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Inspiring People May 22, 2010

Posted by heidi skarie in Book Review, Writing.
Tags: , ,

BookI’m inspired by people who are wonderfully alive and still contributing to the world in their later years. It opens me the possibility that I, too, can be productive and giving to the world as I age.  This winter when I was at an art gallery in Hawaii I saw on display clay figurines of animals created by a women in her eighties.  They were charming sculptures and she has quite a following of people who collect her work.  The woman still teaches art classes as well as selling her artwork.  I left the art gallery thinking about how wonderful it was that she could still do what she loved and pass her skill along to others.

This week I had another experience with a person who is contributing to life.  The man was Chungliang Al Huang. He is 73 years old and full of energy, love, and life.  I attended one of his workshops on Tai Ji. Huang is the founder and president of the Living Tao Foundation and the author of numerous books.  Accompanying Huang was Dave Darling who is an award-winning Cellist.

I came away from the workshop recharge and inspired.  Huang talked about Tai Ji as an ever-constant ever-changing creative process.  He teaches his students to be spontaneous and to dance with the movements.

In his book, Spirit of the Dancing Warrior, he says that “Your primary intention is to discover how to play, train, work and live in alignment with our heart.”   He quoted the Buddha who said, “Your work is to discover your greatness and to give your self to it.”  Huang went on to say, “When you function from a heart-space . . . you demonstrate integrity, affirm yourself and others, and seek the extraordinary in each day.”

In an article in Internal Arts Magazine July- August 1988 Huang told a story about a man who came to a Zen master.  He said was a doctor and told all about himself, then said he wanted to learn from the master about Zen Buddhism.  The master asked him to have some tea, and then poured the tea into a cup.  He continued pouring even though the cup had overflowed.  The doctor said, “The tea is spilling over.” The master said,  “You come with a full cup.  Your cup is already overflowing with knowledge.  Unless you come with emptiness and openness, I can give you nothing.”  Huang said, “We need that kind of innocence, that kind of ignorance, in learning and dealing with things every day.”

In the class Huang talked about the same idea.  The Chinese phrase is Wu Wei.  Doing by not getting in the way, or going with the flow.  I think of it as letting go.  Not getting in the way of life.  So often we have to release something in order for something new to come.  Be grateful for the wonderful things we experience and then let them go so new things can come in.

Darling led a part of the workshop as well.  He taught us to let go of all limitations about our musical abilities whether singing, dancing, or playing a musical instrument.  Forget any teacher that said you couldn’t carry a note or discouraged you in some way. Darling said that when he works with cello students he doesn’t say this is going to be a difficult piece, he said this is a beautiful piece and we will have fun learning it.  We sang and danced to his beautiful cello music, letting ourselves be free and enjoy the energy of the other people in the room.

Spirit of the Dancing Warriors is by Huang and Dr. Jerry Lynch.  The book uses a meditation program based on warrior virtues.  It is a soulful path to motivation, inspiration, and wisdom for athletics, fitness, and life.  Huang’s website is http://www.livingtao.org.

Have you read any books lately that inspired you?  Please share the book and tell us why it inspired you.



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