One of the things I like most about my Tai Chi practice is Wu Chi (or Wuji). Basically, it means doing nothing. It's the ready, relaxed stance you're in before you do something.
Tai Chi, being Daoism (or Taoism) expressed in motion, reflects the more cosmic principles of Daoist philosophy. I wrote about Wu Chi in a 2005 "Wu chi, empty fullness" post about a year after I'd started practicing Tai Chi.
I’ve become a big fan of wu chi, a Taoist term for the emptiness from which fullness flows. It is the source of all that exists. Not being anything particular, wu chi is able to become everything. We could call it the One, but it is better not to name it at all.
...I first heard the term, wu chi, used by my martial arts instructor. Warren said that he had told his own Tai Chi teacher that, after several decades of training, he had finally realized that there is only one move in Tai Chi. “Oh, very interesting,” the teacher said. “What is it?” “Whatever flows from wu chi [the empty state of rest in Tai Chi].” “Ah, I think you’re on to something,” said Warren’s teacher.
There’s nothing quite like wu chi in Western philosophy or religion. By and large we in the West adore positivity. We want to be filled, not emptied. We want to acquire, not divest. We want to become more, not less. We want to be raised up, not driven down.
...Wu grammatically is a negative in Chinese, yet experientially it is a positive. It is said, “Wu and Tao are equally the mother of all things.” Wu wei in Taoism literally means “not doing.” But wu wei is how nature does everything: effortlessly and harmoniously. Nature isn’t filled with a sense itself; it is itself. One, not two.
Daoism certainly has its religious side, which I don't identify with. But there's something appealing to me about the naturalistic way Daoism and Tai Chi approach the subject of enlightenment.
Here's some quotes from Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming's book, "Taijiquan Theory."
Wuji is a state of emptiness or simply a single point in space. There is no discrimination and there are no polarities (or poles). According to Yi Jing (i.e. Book of Change), originally the universe was in a Wuji state. Later, due to the pivotal action of Taiji, Two Polarities (Liang Yi) (i.e. Yin and Yang) were discriminated.
...Taijiquan is an internal style of martial arts that was created in the Daoist monastery of the Wudang mountain, Hubei Province. Taijiquan's creation was based on the above philosophies of Taiji and Yin-Yang. It is believed that from understanding the theory of Taiji and Yin-Yang, we will be able to trace back the origin of our lives.
...Since Daoists are monks, the final goal of their spiritual cultivation is to reunite with the natural spirit (Tian Ren He Yi) (i.e. the state of Wuji).
...The Wuji state exists inside each of us. It is the state from which all creative impulses grow.
...Lao Zi states that the way of returning to the origin of our lives involves keeping our minds in the state of extreme emptiness and calmness.
...Those who would like to obtain health and longevity should learn Embryonic Breathing. For those who wish to reach the final goal of enlightenment, Embryonic Breathing is a necessary practice.
...In order to reach this stage, your mind must be in the center of your physical body (i.e. Real Dan Tian), which is located in the physical center of gravity. Since this physical center is also the residence of our original Qi, this is the state of Wuji.
Sure, I realize all this may sound like spiritual gibberish. And maybe it is.
But after practicing Tai Chi for over ten years, I can assure you that as a physical embodiment of Daoist philosophy, Tai Chi works -- both as a marital art, and as "meditation in motion."
If we're going to talk about enlightenment at all, I must prefer a philosophy that looks upon enlightenment being aided by a calm focus on one's breathing, and not upon anything supernatural.