Monday, June 30, 2014

The Art of Manliness

The blog, The Art of Manliness, has been online since 2008.  Semper Virilis covers topics such as relationships and family, dress and grooming, health and sports, money, lifestyle, and psychology. 

Seven Letters to Write Before You Die

Warrior Mace Training

Creating a Positive Family Culture

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Smoothing Away the Edges

Jui-yen asked Yen-t'ou, "What is the fundamental constant principle?"
Yen-t'ou said, "Moving."
Jui-yen said, "When moving, what then?"
Yen-t'ou said, "You don't see the fundamental constant principle?"
Jui-yen stood there thinking.
Yen-t'ou said, "If you agree, you are not yet free of sense and matter; if you don't agree, you'll be forever sunk in birth-and-death."

The round pearl has no hollows,
The great raw gem isn't polished.
What is esteemed by people of the Way is having no edges.
Removing the road of agreement, sense and matter are empty:
The free body, resting on nothing, stands out unique and alive."
-  Jui-yen (Zuigan, Song Am) was a Chinese Zen Master who lived from 800-900 CE. 
   Found in The Roaring Stream: A New Zen Reader, Edited by Nelson Foster and Jack Shoemaker, p. 182

"In life, when you encounter mean and hurtful people, treat them like sandpaper. No matter how rough they may scrub you, you end up polished and smooth."
-  Nishan Panwar

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Activities That Might Help Your Liver

"Aerobic exercise differs from other types of physical activity in that it is typically of longer duration, yet of relatively low intensity. It generally involves rhythmically using the same large muscle group for at least 15 to 20 minutes. Examples of aerobic activities are walking, biking, jogging, rowing, swimming and cross-country skiing. As a rule, you should be able to carry on a short conversation while doing aerobic exercise without gasping for breath.
Besides benefitting the 25 percent of American adults with a fatty liver, there are many more reasons to engage in regular aerobic exercise. Six reasons to get aerobic exercise daily are:
1.    Aerobic exercise activates the immune system, reducing susceptibility to colds and flus.
2.    Aerobic exercise helps keep arteries clear and strengthens the heart.
3.    Aerobic exercise can ease depression, reduce anxiety and promote relaxation.
4.    Aerobic exercise keeps muscles strong, which helps maintain mobility with advancing age.
5.    Aerobic exercise reduces cognitive decline in older adults.
6.    Aerobic exercise enhances stamina and reduces fatigue.
Although running a marathon may not be everybody’s preference, just about anyone can find a way to include aerobic exercise into their lifestyle. By partaking in this kind of physical activity, fatty liver disease can be prevented, steatosis reversed and steatohepatitis progression halted. As demonstrated by the Cleveland Clinic researchers, long and steady physical activity officially wins the race toward a leaner, healthier liver."
-  Nicole Cutler, Aerobic Exercise - A Smart Route for Battling a Fatty Liver

Walking: Quotes, Sayings, Poetry, Lore, Information.  Compiled by Mike Garofalo.

In the Eight Section Brocade Chi Kung Exercise set, the movement "Punching with an Angry Gaze" is claimed to benefit the liver.  Look at three Qigong liver exercises explained by Harold Sconiers, and four from Ashley Miller.  Liver functions are purportedly at a peak from 1 am to 3 am.  Qigong emphasizes reducing anger to improve liver functioning. 

A diet that is low in fat and high in fiber and lower in calories might help you become leaner. Having less fat around your abdomen, a trim waistline, might benefit your liver.  

Among the Six Daoist Healing Sounds, it is claimed that the sound "Shhhhh " as in "Shush," with the lips pursed, is supposedly beneficial to one's liver.  

Five Yoga poses supposedly helpful in improving liver function are Kapalbhati Pranayama, Ardha Matsyendrasana, Dhanurasana, Gomukh Asana, and Nauksana.  Here are 21 Ways a yoga teacher recommends to help your liver health. 
Kapalbhati Pranayama
Kapalbhati Pranayama

General medical information about fatty liver disease:

The Everett Clinic

Better Health Channel


Friday, June 27, 2014

Daodejing, Laozi, Chapter 55

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
Chapter 55

"He who contains virtue in abundance resembles a newborn child
 wasps don't sting him beasts don't claw him
 birds of prey don't carry him off
 his bones are weak and his tendons are soft and yet his grip is firm
 he hasn't known the union of sexes and yet his penis is stiff so full of essence is he
 he cries all day yet ever gets hoarse
 so full of breath is he who knows how to breath
 endures who knows how to endure is wise
 who lengthens his life tempts luck
 who breathes with his will is strong
 but virility means old age this isn't the Way
 what isn't the Way ends early"
 -  Translated by Bill Porter (Red Pine), 1996, Chapter 55   

"One who is filled with goodness is like a freshly-born infant.
Wasps, scorpions and snakes will not bite her.
Wild beasts will not attack her, nor will birds of prey pounce on her.
Her bones may be fragile and her skin soft,
But her grasp is firm.
She does not recognize the union of male and female
For she knows it only as an undivided whole.
This is the essence of perfection.
She can how All day and not get hoarse.
This is perfect harmony.
Knowing harmony is faithfulness.
Knowing faithfulness is salvation.
Trying to extend one's life-span is dangerous and unnatural.
To manipulate one's energy with the mind is a powerful thing
But whoever possesses such strength invariably grows old and withers.
This is not the way of the Tao.
All those who do not follow the Tao will come to an early end."
-  Translated by John R. Mabry, Chapter 55   

"The one who has virtue in its fullness
Is like a newborn babe.
Hornets and snakes do not sting him.
Savage beasts don't attack him.
Birds of prey don't pounce on him.
His bones are soft and his muscles weak
But his grasp is firm.
He knows nothing yet of mating
But his organ stirs
For his vigor is at its height.
He will cry all day
But his voice will remain loud.
For his harmony is at its height.
If you know harmony you know what is constant.
If you know what is constant you are enlightened.
If your mind forces your breath you misuse your strength.
You misuse your strength.
What expands too much is bound to collapse.
This is not the way of Tao.
What goes against Tao soon declines."
-  Translated by Agnieszka Solska, 2005, Chapter 55  


-  Chinese characters, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 55

han de zhi hou.  
bi yu chi zi.
du chong hui she bu shi.
meng shou bu ju.  
jue niao bu bo.
gu ruo jin rou er wo gu.
wei zhi pin mu zhi he er zui zuo.
jing zhi zhi ye.
zhong ri hao er bu sha.S
he zhi zhi ye.
zhi he yue chang.
zhi chang yue ming.
yi sheng yue xiang,
xin shi qi yue qiang.
wu zhuang ze lao.
wei zhi bu dao.
bu dao zao yi.
-  Pinyin Romanization, Daodejing, Chapter 55
"One who possesses the fullness of De can be compared to a newborn baby.
Bees, scorpions and poisonous snakes will not sting him.
Hunting birds and ferocious animals will not grab him.
His bones are weak, his muscles are soft, yet he can grasp objects with great strength.
He has no knowledge of sexual intercourse, yet his penis becomes enlarged: so extreme is his life force.
He can yell all day, yet he doesn't get hoarse.
There is ultimate harmony in his expressiveness.
This harmony of expressiveness is said to be constant;
Knowing this harmony is said to be obvious.
Increasing life is said to be lucky.
Using the mind to control the natural energy of life is said to show strength.
A living creature who who pretends to be stronger than they are will quickly age.
This may be described as one who doesn't follow Dao.
Don't follow Dao and you'll come to an early end."
-  Translated by Nina Correa, 2005, Chapter 55   

"He who has in himself abundantly the attributes (of the Tao) is like an infant.
Poisonous insects will not sting him; fierce beasts will not seize him; birds of prey will not strike him. (The infant's) bones are weak and its sinews soft, yet its grasp is firm.
It knows not yet the union of male and female, and yet its virile member may be excited;
showing the perfection of its physical essence.
All day long it will cry without its throat becoming hoarse; showing the harmony (in its constitution).
To him by whom this harmony is known, the secret of the unchanging Tao is shown,
And in the knowledge wisdom finds its throne.
All life-increasing arts to evil turn;
Where the mind makes the vital breath to burn,
False is the strength, and o'er it we should mourn.
When things have become strong, they then become old, which may be said to be contrary to the Tao.
Whatever is contrary to the Tao soon ends."
-  Translated by Andre Gauthier, Chapter 55  

"He who embodies the fullness of integrity is like a ruddy infant.
 Wasps, spiders, scorpions, and snakes will not sting or bite him;
 Rapacious birds and fierce beasts will not seize him.
 His bones are weak and his sinews soft, yet his grip is tight.
 He knows not the joining of male and female, yet his penis is aroused.
 His essence has reached a peak.
 He screams the whole day without becoming hoarse;
 His harmony has reached perfection.
 Harmony implies constancy;
 Constancy requires insight.
 Striving to increase one's life is ominous;
 To control the vital breath with one's mind entails force.
 Something that grows old while still in its prime is said to be not in accord with the Way;
 Not being in accord with the Way leads to an early demise."
 -  Translated by Victor H. Mair, Chapter 55

"El que ha sido dotado de plena es como un niño.
Nigún insecto venenoso le clava su aguijón;
Ninguna bestia salvaje le ataca;
Ningún ave de rapiña cae sobre él.
Sus huesos son frágiles; sus tendones, débiles; pero su abrazo es fuerte.
No conoce la unión de varón y hembra, mas posee la plenitud de su sexo.
Vitalmente, es perfecto.
Puede gritar sin quedar ronco:
Porque posee la armonía,
Y el que conoce esta armonía conoce lo duradero.
Conocer lo duradera es acercarse a la claridad.
Vivir intensamente conduce a la desdicha.
Dejando palpitar al corazón, nos acercamos a la muerte."
-  Translated into Spanish by Caridad Diaz Faes (2003) from the English translation by Ch'u Ta-Kao (1904), Capítulo 55

"Who is rich in character
Is like a child.
   No poisonous insects sting him,
   No wild beasts attack him,
   And no birds of prey pounce upon him.
His bones are soft, his sinews tender, yet his grip is strong.
Not knowing the union of male and female, yet his organs are complete,
   Which means his vigor is unspoiled.
Crying the whole day, yet his voice never runs hoarse,
   Which means his natural harmony is perfect.
To know harmony is to be in accord with the eternal,
And to know eternity is called discerning.
But to improve upon life is called an ill-omen;
To let go the emotions through impulse is called assertiveness.
For things age after reaching their prime;
That assertiveness would be against Tao.
And he who is against Tao perishes young."
-  Translated by Lin Yutang, 1955, Chapter 55 

"The man who is saturated with Virtue is like a little child.
Scorpions will not sting him, wild beasts will not seize him, nor will birds of prey pluck at him.
His young bones are not hard, neither are his sinews strong, yet his grasp is firm and sure.
He is full of vitality, though unconscious of his sex.
Though he should cry out all day, yet he is never hoarse.
Herein is shown his harmony with Nature.
The knowledge of this harmony is the eternal Tao.
The knowledge of the eternal Tao is illumination.
Habits of excess grow upon a man, and the mind, giving way to the passions, they increase day by day.
And when the passions have reached their climax, they fall.
This is against the nature of Tao.
And what is contrary to Tao soon comes to an end."
-  Translated by Walter Gorn Old, 1904, Chapter 55  

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

Taoism: A Selected Reading List

Tao Te Ching English Language Corncordance by Gerold Claser.  An excellent English language concordance providing terms, chapter and line references, and the proximal English language text.  No Chinese language characters or Wade-Giles or Pinyin Romanizations.  Based on the translation by John H. McDonald


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Before and After in the Garden

Our "Sunny Vegetable Garden" changes dramatically from spring to summer.

The two photos below were taken by looking south.  The first photo was taken in early April, and the second in late June.  The "winter garden," where Karen was standing in April, has been cleared and all the onions and garlic harvested. 

The two photos below were taken by looking north. The first photo was taken in early April, and the second in late June. Whatever we don't water is dried and brown by June

June Gardening:  Quotes, Poems, Sayings, Lore

Gardening and the Seasons:  Quotes, Poems, Sayings, Lore

Our dog, Bruno, always likes to join us for gardening activities.  He is skilled at digging for gophers and snakes.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Be Careful

Know Yourself and Act Accordingly

Some Taijiquan, Qigong and Yoga exercises are not appropriate for people who are out of
shape, in poor physical condition, suffering from chronic or life threatening illnesses,
elderly, infirm, recovering from illness, etc..  For example, bending over and touching
your toes is probably not a good idea for people with high blood pressure, obesity,
suffering from back pain or arithitis, fail bones, or for folks who are totally out of shape. 
Specific exercises are counterindicated depending upon your physical condition, and
if you're in poor or failing health, consult with your personal physician for advice.

You need to be realistic about your state of health and general physical condition.
If your are just beginning any exercise program - proceed slowly and cautiously.  Modify
the degree of difficulty, the number of repetitions, or the duration of any exercise set to
your own comfort and safety level.  Do not try to do what others can do or will do, if it is
inapproprate for you to do.  Don't compare yourself to others and don't be critical of oneself.  Be realistic and safe!

If you need to rest during a class, then just sit quietly and attentively observe.  Drink fluids as needed.  

The best Taijiquan and Chi Kung and Yoga teachers always advise you to be aware of your body,  be sensitive to your body, be "in tune" with your body, and listen to your body.  They  encourage beginners to be gentle on themselves, proceed slowly, and modify the
exercise to suit the student's state of health, level of fitness, age, and body type.  They
view their internal art as a life long regimen, something that evolves and progresses
over long periods of time, and not a "Quick Fix 10 Minutes to Super Health, Rock Hard
Abs, and Super Sex Dynamic Program."   They advocate regular daily exercise,
relaxation, deep breathing, a peaceful and positive attitude, proper eating, adequate rest, and gentle self care - not magic.  

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Unconquerable Sun of Summer

"The sun is always a powerful, invincible image, whether it is the weak illumination of the pre winter solstice, or the savage primal energy of midsummer. Long before humanity developed written language humans must have gazed in terrific awe at the reborn sun each morning, how it over came the dangerous dragon of darkness that it sank into each evening, the provider of light, warmth, sustainer of growing vegetation -life itself--this enormous solar edifice quite clearly was one of the earliest forms of worship as man began to fashion a supernatural interpretation of natural phenomenon from the daily spectacle of the dying and reborn sun. Albert Pike makes the following concise statement in his Morals and Dogma: 'To them [aboriginal peoples] he [the sun] was the innate fire of bodies, the fire of Nature. Author of Life, heat, and ignition, he was to them the efficient cause of all generation, for without him there was no movement, no existence, no form. He was to them immense, indivisible, imperishable, and everywhere present. It was their need of light, and of his creative energy, that was felt by all men; and nothing was more fearful to them than his absence. His beneficent influences caused his identification with the Principle of Good; and the Brama of the Hindus, and Mithras of the Persians, and Athom, Amum, Phtha, and Osiris, of the Egyptians, the Bel of the Chaldeans, the Asonai of the Phœnicians, the Adonis and Apollo of the Greeks, became but personifications of the Sun, the regenerating Principle, image of that fecundity which perpetuates and rejuvenates the world's existence.'"
-   Christ, Constantine, Sol Invictus: The Unconquerable Sun   By Ralph Monday

June: Quotes, Poems, Sayings

Summer Solstice Celebration

Monday, June 23, 2014

Success in Your Tai Chi Chuan Training Program

How Can You Be Successful in Your Taijiquan Training

By Michael P. Garofalo, Valley Spirit Taijiquan, Red Bluff, California

June of 2014

1.  Get stronger in your legs and waist.  I recommend walking for 1.5 hours four days a week at a brisk pace to condition the legs and waist.   Taijiquan requires you to stand and move for 60 to 90 minutes during a typical Taijiquan practice session or class.  "Tai Chi" (Taijiquan) could also be called "Thigh Chi" because of the demands it makes on the legs and waist.  You need some cardio-vascular (aerobic) training, like long walks, to condition the heart and lungs and legs to better prepare for the demands of Taijiquan training.

2.  Practice, Learn, Practice, Learn, Practice, Learn, Practice, Learn ....  The daily practice of the Taijiquan Forms and Sets is required for "success" (i.e., achievement, skill, adeptness, facility, superior performance, excellence, advancement, fluency, etc.) in Taijiquan training.  You must challenge yourself to learn more each month.  Hard work and dedication (Kung Fu) are necessary for integrating the practice of Taijiquan in your life.  

3.  Listen, observe, imitate, and learn from your Taijiquan teachers.  Use the many fine instructional DVDs now available to learn more about the Taijiquan forms you are practicing.  Read books and magazine articles and web pages, and study UTube demonstrations, to learn more about the Taijiquan forms you are practicing.  Learn more about the history and styles of Taijiquan.  If you are among the few persons fortunate enough to learn directly from a Taijiquan master or grandmaster, then treasure this unique learning opportunity, and advance accordingly under their tutelage.  Give respect to teachers who have earned and deserve respect.  Be humble and open-minded so as to properly absorb new information, ideas, and techniques.  Don't be overly judgmental of others, but don't be a fawning fool or credulous.  

4.  Taijiquan has "Principles" that should be embodied and exemplified in your mind-body practice of this ancient Chinese art.  Some time must be spent learning these key ideas, concepts and principles so as to integrate them into your practice.  For examples, concepts like relaxed, sinking, centering, weighted, balanced, energized, focused, intentions, opponent, forms, styles, heart-mind, spirit, etc., must be learned.  Some understanding and appreciation for the Taoist outlook is valuable and useful for advancement in Taijiquan.   

5.  Find the Taijiquan style suitable to your physique, age, temperament, attitude, limitations, and physical condition.  Select an intensity of practice suitable to your energy level for the day or week, and any physical limitations of a temporary or permanent nature.  Be flexible, explore, adapt, and experiment to find appropriate solutions to your specific individual circumstances.  Cultivate good self-awareness and realistic views of your personal skill sets.  Avoid too many comparisons with other more advanced Taijiquan players.   

6.  Be detailed orientated.  Be precise in your movements, postures, and sequences.  Appreciate the beauty and function of the movements in the tradition of Taijiquan that you practice.  Learn the sequence and names (English and Chinese) for all the parts and postures of the Taijiquan forms you are studying. 

7.  Fight against your real opponents: inactivity, laziness, inflexibility, weakness, inertia, fear, worry, depression, confusion, and sloth.  You are training to become stronger, more agile, more balanced, more enlightened, more conditioned.  You serious efforts in your Taijiquan training will help to ward of disease, improve your immunity, strengthen you muscles, improve your cardio-vascular functioning, ameliorate existing health problems, brighten your attitude, uplift your spirits, calm your emotions, and boost your confidence.  Taijiquan is a self-defense system against poor health habits and sloppy living.  Your final opponents are illness and dying.  Fight on, brothers and sisters!!  

8.  Be patient.  Think and act in terms of months, seasons, and years.  Persevere through the inevitable stale, boring, plateau periods when progress seems stuck.  Consistent practice cultivates will power.  Don't give up.  Have confidence that your self-discipline will bear fruit in due season, and create the seeds leading to a new and rewarding self-appreciation and self-respect. 

Other Ideas About How to Achieve Success in Taijiquan Training

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Eight Section Brocade Chi Kung and the Eight Trigrams

Sequence C:  Trigrams, Bagua, and Eight Section Brocade (Ba Duan Jin) Exercises Correlations

Soft Qigong (Rou Gong), Inner Qigong (Nei Gong); Slow Pace, Gentle, Soft, At Ease, Relaxed (Sung), Rooted/Sunk, Yin Style


Eight Section Brocade Exercise
I Ch'ing Trigram 
Parts of the Body Affected
1.  Pressing Up to the Heavens with
Two Hands
South, Summer
Ch'ien, Qián, Heaven, Sky, Air
Intense Yang
Heart, Small Intestine, Stomach, Lungs
(The Triple Warmer)
2.  Drawing the Bow and Letting the Arrow Fly Southwest, Mid-Summer
Sun, Wind
Kidneys, Spleen, Waist, Eyes, Legs
4.  Wise Owl Gazes Backward West, Autumn
K'an, Water
Lungs, Immune System, Large Intestine
5.  Big Bear Turns from Side to Side Northwest, Mid-Autumn
Ken, Gèn, Mountain
Heart, Waist, Legs
3.  Separating Heaven and Earth North, Winter
K'un, Earth
Intense Yin
Unicorn, Qilin
Spleen, Kidneys, Bladder, Pancreas

8.  Shaking the Body Northeast, Mid-Winter
Chen, Zhèn, Thunder
Immune System, Calves, Feet
6.  Punching with Angry Gaze Spring, East
Li, Fire
Hawk, Falcon
Liver, Gallbladder, Blood, Eyes

8.  Touching Toes then Bending Backwards Southeast, Mid-Spring
Tui, Lake

Kidneys, Waist, Legs, Back

The above three charts were proposed in 2005 by Mike Garofalo, in his webpage on the Eight Section Brocade.  See also Mike's webpage on the Eight Trigrams.  

In 2014, Christina Barea-Young and Peyton Young provided another set of associations for the Eight Section Brocade movements with the Eight Trigrams in Qi Magazine (Volume 24, No. 2, 2014, p. 48).  

I find these kinds of correlations, associations, and relational charts quite inconsistent between various authors.  Yoga, Western Esoteric Magic, and Qigong have many of the same kind of charts and tables of correlations; again, with considerable inconsistency between various "masters."  Other than the "traditions of specific esoteric schools", I find the associations rather arbitrary and fanciful, primarily aids to remembering clusters of ideas, poetic devices, magical-metaphysical lore, and lacking in much pragmatic-scientific meaningfulness.  Contrast these charming and pre-scientific tables with the modern and justifiably famous "Periodic Table of the Elements" for a real lesson in an objective and empirical approach to understanding the world.  Nevertheless, these clusters of ideas may stimulate the imagination, and are fun for playing thought games.  

"The names of the 108 Forms are each symbolic and signify concepts removed from the literal  physicality of the object - horse, tiger, bird, and so forth.  Each name has its separate allusion, and metaphorically may connote an aspiration, a philosophical attitude towards self and  conduct, a turn of mind, a sense of being, some thought about life and spirit.  The true meanings are revealed when the T'ai-Chi Ch'uan exponent has advanced to that stage of experience comprehension where he can utilize the implication of the philosophical  intentions, and where the symbols can be part of his growing consciousness.  This happens only when the mind and body have "changed" and absorbed the reasons for mental, emotional, and physical unity."
-   Sophia Delza, The T'ai Chi Ch'uan Experience, 1996, p. 24

The above long chart is more readable on my Eight Section Brocade webpage, 441 KB, last updated on June 20, 2014. 


Saturday, June 21, 2014

With Beauty Before Me I Walk

"Happily the spell is taken off for me
Happily I walk, impervious to pain I walk,
Light within I walk, joyous I walk
... In beauty I walk
With beauty before me I walk
With beauty after me I walk
With beauty above me I walk
With beauty above and about me I walk
It is finished in beauty
It is finished in beauty."
The Night Chant, Navajo Native American Chant  

"We live in a fast-paced society.  Walking slows us down." 
-  Robert Sweetgall  

“I firmly believe that everyone deserves to live within walking distance of either beauty or convenience, if not both."
-  Victoria Moran, Lit From Within: Tending Your Soul For Lifelong Beauty  

"We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive at where we started
And know the place for the first time."  
-  T. S. Eliot,  Little Gidding

Walking: Quotes, Poems, Sayings, Lore.  Compiled by Mike Garofalo.


Friday, June 20, 2014

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, Chapter 56

Dao De Jing, Laozi
Chapter 56

"Those who know, do not speak.
Those who speak, do not know.
So shut your mouth
Guard your senses
Blunt your sharpness
Untangle your affairs
Soften your glare
Be one with All dust.
This is the mystery of union.
You cannot approach it Yet you cannot escape it.
You cannot benefit it
Yet you cannot harm it.
You cannot bestow any honor on it
Yet you cannot rob it of its dignity.
That is why the whole Universe reveres it."
-  Translated by John Mabry, Chapter 56

"One who understands won't be willing to use words;
One who uses words won't be willing to understand.
Shut off your dissipation.
Seal up your door.
Harmonize with your brightness.
Adapt to the dust in your life.
Blunt your sharpness.
Untangle your disorder.
This is correctly described as the mystery of putting the pieces together.
Therefore, what can't be obtained and held closely also can't be obtained and cast off.
What can't be obtained and used for profit also can't be obtained and used for harm.
What can't be obtained and valued also can't be obtained and cheapened.
Therefore, every action in the world is precious."
-  Translated by Nina Correa, Chapter 56

"One who knows does not speak,
One who speaks does not know.
Stop the apertures,
Close the door;
Blunt the sharp,
Untie the entangled;
Harmonize the bright,
Make identical the dust.
This is called the mystical identity (hsüan t'ung).
Therefore with this person you cannot get intimate (ch'in),
Cannot get distant,
Cannot benefit,
Cannot harm,
Cannot exalt,
Cannot humiliate.
Therefore such person is the exalted of the world."
-  Translated by Ellen M. Chen, Chapter 56 

-  Chinese characters, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 56 

zhi zhe bu yan.
yan zhe bu zhi.
se qi dui.
bi qi men.
cuo qi rui.
jie qi fen.
he qi guang.
tong qi chen.
shi wei xuan tong.
gu bu ke de er qin.
bu ke de er shu.
bu ke de er li.
bu ke de er hai.
bu ke de er gui.
bu ke de er jian.
gu wei tian xia gui.
-  Pinyin Romanization, Daodejing, Chapter 56  

"Blunt all that is sharp;
Cut all that is divisible;
Blur all that which is brilliant;
Mix with all that is humble as dust;
This is called absolute equality.
Therefore it cannot be made intimate;
Nor can it be alienated.
It cannot be benefited;
Nor can it be harmed.
It cannot be exalted;
Nor can it be debased.
Therefore it is the most valuable thing in the world."
-  Translated by Ch'u Ta-Kao, 1904, Chapter 56  

"He who knows, speaks not;
He who speaks, knows not.
He closes the mouth,
He shuts the doors of the senses.
He rounds off angles;
He unravels all difficulties.
he harmonizes Light.
He brings men into Unity.
This is called wonderful Unity.
Favour and disgrace do not touch him,
profit and loss do not affect him,
Honour and shame are alike to him,
Therefore he is held in high esteem by all men."
-  Translated by Isabella Mears, 1916, Chapter 56

"El que sabe no habla.
El que habla no sabe.
Habla solo lo necesario,
Controla tus emociones,
Simplifica los problemas,
Deshazte de la confusión,
Atenúa tu resplandor,
Identifícate con el polvo,
Esta es la Misteriosa Totalidad.
Quien ha alcanzado este estado,
No se preocupa por el amor o el odio,
ni por el auge o el fracaso.
A la Misteriosa Totalidad,
No se le puede atraer;
no se le puede rechazar;
no se le puede beneficiar;
no se le puede perjudicar;
no se le puede honrar;
Por eso, es lo máximo que un hombre podrá alcanzar."
-  Translation from Wikisource, 2013, Tao Te Ching, Capítulo 56

"Those who know do not talk.
 Those who talk do not know.

 Stop talking,
 meditate in silence,
 blunt your sharpness,
 release your worries,
 harmonize your inner light,
 and become one with the dust.
 Doing this is the called the dark and mysterious identity.

 Those who have achieved the mysterious identity can not be approached,
      and they can not be alienated.
 They can not be benefited nor harmed.
 They can not be made noble nor to suffer disgrace.
 This makes them the most noble of all under the heavens."
 -  Translated by John H. McDonald, 1996, Chapter 56  

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

Taoism: A Selected Reading List

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Swinging Arms Exercises

I am developing a webpage on Bai Bi Yun Dong (Swinging Arms Exercises).  It it includes lessons on various forms of this popular exercise, an extensive bibliography and links, and a brief introduction. Here is my description of the Swinging Arms Form One.

1.  Swinging Arms Exercise - Form One
Swinging the Arms Forward and Back, Up and Down
Pendulum Swing

1.  Stand with your feet at a hip width distance apart, less than shoulder width, feet pointing straight ahead.  Keep the knees slightly bent.  This standing stance should be comfortable.  Release tension in the body, soften, stay loose, open the chest, keep an open mind - in short, maintain Sung

2.  Keep your head over your shoulders, and the head in line with the spine.  Lift the crown of the head and tuck the chin a little.  Shoulders are kept relaxed, but don't slouch.  Maintain central equilibrium.  Keep an upright posture. 
3.  The feet are grounded and rooted into the earth.  Feet remain flat on the floor during the entire exercise.  The feet should point straight ahead.  The knees are over the feet.   
4.  Look forward, soften and widen your visual focus.  Take in the whole practice scene.  Don't try to block sensory feelings, zone out, or escape being fully present in the simple here and now.
5.  Arms should be loose, relaxed, and hanging gently at the sides of your hips.  Hands should remain soft and relaxed. 
6.  Gently raise both arms up in front of the body, palms facing down.  Raise the arms up to about shoulder height or less, depending upon the mobility or comfort range of motion for your shoulder joint.  The arms are fairly straight with only a slight bend in the elbow. 
7.  Allow the arms to gently move down and back to the sides of your hips.  Continue to lift the arms up behind the body, palms facing up, to a height you are comfortable with, depending upon the mobility of your shoulder joint.  Most people draw the hands up behind the back at considerably less than a 30 degree angle up from the hips.  Then bring the arms downward until the hands are along sides of the hips.  The arms are fairly straight with only a slight bend in the elbow. 
8.  Continue moving both arms at the same time from the hips, up to about shoulder height or less in front, down to the sides of the hips, and up the back, then down to the hips.  Be gentle.  Take your time.  Both arms will gradually begin to effortlessly swing up and down, forward and back, up and down.  Relax!  The arms are fairly straight with only a slight bend in the elbow. 
9.  Breathing is natural, comfortable, effortless, unstrained.  Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.  The tongue rests gently on the upper palate.  
10.  The knees will gently begin to bend and straighten slightly as the arms swing forward and back.  A swinging rhythm will establish a bending pattern and movement flow in the knees.  Don't keep the knees stiff, locked, or rigid.  Go with the flow. 
11.  Continue to swing the arms forward and back until you have warmed up your body, loosed the joints, and established a comfortable and flowing motion of swinging your arms.  Slowly increase the pace of your swinging. 
12.  Avoid rapidly snapping the lower arms or hands as you draw you arms downward from the front.   
13.  Enjoy swinging your arms forward and backward for as long as you like.  Start with a swinging practice of two to four minutes, and gradually increase the practice time as your body becomes conditioned to the exercise, your stamina increases, and you find benefits from doing this exercise. 
14.  As you near the end of the exercise period, slow the swinging pace down and reduce the range of motion in the swing.  Gradually slow down and finally stop.  Stand and rest for awhile.   
    This dynamic stretching exercise helps various parts of the body and is an excellent warm up exercise.  It stretches the biceps as you draw the arms back and up.  It stretches the triceps as you swing the arms up and forward.  The relaxed fingers and wrists are stretched on the downward fall of the arms (a nice counter to the flexed and tensed positions of the hands on a keyboard).  The shoulder joint and tendons benefit from the gentle range of motion activity, and the deltoid muscles are exercised.  The pectoral muscles are stretched on the backward movement of the arms.  Strength gains, although very modest, are primarily in the deltoids, latissimus, obliques, quadriceps, and trapesius.  If the swinging arms activity is continued long enough the heartbeat will increase slightly.  This kind of rhythmic activity has a calming effect on the body and reduces stress.  Stephen Sinatra, M.D., claims this exercise will benefit the thoracic duct and help the heart.  Chinese Qigong masters claim that Qi flow is enhanced and the body energized, blood pressure is reduced, and various diseases are prevented or healed. 
    There are alternative versions of this Swinging Arms exercise practiced and recommended by different folks.  Some people like to quietly count the repetitions on the forward up swing as it helps them to focus and maintain a regular breathing pattern.  Some people just swing one arm forward and back, and alternate between the arms.  Guo Lin's Qigong, a Walking Qigong, for cancer patients, alternates the arm swing from side to side, but the elbows are bent more and the waist turns from side to side as the arms swing upward.  Some people enjoy stepping in place or walking forward in a coordinated manner (e.g., Yang Jwing Ming) as they swing their arms forward and backward, up and down.  Swinging the arms or pumping the arms during brisk walking is a popular exercise.  Some swing the arms higher up in the front, up to face level or higher.  Some rise on their heels as they swing the arms up.  Some rock the toes up and down, or the heels up and down as they swing their arms.  Some like to talk with others as they swing their arms, others prefer being quiet.  Some hold very light dumbbells or kettlebells in the hands while doing this exercise for greater strength gains, although repetitions are kept low.   
-  By Michael P. Garofalo, Swinging Arms Exercises: Bai Bi Yun Dong

                                      运 动

Here is an informative video presentation with some creative adaptations of Swinging Hands by Shifu Mike Pekor of Tai Chi Kung Fu of Long Island: Tai Chi Swing Series  UTube, 9:21 minutes.  I also describe this version in my new webpage as Swinging Arms Form Two.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Homeland of Time's Past

"I saw Master Chang San-feng
Enter the Sidhe, Fairies by his side,
Crossing over the pond at dawn.
Astonished I was!
On the teahouse table by the pond I later found
Some of his neatly printed notes
Folded in a well worn tome 
Of the Tao Te Ching, in Chapter 14. 

He had written:
”Even for an Immortal, the Past is the Key.

The Future
Grasp at it, but you can’t get it,
Colorless as an invisible crystal web,
Unformed, thin, a conundrum of ideas,
The Grand White Cloud Temple of Possibilities,
Flimsy as a maybe, strong as our hopes,
Silent as eternal Space.
When you meet it, you can’t see its face.
You want to stand for it, but cannot find a place. 

The Present
It appears and disappears through the moving ten thousand things,
Quick as a wink, elusive as a hummingbird,
Always Now with no other choice,
Moving ground, unstable Plates,
Real as much as Real gets to Be,
This Day has finally come,
Room for something, for the moment, waits
Gone in a flash, assigned a date,
Gulp, swallowed by the future.
Unceasing, continuous, entering and leaving
The vast empty center of the Elixir Field.

The Past
Becoming obscurer, fading, falling apart,
A mess of memories in the matrix of brains;
Some of it written, fixed in ink, chiseled in stone,
Most of it long lost in graves of pure grey bones.
Following it you cannot see its back,
Only forms of the formless, stories, tales,
Images of imageless, fictions, myths.
A smattering of forever fixed facts,
Scattered about the homes of fading ghosts. 
The twists and turns of millions of tongues
Leaving us languages, our passports to the past.
The future becomes past, the present becomes past,

Every thing lives, subtracting but seconds for Nowness, in the Past. 
The Realms of the Gods, the kingdoms of men,
The Evolutionary Tree with roots a million years long
Intertwined with turtles, dragons, trees, stars and toads;
     crickets, coyotes, grasses, tigers, bears, monkeys and men.  

These profoundest Three of Time
An unraveled red Knot of Mystery,
Evading scrutiny in the darkness of days
Eluding capture in the brightness of nights,
In beginnings and endings are only One, the Tao,
Coming from Nowhere, Returning to Nothing.  

What dimension of Time
Does your mind dwell within?
Future, Present or Past
Where is your homeland?  

The Past holds the accomplishments, the created, the glories, and the Great.
The Present is but a thin coat of ice on the Pond of Fate. 
The Future is an illusion, a guess, a plethora of possible states.

Recreate the Past
By playing within the Present. 
Twisting and reeling one’s silky reality
From the Black Cocoons of the Acts
From which we create our Pasts.
Follow the Ancient Ways. 
The Past is the Key.”   
-  By Michael P. Garofalo, Meetings with Master Chang San-feng

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

One by One We Must All File On

"Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
Weep, and you weep alone.
For the sad old earth must borrow it's mirth,
But has trouble enough of its own.
Sing, and the hills will answer;
Sigh, it is lost on the air.
The echoes bound to a joyful sound,
But shrink from voicing care.

Rejoice, and men will seek you;
Grieve, and they turn and go.
They want full measure of all your pleasure,
But they do not need your woe.
Be glad, and your friends are many;
Be sad, and you lose them all.
There are none to decline your nectared wine,
But alone you must drink life's gall.

Feast, and your halls are crowded;
Fast, and the world goes by.
Succeed and give, and it helps you live,
But no man can help you die.
There is room in the halls of pleasure
For a long and lordly train,
But one by one we must all file on
Through the narrow aisles of pain."

Solitude by Ella Wheeler Wilcox, 1850-1919

Monday, June 16, 2014

Beauty for the Ears

Thanks to some nice Father's Day gifts from my wife and daughter, I've been listening to some outstanding music.

 The No. 13 String Quartet in A Minor by Franz Schubert (1797-1828) from 1824 is very appealing to me.  I have listened to this composition many times and with great pleasure.  I have been listening to the Guarneri String Quartet version recorded in 2009. Schubert's No. 14 String Quartet, Death and the Maiden, and No. 15 in G Major, along with No. 13, all premiered around 1825, and have been recorded by many fine string quartets and are a concert favorite. 

Another favorite of mine are the three string quartets by Johannes Brahms (1833-1897): Opus 51, No. 1 and No. 2, and Opus 67.  These three quartets were composed around 1873.  I am listening to the Emerson String Quartet recording from 2007.  A real bargain in MP3 format for $15.00 ... something to enjoy for years to come. 

One fascinating book I read this week, borrowed from our local public library, was "The Larousse Encyclopedia of Music."  It was edited by Geoffrey Hindley.  Crescent Books, 1990, 576 pages, with extensive black and white illustrations.  This books focuses on regional traditional music and "classical" music.  Modern popular music (e.g., the rock music quartet) is not discussed.  This book is valuable to those interested in the history of ideas

I do also listen to 20th century string quartet compositions; however, the Classical and Romantic compositions from Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, and Brahms are essential listening in this genre. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Taijiquan Sword Form, 32 Movements

This popular webpage includes a comprehensive bibliography, scores of links to webpages; an extensive listing of the names and name variations for each movement in English, Chinese, French, German, and Spanish; a detailed analysis of each posture and movement sequence with explanations and numbered illustrations and detailed instructions; selected quotations; comments on 20 Taijiquan sword techniques; a comprehensive media bibliography; a chart of performance times; recommendations for starting to learn this form at home one your own with instructional DVDs, books and practice methods; and, a comparison of the 32 and 55 sword forms in the Yang style. 

This is the standard, simplified, orthodox, 1957, 32 Taiji Sword Form, in the Yang Style of T'ai Chi Ch'uan. 

© Michael P. Garofalo, Valley Spirit Taijiquan, Green Way Research, Red Bluff, California, October 2, 2011.  235Kb+. 
The Wild Horse Jumps Over the Mountain Stream