Sunday, September 30, 2012

Refrain from One Thing

"For one day, or for one day for a week, refrain from something you habitually do to run away, to escape. Pick something concrete, such as overeating or excessive sleeping or overworking or spending too much time texting or checking e-mails. Make a commitment to yourself to gently and compassionately work with refraining from this habit for this one day. Really commit to it. Do this with the intention that it will put you in touch with the underlying anxiety or uncertainty that you've been avoiding. Do it and see what you discover."
-  Pema Chodron, Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change, p. 36

So, this past week, I gave up reading Google News each day and read books on Vajrayana Buddhism instead.  In October, I will not drink any alcohol.  I will spend no more than 10 minutes a day on blogging.  I will not watch any Raiders football games.   

"Desired substance, things, patterns, or sequences of experience that are in some sense "good" for the organism - items of diet, conditions of life, temperature, entertainment, sex, and so forth - are never such that more of the something is always better than less of the something.  Rather, for all objects and experiences, there is a quantity that has optimum value.  Above that quantity, the variable becomes toxic.  To fall below that value is to be deprived."
-  Gregory Bateson, Mind and Nature   

"I have come to terms with the future.  From this day onward I will walk easy on the earth.  Plant trees.  Kill no living things.  Live in harmony with all creatures.  I will restore the earth where I am.  Use no more of its resources than I need.  And listen, listen to what it is telling me."
-  M.J. Slim Hooey   

Simplicity: Quotes, Sayings  

Ten Paramitas 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Eight Immortals Cane Form

Here is a T'ai Chi Ch'uan Cane form that I enjoy practicing and have taught to many of my students: 

The Eight Immortals Cane Form.  Created by Master Jesse Tsao from San Diego, California.  Part I of this cane form is based on the Yang style of T'ai Chi Ch'uan.  This form has 36 movements.  

Traditional Tai Chi Eight Immortals Cane, Routine One.  Demonstrated by Master Jesse Tsao.  Instructional DVD, 64 minutes.  Produced by Tai Chi Healthways, San Diego, 2008.  Routine One is based on the Yang Style of Taijiquan.  Master Tsao developed this cane form himself, with grandmaster Zhu Tiancai's support. 

Traditional Tai Chi Eight Immortals Cane, Routine Two (Cannon Cane).  Demonstrated by Master Jesse Tsao.  Instructional DVD, 65 minutes.  Produced by Tai Chi Healthways, San Diego, 2008.  Routine Two, Cannon Cane, is based on the Chen Style of Taijiquan.  Master Tsao developed this cane form himself, with grandmaster Zhu Tiancai's support.  

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, bibliography, 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.  Related to Mike's popular webpage on the Staff.

Toju Zenchu brandished his staff before Daoist Shifu Miao Zhang and challenged him "Miao Zhang, speak and you get whacked with Nanten's staff.  Do not speak and you still get whacked with Nanten's staff."
Shifu Zhang stood up quickly, lifted his cane strongly in defense, and quietly said, "Yunmen's shit stick stinks and Nanten's staff is cracked!  I am leaving now to take my evening walk. Goodbye."  

Friday, September 28, 2012

I Try to Remember That

"Straight up from this road
Away from the fitted particles of frost
Coating the hull of each chick pea,
And the stiff archer bug making its way
In the morning dark, toe hair by toe hair,
Up the stem of the trillium,
Straight up through the sky above this road right now,
The galaxies of the Cygnus A cluster
Are colliding with each other in a massive swarm
Of interpenetrating and exploding catastrophes.
I try to remember that."
-  Pattiann Rogers, Firekeeper

Awe, Wonder, Amazement: Quotations, Sayings, Poems

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Dao De Jing, Laozi, Chapter 48

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
Chapter 48

"Act academic, daily gain
Act tao, daily lose.
Losing, again lose
It happens, reaching relating to the absence of acting
Absence of acting yet absence of being without acting.
Grabbing the world, an entire absence of effort happens
Liking entirely the presence of effort
Is insufficient to precede grabbing the world."
-   Translated by David Lindauer, Chapter 48 

"The student of knowledge acquires day by day.
The student of Tao loses day by day.
Less and less, until nothing is done.
Do nothing, and everything is done.
The world is ruled by letting things take their course.
It cannot be ruled by interfering."
-   Translated by Ned Ludd, Chapter 48
"In the pursuit of learning,
every day something is added.
In the pursuit of the Tao,
every day something is dropped.
Less and less is done
until you come to action with striving.
When you follow this practice,
nothing remains undone.
All under heaven is won by
letting things take their course.
Nothing can be gained by interfering."
-   Translated by Tolbert McCarroll, Chapter 48  

"One who seeks knowledge learns something new every day.
One who seeks the Tao unlearns something new every day.
Less and less remains until you arrive at non-action.
When you arrive at non-action,
nothing will be left undone.
Mastery of the world is achieved
by letting things take their natural course.
You can not master the world by changing the natural way."
-   Translated by John H. McDonald, Chapter 48

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Taijiquan Practice

I have been so busy with yoga studies and practice, weightlifting, walking, gardening, teaching, reading, and working part-time that I have not been practicing my Chen Taijiquan forms.  Starting today, I will renew my efforts in this area of mind-body arts by the daily practice of the Chen 18 Form.  

We don’t "really learn” Tai Chi by listening to, imitating, and following a live Tai chi instructor, or reading Tai Chi books, or watching Tai Chi instructional DVDs.  The “learning” comes from practicing Tai Chi, playing Tai Chi, moving by Tai chi, and feeling Tai Chi.  We move from being awkward and uncomfortable to moving gracefully, fluidly, easily, confidently, and beautifully.  Live and virtual Tai Chi instructors provide us with information and ideas about what Tai Chi has been for others and could be for us, its rich history, and provide us with a model of how a "form" might look and be realized as expressed by their body-mind.  
Our instructor's "mind" set or intention is important - depending, for example, on whether they emphasize martial applications or they are a New Age energy arts dancer.  Likewise, our own progress in "learning" will depend upon our own "mind set" of intentions, dedication, toughness, the courage to go beyond our limitations and failures, and our willpower.  
Learning Tai Chi is always a complex matrix of interactions, lived experiences, daily training, and accumulated muscle memories.  Less thinking and more practice, training, and doing will result in the greatest learning.  Repeated movements are the foundation for Tai Chi learning.  

"Movement is a medicine for creating change in a person's physical, emotional, and mental states."
-  Carol Welch 

"Knowing is not enough, we must apply.  Willing is not enough, we must do." 
-  Bruce Lee  

"It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new.  But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful.  There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power."
-  Alan Cohen 


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    

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Winter Garden Started

Karen and I worked this past weekend in our garden on Saturday and Sunday morning.  We weeded the "Sunny Garden."  We removed plants that were not doing well anymore.  We picked all the pumpkins and gourds and removed the vines.  We added fertilizer.  We planted starts of Swiss chard, cabbage, lettuce, beets, kale, and onions.  We planted seeds of sugar snap peas, Detroit dark red beets, and Oregon sugar pod II peas.

Here is what the garden looked like when we started the work:

Here is what the garden looked like when we finished our work:

October in the Garden

Monday, September 24, 2012

Hatha Yoga Postures List

I continue to work a little each day on my Hatha Yoga Postures List.  This list is in alphabetical order by both the English and Sanskrit names for many common Hatha Yoga postures for beginning and intermediate yoga students.  The list includes coding for the kind of yoga posture, e.g., balancing, standing, supine, backbend, etc.  For each posture, the list includes reference to descriptions in yoga textbooks.  The list also includes some Chi Kung postures that I teach in many of my yoga classes.  My Hatha Yoga Postures List is now 12 pages long, in PDF format, print only, at Version 5, 9/23/2012.   

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Goodbye Georg

The renowned yoga scholar, Georg Feuerstein, Ph.D., passed away in August, 2012, at the age of 65.  He was the author of over 35 books on yoga, and Indian, Tantric, and Buddhist religions and philosophy.  He was a serious and accomplished practitioner of the yoga lifestyle.  He was an influential educator.  
I have read his books for many years, sometimes two or three times, and highly recommend his insightful and scholarly efforts to all serious students of yoga, philosophy, religion, and consciousness. He has inspired me many times.  
"Whatever the situation, however grim, spiritual practice gives hope, because it promises liberation or at least personal transformation."
-  Georg Feuerstein 
Thank you, Georg, for all you have done for us, your guidance, your energy, your intelligence, your decency, your diligence.  You have made great contributions to our future.  Bravo!!!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Day of the Apple

Autumnal Equinox Celebrations (Mabon, Harvest Home, Alban Elfed, Apple Feast): Quotes, Resources, Lore, Poetry

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

September Lore

October Lore

"The quest for wisdom was realized by pursuing the white doe (as the blue roebuck) under a wild Apple tree.   In the Welsh Câd Goddeu (The Battle of the Trees), the Apple is described as the noblest tree of them all, the tree that symbolized poetic immortality.   The Apple Tree is closely linked to Druids, in their aspect as magicians and shamans."In Druid lore, the essence of three sacred apples growing on the Tree of Knowledge came from three drops that fell from Cerridwen's cauldron, which correspond with the Druid's most holy symbol, the Three Rays of Light."   Bards (poets) and Ovates (shamans) carried apple branches, (with bronze, silver, or gold bells), called the Craobh Ciuil (Branch of Reason) as symbols of their office.   Pulling the Ogham stave Quert is a mandate to rest and heal yourself from strife, illness, fatigue, or injury. It is an invitation to regain your sense of wholeness and connection with nature. Associated with the holy isle of Avalon, the apple represents rest and healing, recovery, and a peaceful relaxing Otherworld journey to the magical isle.  Within the Apple Branch you are invited to work with "the divine madness of the shaman." It calls you to journey to the Otherworld by its many names - Avalon, Avallach, Tir na Og, Eamhain Abhlach. Apple also represents the spiritual warrior who fears not to travel beyond the mortal realm to face death, sacrifice, and hardship, in order to benefit his or her tribe. The apple branch represents shelter and protection on these intense shamanic journeys."
The Apple Branch in the Dianic Tradition 

May your apples be sweet
May your autumn harvest be ample
May peace and prosperity fill your days
Aum Tara Tuttara Ture Svaha

Friday, September 21, 2012

Dragon Qigong

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

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. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, Chapter 49

Dao De Jing, Laozi
Chapter 49

"The Wise Person has no Ego, he identify himself with the universe.
He is equally good with good or bad people.
His virtue is goodness.
He is equally honest with honest and dishonest people.
His virtue is honesty.
He sees everybody equally, living simply and in harmony.
He is like a mother with her children.
In his heart he keeps the whole world."
-  Translated by Octavian Sarbatoare, 2002, Chapter 49 

"The Complete Thinker has no interests of their own,
But takes the interests of the people as their own.
They are kind to the kind;
They are also kind to the not kind:
Kindness is Power.
They are faithful to the faithful
They are also faithful to the not faithful:
Faithfulness is Power. 
In the middle of the world, the Complete Thinker
is shy and does not brag.
For the world they keep their heart
in its largest state.
All the people try to listen and see:
The Complete Thinker acts without prejudice."
-   Translated by John Trottier, Chapter 49  

"Sages never have a mind of their own;
they consider the minds of the common people to be their mind.
Treat well those who are 'good.'
Also treat well those who are 'not good.'
This is Goodness Attained. 
Be sincere to the sincere.
Also be sincere to the insincere.
This is Sincerity attained. 
Sages are self-effacing in their dealings with all under heaven,
and bemuddle their own minds for the sake of others.
The common people all rivet their eyes and ears upon them,
and Sages make them giggle like children!"
-   Translated by Jerry C. Welch, Chapter 49 

"The sage has no mind of her own.
She is at one with all of humanity.
Give to those who are considered good.
Give to those who are considered bad.
This is true oneness.
Trust those who are trustworthy.
Trust those who are not trustworthy.
This is also true oneness.
The sage is peaceful and harmonious;
but to the world she seems indifferent.
The world pays attention to her and listens to her
even though she resembles a child."
-   Translated by John WorldPeace, Chapter 49   

"The Taoist has no opinions
He simply listens, and acts
He treats those who are good as worthy
He treats those who aren't good as worthy, too
And so he finds their goodness
He gives those who are honorable his trust
He gives those who are dishonorable his trust, too
And so he gains their trust."
-   Translated by Ted Wrigley, Chapter 49  

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Yamas and Niyamas

Yamas and Niyamas
From Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra
(Yoga Sutra, Verses 2:30 – 2:34.   Circa 2nd Century CE) 

Ahimsa   Nonviolence, Not harming, Not killing   Yama  
Aparigraha  Noncovetousness, Not Greedy   Yama
Asteya   Nonstealing   Yama 
Brahmacharya   Chastity, Restrained Sexuality   Yama  
Chastity   Brahmacharya   Yama 
Cleanliness of Mind and Body   Saucha   Niyama
Contentment   Santosha   Niyama
Fervor   Tapas   Niyama
Isvarapranidhana   Surrender to God, Love of God   Niyama
Noncovetousness   Aparigraha   Yama
Nonstealing   Asteya   Yama 
Nonviolence   Ahimsa   Yama 
Saucha   Cleanliness of Mind and Body, Purity   Niyama 
Santosha   Contentment, Satisfaction   Niyama 
Satya   Truthfulness, Not Lying, Honesty   Yama
Self-Study   Svadhyaya   Niyama
Surrender to God   Isvarapranidhana   Niyama
Svadhyaya   Self-Study, Introspection, Wisdom   Niyama
Tapas   Fervor, Heat, Enthusiasm, Effort   Niyama
Truthfulness   Satya   Yama

Monday, September 17, 2012

Six Perfections

"The Large Sutra on Perfect Wisdom claims that the Six Perfections are "bases for training."  This means that they constitute a series of practices or "trainings" that guide practitioners toward the goal of enlightenment or awakening.  These six "trainings" are the means or methods to that all-important end.  But the perfections are much more than techniques.  The are also the most fundamental dimensions of the goal of enlightenment.  Enlightenment is defined in terms of these six qualities of human character; together they constitute the essential qualities of that ideal human state.  The perfections, therefore, are the ideal, not just the means to it.  Being generous, morally aware, tolerant, energetic, meditative, and wise is what it means for a Buddhist to be enlightened.  If perfection in these six dimensions of human character is the goal, the enlightenment, understood in this Buddhist sense, would also be closely correlate to these particular practices.  Recognizing this, one sutra says, "Enlightenment jus is the path and the path is enlightenment.:  To be moving along the path of self-cultivation by developing the Six Perfections is the very meaning of "enlightenment.""
-  Dale S. Wright, The Six Perfections, p. 4 

The Ten Paramitas:  Transformational Practices for Realizing an Enlightened Heart-Mind

Advice from Wise Persons    


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Chen Taijiquan Broadsword

Chen Taijiquan Saber: Bibliography, Resources, Links
List of Movements of Chen Dao Broadsword 23 Form.  1 page. 

List of Movements in Five Languages

Here are two instructional resources that I have used to learn this form:

Chen Style Taijiquan: Sword and Broadsword.   By Chen Zhenglei. 
Translated by Zhang XinHu, Chen Bin, Xu Hailiang, and Gregory Bissell.  Tai Chi Centre, 2003.  367 pages.  ISBN: 7534823218.   This book is in English.  Detailed descriptions, with photographs, of the first form, sword form and broadsword form.  An excellent companion to Chen Zenglei's instructional DVDs, with English narration.  Review by Herbert O. Rich: "This is the first translated volume of Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei's three-volume set entitled "A Compendium of Taiji Boxing and Weapons".  Chen Zhenglei is famed as a 19th generation Grandmaster of traditional Chen Style Taijiquan (Tai Chi Chuan). He is known to Taijiquan enthusiasts the world over for his skill and ability in teaching.  This book is a detailed instruction manual for the basic set (or form) of the Laojia ("old frame") Chen style, as well as the single broadsword and straight sword forms.  Profusely illustrated, it describes basic theory, physical requirements, postural movements, Qi circulation, and self defense applications for each of the postures of the form."  The 23 movement broadsword form is described in detail, with many black and white photographs, on pages 322-360. 

Traditional Chen Family Tai Chi Broadsword
.  Instructional videotape or DVD by Shifu Jiang Jian-ye.  70 minutes.  Detailed instructions, repetitions, and demonstrations.   Jiang's Tai Chi Videos.  He teaches the 23 movement form developed by Chen Zhaopei in 1933.  "By Jiang Jian-ye. This classic weapon routine enhances fajin, relaxed explosive release of force, and silk reeling energy. Jiang, who studied intensively in China, demonstrates the 23-movement form from the back at the beginning of the tape and multiple times, back and front, at the conclusion. Teaching of the movements uses multiple repetitions and camera angles an reviews of segments.  70 Min.  $39.95."  - Wayfarer Catalog.  Traditional Chen Family Tai Chi Broadsword.  Instruction and demonstration by Shifu Jiang Jian-ye.  Available in VHS and DVD media formats.  70 minutes.  Shifu Jiang demonstrates and carefully and slowly teaches the 23 movement form.  He teaches the form in a step-by-step and movement by movement manner.  Each movement is repeated from 3-5 times, slowly and at normal speed.  Each movement is show from front, back and side views.  Jiang's Tai Chi Videos.   

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Bounty of Autumn

"In September, as summer fades and we turn to embrace autumn's great bounty and gifts, we enjoy a renewed perspective of the seasons of life. We are motivated to make time to identify and explore what lies at our life's center, and our resulting awareness brings opportunities to investigate new pathways to a better life.  Opening to guidance and wisdom in a variety of ways affords us greater access to the infinite power of love and gratitude.  In September, we reenter our daily lives from a renewed place and move forward into full engagement. We are able to see more clearly our blessings and our learning, and we experience the gratitude that naturally results.  And we seek opportunities to bring our lives into congruence with the new perspectives we have gained."
-  Angeles Arriens, Living in Gratitude 

"Be Grateful.  Choose positive thoughts and feelings.  Use positive words.  Acknowledge others.  Appreciate yourself."
-  Mike Robbins  

September: Quotes, Poems, Sayings

Friday, September 14, 2012

Bread of Life

One bread I would like to recommend is "Ezekiel 4:9."  This is made by Food for Life, Corona, California.  It is a flourless, low glycemic, complete protein, sprouted 100% whole grain bread.  Each slice provides 80 calories, 15 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of protein, 1 gram of fat, 75 mg of sodium, and 80 mg of potassium.  This bread is not gluten free.  Ingredients: Organic sprouted wheat, filtered water, organic sprouted barley, organic sprouted millet, organic malted barley, organic sprouted lentils, organic sprouted soybeans, organic sprouted spelt, fresh yeast, organic wheat gluten, and sea salt.  Refrigerate this bread after opening.  This bread is brown, dense and chewy; and I prefer it toasted.  The relevant quotation from the Old Testament, Ezekiel 4:9 is "Take unto thee Wheat, and Barley, and Beans, and Lentils, and Millet, and Spelt, and put them in one vessel, and make bread of it." 
Add 2 tablespoons of almond butter (200 calories) to 2 slices of Ezekiel bread for a total of 360 calories.  Top it off with one apple at 120 calories. This makes a nice energy boosting lunch meal of 480 calories. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Dao De Jing, Laozi, Chapter 50

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
Chapter 50

"From coming out to life to going back to death:
Those companions (t'u) of life,
They are one-third (shih-yu-san);
Those companions of death,
They are one-third;
Those living but moving toward the place of death,
They are also one-third.
Because of the intense (hou) life-producing activity.
I have heard that one who knows how to nourish life,
On land meets no tigers or wild buffaloes,
In battle needs to wear no armors or weapons,
A wild buffalo has nowhere to butt its horns,
A tiger has nowhere to sink its claws,
A weapon has nowhere to enter its blade.
Because such a one has no place of death."
-   Translated by Ellen M. Chen, Chapter 50 

"People are born on the Earth and die.
Out of ten about three continue then paradisiacal existence; three go to hell by the path of death; and three yet are those who have not succeeded in the development of soul due to attachments to worldly affairs.
He who mastered the true life when living on the Earth is not afraid of rhinoceros or tigers; in the battle he is not afraid of armed soldiers.
A rhinoceros has no place to plunge its horn into him, a tiger has no place to fasten its claws onto him, soldiers have no place to stab him with swords.
It is so, because to him there is no death."
-   Translated by Vladimir Antonov, Chapter 50  

"The Source gives life and penetrates death.
Life is a companion to the four directions that exist within Heaven, Humanity and Earth.
Death is a companion to the four directions that exist within Heaven, Humanity and Earth.
People are born, live, and die, on earth, also as companions to the four directions that exist within Heaven, Humanity and Earth.
What is the purpose?
To give life.
To give life abundantly.
Indeed, we have heard of people who are good at sustaining life.
On land they travel and do not encounter rhinoceroses.
Tigers enter the battlefield and they do not need to wear armor or carry weapons.
Rhinoceroses have no place to butt with their horns.
Tigers have no place to put their claws.
Soldiers have no place to thrust their blades.
How can this be so?
Because of the not-dying Earth."
-   Translated by Alan Sheets, Chapter 50  

"Men go forth into life, And return in death.
Out of ten men, three prolong their life (through cleanliness), three hasten their death (through their excesses), three compromise their life by the attachment they have to it, (And only one stays alive until his term, because he is not attached to it).
He who is not attached to his life, does not turn aside to avoid an encounter with a rhinoceros or a tiger; he throws himself into the fray without armour or weapons;
And he comes to no harm because he is proof against the rhinoceros horn, the tiger's claws, And weapons of combat.
Why is this? ...
Because, exteriorized through his indifference, death cannot take a hold on him."
-   Translated by Derek Bryce, Chapter 50 

"People born into life enter death.
Constant companion in life
and in death,
this body is the kill-site animating their lives.
And isn't that because
they think life is the fullness of life?
I've heard those who encompass the whole of life
could walk on and on without meeting rhinoceros or tiger,
could charge into armies without feeling shield or sword.
A rhinoceros would find nowhere to gore them,
a tiger nowhere to claw them,
a sword nowhere to slice them.
And isn't that because
for them there's no kill-site?"
-   Translated by David Hinton, Chapter 50 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Challenge Yourself

"Always strive to improve.  Never be content to rest on your laurels.  Making progress towards a challenging goal is what keeps you motivated.  Challenge lights the fire.  Progress keeps it burning bright.  The key is to continually challenge yourself in an intelligent and thoughful way."
-  Clarence Bass, Challenge Yourself - Leanness, Fitness & Health - At Any Age, p. 12  

Challenge Yourself - Leanness, Fitness & Health - At Any Age  By Clarence Bass.  Albuquerque, New Mexico, Clarence Bass' Ripped Enterprises, 1999.  224 pages.  ISBN: 9780960971473.  VSCL.  

"To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe."
-  Anatole France  

"Goals are not only absolutely necessary to motivate us.  They are essential to really keep us alive."
-  Robert H. Schuller 

Determination and Planning Quotations  

A Twelve-Point Program for Healthy Aging
"1.  Eat an anti-inflammatory diet.
2.  Use dietary supplements wisely to support the body's defenses and natural healing power.
3.  Use preventive medicine intelligently: know your risks of age-related disease, get appropriate diagnostic and screening
tests and immunizations, and treat problems (like elevated blood pressure and cholesterol) in their early stages.
4.  Get regular physical activity throughout life. 
5.  Get adequate rest and sleep.
6.  Learn and practice methods of stress protection. 
7.  Exercise your mind as well as your body. 
8.  Maintain social and intellectual connections as you go through life. 
9.  Be flexible in mind and body: learn to adapt to losses and let go of behaviors no longer appropriate for your age.
10.  Think about and try to discover for yourself the benefits of aging. 
11.  Do not deny the reality of aging or put energy into trying to stop it.  Use the experience of aging as a stimulus
for spiritual awakening and growth. 
12.  Keep an ongoing record of the lessons you learn, the wisdom you gain, and the values you hold.  At critical points in
your life, read this over, add to it, revise it, and share it with people you care about."
-  Andrew Weil, M.D.
   Healthy Aging: A Lifelong Guide to Your Physical and Spiritual Well-Being, 2005, p. 239.  

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Rebuilt in America

Create, Rebuild, Be Strong, Take Pride, Seek Peace, Support Freedom
We are proud of you, New York!

Meanwhile, yesterday, tomorrow, today, now, somewhere in the world the deranged Soldiers of Islam are also trying to remake the world in their image of "justice" by hating, threatening, hurting, and killing anyone who does not want to bow down and submit to their delusions regarding Allah and macho manhood. The Old Testament and the Koran are both filled with "inspired" verses that advocate remorseless cruelty in support very narrow minded and tribal exclusivity.  Both ultra-conservative Christians and Moslems are shamefully and unreasonably addicted to worshiping a book, the Bible or the Koran, and have abandoned the essence of true spirituality and loving-kindness.

We know now that September 11th is the start of a week long religious holiday for the Neo-Nazi Sharia Koran hoodlums around the world.  The "men" will celebrate by leaving their mosques screaming mad, spitting on their straggly beards, shooting guns in the air, raising their fists in anger, marching like locusts, vandalizing property, burning buildings, rioting, killing innocent people of other religions, killing policemen, burning US flags and pictures of our Presidents, and having a grand old time being bearded rowdy bullies.  They will make some pathetic excuse for these destructive riot parties like seeing a short crude video on UTube "insulting" Muhammad, some comedian making jokes in a routine about them, some obscure fundamentalist preacher in Georgia tossing a Koran in a fireplace, some artist in Sweden drawing a cartoon of Mohammad with a bomb in his cap, or another filthy Jew in Israel winning a Nobel prize.  Ho Hum ... what else is new or productive or creative from these buffoon zealots.  Don't they need to go to work peacefully and preserve property like the rest of us?  They insult all of us "infidels" all around the world every day with their ignorant and intolerant rants and threats of violence, but we have enough common sense, patience, and courage and don't run out screaming in anger and burn down a mosque.  Religions that encourage anger and hate are worthless. 

A Devoutly Religious Man

"The most beautiful emotion is the mystical.  It is the power of all true art and science.  He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead.  To know that which is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty, which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive forms - this knowledge, this feeling, is at the center of true religiousness.  In this sense, and in this sense only, I belong to the rank of a devoutly religious man."
-  Albert Einstein

"One cannot but be in awe when one contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality.  It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery each day.  Never lose a holy curiosity."
-  Albert Einstein 

"Even before I could speak, I remember crawling through blueberry patches in the wild meadows on our hillsides.  I quickly discovered Nature was filled with Spirit; I never saw any separation between Spirit and Nature.  Much later I discovered our culture taught there was supposed to be some kind of separation - that God, Spirit and Nature were supposed to be divided and different.  However, at my early age it seemed absolutely obvious that the church of the Earth was the greatest church of all; that the temple of the forest was the supreme temple.  When I went to the sanctuary of the mountain, I found Earth's natural altar - Great Spirit's real shrine.  Years later I discovered that this path of going into Nature, bonding deeply with it, and seeing Spirit within Nature - God, Goddess, and Great Spirit - was humanity's most ancient, most primordial path of spiritual cultivation and realization."
 -  John P. Milton, Sky Above, Earth Below 

Awe and Wonder Quotations

Spirituality and Nature Quotations

The following photograph of a dragonfly resting on straw was taken by Karen Garofalo.  

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Sword of Wisdom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Standard 32 Sword Form, Simplified, Yang Style

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Growing Up "Italian"

I was born at the White Memorial Hospital in Los Angeles in 1945.  I grew up in the Bandini Barrio of East Los Angeles.  My father always told my brothers and I that we were "Italians."
My Grandmother Garofalo spoke Italian with her friends and her family of her generation, and sometimes with my father; but spoke only in somewhat limited English with my brothers and I. My fraternal grandparents came to American in 1905 from Sicily. 
My mother was of German ancestry, and was born and raised in Ohio.  However, we were never told that we were "Germans."  Being "German" in America was not popular from 1935 -1970 because of Nazism. 
We were educated in Catholic Schools, celebrated holidays and events "Italian" style, and had strong ties with the "family." Expectations for our behavior was definitely influenced by Italian Catholicism and American values. Being a third-generation "Italian," removed me from many of the "Italian" cultural habits, and we spoke only English at home. 
My father was a conservative and voted Republican, and my mother was a quiet Democrat.  Attitudes of male chauvinism and some racism were not uncommon in our home.
A friend of mine, Yolanda Batistelli, from Los Angeles, recommended I watch the slide show by John Fusco presented below.  I watched as some of the lifestyle and history or our family unfolded before me, and let out a few tears in the process since all of the Familia before me has passed on.   
I think of myself now as a Californian, an American, and of German-Italian heritage.  I have lived in California for 63 years, except for the four years I was serving in the enlisted ranks of the United States Air Force from 1969-1973. 

One does not need to have "Grown up Italian" to relate to and appreciate the substance of this video about the four generations of families living and thriving in America from 1900 to 2000.  It is a universal message of hope, pride, change, Americans, workers, abundance, sharing, and families.  Enjoy!


Saturday, September 08, 2012

Begin It!

Today, Karen and I will work in the herb garden.  We will clean and cultivate a large area and improve the walkway in the center.  We will be planting onions and garlic in this area.  Today we begin preparing for our "Winter" garden.  In addition, we will make a corn dolly and harvest many gourds and pumpkins for ornamental displays. 

"Whatever you can do or imagine, begin it; boldness has beauty, magic, and power in it."
- Goethe

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

"Construct your determination with Sustained Effort, Controlled Attention, and Concentrated Energy.  Opportunities never come to those who wait... they are captured by those who dare to attack."
-  Paul J. Meyer

Viriya Paramita: energy, diligence, vigor, effort, striving, manliness


Friday, September 07, 2012

The Empty Mat

"When I unroll my yoga mat and carefully place it on the floor, I often briefly reflect on the fact that this yoga mat has created a sacred space.  The mat has outlined a spiritual domain, marked the Four Magickal Quarters, hallowed out an empty space for action.  Could we stand tall and strong like The Warrior without this freedom of Nothing in Our Way?  Without this potent emptiness how could we move to align with the cosmos?  Aligning our mats is a ritual act in physical fitness yoga practice. 

My Taijiquan practice area is also a wide empty space.  A clear space for flowing movements with a clear mind.  An uncluttered domain for cultivating an uncluttered mind.  Nothing is essential here for doing something of real value.  

The whole topic of Emptiness (Sunyata, Mu, the Void, Inter-Dependent Arising, impermanence, etc.) leads us into thoughts and insights about consciousness, knowing, and metaphysics. The Heart Sutra is a classic Buddhist scripture that reflects on the emptiness at the core of all beings and that is a path for true understanding.  This understanding along with the Four Immeasurables (Love, Compassion, Joy and Impartiality), the Ten Paramitas, and Three Treasures (Buddha, Dharma, Sangha) provide us with a wide path for going beyond, far beyond, to the Other Shore.

Our simple yoga mats, like a beautiful window or door, can open us up and out to energizing possibilities, allow us to play with new experiences, allow us to see in new ways, grant us a place for becoming.  Emptiness creates the ground for what is to emerge, from the holy heart of creation.  Emptiness is receptive and giving at the same time.  So, today, just lay your mat down, enter the Dragon's Gate of Emptiness, sit, and savor Nothing."  


Thursday, September 06, 2012

Dao De Jing, Laozi, Chapter 50

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
Chapter 50

"Exiting life, we enter death.
The followers of life are three out of ten, the followers of death are three out of ten; in the lives of the people, the dying grounds on which they are agitated are also three out of ten.
What is the reason?
Because of the seriousness with which they take life as life.
It has been said that those who maintain life well do not meet rhinos or tigers on land and do not arm themselves in war.
There is no way for rhinos to gore them; there is no way for tigers to claw them; there is no way for weapons to get at them.
Because they have no dying ground."
-   Translated by Thomas Cleary, Chapter 50 

"Life is a going forth; death is a returning home.
Of ten, three are seeking life, three are seeking death, and three are dying.
What is the reason?
Because they live in life's experience. (Only one is immortal.)
I hear it said that the sage when he travels is never attacked by rhinoceros or tiger, and when coming among soldiers does not fear their weapons.
The rhinoceros would find no place to horn him, nor the tiger a place for his claws, nor could soldiers wound him.
What is the reason?
Because he is invulnerable."
-   Translated by Dwight Goddard, Chapter 50  

"From coming out to life to going back to death:
Those companions (t'u) of life,
They are one-third (shih-yu-san);
Those companions of death,
They are one-third;
Those living but moving toward the place of death,
They are also one-third.
Because of the intense (hou) life-producing activity.
I have heard that one who knows how to nourish life,
On land meets no tigers or wild buffaloes,
In battle needs to wear no armors or weapons,
A wild buffalo has nowhere to butt its horns,
A tiger has nowhere to sink its claws,
A weapon has nowhere to enter its blade.
Because such a one has no place of death."
-   Translated by Ellen M. Chen, Chapter 50 

"People are born on the Earth and die.
Out of ten about three continue then paradisiacal existence; three go to hell by the path of death; and three yet are those who have not succeeded in the development of soul due to attachments to worldly affairs.
He who mastered the true life when living on the Earth is not afraid of rhinoceros or tigers; in the battle he is not afraid of armed soldiers.
A rhinoceros has no place to plunge its horn into him, a tiger has no place to fasten its claws onto him, soldiers have no place to stab him with swords.
It is so, because to him there is no death."
-   Translated by Vladimir Antonov, Chapter 50  

"Anyone who is born dies.
If 13 people are born
All 13 people will eventually die.
From birth to life,
From life to death,
The great earth will afford the places to live and to die
for exactly 13.
Why is this so?
It is because the mind cherishes the belief
that living is a privilege and not a natural right.
I have heard that those who are good at conserving and preserving life
Seldom meet tigers and horned animals when they move around.
If they should join the military forces,
They would not have the need to combat.
Horned animals will have no way to cast their horns on their bodies,
Nor will tigers find a place to lay their claws.
Even soldiers' swords will not hurt them.
Why is this so?
Because such people will never die."
-   Translated by Lok Sang Ho, Chapter 50