by Professor Cheng Man Ching
(Photo: Ken van Sickle)
“Taoists advocate wu wei (non-action or effortlessness), and the Buddhists venerate the doctrine of emptying.
He who is dedicated to non-action seeks to realize the great hope of immortality. He who endeavors to empty the world of objectivity does so to cultivate his spirit, which is the only real self.
So as the Taoists and Buddhists have their goals, I would adopt as my watchword for Tai Chi Chuan the simple phrase, “investment in loss”. For a practitioner this means that they voluntarily and at their own initiative suffer “loss” and that the result will bring the benefit of success and health. To be explicit, he who invests in small losses makes small gains, he who invests in bigger losses makes bigger gains – what is worth having is worth paying for!
Both Buddhists and Taoists in their doctrines aim at salvation of people’s souls, but, first of all, they must save their own. To invest in loss is the same as what Confucius meant by “ke chi”, to subdue the self. Mencius says in his book, “When Heaven is about to confer great office on any man, it first exercises his mind with suffering and his sinews and bones with toil,…exposes his body to hunger,…and supplies his incompetencies.” This basic commandment of the Confucian doctrine is for one to subdue the self and to seek jen – ie. to develop in one the virtues of love, creativity, and harmony; and then to extend one’s self to others, i.e. to enlarge one’s sphere of goodness by helping other people do good.
Although I have not risen to the height of Confucius’ teaching, I try to learn and to venerate its meaning and spirit.”