Tai Chi Y4D123: Downpour

I did the two qi gong forms and the tai chi form a couple of times before the rain started.  The downpour didn’t quite catch me off guard.  I retreated inside before getting soaked.   But I had planned to walk to the local place for coffee, and I wound up driving instead.  Oh, well.

There’s an article that grabbed my attention this morning, called The End of Capitalism from the Guardian (UK). One of the money quotes:

Even now many people fail to grasp the true meaning of the word “austerity”. Austerity is not eight years of spending cuts, as in the UK, or even the social catastrophe inflicted on Greece. It means driving the wages, social wages and living standards in the west down for decades until they meet those of the middle class in China and India on the way up.

On the whole, the article is hopeful, more hopeful than this quotation would suggest.  It’s suggesting that there’s a path out of our current mess.  it’s saying that although the glorious future imagined by Communism in the century before the last one, the late 19th century, isn’t possible… but there might be another one.  I think the author’s right about the drive-down of wages and living standards, and wrong about a lot else, but I don’t want to talk about that.  I had a lengthy article written, but I’ve just deleted it, because I want to turn my focus to tai chi and not to this article.
See, the error that the article falls into is this one: the author seem to imagine that there’s only two possible futures, and that the path to one of them has just closed— that one future has become vanishingly unlikely, and now there’s only one path forward.  But first of all, there’s only time.  There’s no path forward; time is going to keep happening regardless of how future history works out.
Second, the events that play off of one another, and which eventually form the chains of cause and effect that become history (after first passing through journalism’s murky and misleading keyboarding skills), are themselves multivalent and multi-vectored forces.  There’s no duality here in the world, between Left and Right, or between Conservative and Liberal, or between Authoritarian and Democratizing.
One of the benefits of tai chi has been the increase of my skill in thinking along multiple avenues of thought — non-dualistic thinking.  I mean, when I started, it was all about the dualism between ‘done’ and ‘not done’.  When I went on from there, it was about the dualism between ‘slow’ and ‘not slow’.  And then it was about the dualism between ‘slow’ and ‘slower’.  But all of these are linguistic tricks.  Eventually it became a whole raft of questions about and reflections on my practice:
  • Did I move slowly enough?
  • How was my breath-work?
  • How was my footwork?
  • Did I maintain balance?
  • Where did balance break down?
  • Where is strength coming from?
  • Where is the strength going, or being directed?
  • How long did I practice for?
  • Did I break a sweat?
  • Did I make use of the five core types of movement?
  • Did I challenge my capacities for movement?
  • Where did I overbalance?
  • How did the weather influence my practice?
  • How did my mood influence my practice?

Any system of magic or martial arts or philosophy or spirituality that one practices should encourage the growth of these systems of self-reflection and multi-valenced awareness.  If it’s just about “did I do my practice today?” then you may as well just read Year One of this blog, over and over and over again.  But the internal growth of one’s practice really seems to encourage and unfold your awareness of the world, such that articles like this Guardian article become tediously repetitive and even a bit ridiculous in the way that they fail to cope with non-dualism.

For my own part, I’m increasingly regarding my daily tai chi as the core of my health plan.  Today was not a great work—breathwork sucked; I didn’t do eight iterations of the form; and some of my qi gong was terribly unbalanced although it had a lot of strength and isomorphic tension in it, which is good for muscle and ligament strength.  But I also feel as though the capacities of mental improvement have been both useful and challenging— useful because I now have a larger tool box for evaluating my own skills, and useful for understanding the world around me; challenging because so many other people seem to stumble into the pits of dualism… and I’m noticing more often when I walk into exactly the same trap right behind them.  I seem to be in this awkward stage between, or maybe it’s a continuum, when thought and attention can keep me out of dualism; and inattention or natural inclination leads me into the same traps as everyone else.

Mindfulness, apparently, does not always mean clarity.

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