One of the hardest things for a beginner to understand is the fact that there must be physical changes for spiritual changes to take place. We are so used to thinking of spiritual as being something ephemeral that we cannot at all relate it to the physical organism.
In Krishnamurti’s biography, it is stressed that he went through much physical agony, which he well understood. He is quoted as saying, while in great pain, “I know you must do this, but can’t you be a bit easier about it?” Obviously he was talking to the Kundalini force, part of all-powerful Prana, responsible for the evolutionary changes, either gradual or rapid. Gopi Krishna, too, went through great suffering, from the time of his awakening until the eventual settling down in his new status.
Prana (or Chi) is what pulls together the seeming-spiritual and the physical. As we sink deeper into the essence of Prana’s action, which we do with a regular and conscientious practice of T’ai Chi Chih, we become aware of what is happening. To evolve one thousand times faster than normal (usual) is no small matter. Some have done most of this in a previous life, as with Rinzai (Linji in Chinese). A shy, pietistic seeker when he first came to his master, his personality changed radically (seemingly in a few minutes as he discarded his former identity) and he became an overpowering iconoclast, firm in his “growth of certainty.”
Seeming illness, and pain, can point in the direction of massive spiritual changes, something of which doctors do not seem aware. All physical change has to do with spiritual purification and development.
I like Paul Reps’ idea of sitting quietly for five minutes (better to make it ten) each day and just allowing yourself to “receive.” No thinking, no technique, no mantra repetition, no watching the breath, but just sitting quietly in a chair. In Japan this would be known as shikantaza, or just sitting. The great artisans of the past often did this before starting on some work, such as making a tea bowl or a Samurai sword. In fact, today, many dress in formal style, hat on head, while doing creative work – I have seen them. It is my feeling that ten minutes of quiet and receiving, plus T’ai Chi Chih practice, may be enough. It is so easy to relax and do nothing, though sitting with the back straight, it may become difficult. We have our worries to agonize over, and, besides, we get fidgety. Therefore it might be good to do it after a little T ‘ai Chi Chih movement. You may receive more than you bargained for.