“In the end, it’s not going to matter how many breaths you took, but how many moments took your breath away” – Shing Xiong

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Stand up

Emperor's college, which I attend, is one of the best schools of Traditional Chinese Medicine in the US, possibly the world. We are part of petitioning the gov't to cover acupuncture under medicare - it makes sense financially and effectively. If you are willing, please make the effort to follow this link to sign the petition and ask your friends and family to do the same. - thank you

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

acu PRESSURE for you

Winter cold and wind - dark, less sun, etc etc = big time immune system downer. What ya gonna do? Well, check out this article by Sarah Calabro about which points to massage, press, push on with your fingers, to activate and charge up with attention: click here and hopefully the link will work. This is a great site for information in an easy to understand and concise format. Mom! try it!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Updated GD Website

I never thought how the abbreviation for Great Determination could be so amusing when we named the place. Being lazy and practical I did not redo the monastic steward page or the application page, for now they are not needed. As long as Mike doesn't freeze solid this winter I think he will really enjoy spring. Sorry the chant recording doesn't work, you will have to wait to enjoy that virtuoso performance. Any feedback or suggestions will be carefully considered. Sensei is looking into getting a card for a paypal account. I have some exams next week so am studying, multitasking is not so bad.

BTW, remember the middle way, everything in moderation? Good idea, over consumption creates "Phlegm," a really horrible pathogen in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Really. So be good to yourself and remember Restraint is not a bad thing.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

NY times meditation

One of Sensei's new Qigong Students gave her an article from the NY times: "Replacing Om with Glam." How to dress for meditation, seems a lot of clothing designers are making lines of clothing for the truly cool and chic. How about $995 for the right sweatpants to meditate in? (Groan,) the Tong Ren someone introduced me to turns out to be similar, a line of "toys" and books of course all to teach and practice this "new" healing technique. People suggest these money making schemes to Sensei more and more: "you should develop some clothing, cushions or mats to sell for Awakening Stillness Qigong!" Right...
Sensei says: "I want students that want to learn, not accessorize."

That being said, we are not objecting to cottage industry, to crafts and marketing, just the common confusion of what is a practice and what is beneficial. The subject goes back to the origins of buddhism, to developing discernment, to identifying what is real, what is attachment, what is wholesome. Good heavens, just sit. Just be aware. Get out of your head. Loving kindness meditation works from the inside out, and its free, (damn revolutionaries, turning capitalism on its head.) I am proud of this Sangha for pursuing the open, the natural, the real roots of wisdom.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Great Determination Sangha

I had to laugh last night, a classmate who had wanted to be a monk before marrying his high school girlfriend 25 years ago asked how my practice was, did I still have time for it? I wonder what he thinks the practice is...I actually am more aware of mindfulness and meditation throughout the day now, it's a 24/7 activity with variations but no stopping. You all know that, the GD Sangha is as good or better at it than so many other communities because this is what we emphasize, taking it off the cushion, so yesterday I watched myself run around like a chicken with its head cut off, losing three different items as the day went by and I did compassion meditation for me. There it is - the practice goes on, never ending like a river, if it got dammed or even if it dried up, it would just be elsewhere. It would still continue.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

palm paintings

That's it, a portrait of Louie I have been struggling with and an abstract with glyph- moving right along, Hey here's a quote for today:
 "A mind too active is no mind at all." ~Theodore Roethke

Great Determination

This plant has grown inside a parking sign a couple blocks from where we live. You can see it through the holes all the way up the sign post to where it comes out and blooms at the top, about nine feet, now that is Great Determination. Sometimes we have to find such inspiring examples to motivate us to continue or persist even at the most basic of jobs, like living. 

My cousin is one inspirational soul. She persists in being kind, gentle and thoughtful despite health problems and a tremendous capacity for deep emotion. She is aging, uses a walker, etc etc and she was washed out of her home of many years by Hurricane Sandy. Her home and belongings were swamped under 3 feet of mud and flood water but she has turned that into a source of strength and confidence. She is still battling "bureaucratic disorganizations" - most of us know how taxing and difficult that can be, but she has done it and is winning. I find her amazing and a great inspiration, there are people like her all around us and we can be them too, sometimes the adversity we face is the best thing that ever happens to us.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

warming winter porridge

cold is a pathogen in traditional chinese medicine, each season we should adapt our activities and diet to the changing environment but often in today's world we resist this as an inconvenience or are simply oblivious since we actually don't interact much with the environment. Here is an example of a warming meal that we can consciously choose to adapt to the cold, strengthen the Yang and nourish the protective Qi:

fresh Ginger root, peeled and minced- 1 inch or more
1/2 tsp ground ginger powder
2 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp cardamom, if you have it
12 dates, pitted and soaked
2 carrots peeled and diced
3/4 cup millet (rice could be substituted)
8 cups water, milk or stock

1 oz of astragalus root if you have it, place in tea ball or cheesecloth bag and tie with string so you can retrieve it.

toast the millet or rice in oven or skillet. simmer all together 1-2 hours or in crockpot 6-8 hours, remove the astragalus and eat! this is from Between Heaven and Earth a guide to chinese medicine by Harriet Beinfield and Efrem Korngold, an excellent book.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


at the alley mall of america - just found a stainless steel floor lamp and a euro pro vacuum - apartment size, you know Ven Madika she loves a clean house and Hiro does indeed shed so this is a nice find, and I can read at night, yippee.

Skype meeting

Wednesday, tomorrow, at 5 pm Ohio time, 2 pm California time, we have three skype locations signing in so far, call us if you want to join in, phone # on www.greatdetermination.com

Mountain of Qi

I found out yesterday that the man who first appeared to be a moving mountain of Qi is the founder of the school. I mean his presence sweeps out before him like a wave before a ship's bow. When I first physically came into the school offices I experienced him and was introduced to many who have decades of TaiChi and Qigong experience, "masters."

What I have noticed in the last couple weeks is that most of the school population has no idea that this treasure trove of enhanced individuals exists here. I am probably not clear on it either, but I have some insight, and I see this is a result of the combination of Buddhism and Qigong. The Practice of the two in combined form, propels the insight exponentially. Why is this not taught? Ven. Madika is having a good time teaching meditation and Qigong because she can teach. She teaches as a westerner. She explains what is happening, what is important. The Jade Womon Qigong class is more asian style and I see the misunderstandings leading people off like red herrings.

Rajju Jim sent this:

Even if you are a monk, if your practice of the Way is not intense, if your aspiration is not pure, how are you any different from a layman?
Again even if you are a layman, if your aspiration is intense and your conduct wise, why is this any different from being a monk?
--Hakuin: Zen Master Hakuin (quoted in 365 Buddha: Daily Meditations by Jeff Schmidt)

If your practice is intense, you return to it over and over, this is fueled by the aspiration. The Practice begins to serve, to fulfill, and this is the Qi flowing, the dams and collections of stories, daily crap, being washed away. Energy, clarity and even freedom begin to show themselves like light breaking from the clouds. This is the experience, what comes of doing not just intellectualizing. And I know I could be doing so much more, could be making so much more effort, seeing the results is encouraging. We are all in this together, we are all wending our ways toward awakening. Awakening is so much more worthwhile than I have ever really thought it would be.


Sunday, January 13, 2013


just taking it easy, rec'd first student loan, working on palm painting, walking the dog, cooking and setting off fire alarm - very painful to the ears, the pizza was a little too big and burnt on the sides of the oven. Sorry, no pics of the painting yet, it's still B&W or actually purple and white.

We did go shopping at the "AlleyMall" and got another mattress, a nice wooden chair and an oversize pillow to put in Ven. Madika's chair, freecycling in Santa Monica is great, we just stay off the freecycle yahoo list - that is watched like a watering hole by lions and we are too slow to benefit from it.

was a lovely day, cool but sunny, and Hiro lost Two Balls! one broke right in half and the other was irretrievable in a gated parking garage.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

the horrible awful terrible bad day

just kidding, yeah we got a ticket for forgetting to put the hang tag on the rearview mirror allowing us preferential parking, and the guy selling the twin bed on craigslist sold it out from under us but really it was still a nice day, Oh and the landlord lost the rent check again, at least he called saying he hadn't received it.
oh yeah and then Hiro had diarrhea again at 0230 and 0530 and 0830 from the upset over the ticket, she is really too sensitive for us.

But! DeeDee shared the gift of Omaha Steaks from her sister in Chicago (DD is vegetarian)and I cooked the pork chops today, turned out wicked good:

1/2 lb mushrooms
1/2 onion
1 tsp grated ginger root
water fry the above then place in baking dish.
sear the chops in the above pan with a tsp oil,
1 cup fresh or frozen spinach
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
add these to the mushrooms and onions in the baking dish and lay the chops on top, cover lightly with some aluminum foil and bake 40 min at 350.
1/2 cup plain yogurt
stir this in just before serving, adds yummy zest.

the ginger in the dish is a pungent herb - I just learned about this - medicinals (a more appropriate name than herbs in chinese medicine)come in five flavors and pungent or acrid is one. I asked what that means- what is pungent? other students didn't know but had ordered pungent chicken at restaurants. The herb prof wasn't much help but said things like ginger, garlic, peppermint and menthol are pungent, I connected those to aromatics and asked if it meant it was first sensed by the nose rather than the tongue. That kind of threw the prof, but later that day in another class a different prof pointed out that pungent herbs are used for disorders of the lung which opens into the nose, AhHah! Pungent is aromatic.

Studying for Chem quiz now...

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Your Western Buddhist Nunks at work, or at least posing in front of Dancing Wind Studio in Joshua Tree, where we stayed until finding our current situation in Santa Monica.

We are waiting for the sangha to decide on a skype time, Ven. has her computer setup for it. Ven. KC Madika is teaching twice a week at the SM senior center, meditation and Qigong. She is reformatting the book and it will be available for download as PDF from the website www.greatdetermination.com hopefully by the end of the month.

Monday, January 7, 2013

More painting

here are two more palm paintings done over the weekend while listening to lectures. Had a second acupuncture treatment today, first class in Jade Woman Qigong and first A&P class. Rode my bike to all three, it is really nice weather and no snow!

Jade Woman Qigong is totally different from Awakening Stillness, it is subtle, does arouse energy or frees it, and is pretty simple. I don't know how much more of the form we have yet to learn, some of the hand movements are so graceful I wonder if I will ever be able to do that, but Sensei (KC) pointed out the grace is the Qi flowing smoothly, so yeah, I will.


Friday, January 4, 2013

chemistry is so cool

The Periodic Table is as amazing and satisfying as rational numbers. Contemplating this sort of thing in some degree of awe can open up your energy field and get the Qi flowing, if it has been a while refresh your memory by looking it up online, wow...and thank you whoever invented calculators.

Rode the bike to school today, after walking Hiro and having a smoothie for bkfst. Gotta do some painting now.

Venerable's first meditation class at the senior center went well, about fifteen attended. She is signed up on Skype in preparation for a meeting with distant Sangha, drum roll please!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

what a town

Santa Monica, spring is almost in the air, upper 70s today, gardens in bloom, walked all over - people cleaning out their garages and leaving - what did the hobbits call them? Mathoms? Stuff they don't want anymore but that are perfectly usable and that someone else might very well want. We collected a postal scale, a three-hole punch, three lovely tasseled quilt/tapestries with price tags still attached, a matching pillow in perfect condition with price tag still attached, ($54 each and $34), four english saddle stirrups, a pair of horse bandages which were still in package priced at $24.99 which are actually quilted flannel pads 18"x30", and a pair of glasses which the lenses can be replaced in (yes I still need glasses and no have not gone to optometrist yet but having frames may lessen cost.) Treasure hunts are wild here - who needs thrift stores? Most of the thrift stores are not thrifty at all actually. We are hoping to contribute most of this booty to a garage sale Susan and Deedee are planning at a studio open house, whoopee!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Circle story of freedom

if you think you want freedom, look for a moment when happiness arises;
enjoy that happiness and it will become rapture.
When the mind is enrapt the body will be tranquil,
when the body is tranquil awareness of it drops away and bliss arises,
when bliss arises the mind becomes still,
being still one becomes aware of all that is around,
when aware of all that is, appreciation of the miracle of life arises,
with that awareness Oneness arises and attachment ends,
without attachment freedom is revealed.
                  ~from the Digha Nikaya, the long discourses of the Buddha