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Tai Chi Philosophy
the wider culture around tai chi - philosophies, ideas  

An Affectionate Word: Finger

This piece was 'inspired' by the back cover of a book. And then I turned to the front and began!
Reproduced below is the picture and some of the text from that back cover.
I am grateful to: North Atlantic Books, Richmond, California. 2320 Blake Street, Berkeley, Calif 94704.

"LAO-TZU: MY WORDS ARE EASY TO UNDERSTAND".L.C. Catalog Card Number 82-241268
I trust that this piece may serve only as a recomendation for that book in its entirety.

"Lao -Tzu: "My Words Are Very Easy To Understand" is sponsored by the Society for the Study of Native Arts and Sciences, a nonprofit educational corporation whose goals are to develop an ecological and cross-cultural perspective linking various scientific, social, and artistic fields; to nurture a holistic view of arts, sciences, humanities, and healing; and to publish and distribute literature on the relationship of mind, body, and nature."

When Whiskers Man spoke he asserted that " ... only Tai Chi" corresponds with all relevant and associated classic lines of thought, from shallow to deep.
By this does he not imply that all others do not correspond entirely.
In lectures translated from the Chinese in ISBN 0-913028-91-6 by Tam C Gibbs (as above), he also says:

An Affectionate Word About the Class on Lao-tzu

Having recently completed Lao tzu My Words Are Very Easy To Understand, my students entreated me to teach them.
Opening date for the class is August 15, 1970, and I have been moved by the occasion to address a few remarks to clarify my reasons for writing this book.

Lao-tzu wrote in the period following the Six Classics and preceeding the Four Books, so he was one of the earliest writers in Chinese history. His work describes the merest traces and indescribable marvels of the Tao and promotes Non-action, concepts which are central to these unique teachings of thousands of years ago.

A paragraph later:

Lao-tzu himself says, "my words are very easy to understand." How is it then that even after more than a thousand expert commentaries we are still in suspense?
The commentaries of the Han Dynasty, from Ho-shang Kung (fl. 179-159 B.C.), to Yen chun-peing' (a.k.a. Yen Tsun, fl. 53-24 B.C.), to Ko Hsüan (fl. 210 A.D.), are comparatively appropriate. Then came Wang Pi (226-249 A.D.), who ignores the opinions of his predecessors and diverges from the meaning of the text. Ever since the T'ang and Sung Dynasties, each scholar has had his own interpretation, transforming Lao-tzu into a million different shapes. Nine out of ten researchers invoke Chuang-tzu as the prime source on Lao-tzu. But Chuang-tzu communicates through fables; how can we follow his footprints to find Lao-tzu?

Because of the vast differences between ancient and modern Chinese, the Han Dynasty commentaries on semantics are most useful. One can sort through systematic commentaries, from Ho-shang Kung to Wang Pi, and select the cogent ones. One also ought to listen to the varied and contrasting theories. If sense and meaning collide, be content to suspend judgment.

Although Lao-tzu was a profoundly practical man, human emotions disgusted him greatly, and he longed to get away. He hoped for a new beginning through metamorphosis, or, as the phrase has it, "his step leaves no footprint."
How much more difficult it is to find the tracks of Lao-tzu's mind!
Only one man understood, and that was Confucius. Did he not say Lao-tzu was like a dragon? How right he was!
How can any flying or walking creature compare with dragon-like Lao-tzu?

Hence, in making this Lao-tzu: My Words Are Very Easy to Understand, I have focused on Lao-tzu's "my words have their sources, my deeds their precedents." For instance, "through Non-action there is nothing left undone," also means that through Non-desire there is nothing left undesired. Hence, "use the orthodox to govern a nation; use the unorthodox to wage war," "governing a large country is like frying a small fish," and "do nothing and yet win the world," illustrate that the orthodox can turn into the unorthodox. The unorthodox finally returns to Non-action, even to the traces and marvels at the gateway to Lao-tzu's Tao. To put it simply, the secret is all in Lao-tzu's esoteric magic. Can we really practice it or not? I am afraid we can only wait and see.

Whiskers Man

New York City

Prefessor Cheng



 
Because of the vast differences between ancient and modern Chinese, the Han Dynasty commentaries on semantics are most useful. One can sort through systematic commentaries, from Ho-shang Kung to Wang Pi, and select the cogent ones. One also ought to listen to the varied and contrasting theories. If sense and meaning collide, be content to suspend judgment.
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