Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Olympic National Park

Kalloch Beach in Olympic National Park.

Alicia, Sean, Makenna, and Katelyn Flin at Lake Crescent in Olympic National Park.   

Katelyn, Alicia, Karen and Makenna at Crescent Lake.  

Monday, July 30, 2012

Olympic National Park, Washington

Janet Garofalo, Karen Garofalo, Paul Garofalo, Mike Garofalo at the Hoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park

Karen Garofalo at Olympic National Park in the State of Washington.

April and Mick, Mike, Paul, and Janet Garofalo at the Rose Garden in Portland, Oregon. Paul and Mike are brothers. 

We all met in Portland and enjoyed sight seeing and socializing.  We all then drove up I5 to Tacoma, Washington, west to the coast, and then north into the Olympic National Park. 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Month of August

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

Lughnasadh, Lammas, Midsummer Feast, August 1st   

August: Quotes, Poems, Lore, Garden Chores

We have been busy with gardening and watering plants during the hottest days of the year in Red Bluff.  Evenings are for watching the Olympic Games in London on DishTV.  

We just got back from a vacation trip to the Olympic National Park in Washington.  


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Cane Weapon Practice

Hsing I Cane Form by Master Huang Su Chun  UTube Demonstrations.  List of the movement names for this form are provided in English and Chinese from Poetry in Motion Tai Chi Chuan website by Jeff.  

Friday, July 27, 2012

Dao De Jing, Laozi, Chapter 56

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
Chapter 56

"One who understands won't be willing to use words;
One who uses words won't be willing to understand.
Shut off your dissipation.
Seal up your door.
Harmonize with your brightness.
Adapt to the dust in your life.
Blunt your sharpness.
Untangle your disorder.
This is correctly described as the mystery of putting the pieces together.
Therefore, what can't be obtained and held closely also can't be obtained and cast off.
What can't be obtained and used for profit also can't be obtained and used for harm.
What can't be obtained and valued also can't be obtained and cheapened.
Therefore, every action in the world is precious."
-   Translated by Nina Correa, Chapter 56

"Those who know do not talk
Those who talk do not know
Close the mouth
Shut the doors
Blunt the sharpness
Unravel the knots
Dim the glare
Mix the dust
This is called mystic oneness
They cannot obtain this and be closer
They cannot obtain this and be distant
They cannot obtain this and be benefited
They cannot obtain this and be harmed
They cannot obtain this and be valued
They cannot obtain this and be degraded
Therefore, they become honored by the world."
-   Translated by Derek Lin, Chapter 56

"The one who knows does not speak; the one who speaks does not know.
The wise man shuts his mouth and closes his gates.
He softens his sharpness, unravels his tangles, dims his brilliancy, and reckons himself with the mysterious.
He is inaccessible to favor or hate; he cannot be reached by profit or injury; he cannot be honored or humiliated.
Thereby he is honored by all."
-  Translated by Dwight Goddard, 1919, Chapter 56  

"Those who know, do not speak.
Those who speak, do not know.
So shut your mouth
Guard your senses
Blunt your sharpness
Untangle your affairs
Soften your glare
Be one with All dust.
This is the mystery of union.
You cannot approach it Yet you cannot escape it.
You cannot benefit it
Yet you cannot harm it.
You cannot bestow any honor on it
Yet you cannot rob it of its dignity.
That is why the whole Universe reveres it."
-   Translated by John Mabry, Chapter 56

"The one who speaks doesn't know,
The one who doesn't speak knows.
By closing the eyes, not hearing, not smelling,
Not touching, nor tasting, the senses are closed.
But a world of harmony it is opened in the mind.
The Wise Person is not concerned by friends,
enemies, glory or disgrace.
He reaches perfection by following the Tao Way."
-  Translated by Octavian Sarbatorare, Chapter 56 

"Those who know do not say; those who say do not know.
Close the senses, shut the doors; blunt the sharpness, resolve the complications; harmonize the light, assimilate to the world. This is called the mysterious sameness.
It cannot be made familiar, yet cannot be estranged; it cannot be profited, yet cannot be harmed; it cannot be valued, yet cannot be demeaned.
Therefore it is precious for the world."
-   Translated by Thomas Cleary, 1991, Chapter 56 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Away from my Desk

I will be busy with some outdoor and indoor home improvement projects, some vacation travel time, and some quiet retreat time.  

I will begin posting again on Thursday, July 26th.  

My current reading includes:

Buddhist Goddesses of India  By Miranda Shaw.  Princeton, New Jersey, Princeton University Press, 2006.  Bibliography, notes, index, 571 pages.  ISBN:  0691127581.  VSCL.   Sarasvati mantra on p. 238.  For anyone interested in Buddhist and Hindu Goddesses of India, this scholarly book is an outstanding resource and very stylishly presented.  

The Internal Structure of Cloud Hands: A Gateway to Advanced T'ai Chi Practice.  By Robert Tangora.  Foreword by Michael J. Gelb.  Berkeley, California, Blue Snake Books, 2012.  Bibliography, 141 pages.  ISBN: 9781583944486.  VSCL.

The Subtle Body: An Encyclopedia of Your Energetic Anatomy  By Cyndi Dale.  Boulder, Colorado, Sounds True, 2009.  Notes, bibliography, detailed index, 487 pages.  ISBN: 9781591796718.  VSCL.  

Teaching Yoga: Essential Foundations and Techniques
  By Mark Stephens.  Berkeley, California, North Atlantic Books, 2010.  Index, bibliography, notes, glossary, charts, 409 pages.  ISBN: 1556438850.  VSCL.   

The Blood Sugar Solution: The UltraHealthy Program for Losing Weight, Preventing Disease, and Feeling Great Now!  By Mark Hyman, M.D..  New York, Little Brown and Co., 2012.  Resources, notes, index, 423 pages.  ISBN: 9780316127370.  VSCL. 


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Wudang Mountain Daoist: Master Chang San-Feng

"Mount Wudang, also known as Can Shang Mountain or Tai He Mountain, is located in the Qin Ling Mountain Range of northwestern Hubei Province. Because the scenery around Mount Wudang is so majestic and beautiful, it has been given the name 'The Famous Mountain Under Heaven.' Wudang is a major center for the study of Daoism and self-cultivation.

The legendary founder of Wudang wushu was Zhang San Feng. Zhang San Feng was a Daoist who lived in these mountains to cultivate the Dao during the Ming Dynasty. Zhang San Feng was born in 1247 A.D. in the area of what is known today as Liao Ning. Zhang San Feng is a very famous figure in the history of Chinese wushu. His martial abilities and healing techniques were superb and he was known to have cured many people of illnesses. This brought about great admiration from the common people. The emperor of the Ming Dynasty erected a monument on the mountain to commemorate the contributions of Zhang San Feng. During Zhang's younger years he met Daoist Huo Lung (Fire Dragon) with whom he studied the Dao. After attaining the Dao, Zhang moved to Wudang Mountain and cultivated an additional nine years. Many historical documents suggest that Zhang San Feng was the person responsible for synthesizing the wushu of the common people with the internal methodology and philosophical principles of Daoism. Wudang wushu is primarily known for its internal styles.

Zhang San Feng created Wudang wushu by researching the basic theory of Yin and Yang, the Five Elements, and the Eight Diagrams (Ba Gua). Wudang wushu has a very close relationship with the theories of Taiji, Yin and Yang, the Five Elements, the Eight Diagrams, and the Nine Palaces. Zhang San Feng was able to incorporate the Daoist practice of changing the Essence into Internal Energy , Internal Energy into Spirit , and Spirit into Emptiness to form the theory of Wudang wushu."
- Introduction to Wudang Martial Arts


Valley Spirit Qigong

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Yoga Routine for Diabetics

Yoga as Medicine: The Yogic Prescription for Health and Healing  By Timothy McCall, M.D. and Yoga Journal.  Bantam, 2007.  592 pages.  ISBN: 0553384066.  VSCL.  Diabetes discussed on pages 281-298.  This sequence of asanas for diabetics was suggested by the Yoga Master Sandra Summerfield Kozak.  
1.  Kapalabhati Breathing 
2.  Alternate Nostril Breathing  (Nadi Shodhana) 
3.  Mindfulness Meditation
4.  Modified Sun Salutations
5.  Cobra Pose  (Bhujangasana) 
6.  Locust Pose  (Salabasana) 
7.  Seated Forward Bend  (Paschimottanasana) 
8.  Tree Pose  (Vrksasana) 
9.  Triangle Pose  (Trikonsasana) 
10.  Warrior I  (Virabhadrasana I) 
11.  Warrior II  (Virabhadrasana II) 
12.  Extended Side Angle Pose  (Utthita Parsvakonasana) 
13.  Standing Twist  (Marichyasana) 
14.  Bridge Pose  (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana) 
15.  Seated Twist 
16.  Alligator Twist  (Jathara Parivartasana) 
17.  Relaxation Pose  (Savasana) 
Practice Karma Yoga (Serving, Volunteering, Helping, Giving, Sharing)   

My Diabetes Management Program for 2012


Friday, July 13, 2012

Lifelong Vitality - The Nine Essentials

Move Into Life by Anat Baniel
Nine Essentials for Lifelong Vitality

"1.  Moving with Attention, Wake Up to Life, Mindful Movements
2.  The Learning Switch, Bring in the New, Lifelong learning, Retraining
3.  Subtlety, Experience the Power of Gentleness
4.  Variation, Enjoy Abundant Possibilities
5.  Taking Your Time, Slowing Down, Not Rushing, Luxuriate in the Richness of Feeling 
6.  Enthusiasm, Turn the Small into the Great
7.  Flexible Goals, Make the Impossible Possible  
8.  Imagination and Dreams, Create Your Life
9.  Awareness, Cultivating Mindfulness, Thrive with True Knowledge"

Move into Life: The Nine Essentials for Lifelong Vitality  By Anat Baniel.  New York, Harmony Books, 2009.  Index, bibliography, 306 pages.  ISBN: 9780307395290.  VSCL.  

Lifestyle Advice from Wise Persons

The Good Life  

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, Chapter 57

Dao De Jing, Laozi
Chapter 57

"By uprightness, govern the kingdom.
By rarely using soldiers
And by means of non-administration
Take the world.
By what means do I know this to be so?
By this:
The world greatly shuns and avoids [the poor]
And the people [remain] completely impoverished.
The people greatly sharpen weapons
[And] the kingdom and households grow dark.
The people [become] excessively crafty and clever
[And] strange things start [to happen].
Laws and directives are increasingly promulgated
[And thus] more robbers and thieves exist.
Therefore do the sages say:
I do not administer, and the people change themselves.
I am pleased with stillness, and the people correct themselves.
I do not [meddle in their] affairs, and the people grow rich by themselves.
I do not desire, and the people simplify themselves."
-   Translated by Aalar Fex, Chapter 57   

"Lead by not leading.
Do not script laws and concepts.
Rid yourself of weapons and fears.
Let go of desire and stop valuing items.
Your belly will be full and the grass will be green."
-   Translated by Ray Larose, Chapter 57   

"A realm is governed by ordinary acts,
A battle is governed by extraordinary acts;
The world is governed by no acts at all.
And how do I know?
This is how I know.
Act after act prohibits
Everything but poverty,
Weapon after weapon conquers
Everything but chaos,
Business after business provides
A craze of waste,
Law after law breeds
A multitude of thieves.
Therefore a sensible man says:
If I keep from meddling with people, they take care of themselves,
If I keep from commanding people, they behave themselves,
If I keep from preaching at people, they improve themselves,
If I keep from imposing on people, they become themselves."
-   Translated by Witter Bynner, Chapter 57

"Rule by what is right.
Wage war by clever strategy.
Win the world by being passive.
How do I know?
By this: more restrictions mean weaker people;
more weapons mean a troubled state;
more cunning means many surprises;
more laws mean violators.
Therefore be passive and the people will be peaceful;
be serene and the people will be pricipled;
be reserved and the people will be wealthy;
be selfless and the people will be simple and serene."
-   Translated by Frank Machovec, Chapter 57 

"Honesty governs the empire Cleverness overcomes without weapons Wisdom prevails through non-action.
How do I know this? Because this is how it is:
The more administrations and prohibitions there are the more force and poverty.
The more force and weapons there are the more unrest and resistance.
The more cunning and calculation there are the more craftiness and setbacks.
The more orders are given the more foes of order there are.
Hence the Sage speaks:
I practice non-action and the people do what is right of themselves.
I practice silence and the people calm down.
I practice non-interference and the people attain prosperity.
I practice gentleness and patience and the people attain harmony and simplicity."
-   Translated by Schmidt, Chapter 57  

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Five Elements Qigong

I've been studying a number of books and Internet resources about the subject of the Chinese Five Elements Theory.  The Five Elements are more often referred to as the Five: Movers, Energies, Transformations, Phases, Powers and Forces. The Five Energies are Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. 

I prepared a brief 2 page document about a gentle five movement Qigong set based on the Five Elements.  The document is titled:  The Five Elements Qigong and Internal Training Methods.  It will be used by our Valley Spirit Qigong Study Group in Red Bluff, California.  It is a read only PDF document.  The "Internal Training Methods" refer to visualizations, meditations, Taoist readings, mystical practices, and feng shui that will be discussed in our Study Group; and which are only hinted at in the brief list of correspondences under each of the Five Elements. 

I highly recommend the new book by Dr. Steven Liu and Jonathan Blank called "Secrets of the Dragon Gate: Taoist Practices for Health, Wealth, and the Art of Sexual Yoga."  The variety of creative practices and methods for health and well being are very useful and explained clearly. 

Five Elements Qigong: Bibliography, Links, Resources, Lessons, Quotations

Classical Five Elements

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Dragon Chi Kung

Dragon Chi Kung features exercises that involve twisting, turning, screwing, spiraling, curving, wiggling, undulating, spinning, sinking down and rising up, swimming, circling, swinging, or twining movements are often associated with snakes, serpents and dragons.  There are many Qigong sets and specific Qigong movements that have been called "Dragon" forms, sets, or exercises.  Baguazhang martial arts feature much twisting, turning and circling; and, also include many "Dragon" sets and movements. Silk Reeling exercises in Chen Style Taijiquan include twisting, twining, circling, and screwing kinds of movements. 


"This extraordinary gem is represented as a spherical object, or ‘ball,’ half as big, or quite as large, as the head of the dragon with which it is associated, for it is never depicted quite by itself. The gem is white or bluish with a reddish or golden halo, and usually has an antler-shaped 'flame' rising from its surface. Almost invariably there hangs downward from the centre of the sphere a dark-colored, comma-like appendage, frequently branched, wavering below the periphery. A biologist might easily at first glance conclude that the whole affair represented the entry of a spermatozoon into an ovum; and the Chinese commonly interpret the ball with its comma-mark as a symbol of yang and yin, male and female elements, combined in the earth--which seems pretty close to the biologist's view. Such is the Dragon-Pearl.  In purely decorative work, where the figure of a dragon is writhing in clouds or adapting its lithe body under an artist's hand to the shape or purpose of a piece of porcelain, a bronze article, or a silken garment, the pearl may be drawn close to the dragon, or wherever convenient. When, however, it is desirable to express the significance of this sacred adjunct of dragon-hood, it is treated with strict attention to reverence and tradition. Then are pictured celestial dragons ascending and descending through the upper air, tearing a path, perhaps, through swirling mists and shadows, "in pursuit of effulgent jewels or orbs that appear to be whirling in space, and that were supposed to be of magic efficiency, granting every wish." A passion for gems is a well-known characteristic of these beings."
-   Dragons and Dragons Lore, Ernest Ingersoll, 1928

Monday, July 09, 2012

Wishing for a Pleasant Voice and the Ability to Gladden Others

"May my insight be unobstructed!  May my knowledge prosper in textbooks, verses, magic books, doctrinal books, and poems.  So be it: mahaprabhave hili hili mili mili.  May it go forth for me by the power of the blessed goddess Sarasvati!  Karate keyure keyurabati hili mili hili mili hili hili."
A mantra (dharani) and petitionary prayer in honor of the Goddess Sarasvati from the Golden Radiance Scripture, circa 400 CE. 

Translated by Miranda Shaw, PhD.  

Buddhist Goddesses of India  By Miranda Shaw.  Princeton, New Jersey, Princeton University Press, 2006.  Bibliography, notes, index, 571 pages.  ISBN:  0691127581.  VSCL.   Sarasvati mantra on p. 238.  For anyone interested in Buddhist and Hindu Goddesses of India, this scholarly book is an outstanding resource and very stylishly presented. 

Sarasvati (pronounced sah RAS wah TEE) is the Hindu and Buddhist Goddess who is the patron of students, scholars, speakers, musicians, poets, singers, artists, worshipers, and magicians.  Her iconographic images typically include a beautiful woman, with a lustrous white moonglow coloring, and she is holding a stringed instrument, a book, and a rosary.  She is surrounded by flowers, shown near a river or lake, and accompanied by a large bird (a swan, duck, or peacock).  Her main holiday is on the vernal equinox. She is the focus of Sanskrit alphabet rituals.  

"One will become learned in all scholarly treatises.
One will have no problem writing, debating, or teaching.
Any who pursues the five sciences (grammar, logic, art, medicine, and metaphysics),
Clarity of mind, mental stability,
A pleasant voice, and the ability to gladden others
Should practice Sarasvati."
Buddhist Goddesses of India, p. 242

Sarasvati should be the patron Goddess of bloggers.  

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Resting is Rusting

"No man can stop the clock, but every man can slow its tick. Research shows that many of the changes attributed to aging are actually caused in large part by disuse. It’s new information, but it confirms the wisdom of Dr. William Buchan, the 18th-century Scottish physician who wrote, “Of all the causes which conspire to render the life of a man short and miserable, none have greater influence than the want of proper exercise.” And about the same time, the British poet John Gay agreed: “Exercise thy lasting youth defends.”  Helen Hayes was right when she proclaimed, “Resting is rusting.” Exercise is not the fountain of youth, but it is a good long drink of vitality, especially as part of a comprehensive program."
Exercise and Aging: Can You Walk Away from Father Time?  Harvard Medical School, 2005.  

"You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes.  You can steer yourself any direction you choose."
-  Dr. Seuss


Walking: Quotations, Sayings, Poems, Facts, Lore

For those of you who are trying to effectively manage your diabetes, the "Blood Sugar Solution" by Mark Hyman, MD, p. 241, states that "Ideally you should do a minimum of 30 minutes walking every day.  More rigorous and sustained exercise is often needed to reverse severe diabetes and obesity - exercise for up to 60 minutes, 5-6 times a week is often necessary for getting diabesity under full control.  A little is good; more is better."  

The above photograph shows Mike Garofalo standing on North Dome, in Yosemite National Park, California.  Yosemite Valley is behind and below me.  The round trip hike from the Tioga Pass road trailhead to North Dome is about 10 miles with a 2,500 foot elevation gain on the round trip. A vigorous and inspirational day hike. 

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Dao De Jing, Laozi, Chapter 58

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
Chapter 58

"When the governor is magnanimous,
The people will become simple;
When the governor is harsh,
The people will become cunning.
Disaster hides itself behind good fortune;
Good fortune leans against disaster.
Who knows the secret?
There is no definite answer.
The normal changes into the abnormal;
The good changes into the evil.
People have been long perplexed.
Thus the sage is square and upright
But does not wound the people;
He is edged but does not cut the people;
He is candid but does not behave wantonly;
He gives light but does not dazzle."
-   Translated by Gu Zhengkun, Chapter 58 

"When a nation is ruled
with a light touch,
people lead simple lives.
When a government
is harsh and demanding,
people will spend their time
trying to outsmart it.
Happiness is rooted in misery,

and misery lurks beneath all joy.
Who knows what could happen tomorrow?
Everything is relative;

what's considered proper today
may become improper.
Correct appearances
may hide dishonesty and sinfulness.
No wonder so many people get confused.

The Masters have sharp minds,

not sharp tongues.
They are austere,
but never judgmental.
They are straightforward,
but not provocative.
They are brilliant,
but not flashy."
-   Translated by Ron Hogan, Chapter 58   

"When the government is dull,
The people are simple.
When the government is keen,
The people are discontented.
Bad fortune is what good fortune leans on;
Good fortune is where bad fortune lurks.
Who knows the fortune's end?
There is nothing straight.
What is straight turns monstrous.
What is beautiful turns grotesque.
Man has been deluded
From time immemorial.
Therefore the sage
Is square without cutting;
Honest without scraping;
Straight without overbearing;
Bright without dazzling."
-   Translated by Ha Poong Kim, Chapter 58 

"The government that exerciseth the least care serveth the people best;
that which meddleth with everybody's business worketh all manner of harm.
Sorrow and joy are bedfellows; who can divine the final result of either?
Shall we avoid restriction? Yea; restriction distorteth nature, so that

even what seemeth good in it is evil. For how long have men suffered
from misunderstanding of this.
The wise man is foursquare, and avoideth aggression; his corners do not

injure others. He moveth in a straight line and turneth not aside therefrom;
he is brilliant but doth not blind with his brightness."
-   Translated by Aleister Crowley, Chapter 58  

Friday, July 06, 2012

Beneath My Feet

"An agricultural adage says the tiny animals that live below the surface of a healthy pasture weigh more than the cows grazing above it.   In a catalogue selling composting equipment I read that two handfuls of healthy soil contain more living organisms than there are people on the earth.  What these beings are and what they can be doing is difficult to even begin to comprehend, but it helps to realize that even thought they are many, they work as one."
-  Carol Williams, Bringing a Garden to Life, 1998

The Five Elements

I am just amazed at the claim that "two handfuls of healthy soil contain more living organisms than there are people on the earth."   Do others think this is a fact? 

I wonder how it is that "they work as one." Is it because they are all living in the same area during the same time period?  I doubt they are a "team" with a unified purpose and goal, like a colony of ants. 

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Five of Lots of Things

The pattern of Five appears often.

The Five Senses

The Five Elements

The Five Fingers on Your Hand

I've been doing a lot of reading and thinking lately about the Classical Five Elements:



Light, Fire, Heat


Aether, Nothing, Void, Emptiness

I've never been one to indulge for very long in thoughts about monism, non-duality, unity, the One. Trying to reduce the joyful and beautiful complexity of life, of nature, or the cosmos to one single principle, idea, source, or generator just does not resonate with me.  Context, multiplicity and complexity are more vital and interesting to me than unity or singularity.  My meditations are on complexity, wholes, contexts, multiplicity, interdependence, things and not on Unity or the 'One.'  Many yogis favor a withdrawal from the senses (Pratyahara) to reach one-pointed concentration; I favor savoring, exploring, feeding, and enriching the senses.  I favor rich and colorful stories about many goddesses and gods, over boring rants about the "The One True God."

Even the pre-scientific 5 classical "Elements" are not enough, we now need 103 elements; and that is not counting the numerous sub-atomic energy particles besides electrons, protons, and neutrons.  

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Fourth of July

On this Fourth of July we celebrate our liberties, the natural beauty and many resources found in America, the millions of women and men who have worked diligently to create peace and prosperity, and the chance to improve ourselves, our homes, our communities, and our government.  

"In the morning, everything is new.
 The day's blank slate lies before me,
 ready for my writing.
 May it be words of beauty I write.
 May it be deeds of grace I do.
 May it be thoughts of joy I think.
 All the Holy Ones, Listen;
 this is what I pray.
 Great Spirits of the Four Realms,
 Holy Ones of the Realms of Minds,
 Kindreds of Yore,
 as I go through the day,
 keep my eyes open wide.
 May I not miss beauty.
 May I not miss joy.
 May I not miss wonder.
 Keep me awake and aware of the world.
 It is my privilege to perform my morning prayers.
 It is my honor to do what should be done.
 As I rise with the morning, fog lifting slowly for my mind,
 I pray not to forget these truths.
 -  Ceisiwr Serith, Book of Pagan Prayer, p. 126


Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Silence Behind the Mind

Some Dharma friends from Paradise, California, Mazie Lane and Bob O'Hearn, prolific and insightful writers, have recently took up blogging:  

Here is a sample of Bob O'Hearn's writing:  The Silence Behind the Mind and True Transformation:

"For those who have not experienced themselves as the silence behind the mind (their own original nature), they may get confused when they hear about concepts like “silent mind”, and assume it means having no thoughts. If that were true, then rocks and logs would be sages!
Thoughts are not a problem. It’s only in our habitual tendency to attach an enduring reality to our thoughts, to fixate on them to the point of identification, that the internal conflict is spawned and reinforced. Such conflict is a kind of falling off balance against a background of perfect balance.
Awareness itself is the silence behind the mind, which has also been described as the light that illumines all creation. It is not an attainment, nor can it come and go depending on causes and conditions. It is the fundamental basis. All arises and dissolves within it, and yet it cannot be characterized as either existent or non-existent, since it transcends dualities. It has nothing to do with thinking or not thinking (which are mere brain phenomena) — arbitrary, transient, and of no lasting significance except as modifications of consciousness.
From the vantage point of the silence or light behind the mind – pure awareness — one can realize the insubstantiality of one’s transient self-images. When they are seen through and recognized for what they are – cases of mistaken identity that do not actually implicate who and what we are — they tend to become obsolete, and what remains is a love that has no boundary or self-limitation.
Such love is our natural state, prior to the charades of conflicted incarnation. It is our primordial essence, and ever-present, though usually hidden beneath the conditional layers of neurotic personality that we consider “normal” in this time and place.
Aligning with this perspective both inspires and makes possible true transformation in the way we live and act in the human world, and frees us from the heavy burden of fear and doubt that clouds the usual vision. The fist at the heart opens and life breathes.
When this true nature, or essence, is first recognized as one’s prior identity in moments of genuine awakening, there is an enormous sense of ecstatic emotional relief, but typically one soon is drawn back into the conflicted egoic state by the weight of accumulated habit energy. Nevertheless, this glimpse creates the space and faith for further liberation to proceed, and thus begins the process of real transformation.
This process generally involves systematically seeing through and discarding all within one’s own being that is not in congruence with the original recognition, such as hatred, greed, envy, and arrogance. It’s a process of embodiment, or full integration, of the initial penetrating insight.
Attending to the task with sincere persistence, humor, and creativity, a genuine concern for others gradually replaces the selfish motive that previously characterized the individual, and true compassion becomes possible, as one’s natural state of unconditional love more and more shines through.
If we are truly keen on authentic human progress, we need to start with our own self-absorbed craziness, our defensive reactivity, the knot at our own hearts, rather than speculating about global transformation, for example, which is merely a distraction from the work at hand.
Ultimately, it must be seen that effective transformation can only be built on a foundation of real compassion, which is what true love is all about, and why we have appeared in this or any realm in the first place — to be an expression, each in their own unique way, of Love’s unfolding Grace."

Monday, July 02, 2012

Light the Way

"The Kena Upanishad says that the Self "shines through the mind and senses," which is a poetic way of saying that it is the power of the Self which allows the mind and senses to function.  So the eternally conscious Self is what makes us conscious.  Essentially, it is light. 
    At times when our inner vision becomes pure enough to let us see through the layers of psychic debris that thickens our consciousness and make it opaque, we realize that everything is actually made of light.  We understand that we are light, that the world is light, and that light is the essence of everything.  This is why so many people's experience of touching the Self are experiences of light - visions, inner luminosity, or profound and crystalline clarity." 
-  Sally Kempton, Meditation for the Love of It, p. 40  

 Supreme Awareness (Chiti, Brahmin, Self, Supreme Auspiciousness) is most often explained using the metaphor of 'light.'  Light, and by comparison 'consciousness,' is illuminating, brilliant, bright, shining, luminous, allows us to see, provides visions, can be enlightened, shows the Way, etc.  Understanding is a function of seeing, looking, and insight.  Light is associated with life, growth, energy, and warmth.  Consciousness can be clear, focused, split up, diffused, shadowy, opaque, and magnified.  Numerous religions have considered the sun to be a divine being, or their gods and goddesses to give off light, energy, warmth, and to light the way for us.  Evil beings keep us in darkness, steal the light away, burn us up or freeze us, or are the Prince of Darkness.

Quotations, Poems, Sayings, Lore

Light, Fire, Sunshine

Morning, Daybreak, Dawn

Night, Darkness, Sunset 

The photograph below was taken at dawn on my walking path.  


Sunday, July 01, 2012

Walking Around the Mind

I usually leave my home at around 5:15 am to begin my morning walk in the summer months.  It is cool, quiet, and the air is sweet and clear in the early morning hours.  I walk about 3.6 miles.  A good portion of my walk is at an unhurried, easy, and steady pace.  I use some of my walking time for meditative or spiritual practices (Sadhana).  Just the walk itself is a spiritual practice.  

Before I begin my walk, I use a Calling the Quarters ritual for honoring and acknowledging the sacred space of my environment.    

Enjoy your walk as if you were drinking water when you are thirsty, or eating a plum when you are hungry, or making love when lust overcomes you. 

Today, when you walk, try the following imaginative exercise.  Some might call it a contemplative exercise or meditative practice.

Keep your eyes open so as to walk safely, but don't focus or stare at particular objects.

Imagine what you look like from above if you were in a balloon at various altitudes looking down at yourself walking on the earth.

Imagine what you look like from below and in front of you if you were a small animal or insect seeing you approaching them.

Imagine what you look like from the sides as you walk along.  Vary the distance from you as a walker and the imaginative person or animal looking at you. 

Imagine what you look like from behind as you walk away from the viewer.  What does your backside look like from 10 meters, 100 meters?  

Imagine what you would look like walking in a different season of the year?  We are imbedded in the context of the world, other things, the ground, our place, the season, in the sunlight - and we are seen walking in such contexts.  

Imagine looking within your body and seeing your heart beating, blood flowing through your arteries and veins, your lungs rising and falling, your muscles contracting and relaxing.  

If the imaginative "viewer" were at a great distance, could "It" even see you moving?  

Draw your attention to how your walking body would look from various angles and distances.  As you shift your viewing perspectives, does your mind change?
Imagine yourself as a viewer, witness, and observer removed from your body.

Who is the "self" that can imagine in this manner?  Is it your ordinary mind, your ego, your social self, an outpouring of your material essence; or, is the "It" or the "That" which is self-aware that is something more profound, more expansive, more miraculous?  Are "you" doing the imagining?  Is it the vast interdependent matrix of beings that can imagine, reflect, witness itself?  Is imagining another form of seeing; or, seeing just another form of imagining?  
Play with these questions and ideas.  Mull over them.  Smile.  Walk on. 

"Wherever you are is the entry point."
-  Kabir