Posted by: Mike Ferruggia | October 5, 2010


I remember when I was in high school I participated in Oratory competition and one Saturday, I forgot my speech. It was a rough day, but in the end, I really didn’t care too much about it and in the next two rounds I gave a speech about forgetting my speech. I wasn’t thoroughly prepared.

Throughout life, we can get blindsided by things because we weren’t prepared for them, or because we had no clue to even prepare for it. The art of wu wei, non doing, an apparent easy flow of the tai chi masters, is not magic. It does not just come to them to know what to do. They are prepared. They have been preparing all their lives. Through hard work, dedication, and discipline, they have prepared themselves for the moments in life when they will know what to do. This is developing good gong fu–knowing what to do.

A tai chi master develops an intuitive ability to do the right thing in a given situation. He/she no longer has to think about it because they’ve done it.

In a martial context, I can equate it to playing music. When I started my little band years ago, we practiced for a long time, and even did open mikes first to be sure we could do it. But we still sucked. It wasn’t until we actually started playing in front of live audiences that we cut our teeth and honed our skills. The same with tai chi fighting. We may get good practicing the form and practicing push hands, but we all wil get better if we “play in front of a live audience,” that is, get into a fight.

There is a moral/character preparation that goes along with all this. If we are not practicing, dedicated, disciplined, when the time comes to make a choice, we may not have the ability to make the right choice, we might give in to our temptations, we might be weak.

Self weakness is one thing, but for those of us who have chosen the higher path, it is a deeper responsibility. If we become weak, if we become lazy, we will let down the people who are counting on us. I’m thinking of the life of Yogananda Paramahansa, and the many times he turned to his guru for help, and because of the guru’s preparation and dedicated life, he was able to help Yogananda many times.

In a self confessing way, it hit me like a lightning bolt yesterday that I am a bit unprepared. I’ve become a little lazy, have let work and other circumstances cut down on my practice time, and there have been two instances recently where I felt spiritually unprepared to help a friend or two. So, not to beat myself up but just to mention that self examination is a big part of the spiritual path and it is what helps us move forward and do what we are supposed to do.

Yogananda speaks of the awesome responsibility a person has when they renounce the secular life to pursue the higher path of divine union. A master must share what he has with the world. I agree that it is an awesome respinsibility. It is what I want to do with my life.


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