Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Flowers of Space

This a rather long but it is such a beautiful explanation of Reality by a great Zen Master hundreds of years ago. Enjoy the beauty and soak up the great Wisdom contained in these words.


Kuge: Flowers of Space

by Eihei Dogen zenji

translated by Yasuda Joshu roshi
and Anzan Hoshin roshi
(excerpted from the forthcoming book
Dogen: Zen Writings on the Practice of Realization)

Our Founding Ancestor composed this verse:

"A single flower blooms, five petals open,
and fruit ripens by itself."

Learn through your practice the moment when the flower blooms, as well as its form and colour in the light. The flower's body is five petals, and the blooming of five petals is a flower. The standard of the single flower comes from [Bodhidharma's verse], "Originally I came to this land to transmit the Dharma and liberate deluded sentient beings."
1 The form and colour in the light are learned through practice. "Fruit ripening by itself" is natural activity. "Natural activity" means causing causes and the affect of effects. This world has causes and it has effects. We cause the causes of this world and are affected by the effects that are the world. The "self" of "itself"2 is you, those four elements and five aggregates. The "true person without position"3is used for this kind of "self" because it is not an "I" or a "someone". "Being so" means approving this.4 "Ripens by itself" is the moment of flowers opening and fruits ripening, the moment of transmitting the Dharma and liberating the deluded.

For example, the time and place of the opening and blooming of the blue lotus
5 are in the midst of fire and at the time of flames. These sparks and flames are the place and time of the blue lotus opening and blooming. All sparks and flames are within the place and time of the place and time of the blue lotus opening and blooming. Know that in a single spark are hundreds of thousands of blue lotuses, blooming in the sky, blooming on the earth, blooming in the past, blooming in the present. Experiencing the actual time and place of this fire is the experience of the blue lotus. Do not drift by this time and place of the blue lotus flower.

An ancient said, "The blue lotus blooms within fire."
6 To understand "within fire" you must know where this lotus blooms. Do not be attached to the viewpoints of humans or of shining beings or you will not understand this "fire within". If you doubt this, you might as well also doubt the existence of a lotus in the water, or a flower on the branch. If you want to doubt something, you should doubt the stability of an objective world. But you don't. Only the Ancestors realize that "when the flower blooms the world arises".7 A "flower blooms" is "three by three in front, three by three behind".8 To fill such numbers is the gathering together and raising up of numberless particles. When this truth comes to you, you can understand how spring and autumn come. It is not that there are flowers and fruit only in spring and autumn. Being-time is always flowering and fruiting. Flowers and fruit are each supported and maintained by their own moments and each moment is supported and maintained by flowers and fruit. The "hundred grasses" all have flowers and fruit, all trees have flowers and fruit. Trees of gold, silver, copper, iron, coral, crystal, and so on, all have flowers and fruit. Trees of earth, wind, water, fire, and space all have flowers and fruit. Human trees have flowers, human flowers have flowers, and withered trees have flowers. In all of this are the "flowers of space"9 spoken of by the Buddha. People of narrow knowledge and small insight do not know of the form and colour in the light of petals and flowers and so would only understand this to mean "non-existent flowers". Understand that speaking of "flowers of space" in the Way of Awake Awareness is not even known of let alone understood by those outside of the Way. Only the Buddhas and Ancestors realize the blossoming and falling of flowers in the sky, flowers on the ground, realize the blossoming and falling of the flowering of the world and so on; only they know that the flowers of the sky, the ground, the world are the sutras. This is the standard through which there is study of Awake Awareness. Since flowers in space are the vehicle in which the Buddhas and Ancestors travel, the worlds of the Buddhas and the Teachings are simply these flowers of space.

However, when the common dullard hears of the Thus Come One's words "clouded eyes see flowers in space" they imagine that these are the "clouded eyes" of usual people. They understand that diseased eyes can perceive nonexistent flowers in empty air. Through becoming attached to this perspective, they think it means that the three worlds, the six realms, Buddha-nature, and Buddhas have no existence but are seen as existent by the deluded. They think that by eliminating the delusions of clouded eyes we will not see flowers in space because space is originally without flowers. I am sorry, but these people do not know the time of, the beginning and ending of, the "flowers of space" that the Thus Come speaks of. What Buddhas speak of when they say "clouded eyes" or "flowers in space" is a truth that cannot be understood by usual people or those that are not within the Way. It is through practising this flower of space
10 that Awakened Ones and the Thus Come receive the robe, the [Teaching] Seat, and [a Master's] Room, and fulfill the fruition of the truth. The standard of "raising a flower and blinking" is a manifestation of "flowers of space". The unbroken and authentic Transmission to right now of the Eye of Reality, unsurpassable radiant Knowing,11 is called "clouded eyes" and "flowers in space". Awakening, cessation, the Body of Reality, the inherent nature and so on are just two or three petals opened by this flower of space.

Sakyamuni Buddha says,

"It is like a person with clouded eyes
seeing flowers in empty air.
When the disease of cloudy eyes is cured,
the flowers in empty air vanish."

None of the scholars have clear understanding of what is being said. Since they do not realize space,
12 they cannot understand "flowers in space". Since they do not understand "flowers in space", they do not understand "cloudy eyes", cannot see a person with such "clouded eyes", and cannot become a person of "cloudy eyes". Through meeting one with such "cloudy eyes", we can understand "flowers in space" and can see "flowers in space". Having seen "flowers in space", we then see "flowers in space vanish". The Narrow Path has the opinion that once "flowers in space" vanish, they cannot appear again. But if you cannot see "flowers in space", what can you see? If you think of "flowers of space" as something to be eliminated, then the great matter following from "flowers in space" and their seeding, ripening, and vanishing is never realized. The usual scholar of the day thinks of space as the place where the energy of the sun13 shines, or that where the sun and moon and stars hang is space; and so they think that the phrase "flowers in space" means that forms appear like clouds drifting in empty air or like flowers blown east to west, up and down, with the falling and rising gusts of wind. They do not realize that the four elements as the creating and created, all of the knowns14 of an "objective" world, primordial Awakeness,15 the original nature and so on are all called "flowers of space". And so further, they do not realize that the four elements which configure knowns are also created by knowns, they do not know that the "objective" world abides as a configuration of knowns but only know knowns as things of an "objective" world. They understand "flowers in space" to exist because of "clouded eyes" and do not understand that "clouded eyes" exist because of "flowers of space". Know that the "person with clouded eyes" spoken of by the Buddha is a person of primordial Awakening, a person of ineffable realization, a person of the Buddhas, a person of the three worlds, a person that moves beyond the Buddhas. Do not dully believe this "cloudiness" as delusion and look for true reality elsewhere. This is a small view. If "cloudiness" and "flowers" are delusions, then the attachment to this wrong view of delusion is deluded and that which is attached is deluded. With all of this delusion, nothing logical can be said. Nothing could be true, and so to establish "cloudiness" and "flowers" as delusion would be impossible.

Realization is "cloudiness" and the numberless aspects of realization are each part of an array of "clouds". Delusion is also "clouded" and the numberless aspects of delusion are also an array of "clouds". For now, let us say that "clouded eyes" are balanced and "flowers in space" are balanced; since "clouded eyes" are unborn then "flowers in space" are unborn; when all things are truly known as knowns
16 then "cloudy flowers" are truly known. This cannot be said to be a matter of past, present, or future or of beginning, middle, and end because they are not blocked by coming and going. They cause coming and going to come and go. Coming within space17 and going within space, coming in "clouded eyes" and going in "clouded eyes", coming in "flowers" and going in "flowers". All other times and places are also like this.

The study of "flowers in space" can take many forms. There is the view of "cloudy eyes", the view of clear eyes; what is seen by the Buddha's eyes and what is seen by the eyes of the Ancestors; what is seen by eyes of the Way and what is seen by the blind. There is a view of three thousand years, a view of eight hundred years, a view of hundreds of eons, a view of numberless eons. Although all of these are seeing "flowers in space", there are many kinds of "space" and so there are many kinds of "flowers".

Know that space is a single grass.
18 Space inevitably flowers just as the hundred grasses all flower. To express this, the Thus Come One said, "Space is originally without flowers." Although primordially there are no flowers, now there are flowers. This is how it is for peach and plum, apricot and willow. It is like saying, "Yesterday the apricot trees had no flowers, but now the apricots flower in spring." The arriving of the season is when the flowers bloom, in the blooming of flowers is the time when the flower arrives. The precise moment of this time of flowering is not arbitrary. Apricot and willow flowers always bloom on apricot and willow trees. Looking at the flowers you know that they are apricot or willow, and by looking at apricot and willow trees you can distinguish their flowers. Peach and plum flowers never bloom on apricot and willow trees. Apricot and willow flowers bloom on apricot and willow trees and peach and plum flowers always bloom on peach and plum trees. The blossoming of "flowers of space" is just like this too; they are not blooming on some other kind of plant or tree.

Seeing the colours of these "flowers in space," you can have a sense of the limitlessness of the fruits of space. Seeing the blossoming and falling of "flowers in space", you can learn the spring and autumn of "flowers of space". The spring of "flowers of space" is just like the spring of all flowers. Just as "flowers in space" are myriad, so are there myriad moments of spring. This is how the springs and autumns of all times are.

Understanding "flowers in space" as unreal but other flowers to be real is to be ignorant of the Buddha's Teachings. On hearing the Teaching that, "space is originally without flowers," thinking that "flowers in space" originally did not exist but that now they do is a small and narrow view. We should step forward and take a panoramic view. An ancient Ancestral Adept
19said, "Flowers have never appeared." To unfold this point, the truth is that flowers have never arisen, that flowers have never vanished, that flowers have never been flowers, that space has never been space. Don't be mired in fatuous views of existing or not-existing and thus confuse the time of flowering with a before and after. It is like the colours of flowers; colour is not limited to flowers and all seasons also have blues, yellows, reds and whites. Spring brings on flowers and flowers bring on spring.

The layman Zhangzhuo
20 was a student of Shishuang.21 The verse he wrote expressing his realization goes like this:

"Luminosity shines through worlds numberless as the sands of the Ganges."

This luminosity manifests "the Monks' Hall, the Buddha Hall, the Kitchen, the gates."
22 The "worlds numberless as the sands of the Ganges" is manifested by luminosity and manifests luminosity.

"All beings, common and sages, are my family."

It is not that there are not common people and sages, but that saying "common" and "sage" stains it.

"When no single thought arises, the total body is manifest."

Thoughts arise one by one and each are unborn. This non-arising is where the total body is manifest. This is why he says, "no single thought arises".

"As soon as the six senses stir, they are covered in clouds."

Although there are six senses of eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and consciousness, this is not just two times three; they should be "three in front, three behind". "Stirring" is like Mount Meru, like the earth, like the six senses and like "as soon as stirring". As "stirring" is like Mount Meru, so "not stirring" is also like Mount Meru. For example, it makes clouds and rain.

"Eliminating disturbances just doubles the disease."

There has been disease up until now. Then there is the "disease" of the Buddhas and Awakened Ancestors. Intellectualizing about disturbances and trying to remove them doubles disease. At the moment you try to "eliminate" there is "disturbance". They come together and yet are not together. "Disturbance" includes within itself its own "elimination".

"Aiming at Suchness is also wrong."

To turn away from Suchness is wrong and aiming at Suchness is also wrong. Suchness approaches and turns away and each moment of aiming or turning is itself Suchness. Is there anyone who can know this "wrong" to be Suchness?

"Going along with the circumstances of the world without hindrance..."

"Worldly circumstances" "go along" with "circumstances of the world" and "going along" is a "circumstance of the world" in its "going along". This is called being "without hindrance". As for being beyond "hindrance" and "without hindrance", we should study the "hindrance" of the eyes.

"Nirvana and birth and death are just flowers in space."

"Nirvana" is Complete and Utter Awakening. This is the place of the Buddhas and Awakened Ancestors and of the disciples of Buddhas and Ancestors. "Birth and death are the true human body."
23 Nirvana, and birth and death are all of these things but they are just "flowers in space". The roots and stalks, stems and leaves, flowers and fruit, colours and light of "flowers of space" are each the blossoming of "flowers of space". "Space flowers" give forth "space fruit" and drop "space seeds". Since the three worlds we now perceive are the "five petals opening" of "flowers of space", "the best is to see the three worlds with the three worlds".24This is the "true form" of "all things".25 This is the "flower form" of "all things". All things and anything that can be imagined are "flowers of space" and "fruit of space". You should learn through practice that these are the same as apricot, willow, peach, and plum trees.

Zen Master Furong
26of Fuchou in Great Song upon his first encounter with Master Zhizhen of Guizhong-si27 asked, "What is Buddha?"

Guizhong responded, "If I were to tell you, will you believe it?"

Furong said, "How could I not believe the true words of the Master?'

Guizhong said, "You are yourself it."

Furong asked, "How should I maintain this?"

Guizhong said, "If there is a single cloud in the eye, flowers in the sky tumble in all directions."

This saying of Guizhong, "When there is a single cloud in the eye, flowers of space tumble in all directions" expresses maintaining the Buddhas. Just remember that this "tumbling in all directions" of "clouded flowers" is what all Awakened Ones realize. And the flowers and fruit in the eye of space are what the Buddhas maintain. Through "clouds", the eyes are actualized. Flowers in space manifest the eyes and the eyes realize flowers in space. You could say, "If there are flowers of space in the eye, then a single cloud tumbles in all directions." On the other hand, "If the eyes are there in space, all clouds tumble in all directions. Thus, "cloudiness" is the "presentation of complete activity",
29 "eyes" are the "presentation of complete activity", space is the "presentation of complete activity", and "flowers" are the "presentation of complete activity". "Tumbling in all directions" is the "thousand eyes" and "the whole body is eyes".30 Wherever and whenever there is an eye, there are always "flowers in space" and "flowers in eyes". "Flowers in eyes" are called "flowers in space". The expression of "flowers and eyes" should be open and clear.

Thus, the Great Master Guangzhou
31 said,

"How wonderful! The Buddhas throughout the ten directions
are originally just the flowers in our eyes.
And if we want to know about these flowers in our eyes
they are originally the Buddhas throughout the ten directions.
If we want to know the Buddhas of the ten directions,
they are not flowers in our eyes.
If we want to know the flowers in our eyes,
they are not the Buddhas of the ten directions.
If you can understand this,
the Buddhas of the ten directions are to blame.
If you don't understand,
those with only hear-say knowledge do a little dance,
and those who make up their own enlightenment put on make up."

You should know that it is not that the Buddhas of the ten directions are not real but that they are originally "flowers in the eyes". The place where the Buddhas of the ten directions abide is "in the eyes". Any place other than "in the eyes" is not the abode of the Buddhas. "Flowers in the eyes" do not exist nor do not not-exist, are neither nothing nor a substance; they are themselves "the Buddhas of the ten directions". Now if you want to know only "the Buddhas of the ten directions", then they are not the "flowers in our eyes". And if you only want to know the "flowers in our eyes", then they are not "the Buddhas of the ten directions". This "wanting to know" and "are not" are manifestations of the wondrous, they are great wonders. The meaning of "sky flowers" and "earth flowers" spoken of by the Buddhas and Ancestors is "graceful play".
32 Even those who teach only from the sutras or from their commentaries have the opportunity to hear of "flowers of space" but only Buddhas and Ancestors use this opportunity to experience the life-pulse of flowers of the earth. The sayings of the Awakened Ones and the Ancestors capture the life-pulse of flowers of the earth.

Zen Master Huiche of Shimen
33 of Great Song was a great Master of that line. A monk asked, "What is the jewel in the mountain?" The point of this question is like asking, "What is Buddha?" It is like asking, "What is the truth?" The Master said, "Flowers of space unfold on the ground. Throughout the country, there is no way to buy."

This saying cannot be compared with other sayings. Usually, Teachers only talk about "flowers of space" as "flowers of emptiness" and only talk about arising in emptiness and going in emptiness.
34 None have yet known "of space"35 let alone "of the ground".36 Only Shimen understood it. The meaning of "on the ground" is that the "beginning, middle, and end" are "on the ground". "Unfold" is to "release".37 Right now is the unfolding of the "whole earth", the releasing of the whole earth.

"Throughout the country, there is no way to buy." It is not that "throughout the country" there is no "buying". It is that "no way"
38 cannot be bought.

"Flowers of space" unfold from the ground and the whole earth blooms from these flowers. Remember this: "flowers of space" means bringing both ground and space into bloom.

Presented to the assembly at Kannondori-Koshohorin-ji on May 10th, 1243. Recopied by Ejo on January 27th, 1244 at the head monk's quarters in Kippo-ji; copied again on August 28th, 1318 at the Guest Quarters of Eihei-ji.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Laozi (Lao-tse) on Water

Water is the most pervasive and powerful molecule on earth. It is the life-blood of the earth and every living thing on it. It is as delicate as the petal of a rose yet more powerful than a nuclear bomb. Softer than a newborn's hair yet harder than granite. The properties of water defy the laws of physics. What else expands as it's atoms and molecules crowd together upon freezing? Yes indeed, there is a certain Magic and Awe about water.


In Taoist practice, purity and stillness are its defining qualities: purity signifying the watery body, and stillness as firing mind. The body must be pure to become receptive and productive, and mind must be still to be creative and transformative. This is why Lao Zi characterizes water and fire as the primary elements for cultivation. To be more precise, Lao Zi is a water-type person with a firing character. He refers to himself as "I am a fool at heart, as a water droplet is to the spring." (20:5)
The "fool at heart" is the passion of fire, the emptiness of ego, and the character of selflessness, while "a water droplet" is the value of life, the direction of planning and the hope for the future.

Lao Zi also uses water to represent the goodness, the kindness, and virtue of the Tao. He says that "Eminent goodness is like water. Water is good at benefitting all things, yet it actively completes. It retires to undersirable places. Thus it is near to Tao." (8:1, 2) Mistakenly, however, the standard text of Tao Te Ching defines the water as "uncompetitive", rather than "actively completing". The sentence "it is uncompetitive" has many scholars interpreting Laoism and Taoism as being passive and quiet. This is a misleading conception. 

There are passions in Laoism and there is madness in Taoism. We do not understand the nature of water thoroughly if we say that its character is inactive, and that its motion is passive. Water is the most active element on earth and in the sky. It is everywhere on earth and circulates constantly in our organism. It is active in its performance and competitive in occupying it own position. Water never ceases to battle with fire and light over the space it occupies. It peacefully competes against the chaos caused by fire, and actively transforms the resulting murkiness, poison, and contamination.

Lao Zi further explains that "nothing in the world is softer and more supple than water. When confronting strength and hardness nothing can overcome it." The he advises that "Using nothingness simplifies. Using water overcomes hardness." Using weakness overcomes strength." In reality, as Lao Zi indicates "there is no one in the world who does not know it, but no one can apply it." Finally, Lao Zi concludes that the usefulness and meaningfulness of water can be explained by "Whoever can bear the disgrace of the country is the ruler of the country. Whoever can bear the misfortune of the world is the ruler of the world. Truthful speech seems paradoxical." (80: 1- 4)

This final truth awakens us to the heart of spiritual practice as well as the richness of life. Normally, everyone expects the outcome of situations to be good, yet few people realize the value of working through the bad things that happen. Everyone hopes to reap the benefits of teaching without learning the power of mastering the bad. Everyone knows the difference between good and bad, yet no one embraces the deeds occurring between them. Whoever understands the paradox knows the game of life. Those who remain in the paradox have yet to awaken to the mystery of life.

 ~ From LAOISM: The Complete Teachings of Lao Zi
          Ascending Hall Taoist Temple


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Friday, April 2, 2010

Tips Gained from My Tai Chi Practice Part II

This is my second post containing knowledge I have gained from my Tai Chi study and Practice. I hope this information helps you to understand the teachings better and improve your own Practice of Tai Chi.


I have seen several different warm-up routines in my study of Tai Chi but the purpose of all of them is to help you stretch and warm up your body, relax your mind and body, get your chi flowing, and sink your mind into your Tan Tien. The last part is all feeling and can take time to fully understand. Tai Chi requires daily Practice whether you feel like it or not. I will explain why later on in this post.* Many teachers use proper Chi Kung exercises and they are excellent. My routine is very simple:

Stretching: Done in basic Horse Stance.

1. Arms over the head with palms up and fingers interlocked if possible. I can not do the fingers but do the best I can.

2. Arms over the head and stretch to each side.

3. Arms straight out to sides and pull back to stretch the chest muscles.

4. Arms straight in front. Keep lower spine stationary while arching upper spine forwards for stretching between the shoulder blades.

5. Bend at waist, knees slightly bent, touch floor to stretch lower spine.

6. Arms straight out to sides and do relaxed arm rotations. Begin in a small circle and gradually expand the      circle until arms go over the head and circle down to the sides. Return to the beginning position gradually from large circle to small. Do in both directions.

Get Your Chi Flowing

In a relaxed Horse Stance with knees slightly bent, tongue resting gently against palate to connect Yin and Yang. relax mind, sink your energy, and begin standard deep-breathing. You will notice increased salivation when you are obeying All of the Principles. This is a good indicator that you are moving and "Being" properly.

1. Swing relaxed arms at your sides to shoulder height straight out in front of you and back to sides for about 5 minutes staying mindful of your breath as you sink it down into your Tan Tien.

2. Arms hanging relaxed at sides, swing them by turning your waist left and then right as you slightly shift your weight side to side. Keep your body aligned and move only the waist as you shift your Center of balance from left side to right and back. This is called the Rag Doll Exercise because All movement originates from your Tan Tien and your arms are completely relaxed swinging loosely like a rag doll. An 83 year old Tai Chi Master showed me this simple movement many years ago. I have also seen it demonstrated on a video of the Yang Style Long Form by a Master from China.

3. Stand in regular Horse Stance and relax into proper body alignment. Put the palms of your hands on your Tan Tien so you can feel the abdomen expand. There are different schools of Practice pertaining to the proper positioning of the hands. I use the Zen Practice of the Right Hand on top of the Left Hand. In my sitting meditation, I do the same with my Right Hand on bottom holding my Left Hand. In both instances, the thumbs should be lightly touching at all times. Now, just let your energy flow down into your Tan Tien. As you inhale, imagine energy, chi, being drawn up from the earth through the Soles of your Feet into your Tan Tien. On exhale, sink your chi down into your Tan Tien and feel it flow down between your legs, up your lower back, up to the crown of your head, and back to the Tan Tien. This is the direction of chi flow in the Small Circulation using Taoist Reverse Breathing. The Grand Circulation is beyond the scope of this essay and should be explained by a qualified teacher or preferably, a true Master. You are now ready to begin your Practice.

Additional Instruction

Here are some videos that show you how to do many different stretches and warm-up exercises:




I will not spend time on the actual form because you should already be studying and Practicing this Daily. I will add a few things here that may help you though:


Relaxing in Tai Chi is far beyond what most people consider "relaxed". For the Master, it is his chi, his internal strength, that holds him up not his muscles. This takes a lot of Practice and real Faith. You can not fall down from being too relaxed as long as you are conscious and fully aware. This requires the Faith to trust and let go of your fear. You will realize eventually that this is just the beginning of the kind of Faith I am referring to. Your relaxed body and mind are in fact far, far more powerful than the person with the largest muscles. Here is a little demonstration you can use to see for yourself. It makes for a cool party "trick" too. Have a friend hold their arm straight out and tell them to try and stop you from bending it at the elbow. Grab their forearm, push it up hard as you press down hard on their bicep by the bend at their elbow. Nothing to it! Now, tell them to try it on you -once you are ready. Extend your arm towards a corner of the room at the ceiling; relax completely including your slightly bent arm; imagine it is a fire hose spraying a powerful stream of water putting out a fire in that corner. Focus on the fire as you feel the power of the water course through your arm. You are now ready for him to try to bend your arm. He can not do it! Wow, look how strong you are! This is called "Extending your Chi". It is Not a trick. A true Master can literally extend his chi into a wooden cane, for example, and make it as strong as steel or make his body impenetrable such as in the "Iron Shirt". When you Practice Tai Chi, you are constantly extending your chi by extending your mind. Remember: the mind leads the chi which leads the body. In martial arts, there is a saying, "It is already done before you do it". Something to contemplate.

Note: Stay mindful of any tension in your body so you can stay relaxed. Muscles can tense up when you get distracted especially the shoulders. To relieve tension in the shoulders, shake your relaxed arms downward like you are shaking water off of your hands. This can be done with the legs too to help relieve tension in the hips. Maintain this awareness.


I will not attempt to explain coordinating your breathing with the Practice of your form because it is beyond an essay of this length. I will, however, tell you a few things I have learned:

1. All breathing is done through the nose. The face and jaw are relaxed with only the tip of the tongue resting on the palate behind the front teeth. Be mindful that the back of your tongue is very relaxed too. This allows the air to flow to the back of the throat and smoothly into the lungs.

2. As with "Extending the Chi", you use Imagery to feel the air being drawn into the bottom of your lungs through your Tan Tien and filling them up. When you exhale, you Imagine the air sinking into and putting pressure on your Tan Tien compressing it as your lungs empty. This compresses your chi and creates incredible Power.

3. In time, you will "feel" the air fill your entire body as if it was hollow. Of course, like with imaging the air being pulled in by your Tan Tien, this is not really happening. This is your chi filling your body with intrinsic strength creating a wholeness or an Integrity of Being. This Oneness is Power! Eventually you will feel your breath enter your body through the soles of your feet with each inhale as if you are breathing in the earth itself.  As you exhale, you sink your breath down into the Tan Tien where it compresses, then expands and moves through the Small Circulation, and into the rest of your body. This all happens in an instant. Now, imagine the breath on exhale sinking into the ground through your feet. In time this whole process will have 
you feeling as if you are inhaling through the soles of your feet, filling up you entire body, and then exhaling back into the earth. You will feel a wonderful tingling sensation and a Fullness throughout your body. Later on you will feel like a ball of energy - strong, powerful, and wonderful!


Movement is at the core of Tai Chi and it draws in the energy as you shift your weight from one leg to the other. All of the Principles are involved here. Posture, Balance, Breathing, Relaxing, Sinking your Chi or Grounding*, and Extending your Chi. As you do your Daily Practice, you will eventually feel how the body naturally moves. It moves as a single entity with a single purpose. Every cell, every atom, in your body is supposed to work as One. Few people ever realize this, much less do it, however, it Is how we are supposed to work. We should flow effortlessly like water, ever so gentle yet ever so Powerful! This Oneness extends beyond this body too and those who realize that this is a Way of Life, will know the incredible Wonder and Bliss of our True Nature. You get a little bit closer to realizing your Oneness with every Practice too. You realize that the shoulder moves with the hip; the elbow with the knee, etc, and everything originates from the Tan Tien directed by the Mind.  I could never box because I naturally punched and kicked at the same time. My boxing friends suffered greatly until they decided it was best not to box me. No matter how hard I tried, I could not stop. I "accidentally" knocked out a good friend of mine when I reacted instinctively while play-fighting. I was just 16 years old and it scared the hell out of me. I thought I had killed him because it took awhile to revive him. I never would play fight again.  When I got into Kenpo, my Sensei said I was a natural. It took awhile for me to understand what he meant but it was the way I moved - Naturally.

One last tip about movement and your Practice that I learned from my teacher. He said from the very beginning to always walk awhile after every Practice while maintaining the relaxed focused on your Tan Tien. I have done this from day one and realize that he was showing me how to go through my day, my life, in the Calm and Blissful state that you achieve from dedicated Practice. I call it, "carrying my mind in my belly". It is very difficult indeed to maintain this wonderful state of Being but I get a little better as time goes by. I highly recommend that you incorporate this "walking meditation" into your Daily Practice too. This is where I first felt energy being drawn into me through the soles of my feet with every inhale. I first felt my entire body breathing in this energy as if it was an empty vessel during this slow, mindful walk too. 


Tai Chi has been a true blessing to me and still is to this day. After my terrible trauma many years ago, I finally found this tool in 1990. It is a tool used to master your self so you can experience who you really are, your True Nature. There are many "tools" available too. The founder of Zen, the great Indian monk, Bodhidarma, said in his teachings that there are many paths to Enlightenment and Nirvana but in the end, there are only two Paths - Reason and Practice. Unless you have already overcome this world, you Must find an appropriate "tool", or Practice, and dedicate yourself to mastering yourself with it. Every true teacher of the One Truth like Jesus, Buddha, Lao-tse, Chuang-tse, and many others in every culture since the beginning of time have taught the same thing. This Wisdom is everywhere including within everyone of us. Only the "out of control" Ego and the Karma It has created separates us from this Wisdom and our True Nature. It is up to each of us to find our Way. No one can do it for you. Kenpo saved my life 35 years ago and now, Tai Chi is my "tool", my Practice, my Path with Heart, that is helping me to get back Home to the Bliss of Nirvana, Heaven, God, Self, et al - my True Nature.


Important: You are learning to live in the Present and it is the hardest thing a person can do. The Ego can not interfere with the Peace, Love, and Joy that is Always awaiting you in the Present. You will learn to Be more and more with constant Practice. As you Practice, it is very Important to remember that when you get a thought, lose your balance, or anything else that removes you from the Present, just acknowledge the event and calmly return to your Practice. Mastery is achieved One Moment at a Time so never make a small interruption into anything more than it is by getting frustrated, angry, etc. You Will "fall down" a million and one times. Everyone does! You are slowly taking "control" away from your Ego and "It" will fight you every inch of the way. This is where the anger, frustration, etc, is coming from so just calmly accept any and all mistakes. Always Be Kind to Yourself! There is Always this Moment you can make perfect and gain the benefit.

*The reason it is so important to stay true to your Daily Practice is because you are very slowly restructuring your mind with your Tai Chi. This is called neural plasticity, a recently discovered characteristic of the brain-mind. This explains how the body can do repetitive things perfectly even if we are not paying attention. I am sure everyone has experienced this. If you miss one Practice, though, it is like missing a week's worth and it will take you longer just to get back to where you were. The ancient Masters knew this because I have read it in one of their manuscripts. You too will understand some day.

* This is referred to as "rooting" in Tai Chi. It is tied to relaxing and sinking your mind and chi down the legs and into the ground. When mastered, it is said, 6 men can not move you. This has been demonstrated countless times too. I have read about "Water Drop Energy" as described by a Tai Chi Grand Master in China. I have tried to describe this in a previous post but a diagram would work so much better. If I can create one, I will come back and insert it into this post. For now, just understand that it involves sinking your root into the earth where you become unmovable.

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