It's 23rd June 2016: Britain votes to stay or leave the European Union and on Sunday, my adopted country of Spain tries - for the 2nd time in 6 months - to vote in a new government. What marks both these events (other than sharing the same week for elections) is the sharp divisions and entrenchment that has characterised the respective campaigns. How then, does a Tai Chi warrior of the 21st century respond to a world in disarray?
listen - and then listen again
The phrase "Listening energy" is tossed around rather liberally in the world of Chinese internal arts, with endless debates about what it is and how it should be applied. These debates are often a clue in themselves to how well the exponents have internalised the lessons. Defensive posturing is often a sign that the words have been memorised, but not taken to heart.
Which is a shame, as Tai Chi offers real training in learning to understand the posture and energy of another - not so as to exploit that knowledge - but to assist in comprehension and mutual understanding. This is seen in the exercise of push-hands in which the aim for both people is to "listen" and learn from the moves of each, and to share in that experience. Alas, it too often is allowed to degenerate into a wrestling match - in which little is learnt in other than the glory of winning.
So where does a Taoist toast-crunching urban dweller stand in the great political movements of the week? On the fence? No, not exactly, but s/he does stand on moving ground, for in order to break down division one has to be able to move with fluidity. Yielding, adapting, staying low and then stepping up and stepping forward when the moment is right. When is the moment right? When change can take place, either by setting an example or by instigating a movement.
Today and Saturday are two of those moments. Obviously, you will vote as you will, but I do ask that you do so without blaming, that you do so without anger and that you do so without fear, for if not, these things will not only burn inside you, they will ignite all that you touch.
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