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Permeating life with chi

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T’ai chi ch’uan master Cheng Man Ching speaks in Master of Five Excellences  about the observer’s ability to sense when a person’s work is permeated and coming alive with his or her chi, including with the five Chinese classics of painting, poetry, calligraphy, Chinese medicine, and t’ai chi. 

“Chi” has been defined in many ways, and maybe is only best understood by one fluent in Chinese. My favorite definition of chi for trial work is vital energy, for engaging clients, witnesses on both sides, juries, judges, opposing counsel and courthouse personnel.  

A criminal defendant once told me that he saw some lawyers in the courthouse seem to merely be going through the motions, while some others seemed to be totally into their work. Whether or not his perception was correct, perceptions are critical in trial work, and he was perhaps sensing which lawyers were permeating their work with their chi. Through the magic mirror principle, we should not expect others in the courtroom or anywhere else to want to be engaged in what we are trying to do if we are not ourselves fully engaged and in the moment, without being preoccupied by anything, and by ideally being fully prepared for battle and war, while treating everyone in the courtroom with caring and kindness.  

My daily t’ai chi ch’uan practice helps me stay in touch with my chi, and to develop, harness and apply my chi. T’ai chi has withstood the test of time for centuries. Far from being some sort of new age, touchy-feely exercise, t’ai chi has proven itself to improve people’s physical, mental and spiritual health dramatically and, for the highly practiced high achievers, to be even lethal against opponents. T’ai chi is the Supreme Ultimate.

ADDENDUM: Here are short, fascinating firsthand accounts of t’ai chi master Cheng Man Ch’ing on his mastery of the five Chinese classics, and of his ability to integrate t’ai chi with Chinese medicine.