Archive for the ‘Taiji’ Tag

Understanding Reality: Balance and Harmony   1 comment

Part 1 Balance

Align with Heaven and Earth,
Relax and discover the truth about balance
Move with dignity and grace through life,
And harmony will be your companion.

Balance is a function of aligning with Heaven and Earth, relaxing into our roots and exploring the confidence of equilibrium within the self.

Harmony is a function of remaining balanced as we move through time and space, remaining content, while interacting with the forces of nature that act upon us.

Balance is always first, only then can we harmonize well.

In life, there are many ways we can discuss balance and harmony…..
If you think about the opening words, it is apparent that I could be talking about many different aspects of balance and harmony; be it physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual, they all share the same principles.

In fact, if we learn the hierarchy of achieving balance and harmony in one realm we can apply the formula to any of the four realms mentioned. Understanding reality is one of the goals of Taoist praxis, and understanding balance and harmony is paramount to that goal.

For Taiji practitioners as well as in all aspects of life this is a fundamental principle. For example, “aligning with Heaven and Earth” could mean, to know your values and morals and align to them, this could help you relax in a relationship, feeling secure and confident about yourself. The balance gained will allow you to compassionately harmonize with your partner and remain content.

Taiji (the supreme ultimate) teaches us how to achieve balance and harmony in all things through the understanding of the simplest of methods. I have written blog posts about this topic that can be found elsewhere on this site.

To review, the most basic is the physical then as we move inward the next level of understanding is the mental, then the emotional and at the center is our spiritual core.  Each level feeding its energy into the next one and each level is more complex than the one before it.  As we move up through the layers in quantum leaps, the understanding of the principles reinforces the reality of the truth of the hierarchy of our personal growth.

In regards to transformational improvement of our lives then, all we need to do is start with the simple, external physical methods and understanding will emerge with practice over time and through space…

Back to Taijiquan…..and balance and harmony….

When we move in Taijiquan we first need to balance, then we can harmonize with things as we move.  Now reread the opening lines and see what you can glean from the simple instructions.

In class, when we are transitioning to one leg, I say repeatedly…. Align, relax, and move.  There are two alignments. First, there is “rotational” where you align your nose, navel, knee and toes.  Secondly, there is the “Taiji Pole” where you align your Crown Point, perineum, and ankle, actually the bottom of your foot about 1 inch in front of the ankle.

After you are aligned with Heaven and Earth just relax into your leg and explore some counterbalancing with your arms and legs until you find that one spot where you feel confident. When you move (step) maintain a moving counterbalance to harmonize with your movement.

The Taoist sees the simple in the complex and the complex within the simple, achieving balance and understanding all things trough harmonizing with the principles of nature.

Know the Workings of Heaven   6 comments

Galaxy M-81

The sage sees the universe without looking out his window
The sage understands the workings of the universe without going out the door.

He does this by knowing that universe that lives within him, and that he is a microcosm made from Heaven and Earth, created by celestial design.

Little did you realize that all the wonders of the “modern science” of astrophysics reside within you…Like a pulsar within a nebula, our spiritual star powers layers of energy that radiate out into our personal world and merge into the universe around us!

Our star of spiritual energy, contained within our nebulous body floats in a galaxy of others within our communities.  The collections of community galaxies live within a universe we call “life on earth”

Cultivate your energy. Refresh your star center with the flux of the universe that flows to you. Shine brightly, replenish your body and let the light of heaven shine out through you.

Reading List, Books and Periodicals   Leave a comment

Master Yang Chen Fu

There are so many books…Taoist, Buddhist, Qigong, and Taiji. There have been hundreds of books in my life and it may take me that many years to flesh out this list, but I will do my best!

Since Taiji is a Taoist art I will start with some of the works from the Taoist canon.  I list them somewhere between the chronological order that I read them, their historical age, and their relative importance (to me) as it pertains Taiji, Taoism, Buddhism, Qigong, Meditation, Chinese Medicine, and Philosophy, etc.

Books and sets of books:

1.     Tao Te Ching (Dao De Jing)  by Lao Tzu “The Classic of the Way and it’s Virtues”   I have read many translations of this “source book”, my favorites are by Jonathan Star and another by Stephen Mitchell.  The Tao Te Ching is  full of wisdom in 81 easy to digest verses and it is the second most popular book ever written topped only by The Bible.

2.     Chuang-Tzu (Zhuang Tzu) A compendium of stories and fables; a perennial Taoist text.  Master Chuang writes in a humorous story style that is compelling.

3.     The Art of War (Sun Tzu) Another text over two thousand year old from the Taoist canon. Sun Tzu was a great general and sage, he wrote this famous classic on conflict resolution and strategy that could have been titled “The Art of Achieving Peace”

4.     I Ching (The Classic on Changes) Perhaps the oldest book ever written. It was later added to by various sages, in an attempt to understand the nature of “change” and how events must unfold based on the mathematics of their energies and the balance and harmony of  the same.

5.     The Complete Book of  Tai Chi Chuan by Wong Kiew Kit A great book, one of the first ones I read on Taiji.

6.     The Tao of Taijiquan by Jou, Tsung Hwa Another great book on the history and philosophy of Taiji as well as an overview of the different forms or “family styles”

7.     Tai Chi Chuan Applications by Dr. Yang, Jwing Ming Dr Yang is a prolific writer (I admire his energy!) I have many of his books. This one is the best book I have found describing the applications of Taiji. Written for beginners yet it contains information most advanced Taiji people have never learned.

8.     The Taoist Classics (4 volume set) by Thomas Cleary Mr. Cleary s a true genus; translating many books. This set has 15 books in 4 volumes and it was recently released in soft cover.  Mr Cleary’s work is sometimes a bit difficult, and I prefer simpler translations, still I highly recommend him because of the large amount of work presented.

Vol.  1     Tao Te Ching; Chuang-Tzu; Wen-Tzu; The Book of Leadership and Strength; and Sex, Health, and Longevity

Vol.  2     Understanding Reality; The Inner Teaching of Taoism; The Book of Balance and Harmony; and Practical Taoism

Vol.  3     Vitality, Energy, Spirit; The secret of the Golden Flower; Immortal Sisters; and Awakening to the Tao

Vol.  4     The Taoist I Ching; and I Ching Mandala

9.     Classics of Strategy and Counsel (3 volume set) by Thomas Cleary Another great set, this one contains 12 books. Lots of great philosophy from places as diverse as  Greece, China, Japan, The Middle East, Persia, and others.

10.    Chronicles of Tao by Deng Ming Dao This is a compelling story, an account of a modern day Taoist’s life. One of the best books I have ever read.

11.   Awaken Healing Energy Trough Tao by Mantak Chia I have 8 books by master Chia and while I would say, most are beyond the understanding of beginners, I do recommend this book as an introduction to the “Mantak Chia, Healing Tao approach.” Covers opening the “microcosmic orbit” a basic Taoist technique of meditation.

12.     The Roots of Chinese Qigong by Dr. Yang, Jwing Ming  I have many of his books. This one is the best book I have found describing the basics of QIgong Written for beginners yet it contains information most advanced people have never learned.

13.  Iron Shirt Chi Kung by Mantak Chia Another great and classic book from Master Chia  Read the first one first however. This book works with standing postures and will help you get very thorough understanding of advanced Zhan Zhuang   I would not attempt to do some of the breathing techniques in these books with out instruction however.

14.   Chinese Medical Qigong Therapy by Jerry Alan Johnson This 1100 page book is the most comprehensive book on the subject I have owned it since 2001 and keep reading it and reading it, like many of my books..absolutly huge and definitive this book is a must if you want to “go pro” and get TMI.

15.   Cultivating Stillness translated by Eva Wong This is one of those “lost texts” that offers a rare insight into Tao. Written with a slightly Buddhist influence it compels one to contemplate the thinking of the Chinese and their approach to meditation.  Also it contains symbolism to help elucidate the reader towards understanding Tao.

16.     The Art of Peace by Morihei Ueshiba One of the great masters from Japan; Morihei was the founder of Aikido. Paralleling Taoist thought from a martial artist that was also a pacifist, this book helps define the meaning of life.

17.     Tai Chi Explained by Alex Dong Master Alex was the first Taiji master I had, he is the son of my current teacher and the great grandson of Tung Ying Jie, the founder of our lineage. Alex grew up in Hawaii and brings his Chinese history into English for us all. A wonderful and simple book for all Dong practitioners, written by a personal friend of mine.  http://www.alexdongtaiji.com/store/

18. Red Book by Tung Ying Jie translated by Alex Dong. A great classic of Taiji finally in English thanks to master Alex.  Tung Ying Jie was the primary disciple of Master Yang Chen Fu the inventor of the famous “slow set” Yang style Taiji, the most common exercise practice on the planet. This work has been quoted by many other Taiji Authors but it has never before been available in English; now you can get the “Founders” work!  http://www.alexdongtaiji.com/store/

19. Yiquan and the Nature of Energy: The fine art of doing nothing and achieving everything by Fong Ha Master Fong Ha was a student of the great Tung Ying Jie, since then he has branched into a unique method called Yiquan. Master Ha is the worlds foremost authority on this amazing method and he is one of my teachers. Book available here:  http://fongha.com/shop/

20. Taoist Health Exercise Book by Da Lia Master Liu published this book in 1974 it is a small and simple primer on Taoist arts. if you can get a copy… someone recently gave me a copy of this older classic work.  Pretty cool!

There will be many more soon…patience…

Periodicals:

There are three that I recommend.  All are superb,each for a different reason.

1.     Qi Journal This excellent magazine is well produced and has very pithy articles about Qigong, Taiji and all things Taoist.  Also many books are available through the magazine. You can find it at Borders or Barnes and Noble, or subscribe. This is the best publication for the “Way” and I support it because we have so few available.

2.     Tai Chi Magazine Going on 33 years of publication this is the only magazine dedicated to Taijiquan. Another great source for finding books and videos on Taiji. Again this should be available at Borders or Barnes and Noble.

3.     The Empty Vessel I love this magazine. Always good stories and articles. Not as fancy as Qi Journal but simply produced and I am sure the traditional Taoists would be proud.


Qigong Lesson #2 “Wuji” A Physical Reality   6 comments

You need to know where you are in order to find your way.

Your place in the universe is often twisted away from the ideal; it may be physical, mental, emotional,and/or spiritually misaligned.

Let me first explain that in the “physical world” you can be  physically, mentally, emotionally,and/or spiritually misaligned  and you can also be misaligned in the “celestial world”. This is because all things have Yin and Yang elements to them. Our goal is harmonizing Yin/Yang, not just balancing Yin and Yang .

To keep things simple, my objective in this article is just to start with the body, the physical within the physical.

The most important overriding principles in Qigong and Taiji and Meditation for that matter revolve around alignment. As stated in the second paragraph of this page, alignment could mean spiritual, emotional. mental, or physical.

As we work ever inward to the higher levels of understanding we need to start somewhere. The starting point is the physical alignment of your body, starting with your feet. When we learn this basic skill called “Wuji Stance” we will have a working model of alignment that we can “clone” into our thinking to restructure our bodies, minds, emotions, and ultimately our spirits.  Then we can keep feeding back that spiritual energy to continually strengthen our bodies, minds, emotions. The cycle continues until we have the “rarefied qi” of original Spirit known as “the gold pill” a spiritual embryo that grows within us until such time as it “becomes” us and we are reborn into Tao.

It is simple really. Just start under your feet.  We want a totally natural alignment of our skeleton so we can relax all of our muscles. The following list is an example of what I tell my students. I probably say this list fifty times a week in my classes…..

1.     Feet parallel and shoulder width apart

2.     Knees slightly bent

3.     Tailbone tucked in so your lumbar spine is vertical

4.     Relax the hips and “sit” into your legs

5.     Let the “golden thread from heaven” lift your head

6.     Tuck in your chin so that your cervical spine is vertical

7.     Relax your shoulders, let your arms dangle at your side

8.     Contain your chest, don’t “puff out” your chest

9.     Bring your breath  to your dantien, just below the navel

10.   Bring your mind down to your dantien

11.    Put your tongue at your palate

12.    Keep your eyes soft, don’t strain your eyes

In addition I tell students to:  keep their hearts open, explaining that there is no need for any emotional energy, and to keep their mental energy redirected inward,  reviewing the 12 points on the list.  Then I repeat the list….

Now you can start right away by learning to Tune your Breath

Copyright Cory williams 2009

more here: Qigong lesson #3

Qigong Lesson #1 “Wuji” A Philisophical Perspective   1 comment

Wuji

“The journey of a thousand miles, starts under your feet.”

For all people on the Way, there are many paths with side excursions and a few distractions and even some “deviations”.

Any well thought out journey starts somewhere; indeed today even scientists think they can explain the origin of the universe. As fantastic as “the big bang theory” is….would you believe  that well over 2500 years ago the planet’s original “scientists” the Taoists, had a similar theory?

According to the Taoist cosmology, before anything “existed” there was something they called “Wuji”.  This (literally) means “the Void” or “without form” or “the beginning.” From this  “Void”,”Tao”  emerged, Tao being translated as “the Way” or “path”.  An interesting side note corresponds to religious texts….”God created the Heaven and Earth”. For the Taoists you might look at it this way…’From the void, Tao emerged and created the heavens and Earth’.

Is it not sort of enlightening that Taoist thought can merge science and religion and validate both simultaneously? I tread lightly here  so as to not evoke sensibilities, but let’s assume that the science of things is always open to scrutiny, and admit that religious texts were written thousands of years ago and are famous for using metaphorical language. Anyway, I’m only attempting to give some perspective to Wuji.

If you are still following me (and wondering what this has to do with Qigong) consider this, finding a “place” without form gives us a connection to divine origins. Notice my choice of words, crafted somewhere between the scientific and religious terminology. It is here where we see one way that “all things are connected”.

Along the Way we often find that science and religion merge into philosophy. By extrapolation it is easy to see that our physical self’s are connected to an understanding of the merger of the two (science and religion) into a philosophy. In the Taoist arts this philosophy is applied to the physical realm so that practitioners can assimilate cosmic energy directly into themselves.

One can see that practicing Qigong is an endeavor using a philosophy combined with science and spirituality, to nurture the physical self that contains our “Self” self.

Now don’t ever get put off by the talk of spirituality or the word “cosmic” as Taoists define these words in a general sense, for instance, tonight I am “inspired” to write this page,  and so these words are coming from my “spirit” and as I post this message it is sent (via satellite) into the cosmos.

This stuff is not rocket science, nor is it some intangible “cosmic” thing; the fact is, this concept is so simple it is woefully misunderstood.  My approach to Qigong (energy cultivation) is equally pragmatic, I’m not asking anyone to make any leap of faith; only to see the truth. With this understanding, we can now “start” the journey, also know, that by reading this, you already have…..

Copyright Cory Williams 2009

Next lesson

 

New Class at Kaunoa   1 comment

Aloha,

Thanks for all the support; there were twenty people at my new class on Tuesday Dec 1st.

I’m expanding my Taiji family, it was great to meet new people that  understand how important learning Taiji is.

Today I was talking with some new friends and I had a thought…

To improve our quality of life, we have many options with various paths.

You could, for instance, take a Yoga class, or Aerobics, maybe a Martial Arts class, or Dance, Weight lifting would help…..Maybe go for a  Walk, some Calisthenics, Pilates,  Fendelkris, or Swimming.

Then of course you would need to see your Massage Therapist, a Chiropractor,  or maybe a Physical Therapist, or maybe even an Orthopedic Surgeon. Later, it would be nice to Meditate, get some Quiet Time, or else you may need to  see a Spiritual Counselor, or a Psychiatrist.

After that you could Relax, Read some Philosophy, and ponder what a true act of Self Love might be.

Or… you could start on the Taiji Path and get all these benefits simultaneously and with… no effort…without joining a gym, or purchasing any equipment; and at the same time, become aware of any changes in your health before you might need  a doctors visit.

Certainly Taiji and Qigong will save you all the time you would have spent chasing after all those other paths.

And…….Taiji could save your life!

Posted December 2, 2009 by The Maui Taoist in News and Events, Uncategorized

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The Yin/Yang of the Three Realms   Leave a comment

First there was the One, Tao

Then there came the Two,  Heaven and Earth,

The Two begets the Third,  Heaven, Earth and Humans

In our selves there are three realms that correspond with these “Three”.  Consider that we are made from the minerals of the Earth. To that the energy of the Heaven was added in the form of sunlight; we humans are a product of the first two.

Our essences is from the Earth and in a way our bodies come from (and returns to) the Earth…. Our spiritual energy comes from (and returns to) Heaven

Earth is Yin and Heaven is Yang the creative forces of the universe or Tao.

We have Human qualities that we can call mental or thinking processes and we have emotional qualities  These two energies make up our “humanness.”  We can also call these things Yin/Yang, where our emotions are considered  Yin and our thoughts are considered Yang.

The way I see it, the three realms stack up like this:

Our physical self’s being of the  Earth (pure Yin)

Our human (mental & emotional) self’s being  Yin/Yang

Our spiritual self’s being Heaven  (pure Yang)

In a very real way even by “scientific” definition we are created by Heaven (the heavens?) and Earth.

The Lettuce Seed   Leave a comment

One day I was eating lunch with my children.  My pre-teen daughter was enjoying a green leafy salad when my 5-year-old son asked me “Daddy, where does lettuce come from?”

Not wanting to miss an opportunity to stimulate his thinking I replied, “Well son, it comes from Heaven.”

He gave me that tilted head look and asked, “What!  How can that be?

I continued, “It’s like this, have you ever seen a lettuce seed?”

He shook his head “no”,

“Well, it’s really really small, you can barely see it. There is no lettuce in it, just a recipe for lettuce, you need to add Heaven”

“How do you do that ?” he said.

“Well,” I went on, “you need to plant the seed in the Earth, that’s a part of Heaven” I reminded him. “Then, the sun light shines down on it from above,  you know, another part of Heaven, and then  ‘poof’ you’ve got lettuce”

“Hmmmm… I get it,” he said. Then he gave me the strangest look ever, I could just feel him thinking, and out popped his next question. “Daddy, where do I come from?”

“Well sweetie, you come from Heaven too!”

“What? Aw come on Daddy, how can that be”

“It’s like this, have you ever seen a human seed?”

He shook his head “no” ”

Well, it’s really really small, you need a microscope to see it. There is nobody in it, just a recipe for a person, you just need to add Heaven”

“How do you do that?”

I said, “Eat your salad!”

Posted November 30, 2009 by The Maui Taoist in Stories

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Hello world!   3 comments

me-25cropped3

 

Aloha, Everyone!

I know most people can’t spend the time that I have been blessed with to study these arts.  Also, I don’t think you need to… I dedicated myself to sorting it all out so I can share them with you.

The Taoist arts saved my life, after all the suffering, I found my Way and now I can introduce you to this ancient wisdom in the hope it may do the same for you.

I’ve read so many books, from self help, to martial arts, hundreds:

Spent years training, often over 8 hours a day …

Traveled thousands of miles attending camps and seminars…

Dedicated my life to making these skills available…

Distilling everything down, to see the “big picture”…

Now it all flows out effortlessly…

Everything here is written to be entertaining and enlightening.

Herein you will find lessons, stories, philosophy, a reading list, internet links, a journal of my journey through the universe and all open to inspection and comment.

So look here, and you can subscribe and receive automatic blogs.

Finding the ultimate treasure is far from boring!  Follow along here and I will keep you posted of all the exciting discoveries I have found along the Way.

Thank you all for your support and interest in what I believe are the most important set of skills that anyone can ever know.

Cory

Posted November 28, 2009 by The Maui Taoist in Aloha Message, Uncategorized

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