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  1. Full Lotus is a state of being.

    I felt tempted to move to Vancouver on two occasions because two completely unrelated most intelligent human beings I met anywhere (after living on the East coast and the West coast) were both from there. So I'm thinking, maybe for your friend, taxes was just an excuse, something people would be more understanding about than her real and bigger problem -- intelligence -- which prevented her from living in Portlandia?.. (Sorry Portlandians!)
  2. Full Lotus is a state of being.

    That teacher could have said something nicer -- not that she was wrong, just tactless and possibly even envious of that ease. But this has been my experience too. School couldn't teach me anything till the 7th grade because everything was too easy, so the neural groove for investing actual work into what's difficult was never formed. It's a devious advantage that flips into a handicap without a warning. By 13 or 14 everybody knows how to act in the situation "I don't know this material and it's going to be on the test so I have to study." Well, I didn't. I had no experiential idea of what "study" means. So for the rest of my life I had to suffer from extra work that goes into inventing that bicycle, all those unnecessarily creative ways to get on top of my own ziran attitude (a beautiful taoist ideal but a prescription for all kinds of trouble in an adult's life in today's world). The imprint still is, "it will just happen by itself -- it always does." I always catch myself expecting stuff to just take care of itself and sometimes it makes me laugh but more often it makes me cry. Then again, sometimes it just takes care of itself as expected.
  3. Full Lotus is a state of being.

    One assertion ascribed to him here is actually a version of something I heard from Wang Liping: an hour in full lotus taoist meditation has the same benefits as ten hours of the same meditation in a different position. However, he also pointed out a few crucial distinctions: if you sit in lotus but not in a specific meditation that is part of your cultivation practice -- say, you're very flexible and sit in lotus watching TV -- you will have absolutely nothing gained except maybe some extra flexibility in the joints (if you're doing it correctly that is -- if not, you may just rely on overstretched ligaments and gradually lose as much structural integrity and leg strength as you gain flexibility, which is not a very desirable trade-off.) Sitting in lotus while your mind isn't sitting, so to speak, is about as cultivating as crossing your arms. Also, he said that it is not any indicator of any "level of accomplishment," just something that one may want to master on the way because it's like an upgrade of practice that makes it more efficient. If you were born with that upgrade already in place, it will maybe give you an initial advantage, whether you will be able to use it or lose it depends on many other factors. There's many difficulties to overcome and if you already find some of the things you are to do easy, it absolutely doesn't guarantee that everything else will be as effortless. So, if you can, preferably sit in lotus -- but don't get cocky about it, there's absolutely no reason for that. You may find it easy to sit in lotus but difficult, e.g., to visualize, or to not visualize, to handle intrusive thoughts, to integrate insights, to have the discipline, or even just the time, and so on. There's many factors at play. Lotus is one -- if you can't sit in lotus but everything else is a breeze (duh), then you may have to spend as much time as someone else who can sit in lotus but can't figure out, for instance, how to cultivate compassion, or humility, or whatever the blockage is that the lotus won't remove mechanically. It's not some kind of plunger against any and all hairballs of the spirit. It's just something that aids your consciousness in removing them... Anyone who thinks it is this mechanical plunger has a good chance to create a shit storm using it, not much else.
  4. Full Lotus is a state of being.

    Full lotus is one tool (out of many) in a method for internal cultivation. Like any other tool, it can be used with maximum efficiency when used as intended only. And like any other tool, it can be abused. A needle is for sewing garments or making embroideries but you can also throw it into a roommate's soup. Or you can prick your own finger trying to sew on a button. Or you can try a needle for embroidery on silk on a leather jacket and conclude it's useless. Or you can't thread it because, e.g., you have presbyopia. And so on. But the needle is fully external, so it's much easier to "research." You can look at a piece of silk embroidery and ascertain its efficacy. Sort of. You still don't know how making something like this (see below) would make you feel.
  5. Students of Jerry Alan Johnson

    Yeah? And what else? Yes, of course, not just time and money, I mentioned that. Here's one scenario, e.g.: what if someone commits to becoming a master of, say, healing qigong only to realize down the road that healing is not her thing really? Not in terms of skill, level, commitment etc. but in terms of what calls out to her heart, "come, let's do it, you want to be doing just that"?.. Say she has had some success helping herself, helping people close to her who are open to being helped in this way (not everybody is, not even among the loved ones), and that's what caused her to decide to learn healing qigong and invest time and money and uncertainty and everything else one might have to invest --- and then -- she is educated and trained and not interested anymore, not ready to keep doing this outside a dire emergency. What is she going to do with her mastery? Go through the motions? I'm not describing a hypothetical scenario, I know a very high level master who can, but won't, heal anyone. He'll teach someone healthy, he'll help someone unwell to learn to help themselves -- but he won't lift a finger, much less his qi, to do any external qigong for anyone. (The opposite scenario -- someone can't do shit but wants to do "whatever" regardless, wants "me-doing-it" admired -- I find a lot more disturbing and way more prevalent.) On the other hand, who knows how deep any rabbit hole of this nature might prove. "The road is overcome by the one walking it." I, e.g., never knew, when I started taiji and just took it one day at a time along with whatever else life kept throwing at me (and it kept throwing more than anyone's fair share) that fifteen years later l would always feel I've only just began "getting it," still won't lose that kid in a candy store vibe. If it's hard work and uncertainty and what not, that's fine -- but if it's hard work and uncertainty and no awe, then it's not worth it. Whatever it is. If you don't feel in your very bones it's awesome, it's not worth the commitment. Nothing is worth doing if it's not done for its own sake rather than for the sake of "me doing it."
  6. Students of Jerry Alan Johnson

    1. Because he can. He is in a rather unique position, a native English speaker willing and able to offer an authentic in-depth taoist program, organized into a step by step curriculum and taught in English -- something no institution or individual is currently offering at this scale and depth. Also because it is a massive program impossible to complete in a shorter period. In fact, seven years is pretty high pace -- a more realistic time frame would be 20 or 30 years. 2. The curriculum is posted on his site if I remember correctly. 3. Yes, one could get a degree and postgraduate studies in that time, absolutely. Nearly everybody who will undertake a serious investment into a serious education will do just that. Exceedingly few will be able to invest the time and money into JAJ's program. But nothing authentically taoist has ever been a quickie-mart mass-produced endeavor. It is geared toward the rare individual who is willing, able and predestined -- but even among those, there will be dropouts, for various personal, interpersonal, financial, emotional, ideological reasons or for reasons they may not predict until they are face to face with them. So, not a very realistic option to complete the program for someone merely "interested to learn more" who is not being dragged into the thick of it by the hand of destiny.
  7. I guess it's time to take a detour. I was planning it for later in the thread, but since it got littered with the usual nonsense, why not take it now. Welcome to China for a change of pace. The Shang Dynasty is the earliest ruling dynasty of China to be established in recorded history, though other dynasties predated it. The Shang ruled from 1600 to 1046 B.C. It began when a tribal chief named Tang defeated the Xia Dynasty, which in 1600 B.C. was under the control of a tyrant named Jie. Tang is known for inventing the draft toward creating a regular army. Several large cities were built, including Zhengzhou and Anyang. Anyang became the capital around 1300 B.C. under King Pan Geng. Zhengzhou is renowned for its walls, which ran for four miles and were 32 feet high and 65 feet thick. Like any ancient city, it came complete with altars, temples and palaces located at the center. The king was also the chief priest. It was believed that he communicated with his ancestors and via them directly with god (sic -- singular, the religion was monotheistic), Shang Di considered the supreme ancestor, the god creator, and heaven itself. The king of China ruled by mandate of heaven -- i.e. authorized directly by his ancestor god. The wishes of the god were received by diviners and interpreted for the masses by the king. The magnitude of the yearly event known as the Border Sacrifice and the size of the altar used for the purpose boggle the mind. The largest and longest-existing known sacrificial site in the world, it witnessed the sacrifice to Shang Di of tens of thousands (and during certain periods when the god was particularly hungry, hundreds of thousands) of bulls every year. The ceremony goes back 4,000 years. Emperor Shun (who ruled 2256 BC--2205 BC) was the first to be recorded (in the Shu Jing, or Book of History) as sacrificing to Shang Di, but the altar was already there. Still is. The ceremony, which by the 20th century dwindled to sacrificing just one sacred imperial bull, persisted till 1911. To be continued...
  8. I know, I just combined two unrelated opinions in one post -- one about Sitchin (who is not guilty of gendao mentioning his name in vain) and the other about "el" et al. I did read bits of gendao's words in between the usual wall of spam. Shouldn't have bothered of course.
  9. To be fair to Sitchin, none of what he himself wrote is racist or racial -- that's gendao's personal choice of most convenient hate targets. Sitchin's approach is strictly "special" in the sense he considers the Annunaki a different species -- an extraterrestrial one. His proposed hypothesis -- of civilization as the outcome of an extraterrestrial intervention -- shouldn't IMO be sneered at just because it's not easily provable. Any intervention that does take place may or may not be provable --- typically impossible to prove even in much simpler and considerably closer-in-time cases. Latest exhibit -- all those hypothetical multiple interferences of certain countries into the political process of certain other countries. Not easy to prove that a coup, a tampered election, an installation of a military junta, a civil movement leading to a "revolution," an overthrown order and installation of a different kind of order or of chaos, as the case may be -- that any of those frequently occurring actual, suspected, or (most often) not even suspected events took place as a result of an intervention from behind the scenes, from the subversive below or the all-powerful above, and especially from the height of power of a superpower if those interventions are hidden well enough. So, I wouldn't sneer at Sitchin -- a hypothesis is a hypothesis, one possible way to explain our inexplicable history that led to our present perched precariously on a catastrophic edge. In any event, it is no more "crazy" (I'd say less so) than the ones in official circulation. That we "naturally evolved" to be "civilized?" That there's a perfectly natural process we call "progress" whose proof is offered by 1% of humanity to the remaining 99% in the form of more and more mechanized ways to do hard, senseless or mind-numbing work and leave less and less room for human-proper activities and lifestyles? Which would involve the life of the human body in its natural environment and the life of the human mind in its natural pursuits. Which of our current ones fits the bill? A pursuit of the newest model of the iPhone? Or sitting in traffic for two or three hours daily on the way to work, and upon arriving there sitting at a desk in a box moving our fingers and occasionally lips for eight to twelve hours? The ironclad ass that can withstand it gets ahead to sit on everybody else's head, but nobody minds because a newer model of the iPhone is coming out and if they let the iron ass sit on their head without inconveniencing that ass by too much squirming and fidgeting, they have a chance to purchase it. And that's progress. Unfortunately, looking for who to blame the way gendao does it is a popular sport, another way to lose one's humanity -- by dehumanizing someone "else." The criterion can be absolutely anything. He likes the time-honored biases, tried and true. One problem with those is, once you resort to them, your critical thinking is done for, you're a confirmation bias machine. And machines are impossible to have discourse with. They run programs.
  10. You are trying to accommodate your usual views by ignoring absolutely everything that causes them to hold no water. In particular, several thousand years of rulers who 1) were not lineage predecessors of any Jews, Muslims or Christians, 2) shaped the world in a way we inherited long before any Jews, Muslims or Christians existed, and last but not least you are 3) cherry-picking a syllable from the language you don't know -- El is ubiquitous at the end of many words there for the simple reason it is a suffix used to from nouns from verbs -- while not paying enough homage to this syllable's far more prominent role as a prefix or a separate word in many other languages (you can come up with only so many vowel-consonant combinations when using a language, so all such combos have been well explored everywhere, and El is no exception) -- to wit, El meaning "he," "male" in Spanish, "and" in Italian, the article "the" in Arabic, and "beer" in Old English. By the way, my name is Elena. Guess that makes me part of the Enlil lineage -- now where's my money? But back to all those rulers you skipped over and ignored for lack of their willingness to fit in nicely with your interpretation... Here are the most famous ones (I have to leave out hundreds of others because we're talking a massive chunk of time here, which is one reason I also have to leave out almost 2.5 thousand years of kings entirely before even starting with the fifth ruler of Uruk) -- in chronological order worth paying attention to: Sumerians Gilgamesh (c. 2650 BC) - Gilgamesh was the fifth king of the Sumerian city of Uruk. He became known as a demigod with superhuman strength in later legends and tales such as the Epic of Gilgamesh. Akkadian Empire Sargon the Great (reigned 2334 - 2279 BC) - Sargon the Great, or Sargon of Akkad, founded the world's first empire, the Akkadian Empire. He conquered many of the Sumerian city-states and united them under one rule. Naram-Sin (reigned 2254 - 2218 BC) - The Akkadian Empire reached its peak under the kingship of Naram-Sin. He was the first Mesopotamian ruler to claim to be a god. He was also the grandson of Sargon. Babylonian Empire Hammurabi (reigned 1792 - 1752 BC) - Hammurabi was the sixth king of Babylon and founded the first Babylonian Empire. He is most famous for establishing a written code of laws called the Hammurabi Code. Nabopolassar (c. 658 - 605 BC) - Nabopolassar allied with the Medes to overthrow the Assyrian Empire and conquer the city of Nineveh. He then established the second Babylonian Empire and ruled for twenty years. Nebuchadnezzar II (c 634 - 562 BC) - Nebuchadnezzar II expanded the Babylonian Empire conquering Judah and Jerusalem. He also built the famous Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar sent the Jews into exile after conquering them. Assyrian Empire Shamshi-Adad I (1813 -1791 BC) - Shamshi-Adad conquered many surrounding city-states in northern Mesopotamia. He established the first Assyrian Empire. Tiglath-Pileser III (reigned 745 - 727 BC) - Tiglath-Pileser III introduced many advances to the Assyrian Empire including military and political systems. He established the world's first professional standing army and greatly expanded the Assyrian Empire. Sennacherib (reigned 705 - 681 BC) - Sennacherib conquered the city of Babylon. He also rebuilt much of the Assyrian city of Nineveh turning it into one of the great cities of ancient history. Ashurbanipal (reigned 668 - 627 BC) - Ashurbanipal was the last strong king of the Assyrian Empire. He built a massive library in the capital city of Nineveh that contained over 30,000 clay tablets. He ruled Assyria for 42 years, but the empire began to decline after he died. Persian Empire Cyrus the Great (580 - 530 BC) - Cyrus rose to power and established the Persian Empire (also known as the Achaemenid Empire) when he overthrew the Medes and conquered Babylonia. He allowed the nations he conquered to keep and practice their own religion. He allowed the exiled Jews to return home to Jerusalem. Darius I (550 - 486 BC) - Darius I ruled the Persian Empire at its peak. He divided the land into provinces that were ruled by satraps. Darius invaded Greece in the First Persian War where his army was defeated by the Greeks at the Battle of Marathon. Xerxes I (519 - 465 BC) - Xerxes I was the fourth king of Persia. He returned to Greece in the Second Persian War. He defeated the Spartans at the famous Battle of Thermopylae and then took control of the city of Athens. However, his navy was defeated at the Battle of Salamis and he retreated back to Persia.
  11. utterši is really written separately -- utter ši, "utter this." Yes, this language retains a ton of archaic forms, second only to its closest relative.
  12. Taoist triva and memorabilia

    Water Pig... Nice animal, and though that's only 1/8th of the information I would need to see for a comprehensive picture, it still contains 1/8th of your answer. "Animals" form relationships that are friendly, neutral, or hostile. The 12 are divided into 4 groups of "three harmonies" -- groups of three animals that cooperate with each other. We don't just have one "year animal" in our makeup, we have four -- i.e. types of earthly qi present in the year, month, day, hour of our birth. So, each one of the person's four proprietary animals interacts with the other three (as ally or foe) and with the animal of the year (also of the month, day, hour for a more precise take on each particular moment in spacetime -- but the four proprietary ones are at it constantly.) And the animal of the given year coinciding with one's animal of the year of birth is not a friend and not an ally. They are in conflict. (Which makes sense if one realizes that for all people, their first year of life is the most precarious -- if a baby survived its birth and infancy, statistical chances of death or serious life-damaging developmental adversity go sharply down. The first year of life, when your tiny "birth animal" meets its huge "earth animal" counterpart of that species, is unsafe.) Picture rams meeting on a narrow mountain path and butting horns for right-of-way. Picture two tigers, very territorial animals, encountering each other in a disputed hunting ground. Picture two boars ("pig" is originally a wild boar, you know, a formidable creature) meeting during a mating season, both focused on the same goal... you get the picture. How badly they clash is determined by a bunch of other factors -- other types of qi: whether they are both male or both female or one male and one female (yin and yang years), and whether their wuxing phases are in a productive, controlling or destructive relationship with the wuxing phase of the year animal. These and other factors can exacerbate or mitigate the conflict. In your case, in 2019 it was exacerbated by the wuxing conflict -- your Water Pig meets Earth Pig, and Earth blocks Water in wuxing. So that's why. ( Without looking at all other possible peculiarities of the moment, which of course could add all manner of details -- what exactly can go wrong and how one might try to prevent it going wrong, to the extent possible. Some years are possible to ride out smoothly even if they're full of built-in adversities, but not all years and not for all people.) The twelve animals are metaphors that stand for particular types of qi of course, specifically qi of the Earthly Branch. The qi of the year, i.e. the year animal, will be one stream of one type of qi originating from the earth itself under the conditions of this particular moment in spacetime -- it will be flowing throughout the year, interacting with all other streams -- of the Heavenly Stem, yin-yang, wuxing, bagua, the nine flying stars, etc., in a rather complex manner that matches the complexity of the manifest world. In the case of an individual, it will interact with all of these energies that formed a particular pattern at the time of birth and keep flowing throughout one's life. Which is the premise of Chinese astrology -- the complete picture of all kinds of qi present at one's birth is the blueprint for one's developmental history -- and the qi of the birth of the universe, the blueprint for the universe's developmental history. You can figure out how they resonate when they interact with each other at any moment using taoist sciences. So the crystal ball is inside the taoist fortune teller's mind, it grows there from a tiny seed and is cultivated from every angle till it learns how to find its answers. Which is why an experienced and educated fortune teller in Chinese astrology is a stochastic scientist (an inquirer into probabilities of events), not a recipient of whispers from the spirits and visions in a crystal ball but someone who grills those spirits for answers ("what is the most likely outcome of this and that being such and such?"), in a controlled (by reality itself) study peer-reviewed for thousands of years, in a lab spanning the whole of "above" and "below" and equipped with everything in it, from the motion of the stars above to the temper tantrums of the "world leaders" below.
  13. The Daily Mail doesn't like my adblock, so I couldn't read the article there, but I know that puma. He was born in a zoo, had health problems, was adopted into the family (wouldn't make it in the wild) and from what I've seen is as eager to "behave" as a dog, far surpassing most cats in this regard. E.g. I could only dream of my cat taking a bath in stride like this: I wouldn't say there's too many domesticated wild cats in Russia, but they occasionally happen. The father of a friend of mine had a cat who was a cross between the common domestic kitty and a wild reed cat, aka jungle cat or swamp cat. His name was Bes (which means devil or demon) and he was rather born to be wild, and even though he lived in a city apartment, he never behaved as a kitty. Cats are weird -- some species can be domesticated and some can't, and reed cats are in that latter category. But this one was half domestic cat half wild, so at least he didn't try to eat the owners. (The guests were always warned to not try to pet him.) I remember him vividly, whenever I visited he was usually sitting in a leather chair pushed away from the desk in the room that served as a home office. A very intimidating room lined with hundreds of books on brain physiology and pathology, with a very intimidating cat guarding it. Outwardly he looked like his wild half, only fatter. You knew I'd bite on any change of subject, gods to dogs and dogs to cats and Sumer to Russia, as long as it winds up being about cats, didn't you?
  14. Students of Jerry Alan Johnson

    Maybe JAJ will offer another online course, he had one this year. He posted information on his FB page.
  15. Taoist triva and memorabilia

    That's very likely. If we look at the sexagenary cycle of the Xia calendar for parallels -- the last time Yang Metal Rat year took place 60 years ago, and 120 years ago, and 180 years ago and so on -- we can discern the "type" of the year to expect. There were some major earthquakes in 1960 -- the one in Chile was 9.5 magnitude and triggered a tsunami, killing 1,600 and leaving 2 million homeless. And another one in Morocco, which was only 5.7 -- seemingly nothing, I lived through a couple of those with no ill effects last year here in CA -- but the one in Morocco struck in a way that killed 15,000 and was the worst in the country's history. There were also many airline accidents -- that's because Rat (a Water sign) is in a clash with Horse (a Fire sign). (Airline travel is of the Fire phase.) This is a personal conflict of the year as well, so anyone who has a Horse anywhere in the Four Pillars will eventually get recommendations in this thread for some measures to take so as to avoid the worst of the clash. So, world leaders will be quite themselves only worse this time around -- but protests will also be widespread, and possibly lead to changes -- though I'm not of the opinion that changes "for the better" are to be counted on, more like changes in the name of better and then, down the road, frustration over things not getting better at all, or getting a bit better in some respects at first and a lot worse in most respects later. In 1960, 17 African countries all declared independence. We can evaluate the results today... wounds as deep as what colonial rule leaves behind tend to fester for decades even when it seemingly goes away (key word "seemingly"), and expecting them to heal is probably more than one can count on in another 60. Cyprus also gained independence from Britain that same year -- only to experience a coup, a Turkish invasion, loss of 40% of the territory, and a declaration of independence by that part which is recognized by only one country in the world to this day -- Turkey. Don't know if it's a good outcome or a bad one for all involved, but definitely not what the original independence from Britain was trying to accomplish. So, I expect protests, and possibly some Pyrrhic victories. But then, what do I know. I'm just a fortune-telling cat.