1. The fearlessness of taking pain

June 13, 2007

If a person is afraid to take pain, then there is no hope for progress. In the Tai Chi Chuan Classics it says, “The root is in the foot”. If a person is afraid to take pain, it will mean that the foot cannot be dropped into the ground to grow root. There is also no doubt that such pain taking is beneficial to one’s heart organ and the development of the brain. The fundamental method for a person who has just begun to do Tai Chi is to take three to five minutes in the morning and the evening, alternating standing first on one leg then on the other. Gradually the time is lengthened, gradually the person sits lower. The mind should be put into the tan tien, and without forcing, even a little bit, the heart of the foot should adhere to the ground. When one is rooting, he should extend his middle and index fingers to hold onto the back of a chair or the edge of a table, in order to be stable. After a while, when that is familiar, he can take away the middle finger, using just the index finger for assistance. Eventually even this will become very stable and the person will not need to be assisted by his fingers anymore. Then one can utilize the “lifting hands” and “playing guitar” as two positions for this standing (or rooting) discipline. The basic “preparation stance” is also the rooting exercise – the basic rooting exercise – for the complete gung fu of the person’s “one unity with the ground”. The “single whip” is the extending and opening discipline, with all the joints open. All of these positions greatly benefit one’s health and one’s self-defense ability. One cannot afford to overlook them.

Text from the book There Are No Secrets by Wolfe Lowenthal

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2. The fearlessness to suffer loss

June 13, 2007

One of the basic principles of Tai Chi Chuan is to give oneself up in order to follow others. Commonly understood, to give in and follow others means that one will suffer loss. Therefore in the first chapter of my Thirteen Treatises I said that one must learn to suffer loss.

How does one go about learning? By listening to other people’s attacks – not only without resistance, but without attempting to counter. One may pay special attention to four ideas : “sticking”, “connecting”, “adhering” and “following”. then one will be able to easily neutralize.

This is not anything that a beginner, or a careless person, can do. It is not easy for a beginner to suffer loss, but if a person is afraid to suffer loss, then it is best that he not take up the study. If a person desires to learn Tai Chi, he must begin with suffering loss.

To learn how to suffer loss one must understand that it is the same as not being greedy for gain. When a person is greedy for small gain, in the end he will suffer small loss. When he is greedy for large gain, in the end he will suffer great loss. Conversely, if a person is able to suffer small loss, in the end he will acquire small gain, but it’s only when a person is able to suffer great loss that in the end he will have great gain.

When a person is wise, he must want to attain health and functional self-defense. In order to do so he must grasp Lao Tze’s principle of “concentrating one’s chito become resilient”. Can a person be like an infant? This is the principle of Tai Chi Chuan. This is the place from which the student must start to learn.

Let me repeat : “When one is wise, in order to attain the body of discipline (health) and function (self-defense) one must concentrate one’s chi to become resilient like an infant”. Achieving that, he has learned the wonder and the method of suffering loss. The essence is contained in the song : “Let great strength be used to attack me; that strength will be diverted as if a thousand pounds by four ounces”. Then a person’s resiliency has reaped it’s effect.

Text from the book There Are No Secrets by Wolfe Lowenthal


3. The fearlessness towards ferocity

June 13, 2007

Lao Tze said of a child lying alone in the wild, “A rhinocerous’ horn will not harm it. A tigers claw will not tear it. A soldiers sharp weapons will have no place to land. It is because the baby has no concept of death”. Lao Tze also said, “There’s nothing under heaven that’s more yielding and more resilient than water, yet when it attacks stronger things, it always overcomes them”. Elsewhere he said, “The most resilient under heaven overcomes the strongest under heaven”. He is not talking about ferocious things like the rhinocerous, the tiger and the armed soldier. He stresses the quality of water, saying that nothing can overcome the resilient. This is what is meant by, “If I have no body, how can any harm befall me? No matter how ferocious the weapons are that oppose me, they are no threat”.

When there is fear, one’s psyche, one’s spirit and one’s body – the atoms in the body – must also be tense. When there is tension, one cannot be loose or relaxed. If a person cannot be relaxed, how can he be resilient? When he is not resilient, he must be hard, he must be rigid. Therefore for one to really understand the principle of Tai Chi thoroughly, one must have the spirit of great fearlessness. Then it would be like Mencius’ saying, “If the mountain of Tai should collapse right in front of me, my face would undergo no change of countenance”. It is because I have cultivated the greatness of chi. This is also what Lao Tze meant when he spoke of concentrating one’s chi in order to become resilient. When that is so, one will be fearless in the face of ferocity.

Text from the book There Are No Secrets by Wolfe Lowenthal