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Timber Hawkeye: Beyond the American Dream to the Zen of Daily Life

Nuggets From Timber Hawkeye's Call

Today, we had the privilege of hosting Awakin Call with Timber Hawkeye.

Timber Hawkeye is the author of the bestselling books Buddhist Boot Camp and Faithfully Religionless. From an early age, Timber saw the contradictions inherent in our world, noticing that society’s endorsement of wealth, possessions, and career are distractions from a freer, truer, simpler, and more connected way of life. Timber was born in Israel and moved with his family to San Francisco at the age of 13, His teenage years and early twenties were an ongoing attempt to embody the "American Dream" and being "successful." But he eventually left the corporate world and moved to Hawaii, emailing friends and family about his experiences. Those emails about his deepening journey became the basis for his best-selling book Buddhist Boot Camp. Timber offers a secular and non-sectarian approach to being at peace with the world, both within and around us.

We'll post the transcript of the call soon, but till then, some nuggets that stood out from the call ...

  • "I've learned so much from my mistakes that I'm going to go out there and make some more. :) My old boss used to say, "Timber, you never make the same mistakes twice. You make a new one every day." I'd take that as a compliment: good, that means I'm learning!"
  • On taking a 50 percent pay-cut: "I realized that how happy I am had very little to do with how much money I'm making."
  • "When I left my job, everyone was so worried for me. They'd ask, 'Were you scared to sell everything and move to Hawaii?' All my friends/family were terrified. I said, 'I don't know, but I'll send you an email every month so you know what's going on with me.' At first, the emails read: I played volleyball today, and went kayaking today. I might've played volleyball for 5 hours one day. Then, I'd see people who've been doing this for 30 years. Stagnation scared me. I stopped playing, and started studying more. By this point, my life had been so different than anyone else in my life -- I didn't drink, smoke, etc."
  • "If life is a recipe, I take out the things that make life complicated."
  • I moved into a Zen monastery. "The monthly emails I sent to friends and family every month stopped. There was no internet, no email in the monastery. [...] A year into one of the monasteries I stayed at, I received a letter from a friend. She said, "Timber, I know you like find great joy and peace in being there. But you took a vow to be of service, and you're of no use to anyone if you're tucked away in the mountains somewhere." Receiving her letter, I couldn't justify staying there. I had learned about the middle path by this point, so I wondered how can I keep my practice ... without alienating myself? Without segregating myself, saying 'I'm different, separate.'?"
  • So, I moved into a lay practitioners' temple; basically, a temple with wifi. :) My friend said, 'Those emails that you've been sending us for 8 years -- make them public.' I took those emails and posted them on a blog ... and they just spread like wildflowers. [Eventually, I published it into a book.] They're very short tidbits, because they're just emails. Every chapter in the book is a page long. You can read them in any order. I called the book Buddhist Boot Camp, not because there's anything in the book about Buddhism in a scholarly sense, but because that's what my life felt like at the time.
  • "I'm not suggesting everyone sell their things and move to Hawaii. I'm not suggesting everyone move into a monastery... It's about creating balance... by changing our habitual tendencies and patterns."
  • "Gratitude has really been a driving force to replace my fears of the unknown to curiosity."
  • If you could fast forward to your last moment in life, what footprint would you like to leave behind on the planet? "There's nothing that I need to leave behind. In our lifetime, if we have managed to enrich the life of one person, what an incredible gift that is. [...] I think if I had a week on my deathbed, I might just send thank-you letters to everyone who has touched my life in some way. If my life was one life that they have enriched, that would give their life meaning and purpose; and I would use that time to do that."

Lots of gratitude to our moderator, Vasco, and all the behind-the-scenes volunteers that made this call happen!

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