There are 2 enemies to open awareness – sometimes called Golden Flower consciousness. They are Oblivion and Distraction (see article Escaping from Oblivion & Distraction). On the external level noise, talking, or extraneous activity might distract us from our Tai Chi practice. Paying closer attention to the details of the movements is a simple antidote to these distractions. Indeed the reason these external annoyances distract our attention is because we are not completely immersed in the movements. There is a good chance that we are in a free floating state of Oblivion, which we mistake for ‘the flow’. While relaxing it is not really the state we want to cultivate. So these external distractions could be considered a blessing in the sense that the antidote is paying closer attention to our movements, which causes us to be more aware.
While external distraction is annoying, internal distraction is disturbing in that it is based in the residue of emotions ignited in day-to-day life. “I can’t believe she said this.” – “Why did he do that to me?” – “It just makes me so mad that … “ (Fill in the blank.)
Although there are myriad emotional distractions, anger is at the root of many of them. Indeed Master Ni implied that anger is blocking his final liberation.
Why is that? The foundation of anger is the belief that we are our Person. As long as we maintain this false identification we are so heavy with a sense of self that freedom is impossible. A continual string of emotions distracts our awareness. We become angry when our Person is offended, slighted, or his expectations are not met. Indeed anything that gets in our Person’s way angers us. This destructive attachment to our Person is the cause of anger, which destroys our concentration as well as leading opposing cultures into war against each other. It is something to be avoided at all costs.
Unfortunately most of us believe we are our Person and protect our Person’s agenda at all costs. However until we jettison this attachment liberation is forever outside our grasp. As long as we justify our anger, our concentration is going to be disturbed. The solution, though incredibly difficult and counterintuitive, is to realize that anger is generated internally rather than externally.
We are referring to being angry, not acting angry, which are miles apart. Acting angry is a method of communication that can be used effectively in certain situations, but which leaves no residue. Yin and yang are completely differentiated. Double weightedness is avoided and one can immediately shift to the non-emotional mode at any time. Mothers, coaches, and teachers regularly use this technique to stress the importance of their communication.
On the other hand being angry leaves a residue, which might last hours, days, weeks, years, lifetimes, or even generations. Infected with this destructive emotion we attempt to avoid, eliminate or destroy the supposed external cause of our emotional disturbance when it is entirely internal.
When negative emotions such as anger disturb our attention to the movements the best course of action is to allow the emotional fire to burn out gradually rather than adding any fuel to it. Instead of multiplying examples to justify our fury – the usual course of action, the more effective solution is to use the poison as the cure. Become aware of the anger, which will lead to awareness of the movements, and the fire will naturally burn itself out. Similarly for liberation from emotional grief: allow the delirium to run its course until it’s possible to quench the fever with quietude.