Today's T'ai Chi Chih practice in Cornucopia was bittersweet. It was the second to last class meeting after eight (?) years of fall-winter-spring-summer classes. But, of course, the only constant is change. And so, on I go into the next (unknown) phase of teaching and life.
I feel that there is something incredibly special about the people and the community in Cornucopia. Perhaps that is why I have experienced the longest lasting continuous class practice in my T'ai Chi Chih teaching career in this small northern Wisconsin town. And, it's not only that we've practiced TCC together for these many years, but we've also delved into a variety of related texts to explore the science, philosophy, and spirituality that underlies this unique form of moving meditation.
Years ago we began simply with discussions of entries from Deng Ming-Dao's daily meditation book, 365 Tao. Next we took on Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching as translated and interpreted by Stephen Mitchell, Wayne Dyer, and Ursula LeGuin. After several years of working through the Tao's 81 verses, we moved on to Buddha's Brain, and now, Justin Stone's Spiritual Odyssey.
Today we discussed "The Essence of T'ai Chi Chih" from Spiritual Odyssey. Justin writes:
With the accumulation of Chi (Vital Force) through T'ai Chi Chih practice, permanent changes in the metabolism and the thinking process take place and renewed energy conditions the whole way of life. Just as the thought conditions the Vital Force, so does the flow of this Chi, this Intrinsic Energy, condition the way of thinking. As these changes occur we get in touch with ourselves and the world we see begins to change. Joy becomes our natural heritage.I agree. Though I don't often use the word "joy," I feel that my way of viewing the world is now more directed toward noticing, appreciating, and being thankful for the beautiful, special beings, plants, and animals that share this world with me. I no longer need to amass material possessions to feel happy; I'm filled to overflowing with the beauty of my surroundings.
Justin Stone shares this poem in explanation:
I gather chrysanthemums at the Eastern Hedgerow
And silently gaze at the Southern mountains.
The mountain air is beautiful in the sunset.
Overhead the birds, flocking together, return home.
In all this is a real meaning, but
When I try to express it, I get lost in no-words.