Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Process of the Good Life

"1. A growing openness to experience – they move away from defensiveness and have no need for subception (a perceptual defense that involves unconsciously applying strategies to prevent a troubling stimulus from entering consciousness).

2. An increasingly existential lifestyle – living each moment fully – not distorting the moment to fit personality or self-concept but allowing personality and self-concept to emanate from the experience. This results in excitement, daring, adaptability, tolerance, spontaneity, and a lack of rigidity and suggests a foundation of trust. To open one's spirit to what is going on now, and discover in that present process whatever structure it appears to have.

3. Increasing organismic trust – they trust their own judgment and their ability to choose behavior that is appropriate for each moment. They do not rely on existing codes and social norms but trust that as they are open to experiences they will be able to trust their own sense of right and wrong.

4. Freedom of choice – not being shackled by the restrictions that influence an incongruent individual, they are able to make a wider range of choices more fluently. They believe that they play a role in determining their own behavior and so feel responsible for their own behavior.

5. Creativity – it follows that they will feel more free to be creative. They will also be more creative in the way they adapt to their own circumstances without feeling a need to conform.

6. Reliability and constructiveness – they can be trusted to act constructively. An individual who is open to all their needs will be able to maintain a balance between them. Even aggressive needs will be matched and balanced by intrinsic goodness in congruent individuals.

7. A rich full life – the life of the fully functioning individual as rich, full and exciting and suggests that they experience joy and pain, love and heartbreak, fear and courage more intensely. Rogers' description of the good life: "This process of the good life is not, I am convinced, a life for the faint-hearted. It involves the stretching and growing of becoming more and more of one's potentialities. It involves the courage to be. It means launching oneself fully into the stream of life."

- Carl Rogers (1902-1987), On Becoming a Person, Biography

How to Live a Good Life: Advice From Wise Persons

Enlightened Self Interest and Mutual Enjoyment

Monday, May 30, 2016

The Horrors of War

Today is an American holiday called 'Memorial Day.'  It is a day to remember American soldiers who were injured or died in wars of the past.  I take some time to think about and grieve for all the the men and women lost in the horrors of war, both good soldiers and civilians.  Yes, sometimes fighting in wars is necessary in self-defense; but, still an evil and not to be glorified.  

Really, a "holiday?" Something is amiss here; something is disrespectful.  Most Americans party, celebrate, treat it as a three day weekend to kick off summertime fun.  

"In my opinion, there never was a good war, or a bad peace.  What vast additions to the conveniences and comforts of living might mankind had acquired, if the money spent in wars had been employed in works of public utility."
- Benjamin Franklin, 1783

Even the god Krishna tried to convince Arjuna (a professional soldier) in the Bhavagad Gita that fighting and killing, even his relatives, was a duty and a necessity.  The Bible and Koran tell of how "God" slaughters people, and how murder is acceptable to punish "sinners" and non-believers.  Fervent religious people are often quite pleased with killing other people.  Ruthless dictators and misguided politicians manipulate and force people into killing and dying for the Fatherland by inflaming patriotic, xenophobic, ethnic and racist emotions.  The carnage that results is horrific - revolting and beyond comprehension.  

Scores of millions of people have died in the many useless, stupid, tragic, horrible, cruel, and crushing wars of the past. Most of the men that started or fought in these destructive rampages were merely conscripts and pawns in the hands of nations or dogmas or greed or dictators or petty warlords.  There were a few heroes, and many evil macho men, and mostly just extremely scared people crying and screaming as the bombs exploded and bullets whizzed by and their loved ones and friends were torn apart and murdered.  

So, let us instead remember on this Memorial Day to celebrate the real joy that everyone felt when we heard "The War Has Ended" and people could live again in peace.  Let us remember the millions of civilians slaughtered by soldiers marching under ten different flags.

I recommend that we adopt an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to Limit the War Making Powers of the U.S. Government. 

I served in the United States Air Force from 1969-1973.  I served because the United States of America forced men of my age, through "The Draft," to serve in the Vietnam War.  Penalties, social ostracism, employment restrictions, and imprisonment were imposed on young men if they did not "serve their country" in the military.  I had been indoctrinated in my youth in Catholic Schools to hate communists, and have few moral reservations about killing atheistic communists.  Again, sadly, we were merely pawns in the hands of nations or dogmas or ideology or religions or greed or dictators or petty warlords.  Was killing our "enemies" in Vietnam justifiable on the grounds that doing so was crucial and vital to our national self-defense? - hardly!    

When I hear women and men talking these days about how we need to fight and kill those cruel Islamist ISIL brutes in the Middle East, and that President Obama is not "tough" enough, and these same warmongering people never gave one single hour of their life in being a soldier and/or seeing and smelling the carnage of battle, it makes me want to vomit.  

In the Iraq-Iran war in the 1980's over one million soldiers and civilians lost their lives, and countless more were injured or maimed, towns were destroyed ... Shites and Sunnis and Jihadhis fighting each other.  They are still fighting today in 2016 in the Middle East.  Likewise, we have our own real threat from "terror" from all the bozo angry Americans with boxes of guns in their homes - over 11,000 Americans are murdered every year in the USA.   

Peace and Memorials to Peace, Less Thinking about War "Heroes"  

Beware of worshiping flags, signs, emblems, and symbols.  We, and every other  nation, including our "enemies," indoctrinates its ruled population to stand up and show worshipful reverence to their own nation's flags and favored religious symbols and fallen soldiers and heroes.  On Memorial Day the graves of dead soldiers in America are decorated with U.S. flags, and the Christian cross, and gunfire salutes to them for loyally following orders.  But, remember, the map is not the territory.   

Be very wary of demagogues that want to 'Make America Great.'  I am quite satisfied with making America decent, making steady improvements, being respectful of one another, and enjoying peace.  

I recommend that we adopt an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to Limit the War Making Powers of the U.S. Government.  

"I confess I am a little cynical on some topics, and when a whole nation is roaring Patriotism at the top of its voice, I am fain to explore the cleanness of
its hands and the purity of its heart."
-  Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1847

I am sure the Germans cried over their brave Nazi soldiers who died in battle, and so too did the Japanese honor their brave soldiers of World War II. And, along the way of glory, these brave warriors, from many nations, including America, just laid waste to scores of cities and over 60 million people died.  

Before you get too nostalgic and weepy this Memorial Day about our military "heroes," our brave fighting men, our courageous American soldiers ... please recall just a few of the cruel acts they did to earn such glorious distinctions, to wit:

"On March 9, 1945, United States military warplanes launched a bombing offensive against Japan, dropping 2,000 tons of incendiary bombs on Tokyo over the course of the next 48 hours. Almost 16 square miles in and around the Japanese capital were incinerated, and between 80,000 and 130,000 Japanese civilians were killed in the worst single firestorm in recorded history."  


The United States military, during Operation Rolling Thunder, killed over 90,000 civilians in North Vietnam from 1965-1968.  Listen to a "heroic" professional U.S. soldier tell of "silencing" the Hanoi defenses to rescue one downed pilot, and the "business" of war.  

On February 14, 1945, the United States and Royal Air Force military planes dropped 3,900 tons of bombs on the city of Dresden in Germany, and killed over 25,000 civilians.

The United States military dropped atomic bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 and killed over 129,000 civilians.  

The United States military killed over 550,000 civilians in North and South Vietnam from bombing, artillery attacks, machine guns, napham, and heavy weapons attacks.

 And, recently, we made a "mistake" about Iraq having any weapons
of mass destruction and for having anything to do with 9/11 in New York.
American military soldiers killed over 120,000 Iraqi noncombatant civilians.  

Heroes?  Artillery men, air bombers and gunners, snipers, infantry men, tank gunners ...

Only crying on Memorial Day.

Yes, the horrors of war and the intense survival necessities of battle for the conscripted soldiers is nearly unfathomable.  

"The worst barbarity of war is that if forces men collectively to commit acts against which individually they would revolt with their whole being."
-  Ellen Key, War, Peace, and the Future, 1916

Only crying on Memorial Day.

Memorial Day:
Sorrow, Guilt, Shame, Revulsion, Loss
Mixed Feelings, Regrets, Sadness
Paradoxes, Dilemmas, Ambiguity

Nevertheless, I, like others, do mourn our dead soldiers.
I cry along with their grieving families.

In Memory of Staff Sgt. Daniel A. Quintana
Semper Fidelis

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Playing Like a Deer

"The Deer Play is to imitate the shape and movement of a deer hoping to attain long life and pure soul like a deer. The features of a deer are its gentle disposition, swift movement, love to push with horns, and good at running. When it stands it likes to stretch its neck to glance at things afar. The deer also likes looking at left and right and its rear foot. It is also good at moving its tail bones (sacrum). The tail bone is the place where the Jen and Du meridians meet. Thus, during practice, the practitioner not only needs to imitate the attitude of a deer with swift movement and calm spirit, but also need to focus attention on the tail bone. This will guide Qi to the whole body, open meridians, circulate blood, relax tendons and bones, and benefit kidney and strengthen waist. It can also enhance blood circulation in the abdomen. This play is suitable for curing dysfunctional nerves in the internal organs, chronicle infections of the internal organs in the abdomen, fatigue in the waist muscles, nerve pain in the pelvis, deteriorated thigh bones, and the lack of sex drives."
-   Five Animal Frolics  

"Breathing in and out in various manners, spitting out the old and taking in the new, walking like a bear and stretching their neck like a bird to achieve longevity - this is what such practitioners of Daoyin, cultivators of the body and all those searching for long life like Ancestor Peng, enjoy."
-   Chuang-tzu, circa 300 BCE. 

"Firstly, we analyze its function in the aspect of psychological regulation as it is required that the practitioner should do it before and during each routines in the exercise of the Health Qigong Wu Qin Xi. The practitioner should mind on the Dantian and rid of the distracted thoughts with quiet mind and spirit before the exercise, get into the imitation of its physical activities of each animal in the exercise. When practicing the tiger exercise, try to imagine yourself as a fierce tiger in the mountains who is looking down upon other beasts and stretching its own pawns and about to pounce on its prey; in the deer exercise, imagine that you are prudent and mild, jogging on a green field; in the exercise of the bear, you are a clumsy bear, composed and steady, freely roaming the forests; in the monkey exercise, you become a happy and agile monkey; in the bird exercise, you are a free bird with quiet mind and flying in the sky. Therefore you can continuously regulate the mind state in the exercise and it is helpful to the relaxation of the mind. The regular exercise of this skill can transform and regulate the mind of the practitioner to relieve the spiritual nervousness, improve the emotional stability, reduce the mental stress and keep the healthy mind."
-   The Effect of Precaution against Sub-health of the Health Qigong Wu Qin Xi.  Chinese Health Qigong Association.  2008.   

Deer Frolic  (Someday I might finish this webpage.  Oh well!  No hurry!) 

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Philosophy as a Way of Life

I continue to enjoy and benefit from reading Pierre Hadot.  He is a noted French scholar and professor, and expert in the ancient Greek classical philosophers and Hellenistic philosophers.  The purpose of Hellenistic philosophy, in his interpretation, was to help the student to learn how to live a good life, be a better person, find fulfillment, and properly evolve and mature as a rational human being.  

What Is Ancient Philosophy? By Pierre Hadot. Translated from the French by Michael Chase. Cambridge, Massachusetts, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2002. Index, chronology, bibliography, notes, 362 pages. First published in French in 1995. 2004 Belknap reprint edition. ISBN: 978-0674013735. VSCL.

Philosophy as a Way of Life: Spiritual Exercises from Socrates to Foucault By Pierre Hadot. Edited with an introduction by Arnold Davidson. Translated by Michael Chase. Malden, Massachusetts, Wiley-Blackwell, 1995. Index, extensive bibliography, 320 pages. ISBN: 978-0631180333. VSCL.

The ancient Chinese philosophers like Confucius, Chuang Tzu, and Lao Tzu were also thinkers that were making recommendations on how one should live one's life, how to behave, how to relate to other people, how to live in a community, and how to find happiness, peace, and tranquility.  They were less proto-scientists than early positive psychologists, and ethical thinkers.  Confucius is down to earth, direct, rather conventional, and understandable.  Chuang Tzu is more skeptical, and often uses tales and fables.  Lao Tzu is more cryptic, vague, and mystical.  An educated and curious mind seeking guidance on how to live might find these writers worth a look.  

The Ten Golden Rules: Ancient Wisdom from the Greek Philosophers on Living the Good Life.  By M.S. Soupios and Panos Mourdoukoutas.  Charlottsville, Virginia, Hampton Roads Pub., 2009.  128 pages.  Both authors are professors at Long Island University, C. W. Post Campus.  ISBN: 9781571746054.  VSCL. 

As my readers know, I favor those authors that advocate Epicurean, Hedonistic, Utilitarian, Pragmatic, and Secular lifestyles.  I do not favor authors that advocate a anti-scientific, dogmatic, and religious viewpoints.  I prefer thinkers to believers, naturalists to supernaturalists, friends of the body to haters of the body, pragmatists to dogmatists, peacemakers to warriors, laughing people to sour ascetics.   

"The results of all the schools and of all their experiments belong legitimately to us.  We will not hesitate to adopt a Stoic formula on the pretext that we have previously profited for Epicurean formulas."
-  Frederich Nietzsche, Posthumous Fragments, 1881

"I did nothing today." - "What?  Did you not live?  That is not only the most fundamental but the most illustrious of your occupations."
-  Montaigne, Essays, III, 13

Friday, May 27, 2016

Dao De Jing, Laozi, Chapter 28

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
Chapter 28 

Know the masculine; cleave to the feminine.
Be the valley for the world.
To be the valley for the world,
   do not swerve from your innate nature
   and return to the state of infancy.
Know the bright; keep to the dull.
Be a guide for the world.
To be a guide for for the world,
   follow your innate nature without changing
   and return to the pre-conceptual.
Understand glory; keep to humility.
Be the valley for the world.
Innate nature completed, return to original uniqueness.

When original uniqueness is divided,
It then becomes the instrumentalities.
The Sage employs them,
They then become the officers.
Thus, subtle governance shapes not."
-  Translated by Cheng Man-Ch'ing and Tam Gibbs, 1981, Chapter 28

"One keeps weakness while knowing what strength is,
And serves as the humblest brook for the world.
Being the humblest, one can receive best
Until one returns to be the weakest infant.
One keeps black while knowing what white is,
And serves as a basic model for the world.
Being the basic model, one can receive properly
Until one returns to the oneness without polar opposition.
One keeps disgrace while knowing what glory is,
And serves as the lowest valley for the world.
Being the lowest, one can receive enough
To return to the most original simplicity.
Followed by people, this simplicity can shape the world
The wise use it as the example for the government.
The big system is, therefore, an indivisible simple whole.

-  Translated by Liu Qixuan, Chapter 28 

"Know the male, but keep to the female and be thus a valley to the world.
When one is a valley to the world, the constant virtue will not desert one and one will return to the state of being an infant.
Know the white but keep to the black and be thus a model to the world.
If one is a model to the world, then the constant virtue will not decline and you will return to the limitless.
Know glory but keep to disgrace and so be a valley to the world.
If one is a valley to the world then constant virtue will be sufficient and you will return to the Uncarved Block.
When the Uncarved Block is cut asunder it then becomes utensils.
But should a Sage use such a man, that person would become a senior official.
Truly great fabrication does not involve cutting."

-  Translated by Patrick E. Moran, Chapter 28 

"Know the masculine,
but keep to the feminine:
and become a watershed to the world.
If you embrace the world,
the Tao will never leave you
and you become as a little child.

Know the white,
yet keep to the black:
be a model for the world.
If you are a model for the world,
the Tao inside you will strengthen
and you will return whole to your eternal beginning.

Know the honorable,
but do not shun the disgraced:
embracing the world as it is.
If you embrace the world with compassion,
then your virtue will return you to the uncarved block.

The block of wood is carved into utensils
by carving void into the wood.
The Master uses the utensils, yet prefers to keep to the block
because of its limitless possibilities.
Great works do not involve discarding substance."

-  Translated by John H. McDonald, 1996, Chapter 28

知其雄, 守其雌, 為天下谿.
為天下谿, 常德不離, 復歸於嬰兒.
知其白守其黑, 為天下式.
為天下式, 常德不忒, 復歸於無極. 
知其榮, 守其辱, 為天下谷. 
為天下谷, 常德乃足, 復歸於樸. 
聖人用之, 則為官長.

-  Chinese characters, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 28 

zhi qi xiong, shou qi ci, wei tian xia xi.
wei tian xia xi, chang de bu li, fu gui yu ying er.
zhi qi bai shou qi hei, wei tian xia shi.
wei tian xia shi, chang de bu te, fu gui yu wu ji.
zhi qi rong, shou qi ru, wei tian xia gu.
wei tian xia gu, chang de nai zu, fu gui yu pu.
pu san ze wei qi.
sheng ren yong zhi, ze wei guan zhang.
gu da zhi bu ko. 
- Pinyin Romanization, Daodejing, Chapter 28 

"Know masculinity,
Maintain femininity,
and be a ravine for all under heaven.
By being a ravine for all under heaven,
Eternal integrity will never desert you.
If eternal integrity never deserts you,
You will return to the state of infancy.
Know you are innocent,
Remain steadfast when insulted,
and be a valley for all under heaven.
By being a valley for all under heaven,
Eternal integrity will suffice.
If eternal integrity suffices,
You will return to the simplicity of the unhewn log.
Know whiteness,
Maintain blackness,
and be a model for all under heaven.
By being a model for all under heaven,
Eternal integrity will not err.
If eternal integrity does not err,
You will return to infinity.
When the unhewn log is sawn apart,
it is made into tools;
When the sage is put to use,
he becomes the chief of officials.
For great carving does no cutting."

-  Translated by Victor H. Mair, 1990, Chapter 28

"He who knows the masculine, and yet retains the feminine,
Will be the whole world's channel, being so,
Eternal virtue will with him remain forevermore,
And infant innocency to him go.
He who knows the spotless white, yet keeps the darkness of the night,
Will be the whole world's model, and the sage
Will hold eternal virtue in his hands forevermore,
And go home again to greet the golden age.
He who knows how glory shines, yet degradation never declines,
Will be the whole world' s valley, him alone
Will the spirit of eternal virtue fill forevermore,
And simplicity will claim him as her own.
This unwrought simplicity, when scattered comes to be
The universal vessels, and the sage
May use them as the rulers of the realm forevermore,
And every hurt and injury assuage."
-  Translated by Isaac Winter Heysinger, 1903, Chapter 28 

"Conociendo lo masculino, y convirtiendose en lo femenino,
Se llega a ser la vía a través de la cual se mueve el Mundo,
Estar unido a la virtud,
Y renacer de nuevo.

Conociendo la luz y convirtiendose en la oscuridad,
Uno se convierte en el Mundo,
Llegando a ser la virtud,
Y volviendo al Tao.

Conociendo el honor y siendo humilde,
Uno se convierte en el valle del Mundo,
Llenandose de la virtud,
Y siendo como un tronco no cortado.

Cuando el tronco es cortado se convierte en herramientas.
Usadas por el sabio, son poderosas;
Así pues, un buen carpintero no desperdicia madera."

-  Translated by Antonio Rivas Gonzálvez, 1998, Capítulo 28 

"Whilst developing creativity, 
also cultivate receptivity. 
Retain the mind like that of a child, 
which flows like running water. 
When considering any thing,
do not lose its opposite.
When thinking of the finite, 
do not forget infinity;
Act with honour, but retain humility. 
By acting according to the way of the Tao,
set others an example.
By retaining the integrity 
of the inner and external worlds,
true selfhood is maintained,
and the inner world made fertile." 
- Translated by Stan Rosenthal, 1984, Chapter 28 

"The Nature of Opposites and Change ...
Be aware of your masculine nature;
But by keeping the feminine way,
You shall be to the world like a canyon,
Where the Virtue eternal abides,
And go back to become as a child.
Be aware of the white all around you;
But remembering the black that is there,
You shall be to the world like a tester,
Whom the Virtue eternal, unerring,
Redirects to the infinite past.
Be aware of your glory and honor;
But in never relinquishing shame,
You shall be to the world like a valley,
Where Virtue eternal, sufficient,
Sends you back to the Virginal Block.
When the Virginal Block is asunder,
And is made into several tools,
To the ends of the Wise Man directed,
They become then his chief officers:
For "The Master himself does not carve."

-  Translated by Raymond Blackney, 1955, Chapter 28

A typical webpage created by Mike Garofalo for each one of the 81 Chapters (Verses, Sections) of the Tao Te Ching (Daodejing) by Lao Tzu (Laozi) includes over 25 different English language translations or interpolations for that Chapter, 5 Spanish language translations for that Chapter, the Chinese characters for that Chapter, the Wade-Giles and Hanyu Pinyin transliterations (Romanization) of the Mandarin Chinese words for that Chapter, and 2 German and 1 French translation of that Chapter.  Each webpage for each one of the 81 Chapters of the Tao Te Ching includes extensive indexing by key words, phrases, and terms for that Chapter in English, Spanish, and the Wade-Giles Romanization.  Each webpage on a Chapter of the Daodejing includes recommended reading in books and websites, a detailed bibliography, some commentary, research leads, translation sources, a Google Translate drop down menu, and other resources for that Chapter.   

Chapter 28, Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu

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

English Language Daodejing Translators' Source Index

Spanish Language Daodejing Translators' Source Index

Ripening Peaches: Taoist Studies and Practices

Taoism: A Selected Reading List

One Old Daoist Druid's Final Journey  


Thursday, May 26, 2016

Tai Chi Sword

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

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

32 Sword Form Pamphlet by Geoffrey Hugh Miller.  Adapted from information and graphics found on the 32 Sword Form webpage by Michael P. Garofalo.  22 pages, 9/7/2015, PDF Format.  Excellent job by Mr. Miller.  This is a handy practice tool.  

Read about the Taoist magical sword finger hand sign:
"The sword finger hand sign is to draw your own magic power to the fingers and output a beam of energy for doing Taoist magic.  This beam of magical power isn’t just an imaginary thing, it’s a real visible beam if you can see it. Some of my students can see the beam of energy beams out like a long laser from the tip of the finger and extend all the way to the wall or somewhere far away. The beam is a beam a the magic power from one doing the handsign. This beam of power can be used for drawing FUs in the air, killing evils, doing magic in magic battles, healing or even saving lives!  This is like a multi-usage tool, which can be a pen, a chisel, a phone, or even a drill, it all depends on how you use it and what adaptor you put on it to make it function differently. The most commonly seen usage of this handsign in Tin Yat Lineage is by drawing Taoism FU in the air or on the incense. This allow you to “carve” the Taoism FU into the object or in the air to perform magic." 

The Wild Horse Jumps Over the Mountain Stream 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Tai Chi Fan

There are many T'ai Chi Ch'uan exercise forms which make use of a fan.   Most are shorter forms, under 25 movements, but some, like the famous Tai Chi Kung Fu Fan Form have over 50 movements.  Most are done slowly and softly, but some include vigorous and fast movements.  The majority favor the Yang Style of Tai Chi Chuan.  

Tai Chi Fan: Bibliography, Links, Resources, Notes, Lore, Quotations. Research by Mike Garofalo.  I welcome any comments, suggestions, additions, or ideas regarding this webpage. One of the most popular Tai Chi Fan forms was created by Professor Li Deyin (1938-).  It has 52 movements.  I includes slow and gentle movements in the first half of the form, then the second half is much more vigorous.  This Tai Chi Fan form is for athletic and intermediate Tai Chi students. 

Here are some instructional resources for learning the Tai Chi Kung Fu Fan Form.  

Tai Chi Kung Fu Fan. Routine 1, created by Grandmaster Li Deyin (1938-). Instructional DVD, 65 minutes, by Master Jesse Tsao. Tai Chi Healthways, San Diego, California. "The most popular Tai Chi Fan form ever practiced in China. The routine was created by Grandmaster Li Deyin, Jesse Tsao's teacher since 1978. There are 52 movements in the whole routine based on the characteristic Tai Chi posture with the fan's artistic and martial functions. Master Tsao presents demonstrations at the beginning and end. He teaches step-by-step in slow motion, in English. There are plenty of repetitions of movements in both front and back view. It is a good reference for home study, or a resource for instructor's teaching preparation." Cost: 35.00 US. Demonstration.

Tai Chi Kung Fu Fan Instructional DVD by Professor Li Deyin. Narration in English. "A fan routine, created by Professor Li, which combines the gracefulness, centrality and continuity of Taiji with the power, speed and fierceness of Wushu. It is designed as an addition to the exercises for health, and has received massive interest and support throughout the world. In this DVD, Professor Li provides in-depth teaching with Mrs. Fang Mishou performing detail demonstration." Vendor 1. Cost: $35.00 US.

Tai Chi Kung Fu Fan, Form 1. List of 52 movement names, directions, instructions, and notes by Mike Garofalo.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

We Thrive in the Details

"Science and psychoanalysis apart, the most profound development in thought since Nietzsche, as far as we are concerned, is the phenomenological approach to the world.  Mallarmé sought "words without wrinkles," Baudelaire cherished his minutes heureuses and Valéry his "small worlds of order," as we have seen: Checkhov concentrated on the "concrete individual" and preferred "small scale and practical answers," Gide though the "systematizing is denaturing, distorting and impoverishing."  For Oliver Wendell Holmes, "all the pleasure of life is in general ideas, but all the use of life is in specific solutions."  Wallace Stevens considered that we are "better satisfied in particulars."  Thomas Nagel put it in this way: "Particulars things can have a noncompetitive completeness which is transparent to all aspects of the self.  This also helps to explain what the experience of great beauty tends to unify the self: the object engages us immediately and totally in a way that makes distinctions among points of view irrelevant."  Or, as Robert Nozick, who counseled us to make ourselves "vehicles" for beauty, said: "this is what poets and artists bring us―the immense and unsuspected reality of a small thing.  Everything has its own patient entityhood."  George Levine call for "a profound attention to the details of this world."
-  Peter Watson, "The Age of Atheists: How We Have Sought to Live Since the Death of God," p.536

"The idea of one overbearing truth is exhausted."
- Thomas Mann, translated by James Wood  

"My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind."
-  Albert Einstein

"To study the self is to forget the self.  To forget the self is to be enlightened by the ten thousand things."
-  Zen Master Dogen

"The more we understand individual things, the more we understand God."
-  Benedict De Spinoza

"God is in the details."
-  Mies Van Der Rohe

"After appreciating and understanding thousands of the details, a common variety God is really superfluous."
-  Mike Garofalo

"Caress the detail, the divine detail."
-  Vladimir Nabokov

"Details are all there are."
-  Maezumi Roshi

"We think in generalities, but we live in details."
-  W.H. Auden

Gardening and Religion

Monday, May 23, 2016

Tai Chi Chuan Short 24 Yang Form

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.

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

There is also a famous short Tai Chi form, created by Professor Cheng Man-ch'ing in the 1940's.  It has 37 movements.  

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Human Body and Religion

I am always keenly interested in our understanding, appreciation, and uses of our human bodies.  Somatics and mind-body arts practices are one focus of my research and writing.  My own opinions about a philosophy of living one's life, and enjoying the use of our bodies are, generally, non-religious, Epicurean, skeptical, and philosophical.  

Religious views of the body-mind are a serious impediment to scientific and pragmatic progress. 

"Two thousand years of Christian discourse—anatomy, medicine, physiology, or course, but also philosophy, theology, and aesthetics—have fashioned the body we inhabit.  And along with that discourse we have inherited Platonic-Christian models that mediate our perception of the body, the symbolic value of the body's organs, and their hierarchically ordered functions.  We accept the nobility of heart and mind, the triviality of viscera and sex (the neurosurgeon versus the proctologist).  We accept the spiritualization and dematerialization of the soul, the interaction of sin-prone matter and of luminous mind, the ontological connotation of these two artificially opposed entities, the disturbing forces of a morally reprehensible libidinal humanity ... All have contributed to Christianity's sculpting of the flesh.

Our image of ourselves, the scrutiny of the doctor or the radiologist, the whole philosophy of sickness and health—none of this could exist in the absence of the above mentioned discourse.  Nor could our conception of suffering, the role we allot to pain and therefore our relationship with pharmacology, substances, and drugs.  Nor could our conception of suffering, the role we allot to pain and therefore our relationship with pharmacology, substances, and drugs.  Nor could the special language of practitioner to patient, the relationship of self to self, reconciliation of one's image of oneself with a ideal of the physiological, anatomical, and psychological self.  So that surgery and pharmacology, homeopathic medicine and palliative treatments, gynecology and thanatology, emergency medicine and oncology, psychiatry and clinical work all obey Judeo-Christian law without any particularly clear understanding of the symptoms of this ontological contamination.

The current hypersensivity on the subject of bioethics proceeds from this invisible influence.  Secular political decisions on this major issue more or less correspond to the positions formulated by the church.  This should be no surprise, for the ethos of bioethics remains fundamentally Judeo-Christian.  Apart from legislation on abortion and artificial contraception, apart fro these two forward steps toward a post-Christian body—what I have elsewhere called a Faustian body—Western medicine sticks very closely to the church's injunctions.

The Health Professionals' Charter elaborated by the Vatican condemns sex-change operations, experiments on the embryo, in vitro fertilization and transfer, surrogate motherhood, medical assistance with reproduction, but also therapeutic cloning, analgesic cocktails that suspend consciousness as life comes to an end, therapeutic use of cannabis, and euthanasia.  On the other hand, the charter praises palliative care and insists on the salutary role of pain.  These are all positions often echoed by ethical committees calling themselves secular and believing themselves independent of religious authority." 

-  Michel Onfray.  Atheist Manifesto: The Case Against Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.  Translated from the French by Jeremy Leggatt.  New York Arcade Publishing, 2005, 2011.  ISBN: 10161145008X.  Annotated bibliography, 246 pages.  VSCL.  A lucid, strong, well reasoned, insightful, and stylish presentation.  Excellent explication of the French and European writing on atheism, anti-clericalism, irreligion, deconstruction of religions, and anti-fascism.  His detailed knowledge of religious customs and ideas is very impressive.  I agree with Professor Onfray's assessment about the negative influences of the three monotheistic religions surveyed; as I do with the dynamic and robust critiques of religion by Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins, and Sam Harris. The above quote is from p. 47 or Professor Onfray's book.  

When my mother, June, was dying of colorectal cancer, she spent her final days comfortably in a hospice.  When she died my superstitious Catholic father said many times that the hospice killed her, that the hospice practiced euthanasia, that the hospice was sinful and evil.  No matter how much I explained hospice care to him, he would not listen.  It is no wonder my mother did not want to see my father at the end.  I concluded that that he would rather have seen her suffer more, believing that suffering was good for the soul.  He was often a mean and rigid macho man, lacking loving-kindness and compassion. 

When I was 12 years of age, I was told by my priest confessor that masturbation was a mortal sin, evil, unnatural, and inspired by the devil; and, that I would go directly to hell for eternal horrific punishment if I continued to masturbate.  I knew that that masturbation was pleasant, harmless, disease free, legal, and entirely private.  I could not understand how if I should murder somebody I would go to hell, and if I masturbated I would go to hell.  These church rules and penalties regarding masturbation seemed to me arbitrary and absurd.

The longstanding mistreatment of women by religious authorities and religious rules is also completely unsatisfactory to me.  Dr. Ben Carson, for example, a recent secular Republican political candidate, believes our laws should be changed so that any woman who is impregnated by a rapist or through incest should not be allowed to have an abortion even if she chooses to do so.  Reflect also on how women are oppressed and mistreated under the domination by Islamic men.  

I was not surprised to read that the Catholic Church, Islam, and Mormons still all object to vasectomies.  Religions supported and encouraged slavery for centuries.  Religions significantly slowed the progress in anatomy for many centuries by refusing to allow post-mortem autopsies.  Large families are encouraged by religions (more paying believers in the long run I suppose) despite the grueling poverty of overpopulation.  Examples of the pernicious effect of religion on medicine, psychology and public health can, unfortunately, be multiplied with ease.  

The fact that people hold antiquated and false views about bodily functions is not so troublesome as the fact that their religious leaders want to force everybody to accept, obey and follow their nonsensical opinions.  These religions do not favor freedom of thought and action, scientific investigation, and freedom of expression.  Most sensible and modern 'social church goers' simply quietly ignore and disregard most of these outmoded ideas about bodily functions and behaviors pandered by their priests and preachers, if they can do so without being harmed by the local religious police enforcers.  

I have never gone to any church since I was 16, after I left Catholic high school.  What a wise move on my part to abandon the silly rules, anti-scientific opinions, fables, myths, superstitions, and authoritarianism of organized religions.  A good life is much easier to live and enjoy, without the burdens of religious twaddle.  

"The source of man's unhappiness is his ignorance of Nature. The pertinacity with which he clings to blind opinions imbibed in his infancy, which interweave themselves with his existence, the consequent prejudice that warps his mind, that prevents its expansion, that renders him the slave of fiction, appears to doom him to continual error."
-  Baron d'Holbach, The System of Nature


"The whole thing is so patently infantile, so foreign to reality, that to anyone with a friendly attitude to humanity it is painful to think that the great majority of mortals will never be able to rise above this view of life. It is still more humiliating to discover how a large number of people living today, who cannot but see that this religion is not tenable, nevertheless try to defend it piece by piece in a series of pitiful rearguard actions."
-  Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents, 1930 

Saturday, May 21, 2016

¿Es la edad un estado mental?

Is Age a Mental State? 
Yes and No! 

Keep striving for exuberance, action, and joy at any age. 

Bravo, Bravo, Senora.

Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan Training 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

 T'ai Chi Ch'uan Bibliography

Yang Style Taijiquan

Mastering Yang Style Taijiquan  By Fu Zhongwen.  Translated by Louis Swaim.  Berkeley, California, Blue Snake Books, c 1999, 2006.  Bibliography, glossary, 226 pages.  ISBN: 9781583941522.  VSCL.  Fu Zongwen (1919-1994) was a student of Yang Cheng Fu.  Translations of many Tai Chi classics are included.  A list of 85 movements are provided.  251 movement analysis illustrations.  Over 76 of the illustrations are traced and drawn from photographs of Yang Chengfu.  Detailed descriptions of the long form, pp. 26-162.  Push hands information.  Yang Tai Chi essentials.

Master Cheng's Thirteen Chapters On Tai Chi Ch'uan. By Cheng Man-ch'ing. Translated by Douglas Wile. 101 pages. Sweet Chi Press, 1982. 101 pages. ISBN: 978-0912059006. Originally written in Chinese in 1949. VSCL.

The Essence and Applications of Taijiquan. By Yang, Chengfu (1883-1936). Translated by Louis Swaim. The original publication date was in 1934. The original book was edited by Professor Cheng Man-Chi'ng. Berkeley, California, North Atlantic Books, 2005. Introduction, appendices, bibliography, 124 pages. ISBN: 1556435452. In this book, the entire sequence of the specialized and named martial movements/postures/sections/forms is numbered from Section 1 up to Section 94; thus, the popular long taijiquan from, the Yang 94 Form. VSCL.