There Are No Secrets

"The book is charming in its artlessness." When the Preface by the author's friend says that, you know that you're about to see a work of love, possibly thoughtful but likely amateurish. Wolfe Lowenthal's There Are No Secrets: Professor Cheng Man-ch'ing and his Tai Chi Chuan fits that description. It's a chaotic biography, published in 1991, of a man who came to the USA in 1964 from Taiwan, prescribed Chinese medicine, did calligraphy, founded a T'ai Chi school, and taught for a decade before his death. Wikipedia's article on Cheng provides additional detail.

So ignore the "welter of words and seemingly unstructured paragraphs and chapters", another remark in the Preface by Robert W. Smith. Set aside the author's digressions into his own addictions and issues. Amongst the weeds and clinkers, There Are No Secrets offers shiny nuggets and rough gems. Chapter 32, for instance, begins with the words "The study of Tai Chi is a commitment to being present..." and ends with a quote from Cheng: "Softness is the gung fu of life, hardness is the gung fu of death." In the midst of Chapter 31's discussion of Cheng-recommended massage techniques appears, "The secret is having faith, giving up the feeling that we need to use force to make things happen, and relaxing." And from the conclusion of Chapter 26:

Students becoming serious about Tai Chi practice notice its positive effect on their personality. Relaxation makes one less fearful, less prideful, more open to people and situations.

The cumulative effect of the "integrity" of the practice — integrity in the sense of "wholeness" — has the effect of moderating behavior, making one less prone to fly off the handle or go off the deep end. Integrity develops an individual's sense of responsibility, lessening the negative tendency to place blame on situations or other people.

Sounds like an antidote to the Fundamental Attribution Error. Further quotes and notes from There Are No Secrets to follow ...

(cf. Embrace Tiger, Return to Mountain (2014-01-18), ...) - ^z - 2014-02-26