Spain 2006 Workshop, Salamanca
Ah, España... Click a picture to enter that gallery.
SPAIN TAICHI THOUGHTS
TRYP SALAMANCA (Or how I spent my summer vacation)
Shortly after Ray picked Julie and me up to take us to Logan airport, I said, "I won't be happy until I see Ray's face in two weeks, waiting to take us back home." Not a propitious feeling to have at the beginning of a trip, but the same feeling I've had before every trip I've taken for as long as I can remember.
The trip to Spain was made considerably easier by Julian, who was a great companion, who did all the heavy lifting, and who proved to be a fine student. As my spirit lightened, I contemplated the workshop and its themes. The introduction would be my deep appreciation for Manolo, and his Chang Chuen comrades who had organized the event. It would also address the relationship between our schools, as well as acknowledge our mutual lineage, Professor Cheng's Shr Jung school.
It also seemed appropriate to focus on a central virtue of Taichichuan, for me at least; the way it would dissolve the painful anxiety I was feeling about the trip. There is a relationship between the two ideas. Professor chose "Shr Jung” as the name for his school, the literal meaning of which is "correct timing." After a period of study, an experienced Taichi student will experience a potent alacrity; the ability not only to respond to an opponent's strike, but the ability as well to catch falling objects, have an increased ability to adjust in traffic--act with awesome quickness. It isn't just a physical ability; it's a spiritual condition.
Which suggests an alternate translation of Shr Jung: "the center of time."
On the plane from Boston, I contemplated "the center of time" and my position outside of it. Beside the speed of correct timing, the center of time brings with it peace, the absence of psychological distress. Anxiety is always outside the center of time; it is always the mind jumping forward to what hasn't yet happened, or reaching back regretfully to the past. It's what causes most folks to watch a glass fall from a table and splinter to pieces. "Oh my!" says the mind, "The glass is going to break." In the center of time the mind is quiet, it doesn't interfere with the simple act of catching the glass.
Changing planes in London, I was aware of how much I suffered outside the center of time. Julie happily progressed through the numerous lines and corridors while I was tormented by images of missed connections. The torment continued to Madrid where my swords turned up missing. "Why did I bring my best swords?" and "What will I use for the workshop?" Past and future performed their harsh interrogation, while Felix drove us through the beautiful countryside between Madrid and Salamanca.
Julie and I arrived at the Hotel Tryp Salamanca and started on a journey to the center of time. Manolo and his fellow student's provided the door, and Gordon provided a truly magical sword. One of the lessons of Shr Jung is that the images the mind latches onto, obscuring the perfect present, are always illusions.
It was a wonderful workshop: we were Spanish, Scot, French, Czech, English, Netherlander, and American, practicing Taichi together in a city that was as beautiful as any I've ever seen. After looking at the slides of the workshop, an old friend commented, "The nice thing about the over all deal, is that everyone looks happy--everyone attending looks as though they are having a tremendous time."
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