Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Neigong (Inner Work) Principles

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

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

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

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

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

Dragon Qigong

Valley Spirit Qigong 

Ripening Peaches: Taoist Studies and Practices  

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Home Improvement Projects

I am now working a home improvement project in the northwest small Blue Room in our home.  This small space (8'x10') is behind and due west of my current home computer workstation.  The Blue Room is, naturally, painted in a dark blue color, has a door, has a window facing west looking into a huge Bay Laurel tree. 

I am busy cleaning up, rearranging, and reshelving books and supplies in this small back office.

In the rearranged Blue Room furniture, shelving, a small desk, chairs, I plan to set up a new Hewlett Packard desktop computer, and a new HD digital monitor.

I will be moving files and programs on to the new HP desktop computer. It runs on the Windows 8 OS.

I will be using Dreamweaver CS5 a lot at home and at work for web programming.  

Using Norton 360 Premier Security Software.

In the Blue Room, we are connected to the Internet via WiFi at 2.4 Ghz over a NETGEAR router.

Objectives:  Need to set up uploading via FTP using Dreamweaver CS5.  Learning about eBook software conversion methods.  

So .... consequently ...  I won't be posting much until various home improvement projects are completed.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

North Valley Slow Down

Cool and overcast the past two days.  Occasional thunder and rain.  

I was unwell yesterday and today - gastroenteritis.  I rested all day close to the toilet.  

My left leg, from the knee up to mid-thigh is swollen.  I periodically have excess lympathic backup in my upper left leg due to complications after removing a large non-cancerous lipomoma from my upper left thigh. 

A limping old man, and a bit under the weather.  

No energy or strength for a Tai Chi Celebration Day in yonder Chico.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, Chapter 64

Dao De Jing, Laozi,
Chapter 64

"What is small is easily held.
What is expected is easily provided for.
What is brittle is easily broken.
What is small is soon dispersed.
Transact your business before it takes shape.
Regulate things before confusion begins.
The tree which fills the arms grew from a tender shoot.
The castle of nine stories was raised on a heap of earth.
The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.
Whoever designs only destroys.
Whoever grasps, loses.
The Sage does not act thus, therefore he does no harm.
He does not grasp, and therefore he never loses.
But the common people, in their undertakings, fail on the eve of success.
If they were as prudent at the end as they are at the beginning, there would be no such failures.
Therefore the Sage is only ambitious of what others despise, and sets no value on things difficult to obtain.
He acquires no common learning, but returns to that which people have passed by.
Thus he aims at simple development in all things, and a
cts without design."
-  Translated by Walter Gorn Old, 1904, Chapter 64  

"That which is at rest is easy to be kept hold of,
And what has made no sign, and is yet concealed from all,
Is easy to be taken care of then by proper measures,
 Break it while it is feeble, scatter it while it is small.
Act before it exists, regulate before disorder,
The mighty tree that fills the arms has grown from a tiny sprout,
From a little mound of earth was raised the tower of nine stories,
And the journey of a thousand miles began with the first step out.
He that makes mars, he that grasps loses;
The sage will neither make, nor mar, nor grasp, and cannot lose,
But people fail in business, on the verge of its succeeding,
By losing at the end the care they first began to use.
And so the sage does not desire the things desired by others,
He does not prize the treasures that are difficult to obtain,
He learns what others do not learn, he turns back to their leavings,
And helps spontaneous nature, but dares not to constrain."
-  Translated by Isaac Winter Heysinger, 1903, Chapter 64  

"His Restfulness is easily maintained.
Events foreseen by him are easily arranged for.
By him weak things are easily bent,
And small things are easily scattered.
He can stop an evil before it comes into existence.
He can keep a twig straight before it becomes crooked.
Behold the girth of this tree!
It grew from a small filament of a stalk.
This tower of nine stories has its base upon a small space on the earth.
The journey of a thousand miles began with a footstep on the ground.
He who makes, unmakes.
He who grasps, lets go.
That is why the self-controlled man by Inner Life can make and by Inner life unmake, by Inner Life can grasp and by Inner Life let go.
Men in business affairs come near perfection, then fail.
If they were as attentive at the end as at the beginning their business would succeed.
That is why the self-controlled man desires to have no wishes; he sets no value upon rare objects; he learns without study; he helps all beings by the outflow of his personality; and he does this without planning to do it."
-  Translated by Isabella Mears, 1916, Chapter 64 

"Things are easier to control while things are quiet.
Things are easier to plan far in advance.
Things break easier while they are still brittle.
Things are easier hid while they are still small.

Prevent problems before they arise.
Take action before things get out of hand.
The tallest tree
begins as a tiny sprout.
The tallest building
starts with one shovel of dirt.
A journey of a thousand miles
starts with a single footstep.

If you rush into action, you will fail.
If you hold on too tight, you will lose your grip.

Therefore the Master lets things take their course
and thus never fails.
She doesn't hold on to things
and never loses them.
By pursing your goals too relentlessly,
you let them slip away.
If you are as concerned about the outcome
as you are about the beginning,
then it is hard to do things wrong.
The master seeks no possessions.
She learns by unlearning,
thus she is able to understand all things.
This gives her the ability to help all of creation."
-  Translated by John H. McDonald, 1996, Chapter 64  

合抱之木, 生於毫末.
九層之臺, 起於累土.
千里之行, 始於足下.
民之從事, 常於幾成而敗之.
慎終如始, 則無敗事.
是以聖人欲不欲, 不貴難得之貨.
學不學, 復衆人之所過, 以輔萬物之自然而不敢為.
-  Chinese characters, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 64

qi an yi chi. 
qi wei zhao yi mou.
qi cui yi pan. 
qi wei yi san. 
wei zhi yu wei you. 
zhi zhi yu wei luan. 
he bao zhi mu, sheng yu hao mo.
jiu ceng zhi tai, qi yu lei tu.
qian li zhi xing, shi yu zu xia. 
wei zhe bai zhi.  
zhi zhe shi zhi.
shi yi sheng ren wu wei gu wu bai.
wu zhi gu wu shi. 
min zhi cong shi, chang yu ji cheng er bai zhi. 
shen zhong ru shi ze wu bai shi. 
shi yi sheng ren yu bu yu, bu gui nan de zhi huo.   
xue bu xue,  fu zhong ren zhi suo guo, yi fu wan wu zhi zi ran er bu gan wei. 
-  Hanyu Pinyin Romanization, Daodejing, Chapter 64

"Tackle difficulties when they are easy,
Accomplish great things when they are small.
Handle what is going to be rough   
    when it is still smooth.  
Control what has not yet formed its force. 
Deal with a dangerous situation while it is safe. 
Manage what is hard while it is soft. 
Eliminate what is vicious
    before it becomes destructive. 
This is called "attending to great things at small beginnings.

A tree so big it can fill the span of a man's arms
    grows from a tiny sprout. 
A terrace nine stories high 
    rises from a shovel-full of earth.  
A journey of a thousand miles
    begins with a single step. 
Thus, one of integral virtue
    never sets about grandiose things,
    yet is able to achieve great things. 

Lightly made promises inspire little confidence.
Making light of things at the beginning,
    one will meet with failure in the end. 
Being prepared for hardship,
    one will not be overcome by it.
In handing their affairs, people often ruin them
    just as they are on the verge of success. 
With heedfulness in the beginning
    and all the way through to the end,
    nothing is ruined."
-  Translation by Hua-Ching Ni, 1979, Chapter 64 
    The Complete Works of Lao Tzu: Tao Teh Ching and Hua Hu Ching.

"Lo que está en reposo es fácil de retener.
Lo que no ha sucedido es fácil de resolver.
Lo que es frágil es fácil de romper.
Lo que es pequeño es fácil de dispersar.
Prevenir antes de que suceda,
y ordenar antes de que aparezca el desorden.
El árbol que casi no puede rodearse con los brazos,
brotó de una semilla minúscula.
La torre de nueve pisos,
comenzó siendo un montón de tierra.
Un viaje de mil leguas,
comienza con el primer paso.
Al manejar sus asuntos, la gente suele estropearlos
justo al borde de su culminación.
Prestando total atención al principio y con paciencia al final,
nada se echa a perder.
Por eso, el Sabio carece de deseos,
no codicia los bienes de difícil alcance,
aprende a olvidar lo que le habían inculcado.
Le devuelve a los hombres la fluidez que han perdido,
y así, sin dominarlos,
favorece la evolución natural de los diez mil seres."
-  Translation from Wikisource, 2013, Tao Te Ching, Capítulo 64

"That which lies still is easy to hold;
That which is not yet manifest is easy to forestall;
That which is brittle (like ice) easily melts;
That which is minute easily scatters.
Deal with a thing before it is there;
Check disorder before it is rife.
A tree with a full span's girth begins from a tiny sprout;
A nine-storied terrace begins with a clod of earth.
A journey of a thousand li beings at one's feet.

He who acts, spoils;
He who grasps, lets slip.
Because the Sage does not act, he does not spoil,
Because he does not grasp, he does not let slip.
The affairs of men are often spoiled within an ace of
By being careful at the end as at the beginning
Failure is averted.

Therefore the Sage desires to have no desire,
And values not objects difficult to obtain.
Learns that which is unlearned,
And restores what the multitude have lost.
That he may assist in the course of Nature
And not presume to interfere."
-  Translated by Lin Yutang, 1955, Chapter 64  

Chapter and Thematic Index (Concordance) to the Tao Te Ching

Taoism: A Selected Reading List 


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Returning to Red Bluff from Portland

A beautiful cloudy day, some rain showers, little sunshine until California.

We enjoyed a six day trip to Portland, Oregon.  Left on Friday 4/18 to drive to Portland, and returned to Red Bluff on Wednesday 4/23.

Lots of hills, valleys, and mountains.

Everything rich in Springtime Green.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Stand on Your Own Feet

"In life, seek no heaven;
In death, fear no hell.
Enter the woods without disturbing a blade of grass;
Enter the water without making waves.
Meet the enlightened one on the street;
Do not greet him with words nor silence.
For so long, like a bird in a cage;
Now fly free like a cloud in the blue sky.
Hold the hoe with empty hands;
Ride the ox by standing on your own feet."
-  Master Zenrin, Translated by David Brazier  

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Utility is the Test of Virtue

"The wealth required by nature is limited and is easy to procure;
but the wealth required by vain ideals extends to infinity."

"The most well-known Epicurean verse, which epitomizes his philosophy, is "lathe biōsas λάθε βιώσας "(Plutarchus De latenter vivendo 1128c; Flavius Philostratus Vita Apollonii 8.28.12), meaning "live secretly", "get through life without drawing attention to yourself", i. e. live without pursuing glory or wealth or power, but anonymously, enjoying little things like food, the company of friends, etc."

Epicurus, 341-271 BCE

Epicurean Philosophy Online

Epicurean History

Lifestyle Advice from Wise Persons

From a Letter to William Short by Thomas Jefferson, 1819

"I take the liberty of observing that you are not a true disciple of our master Epicurus, in indulging the indolence to which you say you are yielding. One of his canons, you know, was that "that indulgence which prevents a greater pleasure, or produces a greater pain, is to be avoided." Your love of repose will lead, in its progress, to a suspension of healthy exercise, a relaxation of mind, an indifference to everything around you, and finally to a debility of body, and hebetude of mind, the farthest of all things from the happiness which the well-regulated indulgences of Epicurus ensure; fortitude, you know is one of his four cardinal virtues. That teaches us to meet and surmount difficulties; not to fly from them, like cowards; and to fly, too, in vain, for they will meet and arrest us at every turn of our road. Weigh this matter well; brace yourself up ..."

Syllabus of the doctrines of Epicurus (By Thomas Jefferson)

"Physical.—The Universe eternal.

Its parts, great and small interchangeable.

Matter and Void alone.

Motion inherent in matter which is weighty and declining.

Eternal circulation of the elements of bodies.

Gods, an order of beings next superior to man, enjoying in their sphere, their own felicities;
but not meddling with the concerns of the scale of beings below them.

Moral.—Happiness the aim of life.

Virtue the foundation of happiness.

Utility the test of virtue.

Pleasure active and In-do-lent.

In-do-lence, is the absence of pain, the true felicity.

Active, consists in agreeable motion; it is not happiness, but the means to produce it.

Thus the absence of hunger is an article of felicity; eating the means to obtain it.

The summum bonum is to be not pained in body, nor troubled in mind.

i.e. In-do-lence of body, tranquillity of mind.

To procure tranquillity of mind we must avoid desire and fear, the two principal diseases of the mind.

Man is a free agent.

Virtue consists in 1) Prudence. 2) Temperance. 3) Fortitude. 4) Justice."

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Practice of Walking

"As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives."
-   Henry David Thoreau

"To find new things, take the path you took yesterday." 
-   John Burroughs

"Allow walking to occupy a place of stature equal with all the other important activities in your life.  As difficult as that might seem, here's how to do it.  Make it a practice.  That's right.  Turn your walking into a vehicle for personal growth as well as for fitness.  This will add a higher level of integrity and intention to your approach because you will find that it is a way to deepen and upgrade your relationship to your body.  Instead of merely giving your legs and a good workout, you'll be practicing to relax more, to breathe better, to expand your vision, to open up your range of motion, to increase your energy, to feel and sense your body.  The list is exciting - and endless.  With all of this to look forward to, your walking program will take its place alongside everything in your life you value most, and you'll be amazed at how easy it is to schedule time for something you really love to do."
-  Katherine Dreyer, Chi Walking  

Here is my walking path. It is a .35 mile, asphalt paved, cul-de-sac, Kilkenny Lane, in Red Bluff, California.  Kilkenny Lane moves in an east-west direction from the front of my home to Highway 99 West.  I practice Tai Chi Chuan and Qigong in the circular area in front of my house shown the foreground of this picture.  I rarely encounter a car on Kilkenny Lane.     


Friday, April 18, 2014

Daodejing, Laozi, Chapter 65

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
Chapter 65 

"Those who, in ancient times, were eminent for the practice of Tao, abstained from enlightening the people, and kept them simple.
The difficulty of governing the people arises from their excess of shrewdness.
He who employs shrewdness in governing a State, becomes a robber of the State;
he who does not do so, is a blessing to it.
The man who knows both these things presents an ideal of good government, and a knowledge of this ideal
constitutes Sublime Virtue.
Sublime Virtue is deep and far-reaching, and is in direct opposition to all objects of desire;
thus it is able to bring about universal accordance with the Tao."
-  Translated by Frederic Henry Balfour, 1884, Chapter 65    

"In days gone by, those who knew how to follow the Dao did not seem enlightened but ignorant.
The reason why people are hard to govern is because they know too much.
And so to use knowledge to govern a country is to be its curse.
Not to use knowledge to govern a country is to be its blessing. 
There are two primal principles, and to understand them always brings the deepest virtue (De).
How hidden, deep and far-reaching virtue (De) is.
It makes all things return to their source and so attain oneness."
-  Translated by Tim Chilcott, 2005, Chapter 65  

"The ancient Masters
who understood the way of the Tao,
did not educate people, but made them forget.

Smart people are difficult to guide,
because they think they are too clever.
To use cleverness to rule a country,
is to lead the country to ruin.
To avoid cleverness in ruling a country,
is to lead the country to prosperity.

Knowing the two alternatives is a pattern.
Remaining aware of the pattern is a virtue.
This dark and mysterious virtue is profound.
It is opposite our natural inclination,
but leads to harmony with the heavens."
-  Translated by John H. McDonald, 1996, Chapter 65  

古之善為道者, 非以明民, 將以愚之.
民之難治, 以其智多.
故以智治國, 國之賊.
不以智治國, 國之福.
知此兩者亦  式.
常知  式, 是謂玄德.
-  Chinese characters, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 65 

ku chih shan wei tao chê, fei yi ming min, chiang yi yü chih.
min chih nan chih, yi ch'i chih to.
ku yi chih chih kuo, kuo chih tsê.
pu yi chih chih kuo, kuo chih fu.
chih tz'u liang chê yi chi shih.
ch'ang chih chi shih, shih wei hsüan tê.
hsüan tê shên yi yüan yi.
yü wu fan yi.
jan hou nai chih ta shun.
-  Wade-Giles Romanization, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 65  

"In olden times the best practitioners of Tao did not use it to awaken people to knowledge,
But used it to restore them to simplicity.
People are difficult to govern because they have much knowledge.
Therefore to govern the country by increasing the people's knowledge is to be the destroyer of the country;
To govern the country by decreasing knowledge is to be the blesser of the country.
To be acquainted with these two ways is to know the standard;
To keep the standard always in mind is to have sublime virtue.
Sublime virtue is infinitely deep and wide.
It goes to reverse all things;
And so it attains perfect peace."
-  Translated by Ch'u Ta-Kao, 1904, Chapter 65  

"Los antiguos que seguían el Tao
no necesitaban esclarecer con ello al pueblo,
ya que lo conservaban en su sencillez natural.
El pueblo se volvió dificil de gobernar
cuando recibió el adoctrinamiento.
Quien gobierna adoctrinando
arruina el Estado.
Quien gobierna sin servirse de la astucia
enriquece el Estado.
Conocer estas dos cosas
es conocer la verdadera norma.
Conocer esta norma
es poseer la Misteriosa Virtud.
La Misteriosa Virtud es profunda y extensa;
es lo inverso a todas las cosas,
pero por ella todo se armoniza.
-  Translation from Wikisource, 2013, Tao Te Ching, Capitulo 66

"Sound old rulers, it is said,
Left people to themselves, instead
Of wanting to teach everything
And start the people arguing.
With mere instruction in command,
So that people understand
Less than they know, woe is the land;
But happy the land that is ordered so
That they understand more than they know.
For everyone's good this double key
Locks and unlocks equally.
If modern man would use it, he
Could find old wisdom in his heart
And clear his vision enough to see
From start to finish and finish to start
The circle rounding perfectly."
-  Translated by Witter Bynner, 1944, Chapter 65 

Chapter and Thematic Index (Concordance) to the Tao Te Ching

Taoism: A Selected Reading List 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Anatomy of Hatha Yoga Postures

I regularly use these two books in my study of yoga.  They are both well organized, well illustrated, and highly informative.  Both are excellent reference tools, and explain yoga postures from an anatomical and scientific perspective.
Yoga Anatomy  By Leslie Kaminoff and Amy Matthews.  Published by Human Kinetics, Champain, Illinois, Second Edition, 2011.  Copyright by The Breathe Trust 2007, 2012.  Various indexes: by muscles, joints, position in English, position in Sanskrit, bibliography, 276 pages.  ISBN: 1450400248. VSCL.  An outstanding reference book on the anatomy of yoga!  
Hatha Yoga Illustrated: For Greater Strength, Flexibility and Focus  By Martin Kirk and Brooke Boon.  Photographs by Daniel DiTuro.  Champaign, Illinois, Human Kinetics, 2006.  Suggested readings, resources, index by Sanskrit name, index by English name, 233 pages.  ISBN: 0736062033.   VSCL.  Practical, informative and well organized information. 

My Hatha Yoga Postures List is in alphabetical order by both the English and Sanskrit names for many common Hatha Yoga postures for beginning and intermediate yoga students.  The list includes coding for the kind of yoga posture, e.g., balancing, standing, supine, backbend, etc.  For each posture, the list includes reference to descriptions in yoga textbooks, including the two books mentioned above.  The list also includes some Chi Kung postures that I teach in many of my yoga classes.  My Hatha Yoga Postures List is now 14 pages long, in a PDF format, print only, at Version 6, 10/1/2012.  I also have prepared numerous one page Study Lists that might be useful to yoga students and beginning teachers.   


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Yi Jin Jing Qigong Exercise Set

The Yi Jin Jing Qigong is a popular qigong exercise set from China. "Yi Jin Jing Qigong" means "Muscle and Tendon Transforming Exercises."

In most cases, this qigong regimen consists of 12 movement sequences. There are some versions of the Yi Jin Jing with many more movements (22, 49, 108, 216). Some of the longer versions of the Yi Jin Jing include movements from the Eight Section Brocade Routine, the Animal Frolics Routines, the Louhan Routine, or the Bone Marrow and Brain Washing Routine.

Most people practice a 12 movement version of the Yi Jin Jing that was described in a book published by Pan Weiru in 1858 called "Essential Techniques for Guarding Life." Also, Wang Zuyuan published a book in the 1880's titled "Illustrated Exposition of Internal Techniques" that described the same qigong routine as did Pan Weiru.
Names of the Yi Jin Jing Qigong Movements
Opening Form
1. Wei Tuo Presenting the Pestle 1

2. Wei Tuo Presenting the Pestle 2
3. Wei Tuo Presenting the Pestle 3
4. Plucking Stars on Each Side
5. Pulling Nine Cows by Their Tails
6. Showing Talons and Spreading Wings
7. Nine Ghosts Drawing Sabers
8. Sinking the Three Bodily Zones
Three Plates Falling on the Floor

9. Black Dragon Displaying Its Claws
10. Tiger Springing On Its Prey
11. Bowing Down in Salutation
12. Swinging the Tail
Closing Form

Some claim that the Yi Jin Jing was created by the famous Zen Patriarch Bodhidharma (Da Mo) around 520 CE, and refined over centuries by Shaolin monks, while others argue for an even more ancient Daoist lineage.

There are numerous instructional DVDs available now for the 12 movement verion of the Yi Jin Jing. I like the instructional book and DVD by the Chinese Health Qigong Association:

Yi Jin Jing: Chinese Health Qigong. Compiled by the Chinese Health Qigong Association. Beijing, China, Foreign Languages Press, 2007. 95 pages, charts, includes an instructional DVD. ISBN: 9787119047782. VSCL. "Qigong is an aspect of traditional Chinese medicine that involves coordinating breathing patterns with physical postures to maintain health and well-being. Yi Jin Jing/ Tendon-Muscle Strengthening Exercises is an accessible, fully-illustrated guide to a particular qigong exercise that focuses on turning and flexing the spine. Based on the twelve traditional routines of Yi Jin Jing, the exercises covered in the book feature soft, extended, even movements that invigorate the limbs and internal organs. In particular, practice of the Yi Jin Jing exercises improves flexibility, balance and muscular strength, and has a beneficial effect on the respiratory system. Each routine is described step-by-step and is illustrated with photographs and key points. The authors also point out common mistakes and offer advice on how to correct these. Complemented by an appendix of acupuncture points and accompanied by a DVD, this book will be of interest to Qigong and Tai Chi practitioners at all levels, students of martial arts and anyone interested in Chinese culture." - Singing Dragon.

For a good book on the theory of the Yi Jin Jing, read Qigong: The Secret of Youth: Da Mo's Muscle/Tendon Changing and Marrow Brain Washing Classics. By Yang, Jwing-Ming, Ph.D., 1946-. An Advanced Qigong Regimen for the Serious Practitioner. Boston, Massachusetts, YMAA Publication Center, 2000. Second Edition 2000, First Edition 1989. Index, appendices, charts, 312 pages. ISBN: 1886969841. VSCL.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Burn Me with Your Beauty Then

"How many million Aprils came
before I ever knew
how white a cherry bough could be,
a bed of squills, how blue
And many a dancing April
when life is done with me,
will lift the blue flame of the flower
and the white flame of the tree
Oh burn me with your beauty then,
oh hurt me tree and flower,
lest in the end death try to take
even this glistening hour..."
Sara Teasdale, Blue Squills, 1920  

April:  Quotes, Sayings, Lore, Chores

Monday, April 14, 2014

Talent is a Species of Vigor

"The chief condition on which, life, health and vigor depend on, is action.  It is by action that an organism develops its faculties, increases its energy, and attains the fulfillment of its destiny."
-   Pierre Joseph Proudhon   

“They who lack talent expect things to happen without effort. They ascribe failure to a lack of inspiration or ability, or to misfortune, rather than to insufficient application. At the core of every true talent there is an awareness of the difficulties inherent in any achievement, and the confidence that by persistence and patience something worthwhile will be realized. Thus talent is a species of vigor.”
-  Eric Hoffer

Lifestyle Advice from Wise Persons 

The Good Life 

Nine Essentials for Lifelong Vitality

"1.  Moving with Attention, Wake Up to Life, Mindful Movements
2.  The Learning Switch, Bring in the New, Lifelong learning, Retraining
3.  Subtlety, Experience the Power of Gentleness
4.  Variation, Enjoy Abundant Possibilities
5.  Taking Your Time, Slowing Down, Not Rushing, Luxuriate in the Richness of Feeling 
6.  Enthusiasm, Turn the Small into the Great
7.  Flexible Goals, Make the Impossible Possible  
8.  Imagination and Dreams, Create Your Life
9.  Awareness, Cultivating Mindfulness, Thrive with True Knowledge"

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


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Garden Planted with Summer Vegetables

Karen and I worked in our "Sunny Garden" yesterday.  We planted some summer vegetables: tomatoes, peppers, corn, and squash.  

Our last frost day is April 15th in our area.  Today, the high temperature was 81F, sunny, with no clouds.   

Gardening provides the opportunity for constructive action, exercise, amateur botany studies, attention to particulars, a 'restoration of the five senses,' artistic creativity, and quiet contemplation.  

The photos were taken around 6 pm in the afternoon.  

Looking to the south.  Karen is standing in what is left of our Winter garden: onions, Swiss chard, cabbage, and garlic. In the foreground, we need to get some work done on weeding and preparing the compost area, enclosing with concrete blocks

Looking to the North.  I am standing in the portion of the garden used for summer vegetables. We weeded and tilled the soil in this garden last weekend.  We had fertilized with cow manure last December. 

Staking up the first tomato:

Karen watering the plants in this garden.  We will put in drip lines to each plant in early May ... which makes watering much easier and more effective than watering with a hose.  I will put down straw around each plant for mulch and water conservation.  

A view, looking south, of part of our South Orchard.  We will be mowing with our John Deere tractor and Echo weed eater this coming Sunday.  

The Spirit of Gardening:  Over 3,800 Quotes, Sayings, Poems, and Facts.  Compiled by Mike Garofalo. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Qi Force for Fighters: A Skeptic's Reply

I recently read an interesting post by David Gaffney, a Chen Taijiquan expert, titled:  "Is "Qi" Relevant to Today's Taiji Boxer."  I recommend that you read the short article now.  My response below will not make sense without reading his post.  I did not agree with Mr. Gaffney, and responded as follows in comments to the post:  

Mr. Gaffney, 

I enjoyed reading your Chen Taijiquan book.  Your worldwide Tai Chi adventures are also fascinating. 

Qi (Chi) is certainly not a real "thing” or an actual "process" like a chemical element, a cell, a tornado, a bicep, an earthquake, or a rose which have worldwide trans-cultural meaningfulness and which can be accurately measured, quantified, referred to, and explained.  The concept of "energy" in physics, chemistry, and biology is not something vague, unmeasurable, or justified by feelings.  

It is more difficult to measure or quantify “feelings” as every psychologist knows, although attempts to specify degrees of feelings are commonplace.  Yes, the Olympic medalist has very high levels of pride, accomplishment, success, etc. 

Qi, however, is used by some to refer to special powers, siddhis, or magical forces.  For example, a few advocate that if you practice Taijiquan vigorously enough and diligently follow the Master’s instructions you might someday have these extraordinary Qi or Empty Force powers to defeat much stronger opponents in real fights.  We can, no matter what the culture, clearly sense a person’s strength, agility, speed, youthfulness, bodyweight, flexibility, experience, and martial arts skills; but, their mastery and use of Qi is much more nebulous, vague, and often spurious.  I suggest that serious fighters would benefit more by doing calisthenics, aerobic conditioning, practicing techniques and sparring; rather than trying to unclog blocked Qi in the Shaoyin Heart channel of the hand.  

A number of Tai Chi Masters, e.g., Yang Jwing Ming, Bruce Frantzis, Peter Ralston, David Gaffney, etc., talk in detail about their extensive background and hard training in vigorous and competitive martial arts in their youth. Is their past training the real source of whatever martial skill they possess in their old age rather than cultivating their Qi powers? 

It is not ridiculous to question vague ideas, and it is useless to agonize about vague and metaphorical ideas.  We can enjoy and benefit greatly from Taijiquan practice, and never have been concerned at all about how many different ways the Chinese use the word ‘Qi’ in colloquial language, metaphors, or supernatural allusions.  Going out with a hot woman on a hot date may feel very good, but reading 11°F (-10°C) on my outdoor thermometer is understood everywhere as not being hot.  Baseball metaphors pepper our American speech, but you will never hit a home run by talking.    

I agree that higher levels of Taijiquan expertise require more knowledge and appreciation of Chinese history and culture.  So, we keep on learning; but we don't need to believe in mysterious unmeasurable forces without empirical justification. 

The Chen style of Taijiquan is, in my opinion, of greater physical conditioning benefit that the Yang, Wu, or Sun styles.   

Yoga is also filled with much pseudo-science about the supposed existence of prana and seven chakras; and, the questionable meaning and value of mantras, praying, withdrawal of the senses, vegetarianism, sexual abstinence, siddhis, deep meditation, purifying yourself, worship of a personal god, scriptural studies, and strictly obeying the guru (master).  However, if you want to "earn" a certificate to teach yoga, be prepared to justify and to explain these esoteric and religious viewpoints.  Many yoga and tai chi "masters" don't allow any questioning or objections to their esoteric party line.  I remember well one bogus Anusara Yoga "master" teacher of mine telling us to feel the divine Grace flowing from our Crown Chakra to our Inner Heart and out to our hands.  After I protested this confusing nonsense, the uncomfortable teacher gave me a refund on the tuition to get me away from her lair of acolytes.    

Another way of explaining the undeniable health and fitness benefits of Taijiquan, sans Qi, is found in "The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi" byPeter Wayne, PhD, 2013.  

"Let the Force be with you," or be a real force.  

-  Mike Garofalo, Cloud Hands Blog

The following UTube video shows the Tai Chi Master Huang displaying his sparring skills with his many students.  You be the judge.  Is this an incredible display of Qi Force, empty force, prana Power, martial skill, an audition of amateur stuntmen, adoring students pretending, or humbug?


The following UTube is a farcical spoof of a "battle" between Tai Chi Masters.  Does it show lack of respect?  Or, is it hard to respect the pretensions of some people about their Qi powers?  Maybe yes and/or maybe no?  It made me smile. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, Chapter 66

Daodejing, Laozi
Chapter 66

"That whereby the rivers and seas are able to receive the homage and tribute of all the valley streams, is their skill in being lower than they;
It is thus that they are the kings of them all.
So it is that the sage ruler, wishing to be above men, puts himself by his words below them;
And, wishing to be before them, places his person behind them.
In this way though he has his place above them, men do not feel his weight, nor though he has his place before them, do they feel it an injury to them.
Therefore all in the world delight to exalt him and do not weary of him.
Because he does not strive, no one finds it possible to strive with him."
-  Translated by James Legge, 1891, Chapter 66   

"The sea is the ruler of the rivers,
Because it lies below them.
Thus a ruler should always:
Speak like a subordinate, and lead by following after.
The ruler stands above, and no one feels the weight.
The great rivers and streams all pour their tribute of the world onto the seas.
The seas gain this tribute and are called high and mighty because they lie low, humility gives the sea its power.
It is for this reason that the followers of Tao humble themselves before mankind.
They speak in tones of humility and lowborn status.
They do not attempt to lead, but learn to follow, and find themselves leading the people from behind.
In this way the wise sovereign will rule over the people, but they will not feel his weight.
He will lead the people, but they will not feel slighted or displeased.
The people will gladly uphold and support such a one as this.
The master does not strive, in this way no one can strive against him."
-  Translated by John Dicus, 2002, Chapter 66  

"Rivers and seas are rulers
 of the streams of hundreds of valleys
 because of the power of their low position.

 If you want to be the ruler of people,
 you must speak to them like you are their servant.
 If you want to lead other people,
 you must put their interest ahead of your own.

 The people will not feel burdened,
 if a wise person is in a position of power.
 The people will not feel like they are being manipulated,
 if a wise person is in front as their leader.
 The whole world will ask for her guidance,
 and will never get tired of her.
 Because she does not like to compete,
 no one can compete with the things she accomplishes."
 -  Translated by John H. McDonald, 1996, Chapter 66  

江海所以能為百谷王者, 以其善下之, 故能為百谷王.
是以欲上民, 必以身下之.
欲先民, 必以身後之. 
-  Chinese characters, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 66  

chiang hai suo yi neng wei bai gu wang zhe, yi qi shan xia zhi, gu neng wei bai gu wang. 
shi yi yu shang min,  bi yi yan xia zhi. 
yu xian min, bi yi shen hou zhi. 
shi yi sheng ren chu shang er min bu zhong. 
chu shang er min bu hai. 
shi yi tian xia le tui er bu yan. 
yi qi bu zheng gu tian xia mo neng yu zhi zheng. 
-  Hanyu Pinyin Romanization, Daodejing, Chapter 66

"The Rivers and the Seas (because they seek a lowly place) are Lords of a hundred valleys
Let your love flow, seek a lowly place, you will be Lord of a hundred valleys.
That is why if the self-controlled man desires to exalt the people, in his speech he must take a lowly place; if he desires to put the put the people first he must put himself after them.
Thus, though he dwells above them, the people are not burdened by him
Though he is placed before them, the people are not obstructed by him,
Therefore men serve him gladly, they do not tire in serving him.
Because he does not strive, no one in the world can strive against him."
-  Translated by Isabella Mears, 1916, Chapter 66  

"Los grandes ríos caudalosos y el mar
     se pueden hacer reyes
     de los incontables arroyos de montaña por un motivo:
Porque están my por debajo de ellos.
Así son capaces de hacerse reyes
     de los incontables arroyos de montaña.
Por este motivo, se quieres estar por encima del pueblo,
Te debes colocar invariablemente
     de modo que los sigas desde artás.

Por este motivo, el sabio
     Occupa su lugar arriba, pero al pueblo
          no le parece una carga pesada;
     Occupa su lugar al frente, pero el pueblo
          no lo considera un estorbo.
Por este motivo lo veneran de buena gana
     todos los que están bajo el cielo,
     pero sin sentirse nunca apretados ni acosados.
Porque él no se opone nunca a los demás;
Por eso no puede oponerse nunca a él nadie
     de los que están bajo el cielo."
-  Translated by Alejandro Pareja, 2012, based upon the William Scott Wilson translation into English, Capitulo 66

"Oceans and mighty rivers are as kings to all the valleys, because they lower themselves to the level of the valleys:
That is why they are as kings of the valleys.
Therefore the Sage, if he would be above the people, must in speech seem to put himself below the people.
If he would lead the people, he must place himself behind them.
Thus, although he is above the people, he is not a burden to them;
Although he goes ahead of the people, he does not block their way.
Thus, the whole world willingly follows and esteems him and is not irked by him.
And because he does not contend, no one contends with him."
-  Translated by Herman Ould, 1946, Chapter 66  

Chapter and Thematic Index (Concordance) to the Tao Te Ching

Taoism: A Selected Reading List 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Ba Duan Jin Chi Kung

I frequently teach the Chinese Eight Section Brocade Chi Kung exercise and fitness routine in my Taijiquan class and my Yoga class.  Naturally, I include many comments about Shaolin and Daoist fitness and healthy living concepts. 

This Eight Treasures exercise and fitness routine has a varied and long history with ancient roots back to the Animal Frolics Dao-yin exercises of 300 CE.  Some of the Eight Treasures exercises involve toughening, courage, and fighting and were used in military exercise and conditioning drills.  Many versions of the Ba Duan Jin include 12 exercises or more.  
Back in 2002, I created the webpage titled:  The Eight Section Brocade Chi Kung.  
The Ba Duan Jin Qigong form includes eight basic exercises to help you keep limber, become stronger, improve your balance, and increase your stamina.  There are opportunities for squatting movements and postures to strengthen the legs.  
The entire Eight Beautiful Tapestries Chi Kung form is normally done while standing, although there are some versions done in a seated posture for meditative purposes or for frail persons. 

There are numerous versions of this popular Chi Kung form.  There are many good books, instructional DVDs, and UTube videos to choose from on this topic.  My webpage includes a long bibliography on the Eight Section Brocade Chi Kung with citations for resources, links, videos, books, and instructional DVDs on the subject.  
I make a number of comments about each of the eight movements, including comments about the movement variations, physical training targets, muscles worked, attitude, internal alchemy (Neidan), benefits, options, comparisons with yoga asanas, and breathing patterns.  
I offer my own version with fairly detailed comments on each of the eight movements.  Here is my one page class handout for the Eight Section Brocade Chi Kung class. 

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Chang San-Feng, Taoist Grand Master

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. 

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Summer Garden Preparations

Karen and I have been working in our garden in the recent weeks.

Our large "Sunny Garden" needed some work: weeding, fertilizing, tilling, pruning, thinning, etc.

Before we began (photo from 2013): 

Here is how the Sunny Garden looks after our gardening efforts (photos from 2013).

Monday, April 07, 2014

Tai Chi Broadsword Practices

"The single edged, curved bladed dao, or saber, dates from around the 13th -14th centuries. The curved blade was introduced to China as a result of the Mongol invasions, and its popularity is shown by the fact that it had eclipsed the straight bladed jian as the dominant military side arm from the 15th century onward. The "willow leaf" (liu ye) dao is an old blade pattern which displays considerable variety in shape and dimensions. Generally averaging about 26 -30 inches in length, its blade curves gently throughout its entire length. The blade may remain almost the same width for its whole length, or it may gradually taper towards the point. It often had a sharpened back edge, indicating a higher degree of sophistication in its technical usage. A military issue weapon, its blade shape, size, types of fittings and ornamentation were regulated by documented imperial specifications. Each blade size was intended for a specific military application. For example, a relatively short dao might be used by vanguard troops scaling walls on climbing ladders, where a long, difficult to draw sword would be awkward to put into use. The willow leaf saber was almost completely eclipsed by the "oxtail" blade pattern made for civilian use by the mid 19th century."

- David F. Dolbear, Introduction to Antique Chinese Swords of the Qing Dynasty Period

The following webpages include links, bibliographies, lists of movements, techniques, history, quotations, and resources.

Broadsword: All Styles

Chen Taijiquan Broadsword

Yang Taijiquan Broadsword

Cloud Hands Taijiquan

I practice the Chen Taijiquan 23 Movement Broadsword Form. Here is a list of the 23 movements of the Chen Broadsword form.  

The Complete Taiji Dao"The Art of the Chinese Saber. By Zhang, Yun.  Blue Snake Books, 2009.  464 pages.  ISBN:1583942270.  "This is a very complete book about the Chinese saber, or Dao. It presents the history, mechanics, skills and philosophy of Taiji Dao. There is a detailed description of the traditional Taiji Dao form, including applications for combat with many photos. There are descriptions and photos of two-handed Dao skills and fighting skills training. There are over 1,000 photos. Paperback. 427 pp. 8 X 10."   "The Complete Taiji Dao introduces the principles and practice of Taiji Dao and provides illustrated discussions of the history of Chinese swords. The book covers the history and features of the dao; the Taiji principles from which Taiji Dao practice derives; the basic skills and techniques of the art; detailed descriptions and photographs of the traditional Taiji Dao form; and Taiji Dao fighting principles and training methods. Broad in scope and detailed in its presentation of the principles and practice of Taiji Dao, The Complete Taiji Dao represents a significant contribution to the field of traditional Chinese weapons practice."  VSCL.


Taijiquan broadsword forms are quite easily adapted for practice with a wooden cane.