Friday, August 31, 2012

The Wheel Rolls On

We are definitely feeling the coming of autumn.  Cooler days and nights - consistently.  We can accomplish more work in the garden in a afternoon without exhausting ourselves in the heat.  I don't expect any rain until November, so we must keeping watering in the garden. 

My apple bell wand has been rededicated and is ready to use.  

“The Wheel rolls more, and Autumn returns.
Cooler the rain; the Sun lower burns.
The coloring leaves presage the Year:
All things move into harvest’s sphere.
I vow to savor fruits first picked;
nor into grief shall I be tricked.
I vow to offer what once I spurned,
and face the Turning reassured.
- Asleen O’Gaea, Celebrating the Seasons of Life: Beltane to Mabon, p. 116.  

"Lord, it is time. The summer was very big.  Lay thy shadow on the sundials, and on the meadows let the winds go loose. Command the last fruits that they shall be full; give them another two more southerly days, press them on to fulfillment and drive the last sweetness into the heavenly wine."
-   Rainer Maria Rilke 


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, Chapter 51

Dao De Jing, Laozi
Chapter 51

"Tao gives life to all creatures; teh feeds them; materiality shapes them; energy completes them.
Therefore among all things there is none that does not honor Tao and esteem teh.
Honor for Tao and esteem for teh is never compelled, it is always spontaneous.
Therefore Tao gives life to them, but teh nurses them, raises them, nurtures, completes, matures, rears, protects them.
Tao gives life to them but makes no claim of ownership; teh forms them but makes no claim upon them, raises them but does not rule them.
This is profound vitality (teh)."
-   Translated by Dwight Goddard, Chapter 51 

"Tao gives life to all things.
Virtue nourishes them.
Material world gives them form.
Circumstances make them complete.
Therefore of the myriad things,
Each one reveres Tao
And each one pays tribute to virtue.
They do so without being ordered.
They do so of themselves.
Tao gives life to them.
Virtue nourishes and matures them.
It teaches them and protects them.
It rests them, supports them and guards them.
Tao gives life to them but it does not possess them.
It toils for them but expects no praise.
It guides them but does not dominate them.
This is the secret virtue."
-   Translated by Agnieszka Solska, Chapter 51  

"Tao creates all things,
Virtue nurtures them.
Matter gives them forms, and
Environment allows them to succeed.
Thus all things honour Tao and value Virtue.
Tao being honoured and Virtue being valued,
They always occurred naturally without being dictated by anyone.
Tao creates all thing.
Virtue nurtures them:
They grow and develop;
Bear fruits and mature; and
Are cared for and protected.
To create, but not to possess;
To care for, but not to control;
To lead, but not to subjugate.
This is called the profound virtue."
-   Translated by Cheng, Chapter 51

The Way bears all things;
Harmony nurtures them;
Nature shapes them;
Use completes them.
Each follows the Way and honours harmony,
Not by law,
But by being.
The Way bears, nurtures, shapes, completes,
Shelters, comforts, and makes a home for them.
Bearing without possessing,
Nurturing without taming,
Shaping without forcing,
This is harmony.
-   Translated by Peter Merel, Chapter 51 

"A guide starts it,
virtuosity cultivates it,
Natural kinds model it
and circumstances complete it.
For this reason, among the ten-thousand natural kinds,
None fail to respect a guide and value virtuosity.
This respecting of guides
and valuing of virtuosity
is not, in general, commanded in words instead it treats self-so-ingas constant.
Hence a guide starts it,
virtuosity cultivates it,
Acts as its elder, educates it,
shades it, poisons it,
nourishes it and returns it.
Gives rise to and not 'exist,'
Deem:act and not rely on anything.
Acts as elder and does not rule.
This would be called 'profound virtuosity.'"
-   Translated by Chad Hansen, Chapter 51 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Longing for an Infinite Walk

Our firefighters have been struggling for three weeks to control and contain four fires in the mountains to the east, north, and west of us.  Due to the dense smoke from these four large fires, the air quality has been very poor during this period in our valley area. 

The fires to the east and north have been brought under control.  Yesterday evening, for the first time in nearly a month, the skies were clear to the east and we could again see the Southern Cascade hills and mountains. 

I look forward to long morning walks this coming Labor Day Holiday weekend.  Americans celebrate Labor Day on the first Monday in September, and workers in other countries celebrate Labor Day on May 1st.  A pat on the back to all the billions of women and men who work hard to make the world a better and safer place to live within. 

Walking at daybreak will be a delight again with better air to breathe and clear views of the local mountains.  Temperatures at dawn are now a cool 60F. 

"Walking I am unbound, and find that precious unity of life and imagination, that silent outgoing self, which is so easy to loose, but which a high moments seems to start up again from the deepest rhythms of my own body.  How often have I had this longing for an infinite walk - of going unimpeded, until the movement of my body as I walk fell into the flight of streets under my feet - until I in my body and the world in its skin of earth were blended into a single act of knowing."
-  Alfred Kazin, The Open Street

"It’s all still there in heart and soul. The walk, the hills, the sky, the solitary pain and pleasure–they will grow larger, sweeter, lovelier in the days and years to come."
-   Edward Abbey  

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

As We Think, So We Become

"The thought manifests as the word;
The word manifests as the deed;
The deed develops into habit;
And the habit into character.

So, watch the thought and its ways with care
And let it spring from love
Born out of concern for all Beings.
As the shadow follows the body,
As we think, so we become."

Sayings of the Buddha
Collected around 100 CE

Monday, August 27, 2012

Dayan Chi Kung

Dayan (Wild Goose) Qigong Exercises

Bibliography, Links, Quotes, Notes, List of Movements
Research by Mike Garofalo

This Qigong form is one long continuous sequence of movements, much like a Taiji form.  There are many aspects of the Wild Goose Qigong system as presented by Dr. Bingkun Hu of San Francisco.  

I was practicing this Dayan form one winter morning in my
Sacred Circle Garden when a flock of Canadian Geese flew overhead.  The North Sacramento Valley is the winter home of birds from Canada.  Behold ... 'everything is holy now':

"A second Grandfather, he of the North, spoke again: 
"Take courage, younger brother," he said, "on earth a nation you shall make live, for yours shall be the power of the white giant's wing, the cleansing wing." 
Then he got up very tall and started running toward the north; and when he turned toward me, it was a white goose wheeling. I looked about me now, and the horses in the west were thunders and the horses of the north where geese. 
And the second Grandfather sang two songs that were like this:
"They are appearing, may you behold!
They are appearing , may you behold!
The thunder nation is appearing, behold!
They are appearing, may you behold!
They are appearing, may you behold!
The white geese nation is appearing, behold!"
- Black Elk Speaks, 1932, p. 22, as told to John G. Neihardt.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Mudra of the Three Jewels

Homages in Twenty One Verses to Arya Tara
A Tibetan Buddhist Scripture
Verse 9

"Homage to you beautifully adorned
By the Three Jewels' gesture at your heart.
Your wheel shines in all directions
With a whirling mass of light."
-  Translated by Thubten Chodron  

Hail you whose heart is beautiful
with hands in the Three-Jew'l gesture,
Their exquisite royal wheel-marks
Shining their light-rays everywhere!
-  Translated by Robert Thurman

"Homage, Lady holding her hand over her breast
with a gesture that symbolizes the Three Jewels,
her palms adorned with the universal wheel
radiating a turbulent host of its own beams."
-  Translated by Stephan Beyer

"Home to her whose fingers in the mudra symbol
Of the Three Jewels adorn the heart,
Who by radiating the rays of her own light,
Adorns the wheel of all directions."
-  Translated by Bokar Rinpoche

"Homage! She adorned with fingers,
   at Her heart, in Three-Jewel mudra!
Wheel of all quarters adorned,
   filled with masses of Her own light!"
-  Translated by Martin Wilson 

"Homage, Mother, her hand adorns her heart
In a mudra that symbolizes the Three Jewels.
Adorned with the universal wheel
She radiates turbulent light."
-  Translated by Anna Orlova


The Goddess Arya Tara (Green Tara or White Tara) holds the long stem of a lotus flower.  The lotus flower (Padma) has been used since ancient times as a key symbol in Hinduism and Buddhism and other religions.  The lotus is most often held in the left hand of Arya Tara.  Her left hand is held near her heart.  The huge bloom of the lotus typically appears above her left shoulder.  Tara is often seated on a lotus.  She typically holds the stem of the lotus flower between her left thumb and left ring finger, and the other three fingers are gently held open.  This particular ritual hand position or symbolic hand gesture (mudra) is referred to as the Prithivi Mudra which recharges the root chakra (Muladhara) aligning it with earth energies (Gertrud Hirschi, Mudras, p.84).  "Her left hand is in the gesture of the Three Jewels, with the thumb and ring finger touching and the other three fingers stretched upward.  These three fingers represent the Three Jewels [Buddha, Dharma, Sanga].  They indicate that by entrusting ourselves to these three objects of refuge and practicing their teachings, we can actualize the unity of compassion, bliss, and wisdom, which is symbolized by the joining of her ring finger and thumb." (Ven. Thuben Chodron, How to Free Your Mind, p. 21)  The Hindu Goddess Lakshmi also holds a lotus flower or is standing on a lotus.  

Goddess Tara: Bibliography, Quotations, Notes, 21 Praises


So, what are your Three Jewels?  Your three essential principles of faith?  Your three core values? 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Medicine Ball Training

Martial Arts, physical culture, and Qigong enthusiasts can benefit from using a medicine ball when doing exercises.  There are many routines developed by Taijiquan and Qigong masters using a medicine ball.  In addition, upper body strength is also improved by using Taijiquan weapons like the saber, sword, and staff. 

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

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

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

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

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


Friday, August 24, 2012

Chen Taijiquan: 18 Movement Short Form

Chen Style Taijiquan Short Hand Form, 18 Movements
Created by Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei

Bibliography, Resources, List of Movements, Resources, Links, Instructions, Comments
Webpage by Michael Garofalo
Chen Style Taijiquan
Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei's Short 18 Movements Tai Chi Hand Form
List of 18 Movements

3.     Lazily Tying One's Coat  
5.     Single Whip 
7.     Walk Diagonally  
8.     Brush Knee
11.   High Pat on the Horse  
14.   Cloud Hands  
18.   Closing Posture of Taiji    

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Dao De Jing, Laozi, Chapter 52

Tao Te Ching, by Lao Tzu
Chapter 52

"The beginning of the universe, when materialized, is considered to be a mother.
When a man finds the mother, he will know the children, accordingly.
Even though he knows the children, he still clings to the mother:
Therefore, although his body wanes, he never perishes.
The person who shuts his mouth and closes his doors
Will never perish.
If he opens his mouth and increases his affairs,
He will never be saved.
The person who sees the tiniest thing possesses clear vision,
The person who adheres to the weak possesses strength.
Use your light, but dim your brightness,
In this way you will not do yourself any harm.
This is called following the eternal Tao."
-   Translated by Chou-Wing Chohan, Chapter 52 

"The world has an origin.
The origin is the mother.
Knowing the mother, we know the son.
Knowing the son, we deduce the mother.
This way, we can be successful.
Plugging leakages,
Closing openings,
We can never be depleted.
Opening leakages,
Making too many commitments,
We can be hopeless.
Those who pay attention to details are wise.
Those who exercise flexibility are strong.
Use the light,
Things are illuminated.
Thus we can avoid mistakes.
This is called normal behavior."
-   Translated by Thomas Zhang, Chapter 52  

"If you trace problems in your relationship
back to the beginning
you will find their seeds
were sown and then ignored.
They grew unnoticed until their fruit
ripened and surprised you.
But if you can find
where the seeds were sown,
there you will find the roots as well.
And if you remove the roots
your problems will wither."
-   Translated by William Martin, Chapter 52

"That which was the beginning of all things under heaven
We may speak of as the “mother” of all things.
He who apprehends the mother
Thereby knows the sons.
And he who has known the sons,
Will hold all the tighter to the mother,
And to the end of his days suffer no harm;
“Block the passages, shut the doors,
And till the end your strength shall not fail.
Open up the passages, increase your doings,
And till your last day no help shall come to you.”
As good sight means seeing what is very small
So strength means holding on to what is weak.
He who having used the outer-light can return to the innerlight
Is thereby preserved from all harm.
This is called resorting to the always-so."
-   Translated by Arthur Waley, Chapter 52 

"This world must have begun in certain way;
We may thenceforth consider it the origin (mother) of our world;
Once we manage to ascertain the origin, we could [apply it] to study its offsprings;
After we learn more about the offsprings, we may reciprocally eke out our knowledge about the mother (the origin);
This is my never-ending life-long quest.
If paths and openings of one's connections [to the outside world] are blocked, he will never be aroused to do anything in life;
If paths and openings of one's connections [to the outside world] are unlocked and he is properly motivated, he will never cease [from the quest described above].
One who perceives subtleties is brilliant;
One who maintains humility is strong.
One who would use [the light of Tao] to illuminate his [potential] brilliance will thus leave behind nothing that could cause misfortune to later generations.
A person, who achieves all of the above described fulfillment, is what I called the person with embodiment of the perpetual [Te]."
-   Translated by Lee Org, Chapter 52 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Other Side of the Coin

Many times I have read or listened to some unjustified or outlandish claims about the value or benefits of yoga or qigong.  Some claim one can obtain amazing, otherworldly, special or magical powers (siddhis) from the practice of these arts.  Some claim that all kinds of ailments, diseases, and illnesses, both physical and mental, can be cured or overcome with diligent "correct" practice. These arts are also connected with religious viewpoints (e.g., Taoist, Hindu, Tantric, Buddhist) that also make some questionable claims about the benefits of various spiritual practices. Some extraordinary anecdotes are very suspicious and should be doubted. 

There are definitely benefits from the correct and sensible practice of various mind-body arts and spiritual practices; and, there are definitely limits to these benefits.  Keep an open mind, be somewhat skeptical, courteously question, and test claims against reality.  Look at the other side of the coin.  Don't believe all that you hear or read.  Weight anecdotal claims against common sense, averages, and personal differences.  Be careful of an over reliance on magic.  Avoid being gullible.  Respectfully listen to "authorities," but do not always accept their recommendations and claims on blind faith.  Watch out for fakes, phonies, and hucksters.  Keep a clear understanding of the limitations of your own body and mind and how certain practices might not be beneficial to you and even detrimental to your health and well being.  Do some research, listen to other experts, read widely, get a second or third opinion, and think clearly and wisely. 

Willpower and faith have a place in beneficial body-mind practices, but cannot force or control the flow of the Tao just as you desire.  Accept some defeat, loss, failure, errors, misinformation, and falsehood as part of the reality of the life and mind.  Uncertainty and chaos also share in the spotlight on the stage of life. 

Two books that I have read might help you in keeping a more level perspective on these topics with respect to the practice of Yoga:

The Science of Yoga: The Risks and the Rewards
 By William J. Broad.  New York, Simon and Schuster, 2012.  Index, bibliography, notes, 298 pages.  ISBN;  9781451641424.  VSCL. 

The Hindus: An Alternative History  By Wendy Doniger.  New York, Penguin Books, 2009.  Index, bibliography, notes, 779 pages.  ISBN: 9780143116691.  VSCL. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Back on the Job

Today, I return to my part-time job as the Technology and Media Services Supervisor for the Corning Union Elementary School District.  I work 117 days each year, 8 hours per day, for the School District.  I manage the five school libraries, textbooks, websites, computer labs, and write and manage grants for the School District.  I have worked at this part-time job since 1999 - for 13 years.  My goal is to work part-time for the School District until June of 2018. 

I also teach three yoga classes at the Tehama Family Fitness Center in Red Bluff in the evening. 

These work schedules reduce the amount of time I have for reading and writing on the topics of this blog.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Plod On

"There you have the secret of good work, to plod on and still keep the passion fresh."
-  George Meredith, The Egoist

Work: Quotations and Sayings

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Field of Practice

"Homage to you born from a gold-blue lotus
Hands adorned with lotus flowers
Essence of giving, effort and ethics,
Patience, concentration and wisdom."
-  Translated by Thubten Chodron

"Homage, Lady whose hand is adorned with a lotus,
a lotus blue and gold
whose field of practice is charity, striving,
austerity, calm, acceptance and meditation."
-  Translated by Stephan Beyer

"Homage!  Golden One, blue lotus,
   water-born, in hand adorned!
Giving, Effort, Calm, Austerities,
   Patience, Meditation Her field!"
-  Translated by Martin Wilson 

"Homage, Mother, golden one,
Her hand adorned with a blue lotus,
Whose field of practice is generosity, effort,
Austerity, calm, acceptance, and meditation."
-  Translated by Anna Orlova

Twenty One Homages to the Goddess Tara
Verse 3

The Good Life

The Ten Pāramitās 
Perfections, Virtues, Completeness, Highest Character Traits
From the Buddhist Pali Canon:
  1. Dāna pāramī : generosity, giving of oneself
  2. Sīla pāramī : virtue, morality, proper conduct
  3. Nekkhamma pāramī : renunciation
  4. Paññā pāramī : transcendental wisdom, insight
  5. Viriya (also spelled vīriya) pāramī : energy, diligence, vigour, effort
  6. Khanti pāramī : patience, tolerance, forbearance, acceptance, endurance
  7. Sacca pāramī : truthfulness, honesty
  8. Adhihāna (adhitthana) pāramī : determination, resolution
  9. Mettā pāramī : loving-kindness
  10. Upekkhā (also spelled upekhā) pāramī : equanimity, serenity

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Summer Wearing Down

Today, Saturday, up at 4:30 am.  Walking for 4 miles starting at 5:30 am.  Watering plants.  Weightlifting at the Tehama Family Fitness Center from 8:30 am to 9:20 am.  Attended Tami's yoga class from 9:30 to 10:45 am.  Purchase a new Aptos blue redwood tree for planting in the front yard.  Rest indoors and read in the afternoon when the temperatures are 98F.

Our gardens keep us busy watering.  Our "Sunny" vegetable garden has been very productive this summer.

About one month left before the beginning of autumn.  It might be best to say that the summer (100F+ daytime temperatures) is wearing me down, rather than summer is wearing down.  In a way, both are true.  

I enjoy those paintings showing men or women bodies made out of vegeatbles.   The painting below by Arcimboldo gives you an idea of what I mean.  Basically, visual variations on "we are what we eat."

Friday, August 17, 2012

Animal Frolics Chi Kung

The Five Animal Frolics Qigong: Bibliography, Links, Quotes, Resources, Lessons. By Mike Garofalo.

This is a very old Chinese exercise system for fitness, good health, and longevity supposedly developed by the Chinese physician Hua Tuo (110-207 CE). In the Wu Qin Xi, the Five Animal Frolics, the five animals are the bear, tiger, monkey, deer, and crane.

Making beneficial exercises interesting and enjoyable has always been a challenge to creative people. Hua Tuois one of the famous physicians of the Han Dynasty. In The History of the Later Han, Hua Tuo wrote:

"Man's body must have exercise, but it should never be done to the point of exhaustion. By moving about briskly, digestion is improved, the blood vessels are opened, and illnesses are prevented. It is like a used doorstep which never rots. As far as Tao Yin (bending and stretching exercises) is concerned, we have the bear's neck, the crane's twist, and swaying the waist and moving the joints to promote long life. Now I have created the art called the Frolics of the Five Animals: the Tiger, the Deer, the Bear, the Monkey, and the Crane. It eliminates sickness, benefits the legs, and is also a form of Tao Yin. If you feel out of sorts, just practice one of my Frolics. A gentle sweat will exude, the complexion will become rosy; the body will feel light and you will want to eat."
- From: Drawing Silk: A Training Manual for T'ai Chi, p. 6.

John Voigt sent me a link to a delightful "Bird Animal Frolic":

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Footsteps Moving Mind

"Happily the spell is taken off for me
Happily I walk, impervious to pain I walk,
Light within I walk, joyous I walk
... In beauty I walk
With beauty before me I walk
With beauty after me I walk
With beauty above me I walk
With beauty above and about me I walk
It is finished in beauty
It is finished in beauty."
The Night Chant, Navajo Native American Chant  

"Soft footsteps forcing a forward flow
at a pleasant pace, steady, unhurried
through the dispersing darkness at daybreak
my mind moves
cottonwood leaves rattle in the dry wind
roosters crow for Auora to rise
a jackrabbit sprints away to hide
a suspicious dog barks his pride
a red truck on 99 rumbles roaring by
my mind moves
an aching knee slows my pace
my hickory cane taps my pace
Green Tara shows Her Face
my mind moves
I daydream about the beautiful Goddess
revisiting myths about the pilgrim's path
chatting with the invisible society of minds
pondering the bright void.
In a state of Grace,
very grateful."
-  Michael P. Garofalo, Quiet Steps to Gratitude

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, Chapter 53

Dao De Jing, Laozi
Chapter 53

"If I had the smallest seed of wisdom,
I would walk the Great Way,
And my only fear
would be to lose my way from it.
The Great Way is very smooth and straight;
And yet the people like better the complicated paths.
The courtyard is very clean and well decorated,
(Their cities appear powerful.)
But the fields are very weedy and wild,
And the grain silo's are very empty!
(But they have lost the skill to feed themselves.)
They wear beautiful clothes,
(They value appearances over substance.)
They carry destructive weapons,
They use the tools of destruction to get their needs.)
They over fill themselves with food and drink,
(They indulge themselves in the fruits of the conquered.)
They own more riches than they can use!
(They are greedy.)
They are the messengers of lawlessness!
As for Tao (the Laws of the Universe),
what do they know about it?"
-   Translated by John Trottier, Chapter 53 

"This little I know:
In moving toward the Grand Direction, the only fear is moving astray.
The Grand Direction is straight forward; still, people go astray.
The court is not filled; the field is not tilled.
Storehouses are empty, but gorgeous gowns are aplenty.
Bearing sharp swords, tired of exquisite boards,
With wealth to the burst, they are bandits at their worst.
This is not Direction."
-   Translated by David H. Li, Chapter 53  

"Let our resolve here be this: to be understanding
To travel upon the great way
(With) only distractions to fear
The great way is so very ordinary
And the people love the detours
The courts are so very well kept
The fields, so very weedy
The granaries, so very empty
The clothes, refined & elaborate
Sharp swords worn at the waist
A glut of drinking & feasting
Wealth & goods kept in heaps
This describes robbery & bombast
Surely not the way at all."
-   Translated by Bradford Hatcher, Chapter 53  

"If I have a grain of wisdom,
I walk along the great Tao
And fear only to stray.
The great Tao is easy indeed,
But the people choose by-paths.
The court is very resplendent;
Very weedy are the fields,
And the granaries very empty.
They wear gaudy clothes,
Carry sharp swords,
Exceed in eating and drinking,
Have riches more than they can use.
Call them robber-braggarts:
They are anti-Tao indeed!"
-   Translated by Herrymoon Maurer, Chapter 53  

"Grant me this: to firmly know
That in walking the great high Way
I shall fear only to deviate
From the high way plain and fair;
For to byways men are lightly drawn.
The court is richly blessed,
But the farm fields are wasting,
And the bins bare of grain;
And courtiers dress in elegance,
Bear well-honed swords,
Gorge on food and drink –
This superflux of wealth and goods
Is the piper’s tune for thieves,
The negation of the Way."
-   Translated by Moss Roberts, Chapter 53 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Walking at Daybreak

I normally begin my morning walk at about 5:40 am.  It is now 72F. 

Chanting Tara's Mantra for inspiration:  Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha

"If you look for the truth outside yourself,
It gets farther and farther away.
Today walking alone, I meet it everywhere I step.
It is the same as me, yet I am not it.
Only if you understand it in this way
Will you merge with the way things are."
-   Tung-Shan 

"Walking is the natural recreation for a man who desires not absolutely to suppress his intellect but to turn it out to play for a season."
-   Leslie Stephen  

Normally, we enjoy beautiful morning skies and clean air.  Lately, fires in Lassen National Forest to the east have polluted our air. The sky is very grey and smoky.  

Monday, August 13, 2012

With Luscious Juices Overflowing

"Close to the Gates a spacious Garden lies,
From the Storms defended and inclement Skies;
Four Acres was the allotted Space of Ground,
Fenc'd with a green Enclosure all around.
Tall thriving Trees confessed the fruitful Mold:
The reddening Apple ripens here to Gold,
Here the blue Fig with luscious Juice overflows,
With deeper Red the full Pomegranate glows,
The Branch here bends beneath the weighty Pear,
and verdant Olives flourish round the Year."
-   Homer,  Odyssey, circa 850 B.C.
    Alexander Pope translation 1725

This is the time of the year for many figs to ripen in our home orchard.  We dry many of them for eating later in the year.  

"The fallen hazel-nuts,
Stripped late of their green sheaths,
The grapes, red-purple,
Their berries
Dripping with wine,
Pomegranates already broken,
And shrunken fig,
And quinces untouched,
I bring thee as offering."
-   Hilda Doolittle, 1886-1961, Priapus: Keeper-of-Orchards

Fruits and Nuts 

Quotes for Gardeners

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Taijiquan in a Summer Garden

The setting and scenery of this performance are very beautiful. Michael Vollero's performance of this lovely form is inspiring .

"Although it's called "13 Postures" generally, I believe "13 Principles" could be a more appropriate translation. The form is about the same length as the Wudang Sanfeng Pai Taijiquan 28 Postures, which is a short version of the 108 Movement long form. This form is thought to be a more modern creation, but dedicates a segment to each of the 13 principles of Taijiquan, and contains a unique energy and feeling from any other Taijiquan form I've come across. This is demonstrated is performed at Wudangshan's Ba Xian Guan (Eight Immortals Temple) by Michael A. Vollero. Filmed by Teake Chen & Georg Nagy."
- UTube Notes

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Glomerulonephritis: Chronic Kidney Disease

My son, Michael Delmer Garofalo, has chronic kidney disease.  Thirteen years ago he was diagnosed with Glomerulonephritis, and underwent treatment with steroids to slow the autoimmune causes of his kidney disease.  He has bravely dealt with this progressive kidney disorder for many years.

On Monday of this past week, he began dialysis treatments in Portland, Oregon, at Providence Hospital.  His kidneys are barely functioning now (under 4%), and dialysis is his only hope for survival until a kidney transplant might give him renewed hope for another decade or so of life. 

Thankfully, Mick and April's employment provides them with Blue Shield Health insurance.  Also, U.S. Medicare helps people with kidney disease with medical insurance coverage.  The American National Kidney Foundation is also working to help people with this disease. 

We talk a couple of times each week, and I try to encourage him as best I can and provide other support.  This situation has been an ongoing cause for concern, worry, and sadness for my wife and I. 

April Scott and Michael D. Garofalo (Mick) were married 6 years ago. 

 Mick and I at Ft. Stevens State Park near Astoria, Oregon.   

Maybe even Sri Dhanvantari or St. Benedict of Nursa or White Tara might lend my son a helping hand?  

Friday, August 10, 2012

A Morning on Úytaahkoo or the "White Mountain"

Karen and I have been working at home all this week on home improvement and gardening projects.  Temperatures in the North Sacramento Valley have consistently been up to a high of 104F in the afternoon and down to a low of 65F in the early morning. 

I decided to go hiking today on the south facing slopes of Mt. Shasta.  I left early this morning a drove north on Interstate 5 up to Mt. Shasta City.  This is a lovely drive from about 300 feet above sea level in Red Bluff up thorough the Shasta-Trinity National Forest to 3,600 feet in Mt. Shasta City. It is about a 200 mile round trip drive from Red Bluff to Mt. Shasta City. 

I plan to hike from Bunny Flat (6,950 feet) up to Horse Camp Lodge (8,000 feet).  There is little snow left on Mt. Shasta this summer.  Mountain hiking is always a good physical challenge for my overall conditioning and for my feet. I do, however, intend just to sit many times in the shade and observe the mountain scenery.  

Afterwards, I will spend some time in the Mt. Shasta City for a late lunch and shopping at some New Age stores.  This is a popular tourist town in the summer months.  Then, I will spend some time in the shade along the Sacramento River near Dunsmir.

"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.  Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.  The winds will blow their freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like falling leaves."
-  John Muir 

"My father considered a walk among the mountains as the equivalent of churchgoing."
-  Aldous Huxley 

Mt. Shasta, California: Notes, Quotes, Photographs by Mike Garofalo.

Strange, unusual, and "other-worldly" events do happen on Mt. Shasta:

"I first met Chang San-Feng above the forest, 
near the clear spring,
when gathering clouds darkened the day,
and Mt. Shasta was silent.

His long beard was black as emptiness,
ear lobes to his shoulders,
holding obsidian in his hand,
pointing to the sun,
eyes staring into infinity,
his long body clothed in silence.

We exchanged "hellos"
smiled and bowed,
a barbarian and an Immortal,
both panting from the climb,
ten-thousand echoes
between our rocky minds.

After billions upon billions of heartbeats past
(for he must have been 888 years old),
I was so bold
as to ask the ancient one
for the sacred mantra of yore.
He lifted his whisk,
and brushed my face,
I could not speak,
my lips were stone,
ideas stopped -
I was alone."
-  Michael P. Garofalo, Meetings with Master Chang San-Feng


Thursday, August 09, 2012

Dao De Jing, Laozi, Chapter 54

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
Chapter 54

"That which is firmly rooted,
is not easily torn from the ground;
just as that which is firmly grasped,
does not slip easily from the hand.
The virtue of the Tao is real,
if cultivated in oneself;
when loved in the family, it abounds;
when throughout the village, it will grow;
and in the nation, be abundant.
When it is real universally,
virtue is in all people.
All things are microcosms of the Tao;
the world a microcosmic universe,
the nation a microcosm of the world,
the village a microcosmic nation;
the family a village in microcosmic view,
and the body a microcosm of one's own family;
from single cell to galaxy."
-   Translated by Stan Rosenthal, Chapter 54 

"The well-rooted cannot be dislodged.
The tightly-held will not be lost.
Generation after generation
Worship their ancestors forever.
Cultivate it in yourself
Its virtue will be real.
Cultivate it in the family
Its virtue will overflow.
Cultivate it in the village
Its virtue will extend.
Cultivate it in the state
Its virtue will flourish.
Cultivate it in the realm
Its virtue will be all-pervasive.
Assess the self by considering yourself.
Assess the family by considering the family.
Assess the village by considering the village.
Assess the state by considering the state.
Assess the realm by considering the realm.
How do I know the realm is like that?
By means of this."
-   Translated by A. S. Kline, Chapter 54    

"The man who knows how to establish [virtue] never fears its being uprooted.
The man who knows how to maintain [virtue] never fears its escaping him.
The sons and grandsons of such never rest in offering sacrifices to them.
The virtue of him who cultivates Tao in his own person is genuine.
The virtue of him who cultivates it in his own home is superabundant [in that he has charity to spare for others].
The virtue of him who cultivates it in his village is enduring.
The virtue of him who cultivates it in his State is exuberant. 
The virtue of him who cultivates it in the Empire is universal.
Wherefore I judge the persons of others by my own person;
the families of others by my own family;
the villages of others by my own village;
the States of others by my own State;
the Empire [of the ancient kings] by the Empire I rule to-day.
How do I know the acquiescence of the world in the cultivation of Tao by this method."
-   Translated by Frederic Balfour, Chapter 54 

"When the foundation is laid well, and the mortar sound
The house will stand long
And your descendents will honor your memory
Cultivate virtue in yourself - see yourself - so it will be genuine
Cultivate it in your family - see your family - so it will spread
Cultivate it in your village - see your village - so it will have roots
Cultivate it in your nation - see your nation - so it will be abundant
Cultivate it in the world - see the world - so there will be nothingelse
How do I know the world works this way?
There is no how, I listen, and I know."
-   Translated by Ted Wrigley, Chapter 54  

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Quietly Sitting in the Garden

"Sit quietly
focus and forget
rest with the great achievement.
The ancient child asks
"what is the great achievement?"
It is beyond description in any language
it can only be felt intuitively
it can only be expressed intuitively. 
Engage a loose, alert, and aware
body, mind, and sound
then look into the formless
and perceive no thing.
See yourself as a sphere
small at first
growing to encompass
the vastness of infinite space. 
Sit quietly
focus and forget then
in a state of ease and rest
secure the truth of the great achievement.
Employing the truth will not exhaust its power
when it seems exhausted it is really abundant
and while human art will die at the hands of utility
the great achievement is beyond being useful.
Great straightness is curved and crooked
great intelligence is raw and silly
great words are simple and naturally awkward. 
Engaged movement drives out the frozen cold
mindful stillness subdues the frenzied heart.
Sit quietly
summon order from the void
that guides the ordering of the universe."
Tao Te Ching, Chapter 45, Translated by John Bright-Fey, 2006

"You are sitting on the earth and you realize that this earth deserves you and you deserve this earth.  You are there - fully, personally, genuinely."
-  Chogyam Trungpa 

"Teach us to care and not to care.
Teach us to sit still."
-  T.S. Eliot 

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

"The first level of stillness is about being with yourself in order to know yourself. This is accomplished by being wide awake and aware as you deliberately relax into yourself. The idea is to consciously enter into a state wherein you temporarily suspend everything you think you know about who you are, including anything you have ever been taught, and simply be attentive to what's going on right there where you are. You practice being quiet, both physically and mentally, as you pay attention to the sensations in your body, the various thoughts in your mind, and your current experience of being conscious and alive. You practice simple body-mind awareness, being conscious of the moment you are now in, and thereby experience with clarity the energy of you. You consciously experience yourself as you actually are. In this way you open yourself to a new, truer, less distorted experience of you and the world."
- Erich Schiffmann, Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving Into Stillness, 1996, p. 7. 

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

A Peach of a Surprise

This past week, I reread the Bhagavad Gita (translated by Eknath Easwaran) and The Upanishads (translated by Swami Prabhavananda).  I first read these important works in 1963.  These classic spiritual texts from India, written down in Sanskrit between 1200 and 400 BCE, are essential reading for Yogis.  
In many ways, realizing Brahman depends upon good actions and selfless service (Karma yoga), concentration and meditation, study of scriptures (Jhana yoga), heartfelt love and devotion (Bhakti yoga), guidance from a worthy and wise teacher (Guru), the healthy development of the body and calmness and evenness of mind (Hatha yoga), worship and rituals, faith, and to some extent, and a bit of luck or Grace.   
"Now the secret is that the other eventually turns out to be you.  The element of surprise in life is when suddenly you find the thing most alien turns out to be yourself.  Go out at night and look at the stars and realize that they are millions and billions of miles away, vast conflagrations far out in space.  You can lie back and look at that and say, "Well, surely I hardly matter.  I am just a tiny little speck aboard this weird spotted bit of dust called earth, and all that was going on out there billions of years before I was born and will still be going on out there billions of years after I die."  Nothing seems stranger to you that that, or more different from you, yet there comes a point, if you watch long enough, when you will say, "Why that's me!"  It is the other that is the condition of your being yourself, as the back is the condition of being the front, and when you know that, you know you never die."
Alan Watts, Swimming Headless, 1966

I first heard Alan Watts speak at California State University at Los Angeles in 1966.  I had read The Way of Zen and Beat Zen and Square Zen while in high school in 1962.  I was also well versed in the books on Zen, Buddhism, and Japanese culture by Professor D. T. Suzuki. 
Mr. Watts was a charming and engaging public speaker.  He made us laugh and he made us think. 

In 1966, I was then an undergraduate majoring in Philosophy at CSULA, and working 30 hours per week at the City of Commerce Public Library.   Since then, I've read all of the books by Alan Watts, and have listened to audiotapes of his lectures and radio broadcasts.  He was definitely an intellectual and lifestyle influence in my life.  

For me, the "realization" or "surprise" comes while gazing at our garden, working and tending our garden, thinking about gardening, and eating from our garden.  Within these experiences are myriad levels of meaning and complexity: ordinary human level, metaphorical, imaginative, microscopic, molecular, atomic, subatomic ...  This spot of earth where I live has been here for millions of years and will continue long after I die.  We animals and plants come and go, interdependent, interrelated, inter-being, a changing manifestation of the Here-Now, a snapshot of the divine realm.    

This peach, these peppers,
These grapes, these tomatoes
Will all soon become me.
Such a tasty fact.
I am That and That is Me. 
Bless the gardens!
Bless the gardeners!

Bless the kitchens!
Bless the cooks!  
Bless the food! 
-  Mike Garofalo, Pulling Onions

"Out of Brahman, who is the Self, came ether; out of ether, air; out of air, fire; out of fire, water; out of water, earth; out of earth, vegetation; out of vegetation, food; out of food, the body of man.  The body of man, composed of the essence of food, is the physical sheath of the Self.  From food are born all creatures, which live upon food and after death return to food.  Food is the chief of all things.  It is therefore said to be the medicine of all diseases of the the body.  Those who worship food as Brahman gain all material objects.  From food are born all beings which, being born, grow by food.  All beings feed upon foot, and, when they die, food feeds upon them."
Taittiriya Upanishad, p.59

"The sages of the Upanishads teach that Brahman is the ultimate essence of material phenomena (including the original identity of the human self) that cannot be seen or heard but whose nature can be known through the development of self-knowledge (atma jana).  According to Advaita, a liberated human being (jivanmukta) has realised Brahman as his or her own true self (see atman)."  - Brahman

Peach trees and peaches have a special place in my heart.  I carefully tend the peach trees in our orchard, but a bountiful crop is often just a gift, grace, luck. 

"In China, the peach was said to be consumed by the immortals due to its mystic virtue of conferring longevity on all who ate them. The divinity Yu Huang, also called the Jade Emperor, and his mother called Xi Wangmu also known as Queen Mother of the West, ensured the gods' everlasting existence by feeding them the peaches of immortality. The immortals residing in the palace of Xi Wangmu were said to celebrate an extravagant banquet called the Pantao Hui or "The Feast of Peaches". The immortals waited six thousand years before gathering for this magnificent feast; the peach tree put forth leaves once every thousand years and it required another three thousand years for the fruit to ripen. Ivory statues depicting Xi Wangmu's attendants often held three peaches. The peach often plays an important part in Chinese tradition and is symbolic of long life. One example is in the peach-gathering story of Zhang Daoling, who many say is the true founder of Taoism. Elder Zhang Guo, one of the Chinese Eight Immortals, is often depicted carrying a Peach of Immortality." - Wikipedia

Peaches are native to China and introduced to Persia via the Silk Road before Christian times.

Xi Wang Mu, Queen Mother of the West, keeps the Immortals fed with the Sacred Peaches.  "No one knows Her beginning, no one knows Her end."

Ripening Peaches: Taoist Studies and Practices

Xi Wangmu, Braham, the Divine, the Supreme Universal Spirit, the Unmanifested and Manifested, the Absolute, the Everlasting, the Shining, Everything, Food for Life, God ...

AUM, OM  ...  Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.  

Such a tasty peach!!