My Spiritual Odyssey
A glimpse into my spiritual journey
In recent years, people around me have been collectively focusing on several key topics to reshape their worldviews and values (thanks to @krishnanrohit’s summary):
Meditation and metaphysics (also known as mysticism).
Recognizing the limitations of reason and scientific rationalism.
The power of myths and stories.
Embracing religious rituals and spiritual enlightenment positively.
It seems like people worldwide are undergoing a paradigm shift, almost as if they've realized that despite technological advancements improving our quality of life, humanity is becoming increasingly unhappy. Perhaps it's because many have grown weary of a game that has emphasized efficiency and profit since the Industrial Revolution but fails to provide them with spiritual fulfilment. Maybe global consciousness has reached a tipping point, with individuals and collective memories finally aligning. In any case, we are in a strange but fascinating stage of spiritual development.
Those who follow my Chinese social media channels might have noticed that this year, I have frequently experienced visions that cannot be explained by science. This has reinforced the understanding that human cognition of the entire universe is severely limited, yet we arrogantly believe that our understanding of 0.0000001% of reality encompasses the entire world.
Einstein said that the rational mind is a faithful servant, but the intuitive mind is a precious gift, and we live in a world that has honoured the servant but has forgotten the gift.
- Iain McGilchrist
Renowned psychiatrist and author Dr Iain McGilchrist argues the limitations of the left brain – it operates with limited information, and our so-called rational analysis is based on this restricted data. On the other side, the right brain, associated with intuition and creativity, helps us feel and gather the untapped one trillion bits of information in the background. Whether through meditation, connecting with nature's flora and fauna to enter a state of flow, or attaining unconscious states, we can experience this boundless stream of information, allowing us to see our reality more clearly.
In this article, I will attempt to summarize the extraordinary experiences I've had from childhood to now. Please note that this is only a preliminary draft, and more details and stories will be added later.
If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite.
- William Blake
It all began with a television infomercial from my childhood. When I was in fourth grade, I would come home after school, turn on the TV, and be bombarded by an advertisement for a pink multifunctional kitchen appliance called "Bao Mama Mi." As a young and inexperienced individual, I was deeply impressed by the salesperson's pitch, believing that "Bao Mama Mi" was like Doraemon's pocket, capable of producing delicious dishes with minimal effort.
I persistently pestered my parents to buy one for our home. However, my parents were not easily swayed by TV infomercials, and naturally, they refused my request. I then began to pray to the Bodhisattva and Buddha statues in our home. To my surprise, within a few days, someone gifted us a "Bao Mama Mi" to my family. It was from that point that I developed a strong interest in Buddhism, especially the Siddhartha Gautama statue my aunt brought from Famen Temple, as it seemed like a magical artefact that could fulfil my desires.
In addition to my early exploration of Buddhism, my affinity for philosophy also began to manifest. I remember discovering a book on my father's bookshelf titled "Nietzsche: I Am the Sun." I avidly read it, and the book's cover left a lasting impression. However, as I grew older, I could never find that book again. When I asked my father about it, he mentioned that he did have such a book but couldn't recall who he had lent it to. As I later researched, I discovered that the earliest edition of "Nietzsche: I Am the Sun" was published in 2012, but I had definitely read it around 2004. While I remember the content, the timeline didn't align, and the physical book seemed to have disappeared. It's a perplexing mystery.
When I was ten years old, an event occurred that would change my life. I vividly recall one Saturday in October when, as usual, my mother left for work early in the morning. I was half awake and still in bed. Normally, I would say goodbye to my mother as she left, but that day, for some inexplicable reason, I said, "Mom, not goodbye." On that very day, an overloaded cement truck lost its brakes on a steep slope in Jinan, causing a collision involving at least 14 vehicles during the evening rush hour, including my mother's car. Pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists on the roadside were not spared, resulting in casualties, although the exact number was not reported (it was a sensitive time in my hometown due to a visiting official). At least 20 to 30 people lost their lives.
When my father received a call from the hospital informing him that my mother was in critical condition, he initially thought it might be a prank. Only after several calls did he realize that something terrible had happened, and he rushed to the hospital, taking me along. The hospital was chaotic, filled with injured individuals and the deceased. My father was busy with paperwork and couldn't attend to me, leaving me to wander around the hospital. During this time, I saw my mother covered in blood-soaked sheets, continuously telling me that both her legs were broken. It was the first time I had ever seen so much blood, injured individuals, and even dead people in one place.
After numerous major and minor surgeries, my mother was eventually saved. Some spiritual people in my hometown talked about how my unconventional farewell message had potentially saved my mother. Later, my grandfather consulted the I Ching and examined my birth chart, leading to a change in my name. Before the name change, my birth chart indicated a weak connection with my mother, and my previous name seemed to have a detrimental influence on my parents. After the name change, my personality underwent a complete transformation, shifting from a timid young girl to a more extroverted and assertive individual. Additionally, my financial and romantic prospects improved, and I have never worried about money or my relationship (especially with boys) since that moment.
I have meditated for 48 years. It's been the biggest reason for my well-being and whatever success I've had.
- Ray Dalio
Fast forward to 2017, by then, my prefrontal cortex should have fully developed, and I found myself caught in an "existential crisis." Despite a successful career and a flourishing love life, I inexplicably fell into a state of depression and experienced physical illness and two panic attacks. Fortunately, under the influence of Ray Dalio and Tim Ferriss, I enrolled in the Transcendental Meditation (TM) course, officially starting my meditation journey. TM is a meditation technique that is relatively easy to pick up. The teacher provides me with a mantra (a meaningless sound or word, serving as an anchor for concentration), and I’m required to practice meditation twice a day for 20 minutes each session. Subsequently, I participated in meditation, yoga, and insight meditation courses in Tibet, Bali, and the UK, which laid a solid foundation for my spiritual journey (read more details here).
I'm someone who is easily influenced by the environment and is highly sensitive to the energies around me. I remember one time on a train when, as it approached a station, I suddenly felt nauseous and dizzy. As the train got closer to the platform, my discomfort intensified. When the doors opened, and a passenger stepped onto the train, I felt like I was about to faint. I stumbled towards the door and quickly got off the train to escape. Strangely, as soon as I disembarked, I felt significantly better, and when the train departed from the platform, I immediately returned to normal. It was from that moment on that I started actively observing the energies around me and believing in my intuition. Whether it's people or destinations, if my body gives me signals, I will always trust my intuition, abandoning the analysis of my rational mind.
This change in mindset was also prompted by two experiences of quitting my job in New Zealand. In both instances, my body gave me warning signs through various symptoms. We often seek intellectual existence in material things, relying heavily on our brains and disregarding the signals our consciousness and feelings provide. Our society also emphasizes the virtue of being "rational," causing people to restrain their emotions and dependencies to conform to societal norms, reducing their interactions with the world and others.
Existence is a dynamic process, achieved through building relationships with oneself, others, and the world. The left hemisphere of our brain (associated with rationality) processes information far less than the right hemisphere (associated with sensibility). Subconscious and unconscious information is established and accessed through bodily interaction with nature. The deeper we can engage all our senses with the world, the more we can experience the "oneness," as described by our many ancient Saints and philosophers from the East.
In 2019, I left my full-time job in New Zealand and moved to the UK to start a new chapter as a digital nomad. One reason for choosing the UK was my passion for football, and how could I not pay homage to the birthplace of modern football and experience the excitement of the Premier League? Another reason was my major in English literature during university. I felt compelled to visit the places where literary giants had once trodden and to experience the land favoured by the muse.
As I wandered through the Brontë sisters' former residence and stayed in a 17th-century guesthouse with a view of the Brontë sisters' graves across the street, I often felt like I was possessed by their spirits. For several days, I fervently wrote, and within 30 days, I completed my first English novel. During my two years in the UK, I also experienced a strong desire to write. I not only started a weekly Chinese newsletter but also launched an English email subscription and two English podcasts. It's safe to say that each place has its specific energy field, and sometimes, changing your environment can open new doors.
Coincidences mean you're on the right path.
- Simon Van Booy
In June 2021, I attended an online salon hosted by Jim O'Shaughnessy. At that time, in a Zoom room with over 100 participants, I found my avatar with the host on my left and a very knowledgeable guy on my right. Little did I know that a year later, the host would recruit me into his new company OSV, and I would become friends and record two podcast episodes with the guy on my right Tom Morgan. I couldn't help but think, "Everything makes sense when you look back and connect the dots." These two figures, who are both mentors and friends, played a crucial role in my spiritual enlightenment journey. I highly recommend following them on Twitter and their email subscriptions and podcasts
During that same year, I had my first psychedelic experience with the Grandfather plant, San Pedro, at The Lighthouse Retreat. Two trips in 4 days let me ‘see’ the themes that constantly haunted my mind: time, space, reality and dreams. We all know that language can be limited when describing something overpowering and magnificent. The Doors of Perception: Heaven and Hell by Aldous Huxley, explained more eloquently than I can express, and I've also compiled a Twitter Thread with books that offer a richer portrayal of these profound insights for you to delve into.
The following year, I tried Ayahuasca, the most powerful plant medicine, in a remote part of Portugal. Before I took the sacred brew, I set my intention to uncover the truth about our existence. But I didn't realize how tough this journey would be.
As I sipped the thick, brown liquid, a surge of energy coursed through my body. The initial effects were overwhelming, and I struggled to maintain my composure. I closed my eyes and found myself in another world. Everything looked like a series of these intricate codes, like the basic building blocks of reality. It was as if I could peek behind the scenes of the universe.
At first, seeing the world like this was overwhelming. It was like the curtain had been pulled back, and I could see the truth behind everything. I could see how everything in the world was connected, like a massive web of cause and effect, and I could hear Ayahuasca talking to me, not in any language but in a way that I could understand.
Upon closer examination, I realized these codes were at the core of our thoughts, emotions, and experiences. They were connected to our consciousness, shaping our reality in ways we couldn't fully grasp. In this state, I felt like I had broken free from the limits of my body and mind. My ego or beliefs didn't hold me back. I could explore the profound truths of the universe without any filters or biases. This new perspective gave me a deeper understanding of life and the universe. I felt a stronger appreciation for the intricate beauty of the world.
Later in my journey, I saw the life journey of my loved ones. I could feel their struggles, pains, and joys. I shed tears as I shared their emotions. I also encountered extreme temperatures, oscillating between the sensations of extreme cold and searing heat. It felt as though I had died multiple times, yet I was still very much alive, experiencing every facet of my journey.
The truth was often difficult to confront, but my determination to explore its depths remained unwavering. Then, Ayahuasca conveyed a message that took me by surprise. She explained that she could no longer guide me with love because of my relentless pursuit of knowledge beyond my reach. I was shocked and heartbroken.
Despite the pain, I recognized that Ayahuasca's guidance was to lead me to the reality to which I belonged. It was up to me to make the necessary changes to find peace and happiness. My experience with Ayahuasca was intense and far from easy, but it was undeniably worthwhile. It compelled me to confront some of life's most challenging truths and taught me that the path to enlightenment often navigates through the darkness.
It was during these two experiences with plant medicine that I witnessed and experienced my past lives and an indescribable, magical world. This dealt a significant blow to my rational thought patterns and strengthened my determination to continue exploring the spiritual realm.
At the end of 2022, China finally reopened its borders, and after nearly four years away from my parents, I returned to my motherland. Through a friend’s recommendation, I joined a course by Master Faxin called "Chi Fang," which felt like a continuation of my karmic connection with Buddhism.
During the first course, I began having dreams of ghosts. One night, as I was sleeping soundly, I suddenly felt someone hit my heart. I opened my eyes and saw a dark shadow that looked like a rabbit or a fox passing in front of me. It startled me, and I had trouble falling back asleep for the rest of the night. After checking some information and consulting the teacher, I learned that inner demons do not arise when external demons are absent. Everything in the world is interconnected, and what appears in your mind, whether pleasurable or terrifying, cannot harm you if you remain undisturbed, detached, and still. As you progress in your practice, inner demons will also surface layer by layer. By continuously training in compassion, you will gradually realize that there is no difference between ghosts and people. The fear of ghosts is also a manifestation of your aversion. If you practice equanimity towards all appearances, fear will naturally decrease.
I recall when I practised Transcendental Meditation for the first three months, and I almost had nightmares every night. My meditation teacher at the time explained that this was a normal phenomenon. As my awareness increased during meditation, many forgotten memories and previously suppressed emotions resurfaced. Sigmund Freud once said that unexpressed emotions never die; they are only buried and will resurface in the future in a more ugly manner.
When I was in my early twenties, I often had moments of sudden emotional breakdown, where unconsciously repressed emotions reached a breaking point. Through meditation and mindfulness, you can gain the courage to confront these buried thoughts and emotions. While this process can be painful, it is temporary. Once you have heightened awareness rather than drifting with the current, you can better understand who you truly are and what you truly desire. By resolving these root issues, secondary problems stemming from the lack of clarity about the root cause cease to exist.
As of today, I have been practising with Master Faxin for nearly a year. I have experienced the ups and downs that come with this Buddism practice, including fear when encountering visions, sudden moments of enlightenment, restlessness and unease during recurrent nightmares, and overflowing tears during times of compassion. It seems that I no longer consciously seek to attain any specific state but focus on experiencing, relaxing, and relaxing some more.
Back to July 2023, it marked a significant turning point in my spiritual journey. The moment I set foot on Berlin's soil, I felt an unprecedented surge of rage. I found myself harbouring hostile thoughts towards every person I saw on the streets. Having visited dozens of countries across four continents, I had never experienced such a strong reaction upon arriving in a new place. I decided to shorten my stay in Berlin and head to Leipzig.
Once in Leipzig, two interesting things happened. I unexpectedly reunited with a childhood friend who studied Buddhism I hadn't seen in almost two decades! It all started when she, who rarely uses Weibo (a Chinese social media platform), couldn't sleep one night and began browsing Weibo. She saw that I was in Leipzig, and coincidentally, she was flying in from Australia to visit relatives and decided to spend a day at the Leipzig Zoo. This serendipitous meeting led to a delightful conversation about Buddism at a devil-themed underground restaurant mentioned in Goethe's "Faust."
Later, as I roamed the campus of Leipzig University, the place where Nietzsche had once studied and taught, something strange happened. I encountered a person who looked remarkably like Nietzsche, and I was overwhelmed with emotion. I wanted to walk up to him, give him a hug, and tell him that there are people in this world who understand him. Unfortunately, my legs felt like soft dough and wouldn't move. At that moment, as I looked up at the sky, I saw the image of God depicted in William Blake's The Ancient of Days. My legs became even weaker, and I felt an overwhelming urge to kneel in submission. Resonating in my ears was a deep and powerful sound, "OmAhHum." It felt like only I knew the specific significance behind this.
The whole process felt like half an hour to me, but in real life, it was just minutes. After returning from Germany, a red mark appeared between my eyebrows. At first, I thought it was due to dry weather, causing skin irritation and itching. However, I started experiencing unexplained body tremors, especially before bedtime (I initially thought it might be an earthquake, but it happened too frequently, and I couldn't find any earthquake-related information). I began seeing colours and auras around myself and others, as well as witnessing visions that didn't belong to this material world. Things from my dreams started frequently appearing in real life, and the map of the dream world became clearer and more complete.
I tried various methods like meditation, herbal healing, and breathwork to resist this force. Later, I realized that this was a gift I had longed for, but my spiritual practice was insufficient, and I didn't know how to use it. That's why I was experiencing various forms of discomfort and distress. It reminded me of the story of Ye Gong Hao Long (Lord Ye's Love for Dragons) from my childhood – wanting something you couldn't handle. If you seek something you're not ready for, you must be prepared for the consequences. Still, I believed it was temporary, and with continuous grounding and training, I would eventually become friends with this "dragon."
Now, let me share with you a story about a massage therapist I met in Portugal by sheer coincidence. When I first moved to Lisbon, I found a massage place with excellent reviews called the Third Eye. People raved about G, the massage therapist, claiming he was like a saviour who left them feeling reborn after a session. Out of curiosity, I decided to give it a try.
As soon as I walked in, G started observing, smelling, and asking questions. It felt like I had walked into an Indian traditional medicine clinic. He muttered a series of incantations and even read my palm. He placed my hand on his head for a blessing.
It was only during the massage that I understood why G had such a reputation. In just a few minutes, the pain and tension in my limbs and shoulders quickly disappeared under his skilled hands. G's unique breathing techniques and abdominal massage gave me a sense of improved breathing and digestive comfort that I hadn't experienced in a long time. The feeling of being in the peak condition was truly amazing.
G frequently travels around the world to offer massages, so after a few sessions, I didn't have the opportunity to continue. However, just after my strange experience in Germany, I found G returned to Lisbon again, and he still remembered our previous conversations and sensed that I might be feeling energy blockages. After the massage, he was generous in sharing methods to regain energy and how to open and control my third eye. Interestingly, after the massage, G's hands turned blue, which he explained was a result of absorbing my blocked energy – another mysterious occurrence.
G was quite similar to the Indian Guru I had encountered before, loving to impart wisdom and encouraging me not to limit myself. He often told me that I am divine, urging me to love myself more and break free from the cycle of reincarnation in this lifetime. The saying holds true: "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear." The key is to align your inner frequency to dance with the universe, and good things will naturally happen.
Last but not least, let’s talk about fortune-telling and divination. Early this year, my best friend's girlfriend in New Zealand, who had a bit of psychic power, suddenly told me to watch out for "redhead Irish" in my life and not to miss them. I was quite puzzled at the time because I didn't know any Irish people, let alone redheads. But not long after she said that, a few redhead Irish started to enter my life. I can't quite put my finger on my feelings toward those Irish yet. Let's stay tuned for the unfolding of this story.
This year, I consulted both Eastern and Western fortune tellers and shamans to seek answers and guidance. What surprised me the most was that despite the different methods and traditions they followed, their results turned out to be remarkably similar. It reminded me of my favorite German TV series "Dark," which explores the power of fate. Each person has a specific mission and place in the space-time continuum. Sometimes, defying destiny and trying to change our fate can lead to unforeseen butterfly effects, often beyond our comprehension and control, ultimately leading good intentions toward unfavourable outcomes. Perhaps it's better to fulfil our missions step by step and contribute our small part to the evolution of this intricate cosmic system.
This brings to mind a line from the movie Arrival: "If you could see your whole life from start to finish, would you change things?" My answer is that I would still go on the same journey. Just as my first boyfriend wrote in my secondary school yearbook, even if the outcome falls short of expectations, cherishing certain memories can still be a positive experience.
What we know is a drop. What we don't know is an ocean.
– Adam, Dark | Netflix
In the 18th century, the Western world achieved remarkable success in science and technology, leading to the dismissal of mythology as false and feudal superstition. This modernization led to the gradual demonization of the significance of mythology and spirituality.
When people recount stories of heroes descending into the underworld, navigating mazes, or battling monsters, they are, in fact, exposing their innermost fears and desires, which lie deeply buried in the subconscious. Mythology and spirituality could be regarded as an ancient form of psychology
These are aspects that we cannot access through pure logic but exert a profound influence on our experiences and behaviours. Well-crafted myths and stories can foster resonance with others, challenge egocentrism, promote empathy, and highlight the sanctity of our world.
It's only when we put myths and stories into action that we can discover their true meaning and alleviate the anxieties and other psychological issues stemming from a general lack of purpose.
I believe this is also the purpose of spirituality and mysticism, to liberate us from anxiety, help us discover our purpose in this world, and enable us to pursue activities that ignite our passions and hold the greatest value for us. In a world that is not always easy to understand, living happily and peacefully is the most sensible choice to me, and our existence and experiences are what give life its fundamental meaning.