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?