As we grow more aware of who we are, we naturally notice that we are connected to all of life. We stop feeling separate, we stop feeling better than someone else, we stop our old patterns of “pushing through” life. Life itself becomes a song of love with its tenderness – because we ourselves have become softer, kinder, and more peaceful. This awakened life is naturally more gentle – like a whisper, like a butterfly kiss, like a pleasant cool breeze on a hot summer day.
I’ve never actively chased awakening or enlightenment. I never thought much about it. The first awakening happened by accident through an accident 10 years ago. Thinking back, I guess I’ve always known something BIG would happen in my life and I would die at a young age. I was okay with it. I was forced to have my hand read by old Chinese gypsies and wise monks when I was a child by my mother. Some of them warned my mother that my life line disconnects and there’s a strong chance I would not make it past my 28th year. The number 28 in I-Ching symbolizes a significant test in one’s life where the pressure of karma accumulates into a pinnacle.
Needless to say, the younger me was not at all gentle. I think there were many reasons why. Growing up, I was a “Tom Boy” and I climbed up trees and got mud all over my face. I think my mother guided me into being a “Tom Boy” because I was always afraid. The first time I got a cut on my knee and saw blood, I thought I was going to die. In order to toughen me up, my mother had me play with the boys and be one of the boys. It did help me to have more confidence in my own ability to survive. I was also a slow learner. My father was the orchestra conductor of Xi’an Academy of Music and he was surrounded by over-achieving excellence. And I was not excellent. So I had to be shaped into excellence. I did enjoy music, but I was terrible at following instructions. I found reading music sheets a form of torture. But I had to push through it with two hours of practice per night after school and after homework. I learned early on that life is a constant struggle, and that there’s only work with no joy. Perhaps it is also in the genetics of the Chinese culture that emphasized the survival of the fittest. Since I wasn’t physically strong, then I must become book smart and emotionally strong. Therefore I must adopt the type A personality structure in order to make it in this lifetime.
Yes, a type A over-achieving “Tom Boy” is definitely not a gentle being. But it was the way things were. It got me far in my career but it was exactly the sword that nearly killed me. This type-A-pushing-through-life attitude masked my true emotions and physical exhaustion during a half iron-man race – giving me the perfect opportunity to experience the accumulative pressure of karma.
Karma refers to the spiritual principle of cause and effect where intent and actions of an individual influence the future outcome of that individual’s life. Karma means it was my doing that resulted in my own misfortune or it could also mean it was my doing that resulted in the wonderful fruits of my labor.
It was my karma that caused my cycling accident 10 years ago. It was this drive to do more, be better, achieve more in me that pushed me off that bike going fast down a hill. Karma is a bitch. And the person that created the bitch was ME.
Today, a bit over 10 years since my accident that nearly killed me, I am able to revisit some of the painful memories. In a way Life spared me so I can re-do my life. The old wounds of karma still hurt. But looking at the outcome as I was the one who caused my own pain is enlightening.
Today, the day after I trimmed the trees and flowers in my garden, the sunlight seeps through in the morning on my patio to greet the butterflies, hummingbirds, and snails alike. I opened my eyes after meditation to find Love – sitting – right there – within me.
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
I read this tonight and thought I would share the wisdom of Sadhguru from the book “Mystic’s Musings”. On one level, it echos the teachings of aikido, on another level, it is exactly what I needed to hear. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do.
Of all emotions, compassion is the highest that man can experience. When someone lives in compassion, not just love, only then he is a real seeker, because very easily love becomes attachment and a bias. Love can become a great prejudice against you, somebody else, or anything.
In the Indian culture you never told your parents, your wife, your husband or your children, “I love you.” This was not a part of this culture because the moment you say it, it’s almost like it’s not there. You’re only trying to assert it. Love is not an assertion. Love is supplication. An asserting mind can never be a loving mind. ON the day of the big men’s only booze party, a gentle, quiet, and unassuming fellow who had missed a few of these kinds of parties was goaded by his chauvinistic friends to be more assertive with his wife. “You don’t have to always do the things your wife asks you to do. Go home tonight and show her you’re the boss.” The man, after hearing these same words many times over, was finally set on fire with enthusiasm and couldn’t wait to try the friends’ advice. He rushed home, slammed the door, shook his fist in his wife’s face, and growled, “From now on you’re taking orders from me. I want my supper right now and after you put it on the table, go upstairs and lay out my best clothes. Tonight I’m going out with the boys and you’re going to stay home where you belong. And another thing, do you know who is going to comb my hair, iron my pants, polish my shoes, and tie my tie?” “I certainly do,” said the wife very calmly, “the undertaker.”
Patanjali (who is considered the father of yogic sciences), to differentiate between asserting and loving, called this ‘the original mind’. What is this original mind? The mind that you carry right now is a collection, an accumulation. It is garbage that you have piled over a period of time. If you can leave it behind and walk away, then you are in your original mind. Others may call this no mind, this original mind. This is something that ‘was’, something that when you tasted our original mind – true love or compassion just well up within you. Only if you can leave your garbage and walk away this moment, only then is this possible. Only then the seeker who carries my message becomes a Master, otherwise he just stagnates. Just carrying my message is itself an accumulation, some nonsense that you gathered somewhere. Maybe it is useful for a few people, but many never lead to any great transformation.
The few who carry my message to the outside world are teachers. A teacher is an eternal student. The moment he stops being a student, he is not a teacher anymore. This is the way it is. The day he thinks, “I am a teacher,” he is finished. It is over. This is a constant process of learning. Once you are in this moment of original mind, there is no past. Everything is new, everything is fresh. If at any moment you think you know, and you teach, that means you’re carrying the past burden. Maybe right now this is convenient, but the same convenience will become a tremendous torture after some time. It will. I have seen people systematically destroy themselves, step by step. Not carrying the past burden can be very easily done for the person who can simply be here.
The process of training people to carry my message is not to go out and do some nonsense to somebody else. This is not the point. This whole process is a way of growth. It is an effective tool for your growth. Teaching is for you to grow and during the process somebody else might be benefited. In the African lore there is a saying “When the lion feeds, many animals eat.” That’s all it is. It’s not a service that you’re doing. It is just that you chose that kind of a path, that when you walk, many others benefit. When something is left unfulfilled within you, when a complete illumination has not happened with your own being, there is nothing one can really teach. There is nothing that can be transmitted. It is just that you’re a driver, and you take the passengers along with you. maybe you have the opportunity of handling the wheel for a while. That does not make you better in anyway. It is just that you’re also a passenger, but happen to be the one who is holding the wheel.
If a person has to develop, he has to grow into humility and love. He has to evolve into a certain gracefulness; a gracefulness not of the body, not of the clothes, not of the exterior, but a certain gracefulness which can’t be expressed in words. If a person has to grow into this, it can only come when moment-to-moment life becomes caring, the kind of caring which hurts. This can happen only out of deep love and compassion.
Unlike how I’ve imagined, after awakening, our identification and attachments don’t melt into thin air in the snap of a finger. I’ve heard incidences that a few people can work through their karma load easily and quickly, but for most, it takes dedication and the help of grace to clear out all the remaining untruth. Once we’ve witnessed the truth and know in the depth of our being that we are consciousness itself, anything that is untrue tends to float to the surface so we can take a closer look with an open heart.
Last year I found myself unable to lie. This happened right after my explosive weeks of awakening. I walked down the street and saw how people pretend to be asleep and they soak themselves in the lies they created. It is almost like a fantasy bubble – each and every one of them protects themselves in it. People are attached to their stories and like to tell their stories – in a way they define themselves with their past and what they believe in. For a while, it was very difficult for me to relate as if I were a newborn and I didn’t have a past. My senses could only be rooted in what is happening now that I didn’t have a story even if I searched for one. I didn’t mind listening to other people’s stories as I deeply felt what they were going through. When it was time for me to share something about myself I couldn’t conjure up anything at all. My past seemed insignificant in comparison to the present. To me there is only the present and nothing else. Yet nearly everyone around me lived in the past or was aiming for a fantasy future. At the time I thought if people truly become intimate with one another based on their attachments, beliefs, or even their shared hopes for the future, I will no longer be able to experience intimacy with people on that level again. There were moments of grief. For a while, I tried to push myself back in the game of pretending again, unsuccessfully. Every time I would say something out of alignment with the truth of the moment my body would feel so twisted up inside with nausea that I had to admit my mistake and move back to complete honesty again.
It has been one year now. What I’ve noticed is our body and our energy are all affected by the untruth we tell ourselves on one level or another. If I were to believe that I am not well, my body would shrink down, I would slouch a bit, and react in such a way to match my belief. This identification with the belief actually comes even before the appearance of a thought. In a way, any identification system formed the structure that allowed us to grow up in an environment safely. Early in life when we had to navigate our environment it served a purpose – kept us safe. As we progress on our spiritual path these structures might become too constricting or ill-fitted altogether. Like a big fish in a small pond, as the fish grows in size, it needs to find a bigger pond – a more suitable environment. The same goes for us. As we grow physically, emotionally, spiritually to our full potential, our old structures might no longer fit. This is when struggles or internal conflicts might occur. In a way, like the ever expanding universe, we are growing beyond old dimensions, so somehow, with awareness, we need to uncover the structure we need to let go, and melt into the new truth of NOW.
When we speak of untruth, it really refers to a false identification of our past belief structure that’s outdated. This is where psychology and spirituality can co-exist as we bring awareness to see what is not true that is creating discomfort within us. I have a beautiful fuchsia plant. She is tall, beautiful, slightly timid in full pale pink blossoms. Because she grew up within a structure that limited her upward growth, she twisted herself around the obstacle in order to get a glimpse of the sun. She had to bend her spine in order to survive. One day, I gently moved her away from that confining structure and give her a much bigger home with plenty of sun, food, shade, and water. Within a few days, she had miraculously straightened her spine and opened up herself to new heights. She no longer looked timid, but instead, she enjoyed her newly found freedom.
We too are as such. We are also just a part of nature with an innate ability to adjust to each moment anew. Yet, it is our attachment to old identifications that holds us in our old patterns unable to fully express our wholeness. Some might call it ego-identification, egoic nature, false beliefs, etc. Either way, as we progress we must reassess our current state without the clutter of old definitions that hold us back. Whenever we find ourselves contracting or shrinking down physically or energetically, we can use this opportunity to examine what we are still holding onto that is no longer true. Often times by seeing our identifications without judgement we can remember why that particular structure served us once upon a time. And how it was useful at the time. By seeing it with compassion we can then move into a more clear space of the now, with clarity to let go if that is the truth of the moment.
Some spiritual paths help us to strengthen our inner truth to push out any untruth. Other spiritual paths help us uncover untruth and polish clean ourselves to surface one’s true nature. For me, it has been extremely helpful to do both at various times. For a while, life took me onto a path with incredible grace as if the whole core of my body is filled with strength and light that is growing in size, pushing outward. Other times I feel uncourageous and small, yet with the awareness to sense the origin of these feelings, I was able to find and let go untruth – and to fully breathe again.
Last Saturday I tested for my shodan in aikido and was awarded a black belt. People asked me how it feels. To be honest, I feel no different because getting a black belt was not my aim. At the same time I feel deeply touched because I have devoted myself completely through sunshine and rain, and in a sense, to have come this far without giving up along the way is what I’m most proud of.
Looking back there were numerous times I questioned my sanity when things got tough. Especially when it came to the aikido forward roll. I was never talented at being up-side down nor I enjoyed it very much. The forward roll seemed to me like purposefully tossing myself onto the ground and hoping my body will be round enough to carry me through so I can make it to the other side and be back on my feet again. In a way, I thought I had to be at least a little crazy to attempt such a stunt. I was – a little crazy – priding myself as a good athlete I didn’t want to back down from such a challenge. Wanted to protect myself I often closed my eyes, held my breath and prayed I won’t get hurt. I suppose my teachers were amazed at times that I’m willing to try and other times I would tremble in fear while everyone else proceeded before me. There were times I walked out of it all together. Not to mention injuring my right shoulder a few months into the training when I tossed myself too high off the ground with my eyes closed, and later only to discover that I have landed on the weakest part of the shoulder that was not meant to support such weight. I cried my tears and swore I would never put myself through another ordeal again yet somehow there was another force quietly pushing me forward.
Four years have gone by that I rarely missed any training at all. I selflessly worked on anything else the dojos needed from mopping the mats, updating the website, hosting oversea guests, to teaching the kids class. There was never a day went by I didn’t at least think of aikido. Why? I really can’t say. After years of training my goal-oriented ego has been washed away slowly. I could no longer say I train so I can look good in other people’s eyes because I no longer care. I don’t do it for the money, I don’t do it to gain approval, I don’t do it to even be physically fit. Unknowingly the subtle flow slowly pushed me forward through my sadness, through the obstacles, through sunshine and rain and somehow I found myself on the other side of the forward roll – landing on my feet continuing to walk forward.
What did I give up? A lot. I had to give up fear. I had to give up aggression. I had to give up the need to be perfect. I had to give up indulging in my neurosis. I had to give up forcing a particular outcome to suit my needs. I had to give my limited view of separation of humanity. … The list goes on.
What did I gain? Even more. I gained true self-confidence. I gained a disciplined mind. I gained the awareness when I’m acting from ego. I gained the ability of acceptance and peace. I gained a keen sense of focus amid emotional turmoil. Most importantly I gained love and compassion for myself and the ability to expand that love outward.
The truth is, the black belt itself has no meaning, yet this black belt is a symbol of my perseverance. This black belt reminds me to stick to my path through thick and thin – knowing I will land on my feet and walk forward again each time I fall.
By Sadhguru, Founder of Isha Yoga
Love is a human emotion. It is one of the most beautiful things a human being is capable of. Many cultures or so-called civilizations have suppressed love. Many people have made an enormous effort to export love to heaven. But love is of the earth, of the heart.
Human beings are capable of immense love. You do not need to go to heaven to know it. It is the tenderness of the heart that you call love. Even your dog is love. By teaching people that love comes from above, we have made them more and more incapable of love. Love comes from within, not from above. If you free your mind of complex prejudices that you have developed, by identifying yourself with one thing or the other, you will see that it is very natural and spontaneous for a human to love.
The moment you divide the world into right and wrong, into what is yours and not yours, into God and devil, your love becomes very conditional. It gets enslaved to the external situations and it will no more be your quality, but something that will only happen because someone else or something else is wonderful.
To put it simply, as a human being experientially, you are just these four things: body, mind, emotion, and energy. Right now, the combination of these four is what you call “myself.” The best the body can reach is health and pleasure. The best your mind can achieve is joyfulness and peace. The peak of your emotion is love, devotion and compassion. Your energies can reverberate either with a mundane feebleness or with a great intensity of ecstasy. In your current experience of life, these are the only realms of experience that are available to you.
Generally, people do not know much intensity of body, mind, and energy, but they are capable of intense emotions, whatever those may be — anger, hatred, jealousy, love or compassion. For most people, emotion is the most intense part of them, and it dominates and decides the general quality of their lives. And love is the sweetest of all emotions.
If you ask someone whether they would like to be healthy or unhealthy in the body, you know what the obvious choice would be. Similarly, on the plane of your emotions, would you want to be loving or hateful? If you are using your sense, you would naturally choose love.
When I use the word “love,” you probably think of it in terms of loving somebody, but love is not about someone else; it is your quality. Just as health is of the body and happiness is of the mind, love is your emotion. If the ones whom you love very much are not in your physical presence, you are still capable of loving them, aren’t you? If the people you love cease to exist, you can still continue to love them. Many people find the expression of their love only when someone is dead or about to die. We always love the dead, don’t we?
Every human being is capable of being absolutely loving, but each one has issues with almost everything and everybody around them. People have gotten into a mental state where no one in the world is okay except himself or herself. The discriminatory dimension of the mind has gone berserk. Sincerely look at yourself and see. Look at the dearest person in your life and see how many layers of resistance you have to them. The moment your mind says that someone or something is not okay, you cannot love.
Love is your quality. You are just using things and people around you as stimuli to find expression for this quality. If you bring sufficient awareness to the discriminatory intellect, loving is the only way you can be. Love is not what you do. Love is what you are.
This article was published in the Huffington Post.
(BTW, I completely concur and I LOVE YOU! – Flo Li)
“A human being is part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. A kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. The true value of a human being is determined by the measure and the sense in which they have obtained liberation from the self. We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if humanity is to survive.” – Albert Einstein, 1954
Albert Einstein was a yogi, like the Buddha.
What then is really yoga?
In the recent years yoga has commercialized into a non-stopable exercise fever across the world. When you ask the average person walking down the street what yoga is, he will probably tell you it is an exercise routine he himself practices twice a week in his work gym. Ask another, she will probably show you on the spot how well she can do the downward dog. I too teach various yoga poses in my morning aikido class as a part of an exercise routine. So is this it? Yoga helps us to slim down?
According to wikipedia – “Yoga refers to traditional physical, mental and spiritual disciplines, originating in ancient India, whose goal is the attainment of a state of perfect spiritual insight and tranquility.” Yoga Journal covers yoga poses, yoga lifestyle, health through yoga, yoga wisdom, yoga community, yoga conferences and yoga videos. I have personally practiced power yoga, ashtanga yoga, hatha yoga,bikram yoga before stepping into Isha Yoga.
Yoga means yoke, to join, or to become a union. In the physical forms of yoga practice, we learn to integrate our mind into the physical posture. Later we learn to draw our breath to become one with the mind and the posture. The goal in yoga is to become one. Beginners can learn to have one mind instead of a conflicting mind. Then move onto using the mind with the body and the breath to become one complete harmonious being. Advanced yogis can take one step further, once we are in harmony within ourselves, we can then experience the oneness with other individuals and nature around us. Lots of different yoga studios around town will offer you the beginning courses into yoga – learning from poses to breathe to calming the mind. However some of us still desire to experience a deepened practice beyond the superficial. We long to experience the oneness spiritual teachers throughout the ages have spoken of, we long to experience being in union with All That Is. This is where Isha Yoga comes in.
Isha Yoga means yoga of the divine – being in union with the divine. My personal experience has just been such. After practicing various physical yoga forms for more than 10 years, poses no longer fulfilled me. I was able to experience a few hours of mental calmness through the physical exercises but I did not have any spiritual gain. The optical delusion of separateness mentioned in Einstein’s quote was constantly a part of my reality. I felt alone even when I was with friends. I felt unhappy even when I visited the most beautiful places. I wanted more out of life and my personal and professional achievements no longer sustained my desires. Three years ago a friend introduced me to Isha Yoga. I was skeptical. I didn’t like the idea of having a guru or worship a white bearded man who seemed so distant. January 2009, I was feelings so despondent from life I decided to take a leap of faith and see what this Isha Yoga is all about. After my Inner Engineering classes ended, I felt a new sense of acceptance of myself and everything around me. I felt lighter day after day. As I continued my practice day after day, my female emotional storms would normally take me into deep depression are no longer bothering me on such profound levels. As if I could watch my own drama from the audience, I was able to gain much perspective and regain my calmness quickly. No doubt I still experience ups and downs but the dramas in life no longer controlled my life. I felt lighter and lighter day after day…
After my second class BSP, I was finally able to feel complete oneness with everyone and everything. I no longer judged gurus and I felt a sense of affection toward myself, nature and individuals I called strangers. I opened up. All That Is was me, and I am a part of the experience within the universe. I was a fractal microcosm within the macrocosm. I was high in bliss. And that was the first time I completely understood Albert Einstein’s quote “A human being is part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space… Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” And I felt the Truth in his words as tears of appreciation streamed down my face when I gazed upon Sadhguru.
Remember – “if your happiness and your wellbeing is not subject to anybody or anything, only then are you free. Otherwise whether you are in a prison or walking outside on the street, you still are a prisoner within yourself.”
Today as I share my Isha Yoga experience with you, I hope you will find within yourself the curiosity to explore – to explore a deepened yoga experience, to explore a beautiful life, and to explore your peak potential.
It happened… Something happened so abruptly that it pulled out the rug that I stood on as it turned my world upside down – in the middle of December just as my horoscope suggested. The pain was so quick and unexpected I didn’t know if I should laugh or cry. I felt thankful how these cured circumstances reflected back to me. I felt humbled by the lessons I learned from this process. I even felt it was indeed a huge blessing to experience the deep pain of humanity. Yet at the same time the helplessness, suffering and rejection I felt inside still kept me crying at all hours of the day when no one is around. I can’t seem to shake it off. The worst part of it was that my recently published booked called Happiness By Definition all of a sudden seemed like a lie. I was no longer the happy, blissful social butterfly on the cover of the book – suddenly I’ve turned into an ogre! I didn’t know what to do and I couldn’t get myself to snap out of it. I was frustrated, resentful and wished things could change for the better.
This horoscope caught my eyes because I’ve finally experienced the sharp reality of rejection as I am learning to unlock my heart. In the past, I was always smart enough, clever enough or cute enough to get what I want – with my head. I didn’t suffer much when I didn’t get exactly what I wanted because nothing really mattered to me. I walked through life with a sense of aloofness and I thought I was on the top of my game. The truth is I didn’t understand the place of the heart. But lately being on the spiritual path my old strategies no longer worked. The universe had to show me a new way. So all the heartaches happened just in time – in the middle of December – just in time to teach me a lesson before the holidays. Perhaps it was finally time to heal the past wounds with my family before the new year. Perhaps it is time to learn this lesson now so I can understand the depth of humanity. Perhaps I wasn’t supposed to fight the incoming circumstances. Perhaps all these dreadful moments I’m going through is indeed a chance for me to grew into my authenticity. As I gazed onto the tear drops that turned into the perfect shape of a heart, I noticed my ever-changing unconditional love and my ever-expanding sense of compassion underneath the gut-retching pain. For a moment more, I found myself wishing the best for the man who acted as the sandpaper and sunshine to my soul. I saw why I had to fall in unconditional love with him and my love be completely rejected in return. I was in the deepest pain I’ve ever experienced because I have opened my heart. Yet at the same time I felt the tender healing underlying all that suffering, there is a great sense of freedom! As I opened up my heart even more wishing him happiness and true healing, I no longer cared if I was rejected. I just wanted the best for him in whatever he chooses. I can FEEL! I have a heart! I can love unconditionally!
Through this experience, I can relate to others much more sincerely. Because I have been gifted pain and healing, I know how to extend the gift of healing onto others I come in contact with. I am in a better place to help without judgement but with compassion. I don’t know where my path will lead me. I do know that I will make more conscious choices out of courage, love, and compassion no matter where I go. I will not retaliate out of anger and I will not use anyone else to relieve my pain. I will walk head high, chest forward, with the support of my true integrity and live a life of authenticity.
This week while attending the Master NLP Results Certification Training, I have gained a deeper understanding of the perfection underneath the seemingly chaotic world…
Two days ago, as the trainer used a skillfully constructed presupposition anchoring the idea that “we will all work with the perfect partner” during one of the exercises, I laughed to myself in disbelieve. To me, life has been chaotic and I have often doubted if things are actually “unfolding in divine order” or is it all just a massive quantum soup. How is it possible for me to find the perfect partner to work with in this crowd of over achievers? There’s no way anyone would understand what I’m going through. To me, the perfect partner did not exist. And all these hypnotic language patterns can trick the mind to believe that “it is all perfect” when in reality circumstances can often be harshly disappointing…
But somehow I wanted to believe… Maybe somewhere in this quantum soup of potentiality, we do get exactly the perfect set of circumstances for our own healing and growth… I wanted to believe…
She was my coach… Blond, thin, graceful, successful and powerful. She smiled at me when I sat down. I judged her. I thought she was too perfect to understand me. She had the perfect outfit, the perfect smile, and running the perfect company. She probably never had a misfortune in her life. She is not me.
Watching my face, she knew what I was thinking but she didn’t mind the judgement. After passing a few jokes, she looked deeper into my soul while riding on the waves of unstoppable compassion. There’s something magical about compassion… It always penetrates all walls – like neutrinos – lack electrical charge, extremely difficult to detect, and consist the ablility to pass through matter undisturbed… It was this compassion that touched me… Gazing into her eyes, I felt safe, relaxed and eventually allowed the onset of our healing work together.
My issue was simple – love. I knew that I had not allowed myself to receive love. I have built a wall around me so no one can get too close. Even though I wanted intimacy and connection, I was terribly afraid of getting close to anyone at the same time. I didn’t allow anyone to get close to me – not my friends, family, nor the kids in my life. I pull out of hugs way too quickly. I don’t accept joyously created art pieces from loving 7 year olds. I switch to a new circle of friends when the current ones get too close. I can only date guys I am not attracted to. And I certainly can’t see myself as a good wife or a fabulous mother. I can be cold, calculating, and sometimes people don’t trust me because I don’t often operate from my heart. I am an engineer and it shows in my personal relationships… I knew this is how I kept people away – it protected me and I felt safe within my walls…
Somehow she knew. She knew me like I was a part of her and she a part of me. Still riding on the waves of compassion, she worked on finding out the highest intention of my problem part that worked overtime to keep me separate. The highest intention of the non-problematic part was surprisingly the same. Within minutes, I could see clearly that both parts of me wanted love, intimacy and connection – and yet they were in conflict with one another on how to achieve that love, intimacy and connection. As soon as I looked beyond the underlying pain, separation, and coldness my unconscious mind has created – I saw LOVE… Within seconds, my hands started to move together while I am moving toward a higher level of congruency with myself. The sun started to shine brightly… Feeling the warmth of such congruent love, I had no doubt that I could allow these seemingly opposing parts to work as a complete whole…
By the end of the exercise as we completed the Parts Integration with each other – both of us were in tears – finding that we were the perfect mirror for one another. She was keeping men at an arm’s length while I kept everyone at an arm’s length. By coaching one another through this intense heart opening experience, we have somehow healed our own difficulties in the process… And most importantly, she was my perfect mirror – my perfect partner. I am thankful.