23 February 2021

Films of Mark's Left side classes

I have just edited all three lessons so far. I will send the link to the first one with lesson 4. 2 and 3 should be with you already, if you are a member of the class.

February news & Summer workshop planned dates

Classes are continuing online until Easter with Caro and Mark. A link to the recording of last night's left Side class should be available today when I have edited it. 

We are tentatively hoping that the postponed 15th Annual T'ai Chi Intensive will be able to run this year. I will contact possible venues today and hope to have more news at Easter. The proposed dates so far are the usual last week of July (24-30th) with our usual warm-up the night before for partnerwork on eve of 23rd. Obviously everything depends on a certain virus, and on the UK government's handling of it, and on so many other variables. But I am writing this plan here, in the hope that it may come to fruition, and that we will all be able to push hands again soon. 

Perhaps we will need an outdoors venue and covered area, and to have to bring our own packed meals, not to share. We will certainly have lots more handwashing and hand gel applications, and have windows and doors wide open. Maybe tea and coffee will be made by a couple of people each break, and laid out, on a rota, likewise with washing up. We are adaptable folk, us T'ai Chi people, and with humour and a bit of planning, as well as lots of care, there is a good chance we can have our week or at least 3 or 4 days, of workshop. 

15 February 2021

Classes with Mark and Caro continue until Easter

Get in touch to be put on any of the class invite lists, or to be taken off!

Classes continue until Easter, exact dates to follow soon.

Not Two

Last week Mark mentioned in class the piece of writing below, by the Third Chinese Zen (Ch'an) Patriarch. He sent me this link and I quote it all here for your interest. I have added bold type to the passage Mark discussed, the section which had inspired John Kells about 'not-two'.


The Great Way* is not difficult for those who have no preferences.  When love and hate are both absent, everything becomes clear and undisguised.  Make the smallest distinction, however, and heaven and earth are set infinitely apart. If you wish to see the truth, then hold no opinions for, or against, anything.  To set up what you like against what you dislike is the disease of the mind.  When the deep meaning of things is not understood, the mind's essential peace is disturbed to no avail.

The Way is perfect, like vast space where nothing is lacking and nothing is in excess.  Indeed, it is due to our choosing to accept or reject that we do not see the true nature of things.  Live neither in the entanglements of outer things, nor in inner feelings of emptiness.  Be serene in the oneness of things, and such erroneous views will disappear by themselves.  When you try to stop activity to achieve passivity, your very effort fills you with activity.  As long as you remain in one extreme or the other, you will never know Oneness.

Those who do not live in the single Way fail in both activity and passivity, assertion and denial.  To deny the reality of things is to miss their reality; to assert the emptiness of things is to miss their reality.  The more you talk and think about it, the further astray you wander from the truth.  Stop talking and thinking, and there is nothing you will not be able to know.

To return to the root is to find the meaning, but to pursue appearances is to miss the source.  At the moment of inner enlightenment, there is going beyond appearance and emptiness.  The changes that appear to occur in the empty world we call real only because of our ignorance.  Do not search for the truth; only cease to cherish opinions.

Bodhidharma Image 2Do not remain in the dualistic state; avoid such pursuits carefully.  If there is even a trace of this and that, of right and wrong, the Mind-essence will be lost in confusion.  Although all dualities come from the One, do not be attached even to this One.  When the mind exists undisturbed in the Way, nothing in the world can offend, and when a thing can no longer offend, it ceases to exist in the old way.

When no discriminating thoughts arise, the old mind ceases to exist.  When thought-objects vanish, the thinking-subject vanishes, as when the mind vanishes, objects vanish.  Things are objects because of the subject (mind); the mind (subject) is such because of things (objects).  Understand the relativity of these two and the basic reality: the unity of emptiness.  In this Emptiness the two are indistinguishable and each contains, in itself, the whole world.  If you do not discriminate between coarse and fine, you will not be tempted to prejudice and opinion.

Bodhidharma Image 3To live in the great Way is neither easy nor difficult, but those with limited views are fearful and irresolute; the faster they hurry, the slower they go.  And clinging (attachment) cannot be limited.  Even to be attached to the idea of enlightenment is to go astray.  Just let things be in their own way, and there will be neither coming nor going.  Obey the nature of things (your own nature) and you will walk freely and undisturbed.

When thought is in bondage, the truth is hidden, for everything is murky and unclear, and the burdensome practice of judging brings annoyance and weariness.  What benefit can be derived from distinctions and separation?

Bodhidharma Image 4If you wish to move in the one Way, do not dislike even the world of senses and ideas.  Indeed, to accept them fully is identical with true enlightenment.  The wise man strives to no goals, but the foolish man fetters himself.  There is one Dharma, not many; distinctions arise from the clinging needs of the ignorant.  To seek Mind with the (discriminating) mind is the greatest of all mistakes.

Rest and unrest derive from illusion; with enlightenment there is no liking and disliking.  All dualities come from ignorant inference.  They are like dreams or flowers in air; foolish to try to grasp them.  Gain and loss, right and wrong; such thoughts must finally be abolished at once.

If the eye never sleeps, all dreams will naturally cease.  If the mind makes no discriminations, the ten thousand things are as they are, of single essence.  To understand the mystery of this One-essence is to be released from all entanglements.  When all things are seen equally, the timeless Self-essence is reached.  No comparisons or analogies are possible in this causeless, relationless state.

Consider movement stationary, and the stationary in motion; both movement and rest disappear.  When such dualities cease to exist, Oneness itself cannot exist.  To this ultimate finality no law or description applies.

For the unified mind in accord with the Way, all self-centered striving ceases.  Doubts and irresolutions vanish, and life in true faith is possible.  With a single stroke we are freed from bondage; nothing clings to us and we hold to nothing.  All is empty, clear, self-illuminating, with no exertion of the mind's power.  Here thought, feeling, knowledge and imagination are of no value.  In this world of Suchness, there is neither self nor other-than-self.

Bodhidharma Image 5To come directly into harmony with this reality, just simply say when doubts arise, "Not two".  In this "not two", nothing is separate, nothing is excluded.  No matter when or where, enlightenment means entering this truth.  And this truth is beyond extension or diminution in time or space; in it, a single thought is ten thousand years.

Emptiness here, emptiness there, but the infinite universe stands always before your eyes.  Infinitely large and infinitely small; no difference, for definitions have vanished and no boundaries are seen.  So, too, with being and non-being.  Don't waste time in doubts and arguments that have nothing to do with this.  One thing, all things, move among and intermingle without distinction.  To live in this realization is to be without anxiety about non-perfection.  To live in this faith is the road to non-duality, because the non-dual is one with the trusting mind.

Words!  The Way is beyond language, for in it, there is no yesterday, no tomorrow, no today.

* NOTE:  The Chinese character translated as "Great Way" or "Way" is the character for "Tao."  --  Weinstein

07 February 2021

Invites are go

Hi all, hope you are having a good weekend despite the snow.

Invitations to all these classes have just been emailed. Please get in touch daytime on Monday if you don't have the invitations you need to join your Zoom classes. Thanks!

Monday eve Left Side with Mark

Tuesday eve London Dance group with Mark

Wednesday morning Short Form with Caro

Thursday eve Long Form with Mark

01 February 2021

This week's classes with Mark

I took the weekend off for a bit of birthday relaxation so the Zoom invites are only going out this morning. Please check you have the invites you need at least by the morning of the class. Thanks! 

Mark is recovering from something and says he will do the filming as soon as he feels up to it. He will be teaching this week, however. 

We will be recording the fortnightly Left Side Zoom class so that people can watch it at a later date. It will most likely be uploaded to zoom, or we could send the link to the students. Mark has not yet decided which it will be. 

30 January 2021

Next week's online classes

Tomorrow I will send the links to all the classes with Mark and myself via Zoom. Please check you have links to all the classes you'd like to attend, at least a day before the class, so that you have time to contact me to resend it if it has gone astray. Sometime people are contacting me 5 minutes before the class. So far I have been able to resend from my phone, if I am in the room assisting Mark, or from my laptop if I am at home, but this may not always be the case in future if I am away, or otherwise engaged. A bit of notice makes it easier. 

We'll also be recording future Left Side sessions, as folks have asked for those as a resource. If you have other classes with Mark that you would like recorded, let me know. I think Mark is more amenable to that now he is experienced teaching by Zoom.

Have a lovely weekend, I am having a birthday day off, apart from this one post!

27 January 2021

Our new website is live


This month I have been mostly staring at the laptop screen!

Great River T'ai Chi has a new online home - www.greatrivertaichi.com please have a look and let me know any thoughts, email me with suggestions, mistakes you may have noticed, or anything else. I have chosen a very simple style of layout, as people spend so much time online these days, it is good just to provide clear text, the information they may need, and some nice pictures. Crucially, this Wordpress site, like my art site at www.carolineross.co.uk, is optimized so that it is easily viewed on any device, phone, tablet or laptop / pc / Mac.

The old website now redirects there too. All the content has been refreshed or rewritten. I just have a few photos to find over the next few days and will keep adding at least one article to the blog each week. This events blog will stay here, as it is where we put all the 'housekeeping' messages and announcements for those already part of the schools. 

Today's new Sort Form lesson is up on the Dropbox. Best wishes to all, Caro x

23 January 2021

Next week's classes

You are welcome to join us by Zoom at:

Monday 25th 7.30pm Left side with Mark

Tuesday 26th at 7.30pm Dance for London students with Mark

Wednesday 27th 9am Short Form with Caro (we are up to Iron Fan Penetrates Back)

Thursday 28th 7.30pm Long Form class with Mark

121s and group study lasses are available most days with Mark by Zoom or Skype. 

Invites were sent today, Saturday. If you haven't received your expected email invite to your regular class, or wish to be taken off the list, get in touch with Caro. If you would like to book a 121, call or text Mark. 

17 January 2021

Invitations to classes with Mark

Hi friends, yesterday I emailed the invitations to Zoom classes with Mark. On Monday there is the new short form class. On Tuesday there is the London students Dance study group. So people's inboxes are not bulging, I will wait until tomorrow to send the Long Form invitation for Thursday and my class invite for Wednesday. Phew. Have a great weekend, big news next week but am staying mum for now!

13 January 2021

Invitations to Mark's online Short form Class

I will send these out over the weekend as I am still collating the names of those who would like to come along. Everyone is welcome, especially students of students of either of us, and those who want to revise Short Form that maybe has disappeared into a dim corner of memory... Get in touch. 

Also today's Short Form class with me via Zoom is now uploaded to the Dropbox.

12 January 2021

Good things

Thanks to all who came to the first Left Side class last night. That was fun.

Emails will go out this afternoon with invitations to: 1 - the regular Long Form class with Mark on Thursday evenings, 2 - the regular Short Form Wednesday morning class with me, and 3 - the first of the Short Form in depth with Mark fortnightly sessions. These will begin next Monday 18th Jan, and then alternate with the Left Side classes. They were requested by Christina in Sweden as she teaches students in Gothenburg. All those who have done some T'ai Chi before or who would like to revise their Short Form, or deepen it for the benefit of their students, are welcome, Email me to opt in to the fortnightly Zoom invitation emails.

A complete beginners video course with me for new students anywhere in the world is in the pipeline. I should start filming this weekend. Also, a full redesign of the neglected GRTC website is well overdue, so I shall be chained to this laptop for January. However, necessary lockdown in the UK, and probably everywhere else, is causing havoc for people's mental and physical wellbeing. Though I am sure the intricacies of T'ai Chi cannot be taught without touch, indeed, it is at root a martial art, there are many benefits to be shared that can be conveyed with words and video, when it is done with care and heart. That's what I intend to do. More soon, and I will post a link when it is available, so you can share it with any 'non-taichi' friends!

Have a great week. And here is a lovely picture from sunnier days, which I had forgotten to post here of the Aberdeenshire crew.