Friday, October 15, 2010

Tai Chi, Confucius, and Dao

[ Chinese painting of Confucius meeting with Lao Tzu ]

I have had new students ask me if it’s possible to learn Tai Chi through DVDs and books. It reminds me of the story of the incident between Confucius and Lao Tzu.

After Confucius had turned 51 years old, he still didn’t understand the concept of Dao (Tao). So he traveled South to the city of Pei to see Lao Tzu.

Once there, Lao Tzu asked him, “I have heard you are a very intelligent man from the North. Have you found out about Dao?”

“I haven’t found out yet,” Confucius said. “I tried to find it through methods and numbers for 5 years, but I couldn’t find it. Later, I tried again to figure it out through the changes of Ying and Yang for 12 years, and yet I still couldn’t do it.”

Lao Tzu responded, “Yes, if Dao can be administered, then people would administer Dao to their superiors (such as their supervisor or emperor); If Dao can be offered, then people would offer it as a gift to their parents; If Dao can be explained, then people would explain it to their family; If Dao can be passed on, then people would pass on Dao to their children; Yet all of the above are impossible. If you don’t understand Dao, then you can’t have it in your mind. If you can’t prove Dao, then Dao won’t show. If you can’t hold Dao deep down in your heart and mind, then you can’t become a saint… There is no other reason why such things are impossible.... ”

The ideas of Dao are also found in Tai Chi. You can’t give Tai Chi to your boss, parents, family or children. You can introduce them to a class, a reference DVD or book, but they still won’t understand it unless they learn it in their own way and put their own effort into really understanding it. You can’t show Tai Chi to someone unless you really understand it yourself. Sometimes it’s within reach; sometimes it’s far away. As long as you begin to learn, practice and make your first step, you are closing the gap. You are one step closer to the Dao of Tai Chi.

Copyright by Huan's Tai Chi 2010

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