Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Saturday, April 28, 2012

What is the Way?

Today we have a guess post from Tai Chi Nomad, who studies and practices Taijiquan in Singapore. Please click on the link and pay his blog a visit.

What is The Way? I'm certainly no expert on this. I don't read much classics on Taoism, but I encounter enough of it as it is so ingrained in the Chinese culture. But I digress. What exactly is The Way?

> if you think you know The Way, you don't.

That is as elusive as it can get. I personally do Tai Chi. I understand the paradox that Tai Chi teaches. For example:

> if you use too much strength, you're not doing Tai Chi.

It sounds very much like my relationship with The Way. My goal ultimately is to understand the world, and Tai Chi is one way, or rather one tool that I use to understand this world.

Understanding Tai Chi is hard enough, without even going into the realms of The Way. If we can't talk about The Way, can we touch it? Can we feel it? Can we smell it? What good is The Way if the premise of its existence is purely theoretical?

This is why I normally don't talk about The Way, just like how I normally don't talk about Qi either. I was once so hung up about feeling The Qi that every sensation I feel in my body is deemed to be Qi! I realized that I'm just going about it the wrong way.

I'll hazard an explanation of The Way via my understanding of Qi. Qi again is another concept of the energy in this universe. The most common understanding of it is the warmth in your palm and the tingling sensation that courses through your body. As much as I would like to say that is Qi, it is not the point.

The point about Qi is knowing that you've done something right for your body such that the body rewards you with a kind of connectedness that you won't get otherwise. You can't really explain this "connectedness" but you will know it when it's there. That is the point when everything seems to flow. Your actions are swifter than before. You are able to keep calm. Your senses are heightened. You can sense your surroundings more acutely. You are able to feel the movements within you and within others. It can maybe go as far as being able to have almost a pre-cognitive ability - the ability to know what's going to happen before it happens. In Tai Chi classics, this is often known as:

> if the enemy moves, I move first.

I believe The Way works in a similar fashion. You don't try to walk The Way. You don't cut down the trees so that you can be on The Way. As long as you try something to get to The Way, you will fail. However, if you focus on what's right for you, then you're on the path to The Way.

In The Way, there is no right or wrong. There is however a right path for you, if you so choose it. So forget about The Way. If you follow your heart, you will certainly find The Way. That's a long about way to come to such a simple explanation. :)


walt said...

Regarding The Way, and Qi, as subjects in general: both may be examples of "The less said, the better...." People of in-sight throughout history have described such things as "beyond words," so if we keep our mouths shut, we're likely in good company.

And yet ...
Both subjects are profound Mysteries, and are at the heart of the various arts we practice, be it Tai Chi or others. Being humans, we try to wrap our minds around them, and then package them with words.

I remember Alan Watts would describe The Way as "the That, then, which there is no whicher!" And in one of his tales, Chuang Tzu asked, "Where can I find a man who has gone beyond words, so I can have a word with him?"

I'll spare readers my own opinions, and just say Thanks for an interesting post. This is World Tai Chi Day, after all!

Rick Matz said...

Well said, Walt.

Paul said...

My humble opinion: anything can lead to the Way (or everything can be the Way). A Zen master strikes his student's head, at the right moment, with the right preparation, the student got it! The DL said that one can experience "white light" in yawning (what he didn't said is "with preparation"). To something more concrete: Walt's experience (by definition, transient)) of Emptiness the other day was probably an experience of the Way. But the road leading there is NOT the Way, and such roads are rather irrelevant, because one can be led to THERE by ANY physical/materialistic route. That's why the Buddha said (in Diamond Sutra), throw away my Dharma when you're there! QED.

Rick Matz said...

Myself, I think Zen and Daoism are different things.

Compass Strategist said...

Zen stands at a lower level of true Daoism.

Paul said...

Guys, it all depends on what we're seeking, like we all have the same interest in the topic but yet we're all different in our "interests" and everything. Perhaps one might, quite naturally, believe one (person or idea etc) being more superior than (any) other. Yet, it is just fine as the natural order of things, and it's just Zen-like as, as much as, it is just Dao (or Tao)-like....

Rick Matz said...

Again, I think Zen and philosophical Daoism are different things and any type of "comparison" will be a false one.