Monday, September 30, 2019

MMTCA Newsletter October 2019







"I am not simply a human being. I am a human becoming."
-Samuel Avital


Fall is here and it feels good to be back at regular classes. Our schedule remains in place until next year.

I am off to Delaware the beginning of October for a four day seminar and retreat. I'll give you an update when I get back.

Lindsay Forsythe, the dancer and teacher who shares our space, has two Contemplative Movement classes, Tuesday and Thursdays 10-11AM.       Featuring meditation, contemplation, authentic movement, and sharing. This class would be a great addition to your Tai-Chi practice.

Book suggestions, two apprenticeships:
Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb
Magician Apprenctice by Raymond Feist

Check out the intro movie made by David Brewster using students from our academy! It's on the home page of the Academy website.

Thank you for all you do,

-Ray

"A catastrophe of Dragons.'
-Robin Hobb

contact info 612-404-7320
 skrayhayward@gmail.com
 rayhaywardblog@gmail.com
 mindfulmotiontaichi.com
My Blog: The Inspired Teacher (rayhayward.com)
Facebook: Ray Hayward, Ray Hayward Enterprises, Mindful Motion Tai-Chi Academy
My books: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/Ray_Hayward https://apps.carleton.edu/curricular/pe/courses/


Monday, September 2, 2019

MMTCA September Newsletter 2019



"Tomorrow owes you the sum of your yesterdays."
-Robin Hobb

As the Summer ends, 2nd Summer looms, and Fall is whispering to us all, I'm grateful for all the outside practices and classes this year. I'm also feeling a gratitude attitude to my subs and helpers, for giving time to vacation and rest. Thank you Julie, Fred, Margo, and all the other helpers. Namaste.

Our Fall schedule starts Monday,September 16th. Also, the 14th will be our last outdoor classes for this year. Here is some of what you can expect from the upcoming schedule:

*Tai-Chi Classes will continue to teach the 72 Movement Solo Form, and we  will begin section 3 of the Fast Form. For Qi-Gong, I will be teaching Master Choi's 8 Brocades.( I'm planning on adding an applications class for the Winter. Thoughts?)

*Weapons class on Saturdays will start the Tai-Chi Sabre. I will also teach something I've never taught before, the matching empty hand Bridge-Hands that correspond to the postures and techniques in the Saber Form. Whether you have completed the solo form or not, you may join this class on the 21st.

*12 Animals and Hsing-Yi will be reviewing the Dragon, Lun, and Pang for Animals. We will continue to refine the 5 Elements Linking From, learn applications for the Two-Handed Saber, and review the basic Five Fists. You can join this class on the 17th.

*Pa-Kua will be refining the Swimming Dragon, learn the Deer Horn Knives, and continuing two person work.

*Pushing-Hands on Wednesday nights will be open to all: men, women, beginner, and advanced.

Please check the full schedule for all details about class times and days.



Book Suggestion-My five favorite Taoist books!

1. Taoism: Road to Immortality by John Blofeld
2. Taoist Mysteries and Magic by John Blofeld
3. The Importance of Living by Lin Yu-tang
4. Tai-Chi Ch'uan and Meditation by Da Liu
 5. Drawing Silk by Paul B. Gallagher

Thank you for a great Summer, I look forward to a Fall full of relaxation, calm, and peace.
-Ray

"To my body I gave the power of my heart. Be, I said, love and create. Beat within. Be gentle. Radiate like sun."
From Awakening Osiris by
Normandy Ellis

contact info 612-404-7320
skrayhayward@gmail.com
rayhaywardblog@gmail.com
mindfulmotiontaichi.com
My Blog: The Inspired Teacher (rayhayward.com)
Facebook: Ray Hayward, Ray Hayward Enterprises, Mindful Motion Tai-Chi Academy
My books: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/Ray_Hayward https://apps.carleton.edu/curricular/pe/courses/




Monday, August 26, 2019

It was 20 years ago today, actually...

It was 40 years ago this month that I met Master Paul B. Gallagher. I went to Omega Institute in Hoosick Falls NY with Master T. T. Liang as his assistant for 7 days of Tai-Chi classes in the Adirondack mountains. I drove out and back and had many hours with my teacher, listening to stories and learning so many facets of Tai-Chi.


                                   With Master Liang at Omega Institute, 1979

When we pulled up to the old boys school Omega was using as a campus at that time, we were greeted by a man and woman, Paul and Paula Gallagher. I had heard about Paul from Master Liang, how he was one of his three original students in Boston, the other two being Alice Crooks and Emile Beaulieu. Master Liang told me that without Paul's help, he would have never been able to write and publish his book. I had also heard from jealous classmates about how they would have to leave when classes were over but Paul got to stay. Maybe they never put together that that was book time, not student time.



When I went to NYC to study Hsing-Yi and Pa-Kua with Master B.P. Chan, he asked me if I knew Paul Gallagher. When I said no, he said, "You should meet him, he is my best Pa-Kua student."

                                                 
                                          Paul Gallagher and Master B.P. Chan in NYC

The first morning there, I went out to practice and as I began, and I saw some one watching me. I've had many people watch me start to practice, some have stayed for a bit, but very few watch my whole routine. ( Joe Lang in Scotland watched my whole 3 hour practice and said he learned a lot about me afterwards.) I noticed this person not only watched me, but stood in the Universal Post standing meditation position as I went through a 45 minute routine of Tai-Chi, Hsing-Yi, Pa-Kua and weapons!!

During that first day Paul came up to me and reintroduced himself and asked if we could meet that night after all the classes, meals and social time was over. I said yes, and that began my great good fortune. I had done a day of classes with Master Liang, had the dinner with hundreds of people, then went back for two hours of tea, talk, and time with Master Liang. At some point he wanted to retire and I made my way out into the night.

Paul was staying in one of the old ad-min buildings which looked like a castle. That first night we stayed up the whole night talking about Taoism, Tai-Chi, our teachers, Pa-Kua, just about everything!! Even though he was my senior in all ways and levels, he never talked down to me. I was nineteen and he was thirty six at the time. That night we did not go to bed! I went back as the sun  began rise to do my personal practice before I met Master Liang to go to the morning Tai-Chi classes.

That is how the whole week went pretty much. Sleep deprived bliss!  Paul was there teaching Taoism and I-ching, so I would pick his brain on those subjects. By the time we were saying goodbye, I had made plans to visit him at Wu-Ming Valley House in Hadley MA, just two hours away from me.

 
Paula at Wu-Ming
 
From that time on, I've been learning and sharing with Master Gallagher. He has introduced me to amazing people like J Richard Roy, Ken Cohen, John  Myerson, Paula Gallagher, Molly Malone, Rob, Annie, Joey, Mark, and so many others. He translated Tai-Chi texts for me, gave me first edition copies of All Men Are Brothers and The Importance of Living. He gave me so many books, ideas, practices and concepts. And he gave me the most valuable treasure, his friendship and brotherhood.
 

                                                 Practicing San-Shou at Wu-Ming 1979

Even to this day, I learn so much from this generous and kind teacher. He guided me through a prosperity course and we now work a great exercise, which I will share with you, about the study of fives. Paul asked me to list five books that changed my life. Not just five great reads or classics or amazing books, but five books that when I finished them, I was a different person. Here are my five:

Chinese Boxing: Masters and Methods by Robert W. Smith
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
Journey to Ixtlan by Carlos Castenada
The Tao of Love and Sex by Jolan Chang
Our Life With Mr. Gurdjieff by Olivia DeHartmann

I learned so much about myself by seeing which books affected me so deeply and how I changed from that point on. We have done others lists of five, all with the idea that we are a different person after. Some have been five teachers, places, songs, movies, and teachers or teachings from people not alive who we have never met.

I could go on and on, how this person who could have taken advantage of me actually nurtured me. This person with the most amazing mind who let me in and shared so deeply his amazing life and lessons. So, I intend to do a follow up , but for now, I hope you got a glimpse at my friend, classmate, teacher, brother, and great treasure of my life!!

Thank you Paul Gallagher!!




Sunday, July 28, 2019

MMTCA Newsletter August 2019

MMTCA Newsletter August 2019





"Inner Power of steely strength.

Form perfected by a thousand years.

Okinawa’s heritage.

Seeking only to protect.

Man’s self respect."

-Grandmaster Meitoku Yagi

August is upon us! I know there have been some brutally hot days, but we have also had some lovely, cool and breezy classes in the park. I will be going to Colorado the first week of August. Classes will be held as usual. You can bring your tuition to the park and give it to either Julie, Fred, or Margo, or put it in the payment box at the academy. I am looking into direct-deposit as an option beginning in the Fall.

I now have some free times for private classes at the Academy. E-mail me for availability and cost.

Book suggestion: The Genuine Transmission of Bagua Quan  by Sun Xikun

There is still space for my retreat in Delaware on the beach this Fall! E-mail Sifu Diane Cannon for more details mingtaotaichi@gmail.com


Master Ray Retreat in Milford De
350 Bay Avenue, Slaughter Beach 19963- Beach Retreat House
October 4 - October 10, 2019

 
 

If you have bought any of my books from Lulu, please consider writing a review. Thank you!

Our Fall schedule will begin mid-September. I'll give you updates soon. If you have class suggestions, forms or training you'd like to see in the schedule, or just to ask about possibilities please don't hesitate to talk to me!

Enjoy the heat!

-Ray

"Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are."
-Marianne Williamson

contact info 612-404-7320
 skrayhayward@gmail.com
 rayhaywardblog@gmail.com
 mindfulmotiontaichi.com
My Blog: The Inspired Teacher (rayhayward.com)
Facebook: Ray Hayward, Ray Hayward Enterprises, Mindful Motion Tai-Chi Academy
My books: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/Ray_Hayward https://apps.carleton.edu/curricular/pe/courses/

Friday, June 28, 2019

MMTCA July Newsletter 2019



"A life-affirming golden consciousness attracts gold in your life, invites heaven to shine down upon you, and produces an environment of wisdom and power. That, in a nutshell, is the alchemy of our lives."
-Dennis William Hauck

July is upon us! It's been great training and practicing outside with class on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Come join us!

Beginning July 1st, I have a new partner who will be sharing our space, Lindsay Forsythe. Lindsay is a Contact Improvisational dancer and will be using our space for her class and training.

I'll be taking some vacation time in August. Classes will be held as usual with subs to cover class.

Book suggestions from class discussions, using Taoist and Masonic numerology of three, five, and seven:

3 Pa-Kua books;

Pa-Kua Chinese Boxing for Fitness and Self-Defense by Robert W. Smith
Liang Zhen Pu Eight Diagram Palm by Li Zi Ming
BAGUAZHANG LIANXI FA Baguazhang Practice Method by Jiang Rungqiao trans by Joseph Crandall
* BONUS!! Pa kua Chang Newsletter/Journals, the best Martial Arts periodical I've ever read!

5 Hsing-Yi books;

Hsing-I Chinese Mind-Body Boxing by Robert W. Smith
XINGYI MU QUAN Xingyi Mother FistsMother Fists by Jiang Rungqiao trans by Joseph Crandall
Xing-Yi Nei-Gong trans by Dan Miller and Tim Cartmell
Shang Yun-Xiang Style Xingyiquan by Li Wen-Bin
The Xingyi Quan of the Chinese Army by Dennis Rovere

7 Tai-Chi books;

Tai-Chi Chuan for Health and Self-Defense, Principles and Practice by Master T.T.Liang
Cheng Tzu's 13 Treatises on Tai-Chi Chuan trans by Benjamin Lo
Yang Family Secret Transmission by Douglas Wile
Tai-Chi Chuan and Meditation by Da Liu
On Tai-Chi Chuan by T.Y. Pang
Fundamentals of Tai-Chi Chuan by Wen-shan Huang
The Tao of Tai-Chi Chuan by Jou Tsung-hwa

Big Brother Paul Gallagher turned 75 on June 28th. Halfway to the middle level of Immortality!



Enjoy the Summer,
-Ray

"Why is it often hard for us to choose joy, even in moments when there are no painful circumstances in our lives?"
-Oriah

contact info 612-404-7320
skrayhayward@gmail.com rayhaywardblog@gmail.com
mindfulmotiontaichi.com
My Blog: The Inspired Teacher (rayhayward.com)
Facebook: Ray Hayward, Ray Hayward Enterprises, Mindful Motion Tai-Chi Academy
My books: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/Ray_Hayward https://apps.carleton.edu/curricular/pe/courses/

Friday, May 24, 2019

MMTCA Newsletter June 2019

"To be old is to have less time before you and more mistakes behind."
-Abboud

Happy Mid-Summers on June 22nd! The shortest night and longest day happen this month.

A "Headstone Unveiling Ceremony" (the last act of burial in the Jewish faith) will be held at the grave of our beloved classmate Marty Kleinbaum on Sunday, June 2nd, beginning at 11:00AM at the Gemelus Chesed Cemetery, 7032 Penn Ave, Richfield.



Our Summer schedule is basically the same, with Tuesday nights and Saturday Morning held outside at East River Flats Park on the Mississippi River beginning Saturday June 22nd..

Tuesday 6-7 Solo Form, 12 Animals, and Hsing Yi
               7-8 Disciple's Practice
Saturday 10-11 Cane, Sword, Sabre, and weapons review
                11-12 Solo Form, and Fast Form

Grad News:

Hsing-Yi 7 Halberds Strung Like Pearls= Steve Peterson

Pa-Kua Swimming Dragon (learned and re-learned)= Margo Bock, Fred Sparks, John Stitley, Paul Dahlberg, Matt Barrett, Dave Kielkof, Steve Peterson, Jenny Graves, Conor Hatch

Hsing-Yi Five Fists/Elements (learned and re-learned)= Paul Ittner, John Feely, Bryan Steenerson, Margo Bock, Fred Sparks, John Stitley, Paul Dahlberg, Matt Barrett, Dave Kielkof, Jane Shockley, Steve Peterson, Conor Hatch, Wanda Koehler

The 12 Animals and Hsing-Yi class Tuesdays 7-8PM, will be covering the Tiger and the 5 Element Linking Form in June.

Book Suggestion- The Strangest Secret by Earl Nightingale

I will have final information about staying in our space sometime this month. As it looks now, we will have our beautiful space for another year at least!

Get outside and breathe in that clean, clear Minnesota air!
-Ray

"Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal."
- Earl Nightingale

contact 612-404-7320
skrayhayward@gmail.com
rayhaywardblog@gmail.com
mindfulmotiontaichi.com
My Blog: The Inspired Teacher (rayhayward.com)
Facebook: Ray Hayward, Ray Hayward Enterprises, Mindful Motion Tai-Chi Academy
My books: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/Ray_Hayward


Monday, May 13, 2019

Delaware Retreat Fall 2019


Master Ray Retreat in Milford De
350 Bay Avenue, Slaughter Beach 19963- Beach Retreat House
October 4 - October 7, 2019
Friday night - OPEN TO FULL RETREAT ATTENDEES ONLY
4:00PM Arrival, settle in to retreat house.
5:00PM - 6:30pm Dinner
7:00pm - 8:30pm Meet & greet
Discussion: 72 Form History and Updates
Saturday
7:30am - 8:30am Warm ups, Meditation, & 72 Form on beach
8:30am - 9:30am Breakfast
Individual Session I
9:30 - 11:00am T’ai Chi Fast Form 1st Section
11:30 - 1:00pm Wu-Dang Sword 13 Energies, Solo & 2 Person
1:15pm - 2:15pm Lunch
2:15pm - 4:00pm Free Time
4:00pm - 5:00pm Pushing Hands Drills, Methods, & Etudes
5:30 - 6:30pm Dinner
6:30 - 7:30 Free Time
7:30pm - 8:30pm Karambit Revisted
Sunday
7:30am - 8:30am Warm ups, Meditation, & 72 Form on beach
8:30am - 9:30am Breakfast
Individual Session II
9:30 - 11:00am T’ai Chi Fast Form 2nd Section
11:30 - 1:00pm Wu-Dang Sword 13 Energies, Solo & 2 Person
1:15pm - 2:15pm Lunch
2:15pm - 4:00pm Free Time
4:00pm - 5:00pm Pushing Hands Drills, Methods, & Etudes
5:30pm - 6:30pm Dinner
6:30pm - 7:30pm Free Time
7:30pm - 8:30pm Taoist Meditation
Monday
7:30am - 8:30am Warm ups, Meditation, & 72 Form on beach
8:30am - 9:30am Breakfast
Individual Session III
9:30 - 11:00am T’ai Chi Fast Form 3rd Section
11:30 - 1:00pm Wu-Dang Sword 13 Energies, Solo & 2 Person
1:15pm - 2:15pm Lunch
SPACE IS LIMITED - ONLY 10 FULL RETREAT SPACES AVAILABLE!!
$150 NONREFUNDABLE DEPOSIT REQUIRED UPON REGISTRATION TO SECURE YOUR SPOT!!
BALANCE DUE NO LATER THAN SEPTEMBER 1, 2019
FIRST COME FIRST SERVE!
To register for full retreat, send email confirmation to Diane Cannon at mingtaotaichi@gmail.com with your name, address, email
address, telephone number, current instructor’s name and method of payment. For Paypal, use mingtaotaichi@gmail.com; if
sending a check through USPS, it must arrive within 4 days of your email or your spot will be made available to other students.
Payment for full retreat (Friday 4pm thru Monday 2:15pm) is on a sliding scale of $475-$575. All Linens provided!
To register for an individual session as highlighted above, registration and payment in full must be received (methods is in above
paragraph) no later than August 15, 2019. Each Individual Session - sessions with Master Ray and meals during those session
and are on a sliding scale of $140-$165.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

MMTCA Newsletter May 2019



"This is the reality we live: aspiring to be at our best, longing for and sometimes finding meaning and connection within ourselves and with that which is larger than ourselves, we are undone by messy bathrooms, traffic jams, and burnt toast."
-Oriah  Mountain-Dreamer

Happy May! And Happy Mayday! I am looking forward to outside practice, hikes, and enjoying our beautiful state!

Our schedule remains the same until July. I'll have more info on our possible new home.

Two students finished the 72 Movement Medium Form: Eric Norberg and Eric Johnson. Congratulations! Many have started...

Two of my personal disciples, Fred Sparks and John Stitely finished the rare Hsing-Yi Chuan form, Chut Yu Lin Ji or 7 Halberds Strung Like Pearls. I am the only student to learn this form from Master Wai-lun Choi and they are now part of a few who have learned it from me. Congratulations!!



And speaking of two disciples, Karen Barton and Margo Bock learned the Double Dagger Form from the Fan-Tzi Eagle Claw kung-fu style I learned from the late Sifu Lo Man-biu. Congratulations!

I will be leading a retreat and seminar again this year at the beach in Delaware. More info to come on classes, education, and meals to follow. For now, here are the basics:

                               Ray Hayward Retreat in Milford De
350 Bay Avenue, Slaughter Beach 19963- Beach Retreat House
October 4 - October 10, 2019
 
SPACE IS LIMITED - ONLY 10 FULL RETREAT SPACES AVAILABLE!! 

$150 NONREFUNDABLE DEPOSIT REQUIRED UPON REGISTRATION TO SECURE YOUR SPOT!! 

BALANCE DUE NO LATER THAN SEPTEMBER 1, 2019
FIRST COME FIRST SERVE!

 

Book suggestion: Wild by Cheryl Strayed

I taught a weekend seminar in Wilmington DE at Shuang Liao Tai-Chi in April. I also have regular classes in Duluth and am planning a Summer get together, more info next month.Tai-Chi is alive and strong and growing!

We received two cards from Master Choi, thanking us for the flowers, red envelope, and the signed card.



Thank you all for your generosity, appreciation, commitment, and hard work.

-Ray

"A living body is not a fixed thing, but a flowing event."
-Alan Watts


contact
612-404-7320
skrayhayward@gmail.com
rayhaywardblog@gmail.com
mindfulmotiontaichi.com
My Blog: The Inspired Teacher (rayhayward.com)
Facebook: Ray Hayward, Ray Hayward Enterprises, Mindful Motion Tai-Chi Academy
My books: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/Ray_Hayward

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Lessons in Magic



I "finished" a course in magic. If you are interested in seeing how magic can be in your life, how you can live magically, this course is for you. Using various mediums as well as a book and writings, I found this simple course to be powerful and effective. If you have questions, feel free to ask!


https://philipcarr-gomm.teachable.com/p/lessons-in-magic

Sunday, March 31, 2019

MMTCA Newsletter April 2019


"Anything the human mind can believe, the human mind can achieve. That is the Supreme Secret."
-Napoleon Hill

Spring is here, no fooling!

Thank you to all who shared in the birthday celebrations for Master Choi! Cards, red envelopes, and flowers descended upon him March 29th.


The Tuesday Night 12 Animals/ Five Elements class will begin the 11th animal, the Eagle, and the 5th Element, Metal/Splitting-Fist. Even if you haven't learned the previous elements or animals, you can step in and join this class. Two-Handed Sabre is also being taught in this class.

I am now teaching classes in Duluth and have a space that will wok for weekend classes, seminars, or workshops. I'd like to have you come up this Summer for Tai-Chi, Lake Superior, and amazing air and ch'i! I'll send the link in next month's newsletter, with more details and ideas.

It's not too early to plan to come to the Delaware Shore, on Rehoboth Beach, in October and join me for a weekend retreat with Diane Cannon's Ming Tao Tai-Chi school. I'll be posting more details, curriculum, dates, costs, and sign up details next month.

Book suggestion: Our Life With Mr. Gurdjieff by Olivia DeHartmann

I am in the process of looking for a different space to teach at in the Cities. Although our current space is big and beautiful, I am looking for a slightly smaller place that we can use on a rent as needed basis. I have two in mind and will keep you posted. I am also going to hold Tuesday night classes outside again this year. I am thinking of going back to East River Flats Park. I would entertain other suggestions as well.

Thank you all for amazing classes. I am enjoying all the variety of forms, practices, and subjects we've been covering in class. And it's good to see you all having fun as you learn with your body, mind, and spirits.

-Ray

 "Druidry is a spiritual journey of the individual's soul, one that honours each unique vision and expression."
- Emma Restall Orr

contact
612-404-7320
skrayhayward@gmail.com
rayhaywardblog@gmail.com
mindfulmotiontaichi.com
My Blog: The Inspired Teacher (rayhayward.com)
Facebook: Ray Hayward, Ray Hayward Enterprises, Mindful Motion Tai-Chi Academy
My books: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/Ray_Hayward

Thursday, March 28, 2019

It was 80 years ago today...

                           HAPPY BIRTHDAY GRANDMASTER WAI-LUN CHOI!!!!!


Having achieved the Middle Level of Immortality, I am quite confident he will succeed to the Highest Level of 100 years old! Like fine wine, you are not getting older, you are getting better! With the heartiest of congratulations, the deepest of respect, the widest of appreciation, and the biggest wish of joy, health, happiness, and prosperity, Happy Birthday Master Choi! March 29th, 2019, Year of the Boar.



Thursday, March 14, 2019

Guest Blogger Margo Zi Yan

 My pleasure to share a guest blog from Margo, enjoy!



Altar Opening Ceremony
Saturday, February 9, 2019

A cold, crisp February afternoon saw a group of T’ai Chi students and our Sifu gather for an altar opening in my home training space. An altar is a space put together purposefully to call upon spiritual energies. Intentionally, it focuses attention towards the honored or an aspiration. In my case, honored are the Yang family T’ai Chi masters including Yang Lu Chan, Yang Panhou, Yang Jianhou, Yang Chengfu, Cheng Manching, and T.T. Liang. Master Ray Hayward performed the ceremony that reached out to the masters of our lineage, the people who came and went before us, who dedicated their life to refine and pass on their knowledgeable skills for us to carry on in present day. The following is a short account of what transpired that afternoon:


In some situations, an altar is a place signifying sacrifice. A sacrifice is the act of giving up something of value for the sake of something else regarded as important or worthwhile. In our contemporary world filled with comforts, what is of such value that we consider it a sacrifice if we no longer have it? What is truly irreplaceable? Our answer is Time. We are each given a finite amount of time in life. Once time has past, it’s irretrievable in its original form. Even so, a measure of how that time was spent lies in our memories, skills and artifacts. My altar is situated in the room where I spend hours of training T’ai Chi, the room where I sacrifice a significant amount of time each day.


The simple way to open an altar is to light incense. This altar opening at my place was made special because Master Ray led the ceremony and my classmates were present. Without question, they sacrificed a couple hours of their precious time to attend. The lineage’s invitation to link with our presence was made stronger with more people witnessing the opening. Their spirits and our energy strived for a connection.


The bare minimum for an altar is an incense burner. As the incense slowly burns, an upward twirl of smoke rises into the air and disappears. But wait. During the burn, the translucent gray line connects earth to the spirits of the lineage; afterward, the fragrance lingers in the air, a reminder of all that exists unseen.


There are tactile objects that are placed on my altar: Pictures of the masters who’ve passed away. Ashes in the burner symbolize the relics of the art. A pearl is buried in the ashes in recognition of how an oyster creates the pearl slowly, layer by layer, and it grows bigger on a micro scale, just like we grow when training a little bit each day. An antique coin is buried into the ashes—money in Chinese culture is a symbol of time. Who is rich? Is it a person with lots of time or lots of money? We can work hard for more money; however, creating more time is not an outcome we can accomplish. There is money in a red envelope for luck. Additionally, the five Elements are represented: Fire symbolizes your heart and energy, Ash for the earth, Water in a glass, Wood, Metal. A small Dragon sculpture sits on the altar; its mouth faces east to catch the pearl that is the sun. A sacrifice of gold happens; in practice, we burn the gold plated cardboard box as a symbol of burning up money or wealth; now, truly all we have left is time. Next, we give the masters something to taste and enjoy, something we can no longer give them in life, but we are able to give on an altar. A drink, but only the best: Scotch Whiskey. Rich chocolate. Scented flowers. Incense.


Additionally, unseen elements are present on the altar. As incense dissipates upward, its reach symbolizes our intentions and moral standards. Master T.T. Liang’s life after practicing T’ai Chi shows this Yang family lineage is best because T’ai Chi’s whole person healthful affects helped him overcome his serious health crisis. Ultimately, he thrived and lived to 102. Sifu Ray teaches us that in Chinese culture, the sum total is what’s important. The disciples aren’t always the best in the art, but their character, morals, work ethic combined equal the highest example of a person in life’s journey.


After the physical elements are in place on my altar, Sifu Ray lights three sticks of incense symbolizing the past, present, future and quietly brings to mind a message to the masters.


I light my incense stick, evoke a message to the masters, and place it in the ashes next to the original three already burning. Sifu Ray tells us the Masters will come to us someday, maybe in a dream, maybe while we’re sitting quietly. If we talk with them or sit with them, they will talk to us. The spiritual world needs us as much as we need them. The spirits reflect upon us as we do about them.


My classmates in the room offer their incense and messages. An altar can be a private one in that no one else lights incense for it. Giving permission to others light incense for my altar is like sending an energetic streak of connection from our real world to the masters’ spirits. The more we connect with the lineage, the more we will connect with each other. In this way, we honor the stuff we can’t talk about – the spiritual aspects.


Much like in the way a calligraphy or poem in not finished until sealed with stamp, my altar is not quite fully complete. My task next is to burn incense for 36, 72, or 108 days in a row. These numbers are breakdowns of constellations, something I will study that further on another day. One day I burn in the morning, turning something out of nothing as the sunlight peaks over the horizon. On another day, I burn incense at night, turning something into nothing as the day’s light disappears into dark. I dream the Masters smile down on my space, my altar to the lineage. Their arts live on both in the unseen and obvious realms in our daily interactions with one another. I can only hope that I can do justice to their legacy.


Master Ray, in the same way as his teachers Master T.T. Liang and Grandmaster Wailun Choi, wholeheartedly believes T’ai Chi secrets need to be broadly shared in order to benefit as many people as possible. These thoughts linger in our minds as we go our separate ways after the ceremony. The sun’s reach is waning on the horizon; nevertheless, on this cold winter afternoon the T’ai Chi world has spread a tiny bit wider with our purposeful reaching out to the masters. Peace.