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.

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.