25 January 2009

Never Finished

In the most recent Yoga Journal (February 2009), Matthew Sanford shares this thought about Yoga:

I feel wonder as I realize that every pose is infinite and that ultimate mastery is not possible. I feel wonder as my practice teaches me to trust that time, dedication, and curiosity are what bring me progress, not the intensity of my will. Most of all, I feel wonder about the little things—how my breathing is such a sensual experience, how my lifted chest directs awareness through my extremities. Finally, I am filled with a sense of wonder as I realize that my yoga practice allows me to refine the quality of my existence.

The same sentiment applies to taiji. It is a task that is never finished. It's hard to imagine what it would mean to be finished. Perfection? Professor Cheng Man Ch'ing himself never felt he'd reached perfection, and said that he had only done the form perfectly perhaps three times in his lifetime ... and he created that form.

This is something that constantly puzzles me about adherents to mainstream religion. Except for the ones who emphasize proselytizing, their task is done the instant they convert. There is nothing left to do or perfect. What's the point? What meaning can there be? What is left to explore? There is no path to be found there: only a destination. This is true, also, of the common view of heaven. It is a destination with no purpose other than to be a destination: there's nothing and no where left to explore. How can that be a heaven? If perfection is ever genuinely achieved, that is the time to give up, as there is nothing left to perfect. That is ultimate hopelessness and despair. But just as there can be no largest prime number, there is no such thing as perfection. Any so-called "most perfect" point can still be improved upon.

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