The human potential for intelligence and dignity is attuned to experiencing the brilliance of the bright blue sky, the freshness of green fields, and the beauty of the trees and mountains. We have an actual connection to the reality that can wake us up and make us feel basically good.
~ Shambhala teachings by Chogyam Trungpa
while taoism originated in China (during the 4th century) and the dzogchen tradition emerged from ancient Tibetan teachings, both share very similar methods and goals. These paths of practice are designed to awaken the practitioners to a direct experience of being present in the moment, to allow them a direct experience of a state of awareness.
Dzogchen teachings emphasise a primordial open awareness as the base for practice, this awareness is centred around the state of rigpa which can be described as ‘nondual awareness’. Rigpa practices contain many different meditative forms, including both stationary and moving practices.
The equivalent of energy or chi in the dzogchen tradition is called ‘tsa lung’ and a number of movement and energy development systems have been developed and are often referred to as trul-khor or kum nye.
In tai chi, each movement has both opening and closing aspects. Opening can be thought of as expanding from inside to outside, and Closing is contracting from outside to inside.
For tai chi practice; when it is open, it is large and expansive and there is no more space outside. When it is closed, it is compacted and there is no more space inside.
One common aspect that permeates all the different types of tai chi practice is to develop the mental capability to settle the mind, to be able to stay in the present moment and to cultivate awareness
– this is a fundamental prerequisite that enables the energetic, mental and spiritual development of tai chi to occur.
In tai chi this is simply referred to as stilling the mind, or finding stillness in motion – there are deeper implications and terminologies used for this process in taoist meditation, where this is the starting point for a deeper set of mental and spiritual practices.
There are also a number of similarities to the concept of ‘rigpa’ in many Tibetan dzogchen traditions – where rigpa is described as the awareness that allows you to see the true nature of the mind.