ANSWER, WHAT ANSWER? Ian Cameron Five Winds Edinburgh


In Tai Chi there is no such thing as an absolute, or any one answer, there is only continuous enquiry. So, in this context, don't try to solve Tai Chi, because you won’t, but you can keep on learning from it. This I think, is where the mistaken need to find 'THE Answer' occurs. This is looking for something that isn't there. It is not about getting an answer, but gaining understanding. Most arguments about who’s right or wrong are a waste of time.

Ultimately, training in any discipline is to see things as they are. Prolonged training will take you along a path, to the point where you come to the realization that nothing stands still, that there is no definitive answer. Once this is seen, there is then freedom to carry on without expectation.

Nothing is to be found outside of training. No so called secrets will improve the doing of Tai Chi Chuan. This is a myth, as knowing ‘secrets,” is a long way from having the skill to apply them. The great Judo 10th Dan Kyuzo Mifune once said, "Don't waste your time looking for the secret technique, just train hard." Trying to find 'answers' by relying upon someone else, is no use. You may 'have' an answer but it will be 'their' answer, and soon that will not be enough, it isn't a profound knowing, only information. Nor can you be given anything. What if you 'get The answer,' What then? Is that it, job done? Wouldn't that be great? At last everything perfect. Anyway, never mind the answer, what is the question, what is it we are so desperate to know?

I suspect it is to know ourselves better, but there is too much distraction available that stops us looking too closely. The real enquiry is inwards. Even the classics allude to this when they say: “You push hands to know others, you do the forms to know yourselves.”

There does still exist, the need to appear to be holding some mysterious knowledge no-one else has. This makes the custodian of these 'secrets' appear to be special. There is no questioning the origins of these secrets. My own teacher wrote a piece in which he mentioned the words: twist and vibrate. Apparently now, they are 'secret words.' The same is true of ‘hidden forms.‘ I knew them, before they were hidden. How did this come about? To what purpose?

Everyone knows that forms and fighting are not the same thing. That doesn’t stop the fruitless attempts at making the form fit a fighting situation. We have all seen photo’s of examples of the application of specific techniques. This is fine as far as it goes, but the ability to change is what is really necessary, something that will never be learned from a book. So, even here, there is no definitive answer. To master the principle gives freedom to change, to adapt to any situation. Any answer in this context has to be on the instant, without thought, as long as it is the principle that is used, it does not have to be a specific technique.

There is a certain amount of security in 'knowing' or having an answer. It is something to hold on to, and in some cases, gives an authority to the 'owner.' The illusion is of having gotten to the bottom of Tai Chi, when it is unfathomable. "The Tao that can be Spoken is not the eternal Tao." Tai Chi is the same, it isn't to be 'mastered' but continuously experienced through practice. It is always shifting, this is why the memory is so unreliable. The reason I say Tai Chi can only be practiced, is over time it is the body that remembers. If you don't practice, you rely on trying to ‘remember.’ When you practice, you understand, through constantly absorbing the principle, so that you ‘remember,’ but on a much deeper level.

No-one can remember clearly, except some instances, individual lessons, or how they learned something thirty years ago. It has to eventually come from within, it can’t simply be the memory. This is internalizing the art, where your whole being is the art. If you try to ‘remember,” it is still something that is outside of yourself. It has to be what you are, something you embody. At this point there is no separation between the doer and the thing done. They are one and the same.

Tai Chi itself is the question and the answer.You have already found what you are looking for.

Tai Chi is a means of being, and I believe that may what is at the bottom of all the searching for the ‘answer.’ Not to be something, but how to simply, BE.


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