Friday, February 23, 2024

Shoveling Up Some Dharma


The Fireplace Records, Chapter 47

Shoveling Up some Dharma

Caught on the Edges of the West: Highway 101

The Fireplace Records

Four Days in Grayland

Shoveling Up Some Dharma

Mixing up with water a 60 pound bag of Redi-Mix cement, by hand, using a flat metal mixing bin, water hose, a flat-nosed shovel, and shoveling work efforts by me.  We used the mixed concrete slush, "Mud", shovel by shovel full of "Mud" over and and over. The hand shoveled batch of concrete slush, carefully wetted for various building constrution projects, created over and over.

Repeated practice can improve one's skills, reduce workoad, and give to us the real life body-mind experences of working, 
ways of being-in-the-world, when making things, producing things, doing things.

This sort of workday construction shoveling efforts for eight hours of work a day, 
five days a week;
just think about it,
sink your analytical and feeling sharp teeth
into the feeling memories of when mixing concrete.
I never worked that hard.

[The back of my mind
was bounced around and hurt.]

My father bough two acres of a hillside property, with a clear wide view of the San Gabriel Valley, California, in 1957, in Hacienda Heights,  He lived and worked there at "the ranch" for forty years from 1957-1997. In 1997 my dad died at age 82, of complications from congestive heart failure, old age, diabetes, and strokes.  

In the 1960's I would do 8 to 12 hours of construction work at the ranch each week, attend Catholic High School, play high school team sports, and later attend college and work at the City of Commerce Public Library.

The land was in the Hacienda Heights, Puente Hills,
Turnbull Canyon, North Whittier Heights;
and Colima Road - Highway 30 Regions;
From Rolling Springs on High at the junction with the Angeles Crest Highway
south to Huntington Beach low tide,
85 miles, up to down, Snow to Surf, a scenic ride.

I'd take a bus from Hacienda Heights on Colima Road 30,
through the many southern cities,
Orange County Newer,
and ending at the Seashore at Huntington Beach CA.
I had cousins living in the Stanton suburban rectangles.
We lived within 25 miles of the Pacific Ocean at Huntington Beach.

I would walk a lot,
having all-weather awakenings.

Joining our summertime emblems:
kites and flapping canvas tens,
keeping wind and sand at bay;
Less clothing, showing more human flesh
and shape, feeling open in the sun;
Wet with Sea surf, boogie boarding or body surfing,
a cool satisfied wet body-mind,
seventeen and strong
[eighty now and fading on.]

Sitting huddled around a San Clemente State Beach campfire,
on a dark winter night, exploring youtful enjoyments.

Standing on wet piers, looking at the waves rocking below,
up and down, back and forth, steadily to the shore,

On some lost late autumn morning
long ago in the San Clemente Pier  in a parking lot,
people sorting pier fishing gear, bait, food, drink, raingear, chairs ...
The Pacific, always calling, draws the fishermen nearer.

The jetties drew me, the Bays and harbors drew me,
the hard relentless winter strorm seas smashing
into the Bandon Oregon Sea Stacks and rocky cliffs
all drew me, inticiced me, startled me, the rivers drew me;
seeing the tide lines that mark at the shore, 
living with these fluctuations, dying with these fluctuations,
doomed yet divine;
drawn to the Pacific, clinging to the Pacific
a lifeline, a sturdy vine, a factual mind
a poem, just hanging on, on a fisherman's line, sometimes rhymed.
1,000 Collaged Images of the Golden Gate Bridge in my brain.
Rolling in and out, past roadway signs
[Highway 101 at Port Angeles, Aberdeen, Astoria, Newport, Brookings,
Eureka, Redwoods, Santa Paula, San Francisco, San Jose,
Salinas, Santa Barbara, Ventura, San Pedro, San Diego .]

Sitting now on a rocky cliff at Bandon. Below us are massive sea stacks 
splattered with surf spray as huge waves come smashing into rock.
Powerful sights and sounds never forgotten.

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Powers of Scents

"Of all the ingredients we employ in the creation of a garden, scent is probably the most potent and the least understood.  Its effects can be either direct and immediate, drowning our senses in a surge of sugary vapor, or they can be subtle and delayed, slowly wafting into our consciousness, stirring our emotions and coloring our thoughts."
-  Stephen Lacey, Scent in Your Garden, 1991

"Scents bring memories, and many memories bring nostalgic pleasure.  We would be wise to plan for this when we plant a garden."
-  Thalassa Cruso, To Everything There is a Season, 1973  

"The act of smelling something, anything, is remarkably like the act of thinking. Immediately at the moment of perception, you can feel the mind going to work, sending the odor around from place to place, setting off complex repertories through the brain, polling one center after another for signs of recognition, for old memories and old connection. "
-  Lewis Thomas 

The Five Senses

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Dao De Jing, Laozi, Chapter 57

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
Chapter 57

"Rule a nation with justice.
Wage war with deception.
Become ruler of the world with peace.
How do I know that this is so?
Because of these.
The more laws and restrictions,
the poorer people become.
The sharper men's weapons,
the more trouble in the land.
The more ingenious and clever men,
the more strange things happen.
The more rules and regulations,
the more thieves and robbers.
Therefore, the sage says: I Wu-Wei,
people will rule themselves.
I enjoy peace and people become honest.
I do nothing special such as tax and war and people become rich.
I have no unjust desires for concubines or conquering. 
People return to the good and simple life."
-  Translated by Tienzen Gong, Chapter 57  

"Govern a state by (i) the normal (cheng);
Conduct warfare as (i) the abnormal (ch'i);
Take the empire when (i) there is no business.
How do I know such should be the case?
By the following:
In an empire with many prohibitions,
People are often poor;
When people have many sharp weapons,
The state is in great darkness (tzu hun);
When persons abound in ingenuity (ch'iao),
Abnormal (ch'i) objects multiply (tzu ch'i);
When laws are abundantly promulgated (tzu chang),
There are many thieves and brigands.
Therefore the sage says:
I do not act (wei),
Hence the people transform by themselves (tzu-hua);
I love tranquillity (ching),
Hence the people are normal by themselves (tzu-cheng);
I have no business,
Hence the people grow rich by themselves;
I have no desire,
Hence the people are like the uncarved wood by themselves (tzu-p'u)."
-  Translated by Ellen M. Chen, Chapter 57  

"Albeit one governs the country by rectitude,
And carries on wars by strategems,
Yet one must rule the empire by meddling with no business.
The empire can always be ruled by meddling with no business.
Otherwise, it can never be done.
How do I know this is so?
By this:
The more restrictions and avoidances are in the empire,
The poorer become the people;
The more sharp implements the people keep,
The more confusions are in the country;
The more arts and crafts men have,
The more are fantastic things produced;
The more laws and regulations are given,
The more robbers and thieves there are.
Therefore the Sage says;
Inasmuch as I betake myself to non-action, the people of themselves become developed.
Inasmuch as I love quietude, the people of themselves become righteous.
Inasmuch as I make no fuss, the people of themselves become wealthy.
Inasmuch as I am free from desire, the people of themselves remain simple."
-  Translated by Ch'u Ta-Kao, 1904, Chapter 57 

以此天下多忌諱, 而民彌貧.
民多利器, 國家滋昏.
人多伎巧, 奇物滋起.
法令滋彰, 盜賊多有. 
-  Chinese characters, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 57  

yi chêng chih kuo.
yi ch'i yung ping.
yi wu shih ch'ü t'ien hsia.
wu ho yi chih ch'i jan tsai.
yi tz'u t'ien hsia to chi hui, erh min mi p'in.
min to li ch'i, kuo chia tzu hun. 
jên to chi ch'iao, ch'i wu tzu ch'i. 
fa ling tzu chang, tao tsê to yu.
ku shêng jên yun.
wo wu wei erh min tzu hua.
wo hao ching erh min tzu chêng. 
wo wu shih erh min tzu fu.
wo wu yü erh min tzu p'u.
-  Wade-Giles Romanization, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 57 

"In government, objectives are clarified.
In warfare, objectives are concealed.
In following the Tao, objectives are discarded.

How do I know that this is so?
By feeling it from within.

With every commandment thrust upon the people,
They become more impoverished and alienated.
As the weapons of the state grow ever more destructive,
The more contagious is the fear that desolates the nation.
The further science spreads its hegemony of the intellect,
The more demonic are the products that roll off the assembly line.
As the precedents of litigation grow, and the statutory codes accumulate,
The politicians and criminals will proliferate and flourish.

The counsel of the Sage is different:
Let your action lack force,
And there will be spontaneous transformation.
Let meditation guide you,
And the natural order will arise.
Abandon power-
Lead only by example and consensus,
And there will be abundance in the land.
Defeat desire, let innocence be your law,
And your nation will return
To its deepest, simple nature."
-  Translated by Brian Donohue, 2005, Chapter 57  

"Let the upright rule the state,
And the crafty the army lead,
But the realm can only be made one' s own
When from active scheming freed.

How do I know this is so?
By facts that are open to all,
As you multiply prohibitive laws
The people into poverty fall.
You increase disorder as well,
When you increase the weapons of war,
And the more and more artful and cunning men grow,
The more and more crafty contrivance they show,
And the more laws and more thieves there are.
Said the sage, I do nothing, and men
Of themselves transformed will be,
I love to keep still, they have uprightness,
I do no scheming, and wealth they possess,
I have no ambition, and plain-mindedness
Will come spontaneously."
-  Translated by Isaac Winter Heysinger, 1903, Chapter 57  

"Se gobierna al Estado con leyes ordinarias.
Se lucha en la guerra con tácticas extraordinarias.
Pero solo con la no-interferencia se ganará el mundo.
¿Cómo lo sé?
Porque he visto esto:
Cuantas más restricciones se imponen y más artificiales
son los tabúes que hay en el mundo,
más se empobrece la gente.
Cuantas más armas y soldados existen,
mas desorden y conflicto hay en el reino.
Cuanto más oportunistas son los hombres,
mas cosas nefastas ocurren.
Cuanta más prominencia se dá a las leyes y regulaciones,
más ladrones y bandidos aparecen.
Por eso el sabio dice:
Yo no causo interferencia,
y así el pueblo por sí mismo progresa.
Yo fomento la quietud,
y así el pueblo por sí mismo prospera.
Yo no emprendo ningún negocio,
y así el pueblo por sí mismo se enriquece.
Yo nada deseo,
y así el pueblo por sí mismo retorna a la sencillez."
-  Translation from Wikisource, 2013, Tao Te Ching, Capítulo 57

"The righteous man may rule the nation.
The strategic man may rule the army.
But the man who refrains from active measures should be the king.
How do I know this?
When the actions of the people are controlled by prohibited laws, the country becomes more and more impoverished.
When the people are allowed the free use of arms, the Government is in danger.
The more crafty and dexterous the people become, the more do artificial things come into use.
And when those cunning arts are publicly esteemed, then do rogues prosper.
Therefore the wise man says:-
I will design nothing: and the people will shape themselves.
I will keep quiet; and the people will find their rest.
I will not assert myself; and the people will come forth.
I will discountenance ambition; and the people will revert to their natural simplicity."
-  Translated by Walter Gorn Old, 1904, Chapter 57  

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

Taoism: A Selected Reading List 

Monday, February 12, 2024

Pacific Beach State Park, Washington

 Pacific Beach State Park, Washington

State Park Information



Pacific Beach Beach Towny

Seabrook Beach Town

Ocean Shores Beach Town

Aberdeen, Grays Harbor

Four Days in Grayland

Grays Harbor Bay

Yurt Camping, Pacific Beach, WA, February 12-15, 2024, Mike Garofalo solo camper.  Cancelled due to poor health of Mike Garofalo.  

Mike Garofalo at Wallapa Bay

Yurt at Pacific Beach

Pacific Beach State Park

Pacific Beach State Park

Seabrook Village, WA
South of Pacific Beach

Friday, February 09, 2024

Keeping Your Balance and Avoiding Falls for Older Persons

Keeping Your Balance and Avoiding Falls 
Safety Tips for Around Your House
For Older Persons, Seniors, Elderly:

Avoid clutter. Don't leave things on the floor. Pick up after yourself.
Make sure you have good lighting for both night and day.
Keep furniture and tables to a minimum. Leave room for walking.
Keep areas beside the bed and into a toilet clear and uncluttered.
Use hand bars beside toilet and shower.
Have a strong small ladder for reaching up to higher shelves.
Wear good shoes indoors.
Make sure rugs and runners are secure on the floor.
Watch out if you have steps into your garage or rooms.
Be careful, slow down, be alert!
Use your cane or walker as needed.
Be aware if medicines you take make you feel lightheaded or dizzy.
If sitting for a long time, stand up slowly and carefully.
Move carefully on arthritic or injured limbs.
Use tips and techniques for standing up carefully and safely.
Exercise each day to improve strength, flexibility, and balance.
Make sure all chairs, seats, and tables are in good working order.
Use it, or slowly but surely loose it.
Keep all cabinet drawers or doors pushed and closed properly.
Let others help you or pay for services.
Know you own strengths, limitations, or weaknesses.
If you are obese, it will impair your balance skills. Loose weight!
Do exercises to improve the strength of your legs and hips.
See a physician for serious dizziness.
Practice Tai Chi Chuan to improve your balance skills.
- Michael P. Garofalo, Balance

Aging Well  Information, Bibliography, Quotes, Notes, Links

Wednesday, February 07, 2024

Flowers for February

 "The flowers of late winter and early spring occupy places in our hearts well out of proportion to their size." - Gertrude S. Wister

Right now, in our yard in Vancouver WA, we have two flowering plants: heather and helebores. The Rosemary has few blooms this year.

Tuesday, February 06, 2024

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, Chapter 56

Dao De Jing, Laozi
Chapter 56

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

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

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

-  Chinese characters, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 56 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Taoism: A Selected Reading List

Monday, February 05, 2024

Waves of Reflections at the Bandon Jetty

The Fireplace Records, Chapter 46

Waves of Reflections at the Bandon Jetty

Caught on the Edges of the West: Highway 101

The Fireplace Records

Four Days in Grayland

By Michael P. Garofalo

When young I climbed mountains;
Now old I walk beaches.
My heart has new limits;
My mind explores inside limits.

I saunter effortlessly;
I struggle to understand The Root.
Reading the Vegetable Root Verses;   (1)
I fell asleep and dreamt I was awake.

I thought three times;
then moved one way.
I took three steps;
then clearly envisioned the next 333 steps.

From confusion emerged distinctions;
Naming points to a way out of chaos.
By words we find new ways to see;
New ways to discover truths or falsity.
Confucius said, Buddha said, Epictetus said,
the Bible said, the Sufi's said, the Yogi's said:;
Maybe they did or did not - it is said;
Kwan Yin did not say, but helped in some way. (2)

The roaring surf, a splashing chorus;
Reflects my inner concerto of words.

Moving with intention and concentration is fire;
Escaping to an excess of quietude is ashes.
Knowing when enough is enough
and too little is too little;
we light a candle in honor of wisdom. 

I could not walk down and up the steep steps to the shore;
my legs too weak and wobbly anymore.
I watched the winter surf crashing on sea stacks;
So I just sat and stared, with my mind quite slack.

Booms of thunder, pouring rain, windy, and cold;
Breakfast at a Bandon cafe, warm, out of the showers.
Reading Lama Sura Das on awakening a Buddha mind;
Thinking of New Year, Jade Rabbits, Spring Festival rhymes;
Thankful for the eggs and hash browns - enjoying this time.

Bullards Beach is not Grayland Beach;   (3)
They are both the same - out of my reach.
When I move the roaring surf calls;
When still the silent marsh recalls.

At the south jetty's edge, a damp delightful altar on a rocky perch:

little statutes, plastic flowers,
a plastic heart,
rocks, shells, angels, cross, kelp,
official warning poster,
all on a washed up log.
The lingering intentions that count;
the smell of wet sand incense
all around and about.  
A light beacon on the jetty rocks.  Hints at the edgy DOT of sacred space/time.  Proceed: Aware and Becoming.  

The two jetties remind me of the
Anjali Mudra, Gassho.

The north jetting is my right hand, the south jetty my left,
The Coquille River is the Qi energy between my Prayer Hands:
flowing Cloud Hands, Namaste Hands, Energized Hands, Promising Hands.

Playing with analogies and Gassho hands; I bow where I stand.
Touching the spiritual memories between my hands; I bow where I stand.
Honored by the good intentions between our hands; I bow where I stand.  

Low tide, high tide - the yin/yang way;
Heart tenses, relaxes - the yang/yin way.
My heart's a flutter, I'm out of breath;
I'm content with life, 
and accept my death.

The sand blows up the dunes and down;
The seasons follow the sun, round and round.
Between Heaven and Earth the seagull stands;
While I play Taijiquan, slogging over dry sand.   (4) 
We both come and go, then are no more; 
Full then Empty are close to Life's Core.

The immense Oceans are undrinkable, and
in some ways unthinkable.  
No fresh water begets death, and 
Water is Life.

Words from the Heart Scripture went unsaid, and
the Bodhi Tree flourished in Life's Garden.   (5)  

Something evolves from Something Else, and
nothing evolves from nothing.

Beings emerge from Beings, and
emptiness disappears into emptiness.

"Nothing" is not a noun-thing, and
"Somethings" are dependent relationships.

Forms are Full, and
Fullness begets Forms.

Somethings created my body-mind, and
my body-mind created somethings.  

The Dao marries Yin-Yang, and
some of their step-children are Black Holes. 

Chaos is not emptiness, and
the Void provides Space for Somethings.

Somethings are transitory, ephemeral, and
They are Not empty illusions or unreal. 

Time is the crux of the matter, and
Somethings come and go, appear and disappear.  

"Nothing" is the absence of Something
we desire, and
not the presence of something.  

Somethings are Appearances, and
Appearances are Somethings.

Is or is not, true or false, real or unreal,
something or nothing, be Careful, and
sometimes choose the Middle Way of Maybe So.

Pointing to Nothing, and 
slogging through a muddy muddle of Mu.

Come Closer, Come Closer, and
Open the Door to Wonderous Beings.

Come Closer, Come Closer, and
Embrace Body-Mind-Spirit.
Cast off emptiness and the void.  

Gate Gate Parasamgate Bodhi Svaha, and
some Lotus plants died in a drought.  Oh No!

Words from the Heart went unsaid, and
the Bodhi Tree flourished in Life's Garden.  (5) 


(1)  Master of the Three Ways.  By Hung Ying-ming.  Translated by William Scott Wilson. 2012.

(2) The Kwan Yin Transmission Book: Healing Guidance from Our Universal Mother. By Alana Fairchild.  Llewellyn, 2019.  

(3) Bullards Beach State Park is close to Bandon, Oregon.  Grayland Beach State Park is near Westport, Washington.  Bandon has many sea stacks, and a small rocky shoreline near the 200 foot high cliffs overlooking the sea.  Westport to Tokeland consists of flat sandy beaches, sand dunes, and shore pines, shrubs, and grasses.  There are no steep rocky cliffs at Grayland Beach.  Totally different coastal terrain types in Grayland and Bandon; except for rolling sand dunes covered in grasses.  

Bullard's Beach State Park is north across the bridge over the Coquille River from Bandon, Oregon.  A large State Park with many sand dunes and ocean beaches with lots of driftwood and items of interest to beachcombers.

Any person can easily drive, bicycle, or walk to the south and north jetties at the conjunction of the Pacific Ocean and the Coquille River. There is an old lighthouse at the north jetty side.  There are many miles, on either side of the river, of rock dykes and dirt packed dykes to control the flooding Coquille River. There are many dramatic sea stacks that are south of the two jetties. 

Further east from the coast at Bandon, on road 42S, east to Coquille city 42 and Myrtle Point city, was extensive flooding in January of 2023.  The entire valley floor farm fields were covered in water for miles on end.  Low lying fog made driving the winding country road a bit dicey.  

(4) Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan by Michael Garofalo, Vancouver, Washington.

(5) The Heart Sutra and The Threefold Lotus Sutra.  Experiences of "emptiness" are often a case of not finding something we desire in the complex world of Somethings.  Something desired seems or is missing.  We want a drink of water and the glass is empty.  Mu,

Poetry by Michael P. Garofalo

Cloud Hands Blog  

Above the Fog 

Four Days in Grayland 

Pulling Onions

Poetry - Bibliography, Links, Resources, Guides  

Cuttings: Haiku and Short Poems 

Text Art, Visual/Pattern Poetry

Uncle Mike's Cellphone Poetry Series

Concrete Poetry  

Meetings with Taoist Master Chang San-Feng   

Shifu Miao Zhang Points the Way  

Full Moon in the Morning Sky   

Northwest Pacific Coast Poems 

Exhibits at the Onion Garden

One Short of a Baker's Dozen

Teaching Haiku Poetry

The Spirit of Gardening

New Poems

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu

Reviews and Kudos


Sunday, February 04, 2024

Dancing with the Dao

The Fireplace Records, Chapter 45

Dancing with the Dao

In a short lecture by Alan Watts, titled "Walking on the Wheel," he contrasts those who favor listening to music with those who favor dancing to music.  Both are enjoyable, beneficial, pleasurable, and healthy. 

Some Christians and Platonic disciplinarians are disdainful of music, dancing, plays, jokes, games of chance, literature, etc. They contend that such arts corrupt the soul, lead one into vice, overindulge the senses, are sinful, encourage laziness, and take us away from the contemplation of the Divine. Secular pleasures are rejected, puritan attitudes prevail, and contempt for worldly pastimes are demanded.  

My wife told me her Church of Christ fundamentalist parents would not allow any Christmas celebrations, not allow her to go to movies or dances, favored only church hymns, would not allow any musical instruments in church services, and condemned secular cultural pastimes.  Probably, Islamic parents do the same these days.

Most people ignore the ascetic and disciplinary path to salvation and to  the magical after-life.  They enjoy both listening to music, playing music, and dancing to a variety of musical types.

A person with a more passive, quiet, contemplative nature enjoys relaxing and listening to music.  They settle into stillness and auditory indulgence.  These folks also might favor silent still meditation, standing meditation, yin yoga, and Qi Gong practices.

I enjoy dancing, tai chi chuan, and walking while listening to music. I enjoy playing the harmonica.  Doing and making with my body-mind has provided me with a lifetime of pleasures and enjoyment.

Comments, Sources, Observations, Koans, Poems, Quips:

Dance, laugh, sing, and smile your way to vibrant health.

The Dao enjoys Dancing.

The Five Senses



Tai Chi Chuan Dancing

Yoga Stillness

Standing Meditation Stillness

636 Riddles, Jokes, Witticisms, Humor

Refer to my Cloud Hands Blog Posts on the topic of Koans/Stories. 

Subject Index to 1,975 Zen Buddhist Koans

Zen Buddhist Koans: Indexes, Bibliography, Commentary, Information

The Daodejing by Laozi

Pulling Onions  Over 1,043 One-line Sayings, Quips, Maxims, Humor

Chinese Chan Buddhist and Taoist Stories and Koans

The Fireplace Records (Blog Version) By Michael P. Garofalo

Saturday, February 03, 2024

String Figures Bibliography


Strings on Your Fingers

String Figures, String Tricks, String Catches, Rope and Twine Knots
String and Rope Designs, Knotting, Cat's Cradle Games with String
Northwest American Indian String Figures Research
String Figures and Storytelling Performances by Michael P. Garofalo
Version 3, 2021


Friday, February 02, 2024

Dragon Qigong, Swimming Dragon Qigong, Walking Dragon Chi Kung

"The Chinese Horoscope 2024 reveals that the Year of the Dragon, specifically the Wood Dragon year, will bring authority, prosperity, and good fortune."

 I have been studying books and videos on the subject of Dragon Chi Kung and Dragon Bagua Zhang, Swimming Dragon, Walking Dragon, and Tai Chi Dragon.

Reading "The Four Dragons" by Damo Mitchell; "The Swimming Dragon" by Tzu Shi Kuo and T. K. Smith; and "Dragon and Tiger Qigong" by Bruce K. Frantzis.

For full information on the books, instructional DVDs, UTube vides, links, resources, and quotations on the subject of "Dragon Qigong" see my webpage on the subject. 

I am also completing my own version of Lessons on Dragon Qigong with instructions on that webpage.  

"It is easier to leave a circle than to enter it.
The emphasis is on the hip movement whether front or back.
The difficulty is to maintain the position without shifting the centre.
To analyze and understand the above situation is to do with movement and not with a stationary posture.
Advancing and retreating by turning sideways in line with the shoulders, one is capable of turning like a millstone, fast or slow, as if whirling like a dragon in the clouds or sensing the approach of a fierce tiger.
From this, one can learn the usage of the movement of the upper torso.
Through long practice, such movement will become natural."
- Yang Family Old Manual, The Coil Incense Kung

"The East Asian Dragons are often associated with water, rain, vapors, fog, springs, streams, waterfalls, rivers, swamps, lakes, and the ocean.  Water can take many shapes and states, and Dragons are shape shifters and linked with transformation, appearing and disappearing, changing into something new.  Water is found in three states, depending upon the surrounding temperature: a solid (ice, snow), a fluid (flowing liquid), and a gas (fog, vapor, steam).  Since rainfall is often accompanied by thunder and lightening (thunderstorms and typhoons), the Dragon is sometimes associated with fire; and, since hot water and steam are major sources of energy in human culture, this further links the Dragon with the essential energy of Fire.  The Dragon is thus linked with the chemical and alchemical transformative properties of two of the essential Elements, both Water and Fire.  Dragons are generally benign or helpful to humans in East Asia, but their powers can also be destructive (e.g., flooding, tsunami, typhoon, lightening, steam, drowning, etc.).  There are both male and female Dragons, kinds or species of Dragons, Dragons of different colors and sizes, and mostly good but some evil Dragons.  Some Dragons can fly, some cannot fly; most live in or near water, a few on land.  The body of a Dragon combines features from many animals, representing the many possibilities for existential presence.  The Dragon in the East has serpentine, snake, or eel like movement qualities: twisting, spiraling, sliding, circling, swimming, undulating, flowing freely like water."
[See: The Dragon in China and Japan by Marinus De Visser, 1913] 

Dragon Chi Kung features exercises that involve twisting, turning, screwing, spiraling, curving, wiggling, undulating, spinning, sinking down and rising up, swimming, circling, swinging, or twining movements are often associated with snakes, serpents and dragons.  There are many Qigong sets and specific Qigong movements that have been called "Dragon" forms, sets, or exercises.  Baguazhang martial arts feature much twisting, turning and circling; and, also include many "Dragon" sets and movements.  Silk Reeling exercises in Chen Style Taijiquan include twisting, twining, circling, and screwing kinds of movements. 

Thursday, February 01, 2024

Rivers of Change

 "We need to learn to see our physical form as a river.  Our body is not a static thing─it changes all the time.  It is very important to see our physical form as something impermanent, as a river that is constantly changing.  Every cell in our body is a drop of water in that river.  Birth and death are happening continuously, in every moment of our daily lives.  We must live every moment with death and life present at the same time.  Both death and life are happening at every instant in the river of our physical body.  We should train ourselves in this vision of impermanence." 
-  Thich Nhat Hanh, You Are Here, 2001, p. 27

In many ways Changes, cycles of birth and death, being a living-moving-acting being ... is what creates endurance, persistence, homeostasis, staying alive.  When Change stops, then we die.  Impermanence is indicative of being alive, existing, being real. 

Process Philosophy

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

The Dumpling Discourse

 The Fireplace Records, Chapter 44

The Dumpling Discourse

It was a hot day in July when Carol and Adolf met in a tea shop in Portland. They sipped iced tea and chatted about Taoism for an hour.

Adolf asked Carol, "What is beyond the Tao?" Carol answered, "Either the Dark Void or preparing hot oatmeal."

Adolf sarcastically replied, "Yunmen is direct, he says '"Dumplings.' You are caught in either/or, dualisms, and straying from the spot!" Carol said "Purported Zen Masters seldom cook."

Adolf raised his right hand, like Gutei, and gave Carol the middle finger. Carol slapped the finger of his right hand.

Adolf got up and went to the toilet. While urinating, like Master Omori Sogen, he was suddenly awakened. While he was away, Carol left for home.

She worked in her home garden. She weeded and watered. She picked two squash. Like the Tao, she grew living beings. She went indoors and cooked some hot oatmeal. She added raisins to the mush. She ate. She smiled. Her dark blue bowl was then empty. She was ordinary and clear mined. 

Comments, Sources, Observations, Koans, Poems, Quips:

Omori Sogen, "Introduction to Zen Training" Tuttle, 2001,2020.

"What is talk transcending the Buddhas and Patriarchs?", Yunmen's translated answers "Sesame Cakes", "Rice cakes", "Dumplings."
See BOS 78, ZE 42, ENT 88, WWSF 348, BCR 77

Gutei's One Finger Zen
BCR 19, BOS 84, DSMS 245, GB 30, SOH 21

If the answer can be 'the oak tree in the courtyard,' then the answer can be 'eating oatmeal with raisins.'

Irrelevant answers are a staple spontaniety of Zen tricksters. 

Some say nonsensical Zen Koan answers are free and natural poety; however, they are often just bad poetry.

Which finger was the "one finger?"

People are Makers, Imitating the Dao - The Great Maker, Doer, Creator.  Sometimes even seeming to go Beyond the Dao.

636 Riddles, Jokes, Witticisms, Humor

Refer to my Cloud Hands Blog Posts on the topic of Koans/Stories. 

Subject Index to 1,975 Zen Buddhist Koans

Zen Buddhist Koans: Indexes, Bibliography, Commentary, Information

The Daodejing by Laozi

Pulling Onions  Over 1,043 One-line Sayings, Quips, Maxims, Humor

Chinese Chan Buddhist and Taoist Stories and Koans

The Fireplace Records (Blog Version) By Michael P. Garofalo

The Spirit of Gardening

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Tao Te Ching, by Lao Tzu, Chapter 55

Dao De Jing, Laozi
Chapter 55

"He whom life fulfills,
Though he remains a child,
Is immune to the poisonous sting
Of insects, to the ravening
Of wild beasts or to vultures' bills.
He needs no more bone or muscle than a baby's for sure hold.
Without thought of joined organs, he is gender
Which grows firm, unfaltering.
Though his voice should cry out at full pitch all day, it would not rasp but would stay tender
Through the perfect balancing
Of a man at endless ease with everything
Because of the true life that he has led.
To try for more than this bodes ill.
It is said, 'there's a way where there's a will;'
But let life ripen and then fall.
Will is not the way at all:
Deny the way of life and you are dead."
-   Translated by Witter Bynner, Chapter 55 

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

"Measure the fullness of one's virtue against an infants:
Neither scorpion nor snake will attack it.
Nor does the tiger maul it.
Nor do the birds of prey clutch it.
Its bones and sinews soft,
Yet its grip is firm.
It does not know the union of male and female,
Yet its reproductive organ is fully formed:
Its essence is whole.
It can cry all day without getting hoarse;
This is total harmony.
To know harmony is constancy.
To know constancy is enlightening.
That which is beneficial to life is auspicious.
To direct ch'i by heart is steadfastness.
Things mature and then decay.
This is contra-Tao.
That which runs counter to the Tao is soon finished."
-   Translated by Tam Gibbs, Chapter 55  

"Who holds within the fullest power
To a newborn may compare,
Which no insects stings,
No wild beast seizes,
No taloned bird snatches.
Though soft-boned and weak-limbed, its grip is firm.
Before it ever knows of intercourse,
Its standing phallus knows its full life force.
It cries all day without a loss of voice,
A sign of its perfect balance.
Knowing balance means constant norm;
Knowing the norm means inner vision;
Enhancing life means good fortune;
Mind controlling spirit means inner strength.
“Beware old age in pride of manly might,”
For that means working against the Way.
“Work against the Way, die before your day.”"
-   Translated by Moss Roberts, Chapter 55 

"One who possesses the fullness of De can be compared to a newborn baby.
Bees, scorpions and poisonous snakes will not sting him.
Hunting birds and ferocious animals will not grab him.
His bones are weak, his muscles are soft, yet he can grasp objects with great strength.
He has no knowledge of sexual intercourse, yet his penis becomes enlarged: so extreme is his life force.
He can yell all day, yet he doesn't get hoarse.
There is ultimate harmony in his expressiveness.
This harmony of expressiveness is said to be constant;
Knowing this harmony is said to be obvious.
Increasing life is said to be lucky.
Using the mind to control the natural energy of life is said to show strength.
A living creature who who pretends to be stronger than they are will quickly age.
This may be described as one who doesn't follow Dao.
Don't follow Dao and you'll come to an early end."
-   Translated by Nina Correa, 2005, Chapter 55