Monday, September 30, 2013

Medicine Ball Exercises

Magic Pearl Qigong

If you enjoy doing exercises with a medicine ball, you might enjoy practicing my Magic Pearl Qigong.

This body/mind movement art practice was developed using Chen style Taijiquan medicine ball (Tai Chi Ball) exercises, Yang Style Taijiquan medicine ball exercises, qigong forms, and general gym styles of medicine ball exercise routines.  The psychological, symbolic, and meditative aspects of the Magic Pearl Qigong involve Chinese Taoist, Buddhist, and mythological lore.  Followers of Dragon motifs and lore will enjoy the associations found in this form.  

This qigong routine was designed for use with a medicine ball while holding the ball in two hands, so as to allow for the use of heavier medicine balls.  This exercise routine can be done indoors and does not require much space for the practice.  

Magic Pearl Qigong by Michael P. Garofalo

A brief summary of the first 7 exercises in the Magic Pearl Qigong has been provided to facilitate learning and encourage daily practice.  Eventually, I will get around to describing all 18 movements of the Magic Pearl Qigong form.  For another 18 movement Qigong form, refer to the Shaolin Zen Buddhist Eighteen Hands of the Luohan

Valley Spirit Qigong Website

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Dao De Jing by Laozi, Chapter 12

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
Chapter 12

"The five colors combined the human eye will blind;
The five notes in one sound the human ear confound;
The five tastes when they blend the human mouth offend.
Racing and hunting will human hearts turn mad,
Treasures high-prized make human conduct bad.
The holy man attends to the inner and not to the outer.
He abandons the latter and chooses the former."
-  Translated by D. T. Suzuki and Paul Carus, 1913, Chapter 12  

"Color's five hues from the eyes their sight will take;
Music's five notes the ears as deaf can make;
The flavors five deprive the mouth of taste;
The chariot course, and the wild hunting waste
Make mad the mind;
And objects rare and strange,
Sought for,
Men's conduct will to evil change.
Therefore the sage seeks to satisfy the craving of the belly,
and not the insatiable longing of the eyes.
He puts from him the latter, and prefers to seek the former."
-   Translated by James Legge, 1891, Chapter 12  

"The five colors
blind our eyes.
The five notes
deafen our ears.
The five flavors
dull our taste.

Racing, chasing, hunting,
drives people crazy.
Trying to get rich
ties people in knots.

So the wise soul
watches with the inner
not with the outward eye,
letting that go,
keeping this."
-  Translation by Ursula K. Le Guin, 2009, Chapter 12  

"An excess of light blinds the human eye; an excess of noise ruins the ear; an excess of condiments deadens the taste.
The effect of too much horse racing and hunting is bad, and the lure of hidden treasure tempts one to do evil.
Therefore the wise man attends to the inner significance of things and does not concern himself with outward appearances.
Therefore he ignores matter and seeks the spirit."
-  Translated by Dwight Goddard and Henri Borel, 1919, Chapter 12 

"The fives colours confuse the eye,
The fives sounds dull the ear,
The five tastes spoil the palate.
Excess of hunting and chasing
Makes minds go mad.
Products that are hard to get
Impede their owner's movements.
Therefore the Sage
Considers the belly not the eye.
Truly, “he rejects that but takes this”."
-  Translated by Arthur Waley, 1934, Chapter 12 



Saturday, September 28, 2013

An Autumn Walk

Looking east on Kilkenny Lane near Red Bluff, California. I walk 3.6 miles on this cul de sac lane, four days each week. 

"Putting facts by the thousands,
into the world, the toes take off
with an appealing squeak which the thumping heel
follows confidentially, the way men greet men.
Sometimes walking is just such elated
-   Lyn Hejinian, Determination

Looking to the northeast on Kilkenny Lane.  Mt. Lassen (10,000 feet) in the distance is capped with snow. 

"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  


Looking west on Kilkenny Lane.  The red leafed autumn colors are from Raywood Ash trees. The Yolly Bolly mountain range (7,000 feet) is to the west of the North Sacramento Valley.  

"The interior solitude, along with the steady rhythm of walking mile after mile, served as a catalyst for deeper awareness.  The solitude I found and savored on the Camino had an amazing effect on me.  The busyness of my life slowly settled down as the miles went on.  For a good portion of my life I had longed for a fuller experience of contemplation, that peaceful prayer of the heart in which one is able to look intently and see each piece of life as sacred.  Ten days into the journey, totally unforeseen, the grace of seeing the world with startling lucidity came to me.  My eyes took in everything with wonder.  The experience was like looking through the lens of an inner camera – my heart was the photographer.  Colors and shapes took on nuances and depths never before noticed.  Each piece of beauty appeared to be framed: weeds along roadsides, hillsides of harvested fields with yellow and green stripes, layers of mountains with lines of thick mist stretching along their middle section, clumps of ripe grapes on healthy green vines, red berries on bushes, roses and vegetable gardens.  Everything revealed itself as something marvelous to behold.  Each was a work of art.  I noticed more and more details of light and shadow, lines and edges, shapes, softness, and texture.  I easily observed missed details on the path before me – skinny worms, worn pebbles, tiny flowers of various colors and shapes, black beetles, snails, and fat, grey slugs.  I became aware of the texture of everything under my feet – stones, slate, gravel, cement, dirt, sand, grass.  I responded with wonder and amazement.  Like the poet Tagore, I felt that everything “harsh and dissonant in my life” was melting into “one sweet harmony”."
-  Joyce Rupp 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Tai Chi 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.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Quieting the Mind

"For the Eastern mystic, all things and events perceived by the senses are interrelated, connected and are but different aspects or manifestations of the same ultimate reality.  Our tendency to divide the perceived world into individual and separate things and to experience ourselves as isolated egos in this world is seen as an illusion which comes from our measuring and categorizing mentally.  It is called avidya, or ignorance, in Buddhist philosophy and is seen as the sate of a disturbed mind which has to be overcome:

'When the mind is disturbed, the multiplicity of things is produced, but when the mind is quieted, the multiplicity of things disappears.'

Although the various schools of Eastern mysticism differ in many details, they all emphasize the basic unity of the universe which is the central feature of their teachings.  The highest aim for their followers - whether they are Hindus, Buddhists or Taoists - is to become aware of the unity and mutual interdependence of all things, to transcend the notion of an isolated individual self and to identify themselves with the ultimate reality.  The emergence of this awareness - known as 'enlightenment'- is not only an intellectual act but is an experience which involves the whole person and is religious in its ultimate nature.  For this reason, most Eastern philosophies are essentially religious philosophies."

-  Fritjof Capra, The Tao of Physics, 25th Anniversary Edition, p. 24  

Nature Mysticism:  Resources, Quotes, Notes

Gardening and Mysticism

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Taiji Sword

"The same principles of the basic t'ai chi ch'uan form are used with both the tao and chien: natural breathing, body upright, keeping the movements integrated, coordinated, and flowing smoothly, etc. The difference is in the focus. For the tao, the broadsword, the focus is on the blade. For the chien, the narrow, double-edged sword, the focus is on the tip. The chien is considered the higher art form, and is more difficult to learn. The tao is basically a chopping and slicing weapon; little skill is needed for that It was generally the weapon of the common soldier. The chien was used by the more scholarly and aristocratic Chinese. ... Sword tai chi is a very rewarding experience at any level. It’s movements, done correctly, develop one’s awareness, timing, grace, and continued good health"
- Dorothy A. Odsen, Tai Chi Chien

The Taijiquan broadsword (Tao, Dao) or sword (Jian, Chien) forms are frequently taught to intermediate level Taijiquan students. Each Taijiquan style (Yang, Sun, Wu, Chen, etc.) has their own sword movement forms.

"To practice the Tai Chi Sword correctly, the first thing a practitioner must be able to do is to have a flexible body and wrist so that the sword and the body will coordinate and move in unity. The second thing is that the intent should direct each movement so that all the movements have applications, speed and accuracy. The third thing is to have spirit and natural breathing in each movement. In usage, it also emphasizes the concepts of sticking and adhering, running and following. In summary, in order to practice the Tai Chi Sword correctly, a practitioner must execute all the movements in an even, soft, continuous and smooth manner. All the movements are initiated by the waist, controlled by the wrist, with the upper and lower parts of the body coordinated so that when one part of the body moves, all parts follow. When one part stops, all stop. Therefore, all the movements are very light, speedy, flexible, nimble and stable. People often describe these kinds of motions as
like a "swimming dragon and flying phoenix."
- Vincent Chu, Gin Soon Tai Chi Chuan Federation Tai Chi Sword Practice

Tai Chi Double Edged Sword (Jian): Bibliography, Links, Resources, Quotations, Instructions Research by Mike Garofalo.

Tai Chi Saber/Broadsword (Dao): Bibliography, Links, Resources, Quotations
Research by Mike Garofalo.

32 Standard Sword Form: Bibliography, Links, List of Movements

Research by Mike Garofalo.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

More Onions to Pull

Here are some excerpts from a collection of 771 one-liners from Pulling Onions by Mike Garofalo:

Mother Nature is always pregnant. 
Time creeps, walks, runs and flies - it is all about moving things. 
Chaos breaks its own rules to allow Order to play. 
Dogmatists are less useful than dogs. 
Take life with a grain of salt, and a icy margarita. 
The best things in life are more expensive than you think. 
Rather than "love mankind," I'd rather admire a few good people. 
Some flourish when crowded together, others don't. 
Garbage In, Compost Out. 
It is more about You and Now, rather than Them and Back Then. 
Hunting for tomato worms- no mercy. 
A pocket knife will be its dullest at just the right time. 
While gardening the borders between work and play become blurred.
When gardening, look up more often.
Just the right words can be worth more than a thousand pictures. 
Death's door is always unlocked. 
A flower needs roots; beauty a society of minds. 
A callused palm and dirty fingernails precede a Green Thumb. 
A working hypothesis is far better than a belief. 
Only two percent of all insects are harmful.  Why are they all in my garden? 
Create your own garden, the god's certainly won't. 
That something is eternal is unverifiable. 
Most laws of Gardening are merely local ordinances. 
Failures, disorder and death are the Grim Reaper of Entropy at work. 
Somehow, someway, everything gets eaten up, someday. 
The meaning is lost in the saying - a nature mystic's dilemma. 
Vigorous gardening might help more than a psychiatrist's couch. 
A gardener is no farmer, he is much too impractical. 
No garden lasts for long - neither will you. 
Shade, in the summer, is as precious as a glass of water. 
A wise gardener knows when to stop. 
Gardens are demanding pets. 
Unclench your fist to give a hand. 
The little choices day after day are the biggest issue. 
Gardening is but one battle against Chaos. 
When life gives you onions, you ain't making lemonade. 
Many friendships are sustained by a mutual hatred of another person or group.
Read until you go to seed. 
Death's door is always unlocked. 
Autumn Yellow, the mirror image of Spring Green. 
What you see depends on when you look. 
Beauty is the Mistress, the gardener her slave. 
One's "true self" is changing and elusive. 
A little of this and a little of that, and some exceptions - these are the facts. 
Does a plum tree with no fruit have Buddha Nature?  Whack! 
-   Pulling Onions by Mike Garofalo  (771 One Line Quips)  


Monday, September 23, 2013

Writing Software: Atlantis

Lately, I have been using the Atlantis word processor to work on Ebooks that my wife, Karen, and I are writing, and will be publishing online starting in December, 2013. 

The Atlantis Word Processor is full-featured, fast, compact, and inexpensive at $35.00. 

I use Microsoft Office at work and at home.  I use Word 2003 running on Windows XP on my home and work desktops, Karen uses Word 2007 running on Windows 7 on her desktop, and we use Word 2013 running on Windows 8 on our Toshiba Satellite laptop.  Most of our documents are in .doc format, backed up to an external hard drive, and easily imported into Atlantis.  Atlantis saves documents in a variety of formats.  I am most familiar and most comfortable with using Word 2003, and Atlantis is quite similar in appearance and functionality to Word 2003.  Since I also use Excel, Access, and PowerPoint at work, Microsoft Office is indispensable.  However, If all you need is a good word processor, then consider buying and using Atlantis.     

You can easily export the entire Atlantis word processing software to a USB flash drive, because the program is only 9.8 MB in size, and quickly use Atlantis on any Windows computer.  Kind of like a "Cloud" on a lanyard.  A great addition for my tiny Acer Netbook laptop. 

I really like how Atlantis exports to EPUB format.  Even Word 2013 can’t export to EPUB format. The Atlantis software even comes with an Ebook template. 

I read Ebook files with the Calibre Ebook Reader and with a Kindle Paperlight.  Both Karen and I use the Kindle Paperlight readers.  Calibre can convert any EPUB file into many Ebook formats other than EPUB.  Calibre is open source and free, and a donation is advised for this high quality product.  

As we are both now semi-retired, we are looking for more ways to generate income from our web publishing efforts at our Green Way Research business.  Our hope is to have a more successful home business, and too work more at our rural home office in the very near future. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, Chapter 13

Dao De Jing, Laozi
Chapter 13 

"Favor and disgrace would seem equally to be feared;
Honor and great calamity, to be regarded as personal conditions of the same kind.
What is meant by speaking thus of favor and disgrace? 
Disgrace is being in a low position after the enjoyment of favor.
The getting that favor leads to the apprehension of losing it, and the losing it leads to the fear of still greater calamity.
This is what is meant by saying that favor and disgrace would seem equally to be feared. 
And what is meant by saying that honor and great calamity are to be similarly regarded as personal conditions?
What makes me liable to great calamity is my having the body which I call myself;
If I had not the body, what great calamity could come to me?
Therefore he who would administer the kingdom, honoring it as he honors his own person, may be employed to govern it,
And he who would administer it with the love which he bears to his own person may be entrusted with it."
-  Translated by James Legge, 1891, Chapter 13 

"Favor bodes disgrace; it is like trembling.
Rank bodes great heartache.
It is like the body.
What does 'Favor bodes disgrace; it is like trembling' mean?
Favor humiliates.
Its acquisition causes trembling, its loss causes trembling.
This is what is meant by 'Favor bodes disgrace; it is like trembling.' 
What does 'Rank bodes great heartache, it is like the body' mean? 
I suffer great heartache because I have a body.
When I have no body, what heartache remains? 
Therefore who administers the empire as he takes care of his body can be entrusted with the empire."
-  Translated by D. T. Suzuki and Paul Carus, 1913, Chapter 13  

"Dread glory as you dread shame.
Prize great calamity as you prize your body.
What does this mean:
"Dread glory as you dread shame"?
Glory comes from below.
Obtain it, you are afraid of shame;
Lose it, you are still afraid of shame.
That is why it is said;
"Dread glory as you dread shame."
What does this mean:
"Prize great calamity as you prize your own body"?
We who meet with great calamities, meet them because we have a body.
If we had not a body what calamity could reach us?
Therefore he who honours the kingdom as his body can govern the kingdom.
He who loves the kingdom as his own body can be trusted with the kingdom."
-  Translated by Isabella Mears, 1916, Chapter 13  

"Favor and disgrace are things that startle;
High rank is, like one's body, a source of great trouble.
What is meant by saying favor and disgrace are things that startle?
Favor when it is bestowed on a subject serves to startle as much as when it is withdrawn.
This is what is meant by saying that favor and disgrace are things that startle.
What is meant by saying that high rank is, like one's body, a source of great trouble?
The reason I have great trouble is that I have a body.
When I no longer have a body, what trouble have I?
Hence he who values his body more than dominion over the empire can be entrusted with the empire.
He who loves his body more than dominion over the empire can be given the custody of the empire."
-  Translated by D. C. Lau, 1963, Chapter 13   

"Accept honors and disgraces as surprises,
Treasure great misfortunes as the body.
Why say: "Accept honors and disgraces as surprises"?
Honors elevate (shang),
Disgraces depress (hsia).
One receives them surprised,
Loses them surprised.
Thus: "Accept honors and disgraces as surprises."
Why say: "Treasure great misfortunes as the body"?
I have great misfortunes,
Because I have a body.
If I don't have a body,
What misfortunes do I have?
Therefore treasure the body as the world,
As if the body can be entrusted to the world.
Love the body as the world,
As if the body can be entrusted to the world."
-  Translated by Ellen Marie Chen, 2000, Chapter 13



Saturday, September 21, 2013

Autumn Equinox High Day Celebrations

“Mabon, or Autumn Equinox, is named for the Welsh God of the Harvest, Mabon ap Modron (“divine son of the divine mother).  As told in the Mabinogion, Mabon was stolen from his mother three nights after his birth, and swelt in Annwfn (the Underworld) until he was rescued by Culhwch.  Because of his time in the Underworld, Mabon stayed a young man forever, and was equated with the Roman Apollo.  He is the Green Man whose blood is an intoxicating beverage; Dionysos (wine), Osiris (beer), and John Barleycorn (whiskey).  The bay tree is sacred to Mabon as its magickal action is preservation, a time-honored harvest occupation.  Also known as the Harvest Home, Kirn Feast, Mell Day, Ingathering, and Harvest’s Height, this festival commemorates the ritual sacrifice of the God and his descent into the Underworld, and the brewer’s art that produces the sacrament of this season.  In California Wine Country, where we live, it is the festival of the Grape Harvest.  Whiskey, the spirit of the barley, is also readily consumed during this festival.”
-  Oberon and Morning Glory Zell-Ravencraft, Creating Circles and Ceremonies, p. 227

“Your altar is a great place for fruits, such as squash and apples set in an old wooden bowl.  You will also want to add pomegranate, in association with Peresphone.  Decorate your altar with orange, brown and yellow altar cloths and candles.  Arrange colorful autumn leaves and small gourds, nuts, dried corn, seed, acorns, pine cones, etc.  You also might want to add a bowl of water, since autumn is associated with water, emotion, and relationships.”
-  Oberon and Morning Glory Zell-Ravencraft, Creating Circles and Ceremonies, p. 228

Ask yourself these questions in the month of September:
What is your personal harvest from self-improvement resolutions planted last spring?
In what specific and creative ways can you honor the productivity of Mother Earth? 
What is something new that you produced in the last six months?
How can you best celebrate your productive efforts during the year?
How have others helped you to be more creative?
How can you best celebrate the autumnal equinox holiday? 

September: Poems and Quotes

Autumn Equinox, Mabon, Harvest Festival, NeoPagan High Day



Friday, September 20, 2013

Walking: A Practice of Heartiness

"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

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Tai Chi Chikung Shibashi

The Tai Chi Qigong Shibashi Series was created by Professor Lin Hou Sheng from China.  Part 1, 18 movements (Shi Ba Shi) was created in 1979.  Part 2, 18 movements, was created in 1988.  Four more Tai Chi Qigong 18 movement sets were created in the 1990's.  Professor Lin's best selling book, Qi Gong is the Answer to Health, was first published in 1985 in China.  
The movements are done slowly, gently, and deliberately.  Deep breathing is coordinated carefully with each movement sequence.  There is little or no movement of the feet.  Suitable for persons of all ages.  A number of the hand movements are similar to those used in Yang style Taijiquan.   

Tai Chi Qigong Shibashi: Bibliography, Links, Videos, Lessons, Resources
By Mike Garofalo.

The Theory and Practice of Taiji Qigong.  By Chris Jarmey.  North Atlantic Books, 2005.  192 pages.

Part 1, Eighteen Movements (Shibashi) Qigong, Tai Chi Qigong

1.   Awakening the Qi
2.   Opening the Chest   
3.   Painting the Rainbow
4.   Separating the Clouds
5.   Cycling the Arms
6.   Paddle a Boat 
7.   Lifting the Sun  
8.   Turn the Body and Look at the Moon  
9.   Push the Palms  
10.  Rolling Tai Ji  
11.  Lift and Spray the Water  
12.  Push the Wave  
13.  Let the Dove Free  
14.  Punching the Mud  
15.  Flying Wild Goose  
16.  Hug and Swing the Sun  
17.  Bounce the Ball  
18.  Quieting the Qi  

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Equinox Moonlight Shadows

"Under the harvest moon,
When the soft silver
Drips shimmering
Over the garden nights,
Death, the gray mocker,
Comes and whispers to you
As a beautiful friend
Who remembers."
-  Carl Sandburg, Under the Harvest Moon
"In that open field
If you do not come too close, if you do not come too close,
On a summer midnight, you can hear the music
Of the weak pipe and the little drum
And see them dancing around the bonfire
The association of man and woman
In daunsinge, signifying matrimonie—
A dignified and commodiois sacrament.
Two and two, necessarye coniunction,
Holding eche other by the hand or the arm
Whiche betokeneth concorde. Round and round the fire
Leaping through the flames, or joined in circles,
Rustically solemn or in rustic laughter
Lifting heavy feet in clumsy shoes,
Earth feet, loam feet, lifted in country mirth
Mirth of those long since under earth
Nourishing the corn. Keeping time,
Keeping the rhythm in their dancing
As in their living in the living seasons
The time of the seasons and the constellations
The time of milking and the time of harvest
The time of the coupling of man and woman
And that of beasts. Feet rising and falling.
Eating and drinking. Dung and death.

Dawn points, and another day
Prepares for heat and silence. Out at sea the dawn wind
Wrinkles and slides. I am here
Or there, or elsewhere. In my beginning."
-   T. S. Eliot,  Four Quartets, East Coker No. 2, 1, 1940
September Equinox in Redding, California, U.S.A. is on
Sunday, September 22, 2013 at 1:44 PM PDT
Full Moon, September 19, 2013



Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Equal Dark and Equal Light

We Druid/Taoists prepare for the upcoming Autumnal Equinox celebration, also called Mabon, Autumn Moon Festival, Alban Elfed, Harvest Home Festival, Apple Feast, etc.   

The Moon Festival, Zhong Qiu Jie, a very popular Chinese autumn festival, is held when there is a full moon at this time of the year.   

"Equal dark, equal light
Flow in Circle, deep insight
Blessed Be, Blessed Be
The transformation of energy!
So it flows, out it goes
Three-fold back it shall be
Blessed Be, Blessed Be
The transformation of energy!"
-   Night An'Fey, Transformation of Energy

"The last of Summer is Delight --
Deterred by Retrospect.
'Tis Ecstasy's revealed Review --
Enchantment's Syndicate.

To meet it -- nameless as it is --
Without celestial Mail --
Audacious as without a Knock
To walk within the Veil."
-   Emily Dickinson, The Last of Summer is Delight 
September: Quotes, Poems, Lore

"Great Goddess, Mistress of cats,
Lady of love, beautiful Vana-Goddess,
Fulfill my greatest needs, O glorious one.
Teach me the magic I need.
Give me a glimpse of your deep wisdom.
Teach me in dreams. Enrich my life.
O Lady, you are Golden-Tears of Asgard
Lady of love, beautiful Vana-Goddess,
You are the Shape-shifter, the Sayer,
The Independent One.
Give me the strength and the magic I need."
Prayers to Freyja   

General Preparations for Mabon 

We gather dry corn stalks and make background arrangements and corn dollys; collect, dry and display all kinds of gourds and squash; we cut long grape vines and tie into circular forms for wheel symbols; we cut fire wood for a outdoor pre-dawn campfire in our sacred circle garden; we do reading in literature relevant to the Mabon seasonal theme; we make special meals with the vegetables and fruits of the season; we make moon cakes with rice.  We tend to do pre-dawn fireplace celebrations in the summer because it is too hot in the evening. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Dao De Jing, Laozi, Chapter 14

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
Chapter 14

"We look at it, and do not see it; it is invisible.
We listen to it, and do not hear it; it is inaudible.
We touch it, and do not feel it; it is intangible.
These three elude our inquiries, and hence merge into one.
Not by its rising, is it bright,
nor by its sinking, is it dark.
Infinite and eternal, it cannot be defined.
It returns to nothingness.
This is the form of the formless, being in non-being.
It is nebulous and elusive.
Meet it, and you do not see its beginning.
Follow it, and you do not see its end.
Stay with the ancient Way
in order to master what is present.
Knowing the primeval beginning is the essence of the Way."
-  Translated by Sanderson Beck, 1996, Chapter 14  

"What is looked at but not (pu) seen,
Is named the extremely dim (yi).
What is listened to but not heard,
Is named the extremely faint (hsi).
What is grabbed but not caught,
Is named the extremely small (wei).
These three cannot be comprehended,
Thus they blend into one.
As to the one, its coming up is not light,
Its going down is not darkness.
Unceasing, unnameable,
Again it reverts to nothing.
Therefore it is called the formless form,
The image (hsiang) of nothing.
Therefore it is said to be illusive and evasive (hu-huang).
Come toward it one does not see its head,
Follow behind it one does not see its rear.
Holding on to the Tao of old (ku chih tao),
So as to steer in the world of now (chin chih yu).
To be able to know the beginning of old,
It is to know the thread of Tao."
-  Translated by Ellen Marie Chen, 2000, Chapter 14

"We look for it but do not see it:
    we name it "subtle."
We listen for it but do not hear it;
    we name it "rare."
We grope for it but do not grasp it;
    we name it "serene." 
These three cannot be fully fathomed,
They are bound together to make unity.
Of unity,
its top is not distant,
its bottom is not blurred.
Infinitely extended
and unnameable,
It returns to non-entity.
This is called
"the form of the formless,"
"the image of nonentity."
This is called "the amorphous."
Following behind it,
    you cannot see its back;
Approaching it from the front,
    you cannot see its head.
Hold to the Way of today
    to manage the actualities of today
    thereby understanding the primeval beginning.
This is called "the thread of the Way.""
-  Translated by Victor H. Mair, 1990, Chapter 14 

"When you look, it isn't there
Listen and you cannot hear it
It seems to be beyond your reach
Because you are so near it
This single source of everything
Appears to be an empty image
Though it cannot be understood
You can see its naked visage
Follow it to nothingness
Approach it where you have no face
From nowhere to infinity
This vacant image leaves no trace
From never to eternity
This naked face is what you are
An empty, vacant, open door
Forevermore ajar"
-  Translated by Jim Clatfelder, 2000, Chapter 14  

"Look, it cannot be seen,
So it is called invisible.
Listen, it cannot be heard,
So it is called soundless.
Touch, it cannot be caught,
So it is called elusive.
These three cannot be examined,
So they unite into one.  
Above it there is no light,  
Below it there is no darkness.
Endlessness beyond description.
It returns to non-existence.
It is called the shapeless shape,
The substance without form.
It is called obscurely evasive.
Meet it and you do not see its beginning,
Follow it and you do not see its end.
Hold on to the ancient Way to master the present,
And to learn the distant beginning.
This is called the unbroken strand of the Way."
-  Translated by Stefan Stenudd, Chapter 14

Chapter and Thematic Index to the Tao Te Ching



Saturday, September 14, 2013

Focusing the Spirit by Chang San Feng

Chang San Feng, Taoist Grandmaster, circa 1200 CE

Focusing Spirit Accumulating Energy Treatise in Grand Ultimate Practice 
Attributed to Grandmaster Zhang Sanfeng

"The beginning of Grand Ultimate is Limitless Void. Nebulous as one energy. No separation. Thus, Limitless Void is the mother of Grand Ultimate. Thus the origin of myriad of things.
    Two energies separate. Heaven and earth judge. Grand Ultimate results. Two energies are yin and yang. Yin quiescent and yang dynamic. Yin terminates yang generates.
    Heaven and earth are separated into pure and impure. Pure floats impure sinks. Pure high impure low. Yin and yang combine, pure and impure unite. Interact and generate, result in myriad things. 
    Life of man originally possesses Limitless Void. This is the prenatal mechanics. Creation of man is post-natal, thus Grand Ultimate. Thus myriad things not without Limitless Void. Also not without Grand Ultimate. 
    The function of man. When there is movement, there must be quiescence. Extreme quiescence there must be movement. Movement and quiescence mutually operate, that is yin-yang. United become one Grand Ultimate. 
    Life of man is all dependent on spirit and energy. Pure energy rises up. Doubtless to heaven. Focus spirit internally. Doubtless to earth. Spirit and energy unit. Result in one Grand Ultimate.
    Hence, the transmission of my Art of Grand Ultimate. First, understand the marvelous way of the Grand Ultimate. Not understand this, not my students.
    Art of Grand Ultimate, movement is like quiescence. Quiescence is like movement. Movement and quiescence interact. Mutually connected without break. Two energies unite. Signals the attainment of the Grand Ultimate. Internally focus spirit. Externally accumulate energy. Before form arrives, intention first arrives. Form has not arrived, intention has already arrived. What is intention? The agent of spirit.
    Spirit and energy unite, the seat of Grand Ultimate is decided. Its sign is settled. Its seat is settled. Continuously interact. The number seventy two. Thirteen techniques in Art of Grand Ultimate. Ward off, roll back, press in, in contact, take, spread, elbow, anchor. Forward, backward, to the left, to the right, remain at center. According to creation and reaction of Eight Symbols and Five Processes. 
    Also empty spirit, ignore pull, loosen waist, settle false-real, sink and press, use intention and not use strength. Top and bottom coordinated, internal and external united. Continuously linked without break. Quiescence found in movement. The ten essentials in Art of Grand Ultimate. No-two-gate for those who learn the art. Fundamental for entering the way. 
    Entering the way nourish heart stabilize nature; accumulate energy focus spirit be main path. Practice this art must follow thus. Heart not peaceful, nature disturbed. Energy not accumulated, spirit disordered. 
    Heart and nature not united, spirit and energy not coordinated, four limbs and hundred meridians of body lifeless, and functions useless. To pacify heart and stabilize nature, focus spirit and accumulate energy. Not miss hit-sitting. Not neglect techniques of training. Search within movement and quiescence the benefits of Grand Ultimate. 
    From Eight Symbols and Five Processes find principles of creation and reaction. Use seventy two number to achieve heart and nature, spirit and energy of the Grand Ultimate. Mutually function. Thus heart peaceful nature stabilized, spirit focused energy accumulated. Achieve attainment of Grand Ultimate in body. Yin-yang unite, movement and quiescence become one. Four limbs and hundred meridians of body flow smoothly. Without stagnation without wastage. Hence receive my transmission."

Focusing Spirit Accumulating Energy Treatise in Grand Ultimate Practice
    Attributed to Master Zhang San Feng
    A literal translation by Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit, 2012, at Flowing Zen

Friday, September 13, 2013

Five Senses or Thirty One Senses?

From Guy Murchie’s The Seven Mysteries of Life, An Exploration in Science & Philosophy.  Boston, Houghton Mifflin Company, c1978.  Pages 178-180.  Guy Murchie, 1907- 1997.   
"A lot of people seem to think there can be none but the five traditional senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. In a way they are right, I suppose, if you assume that only the ones most obvious to humans are to be included. But surely there are more senses in Heaven and Earth than you or I have dreamed of. And I have increasingly had the feeling that the time has come when someone should pioneer into the subject as a whole with a fresh, untrammeled outlook. So, out of more than idle curiosity, I've jotted down a list of all I could think of and it came to 48, not even counting the "stage-in-space sense" previously described. Then, by combining the most closely related ones, I trimmed the number to 32. Of course a lot depends on how one defines a sense, and on arbitrary choices, like whether you decide to lump the sense of warmth and coolness or the sense of dryness and dampness in with the sense of feeling, and whether you want to include the senses (or are they instincts?) that animals, plants and (conceivably) rocks have but most humans evidently don't.

"Here is my list of the principal senses of all creatures:

The Radiation Senses
1.  Sight, which, I should think, would include seeing polarized light and seeing without eyes, such as the heliotropism or sun sense of plants.
2.  The sense of awareness of one’s own visibility or invisibility and the consequent competence to advertise or to camouflage via pigmentation control, luminescence, transparency, screening, behavior, etc.
3.  Sensitivity to radiation other than visible light, including radio waves, x-rays, gamma rays, etc., but omitting most of the temperature and electromagnetic senses.
4. Temperature sense, including ability to insulate, hibernate, estivate, etc. This sense is known to have its own separate nerve networks.
5.  Electromagnetic sense, which includes the ability to generate current (as in the electric eel), awareness of magnetic polarity (possessed by many insects) and a general sensitivity to electromagnetic fields.

The Feeling Senses 

6. Hearing, including sonar and the detection of infra- and ultrasonic frequencies beyond ears.
7. Awareness of pressure, particularly underground and underwater, as through the lateral line organ of fish, the earth tremor sense of burrowers, the barometric sense, etc.
8. Feel, particularly touch on the skin and the proprioceptive awareness of intra- and intermuscular motion, tickling, vibration sense (such as the spider feels), cognition of heartbeat, blood circulation, breathing, etc.

9. The sense of weight and balance.
10. Space or proximity sense.
11. Coriolis sense, or awareness of effects of the rotation of the earth.

The Chemical Senses

12. Smell, with and beyond the nose.
13. Taste, with and beyond the tongue or mouth.
14. Appetite, hunger and the urge to hunt, kill or otherwise obtain food.
15. Humidity sense, including thirst, evaporation control and the acumen to find water or evade a flood.

The Mental Senses

16. Pain: external, internal, mental or spiritual distress, or any combination of these, including the impulse and capacity to weep.
17. The sense of fear, the dread of injury or death, of attack by vicious enemies, of suffocation, falling, bleeding, disease and other dangers.
18. The procreative urge, which includes sex awareness, courting (perhaps involving love), mating, nesting, brooding, parturition, maternity, paternity and raising the young.
19. The sense of play, sport, humor, pleasure and laughter.
20. Time sense and, most specifically, the so-called biological clock.
21. Navigation sense, including the detailed awareness of land- and seascapes, of the positions of sun, moon and stars, of time, of electromagnetic fields, proximity to objects, probably Coriolis and other sensitivities still undefined.
22. Domineering and territorial sense, including the capacity to repel, intimidate or exploit other creatures by fighting, predation, parasitism, domestication or slavery.
23. Colonizing sense, including the receptive awareness of one's fellow creatures, of parasites, slaves, hosts, symbionts and congregating with them, sometimes to the degree of being absorbed into a super-organism.
24. Horticultural sense and the ability to cultivate crops, as is done by ants who grow fungus, or by fungus that farms algae.
25. Language and articulation sense, used to express feelings and convey information in every medium from the bees' dance to human literature.
26. Reasoning, including memory and the capacity for logic and science.
27. Intuition or subconscious deduction.
28. Esthetic sense, including creativity and appreciation of music, literature, drama, of graphic and other arts.
29. Psychic capacity, such as foreknowledge, clairvoyance, clairaudience, psychokinesis, astral projection and possibly certain animal instincts and plant sensitivities.
30. Hypnotic power: the capacity to hypnotize other creatures.
31. Relaxation and sleep, including dreaming, meditation, brainwave awareness and other less-than-conscious states of mind like pupation, which involves cocoon building, metamorphoses and, from some viewpoints, dying.

The Spiritual Sense

32.  Spiritual sense, including conscience, capacity for sublime love, ecstasy, a sense of sin, profound sorrow, sacrifice and, in rare cases, cosmic consciousness."