Silverington - Personal Strategies


T'ai Chi: Concept, Metaphor and Reality

Portal to subconscious integration Read more:

T'ai Chi is a prototype for something that began as a very powerful but very abstract concept, a concept that for millennia unified and gave continuity to a whole civilization. This integrating potential is unique for a human artifact but very common in Nature. T'ai Chi's basic pattern is so intuitively simple that most children can learn it quickly when they are seven years old. Yet the simple pattern can easily be adapted to fit the most complex and profound philosophical, mathematical and scientific principles. Most intriguing, the T'ai Chi concept is totally psychological.
New Challenges and tests
After ages of misuse and distortion, the concept has fallen from being a concept powerful revered by scholars, emperors, generals and priests to simply the name of a graceful series of movements for pensioners and sick people. Fortunately, through the ages, small, intimate, specialized but diverse groups carefully nursed different aspects of the T'ai Chi concept. Scholars, doctors, skilled, craftsmen fortune tellers, painters, calligraphers and martial artists all played a part, so the concept was not lost to humanity.
Toward the last part of the 20th Century the pattern, without its integrating concept, began showing up in different laboratory sciences. A pair of opposite pairs working together was already a familiar pattern, because it characterized almost all of physiology and anatomy. The discovery of DNA introduced the pattern to genetics. Experimental psychologists discovered it in color vision. This drew the attention of General Systems researchers who recognized both the historical significance and integration potential of the T'ai Chi concept for integrating an emerging global civilization. The most obvious use would be unifying and giving continuity to the spectrum of new realities being generated by emerging technologies.
Potential advantages far outweighed the risks of failure, still the concept would have to meet five challenges: 1( to integrate behavioral science and its applications, 2( to integrate individuals psychologically, 3( to integrate individuals and professions, 4( to Integrate individuals and organizations, finally to integrate cultures and organizations.
A Concept from the Twilight Zone
Silverington accepted the challenge. One big and very useful advantage, the T'ai Chi concept had already performed all five of the above functions, and more, for one of the world's oldest civilizations. And there was enough information and examples among the small groups of dedicated Chinese to reconstruct the concept. Once the concept was reconstructed, it was used to construct a reproduction that would resemble in form and function a T' Chi Ch'üan style that would likely have survived the, literally, murderous competition in the Peking area when kung fu was at its height. The results have been compared with classics from Chinese literature. Finally the mathematical psychology reviewed in the (Elements) section was used to construct a general system adapted to 21st Century conditions. The updated system, called synchron, along with the history of its construction are now used to give clients an intuitive experience of what Chinese sages called T' Chi (trans. The Grand Ultimate).
Six Portals to Reality of the Subconscious
Chinese history is filled with the diverse ways that famous scholars adapted to discovering the T'ai Chi concept. Some, like Lao-tzu, withdrew almost completely from society, leaving only manuscripts as testimony to their discovery. Others, like Confucius, became teachers and sought public office. There were military strategists, like Sun-tzu who created arts that would change the martial arts, doctors who would influence the healing arts and others who would apply their knowledge to subjects as diverse as painting and sexual practices. It is mostly the "others" that are the focus here.
21st Century Westerners have two advantages over the ancient Chinese sages in their quest for T'ai Chi. First there a near perfect metaphor for T'ai Chi, the process of the human embryo that after fertilization becomes a fetus, is born, then develops into an adult. Then there is fractal mathematics and catastrophe theory described in the (Elements) section of this web site. And like the Chinese ancients, Western psychology has discovered the T'ai Chi pattern. What is lacking, however, is any concept that even vaguely resembles T'ai Chi and any science (with the exception of micro genetics! ) or art that applies it. Fortunately some of the Chinese "others"developed an art that exemplifies the T' Chi concept.
Called T' Chi Ch'üan in the United States and Taijiquan in the Republic of China, Westerners can join the quest for The Grand Ultimate. The first thing that one discovers is that studying T'ai Chi is not really a quest, nor is one really a student. Because it is not something one really teaches or learns-one simply discovers, then remembers. Help comes from many, often unexpected sources. A better metaphor is that everyone is born standing at a very private portal, and eventually you know enough to enter. T'ai Chi Ch'üan is simply a key that can open many portals. There is usually a great psychological cost for entering every T' Chi porthole. While many are willing to teach elementary movements of T'ai Chi Ch'üan the T'ai Chi portal is a different matter altogether. Some people are generous enough to share information about their T'ai Chi portal with others; some definitely are not. In any event, those that share always determine how much they will share. One has no right and there is no way to demand more. One American and four Chinese contributed T'ai Chi Ch'üan keys to Silverington's T'ai Chi portal.
The American was a Chinese/English translator for United States Naval intelligence, whose portal was martial arts. He was stationed on Taiwan where after winning a prize in an open kung fu contest, he was defeated by a student of Cheng Man-ch'ing. His rich martial arts portal included five animal styles of Shao Lin Temple type kung fu, along with Hsing-I, Pa-Kua and T'ai Chi Ch'üan. Because fighting was his primary interest, Primordial Pugilism is the name Chinese scholars call that portal. Giving up aggressive reflexes from Western boxing, commando wrestling and saber fencing were high costs for entering the Primordial Pugilism portal. In return he introduced an effective and very useful form based on the Yang style of T'ai Chi Ch'üan along with basics in Chinese philosophy and culture.
The psychological costs for the first Chinese portal were much higher. A professor, who taught Chinese culture at a leading Midwestern University in U.S.A., demanded extensive reading and study in several cultural disciplines pertaining to the Grand Ultimate. Philosophically he was a neo Taoist (an integration of Lao Tzu and Confucius) and master of his own fighting style which favored the oak staff as a weapon. A branch of the Wu School meant his movements were more compact its stances higher and his strategies very subtle and very dangerous. He arranged for me to be introduced to a master of the / Ching. His portal, through classical Chinese scholarship, was Classical T'ai Chi.
The second Chinese was an artist, calligrapher and student in architecture. His portal was artistic, his philosophy Mohist and his form a branch of the classical Yang school. An even exchange led to a merging of the artistic, pugilist and scholarly portals and a merging of the Yang and Wu styles. The portal was Integration. The psychological cost was replacing Cheng's shortened version of the Yang form with the classical Yang Cheng-fu form and adding five Hu style movements.
The fourth portal was through a purely Taoist approach to the / Ching and a classical Yang School approach to 'T'ai Chi Ch'üan. Like the scholar who arranged for our introduction the guardian of this portal was a Chinese academician but elderly. His impressive mastery of open hand combat and the sword (that were formidable from a man of any age) were balanced by a very compassionate dedication to health and longevity. Meditation was central to the "choreography of body and mind" that execution of his graceful Yang form demanded. Taoist / Ching fully describes his portal, ancient Chinese culture its source. The psychological cost was the extreme concentration required to enter and maintain the meditative states. Increasing time spent in these meditative states marked the beginning of the isolation described in the concept section above. A new integration was the result.
The fifth portal was exceedingly important because it had everything to do with Taoism and T'ai Chi, and not much to do with T'ai Chi Ch'üan. This Chinese scholar, author and photographer revolted against martial metaphors. He agreed with T'ai Chi Ch'üan masters that the "bottomless greed" and lust for power that war represented had their root in the failure of men and women to achieve the fundamental harmony of Yin and Yang:but erotic arts, not martial arts, were the answer. In addition to basic Taoist classics and the / Ching he relied on text from Emperor Huang Ti's chief female advisor Su Nü. The psychological cost was as great as that encountered at the Primordial Pugilism portal because the perspective as well as the reflexes were, once again, the opposite of those acquired over decades of practice and education. What's more, the Erotic Portal added another dimension to an ever increasing spectrum of portals to the T' Chi concept.
The sixth portal belonged to a Chinese academician and social scientist who used Qigong (also spelled Chi Gung) as his physical portal and wei chi (Japanese Go) as a metaphor for conflict resolution. Like all the others, focus was on the / Ching. After experiencing the other portals this Wei Chi portal's high cost was limited to the area of social science, where the balance and harmony of opposites clashed with deeply rooted philosophical assumptions, assumptions taken as fundamental by Western behavioral scientists.
Silverington's portal is General Systems. It uses mathematical psychology to integrate knowledge shared with all of the above portals. The price for entering is "your inner voice".
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