Saturday, July 30, 2011

bro pang. sifu ho yer.

to kick it all off, this is a huge shout out to hwubby. he is so courageous and determined. here's a glimpse of what he goes through for chinese bone treatments. every night he sleeps with medicinal pads on certain parts on the right side of his body. the medicine is a custom-made herbal paste of more than thirty ingredients. it takes more than a year to prepare and age. it is spread over a gauze and held in place with adhesives. keep in mind hwubby has abundant body hair. this is how he does it in the morning. he sits up, holds himself steady at the edge of the bed. he takes in a deep, deep breath. as he makes a forceful exhalation, with a loud hooh he tears off the adhesive. part of my heart breaks to see him go through such pain. in the spirit of lightheartedness i say he has brazilian waxing every day. he says, one time i go to this dinner party after a treatment, every adult assures me the smell doesn't bother them. then i play with this five year old and he goes, your stomach smells. yet another time somehow the adhesive loosens and the hardened herbal paste fall through his pants. hwubby says, i am standing on the bus and suddenly i see these poop-like patties coming out of my pants. i know i shouldn't laugh but i just can't help it. you go, hwubby.

why is he willing to go thru this day after day? he has come all the way to seattle and been enduring this for more than two weeks. because he recognizes the benefits. he can feel the difference. he feels looser, less sore. he is so grateful. we both do.

what's the story here? turns out we have this relative, bro pang, who knows a lot about this ancient chinese bone healing practice. pang found this teacher when he was little in china. he talks about his teacher with so much reverence. he says, i have not learned a lot from him. and pang's been at this for forty years. bro pang doesn't speak a word of english. i think he's been in this country for more than two decades. he doesn't small talk. he doesn't butter up anybody. a straight and narrow shooter. not interested in commercializing his gifts. hwubby says, he walks into the room, immediately tells me to stay away from the couch, and starts doing his thing. he runs the back of his hand over my right side. later on in our conversations bro pang says, i can tell the temperature difference. when he identifies a spot he applies over it a herb-infused liquid which he prepares with meticulous care. hwubby says, he really digs in, his daughter, who is our niece-in-law and serves as his translator, keeps asking hwubby, is it too painful. hwubby knows this is all beneficial pain. he reassures them, it's okay. i say, is it like shiatsu massage? he says, this is way beyond shiatsu. where he rubs, and by the way, he rubs with special moves in a targeted manner, blacks and blue and purple quickly surface. pang says these are the bruises lodged deep within ligaments and tendons. they are there as a result of the moving taxi hitting his body. they block blood and chi flow. they have to be broken down, drawn out and redistributed into circulation. otherwise arthritis result down the line. guaranteed.

by the time i arrive seattle, pang says, one rib is not healing properly, not lined up straight. i say, what now? he says bluntly, i lined them up, okay now. seriously. now hwubby sneezes, coughs, and breathes. no pain. pang says, now he can stand up tall. i look at hwubby up and down. pang is right.

after every treatment hwubby gives two thumbs up to bro pang and says, sifu ho yer. teacher rocks. i say pang is a huge boon to humanity. a true miracle worker. we couldn't be more fortunate.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

a joy to behold.

how to tell whether a teacher is good, or great? look at the student. here's the example. this person says, nine months in a year i don't have time to see my friends, now it's summer i have to catch up. i size up this young man and say, how come? she says, i'm in this choir throughout the school year. what kind of choir is that? i've been in it for twenty years. what? yeah, i began the first year in the university. a choir in the university and you're still with it? so happens that i know the choir director. i really love her. she is this embodiment of creativity and discipline in joyous harmony. by the way her name is joy. how do you like that. her name is an honest reflection of what she is. vibrant joy. back to this twenty-year choir member. she is a computer engineer by profession. her devotion to music, to the teacher, to the practice infuses everywhere in her life. she has this lovely house of beautiful bones. the garden is pleasing to the eye and mind. from a chinese eye, the chi flows nicely through the rooms. she has a keen appreciation of energy quality, that's for sure. she saw it and bought it just like that. i have forgotten she has a terrific sense of humor. we have so much laughter and fun whenever we run into each other, me in my pj and her arranging her gorgeous flowing chestnut hair before going to work. she sings the teaching of welcoming to perfect pitch. she says, joy is a very important person in my life, she says i can stay in the choir as long as i stay with the full rehearsal schedule, so i'm in the university most nights of the school year. keep in mind she has a high power full time job. i'm not even going to go into the variety of interests she devotes herself to. and she does it all with such ease

such are the qualities of a great teacher. such a teacher is a joy to behold and a big boon to humanity. i'm so proud and thrilled to have both as my friends. lucky me.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

surprise. a yogi.

every so often someone comes along and totally busts my spiritual pride. to be more specific it's thoughts like i'm a yogi, what a clever girl i am, i am better than this one and that one, blah blah blah. it's so easy, and tempting, to buy into all this crap. anyhow, anyhoo, we are staying in seattle in this house. a very nice house in a very nice neighborhood. i have never met the owner before. hwubby stumbles into this great good fortune through a friend. hwubby moved in a week and a half ago. me. two days. last night was the first time i got to meet her. actually, it was yesterday morning. we hug before she goes to work. in that brief encounter i am already much impressed. actually, i was impressed way back when hwubby asks her if he - and i - could stay with her. she emails back with a simple, unconditional yes. think about it, suk wah. my guru's guru often says, when asked to sum up his teachings in one word, welcoming. getting back to our hug. she is genuine. i feel the kindness, generosity. i am in my fave pj. that's how at home she makes me feel. turns out she is an accomplished professional with a wide range of interests and knowledge ranging from singing, investing in real estate and morse code. yes, she finds reading in morse code so relaxing that she wrote a program to turn the complete volumes of shellock homes into morse code. her enthusiasm is infectious and delicious. really. the sense of wonder, curiosity, the impulse to create. such is the essence of the selves of all. she doesn't talk yoga. she lives it. it's such a delight to be in her presence. fun all around. but no nonsense. how can she be otherwise when she dwells in her heart and her head is stabilized above shoulder. from the highest vantage point, i see her as a real cool yogi.

Monday, July 25, 2011

i bring sunshine to seattle.

i'e been getting heads up about seattle weather left and right. rains. downcast. hwubby says on the phone, bring raincoat, umbrella. hey, i get it, people. it's wet. it's depressing. nonetheless i am bright and light as i walk out of the airport. what do i see? cloudless sky. california weather. my niece-in-law says, you bring good luck, suk wah, you bring the sun. i say, thank you, i do.

all kidding aside, i do have the sun within me. in fact, according to the scriptures, which are really meditation experiences of super duper advanced meditators, i have a thousand suns. as a matter of fact, i hold all the stars, planets, galaxies, those that we know of their existence and those we don't yet know that they are somewhere out there in some corner of this infinitely vast universe, which is probably just one speck in the innumerable collection of universes. as i type this my mind is a little bit dizzy, kind of hard to hold all this. what's the term? right, 'wrap around it.' and so i take a deep breath in, let a long one out, and let loose any rigid horizons in the field of awareness.

as i soak in the gorgeous sunshine, shimmering waters and the vibrant life all around me i also see them as a glimpse of what i have within.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

his holiness. facets of my own true nature.

as it happens a whole bunch of people at the sabbath meal table have their own dalai lama stories. for a short while i have the urge to say, i have my dalai lama experience too. but then i feel a subtle pull from within that clearly says, just listen, suk wah. i get exactly what it means. i don't need anything to add to what i already have, my own true nature. so i sit back, well, not exactly, i fuss over my plate of yummy food.

getting back to his holiness. i can't nod enough as i hear impressions and perceptions being so generously shared by people. my top faves are these. playful. with so much humility. child like. as i type this i am so tempted to relive those memory fragments where his sense of pure delight shine. nevertheless this insight trumps it. you are recognizing all that you already have. nailed it. i spot the residual tendency to compare.

so true. i am not looking at some attributes that another person has and i don't have them. quite the opposite. i am so drawn to them because i recognize them, i see in them what i have and what i want to let out. as my guru says,

in the beginning, love.
in the end, love.
in the middle, cultivate virtues.

virtues that are facets of my own true nature.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

the place where potentiality reigns.

what a meditation roller coaster ride eight thousand feet can make. from the first night, up in tahoe, i am awake after a couple of hours of sleep. i meditate two hours deep in the quiet and scent of russell pines. easy. now i've been home for several days. i'm still struggling with getting up before dawn. the mind seems to be tumbling into a rough terrain that straddles between waking, dreaming and sleeping. the state of awareness is like going through one of those amusement rides some times and tossing through tumultuous ocean other times. brutal currents of thoughts and feelings strike, collide, splash and merge. i see them but no desire to hold onto any of them. i know it's one of those times when i just have to duck, watch them roar and recede, roar and recede.

nevertheless, once i get my butt settled onto the meditation mat the power of the breath movement quickly takes over. it pulls my attention into the steady rhythm of the incomings and outgoings. actually they are come from the same place and go into the same place. where potentiality reigns in pulsing quiet.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

you would have done it for me, suk wah.

there we are, clara driving since ten in the morning. we stop at a starbucks at noon. she has tea and banana. i have mocha. a nice pause. then it's another hour on the road when it suddenly comes to me i don't see my little backpack at my feet. clara immediately pulls over. i search and search. i ask myself, where do you last see it, suk wah. when i pay at starbucks. then what do you do? i go to the bathroom. o, i must have, i most probably have left it in the bathroom. i hear clara whisper to herself, then it's lost. nevertheless she opens her cell, starts calling for the starbucks in that area. there are two. i call the first one on the list. a guy answers. i explain. he goes to check, comes back and say, no, it isn't here and nobody has turned anything in. my stomach twists. a rock plunges into my solar plexus. clara calmly says, call the second one. as she says that i am just filled with gratitude for having such a friend. you see, clara has been up since before dawn packing up the rental house in tahoe and she has to pick up her dog after dropping me off. anyhoo, back to calling starbucks. this time, when i get to the work 'backpack' the female voice on the other end says, 'yes, we have it here.' i say, thank you, let me call you back.

among the jumble mumble of thoughts that rush through the mind this one jumps out. if i can get into the house i don't need it back today. so i call hwubby who is in seattle for his chinese bone treatments. he says, yes, there are two spare keys and here're where they are. i end the call. i am about to call starbucks again when clara stops me and says, how are you going to get it back? i say, they can pack it up and mail it back to me. clara says, you really think they're going to do that? i say, look, they can say no and i'll figure out something else, maybe i'll give them some money. clara says, in a tone that doesn't take no for an answser, we'll go back. i say, okay, if you'll let me pay a night of dog hotel and the gas money. she says, dog hotel, yes, gas, no. i know clara after five years of studying scriptures together. the deal is done.

we are both quiet all the way to the store. the staff there couldn't be nicer. a girl goes to the back office and retrieves my backpack. everything's there. i thank them. i ask, where did you find it? she points to the table across from the cashier. now i remember. i leave my mocha there before i go into the bathroom. why would i leave the backpack there? i have no idea.

as clara and i sip drinks outside the store, she says, when you were on the phone part of my mind says, o i'm so tired, i can't drive another two hours. she reaches out her hand, gently puts it over mine and says, another voice says, suk wah would have done it for you, i know that's the voice of my higher self, i can do it, let's see ourselves leaving tahoe and arrive here right now. i finish the sentence and say, yes, do over. right then and there she nibs the tendency in me to get stuck in the past.

here's the great thing about walking the path with a committed seeker. every moment is an opportunity to do over, start over, a fresh beginning, a new life.

i am so fortunate to have such a dear friend in clara. indeed. the self is the same in all.

Friday, July 15, 2011

all that efforts do not go to waste

i never know when and how grace is gonna strike me. case in point. yesterday i watch the poem 'a thousand mirrors' coming out of me nice and smooth when all of a sudden it stops. the mind is a blank. the verse that i am on goes this way.

the guru's grace continued to strike
ultimately, the last mirror,
so dear to my heart,
the mirror that maintains the difference between the individual soul and the supreme soul,
was about to be destroyed.

the flow of words comes to a sudden halt after 'my heart.' then it's like a river flow, being blocked by boulders, turn into frantic swirls that go round and round. after struggling for a while, i take a deep breath and move on to the next verse. i know i have not forgotten the line.

sure enough, this morning, the smooth flow of sound resumes as if nothing happened. i realize the conviction built up through months and months of daily recitation pull me through this one. in the moment when i cannot find the line 'the mirror that maintains the difference...' i do not lose faith. my faith is not blind. it is based on knowing what i have in my own true nature, knowing that all that efforts do not go to waste, recognizing that all that seemingly separate my own self from the guru's self are nothing but grace.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

shiksa. chiksa torahnanda.

i'm having the whole house to myself. everybody have gone out hiking. clara says before leaving, make sure you go out of the house today, okay. and so i do. sitting under the umbrella on the back porch after lunch. after a morning of writing a sketch and chanting vishnu sahasranama. sip some coconut water. sit back and read some issac bashevis singer. i feel perfect. everything is perfect. speaking of singer. seriously. we have such similar temperament. and in terms of writing it amazes me to see a voice that i think to myself, this is as close as it gets to my voice. this is not coming out of analysis. so it's not mental. definitely gutteral. so when hwubby says, playing the role of my writing coach, what makes you say so? i don't have bullet points. all i can say is i have a chemistry with his way of writing. i guess this is kind of like being in love. i can describe all i can, rationalize all the brain knows why. he's gorgeous. he's a good listener. he makes me laugh. he lets me be who and what i am. in fact he encourages me to live out what i ought to be. he is nice to me. he takes care of me, always thinks of me, and on and on. yet i cannot explain why my heart skips a beat and my jaw drops every time i see him walk through the door. i cannot explain why we have so much fun just talking about nonsense. like i finish a singer story and call hwubby up and say, am i a shiksa? he says, not missing a beat, no, you are a chi-ksa. i say, chiksa torahnanda.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

mistake now. boon later.

i thought i made a total screw up and ended up with this pot of spice water. turns out it's a huge blessing. it's been the foundation of my lunch since. it's forgiving. it's versatile. i throw in whatever veggies there are in the fridge, and i mean whatever. for instance, the stalks leftover from steaming chard leaves, leftover fresh garbanzo beans from yet another meal, even leftover noodle. best yet, leftover chicken stock, courtesy from lois after she whipped up risotto. since this is high altitude, soup is actually very good for hydrating. in the meantime i can devote more time to working on the book while making a nice lunch effortlessly. who knew something that looks so wrong one day becomes something so right a day later.

and so it is on the spiritual path. that which look terrible by all accounts at the time reveal to be boons and blessings down the line. just stay with it, stay open and stay in the present. all this is grace. all this is grace. all this is grace.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

breakthrough by the power of grace.

luxury is so many things to so many people. for me it is to meditate away without a timer. being deep within soaring pines is like extra fresh cream on ripe strawberries. this morning as i recite, as usual since beginning of 2011, some words of my guru's guru, a miracle happens. i watch the river of sound flow out of vocal cord in easeful sync with the outbreaths when suddenly and quietly i notice a subtle switch. the passage as i learn it is in past tense. now i am amazed to see that i am reciting it in present tense. it goes like this.

i do not meditate out of fear but with enthusiasm, faith and love. i do not meditate to please anyone, not to gain benefits from anyone, nor to satisfy a desire, sensual or otherwise. i do not meditate to rid myself of any illness, physical or mental, nor to gain fame through the miraculous and supernatural powers that i may acquire. no one forces me to meditate.  i meditate not because religion says that it is good to meditate. i meditate solely for the love of god, because i am irresistibly drawn toward goddess kunkalini, and to explore my own true nature.

what a breakthrough. i am having an experience of the sublime wisdom that comes out of the intense austerities the compassionate teacher went through with persistence and passion as a student. by the power of grace this little student have come to own the truth embodied in these strings of pearls.

Monday, July 11, 2011

teaching from porcupine

here i am enjoying my lunch, yapping away with my hostess/buddy clara on the back porch that is surrounded by jeffrey pines that infuse the ether with fresh butterscotch and vanilla. speaking of my lunch i am so happy that i manage to triage the soup i made for dinner. it was a disaster. too much spice. no. as a matter of fact, it's just spice water. awful. i must be out of my mind after that dip into the cold alpine lake in the sky. fortunately we have lois with us. she is this creative, fantastic cook that can really think on her feet. she cheerfully gets me some vegetable bouillon. i throw in tons of veggies, potato, carrot, peas. splash in lime juice. and a refreshing, hearty summer soup is born.

so there i am slurping and swinging my toes when, all of a sudden, i see something strange moving in the shade in front of my sightline, just a few trees away. my first thought is, this is a big fat black cat. it can't even walk like a cat. it shuffles rather than walks. i don't have distance glasses on. after a few moments i just cry out, what is that? clara turns around because this weird thing is behind her. after examining it for a few seconds she exclaims, that's a porcupine.

both of us have never seen a porcupine till now. but clara knows a lot more than i do about porcupines. it turns out this porcupine must have been sleeping under the porch and found us too loud. poor thing. i am just trying to get a little nap and these loud mouths just won't leave me in peace. as i watch this adorable creature slowly making its way across the gentle shady slope i can't help but admire its contentment and confidence. it doesn't even spend moment to look back at what's the cause of its misery. it keeps trodding forward one step at a time until it disappears underneath the next house which is totally in the shade. so focused. so one-pointed. so fearless. if i pursue my spiritual practices the way this porcupine gets to its siesta place i could be self-realized this lifetime for sure.

i never know where divine guidance might come from. seriously. really have to keep my eye and ear open.

Friday, July 8, 2011

just keeping up with listening to it.

there i am, finally, attempting to make some sounds approximating what the brahmin is letting out of his golden voice. the facial muscles buzz like ten thousand threads of electric currents are coursing through me in all kinds of directions. the last time i have an experience like this is chanting rudram for the first time in a month-long silence retreat deep in the catskills some twenty years ago. a strong hum rattles the skull and limbs. i'm not so much as chanting but trying to keep my head above water in a roaring and rising river. i have to stop from time to time because the english transliterations on the page blur into strings of consonants that twist my tongue into a pretzel. fortunately the brahmin's voice is one of those that chinese say whose resonance wrap around the pillars of air and hover three days in the palace of the atmosphere. the potency in the metallic timbre reaches the bone marrow. the expansiveness in his mighty voice brings to mind the infinite horizons of the cosmos. the sweet kindness ringing in the tone marinates the depths of heart. so listening to the brahmin chanting this ancient hymn is just like being aloft in the crystalline alpine lake under the late afternoon sunshine and losing my gaze into the powder blue clear sky that is like a low-hanging ceiling at this high altitude.

i cannot really see myself memorizing this vishnu sahasranama but i am already loving the listening part of it.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

duck feet in tahoe. vishnu sahasranama.

hwubby says on the phone, did you get to tahoe okay? i say, yeah, let the vacation begin and signs are it's a serious vacation. he says, what do you mean? i say, the first foods i have are mcdonald fries and frappe with whipped cream, the first item i get at the store is jet-puffed marshmallows. he laughs and says, very good, are you meditating? i say, yeah, i meditate and i go back to sleep.

i have one goal in this tahoe-ho-ho vacation. to jump start on memorizing the hymn vishnu sahasranama. i have full faith that with the mighty help of marshmallows and potato chips i'll do really well. hwubby agrees. i have forgotten he makes a special trip to chinatown to get my top fave treatie. duck feet. this is like an extra spurt of whipped cream on the frappe. i munch thoroughly on every joint as i soak in the butterscotch-vanilla scent of the russell spines that populate all around the house. what a lucky girl i am.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

see what they didn't see.

i have a new thing added into the morning sequence. go into the garden and find a couple of roses. roses that are approaching full bloom but not past their peak. behold their beauty for a day. soak them in hot water in the evening. together with split cardamom pods. but this is about something i discover in the garden this morning. first it catches my eye that the hydrangea bush is loaded with gigantic blossoms. in fact the entire bush looks like one big flower. seriously. the branches are so heavy that they bend like the plant is in a full forward bend. some of them are almost touching the african violets that are across the narrow pebble path, while others have found their way into the bamboo grove which is now a luxuriant jade green fence all the way down the path to the garden gate. morning lights play off the fresh dew over the contours of the pink and blue hydrangea blooms. i, being someone good at picking bones from eggs, spot some withered blooms deep inside the hydrangea bush. somehow i just can't stand it. i dig my way into the rich explosion of flowers and clip the dead ones off. i take them to the green tub that is outside the gate, turn around, steps across the open gate, locks it behind me, turns around, and my gaze leisurely looks up and ahead. wow. somehow, chaperoned by the bamboo grove, the pebble path seems to stretch forever into the golden morning brilliance hovering above and around the hydrangea. i'm looking at this heavenly bouquet that fills up the other end of the path. if i were to enter the grounds for the first time i would have thought that that is the end and there is nothing beyond. but i know it is not so. i keep walking, following the curvaceously laid pebbles. in a few moments an expansive vista opens up. a whole garden of roses, figs, lemon, peony, plums and so much more.

indeed, the physical eyes can be so deceiving. they don't mean to but truly there are only so many things they can see. they need guidance. then their vantage point shifts and, wham, now they can see what they didn't see before.

Friday, July 1, 2011

spontaneity. adventure. sense of wonder.

in all seriousness i'm sipping a summer smoothie, twirling my thumbs and chewing on this 'voice' thing. now i have to give a nod to this smoothie. totally cool, totally ayurvedic and so easy to make. soak some dates, work the hand blender in it, generously toss in freshly ground cardamom, and there you have it. i am lazy. i don't even strain it. i'd like to say i love the fiber and i don't like to waste anything. today i even put in a dash of handmade rose water. really. i can drink this all day long.

getting back to the serious business of figuring out this 'voice' thing. how to bring the two together? one poetic, sublime, the other hilarious, down-to-earth. i take a nice sip and the rich and deep aroma of cardamom sends off refreshing sensation in body and mind. i don't have it figured out. not yet. but i don't feel discouraged. it's like this morning i go into meditation with enthusiasm, faith and love. not a bit dampened by yesterday's experience. why would i be dampened? what was yesterday's experience. gee wiz i can't even bring it up to the mind what happened yesterday. all that happened vanished. only the present moment remains. and right now i recall the two cards that hwubby and i got from a deck of divine attributes before i left the ashram nineteen years ago. spontaneity. adventure. perhaps, maybe, they hold the clue to what i am contemplating. my guru says, let the sense of wonder be constant. i take another sip. i'm fascinated. who knew such magical alchemy could come out of two ingredients. all right, three, including water. cheers. to the sense of wonder.