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On the Sustainment of Tai Chi Chuan

I’ve always had mixed feelings about the way the art of Tai Chi Chuan sustained in today’s world. While many important arts and traditions have carefully curated curricula and well maintained lineages, to pass on the wisdom from generation to generation in tact, it seems as if much of the Tai Chi wisdom is already lost on many; only carried by a few who were fortunate/wise enough to find the right teacher; many of the rest pass on a corrupted form of the art and will probably never realize it. Perhaps it has always been like this to some extent.

There is some beauty to this; perhaps it is nature’s way of eventually sorting the matter out effortlessly. Perhaps there will come a time when Tai Chi will again flourish without all of these things we normally associate with success; when the consciousness of the people on this planet evolve to the point that they can intuitively understand Tao.

I’ve always had this feeling that, even if your teaching is imperfect, practice and understanding of the principles can still refine our understanding of the art. Although it may not be enough for most to achieve in one lifetime, the fact that Tai Chi exists at all should tell us, even if it is someday lost, it will be rediscovered; because the source of Tai Chi is not something which can be destroyed; we merely have become disconnected from it and are finding our way back.

The Master doesn’t try to be powerful;
thus he is truly powerful.
The ordinary man keeps reaching for power;
thus he never has enough.

The Master does nothing,
yet he leaves nothing undone.
The ordinary man is always doing things,
yet many more are left to be done.

The kind man does something,
yet something remains undone.
The just man does something,
and leaves many things to be done.
The moral man does something,
and when no one responds
he rolls up his sleeves and uses force.

When the Tao is lost, there is goodness.
When goodness is lost, there is morality.
When morality is lost, there is ritual.
Ritual is the husk of true faith,
the beginning of chaos.

Therefore the Master concerns himself
with the depths and not the surface,
with the fruit and not the flower.
He has no will of his own.
He dwells in reality,
and lets all illusions go.

–Tao Te Ching (ch. 38 — S. Mitchell Translation)