T’ai Chi is for WIMPS

gx_galaxyI am reading an article in the Economist concerning Astronomy titled Dark for dark business about the composition of the universe in terms of all things visible and invisible. I am so intrigued by the similarity of some of the Astronomy principles mentioned for the nature of the universe to that of how I think about Oriental philosophy in my practice of Tai Chi that I make the following observations.

From the article, the stuff that is visible amounts to only about 0.5% of the stuff out there, then the rest was dark energy. The pie chart showed that 70% of the dark energy we don’t even know what to say about it.

How the universe is behaving is described with 2 energies. Essentially ‘the universe’s expansion rate is set by a battle between the kinetic energy (energy of motion that is causing it to grow, and the gravitational attraction of its parts that is trying to pull it back together again’. In Tai Chi, we can represent these 2 with a simple Chi Kung exercise wherein our hands are held waist level at the dantien as if holding on to a small ball. We grow the size of this ball by expanding our hands in slow motion until they are fully extended about shoulder height or shorter than that (kinetic energy). Then we contract our hands back to the original position (gravitational energy).

The article explains that the dark stuff is composed of stuff completely different than the matter that makes up atoms. Interesting in that in theory, in order to keep the universe from flying apart due to accelerating expansion, there must something that slows the expansion ie, gravitational energy. But not too much deceleration otherwise it would collapse on itself. This ratio and the components thereof is what they call omega. In balance, this omega factor must be 1. The funny thing is they believe that if all the visible and invisible atomic matter in the universe gives a value of omega of 0.04.

Whoa, what does this mean we are? Special and very unique, to be composed from that which is in miniscule quantities of the universe. It gets funnier because they say the dominant form of matter in the universe is probably made of particles called WIMPS or weakly interacting massive particles. I love this.

It seems to me the Chinese have understood the fundamentals of the cosmology of the universe just in the way I like to understand Tai Chi. It requires one to develop listening skills. The big mystery is not the external forms and the application skills that one develops with practice, but what is on the inside. It is as if we take this picture of the cosmos with 70% dark matter and see the inverse relationship with human experience. Our big mystery is what is on the inside. We see a wrapped present, we want to know what is inside the box. Our nature is to try a figure out how something works, what makes it tick, what is this thing composed of.

Ground zero with Tai Chi is the dantien, the hari kari place, the ki place, the source of our power and instinctual nature or the gut instinct. Isn’t this a mystery? It is just like meditation, what does it mean to still the mind and listen to, to well what? We know how to develop physical skills to perform the functions of form. This makes sense, one either has the ability to do this or one takes the time to practice to develop this ability. Listening, though, requires a soft focus, a wide angle view so that even when we feel the strain of physicality of effort for a particular position, we are also feeling those areas that are not in strain and balance both the hard and the soft. When we practice some form so often we can do it in our sleep, then we have the skill to perform without thought. It becomes instinctual, we feel the rhythm, the beat and we respond to this.

If anything disturbs the rhythm, though, we get off balance, thrown off the sense of timing and well this off balance place will show itself in our movement. Unless, of course, we are awake, conscious, or listening not only to the rhythm of our movement, balancing the substantial and unsubstantial, but also listening to what is around us in our environment and responding to these forces as well. This is what Tai Chi teaches us the most. Awareness from our center or ground zero to that which is above, below, to the right, to the left, to what is in front of us, to that which is in back of us and if this isn’t enough don’t forget the diagonals. Tai Chi requires the axis of stillness blended with the axis of movement. Confusing, isn’t it?

So I say the Chinese have it right and they are in aligned with the cosmos, or at least have an inverse relationship with the cosmos. That which is external to our understanding of Tai Chi is about 30% to that which is the big mystery. Even so, the Yin Yang symbol describes above all balance. The force or power internal constitutes the ‘quintessence’ of the form. Mastery of the external and form is the prerequisite for sure. However, mastery of this is mystery or internal skill requires us to be awake and aware and develop the consciousness of listening. So if someone tells me Tai Chi is for WIMPS, I say, go ahead, make my day and listen in!

About our writer:

For over 20 years Mr. Genzmer has been a scientist working to design and build ground station and spacecraft/satellite systems that have explored our Solar System; provided communications for the Armed Forces; or provided the highest resolution commercial imaging of the earth.
For 12 years he has have been a member of Living Tao as a student of Tai Chi under the direction of Sifu Chungliang Al Huang.

For 8 years I have been a member of the Academy of Martial Arts as a student (and more recently as an student / Instructor) of Tai Chi under the direction of Sifu Ted Mancuso.
In his own words, “I am a devotee of Chinese approach to Tai Chi philosophically, physically, and energetically as the training has guided me to develop the inner and outer structures to refine and cultivate to mastery the Self. Without one doubt, this has been the best way possible for me to build the immune and all the body’s systems to combat the cancer I had in 2000.”

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