We can be very logical and intellectual. But when we try to fit T’ai Chi Chih into a neat definition, or hold on to our own personal ideas about it, we miss its essence. Trying to categorize it is like three blind men describing an elephant while each holds on to a different part of it. T’ai Chi Chih is at once personal and impersonal, physical and ethereal. It is not an exercise, and yet it is the best “exercise” you can do. (Unlike exercise, though, it will not tire you.)
T’ai Chi Chih consists of 19 gentle, graceful movements and one pose that can be done by almost anyone. Working with the building blocks of the universe — yin and yang, which when combined become the Tao, the essence of all life — Justin created this new form of movement. The results we experience by doing the movements speak of Justin’s conscious intention to end pain and suffering. This is a tall order. Yet without that focus we spend our lives disgruntled, feeling that something is missing. What is important about our lives? What meaning is there to our being here?
We have a tendency to separate our mind, body, and emotions. But the true demonstration of spiritual growth is integrating these three elements and then bringing them to bear in a situation. How do we develop a foundation for this integration and wholeness? The key is T’ai Chi Chih. Through T’ai Chi Chih we gain the balance that allows us to see clearly and to act with integrity. Up until this time we have seen “through a glass, darkly.” Clarity allows us to experience the essential beauty of life.
The effects of T’ai Chi Chih are cumulative. Therefore, consistency of practice is vital in order to experience the maximum benefits. And yet, many students quickly experience peace and clarity. I have observed during my many years as an accredited teacher that although students come to T’ai Chi Chih class tired and stressed, they leave with renewed physical and mental energy. Specific benefits vary with each person, but the benefits are usually precisely what each individual needs.
Justin F. Stone is a gentleman and a gentle man. He generously shares his deep understanding and life experiences. Such understanding is usually gleaned only after many years of following the path of a monk or yogi. Justin is a modern Renaissance man and citizen of the world. A former financial analyst, big band leader, and composer, he has also been a seeker in Japan, and a holy man in India. Now almost 93 years old, Justin is a prolific painter and jazz composer. He maintains an active schedule lecturing and conducting T’ai Chi Chih seminars and workshops. He opens the way to wisdom with skill, grace, and joy. To do T’ai Chi Chih with Justin is to know that life reveals itself joyously. His continual presence in my life has been a source of inspiration and love.
In this newly revised textbook, we are introduced to the wonder of T’ai Chi Chih. The author, photographer, and publisher have put together an invaluable collection of stop-action photographs with simple instruction. The book, however, is only an aid. To experience T’ai Chi Chih you must do it. As it is said in the East, and as Justin is fond of saying, “You can’t appease the hunger by reading the menu.” Through T’ai Chi Chih the great adventure unfolds daily as we do our practice and discover answers to questions that have long been held, gently in trust, deep within our being. Let the journey begin.
Carmen L. Brocklehurst
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Publisher’s note: Carmen Brocklehurst hosts the public television series on T’ai Chi Chih, produced by KNME in Albuquerque, which continues to air in many U.S. localities. See her interviews with Justin Stone from this program.
This article is published in Joy Thru Movement.