Paul Kaye is the President of Peace Awareness Labyrinth & Gardens and the President of the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness in Los Angeles, California.
The Peace Awareness Labyrinth
“We were fortunate to find a person who could make a hand cut labyrinth. And it’s a beautiful, beautiful piece.
It’s a meditative tool. A symbol of us unwinding from the world and going within to our soul as we reach the center. We just follow the pathway. We then take that soul energy and bring it back into the world. So it’s almost like we disrobe. And by that, I mean, we take off our physical body, our emotional body, our mental body, and then we’re just raw and vulnerable and our soul. And then as we move out again, we put back on our mental, emotional, physical bodies, and we walk out into the world with a new sense of understanding, in a hopefully more relaxed place.
So everything we’re doing here is geared towards giving people a break. When you walk out of these gardens after walking around, when you emerge, you’ll find yourself in a little bit of an altered space. Something is different.
And that’s what we aim to do. There’s one singular objective that we have and that is that people leave here feeling better than when they came, maybe in a small way. And we don’t even ask what they’re feeling better about just that they feel better, that they were glad that they came.”
“We have different ways of viewing life, of looking at life. We can have a very narrow vision, so that could be me, now looking at you. I’m focused on you. That would be a narrow focus or an objective focus. And then I can have an open focus, a diffused focus, and that can be where I’m seeing you, but I’m also seeing the surrounding greenery, what’s around us. So then that’s much more open. That immediately changes my brainwave state. As soon as I become aware of space—the space between you and me, the space behind you, the space behind me, the space around me, the space between my fingers —and the listeners can do that as they listen along, they’ll find the same thing happening. I just took just a sigh, a deeper breath, spontaneously, because my brain wave has now shifted from being focused into being diffused.
Awareness is a constant state. It’s moment to moment. You can’t even say, well, I’ll do it two or three times a day. It’s an ongoing practice. I mean, you can have people that go on 30 day silent retreat and on the journey back, blow up at somebody. You know, they get irritated and it’s like, what good did that do them for 30 days? I mean, probably a lot, but not enough to alleviate the stress of day-to-day living or whatever tainted them before. They were unable to clean that out.
So, we think, “Oh my goodness, if I could just get away…” The disadvantage of that is, that we take ourselves with us. So even if we go off to Bali and Bali is different, the scenery is different. I pretty much we’re the same unless we’ve made some kind of change. I’m not saying that it’s not nice to relax. It’s just that these ongoing unconscious habits and tensions that we carry with us, we carry with us everywhere we go. So we deal with it right now. And that’s the only time we can.”
Eye of the Hurricane
“I like metaphors and one of my favorite metaphors is the eye of the hurricane. You know, the world can be looked at as this hurricane, right? But in the center of the hurricane is the eye and the eye is a real thing. It is still and quiet and it’s about 30 kilometers wide. And people who have been in there, everything is swirling around them, and here it is just the quiet. In the eye, the hurricane can’t get in. The detritus, the dust, the things that are being thrown up, can’t get in.
And, much like Marcus Aurelius spoke about in The Inner Citadel, things can’t touch the soul. Things don’t get into the soul. So when people say they have a wounded soul, it’s like, no, your soul can’t be wounded. Things don’t go there to be wounded. The soul stands pure and clear.
And so then people that I’ve spoken to, they say, “I loved your metaphor. I’ve been really trying to pull myself back into the eye of the hurricane. I’ve been in the hurricane.”
And I said, “No, no, you don’t pull yourself back into the eye. You are the eye.”
If we look at what the soul is, the soul has three qualities, love, peace, and joy. And the soul is who we are. So if we’re not joyful and if we’re not peaceful and if we’re not loving, then we’re not in the soul.”
“If you want to feel strong, then be against something. You’ll feel immediately strong. You’ll get righteous, right? Or you’ll judge something.
The thing is, it’s power, but it’s false power. It’s false. It’s coming from our personality, ego and strengthening that rather than strengthening who we are— love. We don’t have to be against something, but a lot of people are defined [by that.]. Drama is the same thing. When people bring drama into their lives. Every day is drama or every week there’s a new drama because drama makes them feel alive. They need drama to feel alive, to feel themselves, to have a sense of themselves, just like other people need something to be against.
So we have a lot of conspiracy theories. We have a lot of judgment. We have a lot of polarization in the world because people are trying to feel themselves in a world of enormous uncertainty.
[There are] so many unknowns right now. And I think that’s this insecurity that everybody is feeling so we have to have a place of security and that place can only be found within ourselves. Even here in Los Angeles, either yesterday or the day before there was an earthquake in Inglewood. It was a small one, 3.4, but you could feel it. Look at what happened in Miami yesterday, where a building just collapsed. Where did that come from? There’s nothing certain in this world is what I’m saying. But what I love about the hurricane is the hurricane eventually dissipates, but the eye remains.”
“I’m not a person that feels guilty about things, but I kind of feel a bit sheepish when I say that this COVID period has been the best time of my life. I’ve connected with more people than ever before. I’ve been on Zoom three or four times a week, internationally with hundreds of people connecting across the world and enjoying it because it just suits my personality at this time in my life. I haven’t had Zoom fatigue, I’ve had Zoom pleasure. I’m meeting all these people feeling connected, feeling that we are in the same room, even though we separated by thousands of miles. Being at home, feeling that has been a very creative period.
It’s all about how we use it. But again, I’ve been very blessed to have the job that I have and the position that I have and the place that I am in, in life. And I’m grateful. I’ve walked the neighborhood. And then I started saying hello to the neighbors. And then I started getting friendly with the neighbors.. And then I started pausing and seeing the people really taking care of the gardens. There was a space where you could develop a new appreciation. I was suddenly opening my eyes and looking.”
“The point is that with all of those challenges that we’re facing, we do need a place of peace within us. I mean, otherwise [we’ll] be pulling our hair out because it doesn’t make any sense. Given the potential that we have, given the beauty of this planet, given the wonderful things that we can do, given what can happen when we get along—I mean, what happens when we get along? Health-wise, pleasure wise, enjoyment wise, it’s insane that we don’t get along. And not only that, we’re getting along even worse than we were before. It used to be that there was dialogue. I remember growing up, there was a dialogue. You disagreed with someone’s point of view, you would dialogue about it. You would learn something from the other person and maybe you’d even be changed. Maybe you just say, “You know what? That was a good point.”
Not today. People dig in deeper. If I, if you and I have a disagreement you’re digging in deeper, I’m digging deeper. We walk away more deeply entrenched in our point of view than we were before. Well, that’s not healthy and it’s not good. And it has to be resolved. And how it’s resolved unfortunately, is usually through crisis. So I think we’re going to see a number of crises because we haven’t been paying attention to the gentle nudges.
I’m sure you’ve had friends where you can see they’re drinking too much or they’re smoking too much, or they’re overindulging too much, or they’re getting overweight and they’re going along. And you can see all the signs that at some point they’ll have a heart attack or something. And then they start changing. Well, you didn’t have to wait until you got cancer before changing.
I think it’s going to be the same thing with this world. We’re going to have some really big crisis. I’m hoping that your listeners can find that peace, and can laugh and enjoy life and at the same time, care deeply. I mean, that’s the thing. It’s not namby-pamby, but take care of yourself before you can help take care of others. Don’t hurt yourself and don’t hurt others and use everything for your upliftment, learning and growth. Those are the principles we live by here.”
-Have you walked a labyrinth? If so, describe the experience.
-What other meditative tolls have you used?
-What are the things that help you center yourself and experience self-care?
-Paul talks about the disadvantage of “taking ourselves with us.” What does he mean by that? When have you seen it in yourself?
-Have you ever found yourself in the eye of the hurricane? A place of calm in the midst of chaos?
-Share a time when you have felt “the false power of being self-righteous” as Paul describes it.
-What has your experience been during the pandemic? Have you seen struggles as well as benefits?
-What will it take for you to change?