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Valley Spirit Arts

February 2019 Newsletter


 
The Chinese New Year is arriving on February 5, 2019, which is also the 4716th Chinese year (this numbering is calculated from the time of the Yellow Emperor in the 3rd millennium BCE). The zodiac sign of 2019 is the Pig, or as some call it, “The Year of the Boar,” and according to the Chinese Horoscope calendar, 2019 is the Yin Earth Pig year. The Earth Boar is the Gold Boar because it is the feminine yin aspect, symbolized by a valley. The Earth Pig longs to be in a protected lush valley where it can find contentment and indulge in the sensual pleasures and basically be free to just have fun. Because this is the year of the Gold Boar it is symbolized by the idea of wealth, and indeed the Pig does bring about wealth. In Asian culture wealthy people are always associated with someone a bit overweight as that meant they can afford good food.

According to the Chinese horoscope theory, Yin Earth is connected to farmlands, where things grow and provide nourishment. The symbol of the 2019 Yin Earth Pig year is a river flowing over the farmland, so take care in areas prone to flooding during this year.

Pig is the twelfth animal of the twelve Chinese zodiac signs. Pig month is connected to the first month of winter. If the lucky element of your Chinese birth chart is water, then Pig will bring good fortune in 2019 and into 2020 as well.

The Pig is studious, gallant, and well informed, has tremendous inner strength and quiet determination, chooses few friends, and is kind and affectionate. For all other signs of the zodiac there are three behaviors that must be adopted in order to achieve good fortune during this Earth Pig year: 1) Determination, as the Pig is very stubborn when it comes to achieving goals. 2) Quietness, as the Pig moreover seeks calmness and quietude. 3) Affection, as the Pig needs to give and feel affection and love in their life.

The Pig is the last (12th) position in the Chinese Zodiac. If you are born in one of these years: 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, and 2019, you are a native Pig (Boar) in the Chinese zodiac. 

This will be a good year for those born in the Year of the Pig, and also those born in the Year of the Rabbit and Goat. Friends of the Pig will have good fortune during this year, but more so those born under the element of Fire or Metal also benefit during this Earth Year, as Earth creates Metal, and Fire creates Earth.

On the national stage the beginning of the year can bring about some negative events, especially in politics, but as the year progresses many positive events occur. The Pig is a simple animal and does not tolerate chaos. Clarity is important to the Pig. On the world stage there will be a wave of calming influences, especially in Middle Eastern countries and Asia. This will be a big relief for world leaders, so the year will definitely start off with good news.

Even though the Pig is associated with wealth, the financial situation worldwide during 2019 may be a bit problematic at first. This is a direct response of the dominant earth energy associated with this year. Stock markets and global finances will be influenced by Yin Earth energy. On a personal level it will be good to look into some of the Earth Feng Shui cures to avoid any big financial losses and to counteract negative influences with the generation of new income.

This is the kind of year where, at first, things are deemed negative but will have a powerful positive meaning in the long run. There is the probability of losing some close past relationships or even undergoing big career changes. Take these challenges and situations head-on, because in the end new and substantial connections will be made. In this year new loves, new careers, new friends, new money opportunities, and new perspectives can all appear.

In Taoism the Pig carries a very special interpretation. The Pig is seen as wallowing in the mud, especially true of the Earth Pig who enjoys a lowly place. Because of this the Pig gains great clarity and determination. As Lao Zi stated, “Sages seek the low places. Sages go where no one else wants to go.” This is the Pig.


 

A Few Words from Stuart Alve Olson
The Year of the Earth Pig (己亥, Ji Hai) last occurred 60 years ago in 1959. It is always good to look at history if we are to gain insight into our present times. In 1959 the Dalai Lama and tens of thousands of Tibetans went into exile in India. It was also the case that Fidel Castro came into power in Cuba. So for democratic countries this Earth Pig year had some critical changes and events that greatly affected world politics. Space exploration also suffered some setbacks with the Pioneer 4 Spacecraft losing contact after 82 hours, and the Russian Lunar 2 crashing into the moon, 1959 looked like the end of the possibility of space exploration. China’s Great Leap Forward creates the largest famine in human history in 1959.

However, 1959 closed with such events as Alaska and Hawaii becoming states, the Saint Lawerence Seaway was finally opened, and the Antarctic Treaty was signed, as well as the first airing of the TV show Twilight Zone (to some this was of great importance). It was also the year that Pan American airways first offered regular jet-powered commercial flights around the world. But it was also the year “the music died” with the deaths of Buddy Holly and others.

I think it can be seen that the Earth Pig year brings about a lot of great changes. The Pig in the Chinese zodiac is the last of the twelve celestial animal signs, representing a closing out of the previous eleven years.

There is a wonderful old folklore tale about the Pig that tells of a smart pig who refused to work for his owner, a farmer. All the other animals on the farm did their jobs, but not the Pig. The Ox plowed the fields, the cat (Tiger) chased the mice, the Horse pulled the carts, the Monkey carried the children on his back to their schools, the Rooster crowed at dawn and the Hen laid eggs, and the Dog kept guard. But the Pig just ate and slept continuously every day. The Pig would even complain about the quality and quantity of the food the farmer gave him. The Pig had figured out that he would have food whether he worked or not, so why should he bother with doing any farm chores. However, one day the farmer sold the Pig and so his life of eating and sleeping ended. The Pig in the end defeated himself through his own craftiness.

As the old Chinese saying goes, “As the Pig should be afraid of becoming fat, the man should fear fame.” This story is told because Pig children are usually born very intelligent, but their sensuality and self-indulgence can get the best of them. So in this year of the Pig the Chinese try not to eat too many sweets or fatty foods, and extreme sexual indulgences should be guarded against.

In the Chinese Buddhist novel Journey to the West, there is a good-natured Pig character named Zhu Bajie who has an extreme sexual appetite and is constantly seeking tasty food. Despite his antics, Zhu Bajie is loved and respected by everyone because he openly admits to indulgences that all people enjoy. The Pig is quite honest about them, and if the Pig is anything he is honest and very forthright about his way of living. The Pig is one of those rare animals in the Chinese zodiac who on one hand can experience many problems and tribulations in their life, but can always come away unscathed and happy. We can all learn valuable lessons from the Pig.

In the Journey to the West, Pig is the closest compatriot to the Monkey King and is steadfast in helping the Buddhist monk Xuan Zang to retrieve the Buddhist sutras from India. So the Pig is at once self-indulgent, yet noble in his endeavors. The Pig is always seeking peace and contentment, always optimistic, and quite sensitive to the feelings of others. In other words, Pigs make great friends. So on worldly matters the Pig can indeed bring about crisis and change, but in the end there is a nobility and auspiciousness in those events. In this year, 2019, we will see much of these Pig influences occurring.

—Stuart Alve Olson
Sanctuary of Tao

 

 

Seated Awakening Seminar


In the Celestial Member area of the Sanctuary of Tao website, we’ve uploaded a video of the two-hour lecture that Stuart recently gave at the Zen Wellness center in Phoenix. In it he talks about the philosophy and practice of Eight Brocades Seated Qigong as well as many other related subjects of Taoism, Buddhism, and cultivation practices.


 


The Sanctuary of Tao is a non-profit, tax deductible organization. We do our best to bring you a wide range of Taoist resources, such as this newsletter, and a host of video, audio, and written materials to enhance your knowledge and cultivation of the Tao. Like many non-profits, we depend on your support to maintain the expenses of operating our website and organization. The Sanctuary of Tao is not supported by any academic institution or government grant. We solely depend on our members through membership fees and small infrequent donations, but sadly these barely cover the cost of operating the website. We want to do so much more but simply can’t afford to do so. Bluntly stated, “We need funds,” and we are asking all our readers and members to please help us continue this important work of providing useful information on Taoism to you and the world at large. If you can afford to purchase a Celestial Membership or make any other donation of funds, this will make a big difference in helping us further promote Taoist teachings.
 
Please consider one or more of the following:
  • Purchase a Celestial Membership (just $60 per year).
  • Donate a specific amount each month, of whatever amount is affordable for you. These monthly donations are very helpful.
We appreciate your having read our plea here, and we hope you will consider giving us a helping hand. If you like what the Sanctuary of Tao provides and want to help us continue this work, please donate.

With gratitude,
Sanctuary of Tao Staff



 

 

The Jade Toad Immortal on the Tao De Jing 

These translations of the Scripture on Tao and Virtue by Lao Zi (道 德 經 著 老 子) include the rare commentary by Taoist Immortal Bai Yuchan (白 玉 蟾, 1194–1229), more popularly called the Jade Toad Immortal. Bai Yuchan was the fifth patriarch of the Southern School of Internal Alchemy. Even though he only lived to age thirty-three, he was one of Taoist history’s most prolific writers, and is most well known for his discourses on Thunder Rites (雷 禮, Lei Li). The following text presents Bai’s insightful commentaries inserted within the Tao De Jing text. A chapter of Bai’s work will appear in each monthly newsletter until the entire book is ready for publication. Although there have been many excellent English translations published on the Tao De Jing, Bai’s commentaries give a fresh outlook on the inner meaning of this incredible work by Lao Zi, so it’s worthwhile to begin presenting Bai Yuchan’s interpretations to Taoist English readers.

______________________________

Scripture on the Way and Virtue, Chapter 13
With Bai Yuchan’s Commentary


Rejecting Shame

厭 恥
Yàn chǐ

Favor and disgrace cause discontent (without glory and without shame1 the mind would naturally be at peace). But what we treasure and fear is just within our self (so prepare against calamities with intuition). 

What is meant by favor and disgrace (noble and base, rich and poor) causing discontent? (Bad people originally bring about discontent because of doing something shameless). Favors elevate and cause discontent when receiving it (if it were not that I possessed them), and discontent when losing it (even if not receiving one ten-thousandth of a part of it). Thus, favor and disgrace cause discontent (from my own self what could I have?).

What is meant by what we treasure and fear is just within our self? (When my mind is involved in peace or danger I lose my bond with my Nature). I have great troubles (if the mind is not at peace the body is not calm) because I have a self (having a me results in having a self, without a me results in having no self). If I didn’t have a self (deep and clear as a whole day, the self is also without a self) what big troubles could I have? (A false self, a false world—Nature is the true naturally-just-so).

Therefore, one who honors the world as though it is their self (the mind is similar to the sage, and the body is similar to the world) can be depended upon with it (one hundred years is like a passing stranger, the ten thousand things are like an inn). Those who love themselves as they do the world (able to heal the self is also like healing the country) can be entrusted with it (they can do so for a long time and not lose it).

The Meaning
This is a very interesting chapter as it goes to the premise that Taoists love their body. But because the body is loved and appreciated there must be acceptance of misfortunes as well. The body to the Taoist is good fortune, but within all good fortune there is misfortune. The body can be injured, become sick, suffer old age and even death, but the Taoist does not focus on the misfortunes of the body, rather on the appreciation of the body itself. As the Taoist understands that love of the body and the anxiety of losing it is the root cause for most of human anxiety. So a Taoist actually loves the misfortunes of the body equally along with the good fortunes of the body. For it is within this love of misfortunes that the body can be healed when injured and restored when damage has been experienced. To a Taoist, the body is just like the world about us, so by loving the body (world) we can be entrusted with it. Only those who love the misfortunes and good fortunes of the body can attain health, longevity, and immortality.

Notes
1. Because both glory and shame cause fright and fear. Glory causes fright and fear when losing it, and shame when it is gained.


Bai Yuchan’s Original Chinese Text



 


Secrets of Taijiquan 

In 1919, Master Xu Yusheng (許 禹 生), an early student of the Yang family, published an incredibly informative and simply titled book, Taijiquan (太 極 拳), one of the earliest literary records on the practice. Master Xu’s work appeared nearly twenty years prior to publications released by Chen Kung and the Yang family.

A portion of Master Xu’s book deals with the actual meanings of the Taijiquan posture names. He did this because the posture names during his time were just handed down verbally, and many pugilists were illiterate. Therefore, depending on the dialect and tones uttered by the teacher, the true meaning of a posture‘s name and use could be misunderstood by students. Master Xu then wrote a record to ensure that the posture names tallied with the actual posture and applications.

____________________

Photograph of Yang Chengfu with drawing from Chen Kung’s work.
 


High Pat on Horse

高 探 馬
Gao Tan Ma

Note: In some early translations this posture was called “Raising Higher to Handle the Horse.” Literally this term would translate as “Mounted Scout Sitting High on a Horse.” In general the idea is showing someone patting or swiping the hand over the horse’s head.


Posture Instructions
From the posture of Single Whip, the left foot draws back a half step into a left Insubstantial Stance. The left forearm presses down with the palm facing upwards, while the right hand knocks upward with the edge of the right horizontal palm.


Posture Applications
High Pat on Horse application relies on bringing the arm of the opponent downwards with a slight pulling action and then turning your palm upwards to twist the opponent’s arm. Simultaneously your other hand moves up along the opponent’s arm to their throat, striking the opponent with the outer edge of your palm. Within this you move into an Empty Stance so that the front leg can kick to the opponent’s shin or groin if the opponent attempt to pull or back away from you.

 



Now Available!

 

Embracing the One: Transformation Through Visualization

By Stuart Alve Olson
List Price: $29.95
5.5" x 8.5" (13.97 x 21.59 cm) 
Black & White on Cream paper
126 pages

In this book, Stuart Alve Olson provides a concise and detailed look at the Taoist visualization meditation method of Embracing the One, clearly explaining the underlying principles of this ancient practice and providing the first English translation of the text, illustration, procedures, and related chants. Even though the methods of Embracing the One are distinctly simple in application the effects of the overall practice are quite profound and deep.

Through the simple act of visualizing the Dragon and Tiger a whole new mind ground can be discovered, naturally bringing forth the “Spirit.” This little work is in many ways a landmark piece on Taoism and will definitely augment one’s knowledge of meditation and Taoist philosophy.

More …

 


Seminar Announcement!

New dates for the Minnesota seminar (see below). Don’t miss your opportunity to partake in this incredible self-defense training. No matter your style of Taijiquan, Kung-fu, or other martial art, this teaching program on the Four Skills will prove to be invaluable to your self-defense skills—whether you are a beginner or advanced practitioner. These internal art methods don’t require strength and so are extremely effective for males and females.

_______

The Ultimate Skills of Restraining, Seizing, Grasping, and Closing

Instructed by Stuart Alve Olson

The Four Skills represent the highest teachings and secrets of self-defense in internal martial arts:

  • Restraining is the method for obstructing the blood vessels
    of an opponent.
  • Seizing is the method for obstructing the meridians
    of an opponent.
  • Grasping is the method for injuring the sinews
    of an opponent.
  • Closing is the method of shutting off qi centers of an opponent.

Choose the location/dates most convenient to you:
     Phoenix, AZ: February 23 & 24, Saturday and Sunday
or
     St. Paul, MN: Saturday and Sunday, April 13 & 14
     Hours: 10 a.m. to noon and 2 to 4 p.m. each day, total of eight hours.


Stuart will be teaching the training exercises for each of the Four Skills along with detailed explanations of the 4 main blood vessels, 5 meridians, 6 sinews, and 7 qi centers used in the training instructions. These internal art methods don’t require strength and so are extremely effective for males and females.

The methods being taught are of a very serious nature and so participation is limited to serious students only. Those attending must also sign a standard release martial art waiver form. Each seminar will be strictly limited to 12 people so Stuart can give the proper attention to each participant’s individual needs.

How to Register
Contact Stuart via email (stuart@valleyspiritarts.com) for details on payment options (via PayPal, Check, or money order) and for further information on participation requirements. Please indicate your choice of location, Phoenix or St. Paul.

Fees: $800 per person. $400 registration fee deposit, balance due two weeks before seminar date. Discounted to $700 for those paying in full at time of registration.
Full refund if Stuart Alve Olson has to cancel the seminar. No refund on registration fee deposit if the participant cancels, with the exception of some unforeseen emergency preventing the participant from attending, then a full refund will be made.

Hurry and reserve your spot now! Only twelve people will be allowed to attend at each seminar location.

 


Special Events in February 

  

February 5th—Auspicious Day—Chinese New Year
Year of the Earth Pig
Beginning of 1st Moon, Tiger Moon.
The Chinese New Year is on Feb 5 this year and so begins the Spring Festival, which ends on February 19 with the Lantern Festival. This two-week period is the most celebrated time of year in China. Whether Taoist, Buddhist, Confucianist, or of any persuasion this time is universal for all to come together and celebrate a new beginning. In Chinese communities this coming year, the Year of Pig is especially auspicious because the Pig represents wealth


February 13th—Jade Emperor’s Birthday
1st Moon, 7th Day

The Jade Emperor (玉 皇, Yu Huang) is considered the highest entity in the Taoist pantheon. In Buddhism he is identified with Sakra (Lord on High). The Jade Emperor is known by many names, including Heavenly Grandfather or Duke (天公, Tian Gong), but is more correctly called the Highest Sovereign, Jade Emperor (玉皇上帝, Yu Huang Shang Di). The Jade Emperor is closely associated with the Christian and some Eastern ideas of God.

For more information on the Jade Emperor see, The Jade Emperor’s Mind Seal Classic translated by Stuart Alve Olson.



February 15th—Ancestor Wang Chongyang’s Birthday
1st Moon, 9th Day

Wang Chongyang (王 重 陽, Wang Chongyang, 1113 –1170) was a Chinese Taoist and one of the founders of the Perfect Realization School (全 眞, Quan Zhen) in the 12th century during the Jin Dynasty (1115–1234). He was one of the Five Northern Patriarchs of what became known as the Perfect Realization School, of which the Dragon Gate School (龍 門, Long Men) later became a sub-sect. This sect is still headquartered at White Cloud Monastery (白 雲 觀, Bai Yun Guan) in Beijing, China.



February 19th—Auspicious Day—Lantern Festival
Full Moon (15th Day of 1st Moon)


The Lantern Festival, second of the Eight Yearly Festivals of Chinese culture, is celebrated on the fifteenth day of the first month of the lunar calendar, marking it as the last festival day of the Chinese New Year celebrations.

Yuan (元) is an ancient term. In connection with the lunar calendar, it means the “first month.” In ancient times the night was called Xiao (宵), and Jie (節) means “festival.”
 
Within the Taoist tradition, the fifteenth day of the first lunar month is a day for venerating the Heavenly Officials, who enjoy things that are bright and joyful, so thousands of colorful lanterns were hung out at night for their enjoyment. On this day, people will hang lanterns, or set them upon rivers, lakes, and ponds, and enjoy family reunions. The central food item is boiled glutinous rice flour balls, named after the festival, Yuan Xiao, but more commonly called Tang Yuan (湯圓), literally “soup balls.”

 


There are numerous legends as to how the Lantern Festival came to be, but within Taoism it’s associated with Tian Guan (天官), Heavenly Official/Ruler, the Taoist deity responsible for bequeathing good fortune to the world and people. His birthday falls on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month, and he likes to celebrate his birthday with all types of entertainment, so Taoist followers, in honor of him, prepare various kinds of joyful activities, place lit lanterns about their town, homes, and temples. In addition, followers perform ceremonies and rituals to venerate the Heavenly Ruler.
 
Tian Guan, the deity who grants blessings, is one of three deity ruler officials, the other two are Di Guan (地官), Earthly Official, whose main role is pardoning transgressions, and Shui Guan (水官), Water Official, whose task is to heal illnesses and diseases. These three deities play an important role in the more religious life of Taoists, and Chinese culture in general. All three of these rulers record and register the good actions and transgressions of a person, and are therefore venerated in hopes of eradicating or reducing retribution responses. These Three Rulers make their reports to the Heavenly Court every Keng Shen Day, the first on the 57th day of each New Year and then every sixty days thereafter. These reckonings take place in Heaven three days before the Keng Shen Day and three days after. 

 

An image of the Three Rulers. Tian Guan center,
Di Guan on right, and Shui Guan on the left.

Adherents to the San Guan (三 官), the Three Rulers cult, will on each of the ruler’s birthdays write on a piece of paper their requests for good fortune, repent their transgressions, or seek healing from a disease or illness. Written requests to the Heavenly Ruler would ideally be burned or buried on the peak of a mountain. For the Earthly Ruler, they would be buried in the ground, and for the Water Ruler they would be placed in a body of water. Presently, the pieces of paper have been largely replaced with lanterns, whereupon the believer writes their request upon it. The Lantern Festival is mainly about celebrating the New Year, family and friend reunions, eating good food, and enjoying the beautiful glow of lanterns illuminating the night. 

 

February 23—Ancestor Qui Changchun’s Birthday
1st Moon, 17th Day

Qiu Changji (丘 處 機, 1148–1227 CE) is more popularly known by his Taoist name Changchun Zi (長春子). He was a disciple of Wang Chongyang (王 重 陽, founder of the Perfect Realization Sect) and is the most famous of the Seven True Taoists of the North (the seven main disciples of Wang Chongyang). Qiu founded of the Dragon Gate (龍 門, Long Men) sect of Taoism, which maintained the largest following of adherents stemming from the disciples of Wang Chongyang and is still active today.

 

 

February 27th—Master T.T. Liang’s Lunar Birthday
1st Moon, 23rd Day

See January 2109 Newsletter for bio of Master Liang.


 


 


March 6th—Spirit Reporting Day
1st Moon, 30th Day

This is the last day of the First Moon. On this day all transgression and merit recording spirits go to report to the Heavenly Officials of a person’s conduct. The main recording spirits include the Kitchen God, Earth God, Three Hun Spirits, and Three Corpse Spirits.

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