Zensekai (zen's world under sail)

The sailing adventures of s/v Zen and crew

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Feng Shui, Tai Chi, Sailing & Zen

It came to me whilst returning from Tai Chi practice today that the four are very similar. According to the Tao Te Ching and the teachings of Lao Tzu they are most likely the same or at least brothers/sisters of the same mother. I had the revelation before about Feng Shui and sailing but today came the Tai Chi awareness and it all clicked. Like when I became a vegetarian while walking through a supermarket in the meat section seeing all the dead animals, but that is another story I digress. I saw the Zen tie-in earlier also while thinking about this sailing instructor in Japan that is a "Zen" master he teaches his advance students sailing with some aspects of Zen philosophy. I thought, yeah, I can see that!

It all makes sense. I named my boat "Zen" which is "Chan" in Chinese by the way. Chan Buddhism ( Zen in Japanese ) was developed in the Shaolin Temple which is where my Kung Fu roots are. I am something like a 10th or 11th generation Sifu/Shrfu/Sensei in direct linage I forget which, it is just for reference. Anyway in Chinese the last boat was named Kuan Yin. Kuan Yin is the Chinese Deity who achieved enlightenment. However instead of going to the next "level" plane of being let's say, she chose to stay behind and help lead/direct people to receive enlightenment. She is often shown as riding a Sea Dragon. Since my first boat was more of my learning venture, I felt "Zen" was a good name for this one, having achieved some further "enlightenment" about sailing. It will also take me to "Nirvana" in this case meaning "Blue Water" kind of deep thoughts ne?!

Anyway, Feng Shui is the Chinese study of balancing energy in your environment ( which I am certified by the way to do if you need a reading ). Feng Shui means wind and water. So obviously right, wind /water = sailing. Sailing is finding that balance between wind energy and water and the effect it has on your boat equals = sailing. The better balance there is, the faster and more efficient you sail. You, the boat, the wind and the water are in harmony, you have good "Feng Shui"

Now this also translates to Tai Chi. Tai Chi is the balancing of yin and yang, wind/water, positive/negative. I'm not speaking just of Tai Chi Chuan, which is translated out loosly to Grand Balanced/Harmonious Fist. I'm speaking of just Tai Chi the essence. The Yin /Yang symbol you see with the black and white. Hmm I just thought of some racial signification , but I'll go into that later perhaps. So referring back to balancing of the elements we can see how Tai Chi, Feng Shui and Sailing are related. Sailing balancing the effect of wind power/energy on your sail causing a Yin reaction on your boat eg: moving. That in turn translates into a yang energy on the water which in turn turns Yin as the boat passes through the water. Tai Chi, the better you're in balance with yourself and your opponent the better fighter or healthier ( from a non-violent spiritual perspective ) you are.

In Tai Chi Chuan it is us who are the Yang energy moving through air, which turns into Yin when doing the solo form. On the other side when doing push hands with a partner or combat, we change from Yin to Yang energy depending on what we need to accomplish or avoid, as in pain. In sailing we need to be aware of the changes in the wind in order to remain in harmony with the elements and move forward. With Tai Chi Chuan the Yang energy coming at us may be very violent eg: punches and kicks. We need to adjust our energy to be more Yin to absorb/redirect this violence back into our attacker or ground this energy so as we are not hurt. In the Sailing world sailing this would be gales, high winds, storms, etc. That energy needs to be absorbed/redirected into the sails, grounded into the water so that we are not hurt or stopped and continue to move forward or at the least in the case of heaving-to be at peace/centered in the storm.

All take understanding of changes in energy flow, "feeling" the environment. Letting go of forcing an achievement, letting it happen through you. Balancing the energy of the environment, being one with the flow ( or the force and they said in Star Wars) , maintaining your center in the moment to archive Harmony/ Peace/ a state of Zen / a great sail


  • At 4:06 PM, Blogger Tillerman said…

    I think you're on to something. You should write a book on Zen and Sailing. Worked for Pirsig.


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