Saturday, August 12, 2006


It seems that this subject really hits a chord. A few people have spoken to me privately about it. One person was especially interesting as he is one of my Tai Chi teachers. He pointed out that Tai Chi is a system with some pretty serious rules. In Tai Chi there is a very specific way of doing everything. All movements have precise forms and all postures are very defined. Even though one of the objectives of Tai Chi is total relaxation while moving it would seem that the ideal is extremely rigid in that the actual form is very specific So my friends point was that Tai Chi, which we are both very devoted to, is based on some pretty serious rules. I had to think about that for a few days.
One of my very first realizations when I started to kind of understand Tai Chi was that when you get a movement right it feels absolutely perfect, as if one has made a movement that completely corresponds to physical perfection. If that is so, and I am really only speculating, then it would seem that Tai Chi, or perhaps any martial art properly followed, is actually a state of perfection in movement. That would then seem to mean that Tai Chi is not about following rules but about discovering perfection. What we see as rules are really a means of entering into that perfection.
The physical universe has rules. Granted they change from time to time as physics gets ever more sophisticated but some things seem pretty firm. If someone drops a big rock it is best if you are not standing under it and other things like that. But let is see if there may be other things going on besides these physical laws.

There is a basic statement in Sufism that goes like this – The state of perfect freedom is a place of no choice. What this means, as I understand it, is that perfect freedom is really a state of always being in the NOW and always making the most perfect response to any given condition or situation. In the Now, with no thoughts of previous situations or psychological baggage to demand that a person react or respond in a particular way, a person is free to respond in the most perfect manner. Each situation, condition or event will be responded to solely on it’s own merits without recourse to any personal history. This does not mean that you do not use your intelligence but it does mean that you do not judge a situation on other than what it is in the moment. This is an ideal that people know about but tend to dismiss as not very realistic or attainable. And frankly, I can think of quite a few arguments against being in this state, just from a sense of self preservation. Never the less it is worth examining. As it applies to our current discussion it is very pertinent.
In Tai Chi, one of the ideals is to be totally in the Now, not anticipating, not moving from this position to that position. It takes some time to get to this state as a person first has to discover those perfect moves within the discipline. In other words, you have to learn the choreography. And then you have to get good at it. Decades they say. But so what? If you spend decades slowly developing a sense of the Now then that is what you are doing and, once the Now is discovered, even if for a nano-second, everything changes. That is when you begin to realize that there really are no rules. Tai Chi is in truth no different from any spiritual discipline in that it requires concentration and skill. The one difference that I can see is that, unlike most other forms of meditation, you are moving – so there is a deeper incorporation of the physical realm. Other forms of meditation require physical discipline, in that one is demanding that the body be still, relaxed but still. Another difference that occurs to me, though I am not at all sure if this is true, is that making the leap into the Void is probably not possible with Tai Chi. Maybe it is but, if it is so, I have seen none of the tell tale signs one senses just before you make the transition into the Void.
What is the Void? It is the place of no thought. Perhaps I will talk about that more in another blog. For now you can think of it as a state wherein a person is privy to the thinking of the universe. And the thinking of the Universe discovers you.

Love & Blessings, Musawwir

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


I am taking up where the last blog left off. When the two beings I mentioned in the previous blog put the thought in my mind that there are no rules I did not know quite what to do with the information. From an anarchist hippie point of view it is a glorious thought. One which can be savored and discussed and theologically developed forever. But we need some rules. Traffic rules for instance. It is nice to know when you proceed through a green light that people coming the other way will stop for the red one. Construction standards are pretty important too. When you ride in an elevator you would like to be assured that it is safe. You want to know when you purchase tires for your automobile that they meet a certain standard of reliability, that the manufacturer is following the rules. And so on. All of these things, plus many others are very obvious, so what could these beings have meant?

In Sufism there is a principle called Necessary Reality. What it is is a way of stating how the Universe organizes itself in order for it to exist. For the Universe to exist certain things must be in place. The most important thing is a means of, what I could call, Cosmic echo or feedback. The Universe has to have a means of giving itself information. Why you ask? What if it is all random and nothing is required to make any sense at all. I suppose that could be true but I prefer thinking of the Universe as intelligent. Taking that as a basic precept we can then postulate that the physical universe, with it’s various natural laws, is the means of echo for the intelligence that comprises the body of the Universe and whatever lies beyond. What is basic to this concept is limitation. What that means is that in order for some kinds of physical reality to be in place there must be certain limiting laws. Orbital mechanics for instance or the necessity of creating some kind of mobile physical unit that can explore, human bodies come to mind. Bodies have limitations too, no air no life no movement. Never the less the message was clear, There Are No Rules. What could it mean?

After almost 35 years I am still not quite sure but I have some ideas. The whole message had to do with how we see things. Looked at that way then it becomes an inquiry into societal rules. In my last blog I talked about being a pot smoking hippie. One of the basic tenants of that period was that societal rules are bogus. Of course we still used society. We drove cars and trucks, dependent on society to provide fuel and spare parts. We used the roads, sent our kids to school, etc. But society was bogus. We were on the right track but kind of misunderstood how to go about achieving our ideal. The problem was that our ideal was pretty vague. War is bad, that was fairly firm. The way that people deal with one another can be improved, we understood that but not quite how to do it. We had a continually evolving list of societal wrongs that needed righting which we studiously ignored because, after all, we had dropped out, or so we told one another. Still it was the beginning of discovering how to understand There Are No Rules.

I think I have learned a little bit since those days. Not a lot but a little bit. There Are No Rules really means, as I understand it currently, what you observe or participate in has exactly as much reality as you ascribe to it. And, there really are no rules.

I know that a lot of scriptures insist that God has rules, the ten commandments and what not, but I am beginning to think that all of these rules were assumptions that became firm reality because everybody agreed they had reality. After a few centuries the agreement seems to be a rule that is inviolable. You will notice however that society, while giving lip service to the rules, ignores them if that is convenient. Notice for instance the Conservative Christian movement that has no problem ignoring Thou Shalt Not Kill. That’s pretty simple really, don’t kill except for those dirty Muslims of course. We can kill them. We will just ignore the rule in order to kill them. So, are there rules really? Only if it is convenient.

I invite your comments.

Love & Blessings, Musawwir