Tew Bunnag introduces his book, Praying the Body
The deepest level of T’ai Chi is that of prayer, which I would like to define as communion with the universal spirit.
If meditation is the awakening and nurturing of the unconditional awareness that puts us in touch with the reality behind image and appearance , what some would describe as “the sacred reality“ , then prayer is the active expression and affirmation of that connection.
It is not a part of the art that can be taught. It is rather the motivating force, the context in which the practice of T’ai Chi takes place and is very much related to the meditative quality that becomes strengthened and refined in the training. It is also the most difficult aspect of the art to talk about.
To start with there is the obvious inadequacy of words to describe what takes place in the heart, beyond reason and analysis. We do not really understand what we are doing when we pray. But we know that it comes from a deep impulse inside us. Our logical mind may discount it as a childish superstition and yet we know that peace and comfort we receive from the act is real enough. Those who have suffered pain, loss, grief know it’s healing power. When we engage in prayer a certain ineffable energy comes into play. But as much as we may try to capture it, the essence of prayer remains a mystery; necessarily so, I believe, for it is through it that we reconnect time and time again to the mystery and power of the universe that surrounds us.
In the end there is no need to discuss it simply live it daily. And yet it sometimes helps to share this intimate, personal experience, if only because in doing so we may come to realise that whatever path we have chosen to follow there is a common ground be discovered and explored.
Peace and Loving compassion to all!
Tew Bunnag, London 1996