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The real world
Modern people are quite content to spectate. They watch other people do things rather than participate themselves.
In Taoist terms this is akin to watching somebody else eat food and thinking that you understand what it tastes like. To live, we must interact, relate, engage and do things.
Once you switch off your technology it becomes far easier to have a hands-on relationship with your own life. Technology gets in the way.
It makes you feel as though you are living but in fact you are wasting time. (Time = life).
Consider: you watch an exciting movie in which the hero employs skilful combat moves... This excites you. Now what?
You go to bed. You get up. You carry on doing whatever you were doing before you watched that movie. Nothing has changed.
A real human
In Taoism, a real human lives. They speak with people face-to-face. They touch. They laugh. They have tangible real world, real life interaction.
They think things through. They feel. A real human is deeply, intimately involved in their own life.
People speak authoritatively about wars overseas, political issues, social matters and current affairs.
They quote pressing concerns and important matters... They boast and brag and show off.
But somehow it is all a little phoney.
They don't really care at all.
The 'well-informed' person climbs into their 4 x 4 car, drives to their heated house, eats a sumptuous meal and does whatever they like, untouched by the outside world.
This is not the behaviour of a person who cares deeply about other people. These are the actions of somebody who is merely entertained.
Krishnamurti suggests that we should start by getting ourselves sorted first. Our own lives, our demons, our relationships, our thoughts, our emotions, our bodies...
Getting involved in the lives of other people is all very well, but what about our own?
Taking an interest in celebrities, gossip, politics and the news is a very effective method for ignoring the significant problems in our own lives. No action at all is required.
We can be passive observers, critics and commentators.
A lot of modern people are being physically transformed by the way in which they live.
Instead of possessing a lithe, nimble, agile, graceful body that responds readily to the dictates of the mind, they lumber around in a carcass of flesh.
There are so many people who shuffle out of their enormous vehicle, stooping, clutching an expensive phone and looking anxious.
Their legs are spindly and weak. Their bodies are flabby or gaunt. Other people hammer themselves at the gym; and leave with hunched shoulders, residual muscle tension and bad posture.
The trained body is unlike the kind of body you are used to. It is strong, mobile, supple and fit, well coordinated, flexible, balanced, dexterous, fast and responsive.
Many disciplines can produce a trained body if the exponent is sincere enough: ballet, yoga, Pilates, Alexander Technique, along with various martial arts.
Tai chi is different
Taijiquan offers something quite different to most forms of physical training. The internal martial arts teach the person how to employ their body in everyday life and in actual combat.
The skeleton is aligned, the body is relaxed and sensitive, awareness is high and the mind is clear. Strength is amplified and movement is fluid.
The wide variety of training methods employed in tai chi work all the joints and muscles in a safe, comfortable, healthy manner. Upper and lower body coordinate, left and right side.
Students become functionally ambidextrous. A newfound confidence emerges as the body becomes energised and purposeful.
The power of your mind
In addition to a very enjoyable physical transformation, the earnest student of tai chi will also experience an incredible expansion of consciousness.
The mind will change continuously and productively as the art unfolds. There is no stagnancy.
As an individual you have the opportunity to fight against the growing trend of laziness and apathy sweeping our society. You can start with your self.
Train. Practice. Develop. Grow. Share. Enthuse.
Asian martial artists have always regarded the ego as being our worst enemy. The human mind can be weak and flaccid, easily seduced by distractions and diversions.
You do not need any of the things we are encouraged to desire, chase and get in debt for: technology, belongings, fancy cars, exotic holidays, jewellery... You are more than a 'consumer'.
Steal my art
Living requires you to ignite a flame within and become as cunning as a thief. Burn inwardly; let each moment in your life have significance and purpose. What if you die tomorrow?
Don't waste opportunities by being half-hearted, indifferent, bored. Don't give in to nicotine, alcohol, stimulants or sugar. Find ways to grow, to develop, to progress. Be strong. Alert. Fresh. Vital. Alive.
Live fully and completely.
• A life less ordinary
• Real human
• Strong mental attitude
• Technical skills
• Using the mind instead of force
18 September 2009
Last updated 29 September 2019