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buddhistfist
10-05-2001, 06:59 PM
Hello everyone. This seems like a group of people with alot of wisdom.I have heard of the Tai Chi perspective of "invest in loss."Can you please help me understand what is meant bye "invest in loss" any thoughts on this, realizations,etc.would be appreciated. Thank you

Cody
10-06-2001, 09:15 PM
I will quote briefly from Cheng Tzu's Thirteen Treatises on T'ai Chi Ch'uan, Cheng Man Ch'ing (trans. B.P.J. Lo and M. Inn).

"There has never been a person who has studied the martial arts who did not first desire to win and gain the advantage. Now when I say, "Learn to invest in loss," who is willing to do this? To invest in loss is to permit others to use force to attack while you don't use even the slightest force to defend yourself. On the contrary, you lead an opponent's force away so that it is useless. Then when you counter, any opponent will be thrown out a great distance. The classics refer to this as "tung chin" (understanding strength) and say: "After you understand the chin, the more practice, the more skill." When you can enact whatever you think, you will then obtain the greatest benefit. This is the subtlety and application of T'ai Chi Ch'uan and it conforms to the principle of the [philosophical] T'ai Chi. It was first transmitted from Chang San-feng down through many generations. I received the secrets passed by my teacher, Professor Yang Cheng-fu; ..."

This is the written explanation I have seen, which is in accord with that I heard from teachers. What follows is my opinion.

I would say that the instruction is subtle. I think that on a strictly physical level of mechanical neutralization of incoming, it has understandable weight, and on that level is used in the practice of other martial arts, especially at higher levels. A key concept is yielding in order to gain advantage by using the person's physical position against him. That's the crux. It goes on from there, between the lines, and that is where the student is often in the dark except for a glimpse here and there, and possibly not even that much. I am not familiar with differences in philosophies which are used to account for this sort of strategy (i.e., the hardness and softness of Taoism), nor does this particularly interest me.
Some students are more successful at doing this than others. It's a combo of relaxation/tension/coordination, leverage and just plain smarts in terms of understanding what's intended, what's happening and how to move most effectively to meet the challenge. On higher levels, it goes beyond the mechanical.
The modern elementary, intermediate, or even fairly advanced student is being encouraged not to depend on meeting force with force. Some think that no force is used. If one is content to just meet force headon, there can be no progress in other methods, as one's faith is elsewhere. I see this as an elementary, valid point.
Problem is that, to put it bluntly, winning isn't everything, but losing is nothing. If the student does not progress or even if he/she does to the point of having some degree of relative success in push hands that does not become a shoving match, there can remain a feeling of continued loss when working with the Master or when challenged more seriously. This happens often enough to cause a continued investment in loss without further progress, because the learning is not continued, possibly because the teaching only goes so far. That is my opinion. For the student who is not brought along, great numbers of them, this notion of investing in loss, I see as something which can go nowhere.
Please read what I have said carefully, and realize that I am not criticizing the art of T'ai Chi Chuan itself. I respect it highly, as I do other martial arts.

Cody

Scott R. Brown
10-06-2001, 11:36 PM
Buddhistfist,

I agree with much of Cody’s explanation. I will attempt to add perhaps a little more.

Investing in loss is a function of the physical and psychological aspects of self-defense and life in general. The psychological investment is the foundation of the physical investment.

There are many ways to communicate the idea of investing in loss. It could be phrased as “fill yourself with emptiness”, “embrace the void”, “fullness comes from emptiness”, “action comes from non-action”, etc. From the psychological perspective, each of these phrases communicates the concept that spontaneous action is a consequence of the exercise of no-mind.

No-mind is sometimes misunderstood as no thought. When no thought occurs there is annihilation, vacuity; no creativity can spawn from no thought. The Void is not made up of nothing it is made up of “no” thing meaning specifically, “no single thing”. By extension the Void contains “all things”. This is how all things spring from the Void. Void contains the potential for all things because all things are contained in the Void in an undifferentiated state, that is, not yet separated into individually specific “things”. Think of a lump of clay in the hands of an artist. The lump is formless in that it has no recognizable or functional shape. The mind of the artist imposes itself on the lump of clay and it is shaped into a form, perhaps a bowl. The formless has become form through the creative expression of the artist.

As Martial Artists, we attempt to keep our mind free of concepts or plans of how we intend to respond during an altercation. To free our minds of concepts is “investing in loss” i.e. “emptiness”. To preplan our actions creates a mental attachment, which slows down our response time. Slow response time to an aggressive action can mean the difference between success and failure. Thought processes take up valuable time, even if they are but half a second. We seek to respond spontaneously to an attack by developing no-mind; this is the state of mind where all actions are possible. When exercising no-mind we rely on our higher self to provide us with the correct response to the attack. This eliminates the time consuming process of problem solving:

1) Identify the Problem, (In this case identifying the action as an attack and then identifying the type of attack.)

2) Analyze the Problem, (Analyzing the intensity, speed, trajectory, and target of the attack.)

3) Develop Alternatives, (Choosing the appropriate response to the attack.)

4) Implement Decision, (The decision to respond and when to respond.)

5) Evaluate The Action, (Determining whether or not the action achieved the desired purpose.)

With no-mind we use step one and four and eliminate steps two and three because we are not using our time consuming rational mind to resolve the circumstance. Instead of using Stimulus, Thought, Response we use Stimulus, Response.

The physical aspects of investing in loss are as Cody has mentioned. Give first, then respond. To physically receive or embrace an attack is to move your body in accord with the force and direction of the attack and then redirect it in the manner of your own choosing. The aggressor provides the majority of the energy for our response. Here is an example:

When caught in a raging river it is futile to swim against the current in order to get out. One must allow themselves to move in accord with the river’s current and then swim at a gentle angle towards the shore. The flow of the river with the energy saving action of gentle angling will get you to the shore quicker and more safely than fighting the force of the current.

This principle is identical with accepting the force of an attack. A receptive mind combined with constant training and a relaxed body is the most efficient means of defending oneself. The individual responds like an echo; spontaneously and immediately without hesitation.

Scott

Cody
10-07-2001, 03:45 AM
Scott, that is the path I took.
"The Right Mind is the mind that does not remain in one place. It is the mind that stretches throughout the entire body and self."
"The Confused Mind is the mind that, thinking something over, congeals in one place."
and so much more.
No-mind came to me. I invested in this.

The process of problem solving is left behind because it stops the mind. We agree. Maybe you intended that the thought and analysis of one's motivations and how you can expect yourself to react in different situations should take place during a time of self-examination. If no-mind happens without that, without self knowledge of this type, a lot of damage can happen very fast. It's important to temper one's Intent to concur with the situation. While I did not have a problem, I still put in a couple of years along these lines. I feel that a cautionary note to the effect that this sort of thing is needed should be included in this discussion. Given how people behave in day-to-day dealings, I have little trust in the higher mind. Better to find out in advance the condition of the inner heart and whether it is tinged with fear/anger.

I found that with no-mind, all I had was my Intent. The mind was clear, no thought, just action. I found out I was kind, and that it would take quite a bit for me to hurt someone, that I really don't want to, but that I am capable of doing so.

Intent. The original Intent was Defense. I tempered that, programmed myself to have a scale of Defense, ranging from evasion to lethal. This was based on the knowing of the opponent's intent as well. Measuring response without thought or emotion in terms of the intent of the opponent. Even then, there are levels. Some people need visual clues. Others hardly use their eyes. Still that is the beginning. What to do about a person on Master's level who smiles with quiet energy but is not benign in action. This all goes very far.

For me, in no-mind, the conscious process includes steps one and five. Four becomes as automatic as two or three. Five can be comical because often I don't know what has transpired. But, it's been a while since I've functioned that way. I must say that in the no-mind state I felt most at peace and most alive.

thank you for a post which brought me back to myself.

Cody

Scott R. Brown
10-07-2001, 04:31 AM
Cody,

Good stuff!! I like it and agree. I took a short cut by not discussing the training of intent and merely vaguely implied it when I mentioned constant training. At least in my mind I was including it whether it was clear to the reader or not. In short, I was being lazy.

Training for intent is necessary. It pre-programs the individual to be mentally prepared to respond. The state of no-mind actually accesses the psychologically and physically programmed responses that were practiced in training. The more one practices the more efficient the response.

On occasion I have compared it to eating with a fork. It is something we have all done from a very young age and something we practice everyday. How many times in ones life, after the skill has been learned, do they miss their mouth? We can hit our mouth and not our lips, teeth or tongue, every single time without even looking and while engaging in numerous other activities. It seems like a simple task because we practice so much, but watch someone who has had a stroke and see how difficult it is for them to relearn such a simple task.

I agree with you whole-heartedly about the self-examination of our personal motivations. This should take place as a part of ones training. It must be clear in our mind what our ethical and moral responsibilities are before an encounter occurs. We should be clear as to what extent of damage is appropriate for specific circumstances. Not just for moral and ethical reason, but for legal reasons as well.

My allusion to the higher mind referred to the spiritual state of no-mind and that is different and harder to develop than the no-mind most of us develop for self-defense purposes. I did not make that clear and I thank you for addressing the issue because it is an important distinction to make.

For me no-mind is steps 1 and 4. Step 5 is just a return to step 1 for me.

Sincerely,

Scott

Nexus
10-08-2001, 06:19 PM
Don't tell that one to my Stock Broker.

heh.. If I had one of course :)

- Nexus

honorisc
10-09-2001, 01:49 AM
I thought that Cody did a great, job of copying or whatever Cody did. Note: it is helpful for verifying~ if greater hints of location occure--page, chapter or in this case, treatis number.

"If the student does not progress or even if he/she does to the point of having some degree of relative success in push hands that does not become a shoving match, there can remain a feeling of continued loss when working with the Master or when challenged more seriously. This happens often enough to cause a continued investment in loss without further progress, because the learning is not continued, possibly because the teaching only goes so far. "

Cody, from the above words of yours I got that, if one does not progress, yet continues, that one is investing in loss. "invest in loss" for T'ai Chi (First time I accented it correctly on these forums) Ch'uan has already been standardized and already had a meaning. There is no room for nor need of speculating as to this point.

Invest in loss is probablly closest to what cody put in the reply from the book (the first treatis-second page :-))--moves that you would normally consider losers are to be done (they are actually winning moves~). Perhaps you could better understand it as stratigic retreating.

Very some such, perhaps might have been, likely say some, some not.

Scott R. Brown
10-09-2001, 02:50 AM
No_Know,

Some good thoughts. I would say it is closer to receptiveness rather than "strategic retreating" though.

Sincerely,

Scott

Cody
10-09-2001, 04:47 AM
as you found, I quoted/copied. Treatise One. Quote taken from p. 22. :-)

buddhistfist wanted "any thoughts on this, realizations, etc." That allows for personal interpretation and observations. If that sentence had not been in the original query, I wouldn't have added my opinion.

The concept is simple, but difficult to figure except in the strategic retreating way that you mentioned.
Unfortunately, martial arts made up of strategic retreating and no force doesn't work. Also, the real T'ai Chi master has steel inside that is formidable. When he wants to show it, it's there. The punches are not based on yielding; there is a great deal of force used in other moves, but it is directed in ways that the student cannot perceive or defend against. What I am trying to express is that success is not had by just investing in loss in terms of the strategic retreating. How to say this. I think that many students spend years learning how to turn the waist just at the right time, etc. and all the leverage stuff, feeling there is something more, but not having a clue. I feel that such investing in loss can be a dead end situation for many.

As an aside, I believe one of the cornerstones of Taoist theory is the transformation of hardness to the soft, and softness to hardness at extremes of hardness and softness. How then to take the statement: "When extreme yang encounters extreme yin, the yang will always be defeated." In terms of strategy of investment in loss, it can be made clear, as it is in the same treatise, same page. But, what of another meaning?

Anyhow, I think you did a neat job clarifying the meaning of the text I quoted. Well done!

Cody

honorisc
10-09-2001, 09:42 PM
"What I am trying to express is that success is not had by just investing in loss in terms of the strategic retreating. How to say this. I think that many students spend years learning how to turn the waist just at the right time, etc. and all the leverage stuff, feeling there is something more, but not having a clue. I feel that such investing in loss can be a dead end situation for many. "

I stopped~ addressing the issue then going on to relevant issues in one breath. If something is questionable, they'll ask about it. This makes for the discussion. What you said above is very good and...just because a thing is mentioned does not mean that that was supposed to be the only thing. This thread was about an aspect of T'ai Chi Ch'uan. To ask about, "invest in loss" is not to say The whole of T'ai Chi Ch'uan is invest in loss, I won't study anything else. It merely looks at invest in loss. "Invest in loss" is coupled with "Push". One studys "invest in loss" for a good "Push". They go together.

I think that the big picture is presummed when some who know, bother to talk about the parts. Otherwise there is talking the whole Art at every question. So, some merely talk about what's being talked about. Some-Such.

Of course yours and every thought on the subject is insightful.

Very some such, perhaps might have been, likely say some, some not.

Cody
10-09-2001, 10:06 PM
Realizations were asked for. Part of the realization can be the relationship of a part to the whole, and where that leads. I didn't pursue further ideas I have in mind because that would have been going further than this discussion warranted.
The question I posed was something that I've wondered about, and in terms of what of asked too. I might have been obscure about the connection because I can't express it.
There is nothing the matter with telling what something means to you if asked. In this case more than a definition was requested.
It was a serious and a fun query to answer.
over and out,
Cody

honorisc
10-11-2001, 01:31 PM
"I think that many students spend years learning how to turn the waist just at the right time, etc. and all the leverage stuff, feeling there is something more, but not having a clue. "

"On the contrary, you lead an opponent's force away so that it is useless. Then when you counter,..."

So, even in what you put here from the book it shows that there is more than yielding. These are merely pointers. The techniques that make-up the forms is that at which it's pointing.
I wasn't trying to be down on you Cody when I gave my reply.

"Unfortunately, martial arts made up of strategic retreating and no force doesn't work."

That's O.K. because T'ai Chi Ch'uan doesn't have that. According to Benjamin Pang Jen Lo or Martin Inn, Chen Man Ch'ing's treatis one indicates that [the loss] will polarize into it's opposite and be transformed into the greatest priofit.

Very some such, perhaps might have been, likely say some, some not.

[Censored]
10-16-2001, 11:04 PM
I understood it more simply, to mean that you must do what you cannot do, not what you can do.
If you only do what you can do, you will never escape this constraint. If you do what you cannot do, your potential is unlimited.

Maybe not more simply :)

prana
10-17-2001, 01:58 AM
Censored

I relate. Great thought !

shaolinboxer
10-18-2001, 05:16 PM
If you "invest in loss" and you actually gain, then was it really "loss" you were investing in the first place?

"She ain't got no muscles in her teeth."
- Cat

Nexus
10-18-2001, 05:50 PM
Yes, Lyle. It was really loss you were investing in, otherwise the term would be invest in gain.

- Nexus

shaolinboxer
10-18-2001, 07:26 PM
Perhaps it should be.

Where then, exactly, is the loss? What do you lose?

"She ain't got no muscles in her teeth."
- Cat

origenx
10-18-2001, 07:27 PM
Sounds like what I'm doing in the stock market right now...

Scott R. Brown
10-19-2001, 10:04 AM
If there was nothing to gain there would be purpose to investing in loss in the first place.

Sincerely,

Scott

Scott R. Brown
10-19-2001, 10:13 AM
Lyle,

The term loss is a metaphor for emptiness. The source of fullness is emptiness. In order to be filled one must first be empty or there is nothing to be filled in the first place.

Also emptiness is another way of saying chaos or undifferentiated potential. This is refered to as emptiness because no one thing is differentiated or separated out, it is the source of all things, the Tao. Therefore, all things are present within it.

Since all things are present it is called emptiness.

Sincerely,

Scott

shaolinboxer
10-21-2001, 05:52 PM
Yes Scott, I see what you mean. However, emptiness and loss imply different things.

Perhaps loss means something like, the process by which emptiness is achieved?

"She ain't got no muscles in her teeth."
- Cat

Scott R. Brown
10-21-2001, 08:04 PM
Lyle,

You make a good point. The Chinese method of communicating is known for using methsphorical language to communicate a concept. So while "loss" could imply "emptiness" as I have been asserting, it could very well indicate something else and I am completely missing the point myself.

Sincerely,

Scott

Scott R. Brown
10-21-2001, 08:45 PM
That was supposed to be "metaphorical".

Sincerely,

Scott

honorisc
10-26-2001, 04:32 AM
"I understood it more simply, to mean that you must do what you cannot do, not what you can do.
If you only do what you can do, you will never escape this constraint. If you do what you cannot do, your potential is unlimited.
Maybe not more simply "

What you Can do is not a constraint if you Can do everything. If you do what you cannot do your potential is unlimited unless there is not anything you cannot do.


To Lyle loss and gain. In Chinese, people are taught by Sarcasm, Irony, Paradox. A person is told the perspective of worst part so that when they are understanding it and see it in different shades they see the good parts. It's humorous how they realizes the good by thinking it was bad and so they carry on the tradition because they remember the last thing-the good and those who are intollerant--undeserving students go away not wanting to invest in loss~. In T'ai Chi Ch'uan this phrase is a gain but a person can only see so much at a time. Invest in loss yield to the force, looks like you got hit and aren't doing anything about it--Loser! However in T'ai Chi Ch'uan the techniques to which this phrase refers deminish the attackers force with the attacker unknowing that in fact the attacker is losing because of the strong attack and the T'ai Chi Ch'uan player uses the acceptance of loss-yielding (seeming to do not anything (not respond forcefully)) [invest in loss is a description of part of the way to Win; first invest in loss THEN take the oppertunity] and in the lie of that stereotypically percieved conception there is Victory when one TAKEs the OPPERTUNITY.

Very some such, perhaps might have been, likely say some, some not.

origenx
10-27-2001, 11:27 PM
Such deceptively simple pithy maxims can be interpreted on a variety of levels. Another one is the Taoist method of whittling away more and more excess every day. Unlearning, rather than learning. Bruce Lee's economy of motion. Hence, investing in loss.

Nexus
10-28-2001, 07:38 AM
origenx, that is an absolutely wonderful explanation. One should not seek to remove all excesses immediately, as this would be uprooting the self and a complete disturbance to the ego. Hence it would cause a identity crisis and a loss of self, often causing feelings of insanity. This is why someone should be patient but consistent in removing excesses, allowing themselves to be flexible and bending, and not forcing change, but rather accomodating to it.

This will allow a person to change with ease, and to facilitate towards the goals that an individual has. Of course, we are only human, and we often envision what we would like to be high upon a pedestal from where we actually stand. This is why we should treat moments as the Now, and know what it is we do now, and what we can do practically in the moment. In doing so, we can wittle away at excesses as the moment arises, applying insights we have gained into the actions that we do.

Perhaps this will be beneficial for someone, these ideas have been helpful to myself.

- Nexus