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

Doing the Best That I Can for Peace

In all truthfulness, my intention is to become fully enlightened in this lifetime. I know what some of you are thinking because I have heard it expressed to my face and behind my back. Who does this guy think he is? Get Real. Why don’t you try for something obtainable?

Why is it OK to have intentions to be a billionaire, but when someone has intentions to become self-actualized we scoff or judge them as delusional, self-indulgent, or presumptuous? I’ve even had people tell me, ‘Yes, that is a noble goal, Kozo, but how are you going to support yourself?”

Since its December, I keep thinking about George Bailey from It’s a Wonderful Life. I like to think that if you were a truly authentic, loving, compassionate person then the world would support you in times of need.  Moreover, you would change the world just by BEING more than a billionaire could DO with all their money. If we look at all the great gifts to humanity, very few of them come in the form of money–Christ on the Cross, Buddha’s teachings, Mandela’s unification of South Africa, MLK’s dream, Gandhi’s ahimsa, Mother Teresa’s service, Joan of Arc’s sacrifice, Emerson’s writings, Shakespeare’s plays, Chief Seattle’s warning, Bob Marley’s music. Note how many of these enlightened beings were living for a higher consciousness/power.

Be the change you wish to see in the world.”~Gandhi

I may not become fully enlightened in this lifetime, but I can already say that becoming more loving, compassionate, peaceful, and equanimous have already made changes in my life, my relationships, my community, and, yes, our world.

I was talking to a friend who said that she doesn’t want to be happy all the time. She believes that anger is necessary to cure the injustices of the world. I could feel her desire to make the world a better place, but I had to question her strategy. A few quotes come to mind.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”~MLK

“An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.”~Gandhi

My intention is to bring peace just like Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Buddha, and Jesus. Yes, I said it. I want to be a peacemaker like these great figures from our past. Call me egotistical (although part of becoming enlightened requires dissolution of the ego, so I guess that problem will fix itself) or delusional (all these peacemakers were called delusional at some point in their lives).

I know a lot of kids who want to be LeBron James, Tiger Woods, Bill Gates, Oprah, or Steve Jobs. Their parents smile and encourage these aspirations. I hope my two sons want to be the Buddha, Jesus (although being the parent of Jesus might be the toughest role in history), Mother Teresa, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, or the Dalai Lama. They may never be recognized as great spiritual leaders, but imagine the loving and compassionate men they will become if they become one-tenth as awakened as their role models.

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

What are your intentions for your life? Please share.

Blogging to Self-Actualization

I’m shifting my perspective on blogging. The reason I started blogging was to build a platform for my writing and counseling services. Yet after blogging for over a year, I’m starting to realize that blogging has more important lessons for me to learn.

Wayne Dyer once interviewed Abraham Maslow about self-actualization. Maslow gave four characteristics of self-actualized people:

  1. Independent of the good opinion of other people
  2. Detached from outcome
  3. No investment in power or control of others
  4. See the unfolding of God in everyone they encounter and treating them that way

I can’t think of more noble characteristics, so I’m going to start blogging for self-actualization.

  1. I’m going to publish authentic and radically honest posts that are free from the fear of how others will judge or praise. I’m going to eliminate any fluff or rhetoric that is meant to cater to others wants, desires, or tastes.
  2. I’m going to give up all attachment to outcome. I have no idea of what my blogging will bring me in life. I have no idea if I will ever make any money from blogging. I blog simply because that is what I do.
  3. I’m going to give up any power or control I’m holding onto in relation to others. This comes in the form of judging other bloggers or writers. Comparing myself with others. Being jealous of others success as bloggers, counselors, writers, spiritual leaders, etc.
  4. I’m going to treat everyone who I encounter on the internet and in real life as a manifestation of God. Like Mother Teresa who saw Jesus in everyone she met, I will see the Christ Consciousness and Buddha Nature in everyone and treat them in the same way I would treat Christ and Buddha, with dignity, respect, and gratitude.

I realize that there are a lot of “I”s in the previous paragraphs–certainly some ego to be dealt with. On the other hand, I like the intentions and personal responsibility of these new resolutions–do I dare call them covenants?

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

Do you blog for a higher purpose? Please share.

Christ’s Mass with Adyashanti

This weekend I attended Adyashanti’s Christmas Intensive. It was a very intimate event with singing, poetry, satsangs, and hugs from Adya.

The main topic of Adya’s talks was the Christ story. Adya sees the Christ life as a teaching, as a model of a very special kind of love–redemptive love.

“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son”

This is the type of love we are talking about. A love that will sacrifice one’s only son to not only death, but brutal, torturous death through suffering. As a father, I have a hard time even thinking about this type of love, which makes it all the more divine.

At the Last Supper, when Jesus tells his disciples, “As I have loved you, so you must love one another,” this is the type of love that he is asking for. A love that does not transcend suffering, but rather embraces it in it’s entirety. A love willing to sacrifice to redeem others.

This selfless love is the way to God, Nirvana, or, in modern terms, Happiness.

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.

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

I know it is not New Year’s Resolution time yet, but I am resolving today to start abiding in this type of love. If Jesus could let himself be tortured and crucified, if Buddha could starve himself then sit under a tree all night, if the Dalai Lama can sit in meditation for 4 hours everyday to cultivate compassion for the world, then I think I can start sacrificing for those I love. I can stop reacting to the attacks of others with ill will and retaliation. I can love beyond my own egoic needs and desires.

I hope you get to experience this type of love this holiday season. Have a Happy Holidays.

Love, Kozo

“Let us abide in a humble and loving heart. Never forsaking the Divine knowledge beyond all distinction, nor the infinitely loving heart of God which is our own.”~Adyashanti

 

 

Monthly Peace Challenge: Party On, Garth!

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Hurray! This is the last challenge of the year. Those of you who have been here since January have one more post to get your FREE B4Peace T-Shirt! I will continue posting challenges next year for a different prize (to be determined), but this challenge ends an incredible first year of Bloggers for Peace. Before I give you the challenge, I want to thank everyone who participated in B4Peace this year. I can honestly say that you brought more peace in my life which means you brought more peace in the world. Special thanks to Rarasaur who designed the B4Peace logos, badges, and T-shirt (hint, hint).

After last months challenge of loving thy enemy, I want to give you a party.  So this months challenge is to plan a party that will ripple peace to the world. Use everything in your imagination for this peace party. Here are a few ideas:

  • You can hold your party anywhere. Where would you host your peace party? How many people would be at the party?
  • You can invite any guest you want from the past, present, or future. Who will play music at the party? Who will contribute artwork for the party? Who will give speeches?
  • What food can you serve that would bring peace in its consumption?
  • What about a group activity at your party? Would you have everyone at the party participate in one action for peace?
  • Feel free to use images, videos, or music in your post to give others the idea of what your party would be like.
  • What combination of events, people, and place would bring about the most peace at your party? What if you had Bob Dylan perform a duet with Ysuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens)? What if you had a panel on compassion featuring Jesus, the Buddha, Muhammad, and Mother Teresa? Let your imagination run wild for peace.
  • What would you have at your party that would bring more joy, smiles, love, and peace into the world?

Don’t forget to link to at least one other B4Peace post and add your post to the Linkz collection. Here is how:

  • Copy your URL to the Linkz collection. You’ll find the link below. It’s the drunk blue frog smiling for peace. Click on it and follow directions.
  • Go visit this site to read and comment on other posts related to this Monthly Peace Challenge.

Accidentally Insulting Adyashanti

This has been quite a month. From getting blindsided by Marianne Williamson to being empowered by Thich Nhat Hanh, I can’t remember a time in my life so full of growth and discomfort. And the hits keep coming…

Last weekend, I attended a day-long retreat with Adyashanti. Of all the spiritual teachers I follow, Adyashanti is one of the only ones that refers to his own Awakening. I never hear the Dalai Lama or Thich Nhat Hanh talking about “when I became enlightened,” but Adya refers to this moment of clarity all the time. I find this comforting and valuable wisdom.

Here are some jewels of wisdom from Adyashanti:

  • Seeking is not about what we don’t have; it is about what we have forgotten
  • “Make sure you are always your own best student”
  • In regards to serving others, “if you start with the small stuff, the bigger stuff has a way of finding you.”
  • A realization of unity liberates uniqueness and true individuality. Jesus and The Buddha were highly unique individuals.
  • Adya also gave us all a mantra: “Love Well.” He instructed us to ask this mantra as a question. While doing the dishes, “am I loving well?”

As the day drew to a close, I raised my hand to ask a question, and Adyashanti called on me immediately. I asked about Adya’s description of Awakening. After awakening did one have to re-mind oneself daily, moment-by-moment to release arguments with self, other, life, and God?

“It is like being human. Do you have to remind yourself to be human?”

To which I replied, “Sometimes…”

“Bad example. It is like breathing, do you have to remind yourself to breathe?”

“No, but I’m thinking about the story of how Buddha reacted to hearing the news that his former kingdom had been destroyed and everyone was killed. He apologized to his followers for not being himself. I imagine that he must have felt some aversion and craving on this day.”

“It is a nice story, isn’t it? It makes the Buddha more human,” Adyashanti replied.

Then he talked about a zen master who broke down wailing during a dinner with some students when he received a call that his wife had died.

Some students lost faith in the master, but the senior student told them that they had missed one of the master’s deepest lessons.

I liked the story, so I felt the courage to ask Adyashanti about my Vipassana revelation, “I envision that awakening will not erase all our personal suffering, but will rather increase our sensitivity to suffering in general–that all life is suffering. This is where the service comes in. We realize that all beings are suffering, so we want to serve others to end their suffering.”

“Maybe. I felt like that in the beginning, but then it changed. Later, I did my Satsangs for different reasons. Now, I feel like I’m doing them because that is what I do” (these are rough paraphrases of what was actually said).

“Merely doing,” I said. I was trying to equate Adyashanti’s statements with the Buddha’s description of enlightenment as “merely thinking (cognition)” without judgment, attachment, or aversion, but Adya didn’t seem to catch the reference.

Turns out my question was the last of the day. While helping stack the chairs after Adyashanti had left, I felt an odd disconnect with the other participants. No one seemed to want to look me in the eyes.

On the drive home, I realized that some may have taken my statement of “merely doing” as an insult to Adyashanti. One could argue that I degrading all his teachings, retreats, and satsangs as merely doing. This wasn’t my intention, of course, and what was really impressive is that Adyashanti took no offense–not even a flinch or a pause. He embodied what Deepak Chopra claimed changed his life: Don’t be offended ever again.

So it was another lesson learned. Seems like I have a penchant for insulting spiritual leaders. Not sure if this is a good or bad thing. Perhaps it is merely doing.

Funny enough, after my question, we only had a few minutes left, so Adyashanti suggested we sit in silence. Everyone started rustling around to get ready to sit in silence.

“No not that kind of silence,” Adya stopped us. “Since that happened, the squeaking of chairs, which was the preparing for silence…Every once in a while it is good to look at even the most innocuous kinds of conditioning. Just the suggestion that we might sit in silence, if you notice how the conditioning goes, some special situation must be met to sit in silence. The way I was was was not enough; therefore I have to adjust and move and prepare for silence which as far as I could tell you were all already in…Is it true that any condition need be met for me to recognize the silence that is here now.”

The silence that ensued was palpable. Guess we were merely being silent.

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

Do you have a mantra? Have you insulted a role model, mentor, teacher, or spiritual leader before? Please share.

A New Version of Jesus

warninglabelOn a Skype call with blogging best friend, Rarasaur, we discussed how being victims of false charges sent both our lives into unexpected directions. We started naming off other good people who have been “innocent victims.”

I skyped with a dinosaur!

I skyped with a dinosaur!

“What about Jesus?” I added. “He is the king of false charges.”

Then I committed blasphemy, “Maybe we are modern day Jesuses.” Continue reading