Thnking Redux

Thnking Redux

Postby Barbara Davis » Fri Oct 10, 2008 2:03 pm

Hello Friends!

In relation to thinking too much, I'm curious about the opposite:

Given that we humans are more sedentary than we've been in the past and,

Given that taiji can be used for everything, not just the physical,

How do you apply taiji principles and practice to thinking itself?

Barbara

Barbara Davis, Editor
Taijiquan Journal
http://www.taijiquanjournal.com
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Postby yslim » Fri Oct 10, 2008 11:31 pm

[QUOTE]Originally posted by Barbara Davis:
[B]Hello Friends!

In relation to thinking too much, I'm curious
about the opposite:

Given that we humans are more sedentary than we've been in the past and,

Given that taiji can be used for everything, not just the physical,

How do you apply taiji principles and practice to thinking itself?

Barbara

Barbara Davis, Editor
Taijiquan Journal
http://www.taijiquanjournal.com

HELLO BARBARA DAVIS,

ONCE UPON A TIME I ASKED MR. LOUIS SWAIM WHO IS BARABAR DAVIS, AS I AM NOT A WELL READ MAN. HE PRESENTED YOU WITH HIGH REGARDS. I'M GLAD I ASKED. HERE YOU ARE PRESENTING YOURSELF IN PERSON (ALMOST) ON A NATIONAL HOLIDAY OF "DOUBLE TEN,(OCT.10)" AS SEEMS A PRESENT FOR A NATIONAL CELEBRATION ('DOUBLE TEN' IS THE INDEPENDENT DAY FOR THE OTHER CHINA). I THANK YOU ON BEHALF OF ALL CHINESE.

In relation to thinking too much, I'm curious about the opposite:

IT SEEMS TO ME THAT ‘IN RELATION TO THINKING TOO MUCH’ IS TO CALM THE MIND. ‘EMPTY YOUR MIND’ AS TAIJI GOES. YOUR ‘CURIOUS ABOUT THE OPPOSITE’, GIVEN AN IMPRESSION YOU WANT TO CONTINUE TO THINK MORE ON TOP OF ‘THINKING TOO MUCH’. OR AM I MISSING YOUR POINT?

Given that taiji can be used for everything, not just the physical,

I THINK THAT IS WHERE THE PROBLEM OF ‘THINKING TOO MUCH’ COMES IN. GIVEN THAT TAIJI CAN BE USE FOR ‘EVERYTHING’, IT SEEMS TO ME THE ‘PHYSICAL’ IS ALREADY A PART OF ‘EVERYTHING’. TO CATALOGING ‘PHYSICAL’ APART FROM WHICH IS ALREADY ‘EVERYTHING’ AS IT SEEMS A PROBLEMATIC CIRCLE. THE PHYSICAL PART IS ONLY THE ‘EXTERNAL’ EXPRESSION OF A SYSTEM AND TECHNIQUES TO DELIVER THE INTERNAL POWER AS A WHOLE OF TAIJIQUAN FROM POINT A TO POINT B. I THINK THE TAIJI IS A GOOD LAW OF EVERYTHING AND IN THIS CASE THE PHYSICAL IS LAW OF THE QUAN. YOU CAN HAVE TAIJI AND YOU CAN HAVE QUAN. ONE CAN HAVE BOTH AND THE TAIJIQUAN IF ONE LEARNED THE ART OF DON’T THINKING TOO MUCH OF ALREADY TOO MUCH.

How do you apply taiji principles’ and practice to thinking itself?

I PRACTICE TO THINKING ITSELF CONSCIOUSLY AND APPLY TAIJI PRINCIPLES UNCONSCIOUSLY. OR IS IT THE OTHER WAY AROUND? I WILL LET YOU KNOW WHEN I GET OFF THE COUCH. FOR ME TO CONVERSING BETWEEN CHINESE AND ENGLISH WILL KEEP ME STAY ON THE COUCH FOR GOOD. IN OTHER WORD IF I AM THINKING GETTING OFF THE COUCH AND THINKING TOO MUCH ABOUT IT. THE CHANCE TO GET OFF THE COUCH IS NIL. BUT IF I CONSCIOUSLY THINKING GETTING OFF THE COUCH, THEN STOP THINKING ABOUT IT AND JUST DO IT UNCONSCIOUSLY GET OFF THE COUCH. THEN IT IS EFFORTLESS.

Given that we humans are more sedentary than we've been in the past and,

FROM MY COUCH I BID ‘CIAO’ TO THEE AND A GOOD DAY
yslim

[This message has been edited by yslim (edited 10-10-2008).]

[This message has been edited by yslim (edited 10-11-2008).]
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Postby Audi » Mon Oct 13, 2008 12:13 am

Greetings everyone,

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">How do you apply taiji principles and practice to thinking itself?</font>


This is a difficult question, and I am not sure of the meaning. What it suggests to me is as follows:

If thinking is ti3 (theory) and practice/push hands is yong4 (application), then I would think that if you consider thinking itself, you will again find ti3 and yong4.

I have been told that if you succeed in cutting through the edge of a sheet of paper to separate front and back, you will only be left with two sheets, each with front and back. Front and back cannot be separated. Yin cannot depart from Yang; Yang cannot depart from Yin.

As we think, some of our thinking has immediate application. Some is again about how we think and why.

In Yang Style Taijiquan, we think to "raise our spirit" and to "sink Qi to the Dantian." To do this, we must not only use our thoughts, but also know how to use them. Simply thinking about the words or trying to use "mind control" seems to accomplish very little. Neither "thinking" nor "acting" is useful in isolation.

If we go the other way, ignoring "thinking" and concentrating on "application," I believe we hit the same inseparability of ti3 and yong4 and of Yin and Yang. To focus on the body, we must again confront theory and usage. We cannot simply do form or push hands without any theory or concept of the why and the how. To get at the what, we must use the why and the how. Even in the midst of application, the theory must be there.

Some might say that you not only can do without mind, but that the real goal is to have no mind. This may be so, depending on what this means. For me, I think that the Taiji Classics do not focus on the concept of "no mind," but rather on the mind that is transcendant with the body.

Xu ling ding jin. If you can make your thoughts pure and rarefied, your spirit can permeate your body and your surroundings and be vibrantly alive and effective in its interactions with these. This is the support for your power. The mind and the body, the self and the opponent should interpenetrate. When we see and control the Taiji principle anywhere, we can begin to control it everywhere: in our thoughts, in our bodies, in our selves, and in our opponents.

Take care,
Audi
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Postby shugdenla » Mon Oct 13, 2008 4:05 am

If I look back at he historical record, taijiquan was a physical art and its exponents participated in the trades (modern descriptive) and /or did agricultural work to earn a living.
If one excelled in martial activities, life may have better (subjective only) but the literati considered it still "menial" work!

Modernization created the 'thinking' (over thinking) when the martal ceased to be the modus operandi of the art. Martial shifted to "novel health enhancing regimen" or "neo Daoist/Buddhist new age" or some "qi mystical art".

It appears (I am just guessing here) the less skill in martial endeavous the more thinking/over thinking becomes the MO of present taijiquan gymnastic endeavour.
A former runner myself, after I trained hard enough, I only had time to rest, work, do taiji and sleep. I did not have time to engage in scholary endeavours (I will admit I am not skilled in that regard but I do hold scholars in high regard for their though process which I may not understand).
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Postby Jamie » Mon Oct 13, 2008 5:04 pm

Hi,

In Taiji I think consciously and unconsciously. As in meditation I am both an active participant and observer. different parts of my awareness are placed in various areas seemingly at once during practice. Sometimes taiji is like chess or like internal research and other times it is practiced by the unconscious and the nervous system - but the mind is always active. When taiji has this body, mind, spirit connection then it is with us throughout the entire day - not only during practice. If we become a Taiji Being then we have this energy (not only in the body, but the mind and spirit also)as part of our new makeup that is a wonderful thing. So if we have balance of body energy in practice, balance of mind's hard and soft, and utilize spirit then we can try to keep this balance in daily life. This harmony with the universe is sometimes fleeting and takes practice and mindfulness during the more stressful parts of daily life - but is and endeavour to always return to throughout the day.
I have found that this feeling has started to stay with me outside of practice. It is one of the great benefits of Taiji training!

So my short version of response to Barbara's question is: If we find the balance of yin and yang energy through Taiji then it should naturally influence even Thought. All we need to do is keep practicing to get better and better, then the effects will become more and more profound. This is my understanding and my goal.


Best
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Postby Louis Swaim » Tue Oct 14, 2008 4:28 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by shugdenla:
<B>If I look back at he historical record, taijiquan was a physical art and its exponents participated in the trades (modern descriptive) and /or did agricultural work to earn a living.
If one excelled in martial activities, life may have better (subjective only) but the literati considered it still "menial" work!

Modernization created the 'thinking' (over thinking) when the martal ceased to be the modus operandi of the art. Martial shifted to "novel health enhancing regimen" or "neo Daoist/Buddhist new age" or some "qi mystical art".

It appears (I am just guessing here) the less skill in martial endeavous the more thinking/over thinking becomes the MO of present taijiquan gymnastic endeavour.
A former runner myself, after I trained hard enough, I only had time to rest, work, do taiji and sleep. I did not have time to engage in scholary endeavours (I will admit I am not skilled in that regard but I do hold scholars in high regard for their though process which I may not understand).</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Greetings,

In my view, thinking is not synonymous with literati or scholarly endeavors. At the same time, physical skills, trades, craftsmanship, all require thinking. Barbara has raised an excellent question. Perhaps you don't like the word "thinking." To put it another way, have you found your taijiquan training to have an impact on how you approach your trade, on the way you interact with people, or your world view?

Take care,
Louis



[This message has been edited by Louis Swaim (edited 10-14-2008).]
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Postby Louis Swaim » Tue Oct 14, 2008 4:55 pm

Shugdenla,

I should also mention that in my opinion, you have got your history wrong. Exponents of the martial arts in China were often fairly well educated individuals who were responsible for training local militia. In doing so, they often drew upon well-established military theory. Consider the example of the sixteenth-century general, Qi Jiguang. He wrote detailed training manuals for training militia in archery and other martial techniques, drawing upon the best available arts of his time. To take my point further, workers in trades and in agriculture developed and drew upon collections of knowledge gathered by their predecessors. Often this body of knowledge was passed on orally using koujue (rhyming formulae, similar to, say, The Song of Pushing Hands). This body of knowledge was every bit as important to a carpenter as the tools of his trade—his plumb line, level, square, and so forth.

--Louis
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Postby Jamie » Wed Oct 15, 2008 2:47 am

Hi Folks,

I really like Barbara's question in that in opens doors to many positive considerations of the effects and uses of Taiji and Thinking.

My direction of interpretation was the meditative energy and intense concentration springing from the balanced mind. As Louis implies - the use of this mind to practice our crafts. I am a carpenter and find that I can use the taiji mind and spirit to work more comfortably, naturally, relaxed and therefore efficiently.
At the same time I believe we could use the same dynamic energy to apply to research and problem solving. So Tai Chi could help in scholarly pursuits or practical ones.

For me the key point is that finding a balance of mental energy and overall energy through Taiji practice will occurr with proper training. And Taiji becomes part of all that we perceive and do.

Consider learning to relax from the persective of push hands.
When I started out I was too yin - mistaking taiji as all soft. As I developed some power I became stronger but stiff and easy to move. Gradually the physical balance of hard and soft improved. At the same time I worked on relaxing the mind - but too yang - trying too hard. Then I swung to overly yin as I focused more on relax than on balanced awareness and meditation. Finally the balance of yin-yang in my mind improved. Also there is yin-yang of the Spirit during Push Hands. When my awareness became more balanced and my energy increased then suddenly my spirit was very strong - but not contained enough. Gradually this too came more into balance of yin-yang.
These are things that take a lifetime to practice and likely never perfect. They are the joy of Taiji learning and can be practiced at every turn through daily life. And in the ebb and flow of progress and failure (with acceptance), Taiji can teach us humility, honesty and even Love.


My Very Best

[This message has been edited by Jamie (edited 10-14-2008).]
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Postby JerryKarin » Wed Oct 15, 2008 3:42 am

Once in a saber class we were doing a high kick and Yang Jun called out something about using peng jing to bring the leg up. Immediately upon trying the kick with the intention of peng, it became easier and I was doing it better. Some of the masters have referred to this as 知觉运动 , maybe 'conscious exercise' or something.

I do find myself considering taiji principles in everyday interactions. Not using force against force, keeping a balance...
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Postby shugdenla » Wed Oct 15, 2008 4:07 am

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Louis Swaim:
<B>Shugdenla,

I should also mention that in my opinion, you have got your history wrong. Exponents of the martial arts in China were often fairly well educated individuals who were responsible for training local militia. In doing so, they often drew upon well-established military theory. Consider the example of the sixteenth-century general, Qi Jiguang. He wrote detailed training manuals for training militia in archery and other martial techniques, drawing upon the best available arts of his time. To take my point further, workers in trades and in agriculture developed and drew upon collections of knowledge gathered by their predecessors. Often this body of knowledge was passed on orally using koujue (rhyming formulae, similar to, say, The Song of Pushing Hands). This body of knowledge was every bit as important to a carpenter as the tools of his trade—his plumb line, level, square, and so forth.

--Louis</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>


Based on the little knowledge I possess and word from my teachers, exponents of martial arts vis a vis the literati (i.e. exam takers and landed families), martial arts were considered 'menial laborers'. It is only towards the end of the Qing that the status of such was raised to include a cultural entity.

Individuals no doubt like Qi Jiquang or Zhang Sanfeng (at least 3 personages existed!) were considerd patron saints with their corresponding hagiographical iconography etc but in the mein the society treated martial artists as 'menials'!

I am also discounting Qing Flag Battalions and am only referring to the greater society and the attitudes they held towards each other.
Rhyming formulas did provide an easy way to remember concepts but that was on the level of the practitioners of the day. SImple, easy and to the point.

Hence my pre-emptive use of the word 'over-thinking since man is always thinking (ruminating!!!) amidst the confusion of Descartes (cogito ergo sum).

Perhaps there exists variation of the same word "thinking', which for me may not be much but by Barbara's words, I only referenced application and discounting 'thinking', I may have answered in that regard and purpose hence my response.

I do not see any purpose or similarity in application and thinking. Application, at least for me, is usage, therefore it cannot be theory. Can I use process/explanation to show application? Yes. Is it thinking? No but to some, I guess it can be perceived as such. For me, never!

I am not thinking and not really applying anything so I guess one may say "the non-application become application a la tuishou!

Is the butterfly dreaming he is a man or vice versa! I am definately getting sleepy but I will try again tomorow.
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Postby Louis Swaim » Wed Oct 15, 2008 4:24 pm

Greetings Shugdenla,

I’m having some difficulty understanding your point. The topic of discussion is how taijiquan theory and practice may influence or be applied in the way we think. You seem to once again be challenging whether thinking has a role in taijiquan, which is a different issue.

You’ve mentioned at various times that martial artists were considered menial laborers. I’m not sure how that bares on the subject of discussion. The word menial is a term of social class and status, sometimes a pejorative term. How is that relevant here? Are you suggesting that laborers don’t think, reflect, or solve problems? If so, I think you haven’t thought things through.

--Louis
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Postby shugdenla » Wed Oct 15, 2008 5:24 pm

Louis,

According to Barbara's question on thinking too much (in the sphere of taijiquan) my response is that present taijiquan players think too much, hence "overthinking" meaning other than the norm.

I said thinking is a part of everyday life so I never implied we do not think. My operative word is "overthinking", ie thinking over the norm, excessive thinking and the like.

If you examine the writings of the day, many 'intellectuals, literati, examination takers, government officials, etc according the word "menial" to describe the world of martial endeavous. I did not originate it and some of my former teachers noted that similar words to that effect were used to describe that world.
Menial does not suggest what you may be implying! It is used to describe working with the hands as opposed to work done by government officials, examination takers of the day, who usually delegate other by virtue of their status.

I am quite sure that you realize this through your endeavours, where the Chinese language has undergone changes where the character is the same but by simplification we lose the root understanding of the original meaning.

Even a former teacher, Prof Hou Chi Kwang, knowlege in many forms of expression of calligraphy was able to read and understand and develop his own calligraphic style implying that the root may change but the meaning will depend on the individual looking and understanding what the actual meaning is.
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Postby Michael » Tue Oct 28, 2008 6:31 am

I only skimmed most of the posts above.

Barbara,

I tend to view "non thinking" as an open receptive/responsive mind. It doesn't do too much or too little, it doesn't "force."

It's like if you are trying to remember something, you concentrate and try real hard to remember, but that rarely works, it's when you let it go, what you are looking for comes to you.

When you have some small (or large) problem to solve you put most of yourself into solving it. Not only the information you have gathered to help solve it but also your fears, anxieties, and desire which will most often lengthen the process or send you in the wrong direction.

This applies to practice and everything else.

The "how" to do this is another story. It takes practice, and more practice. It takes daily and hourly practice. The practice I am talking about is "paying attention" while letting go of who you have become. Blowing the dust off the mirror as some put it.

You can do it rather easily after some time in form practice, but often that is still shallow. The test is can you do it when dealing with everyday life. It's easy to be "enlightened" sitting in a cave.[wink]


[This message has been edited by Michael (edited 10-28-2008).]
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Postby kokoro » Sat Nov 22, 2008 9:49 am

Hi Barbara,

I'm not quite sure if Tai Chi can be used for everything, but that perhaps says more about my lower level of gong fu more than anything else.

On the other hand, even with my limited exposure to Tai Chi and Taoism, I can clearly see that the core (philosophical) principles (Taoist thought) that Tai Chi was supposedly developed along the lines of, are more than applicable to life in general (and thinking thereof).

Let's see...

Modern human thought/behavior appears to consists of, at one extreme, the following process (let's call it the active extreme). We observe our universe such that we could extract the essence of our observations and then model a set of axioms based on these observations. Once we have this model, we logically reason using the axioms of this model and draw conclusions, whenever we come upon observations that we believe to be interpretable in the context of this aforementioned model. This of course is a time and energy consuming process. With a certain amount of rigor applied to this process, we arrive at the so called pinnacle of modern thought processes - the scientific method.

On the other extreme (let's call it the passive extreme), we "react blindly", based on our own past experiences (common, social, traumatic etc.) or biases that are "programmed" into our neurology, based on the experiences of our ancestors and the environments they were subjected to. This process is often much quicker and much less energy consuming than the active extreme.

Yet, in any given situation, whenever we adhere to any one of these extremes, we run the risk of our behavior/conclusions being irrelevant (or even down right ridiculous) as there are many inherent problems to each of these extremes.

The main problem with the active extreme is the underlying uncertainty (makes modeling difficult and makes it prone to limitations implied by a narrow context) and complexity in our observable universe (makes reasoning difficult). Therefore whatever conclusions we come to have a very real probability of being incorrect. This is nicely captured by "there is two sides to the story" or "at the time, it looked like it was going to rain".

The main problem with the passive extreme is that as we don't really have a clear model, it is very hard to determine the applicability of a given reaction to the circumstances at hand. There's numerous cognitive biases documented and if we don't want to go that far, think about how many times we have, in our lives, had emotional reactions that seem completely irrational in retrospect.

So perhaps, like we do in Tai Chi:

Accept the opponent, follow, stick, listen, be light -> Don't be rigid in the active extreme and allow our model to be malleable. Maintain an open mind and let new information update your model thus increasing it's relevance. Always stick to the current reality, not what you decided was reality based on previous information that was available when you made that decision. Accept what you do not know (no one can know their opponent 100%).

Do not create elaborate postures/movements (externally). Allow movements and postures to be the manifestation of your (simple) internals in response to the opponents actions -> Don't create models of too high complexity that are rigid, elaborate and closed. Maintain simple, open, receptive models that can reach the right conclusions effortlessly based on any applicable input.

Maintain your root, do not be controlled by your opponent or your own ego -> Do not react, do not exercise the passive extreme.

Yin and Yang in balance -> Strike a balance between observation and reasoning. Analysis and action.

Create action through inaction -> Your actions follow the least resistant path at any given point in time such that it appears that you're doing nothing. Yet you're doing what makes sense at any given point in time.

Curiously, you find different ideas expressing the same phenomenon at the foundation of many religious/philosophical disciplines, ranging from "accepting god's will", "surrender completely unto god", "accept the eight noble truths of the universe", "become one with nature" to "let go of everything and hold on to nothing".

Perhaps this was a terrible articulation of my realization, but then again, that is the nature of realizations I suppose. Forgive me for my rather dismal articulation. Hope this was a sufficient approximation :-)

Any thoughts are always welcome!

Humbly,
Kokoro
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Postby yslim » Sat Nov 22, 2008 6:53 pm

[QUOTE]Originally posted by kokoro:
[B]Hi Barbara,


Any thoughts are always welcome!

Humbly,
Kokoro


HI KOKORO

YOU TOOK ALL THE THOUGHTS OUT OF MY MIND EXCEPT THIS ONE...
WELCOME ABOARD

'WELCOME' ALWAYS ARE A GOOD THOUGHT...
SHOULD NOT BE DELETE.

i KEEP THE LIGHT ON AND THE MIND OPEN...
SO UPDATE ME.
CIAO,
yslim

[This message has been edited by yslim (edited 11-22-2008).]

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