Sunday, December 25, 2011

her father is god


is this place, vaidyagrama, an ayurveda hospital/ashram? or ashram/hospital? hard to tell where does one end and the other begins. every day six am a smiling, serene man brings medicine to the door. six fifteen bell rings ripple through the campus. the call to morning prayer and meditation. a full menu of spiritual medicine. indeed. let me count. a collection of vedic mantras. what else? the hymn thousand names of vishnu, one who sustains everyone and everything in the universe. more than one hundred verses. pranayama, breathing exercise. repeating the ganesh mantra 108 times. by the time i walk out of the hall, welcomed by the misty dawn lights i am so grateful that i have this body to sing praises to the one who has taken form of all the organs and systems that make up me.
this morning i walk into the hall and i see something that moves me extra, extra deeply. dr ramdas, the other medical director of vaidyagrama, is leading the prayer. check this out. his little daughter spreads over his lap, a natural crib, sound asleep. dr ramdas begins to chant. my heart instantly melts and soars all at once. his booming voice pulses a golden timbre. the vibrations are steeped in the sweetness and wisdom of knowledge which was seen by sages and seer thousands of years ago. his conviction in the path he has chosen and his resolve in following this timely and timeless tradition are loud and clear and infectious. it is pure nectar. pure truth is truly sweet.
at one point i look up from the text of thousand names of vishnu i see something marvelous to behold. the little girl clings to her father with all her tiny limbs and mind and soul as he sends out sacred sound in all directions dispensing sublime knowledge on how to live a pure life that is filled with joy and purpose. a bright realization appears in me. the man walks the talk. from this little girl’s eye she has no doubt that her father is a manifestation of god. 

this is what a father is ought to be. imagine how the child is being nourished to her core. imbibing vedic mantras while sleeping in her father’s lap. i recognize i am having an experience of thousand names of vishnu, the one who takes the shapes and forms of all. i feel so fortunate to be in the healing hands of such great souls. they have a grand dream and they roll up their sleeves and make it happen. the little girl is learning the life fundamentals by example. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

is it hot enough?


is this hot enough? that is my burning question. what's going on here? okay, let me go back a little. hwubby and i are in an ayurveda ashram/hospital/retreat/resort in the depths of nature half an hour from coimbatore, south india. we are totally cut off from the city cacophony. the road that veers off the paved road and leads to this place is unpaved and winding and narrow. the one floor buildings are made of bricks that are pressed-earth and sun-dried. directions, forms and designs are strictly vedic feng shui correct. i can feel peace and harmony enveloping me in my room as well as walking through the roofed walkways that connect all the buildings.

i sort of digress. we are here for a comprehensive course of authentic ayurveda treatments. ayurveda is the body of knowledge on life and longevity in india that is five thousand years old. i'll have a little to say about 'authentic' in a little bit. to put it simply, as i am a simple person, at the time when i am in this box i'm going through the treatment 'sweating,' sweda in sanskrit. i have a vague sense of what needs to happen in the process. it is to draw toxins into the digestive tract. toxins from undigested food over the course of time, emotional toxins, mental toxins, chemicals ingested through breathing and processed foods, pollutants and so on and so forth.

by the way i already went through several treatments to bring me to this point. loosening the toxins by massaging the body with plenty of herbally medicated oils. and when i say plenty i mean half a glass, not like a smear. opening up the channels by pounding the oiled body with fist-sized balls of dry herbs that are wrapped in cotton and heated. drinking ghee. yes, i'm not kidding. for three days at six am, after invoking grace of the medicine buddha, i drink a glass of melted ghee. warning. full on ayurveda treatments are only for the committed. or one who has tried all other medical options in the west and nothing is working, like the guy who has been taking painkillers for thirty years and now not even massive amounts can do anything. on a side note, he's off painkillers after being here for eight days.

what does the ghee do? it floats the toxins so that they are ready for the next step. which brings me into the box.

here's the preconditioning that i bring with me. this is like the steam room in a spa. so it is supposed to be very hot. but i step into the box and the first thought i have is, this is not hot. the therapist is a 23 year old indian woman. i don't speak her language which is malayanam. she speaks english words. madam. sit. this side. straight. you okay? up. i say, not hot, no steam. she says softly, as everybody here do, coming, coming. then we look at each other, she standing in front of the box, chin touching the top, me desperately trying to feel hot and sweaty. but it is very difficult to tell since i am all oiled up head to toe. but, later, as i reflect on it, the mind is the real problem. i compare this with the spa experience. add to the  fact that i am just learning to listen to the body. when i was going through the ghee drinking the doctor comes to check on me frequently. the first question he asks is, hungry? i am stunned to realize that i don't know. i always eat either because i love to eat or it is time to eat or it is a feast so i have to eat.

anyway, there i am in the box. i don't feel hot or sweaty. instead i feel anxious. maybe the steam system is not working, just like so many things in india. it's almost twenty minutes already. i have to talk to the doctor. the mind is really going. then my therapist points to my forehead and says, sweating. i can't believe it. for a moment i think, you must be just wanting to get off work. my body is not hot at all. finally i decided i am not going to do anything that may cause this girl to lose her job. i'm just going to let this go and find a way to bring this up to the body. what could happen, really? maybe i'll have to get another day of this treatment.

after treatment i run to the room. i say to hwubby, i don't know if it was hot enough, i don't know if i was sweating. he says, you're like ant in a hot wok.

i call dr harikrisnan, the equivalent of attending physician in the west. he's not in his room. i run to evening prayer to catch dr omprakash who is a young ayurvedic doctor who takes care of my block. i say, i'm just beginning to know my body, i may be wrong....i pour out my burning concern. dr. omprakash listens calmly, as always, his head gently swaying. he says, it's fine. i say, how so? he says, in a nutshell, it's not like a spa, hot steam. it's mild. if your forehead has fine sweat, it's working. your body has oil, you can't tell.

aaah. this is not a spa. this is not about pampering on the superficial level and temporary effect on the body. in a spa steaming is in and of itself something. hwubby would say, i'm going to the steam room to relax. here, steaming is a preparatory step. it lead to something else. it has to be preceded by another thing. the whole process aims to have a profound effect on the person as a whole, body, mind and spirit. it is so radically different from western medicine. think about it. there's a doctor for almost every part of the body. even a doctor who specializes in treating the hand. to put it simplistically, western medicine is about drug and cut.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

fresh coconut meat. pop rice.

i've had quite a range of indian food thus far, three weeks into india. let me see. from humble home cooking to posh hotel  and fancy resort. honest to the gods and goddesses, shiva, vishnu, parvati, laksmi, and so on and so forth, i love them all. having said that my top fave is some simple, humble home cooked food from my hostess in pune, sadhana's modest corner kitchen. what's so great about it? how about fresh, finely-grated coconut meat? i've never liked coconut meat. dry, stale, funny taste. my ayurveda advisor back in bay area says to me again and again, suk wah, you should have coconut in your food. i say, yeah, yeah, yeah and can't help rolling my eyes. so you might think when i smell something that is unmistakably coconut when sadhana is serving food i would say to myself, uc-oh. no. no. no. without a doubt it is coconut but it smells fantastic and fresh. it is a mound of fine white mash. sadhana puts a nice dollop over dal and rice. i take a spoonful and, wow, i say, this is coconut? this is coconut and how do you do it? what sadhana does is this. she shows me a simple instrument that has a small curved knife hanging. she cups the inside of the half coconut shell over it and grates and grates and grates. at any moment if she loses attention there'll be a cut on her hand. it takes quite a bit of hard work to fill up a small bowl. i'm not kidding. this finely textured coconut meat is worthy in any king's court, appropriate to be served to the gods and goddesses. it lifts a mundane dish like mung and rice to the
moon.

my fave way to have it is to spoon it over popped rice for morning meal. i'm definitely going to make this at home. so easy and so good. soak some pop rice. i can get it from an indian store. just 5 min will do. stir fry for a couple of minutes in a little ghee with popped mustard seeds, sesame, channa (a kind of small bean), cilantro. pair it with chai. wowo. i'm in heaven.

sadhana also shows me how to make a great snack. don't soak. just stir fry pop rice in a little oil with a little cumin, sesame seeds, nut bits - optional. hey, say goodbye to potato chips.

Monday, December 12, 2011

when i think i know, i know not.

here's a smarty pants episode. i think i know a bit about indian customs. after all i have had a guru, who's indian, for two decades. right? wrong. here's how it goes down. there i am in satara, india, in a museum which was created by a local maharaja. it houses an amazing collections of objects and paintings including copies of mona lisa and works of rembrant. this maharaja really traveled around the globe. so after browsing through a series of probably hundreds of elaborate and intricate paintings that depict the story of ramayana i am more than ready to...pee. a quick glance tells me my hostess is sitting on the other side of the spacious courtyard. i say to myself, hey, i can handle this, i'm just going to pee. so i go straight out of the museum and ask the security at the entrance, toilet? with gestures supplementing his english he says, go around. i think, okay, no big deal, i'll just go around. turns out i have to go around a couple of corners, almost the length and breadth of the museum. at times i am trodding unpaved mud path between knee high weeds. finally i enter a block of brick structure. it is clean. four stalls. the one furthest from me is closed. i go up to the first one, gives the half-closed door a gentle push. what do i see? a cubicle tiled wall to wall. a faucet. a tiny trench against the wall. no hole. i go to the second stall. same thing. third stall. same thing. by now i realize i have two options. turn around, seek clarification. but i am already feeling i can't hold it for the long walk back. i take a deep breath. it takes quite a bit of washing everywhere to clean up the mess.

later that evening i ask sadhana, my hostess. she says, those stalls are for people to wash their feet and even bathe before entering the museum. she is absolutely certain that the fourth stall is a latrine. i will never find out that one but i know this much. when i think i know, i know not. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

where madness and harmony coexist

you can't get a better setting to practice staying present than this. picture this. dusk. no street signs. no road lights. bustling city hub. people heading homes from work and school. peddlers determined to sell anything to anyone who's even willing to say 'no.' i mean, a battery-operated helicopter this toothpick kid is relentlessly pitching to me while i am waiting for our car to emerge from this dark hole of parking place. at one point i see this tiny motor bike navigating through a galaxy of motor bikes and roaring streams of vehicles that are incessantly honking and barely colliding into one another. seriously. so many times i think i am about to witness a car accident. then, at another point i see this family of five all tucked nice and cosy on a tiny motor bike. they come and go fast. yet i have no doubt i see they are all smiling sweetly and leaning into each other like they are having a group hug.

i don't hear anybody yelling. wherever i look i always see a face that exudes tranquility and friendliness. whenever i glance over to the driver since i am sitting next to him i honestly don't recall ever seeing him not looking calm and composed. yes, indeed. i am in the land of yoga. the atmosphere is permeating with the sense that woven into the wild and vibrant play of consciousness is the experience of quiet happiness.

hwuby says, i love india. i say, i agree, madness and harmony coexist beautifully. now i have an experience of the statement 'it blows my mind.'

Friday, December 9, 2011

why no road rage?

how many hairpin bends our driver has negotiated so far, an hour or so climbing up the nilgiris mountains in karnataka, south india. i sit in the front seat next to the driver. i don't play video games but i kind of guess this is somewhat like playing advanced level in a game  that is all about moving at high speed through hair raising traffic and road conditions. i have my ipod on govinda jaya jaya all the time. that helps because at least i don't have to be bombarded by the sustained horn everytime the driver spins through yet another almost ninety degree narrow-as-can-be turn. this is actually not a dangerous move compared to the times when moments before our car is about to make a sharp turn a huge truck that is loaded with goods like sugar canes appear from around the corner and our car is on the outside, up close to the edge. the bright side is i get to have spectacular, unobstructed vistas. i recall my great grand-guru, bhagavan nityananda, roamed south india in his younger days. i let my vision relax into the expansive lush green landscape that is shimmering in the afternoon sun. aaah. all this is my guru. all this is my guru. all this is my guru.

later i ask hwubby, have you noticed there's no road rage in india, at least the parts that we have been in so far, pune, satara, coimbatore, mysore and so on an so forth? he says, yes, there is the spirit of sharing, acceptance and surrender and totally present, whereas in america, with all due respect, it is like, i am not going to share the road with you and i am multi-tasking while driving.

it's true. scanning the environment there are so much chaos and craziness constantly unfolding and material poverty is visible and rampant. yet when i pay a little attention and look a little closer it i never fail to experience a sense of tranquility and harmony suffusing the chaos. whoever i make eye contact with i always receive a kind and sweet smile in return. whoever i interact with he/she is welcoming, patient and more than ready to share and help.

all this, all this and all this is for me to anchor myself into who and what i really am. it's never about what i have and don't have. the same state of peace and contentment and joy exist in all.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

maharaj tai tai

what is this?  where am i? let me back up a little. as i type this i am cooped up in a cubicle in an internet cafe in pune, india. not from my computer. how long have i been in india? feels like lifetimes when it's, really, the fifth day. we're staying in this nice, airy and spacious apartment on the fourth floor. a roof-top terrace outside the bedroom. my hostess, sadhana, says, people ask me, who are these people from america staying in your daughter's apartment, her classmates in university? graduate school? her colleagues? or relatives? i say, no, no, no, my daughter says i go to see their house for renting, we talk, they are such good people, you'll like them, mother. just like that we end up staying with this wonderful family. i must confess when kanchan, sadhana's daughter, shows up at my door i was scratching my head and pulling hair trying to figure out how to get to satara to visit my brahmin priest, vivek, the person in white garb who is between me and hwubby in the pix. satara is six to seven hours by car from mumbai and pune is midway between them. that much i know. since i don't know anyone in pune i think i have to go straight to satara from mumbai. i have no idea how to do that. how do i get a trustworthy driver who knows how to get to where i want to go and at a reasonable price? not to mention i have a hard time trying to understand english with a heavy indian accent. i am sure the indian on the other end of the line feels the same about understanding english with chinese accent. at one point when i am feeling exasperation spilling over my eyeballs i say to myself and hwubby, maybe it is not meant to be to visit the brahmin's school. hwubby says, but you want to go to vivek's school. i do. vivek is a much loved and respected brahmin priest. he has dedicated his life to preserving and spreading the ancient, timeless and timely wisdom and teachings of vedas, the hindu scriptures, the equivalent of torah in judaism, only two thousand years older. he sets up this school, takes in young boys. they live and study with him. they milk cows, look at stars and planes, and learn the scriptures. it is a way of life. they live and breathe the teachings. it moves me to tears to see these little children loudly reciting the sutras that have endured thousands of years with their fresh and vibrant young voices. so, yes, i do want to visit vivek's school. it is always wonderful and marvelous to be around people who are into the upliftment of humanity and to do it with so much joy. yes, vivek is a lot of joy to be with. so you can't imagine how thrilled i am when kanchan offers me, practically a stranger in her life, to stay in her home in pune. and check this out. her mother, sadhana, has a car and driver whose sister lives in satara. so he knows his way around. on top of all this, it turns out sadhana and vivek has connections that go way back. when vivek was doing advanced studies he went to benares and stayed with someone in sadhana's family. his teacher likes to play with sadhana the little girl. vivek therefore knows all of sadhana's family in benares. what does all this mean? i am reaping the benefits. hwubby and i are being taken care of like maharaj. i have anointed myself to be a maharaj tai tai. tai tai is the chinese name for a wife who is used to being pampered and spoiled. i have no problem with that. we have a sublime time in vivek's school. he and six brahmin priests perform a beautiful ritual to bless hwubby's forthcoming book. we are divinely happy and grateful.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

fishballs. un-ding-able

fai uncle says, what do you want to eat, western food? i say, no way, this is aberdeen, i have to have fishball fun. he says, all-rai, let's go to the cave. i'm not kidding. this place started long, long ago in a hill hole in aberdeen, the fishing village. now it's two stores connected by a hole in the wall. no frill furnishing. at lunchtimes and weekends the place is jam packed. it is tucked inside a narrow alleyway, barely enough for a hybrid to move through. people drive all the way from downtown for their fishballs. and they don't disappoint. move over, gefilte fish. they have really humble beginnings. the milky white meat is a hodge podge of small fish that are not worthy to be sold on their own. so fishermen, probably their hard-working wives, chop them up. somewhere along the line the technique of kneading fish meat is developed. when done properly, voila, ugly duckling is transformed into swan. the texture is resilient and bouncy. it tastes like mild and gentle ocean. balls that hop and pop in the mouth. it goes fantastically well with flat rice noodle, fun, in a broth of fish bones and head. sprinkled with green onion and preserved veggi this is a dream lunch in a bowl for me. hong kong chinese have a way of blending english and cantonese. so i say this fishball is un-ding-able ---it's so good that you can't beat this.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

hong kong. breakthrough.

from the get go don't get me wrong. hong kong is, if not the most, right up there on the list of most dynamic and vibrant and amazing places in the world. this pearl of the east can electrify you, dazzle you and rocket you straight out to deep space where planets and galaxies are being created and destructed nonstop as i type. i ask my aunt, where is the street where grandpa's laundromat was? she says, the street name is there but the street is no more. i say, what do you mean, i do know in hong kong we tear down and rebuild all the time but the whole street? she says, yeah, the whole street, even i don't recognize anything and it's still building and rebuilding. i'm not exaggerating when i say i can see a subway stop on every street. move over, starbucks. now, what am i getting at? o yes, people. so many people. people on the move. i have yet to see a person in hong kong that stands still for a moment. by the way, hwubby says, i have never seen so many fancy footwear. and they go about so fast i feel this background anxiety that someone would just stamp on my foot and just walk on. to the next sumptuous meal. to the next fancy shop. to the next deal. when the stop light turns green waves of people would roam into the street. several times i look around taking in these smart, on the move people and i recall these words from the poem breakthrough.


millions of lives ca be lived.
but for what purpose if there's no breakthrough

is my life all about making money? gathering fame? sucking attention? acquiring things? obviously i didn't feel so. or else i would not have left cause there's no better place on earth to make money. i mean m. o. n. e. y.



Thursday, November 17, 2011

occupy south san francisco

what's going on here? when? where? here's the scoop. a couple of hours before the flight to hong kong. in my cousin's living room. hwubby is making decisions on what not to take. not. to. take. my cousin is really great. he would say something along the line of 'may i make a suggestion?' 'if this is not absolutely necessary...' meanwhile i'm like, what's this? just when i'm about to get upset, well, actually, already a little bit, sort of, upset, a surge of bright and joyous energy overtakes me and i hear these words spring out of me.

welcome to occupy south san francisco.

after a nice laugh, we, or more accurately, hwubby, keeps moving. believe you me he actually eliminates more than half of the stuff. as i am typing this in hong kong there is a huge packed suitcase sitting somewhere in my cousin's house a pond away. he's such a generous guy. so is his wife. i know for sure they won't send us a bill for storage. :)

they are indeed out of this world generous. come to our house to pick us up. we walk into the door to a incredibly thoughtful and delish meal. fit for king and queen to embark on their royal travel. a nourishing homemade pork soup with meaty shittake, bean curd sheets and gentle chinese herbs, steamed fish, chicken with ginger sauce. the highlight of highlights is poached fresh shrimps. trust me, the best part in such shrimps is the head. you suck it till dry. the flavor profile covers the whole range from deeply rich briny to lightly sweet. needless to say i finish off the last ones of the two and a half pounds. and also wipe clean the bottom of the dish holding my top fave chinese homey vegi dish, hairy squash, dried shrimps and mung noodles. where am i? yes, my generous cousins. then they just let hwubby be. occupy their living room. dispensing much needed advice in sweet and lighthearted ways. for entertainment there is my delightful niece as a halloween banana. it couldn't have been a more perfect sendoff. thank you, agnes.

Monday, November 14, 2011

life path. stamps. detergents. inner self covers them all.

it never ceases to amaze me how my highest and innermost self watches out for me and guides me. lofty. nothing is too lofty. minutiae. nothing is too minutiae. so what about minutiae? there i am walking to the laundromat to do the down coat. a few houses down i get this inner prompting. go back. why would i turn around? there's got to be a reason, right? o, the cell. i left the house without the cell. but do i need the cell? not that i am aware of. but what if hwubby calls me. just in case. okay, okay. so i turn back reluctantly. i'm not kidding. no sooner than one foot of mine is over the threshold does it dawn on me that i left the house without the little tub of detergent. so that's the real reason that i have to turn back. of course this is not a life-or-death situation. here the worst case scenario is i have to purchase soap in the laundromat. but that's not the point. this is about learning to listen to the inner voice that guides me moment to moment. my innermost self doesn't wait until i am about to step off a cliff before telling me to back off. by the way if i say, let me wait until that moment, i sure will hear such thunder call, it's like the child saying i'm not learning read and write and i'll know how to write a book when i have to write a book. where am i? o yes, the inner self is speaking directly to me from the get go. it goes way back to when i take the first step onto the path that leads to the cliff edge. a whisper. don't go there. or the opposite. go.


speaking of 'to go or  not to go' i get a earful of it in the morning on the same day. i need to purchase some priority stamps. at the post office counter the worker says, we are out of them. so i leave. i am no further  than rounding the corner of the post office when i feel i have to go back. i say, suk wah, you are nuts. but that nudging sense just wouldn't go away. in fact it keeps gripping me stronger and stronger by the breath. so the mind starts trying to make up a rationale. o, yes, i forgot to pick up priority mail labels. never mind that it doesn't make sense when i have to come back to get the stamps anyway. so i actually feel a little stupid to push open that glass door. i kind of sneak in, turn my back sort of to the counters and head straight to the supplies section. i look up and down and back. i don't see the label that i think i have come back for. suddenly i hear a cry from behind me. hey, we found some stamps. 


the manager and the worker both can't get over it. how do you know to come back? i say, i just know.

indeed. the voice of my innermost and highest self shows me my life path and takes care of priority stamps and detergent as well. how cool is that.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

taking in each moment as it comes

just days away from boarding a plane to hong kong. this is something we have meant and planned to do twice in twelve months. and twice we canceled. first it was hwubby not healing properly after extensive gum surgeries. then it was him hit by a taxi. call me superstitious, whatever. this time around i said i am not going to make any formal announcement, and by that i mean telling my eighty-one-year-young mother, until a week before departure. so there i am narrowing down the choices for travel insurance - we didn't have any the first time and we lost a bundle - when hwubby walks through the door and says, they have to extract a tooth on friday. can anyone blame me for feeling a punch and squeeze in the chest. i can see ten thousand thoughts going in ten thousand and one directions. fortunately i spot a lifeline in the mumbo jumbo of mental jungle. a golden ray that clearly says, stay in the present. so i take a deep breath in, long breath out. i have to do it a few rounds. the sense of being overwhelmed keeps shooting out tentacles like a giant octopus and going straight towards my neck. a couple of times it nearly gets me. before it can have my neck in its grip i keep saying to myself quietly, stay in the present, stay in the present. it's hard work, i'm telling ya. by the time i go to bed i feel like i come out of a hard-won struggle. i am not blinded by tendencies borne out of poverty consciousness. i am simply, as hwubby says, you are really working hard to take in each moment as it comes, good for you. hey, i'll take that.

wow. i'm not kidding. as i am typing this, hwubby calls and says, i can have the tooth pulled this afternoon instead of friday. such a move on the part of grace. i feel like this is my reward for staying in the moment.

Monday, November 7, 2011

wonderful niece teaches her aunt

hwubby says, agnes has an important question for you. so i turn to my fabulous and cool twelve-year-old niece and says, fire away. with a slight smile that carries a lot of thoughtfulness agnes says, what is meditating? picture this. we are having indian food. we and my chinese family. we are sipping chai, mango lassi,  gobbling up tandoori prawn, mutton curry, slow cooked spinach in homemade indian cheese, three-time baked pork ribs, chicken masala, dipping fresh naan and paratha into chutney and curry, and so on and so on. when it's time to leave, there's no leftover whatsoever. that's how great the food is. i say to tommy, my cousin, at one point, india and china, the countries of the twenty-first century, we sure have the best of all the worlds. okay, back to agnes. anyway before i utter a sound her mother answers my burning question, what brings her to ask me this? well, it is really sweet. agnes wants to get me a gift. she knows i like to meditate. so she wants to get me a gift about meditating. and thereby the question. i stop eating and gaze into her young, fresh and earnest face. i say, it's a form of focusing. and here comes the dialogue.

focusing, focusing on something you like. oh. what do you like to do, agnes? i like drawing. well, when you are drawing, you are paying attention, you are focusing on the drawing, that's a form of meditating, and for me i focus on my own true nature and divine presence. what do you do in meditating? i get up at four, have a hot drink, brush teeth, shower, do some stretches, then sit down and meditate for one and a half hour, i sit quietly, watch my breath. how do you watch your breath? well, it's actually more like paying attention to the breath moving in and out. we are always breathing, aren't we? yes, we are, agnes but we may not be paying attention to it.

her illuminating question sends me deeper than ever in meditation today. at some point as i revel in the quiet bliss of my own true nature this comes to me. since little i have always wanted to attain perfection. i tried on my own. didn't work. i looked here and there. couldn't find a satisfying answer. so i began to look for someone who can show me how to do that. it was not an easy search. eventually i found a teacher. she knows a lot about perfection. she teaches me this. perfection is something you already have inside you. it's who you really are. to know perfection, to experience perfection, to live in the state of perfection you have to meditate regularly. and so i meditate everyday.

really. i never know from whom i can learn something. a child with her pure heart can always teach me something important. keep an open mind, eye and ear. hey, thank you, my fabulous and cool niece.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

what doe it take to have that level of faith?

making dream real is messy business. not for the fainthearted. make no mistake. i am not complaining. hwubby's book is picked up by a major national distributor. it is coming out with a new edition. exciting, right? you bet it is. what it also means is a tsunami of tasks descending upon us. we are fortunate enough to hire a publicity person. that said, we are doing a lot of work ourselves. like galley send. the publicity person understands our situation. she thinks a lot of hwubby's book, sees nice demand for it, so she is willing to give us the media list and we take care of the logistics of sending galleys to magazines and publications. it's phenomenal that she is willing to do this because such lists are her bread and butter. anyhow the big mailing day falls on the day of occupy oakland. hwubby and i really want to go to show our support for the cause. we figure we would start early, be done by early afternoon and then go to downtown oakland. i thought i was prepared for the unexpected. but from the get go everything took longer than i thought it would be. for instance it's difficult to read the tiny printout that got more smudged after going through failed internet faxing and email attachment. is it 'fl 2'? or 'f 12?' bickie? or bickle? o, how about this? i put three mailing lists on three sheets in one excel workbook? then i can't get the merge function to work on the second and third sheet. just like that, one thing piles up on top of another. at one point hwubby says, stop talking to me like that, you are dictatorial. and i thought i was just trying to move things along and get things done. oy yoi yoi.

we did meet the post office's closing time. but by then it's after seven thirty. could we still go out to downtown oakland? maybe. but i didn't. i just couldn't see how i could do that and still get up early. am i then just looking out for my self-interest and awol-ing for something bigger than myself? well, i have to be honest. i was too tired to think straight. and even if i am not i would still have done what i did because in the moments when we had to make choices to move the thing in one way or another it's hard to make myself do anything that might jeopardize hwubby's dream that's been a long time in the making.

as i read today's torah portion where yhvh calls abram to leave his life as it is i have such renewed respect for abram's move. what does it take to have that level of faith? i want it.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

step back. he didn't ask for my help.

i get out of bed in pitch dark. hwubby is already up. i am giving him a morning kiss when i see that he is entering some data that i have done already the day before. it occurs to me that this is not necessary. i begin to show him the alternative pathway. some back and forth later i am standing next to his computer knee deep in helping him to figure out how to do a data transfer. well, of course i don't think i sound short and brusque. but there he is, saying, don't get impatient with me, i didn't ask for your help. wo. part of me is more than ready to snap back. then the essence of my guru's words take hold of my breath and thought.

the tests come in many forms.
sometimes they strike like lightning.
sometimes they are as sharp as a million needles.
and sometimes they come cloaked in absolute numbness.
what is needed at all times is full faith and surrender.


mentally i step back. i breathe in, a deep one. i say, i'm so sorry i got you so upset..

indeed. he is right. he didn't ask for my help. and i didn't keep my eye on the ball. as i gently return attention again and again to that elusive yet vast space between breaths i see an old tendency. easily get distracted and pulled out of the present.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

make the life that i choose to live a worthy one

the day's meditation is wonderful. i come away from the meditation seat like the velvety night cosmos that is sprinkled with starry glitter. a galaxy of, for the lack of a less cliche word, inspirations, fill my breaths. i am so on track to writing. hoo. what is the first thing that catches my eye? papers at my doorstep. left by hwubby for me to deal with. medical claims to process asap, that are yet to be filled out properly. i quickly spot certain signature spots that are still empty. bah. that means they have to wait until hwubby's home from a long day of medical appointments. can't go into mail today. bummer. what else is there crowding my doorstep and crying to be taken care of. documents to review, that carry long term financial consequences. this task to follow up. that task to follow through. before long a major delivery arrives, signaling the onset of a huge project that has to be completed in the next twenty four hours. faster than i can let out a breath this heaviness comes over me. just like that all those delightful writing glitter recede fast into the neighborhood of those one hundred billion galaxies that gazillions of light years away from planet earth.

the phone rings. it's hwubby. after the brief phone call i quickly realize my voice and tone are short and brusque. as i make my breakfast of egg white and ghee i recall these words of my guru.

make the life that i choose to live a worthy one. it is a matter of great fortune to rejoice in life having once sacrificed it. life is not like an an abandoned fruit. yet it requires absolute sacrifice.

well, well, well, after eleven months of perseverance i have finally arrived at the finale verses of the poem breakthrough. i have earned the rights to relish the fruits of my effort. and what is 'sacrifice' but that effort that gets me come closer to god, to my own true nature. and i know enough after twenty years on the path that despondency and discouraged are not attributes of what i am made of. what is required at  such times, at all times, is full faith and surrender. and i decide this is exactly what i am going to do. i call hwubby. i say, i am so sorry i was short and brusque, maybe that clash between left and right brain throws me off. he is just so happy that i call, totally empathetic. what a sweet life i have. a-hah. the life i choose to live is sweet and juicy and flavorful.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

good shabbos ride.

can i get things going in the way i would like? rarely. but here's the fantastic wonder i have come to see. if and when i can pass beyond unmet expectation, stay in the present while keeping eye gently on the goal, i experience marvels that i didn't see coming. this is a fresh addition to this priceless understanding.

friday morning i begin to call the usual suspects to arrange a ride to the rabbi's house for shabbat celebration. as the day goes on i'm more or less sucked into the goings on that pull me in ten thousand directions. by the time it strikes me that i haven't got any return calls from the shabbat ride buddies. it is already five pm. for a short while i have this thought. maybe this is the sign i should stay home tonight, it has been a long and rattling day. and then i hear something else. noah's story. go through directory. on the spot i feel an upsurge of enthusiasm. yes, i want to study noah's story.

i pick up the shul's directory, finger through the membership one by one. attention is one-pointedly focusing on who might be going and passing through my way. gotcha. ann. i call ann. she says, yeah, i'm coming but i'm not driving, louise is picking me up. i call louise. she says, i can pick you up but i don't know i will stay all the way. i say, once i am there i know i can find a ride home. i'm not kidding. there were times rabbi would ask me, while people are leaving, in a volume that is loud enough to fill the ears of anyone in the room, suk wah, do you have a ride home? and, believe you me, if i hadn't had a ride fixed by then someone would step up.

where am i? o yes. so louise shows up on time to pick me up. her husband marvin is driving. ann and i are in the back seat. louise says, suk wah, do you know how to get to the freeway? i say, no, let me call hwubby. well, he doesn't pick up the call. louise, ever so kind, says, it's all right, we'll go the other way. momentary pause ensues. she says, it's all right, i just don't get to do it the way i would like. i burst into a chuckle. i say, you're spot on, louise. that is the secret to living and it has been my experience this entire day. everybody laugh. my eyes swipe around the lovely dusk lights in the distant horizon above the berkeley silhouette. a bright understanding shines through me. i say, but i can say i have no doubt that things always turn out even better i plan, look, this person and that person did not return my calls and now i get to spend some quality time with you. by the way it is so true. louise and marvin have another home in hawaii. they and ann live in the city. i rarely go into the city. we really don't get to spend  time with each other except on high holidays, celebrations and torah study.

not only do i get to spend some delightful time talking and laughing with them i take the opportunity to ask their advice on some delicate matter i have to take care properly and i get it. o yes, this is another great one. i say, i need to run a situation by you guys. they all go in sync, oy vay. i describe the specifics. they take it seriously. they take it seriously. they ask clarifying questions. when all is said and done, i say, thank you, now the problem is no more. ann, who is always filled with bright vitality, says, with deniable authority, no, this is not a problem. louise agrees. i say, hey, you are supposed to guilt me. louise says, no, we are on a higher jewish path. am i fortunate or what to have such fabulous jewish pals.

as i bathe in gratitude i recall this old, wide known joke. if you want to make god laugh tell him/her your plan. the sparkling truth pouring from it fill my heart. good shabbos to all.

Friday, October 28, 2011

breakthrough from awful fax episode.

millions of lives can be lived. but for what purpose if there's no breakthrough. so true. the wisdom humming in this garland of words have been in the forefront of my awareness as i observe silence this week. by the way, a big shout out to hwubby who wholeheartedly and unconditionally supports my doing so. thanks to emails we still get done what need to be taken care of. anyhow, no sooner than i emerge from sweet silence than i receive a phone call from a lawyer with whom we are going through litigation. in an angry and authoritative tone she says, you are faxing me one hundred twenty eight pages of nothing, stop it right now. the thing, i did attempt to fax her office this morning, seven am, a few hours prior to her call. but the fax didn't go through for some reason. in the heat of her moment, i check in with my higher self. i say, i'm sorry, i have no idea what happened. then i call the fax provider. after forty five minutes i am reassured again and again that no fax has gone out of my account today. the earlier attempt failed. while i am on the phone with the supervisor - yes, i already escalated the situation to a higher level - the same lawyer calls again. she cries, it is happening again, another one hundred and twenty-eight pages. i hear my voice staying even and i say, i'm so sorry what you're going through, i've been on the phone with the provider for forty-five minutes, no fax had gone out from my account today, they're trying to figure out what's going on. fair to say she doesn't hang up a happy camper. after another fifteen minutes and some long holds the fax provider says, ask her to shut off the fax machine for a moment. at this point, call me chicken or whatever, i get hold of hwubby who is up to his eyeballs in a deadline and give him a heads up of what's going on. hey, when it involves lawyers in this country i would err on the side of caution. what a great guy he is. hwubby says, let me call her and cancel this fax account right away. so i do. hwubby calls me and says, she gets on the phone, keeps saying i don't have time to talk to you, she would have spent less time taking in what i have to say than saying she has no time to talk to me, she's not going to shut off the fax machine and hangs up on me, so i call back and leave the info with her secretary.

so why am i rehashing all this? because millions of lives can be lived but for what purpose if there's no breakthrough? so what's my breakthrough here? i am stunned to see that the moment this lawyer says, you are faxing all these pages to me, i right away take it as my fault, that i have done something wrong. now that is such an old, old conditioning. once i see that nothing this lawyer says, or anything anybody says for that matter, kicks me off balance. is the situation awful? sure. do i have to do what i can to resolve this? you bet. but, at the end of the day, the activity log is not showing any pages transmitted from my account and she is not willing to turn off the fax for just a moment, what can i do? nothing. but you know what. i see myself sending her blessings. i wish her at peace with her self, with the fax machine.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

sweetness and contentment in strong, bold flavors

two hours meditation today. what happens. nothing much, i guess. i just think of my guru, my grand-guru, my great-grand-guru and it is so sweet. i know they are right here with me. i am totally aware of my upright and steady posture, the humming quiet of pre-dawn and the ocean waves in the easeful flow of my breath. the mind is suffused with sweet contentment. the tasks and troubles of life are like misty images flowing on a movie screen.  and then i realize life itself is sweetness and contentment. once i see that i can approach task and troubles as they are. sweetness and contentment in strong, vibrant and bold flavors. hey, sometimes the heat is off the charts. i know how that feels when tongue is burning, hot tears overflowing, the entire body is sizzling with excitement.

as my guru says, if the doorframe is low, then bend your head and walk through it, if the sword is brandished before you, lower your head, otherwise misfortune will result.


life is teaching me all the time how to be anchored in that place where i can be confident and humble all at once. and that place is none other than my own true nature.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

rejoicing in life. shaktipat intensive

there's so much to rejoice in life. that said, the top fave part of my day, any day, without exception, is...drum roll please...sitting in my meditation closet and roaming in the worlds of my heart, where my true nature dwells. really. through the lens of physical universe i am doing nothing, just sitting quietly, eyes closed. speaking of nothing, a gorgeous story comes to mind. it's from the upanishards. chandogya upanishards, i think. a piece of dialogue between father and son, who also are guru and disciple. in the finale of the dialogue father says, break open that seed. son obeys. father says, what do you see? son says, nothing. father says, ah, from this nothing, a tree grows into its fullness. and that's the underlying experience day in and day out in meditation, i mean, in my meditations. that experience of nothingness and fullness all at once. in that experience everything in life is shining with beautiful lights, golden lights. now, that said, the most exquisite of all beautiful, golden lights reside in my own heart. this is no longer something i read in scriptures. i own it. this sublime miracle would not have taken place had i not received shaktipat initiation through the grace of a siddha guru in a shaktipat intensive nineteen years ago. since then i have taken many more intensives. without exception everyone takes me deeper and higher into my own self. i emerge from each and every intensive a little more anchored in my own true nature and see yet more to rejoice in life. in another three days i get to be in another shaktipat intensive. how fortunate i am.

http://www.siddhayoga.org/shaktipat-intensive

Monday, October 17, 2011

breakthrough. shubh mahasamadhi.

for several months clara, my spiritual study partner, and i really didn't quite see how we could fulfill the goal of memorizing breakthrough, a four page poem by the end of 2011. for a start, hwubby was hit by a taxi on 1/8/2011. i was zigzagging across the country for a bit. then something else in clara's professional life. then this. then that. if it was not one thing, it was another. i think we didn't have our weekly study session for a couple of months. in the months we could meet, we had to skip this week and that week. i have to confess it has occurred to me more than once that since all things inevitably end maybe this is one of those given we have had a good run of four years. that said i never give up. neither does clara. we seize whatever session we manage to make happen. we stick with our plan. and then there are some verses that the mind has a hard time to wrap around, like,

everything that happened
begot the self-denial
which led to the knowledge of the self.


all that said. and now, here we are. one week before the mahasamadhi shaktipat intensive in honor of our grand-guru's physical passing, we find ourselves in the last two lines of the poem.

then life knows what you are.
and you know what life is.


i say to clara, this is dessert.

in the last couple of days two lines in the previous verse keep rising in the mental horizon.

the most exquisite of all breakthroughs
is to pass beyond the death zone of your ignorance.


yes, indeed. all those thoughts that say to the effect of i can't finish this, there's no way i can't do it, i just don't see how this can turn out fine, are really death thoughts. they are ghosts cloaked in veil of separateness. so long as i am anchored in my own true nature and hold the understanding that the guru is none other than my innermost and highest self i can see life in completely different lights. really, life is that which gets me closer to god. and that is what sacrifice is all about. coming close to. to the degree that i am willing to come close to being my great self the wave of grace takes me across the seemingly uncrossable stormy sea of life.

Friday, October 14, 2011

tribute to mr jobs.

i like my new writing studio. aka apple store. how does it work? i book an early bird personal project session. two hours. i go in at eight. the bright, beautiful, spacious store is not yet open. clean and quiet. a fresh and smiling young dude welcomes me across the threshold, checks me in. i set myself up in a corner and start working. why can't i do it in my own writing room? here's my issue. i've been treating the computer as a typewriter, pretty much. that works well when i wrote from scratch and typed away until i get a full length manuscript. now that i am in a restructuring and rewriting phase i need a lot more tools to help me navigate the hundreds of pages and the jungle of scribbled post-its and note pads and...napkins and toilet papers. yes, i have a whole box of them. and somehow every pop-up window and every button paralyze me. i get stuck. it's almost like i am afraid if i push the wrong button it would be the end of the world. here's where apple store comes in. they have this incredible set-up. i do my personal project. when i have a question about a button, or i have something i want to do but i don't have the relevant computer skill the supervising trainer would jump in and figure it out. of course these trainers are adept with computers. but what's truly amazing is that they are all creative people in their own right. writer, photographer, cook, musician. they do it with such enthusiasm. i say, i don't know how to quickly access anywhere i want to in the 600 page manuscript. the trainer takes my question seriously and starts looking into options. as he pours himself into the various buttons and drop-down menus i realize why i am drawn to come back to the store like this. i don't feel alone, that i have to figure it out all by myself, i feel supported, encouraged and i am around nice and great energy. i let out a long sigh of relief.


when the two hour session is over, the trainer always says, you can keep working. and no one pushes me to buy anything. but i can say this much. i have already ditched microsoft word and dived into apple's pages. why? because i get one-to-one support on the spot as i write. between looking up a user manual and working with smart, courteous, fun people it's no brainer to choose.

on the spiritual path we look at whether a teacher is great or not by looking at the students. here's to you, mr jobs. you have created a world where creative pursuits are valued and nourished. you've made possible the process of creating fun, enjoyable and beautiful. thank you.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

never say never. shubh mahasamadhi.

never say never. especially in the ashram. hear me out. i walk into the kitchen ready to do some dishroom seva. who do i see? barbara. all decked out in her corporate 'uniform' baking away. happy contentment is all over her face. i say, hey, barbara, are you going to abicek? by the way, i love, love abicek. four thirty in the morning. in the temple. watching a galaxy of sari clad radiant yoginis orchestrating a ritual bath for the enlivened image of bade baba. in exquisite silence and stillness. we participants chant vedic hymns and then we eat special sweets and sacred water that blends coconut milk and rose water. all done before dawn breaks. all right, where am i? o yes, i want to find a ride. and i know barbara doesn't miss an abicek. she says, all right, i'll pick you up four twenty. i pause for a momen, don't know what to say. i really want to be in the ashram by four so i can get a nice seat up front. okay, i do understand that the grace of a saint is not diminished by one row or two. but i just like to sit a little closer to where the action is. i don't want to sound ungrateful and i hesitate to abuse barbara's kindness. so i swallow my unmet expectation and say, all right. then something overcomes me from within and i hear myself bursting out, sure, and who knows, you might be so inspired to come at three thirty. not missing a beat, barbara says, with all the courage of her conviction, NEVER. i say, well, well, well, never say never, you're in the ashram. really. grace works in creative, out-of-the-box ways.

that was a couple of weeks ago. last night, before going to bed, i had a hunch to check my emergency cell. that's right. i don't really pick up calls on an emergency cell. it's one of the many things hwubby has to put up with me. anyway, there's a new message from barbara. it goes like this. listen, suk wah, i am invited to dress bade baba, they have to dress me in sari, so i have to come to pick you up three thirty. i laugh in awe as i say, thank you, bade baba. i really believe it's my prayer answered. and the truth is that there's enough grace to go around answering evryone's prayers. we just have to have the clarity and courage to see them as smart and right on expressions of grace. seriously how else can you get a girl to get up at two forty five willingly with a smile. try this. you'll be all decked out in a glamorous sari, dripping with jewels, clothe bade baba in spectacular garments and garlands and fresh flowers.

shubh mahasamadhi.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

returning to what? going where?

it's the homestretch in the ten days of high holidays. the finale. yom kippur. rabbi says, how are you doing so far in terms of figuring out where you were off the mark? where are you? where are you going? what do you want for your life? what are you going to do in the coming year to move in the direction where you want to go? and we are not talking about material stuff and worldly achievement. i have lived long and enough and gone through a few things to know that when i am about to let out the last breath i won't be worrying about how rich and famous i am. anyway when we are called upon to share with each other regarding this teshuva process i say, ever since i was little, even before i could speak i just carried this sense that i want the highest. then for decades i looked and looked and, oy, have i looked in the wrong directions. i look for the highest opinion from others. i look for things that everyone else i should look for. everything works for a while. nothing sticks. now i am finally at the point where i am so happy that i am on the right track. i know where i am going. i want the highest. so i just measure everything with this question. does this take me to the highest? later on my friend says, this is too abstract for me. i pause for a moment and say, like, yesterday, i was in the midst of meeting an important deadline while waiting for an important phone call. the phone rings. i am all set for this complex conversation when the calling person says, this is your alarm company, i want to let you know your house alarm has not been working for two weeks. why? because hwubby, while getting an iphone, changed our land line to a cell line. as i reflect on it i realize it more because he did it without talking it about it with me first than anything else. i don't want to rehash the sordid details of how i didn't conduct myself according to the highest. my friend chuckles and says, wow, this is surely grounds for divorce. we laugh. she says, will it help if he just says, does this take you to the highest? i think it would. at least it would seal my lips and stop my mind from going down a slippery slope. the bottom line is this. it is an aggravating and messy situation but is it worth it to hurt someone who loves me and cares about me with all his heart and soul and might? after all he was just trying to save some money and he know how much it means to me to save money. when i am about to die would i even remember that i was upset on that particular friday afternoon? it that god's voice telling me to yell at hwubby?

may i keep simple and clear so i can hear that voice from within that is always guiding me towards the highest. may it be so.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

a moment of life well lived.

millions of lives can be lived. but for what purpose if there's no breakthrough? break what through? break through what? what is breakthrough? really. eight days into the high holy days i realize every stronger than before that all i want is to simply stay anchored in my own true nature. there's only one question to ask if i had to make a choice about something. does this take me closer to what i am? or missing the mark?

for instance, yesterday i was scrolling down the long list of email subject lines trying to look for a particular one when something catches my eye. someone in the congregation is recovering from surgery and she would appreciate calls or emails since she can't be at the high holiday services. all at once an explosion of competing forces jams my attention. no, no, no, you have so many things to do, you are behind, you don't really know this person, she won't even know who is sending her the email, don't embarrass yourself. i can't deny that there is a kernel of truth in all this jumbo mumbo of thoughts. i am running behind and the task list keeps growing. so i 'stay focused', finds what i am looking for and proceed to move forward on that task. there's nothing wrong with that. yet something keeps tugging me. a soft little voice. thirty second email. just do it. after a few rounds i get it. i am just caught up in residual tendency. my heart simply wants to sends a wellness blessing. that's all. it's the ego who is concerned about whether that person actually remembers me or not, or whether she values my blessing or not. before i know it, i feel this surge of willpower from deep within. i break through the grip of mental conditioning, glide into my heart and send forth a simple yet abundant blessing. it feels so right on the mark. it feels a moment of life well lived.

Monday, October 3, 2011

heart is where yerushalayim is. return.

this is the third time in twelve months i'm working at going to hong kong to visit my mother. at least i can commend myself for having perseverance. yeah, suk wah doesn't give up. first it was hwubby grounded by his periodontist because he was not healing properly from extensive gum surgeries. then came january. one week before departure. he was hit by a taxi. now just as we are about to firm up on the tickets he notices some weird thing going on in his teeth and, so far, it is apparently in a nook-and-cranny that is out of x ray reach. oy. meanwhile his long-time, trusted dentist had a terrible accident and is having a hard time recovering. with all these goings on i can sense wild yo-yo swings in the mind.

so there i am in the second day of rosh hashana, the mind wandering off during the services, adrift in foam of frustration fermented in anguish over uncertainty, when suddenly a sound pierces the swirling mental fog like the shofar. 'return.' the guest teacher says, one of the key aspects in the spiritual efforts that are prescribed for this sacred ten days is to return. return to what? where? to that which is not yet articulated. to a more amniotic state. to something that is formless. just like that the timeless wisdom suffused in these words return my attention to where it ought to be. the depths within. my own heart. my own true nature. where yerushalayim, the land of peace, is. only from there i can see clearly what need to be done and what not to do through the constant shifts outside. really, if it's not one thing it's another. if it's not this twist it's that turn. there's always something. that's the nature of life. so if i pin my state upon foam you bet i am like the yoyo at the end of a swinging string. i must apply sweet effort to return attention to my heart, that place of peace within me. the lasting land of peace that is truly free of the anguish of existence.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

brisket. forgiveness. happy new year.

year in year out we pray on eve of jewish new year, o yes, may we forgive. well, forgive what? forgive whom? sometimes it takes the form of brisket. i am serious. my friend prepares ten pounds of brisket before going to the evening service to usher in the new year. she takes the day off from work to do it properly. brisket is serious business, you know. twenty people's happiness on new year day are on the line. after a day's hard work she's satisfied and off she goes to the shul with her husband. she comes home all ready, willing and able to forgive anyone for anything. or so she thinks. before going to bed she attends to one more task. putting away the three huge pieces of brisket that have been left on the stovetop. to do it properly she would remove the top, wrap the pot airtight. with aluminum foil in one hand she lifts the top with the other. well, well, well, what does she see? actually, to put it more accurately, what does she not see? one third of the brisket is missing. turns out her boys gobble it up. i sure am on her side when she says, i forget all about forgiveness. her husband takes the boy aside, goes through everything about thinking about other people, consequences of one's actions, and so on and so forth. meanwhile i am listening to the story with my mouth full of sumptuous, juicy, tasty brisket. i say, mom's brisket is surely out of this world, they sure have a discerning palette. hwubby says to the father, do you think they get it? the father says, i ask them this morning, you know, your mom has to skip new year's day service this morning, goes to the store before eight and labor in the  kitchen all morning, what have your learned from this? the boy says, i know i won't have anymore brisket today.

i share with my friend these words from my guru.
if the doorframe is low, bend your head and walk through it.

my friend chuckles and says, my son has indigestion, i really think it's my prayer answered. oy yoi yoi. 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

happy jewish new year. sweetness.

happy jewish new year. l'shana tova. may this year continue to bring abundant sweetness to everyone's hearts. may this sweetness flow out into the universe. may we have the courage, clarity to experience the sweetness manifested in the universe in infinite ways. may we have the eye to see the sweetness streaming our way and receive it with an open heart and mind.

my rabbi says, high holidays is the time for incredible transformation if you choose to put in the spiritual efforts. sweet efforts that will bear sweet fruit. question. what is something good in my life this past year? i close my eyes, aloft in the hauntingly beautiful traditional melody. what do i see? hwubby hit by a taxi. really. seriously. what a jolt. it kicks out all mental chatter and anchor me in the present moment. i realize how much i love him and he me. next to a thunderous lightning such as this all other noises pale. i share this with the person next to me. she says, yeah, you see what's really important.

as i type this i recall my guru's words.
the tests come in many forms.
sometimes they strike like lightning.


indeed. some mental tendencies are like bamboo roots. extremely difficult to completely root out on my own. sometimes it does take the sword of lightning grace to go at it. then the sweetness of my own true nature can break through and shine.

Monday, September 26, 2011

full faith and surrender at all times

how important is it to stay in the present? can't say enough of it. can't remind myself enough of it. here's a fresh experience. i have been trying to reach a person regarding a specific thing in a specific place in india. somehow we have been playing phone tag and the clock is ticking. i can see a whisper of agitation hanging in the mental horizon. but it has also been pretty easy to turn attention to the steady and rhythmic movement of the breath and so it am back in the present. all right. meanwhile life goes on in all directions. in the  context of taking care of something that is unrelated to india a person is bringing some people to our house to meet us. at the arranged time i hear a knock on the door. upon opening it i see several people but one particular person seizes my attention. a tall, beautiful, young indian woman. how beautiful? she brings to mind the presence of a devi from the hindu pantheon. anyway my point is this. she turns out to be from that specific place in india. so there you have it. what's needed at all times is full faith and surrender to the present moment. otherwise i would miss out on what grace is revealing to me.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

screwing up? not so.

right off the bat let me offer healing prayers for the person who was injured. having done that i can praise the awesomeness of the workings of grace. so there i am mixing up about the session time in apple store. somehow i am just filled with the 'conviction' that it is eleven. check ical? the thought never comes to me. forgetfulness, right? turns out my session is noon. the long and short of it is i get onto the homeward shuttle after the session. the driver starts talking about a shooting. it happened on the road where i usually go through to take the shuttle. now the middle section is all roped off. i have to go all the way around in order to get home. as i walk under the midday sun a bright sound comes up in me. eleven. i know exactly what it means. the next day i knock on the door of my neighbor, ms williams, who knows everything in the neighborhood. i ask her, well, of course i first ask her if anybody is hurt, and yes, someone is still in the hospital for that, and then, i ask her, when did it happen. need i repeat what she said? of course i do. eleven in the morning, she says. i would have left at eleven for a session scheduled at noon and i would have run right into the whole episode. how about a big round of applause for the incredible intelligence of my great self and how far i have come in terms of listening to the promptings of grace. really. i didn't screw up. i was following the voice of my great self. wow.

then i recall these words of my guru.
while grace is penetrating deeply
i say to myself
people say grace is a shelter
why, then, am i losing all i have?

screwing up? losing all i have? on the path to knowing the self, living in the self, everything is an opportunity to deepen and strength my connection to my own true nature.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

happiness generator. doggie.

i am not a dog person but i have to say this one really tugs my heart. look. i walk into the rabbi's house for torah study. what catches my eye before the rabbi's beaming, welcoming presence? a caramel-gold bundle wiggles on the floor, partly hidden behind the couch. turns out it's his new dog. a four month old golden labradoodle. i wish i could take a photo of him standing on hind legs, placing the front ones on the rabbi's thigh while the rabbi is singing the praises of yhvh. his eyes can be barely seen from underneath the soft gold fur. his wet tongue practically swinging and swaying in sync with the rhythm of the rabbi's singsong prayer. i can picture this sweetie having his own yamulke and tzizit. my rabbi is one of those rare beings who knows his life purpose and utterly comfortable in his own being. having said that i can see this little puppy brings a special flavor of joy to his heart. i say as much. he says, yes, he is a happiness generator.

and that brings to my mind another lovely happiness generator. true story. this person had to move. the circumstance was such that she couldn't take her dog. so she prayed, please let me find a place for her, the right place. nothing happened. nothing seemed to be working out.

the moving date was drawing near. she kept praying. one day while she was walking the dog a couple and their child appeared from around the corner. the child saw the dog and cried, doggie, doggie. the parents looked at the dog like they just ran into god. the long and short of it was their child was autistic and had not uttered a sound since birth. until this 'doggie' moment. need i say more about how the story ended? and that brings to mind some words from my guru. what's needed at all times is full faith and surrender. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

21st century heaven. at your fingertips.

picture this. about 8 am. i'm approaching the apple store for my training. what do i see coming out of that store? by the way the storefront looks practically like a giant macbook pro. an elderly lady walking with a cane. it's evident that she has pretty severely arthritic knees. her salt and pepper - more salt than pepper - hair flows in the gentle morning breeze and takes on a soft glow of the morning lights. one of those blue tee-shirt apple guys is holding the door for her while also maneuvering a loaded cart. it is packed with a 27 inch desktop and piled with all kinds of gorgeous accessories. the ponytailed young man carefully adjusts his pace to be in sync with the lady. it is such a beautiful scene. the ancient and the edgy.

then this. while i am waiting for my trainer i watch this 'granny' couple working some project with their trainer. they are just like any other caucasians. the guy has a potbelly, white hair. i hear him say, i'll let her take the driving seat. wise man i'd say. the lady has this no-nonsense presence, clean and modestly dressed. obviously a couple who has worked hard and raised their family. how do i know? they are working with a lot of stuff about their grandkids and several times i hear the words 'retirement plan,' 'returns.' here's the fun part. their trainer is this african-american young guy with a gravelly voice. the way he singsongs 'mission control,' 'launching pad' makes me think of louis armstrong launching into 'what a wonderful world.' this threesome really get along because every now and then i'd hear raucous laughter spilling over into my corner. it's simply delightful.

no wonder apple stuff are so much more expensive. they generate priceless experiences. mr jobs and his spectacular team have managed to create things that can connect people regardless their age, race, whatever background. i can see that lady who is walking with great difficulty even with a cane is having a beautiful time with her 27'. on her own and coming to one-to-one sessions in the store. who wouldn't, really. a bright and gorgeous world is opened up for her with endless possibilities. welcome to a new life. it's the 21st century heaven. at your fingertips.

Monday, September 19, 2011

dirt cheap.

here's one mental habit that is really hard to root out. how about calling it 'replay-what-if syndrome.' a couple of days ago a situation that has been unfolding for a while suddenly takes an expected turn. i don't like it. by the way this 'i like it, i don't like it' thing' can really take me away from anchoring in the state of cool and calm which are the pillar attributes of my great self. so there i am. i don't like the way things are turning out. boom. before i am aware of it, the mind is like this color wheel on the screen when it keeps spinning but nothing happens. nothing is moving forward. something is stuck. it's kind of like that with my mind. what if i did this? what if i didn't do that? i should have said this. i shouldn't have said that. on and on. fortunately the cumulative power of practices give me a kick in the butt. come on, suk wah. this is not who you are. oops. so i take a deep breath, and on the outbreath decides to turn around. immediately a question comes up. what am i supposed to learn from this? just like that the stuck spinning wheel turns int a river of contemplation. i am back in the present. meanwhile the old habit tries one more time and criticizes, look what price you had to pay. right away a response springs forth. whatever the price, it's dirt cheap.

hey, now i recall something really precious. a story about 'dirt cheap.' it's one of those delightful and profound teaching stories that my guru often tell. i never tire of hearing it. let's see if i can tell it and do it justice.

here it goes.

a poor farmer has several daughters. they are beautiful and ripe for marriages. but the father cannot afford any dowry. in his desperation out of love for his daughters he remembers this guru who has many devotees. they always come for the guru's darshan bearing gifts. the farmer goes before the guru and pleads his case. the guru kindly says, i don't have money, i don't have possessions, but, here's what i suggest, why don't you stay with me a couple of days, whatever people give me they are yours. the farmer is thrilled.

one day goes by. nobody comes to see the guru. another day goes by. the same. nobody comes. a third day goes by. same again. the farmer is discouraged. he says to the guru, i'd better go home. the guru says, i'm so sorry but i can't let you leave with nothing. the guru removes his well-worn straw sandals, give them to the farmer. he says, take them and sell them. the farmer obeys and leaves.

the farmer is a short way from the guru's house thinking, maybe i can sell the sandals and get some food, when he notices a long row of camels and carriages coming in his direction. the man leading them is dressed in gold and silk and dripping jewelry. he stops his gorgeous camel, gets off, approaches the farmer and says, i'm going to my guru, but when i see you from the distance i sense his presence, the nearer i am to you the stronger i sense that. the farmer says, i don't know what you are talking about, i just left his house and he gave me this. the farmer takes out the sandals from inside his wretched tunic. the man's jaws drop, his eyes pop. he points to the long row of loaded camels and carriages behind him and says to the farmer, let me have the sandals and you can have all the jewels, gold, silver and precious incenses they carry.

a little while later the man pranames at his guru's feet and shows him the sandals he acquired. the guru says, how much did you pay for it? the man says, i give him a treasure. the guru says, that's dirt cheap.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

sky of iron, earth of gold.

the skies above your head shall be copper and the earth under you iron. for some reason these words from this week's torah portion catch my eye. they ring familiarity. where have i seen them before? over the yummy potluck sabbath meal something comes to me. a bright sense. i see it like looking at a gold coin lying at the bottom of a clear and still pond. a story. the story of alexander the great as told by my guru. i heard it once and it's been fiercely seared within me since.

here's how it goes as i recall it now.

when alexander first became king he summoned the best and brightest astrologers in the land. he asks of them one question only. when will i die? the astrologers went to work. they came back and said, your majesty, you will die when sky turns to iron and earth gold. wow. what does that mean? that's exactly what alexander asked. the astrologers didn't have an answer. so alexander thought and thought. well, how can sky turns to iron? impossible. how can earth turns to gold? impossible. well, that can only means one thing. sky will never turn to iron. earth will never turn to gold. and i will never die.

with that understanding, alexander went out to conquer and conquer and conquer. his soldiers believed their commander could not be defeated. the armies on the opposite side in the battlefield lost the will to fight. after all how can you beat someone who is destined to never die?

fast forward. alexander was passing through a rough terrain. he started to feel ill. he wanted to stop and pause a little bit. his loyal general said, your majesty, we are in the middle of nowhere, this is not a place suitable to receive your majesty. please let us go a little further. alexander agreed. he soldiered on. he grew sicker and sicker. finally he couldn't hold it anymore. he decided to just stop and get off the horse right there. his loyal general immediately removed his protective vest that is woven of fine threads of gold and spread it out so that his king would not lie on coarse sand. then he held up his shield of iron over alexander's head as shade. alexander lay down, closed his eyes. after a while he felt a little better. he opened his eyes. what did he see? iron over his head. gold underneath him. in less than a wink he remembered. he knew. he started to sob and sob and sob. the general said, your majesty, you''ll be allright. alexander said, it's too late. the general said, what do you mean? alexander said, if only i knew then what i know now, i would have done differently, but it's too late. he wept and wept and wept to death.

Friday, September 16, 2011

vitamin d and meditation

a week into taking vit d as prescribed by my doc i notice a distinct difference in the quality of my meditations. who knew?! wonderful difference. the level of steadiness is up. energy is more even during the day. that teenie weenie negative voice that keeps nagging me is getting even teenier and weenier. love it. what's not to love, really.

this experience totally crushes my limited belief that western medicine is just about drug and cut. actually as i type this another great example comes to mind. hwubby discovered a bursa on his right elbow. in the moment when he first showed me i was terrified. but as i look back it was really hilarious. it's like a bag coming out of his elbow. anyway the ortho surgeon gave him three options. i can't remember exactly what they were. one is removing it outright. another one is draining it. can't recall the third one. but doesn't matter. because when hwubby asked him, what do you recommend, the surgeon said,  do nothing. he then gave hwubby a roll of bandage to wrap around the bursa and a three week prescription of ibuprofen. he said, in three weeks, if it still doesn't go down, come back. here we are, three weeks later, the bursa is totally down.

why am i going on and on about the bursa? my point is, it all depends on the doctor. my guru and her guru says of this metaphor often. is a knife good? or bad? in the hand of a surgeon, it cures. in the hand of a murderer, it kills. in my case, my doctor goes straight to the basics when i say i feel kind of low and definitely uneven energy. take this one simple thing for three months and see what happens. nothing fancy. profound impact. love it.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

standing up again

yay. i'm going to be standing up again soon. here's why. i went through kneeling chair and ball chair before discovering i loved standing up in front of the computer. i wrote a novel standing in front of the power mac. i did quickbooks and quicken standing up. i emailed standing up. then a dear, dear friend, andrea, gifted me her retired ibook. in her words, so suk wah can go online wherever she wants. since then i've been sitting down for almost all of the computer dealings except finances. now that i've inherited hwubby's macbook pro and a 23 inch monitor looks like i'm on track to stand up again. there's something about standing up. somehow it seems to enable the back to be a little more upright. kind of doing mountain pose for an extended period of time. having said that i'm so grateful for andrea's kindness and generosity. i mean, i love my power mac. however you should see me standing like a jaw-dropped turtle waiting for email to go through, website to come up. it's great time to watch the breath though.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

a massive stroke of grace

a life without grace bears no fruit.
millions of lives can be lived.
but for what purpose 
if there's no breakthrough?
what a mindstopper. and these words of wisdom are hard to chew on. for several days i've been meditating on them. they are illumining certain old tendencies. how about this one? that gnawing, lingering unpleasant feeling goes like this. what am i doing this for? is this what my life's about? i recall so many times in my life when by all conventional measures i should be happy and proud of myself and feel abundant and great and blah blah blah. but deep down i know i am not experiencing any of that. i couldn't make sense of it. it drives me nuts. it was frightening to even entertain the possibility that whatever i can achieve and get outside of me is not going to answer my burning questions once and for all. it was beyond the mind to conceive that there's no one who can grant me lasting happiness. really, where would i be if it were not for a massive stroke of grace that breaks through the concrete cage of fear and anguish that i found myself locked in. hey, who cares if i had lived millions of lives adrift. i am back on course in this one and that's all that counts.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

stay close to yhvh. yhvh takes care of the rest.

so happy to be able to go to women's torah study. haven't been there for a long while. this is a unique tradition in our congregation. it started more than a decade ago when a female congregant was hit by a bus. she was in hospital for quite a while. i wasn't in the congregation yet. so this is all story to me. but what a beautiful, moving story. a group of women organized shabbas at her bedside. when she was able to get out of bed, she said she missed going to torah study. the women said then torah study will come to you. since then she has recovered marvelously and the women torah study tradition stay on. i gotta say this is the setting where i was really encouraged to speak up. it's a different flavor from studying with the rabbi. really readings of the scripture from the lenses of a whole range of life experiences. usually i am just absorbed in taking in the menu of views and comments and shares. then we have a potluck meal. it always turns out to be a delicious, abundant spread. today as i taste the fresh, sweet tomato direct from farmers market i realize this is what freedom is truly is. that i can pursue a spiritual path tailored for me, receiving the best of so many traditions. i am truly fortunate.

i have forgotten to mention these women step up to help and support me throughout hwubby's taxi hit episode. prayers. blessings. practical help. therefore it's my own experience that i do whatever i have to do to stay close to yhvh and yhvh will take care of the rest.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

what's this sadness all about?

i skipped meditation for a day. how did that happen? i awake around four and find myself suffused in sadness. something that has not happened in a long, long while. good news is i am looking into it and know that i am not it. the first question that comes through me is, what is this about? though i know that it has nothing to do with my great self something from within signals me to look a little deeper. i don't know how much time has gone by before i become aware of what's going on. the finale of a novel i've been reading. actually, to be more accurate, it's a soap opera about a family of jews in pre-war poland. the book ends with the main character choosing to stay in warsaw soon after bombing began. he could have run away the way he had run away from everything all his life thus far. god. family. wife, actually wives. children. and yet, in the midst of ruins and chaos he chose to stay for his daughter and family. when asked why, he simply said, i want to die. given what little i know about history i get chills from guessing what's their outcome. he would have gotten what he wanted. the last words of the book are 'death is messiah.' when i read this line, i didn't get it.

in predawn darkness i breathe in deep and breathe out long. i let go of the sense of time passing. i allow myself to be with the sadness. i guess that's what 'face to face' means. i ask, what am i to learn from you? then i recall something from earlier in the book. the author, i b singer, says, to the effect, this person has forsaken god. he is pretty much dead. getting drowned in doubt. having women drawn to him brought fleeting flesh pleasures. from this perspective i can understand his desire to die and thus his choice. i resonate with his misery and suffering.

i tell hwubby what's on my mind. he says, well, there's a sad part in your book too. hmm. interesting.
food for contemplation.

i drift off to sleep and come out fresh and bright, ready for yet another beautiful day.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

salutation to barney the computer

it's time for my desktop computer to retire. it has served me with quiet steadiness for sixteen years. yes. one. six. a power mac 7600/132. august 1996. i know. sixteen years is multiples eons in the world of computers. yet if i could i would have kept it. together we have written a book, put up a literary agent search and found one. all our financial data are on it. when i call the software company and start talking about zip drive and 1996 version the person at the other end of the line has no idea what i am talking about. but, all things, all life come to an end inevitably. no exception. hwubby says, you have to start talking to the computer, or else it will feel abandoned. well, i do feel i am kind of abandoning it. wow. i have such a hard time of letting go. i actually thought i have got over that one.

okay this is not about me. i want to salute this intelligent object that has been serving me and hwubby all these years. there has not been any issue with it, although it is kind of slow when i go back and forth between documents that are tens, if not hundreds, of pages. but, even on that point, i am thankful to it. because at certain points in the writing process it actually give me the space to allow certain words, turn of phrase, idea to come through.

i have never formally named it per se. but every now and then i refer to it as barney. so thank you, barney. you know, barney, in hindu tradition, a householder retires after a life of responsibilities, duties and service and devote his/her life to contemplating the great self. you surely have earned that reward after a long, long life of extraordinary service. i could not have lived without you. writing long hand? entering each transaction by hand into a ledger? so, a heartfelt thank you.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

come close to. sacrifice.

'life is not like an abandoned fruit. yet it requires absolute sacrifice.'

wow. these two lines from the poem 'breakthrough' snaps the mind into a blank. what to make of it? how to approach the timeless and timely wisdom within the garland of words? the first question that comes to mind is this. what does 'sacrifice' mean? that sets in motion a train of contemplation. this word has really a lot of baggage. all have to do with giving up something near and dear to the heart desires. it has a flavor profile of suffering and misery. even death. then it occurs to me a simple idea. go back to the basic of basics. what does this word mean? where does this word come from?

so over shabbos meal i ask my rabbi, what does the hebrew word that got translated into 'sacrifice' mean? he says, kor'baan. typing it out doesn't do the word justice. it sounds so pure and beautiful. there's a metallic timbre to it. almost like a ringing bell. rabbi says, but it has nothing to do with all that is now commonly associated with the word 'sacrifice.' he pauses momentarily. i wait with an open heart and mind and mouth. he says, it means 'come close to.'

there i have it. that which gets me close to god, close to my own true nature. if it means letting go of things that the ego holds dear and the world deem indispensable, so be it.







Thursday, September 1, 2011

a pill for self-realization?

i have to confess. my scope and breadth of experience with pharmaceuticals start with tylenol and end with aleve. and i have a tendency which is quick to judge. piled on with what happened to my late little sister i sort of dismiss western medicine as 'drug and cut.' now with a vitamin d prescription because of vitamin insufficiency - really, i already feel better when doc says i am not deficient, just insufficient - i notice something interesting happening within. there is this huge sense of relief simply knowing that all this chronic low grade below optimal energy level may be because of this. i gobble up all this info popping up upon googling 'what the heck is this vitamin d deficiency is all about'. okay, not exactly in those words but that's how i feel. it brings up such a heightened sense of hope and expectation and excitement. wow, just taking one or two pills a day for three months may cure me from this condition once and for all. what a happy ending to this soap opera. this is surely the equivalent of asking my guru, is there a pill for full self-realization?

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

it's physical as well.

all right, the jury is in. i mean, the blood work results. i'm vit d deficient. should be at least 30 and i am at 22. how low can i go, really. i'm not into under the sun without sunscreen. well, let's see what the doc says. how do i feel about it? actually i am euphoric. finally i get to put a nail onto something i've been wondering about. that i don't feel my energy, concentration are where they ought to be. some sort of low grade drag pulls me down within. sure part of it is residual tendency. but it's great to know that there is a physical part to it. that mean there is a solution. yay.

the body is the temple through which i get to know my own true nature. it's gotta be strong.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

all this grandeur are within me.

i awake at three thirty. the body is still soaking in the massage the evening prior. the mind is filled with the sweet and gentle warmth of the bed. i fall back asleep and dream. how to capture it in one sentence? a big, bold nightmare that flips into the sublime. here it is. i run like crazy from someone who wants to rob me. it's dark but the roads are wide and open. periodically i look back. the guy is still after me but i am ahead. earlier in the dream hwubby and i are examining some jewelry. all set with diamonds of all colors. yellow. pink. so vivid. so crystal clear. i can't take my eyes off a tiny evening clutch bedecked with pink diamonds. a really adorable little thing and i know hwubby is getting it for me. in the dream the thought that goes through me is this. i don't really need this. i keep it as a thought. there are thoughts that are better left unsaid. anyway, getting back to the dream. i am just about bursting with exasperation not knowing when i could stop running like this and the anguish vanish. i am at peace with what it is. i run with a deep sense of calm. now i notice how grand the urban landscape is around me. i am able to appreciate its scale. how sparkling the roads are. before i know it darkness becomes light. i am chanting in a dazzlingly white room with sky high ceiling with my guru. a simple, beautiful chant praising the guru principle that exists in all. every tiny lilt lifts the ceiling a little higher. the momentum of the chant builds and builds and the room becomes bigger and bigger. it all seems so natural.

what's my point here? all this grandeur, all this brightness and all this beauty are within me. what else is not, really.

Monday, August 29, 2011

call of the self? mental chatter?

how do i know if it's mental noise out of fear and doubt and their extended family? or signal from my own great self? this is a huge ongoing question on the spiritual path. sometimes the choice is crystal clear. black and white. sometimes not so clear cut. for instance. a week or so ago i received a reminder to rsvp a spiritual study group scheduled for yesterday afternoon. looking at my schedule i can go. however i keep feeling a teenie weenie pull to say no. sure there are a bunch of things on the to do list that have been there for quite a while and it would make sense to seize the few hours to wipe out whatever i can wipe out from the list. meanwhile the tendency to judge and criticize seep in. no, suk wah, you're just lazy, you think you know enough already. blah blah blah. i am resolved to go with the inscrutable intelligence of my own great self. so i let the situation sit in the back of my mind for a couple of days. an interesting thing happens. the judgmental voice fades. the pull to say no hovers. just then another reminder arrives in the inbox. no sooner than i read it i feel this little tug swelling in momentum. on the spot i rsvp. sorry can't come.

as it turns out, yesterday late morning i got an invitation to help a dear friend who is going through a rough episode. at what time? it overlaps with the study group session. without hesitation i say yes.


how subtle. and so it is that my connection to my own great self builds and stabilized. little by little. i am even more motivated to keep the mind still and body quiet so i won't miss those little signals which lead to the knowledge of my own true nature.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

washington monument and my own great self.

talk about not doubting, not second guessing the signals from the inner self, here's a nice and fresh one. while i was in d c a few weeks ago i took a tour of the monuments. the guide says, you can go up to the top of the washington monument. it's free. there are limiting tickets for a day. they hand them out, first come first served. i say, what time? eight am. right away i feel a gentle signal from within. go. of course the mind kicks in with tons of good reasons why i shouldn't do it. the main thrust of the argument is this. why rush. go another time. the monument is not going anywhere. on the surface it makes total sense. my first time in the town. so many things to see. besides to make sure i can get a ticket it means i have to be there way before eight. i have to walk from the train station unless i want to take cab. the mind goes on and on and i just got sucked into it.

well, guess what. fast forward. here we are. the monument is now off limits as a consequence of the earthquake.

such is the unimaginable intelligence of my own great self. by the way would i have listened if my own self says, there's going to be an earthquake? i don't think so. probably i would seriously consider going to see a psychiatrist if not checking myself into an insane asylum outright. :) all kidding aside i now am more resolved and determined than ever to make my mind still and body quiet so i can receive the signals and instructions from my own great self which is no different than all the forces and powers that operate in the universe.

Friday, August 26, 2011

i am that big.

there is monumental world of grandeur within. this is what i get from a dream the night prior. in the dream i am taking a day off and go to check out a site in central district, prime real estate in hong kong. what do i see? construction sites all around me as far as eyes can see. not the usual skyscrapers that hong kong is world famous for. granite pedestal that is a street long. fluted marble columns that pierce the silvery gray cosmos. and then there is this pink limestone sitting lion. the top of is head doesn't look finished but i am not sure. i can't see the ends of it wherever i turn. it's that huge.

what does this dream say to me? first and foremost it strikes clear beyond doubt that all this grandeur is inside me. i am that big.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

as a matter of fact i am happiness

friends ask, what do you do in the retreat? i say, we sit and be quiet. that simple. and radical too. for the most part of the two days no sooner than the facilitator says, close your eyes, than i go straight to a place of no linear time, no words, no sense of dimension. just a mass of bright serenity, joyous contentment. more often than not i experience my awareness descending at super high speed into the depths of my inner being. it's all very subtle.

there was a time when i came out of meditation upset that i missed the meditation instruction, that i must have not meditated. seriously. of course i was also upset that i didn't have any dramatic experiences. where's the light? thunder? visions? i would feel so disappointed and then envious when others described  their super audio-visual experiences. not anymore. i have come to appreciate my own experiences. really. i notice there are so much less mindless wanderings. i am able to step back with ease from the tendency to worry, to project into the future. when we are chanting a long mantra praising the qualities our own true nature i actually vividly sense that yes, i am not the thoughts, feelings and emotions. my senses are open and functioning but i am not dependent on sensory pleasures for my happiness. as a matter of fact, i am happiness.

the first thing i notice at the end of the retreat is this. where is that lifelong nagging restlessness? and what about the doubting voice? i don't expect they vanish for good but i know now that they are not in the driving seat anymore.