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Taijiquan and spirit

In taijiquan, the word 'spirit' usually refers to shen.
Shen is about immersing yourself so completely in the moment that self-consciousness ends.
You become one with what is.


By removing the division between yourself and everything around you, oneness occurs.
Being immersed in the here and now is vital to taijiquan practice.
Thoughts end, memories stop intruding and we allow the world to unfold without consideration.
There is a sense of great calm and wellbeing.
This is considered to be a 'spiritual' experience because you transcend the illusion of separateness.

Spirits and the supernatural

Some people are interested in ghosts and spirits, or they like to speculate.
Taijiquan is not concerned with this whatsoever.
Taoism recognises that most of existence is unknowable, so we do not imagine what may or may not be.

To understand your taijiquan you must become a pragmatic person, a scientist and learn how your body works in relation to everything around you.
You must begin with your feet planted on the ground.


When you become one with your taijiquan and the Tao, things will happen that you cannot readily explain.
These are not supernatural events.
By removing the barriers between yourself and everything else, you move in rhythm with the universe and benefit from this harmony.

Fix your eyes on Bobby Jones.
Look at his practice swing... almost like he's searching for something.
Then he finds it.
Watch as he settles himself right into the middle of it.
Feel that focus.
Now he's got a lot of shots to choose from
- duffs and tops and skulls -
but there's only one shot that's in perfect harmony with the field.
One shot that's his - the authentic shot.
And that shot is going to choose him.
There's a perfect shot out there trying to find each and every one of us.
All we have to do is get out of its way and let it choose us.

(The Legend of Bagger Vance)


Spirituality refers to the journey of self-discovery.
It is concerned with the values and meanings by which people live.

Spiritual practices may include meditation, prayer and contemplation.
These are intended to develop an individual's inner life.
Such practices often lead to an experience of connectedness with a larger reality, yielding a more comprehensive self; with other individuals or the
human community.

Spiritual component

Taijiquan practice does possess a spiritual component.
This may be experienced through studying Taoism and Zen, along with meditating, and practicing qigong, form and application.
An earnest student of the Art becomes calmer, more harmonious.
They have a sense of deep connection with all things.

The texture of reality

Taoism and Zen encourage us to experience reality in its most direct form.
They aim to transcend education, philosophy and thought.
The senses are given precedence. We feel rather than think.

Embodied spirituality

Taijiquan is a vehicle for exploring the many insights offered by Taoism.
It is a hands-on approach to spirituality.
There is plenty to read (if this is something you enjoy) but the emphasis is mainly upon doing rather than reading, thinking or talking.
Life is lived through action, not words.
The art of taijiquan is a physical journey that will lead to an inner search for meaning and understanding within the student.

Beyond gratification

Talk and thought impedes our ability to experience.
Instead of seeing what is actually there, we look for the things that please us or interest us and avoid unpleasant stimuli.
This is a form of blindness, and it must be left behind if we want to interact with existence without barriers.


Page created 2 March 1995
Last updated 15 December 2016