Tao Te Ching Chapter 10 Commentary

Tai Chi Test!

Instructions: Read and answer the questions. The test begins at 5am and you must turn in your papers between 7am and 7:30am. You must answer all questions fully and you may not leave before the allotted time.

  1. Carrying body and soul and embracing the one, can you avoid separation?
  2. Attending fully and becoming supple, can you be as a newborn babe?
  3. Washing and cleansing the primal vision, can you be without stain?
  4. Loving all men and ruling the country, can you be without cleverness?
  5. Opening and closing the gates of heaven, can you play the role of woman?
  6. Understanding and being open to all things, are you able to do nothing?
  7. Giving birth and nourishing, bearing yet not possessing, working yet not taking credit, leading yet not dominating, this is the primal virtue.

Answer Section

Wait a moment. Number seven isn’t a question! Ahh, so that’s why we have to read them all first. The answer is hidden in the test questions.

So let’s see, what did Sifu teach me? Think back. What would Sifu say about this?

1. In Wuji posture, avoid separation, i.e. into yin and yang. This means relax everything. So you don’t have weight on one leg or another; you don’t have tension in one shoulder or another, both hands are equally relaxed. There is no preference or readiness in your posture, no idea informing directionality. It’s just a relaxation posture.

2. We can let go of our shape, and become like a newborn babe. This will allow us to more easily observe the small. Similar to No. 1.

3. The primal vision is probably the vision which can see the primal unity. It must be without stain. One may not be tired, and one must avoid alcohol, smoking, even coffee and sugar. In our modern life we are simply not as relaxed as in prior generations. So we must take special care to relax and fang song.

4. Trying to win, or trying to impose your will (like, applying a technique) can end up hurting people. Therefore it is better to follow than to lead.

5. In utilization (opening and closing) this would mean in use. We could consider form or push hands. Playing the role of woman is the “asking hand”, the 試應手 (shi4 ying4 shou3); “yose-miru”, or (sorry, wrong word) “yosu-mi”, in Japanese. It is a term from the game of Go (Wei-qi). So instead of initiating upon touch, play the role of the receiver. Ex. in push hands one must play the follower. These are good first steps.

6. Once you have ingrained all eight directions, do not intend to follow any one of them, but allow the direction to emerge on it’s own.

7. It is said then, that it must be flowing and continuous, without breaks, stops or starts. But if this is forced, it is not the best way. For example if one moves in a straight line it is surely because one has overlaid their own mental imagery over their body, placing it into subjugation by the will of the mind, instead of following the natural surroundings.

Overall, we should pay special attention to the principle of mercy and not the principle of cruelness. Be grateful and stand before the teacher and wait, with attention, smile and listen! This way is easier to learn more. Thus only those with good morals will achieve success.