George asked some good questions in a comment on this recent post. I responded briefly to the Tai Chi section of his query in a comment of my own, but wanted to reply more fully to these thoughts:
Why do even the most churchless on here appear to follow a spiritual practice of some kind? If truly churchless, why not be wholly secular and skeptical, devoid of any and all spiritual belief.
If on the other hand such spirituality is indeed practiced and tolerated, why not the same extended to other mystic traditions or religions? Christianity and RS [Radha Soami] have been slammed on here.
Brian appears to be an adherent of Tai Chi and sympathetic to Taoism. Fundamental to both is ‘chi’ or ‘qi’, which suggests an energy flow principle to all living things. There is also Yin Yang that presupposes an inherent dualistic nature to the universe. And of course there are masters who teach this discipline to disciples.
There is no evidence for ‘qi’ or a stream of energy flowing within us. Instead, we have blood that flows within our veins and arteries. Human anatomy does not consist of energy or life-energy pathways.
First, I think there may be some misunderstanding of Chinese terminology going on here. The "Chi" in Tai Chi doesn't have anything to do with "Qi." Tai Chi Chuan, which is what I have been learning for about five years, often is translated as "Grand Fist Ultimate" (chuan meaning "fist," the martial aspect of Tai Chi). I'm no expert on Chinese, for sure, but I'm pretty sure Qi and Ch'i are synonymous, but certainly not Qi and Chi (without an apostrophe). So when George said that Qi, or Ch'i, is fundamental to Tai Chi, this really isn't true. You can practice Tai Chi assiduously, and even become expert in it, without believing in the subtle energy known as Qi. Some long-standing practitioners in my Tai Chi class are big on Qi and Qigong. Others aren't. As I mentioned to George in a comment, I've settled on viewing Qi as whatever energy I'm feeling in my body at any given moment. This isn't a "spiritual" belief, in any way similar to the dogmas of Christianity or Radha Soami/Sant Mat. It is simple awareness of internal bodily sensations that usually people pass over or ignore, being focused on external objects and movements. Further, a lot of research has been done on the health benefits of Tai Chi. My wife subscribes to the Harvard Women's Health Watch newsletter. The May 2009 issue had an article that described some of the medical evidence. (This is a 1 MB PDF file.)
Download Health benefits of Tai Chi
Tai chi is often described as "meditation in motion," but it might well be called "medication in motion." There is growing evidence that this mind-body practice, which originated in China as a martial art, has value in treating or preventing many health problems.
Scientific research demonstrates the benefits of Tai Chi, which I've experienced personally. However, it's true, as George said, that I'm also attracted to the philosophical side of Tai Chi, Taoism.
Churchlessness is a continuum, not a sharp divide between believing and not believing. Even so, George asked why not be "devoid of any and all spiritual belief?" Well, I'd say that I am.
I find nothing "spiritual" in Taoism. This is a wonderfully natural philosophy. Mind and body are integrated, not split into concepts of spirit and matter -- which most religions consider to be at odds with each other.
What I don't want to do is shut myself off to new knowledge, understandings, truths, insights into reality. But I also don't want to embrace weird beliefs that have no connection with what I know now.
Like everyone else, I'm a bodily being. Probably that's all I am, no soul or spirit included.
However, there are a lot of mysteries left to unravel about the human condition. Now I find that physical pursuits -- martial arts, dancing, horse riding, scootering/motorcycling -- are a valuable means of learning who I am and how I function best (plus being plain fun).
I used to be much more other-worldly, philosophically. Thus Tai Chi and Taoism are where I've ended up at the moment in my descent from abstract conceptual metaphysics to directly experienced here-and-now awareness.
In physicality, where Tai Chi and Taoism are rooted, there are no places to hide behind metaphysical mumbo-jumbo.
You either can balance on one leg in a Tai Chi form and perform a sole (not soul) kick, or you can't.
You either can gracefully move with your partner in a Tango overhead turn, or you can't.
You either can control your horse as it canters around barrels in an arena, or you can't.
You either can smoothly guide your scooter/motorcycle through a series of tight curves in the road, or you can't.
Each of these activities -- which I've done recently -- requires my mind and body to act together harmoniously. Tension, fear, anxiety, unsureness, or lack of confidence produce shaky results.
Learning about life in this fashion seems much more real to me than the "spiritual" practices I used to engage in. So, George, I hope this helps answer your questions. In the latter part of your comment, you addressed some queries to tAo about Dzogchen. He has responded in another comment, echoing some points I've just made.
Basically, to understand how someone looks upon a practice like Tai Chi or Dzogchen, it's necessary to dig into their individual approach to it. I can understand how you could look upon Tai Chi as a spiritual belief system, but in my experience it isn't anything like that.