Thursday, February 28, 2013

Thumbing Through Some Old Photographs

Granddaughter and Grandfather 2011
Northern California Coastline

My Backyard View
Red Bluff, California

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Spring is Flowing

"The pressure of the hands causes the springs of life to flow."-  Tokujiro Namikoshi  

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Exploring the Body

"The human body is not an instrument to be used, but a realm of one's being to be experienced, explored, enriched and, thereby, educated." -  Thomas Hanna

Monday, February 25, 2013

Spider Web Speaks

"Take a deep breath of all the stories that live here. A re-ligious act, to be true to the origin of the word “re-ligios”- to re-tie, re-link - is to find ways to re-connect, re-turn, re-imagine.”

In the winter season, we are allowed to say,

“Ts' its' tsi' nako,
Thought-Woman, the Spider
named things and as she named them they appeared.
She is sitting in her room thinking of a story now
I'm telling you the story she is thinking.”
-  Keresan Pueblo introduction

Strings on Your Fingers by Mike Garofalo

Spider Grandmother weaves the Grand Cosmic Web and then spins off the planets and stars in the Navaho myths.  Zuni myths say the Spider Grandmother gave the art of string figures into the hands of the children.  Spider Grandmother is a powerful earth spirit being, the primary Creatrix of the cosmos and mind, a source of boundless imagination and the creation of the new.  An archaic Goddess of Weaving is essential to a pleasant life for all our people. 

Many Stars, Son-thlani, or Spider Grandmother’s Web is one of my favorite Navaho string figures to make.  I usually do the Spider Web (Jayne SF51) string figure first, for ritual purposes, to remind myself of my debt to all the people who have helped me learn to make string figures, everyone past and present are here symbolized as the Cosmic Web of Spider Grandmother.  

The image above is of the string figure called The Apache Door (Jayne SF12) known to many string players.  A different Navaho string figure, with a criss-crossing web pattern, is called Many Stars (Jayne SF51).    

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Sacred Circle Garden

The four-quartered Circle of Magick is a central element in most Western magickal rituals. It is called the "portal between the worlds," a means of connecting with the Deities, Spirits, and Elemental Powers of a realm beyond the material universe. It is envisioned as a vortex with which we focus on our own innate psychic powers, called forth by ritual actions from the subliminal depths of the mind and soul. It is a "sacred space," a sanctuary for communion with the old ones, the deities of our faith.
Many levels of symbolism are intrinsic to the Magick Circle. Among these metaphors are metaphysical and mystical concepts that describe the greater reality within which our lives are experienced. The four "corners" of the Circle of Magick correspond with the compass directions and their associated Elements (Earth, Air, Fire or Water). A fifth Element, Spirit, is often associated with the center of the Circle or with the Circle as a whole."
- Bran the Blessed, Circle Symbolism

Valley Spirit Sacred Circle

Karen stands near in the center of the Valley Spirit Sacred Circle. Behind Karen is the yellow post which marks the Eastern direction, and the Element of Air, Mind, Consciousness, or Intellect; and the Eastern Quadrant is planted with five olive trees, the sacred plant of Athena, the Goddess of Wisdom. Further behind Karen, 26 feet from the center, are some of the seventeen posts marking the boundary of the outer fifth circle. This photo was taken on February 4, 2007.

Sacred Circles
Bibliography, Resources, Links, Quotations, Notes
Researched by Mike Garofalo

One Old Druid's Final Journey

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Magic Pearl Qigong with Ball

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.   Qigong Ball exercisers can get into a calm mode, mellow their mood, and go with the Flow. 

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. 

The Magic Pearl Qigong can be a very vigorous physical culture routine if you increase the weight of the ball, lower the stances, and increase the number of repetitions of each movement.  Serious Qigong Ball enthusiasts use a very light wooden ball, move slowly, stay relaxed, sink, play.  

In addition, upper body strength and athletic fitness is also be improved by practicing longer Taijiquan Forms using weapons like the saber, sword, cane, and staff. 


Friday, February 22, 2013

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, Chapter 30

Dao De Jing, Laozi
Chapter 30

"He who would assist a lord of men in harmony with the Tao will not assert his mastery in the kingdom by force of arms.
Such a course is sure to meet with its proper return.
Wherever a host is stationed, briars and thorns spring up.
In the sequence of great armies there are sure to be bad years.
A skilful commander strikes a decisive blow, and stops.
He does not dare by continuing his operations to assert and complete his mastery.
He will strike the blow, but will be on his guard against being vain or boastful or arrogant in consequence of it.
He strikes it as a matter of necessity; he strikes it, but not from a wish for mastery.
When things have attained their strong maturity they become old.
This may be said to be not in accordance with the Tao.
What is not in accordance with the Tao soon comes to an end."
-   Translated by James Legge, 1891, Chapter 30   

"He who with Reason assists the master of mankind will not with arms strengthen the empire.
His methods invite requital. 
Where armies are quartered briars and thorns grow.
Great wars unfailingly are followed by famines.
A good man acts resolutely and then stops.
He ventures not to take by force. 
Be resolute but not boastful; resolute but not haughty; resolute but not arrogant; resolute because you cannot avoid it; resolute but not violent.
Things thrive and then grow old.
This is called un-Reason.
Un-Reason soon ceases."
-   Translated by Daisetsu Teitaro Suzuki and Paul Carus, 1913, Chapter 30   

Chapter and Thematic Index to the Tao Te Ching


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Circa Now

Circa Now, Sort of Like Now, Relatively Present, Past Present
Right Now then Gone:  8:49 am, PST, Thursday, February 21, 2013

Where: Red Bluff, Tehama County, North Sacramento Valley, California

Outside temperature: 40 degrees F
blue skies, little wind
Inside temperature: 63 degrees F

I'm on house watch duty for two houses until Sunday night
Friends and family are traveling and partying
Two dogs, four cats, three sheep, one donkey to feed and care for
Staying home nearly all the time until Sunday night

Preparing food and taking medicines
Household chores

I'm resting my body this morning.
I am tired.  Enjoying resting, relaxing, and recuperating.   
Some fatigue and DOMS from mucho exercise this week.  

Ten hours ago revised some posts in Cloud Hands Blog, and then weeded irrelevant and useless posts from the CHB.  Then, revised, updated, and weeded webpages at the Valley Spirit Yoga website.

Reading Lately:  "Brother Iron Sister Steel" by Dave Draper; "A Guide to Rational Living" by Albert Ellis and Robert A. Harper; "The Hand" by Frank Wilson; "Spanish for Reading" by Fabiola Franco; the many remarks and investigations by Ludwig Wittgenstein; the "Voyager Tarot" by James Wanless. 
Upcoming fun gardening projects: rake south half of back yard, cleanup fallen tree and branches from south side yard and mow the area, major project in the Sacred Circle, and drip line expansions, testing, completely weed the Sunny Garden plot and roto-till with the Mantis tiller, etc..

My T'ai Chi Ch'uan studies and practices have been focused on the two Eight Immortals Tai Chi Cane Routines created by Master Jesse Tsao of San Diego.  I can practice Part I quite well now on my own.   

Time to stand and deliver!

Cheers to All

Valley Spirit Yoga Posures List

I continue to work a little each week on my new Valley Spirit Yoga Postures List.  The last release, Version 12, 25 pages, was completed on January 4, 2013.  It online version is in the PDF file format, read only, 182KB.  I hope to have the next release, Version 13,  ready for distribution on March 1, 2013. 

This list is in alphabetical order with entries under both the English name or phrase for the yoga posture (asana) and the Sanskrit name or phrase for the posture (asana, exercise, form, shi). This detailed list includes coded references to descriptions in six yoga textbooks for every named posture.  The list also includes some of the Chi Kung postures that I teach in many of my yoga classes.  Coding for each entry by the kind of yoga posture, e.g., balancing, standing, supine, lunge, backbend, etc.  Coded also for the fitness difficulty of the posture relative to restorative, beginning, intermediate and advanced students.  The list includes a bibliography and notes.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Brother Iron

I enjoy reading Dave Draper (1942-).  

Visit his Bodybuilding, Weight Training, Nutrition Guidelines from Mr. Universe Dave Draper.  

Dave Draper offers a brief and interesting free weekly email newsletter.

For more information on strength training and bodybuilding for persons over fifty, check out my webpage on the subject.   

Brother Iron, Sister Steel: A Bodybuilder's Book  By Dave Draper.  OnTarget Publications, 2001, 337 pages.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Where Do You Want To Go?

"One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree.  "Which road do I take?" she asked.
His response was a question: "Where do you want to go?"
"I don't know," Alice answered.
"Then," said the cat, "it doesn't matter."
-  Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Monday, February 18, 2013

Thinking, Sensing, Acting, Emoting

Albert Ellis (19135-2007) was one of the ten most influential psychologists of the twentieth century.

Albert Ellis and Robert A Harper tell us:

"We should strive conscientiously to:
1.  Increase our objectivity and eliminate confusing facts and inferences
2.  Break any habit with which we habitually put ourselves at risk
3.  Get rid of agendas that conflict with our higher priorities
4.  Replace self-defeating demands and damnation with realistic preferences and appraisals
5.  Accept ourselves and others as the fallible human beings we actually are."
-  Albert Ellis and Robert Harper, A Guide to Rational Living, p. 58

Lifestyle Advice From Wise Persons

"As a human, four basic processes aid your survival and happiness: (1) You perceive or sense - see, taste, smell, feel, hear.  (2) You feel or emote - love, hate, fear, feel joyful or sad.  (3) You move or act - walk, eat, swim, climb, and play.  (4) You reason or think - remember, imagine, hyopthesize, conclude and solve problems."

These four processes typically interrelate and integrate at the same time.  Sometimes, one process can become dominant.  Unhealthy positive and negative thoughts can produce unhealthy emotional and behavioral problems for persons.   

Some related advice for rational living is found in the Enchiridon, written in the 1st century CE, by Epictetus when he said "People are disturbed not by things, but by the views which they take of them."  Shakespeare says, in Hamlet, "There's nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so."  The theory of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) by Ellis and Harper goes far beyond these old sayings to develop a systematic guide for sensible people. 

I have benefitted from frequently reading the many books by Dr. Ellis and his REBT colleagues, and trying to practice his advice in my life for many years.  I have never participated in individual or group REBT therapy, but I am confident it might help people with serious neurosis and dysfunctional lifestyles. 

A Guide to Rational Living  By Albert Ellis and Robert A. Harper.  3rd Edition, 1975.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Days of Kale, Spinach, and Chard

February: Quotes, Poems, Sayings

"The word February is believed to have derived from the name 'Februa' taken from the Roman 'Festival of Purification'.  The root 'februo' meaning to 'I purify by sacrifice'.  As part of the seasonal calendar February is the time of the 'Ice Moon' according to Pagan beliefs, and the period described as the 'Moon of the Dark Red Calf' by Black Elk.  February has also been known as 'Sprout-kale' by the Anglo-Saxons in relation to the time the kale and cabbage was edible."
Mystical WWW

"Winter is the time of promise because there is so little to do - or because you can now and then permit yourself the luxury of thinking so." 
-  Stanley Crawford

February Garden Activities and Chores in Red Bluff
USDA Zone 9

Browsing and ordering from seed and garden catalogs. 
Pruning leafless trees and shrubs. 
Weeding and tending the winter vegetable garden. 
Relax and read books from the library. 
The soil is usually too wet and cold for much digging.
Keeping cold sensitive potted plants in protected areas or indoors.
Make sure that the cuttings in protected areas do not dry out.
Repair fences. 
Put straw mulch over fertilized vegetable garden areas not planted. 
Distribute fertilizer and minerals. 
Prune and mulch dormant perennials.
Remove dead trees, shrubs, branches, and twigs. 
Enjoy the bulbs and rosemary in bloom. 
Repair and sharpen tools. 
Construct gardening boxes and flats. 
Keep hardwood cuttings moist.
Promptly planting bare root trees and watering them. 
Write a poem.   Keep a gardening journal. 
Fertilize with 20-9-9 or 15-15-15. 
Trees without leaves need little or no watering.
Take a walk in your garden.
Sit and observe.  
Mowing and weeding
Spraying dormant trees 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

As You Walk, Imagine ...

The following comments were written in the summer months, but they apply to just about any time of the year where I live.  I live in Northern California.  I walked this morning in perfect weather.  It was 68 degrees F, with clear skies.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, February 15, 2013

Sun Style Tai Chi Chuan


"The natural course of things is always followed. This prevents one from harming their post-heaven strength. Focus is on beneficial cultivation of one's natural life force as the core of training.  All people - men, women, the old, and the young - may practice in order to replace temerity with bravery; and stiffness with pliability. Those of you who are weak, who suffer from fatigue and injury or illness, or who have weakened your qi from the practice of other martial arts to the point that you no longer have the strength to train, all of you may practice Tai Ji Quan. With practice, the qi will quickly return to a balanced state and will become strong, while the spirit naturally returns to a state of wholeness. Disease will be eliminated and the length of life increased."
- Sun Lu-Tang, A Study of Taijiquan, 1924. Translated by Tim Cartmell, p. 60.
Sun Style Tai Ji Quan

Style Internal Martial Arts

Sun Style of Taijiquan International Standard Competition 73 Movements Form

Research by Michael P. Garofalo, M.S..  Notes from 2005-2012.  

This webpage includes an introduction, information on the Sun Taijiquan form, a large collection of quotations about Sun Taijiquan, a detailed bibliography, extensive links, references to video and DVD resources, and suggestions for learning the international competition Sun 73 form.  A detailed comparative list of the names of each of the 73 movements is provided, with source references, and the movement names are given in English, Pinyin Chinese, Chinese characters, French, German, and Spanish.  A detailed description of the first 40 movements is provided along with instructions, commentary and general comments.  Black and white line illustrations for each movement sequence (1-40) are provided. This is the most detailed and complete webpage on the subject of the Sun Taijiquan 73 Competition Form available on the Internet.  

I will complete my study and analysis of the Sun Taijiquan International Competition 73 Movement Form by 2015.  I only know and regularly practice movements 1-50 of this competition form at the present time.   

Sun Lu Tang's Internal Martial Arts: Taijiquan, Baguazhang, Hsing I Quan, Weapons, and Qigong

Students of Sun Taijiquan now have more English language resources on the Traditional 98 Form created by Grandmaster Sun Lutang and published in 1921.  For examples: 
Traditional Sun Style Taijiquan  By Tim Cartmell and Troyce Thome.  Boston, McGraw Hill Learning Soulutions, 2010.  222 pages.  ISBN: 0078039142.  This is the most detailed instruction that I have seen on the Traditional Taijiquan 98 movement form created by Grandmaster Sun Lutang.  Saddleback College Course CPS7, Mission Viejo, California.  VSCL. 

Traditional Sun Style Taijiquan.  Instructional DVDs by Tim Cartmell.  "This 5 DVD set includes complete and precise instruction of the entire traditional Sun style Taijiquan form. Every posture and movement of the long form is covered in full detail, in addition the DVDs also include detailed instruction of postural alignment, power building exercises, footwork, methods of partner testing for every posture in the form and numerous demonstrations of the martial applications of the form movements." 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Dao De Jing, Laozi, Chapter 31

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
Chapter 31

"Fine weapons are none the less ill-omened things.
(People despise them, therefore,
Those in possession of the Tao do not depend on them.)
That is why, among people of good birth,
In peace the left-hand side is the place of honour,
But in war this is reversed and the right-hand side is the place of honour.
(Weapons are ill-omened things, which the superior man should not depend on.
When he has no choice but to use them,
The best attitude is to retain tranquil and peaceful.)
The Quietist, even when he conquers, does not regard weapons as lovely things.
For to think them lovely means to delight in them,
And to delight in them means to delight in the slaughter of men.
And he who delights in the slaughter of men
Will never get what he looks for out of those that dwell under heaven.
(Thus in happy events,
The left-hand side is the place of honour, in grief and mourning,
The right-hand is the place of honour.
The lieutenant general stands on the left,
While the supreme general stands on the right,
Which is arranged on the rites of mourning.)
A host that has slain men is received with grief and mourning;
He that has conquered in battle is received with rites of mourning."
-   Translated by Arthur Waley, 1934, Chapter 31 

"Even successful arms, among all implements, are unblessed. All men come to detest them. Therefore the one who follows Dao does not rely on them. Arms are of all tools unblessed, they are not the implements of a wise man. Only as a last resort does he use them. In propitious affairs the place of honor is the left, but in unpropitious affairs we honor the right.  Peace and quietude are esteemed by the wise man, and even when victorious he does not rejoice, because rejoicing over a victory is the same as rejoicing over the killing of men. If he rejoices over killing men, do you think he will ever really master the Empire?  The strong man while at home esteems the left as the place of honor, but when armed for war it is as though he esteems the right hand, the place of less honor. Thus a funeral ceremony is so arranged. The place of a subordinate army officer is also on the left and the place of his superior officer is on the right. The killing of men fills multitudes with sorrow; we lament with tears because of it, and rightly honor the victor as if he was attending a funeral ceremony."
-  Translated by Dwight Goddard, Chapter 31

"Arms and weapons,
Being instruments of destruction, Are despised by all.
They are avoided by followers of the Tao.
As instruments of evil, they are spurned by good leaders,
Being used with calm restraint only when no other choice prevails.
A good leader does not regard victory with rejoicing,
For to delight in victory is to delight
in the slaughter of people.
To delight in slaughter is to fail
in one's purpose.
In ancient social custom -
The left is the place of honor
for ceremonies at home.
At war, the place of honor is at the right.
Good omen and happy occasions favor the left.
Ill omen and such sad occasions as
funeral rites, favor the right.
Observe then with grief and sorrow the slaughter
accompanying victory of arms, for,
Victory of arms and funeral ceremony
truly share the same rite."
-   Translated by Alan B Taplow, 1982, Chapter 31 

"Weapons of war are omens of doom,
To be loathed by every living thing
And shunned by those who keep the Way.
Presiding at court the leader honours the left.
Resorting to war he honours the right.
But weapons are never the leader’s choice.
Weapons of war are omens of doom,
Not to be used unless compelled.
Above all, with mind and heart unstirred,
To arms give no glory:
For to glory in arms
Is to sing and rejoice in the slaughter of men.
And singers in praise of the slaughter of men
Shall not in this world gain their ends.
Thus the left is for deeds that are blessed,
The right is for deeds that bring death.
To the left the minor commander,
To the right the chief general:
Placed for the rites to honour the dead.
When the slaughter is great,
Let the leader come forth to keen for the slain;
The victory won,
To perform solemn rites in mourning the day."
-   Translated by Moss Roberts, 2001, Chapter 31 

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu: Introduction, Bibliography, Commentary, Chapter Index  

Chapter and Thematic Index to the Tao Te Ching

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Sitting Still or Not

"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. 

"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

"There are many matters and many circumstances in which consciousness is undesirable and silence is golden, so that secrecy can be used as a marker to tell us that we are approaching the holy."
-  Gregory Bateson, Angels Fear

"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

Ripening Peaches: Taoist Studies and Practices
Standing Meditation

Quiet in the Garden

Sitting in the Garden 


"If you cannot find stillness while sitting still, then find stillness while gardening."
-  Mike Garofalo, Pulling Onions

... or walking, doing Taijiquan, or reading ... 


Monday, February 11, 2013

Do It

"Am Anfang war die Tat."
"In the beginning was the deed."
-  Goethe, Faust

The act, the deed, the doing is the primary consideration.  Practice is the first step and the ongoing real steps.

So Do It!

Practice, practice, practice.  

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Feeling Somethings Right

"The intellect is only one among several fundamental psychic functions and therefore does not suffice to give a complete picture of the world.  For this another function― feeling― is needed to.  Feeling often arrives at convictions that are different from those of the intellect, and we cannot always prove that the convictions of feeling are necessarily inferior."
-  Carl G. Jung, M.D., Psychological Reflections, p.276 
"The pressure of the hands causes the springs of life to flow."
-  Tokujiro Namikoshi  

“I remember that feeling of skin.  It's strange to remember touch more than thought.  But my fingers still tingle with it.”
-  Lucy Christopher
Hands, Fingers, Touching, Feelings

Saturday, February 09, 2013

A Fresh New Skin

Best wishes for a happy, healthy, and prosperous Year of the Snake!

In the West, snakes have long been a symbol of earthly realms, underground darkness, mystery, unconscious desires, sensuality, and danger.  The process of a snake regularly shedding its skin is also fascinating to us. 

Friday, February 08, 2013

Handle with Care

"The hand is the cutting edge of the mind."
-  Jacob Bronowski 

"The mind has exactly the same power as the hands: not merely to grasp the world, but to change it."
-  Colin Wilson  

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, Chapter 32

Dao De Jing, Laozi
Chapter 32

"Tao is absolute and has no name.
Though the uncarved wood is small,
It cannot be employed (used as vessel) by anyone.
If kings and barons can keep (this unspoiled nature),
The whole world shall yield them lordship of their own accord.
The Heaven and Earth join,
And the sweet rain falls,
Beyond the command of men,
Yet evenly upon all.

Then human civilization arose and there were names.
Since there were names,
It were well one knew where to stop.
He who knows where to stop
May be exempt from danger.
Tao in the world
May be compared to rivers that run into the sea."
-   Translated by Lin Yutang, 1948, Chapter 32   

"Tao remains ever nameless.
However insignificant may be the simplicity of those who cultivate it
The Empire does not presume to claim their services as Ministers. 
If Princes and Monarchs could but preserve this simplicity,
Every creature in the world would submit itself to them;
Heaven and Earth would be in mutual accord,
And shower down sweet dew;
The people would need no laws, but live in harmony of themselves. 
It was in the beginning that a name was fabricated for the Tao. 
This name once existing, Heaven, also, may be known;
And such knowledge ensures the indestructibility of the doctrine. 
The presence of Tao in the world may be compared to streams which ever flow,
And mountain-gorges which are indestructible,
In their union with rivers and seas which are unfathomable."
-   Translated by Frederic H. Balfour, 1884, Chapter 32 

"Reason, in its eternal aspect, is unnamable. 
Although its simplicity seems insignificant, the whole world does not dare to suppress it.
If princes and kings could keep it, the ten thousand things would of themselves pay homage.
Heaven and earth would unite in dripping sweet dew, and the people with no one to command them would of themselves be righteous.  
As soon as Reason creates order, it becomes namable.
Whenever the namable in its turn acquires existence, one learns to know when to stop.
By knowing when to stop, one avoids danger. 
To illustrate Reason's relation to the world we compare it to streams and creeks in their course towards rivers and the ocean."
-   Translated by Daisetsu Teitaro Suzuki and Paul Carus, 1913, Chapter 32   


Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu: Introduction, Bibliography, Commentary, Chapter Index  

Chapter and Thematic Index to the Tao Te Ching

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Conceived by Walking

"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

"All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking."
-  Friedrich Nietzsche

"Zen practice in the midst of activity
is superior to that pursued within tranquility."
Hakuin, 1688-1769

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Entering Beautiful Places

"The mere thought of walking outdoors on a brilliant golden-blue day causes fire-works of delight to go off in most people’s psyche.  It gives one an instant feeling of happiness and that is meditation!  We are not only in touch, at that moment, with the physical splendor of nature, but also with the beauty of merging our own spiritual nature with it." 
 Karen Zebroff 

“The subject of walking is, in some sense, about how we invest universal acts with particular meanings. Like eating or breathing, it can be invested with wildly different cultural meanings, from the erotic to the spiritual, from the revolutionary to the artistic.”
-  Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking

“Walking in the morning takes you to beautiful places where light and shade make love.”
-  Mohamed Shareef 

"Walking is the great adventure, the first meditation, a practice of heartiness and soul primary to humankind.  Walking is the exact balance between spirit and humility." 
-  Gary Snyder, The Practice of the Wild

“Walking shares with making and working that crucial element of engagement of the body and the mind with the world, of knowing the world through the body and the body through the world.”
-  Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking

Monday, February 04, 2013

Correspondence 2: Nei Gong

Correspondence 2:   Nei Gong

..........  1/31/2013
Dear Sifu,
What is the name of the highest Nei Gong?

Is it correct to say Nei Gong is superior to Qi Gong?
In remote viewing, Tibetan gurus can see to the subtlest details in a far away future.  Is it like seeing/watching an audio-video that has not been recorded?

Thank you and regards,
Edward (AKA 'no shoes man')  

Dear Edward,

The highest level or attainment of "inner work" is best experienced or lived.  Such states of mind/being are in many ways "nameless" (i.e, hard to describe, mystical, mysterious). 
Poetry and metaphors better clothe these more refined and subtle ways of being and states of consciousness. 

Some yogis committed to intense and sustained inner working (Nei Gong) claim they will transcend and abandon their earthly body and become pure spirit (Shen) and be conscious forever.  I view these claims as confusing, paradoxical, and unlikely. 

Judgments about "Superior" (better, more advanced, highest, greatest) become less meaningful as we attain the summit of our Quest.
When the salmon (carp) jumps through the Dragon's Gate, its transformation tends to leave ordinary distinctions in the back waters of the past. 

Reasoning, philosophy, science and speculation are more likely to produce clearer visions of the future than yogic attainments. 
A lively imagination can also plum the depths of the future. 

To be alive, thrown into the world, free, and accountable, is to be steeped in one's accomplishable and chosen future - such is Dasien

As for expanding one's knowledge of Nei Gong, I recommend that you read books by Grandmaster Yang Jwing Ming, Master Bruce Frantzis, and Master Kenneth Cohen.  You might also be interested in reading:
Daoist Nei Gong: The Philosophical Art of Change  By Damo Mitchell.  Singing Dragon, 2011.  240 pages.  ISBN: 978-1848190658.  
Toss off your shoes, relax, and laugh,


.........   1/28/2013

Dear Sifu

Are Nei Gong and Qi Gong the same thing?

Thank you and regards,

Some say yes, some say no. 

All exercise routines work/train/develop both the inside and outside of the body. 

Neigong involves more specific individual efforts to meditate, visualize, imagine, study scriptures, and transcend the ordinary.  Qigong involves more efforts to exercise and improve one's health, and frequently involves group efforts.   

Lots of practice and less theory is often recommended.


..........   1/25/2013

Dear Sifu

Is the Shaolin internal Luohan Gong of the Seven Star Praying Mantis a Nei Gong?
Remote viewing means viewing/seeing/watching without physically being there.  In Tibetan Buddhism it is a psychic power ability.  Is the remote viewing in Tibetan Buddhism (Vajrayana) the same as remote viewing in the west?
Thank you and regards,

I wrote about the Luohan Qigong on a webpage. 
Nei Gong, as I understand it, are psycho/physical/mystical practices engaged in consistently, rigorously, and in a dedicated manner.  These practices include Chi Kung or Yoga exercises, visualizations, concentration, guided meditations, breathing practices, special diets, reading and study, social action according to a positive and constructive ethics, harmonizing with the world of Nature, aesthetic cultivation, cultivating equanimity, withdrawal from sensuality, etc.  I suggest reading Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, Nei Gong by , or Integral Life Practice by Ken Wilbur and Terry Patten to get the gist of this approach to a lifestyle. 
Some yogis do claim to have many amazing powers (siddhis) obtained by ascetic and spiritual disciplines, gifts from their guru, or obtained by grace from the gods/goddesses.  A few religious or psychic westerners claim to be able to view actual events (past or present) from a distance, without being present, using psychic abilities.  For the rare few that have these powers the "observational" activity seems the same, but the methods for the obtaining these unusual powers do differ considerably. 

Most of us are content with using motion pictures or video or photographs to do remote viewing of events past and present. 

I do activities like Chi Kung, Taijiquan, and yoga for pleasure, improved physical fitness, continuing sophisticated traditions, and as ways to vary my exercise activities.  The first two get me outdoors more and that is pleasant and enlivening. 

Since I am less interested in organized "religious" activities and keep a narrower sense of "spiritual" than other folks, siddhis are a set of magical power skills that I am bereft of.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Respecting Others

"In his "The Happiness Purpose," Edward DeBono has some harsh words for love. He finds it unreliable and difficult to produce on demand. "The ideal of love," writes DeBono, "is to be replaced by the more reliable practice of respect."
This is not to eliminate love. Love is still a bonus. But respect becomes the foundation. And DeBono goes on to enumerate reasons to chose respect over love. Respect is durable. It acknowledges another's dignity, while love puts demands on it. Love can be a hunger, a need, a temporary madness, whereas respect is understanding and appreciation.
There is much more to this DeBono treatise on happiness. Most of it is common sense. The required elements are humor, dignity and respect.  DeBono makes me wonder why I hadn't come up with this answer long ago. The inconsistency of love is a fact of life. There are people I can't love, people I've loved and now I don't. All that is quite understandable. And I can see that respect is a different story. There is no excuse for not having respect for another person. I may be incapable of love. But I am capable of respect.
When DeBono speaks of respect as the basis for happiness, he is not breaking new ground. Respect is no less than justice; and as far back as the Greeks, justice has been recognized as one of the cardinal virtues. "Heaven and earth may pass away," writes Amiel, "but good ought to be, and injustice ought not to be. Such is the creed of the human race."
It is not that we must love, although that is a wonderful thing to do. But we must have justice. That sits easier with me. If I cannot love, how can I be obliged to love? Obligations bring with them the ability to carry them out. I do not need to love or even like people whom I am obliged to respect.
I like DeBono's ideas.  Respect myself, respect others, respect society. This is a manifesto I can live with."
George Sheehan, M.D, (1918-1993).

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Taijiquan Fan

There are many T'ai Chi Ch'uan exercise forms which make use of a fan.   Most are shorter forms, under 25 movements, but some, like the famous Tai Chi Kung Fu Fan Form have over 50 movements.  Most are done slowly and softly, but some include vigorous and fast movements.  The majority favor the Yang Style of Tai Chi Chuan.  

Tai Chi Fan: Bibliography, Links, Resources, Notes, Lore, Quotations. Research by Mike Garofalo.  I welcome any comments, suggestions, additions, or ideas regarding this webpage.

One of the most popular Tai Chi Fan forms was created by Professor Li Deyin (1938-).  It has 52 movements.  I includes slow and gentle movements in the first half of the form, then the second half is much more vigorous.  This Tai Chi Fan form is for athletic and intermediate Tai Chi students. 

Here are some instructional resources for learning the Tai Chi Kung Fu Fan Form.  

Tai Chi Kung Fu Fan. Routine 1, created by Grandmaster Li Deyin (1938-). Instructional DVD, 65 minutes, by Master Jesse Tsao. Tai Chi Healthways, San Diego, California. "The most popular Tai Chi Fan form ever practiced in China. The routine was created by Grandmaster Li Deyin, Jesse Tsao's teacher since 1978. There are 52 movements in the whole routine based on the characteristic Tai Chi posture with the fan's artistic and martial functions. Master Tsao presents demonstrations at the beginning and end. He teaches step-by-step in slow motion, in English. There are plenty of repetitions of movements in both front and back view. It is a good reference for home study, or a resource for instructor's teaching preparation." Cost: 35.00 US. Demonstration.

Tai Chi Kung Fu Fan Instructional DVD by Professor Li Deyin. Narration in English. "A fan routine, created by Professor Li, which combines the gracefulness, centrality and continuity of Taiji with the power, speed and fierceness of Wushu. It is designed as an addition to the exercises for health, and has received massive interest and support throughout the world. In this DVD, Professor Li provides in-depth teaching with Mrs. Fang Mishou performing detail demonstration." Vendor 1. Cost: $35.00 US.

Tai Chi Kung Fu Fan, Form 1. List of 52 movement names, directions, instructions, and notes by Mike Garofalo.

I compiled the following list of UTube demonstrations of this Tai Chi fan form a couple of years ago.  Some of the videos may no longer exist.  

Tai Chi Kung Fun Fan, Form 1. UTube Video, 4:02 min. Lady in white on a stage in Japan. My favorite! "First Form of the Xiyangmei Taiji Kungfu Shan (Taiji Shan). Recorded in Tokyo, Japan when the group headed by Li Deyin went to give an exhibition in 2006." 

Tai Chi Kung Fu Fan, Form 1. UTube Video, 3:59 min. Three performers in white outfits.

Tai Chi Kung Fu Fan, Form 1. UTube Video, 3:59 min. Demonstrated by Patty Lee. Lady in a yellow outfit in a field with a backdrop of mountains.

Tai Chi Kung Fu Fan, Form 1. UTube Video, 4:02 min. Lady in black practicing in a dance studio. What is the song used in many of these videos (by Jackie Chan)??

Tai Chi Kung Fu Fan, Form 1. UTube Video, 3:42. A group of Master Fay Li Yip's students performing outdoors.

Tai Chi Kung Fu Fan, Form 1. UTube Video, 3:53 min. A group in black outfits performs outdoors in Madrid, Spain. Some members need more group practice.

Tai Chi Kung Fu Fan, Form 1. UTube Video, 5:57 min. Two ladies in red outfits perform outdoors in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

Tai Chi Kung Fu Fan, Form 1. 中國太極功夫扇

Tai Chi Kung Fu Fan, Form 1. UTube Video Subject Search.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Boost Your Enthusiasm

"Enthusiasm:  Enthusiasm is an amplifier by which you can turn up the volume, boosting the energy of everything you do, think or feel.  We often think of enthusiasm as caused by an external event.  However, it can be generated from within, becoming an intentional action for transforming virtually anything in our lives.  Enthusiasm can take the seemingly small, dull, boring, or unimportant and turn it into something new and magnificent.  Learn to strengthen the muscle of your enthusiasm, letting the tiny become great, and you will reclaim your energy and passion."
-   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.