Heart Opening Moments

BLOG of a Spiritual Stripper

Progressive movement towards full enlightenment

light over darkness

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 2, 2015 Posted by | Enlightenment, Inner Growth | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Facing the Place of No Escape

In aikido, I find myself often wanting to escape an oncoming strike. In the back of my mind I somehow believe if I can just avoid getting hit or avoid any possible pain, then I will be unharmed. Somewhere within my consciousness I believe escaping a confrontation is the best resolution.

Unfortunately on my spiritual journey, there are moments within myself that I must face an oncoming strike without the possibility of ever running away. A few days ago I had an encounter that brought back waves of old unresolved pain. I knew I was feeling unbalanced, angry, and sad. Yet I still used my meditation as a way to escape the uncomfortable feelings. Needless to say, trying to force peace upon chaos only leads to more chaos. Soon enough I found other strategies such as running away to take sunset photos, watching educational PBS series, eating a heavy meal to mentally checkout, and feeling the onset of a cold so I can just sleep away. All the strategies worked briefly only to lead me back to an even louder scream of discomfort within myself.

Eventually the strike caught up with me and I found myself facing the place of no escape.

In this cramped place I feel checkmated, and the only thing I can do is accept. Accepting the discomfort, accepting the internal scream, accepting the defeat, accepting the silence beneath the chaos, accepting everything just the way it is. The moment frozen feels like time standing still in the eye of a storm as I face the demons hidden beneath my consciousness. When the movements of jarring attempts to run away arise, an unwavering response of quiet acceptance, tender compassion, and intimate understanding softly penetrates my ground of being. Waves of sadness washing over me… Tears falling down… Bottled up old pain releasing… Violently, gently, tenderly – emptying, cleansing, renewing.

The place of no escape.

Years ago I thought Enlightenment will give me the promise of “happily forever after,” now only to discover Realization solely lays the groundwork for an inner revolution to take place. This life flowing through me now is no longer under my control – it has a movement of its own – breaking through a new pathway – restructuring, reorganizing my body, mind, emotions, and energy. This ongoing emptying out the old and rebuilding the new can often feel scary, chaotic, and triggers an instinct to fight or flight. Facing the GREAT UNKNOWN at each moment can be overwhelming and frightening. Yet my instinctual “need-to-escape” or “resisting-the-change” will only delay my transformation and make the process much more difficult to endure. It is a challenge to keep on going – to make the choice to be brave, to stand alone – naked, accepting, and willing.

On the path after Realization, there can only be places of no escape. Realization might have been a sudden existential awakening, but the path after Realization must be a commitment to continue the discovery and renewal of our chosen path. I have met many individuals fortunate enough to experience a moment of awakening but they never took another step beyond that experience. So many of them still talk about that old experience that happened long ago but nothing new blossomed as a result of their realization. I didn’t want to be one of them. I didn’t want my awakening to be just an old memory. Day in, day out I make the choice to walk with Truth – no matter how it reveals itself. This journey is simple – serve Truth even when it is difficult to do so.  I don’t suppose it will always be an easy choice to make. I do know that I will find the bravery within myself to walk the path. Are you willing to walk with me?

  'You must want to know the truth more than you want to feel secure in order to fully awaken to the fact that you are nothing but Awakeness itself. '  ~ Adyashanti

‘You must want to know the truth more than you want to feel secure in order to fully awaken… ‘ ~ Adyashanti

“But our potential lies beyond the known, beyond the structures of the past, beyond anything that humanity has established. Our potential is something that can flower only when we are no longer caught within the influence and limitations of the known. Beyond the realm of the mind, beyond the limitations of humanity’s conditioned consciousness, lies that which can be called the sacred. And it is from the sacred that a new and fluid consciousness is born that wipes away the old and brings to life the flowering of a living and undivided expression of being.
One must be willing to stand alone—in the unknown, with no reference to the known or the past or any of one’s conditioning. One must stand where no one has stood before in complete nakedness, innocence, and humility. One must stand in that dark light, in that groundless embrace, unwavering and true to the reality beyond all self—not just for a moment, but forever without end. For then that which is sacred, undivided, and whole is born within consciousness and begins to express itself.”  © Adyashanti 2008 

December 11, 2014 Posted by | Aikido Wisdom, Choices, Death & Rebirth, Emotional Freedom, Enlightenment, Inner Growth, Self Realization, Tears | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Life after Realization

chinese watercolor goddess serenading the moon

After Realization – life becomes a beautiful expression of poetry and you are a part of it.

There has been waves of awakening happening all around us. People of all colors, all shapes and backgrounds are coming into the realization beyond the boundaries of form that once constricted us and separated us.

The old man from the dog park once asked me if I ever discarded a piece of artistic creation. As I told him no, his eyes glittered with love and replied, “I know, the universe is inherently beautiful.”

The key-maker from the hardware store smiled with such genuine generosity, it didn’t matter his age, his skin tone, and his piercings are all sources of societal judgement, his love pierced through the hardest of hearts.

If you can feel the profound depth in these simple incidences then feel free to read on.

Life after Realization (with the capital R) is profoundly different. There are so many spiritual texts leading you to the doorway of Realization but never walked through the gate with you. Wondering around the front yard of Heaven, we are left to experience the ecstasy and confusion of leaving the familiar life behind and yet to know how to act within the gates of Heaven. We know Self-Actualization comes after Self-Realization but how do we actualize? Once we ask the question of “how?” we are no longer frolicking the grounds of Heaven. Once we fixate on a desire, Hell appears to greet us again.

For most people, life after Realization can be the most challenging times they will ever experience. It is literally between the death of the self and rebirth of the Self. Before Realization we can all relate to tribal accepted believes and behaviors but after Realization somehow we ended up in a parallel universe and all of a sudden we don’t know anything at all. Other people might even look at us and wondering what is wrong with us. One day after an amazing meditation I was in the state of rapture as I headed to the park and found myself accused of being drunk in the middle of the day. I didn’t know how to reply, I just laughed and stayed there nevertheless.

Life after Realization becomes a moment to moment expression. You are no longer in control of your life, your time, or what happens. Life is no longer filled with goals you must obtain or things you must possess. Life becomes a beautiful expression of poetry and you are a part of it. This is when you become the passenger while God is the driver. You begin to feel exactly where you are needed from one moment to the next. And it is nothing like you had imagined at all. Fear might arise as we walk into the unknown, resistance will sneak up on you amid bliss, all you need is to connect to the deeper parts of who you are. You will feel happiness and sadness, but you will know even the tears are beautiful. You will not know what to do, but somehow the do-ing comes from your be-ing. While your be-ing-ness shines through, no matter where you are, the blind will once again see clarity – even if just a split second. You don’t have to preach awakening, awakening will happen in your presence. You don’t have to force yourself to love, love will naturally come-forth.

Don’t grab on. Relax. And enjoy the ride.

July 13, 2012 Posted by | Death & Rebirth, Fine Arts, love, poetry, Self Realization, Tears | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

At the Core of Everything…

We fight, we misunderstand each other, but at the end of the day, at the core of everything, there is only love.

We fight, we misunderstand each other, but at the end of the day, at the core of everything, there is only love.

I was in tears.  I couldn’t understand why my simple expression had such an impact.  I’ve never seen him so angry with me.  Why did he react?  Why did he nearly yell at me when minutes ago things were so nice and peaceful?

It all started when I knocked on the door and called out grandma.  But instead of calling grandma, I used the endearing term she and I have always used with one another – “gotata”.  That’s when dad appeared out of nowhere and stared me in the face and told me to NEVER EVER use that word again.  I was taken back, trembling in shock, I did not know what to do.  He was so emotional.  I could tell somehow this word had hit a major nerve.

But why?  What is the lesson in this?  Did I trigger something in his unconscious mind?

At night, I still couldn’t fully forgive him without a better understanding.  Knowing my dad, he rarely talks about anything beyond the boundaries of the intellect, being emotionally intimate with anyone is impossible for his psyche.  Nevertheless, I HAD to know.

During our night walk with mom, I couldn’t help myself and brought up the incident that had happened earlier during the day.  He told me the word “gotata” is not in the dictionary.  “So what?” I replied.  He was getting more heated, “do not use words outside of the dictionary!  I’ve held back for 30 years and every-time I hear that word it feels like a cat scratching my chest open!”  Now we are getting somewhere.  Somehow this word does touch a sore spot in him.  “So what if I use a newly created word that is not in the dictionary?  Shakespeare does it all the time!” I noticed myself getting even more emotional and I might actually explode.  He couldn’t explain.  He just stood there in anger.  I had to push more, maybe the explosion will be more productive than the 4th of July fireworks surrounding us…

It back fired.

I ended up walking alone for miles when mom and dad went their separate ways.  Cried my silent tears, I sat on the curb side wondering what just happened.  I wanted to laugh at how silly this whole thing was.  We were fighting with such intense emotional explosives  over a word.  Not religion or politics, but A WORD!  As I quietly walked home in the dark, I hoped for a revelation.  There has to be a lesson in this vivid experience…

This morning after my meditation, grandma finally told me the true history behind of the word – “gotata”.  When I was an infant, I did not smile much.  Grandma did everything to make me smile.  She would make funny faces, give me toys, even sing and dance.  Finally she noticed that certain sounds made me laugh.  And after experimenting for a while, she found “gotata” contained the perfect magical ingredients that made me laugh in a consistent manner.  This was the birth of our endearing term.  She and I have called each other “gotata” as long as I could remember.  This word contains so much love for my soul that I refuse to ever let it go.  This is the love that grandma and I shared, it is special and eternal…

A few hours later, after an intense internal forgiveness process thanking the potential gift from dad, I went on to see if he was still angry.  As soon as I walked up, he apologized.  I knew he loves me but he did not know what he was apologizing for.  Me neither.  Somehow I had a sense that being the ivory tower intellect that he is, he wanted his daughter to look, act, and speak the part as well.  I asked him if he would feel small if we spoke in native tongue, he said yes.  “I love you too dad,” I told him tenderly as I gave him a hug.  “I want you to have more vision and communicate at a higher level.”  He gazed into my eyes with such sweetness.  Dad had to fight the Chinese government and corrupt officials to even get a fair chance to begin his ivory tower education.  And the intellect means the world to him.  Naturally he would project his beliefs onto me.

I understand it all perfectly now.  At the core of everything, there is only LOVE.  Grandma found “gotata” to make me smile, dad refused the term to keep me at an ivory tower status.  Both were all out of love – in their own unique way.  For grandma, my smile is worth a million kisses; for dad, the intellectual status is personal power and all that is.  Both of them wanted to give me what they value the most – from the love within the depth of their hearts.

Wow!  How beautiful LOVE is…

I can judge the place where love came from, I can choose to misunderstand their true intentions, and I can value one form of love higher than another…  Somehow in my mind and my heart, I know that love is love, and below the surface of emotional explosives, behind the masks of our shells, and at the core of everything, there is only LOVE.  We love in different ways, we interpret love and we accept love in different ways.  By recognizing that our ether is made of molecules of love, we can fly higher to another plane of enlightenment, to view life’s tears with understanding, with joy, and with celebration.

At the core of everything, there is only LOVE.

July 5, 2009 Posted by | Emotional Freedom, Inner Growth, Tears | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment