Over the last few mornings I have awakened to TV infomercials about Tai Chi. Since it was an infomercial, sadly it was someone selling the health benefits of “doing” Tai Chi. Let me reverse a little here and be clear about what I mean when I say selling the health benefits of Tai Chi. No doubt I believe, no, let me be correct myself. I know the health benefits of playing Tai Chi. Tai Chi, like her big sister Yoga, offer specific health benefits and I have been fortunate enough to experience the healing power of my own vital force healing certain chronic pains I suffered from previous athletic injuries. I know surely that by circulating vital force within the body, we can help our bodies overcome injuries and illnesses. However, while selling Tai Chi, the idea of vital force is never explored. The idea of building good character is not part of the sell. It is Tai Chi that heals us according to the sellers. Just by doing Tai Chi, be thou healed according to lord god, TV.
When I first began studying the Way, my teacher instructed us to read as much about, primarily Chinese martial ways, (since this was the base of our style) as we could. And, go on to read about all martial forms, from boxing to Kali to Capoeira. And that we should reverence each in their own right. After he decided he had taught us all that we needed to know in the Way, he pushed us out like a mother eagle pushes her offspring to fly. Since that time I went on to study Aikido and then settling into Tai Chi Chuan. Keeping to the teachings that were the foundation of my martial studies, I read book after book on first Aikido then immersed myself into the study of Tai Chi. I studied, read, and observed Tai Chi long before I began to “play” it. I was well within the light of understanding the art from an esoteric stand point. Yet, I had not felt the effects of this martial art form.
Tai Chi Masters and Salesmen
As I began to “play” Tai Chi my body began to change. People would see me and ask if I had been lifting weights, that I looked very toned. In fact, at that time I had not touched weights. I had combined what I learned from my teacher and incorporated those lessons into what I was then learning and practicing. Sure enough, as one of the books stated my body began to change. I was beginning to understand and observe how thoughts come and go or more aptly cycle through your mind. And still, I could see how developing breath was actually reshaping my physical body. As I began to learn about myself I could see and feel that this was a connection to something much greater than myself, yet such an integral part of my total being. It was as if I were connecting to the land, air, sounds and animals around me. The more I began to gain understanding about these things I was beginning to understand something about breath and breathing, thinking, meditating, noting this change going on was not something that could be harnessed only tapped into. Of course, the thought had occurred to me how could someone master sound? Master wind? Master the vital force that encompasses our universe let alone sell it?
People in the west are in fact microwave people. They want it now. So, the sellers of life will sell it now. They are the masters. They can sell you health. Simply do this move and that move, and be thou healed. This is so similar to the Queen Mother Witches giving out rituals over internet radio airwaves to people that need to rid themselves of demons. Never once do they ever consider the one they are talking to may be the demons themselves. They tell the people put this powder down, sprinkle that salt out there, turn around three times before entering your house to rid your self of evil. Never once do they advise their callers to clean up themselves mind and body before they can put positive intention into the ritual. Much the same with the Tai Chi masters and salesmen.They teach grasp the birds tail and move like this and you will lower your blood pressure. Move like that and cure your depression. Tai Chi “masters” can sell you on stopping a marauding dog from attacking you by pushing your chi out at the dog. Selling a product and not teaching the essence of the ritual or Tai Chi “move” is related to giving someone aspirin for a cancer attacking their colon. Just do it and it will work.
If one wishes to delve into the esoteric, into the world if Tai Chi, understand you will never master chi. Let me be clear. There are masters. But, understand, the master is a master in the eyes of those of the student. The student has not achieved the level of the one he/she is calling master/teacher. Surely, the master/teacher knows there is much more to learn and accomplish and would always deny being a master of anything. As people were awe struck at Jesus walking on water, Jesus knew walking on air was the goal. Those that have the audacity to call themselves master are full of ego and have never attained the heights of what vital force can do and does. The selling master/teacher/Queen Mother Witch is a seller of something that cannot be sold. Tai Chi Chuan is a healer and a killer. It is a subtle balance of life and death. It is primary that one work steadily to build good character and cleanse the body of impurities in this evolution. It is by circulating vital force that we may be healed. If there is no circulating of Chi or vital force, then this is not Tai Chi.