Posted by: Mike Ferruggia | May 1, 2009

Tai Chi and Life’s Struggle

I have struggled with the dichotomy of being called to peace, love, compassion, non-violent resistance, and the innate martial aspect of practicing tai chi. No matter which way you slice it, if you choose to use one of the “soft'” arts like tai chi, aikido, judo, in a confrontation, and you know what you are doing, you can create some devastating destruction, no matter how much love intent you have. So how do these two things jive?

We live in a beautiful world, but a world where the paradigm is broken. Life is a struggle; this according to catholic theology or buddhist wisdom or taoist precepts. There is good and bad. The whole basis of evolution is struggle, survival of the fittest, the law of natural selection.

Throughout history, we have learned to pursue a higher law, a law of justice, love, compassion, art, civilization. But it is still a struggle, there are still those who are unenlightenend, who seek to destroy what others have, who seek to control and manipulate for their own gain. It is the duty or calling of the tai chi man or woman to bring the struggle into balance, to be the opposing force of justice, of good, of harmony, of balance.

And it’s like we learned in freshman lit class, it’s not just man against man, it’s man against nature, man against machine, man against himself…of course until we learn the right idea is that it shouldn’t be a relationship of being “against” anything, but in sync with, in terms of nature, of being the force that makes things harmonious.

I don’t believe we need bad people to balance out good people. I believe the world is naturally balanced, and bad people pull it out of whack, unbalance things, create havoc and chaos, and it is the good people who struggle to pull things back into balance. Tai chi teaches us that the way is a way of pushing and pulling, of contracting and expanding, and it our job to adapt to these changes and be the energy that keeps the order.

Of course, tai chi also teaches us that there are things we can change, and things we can’t. We have to be in tune with the flow of things. This means understanding the earth rotates arouns the sun, and there’s no point intrying to make it go the other way. It means there are certain forces of nature beyond our control and we shouldn’t mess with it. It does not mean capitulation, however, to agression, to evil, to wrong doing. This only contributes to the imbalance and creates a world like that movie, Koyaanisqaatsi–anybody see it?–Life out of balance.

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