Saturday, December 31, 2011

The 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

Friday, December 30, 2011

Grandmaster Sun Lu Tang (1861-1933)

"When a modern day "New Age" practitioner of tai chi speaks of the art as being "good for his health and a way to align his energy with the energy of the Tao," that viewpoint came largely from Sun Lu Tang. Or when pa kua practitioners walk the pa kua circle on a California beach and talk of how "pa kua forms are physical embodiments of the I-Ching," their ideas derive largely from Sun Lu Tang. Or when modern day practitioners of xing yi opine that "the five forms of xing yi interact like the five basic elements in Taoist cosmology," they to owe their thinking largely to Sun Lu Tang."
- Elisabeth Guo and Brian L. Kennedy, Sun Lu Tang: Fighter, Scholar and Image Maker.

Sun Style Taijiquan: Bibliography, Links, Resources, Quotes
By Michael P. Garofalo

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Personal Health Issues

I have been going to the Mercy Hospital Wound Clinic for the last two months to try to heal a diabetic ulcer in my middle right toe.  From June to November, I was treated by a local podiatrist.

Yesterday, after reviewing X-Rays and reviewing my progress, my physicians believe the distal joint on that toe is infected and preventing wound healing.  Therefore, next week, Dr. Hawley, will surgically remove the tip of my middle toe and the infected bone.

I will need to change my exercise routine for January and do more upper body work and seated yoga.  Hopefully, by February, the surgical wound will have healed properly, and I can begin walking again without wearing an uncomfortable and clumsy orthopedic wedge shoe. 

I have been a Type 2 Diabetic for 14 years, without many incidents.  However, this chronic disease is bound to catch up with me in some way despite exercise, diet, and taking medicine.  Anyway, when you are 66 years of age, you have to face the facts of more health problems.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Returning to the Keyboard

Karen and I returned last night from a seven day trip to Oregon.  We visited our children and their families in Portland.  Our two grand-children, ages 3 and 5, reveled in the Santa Claus pretending.  We all enjoyed a good time visiting together. 

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Dao De Jing, Chapter 81

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
Chapter 81

"They may have carts and boats
but there will be no need to ride in them;
they may have armor and weapons
but they will never need to display them.
Let the people go back to tying knots for record-keeping;
let their food be savory;
their clothing beautiful;
their customs pleasurable;
their homes secure.
Though they may gaze across at a neighbor's holdings
and hear the sounds of it's dogs and chickens,
they will not bother them, coming and going.
They will die of happy old age."
-   Translated by Jerry C. Welch, Chapter 81 

"Real words are not vain,
Vain words not real;
And since those who argue prove nothing
A sensible man does not argue.
A sensible man is wiser than he knows,
While a fool knows more than is wise.
Therefore a sensible man does not devise resources:
The greater his use to others
The greater their use to him,
The more he yields to others
The more they yield to him.
The way of life cleaves without cutting:
Which, without need to say,
Should be man's way."
-   Translated by Witter Bynner, Chapter 81  

"No one likes the honest truth,
And all fine talk falls short of it.

Real words are never used to seduce you,
And those that do are no good.

The one who really knows, knows without books
- the so-called learned know nothing.

The sage holds nothing of himself back-
He uses all he has for you, and that is his reward.
He gives all he is
and that is why he's rich.

And the Tao of Heaven
feeds everything, and harms nothing

And the sage's Tao
completes it,
without doing anything."
-   Translated by Kwok, Palmer and Ramsey, Chapter 81  

"As honest words may not sound fine,
Fine words may not be honest ones;
A good man does not argue, and
An arguer may not be good!
The knowers are not learned men
And learned men may never know.

The Wise Man does not hoard his things;
Hard-pressed, from serving other men,
He has enough and some to spare;
But having given all he had,
He then is very rich indeed.

God's Way is gain that works no harm;
The Wise Man's way, to do his work
Without contending for a crown."
-   Translated by Raymond Blakney, Chapter 81   

"Words to trust and not refine.
Words refined are not to trust.
Good men are not gifted speakers.
Gifted speakers are not good.
Experts are not widely learned;
The widely learned not expert.
Wise rulers for themselves keep naught,
Yet gain by having done for all,
Have more for having freely shared;
Do good not harm is heaven’s Way;
The wise act for and not against."
-   Translated by Moss Roberts, Chapter 81 


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Yule Celebrations

Yule, Winter Solstice, Christmas, Xmas, Saturnalia, Wassail Blot, December 20th - 31st, Festival of the Fires, Feliz Navidad, Birthday of Mithras, New Year Celebrations, Santa Claus, Brumalia, Christmas Eve, Father Christmas, St. Nicholas, 2nd Celebration in the NeoPagan Holy Day Annual Cycle or Wiccan Wheel of the Year  

Yule Celebrations: Quotations, Notes, Poetry, Lore

One Old Druid's Journey: Notebooks of the Librarian of Gushen Grove 


Happy Holidays to All!  

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to All!  

Peace on Earth and Good Will Towards Mankind!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Making Ashes

We have a large pile of cuttings with large branches, diseased plants, plants inappropriate for our compost pile, and construction wood discards.  Every December, we burn this pile to the ground.  The ashes make for a good addition to the garden.

Today was a nice clear, dry, windless December day.  The ground was damp.  A great day to reduce the cuttings pile to ashes.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Short Staff and Cane Martial Arts

Way of the Short Staff.  By Michael P. Garofalo, M.S.  A comprehensive guide to the practice of the short staff, cane, jo, walking stick, gun, zhang, whip staff, 13 Hands Staff, and related wood short staff weapons.  A detailed and annotated guide, bibliographies, lists of links, resources, instructional media, online videos, and lessons.   Includes use of the short staff and cane in martial arts, self-defense, walking and hiking.  Separate sections on Aikido Jo, Cane, Taijiquan cane and staff, Jodo, exercises with a short staff, selected quotations, techniques, selecting and purchasing a short staff, tips and suggestions, and a long section on the lore, legends, and magick of the short staff.  Includes "Shifu Miao Zhang Points the Way."  Published by Green Way Research, Valley Spirit Taijiquan, Red Bluff, California.  Updated on a regular basis since October, 2008.  Filesize: 265Kb.  Related to Mike's popular webpage on the Staff.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Blogging in Cold Weather

The time of the year for sock caps, extra sweaters and pullovers, double layers of pants, wraps, insulated boots, and cups of warm drinks.  


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Preparing for the Cold

We brought may potted plants onto our covered back porch to prevent them from freezing. 
All supplies and tools are safely stored in dry sheds so they can't get wet.
Holiday lights are in place and on timers.  
Fallen leaves have been raked off of the lawns.  
Rain is expected tomorrow.  Overnight lows are in the upper 30's.  
December gardening chores are being taken care of on a daily basis.    

Sears coupons are always available for garden tools.

"Bitter cold
autumn wind -
shivering lips."

-   Michael P. Garofalo, Cuttings

"This is what I have heard
at last the wind of December
lashing the old trees with rain
unseen rain racing along the tiles
under the moon
wind rising and falling
wind with many clouds
trees in the night wind."
-  W. S. Merwin  

"Every year at just this time,
In cold and dark December,
Families around the world
All gather to remember,
With presents and with parties,
With feasting and with fun,
Customs and traditions
for people old and young."
-   Helen H. Moore 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The End of a Mistake

One action helped brighten the month of December for me, and 77% of Americans agreed with me according to recent polls - the United States of American military forces are leaving Iraq by December 31, 2011.  

The United States military invaded Iraq in 2003.  This "War" will eventually cost us 4 trillion dollars.  Our U.S. soldiers gave much in this "War": 4,480 dead and 32,000 wounded. There were an estimated 654,000 Iraqi's killed.  

We found no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.  There was little evidence that Iraq was involved with planning or implementing the 9/11 attacks in the U.S - all the attackers and masterminds of 9/11 were Saudis and Islamic Al-Qaeda terrorists.  We got rid of one dictatorial regime in Iraq, and plenty still remain in the Middle East.  Islamic sectarianism is still rife in Iraq, and civil unrest is likely in the future.  Not surprisingly, very few nations helped us in this "War" with troops or financial support.  

We did show Middle Eastern countries, most with far less military power than Iraq, that the United States is the biggest and strongest man on the block.  The federal political leaders of the U.S. are very willing to go into deep debt and sacrifice many lives to prove to others that they can do what they want even when their justification for doing so is minimal and deemed unreasonable by many.  Even a conservative independent can seriously question the purpose and usefulness of this past "War" with Iraq. 

I would have rather spent 4 trillion dollars on helping States in the U.S., and not killing so many people.  

I remember vividly one Iraqi mother, distraught over seeing her mangled dead children after a U.S. bomb attack, screaming into the camera "Americans are Terrorists!"   Were we?  

Thankfully, we are leaving Iraq.  It is part of our unpleasant and embarrassing past mistakes.    

Suggestion for a 28th Amendment to the Constitution: 
War Powers Authorization by Public Vote

Monday, December 12, 2011

Outdoors Again

We have been busy raking leaves, putting down compost and manure, pruning, planting shrubs and trees, repairing a window and porch corner, putting up Christmas lights and decorations, cleaning, wrapping Christmas presents, sending out Christmas cards, starting new gardens, and, of course, each of us working at jobs.  We are both very pleased to be in relatively good health and able to be very busy. 

Here are some photos of our yard in early December 2009. This year, all the leaves had fallen by the end of November.  It has been much colder in the past month, with numerous rainstorms and high winds. 


Looking towards the east.  The Raywood ash trees have more reddish and orange leaves. 


Looking towards the southeast.  The taller pecan trees have yellow leaves. 

Looking towards the south.  The mulberry trees still have many green leaves.

Looking towards the south.  We use all the fallen leaves as mulch. 

Looking towards the west from the back gate ouside our porch area.  The large fig leaves are yellow.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, Chapter 46

Dao De Jing, Laozi
Chapter 46

"When the Tao is present in the universe,
The horses haul manure.
When the Tao is absent from the universe,
War horses are bred outside the city.
There is no greater sin than desire,
No greater curse than discontent,
No greater misfortune than wanting something for oneself.
Therefore he who knows that enough is enough will always have enough."
-  Translated by Jane English, Chapter 46 

"When the world follows Tao,
racehorses work on farms.
When the world forsakes Tao,
cavalry horses practice in parks.
The greatest curse is discontent.
It is the greatest misery.
The greatest sin is selfish striving.
Being content with contentment
is to be always satisfied."
-   Translated by C. Ganson, Chapter 46  

When the world follows Tao,
the horses haul manure.
When the world abandoned Tao.
War horses run wild.
There is no greater sin than unable to be satisfied.
No greater misfortune than wanting and wanting.
Thus, he who knows that enough is enough will always have enough."
-   Translated by Tienzen Gong, Chapter 46 

"When the world yields to Tao, race horses will be used to haul manure.
When the world ignores Tao war horses are pastured on the public common.
There is no sin greater than desire.
There is no misfortune greater than discontent.
There is no calamity greater than acquisitiveness.
Therefore to know extreme contentment is simply to be content."
-   Translated by Dwight Goddard, 1919, Chapter 46 

"When the Way rules the world,
Coach horses fertilize the fields;
When the Way does not rule,
War horses breed in the parks.
No sin can exceed
Incitement to envy;
No calamity's worse
Than to be discontented,
Nor is there an omen
More dreadful than coveting.
But once be contented,
And truly you'll always be so."
-   Translated by Raymond B. Blakney, Chapter 46   

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Whirling Like a Dragon

"It is easier to leave a circle than to enter it.
The emphasis is on the hip movement whether front or back.
The difficulty is to maintain the position without shifting the centre.
To analyse and understand the above situation is to do with
movement and not with a stationary posture.
Advancing and retreating by turning sideways in line with the
shoulders, one is capable of turning like a millstone, fast or slow,
as if whirling like a dragon in the clouds or sensing the approach
of a fierce tiger.
From this, one can learn the usage of the movement of
the upper torso.
Through long practice, such movement will become natural."
- Yang Family Old Manual, The Coil Incense Kung   

"Silk reeling (pinyin chánsīgōng, Wade-Giles ch'an2 ssu1 kung1 ), also called "Winding Silk Power" (chansijing) (纏絲), as well as "Foundational Training"(jibengong), refers to a set of neigong exercises frequently used by the Chen style, Wu style and some other styles of T'ai Chi Ch'uan. The name derives from the metaphorical principle of "reeling the silk from a silk worm's cocoon". In order to draw out the silk successfully the action must be smooth and consistent without jerking or changing direction sharply. Too fast, the silk breaks, too slow, it sticks to itself and becomes tangled. Hence, the silk reeling movements are continuous, cyclic patterns performed at constant speed with the "light touch" of drawing silk.
     In common with all Qigong exercises, the patterns are performed in a concentrated, meditative state with an emphasis on relaxation. However, rather than being isolated exercises purely for health benefits, the focus is on strengthening and training the whole body coordination (nei jin) and grounded body alignment that is used in the Tai Chi form and pushing hands. Silk reeling is commonly used in Chen style as a warmup before commencing Tai Chi form practice, but its body mechanics are also a requirement of Chen Style Tai Chi throughout the forms. In other styles, silk reeling is only introduced to advanced levels. Many schools, especially those not associated with the orthodox Tai Chi families, don't train it at all."
- Silk Reeling - Wikipedia

Silk Reeling Webpage

Friday, December 09, 2011

Eight Section Brocade Exercises

In 1973, archeologists in China excavated the tomb of King Ma who lived in the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC - 24 AD). In this tomb at Mawangdui, on the outskirts of the city of Changsha in Hunan Province, they discovered medical manuals, compilations, and a silk scroll on which were drawn 44 humans in various poses or postures. Under each pose, or Dao-yin diagram, was a caption with the name of an animal or the name of the disease that the posture might help cure. Enthusiasts for the Eight Section Brocade exercises can find some of their exercises in this 2100 year old document.  
 - The Wonders of Qigong, 1985, pp. 13-17. 

Eight Section Brocade Qigong Exercise Set

Thursday, December 08, 2011

String Figures and String Games

Years ago, in 2003, I created a webpage called "Strings on Your Fingers" served at 

A Sitemeter report today says that, for this html file, total visits =47,684,  total page views = 81,708, average page view per day = 70, average visit length = 1:30. 
This webpage is about string figures, string catches, ropes and twine knots, string and rope art designs, knotting, Cat's Crade games with string, string figures from around the world.  

Games with string help strengthen the fingers and wrists, exercise memory and coordination, give us another way to play, help us learn about different cultures and string players from around the world, let us meet and succeed with a new challenge of learning to perform a new string figure.   

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Haiku Poetry

Teaching Haiku Poetry: Links, Resources, and Ideas.  

Indexing by Martin Dejnicki and Mike Garofalo. 
Last updated on December 7, 2011.  
First published on online in 2001.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

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.

Monday, December 05, 2011

To Dance on the Line

"The supreme accomplishment is to blur the line between work and play."
- Arnold Toynbee

"In Hindu philosophy the whole creation is regarded as the Vishnu Lila, the play of Vishnu. Lila means dance or play. Also in Hindu philosophy, they call the world illusion; and in Latin the root of the word illusion is ludere, to play."
- Alan Watts, Work as Play

"We may play with and pass on a garden, possessing one is an illusion.
Gardeners must dance with feedback, play with results, turn as they learn.
Some gardeners don't grow old and stop playing; they stop playing and grow old.
Nature's playfulness is a gardener's delight.
A garden is a sporting field, an area for play."
- Michael P. Garofalo, Pulling Onions: The Maxims of Gardening

"Zen Dance is beyond religion, it manifests all of reality. It is an embodiment of meditation in motion, or movement creation, as well as spiritual practice and physical conditioning. But, like life, it is also ephemeral: Dancing is painting on air."
Lee Sun Ock, Creatrix-Choreographer of Zen Dance

“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

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, Chapter 29

Dao De Jing, Laozi
Chapter 29

"If any one should wish to get the kingdom for himself, and to effect this by what he does, I see that he will not succeed.
The kingdom is a spirit-like thing, and cannot be got by active doing.
He who would so win it destroys it; he who would hold it in his grasp loses it.
The course and nature of things is such that
What was in front is now behind;
What warmed anon we freezing find.
Strength is of weakness oft the spoil;
The store in ruins mocks our toil.
Hence the sage puts away excessive effort, extravagance, and easy indulgence."
-   Translated by James Legge, 1891, Chapter 29 

"When one desires to take in hand the empire and make it, I see him not succeed.
The empire is a divine vessel which cannot be made.
One who makes it, mars it.
One who takes it, loses it.
And it is said of beings:
Some are obsequious, others move boldly,
Some breathe warmly, others coldly,
Some are strong and others weak,
Some rise proudly, others sneak.
Therefore the holy man abandons excess, he abandons extravagance, he abandons indulgence."
-   Translated by Daisetsu Teitaro Suzuki and Paul Carus, 1913, Chapter 29 

Those who wish to change the world
According with their desire
Cannot succeed.

The world is shaped by the Way;
It cannot be shaped by the self.
Trying to change it, you damage it;
Trying to possess it, you lose it.

So some will lead, while others follow.
Some will be warm, others cold
Some will be strong, others weak.
Some will get where they are going
While others fall by the side of the road.

So the sage will be neither wasteful nor violent.
-  Translated by Peter Merel, Chapter 29 


Chapter 27   No Talents are Wasted, The Function of Skill, This is a Great Paradox, Dexterity in Using the Dao, Cultivating Perfection, A Good Walker Leaves no Tracks, Dexterity in Using the Dao,  巧用    

Chapter 28   Simplicity, Embrace Opposites, Be a Model, Returning to Simplicity,  反樸     

Chapter 29   Abandon Excess, Not Forcing Things, Variations, No Extravagance, Taking-Loosing, Immaterial Spirit, Taking No Action, Wu Wei -   

Chapter 30   Abandon Excess, Avoid Daring, Strike Only of Necessity, Be Wary of War, Maturity, Avoid Battle,  儉武   

Chapter 31   Create Don't Destroy, Avoid Weapons, Stop Wars, Delight Not in Warfare, Be Peaceful, Avoid Wars,  偃武        

Chapter 32   The Tao with No Name, The Virtue of Holiness, Valley Streams, Rivers that Run to the Sea,  聖德  


Saturday, December 03, 2011

Rake It Up

Karen, Tammy and I raked up the layers of pecan leaves.  Karen and I pruned branches.  I disposed of dozens of barrels of leaves and cuttings in the large field pile.  It was a clear, cool and windy day.

Now you can walk safely down the concrete sidewalk around the south side of the house to the front door, or on sidewalk out to the west chain link fence gate, or north down the path of concrete pavers to the north gate and car parking.  Good footing, no more layers of fallen leaves.  Rain is coming.    

December: Poetry, Sayings, Quotes, Lore, Songs, Gardening Chores

Friday, December 02, 2011

Walk Around

I was feeling the effects of a cold: coughing, aches and pains, sinus drainage, dry mouth.  I rested at home all day, sipped herbal teas, and pampered myself.  
I did walk around the yard on Thursday and Friday.

We have four pecan trees on the west side of our house.  The pecan trees drop quite a few leaves in November and December.  The leaves must be raked up and moved to composting areas.  Here are some views outside of our back porch door.   

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Entering the Heart of Trees - Just Standing

Hi Mike,

I've been a fan of your site ( ) for a while now, as I've become more and more interested in QiGong and NeiGong, and was wondering if you would be interested in doing a favour for me?
I live in the UK, where I learn Yang Taiji locally, and there is an exercise we do, Standing Like a Tree (I believe), at the beginning of each session, for ten to fifteen minutes. As I may not be able to train for a while, and found this one particularly of use, I wonder would you be able to give me some insight on it, and, if possible, record a short MP3 with simple directions for it, so that I could plug in my headphones and go through the meditation myself in the morning. I find it a bit hard to focus myself without another person's voice to help me focus, and I have a feeling I'm not doing the breathing correctly, so again, hearing it would help. 
I'd really appreciate if you could, I've been trying to find a reputable and contactable  source online who I figured would be able to record, but It'd really help.
Anyways, would really help me if you got a minute to do so.
Thanks for your time,

Dear Guy, 
Look at my webpage Standing Like a Tree.  There are many positions for standing exercise/meditation (Zhan Zhuang) for purposes of physical exercise, NeiGong, Qigong, Meditation, Yoga.  

I have been working on an audio-recording project to produce .MP3 digital audio recordings of lessons/guides to practicing these mind/body exercise methods, internal training methods, Qigong sets, and meditation forms you referred to in your email.  I should have two audio lessons ready on January 1, 2011.  
Look also at very slow walking meditation methods:  Walking Meditation