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A Poem to Awaken the World
by Master Han Shan (date: Ming Dynasty)
In this world of boundless troubles and cares, It is advisable to be patient and gentle. Live according to circumstances wherever you may be, And do your part till the end of your life.

Never ignore your conscience, Nor disclose others’ faults.

Exercise prudence in social intercourse and you will have nothing to regret;

Practice patience at work and you will find no problem too difficult to solve. The string of a strong bow is always the first to break; The edge of a sharp knife is most likely to sustain damage.

Gossip brings misfortune; Cruelty incurs blame.

There is no need to argue over who is right, Nor is there need to dispute about who is better. The affairs of the world have always left much to be desired; How could the illusory body of yours last forever?

A little loss makes no matter; A minor concession does no harm.

No sooner have you seen green willows under the spring sun Then you see yellow chrysanthemums in the autumn wind. Honor is no other than a midnight dream; Wealth is the same as the autumn frost. Birth, senility, illness and death cannot be shifted to others; The sweets and the bitters of life are all to be experienced by yourself. People like to boast of their cleverness at tricks, But Heaven takes its time in making the final decision. Flattery, crookedness, greed and wrath lead to hell; Fairness and integrity make a paradise. Musk deer die early because of their valuable musk; Silkworms perish untimely because of their rich silk. Take a dose of mental relaxation to soothe your stomach; Have a drink of good nature to neutralize your temper. You will get nowhere with all your scheming while alive; You will have nothing left in your hands after death. The sorrows of partings and the joys of unions are daily occurrences;

Life, death, success and failure are everyday concerns.

Strive not to outdo others, For life is but a drama.

When the curtain falls suddenly and all is silent, Where do you go from here?


The Essence of Shaolin
and the Importance of Breathing
By Venerable Shi Guolin and Gigi Oh and Gene Ching
As featured in Kungfu Qi Gong Magazine august 2000 issue

I went to visit with Shi Guolin, the venerable 34th generation Shaolin Temple monk and Abbot from the Shaolin Temple Overseas Headquarters in Flushing, NY to better understand about the importance of breathing (to read more information regarding Shi Guolin or the Shaolin Temple Overseas Headquarters, see Kungfu Qigong August 2000 issue). It was a wonderful meeting, opening my eyes to the essence of Shaolin and the importance of breathing.

For those who may not be familiar with Shaolin culture, there are some essentials. According to Ven. Shi Guolin, Shaolin culture the real way is not only Kung Fu or Buddhism, but it is a combination of both. They must be combined as one. Some may know there is a combination of both, but most do not really understand Cha’an Kungfu, which is the true combination.

According to Ven. Shi Guolin, breathing is the first step in training because it is during breathing that we adjust and balance our body for our movements. While inhaling, we are re-adjusting our body for our future movement. In most forms, while we are moving into the posture, we are inhaling. This is our body re-adjusting. When executing a movement through, we exhale. This is the use of energy. Without proper balance of readjustment and use, our movements are stilted.
Shi Guolin notes, “As Qi is the essence of life and flows throughout the universe, the basic movements of Qi – in & out, up & down, contracting & expanding – are also the basic elements of breathing.”

As the universe is made up of 4 elements: earth, water, wind, fire – so is our body: bone (earth), blood (water), breath (wind), temperament (fire). Breathing is as essential as wind is for maintaining the universe. If an area has no wind, the air becomes stagnant, begins to smell, and is unhealthy. The same thing can happen with our body and breathing.

Even when you are breathing, it is still a movement. To view breathing as a movement in your form takes concentration, but is essential. Breathing is not a straight movement. It is not a simple up and down. It is more of an “S” curve. Upon inhaling, imagine your chest expanded and your gut contracted. This creates an “S,” with the high curve at the top. Upon exhaling, imagine your chest contracted and your gut expanded. This creates an “S,” with the high curve at the bottom. When combined, this creates the ying yang.

Notes Shi Guolin, “The Spirits guide Qi and Qi guides the body; we guide our movements by our breathing.”

One of the main ways of focusing and balancing our Qi is through breathing. It allows one to adjust, centralize, and channel their Qi. While learning Qigong and kungfu, you learn postures and stances. These are to assist you in your breathing and practice in channeling Qi.

The first step in understanding the importance of breathing is to understand the 3 stages:
1. Natural breathing,
2. Deep breathing, and
3. Natural breathing.
The trick is to understand that 1 & 3 are not the same. Before you practice Qigong or kungfu, you already use natural breathing, but after practicing your understanding of the importance of natural breathing changes. This is due to learning the postures and stances and the understanding of channeling Qi. More oxygen can be channeled throughout your body, making focusing and balancing Qi easier.

The body is made up of 3 sections, and each section can be divided into another 3 sections. Each being a root, middle, or end. The 3 sections of one’s body are the legs (root), torso (middle), and arms (end). These 3 main sections also have 3 sections: the legs have the hip (root), knee (middle), and feet (end); the torso has the abdomen (root), chest (middle), and head (end); the arms have the shoulder (root), elbow (middle), and hands (end). These sections make up the 9 meridians.

We utilize our breathing to focus our Qi and learn to channel it to our ends. In training, movements may be slow to accentuate the process; however, postures and stances use our breathing to channel and focus Qi. Each time a body movement is initiated, we inhale. This is one adjusting and channeling Qi. Each time a movement is being executing, we exhale. This is the Qi being channeled. For instance, if you kick, you concentrate your Qi from the root (the hip) and contract your leg, using the knee (middle) to focus the Qi, while you inhale. This result is your kick, channeling the Qi to your foot (the end) while you exhale.

While training, we use Deep breathing and slow down the movements to focus on the channeling of Qi. This allows one to adjust and develop Qi. By doing this, we achieve the proper balance of movement, Qi, and Natural breathing when we do the movements fast. This is the same basic concept as in all martial arts: empty/full, open/closed, and slow/fast.

Deep breathing can focus our power and maintain the balance of empty/full, open/closed, and slow/fast. The proper balance will show in our postures and stances. The function of breathing is to keep everything balanced.

Without control of breathing, it is impossible to have full control of your movements. Without control over breathing and your movements, you are unable to train your spirit. In Shaolin, there is a true combination of training your mind, spirit, and body.

Breathing is not only essential to living, but it is one of the keys to mastering any martial arts. Your breathing should always be even. This assists in keeping your mind focused and your body movements correct. Ven. Shi Guolin used the example of a person who is upset; they tend to breathe heavier and faster when angry-huffing and puffing. This is not conducive for a clear mind. Energy is being wasted and our body, mind, and spirit are not balance.

The importance of learning to control breathing is often taken for granted. As it is an everyday function, it is one of the hardest to teach. Regardless of how often you practice your forms, there is no benefit without proper breathing. It is important to view breathing as a step or movement in doing forms. Incorrect breathing not only may cause you to be more fatigued, but also can hinder proper movement of your body.

Venerable Shi Guolin is the Abbot of the Shaolin Temple Overseas Headquarters at 132-11 41st Avenue, Flushing, NY 11355 (718) 539-0872 .


Attributed to Chang San-feng (est. 1279 -1386)
as researched by Lee N. Scheele

In motion the whole body should be light and agile,
with all parts of the body linked
as if threaded together.

The ch’i [vital life energy] should be excited,
The shen [spirit of vitality] should be internally gathered.

The postures should be without defect,
without hollows or projections from the proper alignment;
in motion the Form should not become disconnected.

The chin [intrinsic strength] should be
rooted in the feet,
generated from the legs,
controlled by the waist, and
manifested through the fingers.

If correct timing and position are not achieved,
the body will become disordered
and will not move as an integrated whole;
the correction for this defect
must be sought in the legs and waist.

The principle of adjusting the legs and waist
applies for moving in all directions;
upward or downward,
advancing or withdrawing,
left or right.

All movements are motivated by I [mind-intention],
not external form.

If there is up, there is down;
when advancing, have regard for withdrawing;
when striking left, pay attention to the right.

If the I wants to move upward,
it must simultaneously have intent downward.

Alternating the force of pulling and pushing
severs an opponent’s root
so that he can be defeated
quickly and certainly.

Insubstantial [empty; yin] and substantial [solid; yang]
should be clearly differentiated.
At any place where there is insubstantiality,
there must be substantiality;
Every place has both insubstantiality and substantiality.

The whole body should be threaded together
through every joint
without the slightest break.

Chang Ch’uan [Long Boxing] is like a great river
rolling on unceasingly.

Peng, Lu, Chi, An,
Ts’ai, Lieh, Chou, and K’ao
are equated to the Eight Trigrams.
The first four are the cardinal directions;
Ch’ien [South; Heaven],
K’un [North; Earth],
K’an [West; Water], and
Li [East; Fire].
The second four are the four corners:
Sun [Southwest; Wind],
Chen [Northeast; Thunder],
Tui [Southeast; Lake], and
Ken [Northwest; Mountain].
Advance (Chin), Withdraw (T’ui),
Look Left (Ku), Look Right (Pan), and
Central Equilibrium (Chung Ting)
are equated to the five elements:
Fire, and
All together these are termed the Thirteen Postures

A footnote appended to this Classic by Yang Lu-ch’an (1799-1872) reads: This treatise was left by the patriarch Chan San-feng of Wu Tang Mountain, with a desire toward helping able people everywhere achieve longevity, and not merely as a means to martial skill.

Effortless Action: the Chinese Spiritual Ideal of Wu-wei

by Edward Slingerland (pdf) 

[Excellent article]

Karpuradi Stotra (Hymn to Kali)

translated by Arthur Avalon.

Verse 1
O Mother and Spouse of the Destroyer of the three cities, they who thrice recite Thy Bija formed by omitting from Karpura, the middle and last consonants and the vowels, but adding Vamasi and Bindu, the speech of such, whether in poetry or prose, like that of men who have attained all powers, issues of a surety with all ease from the hollow of their mouth, O Thou who are beauteous with the beauty of a dark rain cloud.
Verse 2
Oh Mahesi, even should one of poor mind at any time recite but once another doubled Bija of Thine, composed of Isana, and Vamasravana, and Bindu; then, O Thou who hast great and formidable ear-rings of arrow form, who bearest on Thy head the crescent moon, such an one becomes all-powerful, having conquered even the Lord of Speech and the Wealth-Giver, and charmed countless youthful women with lotus-like eyes.
Verse 3
O Kalika, O auspicious Kalika with disheveled hair, from the corners of whose mouth streams of blood trickle, they who recite another doubled Bija of Thine composed of Isa, Vaisvanara, Vamanetra, and the lustrous Bindu, destroy all their enemies, and bring under subjection the three worlds.
Verse 4
O Destructress of the sins of the three worlds, auspicious Kalika, who in Thy upper lotus-like left hand holdest a sword, and in the lower left hand maketh the gesture which dispels fear, and with Thy lower right hand that which grants boons; they, O Mother with gaping mouth, who reciting Thy name, meditate in this way upon the greatness of Thy mantra, possess the eight great powers of the Three-Eyed One in the palm of their hands.
Verse 5
O Mother, they who recite Thy charming Bija, composed of the first of the group of letters, followed by Vahni, Rati, and beautified by Vidha, thrice, the Kurca Bija twice, followed by the two Thas, they, O Spouse of the Destroyer of the Deva of Desire contemplating Thy true form, become themselves the Deva of Love whose eyes are as beautiful as the petals of the lotus which Laksmi holds in her playful dance.
Verse 6
O Devi of full breasts, whose throat is adorned with a garland of heads, They who meditating recite any one or two or three of Thy very secret and excelling Bijas or all thereof together with Thy name, in the moonlike face of all such the Devi of Speech ever wanders, and in their lotus-like eyes kamala ever plays.
Verse 7
O Mother, even a dullard becomes a poet who meditates upon Thee raimented with space, three-eyed, Creatrix of the three worlds, whose waist is beautiful with a girdle made of numbers of dead men’s arms, and who on the breast of a corpse, as Thy couch in the cremation-ground, enjoyest Mahakala.
Verse 8
Those who truly meditate on Thee, the Spouse of Hara, who art seated in the cremation-ground strewn with funeral pyres, corpses, skulls, and bones, and haunted by female jackals howling fearfully; who art very youthful, and art in full enjoyment upon Thy Spouse, are revered by all and in all places.
Verse 9
What, indeed, O Mother, can we of so dull a mind say of Thee whose True Being not even Dhata, Isa, or Hari know? Yet, despite our dullness and ignorance, our devotion towards Thee makes us talk of Thee. Therefore, O Dark Devi, forgive this our folly. Answer towards ignorant creatures such as we, is not befitting Thee.
Verse 10
If by night, Thy devotee unclothed, and with disheveled hair, recites whilst meditating on Thee, Thy mantra, when with his Sakti youthful, full-breasted, and heavy-hipped such an one makes all powers subject to him, and dwells on the earth ever a seer.
Verse 11
O Spouse of Hara, should (a Sadhaka) daily recite Thy mantra for the space of a year meditating the while with knowledge of its meaning upon Thee intent upon Thy union with the great Mahakala, above whom Thou art, then suck a knower has every pleasure that he wills upon the earth, and holds all great powers in the grasp of his lotus-like hands.
Verse 12
O Mother, Thou givest birth to and protectest the world, and at the time of dissolution dost withdraw to thyself the earth and all things; therefore Thou art Brahma, and Lord of the three worlds, the Spouse of Sri, and Mahesa, and all other beings and things. Ah Me! how then, shall I praise Thy greatness?
Verse 13
O Mother, people there are who worship many other Devas than Thyself. they are greatly ignorant, and know nothing of the high truth, (but I) of my own uncontrollable desire for Thee approach Thee, the Primordial Power, who dost deeply enjoy the great Bliss arising from union (with Siva), and who art worshipped by Hari, Hara, Virinci, and all other Devas.
Verse 14
O Kali, spouse of Girisa, Thou art Earth, Water, Air and Ether. Thou art all. Thou art one and beneficent. What can be said in praise of Thee, O Mother? Of Thy mercy show Thy favor towards me, helpless as I am. By Thy grace may I never be reborn.
Verse 15
He, O Mahakali, who in the cremation-ground, naked, and with disheveled hair, intently meditates upon Thee and recites Thy mantra, and with each recitation makes offering to Thee of a thousand Akanda flowers with seed, becomes without any effort a Lord of the earth.
Verse 16
O Kali, whoever on Tuesday at midnight, having uttered Thy mantra, makes offering even but once with devotion to Thee of a hair of his Sakti in the cremation-ground, becomes a great poet, a Lord of the earth, and ever goes mounted upon an elephant.
Verse 17
The devotee who, having placed before himself and meditated and again meditated upon, the abode strewn with flowers, of the Deva with the bow of flowers, recites Thy Mantra, Ah! he becomes on earth the lord of Gandharvas, and the ocean of the nectar of the flow of poesy, and is after death in Thy supreme abode.
Verse 18
He who at night, when in union with his Sakti, meditates with centred mind on Thee, O Mother with gently smiling face, as on the breast of the corpse-like Siva lying on a fifteen-angled yantra deeply enlisted in sweet amorous play with Mahakala, himself becomes the destroyer of the God of Love.
Verse 19
O Dark One, wondrous and excelling in every way, becomes the accomplishment, of those worshippers who living in this world freely make offering to Thee in worship of the greatly satisfying flesh, together with hair and bone, of cats, camels, sheep, buffaloes, goats, and men.
Verse 20
O Mother, he who, being a controller of his passions, eats havisyannam, and, being proficient in meditation on Thy feet, rightly recites Thy mantra a hundred thousand times by day, and who afterwards naked at night, when united with his Sakti, rightly recites Thy great mantra another such hundred thousand times, becomes on earth like unto the Destroyer of Smara.
Verse 21
o Mother, this Hymn of Thine is the source from whence originates Thy mantra. It sings of Thy real self, and contains injunctions for the worship of Thy two lotus Feet. He who reads it at midnight or at time of worship even in his random talk becomes the nectar juice of poesy.
Verse 22
Numbers of women with large eyes, like those of the antelope, impatient for his love, ever follow him. Even the King becomes subject to his control. He becomes like Kubera himself. An enemy fears him as if he were a prison. Living in continuous bliss the devotee is liberated when yet living, and is never again reborn.



Here ends the Hymn by Sri Mahakala, entitled Karpuradistotra


November 2007
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Tao Te Ching

The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao. The name that can be named is not the eternal name. The nameless is the beginning of heaven and earth. The named is the mother of ten thousand things. Ever desireless, one can see the mystery. Ever desiring, one can see the manifestations. These two spring from the same source but differ in name; this appears as darkness. Darkness within darkness. The gate to all mystery.

Virtues of Kong-zi (Confucius)

道 tao; path, right way * 仁 ren, benevolent * 徳 de, virtuous * 禮 li, propriety * 義 yi, morality * 忠 zhong, loyalty * 恕 shu, reciprocity * 信 xin, trustworthy * 命 ming, destiny, fate * 天 tien, heaven, above * 理 li, principle *