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 unbalanced, 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 feeling 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 accept. 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 quiet 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 that 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 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 could 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 with 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  “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 being 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 disbelieving in my own capabilities. It came from my belief 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

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 the 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 a 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 neuronal 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 starting 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 lost 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 and 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 different 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 misinterpreted events and came up with wrong conclusions. Other times instead of taking personal responsibility 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 of 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 became to maintain my balance.

Nowadays I can disassemble the layers of cause and effect, recognize the cause of my suffering, learn from my past choices, make different 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 year 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!”

Smiling, 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 stares 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 decide 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 overlook and ignore it for a while, but eventually it will slap you in 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 cares 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 belief 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 away 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

Freedom from Untruth

Are we covering ourselves with a shield of untruth masking who we really are?

Are we covering ourselves with a shield of untruth masking who we really are?

Unlike how I’ve imagined, after awakening, our identification and attachments don’t melt into thin air in the snap of a finger. I’ve heard incidences that a few people can work through their karma load easily and quickly, but for most, it takes dedication and the help of grace to clear out all the remaining untruth. Once we’ve witnessed the truth and know in the depth of our being that we are consciousness itself, anything that is untrue tends to float to the surface so we can take a closer look with an open heart.

Last year I found myself unable to lie. This happened right after my explosive weeks of awakening. I walked down the street and saw how people pretend to be asleep and they soak themselves in the lies they created. It is almost like a fantasy bubble – each and every one of them protects themselves in it. People are attached to their stories and like to tell their stories – in a way they define themselves with their past and what they believe in. For a while, it was very difficult for me to relate as if I were a newborn and I didn’t have a past. My senses could only be rooted in what is happening now that I didn’t have a story even if I searched for one. I didn’t mind listening to other people’s stories as I deeply felt what they were going through. When it was time for me to share something about myself I couldn’t conjure up anything at all. My past seemed insignificant in comparison to the present. To me there is only the present and nothing else. Yet nearly everyone around me lived in the past or was aiming for a fantasy future. At the time I thought if people truly become intimate with one another based on their attachments, beliefs, or even their shared hopes for the future, I will no longer be able to experience intimacy with people on that level again. There were moments of grief. For a while, I tried to push myself back in the game of pretending again, unsuccessfully. Every time I would say something out of alignment with the truth of the moment my body would feel so twisted up inside with nausea that I had to admit my mistake and move back to complete honesty again.

It has been one year now. What I’ve noticed is our body and our energy are all affected by the untruth we tell ourselves on one level or another. If I were to believe that I am not well, my body would shrink down, I would slouch a bit, and react in such a way to match my belief. This identification with the belief actually comes even before the appearance of a thought. In a way, any identification system formed the structure that allowed us to grow up in an environment safely. Early in life when we had to navigate our environment  it served a purpose – kept us safe. As we progress on our spiritual path these structures might become too constricting or ill-fitted altogether. Like a big fish in a small pond, as the fish grows in size, it needs to find a bigger pond – a more suitable environment. The same goes for us. As we grow physically, emotionally, spiritually to our full potential, our old structures might no longer fit. This is when struggles or internal conflicts might occur. In a way, like the ever expanding universe, we are growing beyond old dimensions, so somehow, with awareness, we need to uncover the structure we need to let go, and melt into the new truth of NOW.

When we speak of untruth, it really refers to a false identification of our past belief structure that’s outdated. This is where psychology and spirituality can co-exist as we bring awareness to see what is not true that is creating discomfort within us. I have a beautiful fuchsia plant. She is tall, beautiful, slightly timid in full pale pink blossoms. Because she grew up within a structure that limited her upward growth, she twisted herself around the obstacle in order to get a glimpse of the sun. She had to bend her spine in order to survive. One day, I gently moved her away from that confining structure and give her a much bigger home with plenty of sun, food, shade, and water. Within a few days, she had miraculously straightened her spine and opened up herself to new heights. She no longer looked timid, but instead, she enjoyed her newly found freedom.

We too are as such. We are also just a part of nature with an innate ability to adjust to each moment anew. Yet, it is our attachment to old identifications that holds us in our old patterns unable to fully express our wholeness. Some might call it ego-identification, egoic nature, false beliefs, etc. Either way, as we progress we must reassess our current state without the clutter of old definitions that hold us back. Whenever we find ourselves contracting or shrinking down physically or energetically, we can use this opportunity to examine what we are still holding onto that is no longer true. Often times by seeing our identifications without judgement we can remember why that particular structure served us once upon a time. And how it was useful at the time. By seeing it with compassion we can then move into a more clear space of the now, with clarity to let go if that is the truth of the moment.

Some spiritual paths help us to strengthen our inner truth to push out any untruth. Other spiritual paths help us uncover untruth and polish clean ourselves to surface one’s true nature. For me, it has been extremely helpful to do both at various times. For a while, life took me onto a path with incredible grace as if the whole core of my body is filled with strength and light that is growing in size, pushing outward. Other times I feel uncourageous and small, yet with the awareness to sense the origin of these feelings, I was able to find and let go untruth – and to fully breathe again.

June 17, 2013 Posted by | Choices, Death & Rebirth, Enlightenment, Inner Growth, Self Realization | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

On Science and Spirituality

Answers were found in a test tube once upon a time has become too primitive in my search for truth.

Answers found in a test tube once upon a time eventually became too primitive in my search for truth.

Many years ago I was a slave to science as I believed only science can solve life’s mysteries so I can uncover what life truly is. I laughed at the people who called themselves devotees as they blindly followed the idea that God is the force behind all existence. I didn’t know God. But I did know I could find amazing answers in a test tube. My friends shared a similar view. I remember one day I was searching in scientific medical journeys online and somehow stumbled upon a journal about near-death experiences. At first I was extremely offended how such a publication could find its way to be categorized as scientific without proper documentation of truthful measurements. As I glimpsed into a few articles I was shocked to know what the scientists called data were nothing more than people’s recollection of bodily sensations and perception of events. I questioned the validity of such recalls since the biological functions of the body during such a time cannot be trusted let alone the brain’s ability to process information. I called up a friend and we continued to make fun of these so-called scientists who did not follow the proper path of science.

Did I believe science and spirituality were exclusively separate? Logically yes. Intuitively I had an inkling that all things might somehow be intimately connected.

A month later – May 6th, 2006, I was given the opportunity to experience the naked truth myself.

I had no instruments with me to collect data during the actual event but I did remember every bit of my near-death experience like it was yesterday. If I knew then what I know now, I would’ve never made fun of this instrument I call myself, my feelings, and my sensations. It was lucid and extremely real – at the time it was more real than anything I’ve ever experienced in my whole entire life. It was out of this world and into a different dimension I could not measure or even try to explain logically. When I met my doctor in the ER I was high on bliss and somehow he seemed to understand how I felt. Yes, I could say I was lacking oxygen which could cause hypoxia, ischemia, temporal lobe trauma and dysfunction and neurotransmitter imbalance, yet the visceral conviction at the time gave me more certainty than any data I’ve ever analyzed. Family and friends who came to visit me felt extremely sorry for my state of being, yet somehow my doctor just stood with me and trusted my decisions without question. The way he looked into me was like we’d known each other since the beginning of time. Back then I thought it was good healthcare and plain caring. Later on I realized he too had experienced something profound but never talked to anyone about it.

When I came back to my scientific research in biotech and carefully shared my experience with a selected few, my intellectual friends rolled their eyes and talked behind my back that I am no longer normal. I learned quickly not to speak my experience of the truth. I kept what I went through to myself. Within a year the structure in my old scientific community became suffocating. I had to move on and search deeper. I had to conduct my own experiments even when a gold standard of collecting data cannot be created. I became an outcast of the scientific community. I didn’t care. I only cared about my search for truth.

The discover of what makes us tick lead me into view human beings no more than something mechanical or programmable. Soon that view was too extremely narrow.

The discovery of what makes us tick using psychology lead me into view human beings no more than something mechanical or programmable. Soon that view was too extremely narrow.

The next year I went to MBA school and found several professors who would talk to me about intuitive decision-making in their classrooms. A few of them invited me to their office and behind closed doors they shared with me they too have experienced profound mystical moments beyond the construct of the logic processor. They called themselves “closet spirituals”. The seasoned professor did not want to risk his image to deviate from his beaming intellect. The associate professor must not be too modern in her thinking in order to be on track for her tenure. One brave professor suggested to me that he had seen profound shifts in people going through holistic therapies when he worked in the office of a prestigious psychiatrist.

I followed his map and found myself immersed in psychology and psychotherapy. At that time my new job consisted of embedding a glucose monitor within a cell phone to collect data for the pharmacy and health care professional’s ease of integration into the patient’s everyday well-being. During our market research we found the hardest part was not building the instrument nor an app for the cell phone, instead, the challenge to bring success to our product is how to change people’s behavior – how to make a fundamental shift in someone’s core belief, their thinking – to eventually affect the choices they make in an everyday situation. Type II diabetes is a global epidemic and there was much money to be made in this investment. I didn’t care about making the rich company richer, I only cared about truth – what makes us who we are, and if we are dissatisfied with who we are how do we change ourselves at the core level. The following year I spent all of my money on exclusive personal development classes that promised to give me answers to truth as well as solve the problem of my defective self. Soon enough using the model of men as machines gave me hope of temporary relief but didn’t take me closer to truth. I had to move on, I was in no-man’s land. Fewer and fewer people had answers for me. Those who did offer answers like the personal development experts could no longer provide the next stage of depth I needed for my journey.

I discovered the human body is a very sensitive instrument that can be calibrated for greater precision.

I discovered the human body is a very sensitive instrument that can be calibrated for greater precision.

Another year has passed and my quest for truth lead me to meditation, yoga, and aikido. When I found peace within, I noticed that the human body is a sensitive instrument that can be calibrated to even greater precision and take meaningful data. I cannot call myself a woman of faith. I am not. I question everything. I distrust everything until I can conduct my own experiment leading to new discoveries. One thing about being a scientist is we devote ourselves to the discovery of truth, we don’t fake data to fit our own agenda. We remain pure as the observer of truth. We remain pure as the witness of nature. The more I worked to fine-tune my internal instrument the more I could become a better scientist – staying pure to what is, staying pure to witness the truth as it is. My quest for truth has led me to discover a bigger Truth and a bigger Me outside of myself by looking within. My quest has led me down a path I could’ve never imagined nor ever expected. There is no point of return. I’m no longer afraid that my view does not fit into the limits and boundaries of popular consensus. I no longer care someone else out there like the old Flo who will be offended by my scientific process. I don’t care to “fix” my data so I will be accepted. I only care about truth – as it was witnessed – in my own journey of discovery.

Here I shall share the result of my finding. I hope you will not take me experience as your own but instead stay pure, fine tune your instrument, conduct your own experiments, and stay true to what is.

My Original Hypothesis: there is no God, no higher power than the power of our intellect

My Instrument: myself (thoughts, sensations, emotions, movement of energy)

Experimental Method: devotion to the discovery of truth; devotion to the clearing of untruth; not taking answers given by others as truth, conduct your own experiments, repeat; toss out lies but pay attention to outliers, etc…

My Conclusion: I was wrong. God does exist. God is in everything, everyone, and that is the higher power – the power of nature, the power behind all of life.

May 6, 2013 Posted by | Choices, Death & Rebirth, Enlightenment, Fun and Geeky, Inner Growth, Self Realization, World Transformation | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Facing Fear (embarking spiritual growth)

Like many of you, my first taste of awakening was in my early childhood. In a moment of clean stillness, I closed my eyes, looked within, and touched upon an eternal empty space. Intrigued, I went back to it again and discovered this presence spanned all of time and space. I didn’t tell anyone, as a child, I was afraid this powerful immeasurable presence might engulf me if I looked too long. It was even more unsettling to sense this presence has complete awareness of me. Terrified, I pulled back and talked myself into believing if I just close myself to it then it will no longer to be able to “spy” on me, and if I just close myself to it then it will not be able to engulf me.

That was my first memorable encounter with fear of the void.

scared

It’s like looking down a cliff and not seeing the bottom. Fear. Have you fallen captive to what you fear?

For a human being, fear always appears uninvited during a burst of spiritual growth. The mind is comfortable with the past or what it knows. However when it encounters a completely unknown territory, it feels anxiety, fear, or even terror as the body tightens, heart rate and respiration increase. Regardless if a potential threat is real or imagined, the hypothalamus will produce corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) that triggers the production of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). In a series of unconscious physiological response, fear can quickly take control of the body. During the event of a spiritual growth the mind will undoubtedly enter a space of unknown causing fear in your body, without your consultation whatsoever.

Recently I went to a sathsang hosted by one of my favorite Zen teachers Adyashanti. There was one girl in particular when she voiced her fear, the body trembled. She described facing her fear is like facing a cliff where she must jump off of to find her freedom yet she was terrified what might not be on the other side. She is not alone. An Isha Yoga meditator I spoke to also wrote to me about his fear of the darkness when he looked within. Because he didn’t know what was in the dark empty space he refused to enter that space. As for myself, when I fall into extremely love and intimacy, my mind and body often encounter terror that quickly pulls me out of the experience.

Fear is natural. Fear often is a signpost to indicate that you are arriving at yet another point of exponential transformation. Well, tell that to the mind, it still isn’t very comforting. So what to do in the face of fear?

A lot of people will tell you that you must combat fear with courage. This strategy often worked when the ego was in tight control. In that stage, you can use your will to power through anything. In fact, you don’t even have to see the face of fear as you run your four-wheeler down the highway and kill any fear that might have stood in the way. As we progress in our spiritual development, we will begin to notice that the will is only an illusion. The fear we thought we had destroyed will come back in another form. With more awareness, we realize that we have no choice but to come face-to-face with our fear. We cannot fight it, yet we cannot turn the other way. We have to meet it. We have to talk to it. We have to be willing to understand it from the deepest level.

The only thing that is standing between you and your freedom is that little voice telling you to run away from or fight fear. The real courage is not to fight but the willingness to relax in the face of fear. Only from a relaxed place you can then allow yourself to dig digger into what thought might be the trigger of that fear. And next what belief you planted a long time ago supported such a thought. This is the willingness to relax and meet your fear face-to-face. This is the true expression of courage.

A few months prior to my big awakening I started to notice that everything I did and all the choices I made were being contaminated by fear. I didn’t write because I was afraid of writing an incoherent article. I didn’t do my ukemi in Aikido fearful of injuring my body. I didn’t let any cars drive near me afraid someone might change lanes and run into me. These were just the superficial fears. As I was digging deeper I found that same fear of the void never left me… In fact it had held me captive so I only pretended to meditate when I knew I was resistant to the state of yoga. I  didn’t allow myself the opportunity for a deeper experience into God. What a prison I have built for myself. I finally started to become fully conscious of every single one of these fears and somehow once I know my “enemy”, it turned into a friend.

After talking to several of you on the topic of fear I decided we can revisit this old friend often. Fear is nature. It is a signpost that you are ready for the next stage of your spiritual growth. No matter what part of the path you are on, honor your fear, meet it face-to-face and know that “All is Well”. On the flip side one day, you might look back and laugh to yourself and say “what’s the fuzz?”

December 10, 2012 Posted by | Choices, Death & Rebirth, Emotional Freedom, Inner Growth, Self Realization | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Finding Inner Stability

walk into the wall

Is your personal will leading you walking into walls? Your inner stability can give you the strength to be flexible and still be who you are.

Monday I was in the flow. Everything was moving so smoothly until…a sword came down abruptly and stopped me in mid-breath. I was traveling in a forbidden direction and someone in authority had to stop me in time before things got out of control. As if I was gasping for air, I had to find a way to take the next breath. Instead of respectfully walk away, I choose to push through. I came head to head and wanted to overthrow his decision…

Needless to say it didn’t work very well in the end. The energy created in conflict was poison enough to kill any bystander hours after.

So what really happened?

On the first layer of things, it seems as if I have a really deep issue following directions from an authority figure. This is true some of the times. I have often stood up to challenge individuals in power – especially when they use it unjustly (in my perception). Ever since I was a child I have always gotten in trouble in school for talking back to teachers. I never backed down when a teacher makes an exaggeration or plainly gives the incorrect answer. At work I kept my boss on his toes and I was relentlessly open to discuss any of his faulty assumptions. In MBA school my behavior was valued and even celebrated. But later in life my natural instinct to challenge individuals in authority has not always worked out in the best interest of the whole.

There is another layer as I looked deeper within. I was emotionally invested in my directions. Abandoning what I started never sat well with me. If I started something I intend to finish it. And I always thought the fastest way from A to B is a straight line. And I have always made plans by following such imaginary lines. Unwavering to my goal is how I show my strength to the external world even when I’m unsure on the inside. This is merely a mirage of the personal will – it too is an illusion. Often times projects are canceled, people move away and things must be redirected. Direction itself is rarely a straight line, the path itself always contains curves and turns.

Now getting to the core of it all, the reason I was even shaken up by the sudden “sword-cut” is because within myself I did not have a strong inner stability. Yes, I was in the flow, yet I was taken by the flow instead of being deeply rooted in my core and dancing with the flow. The reason a willow tree is able to dance in the wind is because of its deeply grounded roots. It does not care if the wind suddenly changes directions, the leaves will happily move with the vibration of the moment. It knows a change in direction of the wind cannot sweep it away. It knows its own flexibility will not allow it to snap. As for me at that moment, I was far from being a willow tree, I was not grounded in my core and I certainly did not have a willingness to be flexible on top of that. So I snapped. I felt as if the ground was being pulled underneath my feet and I could no longer regain my footing.

So how do we look at this incident from an elevated perspective?

“In many ways we’re taught to be in a constant state of friction with, to be in battle with what is. To Tell ourselves–to tell life–that it shouldn’t be the way that it is is a type of insanity. This insanity destabilizes us. It’s a bit like going up to a brick wall, telling it that shouldn’t be there, and then continuing to walk into it. Every time you bump your head on it, you judge the brick wall for being there, and then you walk into it again, again bumping your head. Then you say it shouldn’t be there, at which point you condemn yourself for the pain you have in your head. It’s a kind of insanity to be constantly arguing with what is. It’s a way that we keep bumping into life. When we collide with life in this way, we always feel interior friction, and we can never find the inner stability for which we yearn.”

In order to raise above this level of thinking “open-mindedness allows you to embrace the nature of your experience. And this is when you start to discover a type of inner stillness, an inner stability, that vast unchanging expanses that is at the heart of [who you are]… When we open to life in this way, we begin to find an inner stability simply because we’re no longer at odds with our experience. At any moment we come into an argument with our experience – an argument with life – we can look and see if it actually leads to peace, if it actually makes sense, or if it actually simply leads to discord and conflict. We then begin to find this silence, and we find ground in this silence, which is very stabilizing. There’s a sense of homecoming, a sense of ‘ahhhh, I’m finally in alignment with what’s happening.'”

The above is a very long quote from Falling into Grace by Adyashanti that has helped me to gain a stronger inner stability. It is a wonderful reminder that “it’s not so much that we need to change ourselves, but rather it is our relationship with our experience that needs to shift, where our perception of conflict can naturally fall away on its own. In the end, that’s all spiritual freedom is: a simple seeing of self, of life, as it actually is. All we have to do for that to happen is to begin to see that all of the various ways that we argue with existence, although they may seem very reasonable at times, can only lead to suffering and conflict.”

So what ended happening? He pointed out to me later that I was invested in conflict along with a bag of other observations. Unhappy to hear what could be the truth, I did lots of self-examination and found – I blamed the wall for being there when I could have simply adjusted my direction. In the past I have celebrated the times when an authority figured backed down and yield to my way, but today I have the utter most respect for him and his unyielding character. Because of his inner strength I was able to once again find my inner stability. I am in deep gratitude for him, his sword cut and for the wall.

January 20, 2012 Posted by | Choices, Emotional Freedom, Inner Growth, Self Realization | , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

The Only Way Out is Down

Don't see a way out? The only way out is down...toward the CORE

“The Only Way Out is Down.” – Sanctum, by James Cameron

I’m usually draw to action adventures where the hero has to face impossible challenges in order to find the grace of freedom. In this story about cave diving, a group of explorers found themselves trapped in an unexplored cave unable to escape from the way-in due to an unpredictable storm. The entranced was sealed shut and the cave quickly filled up with water. With only limited numbers of SCUBA equipment, they were forced to share breathing devices and dive-down deeper into the unexplored caves – hoping to find a way out…

James Cameron always has a way to bring psychological depth to a seemingly simple story to inspire a viewer’s internal dialog towards one’s spiritual freedom. In a way, in this movie I saw myself.

I often find the path of spirituality consists many dead-ends, not to mention you can never go back through the way you came in. If you were lucky enough to taste the absolute clarity of enlightenment once, you have probably been lured in by an addictive force to seek that clarity again and again – each time falling deeper down into a darker abyss. Like the cave explorers, draw to an invisible force to explore uncharted territories. Spiritual teachers will often tell you the benefits of a spiritual practice in terms of “better health”, “mental clarity”, “inner bliss” and so on, sounding like only positives will come through the journey. But they often omit the best part of the story – encountering the demons along the way.

I’m here to tell you a different story – the hidden dangers await – like Sanctum. If you have not stepped in too deep yet you might want to turn back. If you have lingered a little too long, like me, the way-in has already been sealed shut, so instead of struggling and beating down the way-in thinking it is still the way out (or often in the movies die a painful death), it is now time to find another way out.

The bad news is we will encounter various demons living within the cave of your subconscious mind. Like Caroline Myss suggested in her book Sacred Contracts we must face the demons without running away. We have to see them with loving, non-judgemental eyes and try to understand why they were there in the first place – usually because they have helped us and protected us in the past. Then we must face why our demons not longer serve us and now only hinder our progress – again, without judgement. Only with total honesty we can then move on to a new level of understanding. Each subconscious cave connects to another. Be aware, when you finally find some breathing space in one cave, the storm will rush in and rob you your sanctuary. The only way out is going deeper down again, into the next cave. Darkness will be experienced, so lighting a candle to help you meditate is often a good idea. Demons will come out of nowhere and attack you when you are most vulnerable (trust me, God is good at writing adventure thrillers) and if you put up a fight with your ego, you will lose (just watch the movie, the stubborn egotistical people usually die with painful bitterness), the only way out is DOWN – now courageously head to the next dark cave you go.

Every once in a while you might feel as if all the demons are gone and you got the world wrapped around your finger. If you are lucky, the blissful sanctuary won’t last, you will be forced to dive deeper down again. To be completely honest, recently I’ve been feeling as if I’m so close to become a permanent citizen of heaven, only minutes later a demon strikes again. My old bag of tricks of food and exercise addiction, finding a boyfriend to comfort me, pack up and move away no longer worked now. Interesting enough I no longer have a desire to choose them. As I listen to Adyshanti‘s guidance, I’m learning to trust this natural process of falling – falling into grace without putting up another layer of armor. A few days ago as I cried my eyes out and thought my life was over, somehow as I fell deeper down into the abyss of emptiness, entanglements within me started to untie, I was able to breathe again.

Breathe.

Freedom is near.

Breathe.

Warning: This path is not for the faint of heart. The only way out is down – down into the core.

I will meet you there.

December 24, 2011 Posted by | Choices, Death & Rebirth, Inner Growth, Self Realization | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Contemplating Marriage

Sitting across from the dinner table, Liz looks up at me casually and says, “I don’t know if it is my path to be married but if I’m getting married I want Sadhguru to pick my husband.”

She takes another bite of her sweet and sour mock chicken and starts to explain that her guru would pick the perfect partner for her spiritual growth and she doesn’t necessarily know who that would be. “Sadhguru won’t pick someone easy for me but someone who is challenging,” she smiles effortlessly and goes on to pick up another piece of passion red mock chicken with her white chopsticks, “when he marries two people they are bound for life no matter what happens, neither one of them can escape!”

I cannot help myself and let out a burst of laughter while trying so hard to keep my mango milk tapioca not turning into an out of control sprinkler in my mouth.

Marrige?

Is Marriage Based Merely on Love? Can Marriage Become a Path to Our Spiritual Enlightenment?

Ack! Marriage. What a dinner table conversation killer! Next to the list of things NOT TO TALK ABOUT such as religion and politics. Nevertheless I feel fearful yet intrigued. Underneath all that naive pureness of a sweet young lady is an intelligent thoughtful woman.  How refreshing it is to hear a 23-year-old young lady speaking her truth so clearly! Liz understands that most people get married for the wrong reasons. Reasons such as societal structure, economic and social convenience, family pressure in the Eastern culture. Whereas lust, power, romantic addiction occur in the Western culture. The Americans for Divorce Reform estimates that “probably, 40 or possibly even 50 percent of marriages will end in divorce if current trends continue.” So what is the point?

Not often people use this partnership as a tool for self-transformation. According to Liz, her guru speaks of difference types of people. He preached that marriage is not for everyone. For example, some people, their spiritual path might lie within their creation such as Albert Einstein. Some might find their spiritual path by serving others such as Benjamin Franklin. Others might find their path by sitting underneath a bodhi tree to meditate like the Buddha. While there are distinctive individuals feel an inner pull for marriage at an early age for their spiritual growth. Liz tells me that she is not sure what type of person she is yet. It is difficult to form a partnership with anything or anyone when one does not know oneself fully. Once she can discover herself more deeply then she will know which path to take.

“Don’t pretend you don’t need marriage when your spirit tells you that you do,” sipping on her mango milk tapioca, she looks up at me from the corner of her eyes, “you must follow your inner guidance toward that you fear.”

Fear. That is the big cha-ching! I’m the someone who pretends that I don’t need marriage because I fear it. I fear it more than death itself. I fear that I will fail miserably. I fear that I am not good enough. I fear that I will loss myself. I fear my husband will see my faults. I fear… I want a blueprint for the perfect relationship before I will even consider walking into the marriage dojo. I want to know that I can do it perfectly before I will even allow myself to begin…

Liz somehow is bringing up these fears within me I must face just by her authentic conversation. Listening to her reminds me of interviews of Joseph Campbell. Professor Campbell spoke of A Hero’s Journey as an individual’s growth to self-realization and self-actualization. It is a difficult journey yet it brings such triumph once we take on the challenge and take one step after another. “When people get married because they think it’s a long-time love affair, they’ll be divorced very soon, because all love affairs end in disappointment. But marriage is a recognition of a spiritual identity,” said Joseph Campbell. Professor Campbell believed that marriage in an ordeal, an ordeal so intense that it possesses the power to transform both individuals at a profound level. It is a tool for individual transformation.

To me, marriage is shugyo. It is a process of purification of the self toward true expression of the spirit. It takes tremendous courage to walk this path. Author and poet Antoine de Saint-Exupéry fondly put it, “love is the process of my leading you gently back to yourself.”

“You are right Liz, it doesn’t help to pretend. Lao Tzu said ‘marriage is three parts love and seven parts forgiveness,'” as I gaze down into the last grain of rice on my plate, I let out a burst of laughter, “and I’m going to need a lot of forgiveness upfront!”

September 7, 2011 Posted by | Choices, Inner Growth, love, Self Realization | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments