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When a novice starts learning martial arts, he wears a white belt, symbolic of innocence. After months of practice, the white belt gets dirty and turns brown, symbolic of the first degree of attainment. After more practice, the belt gets soiled and eventually turns black, symbolic of full attainment.

If the practitioner does not stop learning even after full attainment, the black belt starts getting frayed, turning almost white, symbolic of return to innocence. The frayed white belt represents technical competence of an experienced martial artist, combined with the innocence and receptivity of a beginner. It signifies going beyond technique and embracing no-technique—coming full circle.

story source: white belt


The original martial arts used only one belt as described above. But now-a-days the different colored belts are used to describe the practitioners growth.

At inner spirit martial arts, the white belt was symbolic of the crane. Where speed was developed and patience acquired. A crane can only survive a tiger’s attack with evasive maneuvers.

Through much practice, exercise and persistence one attained an orange belt. The symbol for the Tiger, strength.

Then comes the green belt. Where the student learns holds and throws. Agility, vitality, perseverance.

here is where many schools differ, some will have blue belts (water), purple belts (air)  and other colors before the brown belt. Many will go from brown to black as is many customary practices. At Inner Spirit Martial Arts the brown belt symbolized: Earth, well grounded, growth, deeply rooted and solid.

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as shone here…

Red belt symbolized… the dragon, full of fire, energy and the stage where one readies them self for black belt testing.

To attain the black belt one must demonstrate their abilities in their style of martial arts. One of the key elements is teaching, for a black belts primary task will be to teach others… coming full circle.


I thought about this when I went to work the other day and I was asked to mentor a new officer. To teach them the ways of our profession. I realized I had come full circle in my employment. No matter what you do in life, when you have reached a certain point in your life, you will end up teaching others. Rather it be a profession or a grandparent. So, teach them well…


may you pass your wisdom on to another this day



A Thousand Words

Last night, the wife, my little 9 year old daughter and I watched the movie, “A Thousand Words.” I was taken by the movie’s ‘zen’ appeal and of course ‘Eddie Murphy’s’ comic charm. Even my lil girl laughed and loved the movie that was charming and filled with a wonderful message of, “the power of words.”


After stretching the truth on a deal with a spiritual guru, literary agent Jack McCall finds a Bodhi tree on his property. Its appearance holds a valuable lesson on the consequences of every word we speak.

Eddie Murphy is Jack McCall, a fast-talking literary agent, who can close any deal, any time, any way. He has set his sights on New Age guru Dr. Sinja (Cliff Curtis) for his own selfish purposes.

But Dr. Sinja is on to him, and Jack’s life comes unglued after a magical Bodhi tree mysteriously appears in his backyard. With every word Jack speaks, a leaf falls from the tree and he realizes that when the last leaf falls, both he and the tree are toast. Words have never failed Jack McCall, but now he’s got to stop talking … or he’s a goner.

A Thousand Words


Words are a powerful tool, but not just the words but the passion and emotions that we use with them matter as much as what we say. As in the story with Buddha and the lake, where a married couple scream at each other because their hearts have become distant, even though they stand next to each other. When their love was new and fresh, their hearts were so close that they did not need words, the heart knew what the other was feeling.


I see this movie in so many others, you can’t take a hammer and pound zen into them. No matter how many stories, parables or quotes you throw at them, they just don’t get it. Like watching a dog chase it’s own tail, never going anywhere spiritually in life, just existing. In this movie, Eddie Murphy has to go through a harsh trial to understand, passion, a better way of living and of course the power of words. Needless to say, I recommend to all, watch this movie.

 words are tied to emotions like a tree’s root reaching into the earth.


choose your words wisely


There were two fireflies buzzing around the woods one night. One claimed it was enlightenend because of its ability to shine in the darkness. The other was a clown/comedian, always laughing and playing, saying, “My butts on fire,” or “Lightening struck my back side.”

The two fireflies happened upon a cabin in the woods and lighted upon the front porch where an old man sat watching the clouds embrace the moon. The zen master watched as the two fireflies danced around, “Ah, two fireflies, nearly the same,” the master said. ” Except one is brighter than the other.” (But which?)

by Art~


Out in the state of California there is a great valley known as the Yosemite Valley, and here once lived a tribe of Indians who tried to explain how the wonderful streams and trees and rocks came to be.

The story of one of the highest peaks, El Capitan, is very interesting. One day some Indian boys went fishing in a beautiful lake in the Yosemite, and after they had grown tired they lay down in the sun upon a rock beside the lake. They soon fell fast asleep. How long they slept they did not know, but when they awoke they found that during their sleep the rock on which they lay had been stood on end, so that they were now nearly a mile high in the air and had no means of getting down. They were in a bad plight.

But the animals in the valley which were friendly to mountaineers saw their misfortune and held a conference as to how to help the boys get down. They decided that the only thing to do was to try to climb up the face of the cliff. But the rock, was too steep, and so they tried to jump up. First the raccoon tried it, then the bear, then the squirrel, then the fox, and finally the mountain-goat. It was all to no avail, however, and they gave up in discouragement, and were about to leave the boys to perish, when the inch-worm came along and offered her services. The animals laughed her to scorn. What could she do, with her snail-pace, when they all, who were so fleet of foot, had to give it up!

But she would not be laughed out of her purpose, and she began to climb up the cliff. Slowly, inch by inch, she crawled up, so slowly that it seemed as if she would take a thousand years to get there. But as she passed crag after crag the animals below ceased making fun of her and began to shout encouragement. At last she reached the top. And then the Great Spirit turned her into a huge butterfly so strong that she flew down, with the boys on her back, to safety.

There is a verse in the Old Testament which says that the race is not always to the swift, which means that it is not always the strongest who win. It is the one who keeps at it. Many a bright boy fails in school because the lessons come so easily he does not work. Many a dull boy wins because he sticks to it and plods away.

If you are tempted to trust too much to your brightness, remember the animals who made fun of the inch-worm. If you are dull, remember the inch-worm, take courage, and plod away. You will get there sometime.


Howard J. Chidley’s short story: Inch-Worm And The Mountain


live life inch by inch and moment by moment


CIRCLE OF IRON, the oddball 1978 martial arts feature with fantasy overtones. Carradine appears in three guises as a sort of spirit mentor aiding the leading man on his quest for a book that reveals the secret to the meaning of life. 

 Cord the Seeker, a powerful but arrogant martial artist, competes for the right to quest for the Book of All Knowledge, held by a wizard named Zetan. A story co-written by Bruce Lee.

(Bruce did not live to see the movie on the big screen but that would be like Johnny Apple Seed, planting a seed then leaving, knowing it will grow)


“Tie two birds together and though they have four wings they cannot fly!”

“You can’t step twice on the same piece of water.”

“A fish saved my life once.” … “How?” … “I ate it.”

“You must be able to find an elephant with the web of a spider …”

“What ever I think I am or I want to be, I am.”

“If a man guards a book year after year, which is more important the man or the book?”

“the way of the monkey is to be the fool, while you laugh at his antics he bites you from behind. Face the monkey and you expose a coward disguised as a monkey.” (…is this a reference to having a monkey on your back? could be!)


Originally called, “The silent flute,” but Hollywood wanted a more ‘Macho’ name to attract viewers and they came up with…

‘Circle of Iron’

‘my two cents worth’  Art~

The basic outcome~ we all go through trials, seeking enlightenment or the meaning of life, only to find that once we have found it, everything is the same except; how we look at things.

coined as a cheesy, B-movie, it contains more wisdom in its script than most movies made. Two thumbs up from me!

(I liked this movie as much as I loved the ending where the book with the meaning of life was revealed)

when Cord finally meets Zetan and is given the book of knowledge, he sits and opens the book, only to find that the pages are nothing more than mirrors. (like Kung Fu Panda and the dragon scroll)


Life is not about finding yourself, life is about creating yourself!

The happiest people don’t have the best of everything, they make  the best of everything.

The meaning of life you, living and what you do with it!


The disciple said to the master: “I have spent a great deal of my life seeing things that I should not, wishing for things I should not wish for, making plans I should not be doing.”

The master invited the disciple to go for a walk.  On the path he pointed out to a plant and asked the disciple if he knew what that was.

“Belladonna.  It can kill someone who eats its leaves.” Stated the student.

The master then said, “But it cannot kill someone who only contemplates it.  In the same way the negative desires cannot cause any evil, if you do not allow yourself be seduced by them.”


When Noah was planting a vineyard, Satan appeared to him and asked permission to help him.

Satan brought first a lamb, killed it and poured its blood over the furrows.  Then he soaked the earth with lion’s blood.  Following he trapped a monkey and used his blood in the same way.  And finally it was the turn of a pig.  Then Satan explained to Noah his intentions:

When man would drink the first cup of wine he will turn sweet and happy as the lamb.  With the second cup, he will be valiant and a fighter like the lion, bragging of his power.  Then after the third cup, he will become ridicule as the monkey.  But if he drinks four or more cups he will become a repugnant pig, dirty and bestial, capable of wallowing in mud.


food for thought

How do you like your coffee? Black, with sugar, with cream or perhaps you don’t like coffee and/or prefer tea or cocoa. How do you like the bitter truth delivered to you? Would you like to hear it plain and bitter, or would you prefer it sweetened up a little bit before it is served to you. Sprinkle a bit of french vanilla over the words and make it more to your liking or just spell it out… it is what it is!

I am not a diplomat, so it eludes me why we give millions/billions of dollars to foreign countries when we have hungry and homeless people right here on our soil. (But then again…) I have not seen it yet, but I await the viewing of the movie… ‘Machine Gun Preacher’ …. based on a true story. Basically, a man who has done so many things wrong, finds religion and decides to go to Africa to help feed the hungry and finds that the food and money that is for the hungry is taken by the rebels. (This is the root of most problems with sending money to other countries) The money goes toward buying guns and funding armies. A story where one man made a difference.

Take a stand or go and sit down and have a cup of sweetened coffee. Take the bull by the horns and tame the beast or go sit down and watch the show. You have to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything. We are not the new Romans headed for a great fall, we are Americans, united and versitile. We are not a Belladonna, we are Americans where the icon is the Bald Eagle… watch us soar!

One may be but a drop of water, but banned together and we can make a wave.

(warrior of virtue and honor)



zen will not tap you on the shoulder, zen must be found



They say that one day man wanted to know the Truth and asked it to God.  God wrote it on a great stone disk and saw that it was too big for man to understand it.  But, answering his request, threw the disk to Earth which broke in many pieces.
Each one that picked up a piece founded a religion, or a Church, or a philosophy, etc. For which every one of them has a part of the Truth, that will be in the hands of humanity the moment all be united.  All united one day!


The clay statue of Buddha reached almost three meters in height.  During generations it had been considered sacred by the inhabitants of the place.  One day, due to the growth of the city, they decided to translate it to a more appropriate site.  This delicate task was assigned to a recognized monk, who, after planning carefully, started his mission.  His luck was so bad that, when moving the statue, this one slipped and fell, cracking in various parts.
Regretful, the monk and his team decided to spend the night meditating over the alternatives.  They were long, dark and rainy hours.  The monk, instead of despairing, focused in finding a way out.  Suddenly, when observing the cracked sculpture, he realized that the light of his candle reflected through the cracks of the statue.  He thought that they were drops of rain.  He drew near the crack and observed that behind the clay there was something, but he was not sure what.
He consulted his colleagues and decided to take a risk that looked like a madness:  He asked for a hammer and started to break the clay, discovering that below it was hidden the Buddha of solid gold of almost three meters of height.  During centuries this beautiful treasure had been covered by ordinary clay.  Historians found proofs that demonstrated that, a one time, the town was going to be attacked by bandits.  The residents, to protect their treasure, covered it with clay to make it look common and ordinary.  The town was attacked and sacked, but the Buddha was ignored by the bandits.  Afterwards, the survivors thought that was better to continue hiding it behind the clay.  Over time, people started to think that the Golden Buddha was a legend or an invention of the old ones.
Until, finally, all forgot the true treasure because they thought that something so beautiful could not be true.
perhaps, Steven Hawking’s is a perfect example of a clay Buddha
food for thought~ 
 thoughts from Art… chew on this…
Do we (some) hide our true treasures we possess inside, just like the clay Buddha. I understand the broken heart and how one will shelter it, to keep from being hurt again. We create a rough exterior in order keep from being hurt, a self defense shield, all to protect the jewel inside ourselves. Much like the villagers covering the gold Buddha in order to protect it, but rather than take the clay away and allow it to shine, it was kept covered with drab clay.
I was watching, Steven Hawking’s Grand Design last night. (If your into reality (or what is reality)) I recommend the 1 hour show on Discovery. (I’m a discovery watcher…. Basically, reality is what you or I make it. For true reality is nothing like our own reality. There are multiple realities, ….. each of us live in the center of our own universe, and each live according to what we have been taught and subjected to.
Truth is, we are made up of millions/billions of cells that make our physical self and even our mental structure. The process allows us to think, feel and generate emotions that make up our whole. Each of us are uniquely different, yet the same basic structure. A living, breathing, body and soul that lives but like a spark of life in the true reality. An amber from the flame in the whole design of things.
Yesterday I stated that we are like fleas on a dog, that is; the planet is the dog, but in the true design of the universe we are like small atoms compared to the reality of the universe. A very small part of the whole and yet each of us feel our problems and our lives are larger than life itself. We are like the hermit crab (a mind inside a shell; our bodies) and we carry our life’s burdens with us. While the waves crash along the shore line and the sun beats down long after we are gone, leaving a shell behind. Be like the cloud that floats through life and sees all the worlds wonders then slowly dissipates and leaves.
may your day be filled with smiles

Who is the Highest?

Author: Sri Chinmoy

Once there was a very pious Brahmin who was utterly devoted to his family deity. He worshipped this deity every day, sitting cross legged in front of the shrine in his home.

One day during his meditation, he observed that the prasad or food offered to the deity, which is customarily eaten by the devotee after worship, was snatched away by a mouse and eaten in front of his very eyes. The Brahmin was astonished to see this and concluded that the mouse was more powerful than the deity. Otherwise, how could it dare to eat the offering? So he grabbed hold of the mouse, and tying it with a string to the place of worship, decided to worship this creature instead of the deity.

He removed the picture of the deity from the shrine, and started worshipping the mouse. One day his cat, jealous of the attention the mouse was receiving, pounced upon the tiny creature. The two had a terrible fight, but of course the poor mouse was killed in the battle.

Now it was quite clear to the Brahmin that the cat was more powerful than the mouse, so he started worshipping the cat whom he had previously neglected. This continued for some time until one day the Brahmin’s dog entered the room of worship. Seeing the attention that the cat was getting from his master, the dog became furiously jealous and violently attacked the cat. The unhappy cat was bitten and scratched all over and bled in many places. When the Brahmin considered the situation, it became quite clear to him that the dog was more powerful than the cat.

So he removed the cat from the place of worship and placed the dog there instead. He now began to worship the dog, who was tied with a rope to the shrine. The animal’s continual barking, however, was a source of great irritation to the Brahmin’s wife. One day in utter exasperation, she threw a brick at the barking dog. It landed on his head with a thump. The poor dog was in great pain and cried piteously over his wound.

The Brahmin, hearing the whimpering of the poor dog, came into the room, and seeing what had happened, concluded that it must be due to the superior power of his wife.

So he decided to let the dog go and to worship his wife. He said to her, “At long last I realise that you are the most powerful. Only you can be the object of my adoration!”

The wife was thunderstruck at these remarks, to say nothing of being puzzled and embarrassed. How could she be the object of his adoration, she thought, since all her life she had been made to feel like his servant, constantly at his beck and call? She finally consented, however, since she had no alternative.

Now the Brahmin’s wife had become his object of adoration and worship. He addressed her with words of devotion and praised her divine qualities. So devoted was he that he had the impulse to worship her even when she was asleep. He would awaken her and make her take her place at the shrine where he could adore her. Or if she were in the shower, he would call her to come out. No matter what she was doing she would have to stop and come to the shrine to be worshipped.

Finally the Brahmin’s wife became so fed up with this farce that she told him the whole thing was nonsense. At this he became furious. “Nonsense?” he echoed. “How dare you criticise my wisdom?” And he yelled at her loudly. The poor frightened woman began weeping bitter tears.

Now, seeing his own power, it became very clear to the Brahmin that he was the strongest of all. So he started worshipping himself, saying, “I am God, I am the greatest, I am everything.”

But it did not take him much time to realise that he was merely a prey to his desires. It was his desires that were compelling him to action, either good or bad. So since his habit was to worship the most powerful force, he started worshipping his desires. But he quickly gave this up, for he saw immediately that his desires had no strength of their own. It was his senses that compelled the desires to possess and be possessed.

Then the Brahmin started worshipping the five senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. He was now pondering deeply on these subtle things which he was worshipping. After much thought, he concluded that it was the mind which was responsible for the functioning of the senses.

So he began worshipping his mind, and felt proud that he had progressed so far from the ignorant animals he had worshipped only a few months before. But he found that his mind was far from satisfaction, and even farther from perfection. So he catered into his heart.

The heart, in spite of having peace and joy and harmony, was still lacking in absolute fulfilment. He was yearning for the supreme power. He concluded that the heart was not enough, so he entered into his soul.

There, in union with his own soul, he got the first glimpse of his divine fulfilment. He plunged deep into the spiritual life. But the individual soul, he found, is not all pervading or all fulfilling. He aspired for the highest. He went even deeper. Deep within he discovered the Supreme Self.

Here, at the end of his journey, the Brahmin saw that the Supreme Self is the most powerful. The Supreme Self, which has neither beginning nor end, is all pervading and all fulfilling. The Supreme Self, which is both Creator and Creation, is the Highest.


Human beings are spiritual creatures, the proof is in the diversity of all cultures and their religions, the base similarity is… worship! ~Art


may your day be filled with…


Zen master Miko sat on the beach, absorbed in nature’s beauty and existence. Watching the waves splash upon the shore when a beach ball come sailing over head and as it approached the Master, Miko simply raised his arms, opened his hands and caught the ball. He marveled at it a moment as a student run up to him, to retrieve the ball.

“Good catch Master,” the student said.

“It is easy to grasp something if one is ready to accept it.” Replied the Master. “Place your hands behind your back.” The Master asked of the student. As the student placed his arms behind him the master then tossed the ball toward the student’s chest, it hit the student in the chest and fell to the ground.

“That is hardly fair, I was not prepared to catch the ball.” The student stated.

“Exactly,” the Master said. “Now, get the ball, toss it in the air a few times.” The student did so. The ball flew up in the air and landed in the students hands repeatedly. “If the ball is zen, you may not have zen in hand all the time, but you are ready to receive it every time it comes to you, understand?”

“Yes master!” The student answered.

“It is the same with all things, such as life, religion, love, politics, beliefs and zen.” The master stated, then asked, “What do you think a person with no arms can do to grasp zen or get a hold on life?”

The student thought long and hard but could not reply with an answer. “Simply exist in the present, absorbed in the arms of life, perhaps even become… a ball of zen.”


by Art~


Majestic Mountain  .. by Art~


Majestic Mountain before me

old as time itself

white on top; like an old wise man

reaching upward

as if God himself reached from the sky

pinched the earth

and pulled it towards the heavens.


embraced by angels with wings out wide

white clouds, slowly floating by

at your feet I sit, looking up to you

majestic mountain, sitting so patiently

like a zen master in meditation

for eternity


“Life is the only thing worth living”

have a zen filled day



The Buddhist nun known as Ryonen was born in 1797. She was a grandaughter of the famous Japanese warrior Shingen. Her poetical genius and alluring beauty were such that at seventeen she was serving the empress as one of the ladies of the court. Even at such a youthful age fame awaited her.

The beloved empress died suddenly and Ryonen’s hopeful dreams vanished. She became acutely aware of the impermanency of life in this world. It was then that she desired to study Zen.

Her relatives disagreed, however, and practically forced her into marriage. With a promise that she might become a nun after she had borne three children, Ryonen assented. Before she was twenty-five she had accomplished this condition. Then her husband and relatives could no longer dissuade her from her desire. She shaved her head, took the name of Ryonen, which means to realize clearly, and started on her pilgrimage.

She came to the city of Edo and asked Tetsugya to accept her as a disciple. At one glance the master rejected her because she was too beautiful.

Ryonen went to another master, Hakuo. Hakuo refused her for the same reason, saying that her beauty would only make trouble.

Ryonen obtained a hot iron and placed it against her face. In a few moments her beauty had vanished forever.

Hakuo then accepted her as a disciple.

Commemorating this occasion, Ryonen wrote a poem on the back of a little mirror:

In the service of my Empress I burned incense to perfume my exquisite clothes,
Now as a homeless mendicant I burn my face to enter a Zen temple.

When Ryonen was about to pass from this world, she wrote another poem:

Sixty-six times have these eyes beheld the changing scene of autumn.
I have said enough about moonlight,
Ask no more.
Only listen to the voice of pines and cedars when no wind stirs.
beauty is only skin deep but a beautiful soul can radiate like that of a full moon.
You never know what you have, nor appreciate it till it is gone, for example… toilet paper!
appreciation is not limited to mankind
may you take a moment for self awareness today

There once was a small town farmer who was the local preacher since the township could not afford a pastor, he would give the sermons on Sundays. One day the farmer and his wife was called away from the farm to tend to a young woman who was to give birth.

Upon hearing this a thief took advantage of this and creeped into the Farmer’s home and went through the house in search of valuables. The only thing he could find was a pearl necklace that was a family heir-loom given to the farmer who had given it to his loving wife.

Upon leaving the house the thief was confronted by the farmer’s dog who growled, then gave chase. The thief ran but the dog was able to catch the thief and pull him to the ground. The thief kicked and freed himself from the dog’s sharp teeth and escaped into the barn. There he came head to head with the farmer’s goat that felt threatened and head butted the thief several times till the thief crawled from the barn to escape the goat where he was then again met by the dog.

The thief made it to his feet and began to run but then again the dog nipped at the thief’s leg and the thief fell to the ground and dropped the pearl necklace. The pearl necklace came apart and the pearls went flying all over the yard. The thief rose and dove through the fence to get away from the dog.

There in the fence was the farmer’s temper mental bull that quickly charged the thief and knock him down, hard. The thief was barely able to crawl through the fence and was again faced with the farmer’s dog that continued to bite him till the thief finally got away.

The farmer and his wife came home and never knew what had happened. They never thought to look and see that the pearl necklace was still there, they just simply went about their daily lives. 

Many days later, the farmer’s wife went out to the chicken – coop and gathered eggs. When she started cooking breakfast and as she cracked an egg open there inside the shell was a pearl. She opened another and another and each egg had a pearl in it. The farmer and his wife thought this was strange till the local law enforcement came to see the farmer and told him that there was a young man in the hospital and the story unfolded as to where he came by his broken bones, cuts and bruises.

The farmer did not press charges for the chickens had eaten the pearls and eventually most of the pearls were returned and put back into a necklace. The farmer offered the thief a job in exchange for room and board and the next sermon the farmer/ preacher gave; was about ‘Karma’  … “Live well and righteous and the lord will watch over you…. life is what you make it!”

by Art~


may you generate good karma always


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Emma (Sunshine),

wedding day