Question: In Tai chi, they talk about the Three Treasures: Jing, Qi, Shen (精;jīng, 氣;qì, 神;shén). What's a functional way to interpret Shen or "spirit"? What's the relation between spirit and developing internal strength?
* Having the right spirit or attitude is the key to making progress. It doesn't make any logical sense to ask: "What is the connection between internal strength and spirit?".
(Right. Internal strength or effortless power is a mind-body, kinesthetic quality. There is no direct relation between the attitude or spirit, the "How" that inspires my training to develop internal strength and the resultant kinesthetic quality.)* The Taoist "De" roughly means the nature of "x" or the spirit of "x". What is the spirit of your practice? Not spirit in the mystical sense but spirit as in attitude? If the spirit is of duty, obligation, discipline, then what is the spirit behind that?
* Many soldiers don't like getting up a 5:00AM or running or doing push-ups but their spirit is to train to defend their country, their homeland.
* From the Christian tradition, what does it mean to be like Jesus? To be like that spirit, that attitude, that nature?
* You've seen the car bumper stickers, "What would Jesus do?", well, "How would Jesus stand?"
* Be curious. It is through curiosity that insights will come. What you seek you will find. When you knock, the door will be opened. Very simple.
* Practice the "Flower Blooming Ice Melting in Warm Sun" stance and breathe "Ahhhh".
(This is one of the many practices or "medicines" used in Wujifa zhan zhuang.)* Consider growing a flower garden. Preparing the soil, planting seeds, watering and weeding are all dull, ordinary, necessary activities repeated over and over and over before any flowers come up and even after the flower blooms, you still have to do the ordinary weeding and watering. This is how it works.
* There's two ways to grow a garden; with love or with hate/resentment/anger. Both will grow a garden but the latter is not open to observe nuances that will result in allowing for more growth.
* The saying "Seeing is believing" is a lie. The truth is, "Believing is seeing." What you believe is what you see. You are not your beliefs. You make the mistake that a belief is who you are. The real you is independent of any belief.
* See the book: Yuan Dao: Tracing Dao to Its Source by Roger T. Ames and D.C. Lau (1998)
* Check into Mr. Rogers recordings.
(At school there is always music playing. Not your typical, new-age "spiritual", drive me into a mindless coma, meditation music, but rather a range of rock and blues and songs from the Mr. Rogers Neighborhood shows. And what is most amazing is when the words of a song coincidentally summarize whatever teaching point is being made. I'm always amazed when this happens.)* Unattaching is easy. It is not changing to another belief. It is realizing a place of joy in which there is only love which has no beliefs.
* When you focus on changing to another belief or choose to not believe a certain belief, doing so just keeps you attached to that belief.
* Question: How long to practice a particular method?
Answer: Until the feeling becomes natural so that it is there 24/7 and not only when doing the method. Once you get the feeling then you can innovate on the feeling but it must be the feeling that others in the field recognize as "the feeling" (assuming you want to develop in that field).
* For some reason, we have been taught and fiercely hold to not wanting the head, heart and pelvic areas to integrate. So we notice in class when adjusting stances, if the heart and pelvis get linked, then the energy moves to cut off the head. If the head gets integrated (with the heart and pelvis), then the energy moves to block the heart or pelvis. You see this in how the muscles tense or relax and where they tense or relax with each adjustment.
(Watching other classmates receive adjustments and how they (body) respond has got to be the most amazing, educational and instructive stuff! I am even amazed sometimes at what I am able to see.)* Question: How to treat thoughts that arise during practice?
Answer: When thoughts arise, then life is cut off. Don't attach to thoughts. Just observe them and comment, "Isn't that interesting?" and keep practicing.
* By not attaching to a thought, you don't give it energy and eventually it dies. The key to practice is to build and develop your energy. But if you keep building the energy in the observer, then what? When you meet the Buddha, kill him.
* Personal note: As I close my journal notes for 2005, I am now standing in stance for one hour each morning and find it very easy to do. The biggest hurdle was overcoming the mindset that there is something else more important to do. Once I deeply understood, "There is nothing for you to do but relax." then it became easy to just stand.
Introductory article explaining this "Journal Notes" series: Zhan Zhuang Training Journal
Previous article in this series: Discover Your Power: Journal Notes #33
Next article in this series: Revealing Grandfather's Face: Journal Notes #35
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