The Slave Who Learned How To Dream
(in Five Parts)workbook

The First Cup

Every year at Spring, and as the Passover story is retold for familial generations, I discover new things I must liberate and elevate of myself. These days, gladly, I no longer feel like I am a stranger to others or to myself to get the job done. Life isn’t an inhospitable desert either. Perseverance and freedom can look like a tricky thing. People love mythic stories and ones of simple men becoming heroes. So let me tell you about Master Ou.

Ten years ago, I was fascinated to meet someone who didn’t lose his temper in over thirty-five years, now forty-five years. How is that possible? What does anyone do to accomplish this? How? Over the years, I have studied him. Here a man who cultivates wide expanse of garden that bloom and fruit practically all year and far beyond its expected season. How is it possible that they do, but they do. He is neither a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Master Ou is true to his word in the areas of calm, diligence, tolerance, humility, and perseverance. He never complains. (This is altogether another feat I try my best to match in example.) He is as proud to be helpful and to be a good example to the brand of a sincere kindness without being a saint. He is good to his wife and daughter, really to everyone, and he is an excellent friend. I will add that he is the most generous individual I have ever met and that his level of generosity is of a kindness that goes deeper beyond anything monetary or of the emblematic.

Well, I said to myself, there are other famous individuals who reach such levels. And so, I began to research. Even Gandhi who is fondly remembered as Mahatma, or “the great soul”, and whose quotables I quite enjoy, was fastidious in his approach of non-violence, and yet wanted to do better no matter his stumbles. Over the holiday season, I simultaneously chuckled and gasped to have seen footage of the most generously and heart-minded of popes lose his cool when a penitent grabbed his hand too aggressively along the greeting line. The Pope’s response: He slapped that hand several times over and his face brazened towards the culprit with a sheer disgust. Pope Francis (Jorge Mario Bergoglio) earned my greatest respect all the more when he apologized the next day to the Sunday mass of gatherers at his impatience to someone’s moment of inconsideration. That he wisely shared his vulnerability to say he is as much a student as any of us in this process called Life heartened me. We all are. This includes Master Ou. I have seen many people be rude outright towards my teacher. Still, he never reacts defensively, derisively, or with anything short of a countenance of kindness or helpful cheer. He has never lost his anger or his loving way since his mid twenties. Not even with a utility company! So what is Master Ou doing differently to have achieve this?

“You need to be calmer,” he has said to me over the years, and when I would achieve more calm, he would say, “Be calmer.” “That’s it?” I would protest inside. But indeed, yes, that was it, is it. Anxiety and doubting and my being a great adherer to the unhelpful word “why”, and sometimes more deeply, why me, couldn’t really disappear unless I pledged to myself to be calmer. There has been no therapy attached, no long conversations, no monetary charge to my personal questions, (I still write to him and ask things), and no diversions and hours of exhaustive time into my having to spill out or understand my past. Things would become naturally self-evident in my growing calm. He has been right.

In calm, we start to become more aware of some of the futility of story we have narrated to ourselves. It may have served us for a time but we are ever growing in our experiences and that script may be inhibiting our lives now. We also see we can change the script. We become more vigilant about the stories we tell ourselves. We have the power to reassess. We can shift where we energize our attention; and, we can organize our intentions that the throughway becomes better streamlined and amped. We also become friendlier activators and agents to the life lessons we meet. When we have calm, we have embraced our gratitude and faith. It means we agree to go forward in peace. 

The Second Cup

The great many of us tend to get lost in opinion and self-made ideals, or what society tells us that you need get out of life to live it well. I will admit I got quite lost, over attached, and handicapped in caring too greatly about the opinions of others, and at too much a cost to myself over my years. For Master Ou, however, it is far simpler: Power, self-direction and focus is mine when I simply ask myself: How can I love more and generate a kindness, and in what better ways so these broader hopes and goals of mine show up?

How you love and choose to love — so yourself as well as others—  shapes life and structure more than anything. This is what I have evaluated from the self-evident truths of Master Ou. In return for my love, hard work and dedication, Master Ou has shown me what strong elements make a healthy and happy family. And so yes, while many of us strive to be self-made people, (and I would offer that being a self-made person is a myth), I have come to learn that you are truly self-reliant when you make yourself reliable to a better humanity at every juncture within your own world first and last, and that this momentum in turn helps shape the world for the better that lives around it.

So can we, and how can we, bring more balance between our inner and outer world?, asks Master Ou. Isn’t calm and love to everything the key? I’d have to agree now that that is it, yes. And what if I breathed more conscientiously, I ask myself, and fussed less?!

The Third Cup

In an odd way, a dedication to a calm and loving approach weaponizes the heart to be true, proudly authentic, friendlier, and free. There aren’t any power tricks. Master Ou only asks that we be open to the quiet of our own answers. I continue to learn. He has only encouraged of me, as he would anyone: become your own hero.

Master Ou believes we are all brave enough. Too often though, our inner world is often a slave to a monkey mind and so away from loving, opportune moments of an easy gratitude and simple presence. Indeed and inarguably, the outside world is a mess. Master Ou could not agree more. So much feels and appears broken; and yet for Master Ou it is in our mastering calm that we invite ourselves to become whole, if not bravely broken and open, and truly benevolent human beings. When we are calm, we heal the mess. What happens when you breathe and look in?

A calm space is neutral. It is wide. It is free from any signal of fight or flight. Calm is a flow that connects us to the beauty of each of our hearts and minds. Here, we can make our inspiring changes and review where and how we can adapt better. Calm for Master Ou is in fact the hardest virtue for any human to achieve, but if we work at it, we have an easier time with our virtues in a humility, a tolerance, a diligence and a perseverance to the wide variety of life things. That is why practicing it is a win-win. Calm is actually a large open door to everything. It is also the soul space in every one of us that guides us to be still.

When we choose peace and calm, we become grounded bodies of awareness and consciousness. We become closer to the intelligence that has made us. With increased practice, we can go even deeper and invite our being to become self-aware. To truly get there, at first you may have to dig deep. But like a miner, this is where you find trinkets and treasures to a path of an unencumbered gold.

So yes, calm is an intelligent and impermeable container to all stresses we each can choose to mindfully access, and it is at the same time a container we can achieve in the body and experience as a sensation that is flexibly life-supporting. The more we all do our individual part and work as a collective on these aspects of ourselves, our own virtues, we can fuel a better output for what we do want to change that will support all things with a higher purposefulness.

Ask any everyday mover and shaker: Any goal requires calm and patience and a consistent reshaping, too— because success is a journey and it is not an overnight. Why would matters of how to best love be any different? But maybe with Love, Master Ou suggests, a deep, sincere, supporting love, we can achieve a prosperity in gains greater than any other life endeavour would or could bring us. We become free men and free hearts to our own stories when we ascribe to a sincere and loving calm to all things.

The Fourth Cup

It is wise to learn and to master how to live comfortably as your own starting point and as your own endpoint to the great unknowns. Master Ou keeps to his standard of a loving calm in all things and all of his life moves from there. He shares with anyone willing to listen that he is as much a daily counterpoint between his good and evil inclinations, but that he chooses to stick to his standard of calm, perseverance, tolerance, diligence and humility in all things.

Because of his example, now I know in my body-mind that I am no longer a slave. I can be my own exodus and I am neither idealistic to matters of milk and honey. I prefer to choose calm in things, and when I am tested, I strive to its good. I watch how Master Ou works to make his state of mind unfettered, smooth, without bumps, composed, open, and tranquil. I now choose the opposite of a nervousness because of that. I see the great goodness it brings. My silent thoughts are now the antithesis to a violence. And though I don’t always succeed to my desired measure, I choose this space nonetheless because there is no preoccupation in the wavelengths of calm. I like the truth that one’s inner world in relation to one’s outer world is relaxed.

Personally, I haven’t words that cover my gratitude. I tried it all, and no I didn’t understand how important my sincerely making love and calm my brain game would positively alter the course of my destiny. I wasn’t an automatic learner to what a loving stillness is. I didn’t understand what it is. I wasn’t shown. I had to shed a lot. Still, Master Ou let me know by his example that I just had to show up. I neither thought or could imagine that I could arrive to a beautiful and fulfilling way of life or a true happiness with those I care about. It was not on my trajectory. My earlier self could not imagine a life in which there are no chains. Truth is I don’t see them anymore.

This doesn’t at all mean that life hasn’t its bumps or challenges, but now I can honestly say I have learned to ride the wave, and to smile to it. Nothing in my life feels cornered or heavy since applying what Master Ou has encouraged of me. I can unlock things nowIndeed, life is quite beautiful no matter I am still met with countless tests. I fail often, still— but Master Ou taught me how to see clearly, be humble to my foibles, adjust, and get up. I would also say that Master Ou, by his virtuous example, has taught me how to dream properly, too.

Wouldn’t you like to help the receptors in your brain and the cells in your body find its own internal medicine to things? When you are in a state of calm you are reversing distress. You are being anti-aging. And when you are calm, your heart field expands to see love in a way that you are being life-promoting in character at the same time. You help life.

The Fifth Cup

We all want peace but what is a hero of peace? It really begins when you begin to see your heart-print as your carbon footprint, also. Calm is a kindness and calm is a power. It is in fact our greatest and highest power for Master Ou. As we seek calm and ground our actions from a place of sincerity and love, all dreamers of a peaceful world become more than a dream. When you and I begin, all of our world can begin again. Mother Earth and the great sea that is humanity are as much counting on us.

Kindness, I have learned the hard way, is not enough if you don’t love yourself or haven’t a faith in what is. Anger is helpful to a degree but life frees a lot more when you realize injustices have nothing to do with you the great deal of the time. And yes, it’s great to be respected but it can also become petty in nature when we aren’t careful. Agreeing to live in an unagitated flow is never perfect— because life happens and it is — but one can be quite confidently peaceful and (for the most part!) quiet to what is nonetheless, surely far less a captive to fight or flight, and especially freer from anger and much anxiety. Calm helps life. Yours and mine. Peace in the world really does begin and end with you!

And so I visit my loved and beautiful teacher often and together with others we study the subject of love and kindness deeply, we practice it, and we imagine. Together, we have learned to respect the value of our calm to things. We imagine calm as a foundation in everything and we ask ourselves how we can make of any situation a more beautiful and friendly space.

Curiously, having faith in the better side of humanity and our willingness to agree to this approach, doesn’t make anyone a Polyanna as I had feared, or erase our brotherhood to another man’s suffering, nor does it inflate anger at the Designer of the Universe. In fact, it helps us feel more proud in one’s ability to up our game and to do something about it. We all can get dizzy, dejected and lost not being able to heal deep wounds in the world should we focus on elements too large for us to stop or control. Then again, you and I certainly can do our best each day and heal our world, our corner of space, our heart, and what you and I bring to ourselves and to others. In this area, you and I have much command that can create tidal shifts. How heartened I am that important steps to peace and love are up to me and you.

And so now when I feel myself getting the least bit stuck, I think of Master Ou’s example, and I affirm and say to myself: My world becomes unlimited when I am calm. The same is true for you. It doesn’t matter the emotion. Everything softens and expands around, and we each become more. Isn’t that a wonderful thing?

signaturePhotography by Marina Mashaal

My beloved teacher Master Ou Wen Wei would like to extend a gift

to all My Heartspeak readers at this offsetting time.

It is a healing song.

Kindly take a listen and feel free to listen to it often.

Master Ou has a knack for promoting calm, a more confident love in the heart, and supporting our immunity.

Enjoy his lyrics, the images from his beautiful garden, and the potential of a sincere calm as your new daily song.

Please find the link to “What is Love” at

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