You don’t have to push then – Come on, we gotta do this! – thinking that otherwise its not going to get done. Its more of a moving out of the way than trying to muscle it through. – Jeff Bridges in Chapter 6, New Sh** Has Come to Light, The Dude and the Zen Master.
I love this book. I saw it in a book shop months ago. Picked it up. Put it back.
Another time I saw it again. Picked it up. Browsed through. Put it back again.
The third time I saw it was in Borders in Westgate before it closed down. OK, who can resist a discounted book. So, why not buy it since I have been thinking about it but couldn’t make up my mind. So the lowered price tipped my decision to buy.
Finally, got around to reading it when I was hanging around the community hospital. Man, this book has gems that can be applied to Tai Chi practice. So that sentence is one of them.
Students have this mentality of wanting to resist otherwise its not practice. However, if they but relaxed and empty their mind they will find that they will easily move out of the way of pressure without expanding more than the minimal amount of energy required. As Bernie Glassman, the co-author of The Dude and the Zen Master said further in the same Chapter 6 (Bernie’s the Zen Master in the title) “Imagine if you’re sitting there as part of the band and you say, I’m gonna play these chords no matter what the other guys do. It kills the whole thing.
In Tai Chi push hands we call this not listening to the energy of your training partner and trying to do your own pushing around. This is a meaningless type of practice. Whilst you might feel gratification from shoving your partner around you gain little in terms of learning to listen, understand what you are listening to and acting on it at the right moment.
There are some other gems in the earlier chapters but I don’t have the time to write about it. Gotta go do ironing. Yes, its domestic work that many real men hate. But in Zen if you keep your awareness and concentration even in doing ironing you can learn a lot about the principles of Tai Chi.