Straw dogs

Heaven and earth are not humane; they regard all beings as straw dogs

The Tao Te Ching refers to the Chinese ritual where dogs made from straw are led though town to soak up negative influences (sort of like a metaphysical vacuum cleaner). At the end of the ceremony, when their use is over, they are burnt [probably a symbolic part of cleansing]. If this idea is a law of nature than it makes sense to apply it to your training… everything you do in pursuit of your eventual goal is a straw dog; every thought, idea, training tool, technique, form, posture, relationship, teacher, class and style. Everything is simply a means to an end. If you ever think you’ve fully understood something you’ve stagnated by holding unto a straw dog. Achieve the paradox of deep involvement and detachment at the same time and you will know how, why and when to change your various tools (straw dogs) in order to get the most from your training.

Nick Cheung, Northampton Tai Chi

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