So we have to walk towards each other. How do we open our hearts? It’s practice. It can be cultivated. You can give yourself a challenge of, I’m going to do one random act of kindness every day. What if everybody did that?
So I’m meditating, which I used to find really hard with very young children. But now I know if I don’t even sit for 10 minutes a day, there is a powerful resource that I did not plug into. And I will not be able to pause between reaction, there will be no breath. I need to hunt through my day just to carve out that time because it makes all the difference.
For me it is absolutely the meditation because you get to connect to, like you said, that place inside you that is one with all life. And you’re really able to watch yourself ’til you can see your mind and how your mind works and you get to say, “I can make a choice on how my mind works. I can make a choice on the way I react.” Shit can happen always. That’s what life is. It’s always going to happen. And so the difference is how you respond.
And also I think it’s not just your response but it’s your framing which guides the response. So it’s not reaction, breath, then you can respond. But before you react you reframe it.
Because within that there is empathy and compassion.
And loving kindness.
Okay. So there’s space, right? And suddenly it’s a question of, “I don’t know what that person is going through today.” Something happens—you open yourself up to having compassion for somebody. I’m from LA and I used to drive in traffic a lot, there’s a lot of road rage. So say there’s an accident. You’re trying to get somewhere. You’re concerned about being late. Now pause for a moment. There’s an ambulance. Somebody’s in trouble. As soon as I’m hearing an ambulance I have the habit of going straight into metta for the person. May they be well. May they be safe. And I repeat that over and over, may you be well, may you be safe. And what that does, I’m sending metta to this person that I don’t know. It calms me down. My little worry of being late becomes very minuscule to the fact that somebody could be dying. It puts it in perspective. That right there changes my…
Framing! And it cultivates me as a compassionate person. And it feels great. And it’s not just for that person, it’s for me too. ’Cause if I’m in a bad mood and I hear an ambulance—because now it’s so automatic—I go into metta, ah! It’s for me as well. The peace that I receive from the compassion I send out. It works both ways.
Can we talk about your very special life? Because the thing that moves me about your life, I tell a lot of people about it. Half your life is devoted to your spiritual practice. And half your life is devoted to your work in the world. Can you talk about that and also the remarkable opportunity you have to be one of the last students of Jack Kornfield, one of the great spiritual teachers on the planet.
Yeah. It’s a blessing. I met Jack in 1995. He just out of the blue reached out to me. I got a phone call from Jack Kornfield! And I was like Jack Kornfield? It was crazy. And it was really Jack, I thought it was a hoax. And he’d gotten my number from someone and he wanted me to teach with him. I was a yoga teacher at the time. And I said, “Absolutely I’ll teach with you. Are you fucking kidding me?” And so I get on a plane and I meet Jack Kornfield. And he’s been in my world ever since. And then I started coming to Spirit Rock and working and being a yoga teacher at his retreats.
Could you explain just quickly what Spirit Rock is?
Spirit Rock is a Theravada Buddhism meditation centre which is the meditation of insight meditation, Vipassana meditation. It is the centre here on the West Coast, the biggest one. And it is a beautiful place where people sit and have retreats, and learn how to meditate and learn about the dharma and the Buddhist teachings. And create sangha, which is community. As a freelancer and an entrepreneur I built a life so that my spiritual practice has always been there, I mean I don’t even know how to live in the world without it honestly. And Jack is my personal mentor. And he is retiring. And he is just a beautiful man and means the world to me. Things happen in the world and I think, What would Jack do? What would Jack say? And he’s my moral compass. And sometimes I will actually email him and say “Jack…” And he’s always there. I’m really blessed that way. And so now I am in this four-year dharma course, which is requiring a lot of me. There’s a lot of study. Like I’m back in school, and I love it. I’m really learning the dharma. And I am teaching. And I am assistant teaching. And I am sitting. For example at the end of this year I will be sitting for six weeks. I’ll be gone from the end of October to first week of December in a six-week silent meditation on the East Coast. The other part of my life is in the world of business and finance. And how the two must come together. Because what I believe is that we are all deeply interconnected and yet we live our lives in our business life and in finance as if we are not. ’Cause if we were deeply connected, if we worked from that place, if we invested from that place, we could not do the kind of harm that we are doing. And so what has happened is that we have separated ourselves from our own interior and from each other and from all life. And so we as human beings use life as a resource. We use this planet as a resource. That tree is a resource that I have dominion over. That relationship is devastating. All life is sacred. And the planet is a living planet. That’s the story that we need to be telling. Instead, we are financing the destruction of our own living planet. That’s insane. Who destroys their own home? And we can put on our blinders and put up our walls and our fences and not look at it and continue to look at the bank account and make sure that we are continuing to make that money. As investments go up, resources go down. It has an inverse relationship. As this GDP goes up, the planet goes down. What about your children? What about your children’s children? We are completely delusional if we think we’re going to get away with this. We’re all suffering. We’re suffering from our separation, we are trying to buy our way out of our suffering. Buy more, get more, have more. Something is dying in the way we have set this up. The species, the people, the soil, the rainforest. We’d better start connecting the dots. So