Kissed by God


, , , , , , , , , , ,

kissed by godYesterday I saw someone who had been kissed by God.

I sat in a coffee shop listening to a young singer Sawyer Fredericks, all of 16 years old, sing from the depths of the Universe. He sang from a sacred place, a place that was not learned or from training, a place touched by the divine.

I found myself moved to tears in knowing the grace in this connection, a harmony in all that is possible in living beings. One connection, one voice, one blend of vibration that inspires and unifies all of humanity. It was as if the voice of God was speaking directly to me.

This is and isn’t about Sawyer. I don’t know him and my guess is that as a 16-year-old he would think I was truly OUT THERE. This is about the blessing that we as living beings are in this Universe. This connection that Sawyer has is an idea of what is possible in all living beings. It is a representation of the divine within each of us. It is a kiss from God.

This moment exists everywhere. Look around. Let go of all of the busy thoughts in your mind or the thoughts of what should be. In this present moment around you is a moment that itself has been kissed by God. The smile of a small child, the hug of a reunion, the inspiration of a young man realizing his potential in life, a poem, a photograph, a novel, a movie. Human beings are amazing and we don’t even know this. The person next to you right now is incredible. When we take time to look and see life in a context that is beautiful and that anything is possible then the world appears this way to us. It becomes a gift, a miracle in every moment. It brings tears and happiness and LOVE at all times.

We have all been kissed by God.

We are each divine within, and we all have our own gift. We have the ability to connect and inspire. The moment we realize that we are a gift, and divine and are here to love, inspire and unite all living beings then we understand our divine presence on this planet.

The poet Hafiz said


No one is looking

I swallow deserts and clouds

And chew on mountains knowing

They are sweet


When no one is looking and I want

To kiss


I just lift my own hand





I told my daughter I was moved to tears in listening to a song. I told her this young man had been kissed by God and she said, “wait, you don’t believe in God.”

I told her just because I don’t follow a Christian path or the absolute word of the bible does not mean I don’t believe in something bigger than myself. God is a word. No, I don’t believe in a white-robed, white-haired, bearded man granting wishes above the clouds. When describing things such as the Divine, or Unconditional LOVE words do not represent as once they are spoken or written they have context from others. I speak of God as the Divine, the Great Spirit, as LOVE, choose whatever word represents this for you. I speak from a place where we are all connected across race, sex, age…across cultures. We are vibrating energy that is connected to everything in the Universe.

I am grateful in finding these moments that remind me of this, that bring me to tears, that make me laugh, that has me realize the unlimited potential of human beings. These moments that remove any constraints in my heart and fill my space with boundless LOVE.

This is the kiss from God. For this I am eternally grateful.

Call to Action:

  • Let go of your thoughts and be present. Look around and see the beauty in the Universe in front of you.
  • Move beyond the superficial, find the passion and inspiration in those around you. There are amazing people in front of you at this very moment.
  • Remove any barriers that you have to love. Connect to this place. This is your root.

Thomas D. Craig

Author of A Cup of Buddha, and Is that so? A Modern Fable of Awakening

writer. seeker. Zen warrior


The Perfect Gift


, , , , , , , , , , ,

perfect giftI have found the perfect gift.

It is priceless and it is available to all of us.

It’s easy to find. It’s past the holiday crowds, beyond the aisles filled with things, and the trees stacked with gifts. It’s above people’s judgments and that constant voice of fear that is so prevalent inside all of us. It sits beneath the masks that we wear. The masks that we believe will shield us from pain, from suffering, the masks that we hide the utter truths of life, deep within us for no one to see, a thick armor we use to keep life and people at a distance. The gift is below this, beyond any of this superficiality. It is within us. A light that shines beyond any darkness. It is the greatest power in the universe.

The perfect gift is love.

There is no greater gift than to strip away everything, leaving nothing but your vulnerable self, raw, and exposed with only your heart to give completely and unconditionally.

At our core, beyond our fears, beyond our judgments and all of these masks stripped away, we are love. All of us. I am you, you are me. We are love. There is no separation, there is no ‘I’ and ‘You’. We are a string of vibrating energy deeply connected, mirrored in our experiences. Your moments are my moments. My experiences are your experiences. Beyond the egos’ veil of illusion we are one heartbeat, one pulse of energy that shines far beyond this lifetime. There is no greater power than this connected energy, this universal love. I have no other word to describe this but to use the word LOVE. Love is the most powerful force in the universe.

We throw the word love around for many things. I love ice cream, or I love summer days. I speak not of things but of a love much deeper than this. A love without barriers, vulnerable, filled with compassion and without condition. This is who we are at our core. Everything else is a mask of fear keeping us from our home. Love binds us, connects us. It is universal, beyond words, and languages and borders.

It is easy this time of the year to get caught up in the conversation of superficiality and things. This conversation keeps us ordinary, it roots us to this body, this luggage that carriers our connected energy, our universal love. We are beyond this. We are bigger than things, bigger than this body.

We are love.

And love is the perfect gift. A gift we must give to ourselves. Strip away all barriers that hold you against love. Every moment. This is your journey home. This is the path. The more you find love within the more connected you become to all living beings. Every being becomes your brother and sister. The thought of harm or violence or anger dissipates as we realize we could not damage our own family. Our frustrations and suffering melt into a sea of universal love.

This is the perfect gift – LOVE. Give it away freely.

Call to Action:

  • Strip away all of your barriers, become vulnerable and open your heart.
  • Find and remove all barriers to love that you have in your life.
  • BE LOVE….


Thomas D. Craig

Author of A Cup of Buddha and Is that so? A Modern Fable of Awakening

writer. seeker. warrior.





The Obstacle is the Path


, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

obstacle is the pathWe fight.

We fight against change, resisting the flow of life to stay in our status quo, our cocoon filled with illusions of security and happiness. We live in a world of ‘if then’. If I only had more money then I would be happy. If I had the right job then life would be good. If only I was loved then life would be meaningful.

We fight to hold onto the past, to hold onto only the positive moments in our lives. We build this illusion that our lives would be different, and happy if we only it were different, or like it used to be.

Yet, life flows. Pain and death are inevitable just as the seasons change.

We suffer in missing this flow of life. We suffer trying to hold onto the attachment of an ‘if then’ world. A world of yesterdays and should have beens. We suffer in resisting change.

Yet, what we do not realize in our suffering is that the obstacle is the path.

This is our journey.

How can we know light if we do not also know darkness? How can we know love if we do not also know hate? Joy without sadness?

There is no destination on our journey. There is no end point. Our path is not straight it has ups and downs, birth and death, pain and happiness, joy and sadness. When we fight the flow of life we try to change nature and the universe itself.

Life happens. Pain is inevitable, we cannot change this no more than stopping time itself. The Dalai Lama stated “True change is within, leave the outside as it is.”

The obstacle is the path. Embrace it, don’t fight it. Give gratitude for these moments, these moments are what make you. There is beauty in every step along the journey, gratitude in our experiences. Give thanks and gratitude for the ability to experience these moments no matter how painful they may be.

This is growth. This expands our circle of compassion and our connection to all living beings. This is putting our heart out, fully open and vulnerable.

This is life, beautiful with all of its warts and changes. When we remove the cocoon of illusion life transforms, and we are free to fly in all its beauty, the concept of good or bad dissipates and we are simply left with this present moment.

Let it rain, feel it, embrace it, and dance.

Call to Action:

  • Stop resisting, let life flow.
  • If you feel yourself resisting, find gratitude in the moment no matter how difficult this may be.
  • Be Love.

Thomas D. Craig

Author of A Cup of Buddha and Is that so? A Modern Fable of Awakening

writer. seeker. Zen warrior

For What is Life


, , , , , , , , ,

mountain sunriseFor What is Life

For what is life if we have not bowed to a sunrise on top of a mountain
or climbed a tree because it was there
or breathed the dew off a honeysuckle like a newborn
or felt the tears of a cloud as we danced in the rain

For what is life if we have not given our heart fully, without condition
or cried all night with a loved one
or laughed at the insignificance of it all
or stared at a child in wonder and awe at the beauty of a human being

For what is life if we do not live on the edge, far away from ordinary
or let go of fear, and words like CAN’T and NORMAL
or live with love, completely without boundaries
or find grace and humbleness in every action that we take

For what is life if we do not live as if each breath was our last
or come to the realization that we are all divine
or awakened to our connection to all living beings as brothers and sisters
or that our greatest gift, our purpose is realizing that we are here to serve others

For what is life if we are not sucking the marrow out of it with every drop, every breath, every heartbeat, until it beats no more.

The Other Side


, , , , , , , , ,

other side One day a young Buddhist on his journey home came to the banks of a wide river. Staring hopelessly at the great obstacle in front of him, he pondered for hours on just how to cross such a wide barrier. Just as he was about to give up his pursuit to continue his journey he saw a great teacher on the other side of the river. The young Buddhist yells over to the teacher, “Oh wise one, can you tell me how to get to the other side of this river”?

The teacher ponders for a moment looks up and down the river and yells back, “My son, you are on the other side”.

As human beings it seems as though we are constantly trying to get somewhere. More stuff, better job, next vacation, I think we can all relate to the young Buddhist in this Zen story about the other side. It is almost as if we are shouting to the world, How do I get OVER THERE? Or more implicit, right HERE is not enough so how do I get over THERE?

Therein lies the beautiful message of the story. We are already there. There is nowhere to get to.

Life is beautiful right where we are at. This moment is perfect exactly how it is. Life unfolds the way it unfolds. Our context, our view of this world will be our experience. Einstein said our greatest question is whether we view the Universe as kind or as evil?

When I hear someone express frustration in where they are at in life, I always ask a simple question- And then what?

For example:

person: ‘if only I could get a different job.’

me: ‘and then what?’

person: ‘then I will make more money’

me: ‘and then what?’

person: ‘then I can buy that house/vacation/car’

me: ‘and then what?’

person: ‘then I will be happy?’

The actor Jim Carrey once said “I wish everyone could experience being rich and famous, so they’d see it wasn’t the answer to anything.”

The other side is not the answer. Once we stop striving to GET SOMEWEHRE, we get off the hamster wheel and we find peace in this moment because it is all we have.

Call to Action:

  • Stop. Breathe. Get that there is nowhere to get to. This moment right now is perfect.
  • Get off the hamster wheel, take note when you are on this never-ending wheel and take gratitude for this moment.
  • Be LOVE

Be well. Be Love.

Thomas D. Craig

Author A Cup of Buddha and Is that so? A Modern Fable of Awakening

writer. seeker. Zen warrior

Is that so? A Modern Fable of Awakening


, , , , , , , , , , , ,

is that so cover final croppedYou can’t hide in life, Riley! Life is joy; it’s beautiful…every moment. It’s filled with challenges that remind us to find grace in even the smallest moments. Think of life as a bell. If you take a passive approach to it, you’ll give it a tiny ping. In return, you will get a tiny ping back. That’s what victims do in life. Then they wonder why their world isn’t filled with music.

Willy from Is that so? A Modern Fable of Awakening

 Is That So? A Modern Fable of Awakening: Now Available!

Many years ago I came across the Zen story called Is that so? I was fascinated with the simplicity and the core message of choosing life no matter the circumstance. Everyone on this planet is going through something. Some more than others, however, it is our context of what life brings our way that creates our being. Buddha tells us that life is suffering. His meaning is not that life is miserable but if we stay attached to life and the past or the way life is supposed to be in our minds then we suffer. It is flowing exactly in the NOW that we create freedom and happiness.

This was the story I wanted to tell in my new book, Is that so? A Modern Fable of Awakening that I am releasing April 16th 2014, choosing life no matter the circumstances. The central character is named Riley Porter. Riley means valiance and Porter means carrying, so he is someone carry valiance. It takes courage to live a life with authenticity, truth and love. Yet, this life is available to all of us. There is a Riley Porter in every being on this planet. We have the courage to walk a path of love, this is our home. Let us all walk the path of Riley.

Enjoy the book, I look forward to your feedback.

Here is the Zen story that the book is loosely based – Is that so?

The Zen master Hakuin was praised by his neighbors as one living a pure life.

A beautiful Japanese girl whose parents owned a food store lived near him. Suddenly, without any warning, her parents discovered she was with child.

This made her parents very angry. She would not confess who the man was, but after much harassment at last named Hakuin.

In great anger the parents went to the master. “Is that so?” was all he would say.

After the child was born it was brought to Hakuin. By this time he had lost his reputation, which did not trouble him, but he took very good care of the child. He obtained milk from his neighbors and everything else the little one needed.

A year later the girl-mother could stand it no longer. She told her parents the truth – that the real father of the child was a young man who worked in the fishmarket.

The mother and father of the girl at once went to Hakuin to ask his forgiveness, to apologize at length, and to get the child back again.

Hakuin was willing. In yielding the child, all he said was: “Is that so?”

Call to Action:

  • Choose life no matter the circumstance. Life is beautiful in every moment.
  • Create your life, your context is decisive. You choose your state of being.
  • Be love

Thomas D. Craig

writer. seeker. Zen warrior

Author of A Cup of Buddha and Is That So?



I Fight Myself


, , , , , , , , , , ,

fight of my lifeEach day I fight.

I fight the fear that grips all of us. The fear that keeps us ordinary, keeps us safe. The fear that shadows our every move telling us we are small, telling us we are not good enough, telling us someone else will take care of it.

I fight the voices of others telling me who I am, who I should be, or what I cannot do. I fight the judgment and preconceived ideas of the status quo. I fight a world putting me in a box based on my status, my race, my preferences, or my sex.

I fight the safety and security in staying the same. I fight the resistance in not wanting to change. I fight the yearning of being complacent, of being satisfied. I fight the voice that says enough, stay where you are.

I fight the whispers asking Why you? and telling me I can’t. I fight a world filled with white picket fences, 2.5 kids, and 9 to 5 jobs. I fight a world that seems to already know what is best, a world that is closed to the question what if?

I fight my mind that wants to bring forward every disappointment, every heartache, every moment of suffering to protect me. I fight the want to close myself, to keep my emotions within, to stay at the surface, to stay safe.

I fight a world that fights for the individual self, for the ordinary. I fight a world that is resistant to change, that creates boundaries in what is possible, in what can be done. I fight a world that wants me to conform.

I fight because….

The word CAN’T does not exist.

Pain is only temporary.


I am capable of anything.

Every door that closes a new one opens.

The sun rises new every day.

There is no tomorrow, there is only this moment RIGHT NOW.

I am connected to every living being on this planet.

I am here for a purpose.

I am LOVE.

This is the fight.

I fight myself. Every moment of everyday.

When I step onto the mat, or climb a mountain I fight not the opponent or life itself, I fight the complacency for ordinary. I fight to suck the marrow out of life, to have an extraordinary life filled with love and abundance. I fight to live fully, with vulnerability, with integrity, expressing all of my emotions, giving all of self at every moment to the world around me. I fight for this at every moment and I am at peace because I know that when darkness comes in this body I have put it all out there, no lies, just truth. I have nothing to hide, I have lived on the edge. I have lived with LOVE.

Call to Action:

  • Write down where fear has stopped you, where you have placed the word CAN”T.
  • Write down what you are committed to in this lifetime. Fight for this.
  • Be LOVE

Thomas D. Craig

writer. seeker. Zen Warrior

Author of A Cup of Buddha and Is that so? A Modern Fable of Awakening

All Oppression Creates a State of War


, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

oppressed womanAll oppression creates a state of war.” Simone de Beauvoir

The voice of oppression is the voice of fear.

Human history is littered with static beliefs rooted in fear oppressing those who have different beliefs, color of skin, and sex. Many lives have fought and died for unconventional beliefs such as the world was round, that the earth rotated around the sun, the belief in a different God, the right to be free, to vote, to have equal rights, or gays to marry. Human beings have tried to control those that were perceived different. Voices were raised in hate aimed to alienate and oppress one target for the benefit of another. Status quo beliefs created rationalization that justified oppressing groups of people with slavery, with sexism, and other forms of control.

I wish I could look at this oppression as history, as the past and that human beings have evolved beyond this fear and hate. Yet, I cannot.

I have watched this in my lifetime over confrontations about equality for women, equality in race, mixed marriages, and the treatment of gays. Just this past week, I stood proud as I watched fellow Seattleites Macklemore and Ryan Lewis sing about same love at the Grammys as some same-sex couples were married. Then I read some of the responses:

“Total mockery of God on the Grammy’s tonight! The world has gone gay-mad! And it is sickening!” Buster Wilson

“I’ve never seen such a display of intolerance, bigotry and hatred.” Todd Starnes

At first thought, I got angry and frustrated at the intolerance in the world, at the static, black and white thinking generated by fear. Yet, I looked at this closer and realized that anger is not the weapon to fight oppression, it is LOVE. Love is the greatest power in the universe.

Mahatma Gandhi said:

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

Trying to fight oppression with oppression is a no gain proposal. Fear walks hand in hand with human evolution, trying to kill off this black plague takes calm persistence, an unshakable persistence in standing for what you believe rooted with LOVE and with understanding. If we seek to understand we have no enemies. Love the oppressor, love the hater, love the small-minded.

The poet Rumi stated “Your task is not to seek love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”

This is the battle, look within, be the change you want to see. Remove any barriers within yourself that keep you from love. It is through gratitude and compassion and love that we will forge ahead in our emotional evolution as human beings. It is here that we will guide those in the darkness.

It takes courage to take this stand to be this example. It takes pioneers in forging light in this darkness of preconceived thought. It takes courage to stand in the face of no agreement around you.

Mia st johnI was fortunate enough to spend time with one of these pioneers last week with World Champion boxer Mia St. John. Mia has been talked at her entire career with comments such as “women do not belong in the ring, it’s a man’s sport.” She has been called a prop for her beauty, like many women have in business and sports. Yet, she still forged ahead, driven by her passion, driven by her will to be the best. She stands and fights for her beliefs and her passion in the face of no agreement around her.

This is courage. This is passion. This is living with purpose. This is a Zen Warrior and I applaud you Mia St. John. Stand proud in who you are, stand in your passion and in your commitment.

Out of each darkness, the world was led by a pioneer, one willing to die for their beliefs, one willing to stand against unconventional thought. To do this with a smile, with love and compassion like that of Mahatma Gandhi, one can change the course of an entire nation, even an entire world.

As Mahatma Gandhi so eloquently stated “where there is love, there is life.”

Call to Action:

  • What are the barriers to love in your life? Find and remove all of these barriers for all that we are is love.
  • Where are you compromising your stand for living beings on this planet? Where are you NOT a stand for compassion, and love?

Thomas D. Craig

Author A Cup of Buddha and soon to be released Is that so?

writer. seeker. Zen Warrior

This Place is Sacred


, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

this place is sacredAs you think, so shall you become.

Bruce Lee

Lately I have been deep in my head, thinking about a lot of things…an ex girlfriend, looking for work, what’s next for me–all kinds of chaos in the mind, a post new years’ haze. I brought this head into the martial arts club the other day and onto the mats.

My mind and verbal thoughts carried into the beginning of warm ups with my training partner Neil. He listened and then patiently said, “TC, this place is sacred, don’t bring those thoughts in here.”

It was as if he threw a bucket of cold water in my face. I had been blind to the obvious. The mats, this dojo is a sacred place, just as is life.

The mats are a microcosm for how we approach the rest of life. There is a Zen saying that the way a man does one thing is the way he does everything. The dojo represents all of this. Upon entering the mats or when facing an opponent, one bows. This is respect for the teacher, respect for the mats, respect for the opponent. The mats are a place of humility, there is always someone stronger, faster, more experienced. There is a saying to check the ego at the door. One must have humility as there will be many failures upon the path. In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu we say tap, nap or snap. I would rather be humble and play another day rather than have my ego fight only to have an arm broken or to pass out.

The mats are a place of truth. My professor and one of the best Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighters of all time, Saulo Ribeiro, once said at a seminar “you cannot lie in Jiu-Jitsu.” Just as in life, we ultimately cannot hide our true being- our essence will eventually be exposed. In life we put on masks, and front the fear that resides inside of us. We mask our lives with superficiality that is akin to mock fighting on the mats. Jiu-Jitsu is called ‘arte suave’, the gentle or smooth art, because one can control another person without having to punch them in the face over and over again. This also means one can spar full-out without beating each other up everyday. In this, there is no mask to hide behind, there are NO LIES. It is what it is. Our spirit, our being exposed to the universe fully expressed exactly how it is. Just as in life, what we put forth on the mat is this expression, it is our being. Just like pinging a bell, strike it lightly and you will get a light sound, strike it with your whole essence and you will get the full vibration.

The mats are a place of NOWNESS. There is no place for past thoughts, or future hopes. There only is right now. If I think any other way then I am exposed, I lapse and I will be defeated. There is only RIGHT NOW. In fact in life this is all we ever really have, this moment right NOW. This is the ultimate lesson striving to live moment by moment.

The mats remind me that I am the one, they reflect my essence back to me at all times. My experience on the mats and in life, I have no where else to look but in this reflection. I alone am responsible. For my Jiu-Jitsu, for my life, for my happiness- there is no where else to look. There is great freedom in this lesson. All fingers pointing elsewhere quickly point back to me. Out of shape? Train harder. Not advancing fast enough- research, train and ask questions. Unhappy in life? I am responsible for my own happiness. Not getting along with another- I can create something different. Being cause of my own training, my own life puts all of the power back to me. I create my own experience on the mats and in this lifetime.

The mats bring gratitude. Gratitude for each moment. Gratitude for the health to train. Gratitude for the experience of living on the edge and pushing beyond limits. Gratitude for my teachers and for training partners. This one comment by Neil brought all of these thoughts to me. For this I have such gratitude for that moment as I will never forget it.

The mats are sacred. Life is sacred. Each moment, we never know when it will be our last. We express ourselves in this universe by our thoughts, by our actions. We are simply an expression of our moments. Our being, our essence in each moment we create. We create each experience. This is the fight. We fight only ourselves. To better each moment over the last. This is the essence of this sacred space.

All of life is sacred. Bow down to life in this way just as you enter the dojo. Namaste means ‘I bow to you’ and in essence means I bow to the divine in you. Approach life like this, bow down. Treat all beings as divine. Treat life as divine, be humble to all beings. Bow down. Let your life be your truth, let go of your fears and expose yourself in all of your being, ring the bell loudly. Be the cause in your life, live NOW, live in gratitude.

Yes, this place is sacred.

Namaste, I bow to the divine in you.

Be well. Be love.

Call to Action:

  • Treat all of your life as sacred. Every moment.
  • Be humble, live fully expressed with truth, be cause in your own life, be grateful.
  • Be LOVE

Thomas D. Craig

Author of A Cup of Buddha and soon to be released Is that so? A Modern Fable of Awakening

writer. seeker. Zen warrior

I’m Here


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

i'm hereBecause I’m Here

An old monk was sweeping the yard in a monastery under the scorching sun.

Another monk passed by and asked him, “How old are you?”

The old monk replied, “I’m seventy-seven.”

“You are so old! Why are you still working so hard here?”

“Well, because I’m here.”

“But why are you working under the scorching sun?”

“Because the sun is there.”

As human beings we have active minds. Minds that view the world in a certain way and impose our will in the way things should or should not be. We voice our opinions, even dictate the way life should be not only for ourselves but the world around us. We are quick to throw stones and in this way of being we miss the world around us exactly as it is…and it is beautiful.

A lifetime of somedays and should have beens turn into a life of suffering, a life of pain in wanting something different from what you have right now. Lao Tzu tells us in the Tao Te Ching:

Be content in what you have;

rejoice in the way things are,

when you realize there is nothing lacking,

the whole world belongs to you.

Your life is a series of right nows….RIGHT NOW….ACCEPTANCE. There is no good or bad just simply what is happening right now….GRATITUDE. Your context creates the rest. Albert Einstein said the most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe. Same universe, simply context. This is our life.

Set aside judgment. Set aside expectations and BE…BE in this moment right now.

Before enlightenment chop wood carry water….after enlightenment chop wood carry water

Life is beautiful right now, choose happiness, choose love, choose gratitude.


Because I’M HERE.

Everything else is noise.

Call to Action:

  • BE in this moment right now, right now is all you will ever have.
  • Choose which life, which universe you want. Your life is a mirror of this choice.

Thomas D. Craig

Author of A Cup of Buddha and soon to be released Is that so?

writer. seeker. Zen warrior