Monday, June 6, 2011

Five "Regulatings"

The ultimate goal of all all religion, all philosophy is enlightenment. But, what a mysterious thing enlightenment is (if it is a thing at all—is a state of being a thing?). Is enlightenment something that happens to you? Or can you work toward enlightenment? I think it must be both/and. The great traditions all provide disciplines and habits, preparations for enlightenment. But when enlightenment happens, it comes as a gift.

In taiji there are "five regulatings," each deeply interconnected. Habits to work on, preparations to make. To regulate is to bring into harmony with the whole.

Tiao Shen ... Regulate the body
Tiao Xi ... Regulate the breath
Tiao Xin ... Regulate the mind
Tiao Qi ... Regulate the energy
Tiao Shen ... Regulate the spirit

The goal of taiji is to bring to harmony body, breath, mind, energy and spirit. In our unenlightened state these five are in disharmony. Body unruly, breath shallow, mind unsettled, energy weak and spirit flat. Qigong (of which Taijiquan is a form) works on all these at the same time.

Random thought 1. It interests me that the body is included. In western philosophy we have lived with the twin legacies of Platonism (where ideal, spirit, is all and the body ignored) and Cartesian Dualism (after Descartes, who radically separated mind and body). With this legacy, enlightenment is purely spiritual. In taiji, body is integrated with mind and spirit. There is no enlightenment without the body.

Random thought 2. In taiji philosophy there are two minds. The wisdom mind (Yi, the horse mind) and the emotional mind (Xin, the monkey mind). Both are important. Yi leads Qi. Xin needs to be calmed. Taiji exercise involves both. Students consistently find their minds calmed through qigong meditation.

Random thought 3. As body, breath, mind and energy are harmonized the spirit is raised. That is the way of enlightenment.

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