Email today from one of the attendees at my recent Seattle Summer Summit Seminar:
Q: I wanted to share a paradox with you. You emphasized during the weekend, and it is nicely captured on tape, that we should not over-think the exact hand, foot, or earlobe positions in San Ti Shi, that the important thing is to get the gestalt right.
I'm sure that's true.
On the other side of the room, though, Wayne is correcting us in the exact hand, hip, back, and foot positions of the ZMQ37 (admittedly not the earlobes) -- so there is some usefulness to getting it right, beyond just being able to put your mind into your body.
I haven't thought this through. But I love paradoxes.
A: Yes, it seems like an interesting paradox but it's not as much a contradiction as it may appear. If you can exactly and precisely "work to spec" (hand, foot, all material parts as laid out by a system or teacher) the details of that "spec" (the system) actually don't matter much in themselves, they are largely arbitrary with a nod here and there to some fundamentals of human physiology, gravity, etc.
But the key thing is by forcing yourself to pay attention and "work to spec" you are establishing CONTROL OVER YOURSELF. Which as Ben used to tell us, is a rare thing. Most people have very little awareness of their own position, condition, and state. Learning to "work to spec" is a way of establishing sensitivity and the necessary relaxation to achieve any precise configuration.
THEN - the energy emerges, blasts up from your feet, enabled by the awareness and softness developed through the above process.
AND THEN - the details no longer matter, once you've flipped on the light you don't need to grope along the walls any more. Then you don't need a weatherman to tell you which way the wind is blowing.
This apparent Tai Chi paradox is a cut-rate, down-market version of what Tolstoy wrote about here.