Deep Zen

Sometimes I feel I’m really connected to the Force, at one with the Tao to speak and am able to write something that is fairly deep ( maybe just over my head), at lest sensible from weird point of view. Here are some of the past things from the old site:

Feng Shui, Tai Chi, Sailing & Zen

It came to me whilst returning from Tai Chi practice today that the four are very similar. According to the Tao Te Ching and the teachings of Lao Tzu they are most likely the same or at least brothers/sisters of the same mother. I had the revelation before about Feng Shui and sailing but today came the Tai Chi awareness and it all clicked. Like when I became a vegetarian while walking through a supermarket in the meat section seeing all the dead animals, but that is another story I digress. I saw the Zen tie-in earlier also while thinking about this sailing instructor in Japan that is a “Zen” master he teaches his advance students sailing with some aspects of Zen philosophy. I thought, yeah, I can see that!

It all makes sense. I named my boat “Zen” which is “Chan” in Chinese by the way. Chan Buddhism ( Zen in Japanese ) was developed in the Shaolin Temple which is where my Kung Fu roots are. I am something like a 10th or 11th generation Sifu/Shrfu/Sensei in direct linage I forget which, it is just for reference. Anyway in Chinese the last boat was named Kuan Yin. Kuan Yin is the Chinese Deity who achieved enlightenment. However instead of going to the next “level” plane of being let’s say, she chose to stay behind and help lead/direct people to receive enlightenment. She is often shown as riding a Sea Dragon. Since my first boat was more of my learning venture, I felt “Zen” was a good name for this one, having achieved some further “enlightenment” about sailing. It will also take me to “Nirvana” in this case meaning “Blue Water” kind of deep thoughts ne?!

Anyway, Feng Shui is the Chinese study of balancing energy in your environment ( which I am certified by the way to do if you need a reading ). Feng Shui means wind and water. So obviously right, wind /water = sailing. Sailing is finding that balance between wind energy and water and the effect it has on your boat equals = sailing. The better balance there is, the faster and more efficient you sail. You, the boat, the wind and the water are in harmony, you have good “Feng Shui”

Now this also translates to Tai Chi. Tai Chi is the balancing of yin and yang, wind/water, positive/negative. I’m not speaking just of Tai Chi Chuan, which is translated out loosly to Grand Balanced/Harmonious Fist. I’m speaking of just Tai Chi the essence. The Yin /Yang symbol you see with the black and white. Hmm I just thought of some racial signification , but I’ll go into that later perhaps. So referring back to balancing of the elements we can see how Tai Chi, Feng Shui and Sailing are related. Sailing balancing the effect of wind power/energy on your sail causing a Yin reaction on your boat eg: moving. That in turn translates into a yang energy on the water which in turn turns Yin as the boat passes through the water. Tai Chi, the better you’re in balance with yourself and your opponent the better fighter or healthier ( from a non-violent spiritual perspective ) you are.

In Tai Chi Chuan it is us who are the Yang energy moving through air, which turns into Yin when doing the solo form. On the other side when doing push hands with a partner or combat, we change from Yin to Yang energy depending on what we need to accomplish or avoid, as in pain. In sailing we need to be aware of the changes in the wind in order to remain in harmony with the elements and move forward. With Tai Chi Chuan the Yang energy coming at us may be very violent eg: punches and kicks. We need to adjust our energy to be more Yin to absorb/redirect this violence back into our attacker or ground this energy so as we are not hurt. In the Sailing world sailing this would be gales, high winds, storms, etc. That energy needs to be absorbed/redirected into the sails, grounded into the water so that we are not hurt or stopped and continue to move forward or at the least in the case of heaving-to at peace/centered in the storm.

All take understanding of changes in energy flow, “feeling” the environment. Balancing the energy of the environment to archive harmony/peace/a state of Zen/a great sail
The Spiritual Sailor

2006/7/14 (266 reads)

I am currently reading The Tao of Sailing, written by a sailor naturally, and being a student of the Tao and a fan of Tao Te Ching I find it interesting how the author ties it in with the art of sailing, perfect sense to me. Of course in the Taoist/Zen thought/mind everything is tied together. I just recently finished reading a book called Journey of a Hope Merchant an excellent book for those of you interested a sailor’s adventure of life, death and love struggles. If it was movie (and it maybe at some point) it would be a good date movie. I had the chance to ask the author a personal question about his spiritual ideals before and after his voyages. I was pleasantly surprised at his willing openness to share his thoughts. Then there is the sailing Zen master in Japan who teaches his advanced students elements of Zen he came to understand whilst doing his ocean voyages. Another gratify moment of even getting a reply from him, to me speaks volumes. I have touched before in my verbal ramblings about my feelings on Zen/Tai Chi/Feng Shui and the Tao. I understand that being a sailor does not make one naturally spiritual any more than it makes one an environmentalist, though they should go together ( perhaps another topic). I was only slightly shocked to recently read an on-line newsgroup posting about yacht clubs and Black members. One person in NY stated it was their clubs unofficial policy not to rent slip space to Blacks for obvious reasons. I did not understand what the obvious reasons were, nor did I get an answer from the poster. I do know that obviously this was not a spiritual minded club. The sea, the earth, the wind does not discriminate. The wrath of nature will take everyone whose time is up, or does something very stupid, with no care to race, color or creed. Now, understand when I refer to spiritualness I am not talking about religion. Religion and Spiritualness are different. The KKK is full of religious people, wars are fought over religion, Baby Bush is religious. Religion does a fair amount of separating humans, Spiritualness brings us together. I believe God/the Universe/The Great Spirit/ The Creator/Jah/The Force whatever limiting name mankind places on Him/Her/It is more concerned, if one can say that, with humankinds true heartfelt Spiritualness than, the bible thumpers who preach fire and brim stone versions of “their true brand” of religion. I think the true message of Jesus / Mohammad / Buddha the like is about true Spiritualness. Back to sailing, is there something in the act of sailing that touches some people to the degree that they get a spiritual enlightenment? Perhaps it is some type of trigger for those who are already of that mindset. I know there are many many more sailors out there than I have or will ever encounter, and many of those are far less than spiritual. However those that I have encountered all for the most part share the same basic spiritual awareness that we are but a small part of the greater whole and should respect each other as such. To disrespect a part of nature is to disrespect ourselves (there is that environmental thing again). So are sailors on a whole more spiritual? I guess that would depend on who and what they are compared to, however I think on a whole the very act, the need to sail, the desire to connect to the wind and water, to achieve that Feng Shui Harmony, Yin Yang balance, without the noise & pollution of man-made propulsion is, even if not seen/recognized as such, a calling of the Spirit, …even perhaps, the desire to be one with God.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Tai Chi, Sailing and Laser racing Yup this is one of those post. I read the Tillerman’s, a well respected sailing blogger’s post about racing and taking snapshots views instead of video . What he started doing, by seeing “snapshots” is what I will expand on but, I will to speak on it from different perspective and another level. Anyway he got me to thinking, sometimes that is dangerous an old girl friend use to say, one reason why she is an old gf, remarks like that, but I digress… Once a upon a time not so long ago the T-man asked for suggestions on what he should so to help his training. I said Tai Chi. He no doubt thought I was being humorous. I was not. Explanation to follow later… We say Kung Fu helps with everything you do , it is not just about fighting. That is the smallest part of the training. One of my old teachers who was not a Tai Chi Master but a Arnis /Kali Master, that knew Taichi at least the principals & fundamentals, many of which were used in Kali ( A Philippine martial art). He was hired to work with the Dallas Cowboys at one of their camps. Why you may ask, because he could help them move and deal with energy. Now that is only one part of expanded use of Tai Chi, which I have spoken of before. As in dealing with wind energy and the transfer of that to the boat and sailing. Now, we have another saying the Kung Fu makes you more “aware”. As in, aware of yourself and your environment as well as others around you. Feeling the “vib” as I call it, or as they said in Star Wars the “force” Tai Chi is a form of Kung Fu. In Tai Chi we start with that awareness training internally, within ourselves and learn to expand that to others. To know your opponent first you must know yourself. We start with the single form, learning about our body, how to balance it. Then we move to partner practice, where we learn more about ourselves and balance, our weak points our strong points. Next step is expanding that “awareness” to your partner their balance their weak points when they move, & when they are still. Using that expanded awareness you learn to contract or expand that awareness, extending the force field you can say. Expanded, walking through a strange area, looking , feeling for something strange, danger or in the case of sailing feeling the wind, looking/feeling for shifts, feeling the boat, the water. Is it balanced, am I balanced in it, if I was sitting in another position would it be better balanced with itself, with the water, with the wind. Same as if using a weapon or a double weapon, the weapon is no longer something that you are holding it/they is/are part of you. You and it/them must be in balance, the old be one with the weapon saying. In this case, being one with the boat, wind and water. With a partner feeling their weight shift, the balance change, tension. Learning to read their body. In awhile you can do that without touching them, seeing how the body is set, weighted to move. So, in racing and sailing we need to be aware of the wind changes, patterns. Taking in the environment, feeling and seeing not just what is in front of us, but small changes in the water, the body of the competition. Looking feeling, sensing, seeing small things while looking at big things… Not only the wind, but the feel of your boat & yourself everyday we are a little different. The training, forms, breathing, drills helps us stay as centered, balanced as much as possible…aware. Add to that the mind/mental state of being in meditation, calm, but actively aware. The more aware you are and better able to use that on multi levels the better you sail.


  1. very interesting.
    i’m adding in RSS Reader

  2. […] chi personal force field” and what should pop up but the wonderful blogger himself with […]

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  4. “However those that I have encountered all for the most part share the same basic spiritual awareness that we are but a small part of the greater whole and should respect each other as such.”

    Hmm. I don’t consider myself spiritual, but I feel strongly everything else in this sentence. I think it’s just as true without the word “spiritual” (or more, for me). In the driest of terms, I consider it a matter of systems theory rather than of spirituality. In less dry terms, I believe that we’re all part of the same physical body and that people who don’t take care of the global body are cancers in it.

    But I believe all of this in a way that doesn’t in any way imply or propose a person or overmind or any other kind of god that is in charge and separate from the basic existence that everyone has.

    The Buddhism I’m attracted to is the oldest kind where there’s nothingness, there’s becoming part of the weave of illusion in this world, and then there’s nothingness. Where the nirvana is without self and there is no godhood you strive for.

    Can you call this kind of idea spiritual? If so, what does spiritual mean to you?

  5. :-)

    “D”, Spiritual is just a word, like a finger pointing to the moon. It is not good or bad nor the moon. How one lives, treats others, and the environment, the “global body” if you want to call it that, is more important than the label that one puts on it. To-may -to, To-ma-to.

    “The Tao that can be named is not the true Tao”

  6. greetingsd.
    I , like you , am combining a taoist way of life with that aboard a sailboat. I am interested in the possible existence of a tai chi form that may have been practiced by chinese sailors.
    The European parallel here is that the navy ratings , on long voyages , wer compelled to scrub decks,climb rigging , haul sails etc incessantly,not only to implant authority and obedience , but also to ensure that wehen they arrived in the caribbean,pacific islands , etc then they were fit enough to be able to fight.
    Thhis must also have applied to their Chinese brothers at sea.

    • Interesting Jon, I have not heard of Tai Chi that is practice by sailors. There are several practical reason behind that I think. Room being at the top. However there are drills that can be done wiht very very little room, which are part of Tai Chi training , eg: silk reeling or many of the one finger zen chi gong drills.

      peace & fair winds, thanks for dropping by with a comment.

  7. I coach high school sailing and am looking for a more Zen-like approach to sailing. The kids are part of suburban, consumerist, American culture and traditional intellect only, dissect the world into disjointed “disciplines” type of schooling. Despite current ed-speak claims, they have little or no experience with multi-sensory learning and little or no knowledge of a holistic view of the world. Where do I start in helping them sail by the feel of the boat, the wind, and the water? How do they free their minds from over thinking the boat handling issues to become more aware of all that is around them?
    Having all the constraints of our culture, and understanding the contradictions, I, of course, want to do this a quickly as possible. I have tried to work on balance with some 10 minute yoga sessions where we focus on balancing poses. My hope is that some body balance starts to permeate the feel and idea of balance through their entire sailing experience.
    Is there a way to go down this path?

  8. Beautifull! I never knew that Feng Shui is actually wind and water. However, since I was a kid, I realized that sailing puts me in a certain state of mind – far far away from everyday stress, politics and egotrippers. This post her kinda helped me understand that. Thx. Oh, and when it is winter, virtual sailing can almost get me into that state of mind too.

  9. calm breeze in my hair
    lapping water on the hull
    life is in balance

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