Saturday, August 22, 2009

Tao Books: The Spirit of Tai Chi: Essential Principles

Of all the various books I've borrowed from the public library for resource help with the series on the TTC, The Spirit of Tai Chi: Essential Principles by John Lash is my favorite. In fact, I plan to use some of my birthday money in October to purchase a copy for myself!

Lash, American born and bred, runs the Harmonious Dragon Tai Chi School in Berne, Switzerland. As of the publish date for this book (2002), he had over 30 years experience studying and practicing Tai Chi. The text on the book's back cover really resonates with me.
Tai Chi is very much more than simply a form of exercise. It is a way of being, which combines the inner self and outer experience in a single unified expression of existence -- the Tao.
Aside from two or three introductory chapters, Lash goes through most of the TTC verse by verse and, sometimes, line by line. He explains how the sentiments express themselves in Tai Chi. In one section, he states that without embracing "love and compassion, Tai Chi becomes mere gymnastics."

While there is no question that the health benefits derived from the practice of Tai Chi can help anyone, understanding the foundational principles of Taoism enriches those benefits exponentially. In essence, Tai Chi becomes the physical expression of our innermost harmony and contentment.

After writing these words, it would seem like a safe assumption that I too am a long time practitioner of Tai Chi. It's not true! It's merely one of the things on my to do list! I would love to learn it, but I seem to live in an area now with a dearth of Tai Chi instructors.

And so, while I'm certain this book would speak deeply to anyone who practices the art of Tai Chi, I'm here to tell you it speaks just as eloquently to those of us who don't practice it all. Any of us would do well to become the Tao person that John Lash depicts.

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the Tao Te Ching and Taoism, in general.

Here's a brief bio I found on Lash from the website of the Harmonious Dragon:
Tao Shih John Lash is a certified instructor of the Yang Style Tai Chi system of Shaolin Master Yin Bai Hsia and has been studying with Master Chang-Wei Lin of Taipei, Taiwan since 1969. He is a White Crane Taoist of the Tao Chia.

John was born in 1948 in Arizona in the USA. He studied religious philosophy at Texas A&M University and the University of New Mexico. He finished his university studies with a Master's Degree and two years of post-Master's work.

John has studied and practiced Tai Chi and Taoism since 1969. During his personal spiritual journey, he has lived with Sikhs, Hindus, and Jewish people. On his travels, he has visited the holy places of Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Sikhism, Jainism, Buddhism, the Ba'hai's, and Native Americans. He is Tao Shih of the White Crane Taoists and has operated the Harmonious Dragon Tai Chi School and Tao Center since 1982. John is the author of The Tai Chi Journey, The Spirit of Tai Chi, The Yin of Tai Chi and The Way of the White Crane series which includes Vol.1 Tai Chi: the Moonlit Path to Mother Tao, Vol.2 Wu Chi: the Womb of Mother Tao, and Vol.3 White Crane Taoist Meditation. Two more volumes are in the process of being edited for publication.

John lives on a farm near Bern with his wife and four children.

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