John Lash quotes

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John Lash

John Lash wrote an excellent book called The Tai Chi Journey. We strongly encourage students to buy his book. Here are some example quotations:

I have seen schools where some of the students show disrespect to the teacher by not paying him on time, by being frequently late to class, and by not informing the teacher when a class must be missed.


Tai chi movements are really very simple but students insist upon making tai chi difficult by adding extra moves.

Tai chi is not complicated; people are complicated.

Tai chi is definitely no place for a man with a 'macho' outlook on life.

Yielding may hurt the ego, but the ego has no place in tai chi.

Tai chi is a journey with no goals and no end.

Those aspects of societies that have traditionally given our lives meaning - religion, family, patriotism, etc - have been steadily weakened in our search to be free. We have become people without roots, seeking gratification of our personal desires with no concept of responsibility to others or the rest of the universe.

We have rejected meaning in our lives because meaning implies responsibility. We want amusement and entertainment, not duties and responsibilities. We seek to turn the oriental disciplines into hobbies and sports and thus we lose the essence of these arts.


In the Western world, we seek the answers to life with our rational minds, using science and technology to gather information and to adapt the environment so that it suits us.
The other creatures of the world are at one with nature.
Instead of seeking to adapt the universe to suit them, they live in harmony with their surroundings.

To understand an oriental discipline, one must understand the ideas and world view upon which the discipline rests.
That is why the oriental disciplines can never merely be hobbies or pastimes.


To care for someone excessively is to take away their responsibility for themselves.


To rejoice even in a harmless game means that you delight in someone's defeat.


Of all the people who begin the discipline of tai chi, only a handful will continue past a year or so. Humility, compassion, lack of ambition, non-aggression, spontaneity and silence are not qualities that our societies value. There is no more difficult journey than the journey to the self.


Tai chi without Tao is no longer tai chi, but Chinese exercise.

You cannot practice tai chi with the rational mind. The most difficult thing for beginning students is that they try to make the movements with their minds and they cannot. The movements are too complicated. The flowing of the hands, the correct timing, the bending of the knees, the breathing, the balance; all this cannot be controlled by the mind.

The pianist cannot think of each note as she plays it, it must simply be there. Just leave the body alone. When we do not interfere with it, the body moves with the Tao spontaneously.

Lao Tzu describes the universe as an infinitely complex totality that the rational mind cannot grasp.

Throughout the Tao Te Ching Lao Tzu is at a loss for words as he tries to describe that which cannot be described. This is also the problem for the tai chi teacher. The teacher could talk for hours about tai chi and never really be able to tell the student what it is. All that Lao Tzu and the tai chi teacher can do is to try to give you glimpses of what the Tao and tai chi are.

Many people are so uncomfortable in the absence of noise that they will leave the television on even when no one is watching.

I have passed people on lonely mountain paths carrying radios that were blasting out rock music. They like the scenery but fear the silence.

We are overwhelmed by noise pollution which keeps us from being able to relax and which wreaks havoc on our nervous system.

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Page created 18 April 1995
Last updated 16 June 2023