Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy New Year!

A year goes by faster than we care to think about. For me this has been a year of tremendous learning, of trying to go deeper within myself and of trusting my spirit as a guide.

As my element is water (as described by the Chinese five elements), this is the time I think of Lao Tzu's words -

"Nothing in the world is more soft and weak than water
But for attacking the hard and strong
Nothing can surpass it.
And therefore nothing can take its place."

This is a translation by the Tai Chi master, Professor Cheng Man-ch'ing, who illustrated its application in different aspects of Tai Chi, for example -

"In the application of Tai Chi Chuan, when it comes to the point of someone wanting to hit me, or to attack me, then the real usefulness of the art makes itself known. For instance, take a piece of cloth. You can beat it but you won't harm it. It doesn't resist you, it's not stiff. So if you're as soft as the cloth, then there's no problem. Moreover, one who is soft will not be afraid when people come to attack. Then you will be able to respond to an attacker's speed and strength in an effective manner.
The first and most difficult point of all is: you have to believe in what I say. If you don't believe it, when the person comes to attack you, you will resist him and then it will already be too late."

His student, Wolfe Lowenthal, explains further in the book 'There are no Secrets':

"The "difficulty" is that softness is a quality of the true self, that which exists beneath our myriad defences.
Resistance is rooted in our lack of faith in the self. We create armor to protect that self from the world: hard images of strength and brittle, false fronts. These images exact a huge toll of energy required for their maintenance.
"The first and most difficult point" would probably be impossible were it not for the wisdom of the heart. The heart knows that the gung fu of softness is not only practical, it's the only path worth taking."

My year was largely spent in warding off attacks of ill health and I realized towards the end of the year that what really helped me was looking deep within and allowing my heart to take decisions instead of focussing continuously on how my brain perceived things. A combination of the two is required, but each has its specific role. Allowing my mind to follow my heart helped me on many occasions.

As the year ends, I find myself opening up to possibilities that my still-water tendencies had never really wanted to explore. As my heart warms up to the thought of an exciting, completely new year ahead, I feel the the fire element gradually making its presence felt within. Towards the end of this year, I feel that I would like to be softer, less resistant to change in the coming year. Strangely enough, my writing, which I thought might be isolating in nature, has brought me in contact with many new people, new ideas and the possibility of new assignments.

And so, I would like to reach out to all the readers, known and unknown, of this blog, to wish them a wonderful, soft and heartwarming new year.

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