It’s on…the wind blows, the water flows

26 02 2009

calendar-pixNow that the refreshing break of Kyudo practice is over, the packing for the move has been in full effect and motion. There are boxes everywhere in our unit. I am surprised how much stuff there is. Even with not much furniture, there is still a lot of stuff, both boxed and to be box. Books, books, ceramics, Cd’s, dishes, books, tapes, stuff.  Did I say books?  I guess that is normal, if compared to others we may have less stuff than average. However what is average?

Mean while I have been working on the Feng Shui audit for the new Apt. It is not as good as the one for our condo was for us. The new place will need much more balancing of Chi. Having the Bay right there across the street helps over all, but our unit needs Chi work. The living room is not really too bad, over all it is good, the bedroom is the problem area. Being that 6-8 hours a day min is spent there is is important to get that area balanced better for us, our chi patterns. LZ and I are lucky in that our Chi flow patterns are alike, but it is not matched with the Apt, so that needs to be worked on as much as possible. There are other parts/ sections of the apt that are not perfect but areas like the bathroom, and dining area are not that important because not much time is spent there. The areas one spends the most time in are the ones that NEED to be balanced for/to the occupants of the home.  Anyway I first thought the unit was money locked, but further research shows it is not. Yokatta! These days that is way helpful as tight as things are, that could be tragic. However yet again the Force is with us.

So a little about Feng Shui ( meaning wind and water) for those who do not know. Basically it is the balancing of energy or “chi” ( Chinese) or “ki” ( Japanese).  Chi is something in everything, a life force, a magnetic flied of sorts.  Ki is what they deal with in the art of Aikido, Chi in Chi Gung, Ki in Karate, Chi in acupuncture, Chi in the meditation focus of Chan and Yoga, dealing with Chakras.. The Art of Feng Shui balances those energies. If you look on a Nautical map there are compass roses. These show where the magnetic fields are read. There are several on a map and they vary in readings, because the fields change from place to place, that is how it is with Chi and reading it in Feng Shui. We have a Chi reading, the house has a chi reading, different places in the house have different readings. Some reading change each year, some over a period of years. I do not do the “new age” version of Feng Shui known popularly as the Black Hat Sect. I do the Traditional Chinese Method of Feng Shui as taught by Sang Sifu.in LA and Yu Shifu in Canada, both my teachers. These traditional methods involve compass readings and calculations , not just placing a generic Ba Qua form over a room. Traditional Feng Shui does not use mirrors, or wind chimes in the house (in the house, there is no wind, duh). I was pleased and surprised to hear from LZ that Feng Shui is also fairly big in Japan, that gives me another skill outlet to work with there. BTW, if anyone wants a analysis of their home let me know ( I can use the money) , It can be done via email with some data from you.

Anyway, with things as they are it is to important to be in harmony as much as possible with the Tao of life and my environment. Logical for sailing over seas to have the most harmonious sail, logical for living, ergo sailing through life. Anyway all part of the big move that is on…this weekend.

For now it is packing packing packing. A little bit of trviva. There is a lady who is planning alos to sail to Japan with her family.  Her mother is from Okinawa. Also a fellow blogger, she is moving this weekend as well, several blocks from us. Omoshiroi ne! A Chan sister lives down the street from us with her Husband as well. . Sisuk’s photgraphy shop is only 10min or so away.  That gives us more people we know in the area already then where we are now. The next big thing once there, beside finding a job , is finding a place to teach my class. If this is in keeping with the Tao, it too will happen, the Great Spirit will provide. There is always the large park down the street. It will happen, everything else has fallen into place,  it’s on…





Kyudo/Sadō weekend @ Shambala center day II

23 02 2009

I needed  a change of venue this was a good mini get-a way from dealing with packing, job hunting, thoughts of diminishing  funds and the like. It was a worth while treat for my spirit. The embedded Chi from the Shambala center, the added Chi of the Kyudo group, the spiritual left from group Meditation and practice, sharing Tea and food.

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On day two more people showed up along with the senior Oni-san.  After our morning Meditation he spoke some on carrying parts of meditation over to our Kyudo practice and parts of Kyudo to our daily lives. Interconnection. After a while of practice the next topic was how we share energy in practice, and should be aware of how our chi effects others in the dojo and theirs effects ours. Things that Tai Chi and Meditation groups are aware of on a regular basis in our practice. He also said, what the Kyudo master in Japan said, you also learn by watching and relating what you see to yourself, in Chan it would be non-duality.

I had a couple of unexpected energizing moments. I was told by the senior Oni-san that I had improved. Considering how little time I get to really spend shooting, I was pleased to hear I was making progress. My shots have been feeling better, and I have been applying the helpful corrections given to me by others. So that was good to hear. Perhaps more so since the guy from the “other school” said you can not make progress shooting once in a while. The other big surprise was I had inquired on the cost of having a set of Ya made. I thought it maybe a worthwhile investment to have my own since I wanted to shoot at least monthly @ RS Dojo. I was presented a generous gift of a new pair by another Oni-san. Wow, that was a treat out of the blue! That made my weekend for real, like the icing on the cake. With all the packing, I have been giving away a lot things lately that I think people have a need for or will like or be useful.   I guess some of that giving away Karma came back. Very Cool.

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After the ebb and flow of energy with the morning practice it was lunch time. We had a pot luck this time. It was nice, there was a good deal of food and a bunch of it was veggies. Nice.

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I did not pig out but I did eat enough to be stomach pleased with out over doing it. during the break.  I had a conversation with an other member I had not met before, he studies Tai Chi. We spoke of the similar aspects of both arts and the interrelationship of  them. To some they may look different, but they are all the same. Just another expression of the “zen” mind.

Afterward, more practice,

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some picture taking,

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and some Green Tea consumption to wake up. There were several little interactive group chats and gatherings on Yumis, and the like.

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A very social atmosphere at times. Yet it also flowed easily from serious quiet practice to casual small conference.  It was a excellent way to spend a rainy day.

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and now back to packing and the move…





Kyudo & Sadō… weekend at Shambala- day 1

23 02 2009

It seems like I get more hits reading stuff about Kyudo than most other things that are posted on a regular basis. Interesting because it does not seem on the outside that there is much interest in Kyudo. I guess it is exotic enough still to draw that Japaneseness Zen interest. This weekend my Kyudo group held a workshop @ Shambala meditation center in Berkeley which is our usual meeting place on Mondays. It was this workshop/seminar that I first got started a couple of years ago. This year was different in that it was not open to new comers and day one had the afternoon session for Sadō (Chado),( Japanese tea ceremony).

It was relative small group for the Sat session, made up of for the most part intermediate Kyudo jin. There were 7 of us total, which in fact was a good size.  After our opening meditation the day lesson for us, was balance and breath.

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The instructor spoke on Earth and heaven when shooting. Earth of course is the grounding ability/need of us to have when shooting. That way we have a strong foundation to shot from.

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Of Course, like doing Kung Fu one needs a strong stance, a grounded stance to deliver applications. Heaven in the case of Kyudo is about lifting the Yumi and shooting. Similar to Tai Chi action of grounding ourselves but uprooting one’s opponent. Also doing the form, sinking the lower body rasing the upper.

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The other part of the day;s drills where breath, understanding our the breath works with of actions of both heaven and earth. The smoother  and deeper  the breath the more relaxed and centered we are. Not holding one’s breath when doing the draw and release For that matter at anytime. For someone with a background in Tai Chi,  Chan, any martial art form it was elementary my dear Watson. it was like review and validation since that was how I went through my shots and prep from the beginning, because I roll like that 🙂 coming from a Shaolin background.
The instructor had everyone do a Kai with their shots on release. The guy with a background in Kendo had the most forceful. It was different in that there was no Kai sound but a “Eh” sound. The purpose was to get people to not hold their breath when they shot.

I spent my time working on breath but with a little different mind set and focusing on my draw and the 10yr grip. On my draw, expanding the chest rather than push pull, which was another thing the instructor touched on. Which as said before went back to SiSuk telling on my Tai Chi practice expand  the chest do not use  just open the arms. Also on body alignment on my draw, not shifting or turning my body. I did make a small break through today day on holding my Yumi. In the past I held to tight the Yumi would not move at all when I shot. Where as the advanced students and senior.s Yumi flips around when they shot. Today mine did turn a quarter way in my hand. Nice. May not seem like much but I felt like a made big progress, even tough it was a small step. It was huge for me. What that means is more power is going into the Ya ( arrow), instead of the Yumi ( Bow) , then released instead of being held in the Yumi.

Chado: “Cha” is the Japanese word for Tea, “Do” means “way” so Chado mean the Way of Cha. The Japanese Tea ceremony was originally for the Samurai class, not for females. Even though most see it as a Woman’s ceremony it was not always this way. It is only somewhat recently that females did the Chado. Our Kyudo instructor gave us some history , and a demo on the tea ceremony.

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As well as how to serve, whisk, hold the bowl/cup and the basic on the two main kinds of Ceremony. Thick Tea, and Thin Tea. even though I was not that interested in the Chado, it was interesting to hear about how it all works. Also on the proper way to drink and hold the cup, which can be helpful in Japanese society. she also cleared up a couple of things I was unsure of which will for sure come in handy. The Instructor related how parts of the ceremony related to Kyudo practice and to Zen. It was a educational and relaxing afternoon addition to the Kyudo practice.





It’s a small world after all…

16 02 2009

the_world_belongs_to_youThe Blogsphere is pretty amazing ne! One connects with folks from all over, relates, develops friendships. How would/could this have happened if not for the internet?! I have met several people live from my sailing blog I think somewhere around 5 or 6 peeps. Nice folks, most sailors tend to be nice folks , we are a different culture. On this side of the blogsphere, I have not met in person but a couple, but still have connected with outside of page comments. There is my net mate, from Jolly Ole England, Val who travels to Japan, studies Zen,  does Tai Chi, BaQua, gardening and has done some sailing. She is a blogger as well, with great pictures and other varid interest.  Then there is mon ami in France, Frankie.  A sailor who has sailed the south seas, and is a potter. Frankie is pretty amazing herself. We have not only chatted a bit via blog, and Facebook, but also via Google chat. Of course there are LZ’s and I’s close buds the Japan Delegation with webmaster Zurui who runs Black Tokyo . A pretty informative blog on the life and culture of Japan from a long time resident and former TV personality. We actually met before it was a Blog perse, it was a forum at the time. It was full of interesting and some radical folks from around the world interested in the  Japan culture. Another friend we met is running Gaijin-in-Japan.com.  It is a fun to read blog about his perspective on life in Japan, from an ex-Orange country, Humbolt Co, Germany, San Francisco mind view of things . He and his family live in Kobe Japan, near my sister in law. So we got to meet them and hang out on our last visit.  Pretty cool ne!

Last night I had the pleasure of chatting on the phone with another cool couple from So Cal. They study Zen, do movie productions and both have blogs, we break the stereotypes of who we are type cast to be in the standard American view of things. Their kids and my grand kids have the same ethnic makeup. D’s blog Random thoughts are her, well random thoughts from a Mexican-American perspective on life, Zen practice, and family. They had just moved to a new home like we are getting ready to do. When I spoke with her, she said she had been going over in her head about how to arrange things there. Just before I called, I was thinking the same about our up coming new place. Not just the decoration though, also how I could do the Feng Shui reading before setting it up along with maybe doing a computer drawing of the layout as well as where I can find some Sage to burn to purify the place. Yeah I’m out there like that. D’s hubby, E writes a blog called No More Race. We share many of the same interest and out looks, beside being in a mixed marriage, followers of Zen, and of Nubian heritage. He says our lives and experiences run parrell in many ways. We are hopeful the Tao will place us together sometime in the near future, it would be great to hang with them. There is a saying in Zen , that though we think we are unique in the world, we are not really

…(everyone sing)

It ‘s a small world after all.





So it begins…Yatta!

15 02 2009

So the ordeal with the Apt is resolved…

The I-Ching said when I asked in the beginning of this Headache. #34 to #4  with a couple of moving lines. So for those who do not understand what the heck I am talking about : When you have a changing hexigram reading. It means, the first Hexagram has to do with now, the energies that are currently surrounding the situation lets say. Mine was power. Now when you have changing lines, or moving lines as they are called they speak of something important, directly pertaining to your situation. Mine had two lines, which tells of a strong future possibility of what to expect. Mine was another form of power basically success with some conditions.  The full reading came out saying I was in a good place , but I could expect things to work out well after some misc frustrations. As it turn out, I had to jump through many many hoops to please the owners of the building. I was beyond frustrated, I was disgusted and weary. This went on for two weeks. The new to be owner is pressuring me to let him know, are we staying or going. I reached a point of needing to recompose myself. Then finally…ta da, we were approved!! woohoo!! OMG the timing could not have been better for all the pieces to come together! God is with us.

The day before Valentine’s day, Yatta! it is settled. Good God that was almost as bad as trying to get a loan for the Condo. Now the packing begins. Today is Valentine’s Day…LZ made pancakes for breakfast

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and later in the day we went for a walk around the lake across the street from us. It had been awhile since we had done that. I thought it would be good to get out today and be thankful and share perhaps our last stroll here.

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We, well, LZ started packing today, I started weeks ago, packing, ebaying unused stuff. Now it is real to her and she said how grateful she felt to have lived in our condo for the time we did. It does seem a bit  surreal that we are really moving from here now.  It has been a blessing to have this place. In some ways, the fall of the economy has been helpful. We really when thinking about it have not lost much if anything in buying our condo.  We put min. money down, made money, Refi’d, paid off some bills, purchased a few things, had all of our family and friends over, good  tax refunds, I had a place to teach class. Now no worries about what to do with it once we move to Japan, or a huge ballon payment in 30 yrs. My guardian angel has been on the job for us and now we get to move to a very cool new place. Also the sense of freedom is nice, we can move when and where we need to and no huge debt over our heads and still kept the boat. It was a good to try to do the right thing and get a lawyer to help with the Condo  and mortgage problem rather than the perhaps bad Karma of just walking away. For sure it would have been a nightmare trying to rent anyplace  that was worthwhile, it was difficult wnough as it was.  Yokatta! The only down side I can see so far is not having an empty club house to teach my Kung Fu class. There are however several large parks in the area and I feel something will work . The Tao will provide as always. Do good, attract good. Even if it does not seem like it at the time. Keeping the faith is the hard part. It is easy to get lost in the negative when the storms of life are blowing around you. It is our daily challange/ zen practice to stay balanced and grateful.





Raccoon Crap Kyudo Dojo…

14 02 2009

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A funky name for a cool place. It was a cold rainy night in Vallejo on Mare island. Mare Island is a former military installation which is now open for public commercial use. My Onisan works there on the island. He was able to luck into a place to practice Kyudo distance shooting. I think it is 20 meters the regulation length. The place that he and another classmate set up is the mezzanine of an old warehouse that use to build submarines. Now it is used for storage of misc stuff for the business there. It is cold, a little leaky, dusty, but Kool! The Dojo mezzanine has been cleaned up and setup nicely, still a bit rustic but in a Kool way. The guys did a great job. The name comes from the fact that as it is an old warehouse, in a open rustic setting there are raccoon that get in and perhaps live in the roof. From time to time, they visit and make use of the dojo, but not for Kyudo 🙂

As said it was a rainy night for me that just added to the koolness  of it. Listening to the sound of rain on the roof, which mostly stayed outside…mostly. Oni-san had setup a kerosene heater, which added some warmth and a bit of rustic Japaneseness to the setting.  I’m glad I planned ahead and dress for the cold, I was comfortable, and the little bit of heat add to the comfort level.

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There were three targets and three of us. It was perfect. We lined up to take the first shots. it had been a while since I did the opening postures for distance shots with the salute. So I followed along and did not give much thought to being exact with my shot or body alignment , etc. I just shot. Thwack hit the target! , ok, no biggie I thought, second shot, Thwack! right next to the first! Still did not think much about it, until, Oni-san said you should take a picture! I’m thinking, huh?? then I looked at it closely, wow, those were good shots! We joked , that I should quite now, take some pictures and go home.

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Those were my best shots of the night. from there it went down hill. The rest of the evening was spent, thinking, postures, alignment, stance, breath, twist, expanding draw, corrections, do not drop the arrow ( doh), brace it against the stomach. Not in the “Zen” zone.  The first shots reminded me of what and old Shifu would say to some students. Stop thinking so much about what you are doing and just do it! ( this was way before Nike )

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It was a cool time at the Dojo and great to get some practice in. I was invite to again. I will! Right now we are close only about 20 min. Once we move it will be further. I’m thinking I can at least add it to my monthly journey training.

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I go to Shifu’s ( 1 hour plus travel) once a month, advance Chan ( 45 min plus) I can do this minimum monthly also. It will be good for me.

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It helped greatly with my spirit going to practice last night, after the ordeal with the Apt. A release of all that stress and washing it away with the sound of rain





“you are a spirit having a human experience”

11 02 2009

I picked up this title from a person on Twitter’s blog, a musician-philosopher. Few in words, deep in it’s simplicity.  Very Zen ne! Twitter is new to me and I’m just getting the hang of things. There are some interesting folks there. Some I know from Facebook, most are new.  I thought I was hooked up to the Dalai Lama , but he was just a poser not the real deal. There is however President Obama, Yoko Ono and Thich Nhat Han, there are of course many many other celebrities, but these three are followers to my posts. Which is kind of surprising to me. Anyway there are many interesting folks out there in the world. I wonder what kind of impact this has on world relations, with so many people communicating with each other and being less and less strangers. It would weird if the internet were some type of messiah, a great unifier of humanity of sorts.

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heartchan-logoWe had a pre-opening Chan meeting last Thursday. Just a small group meeting in Berkeley. One of my Shaolin students who had expressed and interest came along. It was a simple meeting, covering some basics for my student. He said he enjoyed it and would return.  He has come along way in his spiritual development from when he first started with me and only wanted to kick butt.

My elder sister who leads the class, asked when we were leaving, how is it I decided this was the “Path” for me. She said she is Chinese and it took her a while to understand what was going on and make the choice to follow Heart Chan. I explained for me, my background was rooted in Shaolin studies, the Martial aspects, Healing,  Health, the Tao, balance etc. As well as Feng Shui, Yoga all of them in some way spoke of “cChi”  or “Ki” in Japanese, the life force that is when us all and all things that exist. Even my Native American Studies include this “Great Spirit” . To find a “Zen” practice that based it’s meditation on Chi and it’s movement and connection to the Universe was for me a no brainer. It just clicked. It brought everything together, without the limiting dogma of religious labels.  We are, everything is some from of manifestation of this Universal Chi. From the audio manifestation of music to plants and animals. Even if it is all illusions as some say, there must be some medium, some receptor, some projector of these illusions. For lack of a better word, Chi or Spirit will do. The label does not matter.

“The Tao that can be named is not the True Tao”

On Sunday past we had our monthly advance Chan gathering. This is where the local groups gather for group meditation and sharing. It is interesting to see the growth of our group over the last couple of years. We started out with watching a film from the Shifu. He spoke of not being involved with fortune tellers. Beside sometimes pushing their own agenda, theirs is at best limited to Human experience. It is better to practice Chan and connect ourselves to the Universal Tao. He then went through another method of meditation. Which most of us had done before, but it was good to review. It helped make it clearer for me.

Afterward the senior Shixong ( brother)  who was leading the group spoke on his impressions and lessons he got from the film. Afterward he asked if anyone else wanted to say something. Everyone was silent, which is usually the case. They are a very quiet group. Then he asked me by name, oh, jheeze! I was ok just to sit and listen as well, but now I was singled out, so I felt I needed to say something. The elder Shixong studied Kung fu before so some of his talk was built on that and about his ego and also about suffering while sitting and suffering while doing horse stance training.  I usually relate well to him because of our shared martial training.  This was the ground work for my ‘talk” going beyond discomfort in sitting meditation, in stance training. Relaxing into the pain, becoming one with it, in order to over come it, go beyond it. Same with reaching what feels to be a plateau in one’s life, in one’s sitting, in one’s training. Persevering, sometimes persevering is not something physical but spiritual. You can do all you can do on one level but need to persevere on another. To me it meant relaxing and letting the Tao do it’s thing. In a sense accepting this is all you can do, and relaxing into the moment. Enjoying the now fully, learning from the now fully, maybe suffer in the now fully ( life is not all good times), before you can go to the next level.

Maybe that is what is happening with Apt situation. Waiting over a week for an answer.