We stress softness and continuity in T’ai Chi Chih, and the importance of the former can be seen in the following examples:
The teeth are hard and the tongue is soft, but it is the tongue that outlasts the teeth.
Water is soft and stones are hard, but it is the water that wears away the stones.
Oak is sturdy and stands staunchly against the storm, while bamboo is pliant and bends with the wind. When the storm is over, the inflexible oak has cracked and comes crashing down, but the bamboo snaps back, unhurt.
One cannot strive for softness; the very effort of trying to be soft creates tension. It is the absence of any pressure, moving “slow motion in a dream,” that allows softness to prevail. The best way to forget worries and ease tensions is to shun the ego- center, so that no one is doing T’ai Chi Chih, but T’ai Chi Chih is doing itself. In this sense, T’ai Chi Chih becomes a meditation.
This article is published in Spiritual Odyssey.