Saturday, February 28, 2015

I Went Out Walking and Wondering

"Looking for your light,
 I went out:
 it was like a sudden dawn
 of a million million suns,
 a ganglion of lightnings
 for my wonder.
 O Lord of Caves,
 if you are light
 there can be no metaphor."
 -  Allama Prabhu

"With the first step, the number of shapes the walk might take is infinite, but then the walk begins to define itself as it goes along, though freedom remains total with each step: any tempting side road can be turned into an impulse, or any wild patch of woods can be explored.  The pattern of the walk is to come true, is to be recognized, discovered."
-  A.R. Ammons, A Poem is a Walk

"When I would re-create myself, I seek the darkest wood, the thickest and most interminable and to the citizen, most dismal, swamp.  I enter as a sacred place, a Sanctum sanctorum.  There is the strength, the marrow, of Nature."
-  Henry David Thoreau, Walking , 1851

Compiled by Mike Garofalo

Friday, February 27, 2015

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, Chapter 23

Daodejing, Laozi
Chapter 23

"To be always talking is against nature.
For the same reason a hurricane never lasts a whole morning,
Nor a rainstorm all day.
Who is it that makes the wind and rain?
It is Heaven-and Earth.
And if even Heaven-and Earth cannot blow or pour for long,
How much less in his utterance should man?
Truly, if one uses the Way as one's instrument,
The results will be like the Way;
If one uses the “power” as instrument,
The results will be like the “power”.
If one uses what is the reverse of the “power”,
The results will be the reverse of the “power”.
For to those who have conformed themselves to the Way,
The Way readily lends its power.
To those who have conformed themselves to the power,
The power readily, lends more power.
While to those who conform themselves to inefficacy,
Inefficacy readily lends its ineffectiveness.
“It is by not believing in people that you turn them into liars.”"
-  Translated by Arthur Waley, 1934, Chapter 23 

"Nature does not have to insist,
Can blow for only half a morning,
Rain for only half a day,
And what are these winds and these rains but natural?
If nature does not have to insist,
Why should man?
It is natural too
That whoever follows the way of life feels alive,
That whoever uses it properly feels well used,
Whereas he who loses the way of life feels lost,
That whoever keeps to the way of life
Feels at home,
Whoever uses it properly
Feels welcome,
Whereas he who uses it improperly
Feels improperly used:
'Fail to honor people,
They fail to honor you."
-  Translated by Witter Bynner, 1944, Chapter 23

"With few words affirm the Self.
A great wind does not blow all the morning,
A heavy wind does not continue all day.
Why is this so?
It is because of the inter-relations of Heaven and Earth.
If Heaven and Earth cannot make things last long.
How much less can man?
Therefore he who follows the service of Tao is one with Tao,
He who is virtuous is one with Teh,
He who fails is one with failure.
He who is one with Tao,
Tao shall also claim him.
He who is one with Teh
Teh shall also claim him.
He who is one with failure,
Failure shall also claim him.
Faith that is not complete is not faith."
-  Translated by Isabella Mears, 1916, Chapter 23

"To be sparing of words is natural.
A violent wind cannot last a whole morning; pelting rain cannot last a whole day.
Who have made these things but heaven and earth?
Inasmuch as heaven and earth cannot last forever, how can man?
He who engages himself in Tao is identified with Tao.
He who engages himself in virtue is identified with virtue.
He who engages himself in abandonment is identified with abandonment.
Identified by Tao, he will be well received by Tao.
Identified with virtue, he will be well received by virtue.
Identified with abandonment, he will be well received by abandonment."
-  Translated by Ch'u Ta-Kao, 1904, Chapter 23 

孰為此者, 天地.
同於道者, 道亦樂得之.
同於德者, 德亦樂得之.
同於失者, 失亦樂得之.
信不足焉, 有不信焉.
-  Chinese characters, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 23

xi yan zi ran.
gu piao feng bu zhong zhao.
zhou yu bu zhong ri.
shu wei ci zhe, tian di.
tian di shang bu neng jiu.
er kuang yu ren hu.
gu cong shi yu dao zhe.
dao zhe tong yu dao.
de zhe tong yu de.
shi zhe tong yu shi.
tong yu dao zhe, dao yi le de zhi.
tong yu de zhe, de yi le de zhi.
tong yu shi zhe, shi yi le de zhi.
xin bu zu yan, you bu xin yan!
-  Pinyin Romanization, Daodejing, Chapter 23 
"Sparing indeed is the Nature of its Talk ...
Sparing indeed is nature of its talk:
The whirlwind will not last the morning out;
The cloudburst ends before the day is done.
What is it that behaves itself like this?
The earth and sky! And if it be that these
Cut short their speech, how much more yet should man!
If you work by the Way,
You will be of the Way;
If you work through its virtue
you will be given the virtue;
Abandon either one
And both abandon you.
Gladly then the Way receives
Those who choose to walk in it;
Gladly too its power upholds
Those who choose to use it well;
Gladly will abandon greet
Those who to abandon drift.
Little faith is put in them
Whose faith is small."
-  Translated by Raymond Blackney, 1955, Chapter 23

"Hablar poco es lo natural.
Un huracán no dura toda la mañana.
Un aguacero no dura todo el día.
¿Quién hace estas cosas?
El cielo y la tierra.
Sí las cosas del cielo y la tierra
no pueden durar eternamente,
¿cómo pretende el hombre que sus cosas sí lo hagan?
Así, quien acepta al Tao
se une al Tao.
Quien acepta la virtud,
se une a la virtud.
Quien acepta la pérdida,
se une a esa pérdida.
Quien se identifica con una de estas cosas,
por ella es acogido y podrá avanzar plenamente.
Ábrete al Tao,
después confía en tus respuestas naturales
y todo encajará en su sitio."
-  Translation from Wikisource, 2013, Capitulo 23  

"To speak little is natural.
Therefore a gale does not blow a whole morning
Nor does a downpour last a whole day.
Who does these things? Heaven and Earth.
If even Heaven and Earth cannot force perfect continuity
How can people expect to?
Therefore there is such a thing as aligning one's actions with the Tao.
If you accord with the Tao you become one with it.
If you accord with virtue you become one with it.
If you accord with loss you become one with it.
The Tao accepts this accordance gladly.
Virtue accepts this accordance gladly.
Loss also accepts accordance gladly.
If you are untrustworthy, people will not trust you."
-  Translated by Charles Muller, 1891, Chapter 23

Is That a Fish in Your Ear?: Translation and the Meaning of Everything  By David Bellos.  New York, Faber and Faber, 2011.  Index, notes, 393 pages.  ISBN: 9780865478763. VSCL.  

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, February 26, 2015

What is the Best Picture of the Human Soul?

"We human beings have bodies.  We are "rational animals," but we are also "rational animals," which means that our rationality is embodied.  The centrality of human embodiment directly influences what and how things can be meaningful to us, the ways in which these meanings can be developed and articulated, the ways we are able to comprehend and reason about our experience, and the actions we take.  Our reality is shaped by the patterns of our bodily movement, the contours of our spatial and temporal orientation, and the forms of our interaction with objects."
-  Mark Johnson, The Body in the Mind, 1987, xix

“The human body is the best picture of the human soul.”
-  Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations

"It was a great thing to be a human being. It was something tremendous. Suddenly I'm conscious of a million sensations buzzing in me like bees in a hive. Gentlemen, it was a great thing."
-  Karel Capek  

“Somaesthetics can be defined as the critical study of the experience and use of one’s body as a locus of sensory-aesthetic appreciation (aesthesis) and creative self-fashioning.”
-  Richard Shusterman

Somaesthetic Practices for Health, Well-Being and Mindfulness

The Body in the Mind: The Bodily Basis of Meaning, Imagination, and Reason  By Mark Johnson.  University of Chicago Press, 1987, 1992.  Index, notes, 272 pages.  ISBN: 978-0226403182.  VSCL.  

Thinking through the Body: Essays in Somaesthetics By Richard Schusterman.  New York, Cambridge University Press, 2012.  380 pages.  ISBN: 9781107698505.  

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Dragon Chi Kung Exercises

Exercises that involve twisting, turning, spiraling, screwing, sliding, swinging, swimming, sinking down and rising up, wiggling, undulating, circling, or twining are often associated with snakes and dragons.  There are many Qigong sets and specific Qigong movements given a name that includes a 'Dragon.'  Baguazhang and Shaolin Kung Fu also include many "Dragon" forms, sets and movements.  Silk Reeling Qigong is also related to Dragon like movements. 

Dragon Qigong is often associated with Wudang Taoist mind/body arts.  Maybe the cliffs and valleys of the Wudang Mountain area are home to many dragons? Dragons have a well established place in Taoist symbolism and lore, as well as in Chinese culture in general.    

My updated webpage on Dragon Qigong includes an extensive bibliography, links, resources, an introduction, quotations, and a detailed description of my own Dragon Qigong set.  

I welcome suggestions for additions and changes to the Dragon Qigong webpage. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Rising Wave, Falling Wave

"Let's start from the beginning with the very first move, the T'ai Chi Open Stance, in which you simply raise the hands prior to stepping off [to ward off right in the long 108 form].  When raising the arms and hands you want to simultaneously press your Bubbling Well [Yung Chuan, K-1, bottom center behind the ball of each foot] points down into the earth.  This downward press into your feet will lend a wavelike quality to your body and arms as you raise your arms up in front.  You'll feel this wave of force traveling up through your body and out to your fingertips before it returns back down through your body to the earth, (the returning down part being somewhat analogous to an undertow).  Though there are no corners per se, the hands and fingertips are where that wavelike force changes direction for "up and out" to "back in and down."  In order to really feel this quality you can exaggerate the movement of the hands as the fingers extend out and up so that they resemble the tail fin of a whale propelling itself forward through the ocean's depths."
-  Sifu John Loupos,  Inside Tai Chi: Hints, Tips, Training, and Process for Students and Teachers, 2002, p. 176.  

Explanations, Descriptions, Interpretations, Reflections

Here are three very good Taijiquan books by Sifu John Loupos that I have studied for a many years.  Sifu Loupos has been studying and teaching external and internal martial arts since 1966.  He has a B.S. degree in psychology.  His writing is clear, informative, insightful, and very useful for Taijiquan practitioners at all levels.  

Inside Tai Chi: Hints, Tips, Training, and Process for Students and Teachers.  By John Loupos.  Boston, Massachusetts, YMAA Publications, 2002.  Glossary, resources, index, 209 pages.  ISBN: 1886969108.   
Exploring Tai Chi: Contemporary Views on an Ancient Art.  By John Loupos.  Boston, Massachusetts,  YMAA Publications, 2003.  135 illustrations.  Glossary, index, 206 pages.  ISBN: 0940871424.  

Tai Chi Connections: Advancing Your Tai Chi Experience.  By John Loupos.  Boston, MA, YMAA Publication Center, 2005.  Index, 194 pages.  ISBN: 1594390320.   

Raise Hands and Lower Hands, 1c - 1e  

Monday, February 23, 2015

Head High and Energy Lifted

 What Does "Xu Ling Ding Jin" Mean?

"One of the most vexing phrases in this body of texts appears in Wang Zongyue's "The Taijiquan Treatise."  This is the phrase that I've translated "An intangible and lively energy lifts the crown of the head."  The actual phrase in Chinese is xu ling ding jing Xu means "empty," "void," "abstract," "shapeless," or "insubstantial."  Ling can mean "neck," "collar," "to lead," "to guide," or "to receive."  Ding here means "the crown of the head."  Jin is a word that should be familiar to most Taijiquan practitioners, meaning "energy" or "strength."  To translate this phrase literally in a way that makes sense is seemingly impossible. ...  To demonstrate the difficulties presented in translating the phrase, I've assembled for comparison a number of different renderings:

Yang Jwing-Ming translates xu ling ding jin as:
"An insubstantial energy leads the head upward."

T.T. Liang renders it:
"A light and nimble energy should be preserved on the top of the head."

Benjamin Pang Jeng Lo translates the phrase:
"Effortlessly the jin reaches the headtop."

Douglas Wile translates the phrase variously:
"The energy at the top of the head should be light and sensitive."
"Open the energy at the crown of the head."

Guttmann gives one rendering as,
"... the head is upheld with the intangible spirit."
Elsewhere, he gives it a fairly plausible if incomprehensible literal rendering as a noun phrase:
"Empty dexterity's top energy."

Huang Wen-Shan translates it as:
"The head-top should be emptied, alert, and straight."

Robert Smith's version has it:
"The spirit of vitality reaches to the top of the head."

Jou Tsung Hwa's rendering is similiar:
"The spirit, or shen, reaches the top of the head."

Finally, in one of the freer renderings I've seen, T. Y. Pang renders the phrase:
"The spine and the head are held straight by strength, which is guided by the mind."

As the reader can see, the range of nuance in these diverse translations of this one phrase is considerable.  Virtually all of the readings are interpretive; that is, the four-character phrase as it has been handed down will not yield a dependable reading based on the characters alone.  One can only conclude that this phrase is a remnant of an oral formula whose original structure eludes our knowledge.  Our understanding of it inevitably depends upon the context─ the following phrase about sinking the qi to the dantian─ and upon commentaries of former masters, including Yang Chengfu's elaboration in the first of his "Ten Essentials."  The concept is also linked to differently worded but related phrases appearing in other classics, for example, "the spirit (shen) threads to the crown of the head" (shen guan ding) in the "Song of the Thirteen Postures," and the phrase about "suspending the crown of the head" (ding tou xuan) appearing in both "The Mental Elucidation of the Thirteen Postures" and the "Song of the Thirteen Postures." "

Mastering Yang Style Taijiquan  By Fu Zhongwen, pp. 182-183. 

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.

Cloud Hands Taijiquan

Valley Spirit Qigong

Somatic Practices for Health, Well-Being and Mindfulness

Tao Te Ching Translations


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Why Do You Walk?

As I walk 3.6 miles in the morning, four days each week, I enjoy the interplay of all the senses and the kinesthetic exuberance of the flowing movement.  The scenery along my safe rural walking path is beautiful and changing with the seasons.  While walking, I mostly am just walking, and sometimes thinking, reflecting, contemplating, or meditating.  These experiences are something I treasure.  Walking is beneficial for my heart, and helps me keep my diabetes under control.  Walking is an integral component of my regular Sadhana ... my "spiritual" practices.  

"If you want to know if your brain is flabby, feel your legs." 
-  Bruce Barton   

"Think with your whole body."
-  Taisen Deshimaru

”If you want to find the answers to the Big Questions about your soul, you’d best begin with the Little Answers about your body.”
-  George Sheehan

"Isn't it really quite extraordinary to see that, since man took his first step, no one has asked himself why he walks, how he walks, if he has ever walked, if he could walk better, what he achieves in walking .. questions that are tied to all the philosophical, psychological, and political systems which preoccupy the world."
-  Honoré de Balzac, Theorie de la Demarché   

"Roads go ever ever on,
Over rock and under tree,
By caves where never sun has shone,
By streams that never find the sea;
Over snow by winter sown,
And through the merry flowers of June,
Over grass and over stone,
And under mountains of the moon.

Roads go ever ever one
Under cloud and under star
Yet feet that wandering have gone
Turn at last to home afar.
Eyes that fire and sword have seen
An horror in the halls of stone
Look at last on meadows green
And trees and hills they long have known."
-  J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Happy New Year!

In China, they celebrate the New Year, in 2015, from February 18th to February 24th.

Kick up your heels, celebrate, be positive, be hopeful, smile, laugh, share, hug ...

Clean your house thoroughly for this celebration.  Have the kitchen well stocked.

Remember all the valuable contributions and good deeds of your family and your Ancestors.  

Avoid conversations about the saddening and negative aspects of life during this time. 

This year, the honored animal is the sheep or goat.

Happy New Year Greeting in Mandarin Chinese:  xin nian kuai le! (sing nee-ann koo-why ler) 


Both Easter and the Chinese New Year, set according to lunar and solar calendar calculations, arrive as the Spring season is beginning.  Where I live in Northern California, Spring sights and sounds are arriving a bit early this year because it has been a warm dry winter season. Many trees near our home are in full bloom: almonds, apricots, and plums. 

Bejing, China, is located about the same latitude (40N) as where I live in Red Bluff, California. 

The plum tree originated in China.  Many cultivars and varieties of plums have been developed over many centuries.  What a wonderful gift to the world of agriculture!


In my back yard, in full bloom right now, is a Santa Rosa Plum tree.  It has white blossoms.  In 1906, Luther Burbank developed this plum tree variety.  

March: Poems, Quotes, Sayings, Lore.  Compiled by Mike Garofalo.




Friday, February 20, 2015

Daodejing, Laozi, Chapter 24

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
Chapter 24

"He who stands on tiptoe does not stand (firm);
He who strains his strides does not walk (well);
He who reveals himself is not luminous;
He who justifies himself is not far-famed;
He who boasts of himself is not given credit;
He who prides himself is not chief among men.
These in the eyes of Tao
Are called "the dregs and tumors of Virtue,"
Which are things of disgust.
Therefore the man of Tao spurns them."
-  Translated by Lin Yutang, 1955, Chapter 24

"By standing on tiptoe one cannot keep still.
Astride of one's fellow one cannot progress.
By displaying oneself one does not shine.
By self-approbation one is not esteemed.
In self-praise there is no merit.
He who exalts himself does not stand high.
Such things are to Tao what refuse and excreta are to the body.
They are everywhere detested.
Therefore the man of Tao will not abide with them."
-  Translated by Walter Gorn Old, 1904, Chapter 24

"It is not natural to stand on tiptoe, or being astride one does not walk.
One who displays himself is not bright, or one who asserts himself cannot shine.
A self-approving man has no merit, nor does one who praises himself grow.
The relation of these things (self-display, self-assertion, self-approval) to Tao is the same as offal is to food.
They are excrescences from the system; they are detestable; Tao does not dwell in them."
-  Translated by Dwight Goddard, 1919, Chapter 24   

"Those who are on tiptoes cannot stand
Those who straddle cannot walk
Those who flaunt themselves are not clear
Those who presume themselves are not distinguished
Those who praise themselves have no merit
Those who boast about themselves do not last
Those with the Tao call such things leftover food or tumors
They despise them
Thus, those who possesses the Tao do not engage in them"
-  Translated by Derek Linn, 2006, Chapter 24  

其在道也, 曰餘食贅行.
-  Chinese characters, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 24 

ch'i chê pu li.
k'ua chê pu hsing.
tzu chien chê pu ming.
tzu shih chê pu chang.
tzu fa chê wu kung.
tzu ching chê pu ch'ang.
ch'i tsai tao yeh, yüeh yü shih chui hsing.
wu huo wu chih.
ku yu tao chê pu ch'u.
-  Wade-Giles Romanization, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 24 

"Standing tiptoe a man loses balance,
Walking astride he has no pace,
Kindling himself he fails to light,
Acquitting himself he forfeits his hearers,
Admiring himself he does so alone.
Pride has never brought a man greatness
But, according to the way of life,
Brings the ills that make him unfit,
Make him unclean in the eyes of his neighbor,
And a sane man will have none of them."
-  Translated by Witter Bynner, 1944, Chapter 24  

"He who stands on tiptoe is not steady,
He who holds legs stiffly cannot walk.
He who looks at self does not see clearly.
He who asserts himself does not shine.
He who boasts of himself has no merit.
He who glorifies himself shall not endure.
These things are to the Tao like excreta or a hideous tumour to the body.
Therefore he who has Tao must give them no place."
-  Translated by Isabella Mears, 1916, Chapter 24  

"Quien se sostiene de puntillas no permanece mucho tiempo en pie.
Quien da largos pasos no puede ir muy lejos.
Quien quiere brillar
no alcanza la iluminación.
Quien pretende ser alguien
no lo será naturalmente.
Quien se ensalza no merece honores.
Quien se vanagloria
no realiza ninguna obra.
Para los seguidores del Tao, estos excesos son como excrecencias
y restos de basura que a todos repugnan.
Por eso, quien posee el Tao
no se detiene en ellos, sino que los rechaza."
-  Translation from Wikisource, 2013, Capitulo 24  

"Standing on tiptoe, you are unsteady.
Straddle-legged, you cannot go.
If you show yourself, you will not be seen.
If you affirm yourself, you will not shine.
If you boast, you will have no merit.
If you promote yourself, you will have no success.
Those who abide in the Tao call these
Leftover food and wasted action
And all things dislike them.
Therefore the person of the Tao does not act like this."
-  Translated by Charles Muller, 1891, Chapter 24

Is That a Fish in Your Ear?: Translation and the Meaning of Everything  By David Bellos.  New York, Faber and Faber, 2011.  Index, notes, 393 pages.  ISBN: 9780865478763. VSCL.  

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, February 19, 2015

Chen Taijiquan 18 Movement Short Form

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

Chen Taijiquan Short 18 Movement Form Webpage

List of Movements of the Chen Taijiquan 18 Movement Short Form

Chen Taijiquan Old Frame First Form Laojia Yilu Webpage

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

Watch Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei perform the short form he created: