Over the last few mornings I have awakened to TV infomercials about Tai Chi.   Since it was an infomercial, sadly it was someone selling the health benefits of “doing” Tai Chi.  Let me reverse a little here and be clear about what I mean when I say selling the health benefits of Tai Chi.  No doubt I believe, no, let me be correct   myself.  I know the health benefits of playing Tai Chi.  Tai Chi, like her big sister Yoga, offer specific health benefits and I have been fortunate enough to experience the healing power of  my own vital force healing certain chronic pains I suffered from previous athletic injuries.  I know surely that by circulating vital force within the body, we can help our bodies overcome injuries and illnesses.  However, while selling Tai Chi, the idea of vital force is never explored.  The idea of building good character is not part of the sell.  It is Tai Chi that heals us according to the sellers.  Just by doing Tai Chi, be thou healed according to  lord god, TV.

When I first began studying the Way, my teacher instructed us to read as much about, primarily Chinese martial ways, (since this was the base of our style) as we could.  And, go on to read about all martial forms, from boxing to Kali to Capoeira.  And that we should reverence each in their own right.  After he decided he had taught us all that we needed to  know in the Way, he pushed us out like a mother eagle pushes her offspring to fly.  Since that time I went on to study Aikido and then settling into Tai Chi Chuan.  Keeping to the teachings that were the foundation of my martial studies, I read book after book on first Aikido then immersed myself into the study of Tai Chi.  I studied, read, and observed Tai Chi long before I began to “play” it.  I was well within the light of understanding the art from an esoteric stand point.  Yet, I had not felt the effects of this  martial art form.

Tai Chi Masters and Salesmen

As I began to “play” Tai Chi my body began to change.  People would see me and ask if I had been lifting weights, that I looked very toned.  In fact, at that time I had not touched weights. I had combined what I learned from my teacher and incorporated those lessons into what I was then learning and practicing.  Sure enough, as one of the books stated my body began to change.  I was beginning to understand and observe how thoughts come and go or more aptly cycle through your mind.  And still, I could see how developing breath was actually reshaping my physical body.   As I began to learn about myself I could see and feel that this was a connection to something much greater than myself, yet such an integral part of my total being.  It was as if I were connecting to the land, air, sounds and animals around me.  The more I began to gain understanding about these things I was beginning to understand something about breath and breathing, thinking, meditating, noting this change going on was not something that could be harnessed only tapped into.  Of course, the thought had occurred to me how could someone master sound?  Master wind?  Master the vital force that encompasses our universe let alone sell it?

People in the west are in fact microwave people.  They want it now.  So, the sellers of life will sell it now. They are the masters.  They can sell you health. Simply do this move and that move, and be thou healed.  This is so similar to the Queen Mother Witches giving out rituals over internet radio airwaves to people that need to rid themselves of demons.  Never once do they ever consider the one they are talking to may be the demons themselves.  They tell the people put this powder down, sprinkle that salt out there, turn around three times before entering your house to rid your self of evil.  Never once do they advise their callers to clean up themselves mind and body before they can put positive intention into the ritual.  Much the same with the Tai Chi masters and salesmen.They teach grasp the birds tail and move like this and you will lower your blood pressure. Move like that and cure your depression.  Tai Chi “masters”  can sell you on stopping a marauding dog from attacking you by pushing your chi out at the dog.  Selling a product and not teaching the essence of the ritual or Tai Chi “move” is related to giving someone aspirin for a cancer attacking their colon.  Just do it and it will work.

If one wishes to delve into the esoteric, into the world if Tai Chi, understand you will never master chi.  Let me be clear.  There are masters.  But, understand, the master is a master in the eyes of those of the student.  The student has not achieved the level of the one he/she is calling master/teacher.  Surely, the master/teacher knows there is much more to learn and accomplish and would always deny being a master of anything.   As people were awe struck at Jesus walking on water, Jesus knew walking on air was the goal.   Those that have the audacity to call themselves master are full of ego and have never attained the heights of what vital force can do and does.  The selling master/teacher/Queen Mother Witch is a seller of something that cannot be sold.  Tai Chi Chuan is a healer and a killer.  It is a subtle balance of life and death. It is primary that one work steadily to build good character and cleanse the body of impurities in this evolution.  It is by circulating vital force that we may be healed.  If there is no circulating of Chi or vital force, then this is not Tai Chi.



Do you stink?  When I began to eat differently, by differently I mean I was primarily  cutting the amount of meat I ate everyday.  As I did this I began to notice something different when it came to body odor and other people.  At this time I was not able to discern my own, but I was beginning to pick up body odor on people that I was not previously aware of.  It was like I was getting some super olfactory  power, and of course as always we seem to notice foul odor before we get a whiff of a nice clean scent.   I found this post by Talia Furhman at Disease Proof very interesting when it comes to body odor and what we eat. 

Body Odor: Do Nutritarians Smell Better?

In the biography of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson, Isaacson reports that as a vegan, Jobs believed that he smelled better than omnivores and didn’t need to bathe as often as his meat-eating colleagues. With this mindset entrenched in his meat-loathing brain, Steve was reported to rarely shower and to smell as if he hadn’t bathed in weeks (at least during the hippie days of his 20s and into his 30s), which was literally probably the case. Putting Steve’s reluctance to jump in the tub(e?)aside, was Steve onto something? Do people that avoid meat actually smell better than those that consume animal products regularly? Given that Americans spend millions of dollars each year on personal care products, perfumes and deodorants, it’s worth looking into the effects of diet on body odor.  Continue Reading 


And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived…Numbers 21:9

Growing up, there was a certain fear of snakes I had.  My mother is deathly afraid of snakes and worms, so that fear was passed on to me.  Now, I didn’t have that deathly fear of snakes as my mother, but of course there is some dread should one appear in my vicinity.   The Christian’s imagery of  the snake that of old serpent Satan, who was sent here to lie and deceive us certainly plays a major role in people’s fear of snakes.  The time is coming eventually that we will gain the understanding that the story of the serpent that deceived Eve in the Garden of Eden was actually used as an allegory to express the change from matriarchal society to patriarchal society.  Though, the snake in nature is thought to be sneaky and cunning, however is also the wise one as well. 

For one  reason or another, people maintain this fear of the snake, but should they become ill the serpent is what they will seek.  No matter where one travels in the world this universal symbol is recognizable.  For instance if you’re traveling in a country where you don’t know the language, you become sick and need medical attention there is a great chance you will seek out a building,  a person wearing a uniform, or a vehicle that may have the symbol of two serpents intertwined upon a staff, because the mind recognizes this symbol as a symbol of the practice of medicine.   Yet, we fear the snake.   But, maybe there is something to this fear of these particular  serpents.

Greek physicians utilized the Staff of Asclepius as their symbol for the art of medicine, which was the staff  dedicated to the God of medicine, Asclepius.  This God came to the Greeks by way of Ethiopia known in Egypt as Im-Hotep, One who comes in peace.  However, today we seek out the Caduceus, the staff above with the two snakes wrapped around a staff.  The Caduceus in fact is the Greek symbol for commerce and merchants, and not a symbol of the healing arts.  So, today, in this country of  the good  U.S. of A  where the people are  embroiled in and overwhelmed by conversation about the Affordable Care Act or  Obamacare, them true point is rearly spoken of and is shot right over the head (or should I say behind the back) of  the general population  is the fact that the merchants of MediSin,  the insurance companies and pharmaceutical corporations will net the greatest financial gain through it all.  There is no mistake as to why the Caduceus was selected to represent healthcare.

MediSin – Dr. Scott Whitaker

By Victor Amenta Posted in Health


For almost two months I kept having dreams with one reoccurring theme.  Often I would wake during the night, stumble to the bathroom, come back to bed and when I went back to sleep the dream would continue.  Throughout out my life it has not been unusual for me to continue a dream after waking and as a child this used to terrify me.  As I grew, I would continue to have dreams of various kinds. I would experience dreams  that would be as exciting as watching a movie at the theater with a serious plot, to having a dream within a dream.

This time was the first time I had ever experienced a re-occurring theme.  For almost two months I dreamt of snakes.  Now, I wasn’t troubled by the dream, never chased by the snakes nor did I ever feel threatened by the snakes, they were just there never menacing just in the dream doing whatever snakes do naturally.  I first tried to relate the theme to the early movement of snakes in the city this spring.  Since it got warm early this year snakes were on the move early.  We also had more rabbits than usual in our area.  So, I also believed we saw more snakes based on the rabbit population. 

After a while I knew that I needed to study about this.  Anyway, I read about snakes in your dreams and learned much of it was about renewing.  I also learned that snakes in one’s dreams had something to do with health and wellness.  That hit home since I have been on a quest to improve my eating regimen and move very close to a 95% plant-based diet. I hesitated to tell anyone about the dreams,  since most people who are of the Christian way immediately tell you that it was the “enemy” or Satan you’re dreaming about and I didn’t want to hear that.  That belief is far off the mark.  Whenever someone says to me that snakes are the “enemy”, I often responded by asking if that were true, why would God have Moses put a snake on a rod in order to heal the people?  The answer is often a blank stare.  So, I embarked on looking into what I thought was the foundation or basis for the caduceus, the two snakes intertwined upon a staff.  I  was surprised to learn that the caduceus has nothing to do with health and healing whatsoever!

Lindsey Williams Is Right On

This blog site is about balance.  One of the goals of Tai Chi Chuan, is balance.  But, since Tai Chi has come westward it has lost a very serious element, or more accurately a vital element is being ignored.  The element of combat.  Tai Chi is a martial art, a war art.  And at this time we are at war.  We may not feel as though we are at war, but war is being made upon us.  It is subtle and vicious at the same time.  The subtlety may be the reason it does not feel like war.  We are engaged in a battle of our senses.

We are living in a time of sensory suppression and for that reason we ignore what is happening around us.  We understand that we are living in a global society, yet we can only see our little fish bowl of a world all the while the ocean of a world is swirling around us.  Back in the fall of 2011 I was listening to one of my favorite blog talk radio programs Center Stage (where is Kheri Hines???) and her guest was Lindsey Williams, a man who claims to reveal information given to him by the “elites”, a term he chooses.  He speaks of the elites as people who can “spend a millions a day and still never go broke…”  On this particular program Mr. Lindsey is invited back to bring an update from the elites.  During the program Mr. Lindsey says plainly that Greece will become so in debt that they will leave the Euro as currency.  And that this was the plan of the elites to take control of the country.   This was October 28th, 2011.

As I listened, intently of course, I really only gave his remark a mental note, but didn’t take it to heart as so many predictions are given about so many things, especially coming to the close of a year.   I thought to myself, “self make a mental note, but move on” of course I did this and continued to listen.  Well this week Greece fell back into recession, and this time the government is announcing the country is considering going into a new currency the new drachma.  Of course I about passed out when I read the article about this.  My mind immediately returned to Mr. Lindsay’s prediction and felt such a heavy feeling of melancholy.  I suppose, I felt so low because he also addresses the state of the U.S. dollar.

“By December 2012 the U.S. dollar will be dead, not gone but dead.”  These were the words of Mr. Lindsey that day.  The dollar will be dead.  We are witnessing the death of the U.S. Federal Reserve note.  Each time you see prices go up is an indication that the dollar is going down.  It is becoming worth less.  You have to spend more of them for the same thing.  You see, I can remember a time when a Snicker candy bar cost a dime.  Yep, a dime.  I went into the store just yesterday and saw the price of this same candy bar was $1.29.  I can remember gasoline costing $.35 cents per gallon.  This was a time when we would go to the gas station and my father would tell the attendant (self-serve didn’t exist at that time) to give some many gallons worth of Good Gulf.  Now, we have pump ourselves and put in so many dollars worth.  As we watch Greece and Spain, we are living in the presence of our own future.

I am still skeptical of predictions, yet I keep a wary eye out, more so since Greece is considering moving to the new drachma.  This will cause the people to lose any value of the currency they hold and debts they may have including the government may double.  And in the event Mr. Lindsey is correct about the dollar dying, we could certainly go the way of Greece and the U.S. could pick up the Amero the new currency  right here in the good ole U. S. of A.  We have to be aware of these things.  We have to do what we can to prepare.  With awareness, we can begin to prepare.  As I stated before this blog is about balance.  We rarely touch on such material subjects here, yet spirit and material must work in conjunction.  Our material world is on the opposing end of the spectrum of our spiritual world.  We are one.  In that condition, we can achieve balance and go into combat spiraling from the center out.  We are at war and war is combat.  Those of us that work Tai Chi Chuan understand that we are not one or the other, but both.


What do you know?  Have you found that knowing bars you from knowing more?  Have you ever wondered that what you may know may not be as it really is?

By Victor Amenta Posted in balance

Facebook Religion

Facebook is really a good tool to stay in contact with your family, former college and high school classmates and friends.  It’s cool for me since I live so far from home I can vicariously be where my family and friends are on certain occasions.  I also love Facebook for the information I can glean from people I have as “friends” that I actually may have never or had any physical interaction with.  I may have never laid my eyes on some of these “friends” in my life, but we share certain interests and often share information surrounding those common interests.  What I have noticed however, more and more, is the growing Facebook Religion.

Religion is a “tie that binds.”  On a certain level of thought I fully understand the idea behind a religion.  It represents a way in which people can travel to different places and connect with others that they have no other connection with, but through religion.  A Christian can travel to anywhere in the world and should be able to connect with others of like religion to worship and commune together.  The same I would believe would be true for practitioners of Islam and Judaism.  Yet, on another level the word religio also means to tie, as to restrain.  Often I hear my Christian friends and family say something to the effect of “I would cuss you out if I weren’t a Christian.”  Or “I sure would try to date that chick if I wasn’t married and a Christian.”  Religion is a “Tie that binds”, surely.

“God is in control.”  “The Holy Spirit has control of the television right now.”  I read these posts on Facebook and think to myself, “really???”  Facebook has become a station where those that maintain the title Christian can express Christianesque things that are accepted as valid Christianity.  Most of my family and close friends subscribe to this type of Christianity and often post the above on Facebook.  For me this is a type of religion, a religion  I call Facebook religion.  There are many, many followers of this version of religion.  Their comments often range from hallelujah, to almost typing out a form of “unknown” tongue in response.   Yet, how many of them would actually be willing to attempt to put into action the verses and Christianesque sayings they write?

Christians claim to be “Christ like.”  I suppose then “Christ like” is a version of Christ  conjured up in order not to attempt DOING anything Christ actually DID, other than praying.  A version of something, at the least, is a translation.  It’s also a turning and even hints at destruction.  Destruction would make sense if you don’t care to do the works of the original, so a new creation, a version of Christ is maintained and in turn this destroys the original.

This weekend I spent time with a cousin that lives near me, who happens to be from my hometown and of course we both have the same family as friends on Facebook.  The subject of Facebook came up and I had to let him know how I live and why I don’t respond to all the Christianesque chatter.  Christianesque chatter is just that, chatter.  I explained to my cousin that I cannot chime in on the chatter posted on Facebook by many of our family and friends since most of them are just talking and only willing to remain on a “Christ like” level of understanding.  They want to talk Christ, but actually attempting to do Christ doesn’t appear to be part of their religious plan.  I explained my position as one of learning.  Learning to put these lessons given into action.  I told him we need to begin to act out these words rather than just talk/write them.  Jesus went into the desert fasting, no eating, for 40 days and was confronted by “Satan” on the 40th day.  I asked him how many of those of the Facebook religious order would be willing to fast for ONLY three days without eating to actually DO as Christ DID.  His response….Blank stare!

Jesus Came To Teach

Teachers teach and do the world good, kings just rule and most are never understood.  If you were to rule or govern a certain industry all inside this room would be in misery.  No one would get along nor sing a song, cause everyone’s be singing for the king, am I wrong? –  Krs One

When I watched the movie IP Man something stood out to me and was crystalized in  my mind while reading Dave Lowry’s book Moving Towards Stillness: Lessons In Daily Life From The Martial Ways Of Japan.  During the movie, Ip Man is meeting with several sifus (teachers) of local martial arts schools to demonstrate his style of the art.

In a chapter of the book Lowry relates a story of a sensei that loses everything during World War II.  Losing his business, his wife to pneumonia, a month later getting the news his son was killed in action.  On top of that the master was living in a tin shanty out in the open with very few clothes, food given to him by his neighbors and students.  Shortly there after a fire destroyed everything in the neighborhood right after the Japanese government surrendered to the U.S.

The master, and everyone around him, appeared to have nothing.  Then, having nothing, the neighborhood turned to the master.  He was a budo teacher.  This meant the people ‘looked up to him.’  He was a teacher.  The teacher was a well respected pillar of the community.  He had nothing, but the neighborhood turned to him not because he was a big businessman, not because he had persevered through horrendous adversity, not because he was a master of the martial arts, but because he was a teacher.

Teachers in our society have been deminished to the value of their paychecks.  Our current society places the worth of something based on its monetary equivalent.  Since American society has continued to pay the teacher very little for the value they are to render via education to our children, teachers are no longer accepted as a great value to our society, the teacher is no longer respected as a pillar of the community.Teaching has never been a profession that one would become wealthy and this was a known to all who pursued the profession, but one thing was understood, even when I was a child, that the teacher was to be held in very high esteem.

Teachers once held themselves in very high esteem and understood their position in society and for society.  Historically, teachers were “looked up to” and the title of teacher bestowed upon a person, whether a professional teacher in a school system, a martial arts instructor or a teacher of religion the title was a crown of the utmost importance in society.  Even Jesus was adorned with the title teacher.  Rabbi, as Jesus was commonly called is a word that comes from the Hebrew root word horah, meaning “he taught…”

Mary was the mother of Jesus and as such she was his first teacher.  Maybe, just maybe, when our society places woman where she really should be, no longer looking at her as “just a vessel” and understanding her true roll and value of any strong and lasting society, will the teacher be elevated back to the the esteemed position of our society.  Maybe, just maybe, when the title of teacher is elevated to it’s true heights our teachers will see themselves beyond that of just another “human resource” to be consumed by societal madness and see themselves as one of the pillars up holding the building of society.

Martial Arts Cultivate Violence or Peace?

Not long ago I was involved in a conversation on martial arts and martial culture, it was a round table of sorts.  The conversation was sparked by of a video that was going around showing two young children in a MMA style fight in Britain.  Most people were outraged at the spectacle of eight and ten-year old children fighting in such a manner.  However, one participant in the conversation noted that it is important to teach children to protect and defend themselves and we all agreed.  Of course we were all  martial artistes of some variety and level.

During the conversation I noted that martial culture does not promote violence, but in fact promotes peace.  This was met by a mixed bag of responses, splitting almost evenly between those that agreed with my stance and those that did not.  The strongest opposition came from one participant who stated that martial arts are entirely about violence and death.  That the purpose of the martial arts is based on combat, war and must essentially be rooted in violence.  Thus, martial arts cultivate violence.

Violence of course it what is produced, at the end of the day in the world of martial arts, but it is not violence that martial arts cultivate.  To cultivate something is to perpetuate it’s growth, to foster it’s expansion.   Growing violence is not the Way of martial arts.  It is a way of cultivating beauty and unfolding of the human spirit.  Martial arts cultivate a discipline within those of us that practice any form of the martial arts that expands beyond the ending result of the damage our hands and feet may bring.

The martial Way teaches us to understand the beauty of our bodies, minds and to admire the beauty around us.  The Way is a beauteous path to understanding the world around us and how each plant, animal or geological formation is a part of us and that we are only a tiny part of the whole.  Sifu Roberto Sharpe of New York said that his teacher told him that by learning the martial arts he has become useful to society.

However, in the end, should the necessity to utilize our skill in the form of combat, the Way teaches us that it is the peaceful mind that will prevail.  It is the calm and stilled mind that will bring about a successful ending to a combative experience.  The Way of martial arts is to to cultivate the peaceful mind.  A mind full of peace.

Cuban Black Bean Soup! Umm Umm Great!

For me Cuban Black Bean soup is one of my favorite meals no matter the time of year.  Whether 99 degrees or 29 degrees I will have my Cuban Black Bean soup.  Above,  the series of  videos show you the traditional recipe coming directly from her family’s version from the island.  I want to introduce you to my version of the soup. 

Begin by using dried black beans, not canned.  You should always rinse dried beans (I do it 3 times the magick number) and whether you pre-soak your beans or not is your choice.  However, whether you soak them or not when you add them to the pot do not put salt into the water as this will make your beans tough even though you have pre soaked them.  The vegetables I like to use are cilantro, green peppers, a green habanero chile, onion, scallion,  tomatillos, fresh thyme, and fresh oregano (best if you can grow your own herbs.)   How much you use is up to you, but make sure you use the amount of veggies in accordance with amount of beans you will be cooking. 

While the beans are coming to boil chop your veggies then  toss them into a blender, add olive oil, just enough to make an emulsion, squeeze a lime into the blender add a bit of water and blend it down until you have a loose paste.  It should be a pretty green in color.  Set this to the side and chill, have a Tacate beer with some lime wedges, or  whatever you like to drink.  After about 45 minutes to an hour pour your sofrito, the blended veggies to the pot,  add your sea salt, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder and black pepper (get a grinder for black pepper this gives a splendid flavor) and let it  cook down for another 30 – 40 minutes.  By this time the beans should be pretty soft.

A this point I add about 1/4 cup of rice to the pot, then a tablespoon  of  margarine (I use Earth Balance) and let it cook until the rice is tender. I’ve been to Cuban restaurants and had Black Bean Soup and I have yet to have it with rice cooked in the  same pot with the beans. This thickens the soup without mashing the beans.  I certainly have nothing against mashed beans because I love my frijoles refritos (Mexican refried beans) without a doubt.  But, I like my beans whole as much as possible in my version of  Cuban Black Bean Soup.

After about 20 -25 minutes squeeze the juice of half a lime into the pot, put the top back on, turn off the heat and let it steep for a few minutes.  After that grab your bowl and fill it up.  Ok I must confess, not being from Cuba, and having no Cuban parentage, but Mississippian heritage I have to have my cornbread on the side and sometimes letting the crumbs fall into the bowl.  This reminds me of my aunt Essie that would crumble the cornbread over my bowl of pinto beans and rice when I was no more than 3 or 4 years old.  I guess that taste of beans, rice and cornbread have been etched into my mind and palate eternally.