Taichi and Tao - Part 1
There has been a long running argument as to whether Taichi is an Martial Art, an exercise for health, a healing system etc., for a long period of time. I have seen long running discussions on Forums about this, as well as many articles. So what is True Taichi, and what is this talk about Taichi and Tao? In this next series of articles, I want to explore this with you, starting from a very important point. You must approach finding an answer from the viewpoint that you do not know. Not just the answer to these questions, but just about everything you think you know. We will cover ground that we have before, but get into more depth as it relates to this discussion.
What does it mean to "not know"? Most of what we think we know is based on several sources. First it is information that we have from a secondary, (or often, even more remote) source. We say things like "I read or heard about" the subject we claim to know. In order to function in a man-made society this is necessary, but you have to realize that what you are claiming to know is based on strictly man-made concepts of what is, but is not based on any real truth, yet we have arguments as individuals, and wars as countries over these concepts.
The same can be said about faith or beliefs. The conflicts over these tend to be even more intense than those over our claims of knowledge. You do not have to look far in today’s world to see the results of this kind of "knowing". At this point you may be saying, "then what else is there?", and this is understandable. Everything we think we know has at least one of these as it’s source. But there is one more thing, and the practice of Taichi is focused on getting you to a level where you can connect with what is true, and that is by experiencing it. Only through firsthand actual experience can you know what is true. For example, you can read about how to fly a plane, but unless you take the lessons and actually fly the plane, you do not know how to fly. Unless you can experience real truth, you do not know real truth.
As we said in the last article, we spend a lot of time concentrating on the Lower Dan Tian right from the beginning in our Taichi practice. We do this in order to reconnect with our True Self, and that memory, referred to as Teh, can only be found here. This requires a high level of sensitivity, and to develop that, you must do Single Form Practice in a meditative, flowing manner. Each form is designed to teach you a specific kind of flow, as well as how to open and close your energy. This is the starting point to your practice, but not the goal. Remember that the Taichi Classics say "you go from no form, to form, to no form". We start with no form, we then learn the Taichi Single Forms to have a form, meaning correct posture, energy flow and meditation. But then you must go beyond form, to no form to connect with Tao.
To do this, you must have no ego, no "I", no self to get in the way. The principle of letting go in a past article, was a good example of a step along this path. If you look at the beginning of this discussion, think about the argument that Taichi is a Martial Art. How can it be without ego, without conflict. Taichi can be used as a Martial Art, but is not a Martial Art. Taichi began in a Temple system, practiced by Taoist monks, and it was only at a later time that it was adapted by Martial Artists, because of the power it gave them. A better way to put it would be that Martial Arts, health maintenance, healing, etc. are all aspects of Taichi practice, or applications, if you will, but they are not Taichi.
Two Person Practice is the next step up from Single Form Practice. People look at this and say "See, Martial Arts!", but they misunderstand what they are seeing. Single Form Practice, through breathing and posture helps you to reconnect with your internal energy, and get it flowing properly again. This is only the start. You must practice with another person, in order to learn to flow the energy outside of yourself. If you have any interest in Martial Arts, Healing, etc., it is essential for you to be able to broadcast a signal, Jing, outside of your self. You can feel your own Chi, but not Jing. You need another person to do this, so you do Two Person Practice.
When you read the Taichi Classics, these are the types of things that are being discussed, not just as aspects of Taichi, but of how to live your life. The goal is not a limited application. Remember that Taichi is unlimited, and this goes beyond a discussion of Martial Arts or Healing power. What this means is a connection to Tao, which we will continue to explore in future installments. Remember, experience is the key, direct experience. Taichi should bring us together, to our True Selves, which have no conflict. The journey is together.