This is a bit overdue, but pressure of work has stopped me from writing. Anyway, here’s my review of a week spent at an Inner Alchemy retreat with Daoist Master Mantak Chia, at his Tao Garden retreat near Chiang Mai, in northern Thailand.
What can I say? I’m delighted with Liang-style bagua. As a system, it’s got everything I’ve been looking for. In fact… twelve years after I arrived in Singapore with a rudimentary knowledge of Cheng Man Ching’s taijiquan, a period in which I’ve always felt that I’ve been searching for something which nothing I studied quite gave me… this is it. This is what I’ve been looking for, the whole time. Wow.
So, what’s been happening since my last post? Briefly: lots and lots of work; not much progress with taijiquan; some progress with bagua; and quite a lot on the personal side.
I’ve just realized that twelve years have passed by since my first ever visit to Beijing, while it’s nearly six years since I left to return to Wales, not knowing at that time if I would ever come back to China. These are significant numbers: 12 years is the time to complete one full cycle of the Chinese zodiac, so six years is also a half-cycle. It’s also a year since I did, eventually, make it back to China, in April 2015, after being head-hunted out of the blue. A number of signs and portents are suggesting I should take these signs seriously.
Receiving an elbow strike to the bridge of the nose certainly focuses one’s attention, and that’s what happened to me recently.
As I write this, I’m supposed to be in my Sunday yiquan class. I did actually set out to attend but, before I’d gone very far, I realized that my lower back is hurting like heck, and it just wouldn’t have been a good idea.
I had a very interesting class yesterday. Yao Lao Shi had to correct me far more often than usual, and for the same things repeatedly, but it ended up being a very rewarding session.
I’ve been thinking a great deal about filters recently. By “filters”, I mean mental filters: the means by which we exclude information, and limit our understanding of the world.
This has been a really rather fruitful process, and has led to some useful breakthroughs in the spheres I explore in this blog – namely, martial arts, and spiritual development.
A conversation I was having with a colleague recently, the topic of Buddhism, meditation, and mental filters, turned out to have a real impact… on me.
I saw something on Facebook recently, which went along the lines of “The pharmaceutical industry doesn’t create cures, it creates customers“. This is quite true.
Something odd happened recently during a work trip to Tianjin. I had a few spare periods, and I used them to practice my ZMQ-37 taijiquan form. Like most things that I write about in this blog, it’s been over four years (closer to five, in fact) since I did any work with this, but it came back surprisingly quickly. One set in particular went very well; I entered the flow state, with my mind quite empty of thoughts except for the feeling of my soles in contact with the floor, the movements of my joints and bones, and tendons and ligaments.
Suddenly, the room seemed to fill with the smells of a forest. There was the spicy fragrance of flowers, but also herbal undertones, and the richness of spring vegetation. It was quite inexplicable; I was on the eighth floor of a concrete monstrosity, in the middle of a dusty concrete campus on a very hot and smoggy day. There were NO plants anywhere nearby; the windows were firmly closed, and the aircon was blowing full blast. The experience only lasted for the duration of that set, and it was the only time I smelt anything natural during the two days I worked in that room.
On the other hand, although it’s not something I’ve experienced before, this is the kind of thing that is supposed to indicate a spirit presence. Even to me, that last sentence seems a bit far out but, after I heard the dragons singing in Qingbiankou a few years ago – when I was also in a deep meditative state – it’s an explanation that I’m open to.
Aaah. Yes, I’m back in China. There are different rules here….
A couple of things that I’ve seen recently:
Gao style Baguazhang,Practice and Applications:
“Carus-p48-Mystic-table” by An unknown Tibetan artist – A Tibetan work, reproduced first in Waddell, “The Buddhism of Tibet…”, p. 453, and then in Carus, ” Chinese thought”, p 48. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.