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
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.
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!”
李枫 — 用艺术感染我 用经历打动我的女人 (English Translation provided below) Flo Li - Using Art to Invite Me, Using Experience to Impress Me
今天，李枫 Flo Li 再次回到中国，回到西安美术学院，就是展示她的发现，也为我们在时间和空间带来一件件值得细察和珍惜的体验。
Original text published on www.TianXiaHuaJie.com/
reposted on http://blog.soufun.com/blog_26050658.htm
Translation below provided by Google Translate
Flo Li impressed me. Was not originally with her paintings, but with her unusual experience. When life gave her the darkest chapter, God let her toward another side of the door. Of course, God has given every person with pain another open door, but, some people run towards it to open that door, while some people never make a move, thinking that there is no more way out.
This is Flo Li, born in 1978 in Xi’an Academy of Fine Arts. This unique and harmonious atmosphere affected the early stages of her understanding of the world.
At 12-years old, she left with her parents to the United States. After she finished high school in the United States, has received a master’s degree in biological engineering, and held 5 patents within the professional field.
But, today, I met with her, she came as an artist.
She was born in Xi’an Academy of Fine Arts, a place where artists develop; turn out of the loop for many years, now back to the same circle. Is this the fate of the conclusion, or self-seeking? I think this is a very interesting question. Not every student graduating from the Academy of Fine Arts can become an artist, not to mention practitioners of non-art institutions; not to say that a person who did not study art cannot become an artist, nevertheless Flo Li was only nurtured by the place of Fine Arts.
She had thought her life was very fortunate, at the age of 27, everything was beautiful, with much academic success, career success at such an early age, her professional efforts have given much material comfort. However, this young lady always ask herself: is this the life I wanted to live?
In the light of reaching humanity, she donated herself to charity. After four years of specialized training, she participated in the half ironman event. There is a great will and strength to fight within every triathlon, this event attracted the attention of the United States and around the world, and this fund-raiser proceeds was to be donated to a charitable organization to aid people in need of medical breakthroughs. Flo Li was proud of her physical strength and ability, the more she can use herself for a cause or any worthy obligations to the community made her proud.
But accidents often occur inadvertently!
Flo Li cycled downhill, in order to go beyond the competitor in front of her, she accelerated to nearly 50mph, suddenly the wheels went out of control, she plunged to the ground, unconscious.
What an unthinkable situation! Half of her face skinless, cheek bone fractured, nearly losing her left eye, with blood everywhere, and the body unable to move, and where is her heartbeat……
Some people said to have called the ambulance immediately, but the experienced rescue workers arrived in ambulance but instead said it would be too slow, the only way was to use an aircraft to left her to a big city hospital, to possibly save her life.
After the rescue, life returned, but lost too many, almost three months, she laid in bed unable to go outside. At that time, she understood the feelings of drug addicts. When she took the painkillers,there was a kind of illusion, she was under the influence of this drug, one can for the time being avoid the immediate pain, feeling a momentary pleasure. Of course, she soon realized that a deeper problem is more psychological.
An intelligent person will not allow themselves to survive in this situation long-term, she began to consider the meaning of life, considered her own fate and her responsibility to her own future. Her fingers hit the keyboard, communicated with the world with the mouse, and slowly, used mathematical chaos models with the aid of a computer to paint pictures.
That was her effort to get rid of the shackles of darkness, but also in its own mystical way to build a bright future. She knew in order to head into the future, there must be a healthy psychological support.
Three months later, a little better, she not only adhered to work, also in her spare time to study psychology and enrolled in MBA. Since then, she also used her psychological knowledge to help relief the suffering of others she encountered.
But what she prefers, is to use the computer to explore fractal art.
She found the cells under the microscope, the engineered designs of an artificial hip-joint, the eddies within a turbulent flow, are all comparably beautiful, just like the changing colors of an autumn leaf. Scholars of fractal art know that this is the form of mathematical models to resolve true natural beauty.
Today, Flo Li returned to China again, back to Xi’an Academy of Fine Arts, one is to show her discovery, but also to share with us in time and space with all the pieces of her life experience worthy of scrutinize and cherish.
People often sigh, life is cruel. When Flo fall in that moment, life is far more cruel to her, yes, quite cruel!
But she survived, she is in the process of making peace with the cruel, God has also unexpectedly opened another door for her to walk through.
Therefore, she is the lucky one.
This lucky one. Fortunately, as we trace back to her luck, it must be that she initially lived in the Xi’an Academy of Fine Arts, at that time, her neighbor was professor Zhang Xiao-qin. As she took her first steps, she always treasured her own graffiti on paper, eventually got Professor Zhang’s art instruction. And her first sketchbooks, were gifts from Professor Zhang and husband Professor Chen.
Today, Zhang once again showed up to critique her paintings, to state her views, but she also said Flo’s work, to a certain degree, enlightens herself, if discovered earlier, she could have taken her Buddha Enlightenment series art show at Famen Temple using a different tactic and a different perspective. Professor Zhang was very sincere in her remark.
In the Xi’an Academy of Fine Arts Library second floor’s exhibition hall, I met Flo Li. She seemed quiet, some what physically weak. But her heart is undoubtedly strong, a tri-degree student can be common, but while this woman received five patents, that is rare. In particular, I think her experience in college, where she and her fellow students designed an auto-scan optical microscope, where one can view different layers of cellular microscopic world is also rare.
I am also a former engineering student, well aware of university invention is not so easy.
She also conducted blood analysis with hardware and software-disciplinary combination with chemical analysis. She also worked for company’s senior management to advance blood testing. Such a needed woman, but lying in bed unable to move, unable to smile into the mirror, only able to perform part of her brian’s instructions… …
Science is often helpless towards psychological suffering. The treatment of the body must rely on science. Fortunately, this contradiction of science and psychology is just a harmonizing process, in her efforts to overcome adversity, she walked on the path toward wholeness and health again.
Her fractals helped her psychologically, later became her accomplishment.
Her paintings helped many people psychologically as well, she talked about some interesting stories. For example the story of a famous lawyer and her turtles.
And we also spoke gently of the past, Flo Li suddenly jumped up like a child delighted running toward to door to greet Professor Zhang Xiao-qun, they hugged each other tightly. In that moment, both were in tears. In the following conversation, their hands were tightly held together. Speaking of art, about her childhood paintings of flying birds, blue sky and white clouds, they held onto each other, as if leaning onto each other give them both a source of power.
I was initially impressed by Flo Li’s experience. However, when viewing her art work, I found myself completely immersed in her work. As early as 10 years ago, I have collected some fractal art, and have really appreciate the work too. Today, it is fair to say that those works were more complex and expressive, but Flo Li’s work touches people different, with her ingredients inside the computer, adding a lot of warm color, inviting you into her heart.
A woman who can touch so many does not only do so with her experience.
Rough English translation of a Chinese art critic’s review
First time I saw Flo’s works, out of curiosity, I wondered why it lacked specific artistic effects. However knowing fractals are mathematically generated, I was surprised that the seemingly dull mathematical formulas can actually condense into such beautiful patterns. These particular effects cannot be replicated, the same way that each input function can create various graphics are based on boundary conditions or variable constraints. Often times these functions and constraints produce no more than discontinued numbers or out of range nothingness – which seems like a little joke to the artist when rendering the fractal – hoping for something yet finding nothing. The nature of fractals made me wonder how someone can use this media to convey the depth of feelings.
In a quiet and pleasant place this work was cautiously presented. Much to the Flo’s personal preference to this piece she carefully placed it in her bedroom and hope to connect with its energy before handing it over to a buyer. Flo spent much time producing this work and I wondered why is this work so difficult… I noticed that this piece conveys a deep idea and it is simply profound. Because of its black background, the sliver and blue/green focus precipitated out of the whole picture against that dark contract – making the work hauntingly mysterious. Her use of color was very stingy yet it is this presence of color contract of black, silver and cold blue that simplified the process of captivating the viewers’ hearts with a quite whisper of sublime kiss.
The name of this painting is called “Buddha”. Before I had asked for its name I speculated the kind of work this particular piece contributed. It has the feeling of penetrating sacredness that people long for but have difficulties grasping. After knowing the title of the work, the sacred feeling has deepened. This work conveys a highly philosophical realm. Only in this state such creation was able to blossom out of our hearts to answer our longing for God – not because it rigidly adheres to a particular shape or image but rather it generates an intuitive visual experience of inner knowing. It is this explosion from within truly expresses the sacred and the unspecified wondrous harmony that deeply haunts the spirit of all living creatures. Flo uses the specific color of cold blue to give connotation to the presence of Buddha, seemingly appropriate, as the coldness inspires us to feel the spirit within the space spanning nothingness. On the other hand, the darker blue area in the center of the work with darker dots made me think of characteristics of a mother’s womb as it traces back to the beginning of human race. The transformation outwardness from the womb into undefined physical shapes shows where human nature was often overlooked in our current cultures and human societal laws are now bound by ball and chain into silencing the inquiring minds… The reason why the Buddha is God is because she can influence people’s hearts. In fact, the way this “Buddha” is represented is vastly different from historical images of colorful Buddha created by our minds with jewels covered shawls, mediating in the throne of a shimmering lotus, showing anger with thick brows and mercy with the flick of a finger. The images of Buddha throughout history have been heavily based on human interpretations while artists have mistaken our egotistical creations for the source of spiritual inspiration. Therefore God must not simply be the image of anthropomorphic art. God’s true charm lies within the invisible strength where faith is precisely seeing beyond the seeing-eye to go beyond our perceptions of lack and separation and to surpass our confused minds of hardship we were addicted to pursuit. When I saw this piece of Flo’s work I realized in fact WE have been overly concerned with the appearance of things rather than the essence of things. The outward search cannot offer spiritual freedom, we must find a doorway into mental and spiritual moments of serenity in order to reach within – into the permanent peace of the mind and ease of the spirit.
Flo is a practitioner of martial arts. She pursues the Tao of Aikido in order to sense the physical, mental and spiritual condensation of divine Ki – the ball of energy within the hara that acts as a doorway to access the endless supply of our essence. When I stood quietly in front of “Buddha” I found myself unable to escape the “balloon” feeling within my center because the composition of “Buddha” have somehow evoked the life essence within me. Its spiritual nourishment metabolized into physical sentiment. In this piece, the turning of gaseous sphere around Buddha’s center produces the bodily outlines that layers around its essence symbolizing the impermanence of our appearance but what is true lies within. Just as we feel inspired, we take a breathe into nourishing the body through the spirit. The Ki-focused and body-secondaried composition also leads the viewers into the illusion of different perceptions of the Buddha without making the outer perception as the ultimate goal. It honors various visions of Buddha without adhering to the historical views and worships. In this work, Flo has clearly standardized the answer that many individuals discovered on the road to self-awareness – elements of unseen need to be found in order to reach God. This unique form of painting gives the viewers an objective freedom of choice not only through the interpretation of the theme of such creation but also through the image of Buddha from different viewer’s own perspectives and rich cultural backgrounds.
The most magical moment this work brought forth is that the human spirit unconsciously craves the merging of the physicality of mathematics into the spirituality of arts. Fractal’s extraordinary creative method can not be planned or reproduced by the same equation as we cannot plan ahead where a mystical experience can suddenly take place. Unlike Flo’s traditional paintings, such holistic work cannot be executed by plan alone but it must rely on faith and the rarity of coincidences. In fractals, only faith is appropriate because this art form cannot be derived from our subjective metamorphosis of our ego to transfer the misconception of human will. I believe “Buddha” is special. It is pure. In fact, as long as the heart of God is still beating, “Buddha” is truly watching over us everywhere.
Thank you Flo for your creation, for your faith and for your inspiration. Your work has brought us many moments of Truth and endless waves of awareness…
By 小鱼 (Ethan Zhao)
Jan 12th, 2011
Womb of Sukhavati
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
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
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
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.