The Author is Second from the right

When was the last time you encountered a life-changing event? Was it the still-ongoing COVID pandemic?

All life events affect us: a child’s birth, marriage, a family member’s illnesses, relocation, or the passing of someone dear . . . there are too many possibilities to count. These events can also happen in indirect, invisible ways—through reading books, education, meeting mentors, or even your own tender or inspirational experiences.

An event’s lasting impact and influence can be experienced by anyone. Its power can alter our practical and tangible lifestyle. But most importantly, we transform how we see, feel, and lead our own inner world.

My spiritual life traveled bumpy roads for so many years. The reality of my life was hard when I was little. Since then, my desire to stay spiritual has been the priority of my life. But I long refused to fantasize about a spiritual dream. I knew it would become a delusion if I allowed myself to indulge in that fantasy.

Later in my life in Japan, I began to experience something sacred and spiritual. I experienced many moments of serenity and the sacred despite my challenging life and pains. Now I would enjoy that life—experiencing all the pains and emotions together. But back then, such duality of life tormented me. I thought they were lies. I was so critical of myself, unable to accept “the lies.”


One night about a year before I moved to the States in 1990, I was in a deep state of Shavasana, corpse pose, on the old rusty wooden floor at one of the temples in Tokyo. For the past several years, I’d been practicing yoga here weekly with a group of friends.

On the floor in the pose, there was only a dim orange light in the distance. In my deep meditative state, I inhaled only once or twice per minute after extremely prolonged exhalations. Then something happened to me: I was hit by light. The brightest, cleanest, sharpest, bluish-white light—light with clear, eight-pointed outward projections—shot me through my heart.

A thousandth of a second after the hit, all my muscles contracted while my heart gushed out unexplainable warmth to my whole body. In that very second, I must have died and revived—the sensations from all five senses that I’ve never forgotten to date. Back then, the light became the entire world for a while. My whole existence was enveloped by light, love, and acceptance.

Back then, nobody knew I was suffering. I had a career as a dentist and a researcher, was married to my first husband and had a lifestyle that allowed us the freedom to indulge in hobbies, vacations and traveling, and occasional dining at fabulous restaurants. But in fact, I was separated from my husband and wasn’t happy. I’d been engaged in yoga and spiritual pursuits for a while, and I’d had incredibly beautiful moments. But afterward, those moments just became reminders of the lies I was living.

After that incident with the light, I didn’t cling to what I’d experienced;  instead, I became anxious about still holding the duality of my life—the lies. But other things that happened around that time helped me recognize that the light was an indication that I needed to change my life. I needed to move out of what I’d soaked myself in before and start a new life. I was eager to integrate the sacred and mundane into ONE, but I didn’t yet know how.

Afterward, that would become a quest of my life. Within a year after the incident during the yoga, I divorced my first husband and departed from Japan to the US.


Life is a journey of self-searching hunts. Filled with life-changing events and associated pains and sufferings, we move forward. Sometimes we get stuck and have to pause. But no matter how difficult and hurtful it seems, we gain insights and find a way to navigate ourselves through these experiences. When it’s too difficult, we may find an alternative way to get through difficulties. We may ask for help from families, friends, or communities or even seek professional help or support.

But when we stay on course with curiosity, open-mindedness, and forward-lookingness, things move forward, flowing us toward the places we’re meant to find. On this journey, tenacity, resilience, and sincerity with ourselves and others are what will bring us a bright future. We share the common ground with hope and love in our hearts, w—hand in hand, heart to heart with other people. Even today, with our COVID-required social distancing.

It is like a video game to ultimately find “The Treasure” in one of many, many rooms. There are so many doors to open. As we visit one door after another, each room and area provides us with some wisdom, some moment of awakening. There’s no “one right way” to find The Treasure. But if you skip some rooms or spend so much time in one room, it will take a much longer time to find it. Sometimes we may want to give up or pause for a while. But by the time we reach “the door” beyond which we will find The Treasure, we’ll have learned so much already. We’ll have a sense of “knowingness.”

Inside the door, we will find our own Treasures.

In my case, I found myself before I came into the world.