Tai Chi Chuan and Anan-Do teaching
Whenever we feel physically run-down, emotionally worn-out or mentally drained – tai chi chuan can help.
The movements in tai chi chuan are designed in accordance with natural laws, to refresh – in toto – the neglected system, increasing fitness, flexibility, coordination; smoothing the energy flow, enabling the physical system to function at its optimum capacity, so you can become free of worries about it, and able to excel in your other work.
The primary benefits of tai chi chuan, as set forth by the Originators:
Tai chi chuan
Tai chi chuan is unquestionably one of the most sophisticated of ancient disciplines and the ultimate product of the human mind. But trying to explain it is like trying to explain Tai Chi itself. Tai Chi is one of the most abstract ideas in Chinese philosophy! The explanation and teaching of such a lofty concept has to vary according to the level of understanding of the listeners.
Therefore it is difficult to explain tai chi chuan effectively to more than, well, one person at a time! We have to choose terms very carefully, avoiding those which, through overuse, have become worn-out, have lost their meaning and revelatory power.
Tai Chi and tai chi chuan
The essence of tai chi chuan is Tai Chi itself.
One of the basic rules found in the Tai Chi Classics is: Clearly distinguish between Yin and Yang. Similarly, here we have first to distinguish between Tai Chi and tai chi chuan.
In our casual, everyday speech, practitioners of tai chi chuan usually just say, “I do tai chi”.
Which is fine, as long as we are aware it is just a manner of speaking. I often use this manner of speaking myself; but it is still good to remember that tai chi chuan is a discipline, whereas Tai Chi is a philosophical concept.
‘Tai Chi’ translates as ‘The Great Ultimate’ or ‘The Absolute’ and represents the Cosmic Law that governs the Universe and reflects itself in every particular thing. Tai Chi is a philosophy based on the harmony of opposites seeking balance in a continuous motion.
Tai Chi is the first differentiation of the Inexpressible, the Unnamable, which is sometimes referred to, ironically enough, as Wu Chi (‘Emptiness’ or ‘Void’).
‘Chuan’ translates as ‘fist’ or ‘skill’, but in a context of internal martial arts denotes a physical discipline controlled by the mind; it is a range of techniques based on the principles of Tai Chi as set down in the Classics.
So for tai chi chuan to be understood correctly, it needs to be viewed in relation to Tai Chi, and it helps if quite early in your practice you try to clarify its starting point and its destination – the intention and the purpose.
Master Ananda’s teachings define human life in terms of:
Learning about these differentiations leads us to an understanding of the septenary nature of man, and then eventually brings us back again to mans duality, which is where our multifaceted work can start taking shape as the Endeavour – a double spiral formed by two strands of effort, each consisting of three components, which, intertwining and spiralling upwards, can lead us to a whole.
Once we have thus unfolded the multiple layers of tai chi chuan, we can go back to our practice of this art with new insight – and so start something entirely new.
The three true objectives of tai chi chuan
Our practice of the form – as originally intended – is meant to help us in three ways, to act on three levels. Basic practice is designed to be an enabling exercise: to provide fitness and vitality; to aid mental focus and calm the mind, preparing it to better perform its intended tasks; and – most of all – to promote spiritual awakening.
With aspirants, those fully aware of the need for multiple effort, it becomes a sustaining exercise, enabling them to maintain their engagement with all three of their Duties – to Self, to Society, to the Source.
Awareness of the threefold effort leads a beginner towards the Endeavour. And sets an aspirant towards Eternity.