Thursday, January 30, 2014

Happy Year of the Horse!



Year 2014 is a Year of the Wooden Horse. In the Chinese zodiac horse is a powerful animal. 

In the past horse was a status symbol in the Middle Kingdom. No other animal affected its history as much as the horse. China's military prowess was measured by the number of war chariots. As the Chinese Empire expanded, horses became essential in the defense, administration and control of its vast territory.

Horses were first domesticated in the north-eastern part of China some 5,000 years ago and were used in warfare and to provide swift and comfortable transportation for the imperial court and the nobles. With the growing military significance of the horse in the Han (206 B.C. - 220 A.D.) and Tang Dynasties (618- 907) horse was also used in many recreational activities that included hunting, dancing dressage and polo.

Since domestic breading was rather difficult, for centuries horses were regarded more as a luxury and were never used as farm animals. Less affluent people traveled on oxes or in ox-drawn carts and used oxes as work animals.

In the Chinese culture horse not only symbolizes travel and mobility, but is also regarded as a sign of quick success or "arrival." Yet, if not handled properly, horse may become wild and frivolous. This means that the Year of the Horse may bring you a lot of success, but you have to hold the reins and steer it into a right direction. The wood element makes the horse a bit more stable and manageable: wooden horse becomes a more steady force that will definitively get you to your destination. It will not get distracted and carried away as easily, but it will be flexible enough if you need to change directions quickly. 

新 年 快 樂 !

Wishing everyone a very happy and successful Year of the Horse ~ Dominique Allmon


         

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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Reading Chinese Fiction



Chinese civilization has always fascinated me. The uniqueness of the Chinese mind, the aesthetics, the creativity of the Chinese people over the centuries exercised enormous fascination on my curious mind.  

Early on I discovered Chinese literature. I love Chinese classics and have read all the great historical novels of the Ming and Qing Dynasties that were translated to English and German. Although years ago I studied Mandarin and could even read hundreds of Chinese characters, I was never able to master that language to such a degree that I could pick up a Chinese novel and read it in original. Like many readers in the West I had to rely on translations.

I first went to China in 1988 - only ten years after Deng Xiaoping introduced serious economic reforms and opened China to the West. Anyone visiting the Middle Kingdom at that time experienced a culture shock. I still remember my first trip to Beijing. I could stand in the corner and watch with an opened mouth what transpired in front of me. The contrast between the ancient, the Maoist and the clumsily emerging post-Maoist new China was so evident that one could only wonder how this Asian giant was ever going to make it. And look at China today and you are going to experience a culture shock of another kind.

China fascinates. Its culture and history became a very popular subject since the opening of China in the early 1980s. More and more people visit the country and more and more people study Chinese culture and language at the academic level. But the more we are comfortable with the modern China the more we look for the long gone exotic past.

Every year dozens of books are translated from Chinese or published in English to satisfy the thirst for the mysterious China that is no more. Authors venture into vast history of the imperial China with all the court intrigues and wars, but they also explore the difficult era of emerging Modernity and the battle between the old and the new. Many write about the darkest period in modern Chinese history - the Cultural Revolution that left China weak, bleeding and isolated. Others explore the new emotional freedom that came after the economic reforms started producing results. The freedom of expression in China is a project in the making and might take a few more decades before it is fully realized, but writers, artists and movie makers enjoy more freedom than they ever did before.

The Chinese are not the only people who love to write about China. Marco Polo was probably the first one, but Pearl Buck opened the door to a new genre in the world literature. To this day the Westerners and writers of Chinese origin living all over the Western world, pick up their pens to create mesmerizing fictions that are often highly prized by the critics and really worth reading.

By Dominique Allmon

      

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Virtue of Patience



With time and patience 
the mulberry leaf 
becomes a silk gown.  

A Chinese Proverb



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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Ancient Tibetan Garlic Cure


 Organic garlic

Last year a colleague of mine told me that her grandmother makes her own garlic potion to stay healthy. She marinates garlic in alcohol for up to six weeks and when the potion is ready, she drinks few drops a day for few weeks. She repeats this cure every year and never gets sick.

I wondered if anyone else knew about the garlic cure and started an online search. To my surprise the search produced the "Tibetan garlic cure." The post showed up on several blogs and some bloggers claimed that this healing garlic recipe was inscribed on a clay tablet that was discovered in the ruins of ancient monastery in Tibet sometime around 1971. The formula was deciphered and translated to many languages by an UNESCO commission. 

Unfortunately, I do not have any better information and cannot verify this claim, but I know that the therapeutic properties of garlic were known in many cultures for centuries, and that many cultures use alcohol to prepare herbal liquors, tinctures and medicinal wines. The Chinese used therapeutic liquors for centuries; so did Hildegard von Bingen in Medieval Europe. Herbs, flowers, fruits, roots, and even small animals (such as snakes) or animal parts were preserved in alcohol. Alcohol potentiated the healing properties of used ingredients and allowed better preservation from spoilage. To this day Chinese pharmacies in Hong Kong and everywhere where Traditional Chinese Medicine is practiced, sell therapeutic wines. You can see a coiled snake or a ginseng root that has been preserved to extract the its highest healing potential.  

Garlic (Allium sativum) is a plant native to Central Asia. For thousands of years garlic has been used not only in cooking, but also as medicine. The Sumerians, Egyptians, Chinese, Tibetans, Indians, Ancient Greeks and Romans, all valued garlic's therapeutic qualities. They discovered garlic's potential to kill germs and used it as medicine to cure various infections, including typhus, dysentery, influenza, and cholera.

Modern research confirms what the ancients knew for ages. Garlic not only kills germs, it is also an effective herb that can be used modulate and strengthen the immune system. Scientists also found that garlic can also prevent cardiovascular disease and reduce blood pressure.  

Garlic seems to be a very healthy herb all by itself. Is it possible that preserving it in alcohol enhances its healing potential even more? 

Miron glass bottles with garlic tincture

To make the garlic solution you will need about 12 ounces (350 g) garlic, 3 ounces of 96% pure, food grade alcohol, and a tight closing jar. 

I decided to use a violet Miron glass jar. Miron glass blocks the complete spectrum of visible light with the exception of the violet part. At the same time it allows a certain part to be permeable for radiation in the spectral range of UVA, and infra red light. This unique combination offers optimal protection against the aging processes that are released by visible light, thus lengthening durability and potency of products. Scientists in Germany found that Miron glass enhances the therapeutic strength of products stored in it.

Making the Tibetan Garlic Cure
  • Wash and sterilize the jar. Dry it carefully and set aside.
  • Peal the garlic. I suggest you wear rubber gloves.
  • Roughly chop the garlic cloves and transfer them into your clean jar.
  • Slowly pour the alcohol into the jar making sure that the garlic is well covered. Add more alcohol if you find it necessary. 
  • Tightly close the lid and place the jar in a cool, dark place. Allow the garlic to marinade for 10 days.
  • After 10 days carefully open the jar and strain the garlic tincture through a sieve pouring it into a clean measuring jar. 
  • Pour the clear liquid into a clean dark glass bottle and close it with a pipette stopper.  (I used Miron glass bottles)
This is how the Tibetan garlic should be made according to various websites. I changed the method a bit remembering that my colleague's grandmother kept her garlic in alcohol for at least three weeks. I allowed the tincture to mature even more when I transferred it into two small Miron glass bottles. I stored the bottles for another three weeks before I began the cure. 

There is a suggested way to administer the garlic cure beginning with one drop and breakfast on the first day and increasing the amount with each meal up to 25 drops on day eleven. Continue taking 25 drops per meal until the tincture is finished. Remember to shake the bottle before each use and take the tincture in 1/2 cup of milk that was warmed up to the room temperature. 

I am not sure that such "schedule" is necessary, although some homeopathic or alchemical principles might be involved here. I decided to take two drops with each meal, three times a day and I take it in a spoon of yogurt to neutralize the strong garlic taste. 

The Tibetan garlic cure is used, among others, to detoxify the body, clean the arteries from arterial plaque, balance sugar, protect against cancer and to strengthen the immune system. 

Dominique Allmon


      

Creative Commons License
The Ancient Tibetan Garlic Cure by Dominique Allmon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

*This information is for educational purposes only and is not meant to diagnose or cure a disease.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Power of the Word



Of all the powerful weapons of destruction that man has invented, the most terrible - and the most cowardly - is the word. Knives and firearms leave traces of blood. Bombs shake whole buildings and streets. Poisons can always be detected. But a destructive word can provoke Evil without leaving behind it a single clue. Children are subject to years of conditioning by their parents, artists are mercilessly pilloried, women are systematically undermined by remarks made by their husbands, the faithful are kept apart from religion by those who judge themselves capable of interpreting the voice of God. Check to see if you yourself are using this weapon. Check to see if someone is using this weapon on you. And put a stop to both. - Paulo Coehlo

Coehlo is right. Words have immense power of destruction, but they can also be the best medicine. Unfortunately, when we look at the humanity, it seems that not too many people have chosen to use the words in this sense. 

How many lives have been irreversibly damaged by words? 

Consider a child who has been told that he is too stupid or too ugly to follow his dreams. The loving parents only wanted to protect him from the big disappointment life brings. Over the years he became conditioned to mediocrity and never even dared to imagine what his live could have been if he was given a little encouragement and followed his dreams.

I believe that it is not too late for anyone to repair the damage done to us by our parents, siblings, school teachers, employers, politicians, preachers, spouses and friends. We might never become the rocket scientists we wanted to be when we were young, but we can learn to restore our self-confidence. We can learn to dream again. 

The change will not occur overnight simply because we want it to happen. The whole reprogramming is a long process that involves a lot of work, courage, discipline and self love.

We must also become aware of the way we are communicating with others. Do we use words carelessly and hurt people we love? Do we use powerful words to cause pain? Do we use words to denigrate ourselves or others or do we encourage them and give them hope?

Once you realize that words have power it is really up to you to use them as weapons that destroy others or as tools that help construct dreams.

Dominique Allmon 

Dominique Allmon©2014

Image source here


         

Monday, January 13, 2014

Pure Awareness



Thoughts are the play of pure awareness. They arise within it and dissolve back into it. To recognize pure awareness as the very source of thought is to recognize that our thoughts have never begun, continued or ceased to exist. At that point, thoughts can no longer trouble the mind. 

As long as we run after our thoughts, we are like a dog chasing a stick. Each time we throw the stick, he runs after it. If we look at the enlightened consciousness instead, the source of our thoughts, we will see that each thought arises and dissolves in the space of that consciousness, without engendering other thoughts. 

Then we will be like a lion, which does not chase after the stick, but turns to face the thrower. You can throw a stick at a lion only once. To conquer the uncreated citadel of the nature of mind, we must go to the source and recognize the origin of thoughts. - Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche (1910-1991) in a wonderful commentary to Padampa Sangye’s verses. 


Image source here


Also of interest

         

Friday, January 10, 2014

Seeing Magic



By Tracy Cochran

Who doesn’t like a good story?  Some facts remain constant in this changeable and unpredictable world.  Among them is the wish to be loved, to be safe, to be free from physical and mental suffering, to be free and at ease in this world, to know life and be known as we really are.  What makes great novels great is the way they embody and convey this constant wish among humans and other beings.   We root for Jane Eyre and for Harry Potter as they rise to the challenge of overcoming the ever increasing obstacles that stand in the way of the fulfillment of this wish.  One reason people love those characters in particular is this wish to love and be loved - to really unfold - comes blazing out of a truly oppressed little kid who proves capable of discovering unknown powers and strengths.  Both characters are stimulated into extraordinary growth. Their respective authors convey the sense we all have (at least unconsciously):  that we have magic in us.

What exactly is this magic supposed to consist of? It is our capacity to drop whatever mental rock we happen to be holding, to open the grasping hand of the self and receive life just as it is. “Bronte’s sense of human personality is that it is pliant, fluid, living, in immediate (and often defiant) response to its surroundings,” writes Joyce Carol Oates. “Not that it is stable and determined.”  We thrill as Jane and Harry are stimulated by circumstances to discover remarkable strengths and capacities. Our innate story sense tells us there is a way to be heroic in life that does not involve bashing our way through obstacles like a human fist - that involves being open to change.

The chief obstacle seems to be ourselves - literally, our attachment to a fixed notion of self.  Looking at everything that meets us from this fixed vantage point creates a sense of separation and opposition. We label and judge everything instantaneously, scrolling through the files of memory to place things, separating our “selves” from what we see. This is a primal tendency and there is nothing wrong with it: what would happen if our cells lost the ability to distinguish between self and other?  What if atoms lost their inherent sense of structure? Everything would be all shapeless and formless and void.  The grand story of life as we know it would cease.

Still, we have to find a way not to be enslaved by the tendency - not to live our lives in a cupboard under the stairs, forever at a remove at a direct experience of life by what we believe we know, by what we believe ourselves to be. Our relish for books like Jane Eyre and Harry Potter reveal that we believe that we know deep down that there is something wondrous about life waiting for us - and that we ourselves may have extraordinary capacities.  I just don’t feel it because I am lost in thoughts, images, desires, disappointments, physical impressions - lost in old knowledge. A famous Buddhist teacher once described the great predicament of human race in three words:  “Lost in thought.”

Yet there is another way of being attentive, and we have all experienced it - at least for fleeting moments. There are moments when we are so astonished by life that we can just stand there are receive it without naming, without judging. Sometimes, this seems to come spontaneously in the wake of earth-shaking news - sometimes in the midst of a meditation retreat when we allow ourselves to be very still, yet very sensitive and alive inside. This is that rare state when we make no distinctions, when one thing is not more than another - everything is equally astonishing, equally evidence of the wild, strange miracle of life.  In such a moment, there is no separation between the life inside us and outside. We are seamlessly connected and we have a role to play. We are to stand there and be astonished (as that wonderful poet and Parabola contributor Mary Oliver has written). We are to see, to receive, what is taking place. In such a moment, we realize that the brave and creative and magical act that so many of us aspire to is just this act: seeing what is taking place.

Most of us know this experience, and then we forget, and this is perfectly natural. We have to get on with the business of living. Yet a feeling lingers, a longing to know ourselves and know life in a more complete way. What to do? I think we may need to acknowledge that longing in an honest and straightforward way, like Jane Eyre yearning for the moon and the stars and adventure, and then hearing the clock strike and going in to do her job, letting” little things recall us to earth.”

Article source here

         

Image source here

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Carpe Noctem



No one looks back on their life and remembers the nights they got plenty of sleep. - Author Unknown

Years ago Ernest Hemingway wrote that there was no night life in Spain: "They stay up late but they get up late. That is not night life. That is delaying the day. Night life is when you get up with a hangover in the morning. Night life is when everybody says what the hell and you do not remember who paid the bill. Night life goes round and round and you look at the wall to make it stop. Night life comes out of a bottle and goes into a jar. If you think how much are the drinks it is not night life.” 

So there might not be a night life in Spain and Spaniards are simply people who go to bed late, but even in Spain you will find an occasional nocturnal being who enjoys night much more than he enjoys the day. 

The night attracts many different characters: the noble and the shady; the adventurous and the bored. At night rules of the game change and the reason is suspended with all the seriousness of a bluffing gambler. With every glass of champagne we are willing to reveal persona that normally does not exist in the bright light. 

The night is a perfect time for self revelation, but also a perfect time for complete oblivion. Do we chose what we want to be or does this simply happen in the context of the night? Do all the masks fall off or do we put a mask to hide what should never be revealed? Do we lose ourselves or do we find ourselves at night? And does it matter? 

Carpe noctem! The ball season is open. At least in Vienna...

By Dominique Allmon

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

No Resolutions



I made no resolutions for the New Year. The habit of making plans, of criticizing, sanctioning and molding my life, is too much of a daily event for me. - Anaïs Nin

If you are like many others or, at least, like many people I know, last year at this time you have made a list of New Year's resolutions. You promised yourself to eat less, exercise more, watch less television, read more books, spend less money, spend more time with your family, polish the family silver, plant a potager in your backyard, learn Italian... 

It is very possible that you have succeeded and did all these things and I congratulate you for your determination and resolve. But if this is not the case and you have abandoned your resolutions in the first two or three weeks of January, I suggest you stop making lists, stop making promises you cannot keep and start doing one thing at a time. 

Wishing everyone a happy and very successful year - Dominique Allmon, who will definitely read more and write less in 2104.

Dominique Allmon©2014

         

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