Sunday, December 30, 2012

Over the Ridge

We are now back home in Red Bluff after our trip up to Portland.  We were in Portland with our children's families for six nights.

The drive south today on Interstate 5 South, from Portland to Grant's Pass was dark, very cloudy and foggy, but with no rain.  The verdant Willanamath (sic) Valley was shrouded in clouds at times.

The drive south from Ashland to Redding was spectacular.  Clear skies, snow down to 2,000 feet, deeper at Black Butte Pass (3,924 feet) and Sisykiyou Pass (4,200 feet), with huge dramatic changing clouds.  The view of Mt. Shasta going south on I5 from the Klamath River south grade summit was breathtaking. 

The visiting with our two children and their spouses, and with our grandchildren.  Emotionally stressful for both Karen and I. 

Now, back at home:
Rule by calendars, schedules, time-lines, to-do lists, projects, ...
Seeking to reduce food intake and eat more salads. 
Returning to walking for exercise.
Take medicines and supplements on time per schedule.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Get Moving

Whop ... Whop ... Whop ... Whop

Gangnam Style

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Yuletide Greetings

Best wishes to you and yours for a safe and happy holiday season.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

May Joy and Peace Spread Around the Globe

For some interesting research on the Santa Claus fables, read Santa Claus: Pretender to the ThroneThis article was found on one of those "the end of the world is coming" Christan blogs where the author writes: "Santa falls under paganism and demonology, and is the poster boy for consumerism, and the madness that manifests itself in Black Friday.  Time to end Santa's attachment to the remembrance of the birth of the Savior.  Fascinating to read here the links of santa to Thor (the Norwegian Apollo), gnomes (demons) and even Satan."  Santa is Satan's minion?  The author prefers worshiping a Lord on a Throne. 

Frankly, for me, I'm quite pleased that most people in America favor the interesting and uplifting examples of generosity, helpfulness, love of children, family togetherness, magic, joy, good food, luxuries, and beauty associated with the Yuletide myths, stories, and games.  I figure that even Jesus would volunteer to help Santa Claus, decorate some trees, feed the hungry, and turn water into eggnog for the celebrations. 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

May All Beings Be at Ease

Metta Sutra

"This is what should be done
By one who is killed in goodness,
And who knows the paths of peace:
Let them be able and upright, 
Straightforward and gentle in speech.
Humble and not conceited,
Contented and easily satisfied. 
Unburdened with duties and frugal in their ways.
Peaceful and calm and wise and skillful,
Not proud and demanding in nature.

Let them not do the slightest thing
That the wise would later reprove.
Wishing: In gladness and safety,
May all beings be at ease.
Whatever living beings there may be,
Whether they are weak or strong, omitting none,
The great or the mighty, medium, short or small,
The seen and the unseen,
Those living near and far away,
Those born and to-be born,
May all beings be at ease.
Let none deceive another,
Or despise any being in any state.
Let none through anger or ill will
Wish harm on another. 
Even as a mother protects with her life
Her child, her only child,
So with a boundless heart
Should one cherish all living beings;
Radiating kindness over the entire world
Spreading upwards to the skies,
And downwards to the depths;
Outwards and unbounded,
Free from hatred and ill will.

Whether standing or walking, seated or lying down
Free from drowsiness,
One should sustain this recollection. 
This is said to be the sublime abiding,
By not holding to fixed views,
The pure hearted one, having clarity of vision,
Being freed from all sense desires,
Is not born again into this world."

-  Traditional Buddhist Scripture, found in "Awakening to the Sacred" by Lama Surya Das, 1999, p. 301.  The Metta Sutta, or Karaṇīya Metta Sutta, is attributed to Siddhartha Guatama, The Buddha, circa 500 BCE, and was included in the written Pali Canon, circa 100 BCE.    


Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Holy Contour of Life

In 1955, Jack Kerouac (1922-1969), gave us his "List of Essentials" for his style of writing, and, in many ways for how he enjoyed living from the aesthetic and beatnick beatific zen point of view.  

"1. Write on, can't change or go back, involuntary, unrevised, spontaneous, subconscious, pure
2.  Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for you own joy

3.  Submissive to everything, open, listening
4.  Be in love with your life every detail of it
5.  Something that you feel will find its own form  

6.  Be crazy dumbsaint of the mind
7.  Blow as deep as you want to blow
8.  Write what you want bottomless from the bottom of the mind  

9.  The unspeakable visions of the individual  
10.  Not time for poetry but exactly what is
11.  Visionary tics shivering in the chest  

12.  In tranced fixation dreaming upon object before you  
13.  Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition  
14.  Like Proust be an old teahead of time 
15.  Telling the true story of the world in interior monolog
16.  Work for pithy middle eye out, from the jewel center of interest, swimming in language sea  

17.  Accept loss forever
18.  Believe in the holy contour of life  

19.  Write in recollection and amazement of yourself  
20.  Profound struggle with pencil to sketch the flow that already exists intact in mind
21.  Don't think of words when you stop but to see picture better
22.  No fear or shame in the dignity of your experience, language and knowledge
23.  Write for the world to read and see your exact pictures
24.  In praise of Character in the Bleak inhuman Loneliness 

25.  Composing wild, undisciplined, pure, coming in from under, crazier the better
26.  You're a Genius all the time
27.  Writer-Director of Earthly Movies produced in Heaven, different forms of the same Holy Gold"
-  Jack Kerouac, List of Essentials, 1955   

I have always enjoyed reading the following book:  "Big Sky Mind: Buddhism and the Beat Generation," edited by Carole Tonkinson, Riverhead Books, 1995.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Seeing with New Eyes

In the 1760's, optical microscopes were being used for scientific research by Robert Hook and Antonie van Leeuwenhoek.  In the 1950's, scanning electron microscopes were being used for scientific research.

Will the Queen Ant like this microchip?

Hey, my little sperm brothers, where is that egg?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Tao De Jing, Laozi, Chapter 36

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
Chapter 36

"When one is about to take an inspiration, he is sure to make a previous expiration. 
When he is going to weaken another, he will first strengthen him.  
When he is going to overthrow another, he will first have raised him up. 
When he he is going to despoil another, he will first have made gifts to him.  
This is called 'hiding the light' of his procedure. 
The soft overcomes the hard; and the weak the strong.
Fishes should not be taken from the deep. 
The instruments for the profit of a state should not be shown to the people."
-   Translated by James Legge, 1891, Chapter 36   

"That which is about to contract has surely been expanded.
That which is about to weaken has surely been strengthened.
That which is about to fall has surely been raised.
That which is about to be despoiled has surely been endowed.  
This is an explanation of the secret that the tender and the weak conquer the hard and the strong.  
As the fish should not escape from the deep, so with the country's sharp tools the people should not become acquainted."
-   Translated by Daisetsu Teitaro Suzuki and Paul Carus, 1913, Chapter 36  

"Whatever is gathered in
Must first be stretched out;
Whatever is weakened
Must first be made strong;
Whatever is abandoned
Must first be joined;
Whatever is taken away
Must first be given.
This is what is called the subtle within what is evident.
The soft and weak vanquish the hard and strong.
Fishes should not relinquish the depths.
The sharpest instruments of state should not be revealed to others."
-   Translated by Roger T. Ames and Donald L. Hall, 2003, Chapter 36 

"When you wish to contract something,
You must momentarily expand it;
When you wish to weaken something,
You must momentarily strengthen it;
When you wish to reject something,
You must momentarily join with it;
When you wish to seize something,
You must momentarily give it up.
This is called "subtle insight."
The soft and weak conquer the strong.
Fish cannot be removed from the watery depths;
The profitable instruments of state cannot be shown to the people."
-   Translated by Victor H. Mair, 1990, Chapter 36 


Chapter and Thematic Index to the Tao Te Ching


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Reading and Resting in the Cool Evening

We don't have severe winter weather in Northern California like they do in other parts of America.  Our typical Red Bluff winter days are 54F high and 37F low.

Karen and I typically don't heat our home from 8pm to 5 am, to reduce propane fuel consumption and save money.  On cold days, we heat about 5 hours during the day up to 62F.  Instead, we just wear more clothing and add afghans or blankets.

In the evening, after work, I go to the gym in town, lift weights, and then teach a yoga class.  Then I come home, eat a small dinner, and retire to my study for reading and resting.  

One small bedroom in our home is used as our library, study room, altar room, and meditation room.  In the photos below, am I reading a new book, The Yoga of Sound.

I am cozy and warm under a couple of afghans and a blanket.  Living the life of luxury!  I am so fortunate. 

Yes, boring, hohum, so what.  This is what I do, night after night.  I chuckled about the scene.   

Signing off from California ....


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Heart Sutra

"When the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara
Was Discoursing in the Deep Prajna Paramita,

He Perceived That All Five Skandhas Are Empty.

Thus He Overcame All Ills and Suffering.

Oh, Sariputra, Form Does not Differ From the Void,

And the Void Does Not Differ From Form.

Form is Void and Void is Form;

The Same is True For Feelings,

Perceptions, Volitions and Consciousness.

Sariputra, the Characteristics of the

Voidness of All Dharmas

Are Non-Arising, Non-Ceasing, Non-Defiled,

Non-Pure, Non-Increasing, Non-Decreasing.

Therefore, in the Void There Are No Forms,

No Feelings, Perceptions, Volitions or Consciousness.

No Eye, Ear, Nose, Tongue, Body or Mind;

No Form, Sound, Smell, Taste, Touch or Mind Object;

No Realm of the Eye,

Until We Come to No realm of Consciousness.

No ignorance and Also No Ending of Ignorance,

Until We Come to No Old Age and Death and

No Ending of Old Age and Death.

Also, There is No Truth of Suffering,

Of the Cause of Suffering,

Of the Cessation of Suffering, Nor of the Path.

There is No Wisdom, and There is No Attainment Whatsoever.

Because There is Nothing to Be Attained,

The Bodhisattva Relying On Prajna Paramita Has

No Obstruction in His Mind.

Because There is No Obstruction, He Has no Fear,

And He passes Far Beyond Confused Imagination.

And Reaches Ultimate Nirvana.

The Buddhas of the Past, Present and Future,

By Relying on Prajna Paramita

Have Attained Supreme Enlightenment.

Therefore, the Prajna Paramita is the Great Magic Spell,

The Spell of Illumination, the Supreme Spell,

Which Can Truly Protect One From All Suffering Without Fail.

Therefore He Uttered the Spell of Prajnaparmita,

Saying 'Gate, Gate, Paragate, Parasamgate, Bodhi Svaha.' "

- The Heart Sutra of Buddhism

Audio version of the Heart Sutra; a reading by Michael P. Garofalo.

The Heart Sutra (PDF Version) 

Green Way Wisdom - Zen Buddhist Poems and Scriptures

Emptiness (Sunyata, Mu, Inter-Dependent Arising)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Chen Tai Chi Short 18 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    

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The End of the World is Coming?

Yes, hundreds of millions of people could die from a senseless horrific nuclear war, twenty Krakatoa sized volcanoes erupting at once, massive world-wide earthquakes, a meteor crashing into the earth, magnetic pole shifting, a worldwide flu pandemic, immense explosions on the sun, or global warming causing the oceans to rise by 50 feet.  Yes, it could be coming: Doomsday, Armageddon, Apocalypse, Cataclysm!  Or, maybe, could be, possibly, could happen, some old book says ...

Shiva, The Destroyer, will eliminate the Universe with one wink of his Third Eye.  Eris will create Chaos.  Jehovah God will shake the earth asunder and burn it to a crisp and fulfill the Book of Revelations.  Mayan gods will realign the planets to seal our doom.  Gorgons will appear in all our dreams and turn us to stone.  Kali will add all our heads to her waistband.  Hell demons led by Satan will eat all our children.  Yama will slaughter the entire human race and laugh.   Kuk will reestablish the Priomordial Darkness.  Aipaloovik will cover the entire earth with sea water, and sink the New Age Ark funded by rich American televangelists.  Nostradamus’s magickal crystal ball will go black and then explode. 

Or, on a smaller scale, all my loved ones could die from eating a Christmas dinner poisoned by some contaminated food stuff, or by bullets from a crazed and cruel mass murderer in a seaside resort, or from a train wreck spewing chemical poisons in the air by our home, or in a massive auto accident in the fog, or by thirty ugly terrorists doing Allah’s dirty work with three jets.  Or, maybe, possibly, could happen, ....

Yes, we have many reasons for real fear.  And, I’m not talking about “pretend fear” like sitting safely and watching a horror or suspense film in a movie theater or watching a Fox News fear mongering diatribe. 

There are at least two common ways for dealing with real fear: flight or fight.

The “flight” response is very popular.  Ignore discussion about and don’t think about these possible disasters and tragedies.  Many sincere folks repeat to themselves over and over that their soul is eternal and that they will never die, or what God has created can never be destroyed - and this assuages their fears.  Some adopt the view that most ancient religious theories and predictions are just fables and groundless nonsense, and just don’t bother listening to them.  Many find ways to run away, stay away, retreat, burrow, hole up, wall themselves away, hide from danger, take the path of the refugee. 

Fighting against the many sources of fear makes some sense at the practical individual and community level.  We try to stay fit and healthy to delay our inevitable death.  We try to maintain a peaceful, stable and productive society to put food on the table, shelter over our families, and prevent criminal violence.  We seek rational and scientific solutions to dangers where applicable.  We work politically to provide safety nets for the less fortunate, to get rid of nuclear weapons and to discourage gun lust.  We can do nothing to “fight” natural disasters like a meteor crashing into the earth or volcanoes erupting.  I also don’t recommend “fighting” by sacrificing a few men to the gods like the Mayans did, celebrating crucifixions, or by blowing up a crowded marketplace like Islamic Jidhadis do nowadays to ally their fears and appease their cruel god. 

So, what am I going to do leading up to the Winter Solstice of 2012?  Be courageous and carry on.  Fight when it makes sense to fight, and retreat in body and/or mind when it makes sense to flee.  Don’t worry about matters out of my control.  Accept the fact that statements about the future have degrees of certainty and uncertainty.  Help others enjoy our time on this beautiful earth.  Go to work.  Plan for our NeoPagan Yule celebrations.  Take a walk and play some Tai Chi.  Enjoy our next meal.  Be uplifted by music and books.  Respect and admire good women and men.  Smile at and help children.  Be generous and grateful.  Think in positive and optimistic ways.  Cherish beauty.  Wonder.  Live like a Taoist Yogi.  And, at the end, don’t make a fuss and just die.     

Anyway, my friendly advisor, Master Chang San Feng, has told me that the Mayan astrologer's calculations were entirely incorrect, their shaman soothsayers were too intoxicated on jimson weed to envision the future correctly, they were depressed because all their families were sadly leaving their villages because of prolonged drought; and, that the doomsday Mayan lore will bring lots of tourist business to Mexico. 

So, are you going to whine and grovel in fear; or, think, carry on and fight on?

Friday, December 14, 2012

Trying to See Better

A friend of mine said he saw a new and better eye chart to use with older men like us:

At a younger age we were move ambivalent about having to wear glasses to see better, as Norman Rockwell so aptly captured on canvas:

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu, Chapter 37

Dao De Jing, Laozi
Chapter 37

"The Tao in its regular course does nothing for the sake of doing it, and so there is nothing which it does not do.
If princes and kings were able to maintain it, all things would of themselves be transformed by them.
If this transformation became to me an object of desire, I would express the desire by the nameless simplicity.
Simplicity without a name
Is free from all external aim.
With no desire, at rest and still,
All things go right as of their will."  
-   Translated by James Legge, 1891, Chapter 37  

"The Way never does anything,
and everything gets done.
If those is power could hold to the Way,
the ten-thousand things
would look after themselves.
If even so they tried to act,
I'd quiet them with the nameless,
the natural. 
In the unnamed, in the unshapen,
is not wanting.
In not wanting is stillness.
In stillness all under heaven rests."
-  Rendition by Ursula K. Le Guin, 2009, Chapter 37 

"The Way takes no action, but leaves nothing undone.
When you accept this
The world will flourish,
In harmony with nature.
Nature does not possess desire;
Without desire, the heart becomes quiet;
In this manner the whole world is made tranquil."
-  Interpolated by Peter Merel, 1992, Chapter 37 

Chapter and Thematic Index to the Tao Te Ching


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Married to Amazement

"Gratitude is something of which none of us can give too much.  For on the smiles, the thanks we give, our little gestures of appreciation, our neighbors build their philosophy of life."
-  A. J. Cronin   

"When it's over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms."
-  Mary Oliver  

"The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces of people goin' by
I see friends shaking hands saying, "How do you do"
They're really saying "I love you."
I hear babies cry, I watch then grow
They'll learn much more than I'll ever know;
And I think to myself, What a wonderful world;
Yes, I think to myself, What a wonderful world.
Oh yeah!"
-  Louis Armstrong   

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Grizzly Bear Qigong

2.  The Grizzly Bear Attacks with Its Claws

From the Bear Meditation Stance step out to the left into the Standing Bear Stance, Variation II.  

The Standing Bear Stance, Variation II:  Take a wide horse stance.  Feet can be pointing straight ahead or pointing out from your body at a 45° angle.  The knees should be bent as you squat down.  The knees should be in line with the feet.  The depth of the squat will depend upon your level of conditioning and any body mechanics or injury issues you may have.  Try to squat down a little more with every second repetition of this exercise.  Back should be straight.  Torso should be centered and upright.  Lift both hands up with the palms facing to the front, fingers open like the claws of a bear.  The elbows are bent with the upper arms parallel with the floor.  Look forward.  Face towards N12. 
Movement Description of The Grizzly Bear Attacks with Its Claws 
Slowly turn at the waist towards the right side, by 90 degrees until you are facing E3. 
Keep the hands up with the elbows bent. 
Look towards E3, bring the hands forwards about 12 inches as if you are attacking with the hands.  Exhale as hands move forward slowly.
Draw the hands back into a centered stance. 
Slowly turn at the waist towards the left side, by 180 degrees until you are facing W9. 
Look towards W9, bring the hands forwards about 12 inches as if you are attacking with the hands towards W9.  Exhale as hands move forward slowly.
Draw the hands back into a centered stance. 
Slowly turn at the waist towards the right side, by 90 degrees until you are facing N12.   
Slowly bend at the waist, flexing forward and down.  Draw both elbows inward and claw downward until the hands are behind the heels.  Exhale as you bend down. 
Slowly rise upward until you are back into a centered position, Standing Bear Stance, Variation II.  Look towards N12. 
Arms are raised and to the sides. 
Repeat the movement sequence 3 to 8 times. 

Return to Bear Spirit Posture or Wu Ji Stance

Franklin Fick calls this exercise the "Turning and Tipping Bear."  John Du Cane calls part of this exercise the "Turning Bear." 

The Bear has a gentle, peaceful, and nurturing side, a Yin side, as well as, as circumstances dictate, a fierce, powerful and destructive side, a Yang side.  Both aspects must be acknowledged and integrated into the practice of the Bear - as we try to become One with the Great Bear.  Most bears are omnivorous or carnivorous - hunters, stalkers, attackers.  

Bear Frolics Qigong - The Five Animal Frolics Chi Kung


Monday, December 10, 2012

Turn on the Learning Switch

"The Learning Switch:  Learning occurs in the brain.  However, for the brain to do its job, the "learning switch" needs to be turned on.  During childhood, the learning switch is turned on a lot.  As we grow and take on the responsibilities of adulthood, we tend to develop habitual patterns, a set way of doing things, rigidity and resistance to change.  Our learning switch turns off and learning slows way down.  We can learn to turn the learning switch back on, regardless of age.  When we do, everything in our lives becomes an opportunity, and miracles seem to pop up everywhere; our lives are filled with movement, new ides, vivid memory, sensuality , and pleasure." 
-   Anat Baniel, Move into Life: The Nine Essentials for Lifelong Vitality, p.18.

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"

-   Anat Baniel, Move into Life: The Nine Essentials for Lifelong Vitality

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

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Let in Life

"Let me arise and open the gate, to breathe
the wild warm air of the heath,
And to let in Love, and to let out Hate,
And anger at living and scorn of Fate,
To let in Life, and to let out Death."
-  Violet Fane 

"So will I build my altar in the fields,
And the blue sky my fretted dome shall be,
And the sweet fragrance that the wild flower yields
Shall be the incense I will yield to thee."
-  Samuel Taylor Coleridge

"Some keep the Sabbath going to Church,
I keep it staying at Home -
With a bobolink for a Chorister,
And an Orchard, for a Dome."
-  Emily Dickinson, No. 324, St. 1, 1862     

Earth: Quotes, Sayings, Poems

Spirituality: Quotes, Sayings, Poems

Winter Solstice, Yule, Saturnalia, Christmas

NeoPagan Viewpoints

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Neigong Principles

"The Taoists call the science of how you develop strong energy flow or internal power neigong.  Neigong has sixteen components:

1.  Breathing methods, from the simple to the more complex.
2.  Feeling, moving, transforming, transmuting and connecting energy channels of the body. 
3.  Precise body alignments to prevent the flow of chi from being blocked or dissipated. 
4.  Dissolving physical, emotional and spiritual blockages. 
5.  Moving energy through the acupuncture meridians and other secondary channels of the body, including the energy gates.
6.  Bending and stretching the body, both from the inside and from the outside in.
7.  Opening and closing (pulsing) all parts of the body's anatomy including the joints, soft tissues, fluids, internal organs,
spine and brain as well as all the body's subtle energy channels. 
8.  Manipulating the energy of the external aura outside the body.
9.  Making circles and spirals of energy inside the body, controlling the spiraling energy currents of the body and moving chi in the body at will. 
10.  Absorbing energy into and projecting energy away from any part of the body. 
11.  Controlling all the energies of the spine. 
12.  Controlling the left and right energy channels of the body. 
13.  Controlling the central energy channel of the body.
14.  Learning to develop the capabilities and all use of the body's lower tantien.  
14.  Learning to develop the capabilities and uses of the body's upper and middle tantiens. 
15.  Connecting every part of the physical and other energetic bodies into one, unified energy."
-  Bruce Kumar Frantzis, Dragon and Tiger Qigong, 2010, xxviii   

The Chi Revolution: Harnessing the Healing Power of Your Life Force.  By Bruce Kumar Frantzis.  Berkeley, California, Blue Snake Books, 2008.  248 pages.  ISBN: 978-1583941935.  VSCL.  
Opening the Energy Gates of Your Body: Chi Gung for Lifelong Health (Tao of Energy Enhancement).  By Bruce Kumar Frantzis.  Illustrated by Husky Grafx.  North Atlantic Books, 1993.  Second Edition.  174 pages.  ISBN: 1556431643.  VSCL.     

Relaxing into Your Being: The Water Method of Taoist Meditation Series, Vol. 1  By Bruce Kumar Frantzis.  Fairfax, California, Clarify Press, 1998.  Reader's Edition.  208 pages.  Republished by: North Atlantic Books, 2001, ISBN: 1556434073.  VSCL. 

The Great Stillness: The Water Method of Taoist Meditation Series, Vol. 2  By Bruce Kumar Frantzis.  Berkeley, North Atlantic Books, 2001.  272 pages.  ISBN: 978-1556434082.  

Dragon Qigong

Valley Spirit Qigong 

Ripening Peaches: Taoist Studies and Practices  

Friday, December 07, 2012

The Eight Limbs of Yoga

"If you engage earnestly in the various practices of making yourself whole,
all your impurities will be destroyed:
and then you will gain the light of wisdom,
a revelation beyond even discrimination.
The eight limbs are self-control, commitments,
the physical poses, control of the breath,
withdrawal of the senses,
focus, fixation, and perfect meditation."
Yoga Sutra, II 28-29

"The commitments are to be clean,
to be contented with whatever we have,
to embrace hardships for higher goals,
to engage in regular study,
and to seek our Master's blessings."
-   Yoga Sutra, II 32
    Translated by Geshe Michael Roach

The Essential Yoga Sutra: Ancient Wisdom for Your Yoga.  By Geshe Michael Roach and Lama Christie McNally.  New York, Doubleday, Three Leaves Press, 2005.  Index, no pagination.  ISBN: 9780385515368.  Commentaries on Patanjali's Yoga Sutra, circa 200 CE.  

"I bow to the lotus feet of the gurus,
 The awakening happiness of one's own self revealed,
 Beyond better, acting like the jungle physician,
 Pacifying delusion, the poison of samsara.
 Taking the form of a man to the shoulders,
 Holding a conch, a discus, and a sword,
 One thousand heads white,
 To Patanjali, I salute."
 -  Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga Mantra 

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Dao De Jin, Laozi, Chapter 38

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
Chapter 38 

"The Master doesn't try to be powerful;
thus he is truly powerful.
The ordinary man keeps reaching for power;
thus he never has enough.

The Master does nothing,
yet he leaves nothing undone.
The ordinary man is always doing things,
yet many more are left to be done.

The kind man does something,
yet something remains undone.
The just man does something,
and leaves many things to be done.
The moral man does something,
and when no one responds
he rolls up his sleeves and uses force.

When the Tao is lost, there is goodness.
When goodness is lost, there is morality.
When morality is lost, there is ritual.
Ritual is the husk of true faith,
the beginning of chaos.

Therefore the Master concerns himself
with the depths and not the surface,
with the fruit and not the flower.
He has no will of his own.
He dwells in reality,
and lets all illusions go."
-   Translated by Stephen Mitchell, Chapter 38

"People with integrity
don't even think about it.
That's how you can tell
they have integrity.
Other people talk about
how much integrity they have,
when they really don't have much,
If any.

Truly powerful people
don't do anything,
but they get the job done. 
Other people are always busy
doing something,
but nothing ever gets done.

When kind people act,
they do so without thinking about it. 
When the just act,
they're always sure
they're doing the right thing.

But when the righteous act,
and nobody reacts, 
they try to force everyone
to do things their way.

If you're not in touch with Tao,
at least you can still have integrity. 
If you don't have integrity,
there's always kindness.

If you don't have kindness,
there's always justice. 
If you don't have justice,
all you have left is righteousness.

Righteousness is an pale imitation
of true faith and loyalty, 
and always leads to trouble.
If you've already made up your mind, 
you don't know the first thing about Tao,
and you never will.

The Masters pay attention
to what's beneath the surface.
They'll look at a tree's leaves,
but eat the fruit.
They turn all that down,
so they can accept this.
-   Translated by Ron Hogan, Chapter 38

"Those who possessed in highest degree the attributes of the Tao did not seek to show them, and therefore they possessed them in fullest measure.
Those who possessed in a lower degree those attributes sought how not to lose them, and therefore they did not possess them in fullest measure.
Those who possessed in the highest degree those attributes did nothing with a purpose, and had no need to do anything.  
Those who possessed them in a lower degree were always doing, and had need to be so doing.
Those who possessed the highest benevolence were always seeking to carry it out, and had no need to be doing so.
Those who possessed the highest righteousness were always seeking to carry it out, and had need to be so doing.
Those who possessed the highest sense of propriety were always seeking to show it, and when men did not respond to it, they bared the arm and marched up to them.
Thus it was that when the Tao was lost, its attributes appeared;
When its attributes were lost, benevolence appeared;
When benevolence was lost, righteousness appeared;
When righteousness was lost, the proprieties appeared.
Now propriety is the attenuated form of leal-heartedness and good faith, and is also the commencement of disorder.
Swift apprehension is only a flower of the Tao, and is the beginning of stupidity.
Thus it is that the Great man abides by what is solid, and eschews what is flimsy; dwells with the fruit and not with the flower.
It is thus that he puts away the one and makes choice of the other."
-   Translated by James Legge, 1891, Chapter 38 

"A man of the highest virtue does not keep to virtue and that is why he has virtue.
A man of the lowest virtue never strays from virtue and that is why he is without virtue.
The former never acts yet leaves nothing undone.
The latter acts but there are things left undone.
A man of the highest benevolence acts, but from no ulterior motive.
A man of the highest rectitude acts, but from ulterior motive.
A man most conversant in the rites acts, but when no one responds rolls up his sleeves and resorts to persuasion by force.
Hence when the way was lost there was virtue;
When virtue was lost there was benevolence;
When benevolence was lost there was rectitude;
When rectitude was lost there were the rites.
The rites are the wearing thin of loyalty and good faith
And the beginning of disorder;
Foreknowledge is the flowery embellishment of the way
And the beginning of folly.
Hence the man of large mind abides in the thick not in the thin, in the fruit not in the flower.
Therefore he discards the one and takes the other."
-   Translated by D. C. Lau, 1891, Chapter 38 


Chapter and Thematic Index to the Tao Te Ching

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Burn Baby Burn

Tapas, one of the yoga Niyamas, is often translated as a kind of heat or fire that burns away impurities.  It refers to a inner energy, a passion, dedicated daily effort, guts, the power to work for good, a burning spark that inspires real effort, work, a fire in the belly, sweat, and hard physical practice.

Here is one of my favorite high energy songs for dancing, walking, spin cycling, rowing, treadmill work:  

Disco Inferno by the Traamps from 1976.

Here is the MP3 long disco dance version of Disco Inferno (10:57 min) from Amazon.  

"Baby baby burn
Burn'n, burn'n, burn'n ...
I wonder if you can understand what I'm talking about
I'm not talking about burning down a building
It's coming from the soul
Just can stop
Soul Fire
When my spark gets hot
Burning in my soul
Just can't stop
When my spark gets hot
Don't you rescue me
Just can't stop
Let my spirit burn free
When my spark gets hot ..."

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

December Chores

A strong late autumn storm brought high winds and heavy rain (5") to our home in the North Sacramento Valley over the last six days.  The storm cleared on last Sunday afternoon.  On Monday, I worked a number of hours to remove three small trees that had fallen in the storm.  

December Gardening Chores
Red Bluff, North Sacramento Valley, California, USA
USDA Zone 9

December: Quotes, Poetry, Sayings, Lore

Yule and Winter Solstice Celebrations: Quotes, Poetry, Sayings, Lore

Pruning leafless trees and shrubs.
Adding compost and fertilizer to the vegetable and flower gardens.
Planting bare root trees and shrubs.
Pruning back grape vines.
Cleaning, sharpening, and storing tools.
Start taking cuttings from dormant vines and shrubs.
Reading seed and gardening catalogs.
Digging trenches for underground plastic pipe.
Making sure drainage systems are working.
Pruning evergreens for shape.
Moving tender potted plants to protected areas.
Burning large piles of cuttings and weeds.
Protect tender plants (e.g., citrus) from frosts.
Protect valuable garden tools and equipment from the rain and fog.
Tending winter vegetables: cabbage, lettuce, peas, spinach, brocoli, etc.
Putting some bulbs in the ground.
Plant onion and garlic sets.
Watering potted plants as needed if rain is insufficient.
Pruning back flowering plants, like mums.
Prepare new strawberry and berry vine beds.
Spraying some fruit trees (e.g., peaches) to prevent leaf curl.
Dividing dormant herbs.
Raking and composting leaves.
Setting out some color plants, e.g., calendulas. 
Removing dead or dying trees to burn pile.

"How like a winter hath my absence been
 From thee, the pleasure of the fleeting year!
 What freezings have I felt, what dark days seen!
 What old December’s bareness every where!
 And yet this time remov’d was summer’s time;
 The teeming autumn, big with rich increase,
 Bearing the wanton burden of the prime,
 Like widow’d wombs after their lords’ decease:
 Yet this abundant issue seem’d to me
 But hope of orphans and unfather’d fruit;
 For summer and his pleasures wait on thee,
 And, thou away, the very birds are mute:
 Or, if they sing, ’tis with so dull a cheer,
 That leaves look pale, dreading the winter’s near."
 - William Shakespeare, How Like a Winter Hath my Absence Been (Sonnet 97)

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Yoga History Reconsidered

Recently, I have been reading many books about yoga, exercise and spirituality.  The following book by Mark Singleton has influenced my understanding of the evolution of the practice of hatha yoga since 1880:

Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice  By Mark Singleton.  New York, Oxford University Press, 2012.  Index, bibliography, notes, 262 pages.  ISBN: 9780195395341.  VSCL.

Mr. Singleton's well argued and carefully documented thesis is that transnational yoga as we know it today, asana practices, emerged from physical culture practices from Europe, Indian nationalism, gymnastics, bodybuilding, medicine, health regimens, New Thought, a Hindu studies revival, fitness and gym business promoters, and the development and expansion of visual media.  This process began in the 1880's and continues to this day. 

"Consider the term Yoga as it refers to modern postural practice as a homonyn, and not a synonym, of the "yoga" associated with the philosophical system of Pantanjali, or the "yoga" that forms and integral component of the Saiva Tantras, or the "yoga" of the Bhagavad Gita, and so on.  In other words, although the word "yoga" as it is used popularly today is identical in spelling and pronunciation in each of these instances, it has quite different meanings and origins."  p.15

"As Joseph Alter has recently argued, a key methodological issue is therefore "how to exercise ethnographic relativism, historical perspectivity and intellectual skepticism all at the same time."  This means critically examining modern yoga's truth claims while seeking to understand under what circumstances and to what ends such claims are made." p.14

The esoteric, magical, religious, New Age, imaginary and spiritual dimensions of "yoga" are definitely part of the currents of contemporary yoga practice and trends in non-church spirituality since the 1880's; but, the bigger picture of its popularity is due to our enthusiasm for fitness, bodybuilding, stress reduction, sexuality, improved health, relaxation, and the "good life." 

Another book that points us in the right direction regarding contemporary yoga practices is:

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. 

This book is a must read for those who question the often outlandish claims for the benefits of yoga, are concerned about risky yoga postures, and favor a more scientific approach to yoga practice. 

Finally, I enjoyed reading:

Original Yoga: Rediscovering Traditional Practices of Hatha Yoga  By Richard Rosen.  Illustrations by Evan Yee.  Boston, Shambhala, 2012.  Index, bibliography, glossary, appendices, 286 pages.  ISBN: 9781590308134.  VSCL.  

"The changes the traditional practice went through over the centuries might be considered organic, common to any living organism’s natural evolution. What happened to Hatha Yoga in the early years of the twentieth century, by contrast, happened virtually overnight and was totally "person-made," or artificial. The full story is too long to tell here and has already been masterfully recounted from slightly different perspectives by British researchers Elizabeth de Michelis in A History of Modern Yoga (Continuum, 2004) and Mark Singleton in Yoga Body (Oxford University Press, 2010. Suffice it to say that by the end of the nineteenth century in India, Hatha had fallen on hard times and was on its last trembling leg. Several Indian teachers set out to save Hatha from oblivion; among them was Tirumular Krishnamacharya, whose work provided the impetus for three of our most popular and influential modern teachers: T. K. V. Desikachar (whose teaching was once known as Viniyoga, a term that has since been abandoned); the late K. Pattabhi Jois (who taught Ashtanga-Vinyasa Yoga); and B. K. S. Iyengar, who (though he often adamantly insists there’s no such thing) created Iyengar Yoga. And save Hatha the teachers did. You may have heard or read somewhere that yoga is five thousand years old, a number that’s continually cited by people who should know better, since there’s not a shred of concrete evidence to back it up. What we do know for certain is that the yoga we practice in the West is no more than one hundred years old. Our Indian teachers took what was once the province of a relatively small, loose-knit, mostly male ascetic community that was resolutely living on the fringes of respectable Indian society and transformed it into a worldwide mass movement open to anyone of any age, gender, or physical condition. This is the second meaning of original yoga, the yoga that’s "original" to the twentieth century, or what we call modern Hatha Yoga."  Original Yoga by Richard Rosen

This book includes instructions on some practices for "energizing" aspects of the esoteric body that are typical in Qigong and Yoga.  Those interested in organic energy, Prana, Chi, and nadis/meridians will find it interesting.  

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Keep Learning

"The Learning Switch:  Learning occurs in the brain.  However, for the brain to do its job, the "learning switch" needs to be turned on.  During childhood, the learning switch is turned on a lot.  As we grow an take on the responsibilities of adulthood, we tend to develop habitual patterns, a set way of doing things, rigidity and a resistance to change.  Our learning switch turns off and learning slows way down.  We can learn to turn the learning switch back on, regardless of age.  We we do, everything in our lives becomes an opportunity, and miracles seem to pop up everywhere, our lives are filled with movement, new ides, vivid memory, sensuality, and pleasure." 
-   Anat Baniel, Move into Life: The Nine Essentials for Lifelong Vitality, p.18.

"There are only two wasys to live your life.  One is as though nothing is a miracle, the other is as though everything is a miracle."
-  Albert Einstein 

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

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"

-   Anat Baniel, Move into Life: The Nine Essentials for Lifelong Vitality