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.

What is Really True?

This weekend at Interchange Counseling Institute, we were asked to bring in an unanswerable question–questions that seem to ask themselves over and over throughout our lives, that never seem to get a satisfactory answer.

“What do you never seem to be able to get (e.g. love, rest, a sense of purpose), though you put considerable energy into trying to get it? What always seems missing? What questions about how to be a person have caused you frustration over a long part of your life? What about yourself can you just not figure out? What challenges seem to pop up in every relationship you’re in, or across social interactions? What problems in a specific relationship won’t go away no matter how much you work on them?”–from Interchange Counseling Website.

We then wrote these questions on a piece of paper that we hung from our necks. Most people had questions like “Am I enough?”; “Am I loved?”; “Who am I?”; “How can I trust others?” “Do I exist?”

Maybe it was because I had done some deep re-parenting work at the last Interchange weekend, but my questions were more spiritual: “What does sex have to do with higher consciousness?” “What is consciousness?” In a small group, I workshopped my questions down to “What is really true?”

what is true sign

my tattered and tear-stained sign

After all 140 of us had our questions around our necks, we walked around the huge room and stood in front of each other silently, randomly. Our leader, Steve Bearman, informed us that our questions often pointed to interrupted development during our childhood. So we were to imagine each other as children and try to extend the love and resources others needed to heal.

For some reason, everyone who I stood in front of started crying. One woman who wore a sign that said, “Can I be trusted?” began to weep. I imagined her as a little girl wanting to be loved. “Oh, my sweet child, you can be trusted because I have nothing but love for you,” I thought. I opened my arms and hugged her softly as she sobbed.

Most of these people were complete strangers. I thought that they could psychically feel my thoughts and feelings that I had for them. It wasn’t until the exercise ended and my sweatshirt was full of watermarks from tears and runny noses that I realized what might have just happened.

When people had a question that had to do with being loved, being worthy, being enough, being deserving, they looked at my question, “What is really true?” and they felt deep inside themselves that they were loved, worthy, enough, and deserving.

When we really delve into what is true, we see and feel love.

So I ask you, my dear reader, what is your unanswerable question and what is really true?

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

The “I Need Your Love” Myth

The boys have the week off, so we decided to go to my parent’s cabin in Tahoe. After inviting 3 other families to join us and confirming the dates with my mom, I almost screamed when I found out a few days before departing that my mom had given the cabin away to some friends from Hawaii.

Reading the remorseless email from my mom, I felt the same dismay I experienced as a child when she stood with her arms crossed while my step-father beat me. Luckily, I had just returned from a weekend at Interchange Counseling Institute devoted to trauma. During the weekend, I had released any need for love from my parents.

My Dad before going MIA

My Dad before going MIA

Working through my childhood traumas, I realized that I did not need the love and approval of not only my mom and step-father, but also my deceased father. In one exercise in somatic healing, I role played with Meg, an intuitive and powerful woman counselor. She played my father who was leaving for his second tour of duty in Vietnam. I gripped her legs with all my strength begging my father not to abandon me.

“Don’t leave me, Dad. He’s going to beat me,” I pleaded desperately.

Meg wedged her free leg on my shoulder and tried to wiggle loose.

I tackled her and screamed with anger, “Daddy, why are you abandoning me?”

The three year old me could not have understood my father’s obsession to be the first Asian American General in the US Army. My child-like mind hadn’t experienced the kind of trauma that had blindsided my father when as an American citizen, he was imprisoned in the Internment Camps during World War II.

Looking back, I understand why my father felt the need to die for this country. In a way, he sacrificed himself for me and my brothers, so that we might some day be completely accepted as Americans.

“I love you, son,” Meg whispered as she stopped struggling to escape and chose to embrace me.

After the 30 minutes of struggling, tackling, crying, and loving with Meg, I felt lighter. A space opened up for me to love my father in a way I hadn’t since I was three. Experiencing these insights in both mind and body set me free from reacting to old distress patterns.

My mother’s decision to allow my step-father to physically abuse my older brother and I might have been born from similar trauma. Her decision to withdrawal emotionally from her sons might have been a self-preservation strategy born the day my father went missing in action in Vietnam.

I choose to love my mother, father, and step-father regardless of the decisions they have made in the past. I choose to love my country regardless of the decisions it made in the past. True freedom lies in loving the present moment without resentment from past events.

It occurred to me that being “born again” might refer to becoming one’s own father and mother–from releasing the people who happened to bore us from the socially constructed illusions of what makes a good parent. I love my parents, but I no longer need their love or approval. As cliche as it sounds, I am my own man.

Valentine’s Day for Boys ONLY

What can we learn from the innocence of children about the true nature of Valentine’s Day?

Six year old Jett was writing out his Valentine’s Day cards this morning.

“One for Paul, Justin, Kwon, Ashton, Michael, Derek…”

“What about Lauren, Zandra, or Sophia? Don’t you want to give cards to some girls?” I prodded.

“No girls,” Jett said without even looking up.

At first I was a bit disappointed that Jett didn’t have a special girl to give a card to. One of the other parents told me that his first grader had made matching Rainbow Loom bracelets for he and his sweetheart. rainbowloomThen I caught myself in my socially conditioned heterosexuality.

When I was able to see the beauty of the present moment, I felt a touch of jealousy. My son had the freedom to express his love to all the boys that he knew. He had a shared bond with these boys that was not tainted by homophobia or puffed up versions of manliness.

I thought about Rarasaur’s post on an alternate form of Valentine’s Day and fantasized about a day where men could show love for each other without shame, aversion, or homophobia. Where we could hug each other tenderly, heart to heart rather than be forced to chest-bump or bro-hug. Where we could look into each others eyes and tell each other how much we appreciated everything that we have done for each other.

I thought about Macklemore’s song “Same Love”:

“When I was in the third grade, I thought that I was gay, because I could draw and my uncle was and I kept my room straight.”

Maybe the reason, Macklemore thought he was gay in the third grade was because he had genuine feelings for some of the boys that he called friends. I hope my son can keep his heart open to anyone who he has strong feelings for regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race, or culture.

I’m starting to experience what I’ve always heard, “Love is all you need.” Isn’t it a shame that we are socialized to stop loving half the population in the third grade?

Thanks for reading, smiling, and/or sharing.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all my brothers and sisters.

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

Lesson on Being Human from a 3 Year Old

I know it is a cliche to say that we learn as much from our children as they learn from us, but 3 year old Fox is different. From a very early age, we called him the “Little Buddha,” not just because he looked like a Buddha–large forehead, big long ears, and long half-open/half-closed eyes, but also because he would just sit calmly and contently for long periods of time.

Fox Sitting

I can honestly say that I have learned as much from this little soul as I have from any enlightened master. Here are a few highlights: Continue reading

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.