“Guru is a four letter word”

Yesterday, I had a double guru experience. My son was home sick, so I couldn’t work. Instead, I finished watching a documentary called Kumare.

kumare

Here is the synopsis of Kumare:

“A provocative social experiment-turned-documentary, KUMARE follows American filmmaker Vikram Gandhi as he transforms himself into a wise Indian guru, hoping to prove the absurdity of blind faith. Instead, he finds himself forging profound connections with people from all walks of life — and wondering if and when to reveal his true self. Will his followers accept his final teaching? Can this illusion reveal a greater spiritual truth? Winner of South by Southwest’s Audience Award, KUMARE is an insightful look at faith and belief.

Watching this film simultaneously engendered doubts about gurus and inspired me to the spiritual powers of ordinary humans. Vikram Gandhi sets out to pose as a guru, but ends up transforming others lives, as well as his own, in the process. Still, I felt a bit jaded.

Then last night, I attended a Conversation on Compassion at Stanford University. A guru I had never heard about named Sadhguru eradicated any doubts I had about spiritual leaders, enlightenment, or gurus.

sadhguru at Stanford

Interestingly enough, Sadhguru started the talk by explaining how he entered spirituality as a skeptic, much like Vikram Gandhi.

“Even if one has the wrong intentions, but travels the right path, one will find the truth.”

Sadhguru acknowledged the skepticism around gurus: “Guru is a four letter work.” He explained that a guru is merely a “live roadmap,” not meant to be worshiped. He also assured everyone that when we are dealing with what is inside us, no one is better than anyone else. We might be in better physical shape than others or more intelligent, but when we look inside, we are all the same.

What most impressed me about Sadhguru was his insistence on serving others (although he didn’t see it as service since we are all one).

“If we do not do what we can do that is a disastrous life.”

“If your heart is full of love, then you can never do enough.”

Hearing these statements, I immediately thought about Rarasaur. It is my duty to help Rara. I will continue to send letters, love, and what money I can afford to help her out.

I hate to personalize this guru juxtaposition, but I couldn’t help but see it as a call and response. I started the day with some doubts, yet within hours those doubts were quickly abated. Part of me feels like I was calling on the Universe to show me a sign, and almost immediately the Universe answered. Coincidence? Serendipity? Destiny? It really doesn’t matter, because I’m a believer.

Do you believe in destiny, serendipity, or fate? Please share.

 

The Compassion Interviews: Dr. Dan Siegel

Dr. Dan Siegel, professor of psychiatry at UCLA School of Medicine, has given 4 TedTalks, authored the NY Times best-seller Brainstorm, and pioneered the field of Interpersonal Neurobiology.

In this interview, we discuss:

  • How compassion and kindness are as important to the brain as the breath is to life
  • How parenting can lead us towards self-compassion and receptivity as opposed to reactivity
  • How being honest and present in whatever is happening is good for ourselves and the world
  • How we can break the vicious cycle of a lack of compassion in men.
  • How compassion can help us embrace the uncertainty of living in the moment
  • Where and why Dr. Siegel gives away for free awareness and compassion practices–www.drdansiegel.com

If you don’t already know who Dan Siegel is, I suggest checking out his website: drdansiegel.com

 

Once More for the Greater Good

UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center has published an article I wrote about “What Makes a Compassionate Man.” Click on image to check it out. I appreciate anyone who stops by and gives a facebook “like” or comment at the Greater Good. If you haven’t been there before, you are in for a treat.

Greater good

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