Posted by: Mike Ferruggia | May 6, 2009

Non-Violent Resistance

There may come a time when you feel you have to stand up and fight for what is right, to defend yourself, your family, your friends, your community, your nation. It takes a lot of wisdom and discernment to decide when that time is. You really have to have a clear picture of what’s going on and why. Fighting for what’s right does not always necessarily mean picking up a gun or launching a bomb if you have one. Sometimes it means having the courage to stand and witness, to risk getting your skull cracked open, to risk going to jail, to risk actually signing your name on a piece of paper. The contemplative is called to be a witness, to be that person who stands for truth, for the right way. The ultimate goal is to be in harmony, to somehow, someway transform the agressor. Christ teaches the transformative power of love. Buddhism teaches the transformative power of compassion. Tai chi teaches a series of postures, first warding off, a posture in which you make contact with your opponent, temporarily ward him off, and begin listening with your arm as to where he wants to go. One then moves to yielding. There is no tai chi without yielding. Yielding is not capitulating. It is not running away. It is creating the space for the force to be dissipated, to be brought into a void. Can you figure out how to do this in your daily life? The next two are press and push, but it’s very important to remember that you are not pressing or pushing against the oncoming force, but finding the right moment to join with the force and press with it or push with it.

Professor Donna Quesada said in a recent blog, “Discipline is the activity of the disciple.” I like that a lot. We are called to be disciplined in our practice, to do the tai chi, the chi kung, the meditation, the yoga, to follow the path. We are called to do the interior work of stripping the self of the emotions of the ego so that we can act from a space that is not corrupted.

I prefer to beat the swords into plowshares. But I will still keep a sword. I am not totally there yet.  In tai chi, I see myself as a contemplative, as a teacher, as a student, but also as a warrior, as a tai chi knight, and I am romantic in that I will be ready to pick up the sword for justice and righteousness.

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