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Bridge Generation

I was born in the Far East,
Played as a child in the Middle East, and
Came of age in the West.

My native tongue was Mandarin Chinese,
I learned first Queen's English, and now
I dream in American English.

I trained in science, did cancer research,
Crossed over healthcare's business divide, then
Began an entrepreneurial adventure.

When I experienced oppression,
I learned about freedom and self-reliance, and
Hold individual freedom my highest value.

Division and Contradiction led me to
Humanity's inner wisdom, and now I serve
As a member of a Bridge Generation.

2000ish, Redondo Beach CA.

Never Forgotten, 9-11

September 14, 2001

Your eyes once met
A day anew,
Life welcomed you.
World awaited you.
Little did you know,
Even in wildest dreams,
Could you ever guess -
That the World crumbled
Right at Home.
With one swift slice,
Thousands - silenced.
Voices melted.
Lives fused
To steel and stone.
The heat of fuel.
The deafening boom
As God is shocked
By astounding hate
And unreachable minds
of Mad Men.
As we weep,
We wished to send -
Your lives were not in vain,
Your deaths are not in vain.
As you had touched
With the beauty of your lives,
You will forever touch
With the tragedies of your deaths.
Because now the bond
That ties us all
Through justice and peace
Will bear your names.

2001, Redondo Beach CA


Another Friday evening comes
Tuning down the midi hums
Here I sit at my desk and stare
Somewhat jaded and aware
I still wonder through scores passed
At how life oft times feels harassed
Many who knows me don’t believe
Of despairing thoughts I can conceive
Perhaps because I know too much
I long evaded a healer’s touch
So my head churns out bits of rhyme
To work through this confusing time

When I was just five years old
I decided that the world was cold
Then I lived with life for ten
Children became the pawn of men
Young girls run to sweet sixteen
I wait for heaven I’ve yet not seen
Soon life began to up its stake
Pain to sleep and pain to wake
The prime of being twenty-five
Became a thorn for being alive
Spirit cajoled me, “Stay one more
Year to see what life has in store.”

So I stayed to wait a while
I had forgotten how to smile
For me the beauty of love’s rose
Only happened on TV shows
Words became a panicked rant
Peace assumed a dying slant
Death’s still-forbidden cocoon
Allured my senses all too soon

Struggling through my torturous plight
Love calls to me, “Child of Light!”
I look up and said “You’re nuts.
I’m only full of ‘if’s and but’s’.”
Love explains, “I’ll give you a ride
Just until you get back your stride.”
Suspiciously, I looked ahead
Life still seems but dark and dread
I crossed my arms and narrowed my eyes
I tried to decipher the graying skies

Love says, “Keep your feet on the ground,
Forget about that thundering sound
Thank the raindrops that may come
For the rain is the spirit’s rum
You will not need a place to hide
When you’re protected from the inside
Falling down does not make you meek
Strength means naught without the weak
Your spirit’s compassion through your pain
Weaves golden lining after the rain
Your self becomes the healing coals
In the fireplace of other shivering souls.”

1989, Syracuse NY

this skin

this skin, this hair, these eyes
cry ASIAN! with no restraint
no matter how much peroxide
how many layers of makeup
trying to conceal our very identity

the other day a girl with the last name hsieh
pronounced it "shay"
why i wondered
does it feel better to sound american
a name with no harsh c-sounds to be made fun of
a name people can't misspell
wanting to fit in
an american word like chin
sounds harsh after our names

i wanted to yell at the girl in the magazine
who wished she were white
be proud!
we have five thousand years of history!
invented paper
won nobel prizes
but the mocking sounds of
reduce the great wall to
a pile of crumbles

1989, Ithaca NY

Little Girl

Hey Little Girl
You're still carrying yesterday's wounds in your back pocket
And every time you sit down they jab you

You daren't throw them out because you'll see them
When you reach in to pull them out and you'll remember
How you felt yesterday when you were young
And your eyes darkened with the hurt that you felt

You keep walking
Hoping to find a comfortable chair
A chair that takes you as you are - with thorns

No chair can take away thorns in your backpocket
No matter how comfortable and yielding
Only you can free your jagged splinters
And take a seat before you collapse from exhaustion
From always walking

1996, Syracuse NY


You crawl on your bloodied knees to the door
Questioning what you got bloodied for
Is it the money or the glory
Of yet another impressive story
If you shed your blood and tears
Will you finally lose your fears
Will you work your roles uncertain
Till the day comes to draw your curtain
Even as you look in the face of love
You catch glimpse shadows of the dove
You long yearned to be understood
To know your life is for any good
To wonder whether your noble quest
Boils away in the court of jest
Breathe deep and let word speak its truth
Fear not when echoes fail to soothe
All the trophies standing on your shelf
Only prove lies you tell yourself
For all you paint with color and hue
Are meant to reflect the shades of you
And Life has no time to be blind
When you have no option to rewind

1997, Syracuse NY


Do you have a minute to spare me, sir?
You live such a busy life.
I may simply be a scythe,
Chunking off your precious time,
Writing you in nonsense rhyme.
Big things for me are but trivial to you,
Simple gestures you once told me
I were to see with the eyes of my heart...
Tell me, sir, when do I start?
I don't ask for sculptures made from ice
Or letters of love up in the clouds
Or cymbols that ring the shouts
Of love or affections.
I don't ask for commodities and stones
That pale beside the sand of time
Glittering against a setting sun.
I can hold my own,
I won't look into your hour glass
For loose bits of sand to grasp in
My hand to keep in
My sleep.
For you can only tend one sheep,
And I,
I am but a piglet in your busy barn.

1997, Syracuse NY


An introduction to Celebrating Divine Presence by Knoles et al [See Book on Amazon]

This book came to me at a time when I was going through a life transition: I had just become a parent.

Ten years ago, when I was a biochemistry graduate student, I did"timed" experiments in the laboratory. I was supposed to add chemicals to cells in petri dishes every two hours and observe how the chemicals affected cell growth over time. I would often miss one or two time-points because I couldn't wake up in time, even when I slept overnight at the lab. In the early months as a new mother, I woke up every two hours to feed my baby, a feat that I am relieved that I was able to accomplish. I have "adaptation scars", however: a gash on my ankle when I tripped over myself in the pitch black of night and cut my right ankle with my left toenail, a cut on my finger in a moment of fatigue when I pushed my fingers against the inside metal edge of the formula container, a welt on my scalp where I pushed the hairpins too hard too quickly in my hurry to tie back my hair to see what I was doing at 2am.

Those of you who have parented a newborn will understand why I saw"getting through each day" as a meditation in itself. Every day was different, unpredictable, full of highs and lows, with the promise to do it all again the next day.

Yet what caught me off-guard was not the sleep deprivation or blurred boundaries between night and day. What blindsided me was the revelation of how much I had equated myself with external qualifiers and the roles I had played. I defined myself by the goals I achieved, money I made, and how well I performed as a career professional and entrepreneur. In making a conscious decision to become a stay-at-home mom for at least my son's first year of life, I was ill prepared for the ego pathologies that would emerge.

This switch of gears from "performance to participation" led me to ask the question, "Who Am I?"

I had asked this question before, but now more was at stake. My son may ask me this question one day.

When I first received this book, I thought I was going to learn about different religions and faith traditions. What I did not expect was an invitation to the intensely personal journey of the struggle and desire for truth.

As I read each personal account of a faith tradition, I saw a reflection of my thoughts and feelings in the thoughts and feelings of my fellow travelers. You learn about the basic tenets of each faith. You may form an idea of the similarities and differences between faiths, and, like me, you may gain insight into the origin of faith-based conflict. But I am most grateful for the companionship each contributing author offers for what is a solitary journey to the Self. Each explores in his or her own unique way the question, "Who Am I?", through a personal journey to The Divine, and ultimately a return to the Self.

There is no shortage of commercially available packages for enlightenment and spiritual prescription. Workshops and seminars abound, each claiming to be a solution that I may be seeking. In the past, I had been quick to discard and discount what I considered "a spiritual fad". Given today's ease of connecting through technology, viral marketing has left its mark on spiritual programs. Gurus partnered with talk show hosts. Celebrities lend leverage to spiritual products and services. In Karl Moeller's account of the Sufi tradition, where our spiritual journey is not only about rules or guidelines, I considered the possibility that all solutions may be potentially valid solutions for someone, somewhere, at some time in the course of their life. The idea that there is "no single recipe for enlightenment" made sense to me. What does not work for me may help another, as our journeys converge. I embraced the idea that popularizing spiritual exploration engages those who may otherwise not give this subject a second glance.

Having spent decades in school, I came to see knowledge as critical; after all, "knowledge is power". If I acquired more knowledge, wouldn't this get me closer to the truth I sought? As I read Thomas M. Knoles' explanation of Vedanta, I understood that information is not the end, but a means. Knowledge in itself is not power without the Knower, because knowledge is a scaffold that we build from or a ledge we can spring forth to increased understanding. The journey is about merging into something bigger. The aim is not to expand the "known", but instead, to expand the "Knower". Only then can I shift from desiring to experience inspiration to becoming inspiration.

This book also came to me at a time when I began questioning the role of spiritual teachers, philosophers, and gurus. I was puzzled by popular philosophers who espoused evolution of consciousness yet exhibited behaviors that appeared to fly in the face of what they preached. Therefore, reading Kelly William McCabe's vivacious description of Hinduism gave me relief and excitement. I was relieved as I read the words that confirmed my suspicion that the true spiritual teachers in this world are not those who have the gift of spiritual gab, but people whose manifestation of light and love are visible without clever marketing. Many of these people are not charismatic spiritual celebrities and don't have sophisticated websites, yet the way they conduct themselves through their lives and in relationship with other human beings are exemplary of goodness and truth.

When I came to this line by McCabe: "I remember reading {about} some young famous western philosopher... and finding out what a mess he had made of his life and thinking 'why in the world would anybody pay attention to the ideas - however intellectually brilliant they may be - of someone who was so obviously screwed up?' I wrote in the margins,"YES! YES! I want to shake {McCabe's} hand for saying this!" Common sense has become a rarity in books dealing with spiritual topics. What I had found in these words is an affirmation that a spiritual "system" is relevant to me if it helps me get closer to my journey home. Philosophical eloquence may satiate my intellectual mind temporarily, but words do not get me closer to my authentic self. Words that come from those who work by double standards are like a person with bad credit trying to tell me I have poor financial sense.

If you are considering a spiritual path and reading this book to decide "which one," what I have learned from these authors is simply"start". Any beginning is a worthwhile beginning to your journey. Through your intention of searching, you may discover as I have discovered, that in the process of aiming for your destination, the beauty of your path unfolds in magical ways. Sacredness is not in the show of miracles, but in the subtle beauty of ordinary lives, including your own. You only have to connect with the gifts that come your way every day, pay attention when a gift shows up, and say "Yes" to invitations that resonate with you. I said "Yes" to the commitment of spending one year to doing only what I love to do. This led me to say "Yes" to an online Friend Request from Laurent Weichberger, which led me to say "Yes" to many profound conversations with him, to this point of saying "Yes" to sharing my thoughts with you here. Lopon Tsultim Wangmo said "Yes" to an invitation on a postcard that was mistakenly delivered to her. This led her to say "Yes" to hours of chanting in a foreign language she did not understand, which led her to the Buddhist path. Will you say "Yes" to an invitation to your personal journey's magical unfolding?

"That I Am" is at once the path and the destination in this personal journey into The Divine, but until I read this book, I had forgotten that the key word here is "personal". The single most critical variable we get to work with - that we CAN work with - in this lifetime, is ourselves.

In closing, if I may suggest an approach to reading this book, I would recommend that you allow Laurent Weichberger's chapter on Listening be your guide. Many of us listen for the sake of grabbing the baton and speaking our views. I know I am often guilty of letting my mind chatter ceaselessly instead of purely listening to the speaker. Laurent takes the art of listening one step further and reminds us to be aware of listening only for our own experiences for the purpose of turning the conversation to ourselves. Laurent's chapter asks that we focus on the speaker even as we are unsure where the speaker is taking us. Is this embrace in the unknown, to follow without constantly wanting to lead, the very act of Faith?

In Gratitude,

Jane Chin, Ph.D.