In the practice of Taijiquan pushing hands, Taiji circle sticking hands, and Taijiquan free fighting, etc., you must practice until you have reached a stage where there is no discrimination of the opponent. That means it is the stage where the opponent is you and you are the opponent, both are one. As a result, you know yourself and you also know your opponent. You are in an active position and the opponent’s action is driven by you. You are able to put the opponent in your palms. When there is an intention of moving, you know immediately. When this happens, you have reached the stage of fighting with enlightenment. At the beginning, the keys of training are in listening, following, attaching, and adhering -- four crucial words. If you are not able to use these four important keys skillfully, then you will not be able to communicate with the opponent and understand the situation. Afterward, the keys of training are on leading, neutralizing, coiling, and turning. If you cannot apply these four keys effectively, then the coming Jins will not be neutralized and dissolved by you and thus you will not be able to control your opponent in your palms. If you are able to reach the above (eight words), then the techniques such as Cai (pluck), Lie (split), Zhou (elbow), Kao (bump), Ti (kicking), Da (striking), Shuai (wrestling), and Na (Chin Na), etc. can be executed as you wish.
When you practice Taijiquan skills to a high level and have reached a state of ‘fight of no fight’ (regulating without regulating), then every action is ultimately natural, comfortable, skillful, and effective. This is the stage of ‘fighting with enlightenment.’ In this stage, you are the one who controls the entire fighting situation.
The keys to reaching this stage of training are in the eight crucial practices. At the beginning, you must practice listening (feeling), following, attaching, and adhering until you become proficient. If you can do so, you will be able to communicate with your opponent easily. Only then can you perform the skills of leading, neutralizing, coiling, and turning effectively. In fact, these eight key words are the crucial secrets of executing all of the Taijiquan fighting techniques successfully.
In beginning of your training, the focus is on regulating the body, and then on regulating the breathing, regulating the Xin (emotional mind), regulating the Qi, and then regulating the spirit. Its final stage is to regulate the spirit until no regulating is necessary. This is the stage of regulating without regulating. If you really are able to reach this level, your enlightened spirit will be focused on it fully. This is the Dao of reaching enlightenment.
In order to reach the final stage of enlightenment, you must regulate your body, and then your breathing, mind, Qi, and finally spirit. Once you are able to reach a stage at which your whole spirit is in the actions without any effort, then you have reached the stage of enlightenment. This is the level of action without action.
Generally speaking, to reach enlightenment is to comprehend the meaning of physical life, to cherish all living things, to know the mandate of heaven, and to fulfill the will of heaven. That means, during the training process of killing and surviving in Taijiquan practice, to comprehend the reasons for human life, to cherish the value of millions of living things, to search for the rules of heaven Dao, and finally to achieve the great Dao of heaven and human’s unification. This is the original meaning of Taijiquan’s creation by the Daoist family in Wudang mountain.
Taijiquan was created at the Daoist monasteries on Wudang mountain. The final goal of Daoist spiritual cultivation is to reunite the human spirit with the heaven’s (natural) spirit. To reach this goal, first we must comprehend the meaning of our lives, cherish all living things, search for the mandate of nature, and finally fulfill this mandate. From this, we can see that, though Taijiquan was created as a martial art, it does not mean to destroy or to kill life. On the contrary, it is the tool for us to understand life. From self-understanding and discipline, we learn how to control ourselves and to appreciate life everywhere. Only then can we have a pure and kind heart to understand nature and its mandate. All of these are the required procedures for the unification of human and heaven’s spirit.