Tai Chi and Buddhist Meditation – The Synergy

Some may wonder about the connection between Buddhist meditation and the practice of Tai Chi. Specifically, they may wonder if there is an actual synergy that can exist between the two. Honestly, there is no reason to find a method of synergy. The two have long since been fused together for many centuries.

Well, they have been somewhat partially synergized. To understand how the two go together may require a little historical explanation. Tai Chi originally started out as a traditional martial arts. Much of the art is a derivative of Shaolin Snake and Crane kung fu systems. Granted, the modifications lead to Tai Chi looking much different than its parent arts. Those that look closer at the forms and techniques will discover components of the very early classical kung fu systems.

As many scholars of kung fu may already know, the original development of kung fu saw a major fusion of Buddhist meditational practice weaved in with self-defense techniques. This was done to create a form of moving meditation since the monks of the Shaolin Temple were in dire need of a physical exercise program. Or, more specifically, they were in need of a physical exercise program designed to support their meditational practice sessions.

Again, this led to the fusion of Buddhist theories into the practice of self-defense training. The ultimate legacy of this would be the fusion of cultivating the mind and soul with the body in training.

Tai Chi was rooted very heavily in Taoist training ideologies. Many of the movements in its forms are designed to be open to interpretation which helps it remains connected to its Taoist roots. Over several hundreds of years, Taoist theories became to merge with Buddhist concepts. This led to the development of Zen Buddhism which started to venture into the philosophical perspectives and outright physical performance of the martial arts. As such, the evolution of Tai Chi saw it move somewhat away from its pure Taoist roots to an art that maintains a healthy amount of Buddhist theories. This is where the art starts to integrate more meditational components. In particular, the art began to embody concepts associated with moving meditation.

Over the years, Tai Chi moved away from a martial art for self-defense and is now considered a purely holistic art in certain circles. (Some still practice the martial applications of it) As a result, a greater amount of emphasis is placed on the meditational aspects of the art. For those that enjoy the practice of Buddhist style meditation, Tai Chi can offer a unique methodology that is more active than the static Zazen style of meditation. Please be aware this is not to say that one method is better than the other. Rather, it is merely to point out the difference in approach. You can employ both approaches and most people do.

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