Copyright©2013. Universal Door Meditation Center.
Initially I came to the Center because a medical doctor told me that I needed to learn to meditate and calm down because my blood pressure was high. In search of a way to reduce my blood pressure, I decided to look into meditation at Universal Door, and here I found out much more than just a way to improve my health. I discovered where my problems came from, why my health was eroding, why my relationship with my wife was so shaky, why I was always so uncomfortable around my boss, and why I was overwhelmed with sadness when loved ones passed away….
When I first came, I thought that other people in my life caused me to be angry, irritated, nervous, anxious, and sad, therefore causing me to have high blood pressure. For example, it seemed that an over-bearing boss who constantly made me feel nervous and tense was the problem. Also, I thought my wife was a big cause of my irritation and sadness because of arguments we would have over lack of money, time, and other worldly goods…
Through meditation at Universal Door, I was guided on how to look within and to stay with what was happening in my body in order to truly see where my problems came from. Contrary to most people’s belief that mediation is only done while on a cushion, I learned that it can be applied anywhere. A big moment happened one day while driving; I stayed with the feeling of sadness and touched it for the very first time. It was at that moment that I was able to see the truth.
By staying with sadness and looking within, I discovered several basic things that I had always missed before. I saw that my suffering wasn’t because of my boss, my wife, or anything outside of me; it was because inside of me there was something I was already holding onto, something I expected from my boss or wife, and if for whatever reason something they did wasn’t matching with what I was holding onto, I would then suffer and automatically put the blame on them.
It was then I realized that throughout my entire life I had built and built this sadness, anger, and hate by looking outward not inward. And I saw the damage it can do: severe heart problems, hostile work environment, shaky marriage relationship, constant suffering… Realizing that suffering is inside myself is one of the strongest points I have ever learned. Furthermore, I now see the cause of suffering is not outside myself, nor is the path to end my suffering outside myself. It is sort of like blaming the hammer for hurting my thumb.
Even after realizing more about myself, difficult life situations still arise, but if I look inward instead of outward, arguments dissolve away at home, and there is genuine ease in my workplace even though all the same people are there. Recently there have been several deaths in my extended family and I saw that I was much more stable and clear. My overall health and well-being has improved tremendously.
In the past, I would have looked for answers to my problems in books, rather than inside myself. Now I know from experience that it is up to me and no one else. So my main work is to continue to look inside myself until I permanently reach the unconditional freedom I have been searching for.
Danny G., Professor
I was born in a religious family, and for many years I have attended church and taken bible study classes. They taught me to become a good person and act the way Jesus wanted me to be … but no one taught me how to practice or how to get to that point. As I looked at the elder Catholic people, I saw that they still got upset and angry when others did something wrong by them. When I saw that, I started to question myself, “What will I be like when I get to their age?” It was clear that if I continue going like this with no one to teach me how to practice, then I will be the same as I am now. Seeing my path was a dead end, I started having fears, worries, stress, and anxiety. That was when I began thinking about practicing meditation. I heard about Universal Door through my friend and thought I would come here to learn how to be calm and to relax.
To my surprise it was nothing like what I had imagined. As I shared my concerns, such as constant worry about losing my job, losing a loved one, fear of getting sick, growing old, dying and death, anger and irritation at my wife and kids, I started to see a common factor…that I was suffering and I needed help…this was when I started looking for a way out…but who knew that my way out was my way in.
Since coming to the classes, I have learned so much about myself and my problems. Before, because I didn’t know what to do and where to look, I would automatically take out my anger and stress on people and situations around me. As I began learning how to look inside myself and see why I couldn’t be calm and couldn’t relax, I started to see so many things about myself, and that has changed how I interact with family, friends, and situations. Staying with the feelings in my body to see what happens whenever my worries, anger, fears, and irritation arise has been an eye opener to many truths I have never seen before.
From applying this one simple instruction, I can see that my life is starting to improve, especially with my wife and children. In the past, I would immediately take out my anger by yelling at them. But as I start to stay with what is happening in my body in that very moment, I see my reactions came from something within myself. There was something I held onto so strongly that when the opposite thing happened, I automatically reacted in a way that hurt innocent people for what I’ve already programmed within myself. Being the skeptic that I am, I had my doubts in the beginning; I didn’t really think that this place was right for me. But within a couple of months, after experiencing the truth for myself, I cannot deny the facts. Now, because of what I have seen within myself and the positive results seen by my wife and other people around me, I have a willingness to discover more about who I really am.
Tuan T., Land Surveyor
When I came to Universal Door, I was very depressed. At that time, I was physically and emotionally exhausted. I had been unhappy since I came to America when I was a teenager. Everyday, all I felt was irritation, worry, and fear. As time went by, my suffering was escalating up to the point that I questioned myself: What was the purpose of my life? Why was I unhappy all the time? I could not continue to live like that so I wanted to find out the cause of my unhappiness.
With the teacher’s guidance, I started to look back at my life. Through the feelings of suffering, I was able to see and connect to the causes of my unhappiness. One very important thing I realized is that all this time I had been looking for happiness in the wrong direction. The more I reached for things outside to make me happy, the more I suffered. As I continue to look within, I am discovering so much more that I’ve never seen before. Also, many things about my life are connecting and everything seems to make sense to me. And as I understand more about myself, I understand more about the people around me.
This work has changed my life. It has given me the answer that I’ve been looking for. Now, I know why I was unhappy. I know what the purpose of my life is. I feel happier, more stable and clear as I continue to explore about myself. This happiness is not relying on outside objects to make me happy. The more I look within, the more I get closer to the true happiness that is already within me.
P. Tri, Practitioner
I was going through some bad times in my life, and there was a lot of suffering in me. For the first time,
I was in a totally helpless situation. I was crying all the time, I had lost a lot of weight, did not have an appetite, and truly wanted to be dead. My heart was heavy, my body was weak, and I was just living so my kids could still have a mom. I was filled with anger, frustration, hatred, and a lot of sadness. I knew I had to do something ... this was when my search began.
I decided to explore meditation. With guidance and support from the teacher and friends at Universal Door, my perspective of things around me has changed completely; I am not able to look at life the same way now.
Little by little, I started realizing how much I was looking outside and blaming others for my miseries.
I had no idea that all my reactions came from what I was already holding inside of me until I started attending meditation classes. As I started to look at my conflicts, I had to admit that I had such a tight grip on how things should be: how I want my kids to be, how they should act, how life should be, what is right, what is wrong, etc. Actually, those holdings are the real cause for the suffering and the damage to my health and relationships. For the first time ever I understood what it is to look inside myself… and see things I haven’t seen before. It was a brand new idea and a totally different experience!
I notice that when I am able to stay with my body and look within, the way I talk to my husband and kids is different. The practice has opened my eyes to the fact that I hurt and wound others when I am not present within myself. I approach situations with more patience, openness, and understanding now. There are many feelings inside myself, which I had ignored for so long; I am now able to listen and be aware of them, and in doing so it has brought so much benefit. For example, one day a family situation sparked a big reaction in me. By staying with my body, I recognized and touched the fear within myself, and right away that gave me space to deal with the situation at hand. The longer I stayed with the feeling, my heart opened to a whole new strength within me and I was able to see and understand the situation as it was without having to change it into how I wanted it to be.
There are still times when I get off track because of my strong habits, so it will take a little time. Through applying I understand the cause of my own suffering, and ending that suffering is in my own capacity. With continued practice, I'll get there some day. I know that is true because I can see how much my life has already changed.
Pho N., Software Professional
I came to the Center because I knew I had some problems inside that I needed to work with. For instance, I got angry easily in matters of right and wrong. I always wanted people to follow and support what I believed. Not only that, but I wanted everyone to be nice to me all the time. But even when I got what I wanted, I was still not content, and found myself chasing after something else right away. I had lived my life in that pattern for a long time, and finally questioned why I had to live like that.
Universal Door guided me on how to look within to know more about myself, to help me see what my problems really were so that I could live in harmony with people around me. I reflected upon an unforgettable event in my life where there was a sharp disagreement between a family member and I. At that time, I was filled with anger and rage from the false accusations that were made, and the negativity of that experience stuck with me for many years. But when I reviewed that terrible event, I saw that although I had so much suffering, which did a lot of damage in my body, the other person was unaffected and had no idea that I was on fire. I was the only one suffering, and I finally realized that I was suffering because of what I had set up within myself. Not only that, but I was the one who had kept it burning in me for many years.
I see that I already had certain expectations about others, and every time I interacted with people I was already holding onto my own beliefs, my own ideas of what is right, and what is proper. This time I started to recognize what I missed before, and as a result the repeated patterns are now softening and my reactions are less intense. These days, when interacting with family members, I find myself listening more and able to hear what they are saying, instead of immediately arguing or defending myself and my expectations. Recently I have started to question and pay more attention to my actions and my beliefs, which allows me to be much more open. Day by day, because of knowing my problems more clearly, I have started to view things differently…and have more understanding about myself and others….because of this I live happier than I have in the past.
Anh N., Student
My search began many years ago. I began to question why I wasn’t happy and why I never had enough. I read hundreds of books, listened to enlightened masters, attended workshops, and tried various techniques but nothing seemed to worked. Sure, I would temporarily notice changes and start to feel better about myself, however, it was always fleeting. The suffering would eventually return and I would spiral back into the cycle of self doubt. During a particularly low point in my life, I started to realize that the answer could not be found externally….but only within myself. This led me to the Universal Door Meditation Center and their compassionate guidance.
The core teaching at the center opened up the doorway for self-examination. The steps were simple: to stay with the body, to touch the suffering, and to check, “Is this a problem?” I immediately began noticing things about myself that I was unaware of before. My habit in the past had been to avoid and hide from emotions. This was easy to do because of the many distractions experienced in my everyday life. However, since coming to the center, I have been able to experience the emotions as they arise -- to feel the suffering, to touch it, and gain insight into myself and my holdings. The pathway to true freedom has been opened and finally, the missing piece has been found.
Janelle H., Business Analyst
My main problem is my super strong desire to get what I want. When I don’t get what I want, I throw a tantrum, and it usually makes more problems. When I throw tantrums, I feel mad and angry, and it rises up like a volcano. At that time, I don’t know what in the world is going on and I start to ramble nonsense as I argue and complain. The heat and rumbling inside rises, and then, BOOM! It explodes and the suffering that happens in my body is ten times worse than normal! At this point I can’t control it.
Here’s a funny story about this. One time I wanted to wash my dishes first, but my brother got to the sink before me. I got so mad I threw the biggest tantrum ever. It was so big that I could not even go to school the next day since I had a fever of 101 degrees. It wasn’t funny at the moment, but now when I think about it, story proves how much of a problem my suffering can be. When my suffering happens, it makes me feel like I want to hit someone. Although I know it is not their fault but mine, I automatically blame them for what I’m feeling.
Another story about this problem took place in the kitchen, too. I was talking to Su Phu (teacher) when I started to argue with her. I was mad because she had said the truth. And frankly, it made my ego hurt. I started blaming the teacher for making me react that way and I also blamed her for embarassing me. She always seemed to have a comeback for what I said, so in order to keep my pride and dignity (so it seemed), I started saying random things that didn’t have to do with the topic we were on. Everytime she said something, I would think that it was just to win, but now that I think back at it, it was not like that at all. Nothing she said was for her benefit. Those words were for me to understand more about myself. She was trying to help me know my suffering the whole time. I just couldn’t get it because I was trying to win and my problem had such a huge impact on me that I didn’t bother to listen to anyone. I didn’t even think before I spoke, I just spoke so I could have something to say back.
Su Phu helps me to deal with myself. She helps me recognize what is happening inside, and asks me what it feels like and why I feel like that. When I calm down a little, I answer truthfully, because she always helps me to understand everything better. I haven’t had a tantrum in a long time, and when something small bothers me like my brother doing something annoying, it is not nearly as bad as before because I am able to understand myself and why I am annoyed. Also, I’ve noticed that the daily arguments I used to have with my mom every morning over the size of my earrings, what clothes to wear to school, and what music to listen to in the car have faded. I notice I am in a good mood more often, and I feel more mature, sophisticated, and responsible these days.
Christina T., age 13
A true zen master is a person who has realized the cause and source of all suffering, and has awakened. Believe it or not, the zen master of my life is my biological aunt, Dieu Thien Thich. Her enflunce has touched every stage of my life.
From my earliest memories the zen master was already by my side. She lived with my family and I for about two years before she opened her own meditation center to help all people to know themselves, end their suffering, and to have true happiness. Since I was a toodler, she taught me how to look back inside myself and catch my feelings when I suffered. Suffering means the uncomfortable reactions inside like stress, anger, sadness, etc. So realizing those fellings are the beginning steps to realizing the cause and ending suffering.
Many times in my life I would always have to win in anything I did. I always wanted to beat everyone and be the the best, and that means I had to win. When I did not win, I would expirence many trantrums and my anger rose tremendosly after I lost the round. I never liked to lose. I always had the desire to beat everyone, be the champion and win, so when I lose I suffer a lot. I suffered a lot of times in my life because I couldn’t win all the time. This is one of the problems that the zen master helped me fix.
As I got older, I looked more deeply inside myself and I was able to know about my problems more clearly. I have fewer conflicts and understand myself and others much more. If I do not look back at myself, then my anger, sadness, and trantrums would happen over and over again and create bigger problems for me.
I am still currently growing up with the zen master: The school bus drops me off at the meditation center everyday. You might think that living with a zen master would be boring, but its quite the opposite. I get to do all the normal things a kid would do like playing sports, hanging out, doing homerwork, and watching movies, but when I suffer, I have the zen master to help guide me to know the cause and source of the suffering.
Compared to when I was little, I now have less reactions when I don’t win or I do not get what I want, and also when I get something that I do not want. Because of this, I now live with less conflict and more happiness. Day by day, I am getting closser to my goal of living truly happy like my zen master.
Brian T, age 12
There are no words that can really describe how Universal Door has impacted my life. When the teachers asked what I really wanted out of life, I told them, “To be truly happy.” Through practice and with constant guidance from the teachers, I was able to touch with bits and pieces of the unconditional happiness they always live with, which I had never experienced nor really knew existed until now.
What this Center taught me was not to try to fix or change things in order to find a solution, but to simply see into the truth. Before discovering this Center, all I ever did was try to escape from my problems …in the forms of denying it, forgetting about it, not talking about it, distracting myself from it, watching movies, reading books, having fun shopping, eating out, taking trips... whatever it took to make me forget those feelings of sadness, anger, pain, depression, and stress. When hiding didn't work, I would then try to fix and change things. But all of these methods only provided temporary ease for a while ... and then all of the suffering would come back again, worse than before. And why was that so? Because I was always pointed away from the problem, not into the problem to find out more about it.
Universal Door is guiding me to find the cause and source of the problem. Once I began to see what I held on to so tightly, the system of suffering no longer had control over me like it did before. This meditation practice led me to find out more about myself; it's a path that reveals our true nature. By observing and being able to clearly see how the system of suffering works and how I fuel it, I feel lighter and more open.
The more I apply, the happier I feel. Everything is starting to make so much sense and I know for sure that day will come when I, too, will live in true happiness, not just sometimes but always. I am very fortunate for what the teachers at Universal Door have guided me to realize. It was in the questions, not answers, which led me to this day. I will never forget their dedication, patience, unlimited support, and all the personal one-on-one tea time that helped me see through the thick layers of fog that I once got lost in over and over again.
Kristine H., Artist