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Beyond Awakening – Live Gently

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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.

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.

 

 

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June 23, 2016 Posted by | Death & Rebirth, Enlightenment, Inner Growth, love, Self Realization | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

An Exploration of Enlightenment

Chances are, if you are a spiritual seeker, then you have heard of enlightenment. We were told Buddha was an enlightened master, so was Jesus and a few selected individuals throughout history. There are others such as Muhammad Rumi, Albert Einstein, Joseph Campbell all exhibited such inherent passion for life and ease of living that they too might possess something mystical. Even various cultures throughout history have shifted into a space that completely transformed human reason to redefine the quality of our very existence.

Enlightenment Period Art – Time unveiling Truth, 1733, Jean-François Detroy (The winged figure of Time, holding a scythe in the sky, reveals Truth, his daughter, who unmasks an old woman personifying Fraud. The four Cardinal Virtues kneel in tribute at Truth’s feet. Fortitude rests by a lion which symbolises her courage, while Justice carries a sword and scales which refer to her power and impartiality. Further back Temperance carries a pitcher of water which signifies abstinence, and Prudence carries a snake, an allusion to her wisdom. In the top right-hand corner is a building which recalls the Pantheon in Rome.) http://tinyurl.com/ae6ywb3

What is the commonality between various categories of enlightenment?

Look up the term in google, the definition comes to be 1) the action of enlightening or the state of being enlightened; 2) the attainment of spiritual knowledge or insight that which frees a person from the cycle of [karma]. The Buddhism root of the term translates into “awakening” and “understanding”, which then allows us to break the bondage of suffering. Spiritual enlightenment promoting individual well-being in the Western civilization leading into the twenty-first century are often called a new age idea drawing on Eastern cultures and philosophies. Hence spiritual enlightenment is thought to be an “achievement” all individuals seek to obtain.

A more well-known use of the term is the “period of enlightenment” roughly span the early seventeenth century through the eighteenth century where traditional hierarchical political-social structures such as the French monarchy were violently overturned. The “period of enlightenment” occurred with a shift in thinking. Unvoiced in the past, individuals were encouraged to criticize the corruption of the monarchy and the aristocracy. At an earlier time in the late fifteenth century a parallel force of the scientific revolution triggered a yearning for new science, new experiments, and individual searches of intellectual freedom.

This wave of scientific revolution also helped to shape “enlightenment thoughts” in philosophical discussions. Against popular beliefs promoted by religion, Before the mid-sixteenth century, Descartes joined Galileo in advocating a heliocentric solar system. To avoid the Inquisition, his books in science were mostly published anonymously. Yet this undercover passion shaped his philosophical inquiries of doubt and knowledge, which allowed his skeptical arguments to penetrate the court of Queen Christina. In the mid-seventh century, Voltaire stood out to question popular believes by his words against myth and superstition taught by religious authorities. At the same time, Hume’s inquires into the sometimes false perceptions of the mind, Kant’s aim to unite new empirical experiences with established rational reasoning all propelled a shift in thinking – this shift is known as the Enlightenment.

In a sense, no matter how unrelated each categories might seem, various forms of enlightenment somehow point to the same direction – a question, a reassessment, a revolution, an awakening, a transformation leading to the freedom of true knowledge. In essence, enlightenment is a shift in perception, a shift in being that sheds light on something, illuminating what was in the dark to making it stand out and absolutely clear.

What does enlightenment have anything to do with you? And why would you want a piece of it?

Have you ever thought there might be more to life? One time or another in our lives we all strived to be happier, live deeper and experience more. What we’ve been taught by society is to achieve more in life and possess more materialistic things. We would purchase a bigger house, a more expensive car, exotic vacations, marry a handsome husband, earn a good living, yet somehow all these achievements quickly lose their attraction and we still feel unfulfilled. Some of us might turn to addictions such as food, drugs, sex, TV shows, video games to fill the hole yet still not able to find the happiness we yearn for. We don’t see a way out of this darkness, we yearn for more…

Second, like most human beings you have probably experienced suffering. If you are lucky, a tragedy in life might have brought pain to your awareness – physically or emotionally. From an early age we often cry in response to unpleasant events. Later in life, we tend to spin our wheels and try to solve various life’s dramas only finding ourselves unable to break free. For some, this suffering is always screaming and leaks into every part of our existence. Such as a solider who lost his legs in battle later found himself unwilling to take part in the simplest daily activities due to his overwhelming sadness, anger and shame. For others, this suffering is unconscious yet dictates all the choices we make in life. Like a young woman who believed she is not pretty enough so she spent hours each day to prepare herself, endless hours in the gym, purchased new breasts to feel better, dated hot guys to validate her own self-worth. For her, all of her energy is spent in this endless loop of the believe that she is not pretty enough, nevertheless she is trapped in a subconscious suffering.

Third, no matter if you are a scientist, a historian or a psychotherapist, you care about truth. As the Enlightenment philosophers once explored, truth can be very difficult to come by. As a scientist, I would form a theory of the world and then design experiments to examine the validity of my theory in an attempt to find truth. As a historian, you might research paintings, literatures, personal documentation in attempt to find what were the true forces responsible for a radical global shift. As a psychotherapist, it is your job to help individuals to discover which mental perceptions are faulty and how to form reality-based knowledge without the effect of delusions. Or if you are anything like me – a skeptic of everything you read or hear, you are tired of being living in other people’s structures of life and you want to use your own experience to feel life as it truly is.

No matter if you are yearning for fulfillment, seeking the end of suffering, or needing the clarity of truth, enlightenment holds the promise to set you free. It literally unmasks an old belief like the painting “Time unveiling Truth” – resulting in a break-away from the endless loops our old conditioning. It is difficult to describe what enlightenment is if the actual experience has not yet taken place. Everything you read here and elsewhere is only a finger-pointing to enlightenment, it is just a map hoping to get you closer. That is when Kant’s argument of external knowledge and reasoning might be helpful leading one to an actual internal experience. Upon the union of both – external knowledge and internal experience – Truth can then be attained – cycles of suffering or karmic ties can then be broken.

But, what the heck is enlightenment?

It is often referred to as “awakening”, “self-realization”, “freedom” and more. Like the word “enlighten”, it literally has the quality of shedding light onto an area of darkness. The contrast of this event is so great, it is like day and night. Once enlightenment happens, you cannot deny it. Just like dawn might still be very cold and dark, and upon the arrival of the day, the sun shines brightly you know you are no longer in darkness. It also has the quality of waking up from a dream. As we were once asleep, life’s problems were hunting us and we drive ourselves mad trying to come to a resolution. As we wake up, we realize all that suffering was just a dream. In fact, after awakening we realize all is well. Like the word self-realization, it is a realization of who you are, and that dream was all the untruth, that dream was everything you were not yet you just didn’t know it. Upon awakening you will know you are not your thoughts, you are not your body, you are not emotions, you are not your intellect, you are not your personality, and all that’s left over is you are space, you are pure awareness.

You are free to go beyond your past conditioning so each moment greets you anew. You are no longer dictated by the monarchy of your karma. You get to experience life fresh, without trying to focus on the moment, the moment simply just is. You are no longer controlled by your mind or by an external standard of right or wrong. You realize all the knowledge you accumulated before was somehow not of your own, it was passed down to you from other authorities, and you have somehow believed to be Truth.

After awakening you profoundly understand Truth spoken by Jesus when he said “the kingdom of God is within you.” You realize that the God you once prayed to as an old bearded man in the sky was just a mental imagine of what God might be because you didn’t know better. Upon enlightenment, you know with empirical experience that the essence of God is within you, God is omnipresent, and God is all there is. You know who you are, you know who everyone else is as well, and magically you are no longer separate, you are no longer sad or lonely, somehow, you are naturally happy. Then the you that was once the center of your universe disappears into a heliocentric solar system where God is the sun. You no longer aim for achievement to make yourself look better, instead, you naturally care about the well-being of the whole. After enlightenment you will know that God lives within you, and you are joy, you are Love. And you are glad that there’s no more you, there is only Flow. life literally becomes magical and everything happens between time, space, and in the perfectly harmonious order.

How does it happen?

Like the “period of enlightenment”, a personal enlightenment is also a revolution. It starts with a profound discomfort that you are not living your full potential and something must be done. You might feel that something different is taking place but you can’t pin-point exactly what is going on. Often times deep suffering can be the birthing place that promotes such revolution. Like a society, when old structures no longer work in the current context, something must change. Many individuals feel an unrecognizable fear as if life is no longer mapped out. Each and everyday becomes a struggle as our old way of operations is shedding away and we no longer how what to “DO”. Some people might feel as if suddenly their whole life is falling apart in the traditional sense. Some might feel their own masks of individual identity has being ripped off by external events. Others might feel chucks of their memories are missing or being re-invented. All these are indications of an under current of a powerful internal transformation.

Enlightenment can happen by a traumatic trigger such as a near-death experience or diligent hard labor such as a monk’s daily devotion. For most, it happens somewhere in between. It requires a personal willingness to let go everything we once were taught to be true and search for our new inner science (hence Sadhguru’s Isha Yoga is an inner science towards self-realization and his beginner’s program is called Inner Engineering). It also requires a softness to perceive beyond the logical mind and receive whatever God has in store for you – however, whenever. Sounds simple yet it may not be easy. Most people are stuck yearning for the grace of God to unveil Truth yet they are not willing to let go their self-centered personal identities. It is often called letting go of the ego – meaning letting go false identifications of who we believe yourself to be (as in the painting by the old woman with the mask, she is old outdated and her mask must be lifted off by Truth).

Similar to the “period of enlightenment”, once enough momentum is gathered to start the movement of a revolution, it can no longer be stopped. It becomes a rolling snowball, so anything that is untrue will be violently overturned and destroyed in the process to pave way for Truth. Yet at the time of war, your days can become extremely unpleasant, yet this must take place to bring-forth a transformation. One day you might realize that you are dying and there’s nothing you can do about it. What’s dying is your old perception of who you are, this death of the ego in painful but it will not kill the real you. It destroys the impostor who posed as you only to give space to the who you really are.

Like a caterpillar “dying” in the cocoon, it does not know what’s on the other side of the death only that he can no longer be a caterpillar. When this happens, the revolution has been well underway and it can no longer be reversed. An incubation time will begin in the darkness of deep self-reflection and fierce inquiries of truth. You might wonder how long you must watch yourself melt away… Then another day might arrive on this continuous stream of journey that suddenly you are no longer dying but rebuilding as a new part of nature. Your vision somehow seems brighter, you no longer get bothered by other people’s comments or your own internal dialog, you notice the way you view things is completely different from everyone else around you, and you KNOW who you are. You might laugh, cry, or both at the same time. But suddenly you will KNOW – you will KNOW who you are, you will KNOW who everyone else is, you will KNOW what the Truth is and what are merely masks. Slowly like a newborn butterfly, you will find yourself navigating in a brand new world, testing our your new wings.

Like aikido master Nev Sagiba said, “Enlightenment is like getting a shodan – AFTER ENLIGHTENMENT THE WORK BEGINS! After enlightenment, life truly begins.

Common misunderstandings of enlightenment…

“Enlightened people never cry again.” – NOT TRUE! After enlightenment we are more open to the vast collection of emotions, we no longer shy away or judge our organic emotions. We might laugh, feel frustrated when the computer didn’t auto-save, we might cry – yet somehow even the tears become sweet.

“Enlightened people experience perfect health and never feel pain.” – NOT TRUE! Some pain and illness are just another natural aspect of life. However, pain does not equate to suffering. One might feel pain and become intimate with that pain yet never suffer a minute through it.

“My life should work out exactly the way I plan to when I’m enlightened.” – NOT!!! After enlightenment there’s no more I, nor planning. “I” melts into nature and planning no longer applies when you are a part of God. Therefore you do whatever is needed whenever it is needed – as a part of harmony, a part of nature, a part of God.

“I was doing great with amazing mystical experiences then suddenly I’m lost in a black hole with no more amazing experiences. What’s wrong?” – NOTHING IS WRONG. Many people chase after experiences they label as “good” believing these experiences will get them closer to enlightenment. In actuality, everything life hands to you is exactly what you need and when you need it – designed for your growth, with sufficient awareness, you can awaken.

“I must be a nice and happy person in order to enter the kingdom of heaven.” NOT TRUE! You must be a truthful person in order to enter the kingdom of heaven. We were often taught what is nice and not nice. We often suppress our “negative” emotions to be nice. Not facing whatever arises within us, we lose the opportunity to be truth. By stuffing away what we judge to be “bad” or “not nice” can only delay our progress. Pretending you are not sad or angry when indeed you are will only lead you further away from the truth. The key is to meditate on such feelings before we act out unconsciously.

“The ultimate goal of life is enlightenment. After that, I can rest and never have to work a day in my life ever again.” – NOT TRUE! Enlightenment is a rebirth, before enlightenment our vessel is too dirty to be an instrument of God, after enlightenment true work can finally begin because we have finally become emptied of our own desires and are now instruments of God. After enlightenment we still need to continuously polish our vessels to remain pure and free of optical illusions.

How do I become enlightened?

It all starts with a desire. Dedication. Devotion. Shugyo. Consistently devote to truth and commit to the demolishment of untruth.

How does individual enlightenment translates into collective enlightenment?

History is a beautiful illustration of a collective transformation, like the “period of enlightenment”, through individual efforts, seemingly unrelated events at the time can result in a whole movement to bring forth a whole new world. Like a fractal, the macroscopic social enlightenment can manifest from the microscopic bursts of individual enlightenments. In a sense, from the smallest metamorphosis of consciousness can result in an boundless global transformation. As Mahatma Gandhi once said – “be the change you wish to see in the world!”

November 5, 2012 Posted by | Aikido Wisdom, Books, Death & Rebirth, Emotional Freedom, Fine Arts, Inner Growth, love, Self Realization, Tears, World Transformation | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Running Away?

Are You”Running Away from Home”? Are you avoiding uncomfortable situations to stay safe? If you want enlightenment then stop running! (Photo by Laura Corebello)

Have you ever noticed we often want to hide or run away from uncomfortable situations? We often think if we can just avoid pain, disappointments, embarrassments then our lives will be much better and more carefree. We think “if I can just get out of HERE then I will be much happier!”

This reminds me of the times I plotted my escape as a child – believing that by running away from home all of my disappointments and heartbreaking misunderstandings will be resolved. Like this child, I packed up some of my favorite things in a small sack, found a bamboo stick and there I was on my way to a better world. I had imagined perhaps an alien spaceship will come by to pick me up and find me valuable for space exploration. Or better yet a nicer family will pick me up so I could show my parents what terrible mistakes they’ve made by misunderstanding my love. Now looking back we could see how innocent yet reactive it all really was.

As we mature into adulthood our childish tendencies are still deeply ingrained in our bodies. Much of these tendencies to run away have gone unnoticed in our everyday lives before we embarked upon our spiritual journey. Now we can sense someone else wanting to pull away from a hug. Other times we find ourselves running away from a needed confrontation instead we hide behind the computer screen.Sometimes we also become better at denying these tendencies or we make excuses for our behaviors. Sooner or later we find our relationships less attentive as we become more and more isolated.

It does not serve you to run away. Period.

If we are running away from ANYTHING in life, we are running away from life itself. The truth is, when we run away from any situation, we have already given up. We just forfeited the opportunity to even give it a try, to see how we might react, and see what illusions we are still holding onto. Running away = cowardly living = not living at all. To truly live is to live with courage. It takes courage to engage every moment, every breath, every person fully and completely. The tendency is to contract, hide, or run away from the HERE and NOW. That’s ok. Just notice it. It’s perfectly normal to have these tendencies. Just be with the fear and see it for what it is. Yet at the same time we can take another step closer to freedom – and see the fear for what it is NOT.

Many people say “I want enlightenment” but are still using their work or meditations to escape from their lives. Many are not willing to courageously face each moment as it unfolds. When you look into their eyes they are not present. Their body/mind/spirit have contracted to such a level that the life force is having to squeeze through a breath. Sooner or later suffering will occur. When you say “I want to be enlightened, I want to awaken” is to say “I want to live” and “I don’t care how painful or joyful my moments might become, I am willing to see through all of my illusions and become intimate with all spectrums of life.”

The tendencies to escape might still be present every once in a while even after awakening. Luckily after awakening there’s no more judgement. So when the ego tries to reinsert itself into your being-ness, just bring awareness to the present moment outside of the construct of the mind. Always choose communion with the Truth. The key is to notice these tendencies and say “oh, that’s what it is!” This way, by bringing awareness to the the present moment and became fully engaged, the uncomfortableness somehow dissolves itself.

Today I’m working with a injured shoulder and much physical pain. Yet it is becoming more and more clear that even the painful moments are designed to deliver Love. Allow yourself the space to see each moment with clear eyes, with compassion and openness for transformation. Be here. NOW.

August 19, 2012 Posted by | Death & Rebirth, Emotional Freedom, Inner Growth, love, Self Realization | , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Today, I’m in Love

Today, I’m in love. Here are some nuggets of truth I stumbled upon while traveling on the path of self-realization – expressed through my art and micropoetry.

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taming the ego…clarity I see…stunning true nature…set free

mixed media by Flo Li

Awakening Dawn, mixed media on canvas by Flo Li

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allow my love…penetrate your core…burning gentle passion…dazzling aflame
Burning Passionate Love

Red Rose of Love, photography by Flo Li

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miraculous radiance…hidden dark nights…protecting a secret…atonement birthing sunlight
oil on canvas by Flo Li

Secrets of the Dark Night, oil on canvas by Flo Li

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lick me…she says…not my body but my soul…craving your gentle kisses deep inside I grow

Femme Glow, fractal art by Flo Li

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Today, I’m in LOVE. Let’s share. May the Love of Truth set you free~! Namaste.

January 8, 2012 Posted by | Death & Rebirth, Emotional Freedom, Fine Arts, love, poetry, Self Realization | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 28 Comments

Let the Tears Flow

Me, exposed

"Tears sometimes cleanse the heart and ready it for deeper love." - Bob Luckin (Artist, Co-Director at Spiritual Enrichment Center, Sr. Minister at International Centers for Spiritual Living)

“Crying is for Wimps.” So I was told. But they didn’t tell me where to put my anger, my sadness and my sorrow…  I hurt. My body, my mind, my emotions… Sometimes I felt as if my chest was caving in and I must run away before my heart explodes. Other times I wish I had a strong man to hold me in his arms and tell me everything will be alright. This time I could not run nor use a man to rescue me. This time I am alone.

So I cried. Loud. I screamed out my sorrows from the depth of me. I saw my tortured soul burning in the sea of agony. Her pain ran into the dark abyss. I wanted to pull her out but didn’t know how. So I cried… The waves of hailing tears went on and on… And the end was nowhere near.

I cried for my heartbreak, I cried for not being good enough, I cried for my fears, I cried for my neediness, I cried for my physical pain, I cried for my inability to love freely, I cried for my suppressed feelings, I cried for my failures, I cried for my longings, I cried for my disappointments, I cried for stepping into potholes, I cried for being unkind, I cried for always getting myself into storms of emotions, I cried for my loneliness, I cried for misunderstandings, I cried for hurting the ones I love, I cried for my confusion, I cried for my desires, I cried…

I asked myself if feelings were wrong. Yet how could something so natural and so raw be wrong? If it weren’t wrong then why can’t I show it freely? If I can feel so much hard twisted suppressed pain within me then do you feel the same pain? If I have spent so many years suppressing my true feelings then do you suppress them too? If I only smile to the world and secretly lock away my truth do you do the same? If we all suffer then who is going to rescue us from descending deeper into the abyss? Why do we have such violent feelings? Why can’t I stop crying? … Analyzing my pain only brought up more self-inflected misery. So I discarded my intellect, peeled off my cloth, laid on my back and watched the tears flow.

Naked. Exposed. Raw. This is me. The uncut version.

I feel deeply. I love passionately. I sense intensely. This is me. The truthful version.

I pretended I didn’t care. I acted I didn’t bleed. I toughed it out to demonstrate I am doing just fine. But I am not. That is not me. You only saw the mask and thought that was the real me.

I cried for all the untruth I showed to you, I cried for all the rejected feelings within me, I cried for all the masks I wore, I cried for all the egoic games I played, I cried for alienating you, I cried for the old wounds that still hunt me, I cried for the hope that someday I can show you how deeply I love, I cried for the longing to express my truth, I cried for us and the freedom within reach…

Two days of tears. Two days of storms. Wind. Thunder. Hail. I am still here, somehow standing calmly within the storm. No need to run. No need to hide. The ice melting. A smile softening into the tears. My heart is beating. Regardless of the storm, I am calm. I am here. I am free.

April 18, 2011 Posted by | Death & Rebirth, Emotional Freedom, Inner Growth, Self Realization, Tears | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

What is Love?

Red Rose

What is Love? Our ability to love and be loved is an indicator of spiritual maturity.

“Can you help me with my homework?” Jennifer walked up to me after Aikido class, “I need to write a paper on Love.”

I nearly laughed. With all the people in class she picked me.

“It is a hard topic and we can’t use a dictionary.” She seemed lost.

I put aside everything else I had in my hands and started to read and revise what she had already started. Her paper seemed superficial and confused. Her definition of love had elements of heartwarming and suicidal thoughts in the same sentence as well as feelings of comfort and jealousy intertwined. Suddenly I couldn’t help but wonder these feelings toward love are not only unique to a confused teenager but they are general views of what love actually feels like to us all.

Do you fear love or are you empowered by love? Do you juggle with mixed feelings of what love is supposed to be? Do you allow yourself to be inspired by love?

As I travel deeper into my spiritual journey, love has become an integral part of life. Pure love is the only way to live. What does love feel like to me? Here are just a few memorable stops I made along the road of love.

November 10th, 2008: “Love relaxes me – I feel softness in my body, steadiness in my heart, and openness in my being.  Love feels cozy, sweet and soft.  Love is tender, courageous and everlasting.  Love is yummy. Love feels like the most powerful yet gentle penetrating energy that transcends boundaries of body, mind and spirit.  It hugs me securely to merge with the bubbling joy of the universe.  Love lifts me up when I’m down, love waits for me when I retreat, and love amplifies my joy to share with the world. Love is a journey – a journey of learning to be, learning to accept, learning to allow, learning to embrace, and learning to love. If anything can be the miraculous healer – it would be love.”

November 17th, 2008: “As I walked out, the sunset glowed on my face while the ocean splashed against the rocky shoreline.   The salty sea air smelled like a symphony.  I smiled into the wind and thanked the love emerging from all corners of the universe.  The gratitude tickled me with a rush of energy that penetrated directly into the center of my being. I was naked –without defense.  I was free – without judgment. I was loved – without condition.”

November 24th, 2008: “I felt myself relaxing, allowing, and just being.  We are still connected and his right hand is somehow still under the grip of my tiny fingers.  I couldn’t believe my eyes.  I smiled and he relaxed even more.  I can sense the love and compassion glowing through his relaxed yet focused energy.  Somehow it felt intimate, foreign and scary.  I had to quickly retreat myself from his gaze. He allowed. I thought perhaps I am made of glass.  I may look and feel strong but I am truly fragile and can be easily shattered.  Perhaps that is too just okay.  Who knows what treasures I can find after the glass shatters.”

December 8th, 2008: “He always looks at me tenderly with such depth of love and compassion.  I feel so safe, sweet and peaceful when gazing into his eyes.  I am no longer afraid.”

January 7th, 2009: “Of all the people I know, mom has infinite patience. She was present with me, listened to me and shared my experience.  She didn’t analyze me or direct the conversation her way.  She simply just shared her attention and allowed me to express myself. I felt the overwhelming joy penetrating my body and knew that I was loved.  She never tells me how much she cares but she simply does.  She never preaches the ten keys to happiness but she simply is.  She never brags about how much we need to listen to each other but she simply listens.  There’s so much grace in such simplicity of being – not controlling, judging or demonstrating. Love is a state of being – neither a need to be showy nor an addiction to be in control.  Love simply is.”

January 29th, 2009: “He sees my resistance.  He sees my vulnerability.  He sees my indecisiveness.  He sees my fear.  He sees me. His energy was direct and forceful.  I found myself searching for a place to hide. The nearest shelter was miles away. Great! I am caught – with my mask off and nowhere to hide. I hate feeling so naked in front of him.  He sees through me and I have no choice but to show my vulnerabilities. Scary as it is, I know this is the next step of my spiritual journey – learning to love and be loved.”

March 11th, 2009: “He smiled and said, ‘I wish for your wish to come true.’ I felt overwhelmed with awe and didn’t know what to say. How could anyone be this selfless in such a simply way? I have never heard of such a wish and certainly would have never thought of it myself. Just looking at him I would have never guessed the purity of his heart underneath all the testosterone driven boyish charm. The amount of love he exuded became unbearable. I jumped up and hugged him tightly. His wish was not just sweet, it was breathtaking, heartwarming and divinely profound.”

May 31, 2009: “As I cried my tears wishing that unconditional love is more than just a myth, I couldn’t help but notice that I have longed for unconditional love. Maybe there’s somewhere deep inside of me that never believed it is humanly possible. Can we truly accept ourselves for who we are… Is there such a thing as conditional love?”

June 13th, 2009: “The way he mops the floor, the way he high-fives me, the way he accepts my imperfections, the way he draws happy faces on the sand, and the way he opens up to me as we gazed into the stars… Such simple yet profound gestures have somehow inspired my tears and connected to my core. Today I felt awakened and understood by the pureness of his authenticity. I was safe in a strange land. Somehow I found my doorway home.”

August 1st, 2009: “As I gazed onto my own face in the mirror, I noticed how smooth my skin has become. Bathing in a sense of appreciation and awe, I remembered how hopeless I was 3 years ago after nearly 100 stitches on my face. I look and feel more brilliant than ever. Unlike how I saw myself in the past with endless criticism and harshness, I now see myself as an angelic creation of God. The way my body healed itself is nothing less than a miracle. Even my scars are beautiful. The me I see in the mirror is the same me three years ago yet the way I see me is no longer the way I saw me. I’ve allowed more loved to flow in and flow through my life. I now love my scars and my imperfections as a part of me, a part of my defining character, a part of my journey. My journey is beautiful, it tells a story and it speaks the truth.”

May 20, 2010 Posted by | Death & Rebirth, love | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment