Speaking to John Kells the other day, he reminded me of the key message he gave during my early days at the Centre, to be one " One with the Tao".
I'm prettty sure this went over the heads of most of us as we struggled to get to grips with our deadly, slow movements, wondering which arm and leg went where and when.
What did it mean? The beauty of T'ai Chi is that it was a physical and mental manifestation of Taoist philosophy. The key was to be natural and not get in the way of things. This is best demonstrated through pushing hands. When the other person pushes, neither resist nor collapse. Simply accept and follow the direction of the push leading to a transformation which allows a return of energy.
Of course what happens is that we may accept and follow for a little bit, then fear strikes that we may get pushed so we tense and try to use force to pull the other person's hand aside. As we work with different partners we learn to accept/follow differing forces. We start out as a rough block of stone which is gradually transformed through the practise.
There is more that could be said and probably there are better explanations. But I think single push hands is a great way to work on this. It's no use just having an intellectual, clever comprehension.
Gradually we give up our preconceptions and tension to become more natural, with no seperation from our partner with whom we are working.
We become one with the Tao.