meditation

Excerpts from Tew Bunnag's book "The Art of T'ai Chi Ch'ouan, Meditation in Movement", the Lao Tze and Chouang Tze.

Meditation is at the heart of T’ai Chi training.

Is the aspect that coordinates and guides the external practices. It is the Yin, passive side that compliments the Yang activities.

In recent years "meditation" has become a term that refers to a wide range of practices, from simple concentration  to exploring paranormal states. In the context of T’ai Chi is simply means sitting or standing still and silently for a committed period of time, with the attention focused on the posture and respiration.

It is a basic formal practice that teaches us the art of non-movement and non-action.

By putting ourselves in the bare situation of sitting cross-legged on a cushion on the floor we confront what is unquiet within us. Before stillness is established we have to work through the layers of restlessness and unease that have accumulated. By constantly returning to the present moment, and acknowledging the movement of breath and the physical sensations we can slowly unlearn the patterns of agitation in our body and mind. Gradually a sense of peace and stillness pervades the entire system.

The other beneficial quality that is developed through the discipline is silence. Again, if we want to connect with silence we must first be prepared to face the noise that is within as well as learn how to cope with the noise all around us. This means that we learn not to react but to remain in the centre.

Like everything else this requires constant regular practice.

The stillness and silence that are nurtured in meditation are essential factors of our awareness, our capacity of  “listening” which is the foundation of T’ai Chi as an “internal” martial art. Whether we are doing Ch’i Kung, the form, the exercises or sparring with a partner the inner awareness is always present. When we know for ourselves what stillness and silence are in meditation we can connect with them in action so that at the heart of our movements there is always a still point and in the interplay of energies we do not lose our quietness.

When intuitive awareness is present in all that we do in our life, the inner and the outer, the Yin and the Yan, combine and enrich one another.

«Attain utmost emptiness,
maintain utter stillness.
The myriad creatures arise side by side,
thus I observe their renewal.
Heaven’s creatures abound,
but each returns to its roots,
which is called "stillness".
This is termed "renewal of fate".
Renewal of fate is perpetual -
To know the perpetual is to be enlightened;
Not to know the perpetual is to be reckless -
Recklessness breeds evil.
To know the perpetual is to be tolerant -
Tolerance leads to ducal impartiality,
Ducal impartiality to kingliness,
Kingliness to heaven,
Heaven to the Way,
The Way to permanence.
To the end of his days,
He will not be imperiled.»

«Stopple the orifices of your heart,
close your doors;
your whole life you will not suffer.
Open the gate of your heart,
meddle with affairs;
your whole life you will be beyond salvation.
Seeing what is small is called insight,
abiding in softness is called strength.
Use your light to return to insight,
be not an inheritor of personal calamity.
This is called "following the constant".»

«He stopples the openings of his heart,
closes his doors,
diffuses the light,
mingles with the dust,
files away his sharp points,
unravels his tangles.
This is called "mysterious identity".
Therefore,
Neither can one attain intimacy with him,
Nor can one remain distant from him;
Neither can one profit from him;
Nor can one be harmed by him;
Neither can one achieve honor through him,
Nor can one be debased by him.
Therefore,
He is esteemed by all under heaven.»

«He stopped the carving and polishing and returned  to what is simple. His body was now centered and rooted and in the midst of turmoil he remained in oneness till the end of his days.»