More Cancer–More Learning

img_1034So the cancer is back. Two small tumors in the same area as the last time, but since I had surgery, the organs are no longer there. This means that the tumors are in my peritoneal lining which makes surgically removing them very difficult. Technically, I have metastatic colorectal cancer which is incurable…according to conventional medicine.

But as you all know, I’m anything but conventional. Like a gift from God, a few months before I was diagnosed, I was hired by a non-profit called Commonweal to work on their Beyond Conventional Cancer Therapies website. My boss is Michael Lerner has been working with cancer patients for over 30 years. He is the author of Choices in Healing, a book I read the first time I had cancer. Every week I have a Zoom call with Michael, an oncology nurse, a medical researcher, and a grant maker whose father died of cancer. This is for work, mind you. 

So when I told my colleagues I had a recurrence of cancer, they knew exactly how to react–with compassion, wisdom, and generous listening. For example, when I learned that the median life span for peritoneal cancer is 6-12 months, I sent Laura, the oncology nurse, an email asking her if these were the odds I was facing. She sent me a simple email:

I suggest you read this article by Stephen J. Gould called “The Median isnt the Message”   and see if you don’t see some similarities between you and Gould that might guide you toward the right-hand side of the bell curve—-the side where 50% of people outlive the prognosis compared to  those who sit right in the middle or to the left of the bell curve.

This shifted my mood, my perspective, and my capacity for hope. I have already passed the 6 month mark, so I guess things weren’t as dire as they sounded at diagnosis.

This new bout with cancer has deepened my understanding of healing, life, and grace. I have already been gifted so much by so many. I thought I had used up all my free passes the first time I had cancer, but it seems that my friends, my family, and the Universe just keep giving with no expectation of returns.

I hope these blog entries can be of service to anyone else who is facing a life-threatening illness. I also would like to use this space to offer gratitude to all who are walking this path on the edge of darkness with me. I love you all. Thank you for your care, support, wisdom, and love.

 

 

5 Gifts from Facing Mortality

One thing this new diagnosis has done for me is place mortality front and center in my windshield of life. I’ve always known intellectually about the impermanence of life, but now it seems visceral rather than intellectual. Facing mortality has been challenging, but has also bestowed many unexpected gifts.

1) Slowing Down

This latest prognosis has really forced me to slow down. I eat slower, sleep longer, work less, and try not to get too revved up. I even drive slower. Dr. Tom says that any cortisol in my system causes inflammation which increases pain and causes tumors to grow. Any time I let my emotions get the best of me, I am releasing cortisol in my system.

Lately, I have been really good about staying in a joyful emotional state, and the pain has decreased, my sleep is better, and my energy levels are way up. But yesterday, I let my sons get the best of me and flashed into a fit of anger that lasted for hours, and what do you know, I didn’t sleep well and have some mild pain today.

I recently hosted a webinar with Prakash Shellikeri who survived Stage 4 prostate cancer using holistic practices like pranayama and Mind Sound Resonance Technique (MSRT). Prakash said all yoga is about slowing down. Pranayama extends my breathing out to almost a minute per breath. Toning and sound healing force me to sit or lay down and feel into the resonant frequencies, tones, and pitches of different parts of my body.

I even chew my food more. Dr. Tom suggests that my meals should take almost an hour since I am chewing more and savoring the food. I also try not to eat while standing or watching TV or driving.

Life has been wonderful at this slower pace. On the practical side, even if my life span is shortened, if I slow down, I am living more and longer!

2) Freedom from Consumerism

After I learned about my prognosis, a bizarre thought arose in my mind: “I won’t ever have to buy another pair of jeans again.” The same goes for cars, houses, furniture, etc. It was a bit of a relief to tell the truth.

Fortunately or unfortunately, both my jeans ripped in the knees and I did have to buy more jeans, but it seemed like a privilege to purchase more clothes rather than an obligation or an addiction. Like most Americans, I have wanted more, bigger, and better material things throughout life. I used to dream of securing a house at Rincon Point in Santa Barbara, a new Tesla (a wish that continuously upgraded with each new Tesla model to be released), the newest iPhone every year, a bigger TV, etc.

Now, I’m happy just living life with what I already have, although I did purchase some protective equipment for skateboarding, but I consider that a type of medical insurance.

3) Communing with Others

In the past few months, my life has been full of deep, intimate relationships–and this is during shelter in place! I am reading a book called Angels in my Hair by Lorna Byrne. Lorna sees and has seen angels her whole life. She claims that angels are always by our side. This is what my life feels like right now. I not only have human angels who comfort, guide, and care for me, but also spiritual angels always by my side.

I have also had the pleasure of communing with loved ones and other cancer patients in a number of healing circles. These circles tend to go very deep very fast. No time for chit chat. We got straight to the jugular of existence. (bad pun)

I am blessed that I consider my three healers dear friends. Dr. Cynthia Li signs her emails to me, “Love, Cynthia.” I can’t tell you how many friends, relatives, and acquaintances I have said “I love you” to after a phone call or visit. I have never felt more loved and more loving in my entire life.

4) Awakening the Empath

I was listening to a talk by Judith Orloff who wrote The Empath’s Survival Guide. She said that “healing of trauma and awakening of the empath happen at the same time.”  This healing journey has not only been in the body, but also in spirit, emotions, and relationships. I am releasing traumas that I had no idea I was still storing in my physical, emotional, and spiritual body.

The more I heal, the more I sense into being an empath. Michael Lerner, my boss and dear friend, had to go to the hospital today for an aneurism. Cynthia Li, my intuitive doctor, is also Michael’s friend and doctor. When we heard that Michael had to go to the hospital, Cynthia intuited into the nature of the problem and concluded that the aneurism was stable and no emergency procedure was needed. Today, the tests confirmed that this diagnosis was right on target. I texted Cynthia how amazed I was that she could come up with this diagnosis without even seeing Michael. She texted back, “PS you can do this too!”

I feel like everyone has deep connections with their intuitive self, but trauma, society, cultural norms, and self-doubt obscure our natural ability. Healing my body, mind, and spirit has opened new doors of intuition, empathy, and love. What a gift!

5) Experiencing the Grace of Serendipity

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The past few months have been like a real life version of the film Serendipity. But rather than finding my soul mate, I’m being led to my true life. So many mysterious “coincidences” have happened in the past few months. A friend who I haven’t spoken to in 5 years calls out of the blue and tells me he has prostate cancer. I share with him the qigong videos by Master Mingtong Gu. The next weekend he gifts me a ticket to an online summit with Master Mingtong which leads me to purchase a monthly master class on sound healing which includes live “Practice with the Master” zoom calls. In the first zoom call, I notice that Joe Vitale is in the audience. Joe wrote a book on ho‘oponopono called Zero Limits. This inspires me to restart my Hawaiian healing prayer which I do barefoot outside. The next day, another friend sends me The Earthing Movie which is about how walking barefoot everyday lowers inflammation and helps the body heal. The combination of qigong, sound healing, earthing, and breath work have decreased my pain level from 7 to 2 on a 10 point scale.

It seems like everywhere I turn something mysterious is brewing. I have a theory that the more serendipity I experience the more in flow I am with life’s rhythms. Since facing mortality I have definitely tuned into life’s flow on a deeper level.

These gifts have improved my quality of life in so many ways. I have no idea how long I have to live, but I do know that I am surrounded by angels, feeling love more than in the past, and surfing the waves of serendipity.  What more can I ask for?

 

A Glimpse of the Ineffable

jolandaA few weeks ago, I was honored to host a call with Jolanda van den Berg. Jolanda had a traumatic event 5 years ago that catalyzed a complete awakening from the form into the formless–she saw how her identity was an illusion:

“So what I saw 5 years ago, that the Jolanda character was really never there. That is the illusion of existence, you could say. It defines you, so you can never define the other way around. It is too complicated. It is not only too complicated, it is impossible. Why I didn’t speak for 5 years because it is a story in a story. So if people think that it happened to me, that is not true. Because what you see is that there was never a person experiencing anything. So the words that come out of me are just coming out without me doing anything. But as a person we believe that we are talking, but there is just talking, to say it like that. Whatever that is, is it.”

Being in the presence (over Zoom) with Jolanda was indescribable. I couldn’t really grasp intellectually what she experienced, but at the end of the call, I felt a lightness of being and a joy beyond words. So many things Jolanda shared with us that day stayed with me:

  • For me love means everything that seems to appear. That means love for me. So the one you are with in this moment, the seemingly one you are with, is your biggest lover. That can be a cake, that can be your wife, that can be the sun. That is what love is for me. Or that can be a thought or the sadness of someone you lost that you are still identified with. There is only love for me.
  • From a personal perspective it feels like you have to reach something or you have to change something or you have to be someone or whatever. In my perspective, everything that seems to come in the picture is what I am, you could say. And without that I wouldn’t even exist or even imagine that I exist. It is fascinating. You become the fascination itself.
  • Beauty for me is the same like a feeling. For me there is nothing more beautiful when someone is falling through her/himself. There is the identification as a person and then when someone fall out of identification, then you see the beauty. And that is the same beauty as the light in the trees at 5:30 in the afternoon. And that is the same beauty of seeing someone in love with whatever there is. It is all the same beauty for me. For me it was always nice bringing people together and just being there. No one has to be special or not special, everything is just what it is. And that is beauty for me.
  • Enjoy life. That is the most beautiful thing we can be for each other. Just be open and loving. That is the most beautiful thing you can do. I think everything is perfect exactly the way it is, so I don’t have wishes in that sense.

After the official interview ended, Jolanda stayed on the line with a few of us. I asked her about pain, since I just had a rough night with neuropathy pain. Here is what she said:

Then I would say, your name is pain. How life presents itself in that moment is by pain. And somehow if you see it like that, then you can even be happy– because without that pain you wouldn’t even  exist.

It’s completely opposite of the personal identification. If you can wake up in that pain and see the love in even the pain then nothing in life can pull you from the lightness.

Who is this woman? I felt deep wisdom in this approach to pain. Pain as life’s presence in the moment, so that we might even see the love in the pain. I can’t really understand this statement, but I can feel it. Now when I have pain, I try to remind myself that this is my aliveness for the moment.

Later, another volunteer told Jolanda about my diagnosis. Jolanda sent an email and invited me and another cancer patient to sit in dialogue with her (which we scheduled for July 17th, so stay tuned.) In her email, Jolanda shifted my perspective again:

…I noticed that especially with people who are identified with life and death themes, to call it like that, can use some neutral energy, someone who doesn’t see them as “that person with cancer” but just a person as a story, like we all are. I think there is so much projection on seemingly sickness, pain and death, especially from the people who are not sick. The only thing I know is that I build a whole fantasy world out of fear, without knowing, and that night when it all fell away, you could call it dying, after the first part, hours of extreme pain of a mix of physical and emotional, and then, that last incredible feeling of being taken over like a free fall was the most wonderful feeling I ever experiences ever and worth all the pain, like after giving birth to your child. That was for me like an extra present and therefore its impossible not to feel that, also, when I hear stories about dying, because it feels like they are the chosen ones for me. Like I know the birthday present that is waiting for them because in that very moment of the free fall all comes together where we never really were. And of course I can see also from a personal perspective that pain and dying is quite the opposite. Soooo, Im very honored to meet the chosen ones, which we all are of course in my world of no beginnings nor ends.

So grateful for this guidance and love that has entered my life through the back door. Just another gift that cancer has dropped on my doorstep.

The Stillness That Is Always Available

Today, I ran out of Gabapentin, my pain medication. Surprisingly, I have had little pain, and my urination improved drastically. Dr. Tom, one of my energy healers, said any medication forces the liver to work harder, so when I don’t take the pain medication, my liver can recover.

I told Dr. Tom I had to get to an appointment with a cranial osteopath, and he said, “Oh, I can fix your bones with virtual reality. Go onto the internet and find a picture of a perfect spine. Look at that picture and imagine that that is your spine. You will feel your muscles moving to accommodate the new image.” He gave me a quick example.

“First, turn you neck both directions. Now, imagine you are Gumby and see your neck rotating 360 degrees five times.”

After I did the visualization, my neck could rotate noticeably more.

Then I drove to Portola Valley to see Alistair Moresi, a cranial osteopath. The office was tucked into the redwoods and birds flew all around just outside the sliding glass door. Alistair, who is from Australia, had that relaxed friendliness that I have noticed in many Australians.

When I told him my diagnosis, Alistair displayed a lot of compassion. Apparently, he has another patient with metastatic peritoneal cancer. He laid me on the table and gently held, moved, and lifted different parts of my body.

While he was doing this, I felt a deep release both physically and beyond. I started reciting the first line of the Lord’s Prayer in Aramaic–Abwoon D’bwashmaya. Both the cranial osteopath and the Aramaic prayer were suggested to me by Dr. Cynthia Li. My breath deepened as I settled into an awake form of sleep.

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When he finished, Alistair said, “I want you to feel what you are feeling right now. You drop into stillness very quickly. The stillness you feel inside is always available to you. In fact, it is the same stillness in this room, and the same stillness that is always present in nature.” Alistair pointed to the redwoods on the patio.

“Try to hold onto that stillness like a barnacle. Things will start to move in slow motion. You will still have things to get done, but you won’t be in a harried state.”

He said that there was a blockage in my liver and lymphatic system right below my rib cage. The blockage went through my diaphragm, which was interesting because my dear friend Pavi had just told me about a mother who healed her son just by helping him use his diaphragm correctly.

I also thought about the tonal healing sounds I was practicing. The liver sound is a hard “T” sound that made my diaphragm and liver jump inside my body. I feel like I am opening up these blockages from multiple angles–weening off medication, energy healing, qigong, tonal healing, and cranial osteopathy.

I don’t know what the results of releasing these blockages will be. I have no idea if it will affect the tumors, but I have to say that the stillness and ease I feel are antithetical to the dis-ease that the conventional doctors diagnosed.

Update

After the appointment, I skateboarded for a few hours then came home and went to bed. That is when the pain came in force. Alistair had said not to be too quick giving up the Gabapentin because pain can release stress hormones that will take me out of the stillness. I was up until 3 am in pain. I finally took three 100 mg capsules of Gabapentin that I had left over from a previous prescription. I then did hip circles and chi ball exercises until I fell asleep. Seems like I’m not ready to ween off pain meds yet.

Alistair had told me to drink a lot of water, which I didn’t. So I might have been dehydrated. After I fell asleep, I slept until 8:30 am when I had to get up to host an Awakin Call with Jolanda Van Den Berg. Jolanda had an experience 5 years ago that allowed her to see a state of no self that abides until this day.  

I asked her about waking up with pain, and she said something like notice the pain arising without attaching any meaning to it. You may even be able to get to the point of realizing that this pain is a gift because it is the reason you are aware of living. You can even see the love in the pain. 

It was a powerful reframe for me. Part of my insomnia stemmed from my shame of having to go back on Gabapentin and thoughts of pain being an indication of a growing tumor or even the need for palliative care. 

I feel a lot lighter now, almost the same stillness I felt with Alistair. Pain comes and goes, but the stillness remains–unless I fall back into a story.

The only thing that won’t lie to you!

I recently had a CT scan. The results were that one of the tumors stayed the same size and had necrotic (dead) cells in the middle. The other tumor grew from 4.1 cm to 5.0 cm. The oncologist sees this as a threat and wants to start chemo as soon as possible. 


When I checked with my three healers they all asked the same question, “How are you feeling?” Dr. Tom said, “Your body is the only thing that will not lie to you?” I am feeling great: more energy every day, sleeping better, good appetite, good digestion, lower pain, and amazing social support. I have been doing qigong every day, as well as sound healing qigong. I even did a half-day retreat with Master Mingtong who says, “It is all about moving the energy, releasing the blockages that cause disease.”

Cynthia Li has dialed in my supplements, diet, and exercise using her intuition and medical background. When I asked her about chemo, she intuited into all the drugs the oncologist prescribed then said, “I get a definitive no, for now.” So I’m going to continue on the healing path I’m currently on for now and not switch to a chemo-centered path. 


Last night, a dear friend brought up a quotation by Bruno Barnhart, we humans prefer manageable complexity over unmanageable simplicity.” I am choosing unmanageable simplicity for now. I don’t know what will happen, but I am reveling in the presence of simplicity. 


On a side note, I have been skateboarding with my sons at a local skatepark every day. Dr. Tom said, “The more childish you are, the more powerful you are.” Grateful for the daily practice of play with my sons. My oncologist was amazed that I even got out everyday to walk the dogs. When I told her I skateboarded for 3 hours the day before, she was in shock.

One thing I realized is that my oncologist hasn’t “seen” me in over 3 months. All of my appointments are by phone, not Facetime nor Zoom, but audio call. She hasn’t taken any vital signs, weighed me, or physically examined me since the shelter in place. The blood work I did before the CT scan shows all my levels returning to normal. My red and white blood cell counts are a tad low, but Cynthia says that my body is still recovering from inflammation, so it will take time for those counts to come up.

My three healers have a dramatically different attitude than my oncologist. The oncologist is afraid that the cancer will grow and kill me. She really cares, but her care is based in fear: “We are both the same age, Mr. Hattori. I want you to live as long as possible.”

My three healers, on the other hand, have little doubt that I will come back to wholeness. “You are getting suspiciously better, Kozo,” said John Lavack, one of my energy healers. “You can live 20-30 more years. It is up to you; how you control your attitude and emotions,” said Dr. Tom. He also asked me, “the CT scan says the tumor has grown, but is it harder or softer?”

After the CT scans, Cynthia said, “Indeed, things can seemingly get worse (with increased energy flow) before they get better.” Followed by, “I’m so grateful for your quality of life and where you are spiritually. Those are extraordinarily important.”

She also texted me, “And thank you for being in this world. We need you around in the earthly plane. So negotiate your greatest purpose with your guardians beyond the veil.” Having these three extremely open-hearted and positive mentors in my life gives me purpose and hope to live a long, productive, joy-full life. What more could I ask for?

My Three Healers

When the patient is ready, a healer will appear.

Although I have an oncologist, surgeon, and radiologist on my medical team, most of the healing seems to be going on outside of conventional medicine. The oncologist wants to put me on what is called “palliative chemo,” which is not intended to cure the cancer; instead, the chemo just makes your life less painful as you die.

So I turned to other forms of healing. A friend from meditation referred me to Dr. Tom, an energy healer. Dr. Tom, a former engineer, has a straight forward manner and approach to healing. “You can live 20-30 more years, Kozo. It is all up to you–how you control your emotions.” Always smiling, Dr. Tom advocates the power of positivity. Stress causes inflammation which causes dis-ease including cancer. Positive thoughts release dopamine and other hormones which reduce inflammation. Negative thoughts and emotions release cortisol which leads to stress>inflammation. It is so simple…until I tried to control my thoughts and emotions.

Amazingly, since working with Dr. Tom, I have become acutely aware of when cortisol is released in my body. This allows me to “check myself, before I wreck myself.” I thought I caused the heightened awareness, until Dr. Tom said, “I am increasing your ability to sense stress with the energy I am sending.”

Dr. Tom calls me on Facetime, asks a few questions, then hangs up and “works on me.” One week, I experienced debilitating pain at the surgical site. After I told Dr. Tom, I hung up and laid down. Within a few minutes, I was asleep. When I woke up, he called back, “How are you doing now?” he asked. “I have no pain,” I replied in amazement.

John Lavack is another energy healer I am working with. A student of the Bengston method of energy healing, John has an 80% success rate with cancer patients. Although John practices the cycling technique of Bengston, he also has his own methodology of healing. As soon as he started working with me, he noticed a dark cloud of sadness, resignation, and grief in my peritoneal area.

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I had always considered myself an optimistic, happy, positive person. But John uncovered some grief and sadness that I wasn’t even aware of. As I allowed myself to grieve, sometimes for things I didn’t even understand, this cloud in my guts began to disperse. I realize now that I was living out the phrase “tears of a clown.” Although I offered the world a smiling, positive facade, deep down I had sorrow in my heart (and guts). “You’re getting suspiciously happier, Kozo,” remarked John during my last session.

Last but not least is Dr. Cynthia Li. A few months ago, I was tapped to host an Awakin Call with a doctor named Cynthia Li, who is trained in functional medicine, acupuncture, qigong, and intuitive medicine. The day before the call, I caught a docuseries about Radical Remissions. One of the featured patients was Cynthia Li! Cynthia had been through a near death experience with an autoimmune illness, which she documents in her book Brave New Medicine.

I felt deeply connected with Cynthia on the Awakin Call, but when some audience members asked how they could become her patient, she said that she wasn’t taking any patients at this time.

A few weeks later, I had COVID-19-like symptoms. My boss, Michael Lerner, who is a close personal friend of Cynthia, called her and asked her to take me on as a patient. A few minutes later, Cynthia texted me and said that she would call me later that afternoon.

Just before the scheduled call time, Cynthia texted and said she needed 25 more minutes to meditate and scan my body. When we finally met, she said that her intuition told her that the illness I was experiencing wasn’t viral, but bacterial. She prescribed antibiotics.

“I haven’t taken antibiotics in 25 years,” I protested.

“Let me check with my intuition again,” replied Cynthia closing her eyes and moving her lips.

“My intuition says that this will really help you, but you don’t have to take them if you don’t want to,” she said.

I ended up taking the antibiotics and I was on my feet feeling great in less than a day. Not only that but my neuropathy was better.

In her book, Cynthia talks about contracting Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) her second year of residency. After 3 months, she recovered. But “the reality was, after acute mono resolves, EBV hibernates in white blood cells…when the immune system becomes suppressed or dysfunctional (like from chronic stress, shift work, nutritional deficiencies, or gut inflammation), viruses like EBV can rise up and throw a ‘reactivation’ party” (192).

Earlier this year in March, I went to the emergency room for a horrible flu. After testing negative for Influenza, the doctors assumed I had COVID-19, but that test came back negative. I was bedridden for a whole week.

“That first bout was likely bacterial too,” Cynthia surmised.

The bacterial infection was taxing my body, which inhibited it from fighting the cancer, kind of like a cascade effect. Cynthia’s intuition helped heal not only the respiratory illness, but perhaps some deeper issues that were affecting my overall health.

She also intuited that I was low in minerals like selenium and zinc, which I had been taking the first time I had cancer, but stopped after I had my tumor surgically removed.

“Usually, I prescribe magnesium with selenium and zinc, but with you I’m not getting a hit for magnesium,” queried Cynthia.

Later, when I told her that my right kidney was only 2% functional, she said, “That is why I didn’t get a hit for magnesium, because magnesium can cause kidney problems.”

This amazing process of using her intuition, then checking it with her medical knowledge guides Cynthia to some of the most novel and effective treatments.

Cynthia also got me doing one and a half hours of qigong a day. When I protested that this was too much, Cynthia replied, “In the qigong hospitals, patients do this for 4-6 hours a day.” I have been doing the practices for about a week now, and my neuropathy pain is lower and my energy is substantially higher.

I am so grateful for these healers for all they are doing to improve not only my health, but also my life and relationships.

Slave of Love

For the past few weeks I have been a full-time caregiver for a 74 year old man from my meditation group who has treatable blood cancer.

The other day, Fox, my 8 year old son, shadowed me while I took my client to the cancer center and back to his house. After watching me work, Fox said, “So you are a slave.”

IMG_2894I explained to Fox that I am a caregiver. I help others that need assistance. But I can see how he could perceive me as a slave since I cook, clean, attend to, and follow my client around making sure he has everything he needs.

At first, I was saddened that my son had such a low opinion of what I do (Read: Who I am). But then I thought about Hawaiian elder, Hale Makua’s description of the roles we play in life.

The 1st level is kauwā—the slave, the level of the servant. These souls have come to be of service. The 2nd level is kaha kiʻi—the artist. The 3rd level is the warrior—ke koa. The 4th is meaʻimi naʻauao—the scholar. The explorer, sage, teacher is the next level. The 6th level is the priest, the prophet, the healer—the kahuna nui. The 7th level is ali´i—the chief, king, queen, the one who has achieved mastery of all the previous levels.

The first 2 levels, the servant and the artist, are about aloha—love, compassion. But number 3, the warrior, is about the energy of —competition. On the level of scholar, we step back into aloha. But at the level of the sage, we go back into the energy of . The 6th level is a return to aloha, for “in order to be effective as the priest or as the healer, we can only come from aloha, from love, from compassion, and we have to choose it.”

In this lifetime, I seem to have taken on all of these roles. In high school, I was a servant at Marie Calendars and Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor. I’ve been a filmmaker/writer throughout my life. I tried to be a warrior as a martial artist and surfer. I was a scholar in grad school. I then became a teacher. And lately, I’ve been a healer.

I don’t claim to have mastered any of these roles, but I do feel like I’ve come full circle. In the eyes of modern society, I appear to be a failure—a 52 year old caregiver making just enough to stay afloat. But in Hawaiian epistemology, I am returning to Aloha and service. Nothing is more important than Aloha.

I am grateful for the return to service. I hope one day my sons understand the choices I’ve made. My life isn’t how I’d ever envisioned it, but it makes a lot of sense.

 

“Earth School”

Spent the last few nights with Gary Zukav and Linda Francis. So grateful for their dedication to the path.

Books_The_Seat_ofthe_SoulAlthough Gary has been on Oprah 37 times, he is one of the most humble, vulnerable, and authentic men I have ever met.

A few pieces of wisdom really resonated with me.

First, Gary said that at one point in his life he was afraid of being afraid. He said the clinical term for this is “macho.” I realized how much of my life I overcompensated for being afraid—afraid of being alone, afraid of my emotions, afraid of not being good enough.

Next, Gary and Linda said there are only two intentions—one that comes from love and one that comes from fear. Other intentions they referred to as “out-tensions.” When deciding on any course of action, they ask themselves if they are coming from love or fear.

This reminded me of a conversation we had with a Hawaiian elder named Manulani Aluli Meyer. She said, “When love is at the center, ego isn’t.”

Manu continues, “We are dedicated to the purpose of what love means in this lifetime. And it must start within your own practices and your own commitments and your own deeds. That is why I love Shakespeare’s quotation when he said, ‘By my actions teach my mind’. I love that because it is not by our talk or by our words, it is by our actions. So that is a very cultural statement. Basically, stop talking, start doing. And when you are doing in the vibrancy of what aloha is, then there is a healing on the planet.”

As a grandson of a Hawaiian man, I have the kuleana (responsibility) to dedicate my life to “what love means in this life time.” My purpose is to be aloha. To be pono (righteous).

I often ask my sons, “Are you being pono (righteous) or pilikia (troublesome)?” This is similar to Gary and Linda’s practice of questioning whether they are coming from love or fear.

Lastly, both Gary and Linda refer to this life as “earth school.” We are souls here to learn. I love that view of life.

During one circle, I felt obliged to share a talk I had with my cousin. I was telling him how I was a compassionate boy when I was young. I remember crying while watching Laura Ingals on Little House on the Prairie.

Then my step-father entered my life and started whipping me with a leather belt when I was 5 years old. Talking to my cousin, I was furious that I didn’t have a choice in this monumental event in my life.

After 12 years of abuse, I turned into a cruel and angry adolescent who lacked compassion. This lack of compassion torpedoed my life. I lost lovers, friends, and jobs. After I hit rock bottom, I dedicated myself to becoming a compassionate man and raising compassionate boys.

But it was/is a process. On the phone with my cousin, I simultaneously grieved the innocence of that 4 year old compassionate boy and raged at the injustice that he was forced to suffer.

Then I was struck with a vision. I saw my soul floating above the earth plane before I was born. My soul could see my whole life laid out before it. And then…it CHOSE to incarnate into this life.

I chose physical abuse. I chose cancer. I chose unemployment. I chose all these things because I knew that they would bring me to the awakening I am experiencing right now.

I thanked Gary and Linda for the term “earth school,” because I now realize that I chose my own curriculum. Of all the classes available, I chose Physical Abuse 101, Introduction to Cancer, Financial Hardship 2B, Mediation 100, Advanced Surfing, Intro to Kapu Aloha, and the Noble Friends Seminar.

After this realization, I no longer blame others for what is happening in my life. I don’t blame my step-father for using corporal punishment. I don’t blame my mom for choosing to marry my step-father. I don’t blame my biological father for choosing to go back for a second tour of duty in Vietnam from which he never returned. I don’t even blame myself for all the trespasses I have committed.

When there is no one left to blame, we can only love. Love everyone. Love everything. I hope this new path helps me do “in the vibrancy of what aloha is” and heals the planet.

Who are some of your influential spiritual teachers? What realizations have shaped your life?

 

 

Book Release Party Free Download

Kozo Book cover 4c

I’ve just published my first book, The Healing Grace of Cancer. I am so grateful for all of you who have walked this healing journey with me. Please accept this humble offering: for the next five days, starting on Christmas, you can download a free copy of the book  here.

You are my writing tribe, so feel free to offer critiques or constructive criticism.

Wishing all of you a peace-filled and joyful holiday season.

With Aloha, Kozo

 

Peace is Every Child

peacefox7-year-old Fox wanted a history book for his daily reading, so I let him loose in my bookshelves. First, he grabbed my Bible.

“Is this a history book?” he asked.

“Yeah, it’s a kind of history book,” I replied.

“Can I have it?” he asked thumbing the vinyl cover.

“Of course,” I said.

Then he grabbed A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King Jr., but it had too many big words for him.

“Here is a history about a Vietnamese monk,” I said handing him Peace is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh.

Reading the editor’s introduction, Fox stopped after reading this poem:

Peace is every step.

The Shining red sun is my heart.

Each flower smiles with me.

How green, how fresh all that grows.

How cool the wind blows.

Peace is every step.

It turns the endless path to joy.

“Daddy, can I write this poem out?” asked Fox with wide open eyes.

“Sure,” I said thrilled because his penmanship needed work.

Fox carefully wrote out each line. He smiled when he wrote “each flower smiles with me.” I was stoked that he was learning to spell smile, peace, and heart. At the end he wrote “Love, Fox.”

“Can you make copies?” he said as he handed me the hand written poem.

I gave him two copies. On one he wrote, “Merry Christmas. Thank you. To Mrs. Kraemer and Mrs. Grant” [his second grade teachers].

I almost cried. What a wonderful gesture. I am so grateful that he resonated with Thich Nhat Hanh, even though he had trouble reading the name. When I told a friend the story, he asked, “Who is the teacher and who is the student?”

What poem would you have a child copy?