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?

Poor Students or Poor System

IMG_3052Both my sons got their first semester report cards last week. They are only in the 5th and 2nd grade, so I don’t pay too much attention to these evaluations.

Unfortunately, both boys are below grade level. Fox, the younger son, had more minus signs than average or plus signs. Jett, the older one, had more 2s than 3s or 4s. A 2 means “developing,” while a 3 means “proficient.”

I take responsibility for these low marks. I want my sons to have fun while they are kids. We don’t stress too much over homework. We spend more time outdoors than in the library.

In the comments, both my sons’ teachers used the word “struggling.” I’m still not too concerned because I was a teacher, and I know when the time comes, I can easily bring them up to par.

Another word that both teachers used was “kind.” “Jett is very kind to his fellow classmates.” “Fox is a kind, considerate, and curious student, well liked by everyone.”

At first I was upset that my sons were so far behind in school, but upon further reflection, I was grateful that they are both kind boys.

I’ve always said that I would rather my sons be kind and compassionate than smart, academic, athletic, or “successful.” I was a very smart kid. I graduated magna cum laude and did well in graduate school. I landed a cushy job as and was making more money than I could shake a stick at. But I was not kind. And my lack of compassion poisoned all of my accomplishments.

In the span of three years, I was unemployed, on the verge of divorce, and diagnosed with cancer. I had to learn the hard way that “compassion protects you more than guns, bombs, or money.” (Thich Nhat Hahn)

I have no idea how my sons will perform in school at the higher levels, but I do know that armed with kindness and compassion it won’t really matter where they land in the world. They will be OK.

What would you like to score high in on the report card of life?

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?

Peace Challenge: Getting Paid for Posting Peace

B4Peace

Stop School Violence, Viral Humiliations, and Bullying by Raising Compassionate Boys

In response to all the school shootings, sexual assaults, viral humiliations, and bullying, I’m launching an audio series called “Raising Compassionate Boys.” I’d like to do whatever I can to change the culture of violence, rape, and cruelty that boys are indoctrinated in.

I wanted to ask you if you would be a partner in this launch. All that means is that during the week of the launch, you will publish one post on boys, parenting, children, love, compassion, bullying, assault, shame, gender, masculinity, etc with a link to RaisingCompassionateBoys.com

 Fox Sitting

You can also post a review, testimonial, or interview, because…

If you become a partner, I will give you the audio series for free before it is released. This audio series includes a special audio track just for men–it is a track by a man for men about why compassion is important for men and boys. The audio series costs $29.95, so you will be getting paid for posting for peace. Thank you for all your posts and support.
If you are interested, please email me at everydaygurus@gmail.com

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

 

Everyday Thanksgiving: May 2014

Just got back from the Greater Good Gratitude Summit where we spent a whole day learning about the benefits of gratitude. From better health to Olympic gold medals, gratitude is proven to be one of the most important practices we can incorporate into our lives.

May 2014

Thank you for my brother, nephew, and parents coming to Jett’s soccer game; Jett almost scoring 4 goals; superballs; sunscreen; water balloons.

Thank you for giving up on being cool; RSA animated videos; Fox wanting to play golf; bbq pits at parks; tamales.

Thank you for the joy of getting toy airplanes out of trees; rip sticks; riding on BMX tracks with Jett’s 16″ bike; reading about Atlantis today with Jett; another article published by The Good Men Project.

Thank you for a paying client; sharing an office with my wife; the power of movement in counseling; another transformative session with Gary Heine; freedom.

Thank you for Rara being safe; all the support we are generating through blogging for Rara; protective custody; realizing how the Universe spreads light to the darkest places; Rara getting over 250 likes on her post about being falsely accused.

Thank you for Fox saying, “Ok, Fine!”; realizing that that is a mantra for life; Evangelist calls with The Good Men Project; all the smiles I’m getting from other parents; a deep talk about the importance of emotional intelligence for our children with another parent.

Thank you for white snake lotus movement meditation; changing meditation pillows; Letmerun; teaming up with Ashley at letmerun to spread compassion; being on the Rebel Alliance of compassion for men.

Thank you for Jett’s koala diorama, origami; RSAnimate; understanding purpose, autonomy, and mastery; living purpose, autonomy, and mastery.

Thank you for Alfie Kohn on NPR; having too much to say about raising compassionate boys; Fox wanting to get a bike and helmet for me for my birthday; poetry as gifts; stamps.

Thank you for Temporal Thermometers; children’s Advil; staying at home with my feverish son; Sadhguru’s wisdom; Kumare.Sadhguru

Thank you for BBQ at my parents; hanging out with my cousins; a visit from Dr. Harry Edwards; rice crispies made with salted caramel; wiffle ball in the park.

Thank you for Mother’s Day dinner with my wife; chazuke; ume; $1 ice cream at McDonalds; hot summer nights.

Thank you for high fives with Vaibhavi; Wind in the cypress trees; a long talk about surfing and life with Lawson; Sadhguru videos; getting Ender’s Game DVD from the library.

Thank you for group processing; Kathy’s advice that everything will be ok eventually; Don’s power and softness; Laura getting raw about sexism; Mood Meter sessions with Jett.

Thank you for not getting over-involved in Jett’s soccer practice; playing wall ball with Jett; Bro Alerts; not reacting to getting no reaction from others; recognizing that aversive thoughts are an opportunity to deepen into compassion and equanimity.

Thank you for realizing the importance of mindset; finishing another track of the Raising Compassionate Boys Audio Program; Fox wanting to take a new way to school everyday–partly to spend more time in the car with me; a snail mail letter from Rara; vegan fruit pie.

Thank you for Fox’s “rainbow slide” watercolor painting; Father Richard Rohr’s two hour talk on silence; NVC empathy buddy training with Oliver; all the disrespect I receive to teach me patience and compassion; Vietnamese Garlic Noodles.

Thank you for Jett’s music performance; the joyous courage of children who haven’t been told they aren’t good enough yet; all the time I get to play with Jett and Fox; push up popsicles that don’t drip; my boredom with luxury.

Thank you for Robert Bly; taking initiative on the Good Men Project Men’s Groups; ancient wisdom hidden in myths, tales, and stories; Lisa Nicols talks; peace in Isla Vista.

Fox with AviatorsThank you for Boomerang Bay; aviator sunglasses for kids; pocky sticks; Harvey Jackins and Re-evaluation Counseling; lifeguards at public pools.

Thank you for Jett asking “Is that bad karma?” when someone stole his birthday gift in front of the restaurant we were eating at; three tables representing 3 generations of Hattoris at a Memorial Day lunch; silence; realizing all parts of my life are connected although they seem so different; all the brave men and women SERVING our country in the armed services.

Thank you for Roma telling me to speak from my toes; seeing embodiment as connection to everything; realizing that humility is the path to uncertainty which leads to freedom from knowing; more articles getting published by The Good Men Project; Esalen.

Thank you for Conversations with Compassion with Paul Ekman; Paul Ekman as an agnostic and psychologist admitting that the feelings of peace he experienced sitting with the Dalai Lama were “thick, palpable, and mysterious”; being invited to give a workshop at Bonfire Heights; Fox crying because he didn’t get to hug and kiss me goodnight; Dr. Doty giving me a hug.

NOT Getting Hugged by Amma

Amma at StanfordOn Monday, I went to a Conversation on Compassion with Amma at Stanford. Here are a few highlights:

  • “Compassion is the most important factor in life”
  • “Compassion is the first step.  If we can take that step courageously without fear then everything else will follow spontaneously.”
  • “When we have compassion then all the decisions we make and the actions and their results that follow will have a special beauty, spontaneity, and power to it.”
  • “Human’s calculations can always be wrong. But decisions taken from compassion and actions that are compassionate can be never wrong because compassion is a law of nature.”
  • “When we give up the individual mind and tune to the universal mind which happens in compassion, then we can never do anything wrong because it is not us acting, but it is the universal power. Compassion gives us the ability to tune into the universal power.”
  • “When love attains perfection that is when the flower of compassion happens.”

 

After the conversation, Amma announced that she would give darshan to all the attendees (near 2,000), but she asked that only attendees who have never received a hug come up so Amma could have time to hug everyone who wanted one.

Since I have been getting hugged by Amma since 1999 and I was wearing an “embrace the world” t-shirt that I bought at Amma’s ashram, I knew that I should remain seated, but I REALLY wanted to get a hug from Amma–especially when I saw that they were giving large gift bags to all who received a hug.

Unfortunately, during her talk Amma said that there are three types of people.

  • The first type of person–what they get they eat.
  • The second kind of person–what they get they eat and they also try to take the other person’s food and eat that as well.
  • The third kind of person–whatever they get, they eat a part of it then give the rest to others around them.

I knew that if I went to get a hug, I would be taking from someone else, so I forced myself to refrain from getting a hug.

But something wonderful happened. As I watched Amma hug others, the craving and jealousy drained out of me and was replaced with sympathetic joy (mudita). I saw the glowing faces of the people walking off the stage, and I could feel their joy and gratitude which somehow became my joy and gratitude. I got a taste of the universal mind and power that Amma was talking about.

It was the best non-hug that I have ever received.

Have you ever felt empathic joy? Please share.

 

Related Articles

http://everydaygurus.com/2013/06/03/embracing-the-world

http://everydaygurus.com/2012/11/14/free-hugs-hug-for-freedom