Spiritual Dimensions of Tai Chi Chih
By Michael S. Isaacs,
April 2004

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The spiritual dimensions of T'ai Chi Chih practice are fascinating to ponder. How do nineteen movements and one pose contribute to spiritual awareness, growth, and discernment?

In doing the movements, I have formulated three aspects of spirituality: "It", "Is", and "As". I realize that everyone has his or her concept of what spirituality means. So I invite the readers of THE VITAL FORCE to write their own views on this subject.

"It" is from Justin Stone's writings that "Tai Chi Chih does T'ai Chi Chih. That is, an invisible entity can emerge to do the movements for us. This "It" is the "chi", which I consider another name for Spirit. It has also been called intrinsic energy, vital force, universal energy, eternal energy, and ultimate energy.  Most teachers and many students gain glimpses of this transcendent phenomenon at various times in the practice.

Right now I can say that I yield, at times, to the "It" of Spirit during working the pulley.

I hope that I will have more "It" experiences as I proceed on my path in the T'ai Chi Chih discipline.

The second aspect of spirituality I will label "Is". It is being focused and concentrated in the present moment. In our practice, "Is" moments can be on the soles of the feet or the T'an T'ien or, at times, on  softness, continuity, slowness, shift of weight, alignment, circularity, polarity, and flowing from the center. Whatever the focus of awareness, thoughts and feelings about the past and the present are minimized or eliminated. In this attunement with the present moment, T'ai Chi Chih practice is similar to meditation. The mindfulness meditation of American Buddhists comes to mind.

As of late, I experience "Is" most while moving in daughter in the valley.

The third aspect of spirituality is "As". Oneness appears and is reflected as attributes of the Divine such as circularity, peace, stillness, joy, beauty, and transcendence. It is harmonious connection with the oneness of the universe. In this oneness we are attuned with the ways of nature and life that lend to peace, serenity, harmony, and balance. In our practice we feel best when our entire body moves as one.

Synonyms for Oneness in the natural universe are wholeness, balance, allness, infinity, eternity, and perfection--- all spiritual concepts and verities. Since we human beings are part of the universe, being mentally and physically in harmony with these principles is in accord with all T'ai Chi. 

Oneness appears and is reflected AS circularity.

Circularity is ever present in our world. For example, the moon, the earth and other planets, and eggs are circular. The minute cells that constitute our body are circular. Even within the individual cell there are countess circles, including the nucleus, nucleolus, centrioles, and dropelets.

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