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All of us carry deep within us dark secrets and scars that control our behaviors, our relationships, and our attitudes. No one really knows what goes on behind the closed doors of our hearts and souls. The irony is that most of us don’t even know  ourselves. There may be some rooms in our personal mansions that we have not even visited since our births.

Those scars come from experiences that we had  as children, which shape and form us in our adult life. While many of those childhood experiences are good, just as many are painful negative  experiences that have caused havoc on our behaviors and our perceptions.

It is very important to have the awareness of all those insidious factors that have distorted and warped our perceptions. To awaken our awareness is really to see yourself as you are without any denial. It is to see yourself through the eyes of  an honest observer- without any bias, or personal agendas. To really know yourself requires you to become an impartial judge of your past with both the good and the bad influences that have shaped you as you are today. It is important to know the futility of defending your egos. A big ego will block your authentic view of your true self.

As Zen master, Suzuki Roshi, said, “If your mind is clear, true knowledge is  already yours.”

Discernment is weakened when we perceive through hopes for a different picture or through resistance to the current scenario. In other words, we have a story  of hope or fear that we overlay on reality and we interpret everything through that story. AA, on the other hand, looks at reality, unblinkingly, and tells no story about it. It simply deals with the existing situation as it is. Clear discernment comes when we feel whole in this way, when we have no need for reality to conform to our fantasies in order for us to be happy. While it is only natural and human to have preferences, discerning awareness knows that we win some and we lose some if we look at the big picture of life.

In coping with life, it is important to know what we can control; what are the things that are beyond our control; and surrender to God all those stuff that we can’t control. The AA members who have learned the art of surrendering the uncontrollable to God have also mastered the art of healing and   recovering from their disorders. In other words, our experience of life becomes that of surrender to what is. In this surrender, we would find ourselves just flowing along with life’s circumstances. In the  words of Catherine Ingram, the author of “Passionate Presence”,

“When we surrender in this way, we find ourselves just flowing away with life’s circumstances. The actual feeling of surrender is sweet in itself, like floating downstream…our own desires become merged with this flow and we find ourselves saying yes. Yes to whatever is.”

When we know the art of surrendering, we would have learned the art of letting go of our emotional burdens of the past. This is the key to inner peace and calm for those victims suffering from wounded self-esteem.


Submitted by David YKK



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God always has an unconditional love for all human beings. This wonderful love has no boundary or conditions that are determined by the past mistakes, moral, social, or economic status. To benefit from this unconditional love, the persons afflicted by shame must be aware of the reality of this love that will motivate them to change into better human beings.
In his wonderful book, Harold S. Kushner gives us some words of wisdom to reflect on our life-
“I believe God speaks to us in two voices.
One is the stern, commanding voice issuing from the mountaintop, thundering `Thou Shalt not!’, summoning us to be more, to reach higher, to demand greater things of ourselves, forbidding us to use the excuse “I’m only human,” because to be human is wondrous thing.
God’s other voice is the voice of compassion and forgiveness, an embracing, cleansing voice, assuring us that when we have aimed high and fallen short we are still loved.
God understands that when we give in to temptation, it is a temporary lapse and does not reflect our true character.”

In his book, “Feynman’s Rainbow”, the well-known physicist, Leonard Mlodinow, enlightens us about what is important in life.

“What is important in life? It is a question we should all give thought to. The answer is not taught in school, and it is not as easy as it may seem, for a superficial answer is not acceptable. To discover   the real truth, you have to know yourself. Then you  have to be honest with yourself. Then you have to respect and accept yourself. For me, these were all tough tasks.”

Most of the time, most of us simply don’t want to see or hear about the ugly realities in our lives. That is why self-honesty is so vital in modern society. If you don’t have self-honesty, then you will not see the truth as it is because you cannot face the truth of your life. If you cannot accept your life as it is, with all its beauty and ugliness, then your capacity to appreciate your life is compromised by the lies that you tell yourself about the ugly aspects in your life. You can only truly appreciate your life with the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly, in a holistic wholesome manner. Then only you can start making improvements and refinements in your life because you really know yourself as you really are.

Submitted by David YKK

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“We all make mistakes in all kinds of ways, but the man who can claim that he never says   the wrong thing can consider himself perfect, for if he can control his tongue, he can control every other part of his personality!”                                       James 3:2

It is so hard to control our tongues because most human beings love gossips.    The following poem provides lots of food for thought regarding the way we exercise our tongues.   Dropping a careless hurtful word about someone’s life can have far-reaching ugly effects on that person’s life. But if we say something kind or encouraging about somebody, it will also have a positive impact on that person’s life. The choice is ours because only we ourselves can control our tongues.

Ponder on the significance of this poem:
“Drop a Pebble in the Water” by James W. Foley:

Drop a pebble in the water: just a splash, and it is gone;
But there’s half-a-hundred ripples circling on and on and on.
Spreading, spreading from the centre,
Flowing to the sea
And there is no way of telling where the end is going to be.

Drop an unkind word, or careless: in a minute it is gone;
But there’s half-a-hundred ripples circling on and on and on.
They keep spreading, spreading, spreading from the centre as they go
And there is no way to stop them, once you’ve started them to flow.

Drop a word of cheer and kindness: in a minute you forget;
But there’s gladness still a-swelling, and there’s joy a-circling yet,
And you’ve rolled a wave of comfort whose sweet music can be heard.
Over miles and miles of water just by dropping one kind word.

(Adapted from “God’s Little Devotional Book”)

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There are three master keys to unlock the chronic disorder of toxic shame –awareness, response to life and your response to God’s unconditional love.
The first one is recommended by Buddha- awareness or mindfulness.
Be aware of your disorder, acknowledge it and accept it unconditionally without any denial.
Be aware of the unconditional love of God and accept it fully.

The second master key is your Response to your circumstances and your disorder of shame. This master key is recommended by Taoism
The Tao Te Ching proclaims that your response is everything in life. In other words, take responsibility for your disorder and your life. The quality of your response will determine your rate of recovery.

The third master key is the focus on the unconditional love of God and how you respond to this wonderful love.
Awakened awareness, and unconditional acceptance of this divine love will definitely lift up your self-worth. If God can love you for what you are –with all your flaws, your shadows, your evil intentions, words and manipulative actions to promote your selfish welfare at the expense of others, then you can also love and respect yourself.
Why? Because you have been made in the image of God and you are his child born with the birth-right of worthiness to inherit the kingdom of God. The final step is how do your make an appropriate response to this unconditional divine love? This is paramount because if you respond with love to everything and everybody without any hate or toxic emotions, you will be guaranteed of the passport to your inner healing. My personal experiences, perceptions and eventual recovery of 60 years of this addictive disorder have validated these insights on the art of being healed from toxic shame!

Submitted by David YKK

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The Chinese classical spiritual tradition of the Taoist philosophy has given mankind a rare gift of patience in addition to the other great gifts of simplicity and compassion for oneself.

Patience is more than the ability to wait; more than the power of endurance; more than tolerance.
Patience means acceptance- unconditional acceptance of the circumstances one is living; unconditional acceptance of other people as they are; unconditional acceptance of oneself as one is.

Patience means love; simply love others as they are and simply love yourself as you are with your strengths and your flaws.
Patience means loving your life as it is with its ups and downs; with its joys and tears; with its successes and its failures.


As we are pondering and meditating on the horrible suffering of the crucifixion of Jesus on Good Friday, Jesus has often reminded me of two powerful spiritual insights- love of God and patience with others.
If we truly love God, then we must love our neighbors. If we truly love our neighbors, then we must have patience with them and accept them without judging them. Jesus seems to tell us in no uncertain terms that love of God and love of neighbor through patience, tolerance and social acceptance are two sides of the same coin of the Gospel of Love.


In his teachings, Jesus has commanded his disciples to love one another and love has become the defining characteristic of a Christian. At the same time, Jesus has given one strong prohibition to his disciples- do not judge others. I personally must confess that I have often violated this commandment of not judging others. I have often failed to follow Jesus’ teaching on this aspect of love. Through my own personal failures, I have become much more aware of the prevalence of this addiction of judging others in our modern society. On this topic, I wish to point out that Charles R Swindoll, in his book Simple Faith, has made a significant contribution towards a richer understanding of Jesus’ teachings. I would draw lavishly from Swindoll’s writing to provide us some solid food for thought for this Easter season.


“Some Christians play a lot of indoor games. Among their favorites is one we might call `Let’s Label.’
Here are some ground rules for starting. Find someone who is different. He or she may look different or sound different or think different. It works really well if the person holds to different opinions and/ or reacts in a different way than the `acceptable manner,’ which differs from your religious group. This game is especially effective if someone has a mark on his or her past record that your group considers worth discussing, even if it is over and done with, fully forgiven, and none of your business…
Actually, there is another name for the game. It doesn’t sound nearly as nice or inviting, but it is the term Jesus used in His mountain message: `judging.’
Interested in cultivating people of simple faith, Jesus gave instructions that would help make that happen. He cuts no corners. With the skill of a surgeon, He sliced near sensitive nerves to reach precise areas of the heart for the purpose of doing his corrective work…It was His way of saying, “If you are serious about simple faith, this has to go!” In this case He said, “Stop it!”

What is so bad about judging? And why would Jesus have reserved some of the strongest words in His sermon for this? Four answers come to mind:

*We never know all the facts.
*We are unable to read another’s motive.
*We are prejudiced people, never completely objective.
*We put ourselves in a position we are not qualified to fill…
namely, we play God. “

(Excerpt from `Simple Faith’ by Charles R. Swindoll)

In her book, Everyday Grace, Marianne Williamson, shares her valuable insights on love. She maintains that when our minds are healed, the world will be healed and nothing that does not vibrate with love will endure. She continues to say that “love is literally the power of God alive on earth. It is a transformative, alchemical, miraculous force…For God’s love is not just His love for us; it is, most important, the love we give the world. The highest commandment is that we love one another. And when we make the extension of that love our primary goal, no matter the circumstance, those circumstances are blessed…The activist would best realize that there is no creating a loving world except through our willingness to be the love we wish to see…We cannot change anything unless we ourselves are willing to change…
We cannot give what we do not have. We cannot bring peace to the world if we ourselves are not peaceful. We cannot bring love to the world if we ourselves are not loving. Our true gift to ourselves and others lies not in what we have but in who we are.”

May this Easter season give birth to a greater awareness of the importance of unconditional love, unconditional acceptance and patience in our broken world today so that every human being will enjoy authentic happiness & freedom from all forms of disorders.


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Who are you really?

How you see yourself will depend significantly on your perspectives- the inside perspective or the outside perspectives.

There may be several conflicting perspectives of yourself.
The Johari Window gives us an insight of the different realities of your true self.
Do you want to see yourself from the outside- that is through the eyes of other people in your society? These external perspectives will give you some insights about your superficial self on a make-believe level. Your society or community will exert a lot social pressure on you through the accepted customs or traditions, religious practices or current social values. If you succumbed to the values of the world, then you are likely to move with the flow of the social tides and find that your happiness will depend on the ebbs of the tides of social approval.

If you depend on the outside sources of assessing your true self, most toxic gossips or scandals have the capacity to erode your self esteem significantly.
Any adversity or mistakes can upset our fortunes in our life.
Our life will be like a fragile boat floating on the sea without any anchor.

The main flaw about this external perspective of the self is that the primary determinants affecting your self-image or self-esteem are changing all the time without any permanent anchor. As a result, your real happiness will also move up and down depending on your emotional tides lapping on your self. Hence no two days are the same and no relationships will last forever. Hence the external criteria of measuring your true self are unreliable.
This is the ultimate reality of our life- the only constant in our life is change.

On the other hand, it does not mean that the outside perspectives of the self are useless.
If these external inputs are seen and interpreted in the right perspective, they can be used to form a balanced perspective of our true self. Any negative information from the outside sources can be viewed realistically as part and parcel of the human hubris. This information can be used to grind away the sharp edges of our egos leading to a positive and balanced perception of our authentic self. Any negative aspect of the self is the shadow of the light or the black versus the white or the yin and yang of life in our world.
Any refusal to see the bad sides of our life will eventually lead to the formation of self-denial that will make us behave like the ostrich burying its head in the sand in the midst of danger or crisis. But it is important to be aware that the prolonged harboring of such negative sentiments over a long period may lead to toxic shame and serious degradation of our self-esteems, thereby undermining our mental health.

The ultimate reality in your life is to be true to yourself- to seek the truth about your life without any serious distortion from the outside. At the end of the day, it is our responsibility to see that the truth will prevail in our lives. We have the option to choose fantasy or self-denial or the truth in our lives. What is the truth will depend on your interpretation of your priorities or your perceptions of your life.
If you choose self-denial to be the truth in your life, then self-denial will become the primary lens that you use to see the world. This fake lens of self-denial will lead you to live a make-believe life of fantasy and illusion. What a terrible waste it will be!
Similarly, if you choose love to be the truth in your life, then you will become a more loving person. Love is the essential truth that no
sage will quarrel with you because it is the essential nature of our Creator.

As finite human beings, we can often craft our versions of truths from the various kinds of experiences and responses in our lives. Bad things can happen in your life but it is your response that will define the truths in your life unless you choose to allow the adversities to define the truth for you. Just look at the great people like Nelson Mandala or Gandhi.
They did not allow their unjust imprisonment to define the truth in their lives.
Instead they choose love and forgiveness in their responses to the bad things happening in their broken world.
Similarly you and I can also choose our positive responses to the bad things in our broken world to define our truths and our lives. As philosophers used to say, your response is everything in life.

Food For Thought

The most important truth for wounded human beings to bear in mind is that they are the children of God and they are the objects of God’s unconditional love.
Yes, nothing is more precious than this divine promise and proclamation for wounded human beings especially those suffering from wounded self-esteem, hopelessness and despair. This is the panacea for the inner healing of the souls of the victims.
If nothing works for you to restore your wholesome self-esteem and human dignity, then the unconditional love of God would certainly work wonders for your souls.
When mired in the midst of despair and toxic emotions, it is not important to understand the mysterious whys of God’s love for us. What is important is for us to be aware of this rare gift and to accept this rare invaluable gem as proof of God’s love for us.
Once you have accepted this wonderful gift and make the commitment to change your life for the better by becoming a more loving human being, then God‘s grace can work little miracles of loving transformations in your life.
Love is always the best response in life no matter what the circumstances are.

Submitted by David YKK

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Let me share with you some anecdotes  from `Zen Questions’ that will certainly give us some valuable insights on the art of coping with the troubles in life.

One interesting fable tells us that a poor farmer was returning from his fields when he found a wild horse near his house. He managed to throw a rope around its neck and brought it home. His neighbors congratulated him on his good luck. Th e farmer responded  with only one word, `Maybe.’ The next day, his son tried to ride the horse but he fell off and broke his leg. “How unlucky!” cried his neighbors. But the farmer responded with one word- `Maybe’. A week later, some soldiers came to the village and forced all the healthy young men to join the army. But they did not pick the farmer’s son who was suffering from a broken leg. “Aren’t you lucky?” said the neighbors again. But the farmer responded with the same word- `Maybe’.

Robert Allen, the author of Zen Questions, shares his interesting insight based on the above story, “Our circumstances are what they are. To wish them otherwise is to fall into the trap of duality. If you think yourself lucky, then you are merely preparing the ground for being unlucky. If you feel you are happy now, then you must be at some stage unhappy. Why now take things as they come? Eat your meal, then wash your plate. That’s Zen.”

Once upon a time, a young girl became pregnant but  she would not revealed the identity of the father. Finally, after much questioning and under pressure from her parents, the girl named Hakuin, a well-known Zen master, as the man responsible for her pregnancy. Filled as anger, her parents went to accuse Hakuin and demand that he look after the new born baby.   Hakuin’s response was, “Is that so?” and then took the baby from them.  Of course, there was a huge scandal and Hakuin completely lost his good reputation. But he did not care about that. For a year, he looked after the child. He fed it, changed its diapers, played with it, and in all respects treated it just as though it was his own. Eventually, the girl could not bear her guilt any longer and she admitted that the real father of her child was somebody else. The parents, cringing with embarrassment, went to Hakuin to offer their profound apologies. Then they explained what had happened and asked for the child back. “Is that so?” asked Hakuin, as he handed the child back to the grandparents.

Robert Allen shares another insight with us. Zen makes a point of nonattachment which is different from detachment. To cling to things, people, reputation, possessions, and opinions is the surest way to suffering. You cannot grasp those things and, sooner or later, they will be ripped from you. You may ask, “Why didn’t Hakuin defend his reputation and maintain his innocence?” Or, “Didn’t he love the baby after he had looked after it for a year?” The point is that he did what he had to do. In the midst of such toxic circumstances, Hakuin believed that compassion was his best response. Someone had to look after the baby; so he did it without any fuss. But he didn’t get entangled with `love’ which is often perceived as a kind of possessiveness. So when it was time to hand the baby back to the rightful owners, he was able to give it up without any fuss.

In the coming year, may the Good Lord bless you with the awareness of his unconditional love and the spirit  of non-attachment as well as detachment. Just let go of your desire to cling onto your tarnished reputation damaged by gossips, or tangible possessions that are lost or the disappearing love and friendships in the midst of your adversity. Just as the French proverb says, `All things will pass away.’ Only God’s love matters for the nourishment of your soul and your life. If God still loves you deeply, you and He are in the majority! This is the eternal truth.