Monday, 30 April 2012

Lao Tzu and Guoyang Temple China

In 2008 when I was teaching in China at Huinan University one of my students took me to her village of Guoyang which happened to be one of the 2 disputed birthplaces of the famous Chinese philosopher poets Lao Tzu who wrote the Tao Te Ching.

The town itself was unremarkable insofar as it was like many other Chinese towns but within the walls of the town there was an amazing history of Chinese history.In between dining out with my guests from the local school and getting horribly drunk as a result and making an idiot of myself doing Tai Chi in the town square I was quite amazed by the atmosphere of this quite unknown place an definitely not on the normal tourist route for tourists.

Guoyang Temple museum
Here are some of the pictures from the amazing temple museum to Lao Tzu fro Guoyang. For a reader and lover of Tao it was much like a wish fulfilled dream.  My student Lavender took me there to meet her father a teacher.  It was only after I left and returned to the university that I was able to take it all in. Some travels are like dreaming aren't they.  They far exceed ones expectations and imaginings.  Life sometimes exceeds our expectations of reality in its surprises and  beauty.

In the middle of the entrance walk was a huge yin yang symbol in the tiled path. Everything in the temple was buperbly handcrafted with great dexterity, love and care.  It was akin to entering a religious space.

Around the walls of the various buildings was a pictoral and written narative of the sages life from birth to when he passed on. There was beautiful caligraphy in various styles that just took you breath away.

The fine lined drawings of Lao were breathtaking in their sense of poise and calm.  The subtlety of  colour and use of subdued colour was wonderful.

History of Lao Tzu go here;

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Materials for new students

Sumie materials
sumi - ink,  fude - brush, Kami - paper,  suzuri - ink stone 


Brush - Fude
We use goat hair brushes called calligraphy brush length 23 to 26 cm from tip of hair to top of handle Medium to larger

Ink - Sumi 
Sumi stick, a solid block of ink about 10cm long x 2cm wide

A small miniature saucer 
This is for mixing the ink. I use the small soy sauce saucers 8cm to 10cm across available at any Chinese grocery for about 80cents each

Paper - Kami
A4 or A3 butchers paper / newsprint reams available at art shops or butchers shops over the counter. For advanced students rice paper is needed.

Paper tissue towel used in kitchens for absorbing water from the brush drying hands alternatively use and absorbent cloth like cotton.

Water containers - Misukashi
1 glass jar 250 ml volume size

One Felt Cloth to put under your painting paper, size A3

Where to purchase equipment?

Ask your teacher when you book 04077344479 Most art shops can order materials.

Information links
See video of materials here

Baba Virsa Singh

Looking for the way- Wandering youth or spiritual struggle

The 70’s and 80’s were a period of extremes. People in the west were affected by the two significant arenas; 1. the Vietnam war and 2, the Peace movement emanating out of the 60’s. As a result I hated the images and aftermath of war as a young teenager in the 60’s and later at university yearned for a more emotional and spiritually satisfying way to live.  This story is about a man who entered my life when I was not expecting it.  It seems all like a dream now, some years after he left this world we humans call earth.  

His name was Baba Virsa Singh, (or "Maharaj" Great King to his followers) a Sikh by birth from a small town in the Punjab (Sarawan Bodla 363klms NW of Delhi) who was for all intents and purposes illiterate. Despite this he was able to infuse people about him with the spirit of love and kindness as well as heal the emotional mental and physical being. Those who were able to meet him were surely blessed by some sacred karma beyond their dreams.  I am forever indebted to his love.

This is an extract from a book I am writing on my time with Baba from 1991 to 2007 when he died. 
See for more on his spiritual community called "The Farm"

Here is Babaji's mantra


This is the principal mantra from Baba Virsah Singh to his followers.


Translation; One God whose name is truth , unspeakably wonderful Master of both light and darkness.  See for more.

Music, tabla and harmonium by Gerard Menzel
Please contact Gerard Menzel for any reason you wish to copy and reuse this music.

The fire is called a 'haven' where the mantras and prayers are sung and recited by.

This mantra used daily throughout your life will make ones soul peaceful.