Tag Archives: Tai Chi

Rethinking LOVE

Tonight, September 4th, when I looked for prior posts on the subject of love, I found that one of them had been published elsewhere and wasn’t available on my website. I’m correcting that oversight to complete the record. It started this way:

This post is for Tony iWiz of Ozzi and Mark Henry Smith. Tony had the courage to post an article Men in LOVE, asking Is It Real or Mother’s Love. Marko posed his questions about truth and love in his comments to TIME for a FRESH START.

I’ll hassle Tony from a woman’s point of view on his post. But since love is a human thing, not just a guy or gal issue, I decided, in addition, to post an essay from the collection written in the year 2000.”

Rose

ESSAY 38. LOVE

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord; And thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. – Moses, Deuteronomy 6:4-5

As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you. . .This is my commandment. That ye love one another, as I have loved you. — Jesus Christ in St. John, The New Testament

In Taoism, we say the heart is the seat of love, compassion, joy and happiness. This is what people are looking for. But they are looking outside. We don’t know that joy and happiness is seated INSIDE our heart. We’re running around the whole world. Going to the amusement park, night club, theaters, all kinds of places in search of happiness, peace, joy. But the peace, joy and happiness are within us. — Mantak Chia, The Inner Smile

THE FRONT

Roots of love mean to be fond, or to desire. Webster’s first definition is a deep and tender feeling of affection for, or attachment to. It can be an expression of one’s affection. It can mean a feeling of brotherhood and good will towards other people. It can be strong liking for or interest in something (a love of music). It’s a strong, usually passionate affection, partly based on sexual attraction. In theology, love refers to God’s tender regard for mankind, or mankind’s desire for God as the supreme good.

Love is the ultimate mystery. It sparks and keeps the life process going, more to be accepted and honored than psychoanalyzed. Plato described seven stages of love. Each is a rung on an evolutionary ladder which leads from a child’s love for parents, to erotic love, to friendship, and eventually the pinnacle of divine connection. These seven steps correlate exactly with the seven energy centers of yoga anatomy.

Plato traces the attraction between males and females to jealous gods who severed a complete, content person in half at the navel. Ever since, each part has chased after the other, longing to become whole again. Unfortunately, rather than seeking to integrate male and female energies internally, most Westerners persist in externalizing this desire for reunion.

In contrast, I Ching-related healing arts provide methods for restoring inner wholeness, attaining the ultimate level of Platonic love. The new law Christ taught fulfills the law of Moses.

Further, the Old Testament command to unify the three levels of soul, heart and might into a single-minded love of One God resonates with yogic practices which coordinate upper, middle and lower tan tiens, the Chinese equivalent of Sanskrit energy centers.

These methods give people of every faith practical means for actualizing their religious ideals. Put another way, only by integrating and harmonizing the levels of mind, body and emotions can love of God be actualized and the universal law be fulfilled.

Healing gender, race and religious splits calls for fluency in the complete energy spectrum of love. Even in grimmest times, love is the omnipresent, underlying bedrock. In Rocky IV, for example, Sylvester Stallione scripted an I Ching-worthy East-West reconciliation of opposite cultures. A nature-trained David not only defeats a technology-mutant Goliath with love and relentless grit. He wins the hearts of a hostile crowd. His victory message to international TV viewers: “If I can change, and you can change, we all can change.”

Those who turn love into a commodity exploit what people out of touch with their true selves crave most. There’s a push-pull between those greedy to get what they’ve been fooled into thinking they lack and those who exploit this misconception.

The ultimate Tai Chi push is to persuade someone they’re incomplete and not-okay. Further, you’ve got a life-changing product that can fix them. If they buy it, do what you say, turn over their power and money, you will transform them, make them okay.

Those grounded in reality, however, know better.

The question then arises, what happens when one becomes focused and centered. Does all interest in the external world and motive to accomplish cease? Actually, it’s the opposite. As one becomes more secure from within, fear-built barriers come down. New, more authentic motives arise to replace artificial desires. As one pares away the illusion of need, the native impulse to serve with generous compassion arises.

THE BACK

Hate is the opposite of love. Where love grows upwards from childish attachment through degrees of maturity to altruism, hate descends to the depths of destruction. It obliterates connections, shatters hope, and in the end destroys those it consumes.

Fear-based insecurities generate a host of love perversions. Possessiveness, envy, jealousy and rivalry are variations on the theme of illusory insufficiency. In all cases, it’s the result of looking outside for what can neither be bought nor stolen, as love is the timeless, abiding state of one’s innermost life.

 

Pray for Lee

DNA 1

I get it. It’s early August. Most of us are on summer vacation now. It’s not the time to be bothered by “serious stuff.”

But sometimes, serious stuff won’t wait.

Here, we’re been dealing with escalating medical emergencies. They have dire implications for Lee, for those who care for him, and yes – for the rest of us, too.

Please bear with me. I’ll connect the dots for you.

It started a few months ago with sleepless nights that left him too weary to work during the day. Pain of unknown origin gave Lee no rest.

He lost his appetite. Lost weight.

It seemed like a flare up of rheumatoid arthritis. So the doctors thought. But then came chest pains. Strong enough for an urgent call to 911. Even after an ambulance trip to the hospital in Baraboo and several hours in the emergency room, he continued to experience episodes of severe chest pain no one could explain.

Local doctors consulted together, then contacted Lee’s Madison specialist. It was agreed to transport him via ambulance to the UW-Madison Hospital for a cardiac cath procedure.

To make a long, convoluted story short, two days later, doctors finally agreed on a diagnosis. Lyme’s disease.

I’d heard about it, of course. But didn’t know that much about it. So, while waiting for him to be discharged, I did some research.

I found an excellent article that explains the science and history of Lyme’s. It’s a scary bad plague-like affliction of apparently epidemic proportions, though for some mysterious reason, it’s given little media attention. According to arizonaadvancedmedicine.com:

  • The organism responsible for Lyme disease was identified in 1981 by Dr. Willy Burgdorfer, and named Borrelia burgdorferi (B. burgdorferi), after its discoverer. It is similar in shape to the spirochete Treponema pallidum, which causes syphilis, the scourge.
  • Mankind’s earlier experience with a disease caused by a spirochete was syphilis, the scourge of Europe for hundreds of years. Syphilis was called “the Great Imitator” because its symptoms mimicked so many other diseases. The same is true with Lyme.
  • Lyme disease presents a host of challenges. Once the corkscrew-shaped spirochetes enter the bloodstream, they can cause a wide range of constitutional, musculoskeletal, and neurological symptoms.
  • New York pathologist Dr. Alan MacDonald found B. burgdorferi DNA in 1986 in seven out of ten autopsy samples from the brains of people with Alzheimer’s. MacDonald was also the first to document B. burgdorferi in fetal tissue, meaning the infection passes from mother to child in the womb.
  • The number of Lyme disease cases in the United States has doubled since 1991. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that there are nearly 325,000 new cases each year – making Lyme disease an epidemic larger than AIDS, West Nile Virus, and Avian Flu combined.

Lyme’s hides itself inside cysts so the immune system can’t find it. It also mutates, making it especially difficult to detect and treat.

In short, it’s one sneaky, sinister bugger.

Reading on Lyme’s resonated with memories of working as an assistant in the UW Hospital’s Department of Pediatric Oncology in the 1990s. Pediatric leukemia was the villain. An international team of research scientists was studying the use of Interleukin II to stimulate the body’s own immune system (T-cells to be exact) to heal this cancer.

Because I asked, one dedicated researcher described what she recognized as the deep, spiritual implications of her work. Her eyes radiated intense conviction as she described the war between good and evil going on at a cellular level. She described the insidious mechanisms of the disease and the doctors’ emotional battle to save afflicted children from pain and sure death.

That experience brought up many of the same questions I have now. Namely, why don’t practitioners of different medical sciences pool their information? Each has a significant piece, but only a partial piece of the larger puzzle. If a boundary spanner could bridge the gaps and put the pieces of the mosaic together, miracles would become possible.

I’m thinking specifically of the benefits attributed to the practice of Tai Chi and Chi Kung (QiGong). Both these approaches to healing-in-motion are based on Traditional Chinese Medicine, which in turn depends on the science encoded in the Book of Change, the I Ching.

Some preliminary work in this direction has already been done. For example, medical research documents that Tai Chi practice stimulates T-cells. In fact, this medical-martial arts discipline achieves what the researchers hoped to achieve with drugs. It stimulates the body’s immune system to protect against and reverse damage done to DNA.

Now here’s a secret hiding in plain sight. I Ching science has been correlated with DNA science. The ancients experienced through meditation what scientists much later discovered through painstaking empirical research. There is no conflict between conclusions, only many roads leading to the same knowledge.

One important difference between the medical and Tai Chi approach to healing, however, is its availability. Tai Chi has long been a family tradition passed on through the generations. It’s slowly becoming available in the West as well. But it requires an attitude of self-responsibility and diligence to practice these methods.

In contrast, drugs can be passively ingested with no intelligent participation on the part of those afflicted. Many drugs, however, have unforeseen and unwelcome side effects. In addition, some are prohibitively expensive, and for many, inaccessible.

I like to call Tai Chi the “poor man’s genome therapy.” The beauty of it is, that it hardly matters how you have become off balance or what symptoms you’re experiencing. Diligent practice restores health. It would seem that especially in a case like Lyme’s, where the symptoms are hard to detect, tend to mutate, and to take multiple forms, this universal solution is uniquely appropriate.

As it happens, I recently found a treasure in books by Jou, Tsung Hwa. The Tao of Tai-Chi Chuan is exactly what I would love to share with Lee. The introduction begins:

I was a math teacher who had published about thirty books on mathematics in Chinese. In 1964 at the age of forty-seven, I became very ill with an enlarged heart and a gastroptosis, because of years of hard work and vigorous schedules. My doctor told me that my condition was incurable using available medication.

At the same time, however, one of his friends told him about Tai Chi Chuan and introduced Dr. Jou to a teacher. He continues:

At first, I had only enough strength to practice a half hour at a time. In only two weeks, my appetite improved and the frequency and severity of my stomach pain lessened. In three years my stomach was completely healed. In five years, my heart returned to normal, and I regained total good health without the use of drugs.

This good experience led to an interest in the Book of Change. In the introduction to his version,  The Tao of I Ching, Dr. Jou writes:

Since the I Ching was first translated into German and other languages, it has awakened great interest and fascinated countless people. Yet, I believe this interest is only a fraction of the attention it deserves when it is used in the way created to be used.

His next words made me jump for joy. I could not agree more:

Remember, this is not a book on Chinese culture or philosophy. This is a book about things no more exclusively Chinese than a lake, a person or the sky.

On a hunch just now, I googled “Tai Chi & Lyme’s Disease” and found this: Nothing is Incurable! In this case, the author is describing his experience with QiGong, the precursor and close relative of Tai Chi.

But why, then, am I conflicted about offering this extraordinarily hopeful approach to healing Lee’s Lyme’s disease?

Because he thinks it’s rubbish. Has an intense aversion against it, probably the result being educated in Catholic schools compounded with an aversion to what he dismisses as “New Age bullshit.”

Well, fortunately for me, I haven’t allowed centuries of historical atrocities committed in the name of the New Testament to alienate me from the teachings of Christ. Now, I can only hope that likewise, he will see fit to give this treasure the benefit of the doubt.

I pray for Lee. I pray that he be restored to health. Not only because as a repository of training, information and experience, he is irreplaceable. (He owes it to the rest of us to get well!!!) But also because this disease can be changed into a teacher and opportunity, if he can accept it as such.

My dearest hope is that, like Dr. Jou, when faced with dire medical circumstances, Lee’s eyes and heart will open to this healing alternative to drugs. May he be like the greatest doubter changed in a flash to become greatest advocate, a Saul become Paul, if you will.

I know he has the integrity, intelligence and will power to take responsibility for his healing and make this science in all its aspects his own. In turn, his example serve to might open Lyme’s researchers minds to alternative ways of erradicating B. burgdorferi DNA. This, in turn, might open doors of help for others suffering from this dreadful plague.

I pray for Lee for many reasons. Please pray for him as well. Your prayers will certainly speed his healing. When healed, he will most definitely become a helper and healer to you and yours in ways too many to count.

Blessings and thanks to all who read this.

Happy One-Year Anniversary

October marks the one-year anniversary of the +A Positive Action Press WordPress website, RethinkingSurvival.com. Looking back, I’m amazed at the way daily, incremental baby-steps have added up.

With the help of (sometimes) forbearing computer savvy friends, I’ve gone from cut-and-paste technology to working with a photo-shop clone to produce illustrations. Starting with no marketing skills and less interest, I’ve swallowed my pride and actually gotten interested in the process. From being overwhelmed by Twitter, I now really enjoy direct messaging with savvy, fun new folks. Certainly limiting myself to messages of 140 characters or less has significantly altered my writing style for the better. : )

So tonight I thought I’d take a break from my current projects to revisit the Essay on Practice from Conscience. Written in the year 2000, it’s not in my current voice. But it speaks to my immediate appreciation for the benefits of daily discipline.

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27. PRACTICE

Each T’ai Chi movement is related to a particular hexagram of the I Ching. This relationship holds vital clues to a deeper understanding of Chinese thought which, like all valid world-views, is based on knowledge of the self gleaned from the practical experience of meditation. — Dal Liu, Tai Chi Ch’uan and I Ching: A Choreography of Body and Mind

Practice is essential. Through regular practice, you will become familiar with the feeling of being relaxed. You will find that you can achieve results with shorter and shorter practice sessions. You will become like a pianist who is ready to play a beautiful Mozart sonata as soon as her hands touch the keyboard. — Kenneth S. Cohen, The Way of Qigong

One should never rush in entering Taoism. . . One must proceed step by step, never advancing to the next stage until one is ready. One need not fret. If one discharges one’s tasks and proceeds with training perseveringly, then the transitions are virtually automatic. — Deng Ming-Dao, Chronicles of Tao

THE FRONT

Practice means to do or engage in frequently, make a habit or custom. It means to do repeatedly in order to learn or become proficient; to exercise or drill oneself. Practice is using one’s knowledge, as in a profession. To practice is to adhere to beliefs or ideals. It means to teach or train through exercise. An archaic definition suggests intrigue, trickery, or scheming.

Practice is closely related to the words discipline and preparation. It implies the ability to anticipate the future and make decisions about how best to make ready for it. It was the practice of Chinese emperors to consult ministers and sages for information on how to prepare for the future. They, in turn, consulted the I Ching to decide the best ways to adjust to alternating seasons of hardship and plenty in order to maintain social, political and economic equilibrium.

By biblical account, Joseph was sold into slavery by jealous older brothers and taken to Egypt. Thus, he found himself in the right place at the right time to fulfill his destiny. By correctly interpreting Pharaoh’s dreams, he saved countless lives, including those of the brothers whom he forgave.

He foresaw coming changes in nature and drew conclusions as to how prepare for the future. The practice of disciplined conservation during seven years of plenty allowed Pharaoh to feed his people during the seven years of drought which followed, thus preventing starvation, mass suffering and social upheaval.

Applications to current economic practices should be abundantly clear. Squandering resources during times of abundance is a sure recipe for famine, widespread misery and unrest when the rhythmic pendulum of history swings, replacing times of plenty with times of hardship. Wishing and hoping current “good” times will last forever because we want them to, refusing to heed clear warning signs that they never do, foolishly puts everyone at risk.

Music is a demanding discipline which emphasizes the importance of regular practice, preparing in advance to perform well. Similarly, martial arts instill respect for regular practice, cultivating the ability to adjust quickly and skillfully to sudden danger. In this case, the body itself is the instrument and tuning it a fine art. As Chuck Norris says, “Practice, practice, practice! Practice can save your life.” God forbid you’ll ever be attacked. But be ready.

Through the daily practice of meditation balanced by Tai Chi meditation-in-action, it is possible to make teachings real through experience, fulfilling the maxim “Learn by doing.”

Then, with sustained focus and loving attention, everyday activities and relationships are transformed into spiritual and martial arts training. Practice becomes a way of life, an ongoing proof of commitment in action. It’s not just a few hours set aside from the rest of the day. Nor is it to be flaunted, foolishly attracting envy and vengeance.

In Cleary’s translation of The Taoist I Ching, meditation and action alternating in rhythmic sequence are described as equally important complements. Inner stillness develops the abode of rest. Action completes and tests the abode of rest. Progress achieved by steady, gradual, consistent efforts accomplishes far more than dramatic spurts of activity that can’t be sustained over time.

Understanding the philosophy and science of the I Ching intellectually is relatively easy. Putting it into practice is more of a challenge. It’s not like something memorized for class, and then you’ve got it forever. It requires consistent attention and renewal, applying the readings to myriad kaleidoscope changes during the ongoing process of a lifetime.

THE BACK

The opposite of practice is lack of foresight and disciplined preparation for the future. Aesop’s fable of the race between the tortoise and the hare captures the difference between making steady progress toward a goal and the lazy assumption of inevitable victory, sleeping until it’s too late.

Enforced drilling is an inadequate substitute for intelligent practice. Mechanical repetitions without understanding and involved commitment are pointless. Repeating affirmations instead of taking positive action doesn’t produce quality results.

 globe

Rethinking PEACE

Given the extraordinary amount of pain suffered in many parts of the world today — not the least of which being the very real fear of nuclear annihilation — I’ve chosen a message of PEACE from Conscience: Your Ultimate Personal Survival Guide.

 Essay 61. PEACE

When the forces of nature unite in profound harmony,

heavenly PEACE fills the earth.

Lives blossom. Prosperity increases.

Easy communication makes it possible

for people to understand one another.

This leads to cooperative efforts that will be fruitful.

Tranquility follows fulfillment of life goals.  

— Patricia West, The Common Sense Book of Change

Conflict is woven into the fundamental fabric of nature. The sea and land meet in violent conflict and make waves together. The plow turns the meadow and wheat springs forth. . . Conflict is evidence that human beings are engaged in something interesting. . . [It] plays a key role in the growth of character and the development of stable relationships. Conflict makes us into who we really are. — Brian Muldoon, The Heart of Conflict

The principle of economy in movement arises from a state of internal harmony. A mind that is at peace is not easily swayed or disturbed. This principle also plays a vital role in daily life, whether in business or in combat. If one over-reacts and responds with excessive or unnecessary action, one is at a disadvantage.-Mantak Chia & Juan Li, The Inner Structure of Tai Chi

THE FRONT

Webster’s defines peace as freedom from war or a stopping of war. It can refer to a treaty or agreement to end war or the threat of war. It’s defined as freedom from public disturbance or disorder, public security, law and order. It refers to freedom from disagreement or quarrels.

Peace also means harmony or concord. It’s used to describe an undisturbed state of mind, absence of mental conflict, serenity, or tranquility. To keep one’s peace means to be silent, keep quiet.

The timid are satisfied with peace defined by predictable routine, without conflict or challenge. The aggressive prefer peace defined as defeat of enemies or absolute control over subordinates. The peace of the grave is cessation of life. I Ching philosophy guides careful thinkers away from these extremes.

In I Ching context, peace is an inward state of calm that manifests as outward poise. Where timid and aggressive definitions both depend on external circumstances, the experience of tranquility depends only on oneself. External conditions will always be in flux. Therefore, looking for peace in the world is an exercise in futility. Internal states, however, are subject to self-governance.

In Asian traditions, peace is akin to the yogic concept of contentment — an attitude of grateful acceptance of all seasons and quiet openness to the rhythms of life. In biblical context, the lyrical stanzas of Ecclesiastes capture the wisdom of natural law:

 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die;

a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which has been planted;

A time to kill, and a time to heal.

The sage takes responsibility for attaining inner peace as the first step towards world peace. Inner quiet begets the attitude of confidence, which in turn generates acts of compassion, courage and generosity. World organizations which would impose military peace upon warring nations comprised of individuals each at war internally have no hope of success.

Conflict, like peace, starts from the inside and projects outwards. Therefore, no matter what military force is applied, so long as people are educated into internal conflict, external wars will continue to break out.

St. Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians takes on significant new meaning in the light of I Ching wisdom. Peace seekers would do well to consider it carefully:

2.14.  For he is our peace, who hath made both one

and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;

2.15. Having abolished in his flesh the enmity,

even the law of commandments contained in ordinances;

for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace.

Meditative practices which intentionally focus on the corpus callosum as the middle wall which separates and/or unifies right and left brain (yin/yang, male/female) functions give practical means for implementing biblical insight.

THE BACK

Conflict and war are opposites of peace. Only the context of motive, purpose and intent determines whether they are necessary and to long-term benefit, or unwarranted and uselessly destructive. Shunning either out of fear invites danger.

Enforced silence is a perversion of peace. A totalitarian state can outlaw free expression. It may compel rigid conformance and suppress dissent. However, it cannot contain the vitality of the creative life force, which always prevails.

———————–

Patricia West, The Common Sense Book of Change. (+A Positive Action Press: WI, 2000.) No. 11.

Brian Muldoon, The Heart of Conflict. (G.P. Putnam’s Sons: New York, 1996.) p. 9.

Mantak Chia & Juan Li, The Inner Structure of Tai Chi. (Healing Tao Books: Huntington,

NY, 1996.) p. 35.