Practicing Peace.

I recently went to a Vegfest in my local community. The food was great and overall the message was a positive one. A message that we can help stop climate change, transform our health, and vote with our wallets to stop cruelty against animals through eating a plant based diet. A few of the vegans were so angry at meat eaters though. One of the presenters went on an angry tangent about decapitated pigs heads at the grocery store. She yelled at the crowd that she couldn’t understand meat eaters(even though she ate these products most of her life). It was a friendly reminder to me that true compassion encompasses all beings, not just those who live the same way as you. The way of peace doesn’t condone violence but seeks to understand others instead of judge. True compassion encompasses Hitler, Stalin, and Charles Manson.

If we want others to be more peaceful we must be peaceful, it’s as simple as that. Maybe we could just focus on ourself, making our own life our message to others? Our message of peace will be watered down if we communicate in a violent way. Practicing non-violence is something MLK, Gandhi, Jesus, Buddha, and mother Theresa all agreed on. It’s something they wanted us to practice on a daily basis. The next time we complain about the world affairs we could ask ourself “how can we expect the world to be at peace if we aren’t?”

Focus within. One lit candle can light a thousand candles.

With Aloha,

Johnny Hoffman

Darkness, Transformation, and Redemption.

The darkest moments of my life led to the most transformation. The darkness brings self-reflection, awareness, and focus.  This is only if we do not numb the pain with alcohol, drugs, and/or overeating. When a family member suddenly dies or a relationship ends, we can have moments of pure awareness and clarity on what led to this moment in time.

My first experience with this transformation was when I was honest with my ex-fiance about my infidelity. She left me the following day. At first, I numbed myself with distraction but when her parents moved all her stuff out of our studio I was forced to sit in a dark & empty apartment. My first reaction was to run away and move to a new place. Luckily I chose to stay in my empty studio. The following weeks I cried every night in sorrow. Pain, suffering, and anxiety filled each moment until one day I picked up a book called “Buddhist Bootcamp” by Timber Hawkeye. Suddenly I was meditated 1 hour a day, reading, writing, eating healthier, and working out every day. I quit smoking and significantly cut down on drinking alcohol. My days were now filled with joy instead of sorrow. This all took place from March-May 2015 in San Luis Obispo, CA. Since then I have fallen back into old habits, relearn lessons, and also had new transformations from suffering. I began a journey of self-love, peace, forgiveness, and acceptance; a journey I am currently still on (and always will be). There is no destination on this path, only the love of the journey itself.

The famous Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh says “No Mud, No Lotus”. The beautiful lotus flower grows in the darkest and muddiest environments; I truly believe humans are much the same as the beautiful lotus flower. The right environment for growth usual consists of awareness, compassion, and love while we are suffering. Once we learn how to suffer, we suffer much less. Suffering can actually be the most transformative process of life if we allow it to be.

Through the darkness, we can transform ourselves and become the light to see out of the darkness. We accept the darker side of ourselves (and the world) with compassion, understanding, and peace. In this practice, we feed the light while accepting the dark. This allows for peace instead of war. The key to transformation is to sit with ourselves through the pain instead of distraction or numbing the pain. The coldest winters of my life have always ended with a warm inviting spring. All is impermanent, even the darkest of times.

 

With Aloha,

Johnny Hoffman

The Ghosts of Our Past.

A grandfather & his grandkids sit around a campfire on a cold winters night. The grandkids ask their grandfather to tell them a scary story. The grandfather takes a deep breath, knowing this story could have a huge impact on his grandkids. In the distance, a coyote howls into the deep silence of the forest.

The flame flickers

The moon shines into the cold night

As the grandfather tells his tale

His grandkids hearts drop

As they listen carefully to each word

Our past is not our past

If we refuse to let it go

The wise grandfather proclaimed

The ghosts of the past are real

They are dark creatures

More powerful then any demon

For they torment you

Day or night

They even follow you into your dreams

They steal your joy

Bring endless suffering

These ghosts

Lock you in a jail of regret

“How do you get out of this jail?!”

His grandkids screamed into silence of the night

“It’s simple but difficult” the grandfather proclaimed

The key to your freedom is the power of letting go

If you let go of the attachment, regret, and sorrow of your past the ghosts will disappear into the nights sky

Only to be seen time to time

To guide you on a different path then what led you to your own sufferings

Do not fight the ghosts, that is their fuel

Accept your past with compassion

For the past is gone

This exact moment is what matters

The grandkids slept good in their tents that night knowing that they are not helpless to these ghosts. The grandfather knew his grandkids would most likely have to learn the same way he did, through clinging to his past mistakes of infidelity, lying, and addictions. They will find their own way.

The Creature of the Dark Forest.

One breath at a time

One step at a time

I ascend up a steep mountain

A forest so lush it blocks the sun

As I reach the summit

A sudden storm appears above

Rain & wind torment me to no end

I start to run as fast as I can

Anything to escape this dangerous storm

A dark creature appears from the darkest depths of the forest

What do you want? I shout

It doesn’t answer me

I begin to move towards the creature

Fear filling every ounce of my soul

The creature runs away as I chase it

I hear its painful screams echoing within the forest

I finally catch this creature

What…. I can’t believe what I’m seeing

The creature is the darkest part of me

He was banished to the depths of the darkest forests

Suppressed, ridiculed, & beaten the creature laid wounded on the ground

Sobbing uncontrollably

I extend my arm to him

Picking up the creature I was astonished by how frail & weak it had become from my neglect

Yet so powerful to cause such powerful storms

I carried the creature back to my home, letting him rest and repair from all of the abuse

Thank you, said the creature as it gained consciousness once more

Anytime, I replied.

I’m so sorry that I banished you to the dark forest

You are part of me & always will be

I promise to shed light into the darkest part of the forest

True Compassion.

As I glance through YouTube I see many arguing over diet, ethics, and the environmental problems of animal agriculture. I see my fellow vegans becoming angry with meat eaters. I hear the words ” I just don’t understand” being repeated over & over again. To develop compassion for others we must first understand them. Us vegans will drive ourselves crazy with this mindset of misunderstanding. I hope to inspire others to practice a vegan lifestyle but do not wish to force others to be vegan. People change on their own time. You can not force anyone to be more compassionate to animals or care about the health of themselves & the planet. Forcing another is a violent act in itself, which goes against my vow of non violence. The world will change in it’s own time. All we can do is live our message and share it with others. If our message is peace & compassion, then we must be peaceful & compassionate with our meat eating brothers & sisters. Peace is the way.

Understanding others is necessary for compassion, love, & peace. I ate a meat/dairy/egg based diet for 27 years and have been vegan for 2 years. How can I judge anyone who still consumes animal products when I ate them most of my life? My focus as of now is to develop true compassion for those who consume animal products and especially for those who advocate for them in ones diet. True compassion is when we can show compassion to those we disagree with. It’s easy to show compassion to the innocent & weak. It’s much more difficult to show compassion to a slaughterhouse worker but nothing could be more important than developing compassion for them as well. Slaughterhouse workers are often immigrants who are recruited to work long hours for little wages. They often suffer from PTSD from the horrific violent acts they see on a regular basis. There are documented cases of slaughterhouse workers dieing from bacterial diseases and neurological diseases from freshly slaughtered animals.

I also feel strong compassion for those who suffer from chronic diseases from eating animal products all their life. From heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s, colon cancer, and many other diseases that could of been prevented with a whole food plant based diet. They were lied to be industry and led to believe that they are wild carnivores that need to eat meat every meal for protein. So much unnecessary human suffering. My heart goes out to them & their families.

I hope to inspire my fellow vegans to be more compassionate & understanding to our meat eating brothers & sisters. Many of us were meat eaters most of our life. Who are we to judge? We are not perfect enlightened beings floating above others. Let’s focus our energy on educating others while showing compassion & understanding to them. This way we don’t drag ourself down with anger, rage, & misunderstanding. We can allow compassion guide our life. How will they ever understand compassion if all we show them is apathy? How will they know peace if all we show them is violence? Our own life is our message to the world.

With Aloha,

Johnny Hoffman

Vulnerability: Our Biggest Strength.

Aloha,

Today’s blog post is about being vulnerable. Vulnerability is humanities greatest strength. It takes courage to be completely open and honest about our struggles.

Instagram & Facebook show us highlight reels of other people’s lives, which makes us feel like we aren’t living our lives to the fullest. There is a reason that studies show that heavy social media use is linked to depression, anxiety, and loneliness. We only connect at a surface level in sharing our highlights. Full transparency allows us to connect at a much deeper level.

Everyone has hardships but we rarely (if ever) share them on social media. Why is that? Are we scared that others will pity or judge us? From my experience, others will support and open up to their struggles once we break the ice. Connecting with others in this way is special.

For the past 6 weeks I have been traveling New Zealand on a working holiday visa. I haven’t started the working part of that yet though! LOL. Its hasn’t been perfect though. I spent way more money than expected on my first month of traveling which has caused me anxiety. At times, I have felt lonely in my travels, even when many others were around. Lately I have been having a hard time dealing with boredom and lack of purpose with no job. Lots of self judgements and worrying about what others think of me. Slowly I’m excepting the fact that this is a sabbatical and I will find work in the new year. I need to show some faith in myself once more and enjoy my free time.

Our society could benefit from being more vulnerable with each other. It helps us feel more connected and compassionate to others. Vulnerability takes true courage and strength. We all share the human experience together, let’s help each other live the fullest life that we can.

What have you been struggling with lately?

Namaste,

Johnny Hoffman

My Path into the Unknown.

Aloha,

After 18 months of living on the beautiful Island of Maui, I have decided to take a huge step into the unknown. I have decided to fulfill a dream of mine and move overseas for 1 year to New Zealand on a working holiday visa. A mix of excitement, joy, and fear dances around my mind these last couple weeks. Fear is natural to such risky endeavors but I’m choosing to guide my life with the love of the unknown instead of fear. All the new people and experiences that lie ahead sounds exciting to me! I have faith that everything will work out as it always has. Zooming out, every risk I have taken has worked out in the long run. Why should I doubt myself and others when all of my past tells me otherwise? Moving to Maui has prepared me for this even bolder step on my path into the unknown. I left a stable career job on the mainland to move to Maui. Without this critical step, I would not be moving to New Zealand. I am grateful for Maui and the many people who have helped me along the way!

I will be living in hostels all over the north and south islands of New Zealand while working part-time to live full time. I hope to post about my experiences in New Zealand on this blog to help others live more meaningful lives. I want to inspire others to take risks in order to live the life they love. Thank you to those reading this post. I appreciate your time and attention.

 

With Aloha,

Johnny Hoffman

 

Big Egos.

The ego whispers “you’re right”. Unchecked, our ego will lead us into hatred of anyone who different than us. Hatred cannot be stopped by more hatred. It’s a vicious unstoppable circle of ego, fear, and hatred. Without the light of peace, the circle is infinite. Apathy & fear fuel the ego. I believe compassion and love can bring humanity true peace. Does humanity really want peace though? That’s a million dollar question. If we truly want peace we have to be mindful of the ego and its tendency to label everything as “right” or “wrong”. Labeling is the first step to hatred and violence. Labeling isn’t always bad (foods, streets, colors, etc) but when we label our fellow humans we put them in boxes; which we then label “right” or “wrong”. This distorts reality and makes peace difficult.

Understanding is the first step towards peace.

Without understanding peace is not possible. This is why mindful listening is so important in peace talks. Understanding the suffering inside another is a skill we can develop with compassion. Understanding, compassion, and peace are intertwined at their core.

Do we truly want peace or to be right? 

I see this in my fellow animal right’s activists. Well-intentioned people who let their ego blind them. They care more about being right than understanding meat eaters. They end up pushing their meat-eating brothers & sisters further from plant-based living; causing more violence in the world. We all have been guilty of letting our ego take control of a conversation. I intend to show true compassion to all living beings, even those who believe the exact opposite of me. How will they know peace if we don’t show them? MLK, Gandhi, Jesus, Buddha, and Mother Theresa all preached this message of peace.

Let’s start today by mindfully listening to others instead of allowing our ego to lead into hatred. If we truly want peace in this world we must live peacefully with all living beings. By living this way, we leave the world a better place than we arrived.

With Aloha,

Johnny Hoffman

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