Friday, December 30, 2011

What Did I Learn in 2011?

I feel compelled, as I often do at the end of the year, to reflect on the previous year and review what I learned. The problem I usually have is that of short-term/long-term memory. Recent events are more cogent for me. But alas, I will do my best.

In general terms:
I learned I'm not as diligent at writing as I used to be. And i just can't seem to get much better, or more diligent.

I've learned to let go--rather, I've gotten better at it.

I've learned I need to work on getting beyond duality and the ego.

I've learned to appreciate Qigong and sitting meditation a lot more.

In specific terms:
I learned the Yang LuChan Taiji form.

I made significant improvements in my understanding of and abilities in I Liq Chaun and appreciate the depth of the art much more.

To that end, I have increased my appreciation of my primary art, Chen-Hunyuan Taiji much much more--specifically the importance of nurturing.

I have improved my Chin Na and sparring skills

I have learned that I don't fit in well with many Tai Chi groups and organizations, and I am quite content with that realization.

I have learned the the Yang LuChan Taiji form is the best Qigong I have ever experienced. I have every good reason to simplify my practice--but I won't be dropping that. It's just that powerful.

To that end, I have learned I am better off being multi-dimensional and not sticking too rigidly to any one system. I just operate better that way--always have.

I have come to appreciate my religious beliefs and realize I need my faith community.

To that end, I have come back around to really valuing silence and simplicity.

Further, I realize the internal need to slow down.

In the past year my Taiji skills have improved. I have trained and practiced a lot.

I have increased my time in meditation and can feel the gains.

A teacher I really looked up to and appreciated passed away.

My mom passed away, and I am still hurting from that. I feel the need to spend some time alone--possibly a retreat.

In the coming year (The Dragon):
For the past couple of years I have participated in The One Hundred Day Challenge on the Chinese New Year. I'm not sure I'm up to that this year--not sure I want to. But the jury is still out on that.

I am going to spend more time on the healing arts and meditation this year. Following the Chen-Hunyuan tradition, I am placing a higher priority on nurturing and contemplation. As far as my art goes, I will be working more on depth and less on width or breadth. I am also going to engage in the art of subtraction, or practical simplicity; live more through less. And that's about as far as I will go in terms of resolutions or predictions.

I do expect 2012 to be good, to be different. And that's enough for anyone.

Friday, December 16, 2011

And the Knees Have It

I have been having trouble with one of my knees lately, which has directed me in a different direction with my training--at least till this heals and/or passes. In any case, the shift in focus has highlighted some areas of my training that need more attention. The first of these, and the most important, is meditation. The latest slow-down has given me the opportunity to notice how much more I should meditate. I do meditate on a regular basis, and meditation is a core aspect of the Taiji/Qigong classes I teach. However, time is short, life is busy, and I don't get enough long sessions on the Zafu.

I have, over the last two years, increased my practice of Qigong and Taiji form. And the benefits have been enormous. However, there is no substitute for sitting. And, as I have said numerous times before, nothing is more important than waking up. Nothing. So, with a little pain comes insight. I'll take it however I get it.

It appears this latest injury may take a little more time than I expected for healing. In the meantime, I am cutting out any boxing, heavy push hands, the Pao Cui (Erlu), Hao Chuan, and any fajin practice. I'm going to use the time to work on meditation and investigate various healing modalities. Ahh, the joy of getting old.

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Ever-Narrowing Path

Do not go by revelation
Do not go by tradition
Do not go by hearsay
Do not go on the authority of sacred texts
Do not go on the grounds of pure logic
Do not go by a view that seems rational
Do not go by reflecting on mere appearances
Do not go along with a considered view because you agree with it
Do not go along on the grounds that the person is competent
Do not go along because [thinking] 'the recluse is our teacher

The Buddha (Kalama Sutta)

Right from the beginning here, I realize this post may bother a few folks, probably some people I care about quite a lot. So, right from the beginning I want to say that is not my intention, but I do understand how that may be a consequence. What I truly hope is that something here speaks to everyone who reads this.

I got the title, "The Ever-Narrowing Path" from a conversation with my friend, Paul Read, about how unfortunate it is that in the martial arts world in general, and the Taiji world in particular, so many people are caught up in such superficial concepts as lineage, and "the way it's supposed to be done", and our style vs. your style, and this family as opposed to that family, and interpreting history, short form vs. long form, and martial vs health, and traditional vs contemporary, and on and on.... I do think it is a natural thing to want to understand one's art. Good research would have you discuss with those who have been at it a while, read books on the topic, see what your teacher and your lineage has to say about things, and see what other teachers and lineages have to say. But at the same time, I think it is counterproductive to rely solely on what your teacher and lineage have to say. Not that they may mislead you, or that they may be wrong. My point is that in Taiji, as in all things, we need to get to a point where we think for ourselves--even if our thoughts are different or in direct opposition to our teacher/lineage/system.

It is downright discouraging to me to see very talented and knowledgeable people openly belittling others to, apparently, only boost themselves or their "system". It's even more discouraging that when I bring up an unusual idea or concept to another Taiji player, to see them defer totally, 100%, to their teacher or system, especially when another teacher or system has a different, but legitimate answer. Of course we should always trust our teachers and the system. But at the same time we should allow ourselves the right to think outside the box. We must remember that this is a human art. And humans are fallible. Taiji was not handed down by the gods, then diluted by devious humans along the way. It was invented by humans, has been practiced and modified by humans, and will continue to be practiced and modified by humans. I believe we should give our teachers the full respect they deserve. But at the same time, we should be bold enough to wander outside the temple every now and again.

In my opinion, one of the best things to happen to modern martial arts was Bruce Lee's Jeet Kune Do. JKD is not a new style, it is a different approach, a style of no style. Lee said that style imprisons us because combat is not limited to style. It was Lee's intention to free his followers from styles, patterns, and doctrines. Unfortunately, almost 40 years after his death, most martial artists have not taken his advice. This is especially true in the Taiji world. I recently read somewhere on an internet forum where a young student, new to Taiji and taking both Yang and Chen style classes from different schools was almost to the point of quitting altogether because each of the respective schools spent so much time demeaning the other.

When I'm faced with these arguments, and my friends' certainties that they, and only they, are following the one true path, I am reminded of the words of the founder of Quakerism, George Fox. When confronted with religious arguments based on the bible and the Church's traditions and beliefs, he replied: "The bible says this, and the Church says that. I ask you, what can you say?" To my argumentative friends in the Taiji world, I ask you a similar question. You say, "the classics say this, your teacher says that; according to history, Taiji should be (whatever); our founder Chen-Yang-Wu-Hao-Whomever said we should...." I ask you, what do you say? Instead of rumbling around, quoting the classics, arguing over history, who invented Taiji in what village on whatever mountaintop, etc... Look into yourself. See what Taiji really says to you. Try another form, another style. Really try it. Practice your slow form fast, with fajin. Practice your fast form slow, in small frame with extra emphasis on Song. Whatever. I'm not asking for a re-invention of Taiji, here. I'm just hoping that maybe we can all get along and think for ourselves at the same time. In an art that has so much to offer, it's a shame to see the artists imprisoned by dogmatism.

Friday, July 15, 2011


"If scientific analysis were conclusively to demonstrate certain claims in Buddhism to be false, then we must accept the findings of science and abandon those claims." The Dalai Lama, XIV

I have a friend, a theologically-liberal Christian, who said she was speaking with a more evangelical fellow who pointed out in the Bible the very verse that specified why he knew, the source of his certainty. She said the ironic thing about it was that this very same verse was one she used to specify her need for the eternal search, why she always questioned the Universe and found any personal sense of certainty resistant to words. If I extrapolate that experience, I find the same thing happening throughout the philosophical areas of my life. There are parties and schools of thought, often at odds with one another, in every endeavor. I don't think there is anything necessarily wrong with that. In fact, I think there is something very right with that, because it shows that we are human, that we have the faculties of critical thought, and that we use them to individualize the things that are important to us. What does bother me are the self-righteous, the ones who know (whatever it is they know), because what they typically know is that they are right and everyone else is accordingly wrong.

Don't misunderstand. I also have my personal philosophies, my unique style, or styles. And there are other philosophies, schools-of-thought, styles, that I don't like or agree with. However, I am trying in my later life to not publicly criticize those whose philosophies are different from mine. I certainly can't improve myself, my art, or my philosophy by demonstrating how wrong others are. I am, rather, trying to approach things with an empty cup, so that perhaps I may learn something. By taking this approach I am indeed learning new and interesting things. And, as you may imagine, I am meeting a good deal of confusion as they run together, and a lot of resistance from those who think one should find a box and stay in it. As far as confusion, that is OK; confusion is good. It's a reason to examine my practices and look closely at my life and my art. As far as the resistance--so what? I've never fit very well into any parenthetical references. There is certainly no sense in beginning now.

For my friends and acquaintances who love their certainty, their partisanship, their hard-fast denominational allegiance. Bless you. Honestly. I am doing what works for me, because I found after trying many years that I just don't conform to anything very well. And I am pleased if you are doing what works for you. I am not criticizing partisanship, I'm just saying it's not for me.

Now, let's go practice whatever it is we practice.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Finding One's Place in Space and Time

Taiji is a mindfulness practice. But what exactly are we being mindful of? It is of course our movement, the execution, correct execution even, of the form, push hands, or Qigong. And it's stillness, awareness of our structure, our bodies, our breath, the qualities of peng and sung. And if we examine these experiences we generally notice that awareness of one is quite different than awareness of the other. But perhaps a deeper experience of Taiji is to look for Wuji in movement, and Taiji in stillness.

Try noticing your physical structure, spinal alignment, peng and sung qualities, and breath while doing the form, or better yet, while engaged in push hands. It is easier, relatively speaking, to maintain awareness of these qualities in stillness than in movement, mainly because we spend so much of our awareness in form on getting the movement right. This speaks to the benefit of Taiji form, and the importance of going beyond mere memorization of the choreography. Once we learn form with our mind, we begin to learn it with our bodies so that we can perform without so much mental effort. However, that doesn't let our mind off the hook. It's at this point that we go deeper in our experience and understanding of form. At this level of understanding we become aware of the small details. We start looking for the qualities we find in stillness, we ensure silk reeling, relaxation and expansion (sung and peng), and structural alignment are present, and we monitor our breathing and move so as to lead with Yi, and direct Qi from the dantien.

From here we also look to become aware of these qualities in push hands, thus expanding our awareness outside of form into a free form application, and adding the task of being mindful of our partner and his/her qualities as well. This is a lot, a major undertaking. But this is one of many reasons why Taiji is a life-long learning process, an eternal means with no end in sight.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Getting to Know Yang LuChan

Once again, I challenged myself to the Chinese New Year One Hundred Day Challenge. The idea behind The Challenge is to work on something, basically anything, every day for one hundred days beginning on the first day of the Chinese New Year. I put myself to the test last year and worked on the Chen Style Er Lu, second routine, or otherwise known as the Pau Cui (Cannon Fist) form. Admittedly, it is a shame to have to make an arbitrary excuse for training, but for me it works. The idea is to focus on this one subject, every day, for one hundred days. Before doing it last year I had worked on the Er Lu for years, here and there, when I could, when I could get my teacher to focus on it, when something else wasn't capturing my attention. But I never learned the form correctly all the way through. Utilizing the One Hundred Day Challenge as an impetus gave me the discipline to make it fall into place.

This year I did the same thing but turned my attention to the Old Yang Form, that of Yang LuChan. The greatest proponent for this style of Taiji in the modern age has been Erle Montaigue. Erle died a week before the Chinese New Year. So, in a nod of respect to Erle, and as preparation for the upcoming WTBA, Eastern USA Mini Camp, set for May 13--15, I took on LuChan's form. Consequently, the one hundred days will be over the day before the camp. So doing this has even more meaning for me.

Much like my previous experience with the Er Lu, I had never really given the YLC form my complete attention. I had learned it partially via video, and again had some instruction in the Small Frame approach from Erle at last year's WTBA event. Not long after that event I contacted Erle about learning the complete form, at which point he directed me to his "Taiji to the Max" series. This is a series of eight videos, in minute detail, describing this form complete, including all the martial applications, dim mak, and the Hao Chuan. The Hao Chuan is a nearly extinct style of practicing Taiji, with the ending of nearly every posture whipping at a fa-jing pace. Hao Chuan is translated as "loose boxing."

Of course a lot of Taijiquan history is debatable and disputed, like most history is, especially considering the lack of consistent record keeping methods. So there are some unknowns and some speculation, and various accounts of early Taiji practitioners. But, the way I understand it is Yang LuChan was a practitioner of Changchuan, or Long Fist Kung Fu, who studied the art that became known as Tajijquan from Chen Chang Hsing in Chen Village. He also apparently learned what was known as Great Pole Boxing, a system based on Qi Disruption Forms and the Original Thirteen Postures, separately. From there he combined all his previous knowledge with what he learned at Chen Village and invented his own system, known as Hao Chuan (Loose Boxing). Hao Chuan is faster than most Tajij forms, with jumps, kicks, and explosive fa-jing punches. Every application has a dim mak strike included. This is not your grandmother's Yang Tai Chi. This is pre-Yang Cheng Fu, before it was even called Tajijquan, and before it was made accessible to the masses. Of course the form doesn't have to be performed at the Hao Chuan level, but that is its highest expression.

Since the first day of the Chinese New Year, 2011, the Year of the Rabbit, I have been working on this form, and gaining profound appreciation of Erle Montaigue and of course, Yang LuChan. I do know the form all the way through, but not quite at the Hao Chuan level just yet. I also practice it at the Small Frame level, and find that to be extremely rewarding. As I have noted before, I find much knowledge in the practice of Taiji form. If we approach form with an empty cup, we learn something new every time. So it is with the YLC form. And while I can see the similarities with Chen style, much more so than contemporary Yang, it is still a very different approach to Tajiquan. A very deep, very powerful, intelligent, healing, martially effective approach to Taijiquan.

As of the writing of this post, I have one week left in my one hundred days. It has been very informative. I now know the YLC form. I feel that the challenge has been a success. Now, I have many years of challenge ahead to learn it at the Hao Chuan level, at the Small Frame level, to learn it well, so that it's second nature, so that it becomes a part of me, of who I am. That is, after all, what Taiji is about, isn't it?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Being Unified, Aware, Present

At the recent I Liq Chuan Workshop with Sifu Sam Chin, he repeatedly emphasized the need to be present, to react to whatever the given situation dictates based on current reality and not some pre-planned choreographed scenario. This is the essence of I Liq Chuan. Of course to do this appropriately the practitioner must be unified. While that's easy enough to say or write or discuss, it's something else altogether to do. It's all the more difficult and confusing when we see it as not something we learn to do, but more as learning to be. But we aren't just attempting to be, as we've always been, which is mostly not mindful and not unified, but rather to be unified, aware, and present. And this is something that takes many, many moons to master.

Unification, in the solo sense, unifying the self, is based on the concept of moving naturally, which most of us rarely do. Note, that is naturally not normally. Normal movement is the way most of us move, but it is not natural movement. Natural movement is the way our bodies are supposed to work, they way they were designed to work, and the way they work most efficiently. We just have to train them accordingly. To accomplish this, I Liq Chuan has a system of training that includes, among other things, what is known as the thirteen points and the five qualities. It's not necessarily that these things are new to the Neijia world, they are found in most if not all internal arts. But this art defines them well and incorporates them into a methodology for learning and training that is not only concerned with physical movement, but mindfulness as well. And that is substantial.

The thirteen points are physical aspects that we should pay attention to. They are as follows:
1. Center of Gravity--center of the feet
2. Perineum pointing down to the balance beam line
3. Tan Tien--suction and condense
4. Ming Mien--project and expand
5. Crown--suspended
6.Sternum--suction and condense
7. Kwa--maintain the energy in the center of hip joints
8. Drop shoulders over the hips
9. Tuck the ribs
10. Nine solid and one empty on the feet
11. Elbows wrapping down
12. Knees pointing to the big toes
13. Balance of Yin/Yang

The five qualities of movement:
1. Absorb/Project
2. Open/Close
3. Condense/Expand
4. Concave/Convex
5. The Three Dimensional Planes (Frontal, Horizontal, Sagittal)

While some readers may not recognize all these terms, as written, most practitioners of the Internal Arts will recognize most of these concepts as they are applied. The thirteen points are for the most part the basics of good Zhan Zhuang, but applied to moving as well. The five qualities are concerned with movement and interaction with a partner. I'm not going to go into detail on these with this posting, but will continue and look at them in depth in the future.

The I Liq Chuan system is designed so that the practitioner learns first to unify him/herself, then unify with a training partner. The thirteen points and five qualities are fundamental to this, and to training the body to move naturally in all situations. An awesome task, but a worthy one just the same. I have been working with this system, albeit very part time, for some time now. I have a very long way to go, due in part to the small amount of time I have dedicated to learning the system. The nearest study group is over an hour away, and it's sometimes difficult to make a class that doesn't conflict with other commitments. In any case, I have been increasing the level of training time I spend with I Liq Chuan over the past year. And it's been paying off. I hope to spend even more time from here on. I am starting to integrate the teaching methods into my Taiji classes. Many of the concepts are the same and teaching something requires one to know it well.

But I Liq Chuan is not Taiji. Granted there are many similarities, but this is a powerful martial art in its own right. It is one of the most impressive systems I have ever seen. While it may take many years of training to become competent, I am looking forward to giving it what I can. I guess time will tell.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Martial Effectiveness of Wuji

To depict the ultimate principles of the universal laws of no truth and no untruth state, the mind should be observed with awareness.
To adapt to the vicissitude of time and to no present and no unpresent state, its force should be harmonized with awareness.
The Art of I Liq Chuan

Much attention is given to the concept of Wuji as a component of Qigong and meditation and the practice of Taiji. Wuji may be one of the most important, yet least considered aspect of Neija. Beyond the spiritual and health benefits, Wuji has important martial implications. The above noted quote, from the art of I Liq Chuan, summarizes the ideal martial state. We need to be balanced and aware, to observe the mind with awareness and to harmonize force with this same awareness. This describes the power and function of the state of Wuji. In Zhan Zhuang, which we also call Wuji meditation, we reside in primordial stillness, a state of balance preceding the birth of Taiji. Of course, with movement Yin and Yang are birthed into existence and we are put into a position of seeking balance. But we needn't seek very far, because the previous state of Wuji is a state of balance. To take it further, we need remember that movement is born of stillness, but there is always a little stillness in movement and movement in stillness, a little Yin in Yang, and a little Yang in Yin. Therein are the martial benefits of Wuji; finding Yin and or Yang when we need it, and always seeking balance.

The postural alignments and techniques of Zhan Zhuang, the Fifteen Basic Exercises of I Liq Chuan, or the basic principles and practices of Qigong and Silk Reeling should stay with us as we transition into Form practice, Push Hands, Chi Sau, Trapping, or other two person drills, and as we further transition into free sparring or grappling, and of course actual self defense. The point is that we want a state of balance. Wuji practices give us a feel for balance that we can take into interpersonal interactions. If we should find ourselves off balance, we adjust back to the feel of Wuji. Thus, these foundational practices have deep roots and broad applications.

Experimental embodied exercises can and do support the concept of power in structure. The process of tilting the pelvis forward and filling the mingmen are empowering. It is similar to the latent energy in a drawn bow. In this posture we operate from a position of power. Our movements are more efficient, as our bodies are unified. At the same time we are loading the bow, to be released through the issuance of fa jin.

Additionally, there is much to be gained martially from mindfulness. Wuji Qigong is a form of meditation, and we experience the myriad benefits of meditation in these practices. Among these is getting beyond conditioning and the habits of mind. This plays exceptionally well in martial situations, as conditioning and mental habits are counterproductive to martial effectiveness. Instead the martial artist should strive to be aware and present in the moment to deal with what happens as it happens. Push hands and other sensitivity drills emphasize listening as potent martial skill. To effectively 'listen' to our training partners we must be aware, present, and balanced, both internally and externally. We strive to know our attacker, to feel our own latent energy, and to be aware enough to utilize it when needed. In a nutshell, effective action in motion is premised and developed by effective awareness in stillness.

As we put it all together we find no separation between movement and stillness. It's all the same, as evidenced by awareness. This is the true state of Wuji.

Monday, January 31, 2011

The Real Deal

Erle Montaigue, 1949--2011

The martial arts world lost a real giant last week. Erle Montaigue passed away on Wednesday, January 26th. He was a genuine Master of Taijiquan, yet he refused to accept any such titles. His friends and students span the globe. I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to train with and get to know him before he left this plane.

Sincerity is a big thing for me. And if he was anything at all, Erle Montaigue was sincere. When I was composing this post my initial thoughts were of that sincerity. And I had to resist the temptation to compare him to some of the shysters I have met in my martial arts experiences. I considered relating some of those experience here, but changed my mind as that would serve no good in the end. Rather than disparage those who easily disparage themselves, I decided to focus on the positive. Getting to know Erle and to learn the system he taught has been a big positive for me.

Although he was one of the most talented martial artists on the planet, Erle was a very humble and unassuming man. As I noted, he insisted that he not be called "Master" or "Sifu" or "Sensei", or any other title that would place him above anyone else. Rather, he treated all his students, even the newest newbie beginner, as an equal. He taught and practiced in his street clothes. He has the largest offering of Taiji training videos known to mankind, most of which were recorded in his old barn or his back yard, with kids and dogs and chickens running around, clothes hanging on the line in the background, and his loyal friends and students all playing a crucial part in the lessons, and all as humble and as unassuming as he.

I am a bit of a latecomer to the WTBA world. But still, Erle treated me as if I had been around forever. We conversed several times via email or Facebook about Taiji and/or music, and I had the opportunity to train with him and Eli (his son) last May in Maryland. Each time, he spoke to me as if he had known me for years. But at the same time, he must have known a million people--easily. His students come from all over the world, and he apparently treated each and every one with the same level of mutual respect and admiration.

He will be missed. But, that being what it is, we must all carry on. Eli is now running the WTBA without Erle. But he will always be with us in spirit. I personally still have a long way to go in that system. But there are tons of videos to reference, lots of willing and qualified teachers, and opportunities to continue. The WTBA-USA will be gathering again this May in Pennsylvania. It should be a good time. Eli will be leading the training. And I feel quite certain the old teacher will still get a few lessons in after all.

I think it is a shame to lose such a treasure. But at the same time, I feel honored to have had the opportunity to have met and trained with him, and am thrilled to still have opportunities to continue in his system. Erle Montaigue was, without a doubt, the real deal.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Nonverbal Attributes of Taiji

A central component of most Taiji practices is the Taiji form. And although there are various forms in the wide world of Taijiquan, they all convey the energies and principles of Taiji in such a way that we can practice, learn, and improve even if we practice alone. As we begin to understand our particular form, it should begin to speak to us, to teach. Accordingly, it should speak to those observing the form as well. This is one of the nonverbal attributes of Taiji.

Often the messages of Taiji are understood, but are not necessarily conducive to ordinary language. Of course we need teachers, and the imparted wisdom of those more familiar with, or with varying perspectives on our tradition. We could never start upon our paths, or follow them intelligently without informed guidance. But our teachers are not always with us. And typically, as we progress we move figuratively, and often literally, further from our teachers. We often don't have easy or frequent access to them. But we still have the need to learn, to progress. Therein is the beauty of Taiji's nonverbal attributes. We can still learn, we just have to teach ourselves to listen the right way.

The nonverbal attributes are not limited to the Taiji form. I have found much wisdom, strength, and knowledge inherent in Zhan Zhuang practice. As a matter of fact, as I mature in my Taiji practice, I am finding much more information in the simple practice of standing. Often, in various Qigong and Taiji forms, we will stop and hold a position. At that moment I can feel the latent power of Zhan Zhuang waiting to express, and concurrently to speak, to teach. Sharing that feeling is hard, because one can only feel it to understand it.

I did not begin my Taiji training with this knowledge, waiting for it to manifest. Rather, it just happened. Eventually, I caught on and started to listen. Of course, mindfulness, openness, and equanimity are essential for this type of listening. We need to be present, to reside in our bodies, and to receive the message(es) with discernment.

A further, and perhaps easier to understand nonverbal attribute is the listening of push hands. In this case we are still listening to our own bodies. In fact, for martial competence it is crucial that we listen to our own bodies in any partner practices. But, in following the tenets of push hands practice, we are also listening to our partners. The goals of this listening are manifold. We are listening for advantage, or for understanding those with whom we are engaged; we are listening so that we can instruct our partners, or others; and we are listening so that we can nurture our training partners as we nurture ourselves. None of these goals are obtainable without listening to the nonverbal attribute of push hands.

Considering the nonverbal attributes of Taiji broadens our practice. Further, it offers depth. And it opens the possibilities for knowledge way beyond what we may have thought possible. That is a good thing--the way it should be.