Flo's Heart Opening Moments

BLOG of a Spiritual Stripper

Facing the Place of No Escape

In aikido, I find myself often wanting to escape an oncoming strike. In the back of my mind I somehow believe if I can just avoid getting hit or avoid any possible pain, then I will be unharmed. Somewhere within my consciousness I believe escaping a confrontation is the best resolution.

Unfortunately on my spiritual journey, there are moments within myself that I must face an oncoming strike without the possibility of ever running away. A few days ago I had an encounter that brought back waves of old unresolved pain. I knew I was feeling unbalance, angry, and sad. Yet I still used my meditation as a way to escape the uncomfortable feelings. Needless to say, trying to force peace upon chaos only leads to more chaos. Soon enough I found other strategies such as running away to take sunset photos, watching educational PBS series, eating a heavy meal to mentally checkout, and feel the onset of a cold so I can just sleep away. All the strategies worked briefly only to lead me back to an even louder scream of discomfort within myself.

Eventually the strike caught up with me and I found myself facing the place of no escape.

In this cramped place I feel checkmated, and the only thing I can do is acceptance. Accepting the discomfort, accepting the internal scream, accepting the defeat, accepting the silence beneath the chaos, accepting everything just the way it is. The moment frozen feels like time standing still in the eye of a storm as I face the demons hidden beneath my consciousness. When the movements of jarring attempts to run away arise, an unwavering response of quite acceptance, tender compassion, and intimate understanding softly penetrates my ground of being. Waves of sadness washing over me… Tears falling down… Bottled up old pain releasing… Violently, gently, tenderly – emptying, cleansing, renewing.

The place of no escape.

Years ago I thought Enlightenment will give me the promise of “happily forever after,” now only to discover Realization solely lays the groundwork for an inner revolution to take place. This life flowing through me now is no longer under my control – it has a movement of its own – breaking through a new pathway – restructuring, reorganizing my body, mind, emotions, and energy. This ongoing emptying out the old and rebuilding the new can often feel scary, chaotic, and triggers an instinct to fight or flight. Facing the GREAT UNKNOWN at each moment can be overwhelming and frightening. Yet my instinctual “need-to-escape” or “resisting-the-change” will only delay my transformation and make the process much more difficult to endure. It is a challenge to keep on going – to make the choice to be brave, to stand alone – naked, accepting, and willing.

On the path after Realization, there can only be places of no escape. Realization might have been a sudden existential awakening, but the path after Realization must be a commitment to continue the discovery and renewal of our chosen path. I have met many individuals fortunate enough to experience a moment of awakening but they never took another step beyond that experience. So many of them still talk about that old experience happened long ago but nothing new blossomed as a result of their realization. I didn’t want to be one of them. I didn’t want my awakening to be just an old memory. Day in, day out I make the choice to walk with Truth – no matter how it reveals itself. This journey is simple – serve Truth even when it is difficult to do so.  I don’t suppose it will always be an easy choice to make. I do know that I will find the bravery within myself to walk the path. Are you willing to walk with me?

  'You must want to know the truth more than you want to feel secure in order to fully awaken to the fact that you are nothing but Awakeness itself. '  ~ Adyashanti

‘You must want to know the truth more than you want to feel secure in order to fully awaken… ‘ ~ Adyashanti

“But our potential lies beyond the known, beyond the structures of the past, beyond anything that humanity has established. Our potential is something that can flower only when we are no longer caught within the influence and limitations of the known. Beyond the realm of the mind, beyond the limitations of humanity’s conditioned consciousness, lies that which can be called the sacred. And it is from the sacred that a new and fluid consciousness is born that wipes away the old and brings to life the flowering of a living and undivided expression of being.
One must be willing to stand alone—in the unknown, with no reference to the known or the past or any of one’s conditioning. One must stand where no one has stood before in complete nakedness, innocence, and humility. One must stand in that dark light, in that groundless embrace, unwavering and true to the reality beyond all self—not just for a moment, but forever without end. For then that which is sacred, undivided, and whole is born within consciousness and begins to express itself.”  © Adyashanti 2008 

December 11, 2014 Posted by | Aikido Wisdom, Choices, Death & Rebirth, Emotional Freedom, Enlightenment, Inner Growth, Self Realization, Tears | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

when I was younger, I wanted to find a fairy tale love that ends in "they lived happily ever after."

when I was younger, I wanted to find a fairy tale love that ends in “they lived happily ever after.” Photo by FloLi Photography.

Years ago before Realization took root in me, I searched for a romantic love that holds the power to my happiness. At an early age, I had read about the power of a soulmate who can transform one’s whole entire life for the better. And the beautiful tales always ended with “they lived happily ever after.” I believed. I believed that someday someone will love me enough to transform my sadness into “happily ever after”.

Life didn’t happen for me as the way I believed.

My first boyfriend from high school was athletically talented, academically brilliant, and a sweetheart who cared for my happiness. He always told me that “you belong to me”. I did feel a sense of security yet at the same time I felt as if I were just an object of his affection. It didn’t feel quite right. Later on, his jealousy pushed us further and further apart from one another. Eventually he couldn’t stand the fact I talked to other guys so he decided to go out with one of his female friends before I can get a chance to hurt him. I was heartbroken and didn’t understand how this could ever happen to me.

Year after year I ended up in relationships that echoed my first love. Eventually things hit rock bottom when my last romantic relationship ended in a pregnancy and miscarriage from rape. I found myself unable to speak of the abuse I endured. On the surface things seemed just fine as he accompanied me everywhere. But no one knew he watched my every move because “his girl” needs his protection. Whenever he was not happy with the way I interacted with another man, he would force me to have sex to him that same night until I was unable to move. I would cry myself to sleep quietly on the edge of the bed hoping he would not notice and place control over me again. On the day I stood up for myself regardless of possible danger, I took back my life.

A few days ago I met up with an old friend who I have not talked to in several years. She asked about my last relationship. In her eyes she thought he could have been the one for me. Over a cup of steaming coffee, I looked up at her upbeat anticipation and told her calmly that I am single. She seemed shocked at first but soon understood that I would rather be alone then be treated like an object to possess. Because an object can only be used, possessed, then tossed away. I told her nowadays I am strong and secure enough within myself that I no longer require the ownership of a man in order to feel fulfilled.

I often hear stories of domestic abuse and the hopelessness the abused feels towards one’s situation and the power to overcome the abuser’s control. Walking down the street, I can see the hopeless eyes in countless women. On this day – November 25th 2014 – International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, I want to speak up of the pain I endured and so many other women from all over the world are still enduring. According to The Independent that “two women are killed every week in England and Wales by a current or former partner and more than a third of women will be sexually or physically abused in their lifetimes.” Figures from the UN show 35 per cent of women and girls globally experience some form of physical and or sexual violence in their lifetime.

I read another article by the Isha Foundation published today about the underlying cause of such violence is a “fundamental mistake [that] somewhere in the minds of the youth, the male youth, we have put the idea that the female is an object, a thing that you can possess.” From the same article I found the following words to hold profound truth.

The fundamental thing is that one wants to possess, humiliate, and subjugate another human being. This is happening because of a certain level of inadequacy, a certain level of incompleteness from within – that only by possessing something will you feel a little better. Whether to fulfill this possession you go shopping or you go raping, it’s the same thing. Something is inadequate, you want to fulfill this by getting something. This will find all kinds of ugly expressions. It will not stop at one thing.

As women, are we powerless and hopeless from protecting ourselves against such violence? No! We as women have the ability to stand up for ourselves to make difference choices and find a way out.

the vehicle to freedom is in your own hands - take the ride to your own happiness!

the vehicle to freedom is in your own hands – take the ride to your own happiness!

In my journey, I have found I must begin to search for inadequacies within myself. Initially I found a false belief that I am not good enough – and only if I have the perfect body, a Gucci purse, a killer job, and a good man then I will therefore be good enough to be loved. I felt as if I NEED a man by my side to be worthy. At one point I even thought if I can be a trophy wife someday then I will finally be worthy. With all that in my subconscious system, I was broadcasting the signal it is OK for a man to use me and possess me. From my younger days the main male characters changed, yet I remained the same. When I did not change from within at a foundational level, I still attracted the same violence that escalated over time. I had to let go the idea that in order to survive in this world, I need a man by my side. Once I looked within myself, I found that sense of underlying inadequacy came from a false sense of who and what I am. It came from my disbelieve in my own capabilities. It came from my believe that only a prince charming will save me.

I could not be freed while placing the key to freedom in someone else’s hands. I had to dig through the gutters in my own mind to uncover all the untruth I sheltered myself from. With the assistance of meditation, I was able to face my internal lies and recognize the capability within myself to transform my own life. I had to be brave enough to further examine my behaviors, choices, and eventual consequences with a gentle, none-judgmental heart. Once I took on the responsibility that I held the key to my own freedom, and that my unconscious behaviors and choices created the painful episodes in my life, I begin to move in a different direction.

Over coffee, my old friend asked me if I had given up on love all together. “No! Not at all. But I did stop believing that being possessed means being loved.” I laughed, “and the rest of the story is still unwritten…”

November 25, 2014 Posted by | Choices, Death & Rebirth, Emotional Freedom, Enlightenment, Inner Growth, love, Self Realization, Tears, World Transformation | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Dance on the Surface

I do not want to dance on the surface of the pages -
where words are only words
I want to dive into the pages -
and take you with me.

To swim in the wonders of multitude
Of unknown dimensions
Of pure magic and ecstasy
Of elation and aches of hearts
Of all that’s deep in me you do not see…

Not on the surface no!
Dive in!
Explore me within -
swim, jump, dance!
rip me apart!

And find all the speckles and dust,
Find all the gold and rust,
Find all the light and darkness,
Find all that -
And nothing is less beautiful than the next.
All the pieces I have are made of stardust and rust,
Like you, like me, oh no, don’t just dance on the surface

Jump, play, and dive deeply
into the unknowns away from memories of yesterday.


And kiss the face of God.

dive into the unknown and ride the waves of your life! www.FloLiPhotography.com

dive into the unknown and ride the waves of your life! http://www.FloLiPhotography.com

August 13, 2014 Posted by | love, poetry | , , , , , | 3 Comments

On Science and Spirituality 2

exam

“Re-examine all that you have been told… dismiss that which insults your soul.” – Walt Whitman

One of the most defining moments of my scientific career occurred during my junior year in college. After receiving the highest scores on several difficult engineering exams, I started to feel arrogant in my ability to design complex systems through various published research and logical deductions. One day after my presentation in class, as I was basking in glory, my professor interjected me with several questions to inspect the quality of my assumptions. He was particularly interested in a key assumption I made using the data from a recently published paper. He was digging deeply into the details of that research which at the time I felt was completely irrelevant. After a period of agonizing cross-examination, it was clear to me that I had made a mistake in my design. As I packed up my computer to leave the lecture hall, he said something to me I have never forgotten.

“Do not believe in the things you read, your must do your own experiment.”

Years later I still felt awkward about the incident. Haven’t fully digested the significance of his words, I went on to make a mark through my science/engineering research and design.

I worked on a LED and photodiode based magnetic microspheres fluorescence system for infectious diseases detection. Within our research and design group, we read lots of theoretical papers and countless research experiments. Not once we took someone else’s experimental results as the ultimate truth. We always duplicated the experiments in the same and often varied conditions.

I remember one of the theories we researched was regards to the chemical and magnetic field effect on different sizes of magnetic microspheres. We theorized the chemical suspension of magnetic spheres would form dipole-dipole interactions which in turn would give us an amplified field for signal detection. The magnetic experts supplied us with their spec data, mathematical models, and prediction of outcomes also theorized the same phenomenal. With added mathCad prediction models we reached the same conclusion. Only upon the arrival of our expensive lock-in amplifier used in conjunction with phase contrast microscopy  and other instruments along with endless experiments, we were able to detect and see our bio-chemically treated microspheres behave very differently than the expert opinions. They never formed chains of dipole-dipole interactions.

Time after time, in science we found someone else’s data is always just someone else’s data, if I have to find what is true for me, I must empirically come up with my own results. Now looking back, my science career gave me the proper foundation for my spiritual journey – to always find my truth through empirical inquiry.

You always stand alone in your search of the Truth. And only you can find that Truth for yourself.

You always stand alone in your search of the Truth. And only you can find that Truth for yourself.

During the days of my spiritual seeking, I read books, listened to talks, and attended many training events. The scientist in me never allowed me to take in anything second-handed without questions and empirical data. I only used what was fed to me as a point of reference. In the process I found myself diverging from popular opinions; in the process I had to give up what others believe to be true so I can remain faithful to my inner integrity; and in the process I slowly stumbled upon the Truth empirically through my own experience.Many people have tasted a single moment of awakening.

In movies, novels, songs, and even everyday conversations people speak of out-of-this-world experiences that came out of nowhere but somehow gave them the power to see and feel a moment of clarity. This is a great starting point to journey into the ultimate Truth through empirical data as our first awakening experience are uniquely our own. However, many people grasp tightly to that single experience and never take another step forward into the journey. They would claim their old data is the ultimate truth and not just a speck of whole puzzle along the way. Like in science, each experimental result only makes a part of the whole puzzle, only through different sets of statistically significant experiments, looking deeper into the details, and our ability to put the pieces into a whole, then we are able to arrive at the clarity of the whole Truth and the ultimate expression of the Truth through us.

I’ve always enjoyed this quote from Adyashanti – “to take awakening into enlightenment requires a certain sort of fierce commitment to the truth.” That means we will not fake our data to make certain results to happen. Just as in scientific integrity, we are committed to the unveiling of truth so we never lie and manipulate data to make the data match our theory.

In a way, my yoga and aikido is just my experimental ground. In yoga, the theory is if you “do” yoga, then you will be physically, mentally, and spiritually fit. Is that really true for you? I know for me, when I “do” yoga – meaning force my practice to be done as an exercise – I can feel more pain in my physical injuries along with a sense of deep sadness  and a screaming out “STOP!” I could feel the movements becoming unkind and hence makes me more tense. Other times when I stop the “doing”, I allow my body to come to a balance on its own time as I fall into a spacious place of deep peace, the movements somehow would just flow out of me. My physical injuries feel healed, loved and cared for. The unit of my body, mind are naturally in sync with the movement of the expressed energy – which all falls into a state of yoga – ending up giving me more clarity, flexibility and even deeper peace.Similar experiments apply to my aikido practice – which I will elaborate at another time.

If you are a logical person, use your logic to your advantage to find the truth for yourself. A strong scientific mind will not stand in the way of your seeking, in fact, it will enhance it. Don’t take what I say at face value, conduct your own experiments, repeat the experiments again and again – you will arrive at your own results. The Truth will not come to you through someone else’s experience, what you are looking for will find you if you commit to the path of scientific integrity – a fierce commitment to truth.

(This article is dedicated to my spiritual seeking friends in the scientific community. Thank you for your inquiries.)

July 21, 2014 Posted by | Enlightenment, Inner Growth, Self Realization | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Forever Love

If I die today, then let me die.
I have lived well, loved well;
None will be missed as I take All.

My soul swells with joy!
Throbbing love with the pulse of my heart,
The whole universe resides within me – dancing, singing, laughing, and watching.

Love flows in my veins,
If I die I shall let all of me melt away,
Dissolving into the thin air you breath.

Breath in me,
behold me as yourself,
I am your Eternal Lover,
In light, in dark, in heat, in cold, in wetness and dry-land –
I shall never leave.

As I am a part of you, not apart.
As I dissolve away,
I will be Nothing but All of You.

love that last beyond the ordinary existence is within you.

love that lasts beyond the ordinary existence is within you.

 

July 11, 2014 Posted by | Death & Rebirth, Enlightenment, love, poetry, Self Realization | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Sadhguru on Love and Compassion

gracefulness - compassion and love as everyday life.

gracefulness – love and compassion as everyday life.

I read this tonight and thought I would share the wisdom of Sadhguru from the book “Mystic’s Musings”. On one level, it echos the teachings of aikido, on another level, it is exactly what I needed to hear. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do.

Of all emotions, compassion is the highest that man can experience. When someone lives in compassion, not just love, only then he is a real seeker, because very easily love becomes attachment and a bias. Love can become a great prejudice against you, somebody else, or anything.

In the Indian culture you never told your parents, your wife, your husband or your children, “I love you.” This was not a part of this culture because the moment you say it, it’s almost like it’s not there. You’re only trying to assert it. Love is not an assertion. Love is supplication. An asserting mind can never be a loving mind. ON the day of the big men’s only booze party, a gentle, quite, and unassuming fellow who had missed a few of these kids of parties was goaded by his chauvinistic friends to be more assertive with his wife. “You don’t have to always do the things your wife asks you to do. Go home tonight and show her you’re the boss.” The man, after hearing these same words many times over, was finally set on fire with enthusiasm and couldn’t wait to try the friends’ advice. He rushed home, slammed the door, shook his fist in his wife’s face, and growled, “From now on you’re taking order from me. I want my supper right now and after you put it on the table, go upstairs and lay out my best clothes. Tonight I’m going out with the boys and you’re going to stay home where you belong. And another thing, do you know who is going to comb my hair, iron my pants, polish my shoes, and tie my time?” “I certainly do,” said the wife very calmly, “the undertaker.”

Patanjali (who is considered the father of yogic sciences), to differentiate between asserting and loving, called this ‘the original mind’. What is this original mind? The mind that you carry right now is a collection, an accumulation. It is garbage that you have piled over a period of time. If you can leave it behind and walk away, then you are in your original mind. Others may call this no mind, this original mind. This is something that ‘was’, something that when you tasted our original mind – true love or compassion just well up within you. Only if you can leave your garbage and walk way this moment, only then is this possible. Only then the seek who carries my message becomes a Master, otherwise he just stagnates. Just caring my message is itself an accumulation, some nonsense that you gathered somewhere. Maybe it is useful for a few people, but many never lead to any great transformation.

The few carry my message to the outside world are teachers. A teach is an eternal student. The moment he stops being a student, he is not a teacher anymore. This is the way it is. The day he things, “I am a teacher,” he is finished. It is over. This is a constant process of learning. Once you are in this moment of original mind, there is no past. Everything is new, everything is fresh. If at any moment you think you know, and you teach, that means you’re caring the past burden. Maybe right now this is convenient, but the same convenience will become a tremendous torture after some time. It will. I have seen people systematically destroy themselves, step by step. Not caring the past burden can be very easily done for the person who can simply be here.

The process of training people to carry my message is not to go out and do some nonsense to somebody else. This is not the point. This whole process is a way of growth. It is an effective tool for your growth. Teaching is for you to grow and during the process somebody else might be benefited. In the African lore there is a saying” “When the lion feeds, many animals eat.” That’s all it is. It’s not a service that you’re doing. It is just that you chose that kind of a path, that when you walk, many others benefit. When something is left unfulfilled within you, when a complete illumination has not happened with your own being, there is nothing one can really teach. There is nothing that can be transmitted. It is just that you’re a driver, and you take the passengers along with you. maybe you have the opportunity of handling the wheel for a while. That does not make you better in anyway. It is just that you’re also a passenger, but happen to be the one who is holding the wheel.

If a person has to develop, he has to grow into humility and love. He has to evolve into a certain gracefulness; a gracefulness not of the body, not of the clothes, not of the exterior, but a certain gracefulness which can’t be expressed in words. If a person has to grow into this, it can only come when moment-to-moment life becomes caring, the mind of caring which hurts. This can happen only out of deep love and compassion.

 

May 27, 2014 Posted by | Inner Growth, love | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Aikido’s Path Beyond Awakening

Battle of the Samurais by Mariusz Szmerdt (used with permission from artist http://sumi-e.pl)

Battle of the Samurais by Mariusz Szmerdt (used with permission from artist http://sumi-e.pl)

Last Sunday I had the privilege of being in Gankashu training with an aikido master Utada shihan. 学習 (gankashū) in Japanese means learning or actively studying a subject. In aikido, we emphasize 修学 (shūgaku) which is beyond the superficial intellectual understanding and as a way to commit to the depth of true knowledge. 修学 (shūgaku) is similar to 修行 (shūgyō) or 修道 (shūdō) which is often used in martial arts training to describe one’s lifetime devotion to the path.

The path prior to awakening is similar to the path prior to attaining a black belt. We often aim our direction in such a way in order to achieve, to conquer, and to make the ego successful. It is not to say there’s no value in such an aim. It is just that the path after awakening is substantially different even though the outward expression of the path might hold certain similarities.

A few months into my aikido training years ago, I asked both of my senseis how long it would take for me to obtain a black belt. Back then, that was my aim. I thought if I made it to a black belt then I have made it onto the ladder of success. I remember clearly the older sensei just laughed while the younger sensei smiled and sincerely answered me in such a way that was fit for my level of understanding at the time. I could sense that I was blind to a greater knowing. I saw it on their faces that for me to even ask such a question I must only had superficial understanding but really was essentially ignorant.

Life worked out in such a way that my sustained awakening synchronized with my training for my shodan (first degree black belt). My training partner invested in aikido mats for a home dojo where he aimed to obtain his black belt no matter what. We trained during normal class times as well as in his home dojo and by ourselves. While he held an purpose to obtain just as I lost my obsession to obtain. I didn’t know what was really happening within me at the time. All I knew for certain was that I had lost the drive to ace the test, yet I still trained and trained with every once of my heart not at all concerned with the outcome. The interesting sensation was that I felt more truly devoted to my path without holding any agenda at all.

Samurai sword bushido - artwork by mariusz Szmerdt (used with permission from artist http://sumi-e.pl)

Samurai sword bushido – artwork by mariusz Szmerdt (used with permission from artist http://sumi-e.pl)

Utada shihan told us a story of a samurai’s search for Enlightenment. This samurai set his course to be the best. He did end up conquer and defeat even the best samurais around him yet he did not find what he was looking for. He decided that a warrior’s path cannot lead to Enlightenment so he switched his path to become a farmer. Years later still not able to find what he was looking for, he then switched his path again to become solitary and lived in a cave no one would ever find. Legends told that he never found what he was looking for.

Stories of samurais or warriors in search of one’s true path are often told in great details and variation in many cultures.  They are all the same story in essence – a hero’s journey. Initially the hero wants to obtain skills for a grand purpose. There are much hardship and resistance internally and externally. This is symbolized as the fight. Often times duel to the death. Death is also symbolic where an old way must completely end in order for the hero to truly discover oneself. We project out our own inferior qualities onto others in the world and in such stories these inferior qualities must be “killed” in a duel so only one True warrior can live on. Unfortunately for some stories like our story of the unfound samurai, even winning the duel cannot bring a deeper understanding of Truth, Self, and the Life. Fortunately for some others, we dig deeper than just the superficial appearance and find a whole new world of being. There does come a death, more dramatic than the physical death is the death of the old, the death of our tinted beliefs, and the death of the psyche. In the physical death, the energy of the old way of being will still carry on and the psychological death does not allow any old parts to carry on – EVERYTHING must go, must be cleaned out.

The moment of awakening is the realization of “oh, I now know what I am.” Just because this realization takes place it does not mean all of our cellular memories, hardwired believes and reactions will shift in a single moment. The clearing out process takes time. The new neuron network takes time to disengaged and rebuild. And the new DNA transcription and new protein expression also takes time to re-educate. And these times of the post-awakening can sometimes be very clear while all of a sudden we sink into the mud again of confusion. This is because our system is rebuilding, readjusting, and relearning. Anything that no longer fits the new system will be brought to the surface, examined, and evaluated. There are times of blissful oneness followed by unshakable darkness. The path after awakening is that of purification. It does not happen by us, but it happens to us. Grace takes care of majority of the work, we just are just along for the ride – hence 道 is written as a the “one who emerges” riding a “carriage”. Like my 初段 (shodan) is written as the beginning of a path – the road after awakening is  where the journey truly begins. This path is 修道 (shūdō) – the path of complete devotion to the life after realization.

Utada shihan shared several points through aikido to help one orient the focus in a constructive manner. These points will help aikidokas and freshly realized beings alike.

I) 道場とわ (dojo to wa)
“how to conduct oneself in the dojo environment”
In aikido, one must start from the self, once our inner space is cleaned then extend that onto our gi and into a cleaned and open space as we call the dojo. This is also true for our spiritual journey. First we must hold what is realized, then embody what is realized and be what is realized. We take the realization into the world.

II) 心技体の稽古 (shin gi tai no kei ko)
“the importance of the body and mind/heart training”
In aikido, the enemy is the constantly changing and wavering mind. The wavering mind unbalances the body. A unbalanced wavering body is already defeated. In aikido, we train to unify. In our spiritual path after realization, the mind can still try to take center stage and along the body, emotions and energy with it. The training is to become “no mind”, where movements are simple expressions from spirit not thought.

III) 二つの目付き (futatsu no me tsuke)
“two ways of witnessing”
There are two ways to witness, one way is 見 and the second way is 観.  The first way is to view something with sight. It is only a superficially physical way to witness. The second way is to deeply see and intuit the completeness of something. It is often said 観 is a deeper way of truly seeing with one closing one’s two eyes but opening the third eye and turning it inward. It is the first word in the Heart Sutra – the beginning of truly seeing. Life after awakening demands us to no longer relay on 見 but we must look inward and view life by its completeness with our own depth through 観.

IV) 伝統と継承 (dento to keishou)
“tradition and succession [of the art]”
In any type of martial arts, we base our training in the grounded-ness of tradition. Aikido is an evolved form from the way of the sword, jujutsu, and other forms of martial arts. Because of tradition there is training. Yet it does not become capped but a life-form that keeps evolving to higher and higher levels.  O sensei said in an interview: “In my opinion, [aikido] can be said to be the true martial art. The reason for this is that it is a martial art based on universal truth. This universe is composed of many different parts, and yet the universe as a whole is united as a family and symbolizes the ultimate state of peace. Holding such a view of the universe, Aikido cannot be anything but a martial art of love. It cannot be a martial art of violence. For this reason Aikido can be said to be another manifestation of the Creator of the universe.”

And that too, is the path after realization.

December 21, 2013 Posted by | Aikido Wisdom, Chinese, Death & Rebirth, Enlightenment, Fine Arts, Inner Growth, Self Realization | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Overcome Karma, Create Peace

definition of wisdom: the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment; the quality of being wise.

“He has the right to experience the consequences of his actions,” said the wise young mother as she walked to the car. Moments later, a small boy ran out the door with open shoe laces, backpack in one hand and a half bitten waffle in another. He did manage to hop into the car seat with all of his belongings. He buckled himself in and without a word in the backseat, he finished the rest of waffle while mom drove to school.

Her words struck me…

Years ago my family visited an old monk who served us tea in his temple. Grandma asked for a safely protected life for our whole family. The old monk looked around and laughed, “life is just a series of cause and effect.” I chuckled to myself as I caught a glimpse of his gaze.

“What do you mean?” mom asked sincerely.

“Well, if you drink tea now you will later have to use the toilet. The act of drinking tea is the action that causes the effect of using the toilet.” I held my head high and did my best to explain the little bit I knew about the source of karma.

“Yes. Just as such – an action will always cause an reaction. This is the law of nature. If you eat something bad, your stomach will suffer. This is not because buddha did not have compassion upon you, this is because you made a choice that is causing your suffering.” The old monk gently rinsed each of our tea cups as he spoke.

"Life is just a series of cause and effect."

“Life is just a series of cause and effect.”

One of the reasons I studied science is because I was drawn to the exploration of nature, the exploration of cause and effect. In my tissue engineering class, we searched for various pathways embryonic stem cells transform into other types of cells in the body. Depending on the chemical environment, stress-strain conditions, cellular orientation, and other factors, two stem cells can have a very different destiny. Under the microscope a neuron cell differs from an enteroendocrine cell in both appearance and function, yet they started from the same source. This is just the microcosm expression of karma – the start point for both is neutral, the causes differ, hence the outcomes diverge.

In the macrocosm expression of karma, human destiny takes a similar course but with more layers of cause and effect. As we live our daily lives, each moment we incur “causes” in the forms of thoughts, words, and actions. And sometime later we experience the consequences of our actions. These consequences can be joyful or painful. Hopefully we use the consequences to learn if our actions are beneficial for us and those around us. From our learning we have a choice to do things differently the next time around.

In the case of the small boy who ran out the door with his half-eaten waffle, he ended up arriving late to school, which caused him the title “star student of the day”. He arrived home that day feeling sad because of his lost title. To feel better, he ate lots of candies. Unfortunately he later faced an awful stomach ache from his over consumption of sweets. A classic tale of cause of effect.

The boy learned the next day that he better not allow himself too much time to play while eating breakfast. He walked out of the door with his backpack on, held onto mom’s hand and walked to school. Having arrived 10 minutes early and maintained his good attitude throughout the day, he became the “star student of the day”. He joyfully skipped home from school and had a good rest of the day. This too was his creation, as he learned from the previous day, he made difference choices with very different results.

the ostrich is known for hiding its head in the sand – a metaphor for not willing to face oneself.

Of course when there are multiple layers of cause and effect, the process of learning becomes more difficult. Sometimes I can get overwhelmed when the complexity of layer effects increase. In my youth, I often misinterpret events and come up with wrong conclusions. Other times instead of taking personal responsibilities to examine my own actions, I can play the ostrich or even blame the outside world for my own emotional dramas. Obviously, both strategies lead me nowhere.

Then I did something different.

I vowed for directness and honesty. In both what I reveal to myself as well as to others. I vowed to be truthful and direct the best I can each moment. No more trying to convince myself the lies I’ve created, nor hide without looking deeply at my own actions. I vowed to stay on my path of truth. I can’t say it was always easy, but the more I practiced the easier it become to maintain my balance.

Nowadays I can dissemble the layers of cause and effect, recognize the cause of my suffering, learn from my past choices, make difference choices, and live a life filled with peace and love as my natural state of being.

A few weeks ago I went home to see my 88 years old grandma. She held onto my hand tightly and said, “don’t go, just stay with me, it is safer at home!” I gently opened her grip, kissed her on her cheek, “don’t worry grandma, I am safe.”

“You cannot find peace by avoiding life.” ― Virginia Woolf

“You cannot find peace by avoiding life.” ― Virginia Woolf

November 21, 2013 Posted by | Choices, Enlightenment, Self Realization | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

What Can Enlightenment Do for You?

In Southern California, our idea of spirituality is "it is ALL ABOUT ME!"

In Southern California, our idea of spirituality is “it is ALL ABOUT ME!”

A friend came to visit. He excitedly told me how the universe gave him everything he wanted from meeting celebrities to being on TV without the chance to allow himself to take a full breath. “I must be in such high vibration that everything’s working out for ME!”

Smiled, without a word, I served him a cold iced-tea with a piece of freshly cut white peach on the side. He pushed it aside and went on to tell me about how people everywhere are stopping with envious stare since he got his amazing six-pack…

In Southern California, there’s a culture of speaking of such things as “cleanse”, “mindfulness”, “detox”, “healing”, “meditation”, “organic”, “yoga”, “reiki”, “zen”, “juicing”, “being in alignment”, “high vibration”,  “unity”, “love”, “enlightenment”… The list goes on and on. Lots of us here eat organic to be in a higher vibration – not as an aware expression but as a concept – for the purpose of becoming better.

In more ways than one, we use yoga, meditation or anything “spiritual” for our own personal gain. When I do an “OM” chanting practice, I can do it in several different ways – 1. I can use it to show those around me how peaceful and spiritual I am, 2. I can use it to open up my energy so my life can run more smoothly; or 3. I can do it with subtle awareness and witness the interconnections and changes as each “OM” progressively expresses through my body. For these three ways, these actions are exactly the same, yet the essence of each are completely different.

Consciously or unconsciously we are always asking “what can Enlightenment do for ME?”

Our collective ego structure is always interested in how to feel better. We find shortcuts in life and indulge ourselves in momentary pleasures often resulting in long drawn-out pain. We use alcohol, television, sports, sex, fashion, games, relationships, politics as ways to escape reality, as ways to turn away from looking within ourselves. As a result, we put on a false mask along with lavishly decorated armors to show the world who we pretend to be.

smart sexy personality purchase

Now this smart sexy personality can be purchased on ebay!

A young lady posts her intellectual achievements, re-shares the latest scientific discoveries, and shows-off how charismatically smart she is so she can gain the approval of her friends – only to find no matter how hard she tries to impress, she still felt like a black hole inside.

La Vérité - Truth (1870), Jules Joseph Lefebvre, oil on canvas, Musée d'Orsay, Paris, France.

La Vérité – Truth (1870), Jules Joseph Lefebvre, oil on canvas, Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France.

An older man got married to a glamorous “trophy” – only to discover 15 years later that he’s trapped in a marriage without ever experiencing true love.

Amy’s Baking Company asked Chef Ramsey to help improve their business, only to not take any feedback and decided that everyone else is wrong. The owners blamed the internet haters and never for a second quietly took a look to see if they themselves are to blame.

Like Chef Ramsey, Enlightenment is not shy to serve you a plate of truth. You might over look and ignore it for a while, but eventually it will slap you on the face until you wake up to the reality you’ve been avoiding for years.

Yup, I’ve been there. I’ve experienced the personal ego structure to the most delusional level and felt the collective ego structure on the most fundamental level within my own being. Our ego structure care feverishly about the outer appearances of things while pushing aside the gut feelings, and ignoring the simplest truth.

The last time I witnessed myself asking “what can Enlightenment do for me?” I didn’t expect the honest truth it served me in such a timely manner. I got to look within myself and saw how egotistical my whole life was. All aspects of my life had been contaminated by a self-importance, self-consciousness, fear of failure, fear of looking bad, fear of rejection, a need to be accepted, a need to show-off, and the list goes on and on. I was that young lady, I was that older man, I was the owners of Amy’s Baking Company, and I too once played all parts in these roles. When I looked for what Enlightenment can do for me, I had hoped for a chance to win a million dollars, a top of the line sports car, or a way to look young and beautiful forever. Instead, Enlightenment has a different sense of humor.

For me, Enlightenment was holding up a mirror to reflect where my life was lived as a way to put on a show. It unveiled the naked truth that I avoided for so long – in every area and every moment of my life. I could not run away any longer. This time, I was stripped naked by Enlightenment, with a magnifying glass to examine each and every part of my self, my believe structure, and my hardened delusions. Then it took a scalpel, and surgically removed each and every untruth as they are being revealed – sometimes with insurmountable pain, other times with gentle awareness. The surgery is not complete. It has to be done over time. A time reveals more truth when each moment presents itself.

So if you found yourself asking “what can Enlightenment do for me?” If you are not ready for the truth, run the other way as fast as you can. Because Truth has a way of catching up to you if you are not careful. For some people, they can run and hide until Death comes to claim them. If you happen to slip and fall, know that Truth in her naked form will come with her bright mirror held up high and show you the truth regardless if you want it or not. Usually after putting up a fight, most of us can no longer keep up turning the other way in denials. There is a point that Truth will bring the arrival of Judgment Day when you are least expecting – and blows your masks and armors aways without an apology. Truth is not nice. She is Truth. And Truth always wins.

What can Enlightenment do for you?

Enlightenment will strip you clean layer by layer until you recognize the naked truth of who you really are – Empty, Rich, Simple, Love, and Beautiful.

(A special Thanks to this simple and yet honest blog from Dragon Rider One.) 

September 2, 2013 Posted by | Choices, Enlightenment, Inner Growth, Self Realization | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Twisted Misunderstandings, Twisted Pain

Remembering that cold winter night

Remembering that cold winter night

It was a cold winter night when the snow was coming down hard and quickly covered the streets. I was very happy to have returned home from pre-school and curled myself up indoors to stay out of the blasting wind that was cutting through my skin. It had been one of those days everything was going well and I was overjoyed to see mom after being away in pre-school all day long. I followed her everywhere and all I wanted was to be near her. She smiled at me and told me how helpful I have been just being around her. I hugged her tightly and was basking in tender love.

Within minutes mom had returned to her busy activities. Nevertheless I followed her everywhere. As she gathered a bucket to fill a mixture of cold and hot water while adding drops of liquid soap, she told me that I can help her to soak grandma’s feet. Excited, I ran to the door and picked up grandma’s heavy winter “feet” and ran back to the bucket and dropped them in…

I stood still and waited for mom to praise me for a job-well-done. Instead, she screamed and glared into me with razor-sharp criticism to tell me that I was being a bad child. I was in shock. My tears rushed down uncontrollably as I could not understand why I was faulted for giving her all of my love. I could not understand why my love would make her so angry. And I hated myself for making her angry. I ran to the door, turned to look at her one last time, then kicked the door open with everything I’ve got and raced out into the dark snowy night. I ran and ran, down the cobblestone stairs covered in slippery snow with my bare feet. The tears were still burning on my cheeks when the frigid wind cut through my thin layer of pajamas – just as painful as mom’s sharp glare. I couldn’t stand it. I had to get away and take myself away from mom. Not for my sake but for her sake. I don’t ever want to make her angry again. I ran and ran, headed to the frozen river so I can just float away…

As I matured from 3 to 35, I have learned the different between feet and shoes. Yet whenever I think of that story I still find an old numbing pain in my chest.

That old pain resurfaced again

That old pain resurfaced again

Back in October 2008, I met this amazing man.  We both shyly tried to approach each other in the next several months. We shared a mutual intimacy with one another that was both exciting and intimidating. He was working on a project that could use some positive marketing so I brought in Dave who I have adopted as a little brother for many years to do some video marketing. Instead of being full of appreciation, my amazing man quickly backed off from me and gave me the cold shoulder. I felt that same pain in my chest. Dumbfounded, I couldn’t understand what I did wrong to make him so angry. He ended up breaking our date and asked the whole group of video production out to lunch instead. I didn’t even have a chance to explain to him that Dave is my little brother before he wrote me off. Somehow I pushed him away and into the arms of another girl.

This morning as I finished my walk with my dog and ran into a neighbor. This neighbor is an elder wise-man who cared for me like a father. And I have always respected his perspectives. We casually chatted and he asked me how I’m doing. “Great!” I told him as I have been feeling good and it feels like my life is in a really good place. My garden is blooming beautifully this year, I have found a greater inner strength, and I find myself able to love unconditionally. Like a father, he searched for more, so he curiously asked me if I was dating this young man who came to visit me a week ago. I was surprised and asked, “you mean Dave? He is my little brother! And I haven’t dated anyone for years…” The elder nodded and apologized for jumping into conclusions. Suddenly I found a tear sneaking down my cheek. Unknowingly I was remembering the last time someone mistaken Dave (who is 13 years my junior) for my romantic partner. The tears started streaming down my cheeks. The elder padded me on the back and invited me into his home for coffee so I can tell my tale.

I did. Word for word. Tear for tear. I told him that I thought I have come to peace with that incident and I can be happy for that amazing man and his amazing girl. I thought I was able to love them both unconditionally and expect nothing in return. “But, that is not the point,” he sincerely looked into my eyes, “you are beating yourself up for a misunderstanding. It is your pain you must gaze into.”

My pain? I am fine, I thought…

Yet I was still holding onto the pain that I messed up and think if I could only have explained to him what was really going on then we wouldn’t have fought this silent battle for the past few years. I hate being misunderstood. I hate the pain of being misunderstood by someone I love. I quietly went home after my coffee to look within for the source of that old chest pain which resurfaced suddenly this morning. I knew it wasn’t just about that misunderstanding occurred several years ago. That incident was only a messenger to alert me for a deeper pain that needed healing. As I sat quietly in stillness, I touched upon that old pain in my chest again as tears rushed upward from the depth of me. I saw that little girl, who was me, at the age of 3, crying in the night of howling snow – that was the first time she felt misunderstood. She cried and cried. She couldn’t understand why the abundance of her love would hurt mom so much. And she never forgave herself for the perceived pain she caused. With my eyes closed, I held her, and we both cried and cried until our tears ran dry.

An hour ago I called mom. Told her the story of our first misunderstanding and how much pain I was still holding on. She and I had a good laugh, and a good cry – together. We rewrote the ending of the story. This time, I tossed grandma’s “feet” into the water and waited for mom’s approval. Instead, both mom and grandma looked shocked for a moment, then they laughed until we were all rolling on the ground. She then hugged me tightly and showed me the difference between shoes and feet. Then mom, grandma, and I all put our shoes aside and soaked a total of six feet into that bucket of soothing warm water as we laughed while sipped on hot chocolate. The door was never opened that night. The snow was howling out there, but inside the house, we were basking in love.

August 15, 2013 Posted by | Death & Rebirth, Emotional Freedom, Inner Growth, love, Tears | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments