During the drive into work this morning, I listened to a Podcast by Steve Pavlina titled, Beyond Religion. He made some very interesting points regarding the idea of embracing conflicting ideas:
I want to challenge the idea that you must make your religious and spiritual beliefs a part of your identity (ex. “I am a Catholic” or “I am an atheist”). I think that when you weave any philosophical, religious, or spiritual framework into your identity, you severely limit yourself, becoming like a computer that runs only one piece of software.
Like most things in life, I tend to always relate things back to martial arts, and more specifically, taiji. Do I consider myself a “chen practitioner” or a “yang practitioner”? Lately, I’ve been identifying myself as primarily a chen practitioner, which is true based on my practices, but at the same time, I do not exclude myself from being a yang practitioner. Moreover, do I follow the teachings of Chen Xiaowang or Chen Zhenglei? In this regard, I follow the ideas of both.
Steve made an interesting parallel about using the tools inside a box, but not being trapped inside the box. This is something that I often do on a day to day basis. I look for tools and principles in both styles. I often find things in chen that shed light on my yang and vice versa. In addition, I generally scan the internet for articles and posts on anything related to taiji. Even reading about Sun style or Wu style has helped in my taiji developmeint, so I think ultimately, I consider myself a practitioner of taiji.
I subscribe to the idea that taiji has core principles but different interpretations of those core principles, hence the development of the 5 main taiji styles. Sort of like the idea that there are many paths to the top of the mountain, but once at the top, we all see the same moon philosophy.
Is there only “one true path”? I don’t think so, and I don’t believe Steve thinks so either. By narrowing oneself to just one true path, we shut the doors on others. Just like the idea that I have had many taiji instructors and I’ve have learned something from each and every one of them. Just like on a mountain, I can easily decide to take another path up, but in doing so, I may go thru some rocky terrain or try to find a path that’s less travelled, but ultimately, I learn something in each and every step I take along the path.