Saturday, March 31, 2012

Martial Arts Virtues

"Philosophical ideals in the martial arts:
1. To strive for perfection of character
2. To defend the paths of truth
3. To foster the spirit of effort
4. To honor the principles of etiquette
5. To guard against impetuous courage."
- Herman Kauz, The Martial Spirit: An Introduction to the Origin, Philosophy and Psychology of the Martial Arts.

Seven Essential Principles Of Bushido (The Way Of The Warrior):
1. GI: the right decision, taken with equanimity, the right attitude, the truth. Rectitude.
2. YU: bravery tinged with heroism
3. JIN: universal love, benevolence toward mankind. Compassion.
4. REI: right action - a most essential quality. Courtesy.
5. MAKOTO: utter sincerity. Truthfulness.
6. MELYO: honor and glory.
7. CHUGO: devotion. Loyalty.
- Taisen

"It is said that a calm and stable mind can achieve anything. This is an idea that I hold strong to. If we are not thinking with our wisdom mind then we are thinking out of impulse and reaction, like most animals do. This thinking out of impulse is known as the "emotional mind" (xin). The martial arts are very much a tool to shape reaction, both mentally and physically. Through diligent practice, and study of the martial virtues one can begin to act from the wisdom mind.

The virtues fall into two categories; morality of action, and morality of mind. Of those that are associated with action, there is:


as well as those which are associated with the mind:

- R. Scott Moylan, Wu De Quan

"We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thought. With our thoughts, we make our world."
- The Buddha

Friday, March 30, 2012

Tai Chi Chuan at a Faster Pace

For two decades I have practiced the Yang style of Taijiquan at a slow, steady, even, smooth and meditative pace.  The Sun style of Taijiquan is a bit faster with short quick steps.  Since I began to practice martial arts routines and forms with a cane weapon, and with my beginning the practice of Chen Style Taijiquan, I have been increasing my speed and power while doing these forms.  This has posed a new challenge for my cardio-vascular conditioning level, for my physical agility and coordination levels, and for my 66 year old body overall.  I really enjoy the new challenge. 

"Chen Style Taiji is perhaps the most overtly martial of all Taijiquan styles.  Most Chen Style forms are fast.  These include Second Form (Cannon Bashing), saber, double saber, spear, long staff, short staff, three-opponent staff, flaive, punching bags, and several combat exercises.  The only two forms that are decidedly slow are the First Form and the straight sword.  

Kinetic movements (meaning, again, movements that depend on momentum) must be trained at speed.  Any time you have a weapon in your hands that swings or spins, you must actually swing it or spin it in order to learn its behavior.  If you try to practice it slowly, you will not receive feedback from the weapon's own kinetic properties, and will consequently never learn how to exploit them.  Without kinetic training, you will always be fighting the weapon.  

In certain situations, you need to wield your own body kinetically.  Chen Taiji's Second Form (Cannon Bashing) is designed for exactly that purpose.  Any movement in which you sweep, leap, close quickly with the opponent, change orientation in mid-air, or swing around to attack from a different direction must similarly be trained at speed.  These are all movements that exploit the body's mass and momentum."
-  Mark Chen, Old Frame Chen Family Taijiquan, p. 86

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Green Fire

"The Green Fire
Aengus is a deathless comrade of the Spring, and we may well pray to him to let his green fire move in our veins."
-  Fiona MacLeod, "The Birds of Aengus Og"

Aengus Ma Og is the Irish deity whose spirit inhabits the megalithic monument of Newgrange in the Boyne Valley of Ireland.  His hostel on the banks of the Boyne is a traditional entrance to the otherworld, a place where souls congregate and rest.  In their soul's circuit, several Irish heroes and heroines have become lost or disorientated.  It is within Aengus's care that they are given time to recover.  

Birds and other animals begin to choose their mates as the growing year burgeons strongly in the strengthening sunlight.  The green fire that runs all over the earth is sparked by this very sunlight and the deep germinating power of the earth.  When plants reach toward the sunlight, the red, violet, and blue bands of the light spectrum activate the chlorophyll pigment within each leaf so that it reflects green.  This pigment alters as the year progresses, causing the leaves to change color, but from this time forward  the medley of greens is apparent.  

This green fire is also within us - not in our physical bodies, as it is in plants, but in our emotional and creative lives.  Spring fever has many manifestations, some almost hormonal.  The creative urge of spring brings into being much verse, for example, as our emotional upheavals reach out for fresh life and vigor.  To experience the green fire and answer to its call is to commune with the green vigor of Aengus.  

Where is the green fire in your own life at this time?  Take your emotional and creative temperature; then give yourself over to something pleasurable and enlivening this week."  

-  Caitlin Matthews, The Celtic Spirit: Daily Meditations for the Turning Year, 1999, p. 159; Meditation for March 29th.  

March Holidays and Religious Celebrations

March Poetry and Lore  


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

18 Lohan Hands Qigong

Shaolin Temple Chi Kung
Eighteen Buddha Hands Exercises

Luohan Qigong is the "Art of Breath of the Enlightened Ones."  Luohan Qigong, or Lohan Chi Kung, is an system of exercises and breath control for improving your fitness, vitality, energy levels, concentration, poise, and well being.  Combined with seated or standing meditation, Luohan Qigong can also contribute to steady spiritual progress.  Numerous legends attribute the development of the Luohan Qigong methods, and the Muscle Tendon Changing Qigong methods, to the Buddhist leader Bodhidharma (Da Mo, Ta-Mo, Daruma), circa 525 CE, a early advocate of Chan (Zen) Buddhism. 

"Ever since the practice of Energy Yoga (Buddhist Qigong) and the doctrine of the Chan (Zen) tradition of Buddhist Dharma were introduced into China by the Great Indian Master Bodhidharma (Damo) to the monks of the Shaolin Monastery to strengthen their body, mind and spirit in the pursuit of Buddhist studies, the fusion of Buddhist Meditation, Qigong (Tsa Lung) and Martial Arts have evolved into a unique branch of Dharma practice that focuses upon the attainment of a state of Unified Oneness of the Single-Pointed Equipoise of Chan Meditation with that of the Physical Discipline of Energy Yoga and Martial Arts - a process which is characterized by the heightening of insightful awareness of the true state of reality and the realization of one's original nature.   The ultimate goal of the practitioner of Buddhist Dharma is to generate the Awakening Mind of Compassion and Mindfulness with which the greatest benefit for the greatest number of sentient beings can be realized. This journey of awakening begins with the embracing of discipline over the body, speech and mind which leads to the stability of these three doors of expression. Without the stability of body, speech and mind it is not possible to bring harmony to oneself.  Without harmony in oneself it is impossible to bring peace to the world."
Pathgate Institute of Buddhist Studies


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Hymn to Pan by Faun

I enjoy listening to the German folk music band called 'Faun.'  Their acoustic music emphasizes many pagan themes.  

Eden by Faun, 2011  Includes more songs in English than their other albums.   


Renaissance by Faun, 2005

by Faun.  

Here is one selection from the Eden album called 'Hymn to Pan.'

"Listen now, Great Pan he calls us
From the green wood in his grove
'neath the waxing moon above us
Hear his clear flute sweet and low
Hear his clear flute sweet and low
Follow in the dance he's leading
Circle 'round the fire's glow
Come and drink the wine he pours us
From the tangled vines that grow
From the tangled vines that grow...

Listen now and I shall follow
Listen now and I may follow...
Out of the mid-wood's twilight
Into the meadow's dawn
Ivory limbed and brown eyed
Flashes the Faun
He skips through the copses singing
And his shadow dances along
And I know not which I should follow
Shadow or Song...
O Hunter, snare me his shadow
O Nightingale, catch me his strain
Else moonstruck with music and madness
I track him in vain
And I know not which I should follow
Shadow or Song
And I know not which I should follow
Shadow or Song ..."
Hymn to Pan by Faun, from the 2011 album Eden 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Taijiquan Standard 24 Movement Form

The first Taijiquan form I learned in 1986 was the Standard 24 Movement T'ai Chi Ch'uan Form in the Yang Style of T'ai Chi Ch'uan.  At that time there were no books or instructional videotapes on this popular form.  Since that time, nearly 25 years have past.  Now there are dozens of books and instructional DVDs and webpages on the subject of the 24 Form. 

Mike Garofalo 'Playing the Pipa'

My webpage on the Standard 24 Taijiquan Form has been the most popular webpage on the Cloud Hands Website for many years. In the sidebar of this blog, you will find a quick index to this webpage.

Standard Simplified Taijiquan 24 Form.  Research by Michael P. Garofalo, M.S. This webpage includes a detailed bibliography of books, media, links, online videos, articles, and resources.  It provides a list of the 24 movement names in English, Chinese, French, German and Spanish, with citations for sources of the movement names.  It provides detailed descriptions of each movement with black and white line illustrations and  photographs.  It includes relevant quotations, notes, performance times, section breakdowns, basic Tai Chi principles, and strategies for learning the form.  The Peking (Bejing) Chinese National orthodox standard simplified 24 movement T'ai Chi Ch'uan form, created in 1956, is the most popular form practiced all around the world.  This form uses the Yang Style of Taijiquan.  Published by Green Way Research, Valley Spirit Taijiquan, Red Bluff, California:  Webpage URL:  File size: 269 Kb. 

This webpage provides many good suggestions for a person learning this form on their own if there is no Tai Chi class in their area. 

The best book that I have seen on the subject is:

The Yang Taiji 24 Step Short Form: A Step by Step Guide for All Levels
By James Drewe
London, Singing Dragon Press, 2011.
382 pages, black and white photographs, charts, detailed descriptions, training tips.
I give information on many other fine books by other good authors on the 24 Form in my webpage: Cheng Zhao,
Foen Tjoeng Lie, Eric Chaline, Le Deyin, etc.. 

My students tell me that their favorite instructional DVD on the 24 Form is:

Tai Chi - The 24 Forms
By Dr. Paul Lam

I have taught this lovely Tai Chi form to hundreds of people since 2000.  Everyone tells me how much they enjoy learning and practicing this gentle form.

I also teach and enjoy playing the
Chen Style Taijiquan 18 Movement Form created by Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei. Actually, in the last year, I prefer practicing the Chen 18 Form more. 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, Chapter 69

Dao De Jing by Laozi
Chapter 69 

"The strategists' saying:
"I dare not play the host but play the guest,
I dare not advance an inch but retreat a foot."
This is called marching no-marching,
Stretching no-arms,
Arming with no-weapons,
Charging at no-enemy.
No disaster is greater than making light of the enemy.
When I make light of the enemy, I may lose my treasure.
Therefore, when two sides confront each other with arms,
The one who grieves wins."
-   Translated by Ha Poong Kim, Chapter 69 

"The handbook of the strategist has said:
'Do not invite the fight, accept it instead,'
'Better a foot behind than an inch too far ahead,'
Which means:
Look a man straight in the face and make no move,
Roll up your sleeve and clench no fist,
Open your hand and show no weapon,
Bare your breast and find no foe.
But as long as there be a foe, value him,
Respect him, measure him, be humble toward him;
Let him not strip from you, however strong he be,
Compassion, the one wealth which can afford him."
-   Translated by Witter Bynner, 1944, Chapter 69  

Military tacticians have a saying:
"I dare not be the aggressor, but rather the defender.
I dare not advance an inch, but would rather retreat a foot."
This is to move without moving,
To raise one's fists without showing them,
To lead the enemy on but against no adversary,
To wield a weapon but not clash with the enemy's.
No disaster is greater than taking the enemy lightly.
If I take the enemy lightly, I am on the verge of losing my treasures.
Hence, when opposing troops resist each other, the one stung by grief will be the victor.
-   Translated by Tam Gibbs, 1981, Chapter 69

"There is a saying on using military force:
I dare not be the host, but rather a guest.
I dare not advance an inch, but rather retreat a foot.
This is called performing without performing, rolling up one's sleeves without showing the arms.
By not holding on to an enemy, there is no enemy.
There is no disaster greater than having no enemy.
Having no enemy almost destroys my treasure.
When opposing armies clash, those who cry win!"
-   Translated by Tao Huang, Chapter 69  

"The generals have a saying:
"Rather than make the first move
it is better to wait and see.
Rather than advance an inch
it is better to retreat a yard."
This is called
going forward without advancing,
pushing back without using weapons.
There is no greater misfortune
than underestimating your enemy.
Underestimating your enemy
means thinking that he is evil.
Thus you destroy your three treasures
and become an enemy yourself.
When two great forces oppose each other,
the victory will go
to the one that knows how to yield."
-   Translated by Stephen Mitchell, 1988, Chapter 69

The strategists have a saying,
I dare not play the host but play the guest,
I dare not advance an inch but retreat a foot instead.
This is known as marching forward when there is no road,
Rolling up one's sleeves when there is no arm,
Dragging one's adversary by force when there is no adversary,
And taking up arms when there are no arms.
There is no disaster greater than taking on an enemy too easily.
So doing nearly cost me my treasure.
Thus of two sides raising arms against each other,
It is the one that is sorrow-stricken that wins.
-   Translated by D. C. Lau, 1963, Chapter 69


Saturday, March 24, 2012

Am I a Gadget?

By Jaron Lanier. 
New York, Vintage Books, 2011.  Index, 223 pages.  ISBN: 978-0307389978.  

This is an important book to read for anyone who creates webpages, maintains a website, writes a blog, maintains a wiki webpage, or uses Facebook; and for Internet users in general.  It will make you seriously question the value of creating products for free in an open source environment, not only personally but socially and economically.  His lively analysis is insightful, his writing style very engaging and clever, and I felt his wagging finger was pointed directly at my own web persona in some ways.  His reasoning is flawed at a few points, but the overall thrust of his arguments are persuasive for authors, artists, photographers, musicians, and other creators of content.  His varied assessments of the hive world, group mind, and trivial communications found in much social networking is highly thought provoking.   

I have been employed for 44 years in various "information industry" jobs as a library clerk, reference and audio-visual librarian, webmaster, instructor, instructional technology coordinator, educator, library manager, and library administrator.  I have been very fortunate that I could earn a living in this manner.  

I first went on the Internet in my home in 1992 using a UNIX server ISP host, used PINE for email, read and contributed to USENET groups, and started creating simple HTML webpages by 1994.  I have witnessed and participated in the rapid development of the Internet for the last 20 years.  

In the early days of the WWW I did make some money ($1,900 a month highest) with commercial websites and click through advertising, but that had dried up by 2003.  After I became semi-retired in 1998, I was inspired in 2000 to create and distribute content on the Web and share my passion for gardening, taijiquan, qigong, walking, mysticism, and Neopagan viewpoints.  I now make enough through paid advertising to cover annual expenses for my hardware, software, ISP, and web server costs; but, little for my time.  Indeed, the many webpages I've created, and that have been served to over 29 million readers around the world since 2000, are truly "labors of love," given freely, generally appreciated and positively reviewed, donated value added products, gifts to readers, altruistic social contributions, sharing my hobbies, opening my notebooks to others, and publishing webpage files that anyone can use for "free."  

Increasingly, however, over the last two years, I have doubted myself and think these past efforts have not been worth my time and effort, and even have been a mistake? 

Are not my Spirit of Gardening webpages just hybrid "mashups" of the work of others?  Have I taken away business from publishers of anthologies of gardening quotations, where authors were paid something for their efforts at insightful compilations? Since I did not provide citations to the sources of many of these quotes and/or hyperlinks to the cited books, did I violate the rules of good scholarship? 

I do think that many of my Taijiquan and Qigong webpages do have original content that reflects thorough and wide research, personal practice, and includes hyperlinks to valuable resources on each topic.  However, are not a few of my webpages just rehashing the creative work of others, e.g., Temple Qigong, and taking away a small income from the publisher. 

In the past two years, I've done a careful study of the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu.  I purchased and read scores of translations and commentaries about this classic text.  I scoured the Internet for translations and resources on the subject.  I found that comparing different translations of each chapter was fascinating.  I shared my notes on the subject on webpages and in my blog.  Maybe this effort was only possible in a hypertext environment.  Nevertheless, were these efforts merely derivative and maybe a bit unfair to hard working translators.  I feel like I am on the edge of an ethical-unethical border at times.

Using the creative work of long dead authors or artists on my "free" webpages seems acceptable to me and supported by public domain principles.  My webpages are a vehicle for advertising relevant books or media on the topic of the webpage, and do not advertise irrelevant products or services.  Nevertheless, I feel I am fudging sometimes to make a few bucks (literally very few bucks), when using the creative work of recently deceased or living authors even if I cite references.  

When I use an image on a webpage of mine without finding the original creator, getting permission to use the image, and/or paying to use the image, is this fair, is this right, is this helping other original creators of art or photographs?  Many people think that if somebody puts up an image on the Internet it is fair game for others to modify and use because they are not "selling" it like a book.  But I've seen two or three borrowed quotes on a single page with a borrowed graphic all surrounded by advertising that benefits the webpage creator and, of course, Google Ad Sense. 

I quickly read posts aggregated from "friends" to my Facebook account only about three times each week.  Therefore, I'm not as familiar with the key issues in social networking since I don't use it very frequently.  Some of the short posts on Facebook are informative and engaging; but, many are diary type entries about the external events of our daily lives and/or social/political flames.  However, some of my negative suspicions about Facebook and Twitter were confirmed in some of Jaron Lanier's critical analysis.   

If you are concerned about the cut and copy world of the web, the economic impact of the Internet on traditional information industries and individual creators of content, the depersonalizing aspects of web interactions, the dumbing down of readers and writers using the web, mean spirited attacks and inflammatory statements on the web, poor quality information and misinformation on Internet webpages and wikis, the negative impacts of centralized search engines and advertising, profiling of readers by marketing companies, big business with "free" tools or software driving out small for-profit businesses, or the hive mind or group mind of the imaginary cyber-noosphere, then purchase and read You are Not a Gadget.  You will be challenged by what you will read!

Should I change my Internet WWW behavior?
Will I change my Internet WWW behavior?   

Friday, March 23, 2012

Walking Meditation

"Walking meditation means to enjoy walking without any intention to arrive. We don't need to arrive anywhere.  We just walk. We enjoy walking. That means walking is already stopping, and that needs some training.  Usually in our daily life we walk because we want to go somewhere. Walking is only a means to an end, and that is why we do not enjoy every step we take. Walking meditation is different. Walking is only for walking. You enjoy every step you take. So this is a kind of revolution in walking. You allow yourself to enjoy every step you take.
The Zen master Ling Chi said that the miracle is not to walk on burning charcoal or in the thin air or on the water; the miracle is just to walk on earth. You breathe in. You become aware of the fact that you are alive. You are still alive and you are walking on this beautiful planet. That is already performing a miracle. The greatest of all miracles is to be alive. We have to awaken ourselves to the truth that we are here, alive. We are here making steps on this beautiful planet. This is already performing a miracle.  But we have to be here in order for the miracle to be possible. We have to bring ourselves back to the here and the now."
-  Thich Nhat Hanh, Resting in the River

Walking Meditation:  Quotes, Bibliography, Links, Information, Methods

"Walking meditation is walking in full awareness of breath, body and everything the senses present.  It is not an aerobic exercise - though it would be a fine lead-in to aerobic walking.  Rather, walking meditation is done slowly and consciously, with each step fully feeling the earth.  During this precious time, body and mind come together, joined in the present moment.  Although the benefits of walking meditation will deepen over time, even from the start, you can experience some measure of the relaxation, balance and quiet energy that builds through this practice."
-  Ginny Whitelaw, Body Learning, p. 55.   

"Research conducted at Harvard Medical School’s Mind/Body Medical Institute has found that focused walking meditations are highly effective for reducing anxiety and producing  what’s called the “relaxation response.”
Borgess Health   

The Ways of Walking 



Thursday, March 22, 2012

Spring Projects

My research projects for March 21st to May 21st include:

In the last month I completed research on:

Other projects and objectives include:

Weed, clean and do repairs in the Sacred Circle Garden

Prepare for Beltane  

Extra practice of the Chen Short 18 Taijiquan Form 

Continue with extra weightlifting and walking to improve health. 


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Gu Shen (Valley Spirit)

"The Spirit of the perennial spring is said to be immortal, she is called the Mysterious One.
The Mysterious One is typical of the source of heaven and earth.
It is continually and endlessly issuing and without effort."
-   Translated by Dwight Goddard and Henri Borel, 1919, Chapter 6 

"The Spirit of the Depths is immortal; it is called the Azure Heaven and the Mother Earth.
The passage through which these Two Influences emerge and enter is called the root of the visible creation.
They are ceaseless in action as though permanent, and may be drawn upon without ever being exhausted."
-   Translated by
Frederic H. Balfour, 1884, Chapter 6  

"The valley spirit never dies.
It is the unknown first mother,
whose gate is the root
from which grew heaven and earth.
It is dimly seen, yet always present.
Draw from it all you wish;
it will never run dry."
-   Translated by T. McCarroll, Chapter 6    

"The valley spirit never dies.
It's named the mystic woman.
And the gate of the profound woman is the root that heaven and earth sprang from.
It's there within us all the while;
draw upon it as you will,
you can never wear it out."
-   Translated by T. Byrn, Chapter 6   

"The mystery of the valley is immortal;
It is known as the Subtle Female. The gateway of the Subtle Female
is the source of Heaven and Earth.
Everlasting, endless, it appears to exist.
Its usefulness comes with no effort."
-   Translated by R. L. Wing, Chapter 6 

"Departing from the Mysterious, entering the Female.
It appears to have perished, yet appears to exist.
Unmovable, its origin is mysterious."
- The Jade Emperor's Mind Seal Classic

"In the Recorded Sayings of Master Ta Ma it is said, "The Mysterious [hsuan] represents heaven, ching [essence], and the nose. The Female [p'in] represents earth, blood [qi], and the abdomen. Hsuan is the father of ching [jing], and p'in is the mother of qi. So that which departs from the father is ching, and that which enters the female is qi. Within each person there is the Mysterious Female. Everyone can create a spiritual embryo. The Valley Spirit refers to yang shen [pure spirit]; with just one drop of yang shen uniting with the ching and qi, the Spirit Embryo is born."
- The Jade Emperor's Mind Seal Classic. The Taoist Guide to Health, Longevity, and Immortality. Translated with commentary by Stuart Alve Olson. 2003. Index, bibliography, 216 pages. ISBN: 0892811358. Reference, p. 139.

My Notes on the Idea of the Valley Spirit (Gu Shen)

"Know honor,
Yet keep humility.
Be the valley of the universe!
Being the valley of the universe,
Ever true and resourceful,
Return to the state of the uncarved block."
Tao Te Ching, #28, Translated by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English

"The Mysterious Gate has many names.  In Confucianism, it is called the altar of wisdom.  It embodies limitless compassion.  It is a consciousness without thoughts and it reflects the way of heaven.  It is intuitive knowledge and reflects the way of earth.  In Buddhism, the Mysterious Gate is the spirit mountain, the empty consciousness of original mind, or nirvana, the realm of the Amitabha Buddha.  In Taoism, it is the Golden Palace, the realm of t'ai-chi, the domain of the Three Pure Realms, the root of existence of all things.  Although it is given different names by the three religions, it is nonetheless the same thing.  In Confucianism, when this gate is opened, the sage emerges.  In Buddhism, when this gate is opened, the Buddha emerges.  In Taoism, when this gate is opened, the immortal emerges."
-   Cultivating Stillness:  A Taoist Manual for Transforming Body and Mind, p. 18, Translated by Eva Wong, 1992.

My Notes on the Idea of the Valley Spirit (Gu Shen) 

"The valley spirit never dies
Call it the mystery, the woman.

The mystery,
the Door of the Woman,
is the root
of earth and heaven.

Forever this endures, forever.
And all its uses are easy."
-  Translated by Ursula K. Le Guin

"The Valley Spirit never dies
It is named the Mysterious Female.
And the doorway of the Mysterious Female
Is the base from which Heaven and Earth sprang.
It is there within us all the while.
Draw upon it as you will, it never runs dry."
-  Translated by Arthur Waley

Chapter 6 of the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu

Gushen Grove Sacred Circle Garden in Red Bluff, California

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Minerva and Athena: Their Holiday

Quinquatria, Roman Festival in honour of Minerva, March 19 - March 23.  Minerva is the Roman Goddess, and the Greek Goddess with similar attributes is Athena, Patron of Athens.  This ancient Goddess is associated with civilization, wisdom, strength, strategy, poetry, weaving, magic, music, crafts, justice, and skills.  Her totem is the owl.  She is a virgin goddess, Pallas Athena, where she is one of three virgin goddesses along with Artemis and Hestia, known by the Romans as Diana and Vesta.  Athena is often depicted wearing a warrior's helmet and holding a spear - protecting her followers.  

Minerva/Athena is featured on the great seal of the State of California.

I am starting work on my webpage on Vernal Equinox Celebrations.   Check out my webpages on the months of March and April for related information.   

Minerva By Susan S. Boulet  

Monday, March 19, 2012

Conference of Computer Using Educators

I left our home in Red Bluff on Tuesday afternoon 3/13 to attend the Computer Using Educators (CUE) annual conference in Palm Springs.  I returned home last night 3/18 at 10 pm.

The CUE conference was held at the convention center in Palm Springs, California.  Over 3,000 people were in attendance.   

It will take me a few days to get back to my normal productive stride at home and at work.  My mind is full of ideas, information, leads, new projects.  I met many professional educators who inspired and informed me.  

I had written a Enhancing Education Through Technology grant, for our 7th and 8th grade mathematics teachers at the Maywood Middle School in Corning, which provided the funding for this professional development.   

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Between Root Tip and Leaf Tip

South of Red Bluff, California, where I live, it is flat with deep clay soils.  It is a rural area with many almond, olive, and walnut orchards.  North of Red Bluff it his very hilly with an extensive blue oak (Quercus douglassii) deciduous forest (pictured below).  The acorns from these oak trees were a staple in the diet of the American Indians who have lived in this area for thousands of years.  This area is very rocky with volcanic soils.  

All the small towns and two cities (Chico and Redding) in the North Sacramento Valley have many large deciduous trees to help with shading in the hot dry summers.  The City of Corning, where I work for a school district, is called "The Olive City."  On my own property are many trees around our home, ponds, and irrigation ditches.  I am surrounded by beautiful trees.  

"One felt as if there was an enormous well behind them, filled up with ages of memory and long, slow, steady thinking; but their surface was sparkling with the present: like sun shimmering on the outer leaves of a vast tree, or on the ripples of a very deep lake. I don’t know but it felt as if something that grew in the ground – asleep, you might say, or just feeling itself as something between root-tip and leaf-tip, between deep earth and sky had suddenly waked up, and was considering you with the same slow care that it had given to its own inside affairs for endless years."
-  J.R.R. Tolkien, The Two Towers

"Long ago in Greece, King Cecrops established a city.  It was predicted that the city would become very famous and prosperous.  Many gods wanted to become the special patrons of the city.  In the end there were two contestants left--Athena and Poseidon. To resolve the conflict each one was supposed to give some kind of a gift to the city, and whoever presented the greater gift would win the contest.  Poseidon made a (water) spring appear in the city and promised a strong navy to the city.  Athena made the olive tree.  She told everyone how olives could be used for food, for cleansing, offerings, to light fires, and many other uses.  Athena won the contest and the city was called Athens in her honor."
- Ani's Greek Mythology

All Hail Athena!! 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

There Is Nothing to Attain

Daoist Scripture of Purity and Tranquility

- Translated by Livia Kohn, "The Taoist Experience: An Anthology." Albany, State University of New York Press, 1993; Qingjing Jing, Scripture of Purity and Tranquility, pp.24-29.

"In purity and tranquility,
Gradually enter the true Tao.
When the true Tao is entered,
It is realized.
Though we speak of "realized,"
Actually there is nothing to attain.
Rather, we speak of realization
When someone begins to transform the myriad beings.
Only who has properly understood this
Is worthy to transmit the sages' Tao.
The highest gentleman does not fight;
The lesser gentleman loves to fight.
Highest Virtue is free from Virtue;
Lesser Virtue clings to Virtue.
All clinging and attachments
Have nothing to do with the Tao or the Virtue.


Friday, March 16, 2012

Girls of Portland

My two granddaughters, Katelyn and Makenna, add to the beauty of Portland, Oregon.  Thanks for the photos, Alicia.  Go Girls! 

Hey, guys, you know how grandpas can get gushy.  

My wife, Karen, was visiting our families in Portland from Wednesday 3/14 until Sunday 3/18.  She had a fine time with everyone over the St. Patrick's day weekend.  Katelyn performed her Irish dancing skills with her troupe at a "Hooligan" party at the Kennedy School complex near 35th Street. 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Dao De Jing, Laozi, Chapter 70

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
Chapter 70

"Though the words of the sage are simple,
and his actions easily performed,
they are few among many,
who can speak or act as a sage.
For the ordinary man it is difficult

to know the way of a sage,
perhaps because his words
are from the distant past,
and his actions naturally disposed.
Those who know the way of the sage

are few and far between,
but those who treat him with honesty,
will be honored by him and the Tao.
He knows he makes no fine display,

and wears rough clothes, not finery.
It is not in his expectancy of men
that they should understand his ways,
for he carries his jade within his heart."
-   Translated by Stan Rosenthal, 1984, Chapter 70  

"My words are so simple to understand
and so easily put into practice
that no one in all beneath heaven understands them
and no one puts them into practice.
Words have their ancestral origins and actions their sovereign:
it's only because people don't understand this that they don't understand me.
And the less people understand me the more precious I become.
So it is that a sage wears sackcloth, keeping pure jade harbored deep."
-   Translated by David Hinton, Chapter 70   

"It is very easy to comprehend my teachings and to put them into practice.
Yet there is no one in the world who is able either to comprehend, or to practice them.
There is an originating principle for speech, an authoritative law for conduct, but because this knowledge is lacking I am unknown. Those who know Me are few; those who imitate Me are worthy.
Hence the Holy Man wears coarse garments, but carries a jewel in his bosom."
-   Translated by C. Spurgeon Medhurst, 1905, Chapter 70 

"My sayings are easy to recognize, and very easy to apply.
But no one in the world can recognize them, and no one can apply them.
Sayings have a source, events have a leader.
It is only through ignorance that I am not known.
Those who know me are rare; those who emulate me are noble.
This is why sages dress plainly, and conceal what is precious."
-   Translated by Thomas Cleary, 1991, Chapter 70  

"My words are very easy to understand
And very easy to put into practice.
Yet no one under heaven understands them;
No one puts them into practice.
But my words have an ancestry, my deeds have a lord;
And it is precisely because men do not understand this
That they are unable to understand me.
Few then understand me, but it is upon this very fact my value depends.
It is indeed in this sense that “the Sage wears hair-cloth on top,
But carries jade under neath his dress.”"
-   Translated by Arthur Waley, 1934, Chapter 70 

"My words are very easy to understand and very easy to put into practice; but in all the world there is no one who can understand them and can put them into practice.
My words have a system, my actions have a governor.
Indeed, it is just because they are not understood, that men do not understand me.
Those who understand me are rare, those who pattern themselves after me are highly prized.
Thus the Saint wears hair-cloth, but carries jade in his breast."
-   Translated by Jan Julius Duyvendak, Chapter 70    



Wednesday, March 14, 2012


"Dawn is a shimmering of the horizon.
Dusk is a settling of the sky.

Dawn and dusk together represent the measure of a day. When the sun rises, the moon sets. When the moon rises, the sun sets. This represents the cycle of existence, for without such alternation, the power of the universe could not be generated. When the sun reaches its zenith, it will inevitably begin its descent toward its nadir. All events --including our own plans and activities -- follow the same pattern.

It is wisdom to know the cycles of life and where any particular circumstance that we are involved in stands on the curve. If we want to perpetuate something, we should join it to new growth to compound our progress. If we want to destroy something, we need only lead it to its extreme, for all things decline after their zenith.

All too often, people express uncertainty about where they stand in life. It's important to examine both the short-range and the long-range. If you want to go far in a decade, you have to go far each year. If you want to go far each year, you have to make sure that you do something significant each day. Use the cycles of life to establish a measure to your life, and then arrange your plans according to the units that you have chosen. Then there will be no fear of not knowing your own progress."

-  By Deng Ming-Dao
   365 Tao: Daily Meditations
   March 7   Day 66 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Personal Change Methods

We sometimes feel the need for dramatic changes in our lifestyle for a a variety of good reasons including a dissatisfaction with the results of previous actions and habits. We want to change our character, behaviors, habits, thinking, or values so as to effect a "Transformation." 

I once read the book by Baron Baptiste, a influential and popular yoga master, titled "40 Days to Personal Revolution: A Breakthrough Program to Radically Change Your Body and Awaken the Sacred Within Your Soul' (Fireside, Simon and Schuster, 2004). Yogi Baptiste gives an explanation of a plan for personal transformation, and includes his views on the guiding principles (Laws) for such significant changes: 

"The Twelve Laws of Transformation
1. Seek the Truth
2. Be Willing to Come Apart
3. Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
4. Commit to Growth
5. Shift Your Vision
6. Drop What You Know
7. Relax with What Is
8. Remove the Rocks
9. Don't Rush the Process
10. Be True to Yourself
11. Be Still and Know
12. Understand that the Whole is the Goal"
- Baron Baptist, 40 Days to Personal Revolution, 2004, pp. 5-45.

Over the years, I have also collected many quotations regarding the power of the will in human action. Willpower is a key component of successful personal transformation. The will is very much like a muscle: with exercise it gets stronger, it needs time for rest and recuperation, it needs to be feed properly with behavioral and mental nutrients, it needs some stretching and flexibility work, and needs to be cross-trained to develop full and responsive power.

I think some of the guiding techniques for personal change include:

1. A realistic and truthful assessment of our physical, mental, emotional, and social self-potential and possibilities.
(Baptiste: 11, 10, 1, 5)

2. A clearly articulated vision and goals for the future.
(Baptiste: 12,5)

3. A detailed action plan, objectives and timetable needed to accomplish the goals.
(Baptiste: 12, 5, 1)

4. A wholehearted commitment to and belief in the action plan.
(Baptitste: 4, 2)

5. Direct efforts on a daily basis to fulfill the action plan.
(Baptiste: 4, 11, 10)

6. Having patience, steadfastness, determination, courage, and flexibility.
(Baptiste: 7, 9)

7. Acknowledging and breaking through one's inner resistance to change, abandoning or tearing away from one's past actions.
(Baptiste: 2, 3, 6, 8)

8. The regular review, evaluation, and realistic assessment of progress on a weekly and monthly basis.
(Baptiste: 1, 3, 8)

We also need to take advantage of techniques to manage the unconscious and well as conscious forces that comprise our inner life. Try exploring techniques such as visualization, repeated affirmations, guided meditations, rituals, art, hypnosis, neuro-linguistic programming, music, etc. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Taijiquan Cane Practices

The only martial arts weapon that I practice with is a cane.  I practice all the Taijiquan sword and broadsword forms that I know with a cane. 

Every time I take a walk I carry my cane with me.  Using various cane strikes and stretches while walking is an excellent way to exercise the upper torso.

I use an Instructor's Walking Cane, 40" (103 cm) long and 1" (2.54 cm) in diameter, from Cane Masters.  This cane weights 1lb, 2 oz (510 gm).  This beautiful martial arts combat cane is made of pure hickory heartwood, has multiple notches at three key gripping points, has a rounded hooked horn, and has a rubber covered tip.  I also own the same Instructor's Walking Cane made of oak - a gift from my children.   
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.

"The correct use of the bo (sai, tonfa, kama, naginata, sword) can produce a stimulating and practical means of "extension" training. It offers a means of martial arts training and discipline. Weapons training teaches the meaning of control, timing, distance, and flexibility as one unit. The practitioner is required to possess speed, coordination, strength, and endurance in utilizing the respective weapons."
History of the Bo Staff


"The jo can be used to strike like a sword, sweep like a naginata, thrust like a spear (yari). Its two ends can be used, unlike the single point of a sword, and its ma-ai (fighting distance) can be varied according to the hand grip you take. Because of its speed and changeable ma-ai, it is a formidable weapon."
Muso Shindo-Ryu Jodo   

"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

Hakuin's Dragon Staff Inka Scroll

Zen Master Hakuin (1686-1768) painted a Dragon Staff with a horsehair whisk attached.  He gave the above painting to a lay student who passed the Zen koan, "What is the sound of one hand clapping."