Flo's Heart Opening Moments

BLOG of a Spiritual Stripper

Progressive movement towards full enlightenment

light over darkness

“We do not receive wisdom, we must discover it for ourselves, after a journey through the wilderness, which no one else can make for us, which no one can spare us, for our wisdom is the point of view from which we come at last to regard the world.” – Marcel Proust (photo by me, Del Mar Beach, CA)

 

It has been four years since the occurrence of my awakening from the mind. That particular awakening felt like a big bang where my perception shifted forever. Like many individuals passing through the same terrain, I had thought that point marked the end of my journey, now looking back, I am humbled by the continuing movement that is still being graced into my life – knowing now, that big bang of awakening was just the beginning.

In one of Adyashanti’s books, he said that enlightenment happens in three stages – the mind, the heart, and the gut. Now that I have lived through the first two and am still deeply immersed in the third stage, I am able to look back from the very beginning and mark several key points through my journey.

1. Desire – As early as I can remember, I’ve always had an unshakeable desire to know. During my childhood that feeling was very strong, but I never understood what exactly I wanted to find. I spent most of my childhood searching through nature, Buddhist monasteries, and science fiction stories, hoping to gain a glimpse of a greater truth. Most of my free time was spent by myself gazing at flowers, sitting in meditation with the monks, and reading endless stories of alternate realities.

One of my favorite science fiction stories at the time was about the last human colony living in a space ship completely unaware that they were living within the ship’s virtual reality program. Everyone believed that they were still on the beautiful planet earth with endless harmony. By accident, a young boy found a glitch in the system and discovered the truth – yet people on that ship still chose to live in delusion – until a catastrophic collision was about to happen… Somehow I was deeply touched by that story as a child. And I too was determined to find an opening where I could discover the truth – into a greater world I knew I must find.

2. Choosing the Untruth – During my late childhood and into my teenage years, I had given up my internal search; instead I wanted to be popular and agreed with the judgmental selective preferences of society just to fit in. When I turned 12 years old, my family moved from China to America. The most shocking part of the whole transition was not the food or language, but the vastly different belief structures of these two groups of people. Feeling different and inadequate after the move, I completely let go my quest of internal inquiry and jumped into an external seeking of new beliefs and new gadgets. A need to fit-in became the most important drive in my life. Time after time I muted the voice within and followed the path of popularity.

In college and my career thereafter, I worked hard to gain approval. Somehow the path of seeking approval killed my internal voice all together. With each choice, I focused on what others might think of me. With each choice, I valued the superficial face value more than my core value. I became a popular young woman, but in my heart I felt fake and lonely. Always pushing down that nagging feeling that I’m living a lie, I continued to immerse myself into expanding my social life and working on the next big scientific discovery.

3. The Momentum of Suffering – There was a man I worked with who suffered in silence. No one paid attention to his pain, but I felt his suffering like my own. Externally he was excellent in every way. But I could sense he was breaking apart quickly as he struggled to keep his life together. He was like that child in the story – as he begin to discover the delusion of his choosen reality. I wanted to understand him because I wanted to understand myself. At that time I didn’t know the reason for our mutual understanding, instead, I entered into an endless discussion with him about life, psychology, relationships, suffering, religion, and science. We wanted to connect the dots as both of us felt a need for a greater perspective.

As our intellectual friendship ended, he gave me a book by Stephen Batchelor called “Buddhism Without Beliefs – A contemporary Guide to Awakening”.  I read the book several times in my mid and late twenties as I struggled with his choice to end our friendship and had to make peace with losing a friend who also searched for what I seek. The suffering of impermanence took control of my psyche for the first time.

4. First Glimpse of Truth – The first posts of this blog were my first glimpse of Truth through a near death experience. Truth – call it God, Ultimate Reality, Bliss, Buddha nature, or anything you like – came as a shock. My perspective at the time seemed to float above the gravity of everyone else’s busy life. I was losing blood and on the verge of being facially disfigured when the hospital staff rushed me through X-rays, CT scans, blood tests, and surgeries. Everyone I encountered felt sorry for me. I was in bliss – no one could make sense of my euphoria as I knew for the first time in my life that my state of being can never be touched by my external circumstances nor physical conditions. To me, these several hours before heading into surgery made me feel safe – as if I had always been Home – in the way life has always been before I was born. The whole experience was more real than anything else I’ve ever experienced in this lifetime.

I told people I met God. But it was much more than that. I couldn’t communicate that the far-reaching, limitless, spaciousness of God is much more than their ideas of God. I tried to write about it but my attempts only ended up in disappointments as I could no longer embody the overwhelming sensation of God. I must tell people about God, and I must find God again.

5. The Quest – From my late twenties into early thirties I felt the urge to re-instate my quest. Initially I felt this nagging unshakable feeling inside me asking me to embark on something greater than myself. During the journey, I took many paths trying to find this glorious quest that would turn me into someone dazzling. I climbed the corporate ladder; completed marathons and century rides; embarked on new science/technology entrepreneurship; flaunted millions of dollars to invest in new ventures; mingled with the rich and famous; conquered the path of multiple personal development betterment; and even started my own daring undertaking to become “bigger than life” through a large format emotional support firm. At the time I was convinced I was chosen to become someone special and that I must do everything I could to meet this grand purpose head on.

Well, I was wrong. With every step in the external direction, I felt more and more fraudulent than the step before. I remember shaking the hand of a personal development guru as I signed up for his workshops – as I touched his hand I felt his cold, lost, empty sadness locked away from his own consciousness. I quickly took my hand back and wondered what just happened. Looking back, at the time I didn’t have the mental awareness to have faith in my own judgement and trust this deep-seated awareness. So I continued to walk on – hoping I would reach a point to conquer all that is – that is to conquer the external life and finally become SOMEONE.

 6. The Awakening Mind – In a way, all the things I did were leading me away from my truth. Lucky for me, as I was convinced that I was in control of life, there was a barely noticeable undercurrent that was always present, flowing just beneath my perception. With every “wrong” step, I was greeted with a faint light of truth. With every external conquering, I was gifted an unnoticeable seed of internal potential. As my external conquering started to break apart rapidly, I was left with a broken heart – raw, open, and empty.

So it climaxed at the age of 33. After a rear-end car accident, my body, my mental health, and my life fell apart. I was in so much physical pain and negative mental chattering that I actually contemplated ending my life several times. Somehow something within me with a gentle strength always pulled me back to face my pain. I couldn’t escape the tears, the screams, the sadness, the loneliness, the heartache… All I could do was to witness my own suffering.

Such witness took place as I gazed upon what I called myself – body, mind, and emotions – and noticing my awareness was outside of “myself” – and this awareness was untouched by the action of witnessing the drama I called my life. There were several weeks I lost my will altogether. I just sat, stared off into the distance, cried and cried. I couldn’t drive, couldn’t make it to any of my appointments. With each spontaneous crying session, I felt lighter – as a layer of skin had just been stripped away. During that time since my life had completely fallen apart, my only job was teaching aikido to the children. Fortunately my boss, who is also my sensei, understood exactly where I was. There were days I didn’t make it to work at all and I couldn’t even pick up the phone to call. Sensei never complained. He only encouraged me with a smile – “trust the process,” he told me.

7. Naked Newborn – I lost count of how many weeks or lifetimes were spent doing nothing when the unseen current took over. One particular day I woke up and I knew to mark this date. July 7th. I was naked. I walked around and felt no shame. It is hard to explain what took place because at the time I had no mind. I was so clean, natural and filled with wonder. It was like my hard drive was completely erased and I was left with only this shell – and that shell was all I needed.

There were times I could not speak and make sense of words. Slowly, I regained my sense of how to behave in the world as I gradually started to socialize with those who might understand. One day I met up with my old friend Chris and told him about what had happened when I never returned his phone calls. I wanted to apologize but knew it wasn’t necessary. As I opened up and told him my experience, he calmly told me similar stories of Byron Katie and Eckhart Tolle. As he explained to me, even though he never had experiences as such, he was however sensitive and empathetic to where I was. His sharing of simliar stories helped me to ground in my own nakedness with more solidity.

In the next several months, I slowly regained my ability to drive, to have a conversation, to reconnect with family and friends. I felt like I was walking on cloud nine, being completely one with God – and I have never been separate from people, nature, and life.

8. The Purge of stale Emotions – The spiritual honeymoon on cloud nine ended as I discovered the untruth within me still controlled my body and my emotions. This is where the real work begins. Enlightenment is not a one time deal of crossing some kind of invisible finish line, it is actually the beginning of something big – the beginning of life! I discovered in order for life to truly flow through me, I have to purge out all the untruth that is still governing my every move.

At the time as I was going through this during the first, second and into the third year of my awakening, I discovered an enlightened master who helped me uncover all the untruth I still carried in my body. His extensive list questioned nearly all assumptions that are common but untrue. We worked through categories concerning mother, father, society, self, and the collective archetypes. Things were getting pulled out of me I never knew existed – until I questioned the validity of the judgmental selective preferences of society I took upon myself to believe in. I processed non-stop as I looked at my life with a magnifying glass all hours of the day. There were days I discovered dreams carried my unconscious assumptions, and after a period of cleaning the “house”, I began to see I even respond differently in dreams. As in my daily choice, I found how much of my past conditioning governed how I walked through life – and how cleaning the “house” would free me from being tied down by belief structures.

9. Healing of the Physical Body through Movement – At the same time, I was battling with the physical neck pain of a pinched nerve from a car accident. During the internal healing work, I was beginning to see at this stage of my spiritual development that only I can heal my own body. In the last year, I had given up on all doctors attempting to help me to regain the movement back in my neck and spine. I used my own perception to accept the healing from the Source.

There were days I did traditional upa yoga and hatha yoga from Isha while finishing with the Isha Yoga’s Inner Engineering Shambhavi Maha Mudra. Usually near the end of my practice, a surge of energy would become alive in my body as my physical system and nervous system were completely relaxed. Other days I could not do my normal routine of practice, so I just sat. This was when the inner energy from the hollowness of the body started to guide my movements. I never moved unless I was taken over by this energy. Somedays I would just sit and nothing happened. Other days as soon as I sat, my body began to move in ways that mimicked animals or some strange rotation I could not logically understand. Nevertheless, I just went with it.

On multiple occasions, my neck would start to rotate by itself to one direction and another direction. The switching of directions happened by itself and the number of repetitions was dictated by the internal energy as well. My body would relax and tears would fall down from my eyes naturally. Sometimes 30 minutes, sometimes several hours later, my body came to a stillness, and after sitting for a while, I could finally open my eyes. Profound shifts happened during these spontaneous sessions and I experienced more healing during these sessions than all the lifetimes of doctors put together.

10. The Commitment a Life with God – Unfortunately the gravitational pull of the ego still takes over at times. One way to flow through dark moments when the ego is acting through me is for me to completely allow it to happen while watching every move consciously. Another way to flow through dark moments when my energy system is getting cleaned out is to just sit. In stillness, in the deep space of emptiness, things just wash though as the “I AM” is completely untouched.

The trick to go through any internal challenges is a full commitment to God. By now, you must see God does not refer to a old man watching us from the sky, God is the source of creation that is either alive or dormant within each and everyone of us. This commitment to God is a commitment to the source of creation. Jaques Payet sensei would always tell me to be in my center, move from my center, never resort to use the passive aggressiveness we all experience as a way to end conflicts. In aikido’s teaching, the only way to create peace is to be that peace yourself – to always move and act from the source of creation.

I have just recently received my nidan (second degree black belt) in aikido during a visit to Canada to train with Payet Shihan again. I was not particularly satisfied with my lack of knowledge of the aikido techniques during my exam, but I was very much content with the energy I carried out in my exam – I was in complete devotion to God as I moved from the source of creation. In a way, my exam felt like a passage leading me into the next phase of my enlightenment – always choose to be God.

11. Every Moment Choosing Truth – Choosing to be a living expression of Grace is the same as choosing to live in complete Truth moment to moment. If I can become the full embodiment of Truth, I become the embodiment of God consciousness. This sounds simple but it is not an easy task. As I choose to stay conscious, accepting, allowing, and committed, I am beginning to become more and more clear in my perception, and in my being. Life is no longer about doing, it is about being or better yet “doing the being”.

I am just at the beginning of my journey to live in the non-abiding expression of Grace, since I don’t have much experience with this section, hence I’m just going to leave you with a quote as you enjoy the journey –

“Enlightenment is not like a Big Bang – it is an ongoing process.” – Sadhguru

July 2, 2015 Posted by | Enlightenment, Inner Growth | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Life’s Desire within You

nature flowers

Natural desires are the most basic foundations of life. The key is to recognize what desires come from ego and what desires come from God.

There’s a saying in Chinese – 心同日月 – the direct translation roughly equates to “heart with sun and moon”. The real meaning lies beyond the metaphorical image and hints to a desire so deep so strong that it stems from the desire of nature itself.

When we speak of desire, the mind can often grasp onto ownership – asking something from life – a demand in terms of “what I want is…”; the emotions can often feel the sensations of longing – yearning for something I have yet experience – a wish in terms of “only if I can feel that…” Most of these desires come from us, the little egos – thinking “only if I have that I would be happy.”

There is another kind of desire – something more basic and more instinctual. A desert flower desires the kiss of raindrops. The crops desire the gentle gaze of sunlight. A wife desires being in union with her husband. These are the kinds of desires that stem from life itself. Such life desires are in the form of energy that creates more life, more nature. Without these desires life cannot sustain itself.

The beauty of awakening is seeing the difference between the two. The choices we made as unenlightened beings are often based on the desires of the body, mind and emotions. These choices only lead to suffering and entanglements. Then we spent much of our energy trying to untie the knots we trapped ourselves into – often with little or no success. The gift of awakening allows us to see such entanglements are counter-productive to life, we work against ourselves, against each other and against the natural flow of life. We often stand in the way of what life truly desires within us. Upon the grace of awakening we are beginning to see there is no need to fight against what is natural. We can see there is no need to protect ourselves from the illusions of fear. All is well – even these instinctual desires we might have judged in the past are really just another form of pure love. As we open ourselves more to what is true within us, we can listen more deeply, sense our 道 (Tao) more distinctively and follow the path that is uniquely meant for us.

This is when life becomes magical. We no longer require a set of circumstances to be happy, we are naturally blissful. We no longer need to own anything to feel valuable because the entire universe is throbbing within us. A sense of overwhelming gratitude arises within us without us reminding ourselves to be thankful. Things just happen not because we have set it as a goal but because we are being true to ourselves and in harmony with all that is. Life becomes a breeze. The manifestation of such desires is unique within each and every one of us.  As you might have heard, O Sensei – the founder of 合气道 (aikido) felt a sense of duty to bring-forth the art of peace into the world. He cannot NOT do it. Through his poetry he expressed the desires of the heaven so strong within him, guiding him, and later in life, the desire of the heaven became him. He became 合气道 – in complete harmony with the energy of his unique path melting into all that is…

It takes tremendous courage to recognize our untruth, our entanglements and our resistance. It takes a warrior to follow the path of aiki, letting go the desires of the ego and be in complete harmony with life itself. To follow such deep desires will undoubtedly lead you to your unique path of self-actualization.

March 21, 2012 Posted by | Aikido Wisdom, Chinese, Inner Growth, love, poetry, Self Realization | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Fulfillment through Extension

Kihon Dosa Aikido Kids

Extension through Kihon Dosa (Aikido Del Mar kids during a Kids-4-Japan Relief fundraise demonstration)

Recently I’ve been working on extension in my aikido training. One Sensei told me to extend further while the other sensei told me that I’m over-extending myself. Confused, I felt more clumsy than ever. Instead, I began to watch for the missing pieces in my movement. I noticed that when sensei extended, his body was in perfect balance. He was rooted into the ground. The centerline was strong. He is relaxed. Nowhere was his body twisted. He also radiated this blissful joy from his center of gravity. The quality of this positive energy extended into his knees, his elbows, then through the bottoms of his feet and out from his finger tips. His center felt like the source of a supernova, giving off life by giving away the life energy within himself. Whereas when I extended, I either put too much weight on my front foot and lose my balance or I tensed up where my energy cannot flow through.

Ack! Aikido is hard. What is even harder is that I know there must be a mental block and I was determined to find it.

After teaching a morning aikido class, I found myself in conversation with a student. He was a teacher of A Course in Miracles (ACIM) and I often described aikido movements in terms of ACIM for his benefit. That particular morning my body was experiencing so much pain post my car accident and I instinctually contracted my movements. From the students’ reaction I realized I was out of integrity as I taught extension while I did the opposite. I said a silent prayer and relaxed more into my feet while trusting the extension will radiate through as a result. Holding onto that intention, I felt more peaceful and was able to calmly finish class. Afterwards the ACIM teacher wanted to give me some feedback. “Oh shit,” I thought to myself, “he’s going to tell me he can’t learn anything from me and I totally suck…” Holding onto my breath, I listened. To my surprise he wanted to tell me that he felt my energy when I guided his hanmi. That the energy from my body extended into his and for a few seconds he was able to completely let go his struggles and be in Divine Love. He told me how he had forgotten how real peace felt like and for the first time in a few months he found himself in Truth again. By Being in my Truth, he was able to find his Truth. By Being authentically within myself, he found his Being.

Wow! Profound. I was speechless.

“Only you can limit your creative power, but God wills to release it…. Do not withhold your gifts to the Sonship, or you withhold yourself from God! Selfishness is of the ego, but Self-fullness is of spirit… Being must be extended. That is how it retains the knowledge of itself. Spirit yearns to share its being… It does not wish to contain God, but wills to extend His Being. The extension of God’s Being is spirit’s only function. Its fullness cannot be contained, any more than can the fullness of its Creator. Fullness is extension. The ego’s whole thought system blocks extension…It therefore blocks your joy, so that you perceive yourself as unfulfilled. Unless you create you are unfulfilled… Your Self-fullness is as boundless as God’s.  Like His.  It extends forever and in perfect peace.  Its radiance is so intense that It creates in perfect joy, and only the whole can be born of Its Wholeness.” – ACIM Ch.7 The Gifts of the Kingdom IX The Extension of the Kingdom

After listening to him and reading the above chapter, I saw the play of my own egoas the mental block to stop my extension. My ego needed to establish a “show that I am good enough” persona. For some reason the ego doesn’t believe that the authentic Being is good enough. Just as I’m typing these words, the thoughts of “don’t say that, they will think less of you” or “that can’t be grammatically correct!” When these thoughts come to mind, I no longer stay on the path to extend my idea, instead I hold back and not give my all. The selfishness of the ego thinks it is safer to hide, safer to hold back. It is the same as I “put on a show” in aikido. Whenever I think the movement should be a certain way, I act it out, and I lose touch with my core. From there I am only able to extend with my shoulder and my arms giving the quality of inauthenticity. Whereas when I allow the principals to guide me, I feel the root from my feet deep into the ground, I feel a warmth within my hara, I naturally extension from my core because it feel TRUE and it feels GOOD. The Self-fullness comes out through my elbows and knees and extends from my fingers as an extension from my core. When I allow this authentic Being to extend, allowing the flow without expectations or judgments, I feel fulfilled.

As part of my aikido practice, I extend through my core whenever I can – especially when I feel I must contract instinctually. Friday was another day to practice. Our dojo was invited to give a demonstration at a local school to raise money for Japan. I am happy to report that I was able to maintain my extension throughout the day. Whenever I felt the need to contract, I relaxed more into my feet and I rooted into the ground. As a result, all parts of our demonstration were completely harmonious from setup to followup. The best part was to watch our little ones on their best behavior by extending from the bottom of their hearts.

With tears streaming down my face, I felt the bliss, the fulfillment and the extension.

Note *, ACIM uses the word ego in a different way than we are accustomed.  For ACIM, it is the false self created from the vacuum or need to establish an identity separate from the only identity we actually have, but have no conscious connection to, until we do.  That true identity is established by our Creator, and therefore inextricably part of God as a timeless, unchangeable, invulnerable, eternal Self.  That true identity has the characteristic of complete non-separation from anyone or anything, while also maintaining individual will, or choice. Choice in this context is fully harmonious with each and all things.  Well, all things in terms of their true identity.  The recipient of this singular connection, that is not connected to their true identity, may reject, abuse, negate, and yet cannot help but receive this light, or consciousness of true self from true self in you.  Very much like someone attacking my Senpai will not realize that your capacity to lovingly connect to them to gently resolve their attack does not require their complicity, but they cannot help but comply.  You are the more connected force to the truth, and so the laws of energy serve you, as they are the laws under which we have creation, consciousness and existence under God.

May 15, 2011 Posted by | Aikido Wisdom, Choices, Inner Growth, Self Realization, World Transformation | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Womb of Sukhavati

Womb of Sukhavati

Embryonic Sukhavati

Sukhavati: the place of bliss, Fractal art work by Flo Li, copyright 2010 http://www.FloLi.com

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You gave your life for her illumination
A spine as strong as your mother’s ego
Lotus graced tiny fingers and tiny toes
Eyes soft as Buddha’s pose
Little one, you gave up your life in lieu your mother arose
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You told her not whip for your pain
You came to love her til the snow melted and the flowers grew
You came to give her a glimpse of what the future holds
You showed her two paths leading into the distant woods
You came as the well-paved path yet she must refute the olds
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You knew your life was a brief cherry blossom kiss
Coming from the womb of Goddess you soared with her glow
A life not to be grieved but be tasted like Kyoto’s first snow
Winds of glory blew you to fulfill the universe’s flow
Moments of warmth and dances of light entered her heart to grow
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You came to teach your mother the impermanence of all things
Through your physical dissolution her spiritual freedom afloat
“Ma vie n’est pas lament for the dead but a celebration note”
As the blankets of snow melted away the cherry blossoms awoke
You kissed the lips of infinite bliss and united with the bosom to Goddess aglow.

 

October 15, 2010 Posted by | Choices, Death & Rebirth, poetry | , , , , | 1 Comment