Sunday, November 30, 2014

Having Realistic Preferences and Eliminating Bad Habits

Albert Ellis (1913-2007) was one of the five most influential psychologists of the twentieth century.

Albert Ellis and Robert A Harper tell us:

"We should strive conscientiously to:
1.  Increase our objectivity and eliminate confusing facts and inferences
2.  Break any habit with which we habitually put ourselves at risk
3.  Get rid of agendas that conflict with our higher priorities
4.  Replace self-defeating demands and damnation with realistic preferences and appraisals
5.  Accept ourselves and others as the fallible human beings we actually are."
-  Albert Ellis and Robert Harper, A Guide to Rational Living, p. 58

How to Live the Good Life: Advice From Wise Persons

Virtues and Character

"As a human, four basic processes aid your survival and happiness: (1) You perceive or sense - see, taste, smell, feel, hear.  (2) You feel or emote - love, hate, fear, feel joyful or sad.  (3) You move or act - walk, eat, swim, climb, and play.  (4) You reason or think - remember, imagine, hyopthesize, conclude and solve problems."

These four processes typically interrelate and integrate at the same time.  Sometimes, one process can become dominant.  Unhealthy positive and negative thoughts can produce unhealthy emotional and behavioral problems for persons.   

Some related advice for rational living is found in the Enchiridon, written in the 1st century CE, by Epictetus when he said "People are disturbed not by things, but by the views which they take of them."  Shakespeare says, in Hamlet, "There's nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so."  The theory of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) by Ellis and Harper goes far beyond these old sayings to develop a systematic guide for sensible people. 

I have benefitted from frequently reading the many books by Dr. Ellis and his REBT colleagues, and trying to practice his advice in my life for many years.  I have never participated in individual or group REBT therapy, but I am confident it might help people with serious neurosis and dysfunctional lifestyles. 

A Guide to Rational Living  By Albert Ellis and Robert A. Harper.  3rd Edition, 1975.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Ours is the Stuff Sublime

"We men of Earth have here the stuff
Of Paradise - we have enough!
We need no other stones to build
The Temple of the Unfulfilled -
No other ivory for the doors -
No other marble for the floors -
No other cedar for the beam
And dome of man's immortal dream.

Here on the paths of every-day -
Here on the common human way
Is all the stuff the gods would take
To build a Heaven, to mold and make
New Edens. Ours is the stuff sublime
To build Eternity in time!" 
-  Edwin Markham, Earth is Enough

Awe: Quotes, Sayings 

"Wonder is the beginning of wisdom."
-  Socrates

"Subject is known by what she sees."
-   Allen Ginsberg, Mind Writing Slogans  

Raining in Red Bluff, California, today 11/28/2014

Friday, November 28, 2014

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, Chapter 36

Daodejing, Laozi
Chapter 36

"When one feels a desire to concentrate it in one's own heart, it is imperatively necessary to display it openly.
When one feels a desire to cultivate it in its pliant phase, it is imperatively necessary to fortify and strengthen one's own powers. 
When one feels a desire to abandon or neglect it, it is imperatively necessary to stir up one's mind afresh in its pursuit. 
If anyone feels a desire to obtain it, it is imperatively necessary that it should be imparted to him.
By this means, the hidden phases of Tao will become clear.
The weak and pliable overcomes the strong and hard.
A fish cannot leave the depths.
The treasures of a State should not be employed to influence the people."
-  Translated by Henry Balfour, 1884, Chapter 36 

 "That which is about to contract has surely been expanded.
That which is about to weaken has surely been strengthened.
That which is about to fall has surely been raised.
That which is about to be despoiled has surely been endowed.  
This is an explanation of the secret that the tender and the weak conquer the hard and the strong.  
As the fish should not escape from the deep, so with the country's sharp tools the people should not become acquainted."
-  Translated by Daisetsu Teitaro Suzuki and Paul Carus, 1913, Chapter 36    

"In order to contract a thing, one should surely expand it first.
 In order to weaken, one will surely strengthen first.
 In order to overthrow, one will surely exalt first.
 'In order to take, one will surely give first.'
 This is called subtle wisdom.
 The soft and the weak can overcome the hard and the strong.
 As the fish should not leave the deep
 So should the sharp implements of a nation not be shown to anyone."
 -  Translated by Ch'u Ta-Kao, 1904, Chapter 36  

"That which is to be shrunk
must first be stretched out.
That which is to be weakened
must first be strengthened.
That which is to be cast down
must first be raised up.
That which is to be taken
must first be given.
There is wisdom in dimming your light.
For the soft and gentle
will overcome the hard and powerful.
Fish are best left in deep waters.
And, weapons are best kept out of sight."
-  Translated by Tolbert McCarroll, 1982, Chapter 36

將欲歙之, 必固張之.
將欲弱之, 必固強之.
將欲廢之, 必固興之.
將欲奪之, 必固與之. 
-  Chinese characters, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 36

chiang yü hsi chih, pi ku chang chih.
chiang yü jo chih, pi ku ch'iang chih.
chiang yü fei chih, pi ku hsing chih.
chiang yü to chih, pi ku yü chih.
shih wei wei ming.
jou jo shêng kang ch'iang.
yü pu k'o t'o yü yüan.
kuo chih li ch'i, pu k'o yi shih jên.
-  Wade-Giles Romanization, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 36  

"If a thing is capable of being contracted, no doubt is was previously expanded;
 It a thing is capable of being weakened, no doubt it was previously strengthened.
 Exaltation precedes abasement.
 He who would take must first give.
 This is the Secret Law,
 Whereby the soft and the weak overcome the hard and the strong.
 Leave the fish in the depths of the water, out of harm's way;
 And leave the nation's sharpest weapons where they cannot be seen."
 -  Translated by Herman Ould, 1946, Chapter 36  

"If you want something to return to the source,
 you must first allow it to spread out.
 If you want something to weaken,
 you must first allow it to become strong.
 If you want something to be removed,
 you must first allow it to flourish.
 If you want to possess something,
 you must first give it away.
 This is called the subtle understanding
 of how things are meant to be.
 The soft and pliable overcomes the hard and inflexible.
 Just as fish remain hidden in deep waters,
 it is best to keep weapons out of sight."
 -  Translated by John H. McDonald, 1996, Chapter 36 

"Lo que ha de ser al final contraído, tiene que ser primero dilatado.
Lo que ha de ser al final debilitado, tiene que ser primero fortalecido.
Lo que ha de ser al final deschado, comienza por ser primero ensalzado. 
Lo que ha de ser al final despojado, comienza primero por ser dotado. 
Aguí radica la sutil sabiduria de la vida. 
Lo blando y lo débil triunfa sobre lo duro y lo fuerte. 
Lo mismo que el pez no debe abandonar las profundidades, el gobernante no debe mostrar sus armas."
-  Translation from Chinese to English by John C. H. Wu, translated into Spanish by Alfonso Colodrón, Capitulo 36 

"When about to inhale it is certainly necessary to open the mouth;
when about to weaken it is certainly necessary to strengthen;
when about to discard it is certainly necessary to promote;
when about to take away it is certainly necessary to impart – this is atomic perception.
The weak overcome the strong.
Fish cannot leave the deeps.
The innerness of the government cannot be shown to the people."
-  Translated by C. Spurgeon Medhurst, 1905, Chapter 36

"What is to be reduced,
Must first be expanded.
What is to be weakened,
Must first be made strong (ch'iang).
What is to be abolished,
Must first be established.
What is to be taken away,
Must first be given.
This is called the subtle illumination (wei ming).
The soft and weak overcome the hard and strong.
Fish must not leave the stream.
Sharp weapons (ch'i) of a state,
Must not be displayed."
-  Translated by Ellen Marie Chen, 2000, Chapter 36  

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 in English, Spanish, and the Wade-Giles Romanization; some commentary, and other resources for the Chapter.  


Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving Day

May you and your family and your friends enjoy a safe and happy Thanksgiving Day. 

May you enjoy peace and prosperity in your community.

May compassion and tolerance guide our actions.

"How wonderful it would be if we could help our children and grandchildren to learn thanksgiving at an early age. Thanksgiving opens the doors.  It changes a child's personality.  A child is resentful, negative—or thankful.  Thankful children want to give, they radiate happiness, they draw people."
-   Sir John Templeton

T   hanks for time to be together, turkey, talk, and tangy weather.
for harvest stored away, home, and hearth, and holiday.
for autumn's frosty art, and abundance in the heart.
for neighbors, and November, nice things, new things to remember.
for kitchen, kettles' croon, kith and kin expected soon.
for sizzles, sights, and sounds, and something special that about.
That spells THANKS for joy in living and a jolly good Thanksgiving.
-   Aileen Fisher, All in a Word  

"To educate yourself for the feeling of gratitude means to take nothing for granted, but to always seek out and value the kind that will stand behind the action.  Nothing that is done for you is a matter of course.  Everything originates in a will for the good, which is directed at you.  Train yourself never to put off the word or action for the expression of gratitude."
-  Albert Schweitzer 

Virtues for a Good Life

How to Live the Good Life: Advice from Wise Persons 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Strength Training for Older Persons

I am very active with strength training at the Tehama Family Fitness Center in Red Bluff.  My current weightlifting training partner is Roger Andreson.  I am 69 years of age and Roger is 65.  

We lift weights for 50 to 60 minutes 5 days each week.  My current weightlifting goals, objectives and programs are detailed on my strength training webpage.  

Strength Training for Persons Over 55 Years of Age 

Building Muscle Beyond 50 Blog

Senior Health and Fitness Blog

I find all kinds of interesting information, useful tips, and good ideas at the Building Muscle Beyond 50 Blog.

"In a UCLA study, researchers determined the more muscle mass you have the better your chances to live longer.  In other words, the greater your muscle mass, the lower your risk of death,” said Dr. Arun Karlamangla, an associate professor in the geriatrics division at the Geffen School and the study’s co-author. “Thus, rather than worrying about weight or body mass index, we should be trying to maximize and maintain muscle mass.”
This is the first study I’ve read that appears to offer more hope than a few years of extra life for people who work out. This fits in with the question I’ve always had about studies that found working out and/or exercising provided minimal increases in your lifespan (1-4 years). My question, related to many other studies, was if working out can give you a large measure of protection against fatal health conditions why wouldn’t it expand your years as you sidestepped these killer maladies?
Surely if building and/or maintaining muscle mass protects you from an earlier death, you would get many more years of living simply by working out. Of course, there are never any guarantees in these matters, but the results of this research look promising.
University of California – Los Angeles Health Sciences. (2014, March 14). Older adults: Build muscle and you’ll live longer. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 16, 2014.

A Man and Woman on a Tuesday Evening

After I finished teaching my Tuesday evening (5:30-6:30 pm) yoga class, and as the yoga students were leaving, there were two new visitors waiting to enter.  We did some Taijiquan forms (Yang, Wu, Chen) together, talked about interests and circumstances, talked a little philosophical Taoism, mentioned longevity, and did some qigong forms together.  He shared Wu Taijiquan style.  They said they were traveling, van camping, and exploring Taoist resources; and lived in San Diego.  He is an acupuncturist.  I suggested they camp at Woodson Bridge State Recreation Area and gave them directions from the South Street and Interstate 5 exit in Corning, east 7 miles to the campground.  I recall his name was Roger.  I teach Yoga, Taijiquan, Qigong and Philosophy in Red Bluff and at my home. As for philosophical Taoism, for me, best experienced while tending my winter garden.  There is some good reading materials cited in my bibliography. California agriculture produces dried peaches.  He or she may email me at:  email

At the Tuesday evening Yoga class, I led a yoga routine with 30 second holds.  On Monday, we had done 80 second holds.

Take any Taijiquan end posture, for example, take the end position of the flowing left  Parting the Wild Horses Mane movement, Yang style.  That posture is a left forward lunge to the side, left arm extended with palm up, right had down to right thigh, torso upright, rooted, centered, powerful ... hold this posture and stay still for 30 to 60 seconds.  zhong shi training.

THANKSGIVING WEEK:  Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

My son, Mick, and daughter in law, April have been visiting since Sunday night.  We have had thee straight days of beautiful sunny clear cool weather.  Pleasant company, relaxed. 
Mick has been resting and nursing a troublesome left foot problem.  

We have three big dogs with high energy to manage; but all behave very well (indoors and outside) when resting.  

I have insomnia tonight.  Up at 2 am.

New Books I Am Reading

Stretching Anatomy  By Frederic Delavier.  Over 130 exercises for flexibility, agility, and toning.  Authors: Frederic Delavier, Jean-Pierre Clemenceu, and Michael Gundill.  Champaign, Illinois, Human Kinetics, 1st Edition, c 2010.  144 pages.  ISBN: 978-1450413985.  VSCL. 


Raymo, Chet.  When God Is Gone, Everything Is Holy: The Making of a Religious Naturalist  By Chet Raymo.  Nortre Dame, Indiana, Sorin Books, c 2008.  13 chapters, notes, 148 pages.  ISBN: 9781933495132.  Clean used copy from Oregon.  VSCL. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Postures of the Enlightened Ones

"We're fooling ourselves a bit to think that we're meditating as we're gardening or walking or out on the golf course or volunteering or even reading "spiritual books."  Those are all cause and conditions that, with the right mindset - a mindset based on wise intention and anchored to a committed sitting practice - can enable us to relax, to be more at peace, to have some insights, to even have an occasional experience of oneness with all that is.  But those activities, in and of themselves, with anchoring in strong intention and committed sitting practice, are unable to transform and free our minds.  They are not in themselves, the necessary causes of awakening, let's not deceive ourselves in the time we have left.

We need the focused, concentrated energy of awareness that seems only to be cultivated with a daily practice if we wish to walk through the world with clarity and compassion.  We need to carve out the time to sit if we have not yet done so, , or carve out more time if we have already begun.  Sitting - the silent, noble stilling of the body and the mind for the purpose of liberating awareness into beyond-self, into deeper, more illuminated consciousness - allows an opening in the limited, limiting paradigm of separate self and only form.

Sitting practice is where transformation is effected, where neural connections are rewired.  Sitting practice is the launching pad for piercing insight, direct knowing, and the opening of the heart.  It is the base of operations."

-  Kathleen Dowling Singh, "The Grace in Aging: Awaken as You Grow Older," Wisdom Publications, 2014, p. 33.  A very good book about Buddhist theory and practices.  

Many Taijiquan, Qigong, and Yoga teachers strongly recommend seated meditation as part of a rigorous mind-body-spirit practice.

"Practice is the seedbed of miracles."
-  Michael Murphy

Undoubtedly, many people find the consistent, daily, and serious practice of seated meditation of great benefit to mind, body, and spirit.  Only practice and experience will reveal and bear fruit. 

I favor keeping the "mindset" Ms. Singh admirably describes while walking, gardening, practicing mind-body arts, reading, writing, and sitting.  There are many useful paths to enlightened awareness, mystical experiences, openness, cultivating loving kindness, or the Eightfold Path.  The practice of enlightened living is cultivated in our daily lives, relations with other beings, and in our understanding of the changing and impermanent circumstances of our being-in-the-world.  I find the desired "mindset" or "no-mind-set" while sitting in my garden, sometimes listening to music, sometimes reading poetry (see R. H. Blyth), or "spiritual books," sometimes just sitting and listening to bird songs and the rustling of leaves in the morning breeze.  It is my personal preference to not regard seated meditation as the highest and most effective and most superior pathway to enlightenment and whatever "enlightenment" means.  To each is own!  

Walking Meditation

Standing Meditation

Lifestyle Advice from Wise Persons

Buddhism:  Reading List and Bibliography  

"Basho used to sit cross-legged from morning till night in constant meditation.  His master Nagaku saw him and asked: "Why are you sitting cross-legged in meditation?"  "I am trying to become a Buddha," he answered.  The master picked up a brick and began polishing it on a stone nearby.  "What are you doing, Master?asked Basho.  "I am trying to turn this brick into a mirror," was the answer.  "No amount of polishing will turn the brick into a mirror, sir."  "If so, no amount of sitting cross-legged will make you into a Buddha," retorted the master."
Games Zen Masters Play: The Writings of R. H. Blyth.,  p.13.   

"In theory there is no difference between theory and practice.
In practice there is."
-  Yogi Berra


Monday, November 24, 2014

Weapons Practice with a Cane

The only martial arts weapon that I practice with is a cane.  I practice all the Taijiquan sword and broadsword forms that I know with a cane. 

Every time I take a walk I carry my cane with me.  Using various cane strikes and stretches while walking is an excellent way to exercise the upper torso.

I use an Instructor's Walking Cane, 40" (103 cm) long and 1" (2.54 cm) in diameter, from Cane Masters.  This cane weights 1lb, 2 oz (510 gm).  This beautiful martial arts combat cane is made of pure hickory heartwood, has multiple notches at three key gripping points, has a rounded hooked horn, and has a rubber covered tip.  I also own the same Instructor's Walking Cane made of oak - a gift from my children.
Way of the Short Staff.  By Michael P. Garofalo, M.S.  A comprehensive guide to the practice of the short staff, cane, jo, walking stick, gun, zhang, whip staff, 13 Hands Staff, and related wood short staff weapons.  A detailed and annotated guide, bibliographies, lists of links, resources, instructional media, online videos, and lessons.   Includes use of the short staff and cane in martial arts, self-defense, walking and hiking.  Separate sections on Aikido Jo, Cane, Taijiquan cane and staff, Jodo, exercises with a short staff, selected quotations, techniques, selecting and purchasing a short staff, tips and suggestions, and a long section on the lore, legends, and magick of the short staff.  Includes "Shifu Miao Zhang Points the Way."  Published by Green Way Research, Valley Spirit Taijiquan, Red Bluff, California.  Updated on a regular basis since October, 2008.  Filesize: 265Kb.  Related to Mike's popular webpage on the Staff.
"The correct use of the bo (sai, tonfa, kama, naginata, sword) can produce a stimulating and practical means of "extension" training. It offers a means of martial arts training and discipline. Weapons training teaches the meaning of control, timing, distance, and flexibility as one unit. The practitioner is required to possess speed, coordination, strength, and endurance in utilizing the respective weapons."
History of the Bo Staff


"The jo can be used to strike like a sword, sweep like a naginata, thrust like a spear (yari). Its two ends can be used, unlike the single point of a sword, and its ma-ai (fighting distance) can be varied according to the hand grip you take. Because of its speed and changeable ma-ai, it is a formidable weapon."
Muso Shindo-Ryu Jodo   

"In Chinese shamanism, a staff represents the power of the universe. With a staff, a shaman had the power to pass on the universal knowledge to others. Later, when teachers took over part of the shaman's job, they always taught with a small staff in their hands like a shaman."
- Master Zhongxian Wu, Vital Breath of the Dao, p. 106

Hakuin's Dragon Staff Inka Scroll

Zen Master Hakuin (1686-1768) painted a Dragon Staff with a horsehair whisk attached.  He gave the above painting to a lay student who passed the Zen koan, "What is the sound of one hand clapping.


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Absolutes Squirm Beneath Realities

Here are some excerpts from a collection of 785 one-liners from Pulling Onions by Mike Garofalo:

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

Saturday, November 22, 2014

As I Went Walking One Autumn Day

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

"As I went walking
That ribbon of highway
I saw above me
The endless skyway
I saw below me
The lonesome valley
This land was made for you and me."
-   Woody Guthrie, This Land is Your Land

“Her pleasure in the walk must arise from the exercise and the day, from the view of the last smiles of the year upon the tawny leaves and withered hedges, and from repeating to herself some few of the thousand poetical descriptions extant of autumn--that season of peculiar and inexhaustible influence on the mind of taste and tenderness--that season which has drawn from every poet worthy of being read some attempt at description, or some lines of feeling.”
- Jane Austen, Persuasion  

"Walked for half an hour in the garden.  A fine rain was falling, and the landscape was that of autumn.  The sky was hung with various shades of gray, and mists hovered about the distant mountains - a melancholy nature.  The leaves were falling on all sides like the last illusions of youth under the tears of irremediable grief.  A brood of chattering birds were chasing each other through the shrubberies, and playing games among the branches, like a knot of hiding schoolboys.  Every landscape is, as it were, a state of the soul, and whoever penetrates into both is astonished to find how much likeness there is in each detail."
-   Henri Frederic Amiel 

Walking:  Quotations, Sayings, Poems, Information.  Compiled by Mike Garofalo.   

Months and Seasons 


Friday, November 21, 2014

Daodejing, Laozi, Chapter 37

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
Chapter 37

"The Tao in its regular course does nothing for the sake of doing it, and so there is nothing which it does not do.
If princes and kings were able to maintain it, all things would of themselves be transformed by them.
If this transformation became to me an object of desire, I would express the desire by the nameless simplicity.
Simplicity without a name
Is free from all external aim.
With no desire, at rest and still,
All things go right as of their will."  
-  Translated by James Legge, 1891, Chapter 37  

"The Way takes no action, but leaves nothing undone.
When you accept this
The world will flourish,
In harmony with nature.
Nature does not possess desire;
Without desire, the heart becomes quiet;
In this manner the whole world is made tranquil."
-  Interpolated by Peter Merel, 1992, Chapter 37  

"Reason always practices non-assertion, and there is nothing that remains undone.   
 If princes and kings could keep Reason, the ten thousand creatures would of themselves be reformed.
 While being reformed they might yet be anxious to stir; but I would restrain them by the simplicity of the Ineffable.
 The simplicity of the unexpressed
 Will purify the heart of lust.
 Is there no lust there will be rest,
 And all the world will thus be blest."
 -  Translated by Daisetsu Teitaro Suzuki and Paul Carus, 1913, Chapter 37 

道常無為, 而無不為. 
侯王若能守之, 萬物將自化. 
化而欲作, 吾將鎮之以無名之樸. 
無名之樸, 夫亦將無欲. 
不欲以靜, 天下將自定. 
-  Chinese characters, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 37

tao ch'ang wu wei, erh wu pu wei.
hou wang jo nêng shou chih, wan wu chiang tzu hua.
hua erh yü tso, wu chiang chên chih yi wu ming chih p'u.
wu ming chih p'u, fu yi chiang wu yü.
pu yü yi ching, t'ien hsia chiang tzu ting.
-  Wade-Giles Romanization, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 37

"Tao is never active, but there is nothing it does not do.
If princes and kings could hold onto it, all things would develop by themselves.
When they develop, the desire in them would emerge,
I would restrain them with simplicity,
So simple that it does not even have a name,
In order to liberate them from desire.
Free of desire, they would be soaked in tranquillity,
And thus the world would attain purity and virtue.
Simplicity, however unimportant it may be,
Cannot be subdued even by the entire world.
If princes and kings could hold onto it,
Everything in the world, of its own accord, would pay homage.
Heaven and earth would unite to sprinkle dew, sweeter than honey, on the ground.
Without anyone ordering them to do so, people would attain harmony by themselves.
With the mission accomplished and the objectives achieved,
People would see themselves as following in nature's footsteps."
-  Translated by Chohan Chou-Wing, Chapter 37  

"The Tao eternally non-acts, and so
It does nothing and yet there is nothing left to do;
If prince or king could keep it, all would change
Of their own accord with a transformation strange.
And so transformed, should desire to change again still come to be,
I would quiet such desire by the Nameless One' s simplicity,
But the Nameless One' s simplicity is free from all desire,
So tranquilly, of their own accord, all things would still transpire."
-  Translated by Isaac Winter Heysinger, 1903, Chapter 37 

"Way-making is really nameless.
 Were the nobles and kings able to respect this,
 All things would be able to develop along their own lines.
 Having developed along their own lines, were they to desire to depart from this,
 I would realign them
 With a nameless scarp of unworked wood.
 Realigned with this nameless scrap of unworked wood,
 They would leave off desiring.
 Is not desiring, they would achieve equilibrium,
 And all the world would be properly ordered of its own accord."
 -  Translated by Roger T. Ames and Donald L. Hall, 2003, Chapter 37   

"El Tao, por su naturaleza, no actúa,
pero nada hay que no sea hecho por él.
Si los príncipes y los reyes
pudieran adherírsele,
todos los seres evolucionarían por sí mismos.
Si al evolucionar aún persistiera el deseo codicioso,
yo los retornaría a la simplicidad sin nombre.
En la simplicidad sin nombre no existe el deseo.
Sin deseos es posible la paz
y el mundo se ordenaría por sí mismo."
-  Translation from Wikisource, 2013, Capitulo 37

"Tao never does anything,
And everything gets done.
If rulers can keep to it,
The ten thousand things will changes of themselves.
Changed, things may start to stir.
Quiet them with the namelessly simple,
Which alone will bring no-desire.
No-desire: then there is peace,
And beneath-heaven will settle down of itself."
-  Translated by Herrymoon Maurer, 1985, Chapter 37

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 in English, Spanish, and the Wade-Giles Romanization, and other resources for the Chapter.  


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Study All Over From All Things

"This is the realm of true reality where you forget what is on your mind and stop looking.  In a wild field, not choosing, picking up whatever comes to hand, the obvious meaning of Zen is clear in the hundred grasses.  Indeed, the green bamboo, the clusters of yellow flowers, fences, walls, tiles, and pebble us the teaching of the inanimate; rivers, birds, trees, and groves expound suffering, emptiness, and selflessness.  This is based on the one true reality, producing unconditional compassion, manifesting uncontrived, supremely wondrous power in the great jewel light of nirvana.

An ancient master said, "Meeting a companion on the Way, spending a life together, the whole task of study is done."  Another master said, "If I pick up a single leaf and go into the city, I move the whole of the mountain."  That is why one ancient adept was enlightened on hearing the sound of pebbles striking bamboo, while another was awakened on seeing peach trees in bloom.  An ancient worthy, working in the fields in his youth , was breaking up clumps of earth when he saw a big clod, which he playfully smashed with a fierce blow; as it shattered, he was suddenly greatly enlightened.  One Zen master attained enlightenment on seeing the flagpole of a teaching center from the other side of a river.  Another spoke of the staff of the spirit.  One adept illustrated Zen realization by planting a hoe in the ground; another master spoke of Zen in term of sowing the fields.  All of these instances were bringing out this indestructible true being, allowing people to visit a greatly liberated true teacher without moving a step.

Carrying out the unspoken teaching, attaining unhindered eloquence, thus they forever studied all over from all things, embracing the all-inclusive universe, detaching from both abstract and concrete definitions of buddhahood, and transcendentally realizing universal, all pervasive Zen in the midst of all activities.  Why necessarily consider holy places, teachers' abodes, or religious organizations and forms prerequisite to personal familiarity and attainment of realization?"

-  Yuan-Wu, The House of Lin-Chi, "The Five Houses of Zen," translated by Thomas Cleary, Shambhala Press, 1997, p. 58.  

"I did however used to think, you know, in the woods walking, and as a kid playing the the woods, that there was a kind of immanence there - that woods, a places of that order, had a sense, a kind of presence, that you could feel; that there was something peculiarly, physically present, a feeling of place almost conscious ... like God.  It evoked that."
-  Robert Creely, Robert Creely and the Genius of the American Common Place, p. 40   

"The beauty of the trees,
the softness of the air,
the fragrance of the grass,
speaks to me.
The summit of the mountain,
the thunder of the sky,
speaks to me.
The faintness of the stars,
the trail of the sun,
the strength of fire,
and the life that never goes away,
they speak to me.
And my heart soars."
-  Chief Dan George  

Zen Poetry


Haiku Poetry

Gardening and Spirituality

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Finding the Spring of Life

"The enduring legacy of Taijiquan is that qi grows by the practice methodology, as a plant by tending and watering.  Along the way, the qi nutured in daily practice alleviates stress related illnesses.  In the longer term, the qi buildup invigorates and strengthens the body's constitution, and serves as a natural preventive medicine that shields against chronic ailments.  The alluring promise is that the store of qi preserves the "spring of life" in old age, as espoused in the verse of the Song of Thirteen Postues.

Yi shou yan nian bu alo chun
One gains longevity and prolongs the spring of life in old age."

-  C.P. Ong, Taijiquan: Cultivating Inner Strength, p. 156

Taijiquan: Cultivating Inner Strength  By C. P. Ong.  Bagua Press, 2013.  366 pages.  ISBN: 978-0615874074.  VSCL.  "This book diverges from traditional exposition on Taijiquan (Tai Chi Chuan) as it engages rather than shuns the role of muscles in elucidating the cryptic practice dictum of “using yi (mind) and not li (muscle force).” It centers on the core principle of Taiji balance—the balance of yin and yang, but presents the metaphysics of balance the way the body comprehends it, developmentally, through practice in the musculo-skeletal framework. In the process, the fog of mystique lifts, and the many abstruse concepts of Taijiquan become clear. Taijiquan training is physical at the initial phase, but the slow-motion exercise nurtures a meditative discipline of the mind. As it progresses, the soft methodology grows into one of building qi-energy, and then the practice becomes more internalized. The process fortifies the body with qi and cultivates a holistic balance of the organ systems. The book explains how the training methodology, in pursuing Taiji balance, leads to the development of a highly refined strength called neijin (inner strength). By incorporating the training of “silk-reeling energy” in Taiji balance, the practitioner develops the coiling power (chanrao jin) that underlies the magic of Taijiquan kungfu."  Dr. Ong has a Ph.D. in mathematics from U.C. Berkeley.  C.P. Ong is a 20th generation Chen Family Taijiquan disciple of both Chen Xiaowang and Chen Zhenglei. He has traveled with them, as well as with Zhu Tiancai, for a few years in their U.S. workshop tours.

"Think over carefully what the final purpose is: to lengthen life and maintain youth."
Song of 13 Postures, translated by Benjamin Lo

Thirteen Postures of Taijiquan

Cloud Hands Taijiquan

The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi: 12 Weeks to a Healthy Body, Strong Heart, and Sharp Mind.  By Peter M. Wayne, Ph.D., and Mark L. Fuerst.  Shambhala Press, 2013.  240 pages.  A Harvard Health Publication. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Chen T'ai Chi Ch'uan 18 Movement 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:

Monday, November 17, 2014

Yang Cheng-Fu's Taijiquan Traning Principles

"1.) Head upright to let the shen [spirit of vitality] rise to the top of the head. Don't use li [external strength], or the neck will be stiff and the ch'i [vital life energy] and blood cannot flow through. It is necessary to have a natural and lively feeling. If the spirit cannot reach the headtop, it cannot raise.

2.) Sink the chest and pluck up the back. The chest is depressed naturally inward so that the ch'i can sink to the tan-t'ien [field of elixir]. Don't expand the chest: the ch'i gets stuck there and the body becomes top-heavy. The heel will be too light and can be uprooted. Pluck up the back and the ch'i sticks to the back; depress the chest and you can pluck up the back. Then you can discharge force through the spine. You will be a peerless boxer.
3.) Sung [Relax] the waist. The waist is the commander of the whole body. If you can sung the waist, then the two legs will have power and the lower part will be firm and stable. Substantial and insubstantial change, and this is based on the turning of the waist. It is said "the source of the postures lies in the waist. If you cannot get power, seek the defect in the legs and waist."

4.) Differentiate between insubstantial and substantial. This is the first principle in T'ai Chi Ch'uan. If the weight of the whole body is resting on the right leg, then the right leg is substantial and the left leg is insubstantial, and vice versa. When you can separate substantial and insubstantial, you can turn lightly without using strength. If you cannot separate, the step is heavy and slow. The stance is not firm and can be easily thrown of balance.

5.) Sink the shoulders and drop the elbows. The shoulders will be completely relaxed and open. If you cannot relax and sink, the two shoulders will be raised up and tense. The ch'i will follow them up and the whole body cannot get power. "Drop the elbows" means the elbows go down and relax. If the elbows raise, the shoulders are not able to sink and you cannot discharge people far. The discharge will then be close to the broken force of the external schools.

6.) Use the mind instead of force. The T'ai Chi Ch'uan Classics say, "all of this means use I [mind-intent] and not li." In practicing T'ai Chi Ch'uan the whole body relaxes. Don't let one ounce of force remain in the blood vessels, bones, and ligaments to tie yourself up. Then you can be agile and able to change. You will be able to turn freely and easily. Doubting this, how can you increase your power?
The body has meridians like the ground has ditches and trenches. If not obstructed the water can flow. If the meridian is not closed, the ch'i goes through. If the whole body has hard force and it fills up the meridians, the ch'i and the blood stop and the turning is not smooth and agile. Just pull one hair and the whole body is off-balance. If you use I, and not li, then the I goes to a place in the body and the ch'i follows it. The ch'i and the blood circulate. If you do this every day and never stop, after a long time you will have nei chin [real internal strength]. The T'ai Chi Ch'uan Classics say, "when you are extremely soft, you become extremely hard and strong." Someone who has extremely good T'ai Chi Ch'uan kung fu has arms like iron wrapped with cotton and the weight is very heavy. As for the external schools, when they use li, they reveal li. When they don't use li, they are too light and floating. There chin is external and locked together. The li of the external schools is easily led and moved, and not too be esteemed.

7.) Coordinate the upper and lower parts of the body. The T'ai Chi Ch'uan Classics say "the motion should be rooted in the feet, released through the legs, controlled by the waist and manifested through the fingers." Everything acts simultaneously. When the hand, waist and foot move together, the eyes follow. If one part doesn't follow, the whole body is disordered.

8.) Harmonize the internal and external. In the practice of T'ai Chi Ch'uan the main thing is the shen. Therefore it is said "the spirit is the commander and the body is subordinate." If you can raise the spirit, then the movements will naturally be agile. The postures are not beyond insubstantial and substantial, opening and closing. That which is called open means not only the hands and feet are open, but the mind is also open. That which is called closed means not only the hands and feet are closed, but the mind is also closed. When you can make the inside and outside become one, then it becomes complete.

9.) Move with continuity. As to the external schools, their chin is the Latter Heaven brute chin. Therefore it is finite. There are connections and breaks. During the breaks the old force is exhausted and the new force has not yet been born. At these moments it is very easy for others to take advantage. T'ai Chi Ch'uan uses I and not li. From beginning to end it is continuous and not broken. It is circular and again resumes. It revolves and has no limits. The original Classics say it is "like a great river rolling on unceasingly." and that the circulation of the chin is "drawing silk from a cocoon " They all talk about being connected together.

10.) Move with tranquility [Seek stillness in movement]. The external schools assume jumping about is good and they use all their energy. That is why after practice everyone pants. T'ai Chi Ch'uan uses stillness to control movement. Although one moves, there is also stillness. Therefore in practicing the form, slower is better. If it is slow, the inhalation and exhalation are long and deep and the ch'i sinks to the tan-t'ien. Naturally there is no injurious practice such as engorgement of the blood vessels. The learner should be careful to comprehend it. Then you will get the real meaning."

-  By Yang Cheng-fu (1883 - 1936) as researched by Lee N. Scheele



Sunday, November 16, 2014

Building a Cold Frame in the Garden

We have a number of perennial plants that are not cold hardy.  Most are in pots setting on the front porch or back porch.  These plants needs to be protected during the winter months, e.g., bougainvillaea, ginger, succulents, cacti, etc.

We decided to build a cold frame structure to protect our tender plants.  It is located in our sunny garden and gets sunshine all day.  It is approximately 5 feet long, 4 feet wide, and 5 feet high.  I used treated lumber and used concrete around each post for stability.  The structure will be covered with plastic sheeting.  It will be filled with straw and then pavers and bricks will be placed on top of the straw.  If temperatures drop below 25F we will place a light bulb inside the structure - making it into a hot bed.

I will add more pictures as this project is completed during the upcoming week.  

"A cold frame is a protected plant bed. It has no artificial heat added. The temperature difference between the inside and outside of the frame is generally not more than 5 to 10 degrees. A mat or blanket may be placed over the frame on cold nights to conserve heat, but this increases temperature by only a few degrees. There are times, however, when a few degrees can be very important.
A cold frame is used to provide shelter for tender perennials, to "harden off" seedling plants or to start cold-tolerant plants such as pansies, cabbage or lettuce earlier than they can be started in open soil. It may also be used to overwinter summer-rooted cuttings of woody plants.
A hotbed basically is a heated cold frame. In many ways it is a miniature greenhouse, providing the same benefits with limited space at minimal expense. It is a means for extending the growing season. It is most often used to give an early start to warm-season vegetables such as tomato, pepper or melon. It may also be used to root cuttings of some woody plants.
Hotbeds and cold frames should have a southern exposure to receive the maximum amount of sunlight. To reduce the cost of heating, use a north or northwest windbreak. This may be provided by a building, bales of hay or straw, tight board fence or evergreen hedge. Bundles or bales of straw could be used on the north for temporary windbreak."
-  By Denny Shrock, Department of Horticulture, University of Missouri

Images for Cold Frames

How to Build a Cold Frame

Building and Using Hotbeds and Coldframes

The Spirit of Gardening:  Quotes, Sayings, Poems, Information.  Over 3,500 quotations arranged by over 200 topics.  Compiled by Mike Garofalo. 

Months and Seasons: Quotes, Sayings, Poems, Information.  Compiled by Mike Garofalo. 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

A Northern California Garden in November

Here are some photos of our backyard gardens in November.  We harvested all of our remaining pepper plants yesterday.  Our winter vegetable crops are coming along fine: Swiss chard, lettuce, cabbages, onions, garlic, and kale.  

We have had some gentle rain the past few weeks.  The weeds and grass are quite a lush green.  Temperatures range from 50F to 65F. 

"Give me odorous at sunrise a garden of beautiful flowers where I can walk undisturbed."
-  Walt Whitman


"I wake up some mornings and sit and have my coffee and look out at my beautiful garden, and I go, 'Remember how good this is. Because you can lose it.' "
-  Jim Carrey


"Everyone can identify with a fragrant garden, with beauty of sunset, with the quiet of nature, with a warm and cozy cottage."  
-  Thomas Kincade


"Complexity excites the mind, and order rewards it.  In the garden, one finds both, including vanishingly small orders too complex to spot, and orders so vast the mind struggles to embrace them."
-  Diane Ackerman

"Beauty surrounds us, but usually we need to be walking in a garden to know it."
-  Rumi
 "Show me your garden and I shall tell you what you are."
-  Alfred Austin

A Winter Vegetable Garden in Northern California

The Winter Vegetable Garden in Warm Climates

The Spirit of Gardening:  Quotes, Sayings, Poems, Information.  Over 3,500 quotations arranged by 200 topics.  Compiled by Mike Garofalo. 

Months and Seasons: Quotes, Sayings, Poems, Information.  Compiled by Mike Garofalo.