I recently went to a workshop and during the break I happened to sit next to a woman I did not know before.
We started talking casually. During our conversation she told me that she used to be a Qi Gong teacher before she moved to the small city she now lives in. I asked her why she stopped teaching Qi Gong. And she said: “Well, there are many therapists in my town and so there are already some Qi Gong teachers. But they are really not good, you know.”
Just then the break was over, and I didn’t get to talk to that woman again (she left early). But I continued thinking about that conversation over the last weeks.
Why did this woman decide to speak bad of the other Qi Gong teachers?
Actually this is something I recognize a lot in the Qi Gong (and Taijiquan) community. And I wonder: Why should only YOUR teacher be the best or YOUR style the most applicable or YOUR form the most authentic?
And there are other people, who are astonished about this kind of behavior, too. Like Stuart A. Olson writes in his book Steal My Art*:
“It always struck me as so interesting that Tai Chi, an art based on yielding and non-aggression, is so filled with political gossip and aggressive attitudes. One of T.T. Liang’s favorite statements should be applied more often in the Tai Chi world: “Don’t blame others, blame yourself. Just take what is good from a person and get rid of what’s bad”.”
(Steal My Art*, p.65)
So if I had the chance to tell that woman my thoughts about her comment, I would say something like this:
I truly believe that I can learn something from every person I meet. That doesn’t mean though that I stay around a Taijiquan rookie for 10 years. I surely evolve and meet new teachers on my way.
But I think it is important to respect each person’s knowledge, capabilities and experiences. As much as I want others to respect my approach and my development, I respect theirs. I enjoy meeting people from all different levels of experience in the Taijiquan and Qi Gong community.
And don’t get me wrong: I am a strong advocate of quality! Of course you should work with teachers who you can learn from and all the basics should be covered (like they should really teach you without hurting you etc.!). I wrote about how to find a good teacher here.
But even Wolfe Lowenthal, a student of Cheng Manching, writes:
“It is the law of Tao that what you put out is what you get back. If I am open, generous and loving, I will experience life as safe, abundant and full of love. If I am tense and fearful, and view life as dangerous and hostile, my life will reflect that fearful reality.”
(There are no secrets*, p. 73)
So by speaking bad about others you do not only hurt them, you effect your own reality, too. I really think the (Taijiquan and Qi Gong) world could be a better place if we all sticked to this:
If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all.