Slave of Love

For the past few weeks I have been a full-time caregiver for a 74 year old man from my meditation group who has treatable blood cancer.

The other day, Fox, my 8 year old son, shadowed me while I took my client to the cancer center and back to his house. After watching me work, Fox said, “So you are a slave.”

IMG_2894I explained to Fox that I am a caregiver. I help others that need assistance. But I can see how he could perceive me as a slave since I cook, clean, attend to, and follow my client around making sure he has everything he needs.

At first, I was saddened that my son had such a low opinion of what I do (Read: Who I am). But then I thought about Hawaiian elder, Hale Makua’s description of the roles we play in life.

The 1st level is kauwā—the slave, the level of the servant. These souls have come to be of service. The 2nd level is kaha kiʻi—the artist. The 3rd level is the warrior—ke koa. The 4th is meaʻimi naʻauao—the scholar. The explorer, sage, teacher is the next level. The 6th level is the priest, the prophet, the healer—the kahuna nui. The 7th level is ali´i—the chief, king, queen, the one who has achieved mastery of all the previous levels.

The first 2 levels, the servant and the artist, are about aloha—love, compassion. But number 3, the warrior, is about the energy of —competition. On the level of scholar, we step back into aloha. But at the level of the sage, we go back into the energy of . The 6th level is a return to aloha, for “in order to be effective as the priest or as the healer, we can only come from aloha, from love, from compassion, and we have to choose it.”

In this lifetime, I seem to have taken on all of these roles. In high school, I was a servant at Marie Calendars and Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor. I’ve been a filmmaker/writer throughout my life. I tried to be a warrior as a martial artist and surfer. I was a scholar in grad school. I then became a teacher. And lately, I’ve been a healer.

I don’t claim to have mastered any of these roles, but I do feel like I’ve come full circle. In the eyes of modern society, I appear to be a failure—a 52 year old caregiver making just enough to stay afloat. But in Hawaiian epistemology, I am returning to Aloha and service. Nothing is more important than Aloha.

I am grateful for the return to service. I hope one day my sons understand the choices I’ve made. My life isn’t how I’d ever envisioned it, but it makes a lot of sense.

 

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My Life as a Dog

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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?

 

 

 

 

Everyday Thanksgiving: February 2014

I continue to find joy and happiness in this daily gratitude practice. This is my monthly download.

February 2014

Thank you for Jett yelling, “I wanna meditate” when I said he had to meditate if he wanted to go to the hobby store; sleeping with both boys in a twin bed on a cold night; empathy buddies; Tibetan mandalas; all the everyday gurus I’m surrounded by.

Jett MeditatingThank you for bubbles and balloons for making kids smile; no commercials on netflix; all the interesting people in the mall at 11 AM; Fox kung fuing bubbles; rain during a drought.

Thank you for Rancho San Antonio; radio controlled airplanes; hobby stores; hilly trails; all the Bloggers for Peace in year two.

Thank you for Fox knowing what nunchucks are at 3 years old; green tea with honey; the gift of challenges to help us grow; artistic friends; Dianne Gray back on WordPress.

Thank you for unleashing my hips through dance; somatic healing; self-awareness leading to self-belief; dancing to pop music and not caring how uncool that is; all the love Fox got at his 4th birthday party.

Thank you for Peter Levine; healing trauma; back to back counseling; men’s groups; hijiki cabbage wraps.

Thank you for Osho’s Mystic Rose meditation; healing deep wounds; reconnecting with my ability to cry; completing grieving; a safe space to heal.

Thank you for rain; snow in Tahoe; rain boots; recognizing my distress recording to my son’s crying; understanding the healing nature of crying.

Thank you for Adya’s study course on redemptive love; Dr. Xie’s talk on Authentic Success; Meg’s strength to push me through trauma; snakes; child-like curiosity.

Thank you for Dusty’s suggestion to write out my life story from other people’s perspective; Fox wanting to start Kung fu; doing homework in the park; a sunny day after a week of rain; seeing drama for what it is–none of my business.

Fox with bikeThank you for the Hello Kitty helmet Fox wore at the moto-x park; recognizing that everyone is my guru; Russell’s wise assessment of my life; watching my sons play baseball; free home phone service with obitalk.

Thank you for Jett riding without training wheels; our friends flexibility and forgiveness when our cabin reservations fell through; the woman who cleaned up the glass of the bottle Jett broke; Adyashanti’s Online Study Course “Redemptive Love: The Healing Power of Descending Grace”; recognizing eternity.

Thank you for seeing the connection between we are all connected and self-compassion; seeing cancer as a lack of self-love/self-compassion; recognizing my mother’s emotional detachment as a catalyst for my awakening; the difference between self-esteem and self-compassion, the 1000 hits I got on Richard Rohr’s interview.

Thank you for the Lojong saying “transform all mishaps into the Path”; Russell Bradley’s reading; finding eternity in the present moment; a loving dinner with my brother’s family; children’s love of ladybugs.

Thank you for clarity on the meaning of my life; seeing a Path devoid of win/lose, better/less, and duality; confirmation that I am on the right Path; Richard Rohr’s ripples of peace and tranquility; a heartfelt talk with a high school friend.

Thank you for sunny days in the snow; gortex; snow saucers and a steep hill; the awakening of our true selves in the presence of children; screaming, giggling bunches of friends flying down a snowy slope.

Thank you for Circus Circus; 1$ Arcade Games; Cheesy cheap stuffed animals that make kids smile; not needing to gamble anymore; king-sized hotel beds with the whole family.

Thank you for Vietnamese food in Reno; unnecessary shuttle rides that put kids in awe; warm sun with icy cold air; sleeping in until 9 AM; text messaging to coordinate rendezvous.

Thank you for catching up on Rarasaur posts; playing pickup basketball again; city planners for making parks available to all for free; my sons playing with original legos and using their imagination; Jett’s chattiness before going to sleep.

Thank you for the amazing synchronicity with the Adya study group; Shari’s hook meditation; Rick Hanson’s timely reminder of patience; Sandy telling me about Enneagram; Fox playing playdoh all by himself.

Thank you for releasing money; enjoying the ride of life through the rear view mirror; Fox’s gentle kisses; talking about awakenings with Laura; Judith Blackstone.

The Meaning of [My] Life

The Universe has been conspiring lately to help me realize what the meaning of my life is. It started a few months ago when I posted a Beautiful Blogger Quotation from Broadblogs.

Hurt people hurt peopleI followed this post with a corollary I came up with.

healed people

After starting Bloggers for Peace and counseling clients at PeaceinRelationships.com, I realized that I am a healer. The more I heal myself, the more I am able to heal others. Blogging helps me heal myself, so I can heal others. In addition, when others heal, they become healers–they stop hurting in both senses of the word. Thus, ripples of healing extend out in ways we can’t even imagine.

Then, the amazing Rarasaur commented on my post “How to Win An Argument” with some career guidance:

direction and love image

So I’ve set my direction as a healer who has healed himself with love. I believe in my heart of hearts that this is what I was put here to do.

Have you discovered what you were put here to do? How does blogging help you in your life? Please share.

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.

humanity, lost

Two things instantly attracted me to djmatticus–his compassion as a husband and a father and his uncanny ability to use the perfect quote from movies that I love. One of the great things about blogging is that you get to “meet” role models of the people you want to become. Matticus is one of those bloggers. When I want to be a better parent, spouse, writer, and human, I head over to his blog: http://thematticuskingdom.wordpress.com/

I’ve lured Matticus out of his kingdom for a little joust at EverydayGurus. He faces you today “as God intended. Sportsmanlike. No tricks, no weapons, skill against skill alone.”

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If you’ve spent any amount of time with me, you will have learned that despite my optimistic outlook, my general silliness, and my overall belief that life is one grand adventure, I am fond of saying that we are doomed.  Look around.  Common sense is a relic.  Doing the right thing is an ancient artifact.  Consideration, reason, logic have become little more than words that I like to take out from time to time, let them taste the air, before I safely hide them away to keep them secure until the world is ready for them again.

Is that too harsh?  Unfair?  Do you think I’m exaggerating?

Perhaps I am.  Perhaps I am taking our lost humanity to an absurd level, because we all know there are good people out there.  We know this, because we know we are good ourselves, right?  Do any of you ever look in the mirror and say, “Yes, I am a terrible person, inhuman, and that’s exactly how I want to be…”?  Of course not.  We may see our flaws staring back at us, but we recognize them as flaws and we hope to be better even if we don’t do anything to actively pursue becoming better.

So, if we don’t see ourselves as having stepped away from the traits that build out our humanity, how can we assume that anyone else has either.  All those monsters we hear about through media, that lady one lane over still talking on her cellphone while she swerves into you, the guy that zips into the parking spot you’ve been waiting patiently to open up, the person at the checkout who waits until everything is wrung up before taking out their checkbook, the person that didn’t hold that door open for you – none of them think of themselves as less than human.

What’s the solution then?  If we all can see that people are acting less and less like people but no one sees that behavior in themselves, how can we change this steady decline back into being animals?  How do we reclaim our humanity?

It starts with us, of course.  We have to pay attention to the world around us.  We all have responsibilities and concerns and important meetings and things we are running late to and this that and the other.  We all have stresses.  We all have struggles.  We need to recognize that.

When the lady one lane over swerves because she is talking on her phone, take a deep breath, and let her and it go.  When the guy steels the parking spot you were waiting for, you will find another one shortly.  When the person doesn’t pull out their checkbook until after all of their items have been bagged at the grocery store, take those extra few seconds to think of something you are happy about.  When the door shuts in your face because the person ahead of you didn’t notice you and hold it for you, make sure you hold the door open for the person behind you.

These seemingly small and insignificant acts are anything but.  The repercussions are astronomical.  When you let go of your anger and laugh off the near accident you will be more mindful of your surroundings and make sure you don’t make the same mistake the lady with the cellphone did.  When you patiently wait for another parking spot to open up you will realize that those couple extra minutes circling the parking lot really didn’t matter, you waste more time with your head in the fridge each night trying to figure out what you want for dinner.  When you think of something happy while waiting for the check to get written it will be your turn that much quicker and your smile will be infectious.  When you hold the door open for someone else that person will hold it for another and they will hold it for another and it will get passed on.

Reclaiming humanity is not an insurmountable challenge.  We just need to do the simple things that used to be common place.  We need to be patient and understanding and considerate.  We need to go back out into the world and do one good deed every day.

What did you do today?

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