Since he has been about 8 years old, Richard L. Haight has felt the urge to find spiritual truth. At the age of 24, Haight moved to Japan to study with masters of the sword, staff and jujutsu. During his 15 years living in Japan, Richard was awarded masters licenses in four samurai arts as well as a traditional healing art called Sotai-ho. As our Author of the Day, Haight chats about why so many people have lost connection with spirituality, how his training has taught him to meditate in the most chaotic circumstances and why his book provides a fresh take on living a full and inspired life.
What inspired you to write about a young boy's mystical vision and his subsequent search for truth?
When I was about 8 years old, I had a series of messianic dreams that served to give direction to my life thereafter. In these vivid dreams, I always awoke to find Jesus Christ lying on my floor. Each time it was the same. I would approach him and instantly know who he was. He would look into my eyes and ask me to help him. I could see that he was deeply saddened. Because I was just a child, I naturally assumed that he needed help to get up off the floor, so I grabbed his wrist and pulled only to have it squish in my grip like a water balloon. I realized that Jesus had no bones. He asked again, “Help me,” and I awoke from the dream before I understood what he needed.
This dream visited me multiple times during the course of a year and always it was the same. Jesus asked for my help, I grabbed his arm and was out of the dream. I spend most of my days wondering, in the back of my mind, what it was that Jesus needed. Finally, in the very last dream, I got my answer, “Find my bones, for they are the core of my teaching. Most of what is written about me is untrue. Mankind has so twisted my teachings for selfish gain that little of the essence remains. What little remains is largely overlooked in the religious ritual and confusion. Find the essence of my teachings and give it back to the world. That is how you can help. Will you do this?”
I have spent my entire life looking for the bones of Christ. Finally, during the summer of 2015, I knew I needed to write a book. I had no idea what the book was ultimately going to become, but I had a clear understanding of where it was to begin. I needed to tell my story, the successes, failures, misunderstandings, the corrections and the processes that I went through on my path of spiritual awakening. Through the telling of this story, the rest of the information just fell into place. The Unbound Soul is much more than a memoir, it truly meant to serve the reader on their path of awakening.
Why is it so important to integrate spirituality in your everyday life?
Integrating spirituality into daily life is absolutely vital to living a full and inspired life. No matter who we are or what we do, all of us are equally spiritual, for at the very foundation of our existence there is the very same force holding us all together. The essence of all love, meaning, inspiration, and value is derived ultimately from that connecting force. I call that force Soul. The degree that we are out of touch with Soul is the degree that we suffer. The way to end suffering is to get in touch with Soul and allow it to flow through our daily lives. True enlightenment isn't just about a sitting in meditation on a mountaintop, although it may include that. True enlightenment is all about our daily lives.
What has reader feedback been like so far?
Reader feedback has been nothing short of amazing. To be totally honest, I didn't expect The Unbound Soul to be as well received as it has been, for I am told that a good number of the teachings and discoveries are quite distinct from popular spiritual teachings. There have been a number of reviews from readers who initially assumed that I was “just another author jumping on the spiritual book bandwagon”, but once reading it, they discovered that there was new ground broken in The Unbound Soul. As I haven't read many spiritual books in my life, I was not aware that The Unbound Soul was a uniquely fresh perspective. I am delighted that so many people are finding The Unbound Soul to be helpful in their lives.
Why, would you say, are so many people locked up in their own thoughts, emotions, and memories? In which way does your book help to unlock this “prison”?
At conception, through fetal development, to birth and slightly beyond, a human being is largely undifferentiated in awareness, which is to say it does not know self and it does not know other. The infant is in a place of unconditioned awareness for lack of a better description. As a baby develops the use of its senses, it also develops a mental framework which serves to define self as opposed to other. Without definitions of self and other, one would be unable to function in the world. It is our sense of self that allows us to move in the world. But self-definition comes at a price. What happens is that we get so absorbed in self that we tend to forget the foundational awareness from which self-springs forth, undifferentiated awareness. The degree to which we have lost touch with undifferentiated awareness is the degree to which we are lost in the “prison” of the mind.
The Unbound Soul introduces a way of observing the mind that is totally fresh and clear so that there is less confusion as to when we are tuned to mind and when we are tuned to the undifferentiated awareness that I describe as Isness or Soul. The Unbound Soul teaches many fresh ways of observing the difference between mind and consciousness as well as simple practical ways of applying that awareness to daily life. When we are totally clear on the nature of the mind and how to “see” what is actually occurring behind the curtain of our thoughts and emotions, then we have a new power available to us in our lives that gradually frees us from the prison of the mind.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
In the process of following my childhood vision, I was lead to Japan, where I was fortunate to be accepted into several high-level schools of samurai arts. After studying in Japan for 15 years, I was awarded master licenses these arts. I now instruct Yagyu Shinkage-ryu Kenjutsu (sword fencing), Seigo-ryu Battojutsu (quick drawing of the sword), Shinkage-ryu Jojutsu (short staff), Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu (an advanced form of jujutsu), as well as Sotai-ho, which is a form of physical therapy. I have since brought these arts together into one uniform expression that I call Shinkaido or “The Way of the Open Heart”, which I teach primarily through meditation.
What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
It is my hope that readers will discover, hidden within them, the very key to the prison from which they are trying to escape. But in order to find and make use of that key, they will need to put at least as much attention into Soul as they put into mind, as least as much attention into connection as they put into separation.
You have traveled the world and moved to Japan to study samurai arts. In which way has this transformed your life and inspired your writing?
The time I spent training samurai arts in Japan is probably one of the factors that make The Unbound Soul unique with regard to spiritual awakening books. Many people find meditating difficult even in the comfort of their own homes, even when they are not under much stress. Samurai training helped me realize that I needed to be meditated under threat of imminent death. If you can be calm, clear and loving under such circumstances, the living room becomes easy. Samurai training stresses simplicity and practicality. The concise, practical nature of The Unbound Soul is a primary reason why it has been so well received, I suspect.
Why, do you think, have so many people in the Western World lost touch with their spirituality?
I would suggest that modernization has a big role to play in the loss of spiritual awareness. I have lived in the modernized East and have seen that they suffer from the same disconnection that Westerners face. Largely, the modern way of life separates us from the natural environment, which leads us to use our senses in unbalanced ways. Convenience and the unnaturally high pace of modern life are other components. We do not live in context with the greater environment, so we have become denatured as people. But the good news is that it is possible to reverse the denaturing process by correcting attention and sensory habit patterns no matter where we live, which is a primary focus of The Unbound Soul.
What role does meditation play in your book?
Meditation serves a primary role with regard to seeing through the matrix of the mind, and reconnecting to the undifferentiated awareness, but the method of meditation that is taught in The Unbound Soul is nothing like the meditations taught elsewhere. The method of meditation that I endorse is extremely simple and is in total alignment with the nature of a human being. It is designed to apply seamlessly with daily life. There is no dogma or tradition in this form of meditation.
Do you have any interesting writing habits? Best time of the day to write, favorite writing spot, etc.?
Regarding writing, I am fortunate never to suffer from writer's block. In fact, I can't recall the last time that I had such an issue. I suppose one unique thing that I do as a writer is that I write multiple manuscripts simultaneously. Currently, I am working on 10 different books, each addressing different aspects of the awakening process in depth.
I am pleased to say that one of those books, Inspirience will be available in paperback in early September. It will be launched as an eBook in October. Inspirience focuses very deeply on unbound meditation. It takes the basic meditation method found in The Unbound Soul to a much greater depth.
I am greatly pleased with the final work, and I learned a lot from writing it. I believe readers will find Inspirience to be a cutting-edge meditation work that will transform or greatly enhance their meditation methods. Whereas The Unbound Soul gives the big picture of spiritual awakening, Inspirience focuses in on meditation as a tool of awakening.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
Anyone looking for more information on my work is welcome to visit www.richardhaight.net. I offer a complimentary audio series on “Taking Full Spiritual Authority in Daily Life”.