Other Books

Books from Petra Kobayashi on other themes

The following titles are available as ebooks in English and German. The English titles are available through amazon.com or amazon.co.uk, the German titles through amazon.de. The printed versions of these titles will soon be available according to Amazon. When this occurs, you will find the appropriate link here.

(Each of the eBooks can be transferred onto six machines-from other owners too- readable on Kindle, PC, I Pad, I Phone and other reading equipment.)
Mysticism and Experience Mysticism and Experience
Mysticism and Experience opens an entrance into a seldom explained realm
and provides an orientation unto the spiritual path.
ISBN 13: 9-783-0003-7176-9
eBook: EUR 9,99 (see amazon for this title)
Paperback: EUR 18,50 (see amazon for this title)

Mystik und Erfahrung
Mystik und Erfahrung eröffnet einen Zugang zu einem wenig erklärten Bereich
und gibt Orientierung auf dem geistigen Weg.
ISBN 13: 9-783-0003-7179-0
eBook: EUR 9,99 (dieser Titel bei amazon)
Paperback: EUR 18,50 (dieser Titel bei amazon)

The End of the World or The Good Guys Win The End of the World or The Good Guys Win
A brief story occurring at the end of our world - looking closely at ourselves and our time
ISBN 13: 9-783-0003-7180-6
eBook: EUR 9,99 (see amazon for this title)
Paperback: EUR 18,50 (see amazon for this title)

Das Ende der Welt oder Die Guten gewinnen
Eine kleine Geschichte am Ende unserer Welt - Betrachtungen über uns selbst und unsere Zeit
ISBN 13: 9-783-0003-7178-3
eBook: EUR 9,99 (dieser Titel bei amazon)
Paperback: EUR 18,50 (dieser Titel bei amazon)

A Short Discourse about What Is A Short Discourse about What Is: Suchness and the Discovery of Reality & Questions addressed to Death, Beelzebub, Adam and Eve, God and Socrates
ISBN 13: 9-783-0003-7177-6
eBook: EUR 8,61 (see amazon for this title)
Paperback: EUR 18,50 (see amazon for this title)

Ein kleiner Diskurs zu dem was ist: Soheit und die Entdeckung der Wirklichkeit &
Fragen an den Tod, Beelzebub, Adam und Eva, Gott und Sokrates

ISBN 13: 9-783-0003-7175-2
eBook: EUR 8,61 (dieser Titel bei amazon)
Paperback: EUR 18,50 (dieser Titel bei amazon)

 



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T'ai Chi - spirituality and naturalness
It is not easy to understand T'ai Chi. Much of what is known here from Eastern paths seems to be missing there. There is no outer framework, like a monastery where students are instructed by their teacher, no forms of organization, hierarchies, not even a dress code. T'ai Chi seems to be reduced to exercises that are accessible to everyone to make use of, in order to benefit from it in many ways. Perhaps one knows of a Taoist background of T'ai Chi Ch'uan, that one could hardly define though. That T'ai Chi Ch'uan, carries T'ai Chi, the Supreme-Ultimate, in its name and that this is a synonym for the Tao, is widely unknown. Usually the Chi in its name is interpreted as Ch'i (life energy). This misunderstanding stems from the transcription from the Cantonese, the former official Chinese language. Without an apostrophe, there is a different meaning.
If one already has an idea of Taoism and knows that its exercise systems are comparable to the methods, practiced in Buddhism and Hinduism, a reference exists. Like them, the Taoist exercises are mainly practiced in a sitting position. They involve breathing and mental collection, instruct the concentration on subtle energy centres and lead to spiritual experiences.
One would think that T'ai Chi Ch'uan as a method is thus outlined, that it refers to the same knowledge. This is true in many ways. In T'ai Chi one should find quietness in movement, which shows a closeness to meditation practiced in sitting.
Indeed, exercise systems, whether practiced in sitting or in movement, show comparable developments and corresponding knowledge. Furthermore, practicing in movement causes its own access to the innermost realm of life and being.
First of all, the access to the life energy Ch'i is to be mentioned. This energy and an associated centre in the middle of the body, (Lower Tan Tien, Hara), are in the foreground of the so-called inner art of Asian self-defence. Also in the T'ai Chi Ch'uan of today, a practice oriented on this is widespread. By concentrating on this centre, an access to life energy is opened up, which results, among other things, in its use in self-defence techniques. Positive effects of T'ai Chi Ch'uan, in terms of health, are also connected with this approach. In the publications on T'ai Chi, also in our T'ai Chi books, this is often described.
T'ai Chi as a method should now be fully grasped. Seen in this way, it does not seem to differ much from other Eastern exercise systems.
What makes T'ai Chi Ch'uan so meaningful then, how does it come to a name that has no reference to life energy? Why does it occupy such a prominent place among the methods from ancient China? Why is it considered unique? Does the T'ai Chi from an earlier time period differs possibly from what and how we practice today?
Could it be that the T'ai Chi practiced nowadays has the same roots, but refers to only a few, especially its more accessible aspects, like a single center or a single form of energy? Apart from the fact that such a T'ai Chi Ch'uan is also to be valued, could it be that originally a much more complex performance and thus much more knowledge and experience were connected to it?
Let's go back again to what I had mentioned at the beginning. T'ai Chi, an exercise system that seems almost intangible, is provided with an extremely meaningful name. Cheng Man-ch'ing chose, in the first book published by him and his student Robert W. Smith, the title: "T'ai Chi – The Supreme-Ultimate Exercise" (The practice of the Supreme-Ultimate).
An exercise system by that name indicates a Taoist background with a corresponding orientation of its method. Nevertheless, important Taoist writings, as those of Lao Tse and Chuang Tze, are known not to be studied or recited in its classes. How can this be explained?
If we look at the Yang-Style, his teachers refer to a few short texts, the so-called classical treatises, which have been available for several centuries. They are accompanied, in the various traditions, by commentaries from well-known teachers. These are also mostly short instructions concerning the shape of the forms and their performance. They are practice-oriented, but clearly refer to Taoist values: withdrawal, letting things happen, unintentionality are examples of this. Integrated into them are instructions for a performance that emerges from within, for example: "Mind - Energy - Body". This means that the energy should be moved by the mind from which the movement of the body arises. "The millstone moves, but not its axis." A sentence that specifies a continuous movement of the torso, similar to a millstone, which behaves separately from its axis, comparable to a rod. "Seeking the straight in the curved". From the rounded movement or posture of an arm, for example, direction nevertheless comes forth.
These examples alone convey that there is more to T'ai Chi than many practitioners are aware of today. In general, practitioners move energy with their bodies and not the other way round; the alignment of the forms with the millstone principle is largely lost; curved movements, even of the arms, are only contained in a limited range in today's forms.
Let us take a sentence from Fu Zhong Wen to help us build a bridge to the old T'ai Chi.
Fu Zhong Wen writes in a calligraphy that he had given to Toyo and me as a gift in Shanghai at the end of the 1980s: "Harmony and naturalness in all” (see page 199, T'ai Chi Ch'uan and the 8 Directions). At that time Fu Zhong Wen had been practicing T'ai Chi for more than 70 years.


Harmony in all
In order to reveal what this sentence means, we need knowledge of Taoism, or better of the original Taoism. This distinction is important and helpful for an understanding. As with the other religions, Taoism today is mainly associated with its later teaching constructions. The known teachings of the 5 elements and the Yin and Yang were not yet included in its beginnings and do not determine the T'ai Chi, as often assumed.
In Taoism, there was initially only the experienced itself, without integrating it into concepts (teaching buildings). Harmony is of great importance in this context. Taoist exercise systems, such as T'ai Chi, are oriented towards harmonizing the human being. If one reads about it, one will take note of it, consider it good and important, but will probably not be able to assess it further.
The importance of harmony is based on the great harmony. It is a characteristic of the last great experience, the experience of the Supreme-Ultimate, the nameless, the Tao. The existence of harmony, that we can perceive it as human beings or even know about it, comes from the great harmony. For Taoism, it is laid out in the nature of life and being - it is in everything. Harmony in the sense of a lasting state of being emerges from it. When Fu Zhong Wen names harmony in his calligraphy, then this should be considered.


Naturalness in all
Let us try to fathom what is behind Fu Zhong Wen's statement of naturalness.
In its understanding of nature, Taoism differs from Western thinking. Nature has a high significance for us too, but it also stands for the animal, primitive, above which humans have risen. In Taoism, nature is seen in close connection with spirituality. Spirituality is considered to be embedded in nature.
In Taoism, nature is more than the visible nature surrounding us. To this "outer" nature is added an inner one; one that, simply put, we do not see. This nature is formed by the immaterial or subtle that stands behind the outer (physical-material).
The human being has acquired extensive knowledge about the external nature; he knows little about the internal, immaterial nature, and if he does, then it arises mainly from the spiritual teachings and religions of the East and their practices. As in Taoism, knowledge of immaterial phenomena is passed down there. One knows about their effects on the spiritual growth of a person and knows of the spiritual experiences connected to them.
From the Taoist exercise systems, which have been practiced for centuries, if not millennia, knowledge and insights about the immaterial have emerged and been handed down. Taoist meditations in sitting and in movement "work" with immaterial phenomena. That the latter, like the well-known subtle centres, have a spiritual disposition is an empirical value. Not only the phenomena themselves, but also the context in which they stand and the effects they produce show a spiritual orientation. To see nature and spirituality in a context has its origin there. In the spiritual paths humans use these given facts, but it is not humans who bring spirituality into the world.
The further spiritual experience leads into the innermost realm of life and being, the clearer it becomes that immaterial phenomena are natural phenomena. They exist out of themselves and are universally valid. This aspect is masked by the incorporation of immaterial phenomena into teachings and religions. With different names, they seem to be different phenomena but they are the same. A similar approach can be seen in Taoism, where appearances are named and integrated into practices as well. The majority of its methods, however, are oriented towards human nature, natural conditions, natural behavior and events in the immaterial and physical-material world. The value of this orientation is often misjudged. An alignment with the natural seems to lack spirituality. But it is precisely this orientation that can do justice to it and can lead the practitioners far.
What is the relationship with T'ai Chi in this connection? What is its place in all this? If we look at its roots, T'ai Chi involves an implementation of Taoist values into movement. An own access to the immaterial is laid out in it. The shape of its forms and its way of moving are, as it says in the classical treatises, aligned with the nature of humans. They are oriented on natural events and behavior; but, in the Taoist sense, they do not produce anything and do not create anything of their own.
Through the aspect of movement, T'ai Chi differs from other spiritual paths. Movement, as it characterizes T'ai Chi, causes "opening" in the spiritual sense and thus an access to what already exists naturally, in which humans have a part. The human being has a share in the immaterial and its phenomena. Also mind and soul are immaterial phenomena, the spiritual qualities embedded in them can be awakened. The idea that the effort of the practioner is decisive in this connection, only gives an idea, to some extent, of what is happening. Awakening can only be done of something that already exists.
In contrast to other, also Taoist methods, T'ai Chi is known to comprehensively integrate immaterial phenomena. Thus its practice can harmonize the human being and do justice to the great harmony. Change (transformation) and spiritual experiences emerge from it and the path to that which can be experienced as the Supreme-Ultimate is prepared.
Shape and movement of T'ai Chi hold further treasures within them. If an original performance is given, it opens up the legitimacies of the immaterial. Orientation and determinability in an otherwise hardly accessible realm, emerge from it. The reality in which the human being is involved, in the context of inner and outer nature, becomes apparent - an approach that also promotes the spiritual path in many ways.
If one considers these remarks, the importance of nature in Taoism can at least be gauged to some extent. When Fu Zhong Wen calls harmony and naturalness in his calligraphy, he points to an understanding of nature that includes the whole of life and being and spirituality within it.
Let us look again at the aspect of naturalness. If T'ai Chi is bound towards making the naturalness in everything tangible, then its path should be oriented towards leading beyond any framework, including its own. But surely T'ai Chi as an exercise system provides a framework? A framework that would inevitably include a restriction! – With regard to the practices of the spiritual paths, this is often discussed.
But the uniqueness of T'ai Chi is given precisely by the fact that it does not restrict. Just as its method is oriented towards naturalness, T'ai Chi has a basic bond to it. This also applies to its aspects of health and self-defence. T´ai Chi works comprehensively and best possible. The question of going beyond its framework does not arise.
The original Taoism and T'ai Chi, in their relation to naturalness, stand for the suchness of what is experienced - it is as it is. In this, they are close to what mysticism means. Characteristic for mystical testimonies is a presentation that is without concepts. Mystical testimonies portray the contents and values of the experienced - as it is - in its naturalness and general validity. Teachings and religions may bring these contents into their teaching structures, but at the same time the contents stand for themselves, as they are.
This explains why practitioners of a classical T'ai Chi, which is obviously located in the heart of the original Taoism, rarely use the word Taoism and find its mentioning almost dispensable. One would not even want to define oneself as a Taoist.
More than calling oneself a practitioner of T'ai Chi does not have to be said. The fact that external determinations, like forms of organization are missing in T'ai Chi, suggests its orientation as well.



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About the origin of the books
Considering the way of the T'ai Chi Ch´uan, one can imagine that its practice provides various accesses. Through opening and a refinement of perception, the inner nature becomes accessible. The connection between inner and outer nature steps forth; the understanding of the outer nature expands. If orientation is given in these areas, immaterial phenomena and connections become apparent, as it were. They become presentable. If one puts them down in writing, it resembles a report (testimony). As the phenomena and their effects are natural phenomena, the depiction has to remain there. Ones own ideas are not in demand. An integration into concepts is left out. So the natural itself is given a voice.
This way of representation characterizes the "other books”. One should be aware of this, otherwise one might have expectations that these books cannot fulfil. T'ai Chi is not an issue there.
In the text on mysticism (Mysticism and Experience) the spiritual experiences have found a presentation. In the text (A Journey to the Human Being) the human being is looked at starting from the period of standing upright. The contradictory behavior of humans, in general and especially in our time, is explored. The text (Suchness and the Discovery of Reality) is based on the same approach to the immaterial. It shows a different image of the human being, life and the world than is generally familiar. In the last two books mentioned, there is a text in dialogue form. The dialogues were initially published as individual titles.

1) Mysticism and Experience (2012)
2) The dialogues "The End of the World or the Good Guys Win" (2011) were extended with the text "A Journey to the Human Being" (2016/ 2020).
3) "A Short Discourse about What is" contains the dialogues "Questions to Death, Beelzebub, Adam and Eve, God and Socrates" (2011). The text "Suchness and the Discovery of Reality" (2018/ 2020) was added to them.