Philosophy, Concepts and Principles

This is a longish post and please forgive if it seems too basic or pedantic. I include all this for a complete overview and as a reference. From

From Wikipedia


Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with realityexistenceknowledge,valuesreasonmind, and language.[1][2] Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational argument.[3] In more casual speech, by extension, "philosophy" can refer to "the most basic beliefs, concepts, and attitudes of an individual or group".[4]

Concept: In metaphysics, and especially ontology, a concept is a fundamental category of existence. In contemporary philosophy, there are at least three prevailing ways to understand what a concept is:[1]

  • Concepts as mental representations, where concepts are entities that exist in the brain.
  • Concepts as abilities, where concepts are abilities peculiar to cognitive agents.
  • Concepts as abstract objects, where objects are the constituents of propositions that mediate between thought, language, and referents.

Principle is a law or rule that has to be, or usually is to be followed, or can be desirably followed, or is an inevitable consequence of something, such as the laws observed in nature or the way that a system is constructed. The principles of such a system are understood by its users as the essential characteristics of the system, or reflecting system's designed purpose, and the effective operation or use of which would be impossible if any one of the principles was to be ignored.[1]

Examples of principles:

  • a descriptive comprehensive and fundamental law, doctrine, or assumption,
  • a normative rule or code of conduct,
  • a law or fact of nature underlying the working of an artificial device.

The ILC system of practice recognizes a fundamental issue or problem through Buddhist and Taoist philosophical inquiry. This inquiry is mediated by concepts, which give rise to specific principles.

The two essential ILC philosophical concerns are:

  1. How to see and accept that there is 'Nothing to learn, only to recognize and realize'. 
  2. How to 'Change with the change'.

We will begin with two fundamental concepts - abstract mental objects - to help us in this exploration.

  1. 'In ILC, every movement (and posture) is to relax with the cycle of yin and yang'.
  2. 'ILC is based on feel'.

Every legitimate internal martial art or health practice holds some version of this philosophy and begins with these concepts. If they don't, they can't call themselves 'internal' and the powerful refinements that follow from practice are not accessible via any training methods, even those that look similar on the surface.

Why do the philosophy and concepts, which all internal arts share, lead to such wildly different observable results? It's our understanding of the philosophy and concepts that give rise to our principles. Please refer to the aspect of the Wikipedia definition that a principle  '... is an inevitable consequence of something, such as the laws observed in nature or the way that a system is constructed.'

As an example of how important a clear understanding of the relationships between philosophy, concepts and principles can be shown using the Tai Chi principle of 'Flow - no advancing and no backing off, nothing to be added and nothing to be taken away'.

This is a rule that clearly fits under concept number one 'to relax with the cycle of yin and yang' and must have number two 'feel' for successful practice. If you leave out the 'feel' how can you know that your practice and understanding follow the philosophy? You can make any circular movement and say, 'Look, this fits, it's ok to practice like this.'

Your instructor 'feeds you the right feel' so you have a better idea of what the principle 'no advancing and no backing off' means. You can see that it works and feels better than other movements.

How do we decide what 'better' movement is? The principles simply tell what to follow and not to follow and the concepts only tell us what we're doing, not how to see 'better or worse' practice. We have to look to the philosophy to see what makes some movements better than others.

Number two aspect of our philosophy is 'Change with the change'. If you can move to flow with another person in time and space then you can say you are, 'Neither advancing nor backing off'. If you can't flow, you aren't following the philosophy. We can test the principle against the concepts and against the philosophy to be clear that we are training correctly and to reduce room for errors in our practice and to be successful.

So what tools do we have to look deeper into Flow - 'no advancing and no backing off'. For that we must invoke philosophical aspect number 1, 'Nothing to learn'.

This tells us to observe things as they are, to recognize that the skill of flow must be tested on the mental side as well as the ability to demonstrate physical skill.

To go deeper in understanding means to apply 'no advancing and no backing off' to the mental aspect of the training. For this we have the three mental factors, be present, be formless and be neutral. These are the specific principles that apply to 'seeing things as they are'.

The concept we use to describe this process of using the physical and mental together to build the awareness of the 'suchness feel' of the present moment is called the '6-3-1'.

So as an overview we have two parallel frameworks to help us know that we are training correctly to get the results and to be able to continue to see deeper into ourselves, feeling, mind and nature.

  1. Nothing to learn -> 6-3-1 -> Flow
  2. Change with the change -> Yin-yang cycle -> Flow

The 10-10 tells us how to go through this same process of inquiry for every part of the training. It answers the question of 'How does what i'm doing at this moment fit with the ILC philosophy and concepts?' This brings the training process and the qualities of the training process together without leaving anything out.

In my experience, this is also how to begin to continuously manifest the training to enrich everyday life.

I hope this helps to clarify the completeness, elegance and effectiveness of our ILC training system.