Tuesday, February 28, 2006

You Cannot Call It Lofty

"The Way has its reality and its signs
but is without action or form.
You can hand it down but you cannot receive it,
you can ignore it but you cannot see it.
It is its own source, its own root.
Before heaven and earth existed it was there,
from the ancient times.
It gave spirituality to the spirits and to God,
it gave birth to heaven and to earth.
It exists beyond the highest point,
and yet you cannot call it lofty;
it exists beneath the limit of the six directions,
and yet you cannot call it deep.
It was born before heaven and earth,
and yet you cannot say it has been there for long,
it is earlier than the earliest time,
and yet you cannot call it old."
- The Crookbacked Woman and the Sage
Chuang Tzu, Translated by Burton Watson, 1964
Crone Taoism

Monday, February 27, 2006

Legs Like Roots

"The most basic method of training is zhan zhuang. Zhan zhuang is an exercise common to many Chinese martial arts, including Taijiquan. Usually, the practitioner stands with the arms held as if holding a large ball. However, the zhan zhuang exercise can be practiced using any of the end postures of the Taiji form. During "standing" practice a static posture is maintained for a period of time while using just enough strength to maintain the posture. ... Benefits of zhan zhuang include deep relaxation, strengthening of the legs, and increased internal qi. The first requirement is to have a calm mind. This can be achieved in a number of ways - for instance, concentrating on the Dantian, paying attention to one's breath, or silently counting. Through standing practice, emphasis is place upon developing awareness of maintaining the most efficient and relaxed structural alignment necessary to hold the position. Prolonged practice, along with enhancing postural awareness and tranquility of mind, greatly develops the strength of the legs. When the legs are strong and can bear weight firmly, then the upper body can relax and sink down into them, making the top more flexible. ... Taijiquan requires lightness and sensitivity in the upper body. At the same time, the lower body should have a feeling of extreme heaviness and connection to the ground. This feeling is often compared to a large tree with deep roots. While the branches move and sway in the wind, the trunk is solidly anchored by its roots."
- Davidine Siaw-Voon Sim and David Gaffney, Chen Style Taijiquan, 2002, p. 106.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Yoga of the Mahamudra

"Do nothing with the body but relax.
Shut firm the mouth and silent remain.
Empty you mind and think of nothing.
Like a hallow bamboo rest at ease in you body.
Giving not nor taking, put your mind at rest.
Mahamudra is like a mind that clings to nothing.
Thus practicing, in time you will reach Buddhahood."
- Tilopa, Song of the Mahamudra


This week, I read the new book by Will Johnson: Yoga of the Mahamudra: The Mystical Way of Balance. (Rochester, Vermont, Inner Traditions, 2005. 151 pages. ISBN: 0892816996.)

The book deals with three mind-body transformative topics: relaxation, the careful use and control of thought processes, and improving awareness of bodily sensations, feelings, and energy. It makes reference to the text "The Song of the Mahamudra" by Tilopa (988-1069) as sung to his disciple Naropa. The mind-body practices discussed include yoga, dance, standing, opening to the flow of energy in the body, mindfulness practices, zen, breath work, vertical and horizontal alignment of the body, balancing, somatic intelligence, bodywork, and the sacramental use of plants.

Another book by Will Johnson that deals with some of the same issues is:
Aligned, Relaxed, Resilient: The Physical Foundations of Mindfulness. (Boston, Shambhala, 2000. 137 pages. ISBN: 1570625182.)

For more information on Will Johnson's programs, go to:

Institute for Embodiment Training
http://www.embodiment.net/
6688 Grandview Road, Duncan, British Columbia, V9L 5Y7, Canada
Phone: 250-746-7618
email: tifet@embodiment.net


The Ninefold Path of Embodiment:

1. Gazing at the Beloved
2. The Farzji Dance Troupe
3. Sitting Meditation
4. Mindfulness Practice
5. Bodywork
6. Exercise and Nutrition
7. Samantabhadra/Samantabhadri Circle
8. Water Monkeys
9. Sacramental Plants

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Cups of Tea

"The first bowl sleekly moistened throat and lips,
The second banished all my loneliness
The third expelled the dullness from my mind,
Sharpening inspiration gained
from all the books I've read.
The fourth brought forth light perspiration,
Dispersing a lifetime's troubles through my pores."
- Lu Tung, Chinese Poet, On Drinking Tea


"Tea with us became more than an idealization of the
form of drinking; it is a religion of the art of life."
- Kakuzo Okakura, The Book of Tea

Karen and I had the entire week off from our normal jobs this past week. We used the time to work in the garden, accomplish numerous household chores and home improvement projects, play, read, exercise, and sip some tea outdoors many times.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Guidelines for Integral Practices

"Some Guiding Principles for Integral Practices and Institutions That Support Them:

They promote a simultaneous development of our various faculties.

They generally require mentors, rather than a single guru.

They require a strong and developing autonomy.

They are facilitated by personal traits that promote creativity in general.

Though they encourage individual autonomy, they require surrender at times to transformative agencies beyond ordinary functioning.

They require patience and the love of practice for its own sake.

They utilize inherited all-at-once responses, or psychosomatic compliance for high-level change.

They utilize the manifold changes catalyzed by images and altered states.

They enlist more that one mediation to achieve particular outcomes.

They surpass limits by negotiation rather than force.

They depend upon improvisation.

They utilized images of unity.

They require and facilitate conscious transitions between different states of consciousness.

They depend on a developing awareness that transcends psychological and somatic functioning.

They orient all our capacities and somatic processes toward the extraordinary live arising in us."

- Michael Murphy, "The Future of the Body: Explorations Into the Further Evolution of Human Nature," 1992, pp. 579-586.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Tai Chi Chuan Swordsmanship

"The same principles of the basic t'ai chi ch'uan form are used with both the tao and chien: natural breathing, body upright, keeping the movements integrated, coordinated, and flowing smoothly, etc. The difference is in the focus. For the tao, the broadsword, the focus is on the blade. For the chien, the narrow, double-edged sword, the focus is on the tip. The chien is considered the higher art form, and is more difficult to learn. The tao is basically a chopping and slicing weapon; little skill is needed for that It was generally the weapon of the common soldier. The chien was used by the more scholarly and aristocratic Chinese. ... Sword tai chi is a very rewarding experience at any level. It’s movements, done correctly, develop one’s awareness, timing, grace, and continued good health"
- Dorothy A. Odsen, Tai Chi Chien

The Taijiquan broadsword (Tao, Dao) or sword (Jian, Chien) forms are frequently taught to intermediate level Taijiquan students. Each Taijiquan style (Yang, Sun, Wu, Chen, etc.) has their own sword movement forms.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Chang San-Feng

"After verification according to different historical materials, Zhan Sa-Feng, with the original name Zhan Jun-Bao and the Taoist name Yu-Xu Zi, is now known to be of the Song Dynasty. He was indifferent to fame and wealth and had no interest in the official career given by the authorities. After declining an official position and dispatching his property to his clan, he traveled around the country.

He stayed at Hua Mountain in northwestern China for several years to deepen his own self-training. Afterwards, he left Hua Mountain and lived on Wu-Dan Mountain in Central China, leading a hermit's life.

Zhan Sa-Feng was versed in Shao-Lin Gong-Fu from a young age. After contacting the internal Gong-Fu transmitted from the line of Li Dong-Feng and Jia De-Shen, he changed his ways and turned to internal cultivation. He concluded four principles about his own system: First, control motion with repose. Second, conquer hardness with softness. Third, surmount swiftness with uniformity. Fourth, overcome the many with the few. Thus Zhan Sa-Feng composed a complete internal Gong-Fu system. Because this internal Gong-Fu was explained with ancient Tai-Ji principles, it is called Tai-Ji Gong-Fu by the people."
- Albert Liu, Nei Jia Quan: Internal Martial Arts, 2004, p. 318

Friday, February 17, 2006

Shaman's Staff

"In Chinese shamanism, a staff represents the power of the universe. With a staff, a shaman had the power to pass on the universal knowledge to others. Later, when teachers took over part of the shaman's job, they always taught with a small staff in their hands like a shaman."
- Master Zhongxian Wu, Vital Breath of the Dao, p. 106

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Minding Our Own Business

"Because self-actualizing people ordinarily do not have to abstract need-gratifying qualities nor see the person as a tool, it is much more possible for them to take a non-valuing, non-judging, non-interfering, non-condemning attitude towards others, a desirelessness, a 'choiceless awareness.' " ... This kind of detached, Taoist, passive, non-interfering awareness of all the simultaneous existing aspects of the concrete, has much in common with some descriptions of the aesthetic experience and of the mystic experience."
- Abraham Maslow, Toward a Psychology of Being, 1962, p. 38

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Like a Swimming Dragon - Tai Chi Sword

"To practice the Tai Chi Sword correctly, the first thing a practitioner must be able to do is to have a flexible body and wrist so that the sword and the body will coordinate and move in unity. The second thing is that the intent should direct each movement so that all the movements have applications, speed and accuracy. The third thing is to have spirit and natural breathing in each movement. In usage, it also emphasizes the concepts of sticking and adhering, running and following. In summary, in order to practice the Tai Chi Sword correctly, a practitioner must execute all the movements in an even, soft, continuous and smooth manner. All the movements are initiated by the waist, controlled by the wrist, with the upper and lower parts of the body coordinated so that when one part of the body moves, all parts follow. When one part stops, all stop. Therefore, all the movements are very light, speedy, flexible, nimble and stable. People often describe these kinds of motions as
like a "swimming dragon and flying phoenix."
- Vincent Chu, Gin Soon Tai Chi Chuan Federation Tai Chi Sword Practice

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Tiger - Five Animal Frolics

"In the south of the West Sea, on the bank of the Sandy River, in back of the Red Water and in front of the Black Water, there is a great mountain named Kunlun. On this mountain, there is a deity with a human face and a tiger body, and the body has white stripes and a tail. This deity wears a Xing (jade flower) and has tigher teeth and a leopard tail. She swells in a cave and her name is Xiwangmu (Queen Mother of the West). Everything is in this mountain."
Master Zhongxian Wu, Vital Breath of the Dao

This is the first time I had found a reference to the Queen Mother of the West as being pictured with the body of a Tigress.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Find the Center Within

"Thirty spokes join together in the hub.
It is because of what is not there that the cart is useful.
Clay is formed into a vessel.
It is because of its emptiness that the vessel is useful.
Cut doors and windows to make a room.
It is because of its emptiness that the room is useful.
Therefore, what is present is used for profit.
But it is in absence that there is usefulness."

- Tao Te Ching, #11
Translated by Charles Muller

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Burning Incense, I Open a Book

"Mind, mind, mind -- above the Path.
Here on my mountain, gray hair down,
I cherish bamboo sprouts, brush carefully
By pine twigs. Burning incense,
I open a book: mist over flagstones.
Rolling the blind, I contemplate:
Moon in the pond. Of my old friends
How many know the Way."
- Zengetsu
Zen Poems of China and Japan, p. 42
Translated by Lucien Stryk and Takashi Ikemoto

As the incense burns, I read “The Tao Of Yiquan: The Method of Awareness in the Martial Arts” by Jan Diepersloot.

"The boxing in question in its original form had only three movements, and was thus called Laosandao (Old Three Cuts). It was changed by Mr. Wang Zongyue and increased to 13 forms. That is one of the main reasons why this boxing has lost its quintessence. If it is practiced for the purpose of preserving one's health, it will only restrain one's spirit and energy and bring discomfort to the practitioner. If practiced for actual combat, it will only do harm to the limbs. Its other functions, if any, are nothing more than idling away the practitioners time and confusing his mind."
- Wang Xiangzhai, Tao of Yiquan, p. 98

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Friday, February 10, 2006

Peaceful Warriors

"Peaceful warriors have the patience to wait until the mud settles and the water clears. They remain unmoving until the right time, so the right action arises by itself. They do not seek fulfillment, but wait with open arms to welcome all things."
- Dan Millman

"The strongest of all warriors are these two: Time and Patience."
– Leo Tolstoi

"You must learn to live in the present and accept yourself for what you are now. What you lack in flexibility and agility you must make up with knowledge and constant practice."
- Bruce Lee

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Insult my Prophet and I'll Punch Myself in the Face

Thousands of Islamic worshippers have been staging marches and riots in many countries to protest some cartoons that appeared first in a Danish newspaper in 9/05. These very angry Moslems felt the cartoons insulted and defamed their beloved Prophet, Muhammad, Peace Be Unto to Him. They shouted their demands for apologies from European countries, screamed until they were hoarse, rioted in the streets, killed people, and burned a few more buildings. An artful and ironic touch was watching screaming, militant, fascist Islamics standing on the Danish flag (a Christian Cross) as they expressed their fierce anger about how "their religion" had been insulted by some cartoons.

These cartoons are, of course, just the lastest in cartoons and jokes that insult and defame another hated religion. Middle Eastern and Arab newspapers routinely run cartoons insulting Israeli Jews and American infidels, it probably was a right wing Christian Danish newspaper that ran the cartoons defaming the Prophet Muhammad, Baptists insult Hindus in cartoons, fundamententalist Christians in American insult other religions and atheists in cartoons and jokes, and Islamic bullies blew up the ancient Buddhist stone statues at Bamiyam to insult their religious neighbors, and on and on. After insulting and laughing at their hated enemy, some get even angrier, and then they allow themselves to enjoy the thrills of violence, destruction and murder.

Christians killing Moslems in Bosnia, Communists killing reactionaries in the Gulag of Siberia, Islamic militants killing infidel Americans in New York, Isralei Jews and Moslem Palestinians killing each other, Christian Americans killing Atheistic Communists in Vietnam, Nazis killing everyone the could in Europe, Catholics killing Protestants in Europe during the Reformation, Moslems killing Buddhists in India, Crusaders and Islamics killing each other in the Middle East and Central Southern Europe, Hindu Indians and Moslem Paskistanis slaughtering each other, and on and on. What a wild world of zealous fervor for ideologies, religions, and the Fatherlands. For centuries, all of these fanatic religious and political groups have spread hatred for each other, persecuted each other, and killed each other.

After I read the writings of the “Prophets” of Islam, Christianity, Communism, and Judaism in my youth; I closed these books, gave them away, and moved on to a higher wisdom. To let these religions make you so angry, hateful, vengeful, and closed-minded can bring little good or peace or happiness to our personal lives, our communities, or the world. This level of ignorance is not bliss, it is deadly.

The next time God knocks, for goodness sake, please don’t send another prophet to the door.

What we need is more dance, yoga, Tai Chi, gardening, friendship, art, tolerance, brotherhood, and peace; and far far far less religion.

“I’ve made an odd discovery. Every time I talk to a savant I feel quite sure that happiness is no longer a possibility. Yet when I talk with my gardener, I’m convinced of the opposite. ”
- Bertrand Russell

“That man is successful who has lived well, laughed often, and loved much, who has gained the respect of the intelligent men and the love of children; who has filled his niche and accomplished his task; who leaves the world better than he found it, whether by an improved poppy, a perfect poem, or a rescued soul; who never lacked appreciation of earth’s beauty or failed to express it; who looked for the best in others and gave the best he had.”
- Robert Louis Stevenson

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Authentic Healing Dances

"As I continued teaching, it became apparent that the experience of movement connected to feelings generates long-buried and unknown emotions and images. When these emotions and images are expressed through movement, we dance. And when these dances are connected to our lives, they bring about dramatic release and change in our will to live."
- Anna Halprin, Returning to Health with Dance, 2002, p. 13.


I've been reading the following two books:

Offering from the Conscious Body: The Discipline of Authentic Movement. By Janet Adler. Rochester, Vermont, 2002. 242 pages. ISBN: 0892819669. Exploring the dynamics between the Mover, the Inner Witness, and the Outer Witness.

Returning to Health with Dance, Movement and Imagery. By Anna Halprin. Mendocino, California, LifeRhythm Books, 2002. Revised edition of "Dance as a Healing Art," 2000. 195 pages. ISBN: 0940795221.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Walking Medicine

Walking Pleasures

I am fortunate to enjoy some grand views as I take my daily walk.
Mt. Lassen is in the background.

Green Way Wisdom - Walking

Monday, February 06, 2006

Practicing Tai Chi Chuan



Mike Garofalo practicing Taijiquan
Golden Rooster Stands on Left Leg
Yang Style Taijiquan
Assisted by King Tut the Tabby Cat
Yolly Bolly Mountains in background
February 2006

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Five Animal Frolics

"There are two ways of spreading light:
to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it."
- Edith Wharton

"The Five Frolics! I read the Bear... and loved what you wrote! The history and spiritual meanings of the poses was fascinating. Forgive me if this question is answered on your site - I missed that part! My question is, where can I find out how to do the poses you named and explained? Is that located on a different part of your site - or is this still under construction? Then about those other four animals... will you be filling all that information in? Michael, a thousand thank you's! Your site is fascinating and has a ton of information and wisdom – like a puzzle. I do appreciate all the time and love you’ve put into your site! Just thank you! Michael, you are touching so many lives!"
- Nancy Hightshoe, 2/5/06


Nancy,

Thank you very much for the kind, generous, and supportive remarks. Best wishes with your work, learning and projects.

All of my webpages are works in progress - slow progress. Indeed, they are like a puzzle, appearing piece by piece. I liked that comparison very much.

My objective is to add something each day and practice some aspects of mind-body arts each day. Today, for example, walking, taijiquan, gardening (planting bare root trees and some eucylaptus slips), adding to my two blogs, and adding three yoga postures to my hatha yoga glossary.

Therefore, someday, you will see more of the five animal frolics described. For now, you will need to purchase some of the books and DVDs or videos on the subject. Try John Du Cane's works by Dragon Door Publications. I list nearly all the available resources on my webpages.

Yes, I'm really interested mostly in the myths, allegories, psychology, history, theory, resources, attributions, etc., of these mind-body arts rather than describing the actual movements and postures; although I do describe some of these in great detail at times, e.g., Eight Section Brocade, Temple Qigong, or Yang Long 108 Form.

Cheers,

Mike

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Nothing New to Say

“Nullum est iam dictum quod non dictum sit prius.
Nothing is said that hasn’t been said before.”
- Terence, Eunuchus

Actually, plenty remains to the said about what
has not been said before and what has been said before.

“Everything has been thought of before, but the difficulty is to think of it again.”
- Goethe

Added a couple of new poses to the Valley Spirit Hatha Yoga Glossary.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Wild Goose Qigong

At this time of year, we enjoy the many geese and ducks flying south to find food and warmth in the great wet valleys of California. Out of the darkened cloudy skies come the sounds of thunder and the quacking of those from the winged world. Their return marks the heart of winter - a time of great beauty.

I've been enjoying the practice of the Wild Goose Qigong. Numerous books videos/DVDs, and workshops provide opportunities for learning part or all of this beneficial and lovely qigong form.


"Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves
of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is a
symbolic as well as actual beauty in the migration of the birds,
the ebb and flow of the tides, the folded bud ready for the spring.
There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of
nature--the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring
after the winter. The lasting pleasures of contact with the natural
world...are available to anyone who will place himself under the
influence of earth, sea and sky and their amazing life."
- Rachel Carson (1907-1964)

Green Way Wisdom - Beauty

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Chuan Fa

"The Tang Chinese equivalent for the title Vajramukti (Chinese: Chuan Fa; Japanese: Kempo) was a nominal approximation used by monks for that section of the Buddhist Vajramukti art concerned with ritualized movement practices which contained the principles of health preservation, weaponless self-defense and meditative insight.

"Fearful that the Buddha might die without teaching some vital important principle, one of his disciples asked him if there was any other teaching he had not so far shown them. The Buddha replied by taking up a handful of leaves from the ground and asking the disciple whether these leaves in his hand were greater in number than the leaves on the forest they were in. When the disciple replied that there were more leaves upon the trees than those in his hand, the Buddha said so it was with his teaching. What he had shown his disciples was compared to the leaves in his hand. What he could have taught, he compared to the leaves upon the trees in the forest.
The Buddha then said he did not have the clasped hand (Chinese: chuan shou) of the teacher, but rather he had the open hand (Chinese: kai shou) of a Buddha. Though there were many doctrines, he had concerned himself only with what was most important for those around him to attain enlightenment.

Thus, the term "clasped hand" used here (chuan) was thought to be appropriate to describe the Vajramukti method, as its mastery was considered an esoteric and difficult to understand lineage practice, taught by a few masters to even fewer students. By comparison, the ordinary (exoteric) teaching of the Buddha was an "open-handed teaching' (Chinese: kai shou fa).
The word chuan is etymologically related to the ideograph used to describe a manuscript text (also pronounced chuan) but using slightly different characters. We often find accounts of the Chinese Buddhist Sutras existing in two or more chuan for it is a term identifying a document which, have been written on manuscript paper is rolled up or folder, for protection and storage. This "turning inward to protect" action of the paper is what is meant by the title chuan for a written work. The ideography for clasped hand (chuan) also describes this same type of action in the fingers.

The suffix fa was the Chinese transliteration of the Sanskrit term dharma (teachings of the Buddha). Such a suffix was commonly used throughout Chinese Buddhism to represent not just the teachings themselves but all the arts, crafts, and practices associated with them. Thus it could also mean the techniques, methods, or manners of practice."

- Shifu Nagaboshi Tomio (Terence Dukes), The Bodhisattva Warriors, 1994, pp. 184-185. A scholarly presentation of these topics.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Zhang Sanfeng

"Hi Mike, that post about Chan San-Feng: Sure he has become a mythical figure, but so has Jesus, and look what is said about everything he did! I think that Chan San-Feng did exist, as Taijiquan was passed from Master to Student heart to heart, so it must have started in a human heart. It is just that the early forms of religion were magical and mythical in nature - in the verbal story telling tradition. I am sure they were both real characters.
I have also studied San-Feng Taijiquan from the Wudang tradition with Máster Tian Liyang from Wudang since 2000. So, I have a bit of direct background knowledge, mostly it is in German. If you want to know more about the subject I can recommend Wudang – Mountain of the Immortals from Abbot Wang Guangde, which also has an English version.

Also, it seems strange to talk about complete attentiveness and have the post full of typing mistakes.

Also, why don't you switch the comments on? I think it a bit unfair to make comments without giving the chance for an open discussion. You can always delete spam, or offensive posts. You can take that as a criticism! Other than that, keep up the good work...


Qigongweg: Notes about Qigong and Taiqiquan in German.

Regards, Philip Stanley"


Thanks for the feedback, Philip.

Blogger has no built in spell-checker. I've tried the java script spell checker "i-spell" with unsatisfactory results. I'm looking for something that can work with both Mozilla Firefox and Internet Explorer. Suggestions? I agree that I should strive for correct spelling. Also, when I copy and paste text, I sometimes forget to check the grammar and/or spelling of the original author.

I turned on the comments to the Cloud Hands Blog today. Generally, when I've used it before, I got mostly spam in the blog and more spam in my inbox. I'll try it for awhile again, but probably will turn it off. People can always send me email, and I answer nearly all email.

Master Chang San-Feng may indeed have lived, contributed to the development of Taijiquan, and contributed in other ways. Like Jesus, however, people in later times make some claims about the deeds and thoughts of these people that are judged by me as false on the basis of common sense and the analysis of the arguments of expert historians. Neither Jesus Christ or Master Chang San-Feng are my role models for living, but I respect their influence which seems very positive in many ways. Thank you for the reference source to Máster Tian Liyang from Wudang - I will add it to the Zhang San-feng webpage.

The great Taoist tradition from Wudang Mountain is without question one of the five most important sources for Taijiquan philosophy, practices, and lore.

I enjoy the stories told about these wise men. The marvelous stories are full of mystery, awe, delight, and magic. Taoist Master Zhang Sanfeng is also credited with revealing the mysteries of the Taiji spear. Here is that story:

"Zhang Sanfeng saw a burst of golden light where the clouds meet the mist-shrouded peaks. A thousand rays of marvelous qi spun and danced in the Great Void. The Immortal [Zhang Sanfeng] hurried to the spot but saw nothing. He searched where the golden light had touched down and found a mountain stream and cave. Approaching the mouth of the cave, two golden snakes with flashing eyes emerged. The Immortal swished his duster and the golden light came down. He gazed on it and realized that it was two long spears about seven feet five inches. They seemed to be made of rattan, but were not rattan; seemed of wood, but were not of wood. Their quality was such that swords could not harm them and they could be soft or hard at will. A rare glow emanated from within [the cave], and looking deeper, he found a book. Its title was Taiji Stick-Adhere Spear and its destiny was to be transmitted to the world. He grasped the principles of the book and analyzed all of its marvels. All of the words in the book were written in the form of poems and songs. Today we cannot understand all the principles and marvels of the spear, but Master Zhang extracted the essence of every word and transformed them into a series of postures. All men can now study and learn this art."
- Quoted by Barbara Davis, The Taijiquan Classics, 2004, p. 29
Translated by Douglas Wile, T'ai-chi Touchstones, 1993, p. 138.

Thanks for your constructive feedback,

Mike Garofalo