It’s not often we get to sit on the floor, barefoot and in lotus position while interviewing a spiritual author whose journey and teachings have positively influenced the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.
Timber Hawkeye, author of the best-selling spiritual guide ‘Buddhist Boot Camp’ offers a non-sectarian approach to being at peace with the world, both within and around us. His intention in ‘Buddhist Boot Camp’ and life is to awaken, enlighten, enrich and inspire.
Timber was kind enough to give us his time on his worldwide book tour to answer some of the questions not many get to ask him but all want to know.
Make yourself a cup of tea, light a few candles and enjoy!
1. What is the message behind Buddhist Boot Camp?
“If I was to incapsulate it, the message would be simple – be grateful and be kind. It’s important to understand that we create a lot of our own suffering – by becoming aware that we hold the responsibility to create our own happiness, we empower ourselves to live a more relaxed, compassionate and positive life.”
2. How did the book come to be?
“I never had the intention to sit down and write a book. When I moved to Hawaii, I didn’t have a place to live, I didn’t have a job lined up and I didn’t know what I was going to do – I just knew that I wanted to live a more relaxed and free life. Every month I would send a letter to my friends and family, updating them on how my simplistic and non materialistic life was turning out.
After about 8 years of continual updates, thoughts and teachings, my friend who was moved by what I wrote about, suggested that I take all those emails and letters and make them public. So that’s what ‘Buddhist Boot Camp’ is – a collection of all my journal entires, emails and letters to friends compiled into a book. That’s why every chapter is only a page long and can be read in any order.”
3. Is there a difference between being religious and being spiritual?
“Absolutely! Organized religion provides answers for us to follow while spirituality keeps us in a place of questioning and inquiry. With spirituality we make peace with not knowing, with not having all the answers and not having only one truth. Truth within spirituality has a small ’T’ while in religion, it’s capitalized on being the universal truth above all else.
That’s why there is so much hostility between different religions – they believe their truth is the only truth and most superior to any other explanation. While spirituality leaves us in a place of searching, wonder, open mindfulness and open heartfulness to not be so quick to judge or label.”
4. You quote the Dalai Lama saying, “Don’t try to use what you learn from Buddhism to be a Buddhist; use it to be a better whatever-you-already-are.” Can you elaborate on that?
“I don’t think a label is important at all. I am a lot of things – not only one (label) defines me. Meaning it’s not about being a buddhist, it’s about being ‘Buddha-like’ or not being Christian but being ‘Christ-like’ and that’s a really important invitation to not focus so much on the label but on the actual teachings. Living this way makes you ask yourself ‘how can my actions be inline with my values?’ because your beliefs don’t make you a better person, your behavior does. So it does matter who you are or what you want to be just be really good at it.”
4. You say to focus on the teachings not the teachers. What do you mean and why?
“We tend to put the ‘teachers’ of faith up on a pedestal and look up to them. Shunryū Suzuki wrote about how there are no enlightened beings, only enlightened activity and that was very empowering for me. The people we perceive to be enlightened i.e. the Dalai Lama, Jesus, Buddha, they’re people like you and I however they just made enlightened activity apart of their everyday lives.
And so by bringing ourselves up to eye level with those figures, you become empowered and confident in your abilities to become enlightened.”
5. Do you believe success and spirituality coexist? Typically society tells us we can only develop one or the other.
“Most definitely! You need to understand that ‘typically’ the opinion of success in society is skewed. Success to me is being happy. To me spirituality is a means to happiness and so success and spirituality can very much coexist. I don’t have a lot of money however I feel like the richest man in the world because I am happy – and spirituality brings that to me. I think there would be nothing worse than being super wealthy but feeling unfulfilled and unhappy internally.”
6. Meditation seems to be a buzz word lately, what is it, how do you do it and can someone with no previous experience with meditation still benefit?
“Of course! You’re right, meditation is a buzz word at the moment which is a shame because with that brings assumptions – assumptions of how it should be done, what it is and who should do it. People seek out to be ‘taught’ meditation however I shy away from giving instruction because the moment you do, you’re implying there is a wrong way to meditate. I have a lot of individuals come up to me and voice that they are meditating wrong or they don’t know how to do it but in-fact there is no ‘wrong way’ of meditating. As long as the intention is there, your attempts are successful.
The whole point of meditation is to learn how to control your mind. So if you find that there is something you do which relaxes you and in which your mind doesn’t wonder – it could be jogging, hiking, gardening, doing puzzles, painting and if while you’re doing that your mind stays focused – you’re meditating. Its that simple. There’s no need to sit in full lotus position or burn incense or chant chakras – mediation is just the practice of focusing your mind.”
7. What’s one exercise or activity you would recommend we do starting today to lead a more positive, happy and fulfilled life?
“Keep a gratitude journal. Every single morning, make it the first thing you do – take out your journal and just start listing anything and everything you’re grateful for. It can be as simple as “I am so grateful to be alive today” or “I am so grateful for all my friends and family” or “I am so grateful for all the opportunities I attract into my life”.
You can even download a gratitude app to your smart phone if journaling isn’t for you. What’s cool about the app is you can also document photos, videos and voice memos as well as text.
When you live and come from a place of complete gratitude, everything changes and you have no choice but to become a happier person.”