07/30/2022

Today’s quote details Step #3 “Taming the Mind” from the “Zuowang” (“Sitting in Oblivion”) by Sima Chengzhen.

“The mind is the master of the body-self, the master of the hundred spirits. When still it gives rise to insight, when agitated to confusion. Delightedly straying in delusions and projected reality, it speaks of obligation and greatly enjoys to be in the midst of action. Who would awaken to see this as empty and wrong?…

“Therefore, when one first begins to study Dao one must sit calmly and tame the mind, let go of projected reality and abide in nonexistence [avidyamāna]. As one abides in nonexistence, without being attached to even one being, one naturally enters emptiness and nonbeing. Thus one joins Dao. The Scripture says: “The center of utmost Dao is serenity and nonexistence, where spirit is without bent and so are mind and physical structure. By going to the deepest source of mind and physical structure, one finds their root is Dao.”
– Sima Chengzhen, “Zuowang” (“Sitting in Oblivion”), translated by Livia Kohn

So, continue your practice without straying in delusions or entangled in duties. Instead, enjoy your practice and abide in nonexistence. Have a great weekend, and see you in August.

https://youtube.com/shorts/_ElWuAUW-bI?feature=share

 

07/29/2022

Today’s quote details Step #2 “Interception of Karma” from the “Zuowang” (“Sitting in Oblivion”) by Sima Chengzhen.

“Interception of karma means eliminating the karmic conditions of action and worldly affairs. By abandoning affairs, the body-form is no longer labored; by resting in nonaction the mind finds peace of itself. Thus stillness and leisure will increase daily, while defilements and entanglements will diminish every day. The further one’s traces are away from the ordinary world, the closer the mind approaches Dao. How could “utmost saintliness” and utmost spirit not begin with this? Thus the Daode jing says: “Cut off contacts, shut thedoors, and to the end of life there will be peace without toil.” [Dao De Jing 52, 56].
– Sima Chengzhen, “Zuowang” (“Sitting in Oblivion”), translated by Livia Kohn

Enjoy your practice of resting in nonaction. As you practice let the mind find peace of itself.

https://youtube.com/shorts/aNrixTv_tho?feature=share

Today’s quote details Step #2 “Interception of Karma” from the “Zuowang” (“Sitting in Oblivion”) by Sima Chengzhen.

“Interception of karma means eliminating the karmic conditions of action and worldly affairs. By abandoning affairs, the body-form is no longer labored; by resting in nonaction the mind finds peace of itself. Thus stillness and leisure will increase daily, while defilements and entanglements will diminish every day. The further one’s traces are away from the ordinary world, the closer the mind approaches Dao. How could “utmost saintliness” and utmost spirit not begin with this? Thus the Daode jing says: “Cut off contacts, shut thedoors, and to the end of life there will be peace without toil.” [Dao De Jing 52, 56].
– Sima Chengzhen, “Zuowang” (“Sitting in Oblivion”), translated by Livia Kohn

Enjoy your practice of resting in nonaction. As you practice let the mind find peace of itself.

https://youtube.com/shorts/aNrixTv_tho?feature=share

 

07/28/2022

Today’s quote states the Step #1 “Respect and Faith” from the “Zuowang” (“Sitting in Oblivion”) by Sima Chengzhen.

“Utmost Dao goes so far beyond sensual perception, perfect inner nature is so far apart from anything one might desire, that it is impossible to “hear the inaudible, perceive the subtle” and believe one’s senses, to “listen to the formless, recognize the symbolic,” and not be perplexed. If someone thus has heard words of sitting in oblivion, has faith in the central points of Daoist cultivation, respects and reveres them, and is determined and without doubt, moreover pursues his practice with utmost diligence, then he will certainly attain Dao.
– Sima Chengzhen, “Zuowang” (“Sitting in Oblivion”), translated by Livia Kohn

Well, what are you waiting for? You heard Sima Chengzhen: have faith in the central points of Daoist cultivation, respect and revere them, and pursue your practice with utmost diligence.

 

07/27/2022

Today we have the concluding paragraph to Sime Chengzhen’s Preface to his treatise on the Zouwang (“Sitting in Oblivion”) translated by Livia Kohn

“Seen from this angle, the length of life depends on oneself: it is neither attained as a gift from Heaven nor lost through theft by people. Examining my heart, I regret that it is already late and that time cannot be detained. I deplore the short “years of the morning mushroom” and that I have already passed beyond fifty. I still have not yet mastered the central points of returning to Dao.

“As time is passing fast like a burning candle, I have made an effort to search the scriptures for passages with simple matter and straightforward meaning, easy to carry out practically and appropriate for spiritual sicknesses. Thus I wrote a concise treatise on the method of calming the mind and sitting in oblivion. I arranged it in seven sections, giving successive steps of cultivating Dao…”

We will preview Step 1 Respect and Faith tomorrow. Keep cultivating Dao, everyone, and enjoy your practice.

 

07/26/2022

Today we have an excerpt from Sima Chengzhen’s Preface to his treatise on the “Zuowang,” translated by Livia Kohn.

“…Fish in a dried-up rut still long for a pitcher of water just as people having “lost their perfect home” unconsciously strive for Dao. They hate the sufferings of life and death [samsāra] yet love its activity. They esteem words of Dao and inherent potency yet disregard their practice. Delighted by colors and flavors, they think they attain their will; demeaning stillness and plainness, they think of them as extreme disgrace. Exhausting themselves for “hard-to-get goods,” they trade in the good fortune of their future life. Giving free rein to easily defiling passions, they destroy the Dao of their body-self. They call themselves wise and skillful, but in fact they live in nothing but a dream, a delusion. They come with life and go with death, revolving through the [rebirth] cycle for a myriad kalpas. One can only call them “upside-down.” Is there anything more preposterous?”
– Preface to the “Zuowang” by Sima Chengzhen, translated by Livia Kohn.

Tomorrow we will have the critical closing paragraph of Sima Chengzhen’s Preface. In the meantime, enjoy your cultivation and a great practice, brothers and sisters.

 

07/25/2022

Today we are going to begin studying quotes from the Taoist classic,”Zuowang”(“Sitting in Oblivion”), written in 767 by Sima Chengzhen of the Tang Dynasty and translated for us by the renown Asian scholar and author, Livia Kohn. Today’s quote is from a Preface of the ZuoWang by Recluse Zhenjing.

“Carefully selecting and arranging the words of the scriptures, the author avoids discrepancies and carelessness. Rather, he meticulously sets forth the subtleties of sitting in oblivion. Spirit and qi spontaneously guard one another, they keep the hundred arteries moist and glossy and the three passes open and free. Thus
the perfect qi of heavenly yang comes to stay in the body-self. This is the un-transmitted Dao of “long life and eternal vision.”
– Preface by Recluse Zhenjing, Translated by Livia Kohn

A note about the title from the translator, Livia Kohn: “I translate wang as “oblivion” and “oblivious” rather than “forgetting” or “forgetful” because the connotation of “forget” in English is that one should remember but doesn’t do so, or—if used intentionally—that one actively and intentionally does something in the mind. None of these holds true for what ancient and medieval Daoists were about. This is borne out both by the language and the writings: the word wang in Chinese consists of the character xin for “mind-heart,” usually associated with conscious and emotional reactions to reality and the word wang for “obliterate” or “perish.” The implication is—as indeed described in the sources—that one lets go of all kinds of intentional and reactive patterns and comes to rest in oneness with spirit and is ready to merge completely.”

Tomorrow we will have an excerpt from the original Preface by the author, himself, Sima Chengzhen.

I hope all are looking forward to a week of self-cultivation and enjoying your practice.

 

07/23/2022

Today we close out the week by concluding Chapter 172 with the “Wen-tzu” restating Lao-tzu’s Tao Te Ching on how the economic cost of war translates directly into human cost above and beyond that of the dead, wounded, widowed, and orphaned:

“Lordly kings enrich their people, despotic kings
enrich their lands, nations in danger enrich their
bureaucrats. Orderly nations appear to be lacking, lost
nations have empty storehouses. Therefore it is said,
“When rulers don’t exploit them, the people naturally
grow rich; when the rulers don’t manipulate them, the
people naturally become civilized.”
When you mobilize an army of one hundred
thousand, it costs a thousand pieces of gold per day;
there are always bad years after a military expedition.
Therefore armaments are instruments of ill omen and
are not treasured by cultured people. If you reconcile
great enemies in such a way that some enmity
inevitably remains, how unskillfully you have done it!”

Then going even further than the Tao Te Ching, the “Wen-tzu” comments on the very devisive local political practices that have divided our country and segragated our states and their inhabitants. It even depicts the same type of invasive war that Putin is waging in Ukraine. This is an uncanny prediction of the present state of our world, all detailed some 1500 years ago…

“Local rulers establish laws that are
each different, and cultivate customs that are mutually
antagonistic. They pull out the root and abandon the
basis, elaborating penal codes to make them harsh and
exacting, fighting with weapons, cutting down
common people, slaughtering the majority of them.
They raise armies and make trouble, attacking cities
and killing at random, overthrowing the high and
endangering the secure. They make large assault
vehicles and redoubled bunkers to repel combat
troops and have their battalions go on deadly missions.
Against a formidable enemy, of a hundred that go, one
returns; those who happen to make a big name for
themselves may get to have some of the annexed
territory, but it costs a hundred thousand slain in
combat, plus countless numbers of old people and
children who die of hunger and cold. After this, the
world can never be at peace in its essential life.”
– Chapter 172, “Wen-Tzu, Understanding the Mysteries” translated by Thomas Cleary

After that reading, I can only say pray for the suffering victims and refugees of Ukraine and for the health of our own democracy, which appears to be on life support. Oh, yes, and have a good weekend, everyone.

 

07/22/2022

Today the “Wen-tzu” reveals the Taoist critique of how governments have spawned a sick society and what can be done to create either change or chaos.

“The governments of latter-day society have not stored
up the necessities of life; they have diluted the purity
of the world, destroyed the simplicity of the world,
and made the people confused and hungry, turning
clarity into murkiness. Life is volatile, and everyone is
striving madly. Uprightness and trust have fallen apart,
people have lost their essential nature; law and justice
are at odds. . . .”

Hm? Sound familiar? Remember this was written some 1400 – 1500 years ago.

“If there is more than enough, people defer; if there is
less than enough, they compete. When they defer, then
courtesy and justice develop; when they compete, then
violence and confusion arise. Thus when there are
many desires, concerns are not lessened; for those
who seek enrichment, competition never ceases.
Therefore, when a society is orderly, then ordinary
people are persistently upright and cannot be seduced
by profits or advantages When a society is disorderly,
then people of the ruling classes do evil but the law
cannot stop them.”
– Chapter 172, “Wen-Tzu, Understanding the Mysteries” translated by Thomas Cleary

Tomorrow we conclude Chapter 172 as the “Wen-tzu” restates Lao-tzu’s Tao Te Ching on how the economic cost of war translates directly into human cost above and beyond that of the dead, wounded, widowed, and orphaned.

You can never have enough practice but keep it orderly and enjoy, everyone.

 

07/21/2022

As the “Wen-tzu” pointed out yesterday, for the Taoist, although the law is above questions of individual social status, still it is not an absolute ruler and ultimately must have its source in what is right and just for the time, place, and people it is designed to serve. Unlike strict Constitutionalists here, Taoists believe that the letter of the law itself cannot be its own criterion over time, without the active interpretation and input of authentic insight. The problem for S.C.O.T.U. S. and our lawmakers in Congress is that authentic insight requires WISDOM, of which there is precious little on the Supreme Court and in Washington.

Quoting from the “Wen-tzu”:

“Laws and regulations are to be adjusted according to
the mores of the people; instruments and machines are
to be adjusted according to the changes of the times.
Therefore people who are constrained by rules cannot
participate in the planning of new undertakings, and
people who are sticklers for ritual cannot be made to
respond to changes. It is necessary to have the light of
individual perception and the clarity of individual
learning before it is possible to master the Way in
action.

“Those who know where laws come from adapt them
to the times; those who do not know the source of
ways to order may follow them but eventually wind up
with chaos. . . . To sustain the imperiled and bring
order to chaos is not possible without wisdom. As far
as talking of precedents and extolling the ancient are
concerned, there are plenty of ignoramuses who do
that. Therefore sages do not act upon laws that are not
useful and do not listen to words that have not proven
effective.”

Tomorrow, the “Wen-tzu” reveals the Taoist critique of how governments have spawned a sick society and what can be done to create either change or chaos.

As for now, don’t be an ignoramus, call upon your clarity and discernment to light your way as you practice and enjoy, folks.

 

07/20/2022

Unlike Legalists and later Confucians under Legalist influence, Taoists did not conclude from society’s degradation of nature and antisocial conduct that human nature is in itself evil. Instead, they concluded that human beings can be influenced and conditioned into behavior that is contrary to their own best interests, and even into thinking that what is harmful is actually delightful.

“Law does not descend from heaven, nor does it
emerge from earth; it is invented through human
selfreflection and self-correction. If you truly arrive at
the root, you will not be confused by the branches; if
you know what is essential, you will not be mixed up
by doubts.”

Taoist legalism insists on equality before the law in principle and practice.

“What is established among the lower echelons is not
to be ignored in the upper echelons; what is forbidden
to the people at large is not to be practiced by
privileged individuals.
Therefore when human leaders determine laws, they
should first apply them to themselves to test and prove
them. So if a regulation works on the rulers
themselves, then it may be enjoined on the populace.”
– Chapter 172, “Wen-Tzu, Understanding the Mysteries” translated by Thomas Cleary

As we shall see tomorrow, the Taoists’ Legal Theory was both equitable and fair. Perhaps, S.C.O.T.U.S. and our lawmakers in Congress could learn a few things from it…but then they would need Wisdom to implement them, a commodity that is in very short supply in Washington these days along with integrity. Have a good practice, everyone.

 

07/19/2022

The “Wen-tzu” continues its look at the callous rapacity toward nature by human beings competing for the lion’s share, and among those fighting for the scraps and leavings of that struggle.

“Mountains, rivers, valleys, and canyons were divided
and made to have boundaries; the sizes of groups of
people were calculated and made to have specific
numbers. Machinery and blockades were built for
defense, the colors of clothing were regulated to
differentiate socioeconomic classes, rewards and
penalties were meted out to the good and the
unworthy. Thus armaments developed and struggle
arose; from this there began slaughter of the innocent.”
– Chapter 172, “Wen-Tzu, Understanding the Mysteries” translated by Thomas Cleary

And how did the Taoists, themselves, classify this struggle? We will find out tomorrow as the “Wen-tzu” looks at the contrast between Taoists and Legalists. As always, enjoy self-cultivation through constant practice, folks.

 

07/18/2022

Today we look at the degradation of Nature through the eyes of the “Wen-tzu” and the diciples of Lao-tzu who preserved their master’s teachings as societal and individual mores further declined.

“Rulers of degenerate ages mined mountain minerals,
took the metals and gems, split and polished shells,
melted bronze and iron; so nothing flourished. They
opened the bellies of pregnant animals, burned the
meadowlands, overturned nests and broke the eggs, so
phoenixes did not alight, and unicorns did not roam about.
They cut down trees to make buildings, burned woodlands
for fields, overfished lakes to exhaustion.
– Chapter 172, “Wen-Tzu, Understanding the Mysteries” translated by Thomas Cleary

Tomorrow the gradual enslavement of both humanity and nature vividly depicted by the Wen-tzu that will arouse one’s own self-reflection. Speaking of self-reflection, what gives with your practice? Still enjoying it, I hope.

 

07/16/2022

Today, we conclude this historical perspective from the Wen-tzu with a look at the Daoist perspective of self-cultivation contrasted with self-degradation. In the the early Daoist period, the centuries following Lao-tzu and later Chuang-tzu, the idea of the true man or sage appeared.

“The way of developed people is to cultivate the body
by calmness and nurture life by frugality. . . . To
govern the body and nurture essence, sleep and rest
moderately, eat and drink appropriately; harmonize
emotions, simplify activities. Those who are inwardly
attentive to the self attain this and are immune to
perverse energies.”

Then there was the rest of society or at least those who more or less dominated it.

“Those who decorate their exteriors harm themselves
inside. Those who foster their feelings hurt their
spirit. Those who show their embellishments hide
their reality.
Those who never forget to be smart for even a
second inevitably burden their essential nature. Those
who never forget to put on appearances even on a walk
of a hundred steps inevitably burden their physical
bodies.
Therefore, beauty of feather harms the skeleton,
profuse foliage on the branches hurts the root. No one
in the world can have excellence in both.”
– Chapter 172, “Wen-Tzu, Understanding the Mysteries” translated by Thomas Cleary

This week we looked at the decline of humankind from the Golden Age to the early Daoist period. Next week we look at the degradation of Nature. Have a great weekend, everyone. Enjoy your practice.

 

07/15/2022

Today the Wen-tzu continues its historical perspective tracing the decline of society from the Golden Age prior to 3000 B.C.E. through the Chou dynasty (1123 B.C.E. – 256 B.C.E.). When the Chou was beginning to decline markedly, the Wen-tzu comparatively lengthy description of human corruption and degeneracy in the
mind and society of this “latter-day” era follows:

“Coming to the Chou dynasty, we have diluted purity
and lost simplicity, departing from the Way to contrive
artificialities, acting on dangerous qualities. The
sprouts of cunning and craft have arisen; cynical
scholarship is used to pretend to sagehood, false
criticism is used to intimidate the masses, elaboration
of poetry and prose is used to get fame and honor.
Everyone wants to employ knowledge and craft for
recognition in society and loses the basis of the
overall source.”
– Chapter 172, “Wen-Tzu, Understanding the Mysteries” translated by Thomas Cleary

Tomorrow, we conclude this historical perspective from the Wen-tzu with a look at the Daoist perspective of self-cultivation contrasted with self-degradation. Enjoy practice, continuing self-cultivation.

 

07/14/2022

In today’s quote, the “Wen-tzu” continues its recital in chapter 172 with reference to other fabled leaders of antiquity:

“Coming to the times when Shen-nung and Huang Ti
governed the land and made calendars to harmonize
with yin and yang, now all the people stood straight up
and thinkingly bore the burden of looking and
listening. Therefore they were orderly but not
harmonious.” – Chapter 172, “Wen-Tzu, Understanding the Mysteries” translated by Thomas Cleary

Shen-nung was also a prehistoric culture hero, credited with the development of agriculture and herbal medicine;
his wife is said to have begun the practice of silk cultivation and weaving. As in the case of Fu Hsi, no attempt is traditionally made to place Shen-nung within any sort of definable time frame, even legendary. Huang Ti, in contrast, is believed to have lived in the twenty-seventh century B.C.E, and the Chinese calendar of years begins from the time of his reign. He is honored as a student and patron of all the Taoist arts, both exoteric and esoteric, and is credited with the authorship of the first book ever written. The legend of Huang Ti in particular represents the subordination of earthly dominion to the quest for freedom and perfection of the spirit.

Let us continue our quest for freedom and perfection of the spirit by enjoying our practice of self-cultivation daily.

 

07/13/2022

Today we continue our look at the deterioration of society from the “Wen-Tzu,” a book of original teaching supposedly presented by Lao-Tzu to one of his disciples.

“Eventually society deteriorated. By the time of Fu
Hsi, there was a dawning of deliberate effort;
everyone was on the verge of leaving their innocent
mind and consciously understanding the universe.
Their virtues were complex and not unified.” – Chapter 172, “Wen-Tzu,” translated by Thomas Cleary

Fu Hsi, a legendary figure, was reputed to have ruled China around the 28th or 29th century B.C. Thus, the Golden Age alluded to in yesterday’s opening excerpt was prior to 3000 B.C. Enjoy your practice, people.

 

07/12/2022

This week we are going to look at the fall of humankind from the pristine purity of ancient time as described in the “Wen-Tzu.”

“In high antiquity, real people breathed yin and yang,
and all living beings looked up to their virtue, thus
harmonizing peacefully. In those times, leadership was
hidden, spontaneously creating pure simplicity. Pure
simplicity had not yet been lost, so myriad beings
were very relaxed.” – Chapter 172, “Wen-Tzu,” translated by Thomas Cleary

Just like the present day, all beings harmonizing peacefully. One wonders if humans will ever again return to such a state. For us, we need to continue breathing yin and yang and enjoy our practice. More tomorrow.

07/12/2022

This week we are going to look at the fall of humankind from the pristine purity of ancient time as described in the “Wen-Tzu.”

“In high antiquity, real people breathed yin and yang,
and all living beings looked up to their virtue, thus
harmonizing peacefully. In those times, leadership was
hidden, spontaneously creating pure simplicity. Pure
simplicity had not yet been lost, so myriad beings
were very relaxed.” – Chapter 172, “Wen-Tzu,” translated by Thomas Cleary

Just like the present day, all beings harmonizing peacefully. One wonders if humans will ever again return to such a state. For us, we need to continue breathing yin and yang and enjoy our practice. More tomorrow.

 

07/11/2022

Last week Liu I-Ming’s quote, commented on this verse from the “Cantong Qi.”

“Superior virtue has no doing”:
it does not use examining and seeking.
“Inferior virtue does”:
its operation does not rest.”

He explained that Superior virtue cultivates the Dao by the way of “non-doing” (wu wei) while Inferor virtue uses “doing” and extend life by means of practice. Today’s quote continues Liu’s explanation…

“The reason why superior virtue “does not use examining and seeking” is that in the person of superior virtue, Celestial Reality ( tianzhen ) has never been damaged and extraneous breaths ( keqi ) have never entered . Since one immediately awakens to one’s fundamental Nature, there is nothing to cultivate and nothing to verify. . . . The function of examining and seeking does not operate.
The reason why the operation of inferior virtue “does not rest” is that Celestial Reality is lacking and cognition has begun. Although one could immediately awaken to one’s fundamental Nature, one cannot follow it as is. One must use the way of gradual cultivation ( jianxiu ) and the function of augmenting and decreasing (zengjian)… This is why the unceasing use [of inferior virtue] is valuable.
Superior virtue and inferior virtue are different and are not the same. Therefore their uses are dissimilar. . . . However, they lead to the same goal.” Commentary on the “Cantong Qi” by Liu I-Ming, translation by Thomas Cleary.

 

07/09/2022

As promised, here is a Liu I-Ming’s brief explanation of yesterday’s quote from the Cantong qi…

“Superior virtue has no doing”:
it does not use examining and seeking.
“Inferior virtue does”:
its operation does not rest.”

“For the cultivation of the Dao there are two methods: one is the pursuit of bringing one’s form ( xing ) to completion by means of the Dao, the other is the pursuit of extending one’s life ( ming ) by means of a practice

“Superior virtue brings the form to completion by means of the Dao. One embraces the Origin and guards Unity, and performs the way of “non-doing”; thus one can exhaust all pursuits. Therefore the Cantong qi says, “Superior virtue has no doing: it does not use examining and seeking.” Inferior virtue extends life by means of a practice. One begins from effort and ends with stability, and performs the way of “doing”; thus one is able to revert to the Origin. Therefore the Cantong qi says, “Inferior virtue does: its operation does not rest.” – Commentary, Liu I-Ming, translated by Thomas Cleary.

We will delve deeper into this next week. Have a great weekend, everyone. As always, enjoy your practice.

 

07/08/2022

Today’s quote is from the Cantong qi, “The Seal of the Unity of the Three”

“Superior virtue has no doing”:
it does not use examining and seeking.
“Inferior virtue does”:
its operation does not rest.”
– Cantong qi , 20:1-4; trans. Fabrizio Pregadio, The Seal of the Unity of the Three p.78

Don’t worry if you don’t understand it. Tomorrow we will get the explanation from Liu I-Ming. Till then, enjoy your practice.

 

07/07/2022

We often hear the terms “lead,” “golden flower,” and “black tiger” as they relate to Daoist Alchemy. But what do they signify? Today Chang Po-tuan reveals their significance.

“Lead is dense and heavy, hard and strong, lasts long without disintegrating; what is called true lead here is not ordinary lead, but is the formless, immaterial true sense of real knowledge in the human body. This true sense is outwardly dark but inwardly bright, strong and unbending, able to ward off external afflictions, able to stop internal aberrations. It is symbolised by lead and so is called the true lead . Because its strength and vigour are within, it is also called the black tiger; because its energy is associated with metal , it is also called the white tiger. Because it is not constrained by things, it is also called iron man. Because its light illumines myriad existents, it is also called the golden flower. Because it is the pivot of creation, it is also called the North Star. Because it conceals light within darkness, it is also called metal within water . Because it contains masculinity within femininity, it is also called the rabbit in the moon. There are many different names, all describing this one thing, true sense.” – Chang Po-tuan, “Inner Teachings of Taoism,” translated by Thomas Cleary

Now you know. So, no matter how dark things get outside, remain inwardly bright, strong and unbending and enjoy your practice, folks.

 

07/06/2022

Turn on your “lamplight” when you read this. Today’s quote is from Liu I-Ming’s Contemplation on “Lamplight” from “Awakening to the Tao.” Here is what he says turning on the lamplight means to him.

“If people give up artificiality and return to the real ,
dismiss intellectuality and cleverness, consider essential life
the one matter of importance, practice inner awareness, refine
the self and master the mind, observe all things with detachment
so all that exists is empty of absoluteness, are not moved
by external things and are not influenced by sensory experiences,
being light inside and dark outside, they can thereby
aspire to wisdom and become enlightened.” – Liu I-Ming, “Lamplight,” Awakening to the Tao, Translated by Thomas Cleary

Turn on your inner lamp and shine some light on your practice, folks.

 

07/05/2022

Another quote from quantum physicist David Bohm that could be Music to your Ears.

“Consider what takes place when one is listening to music. At a given moment a certain note is being played but a number of the previous notes are still ‘reverberating’ in consciousness. Close attention will show that it is the simultaneous presence and activity of all these reverberations that is responsible for the direct and immediately felt sense of movement, flow and continuity.” – David Bohm

Hopefully well rested after a long 4th of July weekend, get ready to start off a week of dedicated practice’

07/02/2022

Today, a most solemn and profound quote written by renown quantum physicist David Bohm as a eulogyfor a former classmate and long-time friend…

“The field of the finite is all that we can see, hear, touch, remember and describe. This field is basically that which is manifest, or tangible. The essential quality of the infinite, by contrast, is its subtlety, its intangibility. This quality is conveyed in the word spirit, whose root meaning is “wind or breath.” This suggests an invisible but pervasive energy to which the manifest world of the finite responds. This energy, or spirit, infuses all living beings, and without it any organism must fall apart into its constituent elements. That which is truly alive in the living being is the energy of spirit, and this is never born and never dies.” – David Bohm, a eulogy for a close friend.

I’ll let that sink in and say no more except, have a Happy and Safe 4th of July weekend. See you next week.

 

07/01/2022

Today we step into the quantum world with a quote from Ervin Laszlo, scientist, philosopher, musician.

“There is nothing in four-dimensional space-time that would satisfy the time-honored idea of matter. What research on the physical universe has disclosed is information and energy. The entities of the real world are configurations and clusters of informed energy.” Ervin Laszlo, “Reconnecting to the Source”

So, move your bundle of informed energy and keep practicing, people.

 

06/30/2022

Today’s words of wisdom are from Liu I-Ming discussing when one is like dead wood and cold ashes.

“If one can master oneself and exercise restraint, turn back
from inflex ibility and become yielding, sweep away all anger,
resentment, and annoyance, get rid of all contentiousness ,
change the aggress ive and violent nature back into a gentle
taciturn na ture, concentrate the energy and make it flexible,
empty the mind and nurture the spirit, be selfless and impersonal,
not discriminate between self and others, view one’s own body as
having no such body, view one’s mind as having no such mind,
have no discrimination and no knowledge, and
be empty and open, this is like dead wood not flaming when
burnt, like cold ashes yielding no warmth “‘hen sti rred .
One can thereby be in the midst of Creation without
being influenced by Creation, be in the midst of yin and yang
without being constrained by yin and yang.”
– Liu I-Ming, Awakening to the Tao, translation by Thomas Cleary

Kind of hard to put into practice? Keep trying and enjoy your work nevertheless.

 

06/29/2022

Yesterday Wang Mu gave us the meaning of “following the course” as it relates to Laozi’s quote from Chapter 42 of the Tao Te Ching: “The One generates the Two, the Two generate the Three, the Three generate the ten thousand things.” Today we learn the meaning of “inverting the course” as it applies to the Laozi quote

“What is the meaning of “inverting the course?” The ten thousand things hold the Three, the Three return to the Two, the Two return to the One. Those who know this Way look after their Spirit and guard their corporeal form. They nourish the corporeal form to refine the Essence, accumulate the Essence to transmute it into Breath, refine the Breath to merge it with Spirit, and refine the Spirit to revert to Emptiness. Then the Golden Elixir is achieved.” – Wang Mu, Foundations of Internal Alchemy, translation by Thomas Cleary

Easy enough to understand “inverting the course,” but rather difficult to do. Nevertheless, keep practicing, folks, and you will get there some day.

 

06/28/2022

Today we have a quote from the “Foundations of Internal Alchemy” by Wang Mu.

“Essence, Breath, and Spirit affect one another. When they follow the course, they form the human being; when they invert the course, they generate the Elixir.
What is the meaning of “following the course” ( shun )? “The One generates the Two, the Two generate the Three, the Three generate the ten thousand things.” Therefore Emptiness transmutes itself into Spirit, Spirit transmutes itself into Breath, Breath transmutes itself into Essence, Essence transmutes itself into form, and form becomes the human being.” – Wang Mu, Foundations of Internal Alchemy, translation by Thomas Cleary

What is the meaning of “Inverting the course?” Find out tomorrow. In the meantime, enjoy your practice, folks.

 

 

06/27/2022

The ancient wisdom of Wen-Tzu starts off the week.

“When the spirit is not focused externally, that is called spiritualty; to keep the spirit intact is called integrity.” – Wen-Tzu

Or, as we say in English – Keep it together. And how do we keep it together? Practice, folks, practice and enjoy.

 

06/25/2022

To end the week, we have a quote from Chapter 2 of the “Tao Te Ching.”

“When the world knows beauty as beauty, ugliness arises
When it knows good as good, evil arises
Thus being and nonbeing produce each other
Difficult and easy bring about each other 1
Long and short reveal each other
High and low support each other
Music and voice harmonize each other
Front and back follow each other.”
– Translation by Derek Lin

Hopefully no ugliness will arise in your life. Just keep up your practice and enjoy the weekend, everyone.

 

06/24/2022

Today we look at the teaching Chang Po-Tuan from the “Inner Teachings of Taoism” on “true intent.”

“Earth is that whereby origin and completion are effected. The true earth referred to here is not material earth; it is the true intent of the human body, which has no location. True intent is the director of myriad affairs; it controls the vital spirit, sustains essence and life, occupies and guards the centre of the being. Because it has functions similar to earth, it is called true earth . Insofar as it is truthful and whole, without fragmentation, it is also called true faith. Because it contains the impulse of life within it, it is also called the centre. Because it encloses everything, it is also called the yellow court. Because it is one in action and repose, it is also called the medicinal spoon. Because it can harmonise yin and yang, it is also called the yellow woman. Because it holds the pattern of the noumenon, it is also called the crossroads. There are many different names, all describing one thing, this is true intent.” – Chang Po-Tuan, “Inner Teaching of Taoism,” translated by Thomas Cleary

As we practice today, let us focus on our true intent and enjoy, everyone.

 

06/23/2022

Today’s quote is about the great orb that lights our way through the darkness from author, artist, philosopher and martial artist, Deng Ming-Dao

“The moon does not fight. It attacks no one. It does not worry. It does not try to crush others. It keeps to its course, but by its very nature, it gently influences. What other body could pull an entire ocean from shore to shore? The moon is faithful to its nature and its power is never diminished.” — Deng Ming-Dao

Be a light unto yourself and Light your way through the darkness of the acquired mind by practicing Self-Cultivation.

06/22/2022

Today’s quote is from “Understanding Reality,” the classic written by Chang Po-tuan and translated by Thomas Cleary.

THOUGH HUMAN LIFE HAS A LIMIT OF A HUNDRED YEARS ,
THE LENGTH OF LIFE, AND WHETHER IT WILL BE DIFFICULT
OR SMOOTH, CANNOT BE KNOWN BEFOREHAND. YESTERDAY
RIDING A HORSE THROUGH TOWN, TODAY A SLEEPING
CORPSE IN A COFFIN: FAMILY AND WEALTH CAST OFF, THEY
ARE NOT YOUR OWN POSSESSIONS ; WITH EVIL DEEDS COMING ON ,
YOU CANNOT FOOL YOURSELF. IF YOU COME UPON THE GREAT ELIXIR
WITHOUT EVEN LOOKING FOR IT, HAVING COME UPON IT,
YOU ARE A FOOL IF YOU DO NOT REFINE IT.
– Chang Po-tuan (Tzu-yang) “Understanding Reality (“Wuzhen Pian”), translated by Thomas Cleary

The Golden Elixir is the means or method of transcending Death and the cycle of reincarnation. But hearing about it is not enough. One must devote oneself to its Cultivation. That means practice, folks. Enjoy!

06/21/2022

An ancient Daoist saying:

“Balance is the mainstay of the world, harmony is the way the world
arrives on the Tao. Achieving balance and harmony, heaven and earth
are in their places therein, myriad beings grow up therein.”

So, our practice this week is to work on achieving balance and harmony. Great practicing, everyone, and enjoy!

 

06/20/2022

Today, Liu Yi MIng tell us how we can eventually realize the Tao

“If people can be firm in decision and flexible in gradual
practice, neither hurrying nor lagging, neither aggressive nor
weak, with hardness and softness balancing each other,
achieving balance and harmony, then they will benefit wherever
they go. If they study the Tao in this way , eventually they
will surely understand the Tao. If they practice the Tao in this
way, eventually they will surely realize the Tao. ”
– Liu YiMing, “Awakening to the Tao”

If you truly want to achieve balance and harmony, quit the hustle and bustle of the Western lifestyle and practice being firm but not aggressive or overbearing and flexible and adaptable without being weak or flaccid and, above all, enjoy your practice.

 

06/18/2022

In today’s quote, we return again to Liu I-Ming’s book of Contemplations: “Awakening to the Tao.” His thoughts on “Grafting Peaches and Grafting Plums,” tell us how we can experience true rejuvenation at any age.

“When a peach tree is old, graft on a young branch and it will again bear peaches. When a plum tree is old, graft on a young branch and it will again bear plums. This is because even when a tree is old it still has energy in its roots…People age because they indulge in emotions and passions-a hundred worries affect their minds, myriad affairs weary their bodies. Expending their vitality, exhausting their spirit, they take the false to be real and take misery for happiness.” He suggests this kind of living makes their (physical and spiritual) roots unstable and so people grow old and die. “Concentrating the energy like a baby, being abstemious, storing the vitality and nurturing the spirit, getting rid of illusion and returning to reality , fostering the growth of the root at all times , walking every step on the right path, increasing true thought and diminishing false thought, truly sincere within and without, integrated with the design of nature, they can thereby be rejuvenated. This is like the way of grafting a young branch onto an old tree.”

So, don’t indulge in emotions, passions and hundreds of worries. Concentrate your energy like a baby, store the vitality and nurture your spirit and graft a rejuvenating branch onto your daily practice. Have a terrific 3-day weekend folks and a Happy Juneteenth.

 

06/17/2022

Today’s quote is from Lisa Kemmerer’s “Animals and World Religions.”

“Daoism also encourages people to love deeply and live compassionately (ci), to exercise restraint and frugality (jian), to seek harmony, and to practice wuwei (action as nonaction). Daoist precepts speak often and strongly against harming any creature, whether by disturbing their homes or eating their bodies. Guanyin, the most popular Chinese deity, exemplifies deep compassion for all beings. The Zhuangzi highlights basic similarities between humans and animals, and encourages people to treat all beings with care and respect.”
― Lisa Kemmerer, Animals and World Religions

 

06/16/2022

Today’s quote is from the opening paragraph of a Neidan (Daoist Alchemy) work from the 11th century, “Awakening to Reality” by Zhang Boduan, also known as True Man of Purple Yang (Ziyang zhenren). It is divided into three main parts, all of which consist of
poems written in different meters. This first part contains sixteen poems written in “regulated verses” (eight-line heptasyllabic poems, known as liishi).

“If you do not search for the Great Dao
and do not leave the delusive paths,
you may be endowed with worthiness and talent,
but would you be a great man?”

Let seeking the Dao be part of your everyday practice. Enjoy your practice, enjoy the flow of the Dao.

 

06/15/2022

Today, a little swordplay. Well, a swordplay on words, that is, by Doc Pruyne.

“The sword is a handle onto the Way of the world that is offering itself to you. If you are willful it will weigh a ton and wear you out. If you lose focus it will cut open your hand. Mindfulness keeps your mind on the blade; and if you are mindful you will not think about the future or past, there will be no blocks to the flow of Tao, and the Way of the world will flow through the sword and through you. You will become the sword of the world.”― Doc Pruyne, Persimmon

You won’t need a sword to enjoy the flow of Tao if you practice with patience and dedication. Enjoy it while you can, people.

 

06/14/2022

14/2022Today we have a quote by Liu YiMing on Hexagram 61 of the Yijing and faithfulness to the Tao

“If you want yin not to trap yang but to accord with yang, so that yin and yang can conjoin, this is impossible unless you are seriously faithful to the Tao; without faithfulness to the Tao practice is insubstantial and lacks power, inevitably leading to failure to complete what has been started.” – Liu YiMIng, on Hexagram 61 of the Yijing, translation by Thomas Cleary

Thus, if you feel your practice has become insubstantial, realign with the Tao and keep practicing, folks.

06/13/2022

A classic conundrum quote from Alan Watts to start off our week

“It is fundamental to both Taoist and Confucian thought that the natural man is to be trusted, and from their standpoint it appears that the Western mistrust of human nature-whether theological or technological-is a kind of schizophrenia. It would be impossible, in their view, to believe oneself innately evil without discrediting the very belief, since all the notions of a perverted mind would be perverted notions.” ― Alan Wilson Watts, The Way of Zen

Your mind may or may not be perverted, but I certainly hope your practice isn’t. Enjoy, everyone.

06/11/2022

Today we have a quote by Liu YiMing from one of the contemplations in his book “Awakening to the Tao” to get us through the weekend.

“With the nobility of Heaven and the humility of Eath, one joins in the attributes of heaven and earth and extends to eternity with them.” – Liu YiMing, “Awakening to the Tao.”

Heaven is boundlessly vast. It covers everything and contains everything. It produces myriad beings without presuming on the virtue of such. It provides for them. It bestows blessings on them, not expecting any rewards or asking for anything in return. Whether people are good or bad, respectful or insincere doesn’t matter. Heaven allows them to be themselves. This is considered noble.

Earth is thick and lowly, below all else. Despite being tread on or paved in asphalt and concrete, it bears all and nurtures everything. This is considered humble.

So, see how noble and yet humble you can be, and enjoy your practice. Have a great weekend, everyone!

06/10/2022

Today an interpretation of Chapter 36 of the Tao Te Ching by James Frey

“Thirty-six. If you want to shrink something, you must first expand it. If you want to get rid of something, you must allow it to flourish. If you want to take something, you must allow it to be given. The soft will overcome the hard. The slow will beat the fast. Don’t tell people the way, just show them the results.” ― James Frey, A Million Little Pieces

Don’t tell us; Show us – the results of your practice. Keep on keeping on, folks.

 

06/09/2022

Today we have an appropriate quote from a great American poet, Carl Sandburg.

“Life is like an onion. You peel it off one layer at a time, and sometimes you weep.” – Carl Sandburg.

People are complex, with multiple layers that each provide something unique to the universe. In the Dao Field, the idea isn’t to look at each layer as an individualized trait or part of life, but to examine how each layer fits perfectly to create the onion/the Dao in the first place.
Peeling away the layers of your practice one at a time, folks. Enjoy!

 

06/08/2022

The next Zhuangzi quote is sort of reminds us of a Laozi quote: “To know that you do not know is the best. To think you know when you do not is a disease.”

“Men honor what lies within the sphere of their knowledge, but do not realize how dependent they are on what lies beyond it.”
― Chuang Tzu

We need to depend on our practice and what it is teaching us about ourselves. Enjoy everyone.

 

06/07/2022

Today, Chuang Tzu tries his best to give us a comforting thought. Does it work for you?

“We are born from a quiet sleep, and we die to a calm awakening” ― Chuang Tzu

Hope one and all calmly awaken to your practice. Enjoy!

 

06/06/2022

Today, Chuang Tzu builds a case for emptiness.

“If a man, having lashed two hulls together, is crossing a river, and an empty boat happens along and bumps into him, no matter how hot-tempered the man may be, he will not get angry. But if there should be someone in the other boat, then he will shout out to haul this way or veer that. If his first shout is unheeded, he will shout again, and if that is not heard, he will shout a third time, this time with a torrent of curses following. In the first instance, he wasn’t angry; now in the second he is. Earlier he faced emptiness, now he faces occupancy. If a man could succeed in making himself empty, and in that way wander through the world, then who could do him harm?”
― Zhuangzi, The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu

Don’t let the world and all its distractions capsize your boat. Keep practicing to make your self empty so you can wander through the world, a free and easy wanderer.

 

06/04/2022

Humans are always chasing after one kind of success or another. But even if we achieve success, still it brings suffering. Why? According to Chuang Tzu and other Daoist sages, it is due to the ever-changing movement of Yin and Yang in the world.

“In all affairs, whether large or small, there are few men who reach a happy conclusion except through the Way. If you do not succeed, you are bound to suffer from the judgment of men. If you do succeed, you are bound to suffer from the yin and yang. To suffer no harm whether or not you succeed – only the man who has virtue can do that.” ― Zhuangzi, The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu

So, as we practice this coming week, let us focus on finding the virtue deep within us, instilled prior to our birth as a manifestation of the mystical Te. Have an enjoyable weekend, everyone. And don’t forget the victims of Russia’s war on Ukraine.

 

06/03/2022

Many of us imperfect beings have such difficulty remaining joyful and carefree not only throughout life or even throughout the day or hour to hour. Chuang Tzu tells us why this is.

“You should find the same joy in one condition as in the other and thereby be free of care, that is all. But now, when the things that happened along take their leave, you cease to be joyful. From this point of view, though you have joy, it will always be fated for destruction.” ― Zhuangzi

So enjoy practicing and enjoy working on remaining joyful throughout this day. And let’s put our heartfelt energies together to bring some degree of pure joy into the disreuptive lives of the Ukrainian people.

 

06/02/2022

Expanding on John Blofield’s quote yesterday on the East Asian idea of a Supreme State of Being as opposed to the Western concept of a Supreme Being, Zhuangzi gives the most complete version yet in this conversation with Master Dongguo.

Master Dongguo asked Zhuangzi, “This thing called the Way – where does it exist?”

Zhuangzi said, “There’s no place it doesn’t exist.”

“Come,” said Master Dongguo, “you must be more specific!”

“It is in the ant.”

“As low a thing as that?”

“It is in the panic grass.”

“But that’s lower still!”

“It is in the tiles and shards.”

“How can it be so low?”

“It is in the piss and shit!”
― Zhuangzi, The Complete Works of Zhuangzi, Burton Watson translation, section 22

Well, I guess you cannot top that, or, I should say, you cannot bottom that. Both are pretty low. But we need to stay on top of our practice. So, enjoy and don’t let your spirits sink.

 

06/01/2022

We start off the month of June with a quote by John Blofield on the major difference between Western and Eastern religions.

“In East Asia generally, the notion of a Supreme Being, so essential to Western religions, is replaced by that of a Supreme State of Being, an impersonal perfection from which beings including man are separated only by delusion.” ― John Blofeld, Taoism

We will have Chuang Tzu’s take on it tomorrow. Meanwhile enjoy your practice, and enjoy Nature as well.

05/31/2022

We close out the month of May with Chuang Tz telling us how he feels about reincarnation…

“A child, obeying his father and mother, goes wherever he is told, east or west, south or north. And the yin and yang – how much more are they to a man than father or mother! Now that they have brought me to the verge of death, if I should refuse to obey them, how perverse I would be! What fault is it of theirs? The Great Clod burdens me with form, labors me with life, eases me in old age, and rests me in death. So if I think well of my life, for the same reason I must think well of my death. When a skilled smith is casting metal, if the metal should leap up and say, ‘I insist upon being made into a Moye!’ he would surely regard it as very inauspicious metal indeed. Now, having had the audacity to take on human form once, if I should say, ‘I don’t want to be anything but a man! Nothing but a man!’, the Creator would surely regard me as a most inauspicious sort of person. So now I think of heaven and earth as a great furnace, and the Creator as a skilled smith. Where could he send me that would not be all right? I will go off to sleep peacefully, and then with a start I will wake up.” ― Zhuangzi, The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu

Where do you think you will wake up? Forget about it and just enjoy your practice.

 

05/31/2022

We close out the month of May with Chuang Tz telling us how he feels about reincarnation…

“A child, obeying his father and mother, goes wherever he is told, east or west, south or north. And the yin and yang – how much more are they to a man than father or mother! Now that they have brought me to the verge of death, if I should refuse to obey them, how perverse I would be! What fault is it of theirs? The Great Clod burdens me with form, labors me with life, eases me in old age, and rests me in death. So if I think well of my life, for the same reason I must think well of my death. When a skilled smith is casting metal, if the metal should leap up and say, ‘I insist upon being made into a Moye!’ he would surely regard it as very inauspicious metal indeed. Now, having had the audacity to take on human form once, if I should say, ‘I don’t want to be anything but a man! Nothing but a man!’, the Creator would surely regard me as a most inauspicious sort of person. So now I think of heaven and earth as a great furnace, and the Creator as a skilled smith. Where could he send me that would not be all right? I will go off to sleep peacefully, and then with a start I will wake up.” ― Zhuangzi, The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu

Where do you think you will wake up? Forget about it and just enjoy your practice.

 

 

05/30/2022

“He who steals a belt buckle pays with his life; he who steals a state gets to be a feudal lord. ― Zhuangzi

Very true, just look at our elections. The man who tried to steal the Presidency has become the defacto leader of the Republican Party.
In any case, keep breathing, keep relaxing and stretching and by all means keep practicing. Have a respectful Memorial Day, everyone.

 

05/28/2022

Another beauty from Chuang Tzu to close out the week and nearly the month and, as always, to test our understanding:

“Men all pay homage to what understanding understands, but no one understands enough to rely upon what understanding does not understand and thereby come to understand.” ― Zhuangzi, The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu

If nothing else, I hope one thing is understood: have a great Memorial Day weekend and enjoy your practice.

On this Memorial Day let us pay homage to the our fallen and as well to the brave people of Ukraine who are fighting for their freedom against overwhelming odds.

05/27/2022

Today we have a “Go Figure” from the Sage’s Sage, Chuang Tzu…

“It comes out from no source, it goes back in through no aperture. It has reality yet no place where it resides; it has duration yet no beginning or end. Something emerges, though through no aperture – this refers to the fact that it has reality. It has reality yet there is no place where it resides – this refers to the dimension of space. It has duration but no beginning or end – this refers to the dimension of time. There is life, there is death, there is a coming out, there is a going back in – yet in the coming out and going back its form is never seen. This is called the Heavenly Gate. The Heavenly Gate is nonbeing. The ten thousand things come forth from nonbeing. Being cannot create being out of being; inevitably it must come forth from nonbeing. Nonbeing is absolute nonbeing, and it is here that the sage hides himself.”
― Zhuangzi, The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu

As Chuang Tzu is saying, let your Cultivation evolve, come forth from the emptiness within. Don’t force it. Just enjoy whatever the Tao brings each day, whether you think it’s progressive or not. Accept it and gratefully use it.

 

05/26/2022

Today we get Chuang Tzu’s take on Lao Tzu’s Tao de Ching, Chapter 55…

“Can you be a little baby? The baby howls all day, yet its throat never gets hoarse – harmony at its height! The baby makes fists all day, yet its fingers never get cramped – virtue is all it holds to. The baby stares all day without blinking its eyes – it has no preferences in the world of externals.” ― Zhuangzi, The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu

Enjoy your practice as though you are a newborn, fascinated by every movement. BTW, the Ukrainian forces are finally giving way to the Russians. The outcome doesn’t look very positive.

 

05/25/2022

Today we have another profound quote from Chuang Tzu to help us continue our Cultivation is everyday life.

“In the world everyone knows enough to pursue what he does not know, but no one knows enough to pursue what he already knows. Everyone knows enough to condemn what he takes to be no good, but no one knows enough to condemn what he has already taken to be good.” ― Zhuangzi, The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu

I hope you know enough to enjoy practice, everyone. Get to it.

 

05/24/2022

Positively great advice farom Chuang Tzu today. But not just for today. It’s a quote for all days. A quote for all times.

“When I speak of good hearing, I do not mean listening to others; I mean simply listening to yourself. When I speak of good eyesight, I do not mean looking at others; I mean simply looking at yourself. He who does not look at himself but looks at others, who does not get hold of himself but gets hold of others, is getting what other men have got and failing to get what he himself has got. He finds joy in what brings joy to other men, but finds no joy in what would bring joy to himself.” ― Zhuangzi, The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu

Bring more joy to yourself. Practice with the joy of Self.

 

05/23/2022

Does the uniform or the Gi make the man, or does the man make the uniform or Gi? What does Chuang Tzu have to say about that?

“But a gentleman may embrace a doctrine without necessarily wearing the garb that goes with it, and he may wear the garb without necessarily comprehending the doctrine.”
― Zhuangzi, The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu

I don’t personally care what you are wearing; just make sure you comprehend what you are practicing. Have a good one, people.

https://www.unicefusa.org/stories/bucharest-school-ukrainian-refugee-children/39951

05/21/2022

Today’s quote is very typical of Chuang Tzu and shows how his Sage mind reasons and flows.

“You forget your feet when the shoes are comfortable. You forget your waist when the belt is comfortable. Understanding forgets right and wrong when the mind is comfortable. There is no change in what is inside, no following what is outside, when the adjustment to events is comfortable. You begin with what is comfortable and never experience what is uncomfortable when you know the comfort of forgetting what is comfortable.” ― Zhuangzi, The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu

This coming week, make it a point to get comfortable in your practice. And have a comfortable weekend. Also, remember that true comfort is a long way off for the people of Ukraine and their disrupted lives.

 

05/20/2022

“Things joined by profit, when pressed by misfortune and danger, will cast each other aside.” ― Zhuangzi, The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu

Straight and to the point, Chuang Tzu wants us to have deeper connections than purely financial or economic ones. Living from the heart rather than the self-absorbed, obsessive acquired mind will bring those deeper ones into our lives. How about connecting with Save the Children?

 

05/19/2022

To be Still or not Still, how do Sages do it? That is the question, and today we have Chuang Tzu’s answer…

“The sage is still not because he takes stillness to be good and therefore is still. The ten thousand things are insufficient to distract his mind – that is the reason he is still.”― Zhuangzi, The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu

So forget all those distractions, still your mind and just enjoy practicing, folks.

 

05/18/2022

Today Chung Tzu describes the True Man of ancient times…

“The True Man of ancient times knew nothing of loving life, knew nothing of hating death. He emerged without delight; he went back in without a fuss. He came briskly, he went briskly, and that was all. He didn’t forget where he began; he didn’t try to find out where he would end. He received something and took pleasure in it; he forgot about it and handed it back again.” ― Zhuangzi, The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu

A very short description, but a lot there to practice. Get to it, folks, and take pleasure in what you are practicing. Then pass it on.

 

05/17/2022

Today Alan Watts corrects what some maintain to be attainable in Taoism

“To Taoism that which is absolutely still or absolutely perfect is absolutely dead, for without the possibility of growth and change there can be no Tao. In reality there is nothing in the universe which is completely perfect or completely still; it is only in the minds of men that such concepts exist.” ― Alan Watts

Have a great practice, folks.

 

05/16/2022

This week we will be weaving in and out of Zhuanzi. Hope you enjoy the tapestry.

“The Perfect Man uses his mind like a mirror – going after nothing, welcoming nothing, responding but not storing.”
― Zhuangzi, The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu

Can you use your mind like a mirror? It’s important to add “not storing” to your practice. What harm does storing do? It leads to very stubborn Clinging. Good luck with your practice. And let’s not forget the courageous people of Ukraine and their equally courageous racoons.

 

05/14/2022

Today we have the second part of the Wilhelm/Baynes commentary. Since yesterday’s commentary pertained to Hexagram #24, Return, which begins the firing process, this next quote is from the commentary on Hexagram #1, Heaven, the end point of that process as the Taoist adept returns home to pure Yang.

“The holy man, who understands the mysteries of creation inherent in end and beginning, becomes superior to the limitations of the transitory. For him, the meaning of time is that in it, the stages of growth can unfold in a clear sequence. He is mindful at every moment and uses the six stages of growth as if they were six dragons (the image attributed to the individual lines) on which he mounts to heaven.” — The I Ching p 371, Wilhelm/Baynes edition, Commentary on hexagram #1, the Creative

Let us return as well to our continued practice, friends, and be mindful at every stage as we progress. And, of course, be mindful of the children and other victims of Russia’s War on Ukraine.

 

05/13/2022

As Liu Yiming pointed out earlier, the I Ching is not about Divination but rather the firing process, the inner psychological movement of returning to pure yang which is Hexagram #1 Qian, Heaven, composed of six Yang lines. He explained that this process begins with Hexagram #24, Return with one Yang line at the base and five Yin lines above it. Today we look at a different translation of the I Ching, the Wilhelm/Baynes translation and the commentary on Hexagram #24 Return.

“The light principle returns; thus the hexagram counsels turning away from the confusion of external things, turning back to one’s inner light. There, in the depths of the soul, one sees the Divine, the One.” — I Ching, Wilhelm/Baynes edition, Commentary on Hexagram #24 Return

How do Internal Arts practitioners turn away from the confusion of external things? By soaking the mind throughout the entire body while standing in Wuji or seated in calm abiding meditation. So, work on it and enjoy your practice, people.

 

05/12/2022

Today’s quote is Liu Yiming’s final comment on the firing process subtly revealed within the I Ching…

The mystic pearl is the pearl of complete yang, something round and bright and unclouded; it is a different name for the Gold Elixir. When the firing process reaches its time, the pearl will naturally be formed.
— Liu Yiming (Awakening the Tao)

As you can see by now, there is much more to the I Ching than divination. Have a great practice, people. And keep the victims of the War in Ukraine in your thoughts and prayers.

 

05/11/2022

Speaking of the I Ching as a guide to the firing process, Liu Yiming tells us the importance of Hexagra #19.

“This is really a guide to the firing process as one watches over the furnace; if students study and find out the facts in the hexagram Overseeing, then they can grasp most of the process of firing the gold pill (elixir).” — Liu Yiming (the Taoist I Ching, hexagram # 19 Overseeing)

Of Overseeing #19, Liu Yiming explains the two trigrams: “Above is Earth following and below is Lake, joyful, joyfully following truth, acting in accord with that joy, it is therefore called Overseeing. It is interesting to note the Overseeing follows #18 Degeneration, Deterioration.

So, don’t let your practice deteriorate. Instead, follow your joy, your truth, and have a great practice. As life in Ukraine deteriorates, don’t forget the children.

05/10/2022

Two quotes today. One from Zhang Boduan, 11th C. Taoist master on immortals and the firing process. The other from Liu Yiming commenting on Zhang Boduan’s quote.

“Treatises, classics and songs expound ultimate reality, but do not commit the Firing Times to writing. If you want to know the oral instructions and comprehend the mysterious points you must discuss them in detail with a divine immortal.” — Zhang Boduan, 11th C. Taoist master (Understanding Reality)

“It is not that the immortals and real people haven’t spoken of the firing process, but what they say is not organized. If you do not meet an illumined teacher, who will indicate the order for you, you will not be able to know it.” — Liu Yiming (Commentary on Understanding Reality)

Have a great practice, everyone, and don’t forget the children of Ukraine and their plight.

 

 

05/09/2022

We start the week off with Liu Yiming discussing setting up the crucible in the firing process to burn away false yin so one can reach a state of pure yang…

“Stabilize the will with firmness; do the work with flexibility.
Making the will firm and strong is setting up the crucible;
Gradually progressing in the work is setting up the furnace.
Firmness and flexibility are both used, without imbalance;
Having prepared, work the fire and the convergence according to the time.”– Liu Yiming, The Inner Teachings of Taoism

Here he is telling us that setting up the furnace requires a balance of yin and yang, which refers to firmness and flexibility respectively. In Daoist teachings, pure yang refers to the conscious awareness of the Original Spirit while false yin, refers to the mechanical awareness of the human mind.

With in mind, have a great practice to start off the week.

 

05/07/2022

“The method of action in spiritual alchemy is to burn away all the pollution of acquired conditioning.” — Liu Yiming (Taoist I Ching, Hexagram #7 ,The Army)

Have a great practice, everyone. Use those energies to increase your willful dissolution of your obsession with the pollution of acquired conditioning. Just what is the pollution of acquired conditioning? Self-indulgence, incessant self-interest. Have a pleasant weekend, folks.

 

05/06/2022

Today Liu Yiming continues to explain the “firing process” and how it comes about.

“Fire is a symbol of illumination; operating the fire means employing illumination. Illumination is the quality of awareness and perceptivity. If one can be aware, then one has the mind of Tao, and the spirit is knowing. If one can be perceptive, then there is no human mentality, and the mind is clear.” — Liu Yiming (The Taoist I Ching, Hexagram 55 Richness)

Illuminate your practice today by being perceptive of why you are not perceiving. And give some thought to the suffering victims in Ukraine. If you haven’t done anything for them yet, then maybe today is the day.

 

 

 

05/05/2022

Today Liu Yiming further explains what the “firing process” is in Daoist Alchemy…

“The firing process is the sixty-four hexagrams, indicating modification of simple and ready knowledge and capacity to restore them to their innate goodness. The alchemical classics and writings of the adepts, amounting to thousands of volumes, do not go beyond the principles of the I Ching.” — Liu Yiming (Taoist I Ching, Mixed Hexagrams #43 Parting and #44 Meeting)

I suggest you look up and study both of those hexagram and have a great practice. And take a look at the IRC’s work in Ukraine.

05/04/2022

Just what is the “firing process” in Daoist Alchemy? Liu Yiming gives us a clue…

“The firing process spoken of in the alchemical classics and writings of the masters is a metaphor for the order of practical spiritual work.” — Liu Yiming (The Inner Teachings of Taoism)

More on this process from Liu Yiming tomorrow. In the meantime, enjoy your practices, everyone, and let’s Save the Children of Ukraine.

 

05/03/2022

Today we look at the I Ching’s Hexagram #24 Return through the eyes of Liu Yiming.

“Return means coming back. In the body of the hexagram one yang moves below a group of yins ䷗; this hexagram represents the return of yang. The way to do it involves working in sequence, restoring it gradually; one cannot restore it immediately, or even if one does restore it immediately it cannot be stabilized. This path is not difficult to know, but it is difficult to practice….. going from a single yang ䷗, until six yangs ䷀ are pure and complete.” — Liu Yiming, The Taoist I Ching, hexagram #24 Return.

As you practice, remember that our methods of self-cultivation are not difficult to know but difficult to practice. Therefore, don’t be in rush. You need to take in and stabilize each step to return to your original nature. That can take years for most practitioners. Speaking of Returning, let’s hope the refugees of Ukraine and their children in Poland, Romania and dozens of other countries c an return to their homeland soon.

 

05/02/2022

We begin May by asking the etermal question: What is the I Ching and what does it have to do with anything? Liu Yi Ming gives us his answer…

“After meeting genuine teachers all my doubts disappeared, so that for the first time I realized that the Tao of spiritual alchemy is none other than the Tao of I Ching, the Tao of sages is none other than the Tao of immortals, and that the I Ching is not a book of divination, but rather a study of investigation, of principles, fulfillment of nature, and arrival at the meaning of life.” — Liu Yiming (18th c. Taoist adept).

Enjoy your practice this week and don’t forget the children of Ukraine.

 

 

THE DAOIST DAILY DIARY

04/30/2022

We close out April, 2022 with a simple quote from Daoist adept Liu Yiming:

“Sentiment changes. Truth is eternal.“ — Liu Yiming

Have a great weekend, everyone. I hope April has been good to you. If not, here comes May, enjoy! And don’t forget the children of Ukraine and their plight.

 

04/29/2022

Do you only experience what is pleasurable and avoid any and all unpleasant experiences? Then listen to Daoist adept Liu Yiming’s advice:

“If one walks with every step on the ground of reality in the furnace of Creation, experiencing everything that comes along, being in the doorway of life and death without wavering, like gold that becomes brighter the more it is fired, like a mirror that becomes clearer the more it is polished, fired and polished to a state of round brightness, clean nakedness, bare freedom, where there is neither being nor nonbeing, where others and self all become empty, then one will be mentally and physically sublimated, and will merge with the Tao in reality.”
― Liu Yiming, Awakening to the Tao

Experience everything and have a good week practicing, everyone. And please keep the children of Ukraine in your thoughts.

 

 

04/28/2022

Are you a spiritual reader? If so, you might want to take a little advice from Liu Yiming, who warns about being obsessed with the scriptures and a victim of Bookish Bedevilment…

“46 – The Obstacle of Bookish Bedevilment
Read the scriptures but do not persist in being obsessed with them. If one were to be obsessed with the scriptures forming conjectures with its meaning, relying on one’s preconception, the mistake is great, discard the scriptures, without argument, while it is a big mistake, similarly obsession with the scriptures, not seeking a wise master, is an even bigger mistake, discarding books and obsession with them are all wrong. If one were to be obsessed with books for Tao, one has been inflicted with bookish bedevilment, in not seeking a wise master the great task is jeopardized, one must study carefully, distinguish the right and wrong, seek out a wise master to confirm them, only then can one come to understand Tao.
四十六、书魔关
读经书而不可偏执经书也。若执经书以意猜度,依己偏见,误之甚矣,弃经书,全不理论,固是大错,若执经书,不求明师,更是大错,弃书执书皆非也。若执书为道,中了书魔,不求明师则误大事,必须细心钻研经书,辨别邪正,访求明师以证是非,方能明道。”
― Liu Yiming

While you are reading about the Tao or seeking out a wise master, don’t forget the victims of the War in Ukraine.

04/27/2022

Daoism like any other spiritual, philosophical or religious organization or sect is subject rightful, knowledgeable leaders, misguided or poor ones, and outright charlatans and con artists. But not just in modern times. It has been going on for ages. Read what Liu Yiming wrote back in the late 18th and early 19th centuries…

“The Dao is no longer understood. There is an endless number of side doors and twisted byways, constituting a few basic groups. There are those who are fixated on voidness and those who are attached to forms, and those who do psychosomatic exercises. There are actually 72 schools of material alchemy, and 3600 aberrant practices. Since the blind lead the blind, they lose the right road; they block students and lead them into a pen.”
― Liu Yiming, Awakening to the Tao

Before you practice today, question yourselves about your teachers. Are they qualified? Are they knowledgeable? Do you feel they have led you onto the right road or are you being led into a pen?

Let hope the leaders of Ukraine can lead their people away from the Russian pen and onto the road to freedom.

04/26/2022

One of my “tui shou” (tai chi push hands) partners complained that he did not feel empty even though he was trying. But what exactly is true emptiness? Well, maybe Bells and Drums hold the answer. At least, Liu Yiming thought so…

“Bells Ring, Drums Resound

When a bell is struck it rings, when a drum is beaten it resounds. This is because they are solid outside and empty within. It is because they have nothing inside that they are able to ring and resound.

What I realize as I observe this is the Tao of true emptiness and ineffable existence.

True emptiness is like the inner openness of a bell or a drum; ineffable existence is like the sounding of a bell or a drum when struck. If people can keep this true emptiness as their essence, and utilize this ineffable existence as their function, ever serene yet ever responsive, ever responsive yet ever serene, tranquil and unstirring yet sensitive and effective, sensitive and effective yet tranquil and unstirring, empty yet not empty, not empty yet empty, aware and efficient, lively and active, refining everything in the great furnace of Creation, then when the dirt is gone the mirror is clear, when the clouds disperse the moon appears; revealing the indestructible body of reality, they transcend yin and yang and Creation, and merge with the eternity of space.”
― Liu Yiming, Awakening to the Tao

Practice until you feel empty…yet not empty. And maybe you can empty some of your spare change for the victims in Ukraine.

https://www.redcross.org/about-us/news-and-events/news/2022/cash-assistance-brings-needed-help-to-ukrainians-in-need.html

 

04/25/2022

Today’s quote by Daoist sage, Liu Yiming, brings to light unified mindfulness. The great restoration he calls it…

“Stupidity and Madness

The Tao is clear, yet this clarity requires you to sweep away all your clutter. At all times watch out for your own stupidity, be careful of how your mind jumps around. When nothing occurs to involve your mind, you return to true awareness. When unified mindfulness is purely real, you comprehend the great restoration. The ridiculous ones are those who try to cultivate quietude – as long as body and mind are unstable, it is madness to go into the mountains.”
― Liu Yiming, Awakening to the Tao

“Watch out for your own stupidity,” great advice, is it not? So, sweep away all your clutter and have a great day and a great practice, everyone. And keep the brave people of Ukraine in your thoughts.

https://www.unicef.org/

 

04/24/2022

INCLUSION not Exclusion!!!

 

04/23/2022

Today’s quote is actually a “reading suggestion” for all you cultivators from Liu Yiming…

“The book known as Journey to the West is about the universal Way that has been handed on by word of mouth from sage to sage, and verified by each of them. Qiu Chuji (丘處機), Taoist name Changchun Zi (長春子), the originator of the Journey to the West cycle, dared to say what the ancients did not dare to say, revealing the celestial mechanism. In Journey to the West is to be found the method for transforming life and death, the way to escape nature. This is the most extraordinary Taoist book of all time.”
― Liu Yiming

Some Western editions are published under the title “Monkey King” or simply “Monkey,” after the main protagonist, Sun Wukong, who is, no doubt, more than just a mere resemblance to Hanuman, the Hindu Monkey god from the Indian classic, the Ramayana.

This weekend make sure you practice hard and don’t monkey around. See you Monday and Keep the suffering victims and refugees of Ukraine in your thoughts.

https://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/

 

04/22/2022

Today’s quote from Liu Yiming is one of the most profound for Daoist Cultivators or any spiritual Cultivator on the Path. Pay close attention to his advice.

“Cut off entanglements.
Get rid of anger and hatred.
Do not be afraid of hard work.
Tolerate ignominy and endure dishonor.
Forgive people and defer to others.
Take possessions lightly; take life seriously.
View others and self as the same.
Do whatever you can to be helpful.

Practice developing virtue is the greatest priority; when achievement is great and practice profound, it moves heaven and earth.
Ridiculous are the foolish ones who only profit themselves; with no achievement and little action, they dream of becoming immortals.”
― Liu Yiming

Don’t be one of the ridiculous foolish ones; develop virtue and make your practice profound. And do whatever you can to be helpful, especially in light of the suffering in Ukraine.

https://support.savethechildren.org/site/Donation2?df_id=5746&mfc_pref=T&5746.donation=form1

 

04/21/2022

Today’s quote is another short essay. This one is by Liu Yiming, expounding on the analogy of water settling from the Tao Te Ching. Liu Yiming was a Chinese ophthalmologist, philosopher, and writer. He was one of the main representatives of Taoist Internal Alchemy, or Neidan during the late 18th and early 19th centuries The essay is entitled “Murkey Water, Dusty Mirror.”

“Murky water is turbid; let it settle and it clears. A dusty mirror is dim; clean it and it is bright.

What I realize as I observe this is the Tao of clarifying the mind and perceiving its essence.

The reason why people’s minds are not clear and their natures are not stable is that they are full of craving and emotion. Add to this eons of mental habit, acquired influences deluding the mind, their outgrowths clogging up the opening of awareness – this is like water being murky, like a mirror being dusty. The original true mind and true essence are totally lost. The feelings and senses are unruly, subject to all kinds of influences, taking in all sorts of things, defiling the mind.

If one can suddenly realize this and change directions, wash away pollution and contamination, gradually remove a lifetime of biased mental habits, wandering thoughts and perverse actions, increasing in strength with persistence, refining away the dross until there is nothing more to be refined away, when the slag is gone the gold is pure. The original mind and fundamental essence will spontaneously appear in full, the light of wisdom will suddenly arise, and one will clearly see the universe as though it were in the palm of the hand, with no obstruction.

This is like murky water returning to clarity when settled, like a dusty mirror being restored to brightness when polished. That which is fundamental is as ever: without any lack.”
― Liu Yiming, Awakening to the Tao

So, enjoy your practice, everyone, and be patient with it. Like murky water settling, your mistakes will soon dissolve and your practice will evolve if you patiently work on it. Let us hope as well that the Russian aggression in Ukraine will dissolve and peace can once again settle over that land.

https://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/

 

04/20/2022

Today our quote is the opening paragraph from an essay by J. C. (Jean) Cooper in Studies in Comparative Religion on “The Symbolism of the Daoist Garden,” appropriated for Earth Day. Posted below is a link to the complete essay. Have a Happy and Peaceful Earth Day.

“The development of the typical Chinese garden with its full yin-yang symbolism was essentially Taoist in origin. The Han Emperors had earlier created vast artificial landscapes or parks with mountains, ravines, forests, rivers, lakes, and open spaces to provide a habitat for hordes of game for hunting, but during the time of the Six Dynasties and the T’ang, when Taoism prevailed, there developed the quiet intimacy of the Taoist garden, intended to reflect heaven on earth. It became a symbol of Paradise where all life was protected and sheltered. The park had been given over to the grandiose, the artificial, extravagant, and luxurious, to the hunter and aggressor; the Taoist garden was a place of naturalness and simplicity, a haven for the sage, scholar, and nature lover.”

http://www.studiesincomparativereligion.com/Public/articles/The_Symbolism_of_the_Taoist_Garden-by_Jean_Cooper.aspx

 

04/19/2022

Today’s quote is from J. C. Cooper. Born and raised in China, she wrote and lectured extensively on comparative religion and symbolism, including works on Daoism and Alchemy. Today’s quote is her take on Chapter 8 of the Tao Te Ching…

“The highest goodness is like water.
Water is beneficial to all things but not contend. It stays in places which others despise. Therefore it is near Tao. The weakest things in the world can overmatch the strongest things in the world. Nothing in the world can be compared to water for its weak and yielding nature; yet in attacking the hard and strong nothing proves better than water. For there is no alternative to it. The weak can overcome and the yielding can overcame the hard. This all the world knows but does not practice. This again is the practice of ‘wu-wel’ and nonviolence. Water may be weak, pliable, fluid, but its action is not one of running away from an obstacle. On the contrary, it gives at the point of resistance, envelopes the object and passes beyond it. Ultimately it will wear down the hardest rock. Water is a more telling symbol than land… crossing the river to get to the other side is, again, attaining the state of enlightenment.”
― J.C. Cooper

Speaking of the highest good, you can get no higher than the work UNICEF is doing for the families and children of Ukraine.

https://www.unicef.org/emergencies/war-ukraine-pose-immediate-threat-children

 

04/18/2022

Today, Darrell Calkins gives us his interpretation of “rest” from his book “RE:”

“I look at the idea of rest as rotating one’s qualitative focus, not just doing less or changing activity. The role of rest is recovery. If you keep pushing the same quality button (fast or slow, concentrated or dispersed, hard-working or lazy…) for the same component all the time, of course it’s going to become depleted, just like if you keep working a single muscle in the same fashion or don’t use it at all.”
― Darrell Calkins, Re:

And now we lay Darrell Calkins to rest, well, at least his quotes for a time and give some other writers a chance to express their thoughts and inspire us with their quotes on Taoism. However, we will return to Darrell Calkins and “RE:” from time to time.

Speaking of rest, I certainly hope the courageous heroes and suffering victims and refugees of Ukraine will be able to get some much needed rest sooner rather than later.

https://support.savethechildren.org/site/Donation2?df_id=5746&mfc_pref=T&5746.donation=form1

 

04/16/2022

“People generally believe that stress is responsible for depletion, but apathy and uninspired systematic repetition are equally responsible. Or rather, systematic repetition produces as much or more stress and anxiety as anything else.”
― Darrell Calkins, Re:

On that note, have an inspired weekend. Happy Easter, everyone. And hopefully a peaceful one in Ukraine.

 

04/15/2022

“The essential dynamic underlying almost every elite and esoteric physical art is work with the breath, so there’s information available. I would only add that it’s unfortunate that so much work is done with it, and not much play. Laughter has got to be the single healthiest activity one can perform. Just think how healthy you would be if you could sincerely laugh at that which now oppresses you. I’ve mentioned before that one good measure of someone’s depth of spirituality is how long it takes before they become offended. Imagine laughing hysterically at the criticisms, complaints and impositions you receive. At the least, you’d be breathing well.”
― Darrell Calkins, Re:

So, practice hard and laugh hard – from the belly. Of course, what is happening in Ukraine is no laughing matter. Have a Happy Easter, everyone.

 

 

04/14/2022

Yesterday, Darrell Calkins’ quote mentioned an unwell lifestyle. Today’s quote from Darrell tells us how to correct it…

“If I were to make a list of focus for well-being, I would begin with lifestyle (the totality of one’s circumstance and how that is engaged, including job and relationships, and proximity to nature), attending to the physical functions correctly (posture, breathing, exercise, food, rest, etc.), consistent expression of your natural range of qualities, working and playing well and hard, and designing things so that you are doing what compels you. Obviously, you can’t give this list out as a prescription for physical problems and diseases, but then again, it is probably the correct prescription. If one were to follow it, any specific problem, even extreme, would almost certainly resolve itself.”
― Darrell Calkins, Re:

So, work and practice well and hard, folks. And give some thought to Save the Children and their work to help and heal the young victims of the War in Ukraine…

https://support.savethechildren.org/site/Donation2?df_id=5746&mfc_pref=T&5746.donation=form1

 

04/13/2022

More from Darrell Calkins and his book “RE:” This one is for all of you gym rats and morning latte drinkers…

“Getting down to the gym a couple days a week and having low-fat milk in your morning latte isn’t going to make much of a dent in a system or lifestyle that is essentially, well, unwell.”
― Darrell Calkins, Re:

Very true, indeed. So, people, practice hard but don’t overdo it. The same goes for your everyday life – don’t overindulge. In other words, limit your self indulgence and, instead, try to focus on others, especially those in need like the people of Ukraine.

https://www.unicefusa.org/war-ukraine

 

04/12/2022

“I look at the idea of rest as rotating one’s qualitative focus, not just doing less or changing activity. The role of rest is recovery. If you keep pushing the same quality button (fast or slow, concentrated or dispersed, hard-working or lazy…) for the same component all the time, of course it’s going to become depleted, just like if you keep working a single muscle in the same fashion or don’t use it at all.”
― Darrell Calkins, Re:

Practice hard, folks. But don’t forget to rest easy – very easy. Take a look…

04/11/2022

Continuing with more quotes from Darrell Calkins and his book “RE:” that relate to Daoist philosophy. This one concerns diet, that is, food for thought…

“A balanced diet” is not so much about protein/fat/carbohydrate ratios. The real ratios to consider, at least for the typical American or European, are energy consumption/expenditure, pleasure/actual need, food/everything else.”
― Darrell Calkins, Re:

The way Putin and his army are waging his war of world-wide starvation by cutting off the Ukranian grain production, we need to be concerned about our consumption.

https://www.unicefusa.org/war-ukraine

 

04/09/2022

Today Darrell Calkins has a quote that is very specific to Tai Chi, Qigong and Neigong, as well as Yoga – the health of the spine…

“Besides having been identified recently as the single most important factor in what men find sexy in women, the list of how correct posture influences internal organs and systems, and also mood and general energy, is very long indeed. Your internal environment depends on the efficiency of the flow of elements within it. Obviously, this includes oxygen, blood, hormones and nutrients, but also all interaction between nerves and the brain. The spine, which is your foundation and support, has a natural position that guarantees the efficiency of movement and interaction of the related elements. Your internal organs are all right alongside the spine and depend on its correct position to function well. Any prolonged restriction or deviation from this natural position will result in some, at least partial, dysfunction. Over a long time, the results can be devastating.”
― Darrell Calkins, Re:

Great quote to remember when you are practicing and even when you’re not – which is harder to remember. Let us remember, too, the courageous heroes and suffering victims and refugees of Ukraine.

https://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/

 

04/08/2022

They say ignorance is bliss, but maybe we are too ignorance about too many aspects of life. Here is an important take on our ignorance from Darrell Calkins and his book “Re:”

“If you’re ignoring a high percentage of the elements of your entire being, and the range of qualities they can naturally engage, there will be no real recovery or progress until you do. The typical relentless worker is just as lazy as the typical indulgent idler; they’re both just going through the habitual motions. To break the repetitive pattern, and discover more energy and effectiveness, one simply must stretch out in all directions, rotating focus and application of the qualities that make up one’s natural versatility.”
― Darrell Calkins, Re:

You can begin reaching and stretching out in all directions rotating your focus onto the sufferings in Ukraine.

https://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/

 

04/07/2022

More wisdom from Darrell Calkins and his book “Re:” This one is short but very sweet. Chew on it for awhile.

“It’s highly refined stuff—holding to one’s purpose and focus, but also intuiting the value of being a piece in a larger design and evolution. The balance between these two rhythms is where and when true harmony is achieved and magic happens. Often, just the release of the obsession for personal preferences and to personally gain opens the door.”
― Darrell Calkins, Re:

Think “Give” rather than “Gain,” especially now that the refugees and victims of Russian violence in Ukraine need so much help.

https://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/

 

04/06/2022

More from Darrell Calkins and his book “Re:” Right now, What are you yearning for?

“Yearning often does not provide a sense of attainment or “peace,” as it is fuel for one’s personal purpose, to in some specific way give or create; to do that is not necessarily easy or peaceful.”
― Darrell Calkins, Re:

Here’s something you may have been yearning to do – donate to help the suffering people, especially the children, of Ukraine. Here’s a great way to do that – and it’s easy…

https://support.savethechildren.org/site/Donation2?df_id=5746&mfc_pref=T&5746.donation=form1

 

04/05/2022

Another heart-felt gem from Darrell Calkins and his book “Re:”

“If one follows what is in one’s heart (let’s leave out mind for the moment), one ends up with what one truly values and loves in life—and one acts accordingly. One’s own private indulgent cyclic habitual reactive subjective transitory feelings are, hopefully, not at the head of that list.”
― Darrell Calkins, Re:

Be sure to check your list for those indulgent cyclic habitual reactive feelings. Hopefully the sufferings imposed upon Ukrainians are somewhere near the top. Here’s a great way to support the children of Ukraine and their families…

https://support.savethechildren.org/site/Donation2?df_id=5746&mfc_pref=T&5746.donation=form1

 

04/04/2022

More from Darrell Calkins and his book “Re:”

“Well-being, or wholeness, implies integrity and harmony between all existing elements, providing freedom for the whole.”
― Darrell Calkins, Re:

Definitely a good point to not only keep in mind but to apply as well. Here is something else to keep in mind: the suffering citizens of Ukraine and apply your generous compassion. Chef Jose Andres and his World Central Kitchen is a great place to start. Check out their #Chefs for Ukraine.

https://wck.org/

 

04/02/2022

We are currently reviewing quotes from Darrell Calkins and his book “Re:” that are in line with Daoist philosophy.

“Every brilliant theory in physics, for example, has been proven mainly wrong, except for the most recent ones, which will be. The big players, like Newton and Copernicus, gave us answers that were later proved more wrong than right. What they did—and why they are valued—is direct our attention to more piercing and compelling questions or possibilities. (I’d suggest the same holds true for the big spiritual players, but that’s a different letter.)”
― Darrell Calkins, Re:

Something to mull over: What is existence and do we really need it?

Have a great weekend, everyone. See you Monday. And remember the distressed people of Ukraine. Chef Jose Andres and his World Central Kitchen is a great place to start. Check out their #Chefs for Ukraine.

https://wck.org/

 

04/01/2022

We ended March and the first quarter of 2022 with Sheila Burke. We will return to her down the line. But for now I’d like to introduce you to Darrell Calkins for those of you who are not familiar with him or his work. Darrell is a writer, essayist, teacher, philosopher, and lecturer. He has written two books: “RE:” and “In the Midst of Things.” Most of the quotes we will be posting are from “RE:”

“Truth, or mystery basically, seeks the expression of itself. That is, evolution exists to create more mystery, not to answer or end the existing mysteries. This is why with every “truth” revealed, or every answer given, all that actually occurs is the creation of yet a more complex and mysterious question.”
― Darrell Calkins, Re:

Enjoy practicing and cultivating, everyone. And remember the distressed people of Ukraine. Chef Jose Andres and his World Central Kitchen is a great place to start. Check out their #Chefs for Ukraine.

https://wck.org/

 

 

03/31/2022

We finish out the month and the first quarter of 2022 (Time flies!) with another gem from Sheila Burke. This one still in an artisitc mode moving from Bob Ross to a smile of life and art.

“Life is an all-encompassing art gallery. From the seasons ushering in change to the way a body moves during dance; from the way one smile paints another to the waddle of a street rat – every facet of life is art in motion. Every time a bird takes flight from a branch the scene changes; each time the winds shift brings new perspective.”
― Sheila Burke

Enjoy practicing and cultivating, everyone. And remember the distressed people of Ukraine. Chef Jose Andres and his World Central Kitchen is a great place to start. Check out their #Chefs for Ukraine.

https://wck.org/

03/30/2022

Would you believe the Tao and Bob Ross? I can see the analogy, sort of. Another gem from Sheila Burke….

“When I think of Tao,
I think of the artist
Bob Ross and his famous painting techniques.
I can hear him say,
“It’s your tree, you can make it
look any way you want to.”
― Sheila Burke

Enjoy practicing and cultivating, everyone. And remember the distressed people of Ukraine.

03/29/2022

A thoughtful analogy for today from Sheila Burke:

“Everything is in the root.
If you pick the weed without getting the root out of the soil, be assured, it is going to grow back.”
― Sheila M. Burke, Enriched Heart: The Tao of Balancing Your Big, Beautiful, Badass Soul

03/28/2022

On Saturday, we began looking at quotes from Shiela Burke and her “Enriched Heart: The Tao of Balancing Your Big, Beautiful, Badass Soul.” We will look at more gems from Shiela and “Enriched Heart” over the next few days.

“You have the power to change the happiness level in someone’s life and in the process you change your mind-set and the level of your own happiness. Practicing kindness and compassion will change your life, your environment, your outlook on your future, and how you view what has happened in your past.”
― Sheila M. Burke, Enriched Heart: The Tao of Balancing Your Big, Beautiful, Badass Soul

Enjoy practicing and cultivating, everyone. And remember the distressed people of Ukraine. Chef Jose Andres and his World Central Kitchen is a great place to start. Check out their #Chefs for Ukraine.

https://wck.org

03/26/2022

“Taoism is simply the complete acceptance of yourself as you are right in this moment. It’s about rolling with the changes, whether they are perceived as good or bad. Tao reminds us to live life through good actions (important for past karma and karma you are presently creating); through practicing things that engage our mind, body, and spirit.”
― Sheila M. Burke, Enriched Heart: The Tao of Balancing Your Big, Beautiful, Badass Soul

Have a peaceful weekend, everyone. And remember the brave people of Ukraine.

03/25/2022

Today we look at the third sage in the painting to taste the vinegar, Lao-tzu, and his reaction, a smile, that reveals a great deal about his personal philosophy.

To Lao-tse (LAOdsuh), the harmony that naturally existed between heaven and earth from the very beginning could be found by anyone at any time, but not by following the rules of the Confucianists. As he stated in his Tao To Ching (DAO DEH JEENG), the “Tao Virtue Book,” earth was in essence a reflection of heaven, run by the same laws – not by the laws of men. These laws affected not only the spinning of distant planets, but the activities of the birds in the forest and the fish in the sea. According to Lao-tse, the more man interfered with the natural balance produced and governed by the universal laws, the further away the harmony retreated into the distance. The more forcing, the more trouble. Whether heavy or fight, wet or dry, fast or slow, everything had its own nature already within it, which could not be violated without causing difficulties. When abstract and arbitrary rules were imposed from the outside, struggle was inevitable. Only then did life become sour.

To Lao-tse, the world was not a setter of traps but a teacher of valuable lessons. Its lessons needed to be learned, just as its laws needed to be followed; then all would go well. Rather than turn away from “the world of dust,” Lao-tse advised others to “join the dust of the world.” What he saw operating behind everything in heaven and earth he called Tao (DAO), “the Way.”

A basic principle of Lao-tse’s teaching was that this Way of the Universe could not be adequately described in words, and that it would be insulting both to its unlimited power and to the intelligent human mind to attempt to do so. Still, its nature could be understood, and those who cared the most about it, and the life from which it was inseparable, understood it best.”
― Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

03/24/2022

Today we look at the second sage in Benjamin Hoff’s story to taste the vinegar, Buddha, and his reaction that reveals a great deal about his personal philosophy.

“To Buddha, the second figure in the painting, life on earth was bitter, filled with attachments and desires that led to suffering. The world was seen as a setter of traps, a generator of illusions, a revolving wheel of pain for all creatures. In order to find peace, the Buddhist considered it necessary to transcend “the world of dust” and reach Nirvana, literally a state of “no wind.” Although the essentially optimistic attitude of the Chinese altered Buddhism considerably after it was brought in from its native India, the devout Buddhist often saw the way to Nirvana interrupted all the same by the bitter wind of everyday existence.” – Benjamin Hoff, “The Tao of Pooh”

Tomorrow we look at the reaction of the third sage, Lao-tze, in the painting and his reaction to the taste of vinegar.

03/23/2022

Today we look at Kung Fu-tze or Confucius, the first of the three sages, to taste the vinegar and his reaction that tells us a great deal about his personal philosophy.

“To Kung Fu-tse (kung FOOdsuh), life seemed rather sour. He believed that the present was out step with the past, and that the government of man on earth was out of harmony with the Way of Heaven, the government of, the universe. Therefore, he emphasized reverence for the Ancestors, as well as for the ancient rituals and ceremonies in which the emperor, as the Son of Heaven, acted as intermediary between limitless heaven and limited earth. Under Confucianism, the use of precisely measured court music, prescribed steps, actions, and phrases all added up to an extremely complex system of rituals, each used for a particular purpose at a particular time. A saying was recorded about K’ung Fu-tse: “If the mat was not straight, the Master would not sit.” This ought to give an indication of the extent to which things were carried out under Confucianism.” – Benjamin Hoff, “The Tao of Pooh”

03/22/2022

Over the next few days our quotes will be from Benjamin Hoff, “The Tao of Pooh.” It concerns three of the most famous sages from ancient times and their reaction to sampling a taste of vinegar and what that tells us about their respective philosophies. Today’s quote sets the stage for each sage’s reaction.

“We see three men standing around a vat of vinegar. Each has dipped his finger into the vinegar and has tasted it. The expression on each man’s face shows his individual reaction. Since the painting is allegorical, we are to understand that these are no ordinary vinegar tasters, but are instead representatives of the “Three Teachings” of China, and that the vinegar they are sampling represents the Essence of Life. The three masters are K’ung Fu-tse (Confucius), Buddha, and Lao-tse, author of the oldest existing book of Taoism. The first has a sour look on his face, the second wears a bitter expression, but the third man is smiling.”

03/21/2022

“So, he who displays himself does not shine; he who asserts his own views is not distinguished; he who vaunts himself does not find his merit acknowledged; he who is self-conceited has no superiority allowed to him.”
― Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

03/17/2022

Laozi again speaking on war and its destruction as today can be seen in Ukraine

““This world has no need for weapons,
Which soon turn on themselves.
Where armies camp, nettles grow;
After each war, years of famine.

The most fruitful outcome
Does not depend on force,
But succeeds without arrogance
Without hostility
Without pride
Without resistance
Without violence.”
― Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 30

Let us not forget the Ukrainian people and the refugees who continue to need our thoughts and support as well as those from surrounding countries that have reached out to give them sanctuary.

03/14/2022

It’s a shame Putin is an arrogant despot. He could have learned a lot from President Zelensky on how to govern a large country properly as pointed out by Laozi in Chapter 60 of the Tao Te Ching:

“Governing a large country is like frying small fish. Too much poking spoils the meat.” – Laozi, Tao Te Ching, Ch. 60

03/11/2022

Today we have a Zhuangzi excerpt from a passage entitled “The Inner Law” from Thomas Merton’s, “The Way of Chuang Tzu. This particular excerpt points to the character and ultimate destiny of Vladimir Putin…

“He who seeks to extend his control
Is nothing but an operator.
While he thinks he is
Surpassing others,
Others see him merely
Straining, stretching,
To stand on tiptoe.

“When he tries to extend his power
Over objects,
Those objects gain control
Of him.

“He who is controlled by objects
Loses possession of his inner self:
If he no longer values himself,
How can he value others?
If he no longer values others,
He is abandoned.
He has nothing left!

“There is no deadlier weapon than the will!
The sharpest sword
Is not equal to it!
There is no robber so dangerous
As Nature (Yang and Yin).
Yet it is not nature
That does the damage:
It is man’s own will!”
― Thomas Merton, The Way of Chuang Tzu

Let us not forget the Ukrainian people and the refugees who continue to need our thoughts and support as well as those from surrounding countries that have reached out to give them sanctuary.

03/10/2022

We turn from Sun Tzu and “The Art of War” to Laozi and the Tao Te Ching with a couple of quotes on kindness and compassion, which we have seen a great deal of during the war in Ukraine.

“The reason why heaven and earth are able to endure and continue thus long is because they do not live of, or for, themselves.”
― Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

“The heart that gives, gathers.”
― Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

03/09/2022

Continuing with quotes by Sun Tzu from his “The Art of War” as it applies to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, today Sun Tzu lists five important points that are the keys to victory.

“Thus we may know that there are five essentials for victory:
1 He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight.
2 He will win who knows how to handle both superior and inferior forces.
3 He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks.
4 He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy unprepared.
5 He will win who has military capacity and is not interfered with by the sovereign.”
― Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Vladimir Putin, his generals and the Russian army have failed on all five essentials. In fact, a member of Russia’s intelligence agency has branded the invasion a “Total Failure.” Forced to try and bomb the Ukrainians into surrendering will make it impossible for the Russians to successfully occupy Ukraine – ever. Putin and his generals have only succeeded in getting themselves indicted as War Criminals. So, beware, Mr. Putin, the Ides of March are quickly approaching.

 

03/08/2022

While Ukrainian Resistance courageous hoods off the invading Russian forces, we hear once again from Sun Tzu…

“There are roads which must not be followed, armies which must not be attacked, towns which must not be besieged, positions which must not be contested, commands of the sovereign which must not be obeyed.” – Sun Tzu, The Art of War

It’s that very last part that gets me. When are these Russian soldiers going to realize Putin has duped them? When will they stand up and say, “No! Enough is enough?”

Let us not forget the Ukrainian people and the refugees who continue to need our thoughts and support.

03/07/2022

We start off our week with more quotes from Sun Tzu and “The Art of War” as Russian forces continue their clumsy advance against the outnumbered but superior-trained Ukrainian army.

“In the practical art of war, the best thing of all is to take the enemy’s country whole and intact; to shatter and destroy it is not so good. So, too, it is better to capture an army entire than to destroy it, to capture a regiment, a detachment or a company entire than to destroy them.” – Sun Tzu, The Art of War

This is exactly what Putin and his generals thought they could do and would do. But, even though the Russians far outnumber the Ukrainians, they have failed. If they do managed to take Kyiv and ultimately Ukraine, it will be piecemeal and at a very high cost to the Russian Army in terms of massive casualties and destroyed equipment as they battle a smaller yet far better-trained army. Obviously, Putin did not think this one through, and in the long run, he will have greatly damaged Russia and her people.

At this point, we should give Kudos to the U.S. and NATO militaries that have trained and equiped the Ukrainian Army into one of the finest in all of Europe. But let us not forget the Ukrainian people and its refugee who continue to need our thought and support.

03/05/2022

Could this be happening to Putin among those who surround and protect him.

“If there is disturbance in the camp, the general’s authority is weak.” – Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Have a great weekend, everyone. And let us keep the courageous people of Ukraine in our minds and our hearts. Glory to Ukraine, Glory to the Heroes!

03/04/2022

The Daoist who is most noted for his knowledge of warfare is Sun Tzu who wrote the Taoist classic on war: “The Art of War.” He has direct warning for Vladimir Putin and ambitious and egotistical leaders like him…

“No ruler should put troops into the field merely to gratify his own spleen; no general should fight a battle simply out of pique.” – Sun Tzu, The Art of War.

We will have a few more of Sun Tzu’s gems as they apply to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. For now let us keep the courageous people of Ukraine in our minds and our hearts. Glory to Ukraine, Glory to the Heroes.

 

03/03/2022

Today we move from Laozi to the other noble ancient sage of Daoism, Zhuangzi, and a quote that subtly describes the mental condition of Vladimir Putin. It’s a quote that Western leaders should come to understand as Putin threatens the West with his nuclear arsenal.

“We can’t expect a blind man to appreciate beautiful patterns or a deaf man to listen to bells and drums. And blindness and deafness are not confined to the body alone – the understanding has them, too.” Zhuangzi

Let us keep the courageous people of Ukraine in our minds and our hearts. Glory to Ukraine, Glory to the Heroes.

03/02/2022

Today’s quote offers up a grave warning to Russian President Putin from Laozi and the Tao Te Ching…

“The world is a sacred vessel, which must not be tampered with or grabbed after. To tamper with it is to spoil it, and to grasp it is to lose it.”

Let us keep the courageous people of Ukraine in our minds and our hearts. Glory to Ukraine, Glory to the Heroes.

03/01/2022

We will be returning to Alan Watts quotes, but for now during the Russian invasion of Ukraine, I would like to keep the focus on Daoist ideas about war and those leaders who wage them as well a the heroes who must defend against the warmongers. So, today with that in mind we turn to Laozi and the Tao Te Ching to hear his thoughts about an irresponsible warmongering tyrant that Putin is.

“Weapons are the tools of violence;
all decent men detest them.

“Weapons are the tools of fear;
a decent man will avoid them
except in the direst necessity
and, if compelled, will use them
only with the utmost restraint.
Peace is his highest value.
If the peace has been shattered,
how can he be content?
His enemies are not demons,
but human beings like himself.
He doesn’t wish them personal harm.
Nor does he rejoice in victory.
How could he rejoice in victory
and delight in the slaughter of men?

He enters a battle gravely,
with sorrow and with great compassion,
as if he were attending a funeral.”
– Chapter 31, Tao Te Ching, translated by Stephen Mitchell

Obviously, Laozi doesn’t think that Vladimir Putin is a decent man. Neither do the leaders of NATO and most of the UN countries. With all the atrocities the Russians are committing, perhaps the Ukrainian peoples’ militia do indeed rejoice in any kind of victory.

I’m sure many of the non-military Ukrainians – the grandmothers, the teachers, the shop owners and grocery store clerks – can identify with the last part of Laozi’s chapter – as they take up arms for the first time in their lives to defend their homeland and enter that great task gravely. Maybe not with sorrow nor compassion but with immense determination and love for freedom.

Glory to Ukraine, glory to the heroes!

02/28/2022

Continuing with quotes on the Tao from the most prolific and enlightening philosopher-sage of the last century, Alan Watts, today we have one from “The Way of Zen” that should be applied to Vladimir Putin as it absolutely fits his fanatical delusions.

“Reasonable – that is, human – men will always be capable of compromise, but men who have dehumanized themselves by becoming the blind worshipers of an idea or an ideal are fanatics whose devotion to abstractions makes them the enemies of life.”
Alan Watts

Not only a War Criminal, Vladimir Putin and those who would praise and side with him are truly enemies of life. Let’s continue to keep our hearts focused on Vladimir Zelensky and the courageous people of Ukraine.

02/26/2022

There is no doubt that the invasion of Ukraine initiated by Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation, can be construed as a war crime of immense proportions. Furthermore, not only Putin but those enablers that surround him and keep him in power should all be charged as well as the military commanders who planned this invasion and those responsible for deploying those plans in the field.

From Ukrinform.net, the media arm of the the Verkhovna Rada (the Ukraine Parliament): “The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine has called on the international community to recognize Putin as war criminal and to strengthen sanctions not only against him but also against Russians who are fully responsible for their authorities.

“The Ukrainian parliament is convinced that the recent actions of the Russian Federation, which is continuing a full-scale war against Ukraine, can be regarded only as international terrorism.”

There is one problem with charging the Russians with war crimes, namely, it is impossible at this point for the Internation Criminal Court (ICC) to take any action.

ICC Prosecutor, Karim A.A. Khan QC, on the situation in Ukraine: “My Office has also received multiple queries on the amendments to the Rome Statute with respect to the crime of aggression, which came into force in 2018, and the application of those amendments to the present situation. Given that neither Ukraine nor the Russian Federation are State Parties to the Rome Statute, the Court cannot exercise jurisdiction over this alleged crime in this situation.”

Khan went on to state: “My Office will continue to closely monitor the Situation in Ukraine. In the independent and impartial exercise of its mandate, the Office remains fully committed to the prevention of atrocity crimes and to ensuring that anyone responsible for such crimes is held accountable.”

Since amendments to the Rome Statute are useless in this situation, hopefully NATO and the UN can find another way to take action and charge Putin and his Russian perpetrators with war crimes and offer a large reward (in the billions for their capture.

Have a great weekend, everyone, and center your thoughts and your hearts on peace for the Ukrainians.

https://www.unicef.org/stories/children-eastern-ukraine-fear-future

ENLIGHTEN YOUR DAYS

a daily diary of notes on Daoist Internal Arts practices

If you are a cultivator whose one burning desire is attaining the highest goal humanly possible – Enlightenment – then I hope my daily thoughts on my Daoism-based internal arts practices may be of some help. As a cultivator, myself, I try to use the Internal Arts of Daoism – taijiquan, nei gong, and baguazhang – to condition my body and mind through readings, teachings, internal exercises and meditation with an internal environment that allows me to follow the Path of the Dao.

VISIT US ON FACEBOOK

VISIT US ON INSTAGRAM

THE DAOIST DAILY DIARY

02/25/2022

Continuing with quotes on the Tao from the most prolific and enlightening philosopher-sage of the last century, Alan Watts, today we have one of his most profound quotes from “Psychotherapy East and West.”

“The ways of liberation are of course concerned with making this so-called mystical consciousness the normal everyday consciousness. […]. It has nothing to do with a perception of something else than the physical world. On the contrary, it is the clear perception of this world as a field, a perception which is not just theoretical but which is also felt as clearly as we feel, say, that “I” am a thinker behind and apart from my thoughts, or that the stars are absolutely separate from space and from each other. In this view the differences of the world are not isolated objects encountering one another in conflict, but expressions of polarity. Opposites and differences have something between them, like the two faces of a coin; they do not meet as total strangers. When this relativity of things is seen very strongly, its appropriate affect is love rather than hate or fear.”
― Alan W. Watts, Psychotherapy East and West

If you understood the quote, you will realize that, although we live in different areas across the globe, we are not separate from the terrorized people of Ukraine and especially the children. Show your concern by helping UNICEF in any way you can.

https://www.unicef.org/emergencies/conflict-ukraine-pose-immediate-threat-children

02/24/2022

Continuing with quotes on the Tao from the most prolific and enlightening philosopher-sage of the last century, Alan Watts, today we have the first of several of his quotes from “Psychotherapy East and West.”

“But what our social institutions repress is not just the sexual love, the mutuality, of man and woman, but also the still deeper love of organism and environment, of Yes and No, and of all those so-called opposites represented by the Taoist symbol of the yin-yang, the black and white fishes in eternal intercourse. It is hardly stretching a metaphor to use the word “love” for intimate relationships beyond those between human organisms.”
― Alan W. Watts, Psychotherapy East and West

A reminder: don’t forget to add “Providing Service” to your regular practice of personal cultivation and enjoy. Thanks for stopping by.

 

02/23/2022

Continuing with quotes on the Tao from the most prolific and enlightening philosopher-sage of the last century, Alan Watts, today we have our last one from “Nature, Man and Woman.”

“Thus contemplation or meditation which seeks a result is neither contemplation nor meditation, for the simple reason that contemplation (kuan) is consciousness without seeking. Naturally, such consciousness is concentrated, but it is not ‘practising concentration;’ it is concentrated in whatever happens to be its ‘eternal now.”
― Alan W. Watts, Nature, Man and Woman

A reminder: don’t forget to add “Providing Service” to your regular practice of personal cultivation and enjoy. Thanks for stopping by.

 

02/22/2022

Continuing with quotes on the Tao from the most prolific and enlightening philosopher-sage of the last century, Alan Watts…

“Sexual yoga needs to be freed from a misunderstanding attached to all forms of yoga, of spiritual ‘practice’ or ‘exercise,’ since these ill-chosen words suggest that yoga is a method for the progressive achievement of certain results – and this is exactly what it’s not. Yoga means ‘union,’ that is, the realization of man’s inner identity with Brahman or Tao, and strictly speaking this is not an end to which there are methods or means since it cannot be made an object of desire. The attempt to achieve it invariably thrusts it away.”
― Alan W. Watts, Nature, Man and Woman

A constant reminder to add “Providing Service” to your everyday practice. It will balance your internal focus on Self-Cultivation with an external practice of “goodwill” that not only provides benefits to others, whether through donations and/or volunteering your time and skills, but will deepen and stabilize your all-around awareness. As time goes on, you will discover that Self-Cultivation and Providing Service to others are one and the same. Thank you for stopping by.

 

02/21/2022

Resuming with quotes on the Tao from the most prolific and enlightening philosopher-sage of the last century, Alan Watts, we look at another quote from “Nature, Man and Woman.”

“It is true that in Taoism and Tantric Buddhism there are what appear to be techniques or ‘practices’ of sexual relationship[.] Their use is the consequence rather than the cause of a certain inner attitude, since they suggest themselves almost naturally to partners who take their love as it comes, contemplatively, and are in no hurry to grasp anything from it.”
― Alan W. Watts, Nature, Man and Woman

A constant reminder to add “Providing Service” to your everyday practice. It will balance your internal focus on Self-Cultivation with an external practice of “goodwill” that not only provides benefits to others, whether through donations and/or volunteering your time and skills, but will deepen and stabilize your all-around awareness. As time goes on, you will discover that Self-Cultivation and Providing Service to others are one and the same. Thank you for stopping by.

02/20/2022

As long as there are human beings, there will be religion for the sufficient reason that the self is a theomorphic creature – one whose morphe (form) is theos – God encased within it. Having been created in the imago Dei, the image God, all human beings have a God-shaped vacuum built into their hearts. Since nature abhors a vacuum, people keep trying to fill the one inside them.” – Huston Smith

Another beautiful weekend in L. A., but look out – rain is on the way, beginning tomorrow.

2/19/2022

Continuing with quotes on the Tao from the most prolific and enlightening philosopher-sage of the last century, Alan Watts…

“The rift between God and nature would vanish if we knew how to experience nature, because what keeps them apart is not a difference of substance but a split in the mind.”
― Alan W. Watts, Nature, Man and Woman

Another beautiful weekend in Los Angeles. Sunny and mild, temperature in the 70s. Have a great weekend, everyone. And don’t forget to add “Providing Service to your regular practice.

02/18/2022

Continuing with quotes on the Tao from the most prolific and enlightening philosopher-sage of the last century, Alan Watts, today we have two from “Nature, Man, and Woman.”

“Sexuality is not a separate compartment of human life; it is a radiance pervading every human relationship, but assuming a particular intensity at certain points.”
― Alan W. Watts, Nature, Man and Woman

“The full splendor of sexual experience does not reveal itself without a new mode of attention to the world in general.”
― Alan W. Watts, Nature, Man and Woman

A constant reminder to add “Providing Service” to your everyday practice. It will balance your internal focus on Self-Cultivation with an external practice of “goodwill” that not only provides benefits to others, whether through donations and/or volunteering your time and skills, but will deepen and stabilize your all-around awareness. As time goes on, you will discover that Self-Cultivation and Providing Service to others are one and the same. Thank you for stopping by.

02/17/2022

Continuing with quotes on the Tao from the most prolific and enlightening philosopher-sage of the last century, Alan Watts, today we have two from “The Meaning of Happiness:”

“Trying to explain Zen is like trying to catch wind in a box; the moment you close the lid it ceases to be wind and in time becomes stagnant air.”
― Alan W. Watts, The Meaning of Happiness

“Zen concentrates on the importance of seeing into one’s own nature now at this moment – not in five minutes when you have had time to “accept” yourself, nor ten years ahead when you have had time to retire to the mountains and meditate.”
― Alan W. Watts, The Meaning of Happiness

A constant reminder to add “Providing Service” to your everyday practice. It will balance your internal focus on Self-Cultivation with an external practice of “goodwill” that not only provides benefits to others, whether through donations and/or volunteering your time and skills, but will deepen and stabilize your all-around awareness. As time goes on, you will discover that Self-Cultivation and Providing Service to others are one and the same. Thank you for stopping by.

02/16/2022

Continuing with quotes on the Tao from the most prolific and enlightening philosopher-sage of the last century, Alan Watts…

“Great power is worry, and total power is boredom, such that even God renounces it and pretends, instead, that he is people and fish and insects and plants: the myth of the king who goes wandering among his subjects in disguise.”
― Alan W. Watts, Tao: The Watercourse Way

A constant reminder to add “Providing Service” to your everyday practice. It will balance your internal focus on Self-Cultivation with an external practice of “goodwill” that not only provides benefits to others, whether through donations and/or volunteering your time and skills, but will deepen and stabilize your all-around awareness. As time goes on, you will discover that Self-Cultivation and Providing Service to others are one and the same. Thank you for stopping by.

 

02/15/2022

Next up on The Daoist Daily Diary is one of the most prolific and enlightening philosopher-sages of the last century, Alan Watts, and a collection of his quotes on Taoism as well as comparisons with other spiritual philosophies of the time. We start off with this one from “The Way of Zen.”

“But spontaneity is not by any means a blind, disorderly urge, a mere power of caprice. A philosophy restricted to the alternatives of conventional language has no way of conceiving an intelligence which does not work according to plan, according to a one-at-a-time order of thought. Yet the concrete evidence of such an intelligence is right to hand in our own thoughtlessly ordered bodies. For the Tao does not ‘know’ how it produces the universe just as we do not ‘know’ how we construct our brains.”
― Alan Wilson Watts, The Way of Zen

A constant reminder to add “Providing Service” to your everyday practice. It will balance your internal focus on Self-Cultivation with an external practice of “goodwill” that not only provides benefits to others, whether through donations and/or volunteering your time and skills, but will deepen and stabilize your all-around awareness. As time goes on, you will discover that Self-Cultivation and Providing Service to others are one and the same. Thank you for stopping by.

02/14/2022

“The full splendor of sexual experience does not reveal itself without a new mode of attention to the world in general.”
― Alan W. Watts, Nature, Man and Woman

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! We concluded our review of the precepts of Daoism last week, finishing up with compassion. So, today, in honor of Valentine’s Day, I would like to touch briefly on the idea of “Service.” Providing service to others has always been intrinsic to the practice of Daoism. For one reason, it provides practitioners with much-need balance. Practicing self-cultivation as much as possible can leave one more than a bit self-centered. Of course, it is about self-improvement and enriching our personal lives. Nevertheless, we need to devote some time to the service of others, if for no other reason than to make sure that we are not becoming too unbalanced.

Also, serving others provides helps to enrich our lives from the “outside in. Providing service begins to change our lives and enrich our nature from the outside. Finally, what is the point of spiritual cultivation if it cannot be used for the benefit of others and to improve this world?

So, this week, begin to make serving others an integral part of your practice. And enjoy! Thanks for stopping by.

https://www.feedingamerica.org/take-action/volunteer

02/13/2022

“My opinion is that you never find happiness until you stop looking for it.”
― Solala Towler, Cha Dao: The Way of Tea, Tea as a Way of Life

Well, it’s finally over. The 2021-2022 Football season has at last ended, and we can all return to our normal lives. Although those who love to live vicariously may not enjoy that. Nevertheless, the Dao always put Natural ahead of Vicarious. Hope you had a Super weekend.

02/12/2022

“When the wrong man uses the right means, the right means work in the wrong way.”
― Taoist saying

Another Super Weekend in Los Angeles. warm and wonderful, a great day for a hike in the hills. Tale care, everyone, and enjoy another Super Weekend before things cool down during the week.

02/11/2022

“What is the difference between Zen and Tao? Roshi – “Look at this perfect peach. This must be Zen.” Sensei – “If so, then see this wondrous tree here who gave us our peach, it is the Tao.” Roshi – “Then look to the Earth from where the tree emerges. that is Zen. Sensei – “Then look to the sky whose wind blows through the leaves and whose clouds bring it the water of life.” it is the Tao. Roshi – “Then look to the silent witnessing stars spanning through infinity they are so very Zen” Sensei ~ “Yet look at the space between all these stars, that must be the Tao.” Then they smiled broadly and laughed hysterically “look at our many words they are like the dead leaves of this tree. What a bonfire we can now make.”
― Leland Lewis, Random Molecular Mirroring

Have a great Super Bowl Weekend, everyone. And enjoy your practice.

02/10/2022

“The Formless Way
We look at it, and do not see it; it is invisible.
We listen to it, and do not hear it; it is inaudible.
We touch it, and do not feel it; it is intangible.
These three elude our inquiries, and hence merge into one.

Not by its rising, is it bright,
nor by its sinking, is it dark.
Infinite and eternal, it cannot be defined.
It returns to nothingness.
This is the form of the formless, being in non-being.
It is nebulous and elusive.

Meet it, and you do not see its beginning.
Follow it, and you do not see its end.
Stay with the ancient Way
in order to master what is present.
Knowing the primeval beginning is the essence of the Way.”
― Tao Te Ching, Chapter 14 – Translated by S. Beck

So, stay with your practice as well in order to master what is present and enjoy. Thanks for stopping by.

02/09/2022

“You have only to rest in inaction and things will transform themselves. Smash your form and body, spit out hearing and eyesight, forget you are a thing among other things, and you may join in great unity with the deep and boundless.”
― Zhuangzi, The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu

When Zhuangzi mentions “inaction,” he doesn’t mean no action at all but no contrived, premeditated or self-centered and self-serving (form and body) action. Instead he wants us to consider truly natural action not based on what we see and hear funnelled through our ego or our acquired, conditioned mind but through a humility that is independent of a separate self.

Enjoy your practicing, folks. And thanks for stopping by.

02/08/2022

Today we come to an end of our discussion on the 15 Daoist Precepts (10 Rule-type precepts and 5 quality precepts). We end with the fifth quality precept – Cultivate Compassion. I am sure most of us understand what compassion is. The question is, however, how do we develop it. Like we discussed yesterday, by practicing the first three quality precepts – humility, humor and simplicity – will lead you to being a compassionate person. But remember, as far as the rule-type precepts are concerned, “it is to cause as little change to others’ lives as possible. With little in the way of self-awareness or awareness of others, every action that one generates ripples outwards to change the life paths of those around around us.”

So, we don’t just want to hop outside and mindlessly assault people with kindness. There needs to be a balance between helping others and causing as little change to their lives as possible. This is where the fourth quality precept that we looked at last night comes in. By developing Wu Wei, our act of kindness and compassion will come from a place that is balance with the flow of the Dao. One’s energy will seamlessly flow through and within the community they find themselves in and not develop any breaks or divisions that will lead to separateness.

So, there you have it, all of the Daoist precepts. I do hope that all of you will seamlessly flow into enjoying your practice. While the Diary will be moving on to other topics, let’s keep practicing these five qualities every chance we get. Thanks for stopping by.

02/07/2022

Today we shall look closer at Daoism’s fourth and perhaps most confusing of the quality precept – Cultivate and Adhere to Wu Wei.

The reason it is rather confusing is the way it is translated. Wu Wei literally means ‘No Action’ or ‘Non-Doing.’ While there is nothing wrong with the translation, itself, it unfortunately gives us a false impression of the meaning. Wu Wei actually means take no contrived, premeditated, or intentional action, which most of our actions are. In other words, we mostly think about what we are going to do before doing it with conscious intention. This rumination and its resulting actions stem from our acquired or condition mind but are not in keeping with spontaneity that is the essence of being attuned to the Dao. Thus our actions are mostly self-serving rather than flowing naturally.

The problem is that we are always ‘intending,’ whether it is conscious, subconscious or unconscious intention. The term ‘Yi Nian’ is the balance that is required by the Yi (active mind) and Nian (passive mind). When the two are in balance, then our actions will begin to develop and adhere to the concept of Wu Wei. To balance Yi Nian, it requires development of the first three quality precepts. Once we diligently practice humility, humor and simplicity, over time our active and passive minds will properly balance and our actions will take on that spontaneous nature that is the essence of Wu Wei.

Enjoy practicing, people, and stop by tomorrow for our final quality precept.

02/06/2022

Another beautiful ‘Sun’ day in Los Angeles. Just finished a fascinating online Qigong workshop with my teacher Damo Mitchell, Internal Arts Academy and Lotus Neigong. Hope all of you will stop by tomorrow Monday as we finish up the Daoists Precepts.

02/05/2022

I am doing a 3-day online Qigong/Neigong workshop this weekend with my teacher Damo Mitchell, Lotus Neigong and Internal Arts Academy. So, we will resume our review of the last two quality precepts of Daoism on Monday. Until then I will leave you with this quote from our lineage at the Internal Arts Academy…

“Harmonious Qi, a quiet mind, a tranquil nature, ‘forgotten’ emotions and a harmonious Shen are the immortal medicines (Xian Yao) of Daoism.” – from the Internal Arts Academy.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

02/04/2022

Today we shall look closer at Daoism’s third quality precept – “Simplicity.”

In Daoism simplicity went by the term “Pu.” Perfection of this quality corresponds to Laozi’s concept of the “uncarved block.”

“Tao is eternal, but has no fame (name);
The Uncarved Block, though seemingly of small account,
Is greater than anything that is under heaven.
If kings and barons would but possess themselves of it,
The ten thousand creatures would flock to do them homage;
Heaven-and-earth would conspire
To send Sweet Dew,
Without law or compulsion, men would dwell in harmony.
Once the block is carved, there will be names,
And so soon as there are names,
Know that it is time to stop.
Only by knowing when it is time to stop can danger be avoided.
To Tao all under heaven will come
As streams and torrents flow into a great river or sea.”
– Translated by Arthur Waley, 1934, Chapter 32

Nothing has been chipped away from the block. Thus, like Laozi’s Dao, the uncarved block is nameless, but once it is carved in any way, there will be names, and as soon as there are names, there is imperfection. It is no longer simplicity nor is it aligned with the flow of Dao. So, to Laozi, Pu or Simplicity meant Wisdom, the ability to encounter universal information perceived in purity. To Zhuangzi, it meant humor, which pulses away the layers of negativity at one’s center as we saw yesterday.

The key is the simpler, the better. Enjoy practicing, and keep it simple, folks. Thanks for stopping by.

02/03/2022

Today we shall look closer at Daoism’s second quality precept – “Cultivate a sense of humor.”

Anyone who has read the “Zhuangzi” from Daoism’s long-standing comic, Zhuangzi or Chuang tzu, can understand the place humor has in the cultivation of the Dao. Humor is not used here to entertain but to instruct and emphasize the place the other precepts should have in one’s daily life. But even more than instructing and teaching, humor has energetic purpose – to create a pulse within one’s center that dissolve those layers of negativity piled onto one’s Ming that are suppressing one’s natural-born qualities. Zhuangzi’s tradition is based in allowing you to stay as natural and spontaneous as possible by using the energetic mechanism of humor to dissolve potential attachments before they fully form.

So, in short, humor and the dissolving nature of its energy can be used to strip away difficult emotional layers before they can anchor into one’s heart mind.

No, humor is not joy, but it can bring a certain degree of enjoyment to the difficult and sometimes exhausting practice of cultivation. So, enjoy your practicing, folks, and try to do it with a sense of humor. Thanks for stopping by.

02/02/2022

Today we shall look closer at Daoism’s first and most important as well as most difficult quality precept – “Cultivate humility.”

If you don’t think this is the hardest task you will ever attempt, think again. Why? Because you have something huge working against you, the very thing you will try to use to cultivate humility – your own mind. Sure, your heart mind will agree with the precept in its aim to connect with the Dao. However, your conditioned mind, your everyday mind, has been trying to keep itself head and shoulders above the crowd and ahead of the pack throughout most of your years. Do you think that now it is about to relent?

Although it is conflicted in that it wants to go one way while your heart mind wants to go in the opposite direction, it will appear to go along with your heart mind’s intention. However, it will have you go about it in a way that seems logical but will lead to outright failure by encouraging you to look humble and put forth a humble appearance in all you do. But without that true quality of humility at the very core of your being, you will only be creating false humility, which is often a mask for arrogance and which is sure to be recognized as such by those around you.

To become humble, you must first realize what humility truly is. Originally it referred to opening a space in the center of one’s heart mind to the wider nature of existence. But in time that space creates a vacuum within the center of your being for divine information to flood in and fill. Here in the center of your being you can access spontaneous teachings, in other words, Wisdom. In Daoism, Wisdom. like humility, itself, is very Yin, whose main quality is receptivity. In this case, one is receiving a pure perception of everything taking place around you.

However, you must strip away the layers of fear and pessimism that the conditioned mind will amass to prevent itself from being diminished in any way, which is exactly what humility does. Thus, one needs to free oneself from as many shackles to the conditioned mind as one can. By dissolving these emotional insecurities, one can then feel more secure and much less fearful around practicing humility in daily life.

We will look at the second quality precept in Daoism tomorrow. Until then, enjoy practicing humility without fear. Thank you for stopping by.

02/01/2022

Today we will look at the brief list of the five quality precepts of Daoism. Unlike the ten rule-type precepts, which focus on our relationship to others and the external would in general, the five quality precepts deal with our internal world and the cultivation of ourselves and the ‘personal qualities’ we possess.

1. Cultivate humility
2. Cultivate a sense of humor
3. Live with simplicity
4. Adhere to and develop Wu Wei
5 Cultivate compassion

You may think these are quite obvious, and they are. But there is more to each one as you shall see when we look at them in detail beginning tomorrow. Until then, keep practicing and enjoying it, folks. Thanks for stopping by.

THE DAOIST DAILY DIARY

01/31/2022

I thought we would end January on a one-sentence quote from my favorite teacher that sums up the ten rule-type precepts as well as the coming quality precepts, which we will look at tomorrow.

“On the level of body, addictions must be ended. On the level of mind, habits must be ended. On the level of spirit, poisons must be ended.” – Damo Mitchell, Lotus Neigong and the Internal Arts Academy

01/30/2022

Today was another gorgeous Sunday in Los Angeles. A great day for hiking, which I enjoyed along the hillside trails of my favorite park. It was also a great day for tai chi, qigong and tui shou for those of you that took advantage of the weather.

NOTE: A note of CAUTION from yesterday’s post on the tenth and final rule-type precept of Daoism. Trying to follow this rule is not for everyone. Those of you who, for whatever reason, have low self-esteem should first try to build up your feelings about yourself despite being frustrated, unaccomplished or dissatisfied with your life. In this day and age with all the images of success and self-importance that are showered upon us daily by the media, it is easy to get down on yourself. Realizing that you need to put all others ahead of you will only knock down your self-esteem another notch or two. So, hold off on this precept until you can build up that self-image to some extent. Remember, it’s not that you are not worthy or respectable. It’s that you are not more worthy or more respectable or more special than anyone else.

01/29/2022

Today we take a closer look at the tenth and final rule-type precept of Daoism: As long as all beings have not attained the Tao, I will not expect to do so myself. In other words, put other’s attainment of Dao before one’s own. Except for Buddhism and its Bodhisattva Vow, I don’t think you will find many other religious codes with such an unselfish precept. In fact, I believe we would find just the opposite. Just as in the physical world, many people want to save their own necks before others. Spiritually, they are just as adamant about saving their own souls.

Of course, the belief in a separate and independent ‘self’ that functions in life with a free will is the cause for many of the illusions and neurosis of the mind. To break free and end this illusion of self-importance operating any way it pleases, the Daoist sages of the past designed this precept, which is based on Chapter 66 and Chapter 7 of the Tao Te Ching:
“So it is that the sage, wishing to be above men, puts himself by his words below them,
and wishing to be before them, places his person behind them.
In this way though he has his place above them, men do not feel his weight,
nor though he has his place before them, do they feel it an injury to them.”
– Chapter 66, translated by Andre Von Gauthier.

“Therefore, the Sage wants to remain behind,
But finds himself at the head of others;
Reckons himself out,
But finds himself safe and secure.
Is it not because he is selfless
That his Self is realized?”
– Chapter 7, translated by John C. H. Wu.

This seeking in Western society to be unique and special often results in destroying a person’s self-esteem when they fail to live up to the glamorous lifestyles and ambitions they have imagined for themselves. It is usually a long and hard fall that results. This Daoist precept, on the other hand, inculcates the idea that we are all a part of a much wider picture and none of us is more important than any other. But if we persist in our illusion of self-importance, union with Dao can never be attained. By shedding our own importance, our ‘self’ will fade with it and our true Self within will emerge.

On Monday, we will take a look at the five Quality-type precepts. Have a great weekend, everyone, and thanks for stopping by.

01/28/2022

Today we take a closer look at the ninth rule-type precept of Daoism: When someone wants to do me harm, I will not harbor thoughts of revenge. Or, in the Christian concept from the New Testament – “Turn the other cheek.”

In Daoism, while we should try to act in accord with the Dao, we cannot expect the same of others. Everyone conducts themselves according to their own set of values. Each of us has our own personal beliefs and often project these expected standard on others, which, in turn, has caused untold conflict in the world. On the other hand, it is not acceptable for us to drop our own set of values and ethics to justify seeking revenge on someone who has tried to do us harm, either consciously or inadvertently.

Our moral standards and values need to be independent of the actions of others. Thus, we must always project benevolence even when faced with unkindness or, even worse, belligerence. This is the Old Testament view of “an eye for an eye,” versus the New Testament view of “Turn the other cheek.”

If this seems too much like the contrived ethical facade of the Confucanists, it is on the surface. But internally, it is much different. This is not done for any kind of material gain or to put forth a virtuous front and thus acquire praise and admiration. Rather it is deeply centered on the recognition and cultivation of the inherent virtues and benevolence that are the very essence of our inherited authenticity as manifestations of the mystical Te or De.

So add this rule to your daily cultivation and keep practicing to see how you do with it. Good luck and thanks for stopping by.

01/27/2022

Today we take a closer look at the eighth rule-type precept of Daoism: When I see those less fortunate, I will support them in regaining their dignity and good fortune.

Like it or not, when it comes to the vagaries of Life, we are not on an even playing field. And, my apologies to Thomas Jefferson and the rest of our Founding Fathers but, no, all men – and women – are not created equal. There are vast differences in wealth, physical stature and health, psychological qualities, education, family status and conditioning. Despite all these differences, the Dao expects us to treat everyone in the same, exact manner, as Lao-tzu tells us in Chapter 5 of the Tao Te Ching – “like straw dogs.”

In ancient China, at the end of a spiritual ceremony the straw dogs, which represented actual animals, personages or deities, were tossed away and burned. The real animals or persons were not harmed at all. This is an analogy to our spiritual essence. It is not what we actually see in the physical and emotional makeup of each person that is important but their very essence within. We cannot be partial as to what is on the outside but must realize that the essence within all of us is the same regardless of our vast human differences.

Again Lao-tzu reminds us “Heaven and earth are ruthless…” They are completely impartial and don’t show any favortism. Hurricanes, flash floods and fires will destroy the lives, homes, and possessions or rich and poor alike. They are colorblind as well. Thus, in Chapter 5 Lao-tzu is telling us to get over our racial, sexual, and religious biases as well as our narcissistic pettiness and respect everyone and treat them with dignity – the way you want to be treated. So, the Golden Rule in Christianity and the Eighth Precept in Daoism are basically instructing us to “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Hopefully, this is another important aspect that you can add to your practice. And thanks for stopping by.

01/26/2022

Today we take a closer look at the seventh rule-type precept of Daoism: When I see someone do a good deed, I will support him with joy and delight. That’s a precept which isn’t common to all religions but one that is emphasized in the Daoist Arts especially Alchemy due to its effect on vital energy. But what if you were that kind person and not someone else, which is the case with several Daoist traditions such as Quanzhen sect. So, we can actually rephrase the above rule to read: Carry out kind actions and support those who do.

This actually sets up an interesting paradox. If you remember back a week or so when I posted the first precept, it was mentioned that we are not supposed to affect the lives of others which may have a disturbing effect. or even change one’s life path. At the time, I remaked that this was the true meaning of “Leave no footprints.” And so it is. But Daoist sages further realized that it was virtually impossible to ‘leave no footprints.’ Hence, if you are going to leave footprints anyway, they might as well be ‘good’ footprints rather than ‘bad’ ones.

Positive actions generate positive mental states in those we are affecting. This in turn changes the manner in which De or Te (the manifesting virtue of Dao) exists and so creates a better world that is beneficial to the cultivation of Dao within humanity.

As for the second part of the precept, supporting others who carry out kind actions, Daoists should always seek to align themselves with and promote the actions of those who are also kind. In this way, we are again contributing to leaving ‘positive footprints.’

There’s an excellent lesson to practice all week as you work on your cultivation: ‘Leave positive footprint.’ Good luck and enjoy the practice, folks.

01/25/2022

Today we take a closer look at the sixth rule-type precept of Daoism: I will maintain harmony with my ancestors and family and never disregard my kin.

Again this is a precept that is common to many religions although it may be worded differently. For example, ‘Honor thy Father and Mother’ in Christianity. It is also one area that Daoist arts and alchemy share with traditional Daoist religion.

In Daoism and in Chinese culture as well the family is viewed as a closely united group of both living and deceased relatives. Therefore, ancestor worship is a family practice based on the belief that, although most of a family member’s spirit moves on, part of that spirit has a continued existence within the family. Furthermore, it is believed that the remaining part of the ancestor’s spirit will look after the family and possibly influence the fortunes of the living. Thus, the unity of the family is reinforced through ancestor veneration and offerings of various kinds helping to keep the ancestors happy in the spiritual world, so that they, in return, will bless the family.

Ancestor worship is not asking for favors, but a fulfilling of one’s filial duties. It is a way to pay respect and homage to the ancestors, and honor their deeds and memories, since they were the ones that brought the descendants into the world, nourished them and prepared the conditions under which the descendants could grow and mature. Thus, ancestor veneration is as much a pay back of material and spiritual debts as anything purely religious.

Tomorrow we will look at the seventh rule-type precept. As always, enjoy your practicing, folks, and thanks for stopping by.

01/24/2022

Today we take a closer look at the fifth rule-type precept of Daoism: Do not get intoxicated but always think of pure conduct.

There were never any hard and fast rules in Daoism against drugs such as alcohol and certain mushrooms except in a novice’s first hundred days when novices were expected to purify their bodies in preparation for the hard work ahead. Novices were instructed to abstain from drugs, alcohol and having sex for 100 days. Other than that, a practitioner was allowed to consume drugs such as alcohol as long as the practitioner did not consume so much as to get intoxicated.

As with the other precepts so far, this was not an ethical rule but a practical one since consuming drugs to the point of intoxication can begin to erode the will. Willpower in the Daoist arts must be developed to a very high degree. Without willpower, it was certain that practitioners would fail in their endeavors to attain Dao. As long as a practitioner could refrain from becoming tipsy or even drunk, which erodes the will, then practitioners could indulge in some premium alcohol at their own discretion. It was up to each individual to use one’s due diligence to make certain that this slight indulgence did not turn into a habit or, even worse, an addiction.

On the other hand, that part of Daoism that became codified as a religious tradition did eventually ban all intoxicants.

We will look at rule-type precept six tomorrow. In the meantime, you have my permission to become intoxicated with your Daoist Internal Arts practice. Thanks for stopping by, folks

01/23/2022

After an extremely windy Saturday, we got another beautiful spring-like Sunday in Los Angeles. A great day for hiking. I hope you enjoyed your weekend. We will resume our look into the Daoist precepts and the theory behind them on Monday. For now, get ready for a full week of working on your Internal Arts cultivation and enjoy your practice.

01/22/2022

“496 is one of the most sacred of numbers within the inner door alchemical traditions. It is the number of new beginnings and the potential for transformation. It is the number attached to the New Year in alchemy as well as rebirth and the start of a new day.” – Damo Mitchell, Lotus Neigong and the Internal Arts Academy

A very windy day in the Los Angeles area. A good day to rest up and get set for a week of intense practice. We will resume our look into the Daoist precepts and the theory behind them on Monday.

01/21/2022

Today we take a closer look at the fourth rule-type precept of Daoism: Do not cheat or misrepresent good and evil. Another way of stating that is simply: Do Not Lie or Do Not Mislead Others with Your Speech. I call this the Trump Precept.

In any case, Dishonesty begets more dishonesty as falsified communication generates distortions in your psychology, your emotions, in your relationships, and, above all, in your energy. Not only that but it increase your likelihood of lying to yourself about your own motives. According to Daoist tradition, the search for contact with Dao is made more complicated if there are excessive distortions. We can clear these distortions by telling the truth in all our communications and especially in the things we tell ourselves.

So, be true to yourself and enjoy your practicing Truth in your daily life. Thanks for stopping by.

01/20/2022

Today we take a closer look at the third rule-type precept of Daoism: Do Not Steal or receive unrighteous wealth.

Again we have an obvious precept that is common not only to many religions but penal codes and laws of nearly every country and state. We all know it is against the law to steal. But Daoism is neither concerned with ethics or laws, whether civil or religious. Instead, Daoism is full focused on cultivation and a resonance with Dao.

The Qi of any object is in part composed of the Qi of its owner. To take an object from another and bring it into your living space would mean to distort your own frequency with theirs and serve to disrupt the mental and emotional energy required for resonance with Dao. In addition, the difference between what happens on the level of Qi when something is freely given versus what happens when something is taken instead is one of balance vs imbalance and corruption. In the case of the latter, when something is taken without being given, there is a malevolent form of Qi involved that takes away from the owner’s sense of self, and obviously something which is never tolerated within Daoist tradition.

So, now we begin to see how everything in Daoism is based on the cultivation of energy, not ethics or spirituality. To balance one’s Yin and Yang energies and bring them into unity is the basis for both the rule-based precepts and the quality-based precepts. This will in turn unify one’s Xing and Ming and open the Xuan Men (the Mysterious Gate) to the flow of the Dao.

Enjoy your practicing, everyone. Thanks for stopping by.

01/19/2022

Today we look closer at the second rule-type precept: Do not be lascivious or think depraved thoughts, or simply, do not commit any sexual misconduct.

This particular precept, although it may seem consistent with that of a multitude of religious sects which focus on ethics, purity and saintliness, in Daoism it is more concerned with energetics and practicality. The idea of not committing any sexual misconduct has more to do with one’s physiological nature rather than their ethical or spiritual nature. The by-products of sexual intercourse run from emotional connection with another to an actual alteration in the nature of the Yin and Yang energies within both participants. Each time we have intercourse with a person of either gender, we radically change our own internal frequency so that it moves closer to our partner’s. Even though this is understood, we can see how this would be an issue for those who wish to align fully with Daoism as a spiritual tradition.

Originally the ‘dual-cultivation’ teachings of Daoism were an attempt to work with the shifting energies involved in intercourse such as finding the correct partner, harmonizing one’s own auric field with that of one’s partner, and maximizing the usefulness of energetic release during orgasm. But in some modern Daoist schools, these teachings have been given far more emphasis and even twisted to some extent than was originally practiced in earlier times, when they were seen as secondary practices that supported the rest of a practitioner’s cultivation. All in all, these teachings were clearly for practical energetic reasons than coming from any ethical standpoint. It was a practitioner’s complete cultivation through all levels of practice, not only refraining from sexual misconduct, that determined how far one would advance spiritually.

Tomorrow we will look at the third rule-based precept. Until then, enjoy working on your own cultivations, folks. Thanks for stopping by.

01/18/2022

Yesterday we looked at a list of the Ten Precepts of Daoism taken from the “Zhi Hui Ding Xin Jing” or “Classical Text of Aligning the Will with Wisdom,” a series of teachings that form part of the more recently discovered Dunhung manuscripts. Today we take a closer look at the first of the rule-type precepts:

Do not kill but always be mindful of the host of living beings.

That’s obvious, you say. It’s even in the Ten Commandments. Yes, it is and it is a part of the laws of a multitude of religions and various sects. So, what’s different about Daoism? Put in another way, we can say ‘Be mindful of the Cause and Effect of relating with others.’ Thus, it can be called the Cause and Effect Precept or the Awareness Precept.

What this means is that every action we take, whether consciously or unconsciously, causes an effect that ripples throughout the Natureverse. It not only has an effect on those we are interacting with but on countless others whom we don’t even know due to the ripple effect of those we interacted with interacting with others, and those others interacting with still others.

Let’s be perfectly clear, if there is one thing that greatly concerns Daoist tradition, it is to cause as little change to others’ lives as possible. With little in the way of self-awareness or awareness of others, every action that one generates ripples outwards to change the life paths of those around around us. Sometimes those changes are very subtle, sometimes they are as large as life.

The whole point of this first precept is not simply ‘Do not kill,’ but do not cause any disturbances in the lives of those around you. This is the true meaning of that ages-old Daoist adage: “Leave no footprints.”

Tomorrow we will take a look at the second precept. Until then, enjoy your practicing and leave no footprints. Thanks for stopping by.

01/17/2022

As promised, today we take a look at the Ten Precepts of Daoism, which were taken from the “Zhi Hui Ding Xin Jing” or “Classical Text of Aligning the Will with Wisdom,” a series of teachings that form part of the more recently discovered Dunhung manuscripts. These precepts are by no means consistent throughout Daoism as each tradition had its own interpretation of the key themes represented below. However, generally these were the ten classical rules of medieval Taoism as applied to practitioners attaining the rank of “Disciple of Pure Faith” or “Qīng Xīn Dì Zǐ.”

While these ten are basically rule-type precepts, there are five more that are considered quality-type precepts. What is the difference?
The ten rule-type precepts deal with one’s relationship with others and the exterior world. The quality-type precepts are just that. They deal with one’s inner qualities and one’s relationship with Self.

Here are the ten rule-type precepts:

Do not kill but always be mindful of the host of living beings.
Do not be lascivious or think depraved thoughts.
Do not steal or receive unrighteous wealth.
Do not cheat or misrepresent good and evil.
Do not get intoxicated but always think of pure conduct.
I will maintain harmony with my ancestors and family and never disregard my kin.
When I see someone do a good deed, I will support him with joy and delight.
When I see someone unfortunate, I will support him with dignity to recover good fortune.
When someone comes to do me harm, I will not harbor thoughts of revenge.
As long as all beings have not attained the Tao, I will not expect to do so myself.

Although these ten may seem obvious, we will take a deeper look at each one beginning tomorrow. In the meantime, enjoy your practicing and don’t forget to keep these precepts. Thanks for stopping by.

01/16/2022

Another gorgeous Spring-like Sunday in Los Angeles with the temperature in the mid-70s. No push hands today, however. They have been suspended until April or May due to the Omicron virus. But we did practice Tai Chi and Nei Gong, which are much more important than push hands. Get ready for a full week of practice. folks!

01/15/2022

“The Formless Way
We look at it, and do not see it; it is invisible.
We listen to it, and do not hear it; it is inaudible.
We touch it, and do not feel it; it is intangible.
These three elude our inquiries, and hence merge into one.

Not by its rising, is it bright,
nor by its sinking, is it dark.
Infinite and eternal, it cannot be defined.
It returns to nothingness.
This is the form of the formless, being in non-being.
It is nebulous and elusive.

Meet it, and you do not see its beginning.
Follow it, and you do not see its end.
Stay with the ancient Way
in order to master what is present.
Knowing the primeval beginning is the essence of the Way.”
― Tao Te Ching – Translated by S. Beck

Have a great weekend, everyone. We will look at the Daoist Precepts on Monday.

01/14/2022

Today in Part 4 of the historical account of Master Sun Bu Er, excerpted from various sources by Damo Mitchell, director of Lotus Neigong and the Internal Arts Academy, we are looking at some examples of the alchemical poetry left behind by Sun Bu Er to help guide her students and followers of her tradition:

“Free yourself from loss and anxieties.
There is a solitary cloud with a wild crane that is without constraint.
Sit within the thatched building and read through the spiritual texts.
Outside of the window there are forests and streams
At the foot of the hills are bodies of water and bamboo plants.
Let the shining moon and calm breeze be your highest friends.”

“The original Qi was there long before our body.
It is as Jade that shines when we refine it.
It is shining like gold when we develop it.
End the ocean of rebirth and stand instead at the doorway of the masters.
Remain as a point of pure consciousness whilst the fire gently warms you.”

“Survive and nourish yourself on the natural Qi.
This way the Lungs will be clear.
Forget the Shen and its appearances, they are but empty at their root and distractions from the true way.
At breakfast eat wild roots and at night feed on mushrooms.
If you understand the merging of the fire with its own smoke then you will not walk on the magical pond any longer.”

“The spiritual furnace produces both mountains and lakes,
This is the basis of creation.
When you awake, greet the sun.
When you are readying for sleep, draw in the energy of the moon.
Over time, develop the elixir and allow it to purify the body.
When the Yuan Shen moves through the orifices, the apertures will shine forth with mystical light.”
“The body that exists beyond the body is not developed by arcane magical arts.
Making this body all encompassing, we should make active the Yuan Shen.
The golden liquid will condense into the shining moon.
When the Jing of the Sun and Moon have been refined and cooked then the pearl will shine so bright that all other concerns will fade from your mind.”

I hope you enjoyed this brief series on Master Sun Bu Er, the only woman among the Seven Master who were the original disciples of Wang Chong Yang of the Quanzhen sect of alchemical Daoism and founder of Qing Jing or ‘Pure and Tranquil’ lineage, which specialized in teaching female practitioners of the Dao.

Tomorrow we will take a look at the Precepts of Daoism. Enjoy your practicing, everyone. Stay healthy and take care of yourself.

01/13/2022

Today in Part3 of the historical account of Master Sun Bu Er from her “Sun Bu Er Yuan Jun Fa Yu” (孫不二元君法語) ‘The Key Teachings of the Original Master, Sun Bu Er’ as excerpted by Damo Mitchell, Lotus Neigong and the Internal Arts Academy.

“The teachings of Sun Bu Er concerning alchemy were based in the idea that male and female practitioners had a similar but slightly different journey through the arts. She divided alchemical training for women into 14 key stages which are as follows:

Governing the Mind
Nourishing the Qi
Development of Alchemical Skill
Killing the Demon Dragons
Nourishing the Internal Elixir
Development of Embryonic Breathing
Mastering the Inner Fires
Development of the Physical Elixirs
Refinement of the Shen
Mastery of the Body’s Higher Nutrient Functions
Fasting from the Grains
Facing the Wall to Attain Mastery
Entering the Void
Ascending to the Heavenly Realm on Purple Clouds

Though many of these stages actually correspond to the same process practiced by males, there are some key differences at the intermediate and advanced stages of practice. Sun Bu Er clearly had, by understanding what each of these stages involve, a clear mastery of the energetic functions of the physical body and valued the vehicle of the body with regards to its importance in spiritual work. She was also heavily influenced by the Buddhist aspect of the Quan Zhen teachings which are prominent within her tradition’s alchemical methods.”

Tomorrow we will look at some examples of the alchemical poetry left behind by Sun Bu Er to help guide her students and followers of her tradition. In the meantime, enjoy practicing, people. And thanks for stopping by.

Note: In the Image posted yesterday of the Taoist Seven Masters of Quanzhen, Sun Bu Er was in the top right corner. Below in a clearer image of the same scene.

01/12/2022

Continuing the historical account of Master Sun Bu Er, compiled by Damo Mitchell from recorded history and lecture/notes, we look at Part 2:

Sun Bu Er is famous for her inner alchemy but she is also known to have been highly capable in various forms of esoteric medicine as well as in exorcisms and the performance of superhuman feats of survival and power. She was a master of the elements of fire and lightning as well as an expert in telepathic and psychic feats. Whilst none of these were the aim of her study, they are signs of her inner development that arose from her alchemical training under Wang Chong Yang.

After attaining mastery and establishing her own lineage of practice, Sun Bu Er headed West where she took her own students and lived out her life teaching and helping the needy with her healing abilities. It is said that in order to avoid the unwanted attentions of males on her journey to the West of China, she scarred her face badly with hot oil. With such extreme scars on her face, her beauty was destroyed and she was under less risk of being raped or assaulted on her journey. This is, most likely, metaphorical though as is the case with many stories of the Chinese masters. Sun Bu Er travelled ‘West’ which is often used as a metaphor for the attainment of spiritual awakening. India sits to the West of China and at this time India was heralded as a place of great spirituality to the Chinese people. To go ‘West’ meant that a person was walking the spiritual path and thus many teachers are said to have ‘gone West’ within their stories. Sun Bu Er’s beauty is used as a metaphor for attachment to the acquired mind and the egoistic side of existence. By destroying her beauty, Sun Bu Er shed the shackles of the acquired mind so that she could attain her spiritual awakening. This is particularly fitting as Sun Bu Er’s methods are very much based in cultivation of Qi along with dropping the attachments of the acquired mind; teachings in line with the Quan Zhen line within which she studied so hard.

Sun Bu Er died in her seventies (though there is some discrepancy around this age) where she entered into a meditative state in front of her key disciples and allowed her spirit to enter into the Heavenly realm; a sign of her mastery of all stages of Daoist practice. She left behind a whole series of alchemical instructions in the form of numerous short poems and two alchemical texts entitled:

The Sun Bu Er Yuan Jin Chuan Shu Dan Dao Mi Shu (孫不二元君傳述丹道秘書) ‘The Secret Book on the Alchemical Elixir Transmitted by Sun Bu Er’

Tomorrow in Part 3 we will look at some of Master Sin Bu Er’s teachings, especially her key stages of alchemical training for women. But for now, enjoy your practicing, people, and hope you stope back tomorrow.

01/11/2022

Today we begin an historical series on the development of Daoist Alchemical practices with an emphasis on the fairer sex. Master Sun Bun Er founded the Qing JIng lineage which was primarily a tradition for female practitioners of the Dao. The following account, which will be presented in several parts, was compiled and written by my teacher, Damo Mitchell, from a mix of recorded history & lectures/notes from a teacher.

Here is Part 1:

The Qing Jing (清静) lineage was founded by master Sun Bu Er (孫不二) and it was primarily a tradition for female practitioners of the Dao. Sun Bu Er was taken as one of the seven key disciples of Wang Chong Yang during the Jin (1115-1234) dynasty. She was originally married to Ma Yu who was also one of the seven key disciples of Wang Chong Yang but she was told to divorce from him once she attained expertise in the arts so that she and her husband could travel separately and help spread the teachings of the Quan Zhen line of Daoism to different regions of China.

Sun Bu Er was one of the most accomplished masters of Daoist alchemical practice as well as Daoist medicine and, as such, is often a source of inspiration for women entering into Daoist practice even to this day. She is said to have been an incredibly beautiful lady who was born into great wealth. She gave up her rich household life at the age of 51 when she met Wang Chong Yang and he inducted her as a spiritual practitioner and then teacher within his school. She studied in person with her master for 12 years in the ‘cave’ tradition, meaning that her practice was based largely on inner vision and exploration, until she attained immortality. At this stage of her spiritual journey she saw fit to found her own tradition which specialised in the teaching of female aspirants although she also took male disciples as well. The name of her tradition became the Qing Jing or ‘Pure and Tranquil’ lineage.

It was originally Sun’s husband Ma Yu (Ma Dan Yang) who started to follow the teachings of Wang Chong Yang and the Quan Zhen sect. He joined the tradition for a three-month long retreat and came back a transformed man due to his new teacher’s transmissions. Sun Bu Er was not pleased with the transformation that her husband had gone through; though she initially argued with Wang Chong Yang and wished ill of him, she came to understand his spiritual level after he performed several outlandish feats to prove himself to her. Recognising the importance of the teachings Wang Chong Yang was able to impart, she gave her blessing to Ma Yu and also joined the tradition herself.

In an uncharacteristic move for the time, Sun Bu Er left her role as a home-maker and mother to her three children; she left with the other disciples of Wang Chong Yang and chose the path of Daoism as her route through life.

– Compiled and written by Damo Mitchell from a mix of recorded history & lectures/notes from a teacher.

I will post Part 2 tomorrow. In the meantime, enjoy practicing, folks.

01/10/2022

Some truly great wisdom for today from Lao-tzu…

“Those who know don’t talk. Those who talk don’t know. Close your mouth, block off your senses, blunt your sharpness, untie your knots, soften your glare, settle your dust. This is the primal identity. Be like the Tao. It can’t be approached or withdrawn from, benefited or harmed, honored or brought into disgrace. It gives itself up continually. That is why it endures.”
― Tao Te Ching, Chapter 56

Taking an example from Lao-tzu and the Tao, we should continually give ourselves up to our practice. Enjoy, and thank for stopping by, folks

01/09/2022

“So it is said, for him who understands Heavenly joy, life is the working of Heaven; death is the transformation of things. In stillness, he and the yin share a single Virtue; in motion, he and the yang share a single flow.”
― Zhuangzi, The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu

A beautiful spring-like day in Los Angeles. I got together with some friends in the park for a little push-hands and to discuss Tai Chi. Hope your day has gone well. Get set for a week of practice.

01/08/2022

Today’s Daoist quote is a very practical reminder from Wayne Ng:

“Your Highness, were I to desire to change the world, I could not succeed. The world is shaped by the Way; the self cannot shape it. Trying to change it, you damage it; trying to possess it, you lose it.”
― Wayne Ng, Finding the Way: A Novel of Lao Tzu

Let’s see if we can follow that advice and remember what shapes the world and what cannot shape it. All we can do is enjoy practicing, folks. Thanks for stopping by.

01/07/2022

Yesterday’s quote, the Story of the Stonecutter, was a rather long one. Today’s quote it short and simple but very, very important, especially if you are an Internal Arts cultivator within the Daoist tradition. I’m sure you have heard various gurus and masters talk about heavenly spirits and angels being jealous of humans. Have you ever wondered why that is? Here’s my teacher, Damo Mitchell’s very brief take on it:

“Daoist practice is based upon the idea that primordial spirit may only be refined whilst we are living within the body. This is the meaning of life within the Daoist tradition.” – Damo Mitchell, Internal Arts Academy and Lotus Neigong.

So, this refining of the primordial spirit can only be refined here on Earth while we are alive, not in Heaven, Not in Purgatory or anywhere else. So, enjoy practicing, folks, this is the only place and the only time you can refine the Spirit.

01/06/2022

Ready for a long one? This is from the “Be careful what you wish for” file, the story of the Stonecutter, courtesy of Benjamin Huff.

“There was once a stonecutter, who was dissatisfied with himself and with his position in life. One day, he passed a wealthy merchant’s house, and through the open gateway, saw many fine possessions and important visitors. “How powerful that merchant must be!” thought the stonecutter. He became very envious, and wished that he could be like the merchant. Then he would no longer have to live the life of a mere stonecutter. To his great surprise, he suddenly became the merchant, enjoying more luxuries and power than he had ever dreamed of, envied and detested by those less wealthy than himself. But soon a high official passed by, carried in a sedan chair, accompanied by attendants, and escorted by soldiers beating gongs. Everyone, no matter how wealthy, had to bow low before the procession. “How powerful that official is!” he thought. “I wish that I could be a high official!” Then he became the high official, carried everywhere in his embroidered sedan chair, feared and hated by the people all around, who had to bow down before him as he passed. It was a hot summer day, and the official felt very uncomfortable in the sticky sedan chair. He looked up at the sun. It shone proudly in the sky, unaffected by his presence. “How powerful the sun is!” he thought “I wish that I could be the sun!” Then he became the sun, shining fiercely down on everyone, scorching the fields, cursed by the farmers and laborers. But a huge black cloud moved between him and the earth, so that his light could no longer shine on everything below. “How powerful that storm cloud is!” he thought. “I wish that I could be a cloud!” Then he became the cloud, flooding the fields and villages, shouted at by everyone. But soon he found that he was being pushed away by some great force, and realized that it was the wind. “How powerful it is!” he thought. “I wish that I could be the wind!” Then he became the wind, blowing tiles off the roofs of houses, uprooting trees, hated and feared by all below him. But after a while, he ran up against something that would not move, no matter how forcefully he blew against it–a huge, towering stone “How powerful that stone is”” he thought. I wish that I could be a stone!” Then he became the stone, more powerful than anything else on earth. But as he stood there, he heard the sound of a hammer pounding a chisel into the solid rock, and felt himself being changed. “What could be more powerful than I, the stone?” he thought. He looked down and saw far below him the fixture of a stonecutter.”
― Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

So, be careful what you wish for and cultivate an attitude of Acceptance as you follow the Way. Enjoy practicing, folks. And thanks for stopping by.

01/05/2022

Do you Know what the “Te” alludes to in the Tao “Te” Ching? Today, in a short excerpt from her commentary on Hexagram #9 Xiao Chu/Small Restraint or Accumulation, Kari Hohne of CafeAuSoul.com will tell us what the idea of “Te” is. Although it is a short and simple quote, the actual practice is anything but simple.

“In Taoism, the idea of ‘Te’ is the inherent authenticity that you are born with. You need only peel away the layers of fear that keep you from expressing it. In either case, you will need to approach the object of your enquiry with gentle submissiveness to exercise, discover or release your power. Defensiveness ensures that the negative outcome is relentless. Submissiveness always opens new doors for success so simply surrender to the Way.” – Kari Hohne, commentary on Hexagram 9, Xiao Chu/Small Restraint.

Like I said, it sounds simple, but when you get right down to the practice, it can be rather daunting. But don’t let that hold you back. Go for it and practice diligently and joyfully, people.

01/04/2022

Are you practicing true benevolence? Or do you just think you are? Let’s find out from no better authority than Chuang-tzu…

“All attempts to create something admirable are the weapons of evil. You may think you are practicing benevolence and righteousness, but in effect you will be creating a kind of artificiality. Where a model exists, copies will be made of it; where success has been gained, boasting follows; where debate exists, there will be outbreaks of hostility.”
― Zhuangzi, The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu

Whether it’s benevolence or Internal Arts, let’s make it real and not artificial. Enjoy the cultivation, people!

01/03/2022

Who do you trust? Well, let’s check in with Stephen Russell and find out:

“You can trust everyone to be human, with all the quirks and inconsistencies we humans display, including disloyalty, dishonesty and downright treachery. We are all capable of the entire range of human behavior, given the circumstances, from absolute saintliness to abject depravity. Trusting someone to limit their sphere of action to one narrow band on the spectrum is idealistic and will inevitably lead to disappointment.

“On the other hand, you can decide to trust that everyone is doing their best according to their particular stage of development, and to give everyone their appropriate berth. For this to work, you have to trust yourself to make and have made the right choices that will lead you on the path to your healthy growth. You have to trust yourself to come through every experience safely and enriched. But don’t trust what I am saying. Listen and then decide for yourself. Does this information sit easily in your belly? You know when you trust yourself around someone because your belly feels settled and your heart feels warm.”
― Stephen Russell, Barefoot Doctor’s Guide to the Tao: A Spiritual Handbook for the Urban Warrior

And I trust you will enjoy practicing. So, get to it, folks.

01/02/2022

Today’s quote is from Laozi and the Tao Te Ching, Chapter 11, reminding us as we start of this new year of the “usefulness of what is not there,” in other words, emptiness.

“Thirty spokes share the wheel’s hub;
It is the center hole that makes it useful.
Shape clay into a vessel;
It is the space within that makes it useful.
Cut doors and windows for a room;
It is the holes which make it useful.
Therefore profit comes from what is there;
Usefulness from what is not there.”
– Laozi, Tao Te Ching, Ch. 11

So, empty out those things inside that aren’t useful to your cultivation, and enjoy your practicing, folks!

01/01/2022 – NEW YEAR’S DAY

We start off the 2022 with a quote from my teacher, Damo Mitchell, www.DamoMitchell.com, commenting on a line from the Tao Te Ching:

“Humanity follows the Earth, the Earth follows Heaven, Heaven follows the Dao, and the Dao follows what is natural.” (Ch. 25, Tao Te Ching)
Essentially translated as: your state of being will follow the conditions of the body which, in turn follow the condition of the mind. The mind is dictated by the unfolding path that originates from a place of non-conditioning.
It is a line that describes the nature of the tradition of Daoism and how, through internal training, the conditioned root of conscious distortion is eliminated and thus a person may experience a state of true being.
It has nothing to do with respecting the Earth, being spontaneous or being one with nature”
– Damo Mitchell, Internal Arts Academy and Lotus Neigong

So get ready for your best year of practice and cultivation ever. Enjoy, everyone!

Daoist Daily Diary

12/31/2021

On this last day of 2021, we give this year’s last selection to the I Ching, Hexagram #22, Bi/Grace, via two excerpts of a commentary by Kari Hohne, CafeAuSoul.com leaving us with a message of Hope and Grace for a bright and resilient 2022 after a very difficult 2021.

“The greatest lesson Bi teaches you is that no amount of outward adorning will ever conceal what is going on inside of you. If you want to attract others to you, begin within. Loving the self makes one loving. Accepting the Way makes one accepting. When you have no preconceived expectations you will open to the beauty of Grace. Brilliant inner beauty is like a magnet that others can’t resist. If circumstances are less than favorable, turn within and release the expectations that are making your outlook hardened. Take a breath and return to the moment…

“Do not fall prey to believing that the projections you place on others are real. Open yourself to life’s Grace and benevolence. Celebrate your inner Grace and allow it to rise to the surface. Unleash any expectations and flow in the dazzling river of life. The greatest makeover begins within. If you want to be attractive adorn yourself with the Grace that resonates from the sincerity of trusting the Way.”

Have a wonderful 2022 and a joyful road to Cultivation by following the Way.

 

12/30/2021

As we head into the last day of 2021, we have a final thought from Chuang-tzu:

“The fact is that those who do not see themselves but who see others, who fail to get a grasp of themselves but who grasp others, take possession of what others have but fail to possess themselves. They are attracted to what others enjoy but fail to find enjoyment in themselves.”
― Zhuangzi, The Book of Chuang Tzu

Very good advice, indeed, from this perspicacious Sage. See if you can adopt it in your daily life and with regular practice you may become a Sage, too. Enjoy the practice and thanks for stopping by.

 

12/29/2021

I usually don’t go in for artificial visualizations or structured imagings especially in meditation. However, with 2022 fast approaching and all of 2021’s disharmonies and turmoils, both natural and man-made, about to be handed off to the New Year in the midst of a transition from a Magnetic Age into an Electrical Age, I think we could all use this visualization presented by Stephen Russell:

“For a few moments, attune your mind to the idea of harmony and peaceful coexistence flowing among all peoples and nations.
The source of this idea is deep within your heart.
As you calmly breathe in and out, picture it radiating from you like a fine, colored vapor gradually covering the face of the earth.
See it enter the hearts of everyone, especially those stuck in the mad zones.
Feel it circulate everywhere until it comes all the way round and back to you.
This is love in action.
The source of this love is the Tao.
Savor this.”
― Stephen Russell, Barefoot Doctor’s Guide to the Tao: A Spiritual Handbook for the Urban Warrior

I hope you can enjoy these last couple of days of 2021 along with your last practices of the year. Best wishes and thanks for stopping by.

 

12/28/2021

As 2022 approaches, we can expect further divisiveness and radicalization as pitifully stupid minds pit their philosophy, their way of thinking, their beliefs against whomever they consider at best their counterparts and at worst their enemies. But way back in the Sixth Century, a Chinese philosopher wrote a poem describing what is causing this erratic behavior.

“Hsin Hsin Ming” aka “Xinxin Ming,” meaning “Faith in Mind”, is a poem attributed to the Third Chinese Chán Patriarch Jianzhi Sengcan. It is one of the earliest and most influential Zen writings, blending together Buddhist and Taoist teachings. Here is an excerpt:

“The Great Way is not difficult,
for those who have no preferences.
Let go of longing and aversion,
and it reveals itself.
Make the smallest distinction, however,
and you are as far from it as heaven is from earth.
If you want to realize the truth,
then hold no opinions for or against anything.
Like and dislike
is the disease of the mind.
When the deep meaning (of the Way) is not understood
the intrinsic peace of mind is disturbed”

Perhaps you can be aware of these thoughts as you move through your day and get ready for the new year. In any case, enjoy your practice, and thanks for stopping by.

 

12/27/2021

I received an email today from Stacey Abrams, who is campaigning to become the next Governor of Georgia in 2022. In that email, she told a personal anecdote that reminded me of this quote by Laozi in Chapter 77 of the Tao Te Ching:

“It is the way of Heaven to take away from those that have too much
And give to those that have not enough.
Not so with man’s way:
He takes from those that have not
And gives it as tribute to those that have too much.”

How true that is of many in government, who put their own self interests ahead of the true needs of all their people, especially those that have not. Here is Stacey Abrams’ anecdote from her email:

“I was my high school’s valedictorian and in Georgia, that meant being invited to a reception at the Governor’s Mansion.

My family didn’t have a car, so that morning, my parents and I took the bus from DeKalb to Buckhead. We arrived at the Governor’s Mansion and walked up the side of the driveway, next to the cars carrying valedictorians from across the state.

But when we reached the guard gate, a guard stepped out, looked at us and said, “You don’t belong here. This is a private event.”

He took one look at us walking up from the bus and assumed I couldn’t possibly be one of the valedictorians. My parents set him straight and we were eventually allowed in. But I don’t remember meeting the governor that day. What I remember is a man standing in front of the most powerful place in Georgia, telling me I didn’t belong.”

Ironically enough, now Stacey Abrams is campaigning for Governor. So, if you would like to contribute, I suggest you contact: StaceyAbrams.com

Enjoy your practicing, folks. Thanks for stopping by.

 

12/26/2021

During this holiday season many of us have traveled either near or far to be with family or friends. So, going back to that ancient Sage, Lieh-tzu we read his thoughts on travel as an experience. If you are stuck in an airport trying to return home but your flight has been cancelled due to the Omicron COVID-19 varient, I’m sure this is one experience you would rather forget.

“Travel is such a wonderful experience! Especially when you forget you are traveling. Then you will enjoy whatever you see and do. Those who look into themselves when they travel will not think about what they see. In fact, there is no distinction between the viewer and the seen. You experience everything with the totality of yourself, so that every blade of grass, every mountain, every lake is alive and is a part of you. When there is no division between you and what is other, this is the ultimate experience of traveling.”
― Liezi, Lieh-tzu: A Taoist Guide to Practical Living

12/25/2021 – Christmas Day

Christmas is a time for joy. We can all appreciate the joyful gatherings with friends and loved ones, the gifts and sumptuous meals. But Christmas is also about seeing the silver lining for those who are alone or facing less than favorable circumstances. But who truly knows what is good or bad, favorable or unfavorable? So, here is a Taoist story exactly about that, seeing the silver lining in unfortunate times as well as remembering that favorable circumstances don’t last forever.

“There was a farmer whose horse ran away. That evening the neighbors gathered to commiserate with him since this was such bad luck. He said, “May be.” The next day the horse returned, but brought with it six wild horses, and the neighbors came exclaiming at his good fortune. He said, “May be.” And then, the following day, his son tried to saddle and ride one of the wild horses, was thrown, and broke his leg.

Again the neighbors came to offer their sympathy for the misfortune. He said, “May be.” The day after that, conscription officers came to the village to seize young men for the army, but because of the broken leg the farmer’s son was rejected. When the neighbors came in to say how fortunately everything had turned out, he said, “May be.”

Source: Tao: The Watercourse Way, by Alan Watts, story attributed to Huainantse Liu An, c. 178-122 BC,

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, everyone!

 

12/24/2021 – Christmas Eve

On this Christmas Eve, honoring the birth of the Holy Infant, the words of Laozi comparing the qualities of a realized Sage with those of a newborn child seem appropriate. I offer them amid a confused and divisive world in the hope that all of its people can reacquire those qualities they had as newborn infants, and furthermore, I pray to end infant mortality throughout the world.

“He who is in harmony with the Tao
is like a newborn child.
Its bones are soft, its muscles are weak,
but its grip is powerful.
It doesn’t know about the union
of male and female,
yet its penis can stand erect,
so intense is its vital power.
It can scream its head off all day,
yet it never becomes hoarse,
so complete is its harmony.

The Master’s power is like this.
He lets all things come and go
effortlessly, without desire.
He never expects results;
thus he is never disappointed.
He is never disappointed;
thus his spirit never grows old.”
― Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Ch. 55

 

12/23/2021

In keeping with Christmas week, instead of the usual short Daoist quotes, I am posting longer ones that keep to the spirit of this time of the year. Next up is an excerpt from the very popular book, “The Tao of Pooh”

“…you’d be surprised how many people violate this simple principle every day of their lives and try to fit square pegs into round holes, ignoring the clear reality that Things Are As They Are. We will let a selection from the writings of Chuang-tse illustrate: Hui-tse said to Chuang-tse, “I have a large tree which no carpenter can cut into lumber. Its branches and trunk are crooked and tough, covered with bumps and depressions. No builder would turn his head to look at it. Your teachings are the same – useless, without value. Therefore, no one pays attention to them.”

“You complain that your tree is not valuable as lumber. But you could make use of the shade it provides, rest under its sheltering branches, and stroll beneath it, admiring its character and appearance. Since it would not be endangered by an axe, what could threaten its existence? It is useless to you only because you want to make it into something else and do not use it in its proper way.”
― Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

Enjoy this Holiday Season and keep practicing, everyone. Thanks for stopping by.

12/22/2021

In keeping with Christmas week, instead of the usual short Daoist quotes, I am posting longer ones that keep to the spirit of this time of the year. Next up is Stephen Russell, the Barefoot Doctor.

“Vulnerability is the only authentic state. Being vulnerable means being open, for wounding, but also for pleasure. Being open to the wounds of life means also being open to the bounty and beauty. Don’t mask or deny your vulnerability: it is your greatest asset. Be vulnerable: quake and shake in your boots with it. the new goodness that is coming to you, in the form of people, situations, and things can only come to you when you are vulnerable, i.e. open.”
― Stephen Russell, Barefoot Doctor’s Guide to the Tao: A Spiritual Handbook for the Urban Warrior

12/21/2021

Being that it is Christmas week, instead of the usual short Daoist quotes, I am posting longer ones that keep to the spirit of this time of the year. First up, is Liezi, an Ancient Daoist Sage and Adept from the 5th Century B.C.

“Some people think they can find satisfaction in good food, fine clothes, lively music, and sexual pleasure. However, when they have all these things, they are not satisfied. They realize happiness is not simply having their material needs met. Thus, society has set up a system of rewards that go beyond material goods. These include titles, social recognition, status, and political power, all wrapped up in a package called self-fulfillment. Attracted by these prizes and goaded on by social pressure, people spend their short lives tiring body and mind to chase after these goals. Perhaps this gives them the feeling that they have achieved something in their lives, but in reality they have sacrificed a lot in life. They can no longer see, hear, act, feel, or think from their hearts. Everything they do is dictated by whether it can get them social gains. In the end, they’ve spent their lives following other people’s demands and never lived a life of their own. How different is this from the life of a slave or a prisoner?”
― Liezi, Lieh-tzu: A Taoist Guide to Practical Living

Enjoy this Holiday Season and keep practicing, everyone. Thanks for stopping by.

12/20/2021

“Taoism has no rules. It`s a suggestion for perceiving life in its wholeness, without unnecessary categorization, yet enjoying the beauty of categorization.” – Frederick Lenz

Now that we have looked at “Song” in Tai Chi, we return to “Peng,” the next step in Tai Chi development. In today’s video from The Tai Chi Academy, we look at how utilizing ‘Peng’ in our structure can lead to the error of ‘forming up’ behind the point of contact. This is a very important point that corrects a common mistake that most tai chi practitioners make when pushing hands. (Click on link below.)

https://youtu.be/PwEfJsXh6nQ

12/18-19/2021

“You must let what happens happen. Everything must be equal in your eyes, good and evil, beautiful and ugly, foolish and wise.” – Michael Ende

Have a great weekend, everyone. Our exploration of “Song” and “Peng” in Tai Chi resumes on Monday. Meanwhile, enjoy your practice.

 

12/17/2021

“Taoism is simply the complete acceptance of yourself as you are right in this moment.” – Sheila M. Burke

Continuing our review of “Song,” the most important quality for Tai Chi practitioners to acquire, today we have a special exercise to enable the quality of “Song,” called “Song Gong,” designed by Grand Master Huang Xin Xian and presented by famous martial artist and tai chi master, Adam Mizner. This is one exercise you should put into your warmups whenever possible. Enjoy your practicing, folks, and thanks for stopping by.

 

 

12/16/2021

“Be Content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you” – Lao Tzu

Continuing with the concept of “Song,” the most important quality for Tai Chi practitioners to acquire, today we Have Dan Kleiman explaining the difference between relaxation and true “Song,” where there is a balance between letting go and keeping a springy, buoyant structure.

If you haven’t already, you will definitely want to incorporate Dan’s focal points into your daily practice, which, by the way, I hope your are enjoying immensely, folks. Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

12/15/2021

“Great power is worry, and total power is boredom, such that even God renounces it and pretends, instead, that he is people and fish and insects and plants: the myth of the king who goes wandering among his subjects in disguise.” – Alan W. Watts

Currently, we are looking at the Number 1 quality for Tai Chi, namely, “Song.” Without being Song, your qi energy will not flow properly through your form. Without Song, you cannot expect to develop Peng Jin, which we looked at previously. Today, Tai Chi Instructor Susan Thompson teaches you how to “song” the joints during your Tai Chi movements, no matter which style you do. She also explains why it is important to song the joints and what it does for your Qi flow and physiology.

So, take a look. See if you can incorporate Susan’s points into your practice. And thanks for stopping by

 

12/14/2021

“But the basic Taoism that we are concerned with here is simply a particular way of appreciating, learning from, and working with whatever happens in everyday life.” – Benjamin Hoff

Today we continue with our exploration of the important Tai Chi quality of “Song,” presented by the Tai Chi Academy. In this 6-minute video, the diverse teachings on Song are broken down into a simple concept called ‘Relative Density.’ Take a look and see if this resonates with your practice. And, above all, enjoy practicing, folks.

 

12/13/2021

“Taoism is the way of water. The most frequent element or symbol referred to in Lao Tzu`s writings is the symbol of water.” – Frederick Lenz

Today we begin looking at one of the most important qualities in tai chi, namely “Song,” often mistranslated as “Relax.” Kieren Krygier, the Martial Man, returns again with Sifu Liang DeHua to discuss and demonstrate “Song.” This is really a quality you must develop not only tai chi but for your complete cultivation. So, enjoy, everyone, and keep practicing.

 

12/12/2021

“Embrace simplicity. Put others first. Desire little.” – Laozi

Chilly day in Los Angeles but sunny fortunately. I went to the park as usual for push hands. Not too many people at the first park. My former mentor showed up. We had an interesting discussion. Then I went to another park to meet with my training partner. We exchanged views on methods and exercises are teacher uses to condition our bodies for tai chi and neigong.

Don’t forget. We start our series on developing “Song” tomorrow, Monday; So, again, rest up and prepare for a full week of practice, everyone.

 

12/11/2021

“Taoism is the profoundest nonconformism that has ever been evolved anywhere in the world, at any time in history; essentially it is rebellion.” – Osho

Yesterday, Taoist Monk Yun Rou explained how Peng Jin and An Jin compliment one another. Today, he shows us how these two jins are used in partner work.

In Tai Chi, before one can develop Jin, one must have “Song,” often translated incorrectly as “relax.” We will begin a series abput the nature of “Song” and how to acquire it on Monday. Have a great weekend, and rest up for a full week of practicing, everyone.

12/10/2021

“Taoism means stretching your being, becoming both a man and a woman and joining within yourself, to be the heavens themselves, to stretch your awareness beyond the breaking point until all opposites are reconciled within yourself.” – Frederick Lenz

Daoist Monk Yun Rou is back again today continuing this series on Taiji Jin. In this short video Yun Rou adds An Jin to his demonstration of Peng Jin from yesterday thus completing a Vertical Energy Circle of Jin. Hope this material along with the other videos on Jin had added to your development. As always, enjoy practicing, everyone.

 

12/09/2021

“Some people think Taoism means not doing anything, just going on with your life. That has little or nothing to do with Taoism.” – Frederick Lenz

Today we are taking a look at the first quality of Jin, namely Peng Jin, with Daoist Monk Yun Rou. Unlike many, who believe Peng is simply a posture, Yun Rou points out the fact that Peng is actually a quality that encompasses a direction of movement. Hope you enjoy this short video, and, above all, enjoy your practicing. Thanks for stopping by, folks!

 

12/08/2021

“All of Chinese thinking – Confucianism, Taoism, as well as Buddhism – contains the idea that in the course of life, man will shape harmoniously those psychic and physical predispositions that he received as capital assets by unifying them and giving them form from within a center.” – Richard Wilhelm

Today Sifu Liang DeHua is back again with a discussion and demonstration of Nei Jin and Fa Jin. Tomorrow we will take a look at the most important Jin, namely Peng Jin. Thanks for watching, and enjoy your practice, people.

 

 

12/07/2021

“Taoists do not look upon meditation as `practice,` except in the sense that a doctor `practices` medicine. They have no design to subjugate or alter the universe by force or willpower, for their art is entirely to go along with the flow of things in an intelligent way.” – Alan W. Watts

Yesterday, we posted Part 1 of Sifu Liang De Hua’s explanation of Taiji Jin. Today, here is Part II, present by Kieren Krygier, the Martial Man. Enjoy. And keep practicing, folks.

 

12/06/2021

“Lao-tze`s Taoism is the exhibition of a way or method of living which men should cultivate as the highest and purest development of their nature.” – James Legge

There are many marvelous tai chi and qigong practitioners/instructors throughout Southeast Asia. So, continuing our series on Jin, today we have the first of will a two part video series on Jin with Sifu Liang De Hua presented by Kieren Krygier, the Martial Man. Hope you not only enjoy the video but learn something that you can practice. Tomorrow, we will have Part II. So, stay tuned and enjoy practicing, folks!

 

 

12/05/2021

“We may be floating on Tao, but there is nothing wrong with steering. If Tao is like a river, it is certainly good to know where the rocks are.” – Ming-Dao Deng

A cold mostly foggy Sunday in Los Angeles, at least in the morning. I went to the park to work with my friends on push hands and developing Jin. The sun popped out in the afternoon to warm things up a little. I was happy about that.

Although Zhan Zhuang is important, it is not as important to the early stages of developing jin as Wuji. So, I decided not to post Part 2 of Cain Yentzer’s Zhan Zhuang standing practice. Besides, there were a couple points that almost all Qigong and Tai Chi instructors teach, but they are not consistent with my practice of Nei Gong and Jin development for Taiji. Instead, Wuji standing should be done first to begin developing Jin. So, I will have a series on Wuji next.

However, continuing with this Jin series, I will have a two part video series on Jin with Sifu Liang De Hua starting tomorrow. Keep practicing and have a great week, everyone.

 

12/04/2021

“Man suffers only because he takes seriously what the gods made for fun.” – Alan W. Watts

Yesterday, we listened to Adam Mizner explaining “What is Taichi Jin Power Really Like?” Continuing our series on Jin, today we have Cain Yentzer from Inner Court Tai-ji with a 9-minute lecture on how Zhan Zhuang (Post Standing) is the key to developing Jin and understanding taiji. Tomorrow, we will have Cain Yentzer with Part II, the actual practice of Zhan Zhuang with instructions on its focal points. So, get ready to do some serious standing and make sure you add it into your practice if you haven’t already. Thanks for stopping by, everyone.

 

12/03/2021

“When a not-doing comes upon you, and there is no reflection of yourself to be found, many things can and will be related back to you as knowledge, yet you have no way of knowing how you assimilated that wisdom.” – Lujan Matus

Today we start a new series on Jin and Fajin as they related to taiji and its practitioners. We begin with Sifu Adam Mizner explaining “What is Taichi Jin Power Really Like?” Again, you can slow the playback speed if there is anything you don’t understand and replay it as often as you like. And then, guess what? Go out and practice with a partner. Good luck and thanks for stopping by. We’ll have more on Jin and Fajin tomorrow.

12/02/2021

“Taoism shows us how to deal with life and death by realizing everything here is transitory but its substance is eternal.” – Frederick Lenz

Today we will look at the fourth and final Dao Yin Dragon, Drunken Dragon, sort of. Unfortunately, I could not find an individual track with the Drunken Dragon online. One would have to enroll in either Lotus Neigong or the Internal Arts Academy at DamoMitchell.com to view Damo Mitchell’s instructional videos. However, I did find a compilation video by Kit Raven, performing all four dragons. The last one is the Drunken Dragon, which starts at 8:55 in the video. It’s not completely correct, but if you use it as a stretching and balance sequence, you should be fine. As aways, enjoy practicing, folks. And thanks for stopping by.

 

12/01/2021

“Taoism extols the virtue of flexibility. What survives on earth is what effortlessly adapts to the changing environment and changing circumstances.” – Ernie J Zelinski

Previously we have looked at the first two of the Four Dao Yin Dragons, Soaring Dragon and Swimming Dragon. Today we look at the third Dao Yin Dragon in our series Awakening Dragon. Again, you can stop or rewind this short video as often as you like and play it back at a slower speed if you wish. Follow along and then practice it in 10 or 15-minute bursts. Good luck with it and enjoy your practice. Thanks for stopping by.

THE DAOIST DAILY DIARY

11/30/2021

“To Taoism that which is absolutely still or absolutely perfect is absolutely dead, for without the possibility of growth and change there can be no Tao. In reality there is nothing in the universe which is completely perfect or completely still; it is only in the minds of men that such concepts exist.” – Alan W. Watts

Today we take a look at our second Dao Yin Dragon sequence, Swimming Dragon. This is the easiest of the Dragons to perform. You should have no problems following along with the video. The one note I will mention is that the feet are parallel and not angled as with yesterday’s Soaring or Arousing Dragon. In case you had trouble performing that one, you can scroll down to 11/24 and the Dao Yin Dragon Basic Stretches. In the video, look for the one titled “Coiling Snake.” That is the basic posture of the Soaring Dragon without stepping forward. Now just add the steps to it from yesterday’s video and have a great time practicing these two Dragons, folks!

 

11/29/2021

Welcome back, everyone! I hope no one got terminal indigestion from stuffing themselves on Thanksgiving, and I certainly hope no one was seriously injured from fighting through the hordes of shoppers on Black Friday. I’m glad that you are in one piece and can join me once again as we continue the series on the Dao Yin Dragons. Previously we viewed a podcast on Qigong vs Dao Yin and practice some Dao Yin preparatory stretches.

Today we look at the first exercise set in the Dao Yin Dragons called Soaring Dragon. If you have a difficult time following the movements then slow down the video to .75 or even .50. Since there are no audio instructions, you can slow this up as much as you would like and pause and replay it at any point.

 

11/28/2021

Another magnificent weekend in Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley. Temperature is in the 80s and the air is clean and fresh. A wonderful day to spend in the park doing tui shou with my tai chi brothers and sisters. Hope you have enjoyed your weekend and are ready to a full week of practicing. Thanks for stopping by. See you on Monday when we resume our series on the Dao Yin Dragons.

11/27/2021 Small Business Saturday

Today was Small Business Saturday. I hope you shopped at a small business like this one…

11/26/2021 Black Friday

Found an appropriate quote from Zhuangzi for today, Black Friday…

“The Kingly Man

My master said:
That which acts on all and meddles in none – is heaven . . .
The Kingly Man realizes this, hides it in his heart,
Grows boundless, wide-minded, draws all to himself.
And so he lets the gold lie hidden in the mountain,
Leaves the pearl lying in the deep.

Goods and possessions are no gain in his eyes,
He stays far from wealth and honour.
Long life is no ground for joy, nor early death for sorrow
Success is not for him to be proud of, failure is no shame.

Had he all the world’s power he would not hold it as his own,
If he conquered everything he would not take it to himself.
His glory is in knowing that all things come together in One
And life and death are equal.”
― Thomas Merton, The Way of Chuang Tzu

Happy Black Friday, everyone!

11/25/2021 Thanksgiving Day

“Be content with what you have;
rejoice in the way things are.
When you realize there is nothing lacking,
the whole world belongs to you.”
– Laozi

Happy Thanksgiving to Everyone! If you’re like me, I’m sure you have much to be thankful for. Just to be alive is plenty, and to appreciate life for what it is deepens our gratitude and adds an immense blessing to all we are and do. Have a wonderful day, celebrating Life by Giving Thanks. Bless you, one and all.

11/24/2021

“To a mind that is still the whole Universe surrenders.” – Lao Tzu

Continuing with our series on the Dao Yin Dragons. Here is a short video on Dao Yin Basic Warmup Stretches by Nikolas Benedikt of Mountain Pathways – an affiliate branch of Lotus Nei Gong International., a Damo Mitchell school. Watch the video several times and follow along until you feel proficient. You can slow the playback speed if necessary.

And in case you don’t stop by tomorrow, have a Happy and Safe Thanksgiving. Since many of you will be travelling and visiting family, we will resume the series on the Dragon Dao Yins on Monday. But the Holiday is no excuse not to practice, especially after gorging yourself with whatever Thanksgiving feast you are having.

11/23/2021

One of the more important aspects of Neigong training, especially in the beginning, are the Dao Yin Dragons. These are a series of choreographed stretches that open the fascia and the connective tissues that enable a more robust flow of Qi. There are four Dragons: Awakening Dragon, Swimming Dragon, Soaring Dragon and Drunken Dragon. Some liken them to Qigong and other actually classify them as Qigong exercises, but they are not. Because of the intensity of their stretches, they are in a class by themselves.

Today we start a short series on the Dao Yin Dragons with a podcast by Kong Jie, who discusses the basics of Dao Yin in general as well as how it differs from standard Qigong. He speaks rather quickly. So, if you cannot understand some of his points, adjust the playback speed from Normal to .75. And have a great practice, everyone.

 

11/22/2021

“Only when we can start with the simplest exercise of absorbing the awareness into the body and increasingly relaxing our mind will we enable the evolution of our breathing processes to lead towards a true state of Gong.” – Damo Mitchell

Today, we conclude our series on Taoist Breathwork not with another breathing exercise, but with a podcast on where the proper breathing takes us once we have developed true abdominal breathing. What happens then is that the breath becomes a major factor in building the dan tian and filling it with Qi. So, today we have Damo Mitchell of Lotus Neigong and the Internal Arts Academy explaining how the process works in a podcast entitled “Filling the Dantien Bucket.” Hopefully, this will clear up some misconceptions and put you on the correct path that leads to a true state of Gong. Enjoy your practicing, everyone! Thanks for stopping by.

 

11/21/2021

A magnificent day in Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley. Temperature is in the 80s and the air is clean and fresh. A wonderful day to spend in the park doing tui shou with my tai chi brothers and sisters. Hope you have enjoyed your weekend and are ready to a full week of practicing. Thanks for stopping by. See you on Monday.

11/20/2021

“There is nothing to try to do, for whatever comes up moment by moment is accepted, including non-acceptance.” – Bruce Lee

Today we look at another very specific breathing practice – Tu Gu Na Xin or Tu Na for short. This is not for everyday breathing or to be used in your Internal Arts Qigong, Neigong or Taiji exercises. This is a stand alone practice that one does in short 5-round or 10-round bursts before or directly after practice or as a breath refresher during the day.

Taoists directly relate ones quality of breath with their quality of life. Tu Gu Na Xin is a Daoist breathing method that cleans and clears the lungs. This allows for deeper, fuller breaths, contributing to a richer experience of life. This video teaches you to assess your breath capacity in addition to various methods for improving overall lung health and riding them of toxins.

It is presented by David Wei, a 16th generation lineage holder for the Wudang San Feng Life Nourishment Sect. He has over 20 years of experience in Taoist arts and culture, with a specialization in Tui Na acupressure. David is also the founder of Wudang West, an Oakland-based Heritage Center aimed to practice and preserve the cultural wellness arts of Wudang, China.

 

11/19/2021

“As you “observe the breath” for longer, you will naturally start to become aware of the nature of Qi moving within your system.” – Damo Mitchell

Today, we are going to look at another form of Taoist breathing techniques known as “Bone Breathing.” This is not the same as “Bone Marrow Washing” but is simply a breathing technique to soften the connective tissue around the bones and thus create a greater flow of Qi within your channel system. It is a simple technique to learn and even adapt to your Qigong exercises. It is presented here by Dr. David Clippinger of Still Mountain Tai Chi in a short six-minute video. Enjoy your practicing, folks, and thanks so much for stopping by.

11/18/2021

“We have to breath anyway. We might as well be breathing efficiently and with power.” – Lee Holden

Over the last two days we listened to Sifu Mark Rasmus explain and demonstrate Internal Breathing Methods, namely Vital Pore Breathing or Whole Body Breathing. Today Sifu Rasmus is back with us presenting a very specific type of breathing known as “Dragon Breathing.” This is particular method specializes in strengthening virility, increasing testosterone and also fast tracks an astral feeling of qi. So, get comfortable, listen to Sifu Rasmus’ instructions and follow along. Hopefully, you will find this method useful and effective. Enjoy your practicing, folks, and thanks for stopping by.

 

11/17/2021

“Every conscious breath is qigong” – Sebastian Wunches

Yesterday, we viewed a podcast by Sifu Mark Rasmus on Internal Breathing Methods with the focus on Pore or Vital Breathing also called Whole Body Breathing. Today, in a short 7-minute video Sifu Rasmus guides us through a Whole Body Breathing exercise. Follow along and see how Rasmus’ method resonates with you and your body. As always, have a great practice, everyone. And thanks for stopping by.

\11/16/2021

“Unwilling to face our deepest fears, we breathe our emotions; and our emotions in turn breathe us.”

Yesterday we heard from Armand at ChiSkills.com in Holland, a long-time desciple of Sifu Mark Rasmus. Today, we hear directly from Sifu Rasmus, himself, in this first part on Internal Breathing Methods, where he focuses on Pore or Vital Breathing also called Whole Body Breathing. Tomorrow, we will take a look at the second part and practice this method along with Sifu Rasmus. This is a short 5-minute talk today, so enjoy and see if you can work some of his points into your practice. And thanks for stopping by.

 

11/15/2021

“Extreme softness begets extreme hardness. Your ability to be lively lies in your ability to breathe.” From Understanding How to Practice the Thirteen Dynamics (of Zhang San Feng)

Our thanks to Damo Mitchell of Lotus Neigong and the Internal Arts Academy for starting off this series on Taoist Breathwork. If you missed his “Anchoring the Breath, Parts 1 & 2” podcast, just scroll down this page to 11/12 for Part1 and 11/13 for Part 2. Today we are going to learn about Pore Breathing or Vital Breathing from Armand at ChiSkills.com in Holland. Armand has been a long-time disciple of Sifu Mark Rasmus. We will hear from Sifu Rasmus starting tomorrow. But, in the meantime, Armand explains the basics of pore breathing and leads us in an exercise. I hope you enjoy this short video and gain enough practical information that you can put into practice right away. So enjoy and have a great practice, everyone. Thanks for stopping by.

11/14/2021

Another beautiful weekend in Los Angeles. Height of Summer weather here in the middle of November. I enjoyed a day at the park today doing tui shou with my friends. How about you? Hope your getting some rest tonight to prepare for a week of practice. As always, good practicing, folks!

11/13/2021

“Tension is stagnation, which causes blockages in the channels. A healthy flow of Qi serves to end emotional tension.”

Yesterday, we began to look at the Taoist methods of breathwork. Damo Mitchell, the Director of Lotus Neigong and the Internal Arts Academy, led us off with an explanation of the Taoist practice of “Anchoring the Breath, Part 1.” If you missed it, please scroll down to yesterday’s post 11/12 before going on to today’s video of “Anchoring the Breath, Part 2,” where you can follow along with Damo Mitchell as he shows us how to develop this practice. Enjoy, everyone. And have a great weekend. See you on Monday.

11/12/2021

“When we reach a high level of breathing practice, our breath can become a form of release from tension and stress.”

Breathing has a special place in Taoist Alchemy. It is where beginners start their practice and continues through all the levels of cultivation. It is responsible for breaking up stagnation and moving the different forms of Qi through the channels. So, over the next few days we will look at several form of breathing practices and exercises.

We begin today with an explanation a basic Taoist breathing practice called “Anchoring the Breath” by Damo Mitchell, Director of Lotus Neigong and the Internal Arts Academy.

11/11/2021

Perhaps the two most consistent themes or qualities running through the Tao Te Ching are Moderation and Modesty/Humility.

Chapter 9 is exclusively about Moderation:
“Stretch (a bow) to the very full,
And you will wish you had stopped in time.
Temper a (sword-edge) to its very sharpest,
And the edge will not last long.
When gold and jade fill your hall,
You will not be able to keep them safe.
To be proud with wealth and honor
Is to sow seeds of one’s own downfall.
Retire when your work is done,
Such is Heaven’s way.”

At the end of Chapter 15, Laozi sparkles with this gem:
“He who embraces this Tao
Guards against being over-full.
Because he guards against being over-full,
He is beyond wearing out and renewal.”

In Chapter 24, Laozi touches on both Moderation and Modesty by revealing what they are not. Then he concludes with a firm rebuke:
“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.”

In Chapter 29, Laozi warns us against interfering with the flow of Tao and the balance of Yin and Yang then concludes with this:
“Hence the Sage eschews excess, eschews extravagance,
Eschews pride.”

There are many more, too many to list here. However, I would like to include my favorite Laozi passage on Moderation entitled “Be Content.”
“Fame or one’s own self, which does one love more?
One’s own self or material goods, which has more worth?
Loss (of self) or possession (of goods), which is the greater evil?

“Therefore: he who loves most spends most,
He who hoards much loses much.
The contented man meets no disgrace;
Who know when to stop runs into no danger –
He can long endure.”

Now a quick few on Modesty/Humility.
In Chapter 2, Laozi concludes with another gem:
“He (the Sage) acts, but does not appropriate;
Accomplishes, but claims no credit.
It is because he lays claim to no credit
That the credit cannot be taken away from him.”

In Chapter 22, Laozi examines what the Sage does to become a model for the entire world to follow.
“Therefore the Sage embraces the One,
And becomes the model of the world.
He does not reveal himself,
And is therefore luminous.
He does not justify himself,
And is therefore far-famed.
He does not boast of himself,
And therefore people give him credit.
He does not pride himself,
And is therefore the chief among men.”

We have already looked at Chapter 24 above where Laozi reveals what both Moderation and Modesty are not. I want to conclude with Chapter 77, a wonderful verse, “Bending the Bow, another one of my favorites, that also combines both Moderation and Modesty.
“The Tao (way) of Heaven,
Is it not like the bending of a bow?
The top comes down and the bottom-end goes up,
The extra (length) is shortened, the insufficient (width) is expanded.
It is the way of Heaven to take away from those that have too much
And give to those that have not enough.
Not so with man’s way:
He takes from those that have not
And gives it as tribute to those that have too much.
Who can have enough and to spare to give to the entire world?
Only the man of Tao.
Therefore the Sage acts, but does not possess,
Accomplishes but lays claim to no credit,
Because he has no wish to seem superior.

So, let’s see if we can cultivate these two powerful, revealing qualities – Moderation and Modesty – into our daily lives. And enjoy practicing them, folks. That will seal or bind them to your consciousness.

11/10/2021

When it comes to consistency of themes and sought-after qualities perhaps the four most consistent are the feminine or female, child or infant, moderation or middle way, and humility or modesty. We will look at the last two, humility and moderation tomorrow. Today we will take a look at a few of Laozi’s quotes on the feminine and the infant.

One of his most famous quotes on the feminine is from Chapter 6:
“The Spirit of the Valley never dies.
It is called the Mystic Female.
The Door of the Mystic Female
Is the root of Heaven and Earth.

“Continuously, continuously,
It seems to remain.
Draw upon it
And it serves you with ease.”

Then in Chapter 10, Laozi stresses both the feminine and the infant:
“In controlling your vital force to achieve gentleness,
Can you become like the new-born child?…”

“In opening and shutting the Gate of Heaven,
Can you play the part of the Female?”

In Chapter 20, he mentions both the new-born child and the Mother (the feminine):
“The people of the world are merry-making,
As if partaking of the sacrificial feasts,
As if mounting the terrace in spring;
I alone am mild, like one unemployed,
Like a new-born babe that cannot yet smile…”

“The people of the world all have a purpose;
I alone appear stubborn and uncouth.
I alone differ from the other people,
And value drawing sustenance from the Mother.”

In Chapter 25, he likens the Tao to the Mother of All Things:
“Before the Heaven and Earth existed
There was something nebulous:
Silent, isolated,
Standing alone, changing not,
Eternally revolving without fail,
Worthy to be the Mother of All Things.
I do not know its name
And address it as Tao.”

In Chapter 28 he again stresses both the female and the child but also another consistent theme – the valley, ravine or lowly places:
“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.”

In Chapter 52, Laozi identifies the feminine as the Mother of the Universe:
“There was a beginning of the universe
Which may be regarded as the Mother of the Universe.
From the Mother, we may know her sons.
After knowing the sons, keep to the Mother.
Thus one’s whole life may be preserved from harm.”

In Chapter 55, Laozi’s most famous quote on the new-born child emphasizes qualities he considers most important:
“Who is rich in character
Is like a child.
No poisonous insects sting him,
No wild beasts attack him,
And no birds of prey pounce upon him.
His bones are soft, his sinews tender, yet his grip is strong.
Not knowing the union of male and female, yet his organs are complete,
Which means his vigor is unspoiled.
Crying the whole day, yet his voice never runs hoarse,
Which means his (natural) harmony is perfect.
To know harmony is to be in accord with the eternal,
(And) to know eternity is called discerning.”

And finally, in Chapter 61, he joins his theme of the feminine with that of the lowly places in describing a large country:
“A big country (should be like) the delta low-regions,
Being the concourse of the world,
(And) the Female of the world.
The Female overcomes the Male by quietude,
And achieves the lowly position by quietude.”

Tomorrow we will look at the other two major themes in the Tao Te Ching, moderation and modesty. Until then, keep Laozi’s consistent themes in mind while you enjoy your Internal Arts practicing. Thanks for stopping by, folks!

11/09/2021

Yesterday we looked at the consistency of Laozi’s teaching within the Tao Te Ching. Specifically, we focused on handling problems while they are small and the quality of consistency, itself, which Laozi highly recommends if we are to accomplish anything.

Today, we look at the consistency of his teachings on clarity

In Chapter 15, Laozi asks:
“Who can find repose in a muddy world?”
And then he immediately answers:
“By lying still, it becomes clear.”

Actually, the above quote contains three qualities that he consistently urges us to adopt – clarity, stillness, and water. Here he is implying that a muddy world is like muddy water. Leave it alone so the water remains still and the mud will eventually settle at the bottom.

In Chapter 52, Laozi has two references to clarity:
“He who can see the small is clear-sighted;
He who stays by gentility is strong,
Use the light and return to clear-sightedness.”

Another recurring quality or theme in the Tao Te Ching is lessening our attention that we place on the five senses. By doing so, Laozi implies that this brings about clarity.

In Chapter 12, he states:
“The five colors blind the eyes of man;
The five musical notes deafen the ears of man;
The five flavors dull the taste of man;
Horse-racing, hunting and chasing madden the minds of man;
Rare, valuable goods keep their owners awake at night.
Therefore the Sage:
Provides for the belly and not the eye.
Hence, he rejects the one and accepts the other.”

And again in Chapter 52
“Stop its apertures,
Close its doors,
And one’s whole life is without toil.

Open its apertures,
Be busy about its affairs,
And one’s whole life is beyond redemption.”

And in Chapter 56, there’s this…
“He who knows does not speak;
He who speaks does not know.
Fill up its apertures,
Close its doors,
Dull its edges,
Untie its tangles,
Soften its light,
Submerge its turmoil,
– This is the Mystic Unity.

“Then love and hatred cannot touch him.
Profit and loss cannot reach him.
Honor and disgrace cannot affect him.
Therefore is he always the honored one of the world.”

Thus to achieve true clarity and discernment, we want to perceive beyond the five senses and not dwell or get our desires tangled up in the turmoil of this muddy world but instead be still and see that turmoil for what it really is. Enjoy your practicing, people. Thanks for stopping by.

11/08/2021

One of the most essential qualities in developing character and advancing one’s cultivation in the Internal Arts is consistency. This is not a quality to be taken lightly but harkens back to Laozi and the Tao Te Ching. Here is a quote from none other than Osho on Laozi’s consistency:

“To understand Lao Tzu’s logic you will have to create eyes. It is very subtle, it is not the ordinary logic of the logicians — it is the logic of a hidden life, a very subtle life. Whatsoever he says is on the surface absurd; deep down there lives a very great consistency. One has to penetrate it; one has to change his own mind to understand Lao Tzu.” – Osho

One of the concepts in the Tao Te Ching, which Laozi stresses with consistency is handling problems while they are small.

In Chapter 63, Laozi says:
“Deal with the difficult while yet it is easy;
Deal wit the big while yet it is small.
The difficult (problems) of the world
Must be dealt with while they are yet easy;
The great (problems) of the world
Must be dealt with while they are yet small.
Therefore the Sage by never dealing with great (problems)
Accomplishes greatness.”

Then he comes right back in Chapter 64 and repeats the same admonition:
“That which lies still is easy to hold;
That which is not yet manifest is easy to forestall;
That which is brittle (like ice) easily melts;
That which is minute easily scatters.
Deal with a thing before it is there;
Check disorder before it is rife.
A tree with a full span’s girth begins from a tiny sprout;
A nine-storied terrace begins with a clod of earth.
A journey of a thousand li beings at one’s feet.”

Then in the very next verse in Chapter 64, Laozi deals with inconsistency, stating that the lack of consistency causes our affairs to fail especially when they are close to coming to fruition:
“The affairs of men are often spoiled within an ace of completion.
By being careful at the end as at the beginning
Failure is averted.”

So let’s see if we can put these two qualities of consistency and handling problems as soon as they emerge or even beforehand with preventive measures into our everyday lives as well as our Internal Arts practices. And have a great practice, everyone.

11/07/2021

A beautiful day in L.A. Great for going to your favorite and just chilling out or…doing some push hands and learning while doing. Now it’s time to rest up and get ready for a full week of practice. Enjoy it, folks!

11/06/2021

“Cessation of mind equals cessation of breath. Cessation of breath equals cessation of self…” -Damo Mitchell, Internal Arts Academy

In light of the Zhuangzi story, “Keng’s Disciple,” which we just concluded yesterday (Part 4, 11/05), I would like to post a podcast on Guan Yin by my Nei Gong and Alchemy teacher, Damo Mitchell. In this talk, he explains the concept of Guan Yin in terms of Daoist alchemy, which is basically a way for Internal Arts cultivators and other meditators to begin to realize how their awareness works in the context of our internal complexities. This lack of understanding was precisely what caused Keng’s disciple so much frustration and despair.

 

11/05/2021

Today we conclude “Keng’s Disciple” with Part 4 from Thomas Merton’s collection of Zhuangzi stories entitled “The Way of Chuang Tzu.” To review any of the previous parts of the story simply scroll down the page. For Part 1 scroll to 11/02, for Part 2 scroll to 11/03 and for Part 3 scroll to 11/04.

Have you guessed which chapter from his Tao Te Ching Lao Tzu quotes as advice to Keng’s overwrought disciple, who cannot seem to put the teachings into practice and cultivate desirable qualities while ridding himself of undesirable ones? Let’s find out.

KENG’S DISCIPLE Part 4

Lao Tzu replied:
“Can you embrace the One
And not lose it?
Can you foretell good things and bad
Without the tortoise shell
Or the straws?
Can you rest where there is rest?
Do you know when to stop?
Can you mind your own business
Without cares, without desiring reports
Of how others are progressing?
Can you stand on your own feet?
Can you duck?
Can you be like an infant
That cries all day
Without getting a sore throat
Or clenches his fist all day
Without getting a sore hand
Or gazes all day
Without eyestrain?
You want the first elements?
The infant has them.
Free from care, unaware of self,
He acts without reflection,
Stays where he is put, does not know why,
Does not figure things out,
Just goes along with them,
Is part of the current.
These are the first elements!”

The disciple asked:
“Is this perfection?”

Lao replied: “Not at all.
It is only the beginning.
This melts the ice.

“This enables you
To unlearn,
So that you can be led by Tao,
Be a child of Tao.

“If you persist in trying
To attain what is never attained
(It is Tao’s gift!)
If you persist in making effort
To obtain what effort cannot get;
If you persist in reasoning
About what cannot be understood,
You will be destroyed
By the very thing you seek.

“To know when to stop
To know when you can get no further
By your own action,
This is the right beginning!”

So, if you said Chapter 10 or Chapter 55 of the Tao Te Ching, you were correct. Parts of each are contained in Laozi’s advice to Keng’s Disciple. And as Zhuangzi would have it, good advice for all of us to follow. That is the reason he has developed principles from both chapters to give all of us advice on how to begin cultivating desirable qualities and ridding ourselves of undesirable ones. So for all Internal Arts practitioners, have a great weekend and enjoy practicing, folks.

11/04/2021

Today, we look at Part 3 of “Keng’s Disciple” from Thomas Merton’s collection of Zhuangzi stories entitled “The Way of Chuang Tzu.” Scroll down to 11/02/2021 to read Merton’s commentary and Part 1 with the disciple’s frustration of being unable to realize Keng’s teachings or put them into practice like the other disciples, and Keng advises him to present himself to Lao Tzu. Scroll down to 11/03/2021 to read Part 2 when Keng’s Disciple leaves his temple and journeys south to meet Lao Tzu. Meditating alone in a cell and trying to cultivate desirable qualities only led to further despair. And now Part 3

KENG’S DISCIPLE Part 3

“Miserable!” said Lao.
“All blocked up!
Tied in knots! Try
To get untied!
If your obstructions
Are on the outside,
Do not attempt
To grasp them one by one
And thrust them away.
Impossible! Learn
To ignore them.
If they are within yourself,
You cannot destroy them piecemeal,
But you can refuse
To let them take effect.
If they are both inside and outside,
Do not try
To hold on to Tao. Just hope that Tao
Will keep hold of you!”

The disciple groaned:
“When a farmer gets sick
And the other farmers come to see him,
If he can at least tell them
What is the matter
His sickness is not bad.
But as for me, in my search for Tao,
I am like a sick man who takes medicine
That makes him ten times worse.
Just tell me
The first elements.
I will be satisfied!”

Tomorrow we will conclude with Part 4 where Lao Tzu quotes one of his famous chapters from the Tao Te Ching as advice to Keng’s overwrought disciple. Can you guess which chapter that is? Which chapter would you quote to Keng’s disciple? And why? Contemplate on that tonight and join me tomorrow for the conclusion. And don’t forget to enjoy practicing and contemplating, everyone.

11/03/2021

Today, we look at Part 2 of “Keng’s Disciple” from Thomas Merton’s collectioj of Zhuangzi stories entitled “The Way of Chuang Tzu.” In Part 1 yesterday (scroll down to 11/02/2021), Keng’s Sang Chu’s disciple complained to his master that the other disciples get the Master Keng’s meaning and can put it into practice, but he cannot. No matter how hard he tries, it just does not ring any bells inside. Keng admits that his own capacity is too slight to help his student. Thus, he suggests that the student journey to see Lao Tzu. That’s where we begin today.

KENG’S DISCIPLE Part 2

The disciple got some supplies,
Travelled seven days and seven nights
Alone,
And came to Lao Tzu.
Lao asked: “Do you come from Keng?”
“Yes,” replied the student.
“Who are all those people you have brought with you?”
The disciple whirled around to look.
Nobody there. Panic!
Lao said: “Don’t you understand?”
The disciple hung his head. Confusion!
Then a sigh. “Alas, I have forgotten my answer.”
(More confusion!) “I have also forgotten my question.”
Lao said: “What are you trying to say?”
The disciple: “When I don’t know, people treat me like a
fool.
When I do know, the knowledge gets me into trouble.
When I fail to do good, I hurt others.
When I do good, I hurt myself.
If I avoid my duty, I am remiss,
But if I do it, I am ruined.
How can I get out of these contradictions?
That is what I came to ask you.”

Lao Tzu replied:
“A moment ago
I looked into your eyes.
I saw you were hemmed in
By contradictions. Your words
Confirm this.
You are scared to death,
Like a child who has lost
Father and mother.
You are trying to sound
The middle of the ocean
With a six-foot pole.
You have got lost, and are trying
To find your way back
To your own true self.
You find nothing
But illegible signposts
Pointing in all directions.
I pity you.”

The disciple asked for admittance,
Took a cell, and there
Meditated,
Trying to cultivate qualities
He thought desirable
And get rid of others
Which he disliked.
Ten days of that!
Despair!

Tomorrow we will get into Part 3 of “Keng’s Disciple” and his encounter with Lao Tzu. Until then, enjoy your practicing, folks.

11/02/2021

Today we begin Part 1 of “Keng’s Disciple,” the longest story in Thomas Merton’s Zhuangzi collection entitle “The Way of Chuang Tzu. We will start off with Merton’s commentary.

MERTON:
The “man of Tao” does not make the mistake of giving up self-conscious virtuousness in order to immerse himself in an even more self-conscious contemplative recollection. One cannot call Chuang Tzu a “contemplative” in the sense of one who adopts a systematic program of spiritual self-purification in order to attain to certain definite interior experiences, or even merely to “cultivate the interior life.” Chuang Tzu would condemn this just as roundly as the “cultivation” of anything else on an artificial basis. All deliberate, systematic, and reflexive “self-cultivation,” whether active or contemplative, personalistic or politically committed, cuts one off from the mysterious but indispensable contact with Tao, the hidden “Mother” of all life and truth. One of the things that causes the young disciple of Keng Sang Chu (Keng’s Disciple) to be so utterly frustrated is precisely that he shuts himself up in a cell and tries to cultivate qualities which he thinks desirable and get rid of others which he dislikes.

KENG’S DISCIPLE
A disciple complained to Keng:
“The eyes of all men seem to be alike,
I detect no difference in them;
Yet some men are blind;
Their eyes do not see.
The ears of all men seem to be alike,
I detect no difference in them;
Yet some men are deaf,
Their ears do not hear.
The minds of all men have the same nature,
I detect no difference between them;
But the mad cannot make
Another man’s mind their own.
Here am I, apparently like the other disciples,
But there is a difference:
They get your meaning and put it in practice;
I cannot.
You tell me: ‘Hold your being secure and quiet,
Keep your life collected
in its own center.
Do not allow your thoughts
To be disturbed.’
But however hard I try,
Tao is only a word in my ear.
It does not ring any bells inside.”
Keng San replied: “I have nothing more
To say.
Bantams do not hatch goose eggs,
Though the fowl of Lu can.
It is not so much a difference of nature
As a difference of capacity.
My capacity is too slight
To transform you.
Why not go south
And see Lao Tzu?”

Tomorrow we will learn what happens when the disciple meets Lao Tzu. Until then, enjoy your practicing, everyone. Thanks for stopping by.

11/01/2021

I will let Thomas Merton introduce our next Zhuangzi story from Merton’s collection entitled “The Way of Chuang Tzu.”

MERTON:
Meanwhile, though he (Chuang Tzu) consistently disagreed with his friend the dialectician, Hui Tzu, and though his disciples, who were not without “the need to win” always represented Chuang as beating Hui in debate, Chuang Tzu actually used many of Hui Tzu’s metaphysical ideas. He realized that, by the principle of complementarity, his own thought was notcomplete merely in itself, without the “opposition” of Hui Tzu.

One of the most famous of all Chuang Tzu’s “principles” is that called “three in the morning,” from the story of the
monkeys whose keeper planned to give them three measures of chestnuts in the morning and four in the evening but,
when they complained, changed his plan and gave them four in the morning and three in the evening.

When we wear out our minds, stubbornly clinging to one partial view of things, refusing to see a deeper agreement
between this and its complementary opposite, we have whati s called “three in the morning.”

What is this “three in the morning?”

THREE IN THE MORNING:

A monkey trainer went to his monkeys and told them:
“As regards to your chestnuts: you are going to have three
measures in the morning and four in the afternoon.”

At this they all became angry. So he said: “All right, in
that case I will give you four in the morning and three in the
afternoon.” This time they were satisfied.

MERTON:

The two arrangements were the same in that the number of chestnuts did not change. But in one case the animals were displeased, and in the other they were satisfied. The keeper had been willing to change his personal arrangement
in order to meet objective conditions. He lost nothing by it. The truly wise man, considering both sides of the question
without partiality, sees them both in the light of Tao. This is called following two courses at once.

What does this story mean? Simply that the monkeys were foolish and that the keeper cynically outsmarted them? Quite the contrary. The point is rather that the keeper had enough sense to recognize that the monkeys had irrational reasons of their own for wanting four measures of chestnuts in the morning, and did not stubbornly insist on his original arrangement. He was not totally indifferent, and yet he saw that an accidental difference did not affect the substance· of his arrangement. Nor did he waste time demanding that the monkeys try to be “more reasonable” about it when monkeys are not expected to be reasonable in the first place. It is when we insist most firmly on everyone else being “reasonable” that we become, ourselves, unreasonable. Chuang Tzu, firmly centered on Tao, could see these things in perspective. His teaching follows the principle of “three in the morning,” and it is at home on two levels: that of the divine and invisible Tao that has no name, and that of ordinary, simple, everyday existence.

There’s one more important story with Merton’s commentary, “Keng’s Disciple.” It’s one of Zhuangzi’s longest stories; thus, I will break it down into parts. Part 1 will be tomorrow. Don’t miss it. Meanwhile, enjoy your practicing, everyone. And thank you for starting off this month of Thanksgiving with me.

THE DAOIST DAILY DIARY

10/30/2021

Next in Thomas Merton’s collection of Zhuangzi stories from Merton’s book entitled “The Way of Chuang Tzu” is that asks the question: How should you treat a bird? As yourself or as a bird? That is the premise for “Symphony for a Sea Bird”

MERTON:
In the teaching of philosophy, Chuang Tzu is not in favor of putting on tight shoes that make the disciple intensely
conscious of the fact that he has feet-because they torment him! For that very reason Chuang is critical not only of Confucians who are too attached to method and system, but also of Taoists who try to impart knowledge of the unnameable Tao when it cannot be imparted, and when the hearer is not even ready to receive the first elements of instruction about it. “Symphony for a Sea Bird” is to be read in this light. Itdoes not apply merely to the deadening of spontaneity by an artificial insistence on Ju philosophy, but also to a wrongheaded and badly timed zeal in the communication of Tao. In fact, Tao cannot be communicated. Yet it communicates itself in its own way. When the right moment arrives, even one who seems incapable of any instruction whatever will· become mysteriously aware of Tao.

SYMPHONY FOR A SEA BIRD

You cannot put a big load in a small bag,
Nor can you, with a short rope,
Draw water from a deep well.
You cannot talk to a power politician
As if he were a wise man.
If he seeks to understand you,
If he looks inside himself
To find the truth you have told him,
He cannot find it there.
Not finding, he doubts.
When a man doubts,
He will kill.

Have you not heard how a bird from the sea
Was blown inshore and landed
Outside the capital of Lu?

The Prince ordered a solemn reception,
Offered the sea bird wine in the sacred precinct,
Called for musicians
To play the compositions of Shun,
Slaughtered cattle to nourish it:
Dazed with symphonies, the unhappy sea bird
Died of despair.

How should you treat a bird?
As yourself
Or as a bird?

Ought not a bird to nest in deep woodland
Or fly over meadow and marsh?
Ought it not to swim on river and pond,
Feed on eels and fish,
Fly in formation with other waterfowl,
And rest in the reeds?

Bad enough for a sea bird
To be surrounded by men
And frightened by their voices!
That was not enough!
They killed it with music!

Play all the symphonies you like
On the marshlands of Thung-Ting.
The birds will fly away
In all directions;
The animals will hide;
The fish will dive to the bottom;
But men
Will gather around to listen.

Water is for fish
And air for men.
Natures differ, and needs with them.

Hence the wise men of old
Did not lay down
One measure for all.

Tomorrow is Sunday, a good day to take a rest and get ready for a long week of practicing.

10/29/2021

Those of you who are invested in martial arts, what is your goal? Is it MMA? Getting into the UFC? Is it Tui Shou competition? Or just playing Tui Shou in the park? Whatever it might be, both Thomas Merton and Zhuangzi have advice for you in “The Fighting Cock,” a story from Thomas Merton’s collection of stories from the Zhuangzi in “The Way of Chuang Tzu.”

MERTON:
A contemplative and interior life which would simply make the subject more aware of himself and permit him to become obsessed with his own interior progress would, for Chuang Tzu, be no less an illusion than the active life of the
“benevolent” man who would try by his own efforts to impose his idea of the good on those who might oppose this idea and thus in his eyes, become “enemies of the good.” The true tranquillity sought by the “man of Tao” is Ying ning, tranquillity in the action of non-action, in other words, a tranquillity which transcends the division between activity and contemplation by entering into union with the nameless and invisible Tao. Chuang Tzu insists everywhere that this means abandoning the “need to win” (see “The Fighting Cock”).

THE FIGHTING COCK

Chi Hsing Tzu was a trainer of fighting cocks
For King Hsuan.
He was training a fine bird.
The King kept asking if the bird were
Ready for combat.
“Not yet,” said the trainer.
“He is full of fire.
He is ready to pick a fight
With every other bird. He is vain and confident
Of his own strength.”

After ten days, he answered again:
“Not yet. He flares up
When he hears another bird crow.”

After ten more days:
“Not yet. He still gets
That angry look
And ruffles his feathers.”

Again ten days:
The trainer said, “Now he is nearly ready.
When another bird crows, his eye
Does not even flicker.
He stands immobile
Like a cock of wood.
He is a mature fighter.
Other birds
Will take one look at him
And run.”

So, there’s your advice: Give up the need to win, and enjoy your practice, everyone. Thanks for stopping by.

10/28/2021

Today we look at “The Woodcarver” from a collection of Zhuangzi stories compiled by Thomas Merton in his book “The Way of Chuang Tzu.” Merton’s commentary follows the story.

THE WOODCARVER
Khing, the master carver, made a bell stand
Of precious wood. When it was finished,
All who saw it were astounded. They said it must be
The work of spirits.
The Prince of Lu said to the master carver:
“What is your secret?”

Khing replied: “I am only a workman:
I have no secret. There is only this:
When I began to think about the work you commanded
I guarded my spirit, did not expend it
On trifles, that were not to the point.
I fasted in order to set
My heart at rest.
After three days fasting,
I had forgotten gain and success.
After five days
I had forgotten praise or criticism.
After seven days
I had forgotten my body
With all its limbs.

“By this time all thought of your Highness
And of the court had faded away.
All that might distract me from the work
Had vanished.
I was collected in the single thought
Of the bell stand.

“Then I went to the forest
To see the trees in their own natural state.
When the right tree appeared before my eyes,
The bell stand also appeared in it, clearly, beyond doubt.
All I had to do was to put forth my hand
And begin.

“If I had not met this particular tree
There would have been
No bell stand at all.

“What happened?
My own collected thought
Encountered the hidden potential in the wood;
From this live encounter came the work
Which you ascribe to the spirits.”

MERTON:
In “The Woodcarver,” we see that the accomplished craftsman does not simply proceed according to certain fixed rules and external standards. To do so is, of course, perfectly all right for the mediocre artisan. But the superior work of art proceeds from a hidden and spiritual principle which, in fasting, detachment, forgetfulness of results, and abandonment of all hope of profit, discovers precisely the tree that is waiting to have this particular work carved from it. In such a case, the artist works as though passively, and it is Tao that works in and through him. This is a favorite theme of Chuang Tzu, and we find it often repeated. The “right way” of making things is beyond self-conscious reflection, for “when the shoe fits, the foot is forgotten.”

Let’s hope your shoes fit so you can enjoy practicing, everyone.

10/27/2021

Following on the heels or, I should say, the tail of “The Turtle, ” which we looked at yesterday is Zhuangzi’s story of the “Owl and Phoenix” from Thomas Merton’s collection of Zhuangzi stories entitled “The Way of Chuang Tzu.”

MERTON: In “The Turtle,” Chuang Tzu delivers a curt and definite refusal to those who come to tempt him away from
his fishing on the river bank in order to give him a job in the capital…He has an even more blunt response when his friend Hui Tzu suspects him of plotting to supplant him in his official job (in the “Owl and Phoenix”).

OWL AND PHOENIX

Hui Tzu was Prime Minister of Liang. He had what he believed to be inside information that Chuang Tzu coveted his post and was intriguing to supplant him. In fact, when Chuang Tzu came to visit Liang, the Prime Minister sent out
the police to apprehend him. The police searched for him three days and three nights, but meanwhile Chuang presented
himself before Hui Tzu of his own accord, and said:

“Have you heard about the bird
That lives in the south
The Phoenix that never grows old?

“This undying Phoenix
Rises out of the South Sea
And flies to the Sea of the North,
Never alighting
Except on certain sacred trees.
He will touch no food
But the most exquisite
Rare fruit,
Drinks only
From clearest springs.

“Once an owl
Chewing a dead rat
Already half-decayed,
Saw the Phoenix fly over,
Looked up,
And screeched with alarm,
Clutching the rat to himself
In fear and dismay.

“Why are you so frantic
Clinging to your ministry
And screeching at me
In dismay?”

Did Zhuangzi just call his friend, Hui Tzu, a rat? In a way he did, demeaning Hui Tzu’s ministry that he was clinging to. Did Hui Tzu deserve that? Of course, he did, believing the unproven, unverified speculations of a third party before even speaking with his friend. I certainly hope we do not do that. It’s called the benefit of the doubt. Always give that one special benefit to your close friends, and enjoy your practice, folks.

10/26/2021

Today, Thomas Merton comments on the story of “The Turtle” from his collection of stories from the “Zhuangzi,” entitled “The Way of Chuang Tzu.”

MERTON:
The “man of Tao” will prefer obscurity and solitude. He
will not seek public office, even though he may recognize that
the Tao which “inwardly forms the sage, outwardly forms the
King.” In “The Turtle,” Chuang Tzu delivers a curt and
definite refusal to those who come to tempt him away from
his fishing on the river bank in order to give him a job in the
capital.

THE TURTLE
Chuang Tzu with his bamboo pole
Was fishing in Pu river.
The Prince of Chu
Sent two vice-chancellors
With a formal document:
“We hereby appoint you
Prime Minister.”
Chuang Tzu held his bamboo pole.
Still watching Pu river,
He said:
“I am told there is a sacred tortoise,
Offered and canonized
Three thousand years ago,
Venerated by the prince,
Wrapped in silk,
In a precious shrine
On an altar
In the Temple.
“What do you think:
Is it better to give up one’s life
And leave a sacred shell
As an object of cult
In a cloud of incense
Three thousand years,

Or better to live
As a plain turtle
Dragging its tail in the mud?”
“For the turtle,” said the Vice-Chancellor,
“Better to live
And drag its tail in the mud!”
“Go home!” said Chuang Tzu.
“Leave me here
To drag my tail in the mud!”

Let’s not drag our tails in the mud tomorrow. Get out there and a great time practicing, people!

10/25/2021

We are still working with Zhuangzi stories from the Book of Zhuangzi, simply titled The “Zhuangzi.” But today, we have a guest commentator. Thomas Merton was a Trappist monk and a best selling author, who loved the stories of Zhuangzi. He complied a book of his favorite Chuang Tzu (Zhuangzi) stories along with commentaries. So, today we begin with “Monkey Mountain,” our first Thomas Merton excerpt from his book “The Way of Chuang Tzu.”

MONKEY MOUNTAIN
The Prince of Wu took a boat to Monkey Mountain. As soon as the monkeys saw him they all fled in panic and hid in the treetops. One monkey, however, remained, completely unconcerned, swinging from branch to branch-an extraordinary
display!

The Prince shot an arrow at the monkey, but the monkey dexterously caught the arrow in mid-flight. At this the Prince ordered his attendants to make a concerted attack. In an instant the monkey was shot full of arrows and fell dead.

Then the King turned to his companion Yen Pu’i: “You see what happened?” he said. “This animal advertised his cleverness. He trusted in his own skill. He thought no on
could touch him. Remember that! Do not rely on distinction
and talent when you deal with men.”

When they returned home, Yen Pu’i became the disciple
of a sage to get rid of everything that made him outstanding.
He renounced every pleasure. He learned to hide every “distinction.”
Soon no one in the Kingdom knew what to make of him.
Thus they held him in awe.

MERTON: In “Monkey Mountain,” he shows the peril of cleverness and virtuosity, and repeats one of his familiar themes that we might summarize as: No one is so wrong as the man who knows all the answers. Like Lao Tzu, Master Chuang preaches an essential humility: not the humility of virtuousness and conscious selfabasement, which in the end is never entirely free from the unctuousness of Uriah Heep, but the basic, one might say, “ontological,” or “cosmic” humility of the man who fully realizes his own nothingness and becomes totally forgetful of himself, “like a dry tree stump … like dead ashes.”

Stay tuned for more from Thomas Merton’s book, “The Way of Chuang Tzu,” tomorrow. Enjoy your practicing, folks!

10/24/2021

For most of you Sunday is a day to relax and take it easy. But for me it’s a day of teaching and training in Tui Shou, hardly relaxing. In the morning I work with another teacher to help a few of his students with their structure and techniques. Then later, I go to another park to work with a couple of experienced partners who can teach me a thing or two. So, as always, take it easy if you can, and get ready for a full week of enjoyable practicing, everyone. Adios!

10/23/2021

Today we have the Tale of “Yao and Xu You” from the “Zhuangzi,” translated by Burton Watson: “Yao ceded the empire to Xu You. “A small torch burning on after the sun is out finds making the day brighter a difficult task indeed. A man who keeps on irrigating fields after the seasonal rains have come finds making the crops richer tedious indeed. If you, sir, once took the throne, thereupon would the world be in order. Yet I like an imposter continue in charge, despite seeing my own inadequacy. I beg to turn the world over to you.”

Xu You said, “You rule the world and the world is already well ruled. Would I want to replace you for reputation’s sake? Reputation is merely the guest of reality – would I want to play the guest? When a wren builds its nest, although the woods may be deep it uses no more than one branch. When a mole goes to drink though it goes to a river it fills its belly and drinks no more. Go home and let the matter drop, my lord! I have no use for the world. Though the cook may not manage his job well, the sacrificial priest doesn’t leap over the altar wine and meats to take his place.”

It seems as though Xu You had to attend to things that were much weightier than simply ruling the world. What is the phrase that Jesus is quoted as saying in the New Testament: “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36). It seems like the above story is the Zhuangzi version of this quote and implies the importance of self cultivation, which, no doubt, was Xu You’s main interest in his life. And, yours as well, I hope. Keep practicing, folks, and you’ll get there eventually.

10/22/2021

Continuing with stories from The Zhuangzi, today’s excerpt is from Chapter 13. The story of Wheelwright Bian concerns a courageous wheelwright who challenges his ruler, Lord Huan, and would surely lose his head if he did not prove his point.

Lord Huan was reading a book in the hall.
Wheelwright Bian was chiseling a wheel before the hall. He laid
down his mallet and chisel, ascended the hall, and asked, “I venture
to ask Your Lordship whose words you are reading?”
The lord said, “The words of the sages.”
“Are those sages alive?” Bian said.
The lord said, “They are dead.”
“Then what you, my lord, are reading are merely the rubbish of the
ancients!”
Lord Huan said, “I am reading; how should a wheelwright be in any
position to comment? If you have an explanation, very well; if not,
you shall die.”
Wheelwright Bian said, “I, your servant, look at it from the perspective
of my occupation. In chiseling a wheel, if my actions are slow,
the wheel will be slippery and fragile; if my actions are quick, the
wheel will be uneven and not fit.
To be neither too slow nor too fast; this is acquired through one’s
hands and experienced through one’s heart.
One’s mouth cannot articulate it.
There is a knack in it.
I cannot teach the knack to my son,
nor can my son receive it from me.
Hence, I am seventy but still making wheels in my old age.
The ancients, as well as that which was impossible for them to
convey, are dead and gone.
This being so, then what you, my lord, are reading is but the rubbish
of the ancients!”

And so it is! The problem with the human condition is that we place too much credence on what we hear and read. We take it in as though our language conveys the full knowledge of what we speak. But it does not. As Wheelwright Bian explained, language can only convey partial knowledge. It cannot convey our feeling or experiential knowledge. You can talk all day about your cruise to Alaska, let’s say. But there is no way I can experience what you felt for language is not knowledge itself, pure and complete. Or, as Wheelwright Bian stated, “(True knowledge) is acquired through one’s hands and experienced through one’s heart. One’s mouth cannot articulate it.”

Happy practicing, folks. More from The Zhuangzi tomorrow.

10/21/2021

Today we continue with the story of “The Four Friends” from Chapter 6 of the “Zhuangzi.” In the first part of the story, Mast Yu fell ill to a crippling disease and was turning into a crooked hunchback. His friend, Master Si, went to visit Yu to check on his condition. Not only wasn’t Yu miserable and downtrodden, he was the complete opposite. Having accepted his fate willingly, he even made light of his situation. You might say that Master Yu was the perfect model for the adage: “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”

Today’s section is about the other two friends, Master Lo and Master Lai.

Before long Master Lai fell ill, and lay gasping at the point of death, while his wife and children stood around him wailing. Master Lо went to ask for him, and said to them, ‘Hush! Get out of the way! Do not disturb him as he is passing through his change.’ Then, leaning against the door, he said (to the dying man), ‘Great indeed is the Creator! What will He now make you to become? Where will He take you to? Will He make you the liver of a rat, or the arm of an insect? Master Lai replied, ‘Wherever a parent tells a son to go, east, west, south, or north, he simply follows the command. The Yin and Yang are more to a man than his parents are. If they are hastening my death, and I do not quietly submit to them, I shall be obstinate and rebellious. There is the great Mass (of nature);– I find the support of my body in it; my life is spent in toil on it; my old age seeks ease on it; at death I find rest on it:– what has made my life a good will make my death also a good.

‘Here now is a great founder, casting his metal. If the metal were to leap up (in the pot), and say, “I must be made into a (sword like the) Mo-yeh,” the great founder would be sure to regard it as uncanny. So, again, when a form is being fashioned in the mold of the womb, if it were to say, “I must become a man; I must become a man,” the Creator would be sure to regard it as uncanny. When we once understand that heaven and earth are a great melting-pot, and the Creator a great founder, where can we have to go to that shall not be right for us? We are born as from a quiet sleep, and we die to a calm awaking.’

Here, Zhuangzi is pointing out what one’s attitude should be regarding death. If we look at it as a calm awaking, then there is nothing to fear, nothing to be terrified of. It is by no means an absolute must to reincarnate as a human. We should accept whatever fate and our karma have in store for us. After all, whatever it is, we will not be conscious of it as we are not conscious of our last incarnation or the one before that.

I will have more from Zhuangzi tomorrow. Take care and have a great practice, folks.

10/20/2021

Today we start a brief series of stories by that master storyteller Zhuangzi from the “Book of Zhuang” (The Zhuangzi). This first one is called “The Four Friends,” from Chapter 6, translated by Burton Watson.

Master Si, Mater Yu, Master Lo, and Master Lai, these four men, were talking together, when some one said, ‘Who can suppose the head to be made from nothing, the spine from life, and the rump-bone from death? Who knows how death and birth, living on and disappearing, compose the one body?– I would be friends with him.’ The four men looked at one another and laughed, but no one seized with his mind the drift of the questions. All, however, were friends together.

Not long after Yu fell ill, and Si went to inquire for him. ‘How great,’ said (the sufferer), ‘is the Creator! That He should have made me the deformed object that I am!’ He was a crooked hunchback; his five viscera were squeezed into the upper part of his body; his chin bent over his navel; his shoulder was higher than his crown; on his crown was an ulcer pointing to the sky; his breath came and went in gasps:– yet he was easy in his mind, and made no trouble of his condition. He limped to a well, looked at himself in it, and said, ‘Alas that the Creator should have made me the deformed object that I am!’ Si asked, ‘Do you dislike your condition?’ Yu0 replied, ‘No, why should I dislike it? If He were to transform my left arm into a cock, I should be watching with it the time of the night; if He were to transform my right arm into a cross-bow, I should then be looking for a hsiвo to (bring down and) roast; if He were to transform my rump-bone into a wheel, and my spirit into a horse, I should then be mounting it, and would not change it for another steed. Moreover, when we have got (what we are to do), there is the time (of life) in which to do it; when we lose that (at death), submission (is what is required). When we rest in what the time requires, and manifest that submission, neither joy nor sorrow can find entrance (to the mind). This would be what the ancients called loosing the cord by which (the life) is suspended. But one hung up cannot loose himself;– he is held fast by his bonds. And that creatures cannot overcome Heaven (the inevitable) is a long-acknowledged fact;– why should I hate my condition?’

Why should any of us hate our condition? But we do. All the time – whenever we run into negative situations. Zhuangzi is teaching us the true nature ACCEPTANCE in this parable. Not only has Yu accepted his conditions, he even makes light of it.

So, we shall take a look at the next part of the story (yes, there’s more) tomorrow. Great practicing, enjoy, people!

10/19/2021

Today a final word from Song Shuming, who transmitted generations of the Song Family’s encounters with four of the ancient predecessors to modern Taijiquan:

The above descriptions of various schools of Taiji and their terminology are based on my own experience and on help from good friends who are not the type to show off their skills. I fear that a person within any of these styles will after a long period end up corrupting it, therefore I have written these things down to supply future generations with material to ponder and learn from. This art will last you for your entire life and you will never be able to use it up.
If there are any other Taiji styles with different names and different postures names, I am not aware of them, and I will leave it up to later generations to encounter and record them. No matter what names they may use for their techniques, the Taiji art itself cannot be considered to be more than one art. If some version is explained totally differently than the rest, then that is assuredly a different art altogether, but otherwise no matter what a person’s skill level might be, he should not proclaim his version to be a different art.
Tracing further back from the previous masters above, we encounter the likes of Dongfang Shuo [a Han Dynasty scholar who was subsequently placed in the ranks of Daoist immortals], then tracing back further still, there was Mengzi, who traveled from kingdom to kingdom to present his art of “accepting one’s destiny”. He said [Mengzi, chapter 2a]: “I am so good at nurturing my noble energy… that it fills up the world.”
The greater achievement is personal transformation, while the lesser achievement is martial skill. The Way of accepting destiny cannot be achieved without filling the body with energy. From accepting one’s destiny, there is then the fulfilling of one’s nature, and ultimately one’s spirit is transformed. From king to commoner, how could this process not initiate sincerity of intention, correctness of mind, and cultivation of the body?
Later generations must never pass down this material casually, for there are some kinds of people who should not be taught. After all, why did past masters pass the art down to us? It really had nothing to do with family relations, only with being worthy. We must respect the life’s work of past masters and not dare to teach their art rashly. When you later generations teach this art, you must try to get the work you put into it to live up to the efforts of the earlier masters.

TEN TYPES OF PEOPLE NOT TO BE TAUGHT

1. Do not teach those of different traditions.
2. Do not teach those without virtue.
3. Do not teach those who do not understand instructions.
4. Do not teach those who cannot endure.
5. Do not teach quitters.
6. Do not teach those who gain the treasure but forget the teacher.
7. Do not teach those who are ungrateful for what they receive.
8. Do not teach those who are prone to losing their temper.
9. Do not teach those who take excessive delight in worldly pleasures.
10. Do not teach those who cannot handle a great variety of tasks.

FOUR PROHIBITIONS

[1] Do not drink wine excessively.
[2] Do not be distracted by sex, for the ways of women will lead you to bad decisions.
[3] Do not be obsessed with wealth.
[4] Do not act in opposition to a balanced lifestyle, trying to get more for yourself than is reasonable.

THREE LITTLE PRACTICE PROHIBITIONS

[1] Don’t eat too much.
[2] Don’t drink too much.
[3] Don’t sleep too much.

Song Shuming’s final words will bring this series to an end. I certainly hope you enjoyed learning about ancient forms of Taiji Boxing that led to our modern practice of Taijiquan. Furthermore, I hope you will heed these final words of the author as translated by Paul Brennan. Take care, my friends, and enjoy practicing long and hard.

10/18/2021

Today we look at the last art in this series of ancient Taiji Boxing arts that laid the foundation for modern day Taijiquan. The art was called Acquired Nature Method.

“Hu Jingzi” was the name he called himself while in Yangzhou, but we do not know what his name actually was. He taught his art to Zhong Shu of the Song Dynasty. Zhong was from Anzhou [present-day Anlu in Hubei]. He once traveled to Gusu Tower, where he wrote this poem on a pillar [a poem which drew the attention of Su Dongpo, who Zhong then became friends with]:
Universe eternal, on and on forever,
you have no mind, so I likewise quiet mine.
I wander to the ends of the Earth, nobody paying me any attention [“people not piping” – a pun foreshadowing the next line],
but when spring breezes come, I blow my flute for them in taverns.

The Taiji Boxing that Zhong taught to Yin Liheng was called Acquired Nature Method. It too contained the techniques of warding off, rolling back, pressing, pushing, plucking, rending, elbowing, and bumping [although the list below focuses entirely on elbowing]. Although its posture names were different, its method of use was the same as before. If a practitioner of a system goes off on his own, he and the original system will each do things their own way, but the fundamentals in either case will remain the same.

後天法目
Contents of the Acquired Nature Method:

[1] ACTIVE ELBOW
[2] PASSIVE ELBOW
[3] GROIN-COVERING ELBOW
[4] INWARD-SPEARING ELBOW
[5] BLOSSOMING-FLOWER ELBOW
[6] EIGHT-DIRECTIONS PUNCH
[7] PASSIVE FIVE PALMS
[8] SINGLE LIFTING ELBOW
[9] DOUBLE-WHIP ELBOWS
[10] CROUCHING-TIGER ELBOW
[11] CLOUD-FLYING ELBOW
[12] GRINDING ELBOW
[13] MOUNTAIN THROUGH THE ELBOW
[14] ELBOW TO BOTH KNEES
[15] ELBOW TO ONE KNEE

Tomorrow we will end the series with some final words from Song Shuming, the Author, on Ten Types of People Not To Be Taught, Four Prohibitions, and Three Little Practice Prohibitions. Until then, happy practicing, everyone!

10/17/2021

Easy day today, enjoy some Tui Shou, then rest up and get ready for a full week of practicing, folks.

By the way, FYI for those interested in Tui Shou…

October 23, this Saturday, 3 1/2 hours dedicated to the depth of internal work of TC or other internal martial arts. There is a lot to cover:

Quick access of meditative state for practice Qi Gong or Tai Chi,
Push Hands and transformation of it into striking,
Unlocking hips for free movement in and out of the attack,
Maintaining postural alignment and Chi manipulation,
and many Q and A that you might have.

Amount of participants is limited to ensure proper exercises and techniques execution.

Details: <<<< MUST RSVP>>>>

When and where: Saturday, October 23th Reseda Park – 18411 Victory Blvd., Reseda CA 91335. Starting at 10am

Cost: $100 per person for one day

Email for PayPal payments: taichihollywood [at] gmail [dot] com

Reserve your spot now for the best Tai Chi hang out. Can’t wait to meet you and play Push Hands with you again!
Emil Rechester

(I know Emil personally, and he has some very good stuff to share.)

10/16/2021

Continuing our series on the ancient forerunners of modern day Taijiquan, today we look at the Taiji Boxing art of Han Gongyue, which was named “Small Highest Heaven.” And this one is really ancient from Sixth Century China. First a little background from the Song family history, recorded by Song Shuming and translated by Paul Brennan.

Cheng Lingxi, called Yuandi, was from Xiuning, Huizhou Prefecture, Jiangnan. He learned from Han Gongyue a Taiji skill that was highly practical. During the Houjing Rebellion [548–552], She County [in Anhui] was protected entirely due to Cheng. The first Liang emperor thus gave him command over the region. After Cheng died, he was given the posthumous name of Zhongzhuang [“loyal and mighty”].
The art was later passed down to Cheng Bi, who [in 1193] was a graduate of the court-level examinations in Shaoxing Prefecture. He was made Head of Records for Changhua County, as well as Minister of Personnel, was honored with a degree from the Hanlin Academy, served as an imperial courtier whose bearing inspired awe, and finally, given the title of Marquis of Xin’an Prefecture [modern day Huizhou in Anhui], as well as Scholar of the Hall of Clarity. While he ran his estate, he often sold grain for a much lower price to relieve people when there was less to go around, sincerely wanting to benefit the masses. He is the author of the Ming River Collection.
He changed the name of his Taiji Boxing art to Small Highest Heaven. Although he inherited the art, he recorded that it was Han Gongyue who taught it, never daring to forget the master who passed it down.

If Taiji is not based purely on the Book of Changes, you will not be able to succeed in it. To use the Book of Changes, you must at all times realize its ideas in your mind and manifest them within your body, transcending outward appearance and instead holding to what is in the center, thereby possessing the marvel of “the opponent does not understand me, only I understand him”. But if I had not personally received corrections from my teacher, I would not have been able to delight in these movements.

[Below are two pieces belonging to this art, with no specific authorship indicated.]

FIVE STUDY REMINDERS [These five terms are originally from the “Zhong Yong” – chapter 31 of the Book of Rites.]

[1] Learn abundantly. (Work on a great variety of skills.)
[2] Inquire meticulously. (This does not have to do with querying verbally, but with listening to energy.)
[3] Ponder wholeheartedly. (After a session of listening, contemplate the experience constantly.)
[4] Discriminate clearly. (New things will always continue to come at you [and you should keep yourself from being distracted by things that are not important].)
[5] Practice sincerely. (“Nature acts with vigor. [Likewise a gentleman ceaselessly improves himself.]” – Hexagram 1 of the Book of Changes)

SONG OF THE FOUR NATURES RETURNING TO ONE

Unless you understand your own nature,
how can you understand human nature?
The nature of things is similar to human nature,
and the nature of the universe is similar in turn to that nature.
We depend on the universe for existence,
but the universe depends on us for relevance.
If I can first seek to understand my own nature,
the universe will teach me and reveal my own unique talent.

This may be a little heavy for those who just practice Taiji for health or to learn Tui Shou, but for those who are true cultivators, all I can urge is take heed of the above…and enjoy your practicing, folks!

10/15/2021

Today we continue our review of legendary Zhang Sanfeng’s martial art, “The Thirteen Dynamics.” We begin this session with the “Thirteen Dynamics Song.” No, this is not a selection from the Top 100 Hits of the Tang or Ming Dynasties. In martial arts and especially Taijiquan, a Song was a poetic and often rhymed way of presenting instructions and even secrets attached to that particular form.

THIRTEEN DYNAMICS SONG

Do not neglect any of the thirteen dynamics,
their command coming from your lower back.
You must pay attention to the alternation of empty and full,
then energy will flow through your whole body without getting stuck anywhere.
In stillness, movement stirs, and then once in motion, seem yet to be in stillness,
for the magic lies in making adjustments based on being receptive to the opponent.
In every movement, very deliberately control it by the use of intention,
for once you achieve that, your technique will never be gummed up.
At every moment, pay attention to your waist,
for if there is relaxation and stillness within your belly, energy is primed.
Your tailbone is centered and spirit penetrates to your headtop,
thus your whole body will be aware and your headtop will be pulled up as if suspended.
Pay careful attention in your practice that you are letting bending and extending,
contracting and expanding, happen as the situation requires.
Beginning the training requires personal instruction,
but mastering the art depends on your own unceasing effort.
Whether we are discussing in terms of theory or function, what is the constant?
It is that mind is sovereign and body is subject.
If you think about it, what is emphasizing the use of intention going to lead you to?
To a longer life and a longer youth.
Repeatedly recite the words above,
all of which speak clearly and hence their ideas come through without confusion.
If you pay no heed to those ideas, you will go astray in your training,
and you will find you have wasted your time and be left with only sighs of regret.

Long Boxing: it is like a long river flowing into the wide ocean, on and on ceaselessly… The thirteen dynamics are: warding off, rolling back, pressing, pushing, plucking, rending, elbowing, and bumping – which relate to the eight trigrams:

☴☲☷ Sun, Li, Kun
☳ ☱ Chen, Tui
☶☵☰ Ken, Kan, Qian

… and advancing, retreating, stepping to the left, stepping to the right, and staying in the center – which relate to the five elements: metal, wood, water, fire, and earth. Combined [8+5], these are the Thirteen Dynamics, yet another name for Taiji Boxing. Warding off, rolling back, pressing, and pushing correspond to ☵, ☲, ☳, and ☱ in the four principle compass directions [meaning simply that these are the primary techniques]. Plucking, rending, elbowing, and bumping correspond to ☰, ☷, ☶, and ☴ in the four corner directions [i.e. are the secondary techniques]. Advancing, retreating, stepping to the left, stepping to the right, and staying in the center correspond to the five elements of water, fire, wood, metal, and earth.

We close out our study of Zhang Sanfeng’s “Thirteen Dynamics” with the “Playing Hands Song,” which relates to modern day “Push Hands” or “Tui Shou.”

PLAYING HANDS SONG

Ward-off, rollback, press, and push must be taken seriously.
With coordination between above and below, the opponent will hardly find a way in.
I will let him attack me with as much power as he likes,
for I will tug with four ounces of force to move his of a thousand pounds.
Guiding him in to land on nothing, I then close up and shoot him out.
I stick, connect, adhere, and follow, neither coming away nor crashing in.

It is also said:
If he takes no action, I take no action, but once he takes even the slightest action, I have already acted. The power seems relaxed but not relaxed, about to expand but not yet expanding. When my power finishes, my intent of it continues.

Next we look at the taiji boxing art of Han Gongyue called Small Highest Heaven. Until tomorrow then, Enjoy practicing, everyone!

10/14/2021

Today we continue with the story of the legendary ancestor of Taijiquan, Zhang Sanfeng, and his “Thirteen Dynamics” as recounted in the Song family history by Song Shuming and translated by Paul Brennan.

UNDERSTANDING HOW TO PRACTICE THE THIRTEEN DYNAMICS

Use mind to move the energy. You must get the energy to sink. It is then able to collect in the bones. Use energy to move your body. You must get the energy to be smooth. Your body can then easily obey your mind.
If you can raise your spirit, then you will be without worry of being slow or weighed down. Thus it is said [in the Thirteen Dynamics Song]: “Your whole body will be aware and your headtop will be pulled up as if suspended.”
Your mind must perform alternations nimbly, and then you will have the delight of being rounded and lively. Thus it is said [also in the Song]: “Pay attention to the alternation of empty and full.”
When issuing power, you must sink and relax, concentrating it in one direction. Your posture must be upright and comfortable, bracing in all directions.
Move energy as though through a winding-path pearl, penetrating even the smallest nook – meaning that the energy is everywhere in the body. Wield power like tempered steel, so strong there is nothing tough enough to stand up against it.
The shape is like a falcon capturing a rabbit. The spirit is like a cat pouncing on a mouse.
In stillness, be like a mountain, and in movement, be like a river.
Store power like drawing a bow. Issue power like loosing an arrow.
Within curving, seek to be straightening. Store and then issue.
Power comes from your spine. Step according to your body’s adjustments.
To gather is to release. Disconnect but stay connected.
In the back and forth [of the arms], there must be folding. In the advance and retreat [of the feet], there must be variation.
Extreme softness begets extreme hardness. Your ability to be lively lies in your ability to breathe.
By nurturing energy with integrity, it will not be corrupted. By storing power in crooked parts, it will be in abundant supply.
The mind makes the command, the energy is its flag, and the waist is its banner.
First strive to open up, then strive to close up, and from there you will be able to attain a refined subtlety.

It is also said:
First in your mind, then in your body. Your abdomen relaxes and then energy collects. Your spirit should be comfortable and your body should be calm – at every moment be mindful of this. Always remember: If one part moves, every part moves, and if one part is still, every part is still.
As the movement leads back and forth, energy sticks to and gathers in your spine.
Inwardly bolster spirit and outwardly show ease.
Step like a cat and move energy as if drawing silk.
Throughout your body, your mind should dwell on the spirit rather than on the energy, for if you are fixated on the energy, your movement will become sluggish. Whenever your mind is on the energy, there will be no power, and likewise whenever your mind is on the power, there will be no energy. But if you ignore the power and let it take care of itself, there will be pure strength.
To obtain the principle of “invigorating activity” from hexagram 1 of the Book of Changes [i.e. “Nature acts with vigor. Likewise a gentleman ceaselessly improves himself.”], let your energy be like a wheel and your waist be like an axle.

More on the “Thirteen Dynamics” of Zhang Sanfeng tomorrow. Until then, have joyful practicing, everyone.

10/13/2021

Two days ago we look at the Tang Dynasty 37 form, an ancient forerunner of modern Taijiquan, developed Xu Xuanping, a Taoist hermit. Then yesterday we looked at another ancient forerunner of Taijiquan developed by Li Daozi. Today we continue our journey into the ancient form of Taijiquan, according to the Song family history recorded by Song Shuming and translated by Paul Brennan and meet one of the most mysterious legendary figure of Taijiquan, Zhang Sanfeng.

Yesterday, we learned that Song Shuming’s distant ancestor, Song Yuanqiao together with Yu Lianzhou and five other close friends and martial artists went to find Master Li Daozi, who had taught Yu Lianzhou the “Song of Secrets,” which means Master Li taught Yu Lianzhou how to perform the martial secrets contained in the song. Today, we pick up with the Song family record from there with Song Shuming’s ancestor, Song Yuanqiao, detailing what happened next:

After the seven of us learned this song (SONG OF SECRETS – taught to Yu Lianzhou by Master Li), we all went together to Wudang to do obeisance to Master Li, but we could not find him there. At the Daoist “Jade Void Palace” on the heights of Mt. Taihe, we instead met Master Zhang Sanfeng, who had already been instructing Zhang Songxi and Zhang Cuishan. He was over seven feet tall, had a graceful beard that was like a halberd, wore the same bamboo hat regardless of winter or summer, and could travel three hundred miles in a single day. Long ago, in the first year of the reign of Emperor Hongwu [1368], he had practiced asceticism at Mt. Taihe.
The seven of us did obeisance to him, opening our minds to his wisdom for more than a month before returning, and from that point on have continued to make such pilgrimages. Master Zhang’s boxing art, which had so far been passed down only to Zhang Songxi and Zhang Cuishan, is called Thirteen Dynamics, another name for the Taiji art, and is also called Long Boxing.

The following are writings belonging to the Zhang Sanfeng’s art, Thirteen Dynamics [with no specific authorship indicated]:

Taiji [“grand polarity”] is born of wuji [“nonpolarity”] stillness and is the mother of yin and yang [the passive and active aspects]. When there is movement, passive and active become distinct from each other. When there is stillness, they return to being indistinguishable.
Neither going too far nor not far enough, comply and bend then engage and extend. He is hard while I am soft – this is yielding. My energy is smooth while his energy is coarse – this is sticking. If he moves fast, I quickly respond – this is connecting. If his movement is slow, I leisurely follow – this is following. Although there is an endless variety of possible scenarios, there is only this single principle [of yielding and sticking] throughout. Once you have ingrained these techniques, you will gradually come to identify energies, and then from there you will gradually progress toward something miraculous. But unless you practice a lot over a long time, you will never have a breakthrough.
Press up your headtop. Energy sinks to your elixir field. Stand centered and not leaning. Suddenly hide and suddenly appear. When there is pressure on the left, the left must become neutral. When there is pressure on the right, the right must become neutral. Emptiness and fullness manifest simultaneously. When looking up, it is still higher. When drilling in, it only becomes harder. When advancing, it is even farther. When retreating, it is even nearer. A feather cannot be added and a fly cannot land. The opponent does not understand me, only I understand him. A hero is one who encounters no opposition, and it is through this kind of method that such a condition is achieved.
There is a great variety of boxing arts besides this one. Although the postures are different between them, they generally do not go beyond the strong bullying the weak and the slow yielding to the fast. The strong beating the weak and the slow submitting to the fast are both a matter of inherent natural ability and bear no relation to skill that is learned. Examine the phrase “four ounces moves a thousand pounds”, which is clearly not a victory obtained through strength. Or consider the sight of an old man repelling a group, which could not come from an aggressive speed.
Stand like a scale. Move like a wheel. If you drop one side, you can move. If you have equal pressure on both sides, you will be stuck. We often see one who has practiced hard for many years yet is unable to perform any neutralizations and is always under the opponent’s control, and the issue here is that this error of double pressure has not yet been understood.
If you want to avoid this error, you must understand passive and active. In sticking there is yielding and in yielding there is sticking. The active does not depart from the passive and the passive does not depart from the active, for the passive and active exchange roles. Once you have this understanding, you will be identifying energies. Once you are identifying energies, then the more you practice, the more efficient your skill will be, and by absorbing through experience and by constantly contemplating, gradually you will reach the point that you can do whatever you want.
The basic of basics is to forget about your plans and simply respond to the opponent. We often make the mistake of ignoring what is right in front of us in favor of something that has nothing to do with our immediate circumstances. For such situations it is said: “Miss by an inch, lose by a mile.” You must understand all this clearly.

Once there is any movement, your entire body must be aware and alert. There especially needs to be connection from movement to movement. Energy should be roused and spirit should be collected within. Do not allow there to be cracks or gaps anywhere, pits or protrusions anywhere, breaks in the flow anywhere.
Starting from your foot, issue through your leg, directing it at your waist, and expressing it at your fingers. From foot through leg through waist, it must be a fully continuous process, and whether advancing or retreating, you will then catch the opportunity and gain the upper hand. If not and your body easily falls into disorder, the problem must be in your waist and legs, so look for it there. This is always so, regardless of the direction of the movement, be it up, down, forward, back, left, right. And in all of these cases, the problem is a matter of your intent and does not lie outside of you.
With an upward comes a downward, with a forward comes a backward, and with a left comes a right. If your intention wants to go upward, then harbor a downward intention, like when you reach down to lift up an object. You thereby add a setback to the opponent’s own intention, thus he cuts his own root and is defeated quickly and certainly.
Empty and full must be distinguished clearly. In each part there is a part that is empty and a part that is full. Everywhere it is always like this, an emptiness and a fullness. Throughout your body, as the movement goes from one section to another there has to be connection. Do not allow the slightest break in the connection.

Tomorrow, we shall study “Understanding How to Practice the Thirteen Dynamics.” Until then, Joyful Practicing, everyone!

10/12/2021

Continuing our discovery of ancient forms of Taiji, today we look at the art practice by Li Daozi known as Innate Nature Boxing through the Song family writings and oral traditions recorded by Song Shuming and translated by Paul Brennan. We start with a little about the history of Li Daozi and Innate Nature Boxing as recorded by Song Shuming:

The Yu family is from Jing County, Ningguo Prefecture, Jiangnan. Their Taiji art is called Innate Nature Boxing, also called Long Boxing. It was passed down by Li Daozi of the Tang Dynasty. Li was from Anqing in Jiangnan. During the Song Dynasty, he was a wanderer, making friends over wine. Then in the Ming Dynasty, he lived in the Wudang Mountains at the Southern Cliffs Temple. There he did not cook his food, instead snacking on wheat bran several times a day, and therefore he was known also as Master Li. When he met people, his catchphrase was “what a blessing”.

[Comment by Song Shuming:] (In order to find out if the Master Li of the Ming Dynasty was Li Daozi of the Tang Dynasty, my ancestor traveled to see the Yu family of Jing County, Jiangnan. He there discovered that Innate Nature Boxing was also, like our Thirty-Seven Postures, another name for Taiji. It was also confirmed to him that the Yu family’s art had been transmitted from Li Daozi of the Tang Dynasty and was then passed down in the family from generation to generation. Members of the Yu family went every year to Li’s cottage to honor him, continuing to do so into the Song Dynasty, though it is not known if they did this all the way into the Ming Dynasty.)

Yu Lianzhou and I traveled to the Wudang Mountains in Junzhou, Xiangyang Prefecture, Hebei. When Master Li saw us, he called out: “Hey, grandkid, where are you going?”
Yu looked up and saw that this man had a dirty face and matted hair, and he suspected the man would stink. Yu angrily said: “For such rude words, I’m warning you, with a slap you’ll be dead!”
Master Li said: “Sure, grandkid, show me your technique.”
Yu came forward to deliver a series of punches, but before he connected, he was lifted about a hundred feet into the air and then came down without getting any bones broken. He said: “Your skill surpasses everything to be able to throw me like that!”
Master Li said: “Do you not know of Yu Qinghui and Yu Yicheng?”
When Yu heard this, a shiver went up his spine. “Those are names of my distant ancestors.” Hurriedly kneeling down, he said: “You’re their teacher!”
Master Li said: “I’ve been here all these years without telling anyone. To see you now – what a blessing indeed. I will teach you this and that.”
Yu henceforth became not just invincible, but incredible.

[Comment by Song Shuming:] (My distant ancestor Song Yuanqiao, with Yu Lianzhou, Yu Daiyan, Zhang Songxi, Zhang Cuishan, Yin Liheng, and Mo Gusheng, all had long-term contact with each other around Jinling [Nanjing].)

SONG OF SECRETS – taught to Yu Lianzhou by Master Li

Be formless and shapeless.
Let your whole body be full of emptiness.
Respond to things naturally.
Be like chimes hung in the westerns hills [their sound resonating far].
Have the roar of a tiger and the cry of an ape.
The bubbling spring keeps fresh the calm stream.
Divert the river and turn back the sea.
Fulfill your nature and accept your destiny.

We will stop here for today and pick it up tomorrow with their meeting with the legendary Zhang Sanfeng. Good practicing, everyone.

10/11/2021

In the beginning of this month, October 2nd to be exact, I posted poems by Xu Xuanping, a Taoist hermit, who is believed to have passed down a martial art called “The Thirty Seven” because there were 37 postures. It is believed by many to have been the forerunner of modern Taijiquan and became known as the Tany Dynasty 37.

To recap from the Brennan Translations of an historical work by Song Shuming from his family record: “Xu Xuanping was from She County, Huizhou Prefecture, in the Jiangnan region. He lived as a hermit at Mt. Chengyang, dwelling in a thatched hut on the south-facing slope. He avoided eating grains. He was over seven feet tall. His beard reached his navel and his hair reached his feet. He walked like a galloping horse.”

Today, for you Internal Artists and Martial Artists alike, I would like to list the notes on how to practice this art of “The Thirty Seven,” which can be applied to almost all Taiji forms as follows:

These postures should each be trained one at a time until mastered before moving on to the next posture. Never be impatient for more. It does not matter which of the thirty-seven postures precedes or follows, only that they link together naturally, so that the postures all transform from one into another continuously. That is why it is called “Long Boxing”.
While your feet step according to the five elements, maintain awareness of the eight trigrams [in relation to the feet rather than the hands]. Standing at the central element of earth, you will then be able to stably step to Qian ☰ in the south, Kun ☷ in the north, Li ☲ in the east, or Kan ☵ in the west. The “four cardinal directions” [primary techniques] are warding off, rolling back, pressing, and pushing. The “four corner directions” [secondary techniques] are plucking, rending, elbowing, and bumping.

SONG OF THE EIGHT TECHNIQUES

The techniques of warding off, rolling back, pressing, and pushing are so unique
that out of ten skillful people there are ten who do not understand them.
But if you can perform them with both agility and solidity,
the qualities of sticking, connecting, adhering, and following will be sure to manifest.
The techniques of plucking, rending, elbowing, and bumping are yet more unusual,
and if you execute them unsuccessfully, they will just be wasted ideas.
But if you are capable with the qualities of sticking, adhering, connecting, and following,
you will occupy the central position and not be dislodged from it.

ON MENTALLY UNDERSTANDING IN THE THIRTY-SEVEN POSTURES ART

The lower back is first to command,
the throat second to command,
the solar plexus third to command.
The elixir field is first to obey,
the palms second to obey,
the soles of the feet third to obey.

ON FULLY USING THE BODY IN THE THIRTY-SEVEN POSTURES ART

First, when your emotions are stable and your mind is calm,
you will naturally be nimble and alert at every point.
Second, when energy flows through your whole body,
there is a continuousness that cannot be interrupted.
Third, as long as you never show your throat,
you will be able to handle yourself against the best in the world.
How can these things be achieved?
By way of total awareness, inside and out, in general and in detail.

THE SIXTEEN KEY POINTS

[1] Liveliness lies with your waist.
[2] Inspiration penetrates to your headtop.
[3] Spirit courses through your spine.
[4] Flowing is based upon energy, and on not forcing the energy.
[5] Movement lies with your legs.
[6] Pressing is felt at the foot.
[7] Wielding lies with your palms.
[8] Sufficiency reaches to the fingers.
[9] Gathering is a matter of your marrow.
[10] Arriving is a matter of your spirit.
[11] Concentration depends on your ears.
[12] Breathing occurs through your nose.
[13] Breath is expressed from your mouth.
[14] Springiness lies with your knees.
[15] Simplify things by using your whole body.
[16] The issuing of your whole body expresses with every hair.

SONG OF FUNCTION

Be nimble and lively, seeking to identify the opponent’s energies.
Passive and active are meant to exchange with each other, so do not make the error of getting stuck in either.
Once you have got the skill of “four ounces moves a thousand pounds”,
it will be determined by your expanding and contracting, and the rousing of your energy.

Tomorrow we will go over Part Two: Transmission from Li Daozi and his ancient Taiji art called “Innate Nature Boxing.” Until then, splendid practicing to all.

10/08/2021

Again, we are comparing the last two lines of the Tao Te Ching, Chapter 76 with “I Ching” hexagrams that correspond to Laozi’s admonition, which is:
“The big and strong belong underneath.
The gentle and weak belong at the top.”

So, yesterday we compared these this admonition with Hexagram #31, Hsien, Xian/Influence, Attraction, Compatibility, which turned out as Laozi had suggested to be very favorable. Today, we compare Laozi’s admonition with Hexagram #53, Jian, Chien/Development, Gradual Advancement or Progress.

Following Laozi’s dictates in Chapter 76, it is composed of SUN/THE GENTLE, WIND, WOOD above, replacing JOYOUS/Lake in Hexagram #31, but KEN or GEN/KEEPING STILL, MOUNTAIN remains on the bottom. According to an ancient commentator, Wang Bi, “Jian is concerned the hexagram concerned with gradual advance. Restrained and compliant, to advance as one should in this way…One should advance with restraint and compliance…If there is restraint and compliance, one’s actions will not founder.”

In the Wilhelm/Baynes commentary, it is stated: “A tree on a mountain develops slowly according to the law of its being and consequently stands firmly rooted. This gives the idea of a development that proceeds gradually, step by step. The attributes of the trigrams also point to this: within is tranquility, which guards against precipitate actions, and without is penetration, which makes development and progress possible.”

THE JUDGMENT

DEVELOPMENT. The maiden is given in marriage.
Good fortune. Perseverance furthers.

Again, in Wilhelm/Baynes: “The development of events that leads to a girl’s following a man to his home proceeds slowly. The various formalities must be disposed of before the marriage takes place. This principle of gradual development can be applied to other situations as well; it is always applicable where it is a matter of correct relationships of co-operation, as for instance in the appointment of an official. The development must be allowed to take its proper course. Hasty action would not be wise. This is also true, finally, of any effort to exert influence on others, for here too the essential factor is a correct way of development through cultivation of one’s own personality. No influence such as that exerted by agitators has a lasting effect. Within the personality too, development must follow the same course if lasting results are to be achieved. Gentleness that is adaptable, but at the same time penetrating, is the outer form that should proceed from inner calm. The very gradualness of the development makes it necessary to have perseverance, for perseverance alone prevents slow progress from dwindling to nothing.”

This is an essential point if we are to further our journey. Our personality must develop in the same way if we want to have lasting results. On the outside in our relations, we show a gentleness that is both adaptable and yet penetrating while inside we maintain an inner calm. It is also necessary to have perseverance which allows for slow progress without frustration or complete cessation

THE IMAGE
On the mountain, a tree:
The image of DEVELOPMENT.
Thus the superior man abides in dignity and virtue,
In order to improve the mores.

The tree that gradually grows on a mountaintop is the image of a gradual advance or development. Wang Bi states: “In the same way, the noble man finds a place for his worthiness and virtue to dwell and so manages to improve social mores.”

The Wilhelm/Baynes commentary elaborates on THE IMAGE. “The tree on the mountain is visible from afar, and its development influences the landscape of the entire region. It does not shoot up like a swamp plant; its growth proceeds gradually. Thus also the work of influencing people can be only gradual. No sudden influence or awakening is of lasting effect. Progress must be quite gradual, and in order to obtain such progress in public opinion and in the mores of the people, it is necessary for the personality to acquire influence and weight. This comes about through careful and constant work on one’s own moral development.”

Personal development seems to be a theme running through many of the Wilhelm/Baynes commentaries and, indeed, the I CHING (Yijing) itself. While not quite as auspicious as Hexagram #31, Xian/Influence, Jian or Chien, nevertheless, suggests progress along with a method of personal development that can have lasting results. So, why not see how this resonates with your own practice and personal cultivation?

10/07/2021

Yesterday, we looked at Chapter 76 of the Tao Te Ching. That chapter ends with these two lines:
“The big and strong belong underneath.
The gentle and weak belong at the top.”

So, I thought it would be a great idea to see what the “I Ching” thinks of Laozi’s suggestion. So, over the next few days, I’m going to review a few hexagrams that fit Laozi’s scenario and see if they are beneficial or not.

The first one is Hexagram #31, Hsien, Xian/Influence, Attraction, Compatibility, Stimulate. As Laozi suggested, Tui, the JOYOUS, LAKE, the weaker trigram is above Ken, KEEPING STILL, MOUNTAIN, the stronger, harder trigram. By its persistent, quiet influence, the lower, rigid trigram stimulates the upper, weak trigram, which responds to this stimulation cheerfully and joyously.

THE JUDGMENT
Influence. Success.
Perseverance furthers.

The weak element is above, the strong below; hence their powers attract each other, so that they unite. This brings about success, for all success depends on the effect of mutual attraction. By keeping still within while experiencing joy without, one can prevent the joy from going to excess and hold it within proper bounds. This is the meaning of the added admonition, “Perseverance furthers,” for it is perseverance that makes the difference between seduction and courtship; in the latter the strong man takes a position inferior to that of the weak girl and shows consideration for her. This attraction between affinities is a general law of nature. Heaven and earth attract each other and thus all creatures come into being. Through such attraction the sage influences men’s hearts, and thus the world attains peace. From the attractions they exert we can learn the nature of all beings in heaven and on earth.

THE IMAGE
A lake on the mountain:
The image of influence.
Thus the superior man encourages people to approach him
By his readiness to receive them.

A mountain with a lake on its summit is stimulated by the moisture from the lake. It has this advantage because its summit does not jut out as a peak but is sunken. The image counsels that the mind should be kept humble and free, so that it may remain receptive to good advice. People soon give up counseling a man who thinks that he knows everything better than anyone else.

To deal with a situation of influence or attraction one should find the best way to bring things that have been separated together. Use your influence to do this. Reach out join things and allow yourself to be moved. This will bring about success. In this case, the feminine and the yin are the keys to the situation. Understanding and acting through the yin will release tranformative energies.

No doubt, as far as Hexagram 31, Xian, is concerned, Laozi’s suggestion at the end of Chapter 76 was an ideal one. We will take a look at another hexagram of the same type tomorrow. In the meantime, wishing you great practicing.

10/06/2021

Today we contemplate a very familiar chapter of the Laozi, Tao Te Ching, to most taiji and internal arts practitioners, Chapter 72, which goes like this:

“When man is born, he is tender and weak;
At death, he is hard and stiff.
When the things and plants are alive, they are soft
and supple;
When they are dead, they are brittle and dry.
Therefore hardness and stiffness are the companions of death,
And softness and gentleness are the companions of life.

“Therefore when an army is headstrong, it will lose in a battle.
When a tree is hard, it will be cut down.
The big and strong belong underneath.
The gentle and weak belong at the top.”
Translation by Lin Yutang

And so, as Laozi tells us, the Sage as well as Internal Arts practitioners strive for softness and suppleness characterized by expansion. Whereas, the External Arts practitioners strive to emit force using tension and contraction. In everyday life, too, the Sage strives for gentleness in dealing with others while weakening one’s own egoic desires and selfish interests. Happy practicing to all, my friends.

10/04/2021

Another bit of wisdom from Zhuangzi. We all want to win – at something – whether it’s tai chi competition or tui shou (push hands), or sports competitions. And then there is competition in business, competition in politics, even competition within the family. You name it, and there is some form of competition in whatever it is. I’m sure all of us have experienced some form of competition many times in our lives. For some of us, it might even be daily.

Way back when, some 2200 years ago, Zhuangzi was well aware of this, and so, he gave us a parable about an Archer.

THE ARCHER

When an archer is shooting for fun
He has all his skill.
If he shoots for a brass buckle
He is already nervous.
If he shoots for a prize of gold
He goes blind
Or sees two targets –
He is out of his mind.

His skill has not changed,
But the prize divides him.
He cares
He thinks more of winning
Than of shooting –
And the need to win
Drains him of power.

Let that be a lesson to all of us. And happy practicing, everyone, hopefully without the need to win.

10/03/2021

Tao Te Ching, Chapter 40
Returning is the movement of the Way.
Yielding is the manner of the Way.

All things in the world are born out of being.
Being is born out of non-being.

Returning is the movement of the Way, therefore, the Dao is cyclic, its Yin and Yang are cyclic and rotate back and forth in a reciprocal manner, which in turn is yielding. So, the Day doesn’t class with the Night. They simply yield to one another. The Sun gives way to darkness, then in the morning the darkness slowly, gradually gives way to the light of day. Thus Nature follows the flow of the Tao by returning in a cyclic and yielding manner.

As for the Creation of the Universe, the Tao is pure non-being. But once Yin and Yang arose out of Wuji, stillness, the Tao’s mystic Te then manifested as Being. Some scientists may call this the Big Bang. But from that manifested Te me, you and everything else appeared to arise and dwell with that Te which is manifested as all of Nature including the Heavenly and Earthly realms and all their beings. Enjoy your practicing, everyone.

10/02/2021

A little change of pace for today as we look at the poems of the original founder of Taiji, Xu Xuanping. It is believed that the art of Taiji that was passed down from Master Xu Xuanping, called Yuhuan, of the Tang Dynasty and later became known as the Tang Dynasty 37.

Xu Xuanping was from She County, Huizhou Prefecture, in the Jiangnan region. He lived as a hermit at Mt. Chengyang, dwelling in a thatched hut on the south-facing slope. He avoided eating grains. He was over seven feet tall. His beard reached his navel and his hair reached his feet. He walked like a galloping horse. He often carried firewood to sell in the marketplace, chanting this to himself:

“At dawn I carry firewood to sell.
By dusk I have spent all my money on wine.
Passersby never ask where I am returning to.
I enter the white clouds to get to my verdant hillside.”

That was the first of Xu’s three surviving poems. Here is the second:

“Inscription on the Monastery Wall”
“I’ve lived as a hermit for thirty years
in a stone house on the southern slope atop this mountain.
In the dead of night, I play under the bright moon.
When the fresh morning comes, I drink from the azure fountain.
While woodcutters sing as they work on the ridge,
there are birds playing on the cliff face.
I am joyously unaware of old age,
always forgetting what year it is.”

The famous Tang Dynasty poet, Li Bai, went to visit Xu but did not meet him, then inscribed a poem [about not meeting him] at Gazing Immortal’s Bridge and went home.

“Inscription for Xu Xuanping on the Monastery Wall”
“Chanting away until my chanting went away,
I came to visit an authentic person.
The misty mountaintops obscure his footprints
in the foggy forest just this side of the great void.
I peeked into his courtyard and found nothing there but rustling of air,
so I leaned on my walking stick and waited in vain.
He probably transformed into some divine crane
and won’t return for a thousand years.”

Xu’s third poem is then a response to missing Li:
“There’s a pond of lotus leaves, completely covered by them.
There’s two acres of ripe golden grain, more than enough to eat.
But when I was visited by someone, seeking to make a connection,
he ended up having to stay the night in the monastery instead.”

Enjoy your practicing, my friends.

10/01/2021

Today I wanted to begin to revisit some of the more important hexagrams of the “I Ching,” not that some are not important but that I find some more important, at least, in my life. Since it is all relative anyway, I wanted to start with Hexagram 5, Xu, Waiting, Patience, something that I wish I had more of.

Xu has the trigram KAN THE ABYSMAL, WATER above while CHIEN THE CREATIVE, HEAVEN sits beneath it.

This hexagram shows the clouds in the sky, about to bring rain to refresh all that grows and provide mankind with vital nourishment. The rain will come in its own time. We cannot make it come; we have to wait for it. The idea of waiting is further suggested by the attributes of the two trigrams–strength within, danger from without. Strength in the face of danger does not plunge ahead but bides its time, whereas weakness in the face of danger grows agitated and has not the patience to wait.

Waiting is not mere empty hoping. It has the inner certainty of reaching the goal. Such certainty alone gives that light which leads to success. This leads to the perseverance that brings good fortune and bestows power to cross the great water. One is faced with a danger that has to be overcome. Weakness and impatience can do nothing. Only a strong person can stand up to his fate, for his inner security enables him to endure to the end. This strength shows itself in uncompromising truthfulness with oneself. It is only when we have the courage to face things exactly as they are, without any sort of self-deception or illusion, that a light will develop out of events, by which the path to success may be recognized. This recognition must be followed by resolute and persevering action.

The potential for change is contained within the water trigram. The nature of that change, whether it is an auspicious one, or a danger to you, depends upon your mindset. The generative energy of Heaven at the lower position, the position of your personal power, shows that it is your mindset that has the potential to receive either nourishment or a torrential downpour from the breaking clouds to come. Choose your intention wisely right now, your intention is more important than anything else. Govern the mind, bend your intention to your will and then simply wait – patiently. Great practicing, people. Carry on!

THE DAOIST DAILY DIARY

08/30-31/2021

As Autumn fast approaches, we are going to close out the month of August by moving from yesterday’s Decrease to today’s Increase as indicated by Hexagram #42, I or Yi. The strong lowest line of the upper trigram has sunk down and taken its place under the lower trigram. So now we have SUN/THE GENTLE, WIND above and ZHEN, THE AROUSING, THUNDER below.

Fundamental to both Daoism and the “I Ching” is the idea that to rule is to serve. Sacrifice on the part of those above for the increase of those below fills the people with a sense of joy and gratitude that is extremely valuable for the flowering of the entire community or country. This exemplifies the type of generosity and giving of one’s self that pleases the spirit and alone has power to heal the world. Develop this compassionate trait of giving of yourself to help others, especially those less advantaged, and you will have made an ethical change that increases the overall dynamics of your personality and moves you a giant step forward in Self Cultivation…Good Practicing, People.

08/29/2021

Returning the “I Ching” and the personal qualities and character traits contained in specific hexagrams, today we focus on Hexagram # 41, Sun/Decrease. The upper trigram is KEN, KEEPING STILL, MOUNTAIN with TUI or DUI, THE JOYOUS, LAKE below. Sun is marked by a decrease of the lower trigram in favor of the upper. However, not all decreases are detrimental and not all increases are positive as observed by none other than Laozi in his “Dao De Ching.” In Chapter 42, Laozi says, “Things may be diminished by being increased, increased by being diminished.” Then in Chapter 48, he discusses his view of knowledge:
“To learn,
One accumulates day by day.
To study Tao,
One reduces day by day.
Through reduction and further reduction
One reaches non-action,
And everything is acted upon.”

By the same token, regardless of scarcity or abundance, Laozi believes that a simple life rather than diminishing one’s strength actually increases one’s inner qualities, virtues and strength of conviction as stated in Chapter 48 of the “Dao De Ching.” .

“Therefore, the sage says:
I live a simple life,
and the people change themselves.
I love quiet,
and the people settle down in their regular jobs.
I look to effortlessness,
and the people grow rich.
I have no desires,
and the people return to Simplicity.”

In his commentary on the IMAGE of SUN, Richard Wilhelm explains how siplicity and decrease enrich our lives: “The lake at the foot of the mountain evaporates. In this way it decreases to the benefit of the mountain, which is enriched by its moisture. The mountain stands as the symbol of stubborn strength that can harden into anger. The lake is the symbol of unchecked gaiety that can develop into passionate drives at the expense of the life forces. Therefore decrease is necessary; anger must be decreased by keeping still, the instincts must be curbed by restriction. By this decrease of the lower powers of the psyche, the higher aspects of the soul are enriched.”

That’s an inspiring dictum, one that deserves repeating: “By this decrease of the lower powers of the psyche, the higher aspects of the soul are enriched.” Work these thoughts into your life and its cultivation. Good practicing, everyone.

08/28/2021

I thought I would give you a little something different today. Tomorrow I will continue with looking at the qualities exemplified in the various hexagrams of the “I Ching.” But for now, I came across an incredible “OM” chant and an even more incredible mountain image. If you are having trouble clearing your mind so you can fall asleep at night, this is the chant for you. Likewise, if you are having trouble in the morning waking up and starting your day, this is the chant that will clear your head and get you out of bed and stirring. And, most importantly, if you jnjeed something to calm your mind while you sit still and contemplate your sense of self, this is the chant that will lead to calm abiding. Wishing all of you good practices…

08/27/2021

Today is one my favorite hexagrams, not necessarily because of the outcome, although it is favorable, but for the actions of the Sage or superior person in the commentary on the image. This is Hexagaram #40 Jie or Hsieh/Deliverance. The upper trigram is ZHEN, THE AROUSING, THUNDER and the lower one K’AN THE ABYSMAL, WATER.

Here, we have averted the obstruction in Hexagram #39 Chien with movement that has gotten us out of the sphere of danger. Though deliverance is not yet complete, the difficulties are being resolved. The stressful pressures of the situation are starting to lessen. Thus it is important to return to our usual way of life as soon as possible and not linger.

And now for my favorite passage from Richard Wilhelm’s commentary on the Image

“Thunder and rain set in:
The image of DELIVERANCE.
Thus the superior man pardons mistakes
And forgives misdeeds.”

A thunderstorm has the effect of clearing the air; the superior person produces a similar effect when dealing with mistakes and sins of men that induced the condition of tension from the previous two hexagrams. (And Here’s the important part.) Through clarity he brings deliverance. However, when failings come to light, he does not dwell on them; he simply passes over mistakes, the unintentional transgressions, just as thunder dies away. He forgives misdeeds, the intentional transgressions, just as water washes everything clean.

So, in your own lives, if you want to make your cultivation as strong as possible, CLEAR THE AIR, like a Spring thunderstorm. Do not dwell on your failings. Pass over mistakes, the unintentional transgressions and forgive misdeeds, those intentional transgressions, just as the rain washes everything clean. Good practicing, people!

08/26/2021

Today we move from bad to worse or so it seems…from Opposition #38 Kuei to Hexagram #39 Chien/Obstruction. The upper trigram K’AN THE ABYSMAL, THE ABYSS/WATER while KêN KEEPING STILL, MOUNTAIN is below. So essential we are caught between a Rock and a Hard Place with a dangerous abyss lying before us and a steep, inaccessible mountain rising behind us. But, since the mountain has is still and, therefore, immobile, there is a possibility of extricate ourselves over time. Thus, in the present we retreat, fall back with the idea of finding a way to extricate ourselves throught introspection.

The solution, we discover, lies with the Image of this hexagram, water on the mountain. Difficulties and obstructions throw a man back upon himself. While the inferior man seeks to put the blame on other persons, bewailing his fate, the superior man seeks the error within himself, and through this introspection the external obstacle becomes for him an occasion for inner enrichment and education.

So, that is the key quality that one must develop in our to succeed in personal Cultivation, introspection or, in other words, contemplation of our innermost feelings with regard to this obstruction in our daily lives or practices.

08/25/2021

Today we have Hexagram #38, Kuei/Opposition with Li, the Flame or Fire over Tui, the Joyous Lake. Thus we have Fire ascending over Water which is descending. Therefore, they represent opposition as they are moving in different directions and pulling away from each other. Here, Opposition shows a situation where people are not seeing eye-to-eye but hold views are seriously opposed. This is the very situation that we see being played out daily in Washington with the Republicans versus the Democrats. We even see it within the Democratic caucus where like-minded people hold contrary views on certain measures.

However, this opposition cannot exist indefinitely because Nature never allows stagnation to endure. Eventually, there will be concessions made by one or both sides, usually small incremental changes until a reconciliation can occur.

To quote Kari Hohne from her “I Ching” commentary on Cafeausoul.com: “When we can accept that there are many expressions of the right way, polarity gives way to a condition where Clarity can illuminate Joy.”

08/24/2021

I am going to skip over the Judgment or Statement as it is known in some texts on the I Ching for Today’s Hexagram #37, Chia Jen, The Family or Clan. SUN THE GENTLE, WIND forms the upper trigram ove LI THE CLINGING, FIRE below. As you can no doubt surmise from the title of the hexagram, Chia Jen, The Family, based on a book created in the societal structure of ancient China will have very little relevance to a modern American family, in which both mates more than likely work and hold positions of equal or nearly equal stature and require outside help such as nursery school and preschool or babysitters (sometimes a retired relative) to look after the children, normally a duty of the wife and mother. Also, both will usually share housework and other duties both in and outside the home.

So, instead, I am going to use Richard Wilhelm’s commentary on the Image, which in today’s hexagram focuses on our words, the very source of our ability to think and communicate…

“Heat creates energy: this is signified by the wind stirred up by the fire and issuing forth from it. This represents influence working from within outward. The same thing is needed in the regulation of the family. Here too the influence on others must proceed form one’s own person. In order to be capable of producing such an influence, one’s words must have power, and this they can have only if they are based on something real, just as flame depends on its fuel Words have influence only when they are pertinent and clearly related to definite circumstances. General discourses and admonitions have no effect whatsoever. Furthermore, the words must be supported by one’s entire conduct, just as the wind is made effective by am impression on others that they can adapt and conform to it. If words and conduct are not in accord and consistent, they will have no effect.”

I would suggest that you read that paragraph through several times to get the gist of how you can make your words more powerful. Without power, your words will lake any influence. If they sound anything less then true, then you are lying to yourself and everyone else. Your words must be consistent with your conduct, and your conduct must be consistent with what is true and just. Keep up the good practices, folks.

08/23/2021

Today’s hexagram marks a time of caution and reservation. Hexagram #36 Ming I/Darkening of the light with K’UN THE RECEPTIVE, EARTH above and LI THE CLINGING, FIRE below. Here the sun has sunk under the earth and is therefore darkened. The name of the hexagram means literally “wounding of the bright”; hence the individual lines contain frequent references to wounding.

According to Richard Wilhelm: “One must not unresistingly let himself be swept along by unfavorable circumstances, nor permit his steadfastness to be shaken. He can avoid this by maintaining his inner light, while remaining outwardly yielding and tractable. With this attitude he can overcome even the greatest adversities. In some situations indeed a man must hide his light, in order to make his will prevail inspite of difficulties in his immediate environment. Perseverance must dwell in inmost consciousness and should not be discernible from without. Only thus is a man able to maintain his will in the face of difficulties…

“In a time of darkness it is essential to be cautious and reserved. One should not needlessly awaken overwhelming enmity by inconsiderate behavior. In such times one ought not to fall in with the practices of others; neither should one drag them censoriously into the light. In social intercourse one should not try to be all-knowing. One should let many things pass, without being duped.”

Recapping the personal qualities necessary in a darkened and possibly hostile situation, one needs to be cautious and reserved, not falling in with this type of crowd. One should also persevere in maintaining your innermost light while remaining outwardly yielding and tractable. Hopefully all of you and your practices are still in the light. If so, then carry on!

08/22/2021

A little break today from examining the character traits in the 64 hexagrams of the “I Ching.” Instead, here is a worthy item for you to contemplate, a Tang Dynasty poem entitled 32 Words the Essence and Doctrine of Tai Chi

No shape, no form, no likenesses
The body formless, empty, void
Naturally spontaneous
Like chimes that hang in Western Mountain

The tiger roars, the monkeys call
The spring is clear, the brook is still
The rivers roll, the oceans swell
Surrender “self” and life prevails

Created by Li Dao Zi
Tang Dynasty
English translated poem By
Master Ho Nan Jie
James Petersen
Vicki Tseng

08/21/2021

Today we encounter a familiar theme, clarity, in Hexagram #35, Chin or Jin/Progress, Flourishing. The upper trigram is LI THE CLINGING, FIRE and below is K’UN THE RECEPTIVE, EARTH. The hexagram represents the sun rising over the earth. It is therefore the symbol of rapid, easy progress, which at the same time means ever widening expansion and clarity.

The Image of the light of the sun rising over the earth is by nature clear. The higher the sun rises, the more it emerges from the dark mists, spreading the pristine purity of its rays over an ever widening area. The real nature of man is likewise originally good, but it becomes clouded by contact with earthly things and therefore needs purification before it can shine forth in its native clarity. This is very much the same kind of analogy often used in Daoism of allowing the mud or sediment to settle to clear a container or pool of water. Only with the sun rising, the direction is up and with the sediment sinking the direction is downward. Nevertheless, both achieve the same result – clarity. But how do we achieve clarity?

Ultimately through discernment. And how do we achieve discernment. Like the muddy water, we must let our minds settle by stilling them. But not that meditative Samadhi kind of stillness. We are not looking for the Great Void, just for clarity. So, it is only necessary to calm the mind by not being so reactive. We step back and allow situations and thoughts to arise but don’t react to them. Nor do we necessarily watch them come and go. That is awful vipassana advice. We are not traffic cops. Okay, that thought can go; now this one can come forth. No! What we do is FEEL! That’s right, do not react, do not watch the thought, but look inside and see how it makes you feel. What feeling does it evoke? And where did that feeling come from? What is its source? This will give you insight into a true sense of self. So, as you replace reacting with feeling, your inner nature with its natural clarity becomes like the Sun rising above the clouds of the acquired, conditioned mind. So, my good friends, allow your practice to gain some clarity.

08/20/2021

Hexagram #34, Da Zhuang, Invigorating Power, Great Strength indicated that the retreat has definitely ended and one’s power has returned. With Zhen, The Arousing, Thunder on top and Qian/Chien, The Creative, Heaven below, Da Zhuang is the image of Thunder -electrical energy – mounting upward with four strong yang lines moving up from the bottom of the hexagram. The direction of this movement is in harmony with the movement of heaven and therefore produces great power. However, in order to persevere it must also be in harmony with virtue, and one must not do anything that is unvirtuous or risk losing one’s power.

The way to deal with strength, drive and invigorating power is to focus one’s strength through a central creative task or function, such as Cultivation or Qi Building. But as any Taoist Sage would tell you, the best way to use your strength is to help others who are less fortunate. Focusing on helping others is definitely the best way to go.

08/19/2021

Yesterday Hexagram 32, Heng, Enduring, Persevering, marked the half-way point in the 64 hexagrams of the I Ching. Today, we start the second half with a not-so auspicious Hexagram #33, Tun/Retreat, Withdrawal. Chien/Qian, The Creative, Heaven is above and Ken, Keeping Still, Mountain is below. So, the power of the dark yin lines at the base of Mountain are ascending, causing the power of the light yang lines above to retreat so as to not exhaust its forces as the darkness encroaches.

Now there are two kinds of Retreat, passive and active. Passive is outright flight, a mindless, not well-conceived or organized retreat. Whereas an active one is mindfully constructed to keep its forces intact and oftentimes to obstruct the approaching forces as much as possible by destroying bridges, setting fires, planting land mines, etc.

A passive retreat can be seen in the U.S. military’s withdrawal from Vietnam, after the sudden collapse of Saigon, leaving hundreds of thousands of their Vietnamese allies behind, and the Russian withdrawal from Afghanistan. If you have been watching TV news, you are seeing what appears to be an Active withdrawal as the U.S. military is negotiating safe passage for tens of thousands of Afghan allies following the sudden collapse of the Afghan government after its military had lost the will to fight any longer and surrendered.

But as Cultivators, we do not look at retreat in the same way. In fact, we don’t even use the term. We call it “stepping back,” which usually refers to our intent. As you can well imagine, this is not a physical retreat but a mental, emotional one. Some of us get so wound up trying to advance our Cultivation that we actually create stress around the very aspect we are trying to improve. For example, in building the dantien, instead of just letting the mind casually soak into the dantien area or anchoring the breath there as well, we put too much of our intention into it. So, instead of the process being wu-wei or non-governing or non-controlling, it is just the opposite, extremely intense. If we don’t “step back” our intent, we are bound to fail.

So, my friends, look at areas of your practice where you may need to step back and let the mind calmly abide.

08/18/2021

Today’s hexagram is the inverse of the previous one, Xian. In Hexagram #32, Heng, the upper trigram is Zhen, The Arousing/Thunder and the lower one is Sun, The Gentle, Wind. Persevering, Enduring, Durable are its key qualities. All are excellent qualities for Internal Arts Cultivators to acquire. But although they are often regarded as synonymous, Persevering and Enduring are actually quite different. How so?

Endurance is the more Yin of the two and is a form of acceptance no matter how great the pain, suffering or hardship. An enduring person is one who accepts that pain or hardship as a fact of life and is more inclined to tolerate it rather than fight against it, trying to change it. In other words, enduarence is the quality of acceptance combined with stillness.

Perseverance, on the other hand, is definitely the more Yang of the two. Whereas endurance embraces acceptance with a quality of stillness, perseverance, like the Wind below the Storm that moves the thunder and lightning across the sky, is the quality of acceptance combined with movement rather than stillness.

The Internal Arts Cultivator needs both. Endurance for those long periods where there is pain and hardship but no apparent progress internally or externally. Without the quality of endurance, most people are inclined to give up if they don’t experience significant progress after a couple months. Perseverance is the acceptance of greater pain and difficulty as one advances through the arts, expecting that the road will get tougher and steeper as one moves up the mountain. Nevertheless, one continues to move on. And so, my good people, I hope each of you can move up in your practice.

08/16/2021

Today we have another favorable hexagram with the strong being respectful to the weak rather than trying to dominate it, with the male being submissive as well as protective of the female, and thus, the way of Nature is fulfilled. This is Hexagram 31, Xian or Hsien/Influence (Wooing), Stimulation. Here The upper trigram is Tui, the Joyous; Lake, the lower is Kên, Keeping still, Mountain. By its persistent, quiet influence, the lower, rigid trigram stimulates the upper, weak trigram, which responds to this stimulation cheerfully and joyously.

In Xian, the weak element, Tui, is above, the strong, Ken, is below; thus, their influences attract one another and enable them to unite. This brings about success, for all success depends on the effect of mutual attraction. By keeping still within while experiencing joy without, one can prevent that joy from becoming overly excessive and turning to mania This is the meaning of the added admonition in the Judgment, “Perseverance furthers,” for it is perseverance that makes the difference between seduction and courtship; in the latter the strong man takes a position inferior to that of the weak girl and shows consideration for her. This attraction between affinities is a general law of nature. Heaven and earth attract each other and thus all creatures come into being. Through such attraction the sage influences men’s hearts, and thus the world attains peace. From the attractions they exert we can learn the nature of all beings in heaven and on earth.

A lake on top of a mountain is the ery image of influence. A mountain with a lake on its summit is stimulated by the moisture from the lake. It has this advantage because its summit does not jut out as a peak but is sunken. The image counsels that the mind should be kept humble and free, so that it may remain receptive to good advice. People soon give up counseling a man who thinks that he knows everything better than anyone else.

All important points today. We know that by calming the mind, we can experience joy without becoming manic. By setting aside any form of male dominance and being respectful of all others and listening to their views, we can forge not only a pleasing relationship but a stimulating one as well that with “Perseverence furthers” our Cultivation. Finally, as the Image of this hexagram tells us, we should keep our minds humble and free in order to remain receptive not only to fruitful advice but also to inspiration from without and beyond. All very good advice and very good qualities to add to your character. May each and everyone of you have a stimulating practice!

08/15/2021

Today, we have another hexagram with doubled trigrams. Hexagram #30, Li, the Clinging/Fire, although doubled up like #29 Kan, is nowhere near as dire. In fact, it portends a rather bright future. In this case, Richard Wilhelm’s commentary seems to be a nice fit.

Wilhem states: “The trigram Li means “to cling to something,” and also “brightness.” A dark line clings to two light lines, one above and one below–the image of an empty space between two strong lines, whereby the two strong lines are made bright…As an image, it is fire. Fire has no definite form but clings to the burning object and thus is bright. As water pours down from heaven, so fire flames up from the earth. While K’an (#29) means the soul shut within the body, Li (#30) stands for nature in its radiance.”

Wilhelm continues: “What is dark clings to what is light and so enhances the brightness of the latter. A luminous thing giving out light must have within itself something that perseveres; otherwise it will in time burn itself out. Everything that gives light is dependent on something to which it clings, in order that it may continue to shine. Thus the sun and moon cling to heaven, and grain, grass, and trees cling to the earth. So too the twofold clarity of the dedicated man clings to what is right and thereby can shape the world. Human life on earth is conditioned and unfree, and when man recognizes this limitation and makes himself dependent upon the harmonious and beneficent forces of the cosmos, he achieves success. The cow is the symbol of extreme docility. By cultivating in himself an attitude of compliance and voluntary dependence, man acquires clarity without sharpness and finds his place in the world.”

Wilhem’s commentary brings out several very important qualities absolutely necessary for cultivation. The first two are perseverance and clinging. But I thought we have been cautioned not to cling to anything. Almost anything. It is absolutely essential for Internal Arts Cultivators that we cling to the idea of Cultivation and persevere in clinging to our processes of Cultivation. Next, we need to “cultivate” an attitude of compliance and voluntary dependence in order to acquire discernment and clarity as to who we are and what is our place in this world.

Wilhelm concludes his commentary on the Image of Li with this: “The great man continues the work of nature in the human world. Through the clarity of his nature he causes the light to spread farther and farther and to penetrate the nature of man ever more deeply.”

Good advice, no doubt. Hopefully we can assimilate it into our practice. Good cultivation, folks, onward and upward!

08/14/2021

In Hexagram #28, Da Guo, we discovered that Disaster lay directly ahead. Now in Hexagram #29, Kan, The Abyssmal, The Repeating Pit, we realize that the crisis is already here. Kan is one of eight trigrams throughout the “I Ching” that double up on their trigrams. Both top and bottom are the same trigram, in this case, water. It represent a plunging into the imminent danger that surrounds us. Here a yang line has plunged into two yin lines and is surrounded by them like water in a ravine. Also, since the trigrams are doubled up, the hexagram has the additional connotation of repeated danger.

Thus, whoever has cast this hexagram lives a life of constant danger, either consciously or unconsciously. They could have a profession that brings constant danger: a soldier, a police officer, a government operative, a spy. Or, unconsciously creating dangerous situations by lack of attentiveness and awareness. If they were more attentive in their everyday lives, they would have been able to see the danger that lay ahead and avert it or deal with it early on their own terms.

Unlike most of the commentators, who are advising readers to plunge right into the danger and face it since there is no way to avoid it, all I can say is simply plunging into danger time after time is not the way of Cultivators. So, if you are going to plunge into anything, let that be your practice, my friends, and this will keep you out of danger. Ciao!

08/13/2021

DANGER! Disaster lies directly ahead! That’s the message from today’s Hexagram #28, Da Guo, Great Traverses, Crisis, Great Transition. It is composed of Tui, the Joyous, Lake, above Sun, the Gentle, Wind, Tree. With the lake rising above the tree, it represents a great flood, a major catastrophe. While it does not indicate any character traits that one should acquire, it does indicate one that a person has failed to acquire, namely Laozi’s precept in Chapter 63 of the Dao De Jing, which I have mentioned before. That is to attend to problems while they are small, not when they have risen to flood-size proportions.

Hexagram 28 consists of four strong inside lines and two weak outside lines. The Image of this hexagram is that of a ridgepole buckling in the middle and collapsing due to weakness at each end. It is also the image of a great flood with water (Tui, the lake) rising above the trees (Sun, the Tree). Both images portend disaster. So, what is one to do?

There is one quality, if previously developed, that of contemplation. In times of crisis, one must not panic or act rashly. Instead, just the opposite is required. One must calm the mind and still the thoughts as much as possible. One’s ridgepole is warped and giving way. One’s life is about to collapse. But there is a creative force at work within even in the midst of this crisis. One needs to impose a direction and have a place to go. What does this mean?

The place to go is one’s deepest inner space (and preferably it should be in an external place where one can concentrate.). Once there, one must calm and still the mind and begin to contemplate a solution by looking inside the current crisis. This is how one imposes a direction on the current situation. By contemplating deeply oh all aspects of the crisis, one solution will stand out above all the others. Let that strong creative force gathering in the center penetrate and stimulate a plan of action.

However, the crisis may have grown to such proportions that one needs to reverse course entirely and get out of the house before it collapses. In other words, say good-bye to the community, group or organization with which one has been associated because their internals have worsened to the point of sheer corruption. We see this today with a major political party in America. Their internal politics have been so corrupted that long-time members who can see no way out have left the party and have joined other political groups to work against their former party.

Sorry to end on this political note but the situation is so representative of Hexagram 28 Da Guo.  May your practice be strong and meaningful, people.

08/12/2021

The two trigrams in today’s hexagram are inverses of one another. Hexagram #27 Yi/The Tiger’s Mouth, Nourishing and Being Nourished, with Ken, Keeping Still, Mountain above and Chen, The Arousing, Thunder below, they form the image of an open mouth. Above and Below are firm Yang lines that form the lips and in between are the broken Yin lines that show an open mouth, the symbol of nourishment. Starting with the mouth, through which we take food for nourishment, the thought leads to nourishment itself. Nourishment of oneself, specifically of the body, is represented in the three lower lines, while the three upper lines represent nourishment and care of others, in a higher, spiritual sense. Two excellent ideals for Internal Cultivators to aspire to attain.

In bestowing care and nourishment, it is important that the right people should be taken care of and that we should attend to our own nourishment in the right way. This is a great lessons for all Cultivators to learn. Nature nourishes all creatures. The Sage fosters and takes care of those who are established with extraordinary abilities that they, in turn, provide care for all. We can follow this model by setting aside part of our income to donate to worthy charities that provide nourishment and care for people around the world as a practice. The more well-rounded a total practice, the better. Keep your practices well-rounded, people.

08/11/2021

Today we will look at Hexagram #26 Ta Chu/The Taming Power of the Great, Accumuate, Concentrate, Nourish. The trigram Ken, Keeping Still or Mountain is above and Chien, the Creative, Heaven below. So, the Creative is tamed by Keeping Still. This produces great power.

The hexagram has a threefold meaning, expressing different aspects of the concept “Holding firm.” Heaven within the mountain gives the idea of holding firm in the sense of holding together; the trigram Kên which holds the trigram ch’ien still, gives the idea of holding firm in the sense of holding back; the third idea is that of holding firm in the sense of caring for and nourishing.

The trigram Ch’ein points to strong creative power; Kên indicates firmness and truth. Both point to light and clarity and to the daily renewal of character. Only through such daily self-renewal can a man continue at the height of his powers. Force of habit helps to keep order in quiet times; but in periods when there is a great storing up of energy, everything depends on the power of the personality.

As for the image, Heaven within the mountain points to hidden treasures. In the words and deeds of the past there lies hidden a treasure that men may use to strengthen and elevate their own characters. Thus, the noble one or Sage acquires much knowledge of things said and done in the past and so domesticates and garners his virtue. It is this capacity held in his bosom that allows the Sage to prevent virtue from becoming dispersed and lost.

So, in our practice we want to work on acquiring firmness and truth and discernment and clarity and renew them daily to strengthen our character. We should also look to the past and study the great deeds and the great persons from history whom we can emulate. Keep up your good habits and drop the negative ones.

08/09/2021

Continuing with Hexagram #25, Wu Wang, Disentangling, Becoming Spontaneous, Pure, Innocent, Free from Confusion, as I mentioned yesterday, although this is a womderful quality or character trait to acquire, it is nearly impossible to achieve in so many aspects of one’s life. Why is that?

For one thing, that which one is using, the acquired mind, to disentangle from the web of worldly influences is the very thing that is causing one’s life to become entangled in the first place. Attempting to use one’s conscious mind will only entangle one’s life all the more. Secondly, one cannot disentangle from one’s everyday world while living in that very world. There are too many distractions and way too many involvements. One needs to spend some time away from that world and retreat to a much quieter one. It’s the meaning of the Daoist term: “One foot in, and one foot out.”

Nevertheless, even though a quiet retreat may help one’s conscious mind to disentangle from worldly desires and influences, what about the subconcious mind and ultimately the tainted unconcious. Those perversions, insecurities and fears are still there. And so are the desires to consume as well as the fears that we won’t be able to consume enough. Consume, consume, consume, that’s what we humans do, whether we need what we consume or not.

Thus, to disentangle, you need to get away for awhile from those things that you are always consuming, whether it be money, food, sex, drugs, possessions. Just get away from it all and chill out. Calm your mind and calm your desires. Take a time-out from everyday living to just enjoy living without consuming. Good practice, everyone.

08/07/2021

Today we look at perhaps the most auspicious and beneficial trait an internal artists or cultivator can possibly have. Hexagram #25, Wu Wang, Disentangling, becoming spontaneous, pure, free from confusion. With Chien, Heaven above and Zhen the Arousing, Thunder below. we have the idea of being released from entanglements, perverse influences or worldly attachments. It enables you to act spontaneously and successfully deal with whatever comes your way and to attract and welcome the unexpected. Disentangling yourself from the influences of worldly gains and being sucked into various perversions is the best way to remain innocent and maintain that purity that is your inherent nature or Xing.

But there is one problem. Developing disentangling as a character trait is not easy to say the least. In fact, the way the world comes at us, it is next to impossible unless you are a total recluse. More on disentangling tomorrow. Good practice, everyone

08/06/2021

When all the light has been pushed out or split apart and filled by the dark as in yesterday’s hexagram #23 Po/Eliminating, Splitting Apart, then reversion or change is close to starting. That is the point of today’s hexagram,
#24, Fu, the Turning Point or Return.

With K’un, The Receptive, The Earth above and Zhen, The Arousing, Thunder below, Fu marks the return of the light, a Yang line in the first position while all five positions above it are filled with dark Yin lines. But this is not the Yang forcing its return. As with all situations in Nature and in our lives, this change is natural. After a time of decay whether a year, a decade, a century, or an eon, comes the turning point where what was eliminated or banished now returns. The old is discarded and the new is eventually established. It will remain in prominence until it too grows old, and the cycle of reversion completes another turn.

08/05/2021

With KêN KEEPING STILL, MOUNTAIN above and THE RECEPTIVE, EARTH below, today’s Hexagram #23, Po/Splitting Apart, Stripping Away, Eliminating is not a favorable one. Why not?

The dark lines are about to mount upward and overthrow the last firm, light line by exerting a disintegrating influence on it. The inferior, dark forces overcome what is superior and strong, not by direct means, but by undermining it gradually and imperceptibly, so that it finally collapses. The lines of the hexagram present the image of a house, the top line being the roof, and because the roof is being shattered the house collapses. The yin power pushes up ever more powerfully and is about to supplant the yang power altogether. This often happens within our psyche, our deep subconscious and, deeper still, our unconscious.

THE JUDGMENT or STATEMENT says: SPLITTING APART. IT does not further one to go anywhere.

This pictures a time when inferior people are pushing forward and are about to crowd out the few remaining strong and superior people. Under these circumstances, which are due to the time, it is not favorable for the Sage to undertake anything. The right behavior in such adverse times is to be deduced from the images and their attributes.0 The lower trigram stands for the earth, whose attributes are docility and devotion. The upper trigram stands for the mountain, whose attribute is stillness. This suggests that one should submit to the bad time and remain quiet. For it is a question not of man’s doing but of time conditions, which, according to the laws of heaven, show an alternation of increase and decrease, fullness and emptiness. It is impossible to counteract these conditions of the time. Hence it is not cowardice but wisdom to submit and avoid action.

And taking one’s cue from the IMAGE:
The mountain rests on the earth:
The image of SPLITTING APART.
Thus those above can ensure their position
Only by giving generously to those below.

that may be good advice for those to whom securing a position is all important. But for the Sage and Internal Cultivators, stripping away or eliminating is a a better interpretation. Now is the time to work on yourself. Strip away and eliminate old habits and ideas that are keeping you stagnated and weighing you down. Strip away everything that is not an ideal character trait and replace them with traits that are.

08/04/2021

Today we take a look at Bi or Pi/Elegance, Grace, Beautify, Embellish, Reflect inner awareness. The top trigram is Ken, Mountain or Keeping still. The bottom one is Li, Clinging, the Fire. Here, Elegance means prevalence, but it is fitting only for small matters, should one set out to do something. The soft provides the hard with pattern, and this is the reason for prevalence. Rising to the top, the hard provides the small with pattern, and this is why it is fitting only for small matters.

Adorning or embellishing describes your situation in terms of outward appearance. By decorating, embellishing or beautifying the way things are presented, this increases intrinsic value. Let the way you present yourself address the changes in your life. Be flexible and adapt to what present itself to be done. In that way, you are in step with the flow of Dao and not acting out of preconceived motivations and self-interest. Contemplate the overall pattern and the pattern of the people involved. But, above all, contemplate the changes that are taking place within you. Good practice, folks!

08/03/2021

Today’s hexagram is nothing that a Daoist cultivator need be concerned about. It is Hexagram #21, Shih Ho/Biting Through, Gnawing, Tenacious, Determined, Punishment. If those nouns seems like something you would want to cultivate, go right ahead. Be my guest. But I’m not buying it. Why not?

The upper trigram is LI THE CLINGING, FIRE and below Zhen THE AROUSING, THUNDER. This hexagram represents an open mouth with an obstruction (in the fourth place) between the teeth. As a result the lips cannot meet. To bring them together one must bite energetically through the obstacle.

The Judgment or Statement for Shih Ho suggests, when an obstacle to union arises, energetic biting through brings success. This is true in all situations. Whenever unity cannot be established, the obstruction is due to a talebearer and traitor who is interfering and blocking the way. To prevent permanent injury, vigorous measures must be taken at once. Deliberate obstruction of this sort does not vanish of its own accord. Judgment and punishment are required to deter or obviate it.

First of all, we are humans not rats. We do not need to gnaw our way through anything. Nor do we need to take vigorous measures if we are truly Daoist cultivators who practice ‘wu wei’ and who study the Dao De Jing, especially Chapter 63, where Laozi states:
“Whether it is big or small, many or few,
Requite hatred with virtue.”
Notice, he did not say Judgment and punishmebnt are required to deter or obviate it. Further on in Chapter 63…
” Deal with the difficult while yet it is easy;
Deal wit the big while yet it is small.
The difficult (problems) of the world
Must be dealt with while they are yet easy;
The great (problems) of the world
Must be dealt with while they are yet small.
Therefore the Sage by never dealing with great (problems)
Accomplishes greatness.”

So, forget the gnawing, forget punishing others and just be mindful. That way you can see or feel when a problem is about to arise and deal with it while it is still in the nascent stage. Continued cultivation within your practice, everyone.

08/02/2021

Today’s I Ching hexagram has a double meaning. Hexagram #20 Kuan or Guan/Conteplate, Viewing, Examine, Divining, the Tower. The Upper Trigram is SUN THE GENTLE, WIND while K’UN THE RECEPTIVE, EARTH is below. It means both contemplating and being seen, in the sense of being an example. These ideas are suggested by the fact that the hexagram can be understood as picturing a type of tower characteristic of ancient China.

Richard Wilhelm goes on to comment that a tower of this kind commanded a wide view of the country and at the same time, when situated on a mountain, it became a landmark that could be seen for miles around. He then applies these two qualities to a ruler who contemplates the law of heaven above him and the ways of the people below, and who, by means of good government, sets a lofty example to the masses. So good so far. We want to develop the quality of contemplating the law of heaven or the Dao which is far above us. Also, we want to contemplate Nature in general as well as human nature. This will tell us a lot about ourselves and our fellow beings.

Then Wilhelm comments on the Image of Kuan, the Wind above the Earth. “When the wind blows over the earth it goes far and wide, and the grass must bend to its power.” He considers both of these qualities as beneficial and states: “The two images are used to symbolize a practice of the kings of old; in making regular journeys the ruler could, in the first place, survey his realm and make certain that none of the existing usages of the people escaped notice; in the second, he could exert influence through which such customs as were unsuitable could be changed. All of this points to the power possessed by a superior personality.” While true contemplation of the Dao or Heaven is a much desired quality, to use that quality to gain power or change customs and interfere with the Way (Dao) and its natural processes is not only non-Daoist, it is corrupt. It is not one of our precepts of to, as Wilhelm states, “impress the people so profoundly, by his mere existence and by the impact of his personality, that they will be swayed by him as the grass by the wind.”

The thing to remember here is the two main precepts of Daoism as stated by both Laozi and Zhuangzi are humility and being lowly like the flow of water. The two go hand-in-hand in Daoism. As my teacher says: “Liberation from ideas of becoming ‘special’ is the first step on the way to moving towards union with the Dao.” Being in the background rather than the limelight or towering over the world with a prominant personality should have prevalence in our lives. Again my teacher states: “Humility is an extremely Yin state of being. To be able to place yourself behind others is a difficult thing but important in Daoism.”

Therefore, don’t think of humility and being behind others or appearing lowly as detrimental but rather as something very special to attain, more so than prominence or fame.

.

08/01/2021

We start the month of August with Hexagram #19, Lin/Approach, Nearing, New Arrival. It is composed of the upper trigram K’UN THE RECEPTIVE, EARTH and below TUI, THE JOYOUS, LAKE

The Chinese word “Lin” has a several meanings. The ancient explanations in the Book of Changes give as its first meaning, “becoming great.” What becomes great are the two strong lines growing into the hexagram from the base of Tui, position 1 and 2; the light-giving power expands with them. The meaning is then further extended to include the concept of approach from below.

THE JUDGMENT then states that APPROACH has supreme success, and Perseverance furthers.
But When the eighth month comes, There will be misfortune.

The hexagram as a whole points to a time of joyous, hopeful progress. Spring is approaching. Joy and forbearance bring high and low nearer together. Success is certain. But we must work with determination and perseverance to make full use of the propitiousness of the time. But one thing more: spring does not last forever. In the eighth month the aspects are reversed. Then only two strong, light lines are left; these do not advance but are in retreat. We must take heed of this change in good time. If we meet evil before it becomes reality-before it has even begun to stir-we can master it.

THE IMAGE of the earth above the lake:
The image of APPROACH.
Thus the Sage/Ruler is inexhaustible in his will to teach,
And without limits in his tolerance and protection of the people.

The earth borders upon the lake from above. This symbolizes the approach and condescension of the Sage in a higher position to those beneath him. The two parts of the image indicate what his attitude toward these people will be as well as the qualities we should try to acquire: Just as the lake is inexhaustible in depth, so the sage is inexhaustible in his readiness to teach mankind, and just as the earth is boundlessly wide, sustaining and caring for all creatures on it, so the sage sustains and cares for all people and excludes no part of humanity. Thus, be inexhaustible in your readiness to teach those in your charge, and be boundlessly sustaining and caring for all living creatures, both human and otherwise, and exclude no part of humanity like we see today in governments around the world and even in many states here in America.