#1 Tip... Bar None
Think of this tip as the 'magic tip'.
There is no true or 'right' way to do any of these activities. There is no 'right' form to learn. Moreover, there are no masters ? no one who can teach you the core. Teacher simply teach the particular form they follow. Whatever form you learn functions like a path, a trail, a road. And just like walking down any trail, you are present ? awake in each moment ? or you are drifting away, either in thought or desire.
Simply put, being personally watchful and deeply aware is where the magic begins. All else is nothing but aesthetic illusion. In other words, one's aesthetic preference for one form over another simply reflects one's needs and inclinations in the mixed bag of one's emotional makeup, cultural conditioning and circumstance. Aesthetic preferences are [chref=53]by-paths[/chref] in the sense that we tend to put a lot of credence in 'truth' of the form which distracts us from the watching our step on the trail.
Of course, I suspect that it is our tribal instincts which drive us to make much ado about nothing ( form). Still, I feel it is healthy to know what is going on; there is a better change we'll act wisely, or so I think...
Much Ado about Chi, Prana, Compassion, Love, Spirit, ... You Name It.
We hype up every facet of human endeavor, maybe more so today than ever. Mmmm? Anyway, the first verse of the Tao Te Ching, the disclaimer if you will, states: [chref=1]"The way that can be spoken of, Is not the constant way; The name that can be named, Is not the constant name".[/chref] I've found it very helpful to switch "way" with any and all other words that come to mind, and particularly those loaded with [chref=12]color[/chref]. Using such words as a launching pad for curiosity, brings us closer to knowing the [chref=1]nameless[/chref]; such knowing is more [chref=15]subtle[/chref] than all the [chref=2]words[/chref] and the thinking we use them for.
Talent Hoodwinks Us
Innate talent misleads us. Folks with athletic talent will do the Yoga and Tai Chi visibly better than those with less talent. Does that make them 'spiritually superior'? Of course not. They are naturally better at those skills, just as a typist might be at typing, a dish washer at washing dishes, or a Sage at [chref=65]hoodwinking[/chref]. 'Superior' ability in mundane activities, like dishwashing, doesn't grab headlines for the same reason people don't pick up pebbles and mount them in wedding rings. The rare, non mundane, stones are what we treasure. Is this not simply our hierarchal instinct expressing itself? We are dazzled by what ever appears to be 'extra-special' just like fish that lunge for a shinny lure.
We all have talent in some area of life. But, how about in all the other areas of our lives? In those private places where our lesser talent lies lurks self knowing's weakest link. Of course, that is not the view we want to see. We equate talent with the 'superior man'. That's where hype enters into life.
The external world you see is a blend of its innate nature and a reflection of your innate nature, e.g., what you need to see. Not only can you not believe what you hear... you can't believe what you see or think either. Thus, the Taoist view: [chref=71]To know yet to think that one does not know is best... [/chref].
The process of making mistakes and correcting them corresponds to the Taoist view:"If you would have a thing shrink,
You must first stretch it;...
Another way to look at it: We first need to make 'arduous mountains out of superficial mole hills' before we can 'make those mountains into effortless mole hills'.
I regard 'mistakes' as jewels of consciousness. When I fail to sense the moment to moment continuum of my 'mistakes', I'm on auto pilot. A continuous awareness of 'mistakes', has two aspect to it: (1) you are awake, and (2) 'mistakes' loose their 'potencies'
and become an enriching part of your life.
are two sides of the same coin ( yin and yang
to put it another way). The point here is that whether a thing is 'up' or 'down', 'left' or 'right', 'right' or 'wrong' is irrelevant; the way
runs deeper than such duality.
to this root, you eventually return to that 'shadowy'
place where mistake
merge into one 'mysterious sameness'
Of course, mistakes will feel very relevant socially, i.e., some will say, "you're wrong", just as you say others "wrong". Jesus put it so well, "Judge not, that ye be not judged". Yep, 'what goes around comes around'. That is the nature of tribal politics. And that is why if takes a while to own your own life
. Your social-tribal instinct will fight you all the way on that one.
We All Want to Do it the 'Right' Way
But, how far shall we take that? 'Right' encompasses two issues - awareness and tradition.
'Right awareness' (mindfulness, attentiveness, concentration) is crucial to all living things. It is about being alert - alive to the moment. If a deer loses that moment, a lion may have him for dinner. If a driver loses that moment, he may go straight... off the cliff. Unlike everything else in life, I have yet to overdo moment to moment awareness.
'Right' as defined by tradition is another story. Nevertheless, tradition plays a crucial role in guiding us where to apply awareness, at least initially. Tradition also brings with it social / political dimensions which can be taken obsessively too far. Here attention is narrowly focused on the form and away from the process. In the end, it is not about the form, but about the care you give to your moment to moment.
Yoga, Tai Chi or Honkyoku serve to exemplify both issues. Both pass on an age old tradition of 'right form' and also aim for 'right awareness' and a returning to the 'eternal moment'. Even so, life flows moment to moment from birth to death, while these 'forms' are like islands of learned discipline. You can't live your moment to moment life as a learned discipline, and you can't spend you entire waking hours only doing these forms with the notion that you'll remain in the 'eternal moment' - an unnatural and nonsensical notion on many levels.
Moment to moment awareness - watching - is all that really matters. To the extent that learning a discipline will open the door to that aim is useful. But, beware of the [chref=53]by-paths [/chref] which obfuscate that aim. A good example of the social / political, i.e., tribal, tendency in all human activity is Christianity. Christ had a fairly simple straight forward message which aimed at 'right awareness' in one way or another. Why then are there myriad Christian sects (and Buddhist one's as well) each believing that their form is the best, if not the true, form. Yes, we do cling desperately to the form, and in doing so loose our chance to be aware of an underlying '[chref=56]mysterious sameness[/chref]'.
The Real Problem Lies Not in Knowing What to Do, But the Doing.
If you are honest with yourself in the moment, you will see that your 'faint heart' is your weak link more than anything else. It you can suspend all the rationalize excuses you make and just take it step by step, no matter how small the steps are, you will be master of your [chref=64]journey[/chref]. We tend to postpone our moment until that 'tomorrow' where we hope to get it together.
A case in point: I've often suggested to folks wanting to do yoga but didn't want to plunge in, that they simply do ONE POSTURE a day and let it evolve naturally. I can't remember anyone ever being able to do this. We tend to be very 'all or nothing' in our approach to life; we either rush headlong or piddle our moments away.