Saturday, December 29, 2012


Last year, I settled on two New Year's resolutions. The first: to cancel my gym membership. The second: not to make any more resolutions.

As I've said before, wisdom is a moving target, and so my resolution to not have resolutions has un-resolved itself this year.

Here are my resolutions--or rather, call them "loose ideas," or vague intentions--for 2013. And, whatever you do, don't hold me to them. While it's great to have big dreams, it's also surprisingly fulfilling to set very low expectations that one might actually meet.

Number One: I want to be in a Flash Mob. If anyone is organizing such a delightful thing in the South Bay area, please do contact me. This one resolution trumps all the others, (except Six) below, and will count as having fulfilled the entire list (except Six), if it does, indeed happen.

Number Two: I want to take a ceramics class. There. Seems easy enough.

Number Three: I want to re-learn a few chords on my guitar. See comment above. (So far, so good!)

Number Four: I want to continue to go to yoga classes in a highly inconsistent way. (Again, done!)

Number Five: I want to start taking a Zumba class, with the frequency of my attendance being fairly intense in the new year and then petering out to nearly never after a couple or few months. If some unforseen miracle happens, I may still be doing Zumba at the close of 2013, but highly doubtful, don't you think?

Number Six: O.K. I really mean this one. I want to continue to discover who and what I truly am, and to express that (or allow That to express me) fully and freely in the new year, and in all the years that I am lucky enough to be gifted with, to come. Let no resolutions toward any other goals for the body, the identity, or in the "outer world" impede this one, this sacred one, the only one that cannot mislead.

How about you, my beautiful Friend?

Have you found the One True Prayer

the Divine Resolve

That will inevitably, mysteriously, wondrously Release

the Self

in which all resolution dissolves?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Priests of the Pogonip

These photos were taken on a rather unused hiking trail at one of my favorite churches/temples/mosques/meeting halls here in Santa Cruz, the Pogonip; a magical open space that borders the University of California campus. I have told people, If you ever find me upset, or restless, too overcome with the world, too involved with my self ... Well, you'll know where to find me. 

... And when I return, I will be cured.

Along this mostly forgotten loop of trail, there are several very old Oak trees.

They stand out as the most beautiful of all the trees, revealing their inner architecture, sweeping downward now, not up--releasing parts of themselves bit by bit to re-nourish the earth, to somehow feed new spring growth. The energy that once was all theirs now eager to leap into soil and begin anew.

These old Oaks host all sorts of other species, turkey tail mushrooms, and bright green mosses, Poison Oak and creepers and vines I do not know the names of ... Animals, bugs and birds have drilled into bark, bored into it, traveling through limbs and trunks; and I wonder if these trees feel a great tingling and intermingling and disintegration all at once, while still, blissfully warmed by the California sun.

Let's call these the Priests and Clerics of Pogonip ... In all their apparent sacrifice, alive with mystery.

Look at the contrast here, between the smooth, elegant skeleton of this tree and the new evergreens arising, bustling with a fresh greenness all round it. Rampant growth!

When my Grandma Nell was very old, I used to touch her skin ... It was so delicate and soft, and her eyes so very pale and blue--everything about her vulnerable and open.

I wish I had a better camera (I was using my phone here), and more time to fool around with it. These photos would be so much better ... But look at me! Posting these here! Something I've always wanted to do.

Groups of hikers and runners and moms and herds of what I call "the Spandex Ladies," speed through the Pogonip, chatting and laughing, huffing and puffing. I am sure they are all enjoying what they can about this place, and enjoying each other, but as for myself, I cannot imagine it!

The Pogonip calls on me, as perhaps a hushed and crowded church on a Sunday morning, to enter quietly, to slow my pace ... and finally to find a place to sit. To just sit, and to Be.


 I did not go into the Pogonip on this day, during this early spring season, looking for a lesson on aging and dying, but the Pogonip spoke to me, as it always does, in one way or another ...

I receive my sermon.

In order, in part, to share it with you,

With Love,

Your Mystical Mama

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Flying into Dying

is the last light
under the door
as Mother/Father

All imagined monsters
suddenly arise
and subside
in Sleep

I tell my children,
You will not feel that itch,
that pain, nor remember that
in Sleep

Such sweet relief!

is the last light
at this West Cliff,
teeming Bay
A razor's edge of
screaming hot
flattening into a shimmering sliver
on the dark horizon

Blue mountains
once green
fade to purple
then gray
and dissolve into black
and blackness
Merging into One

This silently flying
bird wings its way
into that gap
between light
and dark

Inner lit homes
Cozy and bright
in their seaside stateliness
Erratic bicyclists
chatting, rolling on this edge
Silent pines
standing sentry
and the gentlest of waves
the rocky shore
a lovely, lapping massage

All arises within
This Consciousness
As has all that
has ever
and will ever
All You and
Not You,

A projection from within
the black heart of night
Illuminated by I AM
Creating timespacematter
and subsiding again
into this Loving
of darkness

Subsiding back
into You!

This has been a long, full day
that is over

And now the final chapter

And it is time
to go Home

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Welcome Home

We are Home.

We greet others, arriving
Stepping out onto the Front Porch

They have journeyed long distances
Dragging their frazzled minds
and limp bodies
from the frigid, barren outer regions
Hellish worlds of unbearable pain

And here they are!
At the bottom of the hill ...
On the curving drive ...
On the front lawn ...
Front porch ...

 We welcome them,
So very thankful they have arrived
Prostrate in gratitude
that they have come
no matter what form of transportation
Bruised and bloody knees

And now we say:
You are Home!

Come down off that horse,
emerge from that elaborate, protected carriage
and take my hand
to rise
from those poor, battered knees

Come and sit by this
Eternal Fire
God's Love
One Love
or, simply,

Here, where
all forms of transportation
no longer needed!

Part II

We are Home.
Here, where
Nothing is.
No method.
No teacher.
No ideas. No concepts. No definitions.
Not even words.

 Only the deep silence
of This Peace.
This silent chamber
of the
One Mind

After a time,
you might set down your tea
blinking your eyes,
say to me:

"How funny! How odd!
I dreamed I had traveled this world.
I suffered great evils and lived through
the worst of nightmares.
I was cast out!
I was nobody!
I was the embodiment of all evil,
And I struggled to escape
I indulged in many passions
which engendered
and wandering
and then I dreamed, within my dream
that someone came to wake me up.
It's just a dream! she said.
And I was amazed
and in disbelief
Until I realized
I think she's right.
And I woke up!
And now
I am
Here, with You."

And I nod
And we laugh
and I say:
"Darling, I dreamed the same dream
Aren't dreams so amazing?"

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Buried Treasure

Soon, the autumn light will bring


to us all.

Great riches ...
beyond measure

But did you know
there is
Greater Treasure?

Did you know
You, Yourself
possess all phases
of God's Love

all qualities of

Within you?

Did you know
these are
meant to be
discovered within
and manifested outward
and that
blossom and radiate
within this
Divine Expression
 leaving no one
outside your
exuberant Bounty?

(least of all, yourself!)

Still, perhaps
you are trapped in some
tawdry expression of
hurt and need
Seeking some treasure
or in an overused map

No matter!

It is no matter.

For still you are
Your own
Buried Treasure.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Three Principles

Those "three principles:"

Mind, Consciousness and Thought

Mind is all that is, ever will be, ever was, and the intelligence and energy of That.

Thought: The power of creation, the power to differentiate within this energy, to conceptualize.

Consciousness: Capacity to experience all of this through the senses, through the emotions, through spiritual feeling. Being alive!

These are not a movement, nor are they a philosophy, "an approach," a "path," nor even a "school of Thought" ;) ... They cannot be "mixed" with "other" philosophies: They are the source of all philosophy. They lie within all philosophy. They are not a group of people, a set of rules, or a way of presenting. They are owned by no one and by everyone. They are What You Are. Point toward them, or point away. You use them in either case. Always, always, always creating ...

Always, always experiencing that which we have (consciously or subconsciously) created.

Those three principles ...

Simply facts.

That's all. Simply facts.

Not even rocket science.

What do they mean?

They mean you can be free! Now! In this lifetime. In this moment.

And actually, you already are.

But for your thoughts, you are:

Free from insecurity, free from self-doubt, free from jealousy, envy, greed, seeking, searching, free from fear, anger, attachment, depression, insanity ... Free from the past, free from the future ... Free from "movements," roles, identities ... Free from wanting, free from "having" and finally ...

Free from the idea of Free

Free from all ideas.

Free from the idea of a self, and self protection: reaching, grasping, getting and holding on to ...

Free to release into the arms of this


called Universe

called Mind

And in the end,

There is nothing ...

To be called

Anything at all.

This Life is living me! And I am learning, every day, to


God bless you ... as is always the case,

Your Mystical mama

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Postcard from the Front Porch

How are you all?

I thought I'd check in on this lazy blog of mine. We get several hundred visitors (400? 500?) per month here--nothing stunning by blogging standards--but I do consider all of you my friends, and I so appreciate your coming back from time to time to check in on me, even though my blogs land here erratically.

And once again, How are we?

I was visited recently by Jenny and Rudi Kennard of the amazing 3 Principles Movies website--a site featuring hours of totally inspirational 3 Principles-based audio & video footage that this young and energetic couple collected using their own monies and volunteering their time.

They sent me the video blog they've posted of their recent travels, and I noticed that in the midst of the elegant offices and fab kitchens of many other 3P "practitioners," their footage of my own front porch showed a sort of shabby, cluttered entryway--and me opening a front door that started to need paint many years ago. All the rest of the footage of me was with my kids--as is the norm these days, especially with school out.

"On the Front Porch" with Kid (Tori Elle) and Chantal Burns from England

 And so, here I am! My front porch, the nominal inspiration for my radio show, "On the Front Porch with Ami Chen," is indeed rather ragged. The paint on its cement steps peeling horribly. Scattered about in a thoroughly unorganized fashion are garden tools, snail bait (organic! so they say ... ), lots of shoes (thankfully, mostly in pairs), and a shoe organizing contraption that is, of course, completely empty.

Filling in any otherwise clear, uncluttered space would be the children's various formal and informal arts and crafts projects, plastic cups, hair bands, twigs ... that have made it out from the car but not quite through our front door and into the garbage, or onto shelves.

The whole thing is terribly unimpressive. We have plans to blow it out completely and create a spectacular sun room/entryway/mudroom type space, everything in its place. But who knows when this will happen? Perhaps next month. Perhaps never.

In the meantime, Life continues. And here I am. I used to be "waiting for" things to change and "happen," for more money to be coming in, a new "level" of work to unfold--and while these things have happened, I have discovered that "waiting" is a waste of time. It is endless. And endless distraction.

My next radio show on "Money and Support," (this coming Friday, July 13) will be all about this--the constant leaning into the future we do, expecting something "better" to come along, whether that be more money, a better job, a better relationship, or even a better state of mind. This constant leaning is a direct interference with our experience of Reality as it is. Now. The wonder of what is!

This leaning, I have discovered for myself, can be into the next year or the next five years and beyond. Or it can be into "when the kids finally fall asleep," "when this traffic clears up," "when I finish cooking dinner," "when I can finally work on that book project," "when I lose 15 pounds," "when I get so-and-so's approval," "when I experience enlightenment," "when I can find some time to meditate," or any time after this moment.

Just not this moment, God forbid! I can't relax now! Look at this mess!

We would then have to accept our circumstances, internal and external, exactly as they are.

Yet in this stopping, this relaxing, this acceptance, we discover the depths of Life, God, Love itself. We discover who and what we are.

Life is so incredibly short, and yet we spend so much of our Thought energy, and resulting emotional and physical energy on trying to distinguish and decorate it (the personal life) in various ways. We miss, in these efforts, the overarching fact that Life Is. That one is part of Life, and the absolute miracle of That.

We become entangled in the particulars of our own lives, and we miss the constant support we receive, always, from the Energy of Life--that Universal Mind, with which we are one.

I have learned to surrender: to the porch, to life, to the children, the husband, to the Truth as I see it (and as unpopular as my current opinions may be). Surrender to disapproval. Surrender to nothing-to-be-done-about-it. All of it is what is. And here I am, what I am. What I gloriously am!

Past, future, goals, obstacles, problems, "not enough" ... All require a sort of "fantasy projection" that distracts us from Stillness, now, and the impersonal gratitude of Consciousness recognizing Itself in everything it sees and hears and feels and touches. All of it!

So, here I am. My family and I muddling through the summer, summer camps, camping. ... We've been hosting visitors like Jenny and Rudi, Robert Jackson (of the "A Quiet Mind" podcast), Drs. Bill and Linda Pettit, brave 3 Principles colleagues. All of it a blessing beyond belief ... Heading out soon to Grass Valley, later in the summer, Kauai. Exasperation with children. Complete exhaustion from time to time. Forgetting to surrender. Surrender. Love. Intimacy. Peeling porch. Joy and laughter. New ridiculously cute puppy. There will be a garage sale, a new drop-in class in Santa Cruz, a larger retreat in North Carolina in September. How will any of these events "go?"

Who knows?

Does it matter?

During my interview with her, the renown spiritual teacher Gangaji and I spoke of "stopping," a word, she said, that has no end. "Surrender" too, she said, is another such word. No end to surrender!

I surrender to this Life. All I have, will ever have, have ever had. All of it collapsed into this one moment, Consciousness, Formlessness, regarding itself in form after form after form. An endless entertainment, springing from Love itself.

From this space of surrender, I greet you, my Friend. Are you in the midst of your own surrender? To every experience? Every thought? Every state of mind? Letting it go, letting it be ... No effort to control, get rid of or gain anything.

Perhaps one day, we will sit together on my old and shabby, or chic and spiffy, new front porch

 ... and simply laugh.

With Love from

Your Mystical Mama

Friday, June 1, 2012

Of Roots and Seeds ...

Dear Friends,

The second half of the class held in Israel (see last blog, "Holy Spirit in the Holy Land") is coming soon ... For today, other issues have arisen that seem, to me, so essential in human interaction, human growth, and the potential--so far quite squandered--within humanity for peace and "right relations."

I received an email at from a very brave, very open woman living in a country (not the United States), where she is learning social work of a rather activist nature, and studying indigenous people and their ways. At the same time, she has discovered the 3 Principles. How do these two worlds meet?

Along with this letter, I have been reading Toni Packer--her beautiful book, The Work of This Moment--and have been struck by how profoundly and deeply Toni questions the many attachments (in Thought) we have to "belonging to a group," to family, religious, spiritual, political, and even cultural or racial (gender!) identification.

How these often seemingly very benign, and even "righteous" affiliations still promote a sense of "self" and "other," and division between the two. Sydney Banks, and all other formless-pointing mystics, spoke often of oneness ... and the problem of ego, which Syd called the "image of self importance," and which I have been calling the "idea of a self."

Can we, do we, consider ourselves somewhat "important" because we belong to a "good" group: be it Buddhist, Christian, Islamic, Eastern, Zen, ecological, culturally sensitive, spiritual or even the "3 Principles" as a group or movement, as a way of identifying?

Do we feel superior because we have "found" the 3 Principles, because we teach the 3 Principles? Or because we belong to any other group, historically oppressed, or historically oppressors? Highly evolved? Progressive? Vegetarian? Democrats? Republicans?

Without dismissing our right to choose how to live our lives, or how to vote, do our affiliations "deaden" our listening to others, create assumptions, in Thought, that may not be true. Do our allegiances close off our ability to see freshly, to learn something new about another or about ourselves?

In conversations with Bill Cumming, of What One Person Can Do & the Boothby Institute, who will be my radio show guest next week, June 8, many thought-provoking questions have arisen for both of us.

"The last thing we need is another movement," Bill said to me--and I took this inside myself, just as I have been planting seeds and tubers in the warming soil in our garden. What will emerge?

At the same time, I notice the varied dynamics in my own little family, the tendency, when feeling stressed, hurt or wounded, to blame and to resort to anger and/or irritation. And then the resulting "guilt." Not always, of course ... But what is this impulse? From where does it arise? ... When I invite the question, I find myself in more gentleness, not wanting to "attack back," nor to attack myself, but to allow space for reflection and wondering.

Hurt, Anger, Blame, Guilt. Identity, Attachment. Here are ripe topics for inquiry, for our natural and "alive" curiosity--Consciousness seeking Itself, always. And of course, the gift of the Principles is to help us to clearly see both root cause, and root solution.

Here is the letter I received from the woman in the midst of social work studies, greatly condensed and edited, along with my own questions, seeds, offered for your and my own reflection: 

I’ve come across the three principles at the beginning of 2012, and discovered for myself a whole new dimension of inner wealth. Shortly after, I started my studies and have been wondering ever since how to bring in line my newly found wisdom with asserted ideas of what social workers should be in this world.

We’re being taught to be angry about social injustice and to feel responsible for the suffering of others when we happen to be the privileged ones. But yet I’m very passionate about my studies. I’ve got great teachers and the feeling that everything I’m learning is meaningful.

What creates a question mark in my inner dialogue (and mine wants to be exceptionally vigilant) is that what I’m learning at University and what I understand about the 3P’s seems to be positioned at opposite ends of a spectrum. I’ve been quite upset about this, but just recently I found a way to approach this “issue” with simple curiosity and turn it into a response-ability (your words). This little post of yours [Ami's note: about "responsibility," on my Facebook wall] has really helped me shift paradigms in terms of how I want to address my feeling of guilt for being a _______, for having stuff that others don’t, for being blessed with two beautiful children while my friend is struggling to conceive ... you name it.

Dear Catrin,

I do not know if you sought a response to the above. It seems you are working a lot of this out on your own, and that’s wonderful. However, since you wrote, what occurred to me are the following questions:

What is guilt? It seems to me that guilt carries with it a sense of feeling bad about oneself ... of carrying blame for a situation, of attacking oneself through Thought.

What is the role of guilt in helping to activate us toward social change, or compassion?

Can guilt, in the end, be destructive?

Can it thwart our objectives in “helping others”? For example, if we are helping others in order to make ourselves feel less guilty, or to assuage guilt, then who are we really acting for? Are we helping others as a way of trying to heal ourselves? Is this really the correct order of things?

Without guilt, is there a way to see clearly the horrors of history (as indeed they are), or perhaps even the horrors of our own individual pasts, with renewed vision, and then to act from inspiration, from insight, and joyful selflessness? To share something we ourselves have found, beyond guilt?

(Can we also understand our tremendous privilege and share what we have with joy, understanding that a limit to abundance comes only from the human thought system?)

I know that when I myself feel guilty, I tend to act out in angry ways—feeling angry with myself, and then turning this anger outward. From a 3 Principles perspective, I create a negative thought about myself, which then creates a negative feeling--and from this distorted, negative space, I then act.

Perhaps shame (feeling abashed) has a temporary role to play as we see our past mistakes, and ways in which we may have hurt others. But then, can compassion and love actually co-exist in the same space as guilt? I don’t think so. These are two very different sets of thoughts, the first being impersonal, Universal, and the second being quite personal indeed.

Many of the world’s horrors actually stem from feelings of guilt, turned outward. If this is true, then how can we get to root causes if we continue to carry with us the seeds of violence and repression toward ourselves and others?

I am not suggesting that there is not a place in the world for feelings of guilt and shame, or even for anger and outrage. But I see that hurting each other is a human capacity and habit that spans all cultures and races, and I believe that we must go much, much deeper than guilt to find lasting solutions to such chronic suffering.

[Note: the letter goes on to talk about the indigenous population this woman is studying, and the beauty of their spiritual belief system, with some blame directed toward the government, which is now trying to help in its own, she believes, distorted, paternal way.]

Does the _______ spirituality continue to sustain them? It is quite beautiful, as you describe it, and also, sometimes our spiritual systems and symbols have lost their life, their living meaning. And sometimes we become "attached" the the form of our spirituality, and it becomes another way to hold ourselves up as superior in some way.

The Principles do seem to awaken meaning for people, within their own religions or systems. In the end, however, we transcend all words and all systems, as well as cultural identities. Who and what we truly are is beyond all of that.

Also, I’d like to know, since I’ve just listened to your conversation with Gangaji about enlightenment as a verb (loved it), if you could share the understanding of mental health being a verb? The _______ use a term which means "constant pursuit of well-being."

Unfolding, I’d say. Unfolding mental health, like the Buddhist lotus. We each have an endless reservoir or well of mental health and well-being, and our “unfolding” is finding deeper and deeper experiences of that, less of the self and self-interest, self-concern (the narrow, constricted experience of the small self.)

Beyond the concerns of the self, be they of guilt or identity or self importance, one finds a freedom to move as water moves--over, under, between, around ... not anticipating what may actually come, trusting in its own immense capacity for fluidity.

Perhaps the central question for you now is this: "wondering how to bring in line my newly found wisdom with asserted ideas of what social workers should be in this world." 

I support your open wondering, a wonder-full space--without projecting, analyzing or planning, without fear (or within fear!) ... I trust in your own fluid wisdom to lead you exactly where you need to go.

I send my love and support on your journey.


Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Holy Spirit in the Holy Land

Just before Passover, or Pesach, and Easter, my family and I returned to Israel to visit with my husband Barukh's extended family, or tribe, really--in Kefar Yona, Israel ... just a few miles west of the West Bank.

Several women from Israel had contacted me earlier about coming to visit, to speak to community and youth-at-risk issues, and so Life unfolded this way ...

I had the pleasure and honor of meeting with Sue Lachman and Carol Dweck, as well agency representatives, community volunteers and government officials at the base of City Hall in Jerusalem, just steps from the old city.

After an extended meeting that somehow also included several solar energy industry representatives, plates of bread and hummus, various chopped salads, and many cups of coffee, Sue and I entered the Jaffa Gate of Old Jerusalem.

We made our way past the energetic shopkeepers, hawkers of wares (you can see why Jesus turned over some tables here). We wound through narrow, cobbled streets toward the ancient Western Wall of the Jewish Temple that religious Jews believe will someday be rebuilt. On the way, an elderly, bearded Jewish man walked ahead of us, slowly, slowly, and as we passed, behind us, stopping to kiss each stone wall of this remarkable ancient city.

I have come here before with skepticism, with a kind of frustration at the religious/political/cultural tides of past and present, the fears for the future, the deep misunderstandings, that have created unending violence and conflict in this "Holy Land."

The glittering Dome of the Rock rises above us, on the Temple Mount, where Mohammed is said to have ascended to Heaven. Behind us, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where it is said that Jesus was crucified at Golgotha, laid to rest on the Stone of Unction, and moved into his tomb.

At the Western Wall, which is relatively quiet today, men and women separate (I have had my reservations about this too) and Sue and I enter on the women's side. Women, both Orthodox and not, place their hands upon the wall, mutter prayers, weep, or simply sit in peace and silence on rows of plastic chairs situated before the wall. The evening is warm and full of a dusky orange glow I associate with Israel, its earth, air and stones.

Some Asian tourists take photos of the observant, and an understandably bothered Jewish woman shoots them an effectively scornful look. She, too, has been crying.

I am overtaken with a sense of reverence, a quietness here--and am moved to tears myself. In the cracks and crevices of the wall, besides the many stuffed, folded prayers on paper, flowering weeds unwind themselves into the Israeli spring, and pigeons coo and flutter from one ledge to another.

Despite the wars and abuses, the sometimes violent attachment to thought that makes a Holy City such as this very often unholy; the yearning for some meaning beyond the small self, the surrender to something greater can be felt here. Barack Obama left a paper note in the crevices of this wall when he visited. It was later scavanged by journalists. It was because of this note, and what he wrote on it, that I voted for him.

What is holy? Is it this wall, that dome, the rock where Jesus is said to have been crucified? Or is it what we carry to these places, and unleash from within ourselves--our dreams, intentions and prayers? Our yearning for divinity? Is God not everywhere, if God is God? Or is there atmosphere, as Joel Goldsmith has named the feeling of a place?


And do we also always live and move and have our being in some atmosphere, the divine gift of Consciousness ... which sanctifies us endlessly, and anywhere, when we are still, when we are open to receive?

The next day, I gave a talk to a group of interested Israelis. What follows are excerpts from an evening in Ra'anana, Israel, just before Passover, 2012. This transcript has been edited slightly for clarity and/or to emphasize a particular point. Part II will come in a later post.

Local Host: I was able to spend the whole day yesterday with Ami in Jerusalem and it was a joy ... so thank you, Ami.

Mystical Mama (MM): It's been a joy, it's been a pleasure to be with you in Jerusalem. [To the group:] We went down to the Wailing Wall, the Western Wall, and while we were there, we had a brief discussion about whether the wall itself was something Holy, or whether it was all of our intentions when we go that create a feeling at that wall. I certainly felt something at that wall. It moved me, it made me cry.

At any rate, I know for sure that our intentions mean a lot, and this space itself becomes holy when we have an intention toward that. I love being with people and talking about these 3 Principles because I then get to experience that feeling. I think in the Jewish tradition it's called Shekinah. It's like the "Holy Spirit," actually, the feminine Holy Spirit. Something soft, something peaceful. Indwelling. I love that word.

I am not Jewish. My husband is Jewish, he's Israeli. And I spent a year studying Judaism, which isn't a lot. I understand that people spend entire lifetimes, so I'm not going to pretend to know much. I know that word, and it's beautiful to me.

And what the Principles we are going to talk about tonight, what they really speak to is: What is the source of that feeling in ourselves? Where does that come from? ...

I've been told that I have a job tonight, which is that I need to talk about what it is that we are actually talking about! ... The report is that people are saying: We don't know what it is, and we've come several times [to various classes]. What is it? So, I have the task of defining the Principles for you and putting some form on something that is in fact, quite formless.

Whether you're religious or not, you've probably had experiences of great peace in your life, possibly and probably from "out of the blue," just a sense of peace, a sense of well-being, a sense of "everything's OK." And so we'll be talking about what is that, and how is it that we go in and out of that space of feeling a sense of peace?

But I thought it might be nice to just "get here" for a second, together, because we all came from traffic, perhaps came from rushing, feeling we might be late ... I had the thought, because Passover is coming, of the parting of the Red Sea. I'm sure all of the Rabbis are talking about it these days.

What occurred to me is that, if we could take a moment in our lives to "part the seas" of time, and to have one side of the sea be the past, and one side of the sea be the future, and just walk right down the middle, clear of all that.

Just for this brief time period, and it would be wonderful if you could continue that into the next moment and the next, on into your lifetime! ... But perhaps we could just take a moment this evening. So I am going to ask you to oblige me, just take a moment with me to be quiet for a minute or so ... Just to get here a little bit. So--

[There is a long moment of silence that is then interrupted by a loud door buzzer.]

Participant: Time's up!

MM: Yes! The sea comes back! ... [Laughter.] So what did you find in that moment? What did you experience? What is here? Was there peace? Was there a flood?

Participant: I was trying to keep the waves out. I was walking in the middle, I was keeping my thoughts from going that way, towards what I have to do.

MM: I think the title of this talk is "Peace Before Pesach," when there's so much to do, at least for religious people. So this is apt. Anyone else? Did anyone hear the sounds, the buses?

Participant: I didn't hear the sounds. I didn't pay attention to them. I went inside myself and I felt comfortable in my own body. It was peaceful.

Participant: I felt relaxed. Just in that moment, you just let the tension go. You make a point of saying, "Now you can let go." And you just let go. It's good when someone actually tells you to, because one doesn't always do it by choice.

MM: Yes, although it's certainly possible.

Participant: Yes, but one doesn't always do it. Especially before Pesach.

MM: [Confirming] Yes, it's possible, but one often doesn't do it. Especially before Pesach. Anyone else?

Participant: It felt right.

Another: It was nice. I was quiet. It felt nice. It was unusual, I'm not usually quiet.

MM: Well, most of us aren't, are we? Whether we're outwardly loud, or outwardly quiet, most of us are quite noisy on the inside. And especially people who are often quiet on the outside. There's one way of being that's quiet, and it's really quiet. It's lovely. And we all know that feeling--

Participant: I don't like quiet, I'm afraid. When I am at home, I like noise. I put the television on. I'm not even watching it. I hate quiet.

MM: It seems strange to be quiet?

Participant: Yes.

MM: Yes. But you did it just now.

Participant: Well, it's a bit different here, when everyone is doing it.

MM: Is it? ... And how did it feel?

Participant: Yeah, it was fine! [Big smile.]

MM: Yeah! You never know.

So, what do we have here? This is a question someone asked me perhaps a year ago. What is here? What is always here?

[Note: a participant chimes in here with the word "consciousness," which is also apt.]

And it hit me that quietness is actually always here. Not the quietness of "Oh my gosh, the sounds have all stopped, the TV is off, and suddenly it's quiet. And now my mind is very noisy," which is a different kind of quiet. It's an external quiet. That is not inner quiet.

But when that layer of static, the static of thinking, starts to fade down a bit, whether because we are intending for it to, or just by accident, because we are accepting that static fully, or because it is a blessing, an act of grace, what we find underneath the static of our thinking, even in the midst of our thinking, is quiet. And that's always here.

And it's a quiet that can lend itself to action, it could mean that you go and do some work and you're very focused, or you're doing something creative or you are parenting ...

Because you're coming from a space of quiet, the parenting is very natural ... Have you ever felt that way with your children--the parenting is not all up in your head, but you're actually seeing the beauty in your children?

Participant: You're being present.

MM: Yes, you're present. And present and quiet are the same thing. Those two "walls" of the Red Sea are just created out of something that's really nothing, which is Thought. It's just thought.

In reality, all we have is this moment, all the time. Again, what is always here? This moment is always here. We know that. We know now, we're together in this room. There's the table, there's the candles, there's these crazy flowers that look like they've been dyed by some incredible artist, and a bowl of oranges ... We know there are the sounds of the buses ... This is what we might call "reality."

And there's always some reality that we're in, there's always some experience we are having in the physical realm. And if we were just to leave it at that, what a blessing it would be! [Laughs.]

If you look at children, they haven't learned to overlay something on top of reality. They're in the physical reality that they've been born into and it's like a miracle to them, every single thing that comes into their experience, is like some kind of amazing miracle, a cat, a kitten, a puppy, a bus ... Bus! Let's ride the bus! ... On the bus, what's happening? What do the people look like? Everything is something amazing, some aspect of creation.

If we just could be in the simplicity of awareness, of Consciousness--just that we are conscious, we are conscious human beings (and that's one of the Principles, by the way, so I've covered that one--)

Participant: When you're talking about the child, is it--? Let's say a child is building a sand castle. When a child is building a sand castle, that is what he is doing. He's not thinking about what is going to happen to the sand castle afterwards, and is there a wave going to come, is he going to get dirty? Whereas the Mother will be extrapolating all the possible scenarios that could be coming. But the child is in the moment. Is that what you mean?

MM: Yes! Exactly.

Participant: Not to think further. And the bus. He gets on the bus and he's just thinking about the enjoyment of the ride. Whereas I would be thinking: "Where's the bus going? Am I going to get there on time? Am I going to be late? Where am I going to sit?" We process, whereas children don't.

MM: Yes. We think quite a lot more. But before we begin to "think quite a lot more," there's this basic capacity for an experience of life that we call Consciousness. A lot of people call it consciousness, it's not new, nor a special word that the 3 Principles community has come up with. It's been around. It's just awareness. That's all it is. And it's so simple. And when it's simple and pure, life is very simple, like a child's life.

And then, as we get older, we start to develop some kind of thinking, some kind of an overlay. Someone told us this kind of a bus is a good bus, this kind is a bad bus, or it's better to have a car, actually. It means something different if you have a car, or if you have this kind of clothing or that kind of clothing, or this amount of money or this amount ... This is who you are, this is what you like, this is what you don't like, and on and on and on.

So we start to create a world of our own, which you could call a "personal reality." And our personal reality is created through our capacity to think.

That thinking somehow gets stored, magically, and we're able to pull it up. It also comes up on its own after a while, even when we don't want it to. As adults, we start to be in this reality, be in this world with an overlay--of judgement, value making, rejection. We start to make meaning out of everything: If this person looks at me a certain way, it means something ...

We've created a filter of reality through our thinking. We're no longer fresh in reality, we're now walking around in a soup of our own history, of our own making.

It's of our own making, but it's also quite natural because this is what human beings do. We're like little computers and first we're clear, we're fresh. You start off with almost nothing, and then you need some software, and you start getting software and you start running programs. Soon we have far too many, much more than we need to get through life. And the programs begin to obscure the natural wisdom, the natural capacity for love, for gratitude to life, that we each also are connected to--Pure Mind, Pure Consciousness. So we each run different programs, and those programs are created from this simple Principle, which is one of the 3 Principles, of Thought. And through this power to think, we create all the meaning that we see in this world for ourselves ...

We are the ones that create that.

It feels like someone gave it to us. It feels sometimes like the Truth. We might fight to the death for some particular thought. But actually, it's something that we are doing inside of ourselves. Most often, without even knowing that.

Part II, to come, will contain the rest of the excerpt from the evening. The Center for Sustainable Change and Your Mystical Mama are offering a six-week online and telecall course in the 3 Principles of Mind, Consciousness and Thought, "Foundations in the Principles," beginning May 5. For information, registration and scholarship applications, please click here.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Comments from "On the Front Porch"

Dear Friends,

I can't tell you how much fun it's been, and at times frightening (!), actually, to launch the new radio show & podcast "On the Front Porch with Ami Chen: Spiritual Dialogues for the 21st Century." Thank you for your e-mails, phone calls and Facebook messages of love and support. I include some of them here as we step into the fourth show (this Friday, March 23) ... on which I am now encouraging callers-in.

Your wisdom and your questions, your dialogue, will help to ground the show in the "real world," the issues we all face, and in the aliveness of simple truth shared between human beings. Here is what I have heard so far from you ...

"I love your spirit of bringing spirituality down to earth where we can be ordinary and where we can support and help each other with our blind spots and misunderstandings.

And your courage has been such a support for me, more than you can realize. I have studied the mystics from all the major religions my whole life and I am passionate about doing what little I can to help end religious intolerance.

I applaud your willingness to throw away any form, even one created around the 3P's, for the sake of Truth. There is such freedom in this."

--Dicken Bettinger, Ph.D.

"I really enjoyed last week's show...
I found it beautiful and touching.

I love how you talked about teaching & teachers being everywhere.
And what I also heard is how truth is everywhere."

--Chantal Burns, Coach & Consultant

"I got goosebumps today when I heard you speak of sharing life changing experiences that bring insights to all ... through expressing our true selves. Thank you so much for sharing your journey and I'm looking forward to the next show!"


"I so much appreciate the inclusive way you talk about being on the path of realization. It is like a breath of fresh air."


"You spoke from your heart with courage and humility, so that only clarity,
respectfulness and neutral-ness came across. How did you do that?! ... It
was so perfect and inspired. It hit me that, yes, this will be a classic ... and so helpful to many people."


The show airs live every 2nd and 4th Friday of the month at 10 am Pacific time, US. You can click on this link to get to the radio station & my host page at Contact Talk Radio. In the next month, I will be lining up guests for the show--some of the most beautiful people alive in this world, as far as I'm concerned. And what kind of life am I living to be able to do this? Blessed beyond my wildest dreams.

You can find podcasts of the show on iTunes and it would be helpful if the show started to get some iTunes "reviews" there.

To sign up to receive automated emails with a link to each show's recording (just after the show has aired), click here:

With Love and Blessings to you all ...

& the invitation to "join me!" again, this Friday at 10 ...

Your Mystical Mama

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Note From A Friend

"Who are you?'

I'm (Chantal).

Yes I know that but who ARE you?

I'm a teacher.

I know that too. That's not my question. Who are YOU really?
Beyond your name and chosen path, who are you?
Beyond your thwarted expectations, who are you?
Beyond other people's opinions of you, who are you?
Beyond your ideas, insecurities and stories, who are you?

I'm nothing. I'm no-one.
I'm everything. I'm everyone.
I'm energy.
I'm infinite potential.
I'm pure love."

I love you very much Ami.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Look Up!

I walk in beauty


So much! These fine spring days

Always had done
Always had done

Face turned toward the ground

Beauty went unnoticed

This beauty everywhere
This peace in every step

Let's call it spirit
or human spirit
if that suits you, soothes you, better

In the midst of battle
and filth
in refugee camps
and on our city streets
in the wards
at Juvenile Hall
and San Quentin

Like a lamp
that was always there
in the midst of darkness

Light that one

That one is You.

Look up!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

No Words

Spring has come,
a humid breath
these ancient oaks

With their mossy beards

Unknown grasses,
Stems of unknown blossoms
Rising Up!
Emanating a thousand shades of green
I have never
seen before

Or have I?

Goldsmith once said
The World is New!

And so it is
When the windows to the soul
are cleansed

Here, such a beauty
and stillness

as to overtake
this small me

And this poem,
this creation of the mind,
a heresy!
a bastardization

of silence.



that cannot be

To open my lips
to invent a stanza
and already
I have departed
from Truth!

But for now,
Dear Lord,
this, this
is all I have to give

My humble and inadequate

Friday, February 3, 2012

My Karma Ran Over Your ...


Of course there will be dogma.

This world is built on such.

Within the span of one brief conversation,
you and I can create
a whole New Dogma!

(We'll write books
& teach seminars!)

Play with your dogma
Run with your dogma
In the fields of self-discovery
or self-negation

But when you are ready for
total Freedom

You must let him
off the leash.

(The real problem, of course,
is the damn Catma.)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Apology Accepted?

I want to apologize now,
this instant!

For every wrong
I have ever committed,
every last slender feeling
of yours,
I may have hurt
And to apologize for every
betrayal and abuse
ever inflicted by one human being
upon another
from the very dawn of homo sapiens
and into the future ...

Furthermore, I accept!
all the unspoken and still perhaps unseen apologies
perhaps due
to me
I forgive you on my own behalf
You, me and everyone else

Every snide remark
or forgetting to listen, or driving too fast,
Every lie and misunderstanding
Every slight or monumental
against the tender
and unshakable
of Who We Are.

One Thing.

I know that your delicate
and tender heart,
solid, liquid, gas
was born from the Self same
as mine.

That beneath all our
preposterous exteriors
we so simply want
to Love
& be Loved.

As vulnerable,
as new born as the
damp unfolding

How many kisses,
words of truth,
hours of listening,
sweet smiles,
firm "No's"
and shared silences


will it take
to restore you to
your Monarchy?

If I do not touch
you roughly
If I warm you with my breath
You may still fly

We may all still fly and

I believe

it is our


to do so.

And so, I will try,
again and again
to surrender to Love.

I may look
like an ordinary housewife
but every evening
for years and years
this has been my
wish upon a star

So be it.
You are loved.

And in the end, you may find you never needed me at all.

(Oh, but I do need you so!)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Actually, I Don't Really Know What I'm Doing

My family and I are fresh off the boat from our post-Christmas, mid-New Year's trip to Taiwan with "Babu," their Chinese grandmother (and my Mom). It's nearing noon and the children are still passed out, slung out on couches and chairs in the living room, after several failed attempts to rouse them and get them right-side up (or upside down) with the time. Looks like we'll definitely miss the first day of post-vacation school. Oh well.

A wonderful, whirlwind trip--which I'll share more of in later posts--but a recent theme of mine, "I don't really know what I'm doing" was prevalent for me at key moments on the journey. And it's quite true, friends. Actually, I don't really know what I'm doing. I don't know what I'm doing as a wife, as a daughter, as a parent. As anything, really.

Which is not to say that I am not enjoying being a wife, mother, daughter. Not to say that it's not often terrific, lovely, completing, transcendent and fun. It's just that it's quite clear to me, at moments, that I am lost and it all feels particularly hard--if not impossible; it seems I'm making an unsolvable mess of everything, and worst of all, ruining my children somehow.

Take for example the first moments of walking into our fab suite at a terribly luxe hotel (we had saved money via staying at some grungy but quite passable one and two star spots early on) at Sun Moon Lake, somewhat akin to our Lake Tahoe here in California. My eldest daughter immediately became terribly excited, overwrought almost, and immediately began to claim territory, including the only private room in the suite (with a door that closed) and a private bathroom just for her and her sister.

Well, this would not work. We had my mother and husband to think about. So Ali and her little sis were relegated to the master suite (open to the central living area) with a king bed and glass sliding doors to a massive bath, views of the lake, a central, stand alone tub encased in granite, and a double concrete sink. But this was not enough. No suitcases, she declared, would go in her room and no one was to come in, nor use the gorgeous bath, which was, by all rights, hers and her sisters alone. We grownups had the other bathroom; so that should be fair.

"And finally, selfishly, honestly, I really wanted to take a bath in that wild tub."

I was having a hard time with all of this, as you might imagine. In her words and actions, I suddenly saw Ali as a tyrannical Diva in her mid-twenties, entitled, spoiled, alienating all her friends as she claimed all the choicest options in life for herself. She would end up alone! All alone! And finally, selfishly, honestly, I really wanted to take a bath in that wild tub. My husband, on the other hand, had his head on straight.

"She's just excited," he said. "Let her calm down and we'll work this all out."

Well that went in like a the faintest glance of dew on a Gortex jacket. I should have just plopped my bags on the highly polished wood floor and laid down for a few brief moments, or rather many, many more moments to enjoy the view and let Ali get used to these new digs and the reality of our situation. But in my worry and agitation, I wound up on Alia's bed trying to talk some sense into her, when she told me that no one was allowed in her room, including me.

"Listening, hearing, understanding were not in place for either of us at that moment."

"Alright then, I'm leaving," I fumed. And I abruptly stood up and retreated to my lesser room. I said this in a tone (hurt, vengeful) that should be reserved just for adults--who can usually handle such tones. Ali came tearfully, apologetic, after me (what child can bear to feel they've lost their mother's love, even if only for a second?) and I proceeded to explain to her that this hotel was quite expensive, that we can't always have everything we want, that there are others to consider, etc. etc. But listening, hearing, understanding were not in place for either of us in the moment, and my darling, beloved, over-excited little girl wound up sitting by herself on the exquisitely tiled shower stall floor with the frosted glass door shut, crying.

It was one of those overly psychological moments that you never imagine having with your seven-year-old.

It's even painful to recount this story, this embarrassing episode of poor motherhood. And worst of all is that after her father turned the television on for the two girls to watch in their bed, I caught Ali sucking her thumb, something she has not done since the age of three.


So, to summarize, Ali continued to be somewhat obnoxious and wary the next day and I ... the best I could do was to fling my mental, emotional and spiritual hands up in the air.

"My God," I wailed silently to the lake, the distant mountains--all as if out of a painting in a fantastical Asian story book--"I don't know what I'm doing!"

The best I could do for the next couple days was to try to enjoy this fancy resort (which I did!), to stay somewhat quiet and to try to remember what was pure and good about my child. It was a struggle. Sometimes, I have to pretend, as a mom. I remember a good friend of mine once saying to me, in an embarrassed, ashamed voice,

"Sometimes I just don't like my child."

I loved that he said it. So I said it too.

"I think sometimes we all don't like our children," I replied. And yet, we do love them, somehow. How freeing to admit this--the hopelessness, the helplessness--of parenthood, sometimes.

I spent a lot of time in the very impressive Lalu library and read books with Ali when she crawled in next to me on the divan, seeking acceptance and attention. I did not really want to. I was annoyed, frightened, feeling awkward as a mom, wanting to somehow escape the role entirely. But I did read with her. We went biking. That was fun. I hugged and kissed her, hoping not too much, actually.

Intention, prayer, giving up all ideas that one knows anything at all about how to love this child, how to raise this child, taking my focus off the problem, actually--this is all that has ever worked for me. Trusting, as I wrote in the dedication to The Spark Inside, that wisdom always finds a way.

On the last night of our trip, we traveled by cab to Longshan temple in bustling Taipai. The exterior waterfall was lovely and inside, hundreds of entities stood in somewhat dusty, encased silence to be worshipped and prayed to. Incense smoke threatened to choke us all, and platters of food and fruits weighed down offering tables. Central to all was the golden statue of Quan Yin, female incarnation of the Buddha for some, goddess of mercy and compassion. I am not one for idols, and many of the prayers and activities here are of a superstitious nature--throwing smooth wooden, banana-shaped sticks for decision making purposes, asking for "things" and circumstances people think they want, or need.

"I needed someone else to step in and be the parent, the constant giver, for a moment, for a day, or more."

Ali said an interesting thing, after she asked what everyone there was doing.

"They are praying to these different Gods," I said.

"Well that's weird, because we all are God!" she replied.

"Yes," I said laughing. But I had fallen into another mood--impatient, feeling the need for space, distance, alone-ness. I needed someone else to step in and be the parent, the constant giver, for a moment, for a day ... or more!

I told my husband, "I'm going off by myself for a minute," and I did. I went to the statue of Quan Yin. And although I did not prostrate myself, I set my palms together in prayer position, closed my eyes, and I prayed.

"I don't know what I'm doing," I said again. "Please help."

Later, Ali asked me what I had done.

"I was praying," I said.

"You were?"

"Yes," I said. "Since God is everywhere, is everything, sometimes it's nice to have a little focus, something to pray to, knowing actually you are praying to God, God inside you and God everywhere."

"What did you pray for?"

"I prayed for wisdom, a clear mind, a better way of seeing things," I said.

"Did God answer you?" she asked.

"No. God did not answer me right away. But I do always get an answer, sometimes later. I get an answer when my mind is quiet. Do you know what I mean?"

She did not answer, but I could tell she was contemplating it all.

By the next day, something had shifted. Nothing dramatic. More like the feeling of having a toasty quilt pulled over you when you don't realize just how cold you have become. My husband woke up with a terrible muscle spasm in his neck, and was in no shape for parenting or anything, really. It was almost too much for him to have to carry luggage.

In a space of renewed quietude, love for my children came flowing out of me like the natural Formosa warm springs we had been soaking in; and I was able to mother, nurture, and keep my daughters fed and entertained through a three-hour flight into Tokyo, and a four-hour layover that was painfully extended by a two-hour delay at the Narita airport. Somehow, we enjoyed the whole thing. Alia had completely stopped sucking on the sleeves of her jacket and strands of her hair (which is normal for her when she is anxious or bored). She played with her sister quietly, imaginatively, for hours.

She's a loving girl, a sensitive and highly emotional girl. She cares deeply about her family and is extremely loyal to all of us. She has loads of energy and excitement and terribly grand ideas. She is seven, after all.

Later on, I don't remember when, nor whether on this side or the other side of the Pacific, of today or yesterday, she said to me:

"You're the best Mom ever!"


And I replied:

"You know, I think that I am sometimes good, and sometimes not so good, but the important thing is that I love you very, very much."


This blog is for all you very real parents and caregivers out there. Human beings just like me.

With Love from your

Mystical (and human!) Mama