“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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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

 

Cancer Free at Last

IMG_3063

Free at last, Free at Last, Thank God almighty we are free at last.”—Martin Luther King Jr.

After two and a half years since diagnosed with Stage 2 colorectal cancer, I’m cancer free. I don’t mean that I don’t have any cancer in my body, because we all have cancerous cells in our bodies. I mean cancer has set me free.

Cancer showed me how to embrace and bless everything that life has to offer. This freedom to love all that arises has made all the difference. Nowadays, when I hear myself saying, “God Dammit!” I immediately stop and say, “God Bless It!” because I know that everything is a blessing.

Pierre Pradervand, author of The Gentle Art of Blessing, said it best:

“When something goes completely askew in your day, some unexpected event knocks down your plans and you too also, burst into blessing: for life is teaching you a lesson, and the very event you believe to be unwanted, you yourself called forth, so as to learn the lesson you might balk against were you not to bless it. Trials are blessings in disguise, and hosts of angels follow in their path.”

I see now that I “called forth” cancer to teach me deep lessons. Cancer revealed to me the “hosts of angels” both visible and invisible that are available at any moment. From my Hawaiian Grandfather, who died of lung cancer over 20 years ago, to members of my meditation circle and men’s group to my two Shi Tzu dogs lying on the couch as I type, the world is full of angels to guide us, help us, and love us through thick and thin.

It is so amazing to be back—as a father, a blogger, a human being. I have so much to share with you. Stay tuned.

 

Cancer and Judgment

moon Kâloa Pau
‘Ikuwâ 6

To many patients, cancer feels like a death sentence. Receiving a death sentence implies that one has been judged. I experienced cancer as a judgment, especially considering I don’t meet any of the risk factors for the type of cancer I was diagnosed with.

If I had gotten skin cancer, that would make sense. I spent decades surfing in the sun, and I grew up before sunscreen was available. But colorectal cancer comes out of left field. I don’t smoke, drink, eat meat or fast food, and have relatively little stress. In addition, I have done numerous colon cleanses, cleansing fasts, and eaten oatmeal for breakfast for over 30 years.

When I explained this to my oncologist, he said, “Sometimes you just get unlucky.” In my experience, luck has very little to do with anything, so I started to see this dis-ease as a judgment. Why would the Universe, God, or my body send me cancer?

In order to answer this question, I had to become aware of how I judge others. I used to constantly judge anyone in my presence. I would judge their athletic ability, intelligence, integrity, looks, and value.

The best example I can give are the thoughts I think while driving. If someone is not turning right at a red light, I usually assume that they don’t know the laws; are too timid to drive in America; are waiting to cross three lanes when they should just turn into the right lane then merge left once they are out of my way; or are just complete idiots. I constantly judge other drivers based on how fast they are going, how long they wait at stop lights, what kind of car they are driving, or what race, gender, and class they look like they belong to.

I assume that Mercedes and BMW drivers are going to be selfish in all their driving choices. I silently accuse drivers with Asian trinkets hanging from their rear view mirrors of being dangerous and untrustworthy (even though I’m Asian). I usually view women drivers as inferior, especially older Asian women, even though my mom is a very good driver.

This is just while I’m cruising down the road. When I enter any social situation, I start judging everyone and everything incessantly. Even in spiritual circles, I tend to think, “That person is such a hypocrite” or “they think they are enlightened, but they have so much ego.”

Luckily, one of the prayers I say every morning is the St. Francis Prayer: “…Oh Divine Master grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console; to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love. For it is in giving that we receive, pardoning that we are pardoned, and dying that we are born into eternal life.”

One morning, I understood that in order to pardon myself from this death sentence of cancer, I had to start pardoning others. I saw how the line “it is in giving that we receive” doesn’t just mean that we should give charitably, but also that we reap what we sow. If I constantly judge others negatively, then I, too, will be judged.

When I made a conscious effort to stop judging others, I felt my heart open. I had more compassion for those who were suffering so much that they felt the need to try to make me suffer. I also stopped judging myself for things I’ve done in the past or for judging others in the present.

When I dropped judgment, I lost the need to compare myself with others. I didn’t need to be more intelligent, more awakened, or more equanimous than others. Losing judgment helped me realize our connectedness. When I stopped trying to differentiate myself from others through judgment, I started to experience what Thich Nhat Hanh calls our fundamental “inter-being.”

At a recent fundraiser for Cancer Commons, I met a Maori man who told me “the only judgment we will experience is us judging ourselves on how we treated others.” If this is true, then this cancer diagnosis is me judging myself on how I treated others. The last few months have been a wake-up call to start treating others better.

The less I judge others and treat them with respect, the more I sense into the healing of my body, my relationships, and my spirit. From this perspective, what happens with the dis-ease in my intestinal track is of little consequence.

After a two hour intimate talk with my mother in which I released many judgments and resentments about her parenting decisions, she said to me, “I hope all this turns out well for you.”

“It already has, Mom,” I said with a smile.

Diet

Really enjoying my farmer’s market “organic” salads.I asked one of the farmers today at the market why she was not certified organic. She said that her husband uses compost to fertilize which is not certified organic. She also said that many organic farms use fertilizer and pesticide, but they are “organic” fertilizer and pesticide which often can be more toxic than non-organic. I also learned that farmers have to pay to fly the “organic” flag. She is a small farmer, so she refuses to pay.

Another farmer who has amazing walnuts said that the walnuts are organic since the only thing he does is water them, but he can’t call them organic because his grapes are not organic. A farm can’t be part organic and part non-organic.

I used to think that the organic stamp of approval was golden, but now I realize that “home grown” can often be more natural and healthy than certified organic. The lemons my mom grows are not organic, but I wouldn’t trade them for any lemon at Whole Foods.

Exercise

Did more barefoot hiking with my dear friend, Oliver. Amazing how the ground changes texture after a good rain. You would think that it would be softer, but it was actually really rocky since a lot of the dust and fine sediment was washed away. We did find some nice soft, cool damp spots though. Life is amazing in its variety and diversity when we open ourselves up to it.

Relationships

As you can see above, I’ve been trying to heal relationships with everyone by not judging so much. I’m experiencing so much more peace moment to moment.

Spirituality

It rained, so I did my prayers on an astroturf welcome mat on the balcony. Although it wasn’t as pure as in the park, it still felt good to feel the temperature and smell the rainy air. I realized that being outside is key, even if I am on the balcony.

Kūkae (BM)

11/2

6:30 AM small/medium BM

8 AM Small BM with no blood

9:15 AM Large BM

10:30 Large BM little blood

2 PM Medium BM little blood

9 PM sediment

11/3

1:30 AM Sediment

6:30 AM Blood and sediment. Small BM

7:28 AM Large BM tiny Blood and Sediment

9:45 AM Medium BM no blood

2:40 PM Tiny Sediment

10:00 PM Blood and Sediment.

11/4

5:30 PM Blood and sediment

7 AM Blood and sediment with medium BM

8:20 AM Medium BM Tiny Blood

9:30 AM Tiny Sediment

10:40 AM Small blood and sediment

2:30 PM Blood and sediment

9 PM Blood and sediment auburn

11/5

6:40 AM Blood and sediment with small BM

8:15 AM Medium BM w/blood and sediment

10:00 AM Small BM w/blood and sediment

3:30 PM Blood and sediment

5:30 PM Blood and sediment

6 PM Blood and Sediment.with small BM

11/6

2 AM Tiny Blood and Sediment.

7:30 AM Blood and Sediment.

8:10 AM Small BM w/Blood and sediment

9:15 AM Blood and sediment–Brown

2 PM Blood and sediment

8:00 PM Large amount of blood and sediment

Aloha Healings 10/26/2015

moon Hoku
‘Ikuwâ 26

At this week’s Meditation Circle, I was fortunate enough to spend some quality time with a man whom I, and many others, consider a living saint, Jayesh Patel. As he sat down to eat, Nipun Mehta introduced me, telling him about my recent cancer diagnosis and how I had decided to refuse conventional treatment and pursue more natural and spiritual forms of healing.

Jayeshbhai immediately began rubbing my back. In Hawaii we call this ‘olu ‘olu—roughly translated as gentleness, but more accurately described by Auntie Pilahi Paki as to treat others like you would a baby. All night, I watched Jayeshbhai ‘olu’olu everyone he encountered. He patted the tops of their heads hugged them, squeezed their hands and arms, rubbed the backs of their scalps, and just loved them like a mother loves a newborn.

Jayeshbhai turned to me and without a touch of pity or fear said, “the natural man uses nature to heal, and if he doesn’t heal then he accepts it is the will of God.” {I’m recreating all these quotations from memory, so I apologize if I misquote anyone or anything.] This one sentence encapsulated everything I’ve been sensing into since I got the pathology report two months ago.

He told me about how this was my path and how I could use it to send ripples of peace and healing to others. Then he looked deep in my eyes and said, “But you must have faith and patience.” To tell the truth, I had been getting a bit impatient recently and even had some lapses of faith, so these words struck a chord deep inside me.

Earlier in the evening, Jayeshbhai shared with the circle that he wants to create a movement, not a campaign. Campaigns have a beginning and an end. Movements never end. There is no exit strategy in a movement. I realized that my journey with cancer is a movement. There is no end—no cure. There is only loving what is, consistently, persistently.

I told Jayeshbhai that I admired how he deeply connected with everyone he met. He replied, “I just want to see everyone as myself. I want to see myself in everyone. I want to experience everyone’s darshan.” He smiled and said how simple life is—just love, everyone and everything.

“You don’t fight cancer; you love it,” he offered. I replied, “Yeah, I want to have darshan with cancer.” We laughed.

Parveen came by and Jayeshbhai spoke to him in their native tongue. Parveen translated for me:

“Our parents decide to give birth to us, but no one decides when we die. It is in the hands of nature. It is nothing to fear. It is just nature.”

“You can be the example of equanimity for everyone to see. We all sit in meditation trying to cultivate equanimity, but you can show us what equanimity looks like with how you deal with your journey.”

Before I left, Jayeshbhai gave me the sweetest hug. He put his head in my chest and just held me. I wanted to kiss the top of his head—like you kiss an infant’s head when they fall asleep in your arms.

In the short time I got to spend with this saint, he shared so much love, understanding, wisdom, care, and gentleness with me that I felt like I had just gotten some radical new high-tech treatment. But it wasn’t radical. It wasn’t new. And it wasn’t high-tech. It was just love.

Diet

I had breakfast with my brother’s ex-wife who is visiting from Ireland. I asked her how people in Ireland get their vitamin D, since there is not much sunshine. She said that when she was a kid, her mom used to make her swallow cod liver oil. Now she feeds her 5 year old daughter this oil during the winter months. I laughed, because I’m taking cod liver oil supplements to get my vitamin D3.

Exercise

Doing my morning prayers every morning, but I missed a few movements and qigong walks. Today, I did the full program and barefoot hiking with my friend Oliver. I feel so much better when I do the full program.

Relationships

Had brunch with my mom, step-dad, brothers, Aunty and Uncle, and my brother’s ex-wife. It was wonderful. No bad vibes anywhere.

Spirituality

Everything in my life seems to be here to teach me “faith and patience.” In the face of anything and everything, I’m trying to maintain faith and patience.

My friend, Michael Brabant, sent me a Reginald Ray guided meditation on the perineum. “In the Toltec tradition, the perineum is said to be the place in the body where the most fundamental, primordial reality of this world is located…When we work with the perineum, we are working with the most fundamental depth of the earth. The perineum is actually the gateway to the earth in its most deepest aspect.”

This resonates with me since the tumor the doctors found is right above the perineum. I feel like I am being asked to get in touch with the most fundamental, primordial reality. I’m also being invited to reconnect with the ‘âina or earth. All my exploration of Hawaiian spirituality leads me to focus on my na’au (guts including the perineum) and the ‘âina.

In this guided mediation, Ray emphasizes the simultaneous interaction between the earth, the breath, and the perineum. When I breath into my perineum, I feel like I am healing both my na’au and the ‘âina. In Hawaian, the word “na’auao” means “the enlightened mind.” So the na’au is a gateway to fundamental reality or enlightenment, as well.

Kūkae (BM)

The bleeding is definitely tapering off. I’m having movements of sediment with no blood. I’m also having the largest BMs in terms of size that I have had in 12 months. I am sensing into the tumor becoming inconsequential or non-existent.

10/21

7:10 AM Blood and sediment. Medium BM

7:50 AM Medium BM

3 PM Medium BM

5 PM Sediment and blood.

6 PM Sediment

6:20 PM Blood and sediment

10/22

4:30 AM Blood and Sediment.

7:10 AM Blood and lots of sediment. Medium BM

8:10 AM Medium BM no blood

9:45 AM Large BM no blood

3 PM Small BM w/ little blood

6 PM Blood and Sediment.

10/23 and 10/24

Blood and sediment throughout the day with very little BMs.

10/25

6:30 AM Tiny Blood and sediment

8 AM Sediment with no/blood

10 AM Sediment with small BM

10:30 AM Sediment

7 PM Blood and sediment with small BM

10 PM Blood and Sediment.

10/26

2:30 AM Blood and Sediment.

7:30 AM Tiny Blood and Sediment.

8 AM Medium BM with blood

11:30 AM Huge Long BM no blood

3:30 PM Large BM no blood

 

Aloha Healings 10/20/2015

waxing Gibbous `Ole Kū Kolu
‘Ikuwâ 20

After a long conversation with a family member, I realized how much of a burden I have been on my family. From the loss of my job to embracing gift ecology to the cancer diagnosis, I have been a financial and emotional albatross for many of my loved ones.

I used to get upset with others when they treated me in ways that I perceived as insensitive. “Don’t you know that I have cancer?” I would think or say under my breath. Now I see that I have drained the emotional gas tanks of many of those around me. I am trying to deepen into my practice of akahai–kindness or dealing with others as if I were wearing white gloves, so I don’t stain, damage, or hurt them.

I have even had the thought that it would be better for everyone if I just died. I have a fairly large life insurance policy and all those who are anxious about my alternative treatments would be able to relax and say, “I told him to get the chemo, radiation, and surgery.” I know this is literally a “deadly thought,” but it has arisen.

The flip side is that I need to live a long life to make up for all the heartache and pain I have caused.

I also think about all the people I have met since my unemployment. For them, I have been a positive influence. I have continued to find the silver lining even in very dark skies.

I guess the lesson is that we don’t have any control over others feelings and emotions. We can only shine our light as authentically as possible. Some will react to this light as a threat, while others will see it as an invitation. Some may blame you for their stress or distress. Others may thank you for their joy and happiness. I constantly remind myself of the Ho`oponopono teaching that I am 100% responsible for whatever arises in my life.

The Ho`oponopono prayer covers all of the thoughts above: “I’m so sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you.” Those four statements clear all relational trespasses and forge bridges of lōkahi–unity, connectedness, unbrokenness. I guess I’m being asked to deepen into this prayer. I’m also reminded of what the angels told me during my Reiki session with Giovanni: “Don’t give up; you know better.”

Diet

Got off the turtle soup. Funny story–the night before I started drinking the soup, my sons were watching the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movie. In the movie, the bad guys are after the turtles to extract their blood which has powerful healing properties. I saw this as a sign, so I started drinking the soft-shell turtle soup.

After 2 days of profuse bleeding, I decided to stop. I realized that the real message was NOT to eat the turtles even if they have healing properties. My qigong master told me that the reason why I couldn’t just get soft-shell turtle powder at the herb store is because due to the rising economy in China, there is a shortage of soft-shell turtles. So the herb sellers are collecting the shells of turtles that have already been eaten to make the medicine. Seems to me that soft-shell turtles are heading for extinction, so I’m not going to participate in this slaughter, even if it means that I have to forgo the powerful medicinal properties.

Without the turtle, I have been pretty much raw, except for my morning oatmeal. I have also started drinking water from young coconuts. I also eat some of the meat from the coconut.

Exercise

After the fatigue from the turtles, I started my morning prayers and movements again. I’m finding deep healing in both the movements and the vibrations of the prayers.

Did 5 minutes of straight laughing with my men’s group last night. It felt great. Laughter is great medicine.

Relationships

As you can see above, I’ve been trying to empathize with those around me. It is a fine line to empathize while taking full responsibility of everything that arises in my field. The key seems to be not taking on the emotional baggage of others while trying to serve them.

Spirituality

Went to a memorial service for Trude Bock, the woman I used to do hospice care for. On the morning she passed, I decided to learn a Hawaiian chant called “E ala E.” Part of me felt like I should be spending quality time with Trude, but the night before I talked to another care giver and we agreed that Trude could live another year.

When I heard that she passed an hour after I left, I felt guilty  that I had not attended to her more that morning. But the Hawaiian prayer seemed almost God-sent: “Rise up/Awaken. The sun in the east. From the ocean, the deep ocean. Climbing to  heaven, the highest heaven. In the east, there is the sun. Arise/Awaken.” I chanted the prayer at Trude’s burial.

After the memorial service, I hopped in my car and the first song that came on was Kaukahi’s “E ala E”–a musical version of the prayer. It felt like Trude was talking to me or hugging me.

Also at the memorial service, I reconnected with another caretaker named Benedicta. When I told her about my diagnosis, she said to look at ways I haven’t forgiven myself. I sense there is something powerful there, but I’m not sure what I’m still holding against myself.

Kūkae (BM)

I seem to be alternating between days of cleansing out my colon and smaller BM days that consist of blood and sediment.

10/15

7 AM Blood and sediment

8 AM Medium BM w/blood

9:10 AM Large BM w/little blood

4 PM Sediment and blood with small BM

7 PM Small BM lots of blood

8 PM Blood and sediment

10/16

7 AM Blood and lots of sediment

8 AM Large/medium BM w/blood

11 AM Large BM w/little to no blood

4 PM Small BM w/blood

10/17

7 AM Blood and sediment

10 AM small BM

1:30 PM Blood and sediment

5:20 PM Blood and sediment

8:30 PM Blood and sediment

10/18

2:30 AM Blood and sediment

7:44 AM Tiny Blood and sediment

8:10 AM Blood and sediment with small BM

10 AM Blood and sediment with small BM

6 PM Blood and sediment

10/19

7:10 AM Blood and sediment with large BM

9:30 AM Huge BM with no blood

10/20

6:30 AM Blood and sediment

8:10 AM Medium BM Blood and sediment

8:40 AM Medium BM little blood

3 PM Sediment

9:45 PM lots of Blood and sediment

Aloha Healing 10/3/2015

moon_day_last ‘Ole Kû Lua
Māhoe Hope 3

Diet

Had 4 beautiful raw meals today including flaxseed chip nachos, fresh salad, raw daikon rice sushi roles, and fresh squeezed vegetable juice.

THEN, I found a recipe for raw chocolate sauce in my raw foods cookbook. While blending the ingredients I knew that this was not what I need at this point in time, even though there was no processed sugar in the sauce. The look and the smell, however, were irresistible, so I poured some over some figs and walnuts and chowed down.

While eating the dessert, I inquired why I was doing this. Could it be I needed love and sweetness in my life? Was it because a loved one said something really mean to me today? Or did I just need a reward for all the dietary restrictions I have been upholding?

What is done is done. I’m not going to beat myself up about it, but I am going to remember how the experience of eating the chocolate sauce isn’t worth all the mind and body dis-ease I’m experiencing.

Exercise

Did morning prayers and movements this morning and 20 minutes of qigong walking. Took a nap in the afternoon while my sons watched an episode of “Once Upon a Time.” Then hiked up a 1.5 mile steep redwood trail with my 5 year old son on my back the whole way. I told my friend that 2 weeks ago, there was no way I would have been able to hike up this trail, much less carrying a 40 pound child. I’m feeling stronger and healthier everyday.

Relationships

Got to spend quality time with my sons and some close friends. Grateful for that.

Spirituality

I was telling my friend that I feel like I’m going with the flow of a river that includes spiritual, nutritional, medicinal, psychological, financial, and relational currents. They all seem to be flowing in the same direction–Let go without fear, stop clinging to illusions of security, love what is as it is, keeping giving and serving.

Kūkae (BM)

7 AM mostly sediment with a little blood and BM

9:15 AM Med-large BM with very little blood.

10 AM small BM with no blood

11:10 small soupy BM with no blood

3:20 Blood and sediment

Having interspersed bleeding which hopefully indicates healing.