Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Artful Social Interaction

Artful Social Interaction

Within the parameters of social structure there are certain artful ways of interaction that that enables all a peaceful coexistence. Many in life simply fumble their way through, but some rather excel in this astute, shrewd interface to always draw out the best results from every transaction. This is an essential, even obligatory, trait of every hero and heroine in addition to his or her exceptional martial prowess, stamina, loyalty, courage and honour. It’s an attribute we all strive to achieve. In The Three Kingdom there are many such examples, below is a presentation of one such brief account. Enjoy.

Friday, 25 July 2014

The Celestial Sisters


Arthur Heming

Here's Another Indian Legend 

From: The Indian Fairy Book , The Original Legends

Author: Cornelius Mathews


Waupee, or the White Hawk, lived in a remote part of the forest, where animals abounded.

Every day he returned from the chase with a large spoil, for he was one of the most skillful and lucky hunters of his tribe. His form was like the cedar; the fire of youth beamed from his eye; there was no forest too gloomy for him to penetrate, and no track made by bird or beast of any kind which he could not readily follow.

Arthur Heming

One day he had gone beyond any point which he had ever before visited. He traveled through an open wood, which enabled him to see a great distance. At length he beheld a light breaking through the foliage of the distant trees, which made him sure that he was on the borders of a prairie. It was a wide plain, covered with long blue grass, and enameled with flowers of a thousand lovely tints.

After walking for some time without a path, musing upon the open country, and enjoying the fragrant breeze, he suddenly came to a ring worn among the grass and the flowers, as if it had been made by footsteps moving lightly round and round. But it was strange—so strange as to cause the White Hawk to pause and gaze long and fixedly upon the ground—there was no path which led to this flowery circle. There was not even a crushed leaf nor a broken twig, nor the least trace of a footstep, approaching or retiring, to be found. He thought he would hide himself and lie in wait to discover, if he could, what this strange circle meant.

Presently he heard the faint sounds of music in the air. He looked up in the direction they came from, and as the magic notes died away he saw a small object, like a little summer cloud floating down from above that approaches the earth . 

At first it was very small, and seemed as if it could have been blown away by the first breeze that came along; but it rapidly grew as he gazed upon it, and the music every moment came clearer and more sweetly to his ear. 

As it neared the earth it appeared as a basket, and it was filled with twelve sisters, of the most lovely forms and enchanting beauty.

As soon as the basket touched the ground they leaped out, and began straightway to dance, in the most joyous manner, around the magic ring, striking, as they did so, a shining ball, which uttered the most ravishing melodies, and kept time as they danced.

The White Hawk, from his concealment, entranced, gazed upon their graceful forms and movements. He admired them all, but he was most pleased with the youngest.


He longed to be at her side, to embrace her, to call her his own; and unable to remain longer a silent admirer, he rushed out and endeavored to seize this twelfth beauty who so enchanted him. But the sisters, with the quickness of birds, the moment they glimpsed the form of a man, leaped back into the basket, and were drawn up into the sky.

Lamenting his ill-luck, Waupee gazed longingly upon the fairy basket as it ascended and bore the lovely sisters from his view. "They are gone," he said, "and I shall see them no more."

He returned to his solitary lodge, but he found no relief to his mind. He walked abroad, but to look at the sky, which had withdrawn from his sight the only being he had ever loved, was painful to him now.

The next day, selecting the same hour, the White Hawk went back to the prairie, and took his station near the ring; in order to deceive the sisters, he assumed the form of a chipmunk (opussum), and sat among the grass as if he were there engaged in chewing the cud. 

He had not waited long when he saw the cloudy basket descend, and heard the same sweet music falling as before.

He crept slowly toward the ring; but the instant the sisters caught sight of him they were startled, and sprang into the basket. It rose a short distance when one of the elder sisters spoke:

"Perhaps," she said, "it is come to show us how the game is played by mortals."

"Oh no," the youngest replied; "quick, let us ascend."

And all joining in a chant, they rose out of sight.

Waupee, casting off his disguise, walked sorrowfully back to his lodge—but ah, the night seemed very long to lonely White Hawk! His whole soul was filled with the thought of the beautiful sister.

Subsequent day, he returned to the haunted spot, hoping and fearing, and sighing as though his very soul would leave his body in its anguish. He reflected upon the plan he should follow to secure success. He had already failed twice; to fail a third time would be fatal. Nearby he found an old stump, much covered with moss, and just then in use as the residence of a number of mice, who had stopped there on a pilgrimage to some relatives on the other side of the prairie. 

The White Hawk was so pleased with their tidy little forms that he thought he, too, would be a mouse, especially as they were by no means formidable to look at, and would not be at all likely to create alarm.

He accordingly, having first brought the stump and set it near the ring, without further notice became a mouse, and peeped and sported about, and kept his sharp little eyes busy with the others; but he did not forget to keep one eye up toward the sky, and one ear wide open in the same direction.

It was not long before the sisters, at their customary hour, came down and resumed their dance.

"But see," cried the younger sister, "that stump was not there before."

She ran off, frightened, toward the basket. Her sisters only smiled, and gathering round the old tree-stump, they struck it, in jest, when out ran the mice, and among them Waupee. They killed them all but one, which was pursued by the younger sister. Just as she had raised a silver stick which she held in her hand to put an end to it, too, the form of the White Hawk arose, and he clasped his prize in his arms. 

The other eleven sprang to their basket, and were drawn up to the skies. Waupee exerted all his skill to please his bride and win her affections. He wiped the tears from her eyes; he related his adventures in the chase; he dwelt upon the charms of life on the earth. He was constant in his attentions, keeping fondly by her side, and picking out the way for her to walk as he led her gently toward his lodge. He felt his heart glow with joy as he entered it, and from that moment he was one of the happiest of men.

Winter and summer passed rapidly away.

As the spring drew near with its balmy gales and its many-colored flowers, their happiness was increased by the presence of a beautiful boy in their lodge. What more of earthly blessing was there for them to enjoy?

Waupee's wife was a daughter of one of the stars; and as the scenes of earth began to pall upon her sight, she sighed to revisit her father. But she was obliged to hide these feelings from her husband. She remembered the charm that would carry her up, and while White Hawk was engaged in the chase, she took occasion to construct a wicker basket, which she kept concealed. 

In the mean time, she collected such rarities from the earth, as she thought would please her father, as well as the daintiest kinds of food.

One day when Waupee was absent, and all was in readiness, she went out to the charmed ring, taking with her, her little son. As they entered the basket she commenced her magical song, and the basket rose. The song was sad, and of a lowly and mournful cadence, and as it was wafted far away by the wind, it caught her husband's ear. It was a voice which he well knew, and he instantly ran to the prairie. Though he made breathless speed, he could not reach the ring before his wife and child had ascended beyond his reach. He lifted up his voice in loud appeals, but they were unavailing. The basket still went up. He watched it till it became a small speck, and finally it vanished in the sky. 

He then bent his head down to the ground, and was miserable. Through a long winter and a long summer Waupee bewailed his loss, but he found no relief. The beautiful spirit had come and gone, and he should see it no more!

He mourned his wife's loss sorely, but his son's still more; for the boy had both the mother's beauty and the father's strength.

In the mean time his wife had reached her home in the stars, and in the blissful employments of her father's house she had almost forgotten that she had left a husband upon the earth. But her son, as he grew up, resembled more and more his father, and every day he was restless and anxious to visit the scene of his birth. His grandfather said to his daughter, one day:

"Go, my child, and take your son down to his father, and ask him to come up and live with us. But tell him to bring along a specimen of each kind of bird and animal he kills in the chase."

She accordingly took the boy and descended. The White Hawk, who was ever near the enchanted spot, heard her voice as she came down the sky. His heart beat with impatience as he saw her form and that of his son, and they were soon clasped in his arms.

He heard the message of the Star, and he began to hunt with the greatest activity, that he might collect the present with all dispatch. He spent whole nights, as well as days, in searching for every curious and beautiful animal and bird. He only preserved a foot, a wing, or a tail of each.

When all was ready, Waupee visited once more each favorite spot—the hill-top whence he had been used to see the rising sun; the stream where he had sported as a boy; the old lodge, now looking sad and solemn, which he was to sit in no more. 

And last of all, coming to the magic circle, he gazed widely around him with tearful eyes, and, taking his wife and child by the hand, they entered the basket and were drawn up—into a land far beyond the flight of birds, or the power of mortal eye to pierce.

Great joy was manifested upon their arrival at the starry plains. The Star Chief invited all his people to a feast; and when they had assembled, he proclaimed aloud that each one might continue, as he was, an inhabitant of his own dominions, or select of the earthly gifts such as he liked best. 

A very strange confusion immediately arose; not one but sprang forward. Some chose a foot, some a wing, some a tail, and some a claw. Those who selected tails or claws were changed into animals, and ran off; the others assumed the form of birds, and flew away. Waupee chose a white hawk's feather. His wife and son followed his example, and each one became a white hawk. He spread his wings, and, followed by his wife and son, descended with the other birds to the earth, where he is still to be found, with the brightness of the starry plains in his eye, and the freedom of the heavenly breezes in his wings.

The End.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

The Stone Mind

The Stone Mind

Hogen, a Chinese Zen teacher, lived alone in a small temple in the country.

 One day four traveling monks appeared and asked if they might make a fire in his yard to warm themselves. 

While they were building the fire, Hogen heard them arguing about subjectivity and objectivity. 

He joined them and said: "There is a big stone. Do you consider it to be inside or outside your mind?" 

One of the monks replied: "From the Buddhist viewpoint everything is an objectification of mind, so I would say that the stone is inside my mind." 

"Your head must feel very heavy," observed Hogen, "if you are carrying around a stone like that in your mind." 

When the clouds fly, the moon travels. When the boat sails, the shore moves.


The End

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Ducks Delight

Ducks Delight

Growing up in the metropolis, the ducks and geese and squirrels that are the essential residents of parks hold a special fondness for me. I love feeding ducks and observing these intelligent, trusting species as they frolic with the nature loving people. 

Supposing you are not all that familiar with the species, here’s brief account about Ducks:

Duck is the common name for a large number of species in the Anatidae family of birds, which also includes swans and geese.

They are mostly aquatic birds, smaller than the swans and geese, and may be found in both fresh water and sea water. And this makes them perfect residents of Parks to the delight of many. A male duck is called a drake and the female duck is called a duck.

The duck’s body is elongated and broad, and they are somewhat long-necked, albeit not as long-necked as the geese and swans. 

The bill is usually broad and contains serrated lamellae (it contains rows of tiny plates that line their teeth), to help them filter water out of their beaks without losing food. 

These are particularly well defined in the filter-feeding species. In the case of some fishing species the bill is long and strongly serrated. If you look up close you see that along the edge of the beak there is a comb-like structure called pectin.

This strains the water squirting from the sides of the beak and taps any food. The pectin is also used to preen feathers and to hold slippery food items. 

The scaled legs are strong and well developed, and generally set far back on the body, more so in the highly aquatic species.

The wings are very strong and are generally short and pointed, and the flight of ducks requires fast continuous strokes, demanding strong wing muscles. 

Many species of duck are temporarily flightless while moulting; they seek out a protected habitat with good food supplies during this period. This moult typically precedes migration.

Delightfully the drakes of the northern species often have extravagant plumage, but that is moulted in summer to give a more female-like appearance, the "eclipse" plumage. The plumage of juvenile birds generally resembles that of the female.

Ducks have a have complex structure of capillaries on their feet which help to regulate the blood flow and stops their feet from getting cold.

Because ducks have webbed feet they move in a waddling motion. At the same time this feature allows them to paddle and swim in the water more smoothly. 

When they swim, they push their feet back in a kicking motion so that the webbing catches the water and sweeps it behind the duck. On the return stroke, the webbing on the foot of the duck closes up which allows the duck to have less water resistance and to travel faster.

The sustenance of the ducks is comprised of variety of food sources such as grasses, aquatic plants, fish, insects, worms, small mollusks and small amphibians. 

The diving ducks and sea ducks often forage deep underwater. They are able to submerge more easily, being heavier than their cousin the dabbling duck is. They also have more difficulty taking off for flight.

Dabbling ducks, usually found in parks, feed on the surface of the water of lakes and ponds or on land, or as deep as they can reach by up-ending without completely submerging. A few specialized species such as the mergansers are adapted to catch and swallow large fish.

The others have the characteristic wide flat beak adapted to dredging -type jobs such as pulling up water weed, pulling worms and small mollusks out of mud, searching for insect larvae, and bulk jobs such as dredging out, holding, turning headfirst, and swallowing a squirming frog.

To avoid injury when digging into sediment it has no cere (a waxy structure which covers the base of their bill) but the nostrils come out through hard horn.

Female dabbling ducks often make the classic "quack" sound, but despite widespread misconceptions, most species of duck do not "quack".

In general, ducks make a wide range of calls, ranging from whistles, cooing, yodels and grunts. 

And finally, the ducks are generally monogamous, although these bonds generally last a single year only. Most duck species breed once a year, choosing to do so in the favorable conditions of spring or the wet seasons.

Ducks also tend to make a nest before breeding, and after hatching lead their ducklings to water. Mother ducks are very caring and protective of their young.

Enjoy this Video of Ducks feeding on peanuts: 

Here’s an Old North American Indian Legend, a cautionary tale for you to enjoy:

The Falcon and the Duck

“The wintry winds had already begun to whistle and the waves to rise when the Drake and his mate gathered their half- grown brood together on the shore of their far northern lake.

"Wife," said he, "it is now time to take the children southward, to the Warm Countries which they have never yet seen!"

Very early the next morning they set out on their long journey, forming a great "V" against the sky in their flight. The mother led her flock and the father brought up the rear, keeping a sharp lookout for stragglers.

All day they flew high in the keen air, over wide prairies and great forests of northern pine, until toward evening they saw below them a chain of lakes, glittering like a string of dark-blue stones. 

Swinging round in a half circle, they dropped lower and lower, ready to alight and rest upon the smooth surface of the nearest lake. Suddenly their leader heard a whizzing sound like that of a bullet as it cuts the air, and she quickly gave the warning: "Honk! honk! Danger, danger!" All descended in dizzy spirals, but as the great Falcon swooped toward them with upraised wing, the ducklings scattered wildly hither and thither. The old Drake came last, and it was he who was struck! 

"Honk, honk!" cried all the Ducks in terror, and for a minute the air was full of soft downy feathers like flakes of snow. But the force of the blow was lost upon the well-cushioned body of the Drake, he soon got over his fright and went on his way southward with his family, while the Falcon dropped heavily to the water's edge with a broken wing.

There he stayed and hunted mice as best he could from day to day, sleeping at night in a hollow log to be out of the way of the Fox and the Weasel. All the wit he had was not too much whereby to keep himself alive through the long, hard winter.

Toward spring, however, the Falcon's wing had healed and he could fly a little, though feebly. The sun rose higher and higher in the blue heavens, and the Ducks began to return to their cool northern home. 

Every day a flock or two flew over the lake; but the Falcon dared not charge upon the flocks, much as he wished to do so. He was weak with hunger, and afraid to trust to the strength of the broken wing. 

One fine day a chattering flock of Mallards alighted quite near him, cooling their glossy breasts upon the gently rippling wave. 

"Here, children,” boasted an old Drake, “are the very spot where your father was charged upon last autumn by a cruel Falcon! I can tell you that it took all my skill and quickness in dodging to save my life. Best of all, our fierce enemy dropped to the ground with a broken wing! Doubtless he is long since dead of starvation, or else a Fox or a Mink has made a meal of the wicked creature!"

By these words the Falcon knew his old enemy, and his courage returned. "Nevertheless, I am still here!" he exclaimed, and darted like a flash upon the unsuspecting old Drake, who was resting and telling of his exploit and narrow escape with the greatest pride and satisfaction. 

"Honk! honk! “Screamed all the Ducks and they scattered and whirled upward like the dead leaves in autumn; but the Falcon with sure aim selected the old Drake and gave swift chase. Round and round in dizzy spirals they swung together, till with a quick spurt the Falcon struck the shining, outstretched neck of the other, and snapped it with one powerful blow of his reunited wing.

Do not exult too soon; nor is it wise to tell of your brave deeds within the hearing of your enemy.”

The End