Friday, December 31, 2010

homesteader treat in bamboo nursery

this is a dream and reality, one and the same. i wake up and find myself in a expertly built house within a bamboo nursery. we're visiting hwubby's best friend, a truly master builder. the frosty windows tell me how cold outside is. but the air indoor feels fresh, alive and just lovely. i ask the boff, and why do i call him by 'the boff?' it comes from the word 'boffin.' someone who can cobble together anything. anyhow i ask the boff, what did you do to the air? he says, super insulated. somehow i hear this tiny voiceless whisper from within. there's more to it than this. sure enough, his wify says, right on the heel of the inner message, her index finger making swirls, there's ventilation. here's what they do. he insulates the walls really well. as for the double-pane glass doors he puts in two layers of glasses and three layers of air. the air indoor is not stagnant but gets gently marinated with periodic infusions of fresh air that is scented with the innumerable bamboos on the property.

then we sit down to a real homesteader treat. a spread of jams and jelly from fruits picked on the property. my fave is quince jelly. it has this ethereal, delicate flavor. fantastic with the fresh off-the-griddle gluten-free waffles.

abundance all around.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

i want to be like the pharoah's daughter

this is a special shout-out to the incredible wisdom of the cyclical design of torah study. i've been going to torah study for a few years. yet this is the first time it has come to my attention that pharoah's daughter consciously raises a hebrew baby as a hebrew. i mean, she could have hired an egyptian woman to nurse him but, no, she gets a hebrew nurse to suckle the child. she names the baby moshe explaining, i drew him out of water. really, what causes an egyptian elite woman do that? this is sort of equivalent to the mistress in a southern plantation raising a black baby as her son. what is she thinking? obviously she is not. she is moved by a force that is way bigger and stronger than the mind. compassion. and that is god shining through her. so brilliantly. so fully. there's no fear, no doubt, no second-guessing, no resistance. what would others think of me? will it jeopardize my privileges? she looks at the baby, and that's it. this egyptian woman is so open and receptive. it is clear to me that the divine power knows no tribe, no race, nor country borders, nor gender, nor class. no wonder i truly feel i am a hebrew because i am a boundary crosser. i am an israelite because i wrestle with god. i want to be like the pharoah's daughter. let the force of compassion move through me and go the whole distance. amen.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

hanuman. christmas carol

i begin to add a new thing to my schedule. not exactly a new thing. there's really no new thing under the sun. okay, this stirs me to recall a favorite story, something from the hindu epic ramayana. hanuman, the monkey king, plunges into the depths of the ocean to look for sita's ring. what does he see when gets to the ocean floor? one ring? no. two rings? no. he sees tens of thousands of rings, all identical to sita's. aaaah. what is happening right now happened before and will happen again.

anyway, i digress. i decide to meditate before going to sleep. in one of those moments when i am alternating between sleep and awake something comes to me. identify a few, probably three, scenes at different points in suk wah's life, i mean suk wah the heroine in the novel, where she experiences an awakening within even though in the moment she doesn't have the understanding and vocabulary to recognize it as such. but as the narrative unfolds her awareness expands, elevates and clarifies as a result of her interactions with the exotic characters from the chinese immortal world she recognizes all these wonderful things that are within.

hey, isn't this somewhat the structure of 'christmas carol?' the three immortal stooges, phoenix, monkey and pig, show suk wah scenes from her life...

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

out of coppola self, into my own self

i go to sleep with this question. how do i bring the immortal world and human world together? i don't have the answer. not yet. not as far as the regular conscious mind goes. but i do remember something hwubby says, maybe the character dreams, and then the dreamworld, little by little, seeps into her world until she can no longer tell they are separate.

anyhow yesterday i read two pieces of spiritual writings, one by my guru, the other by a top fave swami who has been serving the guru's mission to impart the teaching of the supreme self for decades with unwavering devotion. guess what? both include revelations through dreams. and guess what? i dream last night. here's how it goes. actually i should say this is what i recall.

the entryway to the dream is like a rippling lake surface. i can see gorgeous dancing lights that are refractions of what's on the other side. i go straight through like walking into a lake without getting wet. beyond the shifting surface is a world where time does not go by in a linear fashion. how do i know that? i see a spread of beautiful, vibrant sprouts. one patch catches my eye. tiny lavender buds. they flower into full four-petaled bloom in an unhurried manner in front of my watch. the scent is sublte and intoxicating.

then i see sophie coppola. she is in a spaghetti strap dress. pink and fitted with a floral, ruffled hemline. i see she is frustrated trying to explain something to an audience and getting more and more so. in the dream i am calm and centered. i simply walk up. i say to her, is this what you want to say, it's probably the language. immediately she looks utterly relieved.

i tell hwubby the dream. he says, you are now in this frustrated coppola self. you just have to go back into your own self. you have a question. you ask your self. and trust what comes to you.

Monday, December 27, 2010

one light ablaze in all. the sweetness of oneness

i am offered the opportunity to wave the light at the conclusion of the vedic hymn. since i don't know a thing about wrapping saris shivaa bravely takes up the responsibility to prepare me. we have so much fun. a girls' nite out at five forty five sunday morning. she says, i was worried that i had to wrap a toothpick. i say, check it out, i have boobs and butt.

as i wave the blazing flame of ghee in front of the guru's chair i see four rivers of light. from my own being. from my guru. from my grand-guru. from my great-grand-guru. all this while my awareness is afloat in the sound of everybody in the hall chanting the melodious and rousing hymn. i hear one sound. the sound of boundless devotion. i see the light of compassion, the light of pure and supreme joy, ablaze everywhere, permeating my consciousness. the sound of devotion knead all the lights, within and without, into molten gold. i become a bundle of warm sweetness. as i reflect on this i realize i am bestowed the sublime experience of oneness. i taste the sweetness of oneness. the selves of me and all are no different from the self of the guru. one light is ablaze in all. one sweetness.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

laughter from the big jewish elf

the birth of an enlightened being is a boon to all mankind. from one light many lights are kindled. we dedicate this day to celebrate our great good fortune of having a great teacher who is our anchor in the shifting sands of life, who shines our way to the source of endless joy that dwells in our innermost being. may this three min video featuring hwubby as the big jewish elf, and me in the closing shot, bring that much more laughter and happiness to anyone who happen to glance upon this. hallelujah.

Friday, December 24, 2010

thank you, my inner banker

i plan one way and it works out another way. case in point. i figure i need fifteen minutes tops to reconcile a bank statement. after all it looks short, less than half a page. i'm sailing exactly half way through when, boom, something jarring catches my eye. what's that nineteen dollar charge from the bank about? so i look into it. half an hour later, this is what i find out. some nice employee arranged, a while back, to waive monthly service fee on the account if the daily minimum balance is not less than four thousand dollars. i said, we can do that. so far it has been fine. somehow, somewhere along the line the bank's system bumped us up to another kind of account, something called 'value pack.' why? simply because the balance has been increasing and, above a certain dollar amount, the system triggers the upgrade. hwubby asks, how is this 'value pack' different from what we have right now? after mumbling something like, there are some small differences, the girl at the bank kind of whispers into hwubby's ear over the phone, well, actually, there really isn't much difference. the only big difference i can tell is this 'value pack' requires a daily minimum balance of eight thousand dollars. and for a few days in november the balance was five thousand. we don't even have to tell the girl what we want. without asking any questions she immediately changes our account back to what we had before this 'value pack' nonsense and credit us nineteen dollars.

so, there you have it. i have plans and the universe has its own plans. when it's all said and done it's an hour more than what i plan. i also realize that, with all due respect to bankers, they really count on people who have more than a full plate in their lives and don't look line by line into their statements, and even if they do, they just assume that the bank doesn't charge incorrectly. thank you, my inner banker, for giving me the strength and clarity to see what it needs to be taken of and stand up to ask the question on my mind. why is it this way? this is not what i remember how we were informed.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

the work is to stay in the present

i was presented with an opportunity to stay in the present moment. did i meet it? here's how it went down. i was getting ready to go to the dental office for a cleaning appointment when i couldn't find the house key. i was by myself in the house. hwubby was not picking up his cell so i had no idea whether he would be in the house when i would come home. by now i knew i would be late. just like that the old tendency of beating myself up was engulfing me like a flash flood. i tried to bring up the image of where and when i last saw the key. tuesday? when i went to shivaa's birthday party? i ran upstairs. it was not in the bag dedicated to spiritual study stuff. where could it be? suk wah, why didn't you put it in the proper place?! maybe hwubby took it because he couldn't find his key. no, that's not possible because his house key is ringed together with the car key. what should i do now? maybe i should cancel the appointment. what a mess you have made, suk wah. the mind was jumping all over the place like ants in a hot wok. just then something miraculous happened. i found myself taking a very deep breath in and long breath out. just like that i plunged into a moment of quiet and stillness. and just like that an image emerged bright and clear. i left for the airport the morning after shivaa's party. bingo. i unzipped the shoulder bag i took with me to the airport. and there it was. the house key. i called up the dental office. the hygienist was willing to wait for me for ten minutes. i walked fast and focused. i made the appointment a couple of minutes before the ten minute grace period. now my teeth are sparkling.

the key was where it should be. i did the right thing in that moment. the power of my accumulated spiritual force lifted me up when i needed it. thank you, my inner self. thank you, suk wah. i realize that i do have what i need in every moment. residual tendency does what it does, to try to snap me back into its grip. i just have to stay in the present. that's the work. simple.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

i am as tough as the challenge.

my editor says, whether you like it or not, this book is a fantasy, sort of. immediately i can feel the tendencies to resist, argue and go on defensive. i can see the mind shouting, no, it's not, the characters from the chinese immortals world are to help and guide the heroine to reconnect with her own immortal world within, it is not fantasy. my editor says, suk wah, that's not what comes across to the reader. words cannot do justice to the cold, acidic disappointment that is fizzling all over me. the mind moans, i work so hard not to write a fantasy, this is terrible. so in the last few days i have been drawing on all the inner spiritual force that i have accumulated. i bring my attention back to the truth, again and again, it is what it is and it is not who you are, it's just a situation to take care of. a tough one. and that means i am tough enough for it. i am as tough as the challenge. not less. not more. just equal.

Monday, December 20, 2010

i learn so much from this young person

the night before a workshop hwubby runs into some technical issues. so he does the only thing he knows how. he sprints to the apple store. it is fifteen minutes before closing time. the guy assigned to help him says, don't worry, we'll get it done. and he does. hwubby says, he knows what he's doing, he's smart and focused. hwubby likes to find out about people. so he says, what do you do other than this? hwubby doesn't recall how the transitions goes. but very quickly the young man says, i have brain cancer. it turns out that for ten days every month he is sick as can be because of the chemo. yet he is a student, he works at the apple store, he lives by himself, he is at peace with the cards dealt him.

frequently hwubby and i have the great good fortune of meeting people who live a pure and courageous life without saying so. they live by their shining examples. really. i learn so much about acceptance and living in the present moment and staying focused on the task at hand just by hearing how this young person carries himself.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

residual tendency is like bamboo roots

my editor says, i want you to feel really, really free, you don't have to be clear, you will eventually get there. her words shine a light on another of my deep-rooted habitual tendency. fear of getting lost.

really. i thought i already got over that one. so it is very frustrating to realize that there are still remnants hanging around the mind. then a true experience comes to me. when we bought the house there were bamboos in the yard. we knew nothing about bamboos. it looked nice as it was. so we let it be. then, one day, after several years, i was alarmed to notice some bamboo shoots above ground across the pebble path separating the bamboo pad and the flower bed in the back center of the yard. hwubby immediately called his buddy whose wife owned a bamboo nursery. she said, this kind of bamboo have roots that run, literally. we had a barrier put in exactly according to her instructions. when it was all done she said, suk wah, there will still be bamboo shoots appearing above ground in the coming seasons. i said, what can i do to stop it? she said, keep your eyes open, nib them as soon as you catch them. i said, how long will it go on like that? she said, it's going to be a while. well, it's been another several years. i am still spotting bamboo tendrils.

why am i remembering this right now? aaaah. because deeply-rooted habits and patterns are like bamboo roots. i have worked to eliminate the bulk of it but remnants remain. the only way to take care of them is to be vigilant and nib them in the bud as soon as i am aware of them. what does 'nib them in the bud' mean? for me it is returning attention to the sound and movement of the easy breath. that is the sure and guaranteed way for me to reconnect with the inner self which is pure and free, the source of all creative sparks.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

learn by doing

in my own way i am freaking out. i ask my editor, am i being too ambitious for the first novel? she says, are you overreaching? i'd say yes if it's a lesser writer, but you are a very, very good writer. the challenge is, you don't know how to build a book. the first couple of drafts, you can just write and write creatively. and you write beautifully and poetically. but in the third, fourth drafts you have to be strategic.

i begin to see that i have to retrain the mind. i can write eating lox and bagels for forty pages but then i lose the story. i say, yeah, now it's about craftsmanship. she says, but then i don't want you to lose the poetry. aaaah. i have to learn how to do both things at the same time, to be strategic and poetic. how? i know only one way. learn by doing. the guru says, meditation shows you how to meditate. it's the same principle in writing a book, or anything in life for that matter. stay in the present. listen. keep at it.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

she feeds and gifts on her birthday

we gather together for my yogi sister shivaa's birthday. we sing out hearts out to the vedic hymn that details what we are grateful for and our wishes to the almighty which dwells within us as well as exist in everything and everyone everywhere. then we meditate. o me o my, i just plunge into the inner depths. when my awareness emerge i feel rested and ready to enjoy the feast that shivaa has prepared for us. but wait, she has gifts for everybody. i get a lavendar soap. i love the soothing and calming scent of it. now i'll really remember shivaa when i take showers.

let's get back to the food. what sublime food they are. she whips up this splendid salad with persimmon, pomegranate, orange, roasted walnut. bits of purple onion heighten the excitement. a wide range of flavors and texture burst and merge in the mouth. as for the hot dish it is quinoa spaghetti in soy bolognese topped with sesame seed pesto. i'm not a fan of imitated meat at all. but the way shivaa makes it, with lots of garlic, roasted tomato, roasted red pepper, thyme, oregano i have to say it's the best bolognese i have had in a long while. however the truly inspired move is to dollop in sesame seed pesto. it just brings everything together and elevate the richness and texture to a higher and deeper place.

instead of a boring birthday cake shivaa makes creme bulee of chocolate, orange, mascapone. everyone get his or her individual portion in a ramekin. simply lovely. we are so full, stomach and soul.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

i was so disconnected from my own inner self.

in the torah joseph says to his brothers, all this are god's plan, even when you sold me into slavery. so my rabbi asks this of us. looking back what do you see in your life that while it was happening it was horrible but now you see you transformed because of it.

this is what comes to me. at one point i wanted to end my life. it seemed like the only way to end all that anguish, despair. looking back i can see that was when i began to consciously ask myself, what is this life about? who am i? surely i am not this body. i got this shocking revelation when i was preparing my sister's body for funeral. so what exactly am i? why am i unhappy all the time? why am i here anyway? now i know these are the classic questions that impel me to look for answers. all that i knew during that time was this. no material possession can give me lasting happiness. no earthly relationship can show me the real meaning of this life. nothing in this physical life tastes good anymore. not any amount of money can extinguish the unbearable agony that was burning me up inside. aaaah. i was so disconnected from my own inner self. i was out of touch with the state of blissful consciousness which is pure, unchanging and independent. all that despair and agony serve the purpose to set me on the path to reconnect with who and what i really am.

Monday, December 13, 2010

i am proud to be called a jew

how come as a people it is called jews, from the line of judah? why not moseites? avrahamites? isakites? yaaakovites? or even yosefites? how come king david is from a line that originated from the father-in-law, judah, taking his daughter-in-law, tamah, mistaking her for a prostitute? how is that possible that the torah says the messiah is to come from this same line? well, this year, upon examining judah's story for the fourth or fifth year, i can see why. judah is the only figure in torah who would openly admit his mistake, acknowledge it and then some. he says, my daughter-in-law is right and she is more righteous than i. yes, he participates in throwing his brother, yosef, into a pit, selling him into slavery. but he manages to break the cycle of sibling rivalry. he steps up to the plate and asks to be taken as slave in return for releasing benjamin, the son his father dotes on, the only brother of yosef, the son of his father's most favored wife. in other word he rises to the challenges and become transformed. this is the template for me. i can't avoid making mistakes. but once i am conscious of being off the mark i can acknowledge it and step up to do what is necessary and right. in this sense i am proud to be called a jew.

Friday, December 10, 2010

our inner selves are made of light

hwubby makes a video of me lighting the menorah on the eighth day of chanukkah.

he sends it to the family. his brother calls and leaves a msg. he and and his wife watch the video with their baby girl, meme. then meme starts to imitate me. i say, i want to see a video of that.

babies are pure lights. they are naturally drawn towards lights. but, really, that's what our inner selves do. our inner selves love to be around people who shine because lights are what our inner selves are made of. we are beings of light.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

practicing acceptance

i awake at midnight and, boom, an opportunity to practice acceptance walks through the bedroom door. here's what happens. hwubby says, let's go to hong kong for chinese new year. fast forward we clear out the window according to the dates that hwubby found out. from where? probably he googled. it turns out that it is a window between his work commitments. so we book the flights, arrange accommodations, announce to family and friends. meanwhile thoughts after thoughts come up regarding how to plan the trip given it is chinese new year. most importantly i am happy that we will celebrate my aunt ellen's birthday which is on the seventh day of chinese new year. this is the one who has been watching over and looking after my mother tirelessly and selflessly. honest to god i could not have been a better daughter than she is. countless medical appointments, midnight emergencies. so i'm really glad that we have this wonderful occasion to honor her.

so there he is. hwubby bursts through the bedroom door and says, it's not chinese new year. i am jolted awake. i say, what? he says, i was talking to this woman from an international school in hong kong, she wants to see me, so we are working on the date, and i say, we are coming in chinese new year, when is the school holiday over? she says, no, it's not chinese new year. i say, how can that be? she emails me later and says our dates are for last year's chinese new year.

i couldn't fall back to sleep. the mind spins around and races in all directions. i knew something was not right. aunt ellen didn't sound that excited when i told her the dates. i should have followed that tiny inner hum. blah blah blah.

finally, in this morning's meditation, as i work hard to keep coming back to the sound and movement of the natural and easy breath i feel a sense of 'it is what it is.' not passive resentment. just being in the circumstance with all the specifics in the present moment. so hwubby makes a mistake. and he apologizes. i accept it. we move on. none of it takes away what his inner self is already is. i come out of meditation with a clearer and quieter mind. the tendency to resisting what is is further weakened. my ability to stay in the present moment is strengthened a little bit more. what a great thing it turns out to be.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

eating and cooking are her meditations

i haven't started transcribing the session with my editor yet because i want to look at it from an open space of quiet, stillness and brightness. or else i'll be looking at the situation through the lens of i'll get lost, i can't hold it all. so, in the last several days, every meditation reveals, or shall i say illumine, one thing my editor says. today is this. suk wah, you write about food so beautifully, can you put it to a bigger use?

as i chew on this nugget i begin to see that this is where craftsmanship comes in. i really thought i had, through painting pictures of the heroine's relationship with food, that food is her spiritual path, eating and cooking are her spiritual practices. as my writing coach...and that happens to be hwubby...says, she is always hungry. hungry is a spot on descriptive for this character. she is consumed by hunger. the way she was raised and conditioned she understood this hunger as insatiable desires for food. it's how she soothes herself and calms the racing mind. so i thought i didn't have to spell it out in so many words to say that eating and cooking are her communions, her meditations. i say, i don't want to be preachy. editor says, you can do it in a sentence, even a phrase, very light-handed, but you must do it or else you lose the reader, nobody can endure pages after pages of eating lox and bagels and have no idea where you are going with it.

i see. i have to connect dots and i have to reduce.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

can i hold both in awareness?

my editor says, suk wah, you write so beautifully, i've never seen anyone writing about food as beautiful as you do, the metaphors, the way you write about it, are just...i can't write better than you do. sometimes a writer says to me, i write this way because it's my 'voice.' i would say, you don't have a 'voice.' anyway, my editor goes on to say, you write best when you just write, paragraph after paragraph, but you can't write forty pages of 'eating lox and bagels.' i really can't bring myself to say, one of the reasons i end up having forty pages of 'eating lox and bagels' is this. marquez writes eighty pages about a couple moving around each other in the night. well, all i can say is it is not working out for me. not yet. marquez is marquez. suk wah is suk wah. i have to deal with suk wah's reality as it is. don't compare, suk wah.

so, what's the point i am trying to get at? let me see. o yes. this morning, in meditation, it comes to me that i get lost, in a good way, when i just write and write. but then i lose the narrative, pacing, rhythm. i am very good at writing scenes, dialogues. i love it. i get so much joy doing it. but i want to get the book done in a proper way. so i have to be able to hold the scene and the story together in my awareness while dialogues and details are flowing out from the inner self. my editor says, can your mind work that way? right now, i don't know. not yet.

Monday, December 6, 2010

the shamus within. happy chanukkah

the sixth night of chanukkah is approaching. i am coming to appreciate the timeless wisdom in this practice of lighting yet another candle as the days go on. flame by flame, day by day, i gather the sense of building a brighter light and with that ever growing faith and trust in my own flame within. on the fourth night i was by myself. i turn off all other external light source after i kindled the shamus, the center light. i see the darkness around me diminish rapidly with another candle lit. when all are burning bright i experience one light. there is no difference between the brightness within and that without. the practice of lighting the candles helps me see the inner light, the flame which is sustained by none other than my supreme inner self. the shamus within is always there to offer protection from darkness.

happy chanukkah to all. may we be the light. may the light be us.

Friday, December 3, 2010

feeling daunted.

this morning's meditation is sweetness tossed in with spurts of feeling daunted. not heavy spurts. light spurts. i know exactly how it is triggered. from the session with my editor yesterday. we are now dealing with structural issues. roles and purposes of characters, goal of a scene, what need to go into which third of the book...all that good stuff. yet, as she says, you write so beautifully and you are at your best when you just write and write, so we don't want to make you write like you are doing a job, have to follow a checklist of things to put in.

i really don't know how to resolve this right now. i guess i'll just do the only thing i know how. let the feeling be there, and ask, you are a flash of supreme consciousness, what are you showing me? quickly a couple of things come up. inadequacy. smallness. unworthiness. okay, enough for now. and really, they are all variants of forgetting that i hold within me the source of that which creates the entire physical universe that ever existed, is existing and will exist. obviously this truth is still something in the head and mind, not in the heart and blood. what ought i do? please show me, my innermost and highest self.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

i become one with the soup

i meditate two hours. so satisfying. so relaxing. it never ceases to amaze me. really. i just sit quietly, keep paying attention to the way the breath is coming in and going out of me. i am not doing anything really. after a little bit there is just this sound of waves massaging the body, mind and i lose the sense of what is within and what is without. i feel boundlessly expansive. i feel abundant beyond measure.  simply sublime.

occasionally i see this thought and that emotion appear. none of them bother me. and then a gentle and sweet reminder comes up. you haven't tried the thai turkey soup yet. o, yes. i refreshed the soup yesterday with the last and big piece of carcass, threw in more carrot, turnip, potato. i was so absorbed in it that i completely forgot about the thom yum. somewhere around this point i realize i am caught up in a thought wave. one thought pulls out another, and another. i summon the spiritual force to bring attention back to the breath wave and choose to ground my understanding in this. it doesn't matter what the content of the thought, or whatever mental activity, is. that's irrelevant. any mental activity is a temporary flash of pure consciousness, which is my essential nature, reflected on the screen of mind. i experience satisfaction and joy not because of the thoughts. as a matter of fact such satisfaction and joy are not derived from the food, or anything outside of me. they are what i am. they add the taste of oneness to whatever i eat. indeed i can safely say i become one with the soup. it is complete and perfect as it is.

i am still going to try it with some thom yum though.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

reborn turkey soup with thai touch

hwubby walks in the door from the dark cold outside. he says, it smells beautiful. i ladle out a bowl of steaming turkey carcass soup. he says, this smells like a dream, looks like a dream and you are a beautiful dream. i gotta say this turkey soup is a beautiful dream all right. cubes of carrots, turnip and potato float. i layer the bowl bottom with slices of the bright white, juicy breast meat that i carved out earlier. the aroma is intoxicating with notes of celery, pepper, onion, garlic, ginger, sage. it's so good that i have three big bowls and that's my supper.

today i'm going to take it up another notch. how? listen to this. i come downstairs after meditation to make my chai and what do i see? an almost empty jar that has a little bit of thom yum paste. this is the interesting part. it's been loitering on the counter for a while. i mean to but somehow i never get around to make a thom yum. in this moment i know why. today i'll spoon a little bit into the soup, not to make a thai soup out of it but just to heighten it with some spunk. now that's a truly inspired inner message:) hwubby says, we'll have old soup today? i say, no, the turkey is too huge for the pot so i had to leave a big piece out. therefore today's soup is not leftover but reborn. this is really something fun to look forward to.

what fabulous cousins and nephew and niece i have. i am truly lucked out. thank you tommy, daisy, byron and agnes.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

turkey carcass and inner self

here's the way i love to eat turkey. the day after thanksgiving i take out the carcass and start digging in and tearing out with all fingers. somehow cold leftover turkey meat, particularly those that are hidden in the nooks and crannies, taste even better. this year i take it to another level. check this out. my cousin, tommy, made the gravy by reducing the juices for two hours. really. this baby is deceptively simple. it's naked. there's nothing else but the bird essence infused with sage butter and flavors of cornbread stuffing. i warm it up. the aroma is subtly rich. it's a great dip for this high quality turkey meat. then i have an inspired idea. i ladle it over steamy basmati rice. truly a meal in a bowl. so now what do i do with the rest of the turkey meat? no worry. the cranberry sauce that agnes, my niece, made is spot on for the purpose. under her dad's supervision there is a fine balance of sweet and sour, smoothness and texture. it really brings out the gentleness of the meat.

and so it is that the turkey we didn't get to eat on thanksgiving serve fantastically for days after, and still counting.

tomorrow i'm really getting to the top fave of turkey activity. carcass soup. in this morning's meditation it comes to mind that there's a bag of shiitake stems in the freezer. brilliant prompting. it will make the soup that much more special. i know the inner self really knows. yet it never ceases to amaze me.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

jewish touch in chinese-american thanksgiving

the day after thanksgiving i begin to dig into the bird. or, more accurately, the fifteen pound bird that my cousin tommy and his family prepared and is now sitting in pieces in bags in my fridge. what happens is there are so much fantastic food at the thanksgiving table that i only manage to have a couple of mouthfuls of the sage-buttered crispy, golden brown skin and juicy breast. actually i really wanted to gobble up the fabulous corn bread stuffing that my nephew byron made and the yummy cranberry sauce that my fifth-grader niece agnes whipped up. they are so good that i can just slurp them down on their own.

anyway, i cannot do justice to it all if i don't pay tribute to the outstanding starters. hmmm. where do i begin? how about this one? 'sweetie in a blanket.' agnes pitted a date, inserted an almond into the hole, wrapped bacon around it and secured it with a toothpick. she did it probably twenty-four times, at least. how about a hand for her patience and stamina? yay, agnes. meanwhile her dad has prepared two dips. check this out. a puree of fennel and roasted garlic. caper, raisin salsa. really. i had to summon all the spiritual force that i have accumulated for eighteen years not to go crazy on them. actually it's more that i was looking ahead, anticipating the crabs, turkey, and all that were to come, and trying to save some space in the belly for them. what next? mashed potatoes. byron suggested adding lox. together with chives, they transformed the homely, humble mashed potato into a golden, lush mound. not to mention hwubby was deeply moved because he was brought up on lox and bagel every sunday growing up. so lox has a special place in his heart. and belly. so there you have it. a jewish touch in thanksgiving.

i still haven't got to the turkey. to be continued.

Friday, November 26, 2010

a very crabby thanksgiving

i say, i really had a lot of crab. hwubby says, you must be kidding, you've had crabs enough for a year. look. i have the pic to show for it. look at the gigundo bowl of shimmering crabs next to the fifteen pound thanksgiving bird.

by the way that green patch on the bird's thigh is evidence of my seven-grader nephew byron's great and hard work as his dad's sous chef. he scrubs sage butter under the skin.

i digress. but it's hard not to when i am in stun and awe of this sublime thanksgiving banquet that tommy, my nephew, and his family spent a week and countless hours to plan and execute.

so, what about the crabs? the aroma is that of the fresh ocean and abundant earth merged into a grand harmony. i take a bite and i totally forget the principle of moderation. i'm determined not to leave a piece behind. in fact i keep licking fingers to make sure i suck up all the flavors. and what a spectacular flavor profile he has created. all right, so tommy, my cousin, has not invented the vietnamese way of making crab. but, in my humble, and, okay, maybe biased, opinion, he has perfected it. the foundation of butter and garlic is solid but not overpowering. how do i know? because the crabs at room temperature are not greasy. the garlic hums in the background like the eternal presence of the sacred resonance of om. the texture is smooth and moist. it has a bite, almost al dente, and yet, in a mysterious way, it feels buttery between teeth. peppery heat sparkle on the palate but not tongue-numbing. in fact it enhances the ethereal brininess which is a sure sign that the crabs are top quality material. there is so much life in each bite. there is not a drop of white wine in sight. only the intoxicating scent remains. just before turning off the high, high heat he drips in a teeny weeny bit of lemon. the touch of acid brightens the brininess the way a pinch of salt infuses freshness and lightness into sweetness. the moment he turns off the heat he showers plenty of finely chopped parsley over the creation. he says, this parsley brings everything together. i don't know why. i don't care. i just can't stop eating. i clean the bowl out.

it's surely a crabby thanksgiving. and it's superb.

anyway, as lord krishna says to arjuna in bhagavad gita, yoga is skill in action. from this perspective, that tommy is definitely a yogi.

to be continued...

Thursday, November 25, 2010

thanksgiving dream

i come out of a dream the night before thanksgiving. in a blink it disappears from my consciousness. i make an inner effort to stay quiet and still, both body and mind. the sound of the easy breath flows through my awareness. after a while the dream returns like cascades of gentle waves.

here it goes. hwubby and i are in usa for one day. i cram in as many spiritual activities as i can into the schedule. i pack a small glass container of food and a wallet that holds papers and money. then i have to pass through a crowded place to get the chanting venue. i emerge from the crowd only to find that i have lost both the money and food. the clock is ticking away. i am missing the chant. i start to cry and that's when i flip out of the dream. i find myself feeling safe. all that anxiety in the dream unreal. what a reversal in the states.

happy thanksgiving. so much to be thankful for.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

connectedness. spiritual workout. twelve-step

of all the bad and negative emotions and feelings which is the most awful? for me it is loneliness. i am even feeling bursts of shame and embarrassment just becoming vaguely aware of the yucky things i did and said out of loneliness. anyway. last night as i sing om with fellow yogis in our regular gathering - i call it spiritual workout - very soon i hear my voice rising and ebbing with the group's sound. without any pre-arrangement we start a round at the same instant and enter the subtle resonance together. it's a great feeling. our inner selves merge into one conducting the flow of sound. the mind starts to look for a word to encapsulate it. it comes quickly. connectedness. then one insight flows out after another as i am carried aloft on this comforter of sacred sound. i am not alone. we come together as earnest seekers to help each other remember that. the outer connectedness shows me the way to connect with the inner self.

it helps too to have vito's pasta sauce made from home grown tomatoes and prepared in the real italian way.

then i recall a core operating principle of the twelve-step program. when people who truly want to make meaningful change come together we help each other to emerge from feeling isolated. little by little, over time, we reach out for support, guidance and, lo n behold, we see so much higher power already within us, always there, ready, willing and able to walk us step by step to become what we ought to be from where we are.

on the day before thanksgiving i feel so fortunate to have such abundant holy company. really, people who work hard on recovering their connection with higher power are great people to be with. and fun too. in their presence, each in his/her unique and wonderful way, i am reminded who and what i really am. above all, i no longer feel alone. and that is a priceless gift. thank you all.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

it's what spiritual work is all about

a trusted and respected aunt says, twelve-step program is my spiritual path, i have no other, i've been to meetings for twenty years. i don't know what to make of it. what i think i know what twelve-step program is doesn't match up with this kind and sweet woman who has no problem speaking her mind in a straightforward yet respectful manner. at that point i know some negative tendency is tainting the way i see twelve-step. arrogance. self-righteousness. so i decide i have to go to one to see that for myself.

what i see is stunning and awesome. week after week, for years, a group of men and women get together, create and sustain a safe and committed environment for sincere seekers to connect with higher power/god/inner self or whatever spiritual truth that rings true for that individual at that point in his/her journey. there is a framework that is articulated in a methodical, step-by-step manner and in plain english. my spiritual teacher says, to the effect, we walk on the path, each with his/her own pace, sometimes a person gets off the path but he/she can always get back on it. last night in a meeting i feel like that. it's a big group. there are people who've been on the path for seven or eight years. there is a woman who is here for the first time after being dealt a huge emotional and psychological blow a couple of days ago. i am there for the fourth time and still figuring out what i am. i am amazed by the depth and breadth in people's shares. one person says, what i discover is that it's not that i don't have erratic thoughts anymore but they are like this. he puts his thumb and forefinger just about touching each other to indicate what he means. wow. he nails it. that's what spiritual work is all about. knowing and exercising the power to turn towards the light of god instead of going with the darkness of erratic thoughts.

Monday, November 22, 2010

i am an avraham wannabee but i am more of a jacob

i want to walk with god. i aspire to be avraham. but in terms of the journey i am actually more of a jacob. indeed. i have lied. i have cheated. i have tried to bargain with god for my personal gains. in fact it's more like i want god to give me what i want in the way and manner i want when i want. i wrestle with god. but look at avraham. the one time he negotiates with god it's about saving a city of people from the wrath of god. but when god tells him to leave the land where he is born and raised and have a life, and later, to sacrifice his son he obeys. no questions asked. whenever god calls him he simply says, here i am. at eighty years old he undergoes circumcision because god says so. all the time he keeps his life affairs in order with integrity, respect, kindness and generosity. can i walk with god like that? i would hope and think i can but the truth of the matter is i am more of a jacob. as a unique individual i am deeply flawed and screwed. at the same time i have strong yearnings and experiences with the divine power that resides within me. i forget god quite a bit but i also have moments of remembering who and what i am and where god is. let me pray that as i steadily put in spiritual efforts and meditate regularly i would up the numbers of remembrance and shorten the intervals between forgetfulness. i know what to do to take me closer to god but in moments of choosing i often succumb to negative tendencies.

and so it is i come to accept that i am an israelite. one who wrestles with god.

Friday, November 19, 2010

contentment is what i am

i dreamed last night. now i realize it's about two tendencies. envy and jealousy. actually they are siblings. kind of twins. anyway, in the dream i'm with kar yan, a girl in my secondary school. she has a stable, nice family. her parents provide for the children and devote to their education and wellbeing. so there i am in my dream world. i am staying over at her place, a clean, bright, spacious apartment. that's heaven to me considering i live in a shack that has a leaky roof over a concrete floor on which everything take place. kar yan has long, shining, black hair that run like a waterfall. mine is short, curly and unwieldy. we are packing to go some place. her father helps her with the packing. i look at them and wish he is my father. so i don't realize i am pooping directly into the beautiful mocha color cashmere coat that i am wearing. i feel terribly embarrassed. inevitably i have to get up and get going, fully expecting i am making a fool of myself in front of everybody, only to see piles of jewels roll down the coat lining. at that moment i come out of the dream.

fortunately it doesn't take long for me to figure out what's going on. my sustained spiritual efforts elevate me to a vantage point where i can see the root cause of envy and jealousy. disconnecting from the inherent contentment that is my own nature.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

in the presence of a wonder-filled person

i never know where, when and how i receive a sublime, joyous learning experience. case in point. we are invited to dinner with a couple whom i have never met. i get into the back of the car from the passenger side. i see the man who is driving and the brim of the hat of the woman sitting in front of me. all this happen in the midst of a heavy storm during busy traffic in the dark in portland, oregon. o, yes, and my mind is all worked up about walking one and a half blocks from the parking lot to the restaurant in beaded slippers. so it isn't until i settle into a comfortable chair, look across the table and catch the sight of the woman removing her hat and... what do i see? before i know it i hear words streaming out of me. your head has a beautiful shape. it turns out this lady has a lot more than a gorgeous, shining head. she was diagnosed with stage four cancer. four years later she is still here, radiant and beaming. what a luminous smile she has. in a lighthearted and low key tone she says, in a way and manner that is naturally woven into an animated dinner conversation, that every year and a half she has to go through a chemo regimen. it has six sessions of five hour each. meanwhile she is a gardener, an active member in a gardening club, goes to tuscany to visit gardens and keeps her life affairs in order. she is not in denial about where she is. she is not stuck in it either. she is bright, smart and curious. a total delight to be with.

as i type this i realize i have come into the presence of a great and wonder-filled person. her inner light shines forth beautifully and brightly. in her company it is so easy to be in the present moment.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

enough is my nature

here's what i've come to believe. when i sit down with the intention to meditate whatever happens is meditation. so it is when i sit through today's session with a foggy mind humming with fatigue i choose to take an inner stance of the highest and innermost self is looking at mental clouds coming and going over the vast sky of pure consciousness. i see how i got the mind into this state. i've been up since five working through a bunch of things in a hotel room, making ginger water, chapati, chai, packing a day's worth of food and snack for hwubby and a business meeting, all before meditation and on an empty stomach. i have to do better tomorrow. since i can't meditate until hwubby leaves i have to have breakfast around seven and figure out meditation later.

do i feel i have a 'good enough' meditation today? you bet i do. i am enough and good enough. enough is my very inherent nature.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

almost spit chai on computer

in this morning's meditation a recurring word comes to me in a gentle and sweet way. judy. i don't need to scribble it down as i usually do with words that appear in meditation. i know exactly what it means. to email a dear, dear friend whose 94 yr old father transitioned a few days ago. before she leaves for the funeral i promise her to say kaddish for her father on sabbath morning with the rabbi and torah study people. it turns out to be a splendid, shining morning. the sun-filled, spacious room overflows with beautiful and bright people. the sound waves of the ancient hymn, that bonds innumerable generations that ever were, are and ever will be coming and going, flows through my entire being and all around me as they ripple out into everywhere in the universe touching my friend, her father and mother and all the wonderful relatives who have come. i am afloat in an expanse of sweet, quiet bliss.

so i come out of meditation thinking this is what i will write to my friend. i open the inbox and what do i see? an email from her. it ends with this, 'As I was listening to the earth hits the coffin, I could also hear my mother saying, "OK then, spicy food and coctails!"'

the surprise chuckle almost makes me spit chai on the computer. what a delightful person she is. and great too. she has been tirelessly serving her marriage for umpteen years. she is showing us how to live in the light and bliss of the present moment.

Monday, November 15, 2010

i'll just have to keep returning awareness to the breath

i know, i know, i want to be a liberated yogi and the hallmark sign of a liberated yogi is not to get worked up about anything and definitely not to react to thoughts and emotions. but for now i just couldn't help it. here's why. this morning there is a hotel charge $165.93 showing up on the credit card. turns out this charge is in the process of being refunded and is takes several days to happen. then there are two charges, $7.95 each. some sort of services to get you onto the web in airports. but hwubby doesn't remember giving credit card info for such services on that date. my point is this. the investor insists on our credit balance showing zero before they would fund the mortgage loan. on one hand i have no problem with that. on another hand this is a corporation that received tens of billions of federal bailout money. so somehow my mind just can't reconcile the two and keeps churning out reaction after reaction, emotion after emotion. really, the corporation gets a huge bailout. it turns around and squeeze responsible borrowers like us. i have outstanding credit score. i have demonstrated that i have been paying all the bills on time. yet the investor wouldn't accept anything other than zero balance, not even after i paid off the almost six thousand dollars of statement balance and another two thousand dollars of current balance. that's a matter of principle? fine. but what the heck is all that bailout money about? wasn't that against the free market principle?

in the end, as i type, i paid off the $181.83. but the mental turbulence is still going strong. i have to keep my eye on the goal. getting the loan through. i guess i'll just have to keep returning awareness to the movement of the easy breath until the mental torrent runs out of momentum. om namah shivaya.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

under test to stay in the present moment

this morning's meditation was pushed back and came to twenty minutes. here's why. we are refinancing our home. we have outstanding credit. we put everything on the credit card to get the miles and pay off the balance in full every month. it has been working swell. until now. as a condition to fund the loan the investor requires the credit card balance to be zero. meanwhile hwubby is doing business traveling. there's a hotel bill that is pending. it turns out it takes two to three days to post onto the balance after the charge is submitted. meanwhile the interest rate is down to the wire. the thought wave that consumes the mind is, what if the loan can't get funded, we're screwed, i wish.... as i go back and forth with hwubby who is returning a rental car on the way to an airport somewhere in virginia he says, you are so worked up. something in me surges to place a dam across the rush of resistance, resentment and defensiveness. i turn quiet. he says, go meditate. so i do. by that time i can meditate twenty minutes because i don't want to miss torah study with my rabbi.

as i settle into the natural movement of the easy breath i begin to experience a subtle shift in the way i look at the fast-evolving situation. 'what if the loan can't get funded' is a thought, a riff of mental activity. 'we're screwed' is a reaction on that initial thought. 'i wish...' is a reaction on the reaction. and so on and so forth. blah blah blah. following this thought wave takes me away from the inner self, out of the present moment and i can't see what i need to see. as my breath becomes a little deeper and a little longer with each breath i receive this message from within. stay focused on what you can do in the present moment and see what happens.

i come out of meditation, make chai, arranges a ride to torah study, arranges to pay the credit balance as it is. meanwhile hwubby has got the hotel to work on retracting the charge and accepting payment on the debit card. it's the best we can do for now. i'll check in with the credit card people tomorrow and see what happens. 

Friday, November 12, 2010

doubting, second-guessing are spiritual killers

just one thought could rock the inner boat. case in point. we signed a bunch of important papers in the morning. it was the culmination of two months of hard work and masterminding. i felt tremendous relief. until in the afternoon when i caught myself already in a thought wave of doubting and second-guessing. i should have...what if i didn't... there was a time when i would be so caught up in it that this broken record was stuck in the mind for days and weeks. this time around i catch myself looking at it and the power of sustained spiritual efforts lift my perception to a higher vantage point. an inner message appears. this is not you. drop it and forget about it. so i summon the will and intention to kick them out into the field of pure consciousness. i keep doing it for a little while like scrubbing hard stains on the kitchen floor. i take a pause and scan the inner state. the negative thought wave is much weaker than before. it is now a lingering whisper hovering in the far horizons of awareness.

very soon after i settle into this morning's meditation i experience this message. meditation reveals my worthiness. it is pure. my own greatness is unaffected by anything. i feel this surge of strength from deep within the belly. with that i notice the inbreaths becoming even deeper and the outbreaths longer. just like that i relax into my own mystical world.  my own grace draws grace. great things happen. i see grace absorbing all that negative tendency. the mental mirror is a little clearer and cleaner.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

triumphant return of chapati

after four weeks of liquid diet and another month of roasted sooji (wheat germ), all because of difficult healing after extensive gum surgery, hwubby says, can i have chapati? i say, you bet, how about with spiced milk? he says, sure. fresh chapati, which i like to refer to as indian matza, sprinkled with ajwain and cumin seeds and topped with home-made ghee, is truly a taste in heaven. a nurturing, invigorating aroma fills the entire being as well as the kitchen. hwubby says, what hwubby is so fortunate to have fresh chapati every morning but me? he's right. and what about the spiced milk? besides adding spices for various purposes it involves a cup of milk and four cups of water boiling down to one cup. turmeric and saffron turn it into gentle molten gold. hwubby always saves me a little of each and then laid them out on beautiful china for me. absolutely food fit for an empress.

i'm not self-congratulatory but i have to say, such bread and milk truly look deceptively simple, it takes subtle skills and sustained attention, it is yoga.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

love my fellow yogis

back to doing spiritual practices with fellow yogis after a two-month absence. love it. the eight of us pour our whole being into the practices, be it chanting a vedic hymn or singing om or meditating or...eating. about singing om. this time i consciously shift the note after several rounds. as i rise to a higher note i hear waves of beautiful harmonics sweeping into my consciousness. our individual sounds come together. mystical alchemy happens. blossoms of grand resonance appear, sustain and dissolve in a comforting rhythm. soon i experience no difference between the resonance outside of me and the reverberation within me. i am filled with waves of sweet and spectacular resonance. i hear my own resonance pulsing through my entire being while the vast symphonic sound undulates everywhere in my awareness.

and then shivaa feeds us to beautiful, pure food. a bowl of azuki bean soup permeating shittake aroma gently fills the belly with yummy nourishment. a dollop of fresh whip cream, infused with maple syrup and vanilla, over upside down apple pie provides the perfect sweet note to satisfy the body and mind. i love my fellow yogis. we check in with each other on our spiritual wellbeing. we don't gossip but we support each other's spiritual growth. we pray together in one voice with one intention.

i couldn't be happier to be back with them. love my fellow yogis.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

let the mental cloud pass

hwubby says, meditation is so beneficial. i say, how so? he says, it reminds me of who's who and what's what. he absolutely nails it. he goes on to say, in the last hour i notice how a thought can turn into worry and anxiety and i don't have to do that. i say, that's what sages mean when they say, don't go there. he says, yeah, i am seeing more and more what the scripture says is true, you're neither this nor that. i say, that's right, you're neither worry, nor anxiety, nor 'no worry, no anxiety,' you are quite simply light, consciousness and bliss. he says, yeah, it's like the thought is a screen between me and god, my higher self, inner self, whatever i call it, or a cloud, and the cloud will pass and i can push the screen from right to left.

hey, power to hwubby.

Monday, November 8, 2010

eighteen years of efforts pay off

i say, i am exhausted. hwubby says, you are exhausperated. i say, what? he says, exhausted and exasperated. he's right. i've been on crisis mode 24/7 for one and a half months straight. now even though there are aftershocks and devastation to deal with the main quake is, i can safely say, over. so, yes, i am exhausted. what about 'exasperated?' i haven't yet reflected closely the entire arc of twists and turns. but what comes to me now is, among other opportunities, this has been unbroken practice on acceptance. i have to say this is not my strength. not thus far. there's a deeply rooted tendency to wish things different, to reject, to resist. yet the unfolding circumstances demand me to face them as they are because they are utterly out of my control. now i could have thrown in the towel. here's where eighteen years of putting in steady, sweet efforts pay off. again and again i experience this surge of inner spiritual force lifting me in moments of immense difficulty and apparent impossibility. i recall vividly saying to myself over and over, whatever i have to go through, whatever i have to lose on the outside my inner self, my own greatness, remains full, pure and luminous. and i so i find myself choosing to go toward light with relative ease. i say 'relative' because the residual pattern of 'refusing to accept what it is as it is' keeps nagging me and gnawing at me though it is only a weak whisper, not strong enough to engulf me. not anymore. as a matter of fact i chuckle as i recall something that happened a couple of weeks ago. hwubby says, i'm glad you find it funny. i do. now that's real progress. it means i am in touch with the unchanging bliss of my own self.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

i have a vast collection of spectacular jewels

i come to awake this morning into a space and state of thankfulness. and an expansive feeling of quiet contentment that is pulsing with the sense 'wow. i am alive.'

in meditation i hear this, the major earthquake is abating, there'll be aftershocks, there are devastation like the tensions accumulated in your body. before i share this with hwubby, he says, i have a feeling the storm is passing.

indeed. and this too shall pass. and all this is grace. as i type this i see, in inner vision, a lapis lazuli in all its azure blue glory sprinkled sparely with golden sparks. i have such a vast collection of spectacular jewels and they go wherever i go.

Friday, November 5, 2010

i am the crown jewel of all that i have

here's another teaching dream. this one goes like this. i'm sitting at a dressing table. mother is sitting next to me. all around me are people all dressed and bejeweled. i pull out the drawer in front of me. it is filled with jewelry. gold. jade. diamond. i take in the scene around me, feeling enough and contented. mother is saying, in a nagging way, wear it, wear it. i look at the glammed up people around me and look at all that i have in the drawer and think to myself in a calm and relaxed way, do i need to wear it? no. do i want to wear it? no. at that point i wake up.

as i share the dream with my study partner it dawns on me that i am the crown jewel of all that i have.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

where the higher self dwells

until i hear myself howling in pain on chiropractor's table when her thumbs are pressing into the left shoulder i have no idea how much tension i have accumulated in the body. no wonder i've been receiving messages from within in meditations saying, go back to sleep. as i contemplate on it i realize what's going on is this. i've been on crisis mode, heightened adrenaline state, pretty much 24/7 for a month and a half. it is said that the sleeping state is where one can really let go of it and allow grace to come through. coming to see this helps bring my awareness to the way the breath is naturally moving in and out of me. coming in deep. going out long. staying in the present moment where the higher self dwells.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

teaching dream

one nice dream after another. two in one night. my teacher comes in the latter one. i am sitting at a big, round table at the back of an expansive hall with people. we are kind of shooting breeze, very laid back. i see my teacher. she is walking in a steady gait across the hall, sort of from my right to left. as she gets closer to me i see three dolls tucked into her backpack and she is in walking shoes. i say, have a nice walk. she beams, comes to the table, and starts talking to us. she pauses behind each person momentarily. as she gets closer and closer to me i feel more and more self-conscious. i can't hear what she is saying. it seems that she is saying nice things to other people. soon after coming out of the dream i realize it's the residual tendency to feel inadequate, worthless and comparing with others.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

2 versions of serenity prayer

hwuby and i have started a new thing. before going to sleep and upon coming awake we say the serenity prayer, in two versions. here goes the alternative version:

god, grant me the serenity
to accept the people i cannot change
the courage to change the one i can
and the wisdom to know that's me.

and the more i recite the original version the more i am blown away by its inclusive compassion and transcendent wisdom. it truly crosses race, religion, culture, gender and any barrier i can imagine. listen to this.

god, grant me the serenity
to accept what i cannot change
the courage to change what i can
and the wisdom to know the difference

i feel so fortunate to be in this country where there are so many ways to know god. none excludes another. in fact, my experience is that i am soaking up the greatness in the 12-step program like a sponge because of the eighteen years of efforts in practicing 'god dwells within me as me.'

Monday, November 1, 2010

a girl can always use a beauty rest:)

this morning's meditation is nice and sweet. the column of golden lights that runs from the base of spine to the crown of head is bright and strong. yet no sooner than i begin to come out of easy lotus posture i receive this message from within, crystal clear, go back to sleep. it makes total sense. in the last couple of days i have been sensing this general exhaustion in my entire being. i'm not a medical doctor so i don't have the technical knowhow to articulate it but, hey, a girl can always use a beauty rest. and when i wake up a few hours later i definitely feel a tight know loosened up deep within. put it simply. i feel better.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

i want to be a carbon copy of avraham

there i said it. and i will say it again and again. whatever avraham stands for i want that. i feel so close to him. on many levels. i left where i was born and raised, crossed the ocean and settled in a foreign land. so when i learned that the first direct command avraham received from god is, go forth, leave your mother-and-father's land, i recognize the avraham in me.

avraham is devoted enough to circumcise at eighty-nine and, at the same time, confident enough to negotiate with god when god says, i want to destroy all the people in sodom. i want to become that.

and i have my own two-cents on the binding-son episode. from my simple, and others may consider simplistic, point of view, avraham realizes that his only son doesn't belong to him. god gave him this child and god can take it away. why? i don't know. i have come to the place that i accept that it's not for me to question and judge but to embrace what it is as it is and deal with it wholeheartedly with calm and clarity without attachment and letting go of the thoughts that say, this is mine, that is mine. and so it is i want to be a carbon copy of avraham.

Friday, October 29, 2010

we persevere our way through speed bumps and potholes

i didn't realize i love my weekly spiritual study session so much until it had to be canceled three weeks in a row. so today i go into it with an extra dose of appreciation and a refreshed sense of how precious it is to have a study companion who is so enthusiastic and committed to studying the scriptures and figuring out how to apply the teachings in day-to-day life. i truly feel energized as the session unfolds. i recognize that there is a mystical alchemy when dedicated seekers get together regularly to support each other as we persevere our way through the speed bumps and potholes on the path to become established in our own greatness. i am so fortunate.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

happy and content to be a one trick pony

a person in my life has been moaning, groaning and goes, i'm wrong, i can't do it, it's hopeless, can't you understand? do i understand? hey, i'm a one trick pony. all i know, from eighteen years of meditation, chanting, studying with the teacher, contemplating the teachings and many direct experiences, i have within me a solid and stable source of contentment, courage, strength, serenity and sweet joy. as long as i am anchored in that place i can see all kinds of dark mental clouds appear and say, o, it's weather. and you know what, all weather pass sooner or later. no exception. someone asks a swami, can meditation help me to get over all this negative stuff? without missing a beat he says with a smile and eyes sparkling with conviction, yes, unless you hold on to it. and so it is that i hold on to one thing and one thing only with my dear life. i am light, consciousness and bliss. everything else are weather. the only way i know how to become established in this place is...meditation. i'm happy and content to be a one trick pont

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

meditation uninterrupted, sort of

after forty days of circumstantial chaos (actually i like the yiddish word mishegas better) i finally get to meditate a couple of hours uninterrupted. sort of. why 'sort of?' because i'm on a colon cleanse. every morning i drink two glasses of liquid before doing anything else. so midway through meditation i feel i have to pee. but then, because i am able to have bowel movement before sitting into easy-lotus posture my meditations have been so much more open, relaxed and relaxing. the physical body is just that much more spacious. so is the subtle body. it makes total sense. there's less 'shit' within, making space for grace to flow through.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

facing whatever it is as it is

often, over the  years, i wonder, what's the meaning of acceptance? now i am granted experiences of it. acceptance turns out to be nothing but facing whatever it is as it is, not as what i would like it to be. real and true acceptance involves enthusiasm. there's no place for resentment and half-hearted efforts. okay, so this is what it is? sure, i'll take it and run with it, dive into it, plunge into it, and see what happens.

Monday, October 25, 2010

i'm a saint-in-training

what's my occupation? it comes down to this. what do i want to be? i want to be fully-realized. so what about fully-realized wannabee? that's a possibility. the other day i found out, from my facebook fellow yogi that a holy man in india listed on his hospital chart for his occupation: saint. really, this can only happen in india when practicing saintliness is acceptable as an occupation. anyhow a spark goes off inside me. that's it. 'saint-in-training' is what i'll put down on my hospital chart. or any chart. why can't i aspire to be a saint?! yes, i can. in fact, i am going to put it on my facebook profile.

Friday, October 22, 2010

even fools can have spiritual experiences

have to come out of meditation abruptly. not a pretty sight. lingering headache. at several points in time i catch my attention completely caught up in everything that my own great self is not: impatient, exasperated, wishing things could be different.

but while i am in meditation i am anchored and afloat in this wide open, lovely space within my own being.

no wonder the teacher says, again and again, to the effect, that even fools can have spiritual experiences but what counts is whether i can hold the experience while i am not sitting cross-legged.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

refreshing and reaffirming conviction

i say to myself, there was a relatively peaceful period yesterday that lasted into the evening but that was then, now is now, do not compare, stick with what is. indeed what's been unfolding in the last five weeks or so is an intense experience of practicing staying anchored in my own great self. there i see steady strength, detachment from expectation of outcome, and aloft in deep tranquility, cool and calm. this morning's meditation is refreshing and reaffirming my conviction in this experience.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

i draw so much grace

'in sickness and in health, for better or worse, richer or poorer.' hey, i am having the full range of experience as laid out in the vow. the teacher says, all this is grace, all this and all this is grace, everything is grace. and guess what? this morning's meditation is a two hour of sweet peace and strong contentment and deep sense of security. no wonder the teachers says, grace is that which takes you back to the source. wow. i draw so much grace. amazing. fantastic.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

keep my eye on the ultimate goal

here's the thing. while being up to my eyeballs in the shifting sands of life i carry this unshakable conviction that whatever the outcome of any or all of those things add to or subtract from my own great self. i am, at my core, pure lights, pristine consciousness and steady bliss. as a matter of fact, as all this mishegas (o how i love this yiddish word) unrelentingly pull me in i refuse to be sucked out of the present moment. i ask again and again, what is it that i have to learn to further expand and elevate my understanding? the response from withing? pretty much the same. give up any expectation of any sort of outcome. focus on the task at hand no matter how trivial and mundane it seems to be. keep my eye on the ultimate goal. to be fully realized.

Monday, October 18, 2010

hanging in there

my teacher says, you are equal to the challenge in front of you, no bigger, no smaller. i keep telling myself, okay, suk wah, fake it till you make it. and so i keep going. what is real? what is unreal? i don't know anymore. all i can do is to hang on to the present moment with my dear life.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

possibilities are like sparks within lapis lazuli

this morning's meditation is magnificent. i go deeper and higher than i recall i ever have. the inner being is so vast, so pristine, so strongly quiet, so clear and light. it is not sheltered by the body. on the contrary, the body is within this subtle yet tangible conscious realm. as awareness rests and roams in this i realize i am having an experience of what 'being refreshed' means. there's a sense of opening everywhere in the entire being. from this place i look at how i was shocked into panic by an unexpected development. now i can see its root cause is a deeply-rooted conditioning, that the reality that i find myself in is the only reality. this illusion is a killer. it blocks grace. it blinds out peripheral vision. it renders me incapable to see possibilities and openings sparkling the way delicate golden sparks are embedded within lapis lazuli.
the moment i recognize this i lift my awareness out of that lower vantage point. my inner vision opens up. i am once again in the clear sky of pure consciousness. hey, this twist actually points the way to do something that previously i thought i couldn't pursue. the limitation is dissolved.

happy anniversary, hwubby and suk wah.

Friday, October 15, 2010

must sit in center of seesaw

someone asks a monk, what's the difference between psychotherapy and meditation? he says, to the effect, psychotherapy can get you to separate somewhat from all that you are caught up in when you are so far into the tangle that you can't get out of the tangle, and you are the tangle. it's like sitting on a seesaw. psychotherapy can help you to find some equilibrium on either side of the plank. what meditation does is to get you to the center of the seesaw from where you sit still and watch the ups and downs without being drawn into it and affected by it. but sometimes a person is so deep into the ups and downs that psychotherapy is necessary to help him/her to get some distance from the end of the plank before the person can meditate.

this is what i must keep in mind as i go through the biggest challenge yet of my life.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

this body is a temporary garment

hwubby and i take a walk basking in the afternoon sun. it's so nice holding hands and feeling the warmth of each other. one warmth. it's been such a long time since we've been able to do that. i remember something my teacher say when she was a teenager. as an indian and knowing little english, she was given the task to translate her teacher's teaching talks in front of large audiences of foreigners. she asks her beloved teacher, why do you give me so little time to prepare? he says, to the effect, then you can truly appreciate the power of grace. as the question and answer appear on the screen of the bright and quiet mind i realize i am having just that, an experience of the power of grace. there are so many challenges and uncertainties in our lives. yet my inner space is sweet, warm, pristine and permeating the fragrance of freedom. from this vantage point it is clear, without a doubt, that everything in the physical universe, circumstances, situations, are simply reflections in the mirror of my pure consciousness. this body is a temporary garment sheltering the ever-great, ever-full, ever-fresh inner self.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

please don't give me more than i can handle

just when i think things have turned a corner i'm presented with another test. today is no different. it has been like this for what i feel like eons. each day i jump through hurdles, go through fire hoops, one or more positive development happens and, boom, it looks like everything is going to fall apart all over again. what else can i do but to refuse to get out of the present moment and focus on the task at hand?! this morning's meditation is nothing but deep quiet. i feel safe in my own self. anchored there i just take care of everything as it is. really, please, i want to get fully realized but please don't give me more than i can handle. please.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

it's not my life.

here's what it comes down to. anything that takes me away from the task at hand, unless it's a real life or death emergency, means taking me out of the present moment, out of the calm and centered state of my own great self. anything. no exception. i must be brutal about it. i can offer understanding and compassion, lend a listening ear. having said that i have to be clear that i refuse to be an enabler and get dragged into other's drama. period. once i heard a person going on and on to a monk about the vivid details of his life woes. now i have to make it clear that they have known each other a long time. the monk listens intently without a sound. finally when the man is done he asks, what should i do with my life, swamiji? without missing a beat the monk bursts into laughter, gives him a pat on the back, and says, it's not my life. for a moment the man is stunned. then he starts to laugh too.

Monday, October 11, 2010

how else but to be in own great self

i ask rabbi, can you explain in a way that i can comprehend, what is it about noah that he walks with god? rabbi says, in hebrew one of the qualities about noah is he is imple. that stirs a recognition in me. then rabbi leads us into a visualization. what does it mean for me to walk with god? quickly it comes to me. to see god in me as me. to see god in others. from that place, for me, there's no where else to go, no other way to walk but with god. indeed, the complex challenges i am facing are growing fast. i don't know how else to stay calm and centered if i am not anchored in that simple place within. it is uncluttered. it is quiet. it is open. my own great self.

Friday, October 8, 2010

i can sit cross-legged again. yay.

i never know what awaits me. expectation of outcome does nothing but limiting myself. case in point. i have to go through a sleepless night. so soon after midnight and the initial moments of dread i say to myself, i can't fall asleep anyway, i might as well go to meditate. so i do. i go to sit down on the chair on which i have been sitting for formal meditation for more than a week because of the sprained foot. somehow on this night i just feel so much discomforts in the foot while sitting in the chair that i say to myself, what the heck, i'll just try sitting on the floor. so i do. guess what? the sprained foot feels just fine in the cross-legged position. just like that i am ecstatic. i can meditate cross-legged again. this is so great. i am so happy about it. really, who knew what something apparently unpleasant could turn out to be so fantastic.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

i refuse to be tossed around.

there's always something. if it's not one thing, it's another. just when i think it couldn't get any worse, i have to go through another sleepless night. then no sooner than i say to myself, okay, it is what it is, marvelous development lands in the inbox. i check in with my inner self. nothing has changed. the inner self is as it always has been. nothing can add to it, nor subtract from it. and so it is i find myself calm, quiet and clear. taking in each moment as it is. thankful for all the opportunities to sharpen and strengthen the connection with my inner self, to anchor in the sky of pure consciousness, rather than being tossed around, physically and emotionally. i refuse to.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

circumcising the heart

i love the tradition of singing certain prayers at a particular time year after year. case in point. this yom kippur this particular phrase in a hymn that has been sung for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. we ask yhvh to grant us the courage and strength to remove the coverings of the heart. circumcision of the heart, if you will. i've been yah-lah-lah-ing this year after year but this time, for a fleeting moment, something about it resonates deep within me. indeed. my heart is pure but there are layer upon layer of covering over it. all habitual tendencies of one form or another. conditionings. accepted social norms. attachments. expectations. unmet expectations. identification with appearances. confusing perceptions with what's real. desire to be liked, to please, to look good. mistaking acquired stuff as true security. panic in the face of fear. blah blah blah. but, enough is enough. they all have to go because i want to be fully-realized. as in yom kippur, i see the image of avraham accepting the covenance with yhvh and circumcised at the age of eighty. to me it means doing whatever is necessary in order to walk with yhvh.

friends ask, are you ok? my heart is fine. the heart is always fine. the rest are just circumstances to go through and things to take care of.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

in order to attain what you want to attain...

no wonder the ancient wisdom says, be careful what you wish for, you just might get it. i wish for full-realization. and look what i am getting. one challenge upon another. just when i think this is as intense as it gets, the scale and proportion keep getting more intense as time goes by relentlessly. tick tock tick tock. all i can do now is to stay in each moment, be with it as it is and pour forth all the cumulative powers of the spiritual practices and understanding to anchor me tight in the present no matter what. periodically i remember something a person say the other day, over sunday chai, i have a dream with the teacher, in it she says, sometimes you have to go through suffering in order to attain what you want to attain. i take it as a message meant for me. i thank the person for sharing it. the simple statement sounds bitter to the mind which is under the influence of old baggage. at the same time it feels right and releasing. if i could attain what i want to attain without suffering, that would be nice. but if i couldn't what can i do?! i can't back down.

Monday, October 4, 2010

sacred bath. ocean of devotion

i practiced daily for a week to prepare for the role i am invited to play in the ancient ritual of bathing the statue of a saint. so i enter the temple with the expectation that the tray that i am about to pick up has the following five substances in the following order: honey, powdered sugar, yogurt, milk and ghee. it is not conducive to staying in the present moment that i have a sari drama right before this. the choli (sari top) laid out for me is too small. (i ruined my own the day before with an iron that is too hot.) the slip that i have is elastic. it has to be draw-stringed in order to hold up the nine yards of sari fabrics. so ten minutes before the ritual is scheduled to begin the sari specialist unwraps me and starts all over again with a proper slip.

anyhow, back to the moment when i lay my eyes on the tray and the first thought is, where is the honey? why is it not next to the powdered sugar? bang, wham, i am out of the present moment. i don't even know it. and so it goes in the next moment, and the next. until the event director steps in and starts giving me specific instructions. for a couple of moments the mind is still hanging onto what should have been instead of staying with what it is. in another word i am still not following the given instructions. then the event director, who has served in this role many, many times, does something inspiring and inspired. she says, with a clear and firm voice, suk wah, you are radiant, you are beautiful, have a good time. somehow some mystical alchemy clicks through. i am back in the moment. i settle into my own self. i have a great time coming from the heart.

the great being doesn't need the bath ritual. but, being devoted to seekers, the external ritual is yet another fantastic opportunity to guide seekers to turn inward, to roam in their hearts. a short while later, i watch two gorgeous ladies dressing the statue with one-pointed focus in the presence of a temple full of participants. the silence is grand and fresh. i gasp in awe as they place a garland of fresh flowers on him. it has three huge full-bloom gardenias hanging down his chest and a long necklace of tiny rose buds. i cannot imagine the many hours of work gone into this creation. the devotion driving it is inspiring and humbling all at once.

Friday, October 1, 2010

it's fine whatever the outcome is

i absolutely refuse to stay outside of the present moment. that's pretty much my stance yesterday. i keep my focus one-pointedly on the task at hand even when it triggers worrying thoughts, like, she won't like me if i say this, i'll miss this important deadline, what if i am wrong and the situation keeps getting worse. i am aware of them and i keep my eye on the task at hand no matter who says what to me. now i realize i am enjoying the fruits of my practices. i may not consciously remember nothing adds to or diminish the fullness of my own self but the mind and body are already wired enough to default into a beneficial state where i think, speak and act from the place of conviction and courage.

what about the expectation of outcome? in the day's flow of melodramatic twists and turns i find myself free of such concern. as my teacher says, to the effect, we pray not to ask for a certain outcome, we pray to ask for the courage and strength to be with the outcome, whatever it is. if it happens to turn out well, the way it has been so far, it is fine. if it isn't, it is fine too. i mean it. yesterday at several points i find myself having the thought, what if such and such extreme scenario happens? right away i receive a crystal response from within. that's fine too. and i immediately feel this sigh of relief releasing from the belly. i take a brief moment to relish this experience of true freedom. i move on.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

i am praying so hard

i am praying for the courage, compassion and clarity to deal with the latest challenge, a health crisis in the immediate family. i pray for the strength to keep remembering again and again i am equal to the challenge. i pray for the sustained focus and fortitude to stay in the present moment. i'm praying for god to be on my side. i pray that i am on god's side, walking the path one small step at a time, impossibly difficult as it might look like at times.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

don't buy into the voice that says you can't do it

it's about time to make another batch of ghee. hwubby looks at the used jars and says, how am i going to clean them? i can't do it. i say, start with one, see how it goes. after some humming and hawing he picks up a sponge, squirts dishing liquid into it, digs the thing into the jar and goes at it. by the way he even scrapes out a nice dollop of ghee from the seemingly empty jar. wow. after a short while he shows me the jar and says, look. it's spotless, greaseless. he says, i thought i couldn't do it but look at this, what happened? i say, you didn't buy into the part of you that says you can't, you didn't allow it to drive your action, and you know what, you did it once, you  can do it again, and again. sure enough. he cleansed all three jars.

who is that 'you' that watches all over this? his own highest self.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

forgetting is the root of suffering

i have such a new-found appreciation for what the body has been tirelessly and quietly doing for me, supporting me and holding me up. how so? with a sprained right foot i can only sit cross-legged for a short while before the discomfort becomes unbearable. i realize i take so much for granted when everything in the body work well. in another word i forget. from now on when i meditate i will first thank the body for serving me so loyally, for being such a reliable companion on my spiritual journey. without the body i can't meditate, i can't chant, i can't study scriptures, i can't be in the sweetness of my own inner self. forgetting is truly the root of suffering.

Monday, September 27, 2010

out of present and an ankle sprained.

staying fully in the present is the way to plan the future. case in point. i am at the edge of the entrance to the sukka, the temporary outdoor hut, on the way to indoor when a person stops me in my tracks. we speak a little bit. i know i am not fully present because the mind is all about what i want to do next and the body is still in the forward momentum. and so it is when i turn around and put a foot forward i am not looking at where i am going and...whoops, i almost miss a step and end up with a sprained ankle. that, of  course, has impact on the moments in the future.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

suk wah in the sukka

today i'll sit in a temporary, fragile hut in rabbi's backyard with fellow israelites. by the way rabbi says, you wrestle with g-d, of course you are an israelite. sunbeams will shine on me through the cracks all over the patched walls and thatched roof. the gorgeous fruits and vegetables that are hanging down as decorations take on an extra vibrant glow.

we will study the book of solomon. yes, the king solomon who allegedly had a thousand wives and all the worldly power and pleasures in his hands. yet he says, to the effect, it's all futile, none of these last, enjoy them but if you think they are permanent and try to wrap your life around them you'll be in so much trouble. well, the wise king doesn't use exactly those words but that's my sense of the gist of it. the truth is the truth is the truth.

anyway i notice, in past years, sometimes it's hard to focus on the text because i can't keep my physical eyes off the beautiful abundance all around me and when i can, the inner eye couldn't resist the allure of the sweetness of my own self within the way iron dust is helplessly drawn towards magnet.

Friday, September 24, 2010

i have access to boundless strength and clarity

today's meditation is mostly....thought waves. and jolts of impatience. at several points i feel like i am on the verge of either exploding on the spot or i must get out of meditation. i summon up all the will i can gather and forcefully breathe in deep and breathe out long. again, again and again. eventually a tiny flash of insight shines forth. fear of uncertainty. discomforts of not knowing the outcome. then mysterious alchemy happens. the unbearable intensity of discomforts comes down little by little. i end up meditating almost two hours, feeling more anchored in my inner self, filled with the conviction that i have access to boundless strength and clarity.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

drink mid-autumn moon

snap awake two-thirty. three words appear in the clear inner quiet. mid autumn moon. i get up, look out the window and up. there she is, the dinner plate moon with a wide, misty aura. i say to hwubby, let's go drink the moon. we bundle up, step onto the back deck, sit down and bask in the moonshine. every breath i take is cool, light and comforting. i feel the warmth of hwubby's embrace and lock gaze with the moon. suddenly the gentle luminosity of the full moon switches into dazzling brilliance. only then i realize there has been cloud passing between my eye and the moon. i watch the luminosity level of the moon shift from moment to moment. yet without a doubt the fullness of the moon's radiance has not changed. it's the passing clouds that create the illusion that there is a dip in the glow. this is revelatory. the light of my inner self is ever fresh, ever full, ever bright. it's the clouds of thoughts, feelings and emotions that create the illusions that i am anything less and smaller than the full moon of the inner self.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

in the presence of of divine lights

what pleasure and delight to have business dealings with people who, besides know what they are doing, are kind, generous and act with integrity. not one. not two. but three. one of them says from the get go, i want to help you to get what you prefer. bear in mind that if and when i get what i prefer she doesn't get paid a penny. then there is this banker who says, you should go to this other bank. i say, you can't do it? he says, yes, i can, but you'll do better with the other bank. how about this other one who offers to advise me when she doesn't have to, and when i call her she is sweet, patient and generous with her abundant knowledge and experience.

kabbalah, the jewish mystical tradition, says the world as it is has shards of divine light. i am fortunate enough to have been face to face with three of them in half a day.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

strength and clarity are what i need now

there i am, waking up again and again in the night, looking at what's going on in the body. let me see. cold waves ripple through hands, arms, feet and legs. nauseating sensation in the throat. periodic punches in the solar plexus. while all this are going on i am aware of the steady, rhythmic movement of the breath. i fall back asleep a couple of times and get up at four to meditate. by the time i emerge from the formal meditation i feel stronger and clearer. it's all i need to face what's in front of me.

Monday, September 20, 2010

in shock? or calm?

within three days of a months-in-planning trip to hong kong, because mother's turning eighty and sister's ashes need to be taken care of, i have to call it off because hwubby's going through a rough healing process since his extensive gum surgery four weeks ago. and this is over and above all other challenges landing on our laps one after another. honestly i am not exactly sure if i am in shock or calm. i can see all kinds of negative thoughts and feelings lurking, looming and hovering. i am working hard at not getting sucked into them. i also feel shivers in the hands. probably a mixture of both.

anyhow i just realize i haven't had food since after one and it's after eight. i'd better eat something, sleep and get up early to meditate. i can't afford to diminish connection to the inner self in order to.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

be strong. be strong. be strengthened.

hwubby says, how are you doing? i say, one breath at a time, one step at a time. at the conclusion of every book in the five book of moses we sing this: be strong. be strong. be strengthened. this is my mantra of the moment. it's not that the inner self needs any strengthening or the reminder. it's the connection to the inner self that has to be vigilantly and constantly cultivated. it's the awareness, that has been so habituated to be populated with 'weedy' thoughts, has to be reminded over and over. now i am experiencing what mahatma ghandi was talking about: this is the war that i must engage in. and victory is guaranteed as long as i stand on the side of divine grace and keep putting in my effort. hwubby says, yeah, and i thought i could do it once and it would be done.

Friday, September 17, 2010

sometimes it involves saying no.

i am watching the twists and turns in outer circumstances while i am aware of the mental activity. who is watching? i am. who is aware? i am. am i the contents of the mental activity? no. do i need to take of them? yes, and sometimes taking care of them involves saying no. how will the other receive it? i don't know. but i do know for sure that whatever the other's reaction is it doesn't add to nor diminish the fullness of my inner self.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

i am in the center of an up-and-down see-saw

coming out of meditation and straight into one crisis after another. okay, change the word. it's not crisis. it's an opportunity to practice being anchored in my own self. it's a benchmark to see how anchored i am in my own self. in my peripheral vision i am aware that thoughts like, how am i going to get through this, this is too much, i can't believe this is happening now with all that is going on, are hovering. but i summon my free will. i tie attention to the present moment. how am i going to get this fax through to hong kong? ahhh. i remember noticing my cousin on facebook's chat room every so and often. so i go to take a look. there he is. i send off a msg. in the ensuing back and forth he finds out the machine has run out of ink. meanwhile another crisis comes on the scene. i really feel like in the center of a see-saw watching the ups and downs unfold. i have no idea how it's going to play out but i am determined to stick with what's necessary in the moment, including sipping my chai every now and then, one eye on the chat box, cell phone next to ear. and my breath is held steady in the shaft of golden light that runs between base of spine and top of head.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

i am fearlessness itself.

this morning's meditation is extra challenging because i had disrupted sleep. i put the phone next to the bed in case an emergency call comes from hong kong where, because it is fifteen hours ahead, is daytime. as it turns out i get three telemarketer calls.

anyhow i yawn crazy during meditation. for the most part. yet, unfailingly, eventually i settle into a place and state of sweet serenity and comforting contentment. from there i come out, fresh and ready for all the challenges awaiting. indeed, fear has no place when i know i am fearlessless itself. it doesn't mean i don't see thoughts and emotions borne out of fear. i just say, there they are, and i return to the boundless strength dwelling in the present moment.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

i don't have to prove i am right

i need to make a difficult phone call and i can see the mind going wild: they won't understand, they'll be so disappointed, i can't handle it, it's all too much. blah blah blah. so i do the only thing i know how. i say to myself, i'll go to sleep, get up super-duper early, meditate and then make the call.

i do all that. and then some. i meditate two and a half hours. for most of that time i watch all this tumultuous mental activity spinning out and all around me. but i do what i could to hang in there with the shaft of golden light that stands tall and strong from the base of spine to the top of head. eventually the body and mind settle down and i enjoy the sweet stability in my own self so much that i can just sit quietly like that all day long if i didn't have to take care of what's necessary.

while i prepare to come out of meditation two simple instructives appear: listen with full attention. simply state the facts. i know what they are for. they are telling me, drop the defenses, stay in the present with what is whatever it is. indeed. one of the ways that i have been 'off the mark' is being defensive, that i have to prove i am right, that i have to be understood and accepted. no. i don't.

hooooh. i feel so much lighter and clearer just having this understanding. anchored in this place and state i go on the phone. i listen with an open and patient mind. i explain the facts as i know it. i respond to clarifying questions. i can hear the disappointment in the person's voice. i acknowledge it, i thank her for being so understanding and kind and the dialogue keeps going. the situation itself is still difficult but the way i feel about it is different. some old knot deep within is untangled. it is so worth it to put in the effort to stay tight with what is.

Monday, September 13, 2010

walking with avraham

for me the great thing about the jewish high holidays is not just about the thrilling prayers, piercing torah commentaries and exhilarating singing and dancing. it is to have this block of blessed time and sacred space carved out for the purpose of examining where i have been 'off the mark' and direct the arrow of attention and awareness to returning to the bull's eye, the present moment, where yhvh dwells and the source of courage, strength and sweetness are. more often than not during the year i forget the inner self and stray from the path. i confuse between the process of thinking and the contents of thoughts. i am not the contents of the mental activity.

in the meditation the rabbi do with us on second day of rosh hashanah i see myself in the meadow surrounding the lake of holy waters in the ashram where i had the great good fortune to live for a few years. then i find myself in the presence of avraham. yes, if there's some figure in the torah i want to be it's avraham. why? he walks with g-d. i want to walk with g-d. i don't know how. so the next best thing is to walk with someone who walks with g-d. anyway, in the meditation, we walk in simple quiet. there's no sense of time. just  crystal clear openness.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

'off the mark' is away from the present moment

the way i see the purpose of the high holidays, as the rabbi teaches, is to examine those parts of me that were 'off the mark' last year. i love the beautiful and fantastic singing and praying and dancing that is a big part of the high holiday tradition. they really cheerlead me. it's like the sweet syrup in medicine. it's not pleasant to look at what i did, what i said and what i thought that were not true, kind, necessary and appropriate. but the singing and dancing make it easier to go through the discomforts, help me to stay connected to my inner self which is the source of kindness, courage, strength and joy. then it's not a matter of who's right, who's wrong, who's hurt me, i don't like this or that, i don't think i can make it, this is too much, or too little. blah blah blah.

in this morning's meditation i can see some thought waves of worry, anxiety about the coming day and weeks. i can see the tendency to feel daunted looming and hovering. with every inbreath i take in a fresh dose of sweetness and goodness from the universe. i rest in the open quiet during the brief pause between breaths. with every outbreath i sweep out a little more of the entrenched tendency to feel daunted and contracted. i watch the mind going through some activity. just that. what about the contents of the mental activity? they have nothing to do with what is in the present moment.

ahhh. the present moment is the bull's eye. 'off the mark' means the shooting arrow of mental activity sends me off the track of present moment.