Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Dragon Chi Kung Practices

"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. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

White Tara - The Female Buddha: Protects Us

Tara, Drolma, Green Tārā, White Tara, Liberator, Star Goddess, Savioress, Protector Bodhisattva, Maha-Devi, Divine Feminine, The Mother, Shakti
A Buddhist Goddess Worshipped in Tibet and India
Bibliography, Links, Quotations, Prayers, 21 Praises, Notes


Goddesses: Bibliography, Quotations, Links, Lore

"Goddess Tara is probably the oldest goddess who is still worshipped extensively in modern times. Tara originated as a Hindu goddess, a Great Goddess -- the Mother Creator, representing the eternal life force that fuels all life.  There are many embodiments of Tara, but the best known are the White Tara and the Green Tara.  The peaceful, compassionate White Tara gently protects and brings long life and peace. The more dynamic goddess, Green Tara is the "Mother Earth", and a fierce goddess who overcomes obstacles, and saves us from physical and spiritual danger.  In Sanskrit, the name Tara means Star, but she was also called She Who Brings Forth Life, The Great Compassionate Mother, and The Embodiment of Wisdom, and the Great Protectress.  Adopted by Buddhism, she become the most widely revered deity in the Tibetan pantheon.   In Buddhist tradition, Tara is actually much greater than a goddess -- she is a female Buddha, an enlightened one was has attained the highest wisdom, capability and compassion. . . one who can take human form and who remains in oneness with the every living thing."
-   Tara: Goddess of Peace and Protection 

"Mother of enlightened activity who creates all the enlightened ones,
By the power of supplicating to you through approaching, practice and devotion, bless me always
    to practice with devotion to you.
So that I and all sentient being may complete the two accumulations of merit and wisdom.
Then, may the four activities be accomplished and extraordinary and common siddhis be granted.
May pure vision of the deities and the mantra rise from the dharmadhatu,
And may we take enlightened activity as our path and stir the depths of samsara.
In the realm of the great dharmakaya, all appearances and existence are non-dual,
The two aspects of enlightened form appear according to the capacities of sentient beings,
May it always being benefit and well-being through the countless acts of perfect merit!
I take refuge until I am enlightened
In the buddhas, the dharma, and the sangha.
Through the merit I create by practicing giving and the other perfections,
May I attain buddhahood for the sake of all sentient beings. 
May all sentient beings have happiness and the causes of happiness;
May all sentient beings be free from suffering and the causes of suffering;
May all sentient beings never be separated from the happiness that knows no suffering;
May all sentient beings live in equanimity, free from attachment and aversion."
Green Tara: Two Meditation Practices

Om Tare Tuttare Ture SoHa
"Om Tah Ray Too Tah Ray Too Ray Svā Ha"       (Suggested English Pronunciation)

The meanings of this mantra are suggested as: 

"One who saves, save me.”

=  The most sacred sound (Aum, Om, Ohm, Hum) for the Divine discussed in the Upanishads 
          OM is the body, speech, and mind of the Buddha.

= The One who liberates us from suffering,
          The One who frees us from suffering
          Tare is Dharma, the true path away from suffering, the wise words 
          Protection from mundane worldly dangers. 
          The Savioress from physical dangers, fears, and worries. 
          You are the mother, TARE, who liberates us from samsara and absolute dangers 

=  The One who liberates us from the eight fears,
               The One that liberates beings from danger
               The One who can vanquish the eight terrors
               The One who can protect and lead us on the right spiritual path.
               The Savioress from delusion, negative emotions, doubt, greediness. 
               She who ferries us across to safety. 
               You free us from the eight dangers, fears, harms, relative dangers 

= The One who liberates us from illness
           The One who that releases beings from sickness
           The One who can make us healthy and end our illnesses
           You protect us from all illnesses

Svāha or So Ha = Laying the Foundation, So Be It, Make it So
                          Svaha, according to "Monier-William’s Sanskrit Dictionary,"
                          means: "Hail!", "Hail to!" or "May a blessing rest on!"
                          May this come about
                          May blessings be upon 


Sunday, January 25, 2015

Working in the Orchard

Karen and I worked outdoors in our home orchard on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. 
Clear skies, warmer weather, and a slight wind made for pleasant working conditions. 

We finished pruning all of our 35 fruit trees.

We planted five new bare root trees: Peter's Pistachio (male and female), Gold Dust Peach, Indian Free Peach, and White Peach.  

We mowed and weeded in the orchard.

We checked the drip irrigation lines to make sure that all were working properly.

We cut down dead trees and shrubs.  

The Spirit of Gardening

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Paddle Your Own Canoe

"Know many, trust a few, and always paddle your own canoe."
-  An unknown Zen Master

Set your course and take constructive action to get to your goal.  You are the one that needs to work, to change, to become, to transform yourself.  Others may be a source for good advice, and a few people are great aids to our progress, but we must work ourselves to accomplish the tasks at hand.


Friday, January 23, 2015

Daodejing, Laozi, Chapter 28

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
Chapter 28

"Who knows his manhood's strength,
Yet still his female feebleness maintains;
As to one channel flow the many drains,
All come to him, yea, all beneath the sky.
Thus he the constant excellence retains;
The simple child again, free from all stains.

Who knows how white attracts,
Yet always keeps himself within black's shade,
The pattern of humility displayed,
Displayed in view of all beneath the sky;
He in the unchanging excellence arrayed,
Endless return to man's first state has made.

Who knows how glory shines,
Yet loves disgrace, nor e'er for it is pale;
Behold his presence in a spacious vale,
To which men come from all beneath the sky.
The unchanging excellence completes its tale;
The simple infant man in him we hail.

The unwrought material, when divided and distributed, forms vessels.
The sage, when employed, becomes the Head of all the Officers of government.
In his greatest regulations he employs no violent measures."
-  Translated by James Legge, 1891, Chapter 28  

"Who his manhood shows
And his womanhood knows
Becomes the empire's river.
Is he the empire's river,
He will from virtue never deviate,
And home he turneth to a child's estate.

Who his brightness shows
And his blackness knows
Becomes the empire's model.
Is he the empire's model,
Of virtue ne'er shall he be destitute,
And home he turneth to the absolute.

Who knows his fame
And guards his shame
Becomes the empire's valley.
Is he the empire's valley,
For e'er his virtue will sufficient be,
And home he turneth to simplicity."

Simplicity, when scattered, becomes a vessel of usefulness.
The holy man, by using it, becomes the chief leader;
And truly, a great principle will never do harm."
-  Translated by Daisetsu Teitaro Suzuki and Paul Carus, 1913, Chapter 28 

"He who is aware of the Male
But keeps to the Female
Becomes the ravine of the world.
Being the ravine of the world,
He has the original character (teh) which is not cut up.
And returns again to the (innocence of the) babe.
He who is conscious of the white (bright)
But keeps to the black (dark)
Becomes the model for the world.
Being the model for the world,
He has the eternal power which never errs,
And returns again to the Primordial Nothingness.
He who is familiar with honor and glory
But keeps to obscurity
Becomes the valley of the world.
Being the valley of the world,
He has an eternal power which always suffices,
And returns again to the natural integrity of uncarved wood.
Break up this uncarved wood
And it is shaped into vessel
In the hands of the Sage
They become the officials and magistrates.
Therefore the great ruler does not cut up."  
-  Translated by Lin Yutang, 1948, 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  

chih ch'i hsiung, shou ch'i tz'u, wei t'ien hsia ch'i.
wei t'ien hsia ch'i, ch'ang tê pu li, fu kuei yü ying erh. 
chih ch'i pai shou ch'i hei, wei t'ien hsia shih.
wei t'ien hsia shih, ch'ang tê pu t'ê, fu kuei yü wu chi.
chih ch'i jung, shou ch'i ju, wei t'ien hsia ku. 
wei t'ien hsia ku, ch'ang tê nai tsu, fu kuei yü p'u.
p'u san tsê wei ch'i.
shêng jên yung chih, tsê wei kuan ch'ang.
ku ta chih pu ko.
-  Wade-Giles Romanization, Tao Te Ching, 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

"Know the male
But keep to the role of the female
And be a ravine to the empire.
If you are a ravine to the empire,
Then the constant virtue will not desert you
And you will again return to being a babe.
Know the white
But keep to the role of the sullied
And be a model to the empire.
If you are a model to the empire,
Then the constant virtue will not be wanting
And you will return to the infinite,
Know honour
But keep to the role of the disgraced
And be a valley to the empire.
If you are a valley to the empire,
Then the constant virtue will be sufficient
And you will return to being the uncarved block.
When the uncarved block shatters it becomes vessels.
The sage makes use of these and becomes the lord over the officials.
Hence the greatest cutting does not sever."
-  Translated by D. C. Lau, 1963, 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, Capitulo 28

"Be familiar with Masculinity but watch over Femininity - and become the Valley of the World.
Being the Valley of the World, invariant Te will not leave you.
Turn back to being an infant.
Be familiar with what is pure and white but watch over what is dark and black - and become the Pattern for the World.
Being the Pattern for the World, your invariant Te Will be constant.
Turn back to being limitless.
Be familiar with what is praiseworthy but watch over what is disgraceful - and become the Valley of the World.
Being the Valley of the World, your invariant Te will be sufficient.
Turn back to being an Uncarved Block.
When the Uncarved Block is cut up then it becomes a government tool.
When the Wise Person instead uses it then it becomes head of the government.
Yes: A great carver does no cutting, a great ruler makes no rules."
-  Translated by Michael LaFargue, 1992, Chapter 28   

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, January 22, 2015

Specifically Rather Than in General

"We cannot seek or attain health, wealth, learning, justice, or kindness in general.  Action is always specific, concrete, individualized, and unique."
-  Benjamin Jowett

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Buddha's Charter of Free Inquiry

I frequently study Buddhist, Taoist, Confucian, Tibetan, and Hindu texts.  I have no interest in Christianity, Islam, or Judaism. 

“Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing;
nor upon tradition;
nor upon rumor;
nor upon what is in a scripture:
nor upon surmise;
nor upon an axiom;
nor upon specious reasoning;
nor upon a bias towards a notion that has been pondered over:
nor upon another’s seeming ability;
nor upon the consideration, “The monk is our teacher.”
When you yourselves know:
“These things are good; these things are not blamable;
these things are praised by the wise; undertaken and observed,
these things lead to benefit and happiness,” enter on and abide in them.”"
-   Gautama Buddha
     Kalama Sutta, The Buddha’s Charter of Free Inquiry
     Translated by Soma Thera (The Wheel Publication, No. 8),
     Buddhist Publication Society, 1987   


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Past is the Key

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, January 19, 2015

Getting On in Years and Getting on with Life

My birthday was in January.  My mother, June, gave birth to me at the White Memorial Hospital in Los Angeles.  I remember little of my very early years, and what memories I have are pleasant ones.

My earliest memory is playing with carpenter's tools as a toddler.  My dad built the house that we lived in during my childhood and teenage years. 

In 2015, I will be 69 years of age.

I plan and expect it to be a productive year in 2015 in terms of fitness activities, writing, reading, mind-body arts practices, work, gardening, home improvements, some travel in the Northwest, and fun activities with family and friends.

We are anxiously awaiting news from the Oregon Health and Science University Hospital in Portland, Oregon, that they have a kidney available for transplanting in my son.  He has been on dialysis for three years.  He began his struggles with kidney disease when he was 19 years of age.  Karen will stay in Portland to help during his recovery from the surgery.

As of now, Karen and I are in reasonably good health.  We cope and manage our chronic health problems.  Local and area (Redding and Chico) medical care is good. 

Our income from work, investments, and Social Security are sufficient for a very comfortable lifestyle in rural Red Bluff.  I still am employed for 24 hours a week for nine months of each year, and am thinking of retiring when I am 72 years of age. 

Most of the time, I have many more projects and activities than I can accomplish.  Therefore, some objectives are not accomplished or others only half-completed.  I am never bored and feel pretty good about my accomplishments. 


How to Live the Good Life

                                             My mother and father and I


                                                  Karen and I in 1968




                                             Alicia, Me, Karen and Michael D.



Sunday, January 18, 2015

Lohan Qigong

Luohan Qigong, Lohan Qigong, Luohan Gong, Lohan Gong, 18 Buddha Hands
Shaolin Buddhist Qigong

Resources, Lessons, History, Links, Bibliography, Notes, Research 
"One tradition is that the Buddhist teacher, Bodhidharma (448-527 CE), a famous Grand Master of Chan (Zen),introduced a set of 18 exercises to the Buddhist monks at the Shaolin Temple. These are known as the Eighteen Hands of the Lohan. This Shaolin Lohan Qigong (i.e., the art of the breath of the enlightened ones), "is an internal set of exercises for cultivating the "three treasures" of qi (vital energy), jing (essence), and shen (spirit)," according to Howard Choy. The Kung Fu master, Sifu Wong Kiew-Kit, referring to the Shaolin Wahnam style, says "the first eight Lohan Hands are the same as the eight exercises in a famous set of chi kung exercises called the Eight Pieces of Brocade." There are numerous versions,seated and standing, of Bodhiidharma's exercise sets - including the related "Tendon-Changing and Marrow-Washing" qigong set. Some versions of the 18 Lohan (Luohan) Hands have up to four levels, and scores of movement forms for qigong and martial purposes."
- Michael P. Garofalo, Eight Section Brocade (330Kb)

For a comparison of some of the exercises in the Lohan Qigong with the Eight Section Brocade see my chart on the topic
The Luohan Qigong includes a massage or patting training methods, and this is especially popular among Yin Fu Bagua enthusiasts. Master Xie Pei Qi has a DVD out on the topic. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, Chaper 29

Daodejing, Laozi
Chapter 29

"When one desires to take in hand the empire and make it, I see him not succeed.
The empire is a divine vessel which cannot be made.
One who makes it, mars it.
One who takes it, loses it.
And it is said of beings:
Some are obsequious, others move boldly,
Some breathe warmly, others coldly,
Some are strong and others weak,
Some rise proudly, others sneak.
Therefore the holy man abandons excess, he abandons extravagance, he abandons indulgence."
-  Translated by Daisetsu Teitaro Suzuki and Paul Carus, 1913, Chapter 29    

"The external world is fragile,
and he who meddles with its natural way,
risks causing damage to himself.
He who tries to grasp it,
thereby loses it.

It is natural for things to change,
sometimes being ahead, sometimes behind.

There are times when even breathing
may be difficult,
whereas its natural state is easy.

Sometimes one is strong,
and sometimes weak,
sometimes healthy,
and sometimes sick,
sometimes is first,
and at other times behind.

The sage does not try
to change the world by force,
for he knows that force results in force.
He avoids extremes and excesses,
and does not become complacent."
-  Translated by Stan Rosenthal, Chapter 29

"One who desires to take and remake the Empire will fail.
The Empire is a divine thing that cannot be remade.
He who attempts it will only mar it.
He who seeks to grasp it, will lose it.
People differ, some lead, others follow; some are ardent, others are formal;
some are strong, others weak; some succeed, others fail.
Therefore the wise man practices moderation; he abandons pleasure, extravagance and indulgence."
-  Translated by Dwight Goddard, Chapter 29 

天下神器, 不可為也.
-  Chinese characters, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 29 

jiang yu qu tian xia er wei zhi.
wu jian qi bu de yi.
tian xia shen qi, bu ke wei ye.
wei zhe bai zhi.
zhi zhe shi zhi fu wu huo xing huo sui.
huo xu huo chui.
huo qiang huo lei.
huo zai huo hui.
shi yi sheng ren qu shen qu she qu tai.
-  Pinyin Romanization, Daodejing, Chapter 29 
"One who desires to take the world and act (wei) upon it,
I see that it cannot be done.
The world (t'ien hsia) is a spirit vessel (shen ch'i),
Which cannot be acted (wei) upon.
One who acts (wei) on it fails,
One who holds on to it loses (shih).
Therefore things either move forward or follow behind;
They blow hot or blow cold;
They are strong (ch'iang) or weak;
They get on or they get off.
Therefore the sage gets rid of over-doing,
Gets rid of extravagances,
Gets rid of excesses."
-  Translated by Ellen M. Chen, Chapter 29  

"Those who would take over the earth
And shape it to their will
Never, I notice, succeed.
The earth is like a vessel so sacred
That at the mere approach of the profane
It is marred
And when they reach out their fingers it is gone.
For a time in the world some force themselves ahead
And some are left behind,
For a time in the world some make a great noise
And some are held silent,
For a time in the world some are puffed fat
And some are kept hungry,
For a time in the world some push aboard
And some are tipped out:
At no time in the world will a man who is sane
Over-reach himself,
Over-spend himself,
Over-rate himself."
-  Translated by Witter Bynner, 1944, Chapter 29  

"Quien pretende el dominio del mundo
 y mejorar éste,
 se encamina al fracaso.
 El mundo es tan sagrado y vasto que no puede ser dominado.
 Quien lo domina lo empeora,
 quien lo tiene lo pierde.
 Porque, en el mundo todo tiene su tiempo y lugar,
 unas cosas van por delante, otras por detrás.
 A veces soplan suavemente, otras con fuerza.
 Unas cosas son vigorosas, otras débiles.
 A veces permanecen, otras veces caen.
 Por esto, el sabio rechaza todo exceso,
 desecha los absolutos
 y descarta toda exhuberancia.
 -  Translation from Wikisource, 2013, Capitulo 29

"There are those who will conquer the world
And make of it what they conceive or desire.
I see that they will not succeed.
For the world is God's own Vessel
It cannot be made by human interference.
He who makes it spoils it.
He who holds it loses it.

Some things go forward,
Some things follow behind;
some blow hot,
And some blow cold;
Some are strong,
And some are weak;
Some may break,
And some may fall.
Hence the Sage eschews excess, eschews extravagance, eschews pride."
-  Translated by Lin Yutang, 1948, Chapter 29  

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, January 15, 2015

Walking as a "Practice"

"I was the world in which I walked."
-   Wallace Stevens, Tea at the Palaz of Hoon

"Allow walking to occupy a place of stature equal with all the other important activities in your life. As difficult as that might seem, here's how to do it. Make it a practice. That's right. Turn your walking into a vehicle for personal growth as well as for fitness. This will add a higher level of integrity and intention to your approach because you will find that it is a way to deepen and upgrade your relationship to your body. Instead of merely giving your legs a good workout, you'll be practicing to relax more, to breathe better, to expand your vision, to open up your range of motion, to increase your energy, to feel and sense your body. The list is exciting - and endless. With all of this to look forward to, your walking program will take its place alongside everything in your life you value most, and you'll be amazed at how easy it is to schedule time for something you really love to do."
- Katherine Dreyer, Chi Walking, p. 56
Chi Walking: The Find Mindful Steps for Lifelong Health and Energy. By Danny Dreyer and Katherine Dreyer. New York, Simon and Shuster, Fireside Books, 2006. Index, 258 pages. ISBN: 0743267206.

"Walking I am unbound, and find that precious unity of life and imagination, that silent outgoing self, which is so easy to loose, but which a high moments seems to start up again from the deepest rhythms of my own body. How often have I had this longing for an infinite walk - of going unimpeded, until the movement of my body as I walk fell into the flight of streets under my feet - until I in my body and the world in its skin of earth were blended into a single act of knowing."
- Alfred Kazin, The Open Street

"If you look for the truth outside yourself,
It gets farther and farther away.
Today walking alone, I meet it everywhere I step.
It is the same as me, yet I am not it.
Only if you understand it in this way
Will you merge with the way things are."
- Tung-Shan


     "Walking meditation means to enjoy walking without any intention to arrive. We don't need to arrive anywhere. We just walk. We enjoy walking. That means walking is already stopping, and that needs some training. Usually in our daily life we walk because we want to go somewhere. Walking is only a means to an end, and that is why we do not enjoy every step we take. Walking meditation is different. Walking is only for walking. You enjoy every step you take. So this is a kind of revolution in walking. You allow yourself to enjoy every step you take.
     The Zen master Ling Chi said that "the miracle is not to walk on burning charcoal or in the thin air or on the water; the miracle is just to walk on earth." You breathe in. You become aware of the fact that you are alive. You are still alive and you are walking on this beautiful planet. That is already performing a miracle. The greatest of all miracles is to be alive. We have to awaken ourselves to the truth that we are here, alive. We are here making steps on this beautiful planet. This is already performing a miracle. But we have to be here in order for the miracle to be possible. We have to bring ourselves back to the here and the now."
- Thich Nhat Hanh, Resting in the River


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Power of Silence

"Seek silence.
Gladden in silence.
Adore silence.

As one progresses on the path, one seeks silence more and more.
It will be a great comfort, a tremendous source of solace and peace.

Once you find deep solitude and calm, there will be a great gladness in your heart.
Here finally is the place where you need neither defense nor offense -- the place where you can truly be open.
There will be bliss, wonder, the awe of attaining something pure and sacred.

After that, you will feel adoration of silence.
This is the peace that seems to elude so many.
This is the beauty of Tao."
-  Deng Ming-Dao, 365 Tao Daily Meditations

Hearing and Silence


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Do It Again

Dharmapada Sutra of Buddhism
Verse 118     (9:118)    
118.  If a woman does something good, let her do it again and again.  
Let her find joy in her good work.  
Joyful is the accumulation of good work.   Mascaro 1773   
118.  Should a man perform a meritorious action, he should do it again and again. 
He should find pleasure therein because accumulation of merits is blissful.   Narada 1959

118.  Set your heart on doing good.
Do it over and over again,
And you will be filled with joy.    Byrom 1976 

118.  If a woman does what is good, let her do it again; let her delight in it: happiness is the outcome of good.   Muller 1881 

118.  If one does well, let him repeat his well-doing: let him set his heart upon it.  
Glad is the storing up of good.   Wagiswara 1912 
118.  If one should some merit make
do it again and again.
One should wish for it anew
for merit grows to joy.
Explanation: A person may do some meritorious activity.  They must keep on
repeating it, over and over.  they must take delight in that meritorious action.
Accumulation of merit leads to happiness.
The Illustrated Dhammapada

Dharmapada Sutra of Buddhism

How to Live the Good Life: Advice from Wise Persons


Monday, January 12, 2015

The Source of Modern Yoga Practices

Recently, I have been reading many books about yoga, exercise and spirituality.  The following book by Mark Singleton has influenced my understanding of the evolution of the practice of hatha yoga since 1880:

Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice  By Mark Singleton.  New York, Oxford University Press, 2012.  Index, bibliography, notes, 262 pages.  ISBN: 9780195395341.  VSCL.

Mr. Singleton's well argued and carefully documented thesis is that transnational yoga as we know it today, asana practices, emerged from physical culture practices from Europe, Indian nationalism, gymnastics, bodybuilding, medicine, health regimens, New Thought, a Hindu studies revival, fitness and gym business promoters, and the development and expansion of visual media.  This process began in the 1880's and continues to this day. 

"Consider the term Yoga as it refers to modern postural practice as a homonyn, and not a synonym, of the "yoga" associated with the philosophical system of Pantanjali, or the "yoga" that forms and integral component of the Saiva Tantras, or the "yoga" of the Bhagavad Gita, and so on.  In other words, although the word "yoga" as it is used popularly today is identical in spelling and pronunciation in each of these instances, it has quite different meanings and origins."  p.15

"As Joseph Alter has recently argued, a key methodological issue is therefore "how to exercise ethnographic relativism, historical perspectivity and intellectual skepticism all at the same time."  This means critically examining modern yoga's truth claims while seeking to understand under what circumstances and to what ends such claims are made." p.14

The esoteric, magical, religious, New Age, imaginary and spiritual dimensions of "yoga" are definitely part of the currents of contemporary yoga practice and trends in non-church spirituality since the 1880's; but, the bigger picture of its popularity is due to our enthusiasm for fitness, bodybuilding, stress reduction, sexuality, improved health, relaxation, and the "good life." 

Another book that points us in the right direction regarding contemporary yoga practices is:

The Science of Yoga: The Risks and the Rewards  By William J. Broad.  New York, Simon and Schuster, 2012.  Index, bibliography, notes, 298 pages.  ISBN;  9781451641424.  VSCL. 

This book is a must read for those who question the often outlandish claims for the benefits of yoga, are concerned about risky yoga postures, and favor a more scientific approach to yoga practice. 

Finally, I enjoyed reading:

Original Yoga: Rediscovering Traditional Practices of Hatha Yoga  By Richard Rosen.  Illustrations by Evan Yee.  Boston, Shambhala, 2012.  Index, bibliography, glossary, appendices, 286 pages.  ISBN: 9781590308134.  VSCL.  

"The changes the traditional practice went through over the centuries might be considered organic, common to any living organism’s natural evolution. What happened to Hatha Yoga in the early years of the twentieth century, by contrast, happened virtually overnight and was totally "person-made," or artificial. The full story is too long to tell here and has already been masterfully recounted from slightly different perspectives by British researchers Elizabeth de Michelis in A History of Modern Yoga (Continuum, 2004) and Mark Singleton in Yoga Body (Oxford University Press, 2010. Suffice it to say that by the end of the nineteenth century in India, Hatha had fallen on hard times and was on its last trembling leg. Several Indian teachers set out to save Hatha from oblivion; among them was Tirumular Krishnamacharya, whose work provided the impetus for three of our most popular and influential modern teachers: T. K. V. Desikachar (whose teaching was once known as Viniyoga, a term that has since been abandoned); the late K. Pattabhi Jois (who taught Ashtanga-Vinyasa Yoga); and B. K. S. Iyengar, who (though he often adamantly insists there’s no such thing) created Iyengar Yoga. And save Hatha the teachers did. You may have heard or read somewhere that yoga is five thousand years old, a number that’s continually cited by people who should know better, since there’s not a shred of concrete evidence to back it up. What we do know for certain is that the yoga we practice in the West is no more than one hundred years old. Our Indian teachers took what was once the province of a relatively small, loose-knit, mostly male ascetic community that was resolutely living on the fringes of respectable Indian society and transformed it into a worldwide mass movement open to anyone of any age, gender, or physical condition. This is the second meaning of original yoga, the yoga that’s "original" to the twentieth century, or what we call modern Hatha Yoga."  Original Yoga by Richard Rosen

This book includes instructions on some practices for "energizing" aspects of the esoteric body that are typical in Qigong and Yoga.  Those interested in organic energy, Prana, Chi, and nadis/meridians will find it interesting.  

After you set aside the preaching about worshipping Krishna, Shiva, or other Tantric dieties; strange chakras, gunas, and pranic realms; divine grace or higher consciousness; the power of meditation, mudras, and mantras; and Hindu pride ... just stick with the physical and mental practices of modern yoga to effect significant transformation of your body and mind.  This is not to say that studying or practicing Hinduism or Buddhism would not be off some value, but you could also practice contemporary yoga and adhere to other religions or no religion at all.  Postures, exercises, breathing, concentration. and meditation can be grafted onto many "religious" practices; and, this is a key reason why yoga is now so popular worldwide. 

Yoga: Bibliography, Notes, Indexes

List of Hatha Yoga Postures, English and Sanskrit, Indexed by Textbooks

Sunday, January 11, 2015

With Beauty Before Me I Walk

Lately, in Red Bluff, drought conditions have again returned.  Clear, cool, dry, and windless days for the last few weeks.  Perfect conditions for long walks in the morning.  

I continue to walk 3.6 miles on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday mornings, at daybreak.  

"Walking gets the feet moving, the blood moving, the mind moving. And movement is life."
-  Carrie Latet 

"Happiness walks on busy feet."
-  Kitte Turmell

 "All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware."
-  Martin Buber

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


Saturday, January 10, 2015

Great Determination and Great Effort

My yoga classes have their greatest attendance in January and February of each year.  Students join the gym because of a New Year's Resolution to improve their health and fitness, loose weight, or share an activity with a friend or loved one.

Keeping up efforts to accomplish a resolution, goal, objective, or intention requires great effort and great determination.  

In China, there is a legend about a carp or salmon struggling upstream against many obstacles to bring a new generation into being.  Accomplishing the tasks toward a goal is referred to as passing through the Dragon's Gate.  Scholars who have successfully completed all the requirements of a university curriculum, passed all the tests, are said to have graduated and passed through the Dragon's Gate and thus have transformed themselves into something new and improved. 

May each of you have great determination and exert great effort to accomplish your chosen goals and objectives in 2015.  

Here is a version of the legendary story of the Redfin Carp passing through the Dragon's Gate, as told by the Japanese Zen Master, Haikuin Ekaku:

"Redfin Carp pledged a solemn vow.  "I shall swim beyond the Dragon Gates.  I shall brave the perilous bolts of fire and lightening.  I shall transcend the estate of ordinary fish and achieve a place among the order of sacred dragons.  I shall rid myself forever of the terrible suffering to which my race is heir, expunge every trace of our shame and humiliation."    
Waiting until the third day of the third month, when the peach blossoms are in flower and the river is full, he made his way to the entrance of the Yü Barrier.  Then, with a flick of his tail, Redfin Carp swam forth.

You men have never laid eyes on the awesome torrent of water that rolls through the Dragon Gates.  It falls all the way from the summits of the far-off Kunlun Range with tremendous force.  There are wild, thousand foot waves that rush down through gorges towering to dizzying heights on either side, carrying away whole hillsides as they go.  Angry bolts of thunder beat down with a deafening roar.  Moaning whirlwinds whip up poisonous mists and funnels of noisome vapor spitting flashing forks of lightening.  The mountain spirits are stunned into senselessness; the river spirits turn limp with fright.  Just a drop of this water will shatter the carapace of the giant tortoise, it will break the bones of the giant whale.

It was into this maelstrom that Redfin Cary, his splendid golden-red scales girded to the full, his steely teeth thrumming like drums, mad a direct all-out assault.  Ah! Golden Carp!  Golden Carp!  You might have led an ordinary life out in the boundless ocean.  It teems with lesser fish.  You would not have gone hungry.  Then why?  What made you embark on this wild and bitter struggle:  What was waiting for you up beyond the Barrier?
Suddenly, after being seared by cliff-shattering bolts of lightning, after being battered by heaven scorching blast of thunder-fire, his scaly armor burnt from from head to tail, his fins singed through, Redfin Carp perished into the Great Death and rose again as a divine dragon─ a supreme lord of the waters.  Now, with the thunder god at his head and a fire god at his rear, flanked right and left with the gods of rain and wind, he moves abroad with the clouds in one hand and mists in the other, bringing new life to the tender young shoots withering in the long parched desert lands, keepin the true Dharma safe amid the defilements of the degenerate world.

Had he been content to pass his life like a lame turtle or blind tortoise, feeding on winkles and tiny shrimps, not even all the effort Vasuki, Manasvi, and the other Dragon Kings might muster on his behalf could have done him any good.  He could never have achieved the great success that he did."

-   Hakuin Ekaku (1686-1769), Japanese Zen Master and artist, "The Essential Teachings of Zen Master Hakuin," translated by Norman Waddell, 1994, p. 64


Leaping Over the Dragons Gate


Friday, January 09, 2015

Daodejing, Laozi, Chapter 30

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
Chapter 30

"He who would assist a lord of men in harmony with the Tao will not assert his mastery in the kingdom by force of arms.
Such a course is sure to meet with its proper return.
Wherever a host is stationed, briars and thorns spring up.
In the sequence of great armies there are sure to be bad years.
A skilful commander strikes a decisive blow, and stops.
He does not dare by continuing his operations to assert and complete his mastery.
He will strike the blow, but will be on his guard against being vain or boastful or arrogant in consequence of it.
He strikes it as a matter of necessity; he strikes it, but not from a wish for mastery.
When things have attained their strong maturity they become old.
This may be said to be not in accordance with the Tao.
What is not in accordance with the Tao soon comes to an end."
-  Translated by James Legge, 1891, Chapter 30  

"He who relied on the Tao to aid a ruler of men
 Would not seek to conquer with weapons.
 The man of Tao holds back from such instruments of recoiling violence.
 For where armies have camped there spring up thistles and thorns;
 And in the wake of marching armies follow years of drought.
 Having achieved his aim, the good commander stops;
 He does not venture to follow up his advantages with greater force.
 He achieves his aim, but does not plume himself.
 He achieves his aim, but is not boastful.
 He achieves his aim but is not proud of what he has done.
 He achieves his aim by means which could not be avoided.
 He achieves his aim without violence.
 For it is when creatures reach the climax of their strength that they start to grow old;
 Thus violence runs counter to the Tao,
 And what runs counter to the Tao is soon spent."
 -  Translated by Herman Old, 1946, Chapter 30   

"When one uses the Tao in assisting his sovereign, he will not employ arms to coerce the state.
Such methods easily react.
When military camps are established.
Briers and thorns flourish.
When great armies have moved through the land calamities are sure to follow.
The capable are determined, but no more.
They will not venture to compel; determined, but not conceited;
determined, but not boastful; determined, but not arrogant;
determined because it cannot be helped; determined, but not forceful.
When things reach their prime, they begin to age.
This cannot be said to be the Tao.
What is Not the Tao soon ends."
-  Translated by Spurgeon C. Medhurst, 1905, Chapter 30 

"He who would help a Ruler of men by Tao
Does not take soldiers to give strength to the kingdom.
His service is well rewarded.
Where troops dwell, there grow thorns and briers.
After great wars, there follow bad years.
He who loves, bears fruit unceasingly,
He does not dare to conquer by strength.
He bears fruit, but not with assertiveness,
He bears fruit, but not with boastfulness,
He bears fruit, but not with meanness,
He bears fruit, but not to obtain it for himself,
He bears fruit, but not to shew his strength.
Man is great and strong, then he is old,
In this he is not of Tao.
If he is not of Tao
He will quickly perish."
-  Translated by Isabella Mears, 1916, Chapter 30 

以道佐人主者, 不以兵強天下.
師之所處, 荊棘生焉. 
大軍之後, 必有凶年. 
-  Chinese characters, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 30 

yi tao tso jên chu chê, pu yi ping ch'iang t'ien hsia.  
ch'i shih hao huan.
shih chih so ch'u, ching chi shêng yen.
ta chün chih hou, pi yu hsiung nien
shan chê kuo erh yi.
pu kan yi ch'ü ch'iang. 
kuo erh wu ching.
kuo erh wu fa.
kuo erh wu chiao.
kuo erh pu tê yi. 
kuo erh wu ch'iang.
wu chuang tsê lao.
shih wei pu tao.
pu tao tsao yi.
-  Wade-Giles Romanization, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 30 

"Those who use Tao in assisting their Sovereign do not employ soldiers to force the Empire.
The methods of government they adopt are such as have a tendency to react upon themselves.
Where garrisons are quartered, briars and thorns spring up, and the the land is deserted by the people.
Disastrous years inevitably follow in the wake of great armies. 
Wise rulers act with decision, and nothing more.
They do not venture to use overbearing measures.
They are decided without self-conceit, or boasting, or pride.
They are decided in spite of themselves, and without presuming on brute force.
After a man has arrived at the prime of his strength, he begins to age.
This is attributable to his not possessing the Tao. 
Those who do not possess Tao die before their time."
-  Translated by Frederic H. Balfour, 1884, Chapter 30

"Quien sabe guiar al gobernante en el sendero del Tao no intenta dominar el mundo mediante la fuerza de las armas.
Está en la naturaleza de las armas militares volverse contra quienes las manejan. 
Donde acampan ejércitos, crecen zarzas y espinos. 
A una gran guerra, invariablemente suceden malos años.
Lo que quieres es proteger eficazmente tu propio estado, pero no pretender tu propia expansión. 
Cuando has alcanzado tu propósito, no debes exhibir tu trifuno, ni jactarte de tu capacidad, ni sentirte orgulloso;
     más bien debes lamentar no haber sido capaz de impedir la guerra.
No debes pensar nunca en conquistar a los demás por la fuerza. 
Pues expandirse excessivamente es precipitar el decaimiento, y esto es contrario al Tao, y lo que es contrario al Tao
    pronto dejará de existir."
-  Translation from Chinese to English by John C. H. Wu, translated into Spanish by Alfonso Colodrón, Capitulo 30 

"A ruler faithful to Tao will not send the army to a foreign country.
This would incur calamity onto him, first of all.

The land where an army passed becomes desolated.
After war, lean years come.

A wise commander is never bellicose.
A wise warrior never gets angry.
He who can defeat the enemy does not attack.
He who achieved victory stops and does not do violence to the defeated enemies.
The victorious does not praise himself.
He wins, but does not feel proud.
He does not like to wage wars.
He wins because he is forced to fight.
Though he wins, he is not bellicose.

If man in the prime of life begins to weaken and gets ill?
This happens only because he has lived not in the harmony with Tao.
The life of such a person ends before a due time."
-  Translated by Mikhail Nikolenko, Chapter 30  

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.