The best place to begin is at the beginning. Every class with Ruby had two parts, the first part was philosophical and the second part was learning the movements of the form. This was the first quote that was put up on the board: “I am am empty cup”.
It’s such a lovely and complex metaphor. The student comes to the teacher as an empty cup, receptive to what the teacher has to offer. Ruby said it went the other way, too. That he as the teacher came to us the students as an empty cup as well, so that he might learn from us as we learn from him. What a wonderful model of teaching, to be willing and able to learn from your students.
Perhaps it’s because I’m a bit older, have lived a bit more life, and perhaps become more jaded, but when I was re-visiting the lesson, I didn’t approach it from such a spiritual perspective. What I was drawn to this time was Ruby talking about himself being an empty cup in relation to his students, and what a wonderfully humble statement that was, as well as being a model of teaching that I have always tried to emulate.
I also approached the statement in relation to practicing form. Unlike when I first took the class, I know the form in its entirety and I’m renewing my practice of it. But while I know the moves, I have forgotten how to be empty while practicing. Ruby often talked about how Tai Chi was an empty, internal form, that we should only use as much outward energy as it took to make the shape. As I was practicing, I noticed that I was far from empty. I was very full in my movements, holding way more tension than is necessary to do the form.
I am, in a certain way, beginning again. And I am very much looking forward to being a student as I move through this journey.