Timber Hawkeye is the bestselling author of Buddhist Boot Camp and Faithfully Religionless. He offers a secular and non-sectarian approach to being at peace with the world (both within and around us), with the intention to awaken, enlighten, enrich and inspire. Visit his website for more information.
Gratitude is a recurring theme behind everything you write and talk about. Why is gratitude so important to you?
As soon as we get a little bit of something good in our lives we tend to want more of it. And when we get more, we desire even more. But when we lose it all, we realize that little was enough. And that's why gratitude is so important: it redefines what "enough" means to us, which is the only way we can live in abundance right here and now (not at some point in the future after we have a bigger house, more kids, cars, or money in the bank). I mean, some people are so poor all they have is money but no appreciation for it, which is why they still feel like it isn't enough. But if we make a daily list of what we're grateful for (yes, daily), we essentially train our minds to focus on the gifts in our lives instead of experiencing the world from a place of lack. I'm not even talking about seeing the glass as half full instead of half empty; I'm talking about being grateful for the glass!
Both of your books (Buddhist Boot Camp and Faithfully Religionless) offer an invitation for us to be at peace with the world, both within and around us. Can you talk about one technique that anyone can implement today in order to reach that blissful place?
I would say ultimate serenity is only possible when we honor everyone's version of the truth, even when it directly contradicts our own. I often say that the opposite of what you know is also true (to someone else, somewhere else, because of their time, place, and circumstance), and when we accept other people's truths as equally valid as our own (instead of impulsively wanting to feel superior by making others inferior), we no longer live in a world of "Me vs. Them" but in a world of "Us." As Rumi said, "Beyond 'right' and 'wrong' there is a field; I will meet you there." And that's where I suggest we all set up camp, so to speak. In other words, non-judgment day is near, and your participation is required!
Your message is very large and you have a lot of insightful things to say, but your books and chapters are very short. How did you go about fitting such a large message into such small and accessible packages?
By not complicating matters! There is no need for technical jargon and a glossary of terms to remind us to be kind and grateful. My invitation is for all of us to go beyond thinking that something is a "good idea" to actually implementing it into our daily lives (that's why the memoir and personal stories are so digestible; I'm not just sharing theories, I'm radically vulnerable with my own experiences). To be honest, I don't think I've written anything that we don't already intuitively know, I'm simply reminding others (and myself in the process) of what we have somehow forgotten.
You gave a TEDTalk and your book tour is packed full of events again, as it was across the U.S., U.K. and Australia for the past couple of years. How did you go about acquiring so many followers of your books and message?
The message itself is universal, so I believe it spreads itself. Readers feel empowered, focused, connected and driven, which is why I always say, "These books aren't 'mine,' they're OURS!"
Your first book (Buddhist Boot Camp) was picked up by a traditional publisher, but you chose to self-publish your second book, Faithfully Religionless. Why the switch?
Not all self-publishing methods are created equal. I still give independent bookshops their traditional discount and make the books returnable. As a self-published author I've chosen to offer the paperback edition of Faithfully Religionless at the same time as the hardcover and large print right out the gate. I think it's imperative for independent bookstores to embrace independent authors and publishers instead of being reluctant to promote or work with us. Don't get me wrong, I still have a very good relationship with HarperCollins, who did a wonderful job publishing Buddhist Boot Camp, but when I asked them what incentive there is for me to publish Faithfully Religionless through them as opposed to independently, the only reason they gave me was more money, which isn't my reason for writing. My intention is to awaken, enlighten, enrich and inspire, and I hope each copy of the book is read by at least four people. I'm just grateful that the message is out there, and that bookstores are displaying, promoting, and selling my books because they're improving people's lives!