Thursday, October 31, 2013

Wild Goose Chi Kung


Dayan (Wild Goose) Qigong Exercises

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

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

"Wild Goose Qigong claims that “there are no intentional movements without awareness. Wild Goose Qigong advocates “wu-wei” (or “doing nothing”) and “tuo-yi” (“reduce one’s awareness to the minimum”). A good example is Wild Goose-1 (the first 64 Movements). We often tell our beginning learners that the movements in this set of qigong are supposed to describe the daily activities of a wild goose. There are three parts to this qigong.  Part One is “The Goose Wakes Up”. It stretches itself, it brushes up its wings and shakes them. It plays innocently.  A made-up story is even included: “Then the goose looks at the moon, which is reflected in the water and tries to scoop it up."  Part Two is “The Flying Goose”.  Flapping its wings, the care-free wild goose skims over a smooth lake.  It looks at the water and dips down to drink the water.  Then the goose is playing with he “qi”.  It tries to grasp the qi.  It holds and rotates the qi-ball.  It pushes out the dirty qi, and tries to receive the fresh qi from its lower back.  In Part Three, the goose is first flying up into the sky. Now it is flying over the water.  Then it is looking for some food.  After that, it is looking for its nest. At last, the goose goes to sleep.  When beginning, learners are encouraged to be pre-occupied with the daily activity of an innocent wild goose, when they are imagining that they are “flapping their wings” beside shimmering lake under a full moon, their heart beat will be naturally slow down, and their mind will gradually be quieting down too. At the same time, they will be more responsive to the instructor’s words on how to relax themselves through the shifting of body weight. Wild Goose Qigong is a medical qigong. We practice it because of its health benefits. When we have better qi flow, our blood circulation will improve. We will have more oxygen supply to our brain. Our mind will be more alert. We will get stronger, and we will have more physical strength, etc.."
-   Bingkun Hu, Ph.D., A Safe and Delightful Approach to Good Health   

"In Ancient Egypt as well as in Ancient China the goose was considered a messenger between Heaven and Earth. In China geese are still a symbol of marriage, because of their lifelong pair-bond. In the Roman empire, the goose was the sacred animal of Juno, a goddess of light, marriage and childbirth, who was later considered adviser and protectress of the Roman people. A story tells of how geese saved the Romans with their warning cries when the Gauls attacked the citadel of the Capitol. The Celts associated the goose with war, possibly because of its watchful nature and aggressive temperament. Warrior gods were sometimes depicted with geese as companions. Remains of geese have been found in warrior's graves. The Britons kept geese, but did not eat them. They were, however, sometimes used as sacrificial offerings. The goose, with its steady, powerful flight and migratory habits, can be associated with travelling, undertaking a journey to a new destination. This journey can be difficult and may take long. The goose can help people find the perseverance needed to go on with their quests. In earlier times, shamans were aided by spirit geese on their journeys to other worlds."
- Geese - The Animal Files

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Sensitive Awareness

"Simply speaking, drushti is sensitive awareness to that which you are doing. This has two aspects that are vital to every aspect of our practice. First it means bringing your mind to bear exactly on what you are doing. Not doing one thing while thinking another. This actually means learning not even to be thinking about what you are doing. Rather, just be doing it, feeling it. In the beginning we must think before we act. Then we act. Then think again. But we must learn to separate these two processes so that we can act with precision and clarity, without the distraction of thought. Eventually we will learn to trust the intelligence of the body and will be able to dispense with the thinking process more and more. Then our practice becomes meditation in action."

"The second aspect is to feel the effect of what we are doing. Not only at the point of the action itself, but throughout the whole structure of the body and the quality of the mind. We must feel its impact on the functioning of the body, breath and mind. We use this feedback to go deeper into the poses by making adjustments according to the four secondary techniques of asana, vinyasa, bandha and pranayama. Then through the dynamic created between our intention and our actions, a meditative awareness emerges."

- Godfrey Devereux, Dynamic Yoga, 1998, p. 24

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Momentary Retreat

"Everything about Tai Chi is relaxed, deliberate and focused in the moment. The simple truth is, when you engage in Tai Chi you're temporarily disconnecting your awareness from your present life situations - be it family, work, friends etc. Think of it as a momentary retreat from life to regroup your energies. If properly learned and practiced, the resulting benefits of bringing your life energy into a balanced, harmonized and integrated state can serve to increase your vitality, reduce stress, better control your emotions, modify your habits and much, and much more!"
- Si Gung Tiru Sadasivam, Tai Chi Chuan

When moving in Taijiquan forms, remain open, alert, untensed, free, and fluid. This state of being is called Sung.

Monday, October 28, 2013

More Zhang Sanfeng Lore

Chang San-Feng, Taoist Grand Master: Bibliography, Quotes, Writings, Lore, Encounters
Research by Mike Garofalo

    "Zhang Sanfeng ("Zhang Triple Abundance" or "Zhang Three Peaks") is a famous Taoist said to have live between the end of the Yuan and beginning of the Ming periods.  His historical existence, however, is unproved.  In early biographies―including the one in the Mingshi (History of Ming)―he is usually said to be a native of Yizhou (Liaoning), but other sources give different birthplaces.  According to these works he was seven feet tall and had enormously big ears and eyes, his appearance suggested the longevity of a turtle and the immortality of a crane, and his beard and whiskers bristled like the blades of a halberd.  He tied his hair in a knot and, regardless of the season, wore only a garment made of leaves.  In his youth, Zhang is supposed to have studied Buddhism under the Chan master Haiyun (1021-56), but then mastered neidan and reached immortality.  He was known for his extraordinary magical powers as well as his ability to prophesy.
    In the first years of the Ming period, Zhang reportedly established himself on Mount Wudang (Wudang Shan, Hubei), where he lived in a thatched hut.  With his pupils he rebuilt the mountain monasteries destroyed during the wars at the end of the Mongol dynasty.  From Mount Wudang, Zhang went to the Jintai guan (Abbey of the Golden Terrace) in Baoji (Shananxi), where he announced his departure, composed a hymn, and passed away.  Later he came back to life, travelled to Sichuan, and visited Mount Wudang.
    The belief in the real existence of Zhang Sanfeng during the Ming Dynasty is reflected in the emperor's continued efforts to locate him.  The search for Zhang started in 1391 by order of the Hongwu Emperor (1368-1398) and was extended from 1407 to 1419 by the Yongle Emperor (1403-1424).  Both sent out delegates several times, but they all returned without success.  Promoted by the Ming emperor's interest, a cult developed around Zhang that spread widely and lasted until the later years of the Qing dynasty.
    As time went on, the legends about Zhang Sanfeng multiplied and became increasingly exaggerated.  Zhang is known as the founder of taiji quan (a claim without historical evidence) and the patron saint of practitioners of this technique.  During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, a connection to the sexual techniques (fangzhong shu) was also established and texts dealing with these practices were ascribed to him.  The belief that Zhang was the master of Shen Wansan, a popular deity of wealth, led to his own identity as a god of wealth in the seventeenth century.  The Western Branch (Xipai) of neidan and various Qing sects also regarded Zhang Sanfeng as their first patriarch."
-  Martina Darga.  The Routledge Encyclopedia of Taoism (EoT), 2008, 2011, Volume II, p. 1233-35, article about Zhang Sanfeng in the EoT by Martina Darga. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Dao De Jing by Laozi, Chapter 8

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
Chapter 8

"True goodness is like water, in that it benefits everything and harms nothing.
Like water it ever seeks the lowest place, the place that all others avoid.
It is closely kin to the Dao.  
For a dwelling it chooses the quiet meadow; for a heart the circling eddy.
In generosity it is kind,
In speech it is sincere,
In authority it is order,
In affairs it is ability,
In movement it is rhythm.
In as much as it is always peaceable it is never rebuked."
-  Translated by Dwight Goddard and Henri Borel, 1919, Chapter 8 

"The greatest virtue is like water; it is good to all things.
It attains the most inaccessible places without strife.
Therefore it is like Tao.
It has the virtue of adapting itself to its place.
It is virtuous like the heart by being deep.
It is virtuous like speech be being faithful.
It is virtuous like government in regulating.
It is virtuous like a servant in its ability.
It is virtuous like action by being in season.
And because it does not strive it has no enemies."
-  Translated by Walter Gorn Old, 1904, Chapter 8   

"The highest excellence is like that of water.
The excellence of water appears in its benefiting all things, and in its occupying,
Without striving to the contrary, the low place which all men dislike.
Hence its way is near to that of the Tao.
The excellence of a residence is in the suitability of the place;
That of the mind is in abysmal stillness;
That of associations is in their being with the virtuous;
That of government is in its securing good order;
That of the conduct of affairs is in its ability; and,
That of the initiation of any movement is in its timeliness.
And when one with the highest excellence does not wrangle about his low position,
No one finds fault with him."
-  Translated by James Legge, 1891, Chapter 8  

"The best are like water
bringing help to all
without competing
choosing what others avoid
hence approaching the Tao
dwelling with earth  
thinking with depth 
helping with kindness
speaking with truth 
governing with peace 
working with skill
moving with time 
and because they don't compete
they aren't maligned."
-  Translated by Bill (Red Pine) Porter, 1996, Chapter 8  

"One of universal nature is like water;
He benefits all things
But does not contend with them. 
He unprotestingly takes the lowest position;
Thus, he is close to the universal truth.
One of universal virtue chooses to live
In a suitable environment. 
He attunes his mind to become profound. 
He deals with others with kindness. 
In his speech, he is sincere.
His rule brings about order. 
His work is efficient. 
His actions are opportune. 
One of deep virtue does not contend with people:
Thus, he is above reproach."
-  Translated by Hua-Ching Ni, 1979, Chapter 8   

Ripening Peaches: Taoist Studies and Practices

Concordance and Thematic Index to the Tao Te Ching


Saturday, October 26, 2013

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu: Index, Selected Translations, Guide

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

Ripening Peaches: Taoist Studies and Practices

Chapter and Thematic Index to the Tao Te Ching

I have prepared one webpage for each of the 81 Chapters of the Tao Te Ching (Dao De Jing), The Classic of the Way and Virtue, by Lao Tzu (Laozi).  Each of these webpages now includes over 12 different translations of the Chapter; with the aim of providing up to 24 different translations for each Chapter by the end of 2014.  Most translations selected for each Chapter are from translations freely available in the public domain, while a few come from cited books in print.  Quite a number include my own interpolations, comments, and related poems.  A full index of the sources for each translator's version is provided.  To my knowledge, this is the largest collection on the Internet of different translations of the Tao Te Ching arranged by Chapters.

Commentaries and related references are included on the webpage for each Chapter.  Leads to purchasing good books on the subject are provided on each webpage.  References to related subjects in Taoist mind-body arts, published online by Green Way Research, are provided.  Finally, information about studying Taoist mind-body arts with me in Red Bluff, California, are included on each webpage.  
I hope that enthusiasts of Taoist works will find this collection of translations of the Tao Te Ching useful in their studies, and that new readers will find new insights for wise and peaceful living in the varied translations and interpolations of this classic Chinese contribution to our world heritage.  
Use the Ctrl + F keystroke combination to open the search function in any web browser.  Then, you can search this webpage by keywords, themes, terms, or subjects.  
Thanks for visiting this website.  Your feedback and support are appreciated. 
-  Mike Garofalo
   October 2013  

Friday, October 25, 2013

Tucking the Tailbone

The Myth of Tucking the Tailbone from Chi Arts

I could quote from many qigong and taijiquan books about this topic. 

Read the above article for a very interesting discussion of this topic.

What do you think about the topic?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Wudang Mountain Badunjin

"The Eight Verses of Wudang Mountain Badunjin :

1. Lift the ground and hold the sky to take care of the three internal cavities
2. Draw a bow to the left and right, just like shooting a vulture
3. Lift the hand up singly to tone and caress the spleen and the stomach
4. Look backwards to cure the five strains and seven injuries
5. Reach down the leg by both hands to strengthen the kidney and the reproductive organ
6. Swivel the head and rock the bottom to calm down
7. Rotate fists and stare to add stamina
8. Vibrate the back seven times to expel illness

The first segment takes care of the three chiaos (internal organs), the second segment strengthens the heart and the lung, the third regulates the spleen and the stomach, the fourth cures strains and injuries, the fifth toughens the kidney and reproductive organ, the sixth calms the nervous system, the seventh increases stamina, the eighth gets rid of illnesses. It has materialised the merging of the theory and movements of Badunjin with clinical sports, as well as specified the importance of life-nourishment and health-preservation. Badunjin Qigong, uplifted by the modern medical confirmation from Chinese and western professionals and scholars, continues to be revitalised and made to perfection. Thus it has been made even more suitable and practical to serve the needs of the modern era, and advances with time.

The theory and movements of Wudang Badunjin is thorough; it is safe and easy to learn, and has a wide application on medical cure. Externally, it exercises the skin, muscles, tendons and bones; internally, it strengthens the organs, improves the circulatory system, and consolidates the spirit of well being. Its movements involve breathing naturally, and are smart & light, continuous and lively, elegant and beautiful, stretchy and graceful, alternating relaxing with tightening, synchronising harmoniously, can be fast or slow but with distinct rhythm, can be complicated or simple, active or quiet, and cohere the opening with the closing. It stresses on the mutual use of toughness and gentleness, the training of the internal and external body parts, the merging of activity and quietness, the balancing of the left and the right, the top and the bottom, alternating the real and the virtual, and nourishing both the body and the spirit. The amount of exercise and the length of the practice session can be adjusted anytime, and it can be practised alongside with other exercises. Age, sex, body nature, location, equipment, time, season, etc do not restrict the practice. It can be practised individually, with the whole family, or with a group. The all-encompassing effect and value of its body-strengthening and medical aspects is evergreen."
-  Wudang Mountain Badunjin Qigong 20Kb. Original (in Chinese) written in Hong Kong by Woo Kwong Fat, the 28th Generation Master of Dragon Gate Branch, Wudang Mountain.

Wudang Qigong

Eight Section Brocade Qigong (Baduanjin)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Wisdom of the Flesh

"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

"There is deep wisdom within our very flesh,  if we can only come to our senses and feel it."
 -  Elizabeth A. Behnke

"He who feels it, knows it more."
-  Bob Marley  

"No matter how closely we look, it is difficult to find a mental act that can take place without the support of some physical function."
-  Moshe Feldenkrais  

"I would have touched it like a child
But knew my finger could but have touched
Cold stone and water.   I grew wild,
Even accusing heaven because
It had set down among its laws:
Nothing that we love over-much
Is ponderable to our touch."
-  W. B. Yeats  


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Walking - Benefits

"Studies have indicated the numerous "mental benefits" of walking such as: slowing mental decline, lowering Alzheimer's risk, improving sleep, improving mood, and improving concentration."
The Mental Benefits of Walking from Arthritis Today, 2010.
"For someone who walks regularly, their body is better able to deliver oxygen to all systems, including the brain, because they’ve improved their cardiovascular function. Not surprisingly, regular walkers report better mental clarity and ability to focus. Creativity is enhanced because walkers have the ability to relax their mind and let it wander around while they’re walking. Outdoor strollers can have the benefit of beautiful scenery as well as just seeing things from a different perspective, which stimulates creative thought and the imagination.  Whether you want to improve your body, your mind or both, the benefits of walking should encourage you to make the time to do it."
Mental Benefits of Walking, Creating a Good Life

Scientific studies have shown that their are numerous benefits of walking: improves insulin sensitivity and thus prevents diabetes, improves one's sex life, saves you on gym costs, can reduce the need for certain medicines, reduce fibromyalgia pain, helps with overcoming certain cancers, reduces stroke risk, and improves memory.
The Eight Astonishing Benefits of Walking, The Mother Nature Network

Walking: Quotes, Sayings, Poems, Information

Monday, October 21, 2013

Planting Roses

Karen and I have been working on expanding our collection of roses in our front yard.  We added 8 new roses.  This location is a sunny one. 

Our daytime temperatures are now below 80F, so we can begin our autumn planting projects.

The background planting behind the roses consists of hedges and plantings of evergreens: bay laurel, rosemary, junipers, redwood, bottlebrush, cypress, holly, and mock orange.  The evergreen pyracanthans have a beautiful fall display of orange-red berries.


October: Quotes, Poems, Saying, Chores, Lore

The Spirit of Gardening Website

This past Sunday afternoon we completely cleaned out all the remaining summer vegetables from our "Sunny Garden."  We pulled up around 10 pepper plants loaded with bright red peppers.  Our next project this week is to rake this garden, roto-till with our small Mantis tiller, lay down a layer of composted steer manure, roto-till again, plant and water our winter vegetables, and let the major portion of this garden rest and cure throughout the winter months.  We use straw as mulch. 

I'll show a picture next Monday of our progress on this project in our large "sunny" vegetable garden. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, Chapter 9

Dao De Jing, Laozi
Chapter 9

"It is better to leave a vessel unfilled, than to attempt to carry it when it is full.
If you keep feeling a point that has been sharpened, the point cannot long preserve its sharpness.
When gold and jade fill the hall, their possessor cannot keep them safe.
When wealth and honors lead to arrogance, this brings its evil on itself.
When the work is done, and one's name is becoming distinguished,
To withdraw into obscurity is the way of Heaven."
-  Translated by James Legge, 1891, Chapter 9 

"It is advisable to refrain from continual reaching after wealth.
Continual handling and sharpening wears away the most durable thing.
If the house be full of jewels, who shall protect it?
Wealth and glory bring care along with pride.
To stop when good work is done and honour advancing is the way of Heaven."
-  Translated by Walter Gorn Old, 1904, Chapter 9  

"Continuing to fill a pail after it is full the water will be wasted. 
Continuing to grind an axe after it is sharp will soon wear it away.  
Who can protect a public hall crowded with gold and jewels?  
The pride of wealth and position brings about their own misfortune.  
To win true merit, to preserve just fame, the personality must be retiring.  
This is the heavenly Dao."
-  Translated by Dwight Goddard and Henri Borel, 1919, Chapter 9   

"Let Heavenly Love fill you and overflow in you,
Not according to your measure of fullness.
Prove it, probe deeply into it,
It shall not long withstand you.
You may fill a place with gold and precious stones,
You will not be able to guard them.
You may be weighted with honors and become proud.
Misfortune then will come to your Self.
You may accomplish great deeds and acquire fame,
Retire yourself;
This is Heavenly Tao."
-  Translated by Isabella Mears, 1916, Chapter 9 

"Stretch a bow to the very full,
And you will wish you had stopped in time;
Temper a sword-edge to its very sharpest,
And you will find it soon grows dull.
When bronze and jade fill your hall.
It can no longer be guarded.
Wealth and place breed insolence.
That brings ruin in its train.
When your work is done, then withdraw!
Such is Heaven's Way."
-  Translated by Arthur Waley, 1934, Chapter 9  

"Going to extremes is never best.
For if you make a blade too sharp, it will become dull too quickly
And if you hoard all the wealth, you are bound to be attacked.
If you become proud and arrogant regarding your good fortune, you will naturally beget enemies who jealously despise you.
The way to success is this: having achieved your goal, be satisfied not to go further. For this is the way Nature operates."
-  Translated by Archie J. Balm, 1958, Chapter 9 

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


Saturday, October 19, 2013

Breathing and Taijiquan

"When practicing the First Form, you should not try to control your breathing except when issuing.  Simply breathe naturally through your nose.  When issuing, exhale through the nose as you punch, then abruptly close off the exhalation when your waist terminates your travel.  The closing is instantaneous; your breathing should continue normally immediately afterward."
-  Mark Chen, Old Frame Chen Family Taijiquan, p. 90

"Breathing in Taijiquan form practice may follow a pattern, such as to inhale with this movement or exhale with that, but it is not rigid.  A breathing regimen may be helpful to regulate breath, but strict adherence can become a hindrance as one has to adjust readily to a change of tempo.  Breath changes according to the pace and execution of movements.  Naturally, one breathes heavily when short of breath.  But in heavy breathing, the body heaving up and down affects form and internal balance.  Heavy breathing may in natural in the circumstances, but it is not the natural breathing of Taijiquan.  The rationale of natural breathing in Taijiquan practice is for the breath to follow the fangsong relaxation of nurturing qi.  The rule is for breathing to follow the demands of practice, rather than for the practice to be dictated by the demands of a breathing regimen.  In throwing a punch (a fajin), breathing out is natural with the action, sometimes accompanied with a cry of exertion, like a kiai in karate.  So, one breathes out in executing a power action and breathes in to gather energy - xu xi fa hu (inhale in collecting energy and exhale when discharging power.  Also, generally, one inhales in rising and exhales in lowering, and breathes in to open and breathes out to close."
-  C.P. Ong, Taijiquan: Cultivating Inner Strength, p. 259

"The importance of naturalness and spontaneity (zi ran) in breathing cannot be overemphasized.  The Chinese term zi ran literally means "own nature" ― that which occurs by following the rules of its own character.  ...  A common mistake is to put too much emphasis on trying to control the breath during movement.  Left to itself, the body will adjust the breathing to accommodate the activity such as running or swimming, as they put in greater effort, the breath naturally responds to the body's needs. ...  When normal breathing is being employed, the stomach expands as the practitioner inhales and contracts as he exhales.  The breathing method of Taijiquan follows certain principles, such as: inhaling when "closing" or bringing in, and exhaling with "opening" or extending; inhaling when storing or gathering energy, exhaling when emitting energy; inhaling when rising up, exhaling when dropping down.  However, even within these requirements breathing may vary depending upon the circumstance."
-  Davidine Siaw-Voon Sim and David Gaffney, Chen Style Taijiquan: The Source of Taiji Boxing, p.82

When practicing the Laojia Yilu Taijiquan Form, "Keep the mouth closed."
-  Chen Zhenglei, Chen's Tai Chi Old Frame One and Two, p. 111. 

"The basic breathing of Tai Chi Chuan uses the nose only, not the mouth. This differs from the common people who use the nose to inhale and exhale through the mouth. The beginner does not have to concentrate upon this breathing technique, but concentrate instead on the forms for the correct movement and postures. The only requirements for beginners are slow movements, natural breathing, and a relaxation of the entire body.  The beginner should let the breathing be natural and not emphasize the breathing technique.  The details of the intermediate method are: when practicing the forms, one exhales when extending the arm and inhales when withdrawing the arm; one inhales when rising and exhales when sinking; to lift is to inhale, to lower is to exhale; when opening up, one inhales, when closing, one exhales.  When turning the body and in between movements, there should be a "little breathing".  A "little breathing" means taking short breaths quickly and has the quality of relaxation and stoppage.  Generally, breathing is used to lead the movement.  The movement must be coordinated with the breathing.  The body opens up and the chi closes.  The chi opens up and the body closes."
-  Master Chen Yen Ling, Tai Chi Chuan Method Of Breathing and Chi Direction

Chen Taijiquan Old Frame First Form (Laojia Yilu)  

Friday, October 18, 2013

Old Frame, First Form, Chen Taijiquan

Chen Style Taijiquan, Old Frame First Form, Lao Jia Yi Lu
By Michael P. Garofalo.  

This webpage includes a detailed bibliography of books, media, and articles.  Extensive selection of Internet links. 
List of movement names in English, Chinese characters, Chinese Pinyin, French, German, and Spanish; and citations for sources of the movement names. 
Detailed list of DVDs and videos available online.

Extensive notes on the author's learning the Old Frame, First Routine, Lao Jia Yi Lu; and on learning Chen Style Taijiquan. 
Record of performance times of this form by many masters. 
Breakdown by sections of the form, with separate lists for each section.  General information, history, facts, information, pointers, and quotations.  

Thursday, October 17, 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

Photographs of our Sacred Circle Garden from 2006-2011

One Old Druid's Final Journey

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Becoming Enlightened

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

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

Advice from Wise Persons   


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Eightteen Hands of the Buddha's Council

Luohan Qigong, Lohan Qigong, Luohan Gong, Lohan Gong, 18 Buddha Hands
Shaolin Buddhist Qigong
Resources, Lessons, History, Links, Bibliography, Notes, Research
"One tradition is that the Buddhist teacher, Bodhidharma (448-527 CE), a famous Grand Master of Chan (Zen),introduced a set of 18 exercises to the Buddhist monks at the Shaolin Temple. These are known as the Eighteen Hands of the Lohan. This Shaolin Lohan Qigong (i.e., the art of the breath of the enlightened ones), "is an internal set of exercises for cultivating the "three treasures" of qi (vital energy), jing (essence), and shen (spirit)," according to Howard Choy. The Kung Fu master, Sifu Wong Kiew-Kit, referring to the Shaolin Wahnam style, says "the first eight Lohan Hands are the same as the eight exercises in a famous set of chi kung exercises called the Eight Pieces of Brocade." There are numerous versions,seated and standing, of Bodhiidharma's exercise sets - including the related "Tendon-Changing and Marrow-Washing" qigong set. Some versions of the 18 Lohan (Luohan) Hands have up to four levels, and scores of movement forms for qigong and martial purposes."
- Michael P. Garofalo, Eight Section Brocade (330Kb)

For a comparison of some of the exercises in the Lohan Qigong with the Eight Section Brocade see my chart on the topic.
The Luohan Qigong includes a massage or patting training methods, and this is especially popular among Yin Fu Bagua enthusiasts. Master Xie Pei Qi has a DVD out on the topic. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

A Connection with the Earth

"And all the times I was picking up potatoes, I did have conversations with them.  Too, I did have thinks of all their growing days there in the ground, and all the things they did hear.  Earth-voices are glad voices, and earth-songs come up from the ground through the plants; and in their flowering, and in the days before these days are come, they do tell the earth-songs to the wind ... I have thinks these potatoes growing here did have knowings of star-songs." 
-  Opel Whiteley, 8 years of age, The Singing Creek where the Willows Grow - The Mystical Nature Diary of Opal Whiteley, Penguin, 1994. 

"Heaven is right beneath our feet."
-  Henry David Thoreau

Earth - Quotes, Poems, Sayings

"Without a true connection to Earth energy your Taiji will be weak and your Taijiquan with be nothing more than a distant goal. You’ll be like a young sapling that can be uprooted by even a child.  Watch some videos and concentrate on the player’s connection to the ground.  Do they look like they could be pushed over at any time?  Can you see the Earth energy rising up the body, spiraling through the waist coming out through the hands?  Do they start and end each form completely rooted?  Most players have spent all their time learning the movements of the forms and have neglected the connection to earth.  They are without root and it is a foundational imperative."
-  Rod Morin, Rooting and Connection to the Three Energies
  "One ability that Tai Chi uses to develop serious power through internal ability is called root. The skill of rooting involves the ability to use mind intent to drop your center of gravity down below the ground.  Although rooting involves mind intent, it is more than just visualization. If you practice rooting, you will be able to actually feel the weight of your body dropping down below the surface of the ground. When you practice drills with partners they should be able to feel it too. This way, if you use root in a combat situation, an attacker will be able to feel your root as well so that you will feel to them like a concrete slab stuck deep into the ground. In other words, you will be very hard to push over.  When you first learn root, you begin by practicing standing in one place. However, you can learn to keep your root in the ground while you are walking or in a combat situation. It is possible to learn to drop your root deeper and deeper even as you are fighting.  Over time, you can develop your root so that it is deeper in the ground and contains more and more of your compressed body weight. Some Tai Chi masters can have a root that is 50 feet or more below the ground. To an attacker, being hit by someone with a really deep and strong root can feel like being hit by a 300 pound gorilla."
 -   Richard Clear, Root: A Secret of Combat Tai Chi's Internal Power

Rooting in Taijiquan and Qigong  This webpage includes an introduction, selected quotations, a bibliography with links, and training suggestions.  

Taoism: Resources and Guides

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Dao De Jing by Laozi, Chapter 10

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
Chapter 10

"If you would retain a wholesome personality, must you not restrain your lower interests from dominating over your higher interests?
If you wish to live healthily, should you not breathe naturally, like a child, and not hold your breath until your vitality is nearly exhausted?
If you desire to realize the potentialities of your indescribable original nature, how can you insist that some selected aspect of your personality is really superior to that original nature?
If you are required to govern others, ought you not be able to guide them by example, rather than by forcing your will upon them?
If Nature's way is a joint process of initiation and completion, sowing and reaping, producing and consuming, can you rightly demand that you deserve always to play the role of the consumer?
If you desire to know the nature of the various kinds of things, must you meddle with them, experiment with them, try to change them, in order to find out?
Nature procreates all things and then devotes itself to caring for them, Just as parents give birth to children without keeping them as slaves. It willingly gives life, without first asking whether the creatures will repay for its services. It provides a pattern to follow, without requiring anyone to follow it. This is the secret of intelligent activity."
-  Translated by Archie J. Bahm, 1958, Chapter 10 

"Can you hold the door of your tent
Wide to the firmament?
Can you, with the simple stature
Of a child, breathing nature,
Become, notwithstanding,
A man?
Can you continue befriending
With no prejudice, no ban?
Can you, mating with heaven,
Serve as the female part?
Can your learned head take leaven
From the wisdom of your heart?
If you can bear issue and nourish its growing,
If you can guide without claim or strife,
If you can stay in the lead of men without their knowing,
You are at the core of life."
-  Translated by Witter Bynner, 1944, Chapter 10 

"By conserving the natural and spiritual powers it is possible to escape dissolution.
By restraining the passions and letting gentleness have its sway it is possible to continue as a child.
By purging the mind of impurities it is possible to remain untainted.
By governing the people with love it is possible to remain unknown.
By continual use of the Gates of Heaven it is possible to preserve them from rust.
By transparency on all sides it is possible to remain unrecognized.
o bring forth and preserve, to produce without possessing, to act without hope of reward, and to expand without waste, this is the supreme virtue."
-  Translated by Walter Gorn Old, 1904, Chapter 10 

"In bringing your spiritual (ying) and bodily (p'o) souls to embrace the One,
Can (neng) you never depart (li) from it?
In concentrating your breath to attain softness,
Can you be like an infant (ying erh)?
In cleansing your mirror (lan) of the dark (hsüan),
Can you make it spotless?
In opening and closing heaven's gate (t'ien men),
Can you be the female (tz'u)?
In being enlightened (ming) and comprehending all,
Can you do it without knowledge?
In loving the people and governing the state,
Can you practice non-action?
To give birth, to nurture,
To give birth yet not to claim possession (yu),
To act (wei) yet not to hold on to,
To grow (chang) yet not to lord over (tsai),
This is called the dark virtue (yüan te)."
-  Translated by Ellen Marie Chen, 2000, Chapter 10 

"Bring soul and spirit into unity, they will become welded in the Inner Life.
Conquer vital force until it yields to you, you will become as a new-born child.
Purify the channels of deep perception, you will dwell safely in the Inner Life.
Govern a kingdom by loving the people, they will learn to act from the Inner Life.
Open and shut the doors of heaven, you will have repose of mind in active life.
Let your purity shine forth in all directions, men will see that you have an Inner Life.
Give it birth, nourish it,
Give it birth, but do not seek to possess.
Act but do not appropriate.
Endure but do not rule.
That is called profound Teh."
-  Translated by Isabella Mears, 1916, Chapter 10 

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


Saturday, October 12, 2013

Dragon Ch Kung Exercises

Exercises that involve twisting, turning, spiraling, screwing, sliding, swinging, swimming, sinking down and rising up, wiggling, undulating, circling, or twining are often associated with snakes and dragons.  There are many Qigong sets and specific Qigong movements given a name that includes a 'Dragon.'  Baguazhang and Shaolin Kung Fu also include many "Dragon" forms, sets and movements.  Silk Reeling Qigong is also related to Dragon like movements. 
Dragon Qigong is often associated with Wudang Taoist mind/body arts.  Maybe the cliffs and valleys of the Wudang Mountain area are home to many dragons? Dragons have a well established place in Taoist symbolism and lore, as well as in Chinese culture in general.    

My updated webpage on Dragon Qigong includes an extensive bibliography, links, resources, an introduction, quotations, and a detailed description of my own Dragon Qigong set.  

I welcome suggestions for additions and changes to the Dragon Qigong webpage. I have also successfully used these Dragon Qigong movements in my Hatha Yoga classes, and call them "Chinese Yoga."

Are you preparing for the upcoming start of the Year of the Water Dragon in 2012 starting on January 23rd?  Check out the sidebar on this blog for links to resources on Dragons. 

The East Asian Dragons are often associated with water, rain, vapors, fog, springs, streams, waterfalls, rivers, swamps, lakes, and the ocean.  Water can take many shapes and states, and Dragons are shape shifters and linked with transformation, appearing and disappearing, changing into something new.  Water is found in three states, depending upon the surrounding temperature: a solid (ice, snow), a fluid (flowing liquid), and a gas (fog, vapor, steam).  Since rainfall is often accompanied by thunder and lightening (thunderstorms and typhoons), the Dragon is sometimes associated with fire; and, since hot water and steam are major sources of energy in human culture, this further links the Dragon with the essential energy of Fire.  The Dragon is thus linked with the chemical and alchemical transformative properties of two of the essential Elements, both Water and Fire.  Dragons are generally benign or helpful to humans in East Asia, but their powers can also be destructive (e.g., flooding, tsunami, typhoon, lightening, steam, drowning, etc.).  There are both male and female Dragons, kinds or species of Dragons, Dragons of different colors and sizes, and mostly good but some evil Dragons.  Some Dragons can fly, some cannot fly; most live in or near water, a few on land.  The body of a Dragon combines features from many animals, representing the many possibilities for existential presence.  The Dragon in the East has serpentine, snake, or eel like movement qualities: twisting, spiraling, sliding, circling, swimming, undulating, flowing freely like water.  [See: The Dragon in China and Japan by Marinus De Visser, 1913]

Friday, October 11, 2013

Meditation and Walking

"Walking meditation means to enjoy walking without any intention to arrive. We don't need to arrive anywhere.  We just walk. We enjoy walking. That means walking is already stopping, and that needs some training.  Usually in our daily life we walk because we want to go somewhere. Walking is only a means to an end, and that is why we do not enjoy every step we take. Walking meditation is different. Walking is only for walking. You enjoy every step you take. So this is a kind of revolution in walking. You allow yourself to enjoy every step you take.
The Zen master Ling Chi said that the miracle is not to walk on burning charcoal or in the thin air or on the water; the miracle is just to walk on earth. You breathe in. You become aware of the fact that you are alive. You are still alive and you are walking on this beautiful planet. That is already performing a miracle. The greatest of all miracles is to be alive. We have to awaken ourselves to the truth that we are here, alive. We are here making steps on this beautiful planet. This is already performing a miracle.  But we have to be here in order for the miracle to be possible. We have to bring ourselves back to the here and the now."
-  Thich Nhat Hanh, Resting in the River

Walking Meditation:  Quotes, Bibliography, Links, Information, Methods

"Walking meditation is walking in full awareness of breath, body and everything the senses present.  It is not an aerobic exercise - though it would be a fine lead-in to aerobic walking.  Rather, walking meditation is done slowly and consciously, with each step fully feeling the earth.  During this precious time, body and mind come together, joined in the present moment.  Although the benefits of walking meditation will deepen over time, even from the start, you can experience some measure of the relaxation, balance and quiet energy that builds through this practice."
-  Ginny Whitelaw, Body Learning, p. 55. 

"Research conducted at Harvard Medical School’s Mind/Body Medical Institute has found that focused walking meditations are highly effective for reducing anxiety and producing  what’s called the “relaxation response.”
Borgess Health  

The Ways of Walking



Thursday, October 10, 2013

Sword Dance of Lady Gongsun

"There lived many years ago the beautiful Lady Gongsun,
Who, dancing with her sword, drew from all four quarters
An audience like mountains lost among themselves.

Heaven and Earth moved back and forth, following her motions,
Bright as when the Archer shot the Nine Suns down from the sky
And rapid as angels before the wings of dragons.

She began like a thunderbolt, venting its anger,
And ended like the shining calm of rivers and sea.

But vanished are those red lips and those pearly sleeves;
And none but this one talented pupil bears the perfume of her fame,
This sword dancer from Lingying, the Town of the White Goddess,
Who still dances and sings in the carefree old ways.

After the dance, we chatted for awhile.
We sighed together, saddened by the changes that have come.
There were a thousand ladies in the late Emperor's court;
But Lady Gongsun's sword dance was first among them all.

Fifty years have passed, like the turning of a hand;
Wind and dust, filling the world, obscure the Imperial House.
Instead of the Pear Garden Players, gone like the fog,
Only two girl musicians remain to charm the cold Sun.

There are now man-sized trees by the Emperor's Golden Tomb.
I seem to hear dead grasses rustling on the windy cliffs of Qutang.
The song is done, the slow strings and quick flutes have ceased.
At the height of joy, sorrow comes with the eastern moon rising.

And I, a poor old man, not knowing where to go,
Walk away slowly into the lonely hills, tired, facing the sunset."

- Du Fu, The Sword Dance Performed by a Pupil of Lady Gongsun
"300 Chinese Poems" The poet Du Fu (712-770, 杜甫) mentioned in his poem "Witnessing Gongsun Da Niang's Disciple Sword Dance Performance" (观公孙大娘弟子舞剑器行) that there was a female sword dancer in the court of Emperor Xuan Zong (唐玄宗) who was probably the greatest in her field.

"Another aspect of the martial dance is the "sword dance," devised by master swordsmen. Ancients sought to combine the ethos of swordsmanship with the sword dance, calling it "sword vigor." The most famous sword dancer of the Tang Dynasty was legendary beauty, Lady Gongsun. As a child, the celebrated Tang poet Du Fu once watched her dance, and the specter created by her superb skill remained forever fresh in his memory. The square in Yancheng, Henan Province was a sea of people. Following a roll of drums, Lady Gongsun appeared, rapier in hand. The sword glinted with every change of posture and stance, whispering like silk on being unsheathed and flashing at each thrust. Her dancing seemed to evince a power that could hold back rivers and repulse oceans. Years later, Du Fu watched the sword dance performed by Li Shi'erniang, one of Gongsun's adherents. Her execution of it was so reminiscent of Gongsun's original performance that Du Fu, now in his 50s, was fired with new vitality, and wrote a poem, 'The Sword Dance Performed by a Girl-Pupil of Lady Gongsun.'"
- Tang Dynasty Dances

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

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

Tai Chi 32 Sword

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

October Morning Mild

"O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow's wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away."
-   Robert Frost, October

October: Poems, Quotes, Sayings, Lore

"Gardening is the slowest of the performing arts."
-  Mac Keith Griswold

A few photographs of our garden are included below.  The photographs were all taken by Karen Garofalo in October 2013. 

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

True History of Yoga Postures

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.