Monday, October 31, 2011

The Two Realms Mingle

Our front porch on Halloween Day.  Notice the five spherical white spectral (ghostly) visitors coming to "trick or treat" at our front door.   

"To all the ancient ones from their houses, the Old Ones from above and below. In this time the Gods of the Earth touch our feet, bare upon the ground. Spirits of the Air whisper in our hair and chill our bodies, and from the dark portions watch and wait the Faery Folk that they may join the circle and leave their track upon the ground. It is the time of the waning year. Winter is upon us. The corn is golden in the winnow heaps. Rains will soon wash sleep into the life-bringing Earth. We are not without fear, we are not without sorrow...Before us are all the signs of Death: the ear of corn is no more green and life is not in it. The Earth is cold and no more will grasses spring jubilant. The Sun but glances upon his sister, the earth..... It is so....Even now....But here also are the signs of life, the eternal promise given to our people. In the death of the corn there is the seed--which is both food for the season of Death and the Beacon which will signal green-growing time and life returning.In the cold of the Earth there is but sleep wherein She will awaken refreshed and renewed, her journey into the Dark Lands ended. And where the Sun journeys he gains new vigor and potency; that in the spring, his blessings shall come ever young!"
Two Samhain Rituals, Compost Coveners, 1980   

"Tonight as the barrier between the two realms grows thin,
Spirits walk amongst us, once again.
They be family friends and foes,
Pets and wildlife, fishes and crows.
But be we still mindful of the Wee Folke at play,
Elves, fey, brownies, and sidhe.
Some to trick, some to treat,

Some to purposely misguide our feet.
Stay we on the paths we know
As planting sacred apples we go.
This Feast I shall leave on my doorstep all night.
In my window one candle shall burn bright,
To help my loved ones find their way
As they travel this eve, and this night, until day.
Bless my offering, both Lady and Lord
Of breads and fruits, greens and gourd."
Akasha, Samhain Ritual  


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, Chapter 18

Dao De Jing by Laozi, Chapter 18

"When humankind strayed from the natural way of life,
Relative social disciplines began to appear. 
When intelligence and cleverness of mind are admired,
Great hypocrisy is born. 
When disharmony manifested in family relations,
Children who respected their parents
And parents who respected their children
Became rare examples. 
When chaos prevailed in the county,
Only a few loyal ministers were recognized. 
Let all people return to their true nature. 
Love, kindness, wisdom, family harmony, and loyalty
Should not be taught one by one,
Separately from an honest life. 
Then, once again,
People will regain the natural virtue of wholeness. 
The world will be naturally ordered.  
There will be no one who singly and cunningly
Works for personal interest alone."
-   Translated by Hua-Ching Ni, 1979, Chapter 18  

"When the great Reason is obliterated, we have benevolence and justice.
Prudence and circumspection appear, and we have much hypocrisy.
When family relations no longer harmonize, we have filial piety and paternal devotion.
When the country and the clans decay through disorder, we have loyalty and allegiance."
-   Translated by D. T. Suzuki and Paul Carus, 1913, Chapter 18    

when the Heavenly Way was forgotten,
there arose 'humaneness' and 'righteousness;'
when cunning and Wit arose,
there came great falsity;
when the loving relations between people, as if all of one family,
was lost, there arose Religions in the world.
Once the state and royal house were in disarray,
there arose 'upright ministers!'"
-   Translated by Jerry C. Welch, 1998, Chapter 18    

"When the Way of the Great Dao ceased to be observed, benevolence and righteousness came into vogue.
Then appeared wisdom and shrewdness, and there ensued great hypocrisy. 
When harmony no longer prevailed throughout the six kinships, filial sons found their manifestation. 
When the states and clans fell into disorder, loyal ministers appeared."   
-   Translated by James Legge, 1891, Chapter 18   

"When the Great Way is abandoned,
we get benevolence and righteousness.

When wisdom and knowledge appear,
we get great deception.

When there is no harmony in the family,
we get family values and kindness.

When the homeland is in chaos and confusion,
we get loyal bureaucrats."
-   Translated by Roderic and Amy Sorrell, 2003, Chapter 18   

"Wherever the cosmic order is neglected,
Goodness and morality are born.

When the heart’s awareness is repressed,
The intellect is led into hypocrisy.

When the family loses its natural harmony,
The rules of duty and honor are enforced.

When the natural society is disrupted,
The dragon of state arises,
And powerful leaders take over."
-   Translated by Brian Donohue, 2005, Chapter 18   

"When Tao is abandoned,
Benevolence and morality arise.
When wisdom and knowledge arise,
Hypocrisy flourishes.

When there is discord in the family,¹
Filial piety and parental affection arise.
When the country is in darkness and turmoil,
Loyal ministers appear."
-   Translated by Keith H. Seddon, Chapter 18   

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Walking Meditation

“In Bodh Gaya, India, there is an old Bodhi tree that shades the very spot where the Buddha is believed to have sat in meditation on the night of his enlightenment. Close by is a raised walking path about 17 steps in length, where the Buddha mindfully paced up and down in walking meditation after becoming enlightened, experiencing the joy of a liberated heart.

In his teachings, the Buddha stressed the importance of developing mindfulness in all postures, including standing, sitting, lying down, and even walking. When reading accounts about the lives of monks and nuns in the time of the Buddha, you find that many attained various stages of enlightenment while doing walking meditation.

In walking meditation, the primary object of attention is the process of walking itself. In other words, to sharpen awareness and train the mind to concentrate, you pay close attention to the physical act of walking, the way you take one step after another. Thus the object is more obvious and tangible than in the more refined meditation techniques, such as focusing on the breath or a mantra, which are often used in traditional sitting meditation. Focusing the mind on this more obvious object helps to avoid sleepiness (or restlessness) that meditators sometimes experience during their sitting meditation.
The guidelines for walking meditation are similar to that of sitting meditation: Choose an appropriate time and decide how long to meditate; for beginners 15 to 30 minutes may be suitable. The walking path can be either inside or outside, depending upon your preference and the area available. Also, whenever possible, it is better to practice in bare feet, although this is not essential.

Stand at one end of the path and hold your hands gently together in front of your body. The eyes remain open, gazing down along the path about two yards ahead. The intention is not to be looking at anything in particular but simply to see that you remain on the path and know when to turn around.

You should now try to center yourself by putting aside all concern for the past and future. In order to calm the mind and establish awareness in the present, abandon any preoccupation with work, home, and relationships, and bring the attention to the body. The meditation exercise is simply to walk at a slow, relaxed pace, being fully aware of each step until you reach the end of the path. When you arrive at the end of the path, stop for a moment and check to see what the mind is doing. Is it being attentive? If necessary, reestablish awareness. Then turn and walk back to the other end in a similar fashion, remaining mindful and alert. Continue to pace up and down for the duration of the meditation period, gently making an effort to sustain awareness and focus attention on the process of walking.”
- John Cianciosi, Yoga Journal 

Friday, October 28, 2011


“Sitting in your garden is a feat to be worked at with unflagging determination and single-mindedness - for what gardener worth his salt sits down. I am deeply committed to sitting in the garden.”
- Mirabel Osler


Photo by Karen Garofalo taken in our backyard, November 2008.

“The Chinese term for meditation is Ching Tso, which translated means “sitting
still with peaceful mind.” Meditation is the training of the inner senses of the body and mind. It is as rigorous as the training undertaken by an athlete or an artist.  … By helping us to think clearly and concentrate fully, Ching Tso enables us to commune totally with our God, with distracting or artifical thoughts. … The highest and most advanced goal of meditation is to gain enlightenment. We want to go beyond the limitations of our knowledge and our three-dimensional view of the world. Our goal is to perceive fully the fourth dimension and understand our relationship to it.”
- Jou Tsung-Hwa, The Tao of Meditation, p 3-5.

“The first and most important gigong meditation is called ru jing (”entering tranquillity”).  Entering tranquillity means training the mind to be silently aware with any particular point of focus. It is nothingness. The mind is not thinking about but rather experiencing directly, immediately, without the mediation of thoughts and concepts. Ancient Daoist classics called
this “the fasting of the mind.”
- Kenneth S. Cohen, The Way of Qigong, p. 148 

Sitting is Good!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Refining the Garden to the End

The end of the day.  Sunset over the Yolly Bolly Mountains.
Photo by Karen Garofalo, home in Red Bluff. 


“T’ai Chi Ch’uan bases itself exclusively on gentleness, softness, naturalness and bringing you back to your original nature. Daily training makes the muscles and bones become softer and more pliable, and it especially causes the breath to become natural. These are the results of disciplining and refining the ching, ch’i, and shen to the end of your days. How then can you consider dispensing with your kung or wish to suffer bitterly.”
- Chen Yen-lin, 1932, Cultivating the Ch’i,
Translated by Stuart Alve Olson, p. 30.

I find that emphasizing the quality of “Sung” while practicing Taijiquan or Qigong is very useful. For me, “Sung” includes meanings such as relaxed, loose, pliable, yielding, responsive, open, soft, flexible.

A good gardener also greatly benefits from working in a relaxed, responsive, open, and flexible manner - in body, mind, and spirit.

“The True Gardener of No Title deadheads
Persona after persona, shears the hedge
Of endless desires, digs up the dank
Roots of illusions, prunes out the rank
Suckers of sectarian ire, and weeds away
Attachments that choke out the Way.”
- Michael P. Garofalo, Above the Fog

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Working Like a Dog

This UTube video features a Jack Russell Terrier dog that can really "work" around the house.  A delightful and humorous video about a charming little energetic dog. 

Training, training, training ... that is the secret. 
With a dog, a tasty little bit of food is used as a reward for a desired action.  With us ... what can trigger our hard work?  What can we use as a reward for the daily practice of taijiquan, qigong, walking, training?  A sense of accomplishment, feeling good, regaining vigor, smiling, improving our health, appreciation of the beautiful moves, satisfaction, uniqueness, insight ... a cookie after practice. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Thought Through My Eyes


“It is easy to suppose that few people realize on that occasion, which comes
to all of us, when we look at the blue sky for the first time, that is to say:
not merely see it, but look at it and experience it and for the first time
have a sense that we live in the center of a physical poetry, a geography
that would be intolerable except for the non-geography that exists there -
few people realize that they are looking at the world of their own
thoughts and the world of their own feelings.”
- Wallace Stevens, The Necessary Angel  

“Ineluctable modality of the visible; at least that if no more,
thought through my eyes. Signatures of all things I am here to read.”
- James Joyce

“Life is not lost by dying; life is lost minute by minute,
day by dragging day, in all the thousand small uncaring ways.”
- Stephen Vincent Benet 

“The bad news is time flies.
The good news is you’re the pilot.”
- Michael Althsuler 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Day of the Dead

October 2010 DlosM

Halloween, Samhain, or The Day of the Dead is just one week away.  Plenty of time for preparations!

The above photograph was sent to me by Vanessa Trujillo, a long time friend and Chi Omega Sorority sister of my daughter, Alicia Flinn.  Vanessa's family set up this honorary altar in the Rose Hills Cemetery in Whittier, California.  The display is in honor of  Jerry Fajardo, who died of a stroke in 2006 at the age of 59.  Biking was one of his passions - and Jerry rode again on this Day of the Dead.    Hector Tobar said, "All they wanted was to be a little closer to their dead, and to bring them back into life's party, even if just for a day."

Old Traditions, New Places to Celebrate Día de los Muertos.   By Hector Tobar, Los Angeles Times, October 29, 2010,    
Day of the Dead, El Dia de los Muertos, Samhain, Halloween:  Resources, Links, Rituals, Prayers, Poems, October Celebrations, Correspondences.  Research by Mike Garofalo. 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Dao De Jing by Laozi, Chapter 55

Tao Te Ching
By Lao Tzu
Chapter 55

"Whoever is filled with Virtue
is like a new-born child.

Wasps and scorpions will not sting it;
snakes and serpents will not bite it;
wild animals will not attack it;
birds of prey will not swoop down on it.

Its bones are soft, its muscles weak,
and yet its grip is firm.
It does not know of male and female union
and yet its organ stirs;
its vital energy is at its height.
It cries throughout the day
and yet is never hoarse;
its harmony is at its height.

To know harmony is to know the eternal.
To know the eternal is to know enlightenment.

To speed the growth of life is an omen of disaster; *
to control the breath by will-power is to overstrain it;
to grow too much is to decay.

All this is against the Dao
and whatever is against the Dao soon dies."
-   Translated by Tom Chilcott, 2005, Chapter 55   

"He who contains virtue in abundance resembles a newborn child
wasps don't sting him beasts don't claw him
birds of prey don't carry him off
his bones are weak and his tendons are soft and yet his grip is firm
he hasn't known the union of sexes and yet his penis is stiff so full of essence is he
he cries all day yet ever gets hoarse
so full of breath is he who knows how to breath
endures who knows how to endure is wise
who lengthens his life tempts luck
who breathes with his will is strong
but virility means old age this isn't the Way
what isn't the Way ends early"
-   Translated by Bill Porter (Red Pine), 1996, Chapter 55    

"One who is filled with goodness is like a freshly-born infant.
Wasps, scorpions and snakes will not bite her.
Wild beasts will not attack her, nor will birds of prey pounce on her.
Her bones may be fragile and her skin soft,
But her grasp is firm.
She does not recognize the union of male and female
For she knows it only as an undivided whole.
This is the essence of perfection.
She can how All day and not get hoarse.
This is perfect harmony.
Knowing harmony is faithfulness.
Knowing faithfulness is salvation.
Trying to extend one's life-span is dangerous and unnatural.
To manipulate one's energy with the mind is a powerful thing
But whoever possesses such strength invariably grows old and withers.
This is not the way of the Tao.
All those who do not follow the Tao will come to an early end."
-   Translated by John R. Mabry, Chapter 55   

"He who has in himself abundantly the attributes (of the Tao) is like an infant.
Poisonous insects will not sting him; fierce beasts will not seize him; birds of prey will not strike him. (The infant's) bones are weak and its sinews soft, yet its grasp is firm.
It knows not yet the union of male and female, and yet its virile member may be excited;
showing the perfection of its physical essence.
All day long it will cry without its throat becoming hoarse; showing the harmony (in its constitution).
To him by whom this harmony is known, the secret of the unchanging Tao is shown,
And in the knowledge wisdom finds its throne.
All life-increasing arts to evil turn;
Where the mind makes the vital breath to burn,
False is the strength, and o'er it we should mourn.
When things have become strong, they then become old, which may be said to be contrary to the Tao. Whatever is contrary to the Tao soon ends."
-   Translated by Andre Gauthier, Chapter 55    

"The one who has virtue in its fullness
Is like a newborn babe.
Hornets and snakes do not sting him.
Savage beasts don't attack him.
Birds of prey don't pounce on him.

His bones are soft and his muscles weak
But his grasp is firm.
He knows nothing yet of mating
But his organ stirs
For his vigor is at its height.
He will cry all day
But his voice will remain loud.
For his harmony is at its height.

If you know harmony you know what is constant.
If you know what is constant you are enlightened.
If your mind forces your breath you misuse your strength.
You misuse your strength.

What expands too much is bound to collapse.
This is not the way of Tao.
What goes against Tao soon declines."
-   Translated by Agnieszka Solska, 2005, Chapter 55   


"One who possesses the fullness of De can be compared to a newborn baby.

Bees, scorpions and poisonous snakes will not sting him.
Hunting birds and ferocious animals will not grab him.
His bones are weak, his muscles are soft, yet he can grasp objects with great strength.
He has no knowledge of sexual intercourse, yet his penis becomes enlarged: so extreme is his life force.
He can yell all day, yet he doesn't get hoarse.
There is ultimate harmony in his expressiveness.

This harmony of expressiveness is said to be constant;
Knowing this harmony is said to be obvious.
Increasing life is said to be lucky.

Using the mind to control the natural energy of life is said to show strength.
A living creature who who pretends to be stronger than they are will quickly age.
This may be described as one who doesn't follow Dao.
Don't follow Dao and you'll come to an early end."
-   Translated by Nina Correa, 2005, Chapter 55    


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Medicine Ball Training Routines

Qigong and physical culture enthusiasts can benefit from using a medicine ball when doing exercises.  There are many routines developed by Taijiquan and Qigong masters using a medicine ball. 

Medicine Ball Training and Exercises: Bibliography, Links, Resources.  Prepared by Mike Garofalo.  A general introduction to the use of medicine balls in exercise programs. 

I developed my own medicine ball routine called: Magic Pearl Qigong.

Magic Pearl Qigong, Part I, Movements 1-8.   Instructions, Bibliography, Links, Handouts, Resources, Mythological Associations, Lore.  Prepared by Mike Garofalo. 

Magic Pearl Qigong, Part II, Movements 9-16.   Instructions, Bibliography, Links, Handouts, Resources, Mythological Associations, Lore.  Prepared by Mike Garofalo. 

The Magic Pearl Qigong can be a very vigorous physical culture routine if you increase the weight of the ball and the number of repetitions of each movement.

Friday, October 21, 2011

October Gardening Chores

Red Bluff, North Sacramento Valley, California, USA

USDA Zone 9

Removing dead and non-productive vegetable crops. 
Ordering seed and garden catalogs.
Remove all peppers in case of frost.
Reduce watering as temperature drops.
Watering plants as needed.
Being attentive to the effects of the cold dry winds. 
Planting potted trees and shrubs in the ground.
Placing cold sensitive potted plants in protected areas or indoors.
Planting bulbs.
Prune and mulch perennials. 
Storing and repairing tools.
Fertilize with 20-9-9 or 15-15-15. 
Trees without leaves need little or no watering.
Picking pumpkins, squash, colored corn, and other crops for Thanksgiving decorations.
Finish all digging and construction projects before the first rain.
Bring in wood and kindling to rain free storage areas.
Repair roofs on sheds and house.
Add fallen leaves to the compost pile.
Be prepared for chilling frosts.
Collect seeds from plants.
Start pruning berry vines.

"Since we do experience droughts nearly every summer, it is crucial to provide supplemental irrigation to newly installed (spring) landscapes. Generally this means a couple of hours of watering once or twice a week. Keep in mind that trees and shrubs planted in the spring and summer use a significant amount of their resources for above-ground growth. Since root growth is favored during the dormant season, it’s best to install landscape plants in the fall. It has been demonstrated that shrubs and trees planted during the fall suffer less environmental stress than those planted in the spring or summer."
-   Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott

The Raywood Ash trees in our backyard provide a fine fall display.  This tree does very well in our summertime heat and is not prone to trunk destruction by borers. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Where There is a Will, There is a Way

"A callused palm and dirty fingernails precede a Green Thumb"
- Michael Garofalo

No one is wise by birth. Wisdom results from one's own efforts."
- Krishnamacharya

"Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man's growth without destroying his roots."
- Frank A. Clark

"There is not great talent without great will power."
- Honore de Balzac

"Excellence is not an act, it is a habit."
- Aristotle

Will Power: Quotes, Sayings, Quips

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Master Wing Cheung in Redding, CA

Tai Chi Qigong Shibashi  Training
2 Day Course – Coming to Redding, CA
Exceptional Opportunity to study under a Master

Chief Instructor: Master Wing Cheung, Tai Chi Division Champion of the 2005 Canada Kung Fu and Wushu Championship and founder of Tai Chi, Qigong & Feng Shui Institute has devoted his life spreading the wonders of qi (life energy) around the world. He now works as a qigong healer, feng shui (the study of how qi flows in and around the house to bring good health and fortune to its occupants) consultant and teaches tai chi and qigong. Through his workshops, he has trained hundreds of tai chi qigong instructors worldwide.

Contact: Don Frank 530-604-6825 / (free video available on website)

Some benefits of Tai Chi Qigong Shibashi:

·         Improves Health
·         Increases Energy, Agility and Flexibility
·         Loosens and Strengthens Joints & Muscles
·         Controls Weight
·         Rejuvenates Body, Mind & Spirit
·         Reduces Stress
·         Improves Concentration & Intuition
·         Controls Emotions
·         Easy to Learn
·         Millions Practice this Qigong Daily

Segment 1 - Tai Chi Postures & Qigong Mode:
          Nov 9 12:30pm-3:30pm          
Segment 2 - Inner Alchemy Meditation (Nei Dan):    
        Nov 9   4pm-7pm                       
Segment 3 - Tai Chi Qigong Shibashi:     
                                      Nov 10   10am-5pm         

Detailed information and costs:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

October Morning Mild

"O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow's wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away."
-   Robert Frost, October

Monday, October 17, 2011

Muscle Tendon Changing Qigong

Muscle Tendon Changing Qigong (Yi Jin Jing):  Bibliography, Links, Resources, Quotes, and Notes.  By Mike Garofalo.   

"Yi Jin Jing (Tendon-Muscle Strengthening Exercises) is a health and fitness exercise handed down from ancient China. In Chinese yi means change, jin means "tendons and sinews", while jing means "methods". This is a relatively intense form of exercise that aims at strengthening the muscles and tendons, so promoting strength and flexibility, speed and stamina, balance and coordination of the body. This exercise pays great attention to the coordination of movements, respiration and mind so as to guarantee that qi circulates freely and smoothly. As with most exercises, there is an enormous variety in form, the most popular being the "12-postures of Changing Tendons" devised by Pan Wei in the Qing dynasty (AD 1644-1911).  Health Qigong--Yi Jin Jing features extended, soft and even movements displaying a graceful charm, and it puts focus on the turning and flexing of the spine, thus invigorating the limbs and internal organs. These movements have been proved to be able to improve health and fitness, prevent diseases, lengthen life and improve the intellect. In particular, practice of the Yi Jin Jing exercises has very impressive effects on the respiratory system, flexibility, balance and muscular strength. It can also prevent and cure diseases of the joints, digestive system, cardiovascular system and nervous system.  From a country where a thousand years are still considered recent history, Yi Jin Jing is truly an ancient art. Based on fragments of historical records, this health exercise was introduced in China more than 3000 years ago. Developed and refined through the ages, Yi Jin Jing, for so long shrouded in mystery, has finally made it to the 21st century in its full glory. Benefits: 1) Yi Jin Jing exercises has very impressive effects on the respiratory system, flexibility, balance and muscular strength. It can also prevent and cure diseases of the joints, digestive system, cardiovascular system and nervous system. 2) It strongly engages the practitioner’s muscle force; this is why one can achieve noticeable results like increased muscle tone and stamina in quite a short time.  3) Those who are desk-bound, spend too long in front of the computer or TV, driving etc., can greatly benefit from the YiJin, as they counter the negative effects of a sedentary and physically inactive lifestyle.  4) It improves body posture and correcting postural and joint problems. Importantly, when learned correctly, it can help undo the negative side-effects often experienced following incorrect practice of various QiGong or Meditation techniques. YiJin is a tonic for the body and mind that lead to an improved energy, physical fitness and strength."
-   Yi Jin Jing

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, Chapter 41

"When a superior man hears of the Tao,
he immediately begins to embody it.
When an average man hears of the Tao,
he half believes it, half doubts it.
When a foolish man hears of the Tao,
he laughs out loud.
If he didn't laugh,
it wouldn't be the Tao.

Thus it is said:
The path into the light seems dark,
the path forward seems to go back,
the direct path seems long,
true power seems weak,
true purity seems tarnished,
true steadfastness seems changeable,
true clarity seems obscure,
the greatest are seems unsophisticated,
the greatest love seems indifferent,
the greatest wisdom seems childish.

The Tao is nowhere to be found.
Yet it nourishes and completes all things."
-   Translated by Stephen Mitchell, 1988, Chapter 41 

"When the lofty hear of Way
they devote themselves.
When the common hear of Way
they wonder if it's real or not.
And when the lowly hear of Way
they laugh out loud.
Without that laughter, it wouldn't be Way.
Hence the abiding proverbs:
Luminous Way seems dark.
Advancing Way seems retreating.
Formless Way seems manifold.
High Integrity seems low-lying.
Great whiteness seems tarnished.
Abounding Integrity seems lacking.
Abiding Integrity seems missing.
True essence seems protean.
The great square has no corners,
and the great implement completes nothing.
The great voice sounds faint,
and the great image has no shape.
Way remains hidden and nameless,
but it alone nourishes and brings to completion."
-   Translated by David Hinton, Chapter 41 

"When wise students hear about the Dao,
they follow it with care.
When ordinary students hear about the Dao,
they sometimes believe in it, and sometimes doubt.
When foolish students hear about the Dao,
they laugh at it out loud.
If they did not laugh at it, it would not be the Dao.

There are these age-old sayings:

the brightest way seems dark;
the way forward seems like retreat;
the way that is smooth seems to be rough;
the highest goodness seems quite empty;
the purest whiteness seems to be soiled;
the vastest goodness seems insufficient;
the staunchest goodness seems to be frail;
the most solid reality seems to change.

The greatest square has no corners;

the greatest talents ripen late;
the greatest music has no sound;
the greatest images have no form.

The Dao is hidden, beyond all name;

and yet it is the Dao that nourishes and fulfils all things."
-   Translated by Tom Chilcott, 2005, Chapter 41

"When a superior scholar hears of Reason he endeavors to practise it.
When an average scholar hears of Reason he will sometimes keep it and sometimes lose it.
When an inferior scholar hears of Reason he will greatly ridicule it.
Were it not thus ridiculed, it would as Reason be insufficient.

Therefore the poet says:

"The Reason--enlightened seem dark and black,
The Reason--advanced seem going back,
The Reason--straight-levelled seem rugged and slack.
"The high in virtue resemble a vale,
The purely white in shame must quail,
The staunchest virtue seems to fail.
"The solidest virtue seems not alert,
The purest chastity seems pervert,
The greatest square will rightness desert.
"The largest vessel is not yet complete,
The loudest sound is not speech replete,
The greatest form has no shape concrete."
Reason so long as it remains latent is unnamable.
Yet Reason alone is good for imparting and completing."
-   Translated by D.T. Suzuki and Paul Carus, 1913, Chapter 41

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Fires in the Fall

"In the other gardens
And all up the vale,
From the autumn bonfies
See the smoke trail!
Pleasant summer over
And all the summer flowers,
The red fire blazes,
the grey smoke towers.
Sing a song of seasons!
Something bright in all,
Flowers in the summer
Fires in the fall!
-   Robert Louis Stevenson, Autumn Fires

Thursday, October 13, 2011

October Haiku

jumping back

snake in the kitchen

rain falling hard-
discordant duet
rooftop gutters and thunder

angry men
barking dogs

Bridal shower
phallus candles dripping.

evening breeze–
yellow poplar leaves
letting go

hot, hot
nostrils flared–

Months and Seasons
Quotes, Poems, Sayings, Verses, Lore, Myths, Holidays
Celebrations, Folklore, Reading, Links, Quotations
Information, Weather, Gardening Chores
Complied by Mike Garofalo

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Sword of Wisdom

The Sword of Wisdom

"Ever since the adepts handed on
The secret of the sword,
The true imperative has been upheld
Completely, truly adamant.

If someone asks me about
Looking for its origin,
I say it is not ordinary iron.
This lump of iron
Comes from receptive stillness;
When you obtain it, it rises up.

Forging it in a glowing fire,
Through repeated efforts
It is refined
And forged into steel.

When students of the Tao
Know this secret,
The spirit of light is intensely powerful,
And devils of darkness vanish.

The subtle function of spiritual work
Is truly hard to measure;
I now give an explanation for you.
In telling you about it
I divulge the celestial mechanism.

Setting to work when one yang comes back,
First have the six yangs pump the furnace bellows;
Then the six yins work the tongs and hammer.
When the work of firing is complete,
It produces the sword;
When it is first done,
It flashes like lightning.

Brandish it horizontally
And a cold clear breeze arises;
Hold it upright,
And the shining bright moon appears.
Auspicious light illumines heaven and earth;
Sprites and ghosts are distressed.

It stops turbidity, brings out clarity,
Sweeps away weird defilements;
It slays volatility,
Cuts down aggressiveness,
Destroys monsters:
Influences draining away
Vitality, energy and spirit
All vanish in the light of the sword.

Entanglements are cut off, rumination dies down,
And the web of feelings is rent asunder.
Where the spiritual edge is aimed, mountains crumble;
The demon kinds of mundane planes are all routed.

This precious sword fundamentally has no form;
The name is set up because it has spiritual effect.
Learning the Tao and practicing reality
Depend on this sword:
Without this sword,
The Tao cannot be achieved.

Opening up the vast darkness,
Distinguishing heaven and earth,
Dissolving obstructions, transmuting objects -
All is included.
If you ask me to show it to you,
I bring it out before you -
Do you understand or not?

- The Sword of Wisdom
From "The Book of Balance and Harmony"
Translated by Thomas Cleary, 1989, p. 115-117

Taijiquan Sword: Bibliography, Links, Resources, Instruction, Guides, All Styles

T'ai Chi Ch'uan Sword: Poems, Sayings, Quotations, Wisdom

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

May I .....

Daily Resolutions

"I am a seeker of truth on a spiritual journey.  I believe life has sacred meaning and purpose.
May my behavior today express my deepest beliefs. 
May I approach each and every task today with quiet impeccability. 
May I be a simple, humble, and kind presence on the earth today. 
May I see the Divine Nature in all beings today. 
May I be grateful today to those who came before me, and may I make the roads smoother
     for those who will travel them after me. 
May I leave each place at least a little better than I found it today. 
May I truly cherish this day, knowing that it may be my last. 
May I remember, remember, remember, not to forget, forget, forget."

Monday, October 10, 2011

Personal Health Issues

After four weeks of steady progress on the healing of the wound in my upper left thigh, using negative pressure wound therapy, I had a setback.  I now have a skin infection, probably cellulitis, in part of my upper left thigh.  The wound itself has had some problems.  My temperature has been elevated for two days.  

My physician, Dr. Hatter, did some minor surgery yesterday on the wound and put me back on clindomycin antibiotics.  I'm resting at home now.  

Very Frustrating!!  I've been dealing with this problem since June 28th. 

I will most likely not be teaching Yoga, Tai Chi, or Qigong at the Tehama Family Fitness Center in Red Bluff until January, 2012.   

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, Chapter 33

"One who knows others is clever, but one who knows himself is enlightened. 
One who conquers others is powerful, but one who conquers himself is mighty. 
One who knows contentment is rich and one who pushes with vigor has will. 
One who loses not his place endures. 
One who may die but will not perish, has life everlasting."
-  Translated by Daisetsu Teitaro Suzuki and Paul Carus, 1913, Chapter 33 

"It is wisdom to know others;
It is enlightenment to know one's self.
The conqueror of men is powerful;
The master of himself is strong.
It is wealth to be content;
It is willful to force one's way on others.
Endurance is to keep one's place;
Long life it is to die and not perish."
-  Translated by R. B. Blakney, 1955, Chapter 33  

"Knowing others is wisdom;
Knowing the self is enlightenment.
Mastering others requires force;
Mastering the self needs strength.
He who knows he has enough is rich.
Perseverance is a sign of willpower.
He who stays where he is endures.
To die but not to perish is to be eternally present."
-  Translated by Gia-fu Feng and Jane English, 1989, Chapter 33  

"He who knows other men is discerning; he who knows himself is intelligent.
He who overcomes others is strong; he who overcomes himself is mighty.
He who is satisfied with his lot is rich; he who goes on acting with energy has a firm will.
He who does not fail in the requirements of his position, continues long.
He who dies and yet does not perish, has longevity."
-   Translated by James Legge, 1891, Chapter 33  

"He who knows others is intelligent;
he who understands himself is enlightened;
he who is able to conquer others has force,
but he who is able to control himself is mighty.
He who appreciates contentment is wealthy.
He who dares to act has nerve;
if he can maintain his position he will endure,
but he, who dying does not perish, is immortal."
-   Translated by Dwight Goddard, 1919, Chapter 33 

"Knowledge frequently results
from knowing others,
but the man who is awakened,
has seen the uncarved block.

Others might be mastered by force,
but to master one's self
requires the Tao.

He who has many material things,
may be described as rich,
but he who knows he has enough,
and is at one with the Tao,
might have enough of material things,
and have self-being as well.

Will-power may bring perseverance;
but to have tranquility is to endure,
being protected for all his days.

He whose ideas remain in the world,
is present for all time."
-   Translated by Stan Rosenthal, 1984, Chapter 33   

  "He who knows others is clever;
He who knows himself has discernment.
He who overcomes others has force;
He who overcomes himself is strong.

He who knows contentment is rich;
He who perseveres is a man of purpose;
He who does not lose his station will endure;
He who lives out his days has had a long life."
-  Translated by D. C. Lau, 1963, Chapter 33

"Those who know others are wise; those who know themselves are enlightened.
Those who overcome others are powerful; those who overcome themselves are strong.
Those who are contented are rich; those who act strongly have will.
Those who do not lose their place endure; those who die without perishing live long."
-   Translated by Thomas Cleary, 1991, Chapter 33

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Benefits of Correct Breathing

"Breathing Out -
Touching the Root of Heaven,
One's heart opens;
The Dragon slips into the water..
Breathing In -
Standing on the Root of Earth,
One's heart is still and deep;
The Tiger's claw cannot be moved.

As you go on breathing in this frame of mind, with these associations, alternating between movement and stillness, it is important that the focus of your mind does not shift.  Let the true breath come and go, a subtle continuum on the brink of existence.  Tune the breathing until you get breath without breathing; become one with it, and then the spirit can be solidified and the elixir can be made."
Chang San-FengCommentary on Ancestor Lu's Hundred-Character Tablet
   Translated by Thomas Cleary, Vitality, Energy, Spirit:  A Taoist Sourcebook, 1991, p. 187.
    Poetic interpretation by Mike Garofalo of expository text of Chang San-Feng.  

"If I had to limit my advice on healthier living to just one tip, it would be simply to learn how to breathe correctly."
-   Andrew Weil, M.D., 1999  
"Viruses and microbes live best in low oxygen environments.  They are anaerobic.  That means, raise the oxygen environment around them and they die."
-   Edward Mccabe
"Only those who know how to breathe will survive."
-   Pundit Acharya 
"While doing postures [yoga asanas], as a general rule keep the airway wide open, breathe only through the nose, and breathe smoothly, evenly and quietly."
-  H. David Coulter, Anatomy of Hatha Yoga, p. 18.  

Every Taijiquan, Qigong and Yoga routine includes instructions for specific breathing techniques for specific postures and movements.