Good Manners and Taiji

^z 11th May 2023 at 6:43am

From Chapter 7 of There Are No Secrets by Wolfe Lowenthal, comments about Taiji (T'ai Chi Chuan) and being a guest:

K'e Ch'i means "manners," that characteristic of the Chinese that can be graceful when sincere and annoying when an empty formality. The etymology of the phrase is revealing. "K'e" means "guest." "Ch'i" is the same word — breath, air, spirit force — that is at the center of Tai Chi. So taken together, "K'e Ch'i" is "the air of a guest."

One could hardly have a better guiding principle. We are all guests. That we own and possess the world is the dominant, destructive illusion of "civilized" man.

Think of being a guest of the earth. Grateful, glad to be in this lovely house, respectful of everything which is, after all, not yours; but not subservient either, secure that your presence is welcome and provided for by a beneficent universe.

In doing push hands our attitude should also be K'e Ch'i. We should not try to dominate or overpower the opponent. Professor said that if your idea is to push or not be pushed, it is not Tai Chi.

The correct idea is to let the opponent have his way completely — we should not interfere with his energy. As a matter of fact, we empty out, allowing his force to proceed unobstructed; we even, ever polite, assist in the direction he so eagerly wishes to go. Very self-effacing, very considerate. Like a guest.

If it happens that, as a result of our non-resistance and assistance, an aggressive person finds himself sailing through the air when his intention was to send us flying, we have not violated the principle of K'e Ch'i. Nature asks us only to stay balanced, and that is all we have done when the attacker sails away.

The Tai Chi form also expresses the attitude of K'e Ch'i. Think of our image of arrogance: chest puffed out, body rigid and hard, face frowning. Then think of the Tai Chi posture: body soft, energy dropping into the ground with the chest slightly hollowed, countenance gentle. The very attitude of humility.

Tai Chi proves correct the Biblical statement that "the meek shall inherit." That is an accurate evaluation of the outcome of a contest between arrogance and true humility. The uptight brittleness and floating quality of arrogance is no match for the person who has let go into the earth and can tap its power.

(cf. Gentleness, Sensitivity, Compassion (2014-03-09), Virtues of Softness (2014-03-20), ...) - ^z - 2014-04-03