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.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

shoe room yogi

what is the one moment in the two day meditation retreat that shines and jumps out? no censor. just the first one that comes up. bing. shoe room. back up a little. i go into the retreat with one particular task unresolved. to find a ride for both days. somehow this time around all the usual suspects don't work out one reason or another. i call a cab sat morning. after fifteen minutes, no show. dispatch says no taxi in the area. hwubby comes to my rescue, calls a number and, lord and behold, a cab shows up in ten minutes. great. still, i cross the threshold into the meditation hall carrying this low-grade buzz of anxiety and agenda. for a brief while my eyes dart about scouting possible candidates to ask. but very quickly the power of grace draws me toward the intention of why i am here in the first place. and just as quickly the gnawing buzz recedes into background. i am filled with a steady whisper. wait. not now. and, really, just like that, i am irresistibly sucked into the open quiet and lovely contentment of the inner world.

fast forward. come lunch pause. i'm sitting in front of the shoe room putting on my shoes when the corner of my eye catches kitty standing next to a shoe shelf. i don't have any agenda. i am all fine with calling a cab if i have to at the end of the day. just then i hear an inner signal. ask. so i do. turns out kitty lives near me. duh. just like that i have a fantastic ride for the entire retreat. by the way kitty and her hubby are fantastic yogis. they do the practices and a lot of service with one-pointed, quiet dedication and devotion.

anyway the point is my great self, my own true nature, is very smart, tuned in and has an impeccable sense of timing. what's needed at all times is full faith and surrender. stay in a state of inner quiet and then listen with attention. don't second guess. don't doubt.

great things happen in shoe room. seriously.

Monday, August 22, 2011

qualities of my own true nature

subtle breakthrough. about half a day into the meditation retreat i notice something. i don't think i would have if the mind is not so quiet and the body so relaxed. and it's actually the absence of a dug-in tendency. the melancholy that the retreat will come to an end. i am amazed beyond word and measure as i watch how the body is calm and poised. throughout the two days i notice the restlessness and soreness that usually start gnawing at the joints and legs after a few meditation sessions are simply not there. the inner sky is by and large clear and sunny. every now and then i notice thoughts and emotions that are like cotton-candy clouds. as i type this i don't even recall what they are about. doesn't matter. i just return attention to the nice and natural flow of the breath and the divine song within it. before i know it i am not even aware of those mental clouds.

where am i? yes, the breakthrough. i realize i am more anchored in the understanding that this quiet mind and relaxed body are the qualities of my own true nature. all that i revel so much in the retreat are to guide me to connect deeper with what i already have, to cultivate the awareness that i am not this thought, not that memory. my happiness only depends on how connected i am to my great self. here's the kick. when i am consciously connected to my great self i can see how much joy there is in my life. what about this one? hwubby. last night he walks through the door in his bike helmet and waves of bliss overcome me. he really brings yummy joy to my heart. and if i am all caught up in anxiety and anguish that there's no retreat the next day i wouldn't be able to taste it so good.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

foreground to the inner sky

what has pulled me through this week what with these morning challenges and dark memories? something truly marvelous and wondrous is coming sat and sun. for two days i'll be immersed in meditation and chanting and the rest of it. to be more accurate i'll be hanging out with my own true nature. i am so excited that friday night i am sleepless and wide awake. such is the power of the pull from the great light within. and so, once again, i recognize that all this thoughts, feelings and emotions are really foreground to the immense inner sky of my great self. hwubby says, you are doing so great, you are not swept away like you used to. true. unless i hang on to it all that mental cloud shall pass. if i really want to attach, i'd better attach to the light of my own self.

and how fortunate i am that i have a hwubby who would crawl out of bed 4 am to help me get out of the house with all i need for a whole day.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

entrenched attachment to a warm bed

breakthrough this night. mind coming out of a nice dream which dissipates moments upon awake. body relaxed and still. a soundless voice appears. without words it is the distillation of why it's such a seemingly endless struggle to get up before early. i see my childhood and teenage years, all the way into young adulthood, encapsulated in one image. sleeping on coarse, cold concrete. walls are pieces of aluminum sloppily held together with holes everywhere. no roof. just another piece of odd shaped aluminum precariously sitting on some thin wood bars. mice scratch wood and aluminum, whatever they could lay their sharp claws on. cockroaches and centipedes roam like they are in the wild. come to think of it i was hospitalized for a week because of a poisonous bite from a centipede in a ear. the child can't wait to get up out of fear, anxiety and over-the-top worry. and so it strikes me crystal clear. of course there is an entrenched attachment of a warm, comfy bed in a safe and quiet place. in fact, that week in the hospital was the happiest days of my childhood. i had my own bed. night nurse fed me milk and cookie. anyway the body is not of a child anymore. but the trauma is lodged in the firmament of being.

so how come i have no trouble getting up super early for retreats? because the allure of immersing in the sublime inner peace and security is irresistible. it's the real thing. it overrides the mental circuitry. but for the allure to become permanent it takes sustained spiritual work over a long period of time with full faith and surrender. and so i get out of bed very encouraged. it's just another residual tendency. i am the supreme, sublime self and that's that. i sit for an hour in the sweetness of the self. i have a deep sense that something heavy has been lifted. i feel that much lighter. if i didn't have things to take care of i could just sit and sit and sit.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

i see the door frame. i see the sword.

this week so far has been one big test. in one form. here's how it goes down. on the dot at three, or four, or somewhere in between, i stumble out of sleep. the mind is awake. the body is totally still. nothing wrong so far, right? but i can't find an iota of will to summon the body to move. not even wiggle the pinkie. it has taken me two days, almost three, to admit this openly. since monday the heart flutters periodically. thoughts, feelings and emotions associated with, what else, fear and worry, come through. yes, i can tie one reason or another to each and every one of them. but none of them stick. they come and go like foam and froth in the ocean. this night, as i huddle myself in hwubby's warm embrace and he is trying so hard to listen to me even though he is barely awake it dawns on me this. i am looking at naked fear itself. worry is fear's first cousin. so is regret. there was a time, a long time, when i would get sucked into a panic mode or angry and end up creating a mess which i had to clean up. on the pragmatic level it's a huge waste of time, energy and resources. on the spiritual level does it take me closer to my own true nature? yes, if i could see it for what it was and let it go. but, no, when i took it for what i was. nonetheless those experiences have now become benchmarks as i walk the path of exploring my own true nature. i see that i am not sucked into these mental turmoils so quick like before. i look at them and i know they don't add to nor diminish the inner self.

this is the second week i am studying this verse in breakthrough.

what was needed at all times
was full faith and surrender.
if the door frame is low
then bend your head and walk through it.
if a sword is brandished before you
then lower your head; otherwise misfortune will result.

looks like i am able to see the low door frame, i can see the brandishing sword. 
i say that's progress, suk wah.

Monday, August 15, 2011

we are all gold

i'm all ready to meditate. the posture is ready. the intention is high. the breath flow is steady and easy. a thought comes. what do i meditate on today? in super rapid succession a bunch of possibilities shoot through the dark, velvety awareness like fireworks of meteors. i love all of them. i can easily meditate on any of them. i am just about to pick and choose when somehow something unexpected catches my inner eye. shema israel. i'm pleasantly surprised. there's a lovely, lyrical melody that goes with this central jewish prayer. spontaneously it is imbuing my hearing like sunset colors dyeing the cosmos.

my rabbi says, in his reading of torah, israel, besides meaning someone who wrestles with god, also indicates connecting with god, going straight to god. where do i find god? how about starting with...within. shema. hear. not just hearing with the outer ears. pay attention. get it in the guts. hear it from the heart. i listen to the song of the breath as it blossoms into an unbroken chanting of the prayer. the longing that is embedded in the melody reveals itself. builds and builds.

shema israel. adonai eloheinu. adonai echad.

the one who yearns to connect with god, get this. god is all the forces and powers in the universe. god is one.

in this way i have a fantastic, satisfying meditation. is it indian? yes. is it jewish? yes. the self is the same in all. multitudes leave mitzrayim, the narrow land, narrow consciousness. jews. egyptians. it's the same self after all. walk into a goldsmith's shop. many forms, shapes and sizes. i like this one, not that one. this one looks ugly. that one looks pleasing to the eye. yet, in essence, they are all gold. in essence, we are all gold.

Friday, August 12, 2011

they are all for one purpose

just when i am commending myself profusely for memorizing the poem breakthrough so very well all this week, boom, i discover i have missed out a whole verse. only three lines. but, boy, do they pack  punches.

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

what is self-denial? this much i know. whatever it is, it leads me to knowing my own true nature. the key, then, is understanding. whatever happens and doesn't happen, whatever i have to do and say no to, they are all for one purpose, exploring who i am, what i am here for. otherwise i will be sucked into the vortex of drama. what then will happen? check this out.

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.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

for suk wah it is huge progress

going places is fun. being with kind and wonderful people is a delight. having said that i have to admit that there's nothing like back on my own meditation mat and meditate away. bar none. i am saying this from my own experience. i was in a safari back when most of the world didn't know what this word was. unless they've read hemmingway. by the way, it is truly an astonishing discovery to see elephant running in the wild. i did not know they could run this fast. and speaking of delight. that's how i feel when i wake up in the room high up on a tree and see this sweet giraffe face passing by the window. nonetheless the sweetness passing through me in gentle waves deep in meditation is beyond comparison. as i revel in the elegance of my upright and steady posture more than an hour into sitting i recall vividly the elegance of the hippopotamus swimming like a masterful ballerina in the depths of lake.

so do i want to go to a safari again? i don't know. this much i know for sure about my life now. i need quite a bit of equipment to support my posture. a suitcase of them. i have the tahoe trips to prove it. so when a trip involves air travel i have to go into alternate modes of meditation. meaning i have to sit in a chair, lie horizontal on a hotel bed, or whatever bed i happen to be in.

also because of evening activities i have to get up later and meditate less than i do at home. so with this observation i am happy to congratulate myself. suk wah, your discrimination and willpower have definitely improved. your capability to make choices that are for long term benefit has come a long way. i am serious. this involves hard and difficult decision. like when i am offered a fantastic cheese at dinner i have to say no. okay, i admit i cannot say no outright. but i don't munch on the cheese like a squirrel. i only have a couple of bites. and that, for suk wah, is huge progress.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

leave it to the chinese girl to do it.

what about lincoln memorial? absolutely moving. his eyes gaze into the eternal present moment. the view of white house from jefferson's feet is spectacular. the tourmobile narrator says, today's the president's birthday. so i let my voice glide across tidal basin as i wish him a happy birthday. having said all that i have to say my top fave d c monument is the one for vietnam war.

really. leave it to a chinese girl to do it.

just two triangular, walls of black marble joined along the upright edge. yet as i walk along the pebbled path that takes me from the lowest point towards the highest i realize i am going below ground and soaring into the sky both at once. suddenly i notice the polished black marble become a mirror. it reflects beautifully the essentials of this physical universe. sky. cloud. trees. grass. birds. men and women and children. i feel the cool drizzle gently tapping the back of neck. in that moment i realize i am within a memorial whose limit is the sky. amidst all this grandeur are the names of men and women who sacrificed their lives.

miss maya lin did not use marble in the roman way or greek way. through a simple vision she created with meticulous attention a place where i experience respect from my heart for all those who give up the ultimate that anyone can offer for something that is bigger than their individual selves. the reflections constantly shift. but the oneness that is the same in everyone and everything stay untouched and pure. standing at the corner i look up to the top of the walls. part of my gaze is irresistibly drawn toward the clear sky. it is no different from the sky in the black mirror. the selves of all those whose names are engraved are no different than mine. the sky above me and that coming through the black mirror are not separate. one sky.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

i just don't see them.

an american friend in d c says, i know that dim sum place, i've been there, i don't like it. i say, did you have tofu flower? she says, no. i say, did you have waterchestnut cake? again, no. what about taro dumpling? no. my friend says, i don't see them, they were not there. i say, dear american friend, you can take my word the bank, they are there, you just don't know what they are. true. take tofu flower. all one can see on the dim sum cart are two aluminum vats, a pile of bowls and spoons. no label. why they don't provide any label for the sake of american friends? because they are sold out just from the chinese customers. at one point hwubby asks a waiter, do you know how many people line up every day? he says, too many.

at another point cindy, who finds out about this place, points to something on a cart that is passing by and asks stuart, the chinese guy who tells cindy about this place, what is that? stuart casts a quick glance and says, you can order whatever you want. so cindy does. a plate of two little tarts. by the way, i notice stuart kind of half covers his eyes with a hand. briefly. after having half of one cindy asks me, suk wah, what is this? i take a good look at it and decide to be honest. i say, it's not dim sum as i know it, they make this up for the americans. stuart says with a straight poker face, never saw this before. hwubby says to cindy, when stuart tells you to order whatever you want it's the code for you to say 'no, you order.' cindy chuckles. she has a good sense of humor.

on one hand i know what's in the aluminum vat and i know what waterchestnut cake looks like.  on another hand i come out of meditation often thinking i don't have any experiences when in fact i have plenty. i just don't see them. just as my american friend needs to go dim sum with someone who knows about it i have to meditate with the guidance of a great teacher. then i know i am having a great connection with my own self when i am sitting quietly with the sound and movement of the breath.

Monday, August 8, 2011

all that marble i cannot eat.

my first time ever in d c. a friend asks, what do you think? i say, do you want the chinese perspective? or some other? short pause. she says, okay, the chinese perspective. i say, all that marble i cannot eat. but i definitely will come back. d c has some of the best dim sum i have had in america. seriously. hwubby says, seriously. we want to take the person who has so generously and kindly given us accommodation to a meal. actually turns out we have the whole house to ourselves. anyway hwubby says to this person, can you find out a nice place to go dim sum or a good chinese restaurant. honestly i don't have any expectation. but i know something good is coming when our friend says, i have found a place to dim sum, my friend says it's as good as hong kong and we have to be there no later than ten thirty to line up. hwubby and i arrive a couple of minutes after. what do we see? already a line of about fifteen people outside this unassuming place in a small shopping center. by the time it opens at eleven the line is already round the corner.

however the proof is in the dim sum. tofu flower. texture is delicate as prime rose petals, smooth as boiled egg white, creamy as custard, light as cloud. our american friend takes one spoonful. her eyes pops wide. she says, i can't believe it, i have never tasted anything like this. such quality is only possible because it is fresh. tofu flower has no shelf life. it is only good for a few hours. then it begins to taste grainy. i could have downed several bowls if i didn't have to save room for others.

waterchestnut cake. all that jello texture comes from a natural ingredient. some sort of grass. it gels at room temperature. chinese don't need fridge to make jello:) waterchestnut is one of my fave summer veggie. refreshing taste, crunchy, cooling.

taro dumpling. again, my american friend says, i have never had anything so good. it looks like a small bird nest. take a bite into it. the taro threads are deep fried to perfection. light, airy. not oily whatsoever.

cuttlefish. thinly sliced. al dente. very tasty. but the real wonder is the bed of pickled turnip, cucumber underneath. they are perfectly balanced in sweet and sour. and, again, they are fresh.  there is a world of difference if it's stale pickle. they give me headache. literally immediately.

at one point, the american friend sitting next to me says, suk wah, when are you going to stop eating, aren't you full yet? i say, i will, at some point.

after such spectacular dim sum i head straight to national gallery to spend time with my fave pics. life in d c is divine.

Monday, August 1, 2011

bro pang only speaks when necessary.

a friend, an american to be exact, asks hwubby, why this chinese treatment, the doctors are not working? hwubby, as always in his polite and clear mode, says, the doctors do what they do, they say the bones are healing. it takes ten to twelve weeks in my case. they show me the x rays, where the fractures are, or used to be and they point out to me where the healing is happening. can i walk? yes, with help of a cane and occasional walker. but i don't feel anything on the right side. weak and stiff. i sit for a few minutes and i feel very, very uncomfortable. then pain comes in. with bro pang, after the first treatment i can honestly say i can feel i have a right side. there are mornings when i kind of think i don't know how i can get this adhesive off. but i do. because it's so worth it.

speaking of 'so worth it' hwubby corrrects something i posted yesterday. he says, i was in the apple store when i saw these dark brown patties falling out of my pants. hey, that's even more cool than in the bus, right. i mean, i am laughing to the floor. i can only imagine those super cool nerds so focusing on what they are doing that they don't see those poop patties dropping all over around them. by the way, i don't think they look like poop. really. i found some on the bed and floor when i arrived. i remember thinking to myself, why does hwubby eat ginger snaps in the bed and these look like the wheat-free, gluten free ones that i made with molasses.

i digress. so, back to hwubby feeling his right side. this makes total sense. two thousand tons of speeding steel hitting flesh and bone of course creates tsunami waves of destruction in blood and chi flow. it's like the otherwise smooth river is blocked by boulders, pebbles and rocks and mangled piles of branches and leaves. over the course of time, the debris rot, fresh water turn stale and the rest of it. of course the doctors have done a great job. but what bro pang does is restoring blood and chi flow. and what he accomplishes i nothing less than magical. magic that he produces not by waving a wand or casting a spell but solid experiences over forty years founded on his special gifts, a quest for learning, dedication to the art and craft of this ancient discipline. my cousin, who is pang's in-law, says, pang never makes social calls, or just calls to say hello that sort of thing but he calls once his daughter told him that ben was hit by a car. what does he say? all he says is this is serious, ben must come for not just one or two days but longer, and also, is he coughing? at one point, over dim sum i ask pang, why coughing? he says, have to adjust the herbs if he cough. coughing makes pain in broken ribs. indeed, according to the orthopedic surgeon rib pain is the worst because every breath triggers excruciating pain. what's my point here? my point is pang is attentive to details and cares about the patient. he only speaks when it is necessary. what a refreshing difference. what a great teaching for me to keep in mind. what great good fortune we have to be in-lawed to him.