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The Wood Element and Spring

IN CHINESE PHILOSOPHY, the Wood Element manifests in the cycle of the year as Spring. This Element is wonderfully exemplified by the sprouting energy of a seed that has lain dormant during the winter (the season of the Water Element), and with the lengthening of days and returning warmth of the sun, gives birth to new and sudden growth. The young green sprouts burst upward toward the light. The fresh growth of spring provides the farmer with vision and hope for the future, just as the birth of children - the new growth of humanity - gives everyone hope for our future. The Wood Element also manifests as the DNA within the seed and child, which is their internal plan or blueprint for how they will live and grow, stage by stage, into maturity. Thus the Wood Element gives us both the vision to create plans and make clear decisions as well as the impulse and persistence to carry out our vision.

In the Yang Style Short Form, the Wood element, with all of the characteristics mentioned above, is fully expressed in the posture known as Tui (pronounced tway). Video of Tui. In Tui, we start with 100% of our weight in our back leg, while sending our tree roots deep down into the earth. We gather the nourishing Qi energy from the earth, and as we shift forward to 70/30, the energy rises up through our root, up through the legs (like rising tree sap), is guided by the tan tien, and is expressed through our upward and outward extended arms like the branches of a plant. During the shifting forward into Tui, the Wood energy surges through us, with purpose and forward direction. However, this surging energy has to be flexible like tree branches that sway in the wind. As we know, rigid branches will break with a strong wind. Likewise, rigidity in our arms causes breaks in our form that blocks the flow of Qi energy.

We can derive great benefit from resting in the posture of Tui and/or shifting back and forth between 100% and 70/30 positions. Working with Tui in this way is known as "Grow Bamboo" in the Roots and Branches system of Qi Gong. Working the posture Tui, will help us to generate flexibility in our body/mind/spirit, enhance our creative abilities, envision our plans for the future, and gain the clarity to make sound and appropriate decisions.

On a spiritual level, the Wood element gives us Spiritual Vision. Just like plants, we too have an innate attraction to growing toward the Light; Wood Energy helps us sense the Light and move along our path toward our highest potential, thus awakening and fulfilling our Spiritual Vision. This is the true growth of conscious spiritual evolution that fulfills our destiny both as individuals and on the level of humanity as a whole.

author: Thomas Malone

Meditation: Intention and Dedication

THERE IS YIN AND YANG to intention. While it is important to set goals and make realistic plans to accomplish those goals, it is also essential to remain flexible and "go with the flow."

How does this relate to meditation? In three ways:
1. Renewing and refreshing our motivation
2. Avoiding distractions and detours
3. Accelerating the process

Motivation: If our meditation becomes simply habitual or obligatory, then we will inevitably develop either indifference or resentment, and even small disruptions to our routine will give us excuses to postpone or suspend practice. If, on the other hand, we remember why we are engaged in meditation, then our meditative practice will remain fresh and enthusiastic, and we will creatively find ways to continue to practice as circumstances change.

Avoiding diversions: As one progresses in the practice of meditation, one passes through several very attractive stages which can become dead-ends. First comes a stable sense of peacefulness and quietude. If one persists beyond this, next are the experiences of great clarity and bliss. With further persistence come truly extraordinary experiences of varying degrees of non-duality as well as supernormal powers and perceptions. All of these are just signposts or side effects - not the ultimate purpose or endpoint of meditation. By reminding ourselves of our true objective, we are much more likely to avoid getting stuck in attachment to subjective phenomena.

Acceleration: This is perhaps the most remarkable benefit of conscious intention. Each time we renew our intention, it imparts a small force in our psyche moving us toward our goal. The more regularly and frequently we apply this force, the faster we accelerate toward our goal (this is simple physics). Here it is appropriate to mention that the more transcendental and/or altruistic one's intention, the more powerful the force exerted; the intention to achieve pristine Enlightenment is much more potent than an intention to simply calm one's mind; the intention to genuinely benefit others has much more power and inherent transcendence than wishing only to benefit oneself.

His Eminence Tai Situ Rinpoche has proposed an offering/dedication/intention which he characterizes as "Triply Ultimate" (1. all the virtue there is; 2. for the benefit of all; 3. that each being achieve their highest possible potential):
"I offer all the virtue accumulated by all beings throughout beginningless time for the benefit of all; may each and every being without exception achieve complete and perfect realization."
Finally, some practical advice: It is recommended to dedicate or offer one's work at the beginning of each session of meditation, to remember the dedication at least once during the practice, and to repeat it at the end of the session. An analogy would be a) intending to compose an essay, b) keeping the subject in mind while writing, then c) submitting it.

May your practice be fruitful and of benefit to both yourself and others.

author: Patrick Wooldridge