After posting the article – Is it a “bomb” or “blessing”? I went to visit my good friend Christine. Seeing how unusually quiet I was, she tried every way she could to make me laugh. She knew I liked impossible challenges. Writing a book is one of those challenges and the next one is to make a movie of my life’s journey. She started to make a different setup for the scene of “a bomb or blessing?” She played both actor and director. She was so funny, she made me laugh till tears rolled down my face.
On a serious note, she told me what touched her most in the article was a phrase I used in the fifth paragraph – “then suddenly, awakening from my paralysis.” She said awakening is the state of being conscious. It is the reconnection with God or the divine and she believed that is the key to my understanding and total acceptance of the whole situation, thanks to which I could let go of the past and whole-heartedly move forward into a new life. She then showed me drawings of two circles as depicted below (Dying into Life by Guru Terath Kaur Khasa, Ph.D.)
For a couple of days, I stared at the circles. They preoccupied me, until I had a revelation and finally saw the difference between the finite self and infinite self.
In the book, it says: Imagine a circle, representing you, with smaller oblong shapes, (like flower petals,) attached to it, each one representing an aspect of your life, each labeled with something significant, for example father, daughter, singer, religion, career, financial stability, youth, skinny, home and health. Now, begin taking these pieces away. What happens? The circle is filled with holes in it. Symbolically, this is how we feel when something has been ripped from us, (like petals from a flower,) leaving us incomplete and empty.
Now imagine the same circle with another small circle in the middle labeled SOUL. When you take the other pieces away this time, how does it feel? There will be holes, we will feel the pain of loss, but we will still have our core to hold us together. Our identity will be based on our undying soul.
Everyone would like to reach the realm of the “Infinite Self,” but how do we get there from the “Finite Self”? It is an important question. Is it coincidence or by chance that the name of my Chinese-language blog is Zero Limits – that is “no limits… infinite”? That is why I think I should have an answer to this question.
Stuart Wilde, a British writer known for his work on New Age, self-empowerment and spirituality, said that the final journey for everybody on this planet is to reach the point inside him- or herself where they are spirit rather than ego. You might have morbid thoughts and feel as though you’re dying and falling apart. The feelings come up because the ego’s world is melting away, so it feels diminished and sorrowful. Each bit that falls away serves to make you lighter and more spiritual. Your energy grows and, with that, your perception. (Infinite Self by Stuart Wilde https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cfXFgAI7nxs)
After posting “A Bomb or Blessing?” I seemed to experience what Wilde had described. I felt sick, sad and unable to take it. I even doubted I would have the strength to continue writing my life story after just finishing one-third of it. But then I saw what I had not seen before; I experienced what I did not have before. Moreover, I felt that I gained wisdom. I had my own thinking. I started to search within. I questioned myself: Did I
hear the same drumbeat as Wilde? Did I feel the same rhythm he did?
Looking at these circles, I kept thinking and pondering until I awoke one night at 3 a.m. I finally got it. It is a life’s journey that I am writing about. It is not the last journey. It is the path that every one of us needs to walk. It is the path that we were destined to tread when we were born. That is why it is called “life’s journey.” It goes from beginning to end. I then cried with joy because I could see how we live through the process from incomplete to complete, ugly to beautiful, no love to love, and we actually can call this “Our Life’s Journey.” It is a journey that brings us from finite self to infinite self.
People, events and stuff surround us, and they give us a multitude of experiences, which become part of our life. Sometimes, it seems they disappear; yet they still remain in our life. Just as in the photo below. It seems there are some circles missing on the right side of the photo, but they are still there, hidden in the background.
The purpose of their presence is to help us understand and achieve enlightenment, so they appear in a variety of forms – ugly … not round … incomplete … loveless … self. Often we see only their imperfection and are eager to get rid of them. Our eyes focus only on what we think is good while ignoring the imperfect ones. We forget that imperfection brings about perfection. So we overlook the origin, and ignore the source. We treat them as a thorn in our flesh and try to quickly get rid of them. Who is to know that they nonetheless help us continue to grow?
In Chapter 25 of Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching – Human being follows the Earth, the Earth follows Heaven, Heaven follows Tao, Tao follows Nature… I too love to use nature to explain things. I think the banyan tree is a great example to illustrate the infinite self.
I saw a big banyan tree when I went to Hawaii last year. The tree has a sign stating that it is an exceptional tree, protected under city ordinance. The tree is enormous yet still growing. Banyan trees have dangling aerial prop roots, which absorb water from the air and continue growing underground once they finally touch the soil.
The roots, growing underground, get stronger and stronger and provide nutrients to the aerial roots above. The aerial roots eventually grow into thick woody trunks, which connect directly or indirectly to the central trunk. The aerial roots keep appearing, and they make this stem bigger, thicker and stronger.
It begins as just a tree, but after many years it becomes a virtual forest. Banyans can easily outlive a person. The banyan’s central trunk accepts and connects the aerial roots, which eventually develop into a surrounding phalanx of adjacent trunks. This total acceptance helps the banyan keep growing without any limits. It teaches us the way to the infinite self is to accept whatever has happened in our life. As a matter of fact, the entire sequence of events that come along in our path becomes part of us. Like the banyan tree, our life will continue to grow once we accept them all. We, of course, will then also reach the infinite self.
When I shared my thoughts about the infinite self with Jenny, she told me that all the events in our life are an invitation from God. While I told Irene about this, she said quest, change and transformation are the main ingredients of our life’s journey. As for Christine, she told me she envisioned the chapter of Heart Sutra in the course of our discussion.
When the Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva was practicing the profound prajna paramita, he illuminated the five skandhas and saw that they are all empty, and he crossed beyond all suffering and difficulty. Shariputra: form does not differ from emptiness; emptiness does not differ from form. Form itself is emptiness; emptiness itself is formed. So, too, are feeling, cognition, formation and consciousness. Shariputra: all dharmas are empty of characteristics. They are not produced. Not destroyed, not defiled, not pure, and they neither increase nor diminish. (www.cttbusa.org/heartsutra/heartsutra.htm)
I now feel that all experiences are God’s gifts. They are priceless. I wasn’t previously enlightened. I came to understand this during the process of writing my journey, word by word. I found myself learning to accept without fighting and struggling. Now I can relax and accept unconditionally. Coming to this understanding, I was suddenly filled with energy and felt I was continuing to grow. Yes, it is easy for a banyan to reach the state of the infinite. I told myself that I could do it too.