty stance. Only in this way can you turn and move your body adroitly and without effort, otherwise you will be slow and clumsy in your movements and not able to remain stable and firm on your feet.

(5) Sinking of Shoulders and Elbows

Keep your shoulder in natural, relaxed position. If you lift your shoulders, the qi will rise with them, and the whole body will be without strength. You should also keep the elbows down, otherwise you will not be able to keep your shoulders relaxed and move your body with ease.

(6) Using the Mind Instead of Force

Among people who practice taijiquan, it is quite common to hear this comment: "That is entirely using the mind, not force." In practicing taijiquan, the whole body is relaxed, and there is not an iota of stiff or clumsy strength in the veins or joints to hinder the movement of the body. People may ask: How can one increase his strength without exercising force? According to traditional Chinese medicine, there is in the human body a system of pathways called jingluo (or meridian) which link the viscera with different parts of the body, making the human body an integrated whole. If the jingluo is not impeded, then the vital energy will circulate in the body unobstructed. But if the jingluo is filled with stiff strength, the vital energy will not be able to circulate and consequently the moody cannot move with case. One should therefore use the mind instead of force, so that vital energy, will follow in the wake of the mind or consciousness and circulate all over the body. Through persistent practice one will be able to have genuine internal force. This is what taijiquan experts call "Lithe in appearance, but powerful in essence."
A master of taijiquan has arms which are as strong as stee1 rods wrapped in cotton, with immense power concealed therein. Boxers of the "Outer School" ( a branch of wushu with emphasis on attack, as opposed to the "Inner School" which places the emphasis on defense) look powerful when they exert force, but when they cease to do so, the power no longer exists. So it is merely a kind of superficial force.

(7) Coordination of Upper and Lower Parts

According to the theory of taijiquan, the root is in the feet, the force is launched through the legs, controlled by the waist, and expressed by the fingers; the feet, the legs and the waist form a harmonious whole. When the hands, the waist and the legs move, the eyes should follow their movements. This is meant by coordination of the upper and lower parts. If any one part should cease to move, then the movements will be disconnected and fall into disarray.

(8) Harmony Between the Internal and External Parts

In practicing taijiquan, the focus is on the mind and consciousness. Hence the saying: "The mind is the commander, and the body is subservient  to it." With the tranquility of the mind, the movements will be gentle and graceful. As far as the "frame" is concerned, there are only the Xu (empty), shi (solid), kai (open) and he (close). Kai not only means opening the four limbs but the mind as well, and he means closing the mind along with the four limbs. Perfection is achieved when one unifies the two and harmonizes the internal and external parts into a complete whole.

(9) Importance of Continuity

In the case of the "Outer School" (which emphasizes attack) of boxing, the strength one exerts is stiff and the movements are not continuous, but are sometimes made off and on, which leave openings the opponent may take advantage of. In taijiquan, one focuses the attention on the mind instead of force, and the movements from beginning to end are continuous and in an endless circle, just "like a river which flows on and on without end" or "like reeling the silk thread off cocoons."

(10) Tranquility in Movement

In the case of the "Outer School" of boxing, the emphasis is on leaping, bouncing, punching and the exertion of force, and so one often gasps for breath after practicing. But in than, the movement is blended with tranquility, and while performing the movements, one maintains tranquility of mind. In practicing the "frame," the slower the movement, the better the results. This is because when the movements are slow, one can take deep breath and sink it to the dantien. It has a soothing effect on the body and mind.
Learners of taijiquan will get a better understanding of all this through careful study and persistent practice.

 ~ Yang Chengfu

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Happiest Man in the World

This is the most wonderful and enlightening interview I have ever heard! Please take the time to listen to this for you will not be disappointed. In fact, if the great Wisdom being shared by this Tibetan Buddhist spiritual teacher does not inspire you, then nothing ever will. Here is a brief synopsis:

"The happiest man in the world" — that's what this Tibetan Buddhist spiritual teacher was dubbed after his brain was studied by scientists. We explore his provocative thoughts on the meaning of happiness, as well as his insights into the nature of human consciousness, spirituality as "contemplative science," and the relationship between humor and wisdom.

I highly recommend that you wait until you have time to listen to this unedited version so you can feel the relaxed mood and just flow right into this incredible conversation as it unfolds. This is from the show Speaking of Faith on American Public Media. I listen to it on NPR. The interviewer is wonderful! She has such warmth, intellect, and a relaxed conversational technique. This is 92 minutes long but I bet you listen to it more than once! Enjoy my friends!

Click here and scroll down about two-thirds of the way to find the player.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Essentails for Proper Tai Chi Practice and Mastery

Below are two Tai Chi Ch'uan Classics written by the two of the greatest Masters in history. These two classics explain the principles that must be incorporated into your practice and application of the art. I have been researching Tai Chi for many years and find that these interpretations by Lee N. Scheele to be widely accepted by accredited Masters and teachers everywhere. I hope that everyone practicing Tai Chi will discover the Wisdom contained in these classics and use it to complete the integration of mind, body, and chi into pure Integrity of Being - Present Oneness with our True Nature.



by Yang Cheng-fu (1883 - 1936)
as researched by Lee N. Scheele

1.) Head upright to let the shen [spirit of vitality] rise to the top of the head. Don't use li [external strength], or the neck will be stiff and the ch'i [vital life energy] and blood cannot flow through. It is necessary to have a natural and lively feeling. If the spirit cannot reach the headtop, it cannot raise.

2.) Sink the chest and pluck up the back. The chest is depressed naturally inward so that the ch'i can sink to the tan-t'ien [field of elixir]. Don't expand the chest: the ch'i gets stuck there and the body becomes top-heavy. The heel will be too light and can be uprooted. Pluck up the back and the ch'i sticks to the back; depress the chest and you can pluck up the back. Then you can discharge force through the spine. You will be a peerless boxer.

3.) Sung [Relax] the waist. The waist is the commander of the whole body. If you can sung the waist, then the two legs will have power and the lower part will be firm and stable. Substantial and insubstantial change, and this is based on the turning of the waist. It is said "the source of the postures lies in the waist. If you cannot get power, seek the defect in the legs and waist."

4.) Differentiate between insubstantial and substantial. This is the first principle in T'ai Chi Ch'uan. If the weight of the whole body is resting on the right leg, then the right leg is substantial and the left leg is insubstantial, and vice versa. When you can separate substantial and insubstantial, you can turn lightly without using strength. If you cannot separate, the step is heavy and slow. The stance is not firm and can be easily thrown of balance.

5.) Sink the shoulders and drop the elbows. The shoulders will be completely relaxed and open. If you cannot relax and sink, the two shoulders will be raised up and tense. The ch'i will follow them up and the whole body cannot get power. "Drop the elbows" means the elbows go down and relax. If the elbows raise, the shoulders are not able to sink and you cannot discharge people far. The discharge will then be close to the broken force of the external schools.

6.) Use the mind instead of force. The T'ai Chi Ch'uan Classics say, "all of this means use I [mind-intent] and not li." In practicing T'ai Chi Ch'uan the whole body relaxes. Don't let one ounce of force remain in the blood vessels, bones, and ligaments to tie yourself up. Then you can be agile and able to change. You will be able to turn freely and easily. Doubting this, how can you increase your power?

The body has meridians like the ground has ditches and trenches. If not obstructed the water can flow. If the meridian is not closed, the ch'i goes through. If the whole body has hard force and it fills up the meridians, the ch'i and the blood stop and the turning is not smooth and agile. Just pull one hair and the whole body is off-balance. If you use I, and not li, then the I goes to a place in the body and the ch'i follows it. The ch'i and the blood circulate. If you do this every day and never stop, after a long time you will have nei chin [real internal strength]. The T'ai Chi Ch'uan Classics say, "when you are extremely soft, you become extremely hard and strong." Someone who has extremely good T'ai Chi Ch'uan kung fu has arms like iron wrapped with cotton and the weight is very heavy. As for the external schools, when they use li, they reveal li. When they don't use li, they are too light and floating. There chin is external and locked together. The li of the external schools is easily led and moved, and not too be esteemed.

7.) Coordinate the upper and lower parts of the body. The T'ai Chi Ch'uan Classics say "the motion should be rooted in the feet, released through the legs, controlled by the waist and manifested through the fingers." Everything acts simultaneously. When the hand, waist and foot move together, the eyes follow. If one part doesn't follow, the whole body is disordered.

8.) Harmonize the internal and external. In the practice of T'ai Chi Ch'uan the main thing is the shen. Therefore it is said "the spirit is the commander and the body is subordinate." If you can raise the spirit, then the movements will naturally be agile. The postures are not beyond insubstantial and substantial, opening and closing. That which is called open means not only the hands and feet are open, but the mind is also open. That which is called closed means not only the hands and feet are closed, but the mind is also closed. When you can make the inside and outside become one, then it becomes complete.

9.) Move with continuity. As to the external schools, their chin is the Latter Heaven brute chin. Therefore it is finite. There are connections and breaks. During the breaks the old force is exhausted and the new force has not yet been born. At these moments it is very easy for others to take advantage. T'ai Chi Ch'uan uses I and not li. From beginning to end it is continuous and not broken. It is circular and again resumes. It revolves and has no limits. The original Classics say it is "like a great river rolling on unceasingly." and that the circulation of the chin is "drawing silk from a cocoon " They all talk about being connected together.

10.) Move with tranquility [Seek stillness in movement]. The external schools assume jumping about is good and they use all their energy. That is why after practice everyone pants. T'ai Chi Ch'uan uses stillness to control movement. Although one moves, there is also stillness. Therefore in practicing the form, slower is better. If it is slow, the inhalation and exhalation are long and deep and the ch'i sinks to the tan-t'ien. Naturally there is no injurious practice such as engorgement of the blood vessels. The learner should be careful to comprehend it. Then you will get the real meaning.


by Li I-yu
as researched by Lee N. Scheele

Formerly people said: "being able to attract to emptiness, you can use four ounces to deflect a thousand pounds." Not being able to attract to emptiness, you cannot deflect a thousand pounds. The words are simple, but the meaning is complete. The beginner cannot understand it. Here I add some words to explain it. If someone is ambitious to learn this art, he can find some way to enter it and every day he will have some improvement.

Desiring to attract to emptiness and deflect a thousand pounds, first you must know yourself and others. If you want to know yourself and others, you must give up yourself and follow others. If you give up yourself and follow others, first you must have the correct timing and position. To obtain the correct timing and position, you must first make your body one unit. Desiring to make the body one unit, you must first eliminate hollows and protuberances. To make the whole body without breaks or holes, you must first have the shen [spirit of vitality] and ch'i [vital life energy] excited and expanded. If you want the shen and ch'i activated and expanded, you must first raise the spirit (pay attention) and the shen should not be unfocussed. To have your shen not unfocussed, you must first have the shen and ch'i gather and penetrate the bones. Desiring the shen and ch'i to penetrate the bones, first you must strengthen the two thighs and loosen the two shoulders and let the ch'i sink down.

The chin [intrinsic strength] raises from the feet, changes in the legs, is stored in the chest, moved in the shoulders and commanded in the waist. The upper part connects to the two arms and the lower part follows the legs. It changes inside. To gather is to close and to release is to open. If it is quiet, it is completely still. Still means to close. In closing there is opening. If it is moving, everything moves. Moving is open. In opening there is closing. When the body is touched it revolves freely. There is nowhere that does not obtain power. Then you can attract to emptiness and use four ounces to deflect a thousand pounds.

Practicing the Form every day is the kung fu of knowing yourself. When you start to practice, first ask yourself, "Did my whole body follow the above principles or not?" If one little place did not follow them, then correct it immediately. Therefore, in practicing the Form we want slowness not speed.

Push hands is the kung fu of knowing others. As for movement and stillness, although it is to know others, you must still ask yourself. If you arrange yourself well, when others touch you, you don't move a hair. Follow the opportunity and meet his chin and let him fall naturally outward. If you feel someplace in your body is powerless, it is double-weighted and unchanging. You must seek the defect in yin and yang, opening and closing. Know yourself and know others: in one hundred battles you will win one hundred times.

“By letting it go it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go. But when you try and try. The world is beyond the winning.
Lao Tzu

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Thursday, November 5, 2009


 T'ai Chi Ch'uan or Tai Chi, as most people know it, is called the Supreme Ultimate for a very good reason. It is the Ultimate martial art and more importantly, it is a true Path to Enlightenment. Everything worthwhile in life takes time and dedication to achieve. Tai Chi is a way of life so it requires a lifetime of focused daily practice. Tai Chi is truly a Path with Heart but only to those who give their heart, their love, and their entire Being to the learning and mastery of whichever form or forms they have chosen. The beginning is the hardest part because you must think about each posture, the proper sequence of them in the form, and the most important thing, the principles. Without the principles, you might as well be dancing because the only thing you will gain from unprincipled Tai Chi is exercise. Once you understand the principles and incorporate them into every moment and movement, then the incredible benefits from nurturing your chi will keep you completely enthralled in your practice. A treatise is a form of writing similar to an essay but more formal and particularly focused on investigating or exposing the principles of a subject. Below is such a treatise on T'ai Chi Ch'uan reputed to have been written by Wang Zongyue, a disciple of Zhang Sanfeng, the reputed founder of T'ai Chi Ch'uan back in the thirteenth century A.D. If you can grasp the principles explained in this Tai Chi Classic, then you are well on your way to mastery of yourself. Enjoy!


Attributed to Wang Tsung-yueh [Wang Zongyue] (18th Century)
as researched by Lee N. Scheele

T'ai Chi [Supreme Ultimate] comes from Wu Chi [Formless Void]
and is the mother of yin and yang.
In motion T'ai Chi separates;
in stillness yin and yang fuse and return to Wu Chi.

It is not excessive or deficient;
it follows a bending, adheres to an extension.

When the opponent is hard and I am soft,
it is called tsou [yielding].

When I follow the opponent and he becomes backed up,
it is called nian [sticking].

If the opponent's movement is quick,
then quickly respond;
if his movement is slow,
then follow slowly.

Although there are innumerable variations,
the principles that pervades them remain the same.

From familiarity with the correct touch,
one gradually comprehends chin [intrinsic strength];
from the comprehension of chin one can reach wisdom.

Without long practice
one cannot suddenly understand T'ai Chi.

Effortlessly the chin reaches the headtop.

Let the ch'i [vital life energy] sink to the tan-t'ien [field of elixir].

Don't lean in any direction;
suddenly appear,
suddenly disappear.

Empty the left wherever a pressure appears,
and similarly the right.

If the opponent raises up, I seem taller;
if he sinks down, then I seem lower;
advancing, he finds the distance seems incredibly long;
retreating, the distance seems exasperatingly short.

A feather cannot be placed,
and a fly cannot alight
on any part of the body.

The opponent does not know me;
I alone know him.

To become a peerless boxer results from this.

There are many boxing arts.

Although they use different forms,
for the most part they don't go beyond
the strong dominating the weak,
and the slow resigning to the swift.

The strong defeating the weak
and the slow hands ceding to the swift hands
are all the results of natural abilities
and not of well-trained techniques.

From the sentence "A force of four ounces deflects a thousand pounds"
we know that the technique is not accomplished with strength.

The spectacle of an old person defeating a group of young people,
how can it be due to swiftness?

Stand like a perfectly balanced scale and
move like a turning wheel.

Sinking to one side allows movement to flow;
being double-weighted is sluggish.

Anyone who has spent years of practice and still cannot neutralize,
and is always controlled by his opponent,
has not apprehended the fault of double-weightedness.

To avoid this fault one must distinguish yin from yang.

To adhere means to yield.
To yield means to adhere.

Within yin there is yang.
Within yang there is yin.

Yin and yang mutually aid and change each other.

Understanding this you can say you understand chin.
After you understand chin,
the more you practice,
the more skill.

Silently treasure knowledge and turn it over in the mind.
Gradually you can do as you like.

Fundamentally, it is giving up yourself to follow others.
Most people mistakenly give up the near to seek the far.
It is said, "Missing it by a little will lead many miles astray."

The practitioner must carefully study.

This is the Treatise

Note: The activity of the stretch already in existence is ch'i, and the ch'i can mobilize the body from the balance associated with consciousness before any intention to act can be realized.

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

My Calling: A Letter to a Friend

I have been teaching one thing or another for most of my life but I never considered it to be My Calling in life, My Destiny. It took a very special message from an Angel or Spiritual Guide and many years of following my Path with Heart before I finally understood the truth of this most incredible message from our Source. My Calling or purpose here Is my True Nature so it could not be more natural or fulfilling. I am here to gain the Wisdom of who we are, why we are here, and to share this Wisdom with all who "have the ears to hear", as Jesus called it, and to help them find their Path with Heart. After answering a long-time cyber-friend asking me about my Wisdom, I realized that this reply demonstrated the purpose for this blog perfectly. I sincerely hope this helps others to understand that I am here to help them Awaken from the Sleep of the Masses and to discover the great Peace, Joy, and Altruistic Love that is within all of us. This is who I am, what I do, and the main reason I write this blog. As with everyone, I respect people's privacy so any information pertaining to my friend has been removed.


My Calling: A Letter to a Friend

It is so nice to get a personal message from you my friend! I am glad you seem interested in the "One Truth". This usually indicates that a person is Awaking from the long Sleep where most people reside at any particular point in time. It took a devastating motorcycle wreck and dying twice in emergency surgery to fully Awaken me. I had always "felt' that established religion was just way too simple-minded and it had no answers for the experiences in my life. After I had recovered enough to spare some attention from survival mode, I dove into studying everything spiritual I could find. I was already somewhat familiar with ancient Chinese philosophy, particularly, the "Tao Te Ching", from being a Kenpo Instructor. It is so similar to Zen because it melded with this 2500 year old Taoist philosophy back in the 6th century A.D. when the Buddhist Monk, Bodhidarma, brought his teachings to the Shaolin Temple in Henan Province, China. He is responsible for the emergence of the famous Shaolin Monks and their unmatched Martial Arts! No matter which teachings I studied from the great Sages throughout the world and throughout history, the "One Truth" was and is clearly expounded by all of them. When you truly Awaken, this Wisdom of who we are and why we are here, is everywhere you look and listen. This is because we are inseparable from our True Nature, our Source, Self as opposed to the Ego-self, God, et al. We are like drops of water in an infinite sea - we are truly one body, one Mind, one Self, One! It is the thinking Ego that has created this false sense of separation, the individual drop of water(self). We can not live in this world without our Ego now but we can shrink it down to where "It" lets go of trying to control everything and "sits next to us" as a calm and quiet Observer as God, Source, our True Nature carries us effortlessly and Non-judgmentally back Home where we belong.

My friend, I have sensed a kind of desperation in your life for a long time now so I sincerely hope that you find your way to your Path with Heart which will lead you to a more peaceful and happy existence. I do not know if what I know will help you or not but it is my greatest desire for you and everyone to discover their Peaceful, Joyful, and Loving True Nature. Once you get back in touch with "It", you will feel others pain when you see or hear it. We are One and when you can Compassionately and Empathetically feel the pain of others right in your gut, the core of your Being, then you will know that you are in touch with your True Nature. You can call "It" anything you like because "It" is beyond mere words. Many call "It" God, others call "It" Our Source or just Source, others use Self, Universal Consciousness, et al. I prefer using Our True Nature because in Reality there is no separate "drop of water", just the One Sea. Our True Nature and God are One!

If anything I have said means anything to you, then please visit my blog, Gathering Wisdom, where I record and share my Path with Heart. The link to it is just below my signature. Best wishes my friend!

"The Wise Man Knows without going, Sees without seeing, Does without doing."
 ~  Lao-tse
Gathering Wisdom

Jesus says:
(1) "If those who lead you say to you: 'Look, the kingdom is in the sky!'
then the birds of the sky will precede you.
(2) If they say to you: 'It is in the sea,' then the fishes will precede you.
(3) Rather, the kingdom is inside of you, and outside of you."
(4) "When you come to know yourselves, then you will be known,
and you will realize that you are the children of the living Father.
(5) But if you do not come to know yourselves, then you exist in poverty, and you are poverty."

~ Jesus

His disciples said, "Show us the place where you are, for we must seek it." He said to them, "Whoever has ears should hear. There is light within person of light, and it shines on the whole world. If it does not shine, it is dark.

 ~ Jesus

Jesus said, "That which you have will save you if you bring it forth from yourselves. That which you do not have within you will kill you if you do not have it within you."

 ~ Jesus

His disciples said to him, "When will the kingdom come?"
"It will not come by waiting for it. It will not be a matter of saying 'here it is' or 'there it is.' Rather, the kingdom of the father is spread out upon the earth, and men do not see it." 

 ~ Jesus

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Mindfulness and Kindness: Inner Sources of Freedom and Happiness (Repost)

I just realized that I never posted the resources on Mindfulness as I promised. I am sure there are many people interested in learning how to live a more Mindful life so please forgive me for this omission. This occurred to me while helping a new friend in need of the benefits that Mindfulness Practice produces. All of my previous posts by Dr. Hopper came from this vast resource he has created for everyone seeking this valuable information. Below is a brief explanation of this remarkable gathering of Wisdom and an introduction containing a brief description of each section. I am sure you will be very impressed by the magnitude of this resource and find something that will help you to improve your life. If you are interested in Mindfulness after reading this post, just click on the title below to go to his website. Enjoy!


Mindfulness and Kindness: Inner Sources of Freedom and Happiness

By Jim Hopper, Ph.D.
(last revised 5/15/2009)

Today there are many options for learning to be more mindful. Which ones are best for you will depend on a variety of factors, including your current ability to regulate your emotions and where you live. One key question is whether to learn mindfulness skills first from a (mental) health professional, or from a teacher at a meditation center or Buddhist community.

I recommend that you do a little research: start with the resources below, then look into resources in your area, which could involve a series of calls to gather information and referrals from local clinics, therapists, and/or meditation centers.

Three important things to keep in mind

1. There is no substitute for actual mindfulness practice (especially in a daily, disciplined way).

2. To maintain a regular practice, most people will need regular contact with a meditation teacher and/or supportive group or community.

3. You may need to learn some emotion-regulation and other skills first, so if you haven't yet, be sure to read Caution: Mindfulness Includes Pain, and Requires Readiness before reading this section.

Here are four free and inexpensive options for getting started on your own. Please don't be discouraged, though, if you find that going it alone isn't working for you.

* Mindfulness in Plain English, a book by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana, includes detailed instruction on how to meditate, and is available free on the web or from

* Mindfulness Meditation Practice CDs and Tapes, by Jon Kabat-Zinn.

* Meditation for Beginners, an audio CD by Jack Kornfield, another highly respected senior teacher in the Vipassana tradition.

* The Mindful Way through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness (book plus CD), by Mark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindal Segal, and Jon Kabat-Zinn; though focused on depression, this is a valuable resource for anyone struggling with a lot of sadness and suffering.

Other options for developing a mindfulness meditation practice largely on your own, but more structured than the options above, are self-study courses available from Sharon Salzberg and Joseph Goldstein, two of the most respected meditation teachers in the West.

* Insight Meditation: An In-Depth Correspondence Course includes an 88-page workbook and 18 hours of audiotaped instruction designed to help you establish and sustain a daily mindfulness meditation practice. There is also the option of receiving personalized instruction (via email) from an advanced meditation teacher.

* The smaller (and less expensive) Insight Meditation: A Step-By-Step Course on How to Meditate, includes a 240-page Insight Meditation workbook, two 70-minute CDs and twelve study cards.

The Vipassana Fellowship offers a 90-day online meditation course, taught by Andrew Quernmore, a meditation teacher in England.

Online meditation courses are also available from Wildmind Buddhist Meditation.

There are many workshop and retreat options available at conference and retreat centers in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and other countries. If you're interested in a workshop/retreat I'm leading in May of 2009 with my colleague Dana Moore, a therapist and yoga teacher, see Buddhism, Yoga, and Neuroscience: Concepts and Tools for Transforming Trauma and Addiction.

Another way to learn be more mindful is by participating in a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Program.

MBSR is very accessible to people who have no experience with meditation, and was originally developed to help people struggling with medical illnesses that were not responding to Western medicine. MBSR was developed by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn and his colleagues at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, who by now have trained hundreds of practitioners around the world – including medical doctors, nurses, psychologists and other health-care professionals – who in turn are offering MBSR programs of their own. The Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Healthcare, and Society maintains a web page where you can search for MBSR Programs in the United States and other countries. To get a better sense of their approach, you might want to read Kabat-Zinn's best-selling book, Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life.

If you have great difficulty regulating your emotions, especially unwanted emotions and impulses to harm yourself (problems that are not uncommon among people with histories of child abuse and neglect), then you may benefit from learning mindfulness through Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT).

This combined individual-and-group therapy approach, developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan to help people who can be said to suffer from "Borderline Personality Disorder," is available at many mental health clinics and hospitals in the US and around the world. DBT incorporates training in mindfulness skills within a comprehensive program that cultivates skills of emotion tolerance, emotion regulation and interpersonal effectiveness. If you really do struggle with regulating negative emotions and self-harming impulses, please don't let the term "personality disorder" scare you away: this treatment can be extremely effective at helping people who have not yet had the opportunity to learn essential emotion regulation skills. To learn more, read Dr. Cindy Sanderson's excellent Dialectical Behavior Therapy - Frequently Asked Questions.

If you're interested in learning more about the Buddhist tradition that has cultivated and preserved mindfulness practices for over 2500 years, and tapping into communities of Westerners practicing mindfulness and other meditation practices from this great spiritual tradition, there are many organizations and centers in the United States and around the world. Two highly respected retreat centers in the U.S. that teach mindfulness meditation are the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, and Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, California. The IMS web site has two pages of links to web sites of other centers, possibly one near you (for the second page of links, follow the "more centers" link on the first page).

For some people, standard sitting and walking versions of mindfulness meditation are not appropriate, at least initially. Focusing on the breath might cause intense anxiety to arise, or scatter attention, leaving one "ungrounded." Or a more physically active and movement-oriented approach might be a better match. (However, some just assume "I could never sit still and meditate for half an hour!" then actually discover that sitting meditation is not only possible for them, but quite beneficial.) Also, more active and movement-based approaches can be extremely helpful if you don't feel at home in your body and often lack awareness of bodily sensations and needs. If so, Iyengar yoga or Qigong practices like Tai Chi may be great ways to begin cultivating mindfulness. Unlike some popular yoga methods, Iyengar strongly emphasizes mindfulness of bodily and breathing sensations. Iyengar Yoga Resources includes a very clear description (What is Iyengar yoga?) and a directory of Iyengar yoga centers worldwide. The National Qigong (Chi Kung) Association explains What is Qigong and allows you to search for teachers near you.

Finally, increasing numbers of therapists and counselors are also mindfulness meditators, and many incorporate teaching of mindfulness skills into therapy. Therapists who are meditators will also tend to know about other local options for learning mindfulness – and just a couple of consultation sessions with such a therapist could be extremely helpful for sorting out your options. A few phone calls to local therapists or clinics might be enough to find such a therapist or counselor in your area.


This will orient you to this extensive webpage, via some opening comments and brief descriptions of each section.

Opening Comments and Suggestions

Is this page for you? You'll have to see, but some of the people I'm hoping to reach and benefit:

People who are curious about mindfulness, but have read little or nothing about it and never tried meditating.

People seeking new ways to overcome childhood hurts, depression, addiction, and other all-too-human problems.

Beginning meditators.

Meditators interested in the insights of a fellow meditator who happens to be a therapist, clinical psychology and psychiatric neuroscience researcher, as well as a husband and parent.

Therapists interested in bringing mindfulness and meditation into their clinical practices.

A message to those who will begin reading and find themselves thinking, "I can't see myself doing mindfulness meditation practices, so I might as well stop reading now and not bother coming back to this later":

Simply reading this page (whether you try meditating or not) will introduce you to new, and potentially very transformative and healing, ways of thinking about, experiencing and responding to your own emotional and other mental and brain processes. Just learning these concepts and perspectives (without ever meditating), has proved extremely helpful to many people, including those struggling with a great deal of emotional suffering. I can't guarantee that will happen for you, but I would like to encourage you to take the time, at some point, to find out for yourself.

A suggestion: If you discover that you are really interested in what you're reading, print the entire page. At 34 printed pages, it's too long for most people to read on the computer.

Descriptions of Each Section

What is Mindfulness? defines mindfulness by expanding on an often-quoted definition of Jon Kabat-Zinn. My elaboration speaks to struggles that we all have, with overcoming 'bad habits' that cause problems and suffering in our relationships, our work, and the most private parts of our lives. My definition also addresses common misconceptions about mindfulness by clarifying what it is not.

How Could Mindfulness Help Me? describes several ways that mindfulness can help people overcome habitual and automatic ways of responding to experiences that are either strongly unwanted (from emotionally uncomfortable to traumatic) or strongly wanted (including addictive). These include loosening the grip of habitual responses that cause suffering, quieting and calming the mind, and fostering greater awareness, enjoyment and cultivation of healthy positive experiences.

How Can I Cultivate Greater Mindfulness? begins with a few comments about meditation and Buddhism, followed by instructions for a standard mindfulness of breathing meditation. It then discusses some key issues, including the distinction between concepts and skills, daily versus intensive mindfulness practice, and formal practice versus weaving mindfulness into daily life. It ends by addressing some common questions and concerns about the cultivation of mindfulness in daily life and relationships.

Caution: Mindfulness Includes Pain, and Requires Readiness is a very important section, particularly for those who can become overwhelmed by unwanted emotions. It discusses the need for a solid foundation of self-regulation skills before practicing mindfulness meditation, and how this is essential for people who struggle with certain problems.

Kindness - An Essential Companion of Mindfulness explains why cultivating mindfulness is necessary but not sufficient, and how cultivating kindness promotes acceptance, peace, freedom, and happiness. It also includes some simple but very effective practices for cultivating key aspects of kindness.

Resources for Learning To Be More Mindful provides very specific advice for how and where you can learn to become more mindful. It has immediately useful information about books, tapes, online mindfulness meditation courses, and meditation centers. It also includes suggestions and resources for those who need more help cultivating self-regulation skills, or for whom more movement-oriented practices such as yoga or Tai Chi will be most effective.

Recommended Books, CDs/Tapes/MP3s, and Articles includes recommendations for everyone as well as therapists in particular.

Links to Other Resources on Mindfulness and Meditation has a small number of highly recommended sites.