Heart Opening Moments

BLOG of a Spiritual Stripper

The Place of “NO NEED”

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“What can I support you with?” she asked.

“Nothing. There’s nothing I need.” I answered.

When you rest in the place where all is provided, nothing is lacking, there’s nothing outside of yourself that you need – that’s where you will find me.

It took me a very long time searching outside of myself looking for a place that feels like “home” – that place where I have finally “arrived”. In the past, even though I was brought up to be as independent as possible as the only child, I didn’t have the emotional resilience to truly find the balance within. I’ve always looked elsewhere for a place where I can feel more grounded, where I can find comfort. I’ve placed extreme importance in love relationships secretly hoping a knight in shining armor will save me and take me where I need to be. No man was ever able to be THE ONE for me. Not even possible soulmates. No one can always be available when I am in a crisis.

Then it happened. One crisis after another. I couldn’t stop them from coming. And no one could ease the pain I felt physically and emotionally when I was in the hospital bed unable to speak. Then he came, brought me a single odd looking orange flower that looked like a giant spider. He didn’t speak. He placed the flower vase on a table near me, sat next to me and held my right hand…

This is not a love story. At least not the type of love story you are familiar with. His name is Jonathan, and he was one of the triathlon coaches. I remember distinctively when I transitioned from cycling in a peloton to riding on my own. I disliked the silence I had to endure on my own. He rode up behind me and we started chatting. Also a scientist at the time, we quickly fell into an intellectual friendship. After riding beside me for a while, I thanked him for being there supporting me and how important it was for me to have a sense of kinship. He quickly turned toward me, with an intense look, he said “you have to learn how to be comfortable alone.” I watched him as he rode away in front of me. Shocked, I didn’t know what to say.

It was very fitting when he came to visit me in the hospital, in silence, with a gentle smile. He just sat there with my hand in his hands – completely open, accepting, without a purpose, without a need.

Last night, a dear friend brought me a small bouquet of flowers. In the center of the bouquet is that rare orange flower I saw many years ago. The orange pin-chusion protea, Leucospermum, it had somehow brought me a flood of memories of who I was. Eleven years later, I am in gratitude of Jonathan’s simple gestures that significantly altered the direction of my life.

Sitting in the garden, listening to the wind chimes, watching the birds generously helping themselves to the wild bird food as the pink and purple flowers dance in the wind, I have finally arrived – into the heart of who I am.

 

 

 

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May 17, 2017 Posted by | Emotional Freedom, Enlightenment, Inner Growth, Self Realization | 1 Comment

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

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 to conclusions. Suddenly I found a tear sneaking down my cheek. Unknowingly I was remembering the last time someone mistook 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 had 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 that occurred several years ago. That incident was only a messenger to alert me to 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

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

An Exploration of Enlightenment

Chances are, if you are a spiritual seeker, then you have heard of enlightenment. We were told Buddha was an enlightened master, so was Jesus and a few selected individuals throughout history. There are others such as Muhammad Rumi, Albert Einstein, Joseph Campbell all exhibited such inherent passion for life and ease of living that they too might possess something mystical. Even various cultures throughout history have shifted into a space that completely transformed human reason to redefine the quality of our very existence.

Enlightenment Period Art – Time unveiling Truth, 1733, Jean-François Detroy (The winged figure of Time, holding a scythe in the sky, reveals Truth, his daughter, who unmasks an old woman personifying Fraud. The four Cardinal Virtues kneel in tribute at Truth’s feet. Fortitude rests by a lion which symbolises her courage, while Justice carries a sword and scales which refer to her power and impartiality. Further back Temperance carries a pitcher of water which signifies abstinence, and Prudence carries a snake, an allusion to her wisdom. In the top right-hand corner is a building which recalls the Pantheon in Rome.) http://tinyurl.com/ae6ywb3

What is the commonality between various categories of enlightenment?

Look up the term in google, the definition comes to be 1) the action of enlightening or the state of being enlightened; 2) the attainment of spiritual knowledge or insight that which frees a person from the cycle of [karma]. The Buddhism root of the term translates into “awakening” and “understanding”, which then allows us to break the bondage of suffering. Spiritual enlightenment promoting individual well-being in the Western civilization leading into the twenty-first century are often called a new age idea drawing on Eastern cultures and philosophies. Hence spiritual enlightenment is thought to be an “achievement” all individuals seek to obtain.

A more well-known use of the term is the “period of enlightenment” roughly span the early seventeenth century through the eighteenth century where traditional hierarchical political-social structures such as the French monarchy were violently overturned. The “period of enlightenment” occurred with a shift in thinking. Unvoiced in the past, individuals were encouraged to criticize the corruption of the monarchy and the aristocracy. At an earlier time in the late fifteenth century a parallel force of the scientific revolution triggered a yearning for new science, new experiments, and individual searches of intellectual freedom.

This wave of scientific revolution also helped to shape “enlightenment thoughts” in philosophical discussions. Against popular beliefs promoted by religion, Before the mid-sixteenth century, Descartes joined Galileo in advocating a heliocentric solar system. To avoid the Inquisition, his books in science were mostly published anonymously. Yet this undercover passion shaped his philosophical inquiries of doubt and knowledge, which allowed his skeptical arguments to penetrate the court of Queen Christina. In the mid-seventh century, Voltaire stood out to question popular believes by his words against myth and superstition taught by religious authorities. At the same time, Hume’s inquires into the sometimes false perceptions of the mind, Kant’s aim to unite new empirical experiences with established rational reasoning all propelled a shift in thinking – this shift is known as the Enlightenment.

In a sense, no matter how unrelated each categories might seem, various forms of enlightenment somehow point to the same direction – a question, a reassessment, a revolution, an awakening, a transformation leading to the freedom of true knowledge. In essence, enlightenment is a shift in perception, a shift in being that sheds light on something, illuminating what was in the dark to making it stand out and absolutely clear.

What does enlightenment have anything to do with you? And why would you want a piece of it?

Have you ever thought there might be more to life? One time or another in our lives we all strived to be happier, live deeper and experience more. What we’ve been taught by society is to achieve more in life and possess more materialistic things. We would purchase a bigger house, a more expensive car, exotic vacations, marry a handsome husband, earn a good living, yet somehow all these achievements quickly lose their attraction and we still feel unfulfilled. Some of us might turn to addictions such as food, drugs, sex, TV shows, video games to fill the hole yet still not able to find the happiness we yearn for. We don’t see a way out of this darkness, we yearn for more…

Second, like most human beings you have probably experienced suffering. If you are lucky, a tragedy in life might have brought pain to your awareness – physically or emotionally. From an early age we often cry in response to unpleasant events. Later in life, we tend to spin our wheels and try to solve various life’s dramas only finding ourselves unable to break free. For some, this suffering is always screaming and leaks into every part of our existence. Such as a solider who lost his legs in battle later found himself unwilling to take part in the simplest daily activities due to his overwhelming sadness, anger and shame. For others, this suffering is unconscious yet dictates all the choices we make in life. Like a young woman who believed she is not pretty enough so she spent hours each day to prepare herself, endless hours in the gym, purchased new breasts to feel better, dated hot guys to validate her own self-worth. For her, all of her energy is spent in this endless loop of the believe that she is not pretty enough, nevertheless she is trapped in a subconscious suffering.

Third, no matter if you are a scientist, a historian or a psychotherapist, you care about truth. As the Enlightenment philosophers once explored, truth can be very difficult to come by. As a scientist, I would form a theory of the world and then design experiments to examine the validity of my theory in an attempt to find truth. As a historian, you might research paintings, literatures, personal documentation in attempt to find what were the true forces responsible for a radical global shift. As a psychotherapist, it is your job to help individuals to discover which mental perceptions are faulty and how to form reality-based knowledge without the effect of delusions. Or if you are anything like me – a skeptic of everything you read or hear, you are tired of being living in other people’s structures of life and you want to use your own experience to feel life as it truly is.

No matter if you are yearning for fulfillment, seeking the end of suffering, or needing the clarity of truth, enlightenment holds the promise to set you free. It literally unmasks an old belief like the painting “Time unveiling Truth” – resulting in a break-away from the endless loops our old conditioning. It is difficult to describe what enlightenment is if the actual experience has not yet taken place. Everything you read here and elsewhere is only a finger-pointing to enlightenment, it is just a map hoping to get you closer. That is when Kant’s argument of external knowledge and reasoning might be helpful leading one to an actual internal experience. Upon the union of both – external knowledge and internal experience – Truth can then be attained – cycles of suffering or karmic ties can then be broken.

But, what the heck is enlightenment?

It is often referred to as “awakening”, “self-realization”, “freedom” and more. Like the word “enlighten”, it literally has the quality of shedding light onto an area of darkness. The contrast of this event is so great, it is like day and night. Once enlightenment happens, you cannot deny it. Just like dawn might still be very cold and dark, and upon the arrival of the day, the sun shines brightly you know you are no longer in darkness. It also has the quality of waking up from a dream. As we were once asleep, life’s problems were hunting us and we drive ourselves mad trying to come to a resolution. As we wake up, we realize all that suffering was just a dream. In fact, after awakening we realize all is well. Like the word self-realization, it is a realization of who you are, and that dream was all the untruth, that dream was everything you were not yet you just didn’t know it. Upon awakening you will know you are not your thoughts, you are not your body, you are not emotions, you are not your intellect, you are not your personality, and all that’s left over is you are space, you are pure awareness.

You are free to go beyond your past conditioning so each moment greets you anew. You are no longer dictated by the monarchy of your karma. You get to experience life fresh, without trying to focus on the moment, the moment simply just is. You are no longer controlled by your mind or by an external standard of right or wrong. You realize all the knowledge you accumulated before was somehow not of your own, it was passed down to you from other authorities, and you have somehow believed to be Truth.

After awakening you profoundly understand Truth spoken by Jesus when he said “the kingdom of God is within you.” You realize that the God you once prayed to as an old bearded man in the sky was just a mental imagine of what God might be because you didn’t know better. Upon enlightenment, you know with empirical experience that the essence of God is within you, God is omnipresent, and God is all there is. You know who you are, you know who everyone else is as well, and magically you are no longer separate, you are no longer sad or lonely, somehow, you are naturally happy. Then the you that was once the center of your universe disappears into a heliocentric solar system where God is the sun. You no longer aim for achievement to make yourself look better, instead, you naturally care about the well-being of the whole. After enlightenment you will know that God lives within you, and you are joy, you are Love. And you are glad that there’s no more you, there is only Flow. life literally becomes magical and everything happens between time, space, and in the perfectly harmonious order.

How does it happen?

Like the “period of enlightenment”, a personal enlightenment is also a revolution. It starts with a profound discomfort that you are not living your full potential and something must be done. You might feel that something different is taking place but you can’t pin-point exactly what is going on. Often times deep suffering can be the birthing place that promotes such revolution. Like a society, when old structures no longer work in the current context, something must change. Many individuals feel an unrecognizable fear as if life is no longer mapped out. Each and everyday becomes a struggle as our old way of operations is shedding away and we no longer how what to “DO”. Some people might feel as if suddenly their whole life is falling apart in the traditional sense. Some might feel their own masks of individual identity has being ripped off by external events. Others might feel chucks of their memories are missing or being re-invented. All these are indications of an under current of a powerful internal transformation.

Enlightenment can happen by a traumatic trigger such as a near-death experience or diligent hard labor such as a monk’s daily devotion. For most, it happens somewhere in between. It requires a personal willingness to let go everything we once were taught to be true and search for our new inner science (hence Sadhguru’s Isha Yoga is an inner science towards self-realization and his beginner’s program is called Inner Engineering). It also requires a softness to perceive beyond the logical mind and receive whatever God has in store for you – however, whenever. Sounds simple yet it may not be easy. Most people are stuck yearning for the grace of God to unveil Truth yet they are not willing to let go their self-centered personal identities. It is often called letting go of the ego – meaning letting go false identifications of who we believe yourself to be (as in the painting by the old woman with the mask, she is old outdated and her mask must be lifted off by Truth).

Similar to the “period of enlightenment”, once enough momentum is gathered to start the movement of a revolution, it can no longer be stopped. It becomes a rolling snowball, so anything that is untrue will be violently overturned and destroyed in the process to pave way for Truth. Yet at the time of war, your days can become extremely unpleasant, yet this must take place to bring-forth a transformation. One day you might realize that you are dying and there’s nothing you can do about it. What’s dying is your old perception of who you are, this death of the ego in painful but it will not kill the real you. It destroys the impostor who posed as you only to give space to the who you really are.

Like a caterpillar “dying” in the cocoon, it does not know what’s on the other side of the death only that he can no longer be a caterpillar. When this happens, the revolution has been well underway and it can no longer be reversed. An incubation time will begin in the darkness of deep self-reflection and fierce inquiries of truth. You might wonder how long you must watch yourself melt away… Then another day might arrive on this continuous stream of journey that suddenly you are no longer dying but rebuilding as a new part of nature. Your vision somehow seems brighter, you no longer get bothered by other people’s comments or your own internal dialog, you notice the way you view things is completely different from everyone else around you, and you KNOW who you are. You might laugh, cry, or both at the same time. But suddenly you will KNOW – you will KNOW who you are, you will KNOW who everyone else is, you will KNOW what the Truth is and what are merely masks. Slowly like a newborn butterfly, you will find yourself navigating in a brand new world, testing our your new wings.

Like aikido master Nev Sagiba said, “Enlightenment is like getting a shodan – AFTER ENLIGHTENMENT THE WORK BEGINS! After enlightenment, life truly begins.

Common misunderstandings of enlightenment…

“Enlightened people never cry again.” – NOT TRUE! After enlightenment we are more open to the vast collection of emotions, we no longer shy away or judge our organic emotions. We might laugh, feel frustrated when the computer didn’t auto-save, we might cry – yet somehow even the tears become sweet.

“Enlightened people experience perfect health and never feel pain.” – NOT TRUE! Some pain and illness are just another natural aspect of life. However, pain does not equate to suffering. One might feel pain and become intimate with that pain yet never suffer a minute through it.

“My life should work out exactly the way I plan to when I’m enlightened.” – NOT!!! After enlightenment there’s no more I, nor planning. “I” melts into nature and planning no longer applies when you are a part of God. Therefore you do whatever is needed whenever it is needed – as a part of harmony, a part of nature, a part of God.

“I was doing great with amazing mystical experiences then suddenly I’m lost in a black hole with no more amazing experiences. What’s wrong?” – NOTHING IS WRONG. Many people chase after experiences they label as “good” believing these experiences will get them closer to enlightenment. In actuality, everything life hands to you is exactly what you need and when you need it – designed for your growth, with sufficient awareness, you can awaken.

“I must be a nice and happy person in order to enter the kingdom of heaven.” NOT TRUE! You must be a truthful person in order to enter the kingdom of heaven. We were often taught what is nice and not nice. We often suppress our “negative” emotions to be nice. Not facing whatever arises within us, we lose the opportunity to be truth. By stuffing away what we judge to be “bad” or “not nice” can only delay our progress. Pretending you are not sad or angry when indeed you are will only lead you further away from the truth. The key is to meditate on such feelings before we act out unconsciously.

“The ultimate goal of life is enlightenment. After that, I can rest and never have to work a day in my life ever again.” – NOT TRUE! Enlightenment is a rebirth, before enlightenment our vessel is too dirty to be an instrument of God, after enlightenment true work can finally begin because we have finally become emptied of our own desires and are now instruments of God. After enlightenment we still need to continuously polish our vessels to remain pure and free of optical illusions.

How do I become enlightened?

It all starts with a desire. Dedication. Devotion. Shugyo. Consistently devote to truth and commit to the demolishment of untruth.

How does individual enlightenment translates into collective enlightenment?

History is a beautiful illustration of a collective transformation, like the “period of enlightenment”, through individual efforts, seemingly unrelated events at the time can result in a whole movement to bring forth a whole new world. Like a fractal, the macroscopic social enlightenment can manifest from the microscopic bursts of individual enlightenments. In a sense, from the smallest metamorphosis of consciousness can result in an boundless global transformation. As Mahatma Gandhi once said – “be the change you wish to see in the world!”

November 5, 2012 Posted by | Aikido Wisdom, Books, Death & Rebirth, Emotional Freedom, Fine Arts, Inner Growth, love, Self Realization, Tears, World Transformation | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

You Want Intimacy?

What if we truly became intimate with love and life from moment to moment? What if we can break out from our old patterns and live in the present moment?

How many people out there want true love, intimacy, or be in a state of complete oneness? What’s standing in the way to our most innate desires?

Recently I’ve noticed something very interesting about human interactions. Most people are not capable of deep intimacy because they are not living in the present moment.

Not long ago a friend asked me how I am doing. I gladly told him the confusion I was experiencing after awakening snuck up on me a few months ago and stole all that I called “myself”. I felt like a computer crash when all the files I depended on disappeared over night. I was left with nothing. I became a big nothing. Nowadays sailing on an uncharted territory I feel like an airhead with no thoughts to grab onto or memories to rely on. Enjoying an unfiltered sense of humor, I giggled when I told him that all I can do is navigate my way around from moment to moment and I “warned” him that I might just blank out on him.

“Oh, don’t feel sorry for yourself!” He told me sharply without losing a beat.

Hmmm… What? It took me a few seconds to understand his reply. Then it took me even longer to realize that he wasn’t talking to me – he was talking to himself. From his perspective I sounded like I was a victim because from where he stands that is probably what he would’ve felt. He did not sense my joy and wonder, instead, he projected his own pain into my picture. He thought he was having a conversation with me but he really was responding to a part within himself. Then he went on to give me a lecture about how lonely I must feel and that I must seek out help. Hmmm… Interesting. And Frustrating. He wasn’t sharing the same point in space/time with me, instead, he was responding to his old programming. Needless to say, our conversation ended quickly. Later he told me how intimate and connected he always feels when we talk and he assured me that he completely understands where I am.

O.K. No comment.

Unfortunately this is how most humans interact. No wonder close friendships and romantic relationships are so difficult. Most of us have a record player in our head that plays old thoughts and conversations over and over again. Even when we interact with a new person or a new situation we are still plugged into the past. Behaviors are pre-determined by our past programming and we literally live in an endless loop like the movie Groundhog’s Day. We respond by selecting from memory a list of old patterns we possess. There is no room for anything new. Even when life brings something new for us to experience, our view can only be polluted by the same old thoughts, behaviors, and patterns.

Have you noticed that people who are more spiritually awaken have greater capacity for intimacy? They are available to love, to share, and to just be. They are not tied down into a story they tell themselves about what reality is. They live in reality. They live in the now. The only way to experience true intimacy is to live in the present moment anew – gazing with wondrous innocent eyes. In a way we must be willing to ditch the old record player and let the thoughts float away like balloons into the sky. When we are not identified with our thoughts our emotional body tends to free up equally. When our emotional body opens up then we are no longer unnecessarily contracting our energy or protecting ourselves. Only by not pulling back into our shells are we able to participate in a real and honest relationship. Would you rather talk to someone who truly listens to you at the deepest level or someone interprets your words with their own definition? Would you rather make love to someone tense and bottled-up or someone sensual and free?

In a way our spiritual path must be that of our own. We all walk alone in our own journey on the path towards matured enlightenment. When we awake we discover that there is only the One, and the One is perfectly eternally alone. Yet the One is never lonely. Being lonely is impossible when the whole entire universe is your lover – tenderly, intimately, in bliss.

September 6, 2012 Posted by | Death & Rebirth, Emotional Freedom, love, Self Realization, World Transformation | , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Running Away?

Are You”Running Away from Home”? Are you avoiding uncomfortable situations to stay safe? If you want enlightenment then stop running! (Photo by Laura Corebello)

Have you ever noticed we often want to hide or run away from uncomfortable situations? We often think if we can just avoid pain, disappointments, embarrassments then our lives will be much better and more carefree. We think “if I can just get out of HERE then I will be much happier!”

This reminds me of the times I plotted my escape as a child – believing that by running away from home all of my disappointments and heartbreaking misunderstandings will be resolved. Like this child, I packed up some of my favorite things in a small sack, found a bamboo stick and there I was on my way to a better world. I had imagined perhaps an alien spaceship will come by to pick me up and find me valuable for space exploration. Or better yet a nicer family will pick me up so I could show my parents what terrible mistakes they’ve made by misunderstanding my love. Now looking back we could see how innocent yet reactive it all really was.

As we mature into adulthood our childish tendencies are still deeply ingrained in our bodies. Much of these tendencies to run away have gone unnoticed in our everyday lives before we embarked upon our spiritual journey. Now we can sense someone else wanting to pull away from a hug. Other times we find ourselves running away from a needed confrontation instead we hide behind the computer screen.Sometimes we also become better at denying these tendencies or we make excuses for our behaviors. Sooner or later we find our relationships less attentive as we become more and more isolated.

It does not serve you to run away. Period.

If we are running away from ANYTHING in life, we are running away from life itself. The truth is, when we run away from any situation, we have already given up. We just forfeited the opportunity to even give it a try, to see how we might react, and see what illusions we are still holding onto. Running away = cowardly living = not living at all. To truly live is to live with courage. It takes courage to engage every moment, every breath, every person fully and completely. The tendency is to contract, hide, or run away from the HERE and NOW. That’s ok. Just notice it. It’s perfectly normal to have these tendencies. Just be with the fear and see it for what it is. Yet at the same time we can take another step closer to freedom – and see the fear for what it is NOT.

Many people say “I want enlightenment” but are still using their work or meditations to escape from their lives. Many are not willing to courageously face each moment as it unfolds. When you look into their eyes they are not present. Their body/mind/spirit have contracted to such a level that the life force is having to squeeze through a breath. Sooner or later suffering will occur. When you say “I want to be enlightened, I want to awaken” is to say “I want to live” and “I don’t care how painful or joyful my moments might become, I am willing to see through all of my illusions and become intimate with all spectrums of life.”

The tendencies to escape might still be present every once in a while even after awakening. Luckily after awakening there’s no more judgement. So when the ego tries to reinsert itself into your being-ness, just bring awareness to the present moment outside of the construct of the mind. Always choose communion with the Truth. The key is to notice these tendencies and say “oh, that’s what it is!” This way, by bringing awareness to the the present moment and became fully engaged, the uncomfortableness somehow dissolves itself.

Today I’m working with a injured shoulder and much physical pain. Yet it is becoming more and more clear that even the painful moments are designed to deliver Love. Allow yourself the space to see each moment with clear eyes, with compassion and openness for transformation. Be here. NOW.

August 19, 2012 Posted by | Death & Rebirth, Emotional Freedom, Inner Growth, love, Self Realization | , , , , , , , , | 9 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

Today, I’m in Love

Today, I’m in love. Here are some nuggets of truth I stumbled upon while traveling on the path of self-realization – expressed through my art and micropoetry.

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taming the ego…clarity I see…stunning true nature…set free

mixed media by Flo Li

Awakening Dawn, mixed media on canvas by Flo Li

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allow my love…penetrate your core…burning gentle passion…dazzling aflame
Burning Passionate Love

Red Rose of Love, photography by Flo Li

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miraculous radiance…hidden dark nights…protecting a secret…atonement birthing sunlight
oil on canvas by Flo Li

Secrets of the Dark Night, oil on canvas by Flo Li

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lick me…she says…not my body but my soul…craving your gentle kisses deep inside I grow

Femme Glow, fractal art by Flo Li

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Today, I’m in LOVE. Let’s share. May the Love of Truth set you free~! Namaste.

January 8, 2012 Posted by | Death & Rebirth, Emotional Freedom, Fine Arts, love, poetry, Self Realization | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 28 Comments