William of Occam used the razor as a metaphor for splitting hairs of difference, between competing theories in search of the one that was most true, stating that, “the simplest explanation must be the most correct”. In the practice martial of martial arts, the razor is the human being and its remarkable ability to endlessly split its balance point into finer and finer hairs. The simplest version of martial arts is the practice of Yi Ch’üan, Standing Meditation. It is the anvil on which to temper the mettle of human ability, to know and preserve true centered balance. I say centered balance, in an effort to include the mind, because one cannot achieve excellence without being centered in both mind and body. At that point, the mysterious pass opens and the so termed, “strings of the cosmic marionette” are free to manipulate our bodies to accomplish whatever the moment is calling for. From this great position of centered awareness, athletic excellence or essential, self-preservation, is guaranteed. I have believed since childhood, without question, that my body, being part of the world, knew the exact number of beans contained in a lottery jar, or which playing card had been selected from the deck, without seeing it. Or know the exact distance to the rim of the basketball goal and exactly how much pressure to put on the ball to make it swish through the center of the net, which seems impossible in all other considerations, unless this uniquely subtle, yet ever-so-true fact about the ability of human beings is accepted by the individual without one iota of doubt and applied to their interaction with the world. I believed all I had to do was to not get in the way of my natural abilities and all of those things would be immediately possible, and they are! I felt everyone’s body and being were this way and that whatever path I could find to access that innate ability, would benefit any who I could convince to follow it.
I know now that this is the case with mind and Nature, and my search through the years has been on how to accentuate that natural ability. Early on, I correctly saw T’ai Chi Ch’üan as a possible doorway into releasing the acquired conditioned responses of the living self and freeing up the body to use its intrinsic reflexes to perform the daily tasks of my life. This is what T’ai Chi does, if it is practiced from the alignment of centers known as the mysterious pass, because it is only in the mysterious pass that these skills are accessible to an animate life form, interacting within the complex matrix of the Natural world. The ability is inherent in the structure of the bio-electrical, body-mind and its natural ensconcement in the unity of the electromagnetic matrix of all things, so the only skill required is the ability to enter that balanced and centered state of being. It is a state of being imbued with intuition and foresight that could best be described as esp or telepathy. Another method of looking at it, is to see it or understand it, as a condition of high awareness, yet awareness itself is an action of reception performed by an individual, toward the rest of the environment which inexorably surrounds it. But true listening on the highest level, occurs when the mind transcends the self and the perception of looking at the Universe from an individual in a body, and realizes its unity with all things is not interrupted by being surrounded by a surface of skin. In this state, one moves with the Cosmos for the preservation of all that is good and positive toward the highest aspects of life, living and consciousness. We are sentience blooming in the great maw of infinity, and our gift-of-life assigned task, is to realize this and apply that wisdom to how we viscerally function in our lives. From this profound perspective we can access a state of impeccability, perfect timing, and masterful, flowing execution of whatever is required by the vicissitudes of the dynamic unfolding of the future, as it migrates through the present, into the past.
This centered, balanced and stressless space is the threshold of all great, memorable moments in sports; the hail-mary pass thrown right before, but caught after the buzzer, that was perfectly on the mark, the unbelievable one-handed catch while floating, seemingly effortlessly, through the air, or three-point shot when all seems lost without it, that swishes through with undeniable certainty. These events originate from and are made possible by the focused excellence of the mysterious pass, the valley spirit, the yellow woman or divine speed, four of the many names given to this integrated state of being.
Bob Beaman’s 29′ 2 ½” long jump left the toe pad, while he was deep in the mysterious pass, where all forces coalesced naturally to send him soaring on the perfect trajectory, translating running speed and jumping forces into a corridor of athletic finesse, unequaled for two decades. This moment precedes the great jump, punt, pass or shot. It is the state of mind acquired, achieved and believed, before the lightning of the swing of the bat, racket, club or hand. I have believed for years that the quick wrist flip of the correctly executed basketball shot, was the way to evade the doubting mind and momentarily access the mysterious pass, to make possible, that most unlikely event of shooting a basketball from thirty feet away and hitting nothing but the bottom of the net. Then, doing it again.
It occurs because the shooter, however twisted and manipulated by the complexities of the game and the maneuvers made to approach the basket, was balanced in the confidence of their mind and the fearless actualization of their body at the point of release. They found the mysterious pass, hit their mark and expressed the truth of the moment.
Athletic ability, plus the mysterious pass equals moments of excellence. T’ai Chi Ch’üan trains the ability to access this state of being. Call it the “zone” if you wish, but it is easily described by a similar sounding euphemism, “is on!” When one is “on”, one does not react to, but instead, dances in step with, the partner, or aggressor, or lover. This dancing with the matrix is our natural home, and we spent much time there as children, but we allow ourselves, through lack of awareness as the programming is happening, to be programmed, because you are not supposed to be aware of it as “programming”, for it to correctly insert itself into your being, and after years of such information and structures being impinged upon our reality, our beings get driven into a situation of multiple and predictable conditioned responses, and our access to the natural zone where we function intuitionally, has been shut down by the simple preponderance of unnatural responses evoked from us by our society, such as fear, disgust, hatred and shame. We must truly love our opponent as much as we love life, if we are to ask the living world to help us prevail in the situation by protecting both lives. It is by having the deepest respect for all life forms, that allows us the highest actualization of our abilities to protect ourselves and others, as we act as the great Stewards of Earth we are expected, and put here, to be.