Heart Opening Moments

BLOG of a Spiritual Stripper

What Can Enlightenment Do for You?

In Southern California, our idea of spirituality is "it is ALL ABOUT ME!"

In Southern California, our idea of spirituality is “it is ALL ABOUT ME!”

A friend came to visit. He excitedly told me how the universe gave him everything he wanted from meeting celebrities to being on TV without the chance to allow himself to take a full breath. “I must be in such high vibration that everything’s working out for ME!”

Smiling, without a word, I served him a cold iced-tea with a piece of freshly cut white peach on the side. He pushed it aside and went on to tell me about how people everywhere are stopping with envious stares since he got his amazing six-pack…

In Southern California, there’s a culture of speaking of such things as “cleanse”, “mindfulness”, “detox”, “healing”, “meditation”, “organic”, “yoga”, “reiki”, “zen”, “juicing”, “being in alignment”, “high vibration”,  “unity”, “love”, “enlightenment”… The list goes on and on. Lots of us here eat organic to be in a higher vibration – not as an aware expression but as a concept – for the purpose of becoming better.

In more ways than one, we use yoga, meditation or anything “spiritual” for our own personal gain. When I do an “OM” chanting practice, I can do it in several different ways – 1. I can use it to show those around me how peaceful and spiritual I am, 2. I can use it to open up my energy so my life can run more smoothly; or 3. I can do it with subtle awareness and witness the interconnections and changes as each “OM” progressively expresses through my body. For these three ways, these actions are exactly the same, yet the essence of each are completely different.

Consciously or unconsciously we are always asking “what can Enlightenment do for ME?”

Our collective ego structure is always interested in how to feel better. We find shortcuts in life and indulge ourselves in momentary pleasures often resulting in long drawn-out pain. We use alcohol, television, sports, sex, fashion, games, relationships, politics as ways to escape reality, as ways to turn away from looking within ourselves. As a result, we put on a false mask along with lavishly decorated armors to show the world who we pretend to be.

smart sexy personality purchase

Now this smart sexy personality can be purchased on ebay!

A young lady posts her intellectual achievements, re-shares the latest scientific discoveries, and shows-off how charismatically smart she is so she can gain the approval of her friends – only to find no matter how hard she tries to impress, she still felt like a black hole inside.

La Vérité - Truth (1870), Jules Joseph Lefebvre, oil on canvas, Musée d'Orsay, Paris, France.

La Vérité – Truth (1870), Jules Joseph Lefebvre, oil on canvas, Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France.

An older man got married to a glamorous “trophy” – only to discover 15 years later that he’s trapped in a marriage without ever experiencing true love.

Amy’s Baking Company asked Chef Ramsey to help improve their business, only to not take any feedback and decide that everyone else is wrong. The owners blamed the internet haters and never for a second quietly took a look to see if they themselves are to blame.

Like Chef Ramsey, Enlightenment is not shy to serve you a plate of truth. You might overlook and ignore it for a while, but eventually it will slap you in the face until you wake up to the reality you’ve been avoiding for years.

Yup, I’ve been there. I’ve experienced the personal ego structure to the most delusional level and felt the collective ego structure on the most fundamental level within my own being. Our ego structure cares feverishly about the outer appearances of things while pushing aside the gut feelings, and ignoring the simplest truth.

The last time I witnessed myself asking “what can Enlightenment do for me?” I didn’t expect the honest truth it served me in such a timely manner. I got to look within myself and saw how egotistical my whole life was. All aspects of my life had been contaminated by a self-importance, self-consciousness, fear of failure, fear of looking bad, fear of rejection, a need to be accepted, a need to show-off, and the list goes on and on. I was that young lady, I was that older man, I was the owners of Amy’s Baking Company, and I too once played all parts in these roles. When I looked for what Enlightenment can do for me, I had hoped for a chance to win a million dollars, a top of the line sports car, or a way to look young and beautiful forever. Instead, Enlightenment has a different sense of humor.

For me, Enlightenment was holding up a mirror to reflect where my life was lived as a way to put on a show. It unveiled the naked truth that I avoided for so long – in every area and every moment of my life. I could not run away any longer. This time, I was stripped naked by Enlightenment, with a magnifying glass to examine each and every part of my self, my belief structure, and my hardened delusions. Then it took a scalpel, and surgically removed each and every untruth as they are being revealed – sometimes with insurmountable pain, other times with gentle awareness. The surgery is not complete. It has to be done over time. A time reveals more truth when each moment presents itself.

So if you found yourself asking “what can Enlightenment do for me?” If you are not ready for the truth, run the other way as fast as you can. Because Truth has a way of catching up to you if you are not careful. For some people, they can run and hide until Death comes to claim them. If you happen to slip and fall, know that Truth in her naked form will come with her bright mirror held up high and show you the truth regardless if you want it or not. Usually after putting up a fight, most of us can no longer keep up turning the other way in denials. There is a point that Truth will bring the arrival of Judgment Day when you are least expecting – and blows your masks and armors away without an apology. Truth is not nice. She is Truth. And Truth always wins.

What can Enlightenment do for you?

Enlightenment will strip you clean layer by layer until you recognize the naked truth of who you really are – Empty, Rich, Simple, Love, and Beautiful.

(A special Thanks to this simple and yet honest blog from Dragon Rider One.) 

September 2, 2013 Posted by | Choices, Enlightenment, Inner Growth, Self Realization | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Enlightenment – Selfless, Nothingness

A lot of people have the idea that their life will become perfect after Realization. The general consensus seems to be asking “what can Enlightenment get me?” as well as believing “after Enlightenment I can finally be happy, rich, free and everything will be the way I want it.” There’s this unspoken knowing when one spiritual seeker speaks to another that this Enlightenment is a finish line we spend our whole entire life chasing after, and somehow if we just cross that finish line everything will magically be the way we want it to be.

Unfortunately for the ego, Enlightenment has nothing to do with getting what you want. (damn!) The ego always thinks of ways to satisfy the self, ways to make the self look better or appear more competent. To the ego, there’s no point in attaining anything if “I can’t get what I want.” Unfortunately Enlightenment is about being self-less, it is about being no-thing.

A few years ago when I was introduced to Isha Yoga, I was spellbound by the beauty of my yoga teacher. She walks with grace effortlessly, she is touched easily, and the gentleness of her inner strength glows powerfully. She is beautiful not because of what she wears or how she looks on the outside, instead, there is this being-ness that softly embraces all that is. People knew she is different, only a few possessed the awareness why. On the day I met her for lunch, we were walking across the parking lot and I noticed the way her silk dupatta flowed in the wind. Catching my gaze, she smiled and said, “life is just as such, when you finally know what you are, you are free.” I looked at her with puzzled eyes and searched for the meaning of what she just said, “so do you know what you are?” She laughed and the vibration danced while the falling leaves swirled in the wind, “I am nothing, I now know that I am just a big no-thing!”

That incident stuck with me for a long time and my mind couldn’t grasp the importance of what she said. Only in the last year as Enlightenment came as a thief in the night and stole my identities, was I finally beginning to know the importance of such simple Truth. For me, awakening was just the beginning. My first awakening happened 7 years ago by accident and since then a series of smaller awakenings happened here and there. The last major awakening happened last June and July for more than two weeks as every night I went to sleep knowing that I will die. Usually the next morning I woke up and I did not recognize myself. Initially the thief only stole my identities at night, yet within days I could just sit on the balcony to watch the hummingbirds as I felt my internal software being deleted bit by bit. It was all happening way too fast and there was nothing I could do to stop it. I watched myself dying. I watched every bit of it. I couldn’t make it to my appointments and I didn’t answer emails or phone calls. I didn’t know who I was or what was happening. I didn’t even know how to communicate with myself nor anyone else.

During the last big awakening, the mind was the first thing to wake up. It realized that my whole entire life was a lie. Everything I thought I was and everything I held onto with dear life was all just an illusion. It is not to say that life itself was not real, but the illusion is that my perception of life was completely faulty. Everything I thought to be true was in fact just a twisted perception. And how amazing I’ve lived 33 years of my life that way! Then the following months as I turned 34, I could feel my heart opening up like a lotus flower. Bit by bit I could feel this overwhelming presence of love – love for life, love for truth, love for all that is. I could be deeply touched to tears in any situation – from the beauty of nature to the healing power of an argument. Now as I am going even deeper I’m beginning to feel Truth glide down into my core, into my heart. This energetic movement of Truth is pushing out anything that is still untrue within me. It feels like when Buddha awakened and all the demons appeared to challenge him. This is bound to happen. This is when light purposefully seeks out all the darkness that still remains within. And it gets very ugly when it hits the core. All of our core beliefs and misunderstandings of life will pop up in the external world or even appear in dreams. To face such an event is no small feat. All I can do is be present, be intimate with this moment, intimate with truth as well as untruth, intimate with light as well as darkness. I give witness with my mind, heart, and spirit to all as I sense deeply the gravity of karma pulling light pushing. I don’t always understand exactly what is happening at the time but as I allow myself to be completely intimate with this moment I can feel my inner self clearing up. The clearing holds me in a space that I will be likely to understand Truth, less likely to distort light.

Enlightenment is a process, not an end in itself. The process continues as we can embody more and more light within us. As we let go our ego’s wants and desires we naturally align with the true desires of nature – the desires of God. I’ve been holding a smile on my face, not because I’ve gotten everything I want, instead, I want No-thing. I am No-thing. Yet unknowingly by being No-thing I inherited Every-thing under the sun. I too understand now the “big No-thing” my yoga teacher spoke of. All is well. All is well without the ego trying to justify, fix, or grasp. All is well. It is we who need to wake up and see the Truth. After Realization life does not become perfect in the way ego has imagined, instead we open our eyes to see what has been true all along – life is beautiful, from the beginning.

"Enlightenment is a spiritual enfoldment process - take your time to savor the journey." - from the last page of Microscopic Expressions of Spirituality

“Enlightenment is a spiritual enfoldment process – take your time to savor the journey.” – from the last page of Microscopic Expressions of Spirituality

April 1, 2013 Posted by | Death & Rebirth, Enlightenment, Inner Growth, love, Self Realization, Tears, World Transformation | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Fulfillment through Extension

Kihon Dosa Aikido Kids

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

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

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

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

Wow! Profound. I was speechless.

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

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

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

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

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

May 15, 2011 Posted by | Aikido Wisdom, Choices, Inner Growth, Self Realization, World Transformation | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Of Beer and Water

happy beer

“To alcohol! The cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems.” – Homer Simpson, The Simpsons (Thanks to Jokers ™ http://angbuhayngis.blogspot.com/)

I’m not a simple person. I analyze. I won’t let go. Sometimes I even drive myself and other people nuts. I must come up with a solution to a problematic situation or else my mind will never rest. This is me. Accept it.

Here’s the story of beer and water. A straightforward story somehow turned into a complex way for me to change my perspective on life.

On Saturday after our vigorous aikido test, a bunch of us went out to celebrate with pizza and beer. I naturally took on the responsibility of getting beer for everyone at the table. After paid for a large pitcher and got four glasses, my hands were full. The crowd bumped into me as I struggled to bring our California Honey™ to the table. “I can finally relax now,” I thought to myself. “Is there WATER?” someone asked. “OH! We need another glass!” another person requested. Fine. I felt drops of sweat on my forehead as I pushed myself through the crowd back to the counter and returned with several water cups and another glass. The background music pounded louder as my muscles got even sorer. “Finally my bottom can touch the seat,” I thought to myself as I carefully poured beer into everyone’s glass. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed the friend near me got water for himself as he gingerly enjoyed the hydration. I looked around and noticed all the other water cups were empty and I desperately needed a sip of purity. “Did you get water for us too?” I asked as I gazed into the empty cups. Silence. “Could you please get the rest of us some water too?” I demanded with frustration. Unwillingly, he stood up and dragged himself to bring several more cups of water back to the table.

That was the story of beer and water. A straightforward story left me feeling uneasy for the next few days. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I couldn’t help but feel all the uncomfortableness came after the story of beer and water. I just couldn’t let it go.

What really happened there? My ego could make up a bunch of judgements about the “fact” that he is lazy, inconsiderate and he should be able to use the cups I brought to bring the rest of us water as he filled his own damn cup. I could keep on being mad.  I could ask myself why wouldn’t someone simply repay my kindness. He might be tired but we were all tired. It is unfair that I help out everyone else and no one helps me back.

WAIT! Break… My egoic thinking worsened the situation and I must change my own god damn mind to be in balance again.

Think again. What really happened there? Deep down behind the incident is my belief that if I did something nice someone else should meet me half way. So if I brought his cup and poured his beer then the least he can do is to bring me water along with his. But life doesn’t work that way. It is extremely unfair of me to make such a demand on him. It is unkind to twist his arm and force him to be kind to me. It is my choice to be kind. I must not expect appreciation nor reciprocation in return. Acts of kindness with expectations would only set me up for more disappointments. In order to regain my own balance without needy requests I must be able to live as an expression of kindness and joy. My life would be lighter and less complicated if I lived without expectations. I give because I want to, not because I might be appreciated or praised. In order to let go my discomfort for blame, I myself must live in such a way to expect no payment. My goal is not to give to receive, I give to give, I love to love. It is pure – not contaminated with a hidden agenda. If any returned kindness is received, it is a surprise, it is a gift. This way is a much happier way to live.

I know some people would never let such a small everyday incident bother them. I am not a simple person. I don’t turn away. I think. A lot. This is me. I am complicated. Like or not I analyze. I won’t let go until I find a happier solution to my problem. Cheers. I love who I am and I will do anything I can to change the behavior within me so I will never hurt someone else.  After lots of beer and water, I am thankful for my new found insight. Oh god, I certainly hope he will accept my apologies…

April 20, 2011 Posted by | Choices, Emotional Freedom, Inner Growth | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments