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If you really want to see the world around you, you need to be present. Being caught up in thoughts, opinions, beliefs and ideas is not so good.
The mind needs to stop judging, assessing, evaluating, comparing and measuring. Simply be here and now.
The truth is not some concept, some message or secret. It is everyday reality, all around you. What is so special about this? Why do people seek the truth? Reality is not so easy to see.
We are conditioned to want things we do not need, to crave, to be ambitious, selfish, careless and blind. Our lives are spent chasing ephemeral things that lack any real substance or meaning.
Tao, Zen and our approach to tai chi is all about paring away the accumulated nonsense that prevents clear sight. Instead of seeing what we want to see, we learn to see what is really there.
This may not sound like anything significant but clarity changes your entire existence.
We see the world according to how we are, not according to how it is. Perception colours everything. There is no such thing as 'objectivity'. Objectivity is just a concept, akin to 'infinity' or 'eternity'.
These are words without meaning. Everyone is subjective. Your mind interprets what it sees relative to your education, conditioning and perspective.
Writing something down does not make it so. Language and books attempt to solidify reality, to capture the complexity of existence in words. Can this be done?
Truth is too vast and complex to be verbalised. It is everything that is happening simultaneously, everywhere, all at once. Knowledge is profoundly flawed. By its very nature it is partial and incomplete.
Once we see that information is simply a pointer indicating the way/the direction, we can treat it appropriately. Rather than live in awe of knowledge we must see it as it is: limited.
Words detailing the knowledge and skills of long-dead tai chi people do not capture any facet of how that person performed the art. Narrative is dead. Tai chi is alive.
It is made manifest by the living, breathing, changing person.
Does the possession of knowledge imply wisdom? No. The human race has stored vast sums of knowledge over millennia yet there are still wars, there is still hunger, there is still selfishness and greed.
Rather than operate from the basis of the known it is perhaps more prudent to see things without expectations. Instead of seeking to prove a point or demonstrate a perspective, why not simply observe?
See what is actually happening.
Insights arise from the clarity of our seeing. Instead of looking and seeking - which are both products of the self/the mind - we are passive, we see.
Seeing the essence/character/nature/quality of something is very important. This involves paring away everything that impedes our seeing. We must invest in loss and shed the accumulations of a lifetime.
Insights are not the product of conscious thought, they arise unbidden from the depths of our minds. Unexpected associations and connections emerge, new possibilities, nuances, variations and options.
When we are utterly invested in the here and now, the self fades and we become immersed in just being. The division between this and that, self and other fades. We become one with the moment.
At the heart of all things is a simple quality. Clarity arises when we are capable of seeing this simplicity. When we notice small things. The details.
Instead of pursuing greater and wider experiences, we are content to remain where we are and notice what is in front of us. Lao Tzu said that you can know the whole world without leaving your room.
He was talking about awareness. About clarity. About being.
The art of teaching is
clarity and the art of learning is to listen.
18 April 1995
Last updated 16 June 2023