Posted by: Mike Ferruggia | October 3, 2009

The Holy Spirit and the Mystical Body of Christ

Some of the remnants od my Catholic faith that have made their way, transitioned well into my tai chi and taoist practice, are, of course, centering prayer, and the contemplation of the Holy Spirit and the Mystical Body of Christ.

Centering is a wonderful contemplative practice that takes one away from the rote recitation of prayers(not that that is bad, just different) into a more contemplative, meditative presence. It is an acknowledgement of the ineffable, of the divine, and our connection to it. Focusing the mind on “centering,” and focusing on something like the adoration of the host, or the cross, or the holy spirit, serves to heighten one’s awareness of the holiness in life.

In tai chi, and all martial arts, being aware of one’s center line is essential, and in tai chi, as in other martial arts, we focus on the dan tien, the energy center in the lower abdomen area where “chi” is produced and stored and then sent throughout the body. In yoga and in buddhism, there is a bringing of the mind to the lower dan tien area, and a focus on the center.

The other remnant in my practice is a contemplative experience of the holy spirit, and I speak of it here in all it’s mystical qualities, and I’m going to have to dance around some stickler theological issues, pertaining to belief in Jesus as the savior, the nature of God, our purpose here on earth, etc. etc. But there is a catholic belief that the holy spirit is active and participating in our daily lives, offering grace and faith and a connection to god the father and god the son. To equate the holy spirit to the tao is not appropriate or correct, I don’t think, but there are similarities and comparisons. It is also through the holy spirit that humans are able to create and be a part of the mystical body of christ, a connected humanity that becomes one in a mystical way. Recognizing this power or energy of humanity is amazing.

In taoist meditation, among other things like breathing, transforming jing to chi to shen, and the like, we can center ourselves and contemplate mystical truths, like the tao, the yin/yang relationsheip, the way of things, the way of nature, and our place in the whole thing. Jing, natural essences transform to chi, or energy or life force, which can be transformed to shen, often explained as spirit, the highest achievement, a spiritual awakening or understanding.

For me personally, I feel the need to encorporate an “intelligent” aspect to that thing we are experiencing, a universal mind of “god” as it were, coursing through the tao, an intelligence or universal consciousness that can be tapped into. Our own consciousness, thoughts, mind, is a mirror or image of the universal consciousness. That we have it indicates to be that it exists in a universal way and that there is an intimate relationship between the two, if in fact they are two or just different manifestations of the same thing.It is this tapping into the tao that has energized my practice over the years. Yes, health and well being, cool martial techniques are great side benefits of our practice, but for me, the essence of the practice is this tapping into the tao, experienced in seated meditation, experienced in the tai chi forms, experienced in chi kung, and I would venture to say, even experienced in a martial confrontation.

In both catholicism and tai chi, the body is imaged as a temple, in the first as a temple where the holy spirit resides–how awesome is that– and in tai chi a temple where the tao, the chi, the life force is nurtured. To think that we can not only build up our own personal chi, but be the recipient of cosmic, universal chi, is just as awesome.

Where the two matrixes diverge, I suppose, is in the understanding of a god, of a separation of sorts, between the god who created us, whom we turned away from, who sent his son for salvation, and who, through the holy spirit, remains active in our lives. In taoism, there is no actual relationship between “people”, but more of an understanding that we are the tao, that we can tap into it because we are in fact it. There is an amazing sense of union with everything else. This divergence may be more problematic for a taoist who wants to be a catholic than for a catholic who wants to be a taoist.

In the end, center yourself, contemplate the truth, and experience this thing that runs through it all. Be a temple!

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