everyday enlightenment

Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness concerning all acts of initiative and creation. There is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now. ~Goethe

My name is Kozo Hattori, and I am enlightened.

Many of you might have felt uneasy with the previous declaration. “Who does this guy think he is?” you might have thought. Let me answer your question from the get-go. I not only think, but also know that WE are God, Universal Consciousness, Brahma, Buddha Nature, and Christ Consciousness. I’m not being sacrilegious here. I’m actually following scripture.

Every enlightened master that I have encountered claims that enlightenment is our natural state. They often have the look on their faces of someone standing in knee-deep water while another thrashes around screaming that they are drowning. If we just stand up or awaken to our present reality, then we realize that we were always safe and ok.

After the Buddha became enlightened, he spent the next 40 years traveling around Northern India instructing others how to become enlightened. One of the followers that became an arhat—a perfected person who has attained nirvana–was Angulimala. Earlier in his life Angulimala was on a quest to kill one thousand victims whose fingers he hung around his neck. 999 fingers hung around his neck on the day he met the Buddha. If Angulimala could obtain enlightenment, then why can’t we?

One of the biggest obstacles of enlightenment is our own belief that we cannot become enlightened. For some reason, enlightenment in our culture has become something that only a few select individuals can obtain, but in Buddha’s time, people were getting enlightened left and right. If you even mention that you are trying to get enlightened, people look at you with disbelief and disgust.

Let me be clear in what I mean by enlightenment. I see enlightenment as a spectrum. I’m not saying that I have escaped the cycle of birth and rebirth (samsara) like the Buddha did. I’m not an arhat. I am enlightened in this moment, right here and right now. In the past, I was not enlightened; at times I was far from enlightenment. In the future, I might become unenlightened at any moment. But right here, right now, I am enlightened.

I like to think that we are all enlightened, yet we constantly unenlighten ourselves with our thoughts, our resentments, our delusions, our aversions, and our cravings.

In one of my conversations with Adyashanti, he emphasized not only awakening, but also “tending,” “cultivating,” and “living from” that spiritual awakening in our moment to moment daily lives. If you are reading this article, then you have probably had glimpses into a higher consciousness. You might have sensed a connection with all being during meditation or felt unconditional love while holding a child or had intimations of a higher power standing next to a huge redwood. Re-minding ourselves that we are enlightened keeps us in touch with that interconnectedness, love, and divinity.

Perhaps the best way to get to the truth of this statement is to do some inquiry. Byron Katie asks, “What is the thought that kicks you out of heaven?” I value Byron Katie’s inquiry that she calls The Work. It consists of four questions that you ask in regards to thoughts you have.

  1. Is it true?
  2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
  3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
  4. Who would you be without the thought?

Although The Work is meant to reveal the lack of truth in the thoughts that cause us to suffer, applying The Work to the statement “I am enlightened” reveals some valuable insight.

Is it true? Yes, it is true.

Can you absolutely know that it’s true? In my heart of hearts I know it to be true.

How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought? I don’t react, actually. I act like a saint. I remain calm and try to serve others. I see everyone, everything as a part of me. When I think that I am enlightened, I act like an enlightened being. The question “what would Jesus do?” becomes a way of life.

Who would you be without the thought? I wouldn’t be as compassionate, loving, kind, or happy. I would probably do whatever I wanted regardless of how it affected others. I would try to get as much as I could while giving as little as possible. I would use as much of the world’s resources to make me happy regardless of how this affected the planet, other humans, animals, or children. I would rationalize this behavior with the defense of “I’m only human.”

Embracing our enlightenment helps us realize that we are more than human. We are both human and divine.

“We are not humans having a spiritual experience; we are spirits having a human experience.”

So yeah, I’m enlightened. Care to join me?

Raising Compassionate Boys Free Talk

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”~Dalai Lama

I’m giving a free talk on raising compassionate boys at the Cupertino Community Hall (10350 Torre Ave, Cupertino) on March 19th from 6:30-8 PM. If anyone is in the area, please feel free to drop by. If you know anyone in the area, send them an invite from the Facebook page.

young boy meditating

This talk will discuss:

  • What is compassion and why it is one of the most important attributes for boys in the 21st Century
  • What modern science is uncovering about the importance of compassion for our health, happiness, and well-being
  • How we can cultivate compassion in our children
  • What daily practices you can start today that will increase the emotional intelligence of your children

Thank you for reading, smiling, and/or sharing.

One Billion Rising

Here is a video from another student at Interchange Counseling Institute. I honor Lucy, her story, her courage, her creativity, and her compassion. Last year, Eve Ensler’s amazing panel “Breaking the Male Code: After Steubenville, A Call to Action” changed the course of my life. I am grateful to be on a path that intersects with such amazing souls.

“ONE BILLION RISING FOR JUSTICE is a global call to women survivors of violence and those who love them to gather safely in community outside places where they are entitled to justice. It is a call to survivors to break the silence and release their stories – politically, spiritually, outrageously – through art, dance, marches, ritual, song, spoken word, testimonies and whatever way feels right.
Our stories have been buried, denied, erased, altered, and minimized by patriarchal systems that allow impunity to reign. Justice begins when we speak, release, and acknowledge the truth in solidarity and community. ONE BILLION RISING FOR JUSTICE is an invitation to break free from confinement, obligation, shame, guilt, grief, pain, humiliation, rage, and bondage.
The campaign is a recognition that we cannot end violence against women without looking at the intersection of poverty, racism, war, the plunder of the environment, capitalism, imperialism, and patriarchy. Impunity lives at the heart of these interlocking forces. It is a call to bring on revolutionary justice.” onebillionrising.org

Richard Rohr: The Compassion Interviews

The Compassion Interviews is a project of mine at PeaceInRelationships.com. I am trying to interview the most compassionate people I can find to supplement the lack of compassionate role models in the media. With 10 interviews completed, I have to say that this project has changed my life. I’m realizing that compassion is the key to not only happiness, but also success and peace.

Father Richard Rohr is a Franciscan friar and blogger for the Huffington Post. Author of over 30 books including Falling Upward and From Wild Man to Wise Man, Father Rohr has spoken around the world about Christian contemplative practices, male spirituality, radical compassion, and silence. He is founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
In this interview we discuss:

  • How we cannot just wish to be compassionate
  • How to enjoy life by experiencing it at depth
  • How technology can be an instrument for our liberation
  • Why now more than ever wise elders are needed
  • How powerlessness leads to real power
  • The six big issues that the dualistic mind cannot process or deal with—love, death, suffering, infinity, God, and sex
  • How Scripture supports Christ as a meditator

Everyday Thanksgiving: January 2014

This is my monthly download of my daily gratitude practice. I have been doing this for over a year and a half now, and I have seen tremendous changes in my life. Sometimes the changes aren’t the ones I envisioned, but overall I am grateful for the new trajectory I’m on.

January 2014

Thank you for Legoland Hotel’s bunkbeds with a separate television set; Shamu smiles; Sunsets at Meditation Mount in Ojai Valley; spending all day at the pool in January; roadtrips with Tara Brach CDs.IMG_0992

Thank you for a wonderful interview with Richard Rohr; upcoming interviews with Scott Kriens and Marc Brakett; the goodwill of our PTA president; a heartfelt lunch with a fellow life coach; Jesus as a meditator.

Thank you for “abiding as the stream of love”; “I am that am I”; palindromes; Eckarte Tolle’s uncovering of the ego; non-reactivity; “they hate me when I’m Buddhist, but they love me when I’m the buddha.”

Thank you for the eternal Dharma; getting into shape; basketball with other out of shape fathers; the kind scheduler at City of Cupertino; Hotpot meals.

Thank you for Jumanji; authentic relationships; dinner with my sister-in-law; my nephew’s magic tricks; self-love born from authenticity.

Thank you for granulated emotions; increasing emotional bandwidth in boys; micro-moments of silence; The Sounds of Silence; the sound of compassion.

Thank you for Rick Hanson’s day-long seminar on the Neurology of Awakening; Woodacre; a beautiful lunch with awaken souls; mushroom sandwiches; the scent of fresh orange peels.

Thank you for my older son saying, “You’re part enlightened, but you still get angry”; ceasing to control and manipulate my experience; Roma’s hospitality; Spiritual NVC;  “Most people don’t see things as they are; they see things as THEY are.” ~Richard Rohr

Thank you for Fierce Gentlemen’s email reminding me to practice gratitude; my empathy buddy, Oliver; Cathy Lu for helping me schedule my talk; the thought that we are all neurons in God’s brain and the neurotransmitters are love, compassion, joy, and equanimity.

IMG_1028Thank you for Skyping with Rarasaur; Goldfish’s courage; No Drama at Everyday Gurus; a comment from Dianne Gray; Kenny Johnson.

Thank you for kale and chicken wraps; how cute Jett’s crushes are; a birthday play date with cousins; the wonderful and generous Vitamix salesperson at Costco; Costco.

Thank you for learning iAuthor; a new book idea; calm parenting; not taking things personally; Loving what is.

Thank you for less aversion every day; abiding in meditation; Steve Bearman’s enlightenment; another Satsang with Adya; a peaceful and compassionate conversation with my cousin.

Thank you for my brother’s hospitality and advice; transformational counseling; dancing without shame; noticing defenses to shame; matta latte.

Thank you for naked counseling; authenticity leading to unconditional love; kinetic sand; Greens Take Out sandwiches; an argument that ended in love.

Thank you for writable CDs; The Work by Byron Katie; the photos of Alison; finding what takes me away from enlightenment since we are all already there; Adya’s Sangha.

Thank you for Rara’s thoughtfulness; Rara’s baby brother; the miracles of unconditional love; Fuji apples; blue jello.

Thank you for Drew’s courage and wisdom; vulnerability leading to acceptance; Fox rubbing my neck while he sleeps; Jett becoming more independent; loving what is.

Thank you for the seminar on the Neuroscience of Adolescence with Dan Siegel; Dr. Siegel agreeing to an interview; arugula, brie, and ham sandwiches; teachers around the world; the gentleness of horses.

IMG_0979Thank you for realizing that my sons are wise teachers; seeing my life as a whole; loving those who hurt others; Adyashanti’s perspective on unenlightening ourselves; Byron Katie’s courage and authenticity.

Thank you for trampoline birthday parties; Fox’s joy; teaching my son about neuroscience; in-assurance to replace insurance; seeing friends everyday.

Thank you for Anita Moorjani’s Near Death Experience; Barbara Fredrickson’s study of love; the Vagus Nerve; touching my chest everyday; heartfelt words and touches.

Thank you for Fox’s first Kung Fu class; the insightful interview with Marvin Maurer; bitter melon; ideas of a men’s group; Scott Kriens getting back to me.

 

Thank you for reading, smiling, and/or sharing.

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

Letter to My Enemy Within

Dear Kozo,

Your arrogance and lack of compassion have made more enemies for us than friends.

Your selfishness and lack of empathy have sunk our career, nearly ruined our marriage, and destroyed our reputation.

Despite these failings, I forgive you. I forgive your sharp tongue, your lack of impulse control, and your insecurities. I forgive because I don’t want to be like you–lacking empathy. I forgive because by accepting you, I engulf you. I make your need to be special unnecessary.

I don’t just forgive you; I love you. I love you because by loving you I love all my enemies. I love you because I understand how all your trespasses were a desperate search for love. All your attacks were a cry for help. All your hostility stemmed from a desire to be held.

I will always love you because you are not just a part of me; you are a part of humanity. You are Godliness, Christ Consciousness, and Buddha Nature all at once. You deserve my love like a baby deserves a mother’s love. You will always be my baby. I try to lead by example, so that one day you will be a compassionate man.

With All My Heart,

Kozo

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This post is part of the Bloggers for Peace Monthly Peace Challenge: Love Thy Enemy.

For more information on Bloggers for Peace click on the logo in the right hand menu.

Thank you for reading, smiling, and/or sharing.

Label Me A Loving Abuser

My 6 year old son would not get out of bed until 7:45 this morning. We have to leave for school at 8:15. Then he wouldn’t eat his eggs since he was distracted by his Pokemon cards, so I threw the cards in the garbage. This is when his meltdown started. It was 8 AM, so I asked him to put some clothes on which he threw back in my face. This is when my meltdown started. I grabbed him and put him in the car in his pajamas. Then I dragged him without shoes or a jacket in front of the whole school to his classroom. He was kicking and screaming the whole way, which is why I couldn’t put his shoes or jacket on.

The whole time I was seeing tunnel vision. I did not notice all the other kids laughing at my son or all the parents aghast at me dragging him across the rain drenched pavement without shoes. When we got to the classroom, I awoke from my sleep state and realized how much my son was suffering.

Onelove photoIt is International Label Day at Rarasaur’s house, so it only seems appropriate that I wear the label of abuser or bad father which is quite different from the photo I sent Rara with “LUV” scribbled across my forehead. But like I told Rara in the comments, “Labels like the ego are neither good nor bad. They are a necessary step in claiming our identities so that we can give them up to reach a higher consciousness or what Fr. Richard Rohr would call the Second Half of Life.”

One way I’m breaking the label of abuser is by how I treated my son after I realized that I was being irrational. As the survivor of physical abuse, I speak from experience when I say that although the beatings hurt, they were not the cause of the deepest emotional scars. What really tore me up as a child was the lack of compassion from my step-father and mother AFTER the beatings. No one ever comforted me and explained to me why I was beaten. No one put an arm around my shoulder and told me that the beatings were done out of love.

Jett at school

Photo of Jett Post-Meltdown

So I told the teacher that Jett would be late and we went back home. At home, I let my son pick out his favorite shirt. I washed his feet, fully aware of the religious connotations of this action, and warmed up his half-eaten breakfast. I explained to him how sorry I was for taking him to school in his pajamas, but also how sad I was that he refused to listen to me. I told him that I loved him, but I needed his cooperation if we were going to get to school on time. I also told him how to handle any teasing that the other kids might dish out today. I will make sure to check in with him after school and honor any shame he felt in front of the other kids at school.

Being a compassionate man is hard. Raising compassionate boys is even harder. Social conditioning and past scars take constant vigilance to overcome. The good news is that compassion is a skill that can be learned over time. We can heal ourselves and heal others in the process.

Although I am not proud of my actions today, I am thankful for the growth I displayed and the hug my son gave me when he finally got to his classroom.

Thank you for reading, empathizing, and/or sharing.

Have you transcended your labels? How? Please share.

 

 

Beautiful Blogger Quotation: Rarasaur

quotation from Rarasaur

I’ve been wanting to use quotations from Rarasaur ever since I started BBQ. Today, I read one of her posts (http://rarasaur.wordpress.com/2013/11/05/did-the-captain-of-the-titanic-cry/) that floored me. It changed my view of love, relationships, and life.

I’m asking anyone who reads this to try to be the person Rara is talking about–be someone who believes in others regardless of all their worst moments. If we can do that, world peace is a piece of cake.

This post is part of BBQ—Beautiful Blog Quotations.

Feel free to join the fun.

  • Take a quotation from a favorite blogger
  • Create a BBQ post with the quotation
  • Link back to the blogger you quoted
  • Tag your post BBQLUV
  • Link to other BBQLUV posts (optional)

BBQ logo

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Compassion Can Make You More Attractive–Thich Nhat Hanh Re-load

A week ago, I published an article about a conversation I had with Thich Nhat Hanh. Thanks to the generosity of Dr. James Doty and the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at Stanford University, I am able to share the video of this short interview with you. To see the whole Conversation on Compassion with Thich Nhat Hanh go to: http://ccare.stanford.edu/videos/conversations-on-compassion-thich-nhat-hanh/

For more interviews with compassionate men visit http://peaceinrelationships.com/offerings/