“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?

 

 

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Cultivating Compassion One Breath at a Time

breathwork

Watching men in high positions fall like autumn leaves has inspired me to start a daily compassion practice. I have no doubt that if these men had more compassion and empathy, they would not assault women. I don’t want my sons to become highly “successful” only to fall from grace from a lack of compassion.

Dacher Keltner at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center discovered that there isn’t a universal look of compassion, but there is a universal sound of compassion. People around the world make the same sound when they sympathize with the suffering of others—“Aaawwwwhhhhh.:

Moreover, modern research reveals that making this sound stimulates the vagus nerve which lowers inflammation in the body and leads to more pro-social behavior. The vagus nerve runs from most of the major organs in the body to the brain stem. It also runs through the vocal chords and the inner ear.

Making the “aaawwwhhh” sound stimulates the larynx and the inner ear and, thus, the vagus nerve. In addition, Stephen Porges found that when our exhale is longer than our inhale, we also stimulate the vagus nerve and feel more connected with other.

So I am setting a goal of saying “aaawwwwhhh” as many times a day as possible. When I am stuck in traffic, I say “aaawwwhhh.” When my sons start to whine about how they only get to play 2 hours of video games, I reply, “aaaawwwhhh.” Every time I hear a news story about men committing heartless acts, I say, “aaawwwhhhh” for them, for myself, for men in general, and for the victims.

When my aunties in Hawaii would see someone do something harmful, they would make the universal sound of compassion and say, “poor ting.” They felt sorry for individuals who were so disconnected with aloha (love) that they felt the need to cause conflict with others. In essence, my aunties were saying, “Awwwhhhh, poor thing has no aloha.”

Every time I make the universal sound of compassion, I feel warm vibrations resonate through my body. I feel grateful to connect with others through suffering. Everyone becomes my family regardless of what they look like or what they have done.

So grateful for this simple practice.

What daily practices do you do to connect with others?

My Life as a Dog

IMG_2205

My 7-year-old son believes in reincarnation, so I asked him what he would like to come back as in his next life.

“Probably a dog,”  he said nonchalantly. “Or Santa Claus.”

After a bit of contemplation, I realized how wise this response was. We often think that humans are at the top of the reincarnation ladder, but this isn’t necessarily true. Dog is God spelled backwards.

“If you can remain perfectly calm in traffic…

If you see others succeed without a tinge of jealousy,

If you can love everyone around you unconditionally,

If you can always be cheerful just where you are,

You are probably…

A Dog!”

I’m starting to think that dogs are far more enlightened than even high-vibration spiritual masters. Our two Shi Tzus are definitely the two most compassionate and equanimous members of our household.

When my sons are crying, both my dogs will start to moan and howl in unison with the cries. When I had a tumor, Skye and Jax would come lie on my belly when I was sleeping. They could sense my pain and would just be with me.

These dogs spend most of their day sitting in silence. One could argue that they meditate over 5 hours a day. They always welcome me with open paws when I return after a long day and never seem to hold any grudges, even when I forget to feed them.

I think my son was intuitively sensing into a higher consciousness. Even his answer about Santa Claus can be seen as refined.

Santa Clause spreads joy and gives generously without any expectation of getting anything in return. If he was a Buddhist, he would be what we call a Bodhisattva—a being that compassionately refrains from enlightenment in order to save others. Was my son saying that he wants to come back as a Bodhisattva?

A dog or a Bodhisattva, those are two noble intentions. Amazing how simple and wise young children can be.

What would you come back as in your next life if you had the opportunity?

 

 

 

 

Blogging Break

Jett and Fox

The boys are out of school, so we are doing something that many kids don’t get to do nowadays–playing. For the first three weeks of summer, we are going to swim, bike, watch movies, and eat Popsicles, so I won’t be blogging too much.

In addition, after the shootings in Isla Vista, SPU, and Vegas, I’ve also dedicated a large part of my life to spreading compassion for boys. I’m completing an audio series called Raising Compassionate Boys. I believe that compassion is the missing piece that no one is talking about. Everyone is talking about gun control, but we forget that Elliot Rodger killed half of his victims with a knife. If we instill compassion in our boys, there would be less shootings, rapes, bullying, viral humiliation, suicide, and suffering.

I’m also starting a Compassion for Men’s Group. We meet every second Monday in Cupertino, CA. If anyone is interested, email me at everydaygurus@gmail.com

Lastly, I’ve been writing for The Good Men Project. It is a great website that is redefining what it means to be a man in the 21st century. Here are a few of the articles I’ve written lately:

Hope everyone has a peaceful and joyful summer. See you after the July 4th weekend. {{{Hugs}}} Kozo

 

Valentine’s Day for Boys ONLY

What can we learn from the innocence of children about the true nature of Valentine’s Day?

Six year old Jett was writing out his Valentine’s Day cards this morning.

“One for Paul, Justin, Kwon, Ashton, Michael, Derek…”

“What about Lauren, Zandra, or Sophia? Don’t you want to give cards to some girls?” I prodded.

“No girls,” Jett said without even looking up.

At first I was a bit disappointed that Jett didn’t have a special girl to give a card to. One of the other parents told me that his first grader had made matching Rainbow Loom bracelets for he and his sweetheart. rainbowloomThen I caught myself in my socially conditioned heterosexuality.

When I was able to see the beauty of the present moment, I felt a touch of jealousy. My son had the freedom to express his love to all the boys that he knew. He had a shared bond with these boys that was not tainted by homophobia or puffed up versions of manliness.

I thought about Rarasaur’s post on an alternate form of Valentine’s Day and fantasized about a day where men could show love for each other without shame, aversion, or homophobia. Where we could hug each other tenderly, heart to heart rather than be forced to chest-bump or bro-hug. Where we could look into each others eyes and tell each other how much we appreciated everything that we have done for each other.

I thought about Macklemore’s song “Same Love”:

“When I was in the third grade, I thought that I was gay, because I could draw and my uncle was and I kept my room straight.”

Maybe the reason, Macklemore thought he was gay in the third grade was because he had genuine feelings for some of the boys that he called friends. I hope my son can keep his heart open to anyone who he has strong feelings for regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race, or culture.

I’m starting to experience what I’ve always heard, “Love is all you need.” Isn’t it a shame that we are socialized to stop loving half the population in the third grade?

Thanks for reading, smiling, and/or sharing.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all my brothers and sisters.

How Many Time Do I Have To Tell You

Lessons on Humanity from a Three Six Year Old

As a parent, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said:

“How many times do I have to tell you…”

Six year old Jett was upset because he had to re-do his homework.

“How many time do I have to tell you that if you do it neatly the first time, you won’t have to re-do it.”

Finally, he got so upset that he threw the pencil and eraser off the desk. I sat calmly and said, “I guess that means no iPad.”

This pushed him over the edge. He started screaming. So I sat down at my desk and started reading blogs. He walked over to me and screamed in my face.

“You better back off, because you are getting Daddy angry,” I said in a calm, but firm voice.

“You hurt my feelings,” he screamed.

“How did I hurt your feelings? I didn’t hurt your feelings; I just tried to get you to do your homework.”

“You ignored me,” he screamed.

“I didn’t ignore you. I just walked away when you started screaming.”

“You were rude to me,” the screams were getting louder.

“YOU WERE RUDE to ME. Don’t you understand that screaming in someone’s face is rude?”

“YOU ARE BEING RUDE TO ME RIGHT NOW!” he yelled as he “stood with fists.”

Suddenly, I flashed back to a post that I published less than 24 hours prior to this argument. In the post, I waxed how Jett’s 3 year old brother taught me to “apologize quickly, even if you were not at fault” and “let others know when they have hurt you.”

Jett and Fox with Buddha

My Teachers

Jett was letting me know that I had hurt him, yet I was refusing to apologize. Three year old Fox was taking a bath right next to the office Jett and I were arguing in. I could hear his thoughts, “How many times do I have to tell you to walk the walk, Mr. Talk-the-Talk?”

I grabbed Jett and pressed his heart next to mine. “I’m sorry that I was rude to you. Thank you for telling me how you felt. I’m sorry I hurt your feelings. I’m sorry I ignored you.”

Jett’s body softened like a stuffed animal. I could feel his heart embracing mine.

“Let’s finish this homework, so you can have some iPad time, OK?”

“OK, Daddy.”

Lessons learned:

  • Calm and collected are not the same as caring and attentive
  • If I want my boys to be compassionate, I have to honor their feelings even if I don’t understand or agree with them.
  • We all need to be reminded of lessons over and over
  • Heart to heart is the best medicine/discipline for raising kids