Thursday, September 25, 2014

Pulling Onions: An Old Gardener's Epigrams

Planting winter branch cuttings - talk about getting something from almost nothing. 
My mind is a sea I cannot see into; I merely skim along its surface.
Be careful not to stand up for that which will cause your downfall.    
God may be very smart, but he is a poor communicator.
What ought to be cannot be derived from what is the case, but a reasonable person ought not to ignore what is the case.  
Most tire from hatefulness; cheerfulness is abiding.
Stubborn facts are loosened up with novelty.
The act, the deed, the doing are the primary considerations. 
Keep moving― just like a cyclist that must keep pedaling and moving and avoiding falling down.
To many the sun is a god and the earth is a goddess; and, our imaginations are boundless.  
Don't kid yourself: seeing is not necessarily believing. 
If you think you are damned if you do or damned if you don't, your not thinking creatively enough. 
The ten thousand things are more enchanting than the Silent One. 
To lift the mind, move the body.
A calloused palm and dirty fingernails precede a Green Thumb. 
Absolutes squirm beneath realities. 
The empty garden is already full.
Evidence may support the pessimists' views, but optimists get to smile more.
A gardener is no farmer, he is much too impractical.
The month determines the mood.
A leaf bud - hope visible. 

Pulling Onions: 785 Quips and Sayings of an Old Gardener by Mike Garofalo

Months and Seasons

The Spirit of Gardening

Wednesday, September 24, 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.   

One recent book that provides good documentation on the history of Chinese exercise practices (Chi Kung, Qigong, Neigong), including five illustrated versions of the Eight Section Brocade, is:  

An Illustrated Handbook of Chinese Qigong Forms from the Ancient Texts  Complied by Li Jingwei and Zhu Jianping.  London, Singing Dragon, 2014.  No index or bibliography, 325 pages.  ISBN: 9781848191976.  Many excellent line drawings are included to illustrate the postures.  VSCL. 
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.  

"The name “Ba Duan Jin” has been found as early as the Northern Song Dynasty. According to Hong Mai's (洪邁) Yi Jian Zhi (夷堅志, Song Dynasty), Zhenghe Seventh Year, Emperor's Chief Secretary, Li Shi-Ju, lived a simple life.  He spent a large portion of his time in his mediation room practicing Daoist Monk’s exercises expanding like a bear and stretching like a bird. In the early hours, he is often found breathing and massaging, practicing the so-called Eight-Section Brocade (Ba Duan Jin). This passage reveals that Ba Duan Jin has been developed and practiced since the Song Dynasty as a general health-keeping regime. 
Both sitting and standing forms have been found in the history of Ba Duan Jin (
八段錦),. Standing forms were developed into two schools (northern and southern styles) in the Qing Dynasty. The Northern School, said to have been passed down by Yue Fei (岳飛), has tougher forms, and the Southern School, claimed the lineage from Liang Shi-Chang (梁世昌), focuses on softer trainings. Quite a few verses has been passed down during the period from Song Dynasty to Qing Dynasty, but all verses for the standing forms have evolved from the passages recorded in "The Chapter of Wonders, Pivot of Dao" (道樞·眾妙篇, Dao Shu, Zong Miao Pian, Song Dynasty) and verses of the sitting style from the forms recorded in "TheTen Books of Daoist Practices" (修真十書 Xiu Zhen Shi Shu, Ming Dynasty ).  or "The Methods of Curing"(活人心法, Huo Ren Xin Fa, Ming Dynasty). Sets Ba Duan Jin forms are not always limited to the number of eight. The number of forms in a set range from a single form to tens or as many as a hundred; nevertheless, they are all exercise regimes designed for health-keeping, preventive, and therapeutic purposes, and, liberally saying, all exercise regimes designed for such purposes are part of the Ba Duan Jin system."
-   Lee Chang-Chih,
 A Brief Introduction to Ba Daun Jin.  "Reinterpreting Ba Duan Jing From the Theories of the Eight Extra Meridians" 2005 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Purpose of the Cloud Hands Blog

1.  The Cloud Hands Blog brings attention to and refers to my webpages with more detailed information, resources, and ideas about specific topics.  Blog posts are usually brief, whereas my webpages can be very long, include bibliographies, provide instructions, and organize quotations on a subject.  

2.  Cloud Hands Blog posts in Blogger are immediately included and indexed in the Google and Bing search engines.  This brings my work to the attention of new readers, both in the blog post and to my webpages on the subject.

3.  The left hand column in my Cloud Hands Blog serves as an subject index to my publications in webpages, PDF files, and blog posts.  I consider it my Homepage on the Internet. 

4.  This blog occasionally serves as a means to convey my current doings, activities, and notes about events in my personal life.  I don't do this to often. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Tao Te Ching: Translations, Interpolations, Interpretations, Versions

Daodejing, Laozi

Translations, Interpolations, Interpretations, Versions

A typical webpage created by Mike Garofalo on a Chapter of the Tao Te Ching (Daodejing) by Lao Tzu (Laozi) includes at least 16 different translations or interpolations of the Chapter in English, two Spanish translations, the Chinese characters for the Chapter, a Wade-Giles and Hanyu Pinyin Romanization of the Mandarin Chinese words for the Chapter, recommended reading lists, a detailed bibliography, indexing by key words and terms for the Chapter, and other resources for the Chapter. 

Indexing and research by Michael P. Garofalo, Librarian of Gushen Grove, Valley Spirit Center, Red Bluff, California.


All 81 Chapters of the Daodejing are Indexed

Chapter Index and Electronic Concordance 

Searchable by English language terms, Spanish language terms, Romanized Chinese (Wade-Giles and Pinyin) terms.  I use the word 'terms' in my Chapter Index to loosely refer to: keywords, themes, phrases, chapter titles, subjects, topics, words, nouns, verbs, adverbs, or adjectives.  I tend to favor inclusiveness, related meanings, interrelated concepts, and generality when including terms in this index; reflecting the fascinating complexity of translating and reinterpretation.  

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

Taoism: A Selected Reading List 

Daodejing Webpages: General Index

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Chen Taijiquan Short Form

I have enjoyed practicing this short Chen Taijiquan form for the past six years.  It was developed by Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei.

Chen Taijiquan Short 18 Movement Form Webpage

List of Movements of the Chen Taijiquan 18 Movement Short Form

Chen Taijiquan Old Frame First Form Laojia Yilu Webpage

Chen Style Tai Chi Essential 18 Postures with Patrick Martin.  Instructional DVD, 2 DVDs, 238 minutes.  Disk 1, 130 Minutes.  Jade Dragon Tai Chi International, Empty Circle Productions, 2008.  VSCL.  Patrick Martin is a student of Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei, and has been practicing and teaching Chen style Tai Chi for the last 20 years.  Detailed instructions for each movement sequence.  This DVD would be my first choice for an excellent instructional DVD on the Chen 18 Form.  

Watch Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei perform the short form he created:

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Tai Chi Chuan and Breathing Methods

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

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

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

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

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

Chen Taijiquan Old Frame First Form (Laojia Yilu)  

Friday, September 19, 2014

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, Chapter 44

Dao De Jing, Laozi
Chapter 44

"Or fame or life,
Which do you hold more dear?
Or life or wealth,
To which would you adhere?
Keep life and lose those other things;
Keep them and lose your life:--which brings
Sorrow and pain more near?
Thus we may see,
Who cleaves to fame Rejects what is more great;
Who loves large stores
Gives up the richer state.
Who is content Needs fear no shame.
Who knows to stop Incurs no blame.
From danger free Long live shall he."
-  Translated by James Legge, 1891, Chapter 44 

"Fame or self: which is more important?
Your possessions or your person: which is worth more to you?
Gain or loss: which is worse?
Therefore, to be obsessed with "things" is a great waste,
The more you gain, the greater your loss.
Being content with what you have been given, You can avoid disgrace.
Knowing when to stop, You will avoid danger.
That way you can live a long and happy life."
-  Translated by John R. Mabry, Chapter 44 

"Which means more to you,
You or your renown?
Which brings more to you,
You or what you own?
And which would cost you more
If it were gone?
The niggard pays,
The miser loses.
The least ashamed of men
Goes back if he chooses:
He knows both ways,
He starts again."
-  Translated by Witter Bynner, 1944, Chapter 44 

"Fame or one's own self, which matters to one most?
One's own self or things bought, which should count most?
In the getting or the losing, which is worse?
Hence he who grudges expense pays dearest in the end;
He who has hoarded most will suffer the heaviest loss.
Be content with what you have and are, and no one can despoil you;
Who stops in time nothing can harm.
He is forever safe and secure."
-  Translated by Arthur Waley, 1934, Chapter 44 

-  Chinese characters, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 44

ming yu shen shu qin?
shen yu huo shu duo?
de yu wang shu bing?
shih bu shen ai bi da fei.  
duo cang bi hou wang.
gu zu bu ru.  
zhi zhi bu dai.
ke yi chang jiu.
-  Pinyin Romanization, Daodejing, Chapter 44 
"Which is neared to you, your name or your person?
Which is more precious, your person or your wealth?
Which is the greater evil, to gain or to lose?
Great devotion requires great sacrifice.
Great wealth implies great loss.
He who is content can never be ruined.
He who stands still will never meet danger.
These are the people who endure."
-  Translated by Walter Gorn Old, 1904, Chapter 44

"Which is more dear to you, your character or your body?
Which do you treasure more, your body or your wealth?
Which makes you more unhappy, to gain or to lose?
But we must sacrifice much to gain true love.
We must suffer great loss to obtain much treasure,
To know contentment is to fear no shame.
To know how to stop is to avoid destruction.
Thus doing, we shall long endure."
-  Translated by Isabella Mears, 1916, Chapter 44  

"¿Qué es más íntimo a nuestra naturaleza,
la fama o el propio cuerpo?
¿Qué es más apreciable, la salud o la riqueza?
¿Qué nos duele más,
ganar una cosa o perder la otra?
Quien se apega a las cosas, mas sufre por ellas.
Quien acumula muchas cosas, mas peligra de perderlas.
Quien se contenta con lo justo nunca es agraviado.
Quien sabe medirse no sufre peligros
y vivirá largamente."
-  Translation from Wikisource, 2013, Capitulo 44

"Which is nearer you,
Your name or yourself?
Which is more to you,
Your person or your pelf?
And is your loss or gain
The more malicious elf?
Extreme love's price
Must be paid with sacrifice.
Hoarding to excess
Brings ruin its its place,
Who knows he has enough
Never knows disgrace,
Who knows when to stop
Danger will efface,
And long can endure,
Evermore secure."
-  Translated by Isaac Winter Heysinger, 1903, Chapter 44 

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

Taoism: A Selected Reading List

 A typical webpage created by Mike Garofalo on a Chapter of the Tao Te Ching (Daodejing) by Lao Tzu (Laozi) includes at least 16 different translations or interpolations of the Chapter in English, two Spanish translations, the Chinese characters for the Chapter, a Wade-Giles and Hanyu Pinyin Romanization of the Mandarin Chinese words for the Chapter, recommended reading lists, a detailed bibliography, indexing by key words and terms for the Chapter, and other resources for the Chapter.  


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Measures Destined for Her Soul

"What is divinity if it can come
Only in silent shadows and in dreams?
Shall she not find in comforts of the sun,
In pungent fruit and bright, green wings, or else
In any balm or beauty of the earth,
Things to be cherished like the thought of heaven?
Divinity must live within herself:
Passions of rain, or moods in falling snow;
Grievings in loneliness, or unsubdued
Elations when the forest blooms; gusty
Emotions on wet roads on autumn nights;
All pleasures and all pains, remembering
The bough of summer and the winter branch,
These are the measures destined for her soul."   
-  Wallace Stevens, Sunday Morning, 1915 

"Even before I could speak, I remember crawling through blueberry patches in the wild meadows on our hillsides.  I quickly discovered Nature was filled with Spirit; I never saw any separation between Spirit and Nature.  Much later I discovered our culture taught there was supposed to be some kind of separation - that God, Spirit and Nature were supposed to be divided and different.  However, at my early age it seemed absolutely obvious that the church of the Earth was the greatest church of all; that the temple of the forest was the supreme temple.  When I went to the sanctuary of the mountain, I found Earth's natural altar - Great Spirit's real shrine.  Years later I discovered that this path of going into Nature, bonding deeply with it, and seeing Spirit within Nature - God, Goddess, and Great Spirit - was humanity's most ancient, most primordial path of spiritual cultivation and realization."
-  John P. Milton, Sky Above, Earth Below
"In all things of nature there is something marvelous."  
-  Aristotle 

"The first act of awe, when man was struck with the beauty or wonder of Nature, was the first spiritual experience."
-  Henryk Skolimowski  

"When the healthy nature of man acts as a whole, when he feels himself to be in the world as in a great, beautiful, noble, and valued whole, when harmonious ease affords him a pure and free delight, then the universe, if it could experience itself, would exult, as having attained its goal, and admire the climax of its own becoming and essence."
-  Goethe 

Spirituality and Nature

Awe and Wonder

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Ponderable To Our Touch

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

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

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

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

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


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Hand is the Cutting Edge of the Mind

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

"The mind has exactly the same power as the hands: not merely to grasp the world, but to change it."
-  Colin Wilson 
"By rubbing up against the world, I define myself to myself."
-  Deane Juhan

"The upper limb is the lightning rod to the soul."
-  Robert Markison

"A callused palm and dirty fingernails precede a Green Thumb."
-  Mike Garofalo

“We leave traces of ourselves wherever we go, on whatever we touch.”
Lewis Thomas 

Hands On 
Fingers, Hands, Touching, Feeling, Somatics
Quotations, Bibliography, Links, Reflections


Monday, September 15, 2014

Dao De Jing by Laozi: Bibliography, Concordance, Index, Resources, Translations

Daodejing, Laozi

Chapter Index and Electronic Concordance

Indexing and research by Michael P. Garofalo, Librarian of Gushen Grove, Valley Spirit Center, Red Bluff, California.  

All 81 Chapters of the Daodejing are Indexed

Searchable by English language terms, Spanish language terms, Romanized Chinese (Wade-Giles and Pinyin) terms.  I use the word 'terms' in my Chapter Index to loosely refer to: keywords, themes, phrases, chapter titles, subjects, topics, words, nouns, verbs, adverbs, or adjectives.  I tend to favor inclusiveness, related meanings, interrelated concepts, and generality when including Terms in this index; reflecting the fascinating complexity of translating and reinterpretation.  

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

Taoism: A Selected Reading List 

Daodejing Webpages: General Index

A typical webpage created by Mike Garofalo on a Chapter of the Tao Te Ching (Daodejing) by Lao Tzu (Laozi) includes at least 16 different translations or interpolations of the Chapter in English, two Spanish translations, the Chinese characters for the Chapter, a Wade-Giles and Hanyu Pinyin Romanization of the Mandarin Chinese words for the Chapter, recommended reading lists, a detailed bibliography, indexing by key words and terms for the Chapter, and other resources for the Chapter.  

Sunday, September 14, 2014

You Cannot Call It Lofty

"The Way has its reality and its signs
but is without action or form.
You can hand it down but you cannot receive it,
you can ignore it but you cannot see it.
It is its own source, its own root.
Before heaven and earth existed it was there,
from the ancient times.
It gave spirituality to the spirits and to God,
it gave birth to heaven and to earth.
It exists beyond the highest point,
and yet you cannot call it lofty;
it exists beneath the limit of the six directions,
and yet you cannot call it deep.
It was born before heaven and earth,
and yet you cannot say it has been there for long,
it is earlier than the earliest time,
and yet you cannot call it old."

- The Crookbacked Woman and the Sage
Chuang Tzu, Translated by Burton Watson, 1964

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Taijiquan Short Form: Bejing Standard 24 Form

The first Taijiquan form I learned in 1986 was the Standard 24 Movement T'ai Chi Ch'uan Form in the Yang Style of T'ai Chi Ch'uan.  At that time there were no books or instructional videotapes on this popular form.  Since that time, nearly 25 years have passed.  Now there are dozens of books and instructional DVDs and webpages on the subject of the 24 Form. 

Mike Garofalo 'Playing the Pipa'

My webpage on the Standard 24 Taijiquan Form has been the most popular webpage on the Cloud Hands Website for many years. In the sidebar of this blog, you will find a quick index to this webpage.

Standard Simplified Taijiquan 24 Form.  Research by Michael P. Garofalo, M.S. This webpage includes a detailed bibliography of books, media, links, online videos, articles, and resources.  It provides a list of the 24 movement names in English, Chinese, French, German and Spanish, with citations for sources of the movement names.  It provides detailed descriptions of each movement with black and white line illustrations and  photographs.  It includes relevant quotations, notes, performance times, section breakdowns, basic Tai Chi principles, and strategies for learning the form.  The Peking (Bejing) Chinese National orthodox standard simplified 24 movement T'ai Chi Ch'uan form, created in 1956, is the most popular form practiced all around the world.  This form uses the Yang Style of Taijiquan.  Published by Green Way Research, Valley Spirit Taijiquan, Red Bluff, California:  Webpage URL:  File size: 269 Kb. 

This webpage provides many good suggestions for a person learning this form on their own if there is no Tai Chi class in their area. 

The best book that I have seen on the subject is:

The Yang Taiji 24 Step Short Form: A Step by Step Guide for All Levels
By James Drewe  London, Singing Dragon Press, 2011.  382 pages, black and white photographs, charts, detailed descriptions, training tips.
I give information on many other fine books by other good authors on the 24 Form in my webpage: Cheng Zhao, Foen Tjoeng Lie, Eric Chaline, Le Deyin, etc.. 

My students tell me that their favorite instructional DVD on the 24 Form is:

Tai Chi - The 24 Forms
By Dr. Paul Lam

I have taught this lovely Tai Chi form to hundreds of people since 2000.  Everyone tells me how much they enjoy learning and practicing this gentle form.

I also teach and enjoy playing the Chen Style Taijiquan 18 Movement Form created by Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei. Actually, in the last year, I prefer practicing the Chen 18 Form more.  

Friday, September 12, 2014

Daodejing, Laozi, Chapter 45

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
Chapter 45

"What is most perfect seems imperfect,
But using it doesn't use it up.
What is most full seems empty,
But using it doesn't wear it down.
Great straightness seems crooked;
Great skill seems clumsy;
Great eloquence seems hesitant.
Movement conquers cold,
But stillness conquers heat.
Clearness and serenity
Are beneath-heaven's norm."
-  Translated by Herrymon Maurer, 1985, Chapter 45   

"Sit quietly
focus and forget
rest with the great achievement.
The ancient child asks
"what is the great achievement?"
It is beyond description in any language
it can only be felt intuitively
it can only be expressed intuitively. 
Engage a loose, alert, and aware
body, mind, and sound
then look into the formless
and perceive no thing.
See yourself as a sphere
small at first
growing to encompass
the vastness of infinite space. 
Sit quietly
focus and forget then
in a state of ease and rest
secure the truth of the great achievement.
Employing the truth will not exhaust its power
when it seems exhausted it is really abundant
and while human art will die at the hands of utility
the great achievement is beyond being useful.
Great straightness is curved and crooked
great intelligence is raw and silly
great words are simple and naturally awkward. 
Engaged movement drives out the frozen cold
mindful stillness subdues the frenzied heart.
Sit quietly
summon order from the void
that guides the ordering of the universe."
-  Translated by John Bright-Fey, 2006, Chapter 45  

"The greatest perfection seems inadequate,
But it is unfailing in its usefulness;
What is brimful seems empty,
But it is inexhaustible in its usefulness.
The completely straight seems crooked, the greatest skill seems awkward,
The greatest eloquence seems like stammering.
Activity overcomes cold,
But stillness overcomes heat.
Only by purity and stillness will the world be governed."
-  Translated by Herman Ould, 1946, Chapter 45  

"Esteem lightly your greatest accomplishment, your patience will not fail.
Reckon your great fullness to be emptiness, your strength will not become exhausted.
Count your rectitude as foolishness,
Know your cleverness to be stupidity,
Recognize your eloquence to be stammering words,
And you will find that
As movement overcomes cold, and as stillness overcomes heat, even so, he who knows the true secret of tranquility
Will become a pattern for all mankind."
-  Translated by Isabella Mears, 1916, Chapter 45  

-  Chinese characters, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 45

ta ch'êng jo ch'üeh.
ch'i yung pu pi. 
ta ying jo ch'ung.
ch'i yung pu ch'iung.
ta chih jo ch'u.
ta ch'iao jo cho.
ta pien jo no.
tsao shêng han.
ching shêng jê.
ch'ing ching wei t'ien hsia chêng.
-  Wade-Giles Romanization, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 45

"The highest perfection is like imperfection,
And its use is never impaired.
The greatest abundance seems meager,
And its use will never fail.
What s most straight appears devious,
The greatest skill appears clumsiness;
The greatest eloquence seems like stuttering.
Movement overcomes cold,
But keeping still overcomes heat.
Who is calm and quiet becomes the guide for the universe."
-  Translated by Lin Yutang, 1955, Chapter 45 

"La Gran Perfección parece insuficiente,
pero surte un efecto infinitamente eficaz.
La Gran Plenitud es de apariencia vacía,
pero su acción es inagotable.
La Gran Rectitud es en apariencia torcida.
La Gran Habilidad es en apariencia torpe.
La Gran Elocuencia es en apariencia incongruente.
El movimiento vence al frío.
La quietud vence al calor.
Lo pacífico y sereno son las cosas que restauran
el orden del Universo."
-  Translation from Wikisource, 2013, Capitulo 45

"He who sees that his highest attainments are always incomplete may go on working indefinitely.
He who sees his greatest possessions to be inadequate may go on acquiring forever.
His highest rectitude is but crookedness.
His greatest wisdom is but foolishness.
His sweetest eloquence is but stammering.
Action overcomes cold; inaction overcomes heat.
With virtue and quietness one may conquer the world."
-  Translated by Walter Gorn Old, 1904, Chapter 45  

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

Taoism: A Selected Reading List

 A typical webpage created by Mike Garofalo on a Chapter of the Tao Te Ching (Daodejing) by Lao Tzu (Laozi) includes at least 16 different translations or interpolations of the Chapter in English, two Spanish translations, the Chinese characters for the Chapter, a Wade-Giles and Hanyu Pinyin Romanization of the Mandarin Chinese words for the Chapter, recommended reading lists, a detailed bibliography, indexing by key words and terms for the Chapter, and other resources for the Chapter. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

My Morning Walk

Looking east on Kilkenny Lane near Red Bluff, California.  I walk 3.6 miles on this cul de sac lane, four days each week, in the morning.  I walk at daybreak on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday morning throughout the entire year.  

Occasionally, a car might use this country lane, and I move to the side of the road.  It is a very safe, peaceful, and quiet place.  

Sometimes I listen to my MP3 player while I walk.  Sometimes I walk in silence.  

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

"Every day, in the morning or evening, or both, take a walk in a safe and peaceful environment for less than an hour.  The can be a great fountain of youth.  Choose a place to walk that has no kind of disturbance.   Walking done in a work environment and when your mind is busy is different; it is not as nutritious as the walking you do for yourself in the morning or evening in a quiet, peaceful, and safe place."
-  Master Hua-Ching Ni, Entering the Tao, 1997, p. 135


Looking to the northeast on Kilkenny Lane.  Mt. Lassen (10,000 feet) in the distance is capped with a little snow.  These photos were taken in the Autumn.   

"Walking is the natural recreation for a man who desires not absolutely to suppress his intellect but to turn it out to play for a season." 
-  Leslie Stephen  


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

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

Study Tai Chi Chuan and Chi Kung with Mike Garofalo

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Yi Jin Jing Chi Kung: Muscle and Tendon Transformation

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, September 09, 2014

Autumn Approaches

Months and Seasons
Quotes, Poems, Sayings, Verses, Lore, Myths, Holidays
Celebrations, Folklore, Reading, Links, Quotations
Information, Weather, Gardening Chores
Compiled by Mike Garofalo
Winter Spring Summer Fall
January April July October
February May August November
March June September December 

"Only two percent of all insects are harmful.  Why are they all in my garden?
Dearly respect the lifestyle of worms.
The spiders, grasshoppers, mantis, and moth larva are all back:  the summer crowd has returned!
Snail - Squash!  Tomato Worm - Squash!  Grasshopper - Squash! The Garden Trooper is  at War!"
Michael P. Garofalo, Pulling Onions 

Monday, September 08, 2014

Friendship is a Slow Ripening Fruit

"May I perfect the sublime virtue of generosity,
which liberates and releases craving, grasping,
and attachment,
and brings joyous contentment."
-  Lama Surya Das, Buddha is as Buddha Does, p. 21

"Hospitality is a form of worship."
-  The Talmud   

"Wishing to be friends is quick work, but friendship is a slow ripening fruit."
-  Aristotle 

"We should give as we would receive, cheerfully, quickly, and without hesitation; for there is no grace in a benefit that sticks to the fingers."
-  Seneca   

"Gardening helps us to carefully attend to the close at hand.  
The best thing that grows in the garden is a careful gardener. 
Your rich, famous, and handsome; and, your garden doesn't care. 
Gardens are not inherently meaningful in many ways; but, making a garden and caring
     for it creates meaningfulness. 
If you plant it, they will come."  

-   Michael P. Garofalo,
Pulling Onions   

Advice from Wise Persons

The Good Life


Sunday, September 07, 2014

Taoist Enlightened Person: Xian

"Xian (Chinese: 仙/仚/僊; pinyin: xiān; Wade–Giles: hsien) is a Chinese word for an enlightened person, translatable in English as:
  • "spiritually immortal; transcendent; super-human; celestial being" (in Daoist/Taoist philosophy and cosmology)
  • "physically immortal; immortal person; immortalist; saint" (in Daoist religion and pantheon)
  • "alchemist; one who seeks the elixir of life; one who practices longevity techniques" or by extension "(alchemical, dietary, qigong) methods for attaining immortality" (in Chinese alchemy)
  • "wizard; magician; shaman" (in Chinese mythology)
  • "genie; elf, fairy; nymph" (in popular Chinese literature, 仙境 xian jing is "fairyland", Faerie)
  • "sage living high in the mountains; mountain-man; hermit; recluse" (folk etymology for the character 仙)
  • "immortal (talent); accomplished person; celestial (beauty); marvelous; extraordinary" (metaphorical modifier)
Xian semantically developed from meaning spiritual "immortality; enlightenment", to physical "immortality; longevity" involving methods such as alchemy, breath meditation, and T'ai chi ch'uan, and eventually to legendary and figurative "immortality".
The xian archetype is described by Victor H. Mair.
They are immune to heat and cold, untouched by the elements, and can fly, mounting upward with a fluttering motion. They dwell apart from the chaotic world of man, subsist on air and dew, are not anxious like ordinary people, and have the smooth skin and innocent faces of children. The transcendents live an effortless existence that is best described as spontaneous. They recall the ancient Indian ascetics and holy men known as ṛṣi who possessed similar traits.1994:376
According to the Digital Dictionary of Buddhism, Chinese xian (仙) can mean Sanskrit ṛṣi (rishi "inspired sage in the Vedas")."

Excellent article in Wikipedia:  Xian (Taoism)