Are you my mother?

The other day, I watched a great science documentary  called “The Incredible Human Journey” which presents a lot of evidence that supports the “Out of Africa” theory. This theory suggests that we are all descendants of a single origin that can be traced back to members of one branch of homo sapiens who left Africa between 60,000 and 125,000 years ago. If you’re interested, you can watch the documentary here: http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/incredible-human-journey/

So what does that have to do with me and my life today? For one thing, I think the “Out of Africa” theory makes it very clear how absurd racism is from a “biological” point of view. After all, if this is true and evidence seems to point that it is, we are all descendants of the African Eve.

The other aspect which I think is interesting is that we descend from tremendously brave, resilient and intelligent homo sapiens who survived through the most unimaginable challenges. We are a result of their success and we are direct heirs to the immense wealth and wisdom that they accumulated in their DNA.

My proposal is that we do them justice. Instead of focusing on our differences and wasting our energy hating or finding flaws in each other, we should instead focus on finding out how we can contribute to the fascinating story of human existence. Each of us is a unique combination of characteristics that gives us the conditions to fulfill a specific purpose. Working towards fulfilling that inner purpose, though complex and frustrating at times, is what I think is the best definition of time well spent. Everything else is, well, an illusion. 

As an artist, I dedicate much of my creative energy towards expressing these ideas through music and now through my book too. You will find many of these concepts on my book “What is Diversity?” and also stories about how I have put these ideals into practice. “What is Diversity?” is now available in paperback and for download on Amazon - http://www.amazon.com/dp/1477664270 . Thank you.



Haikaa Work of Art - Global Project

Global cooperation, empowerment, self-acceptance, celebration of diversity, tolerance, and love. Work of Art was written by a global team and is sung in 19 languages by Haikaa.

Me and my cauliflower

To be honest, my love for cauliflowers does not date back to my childhood. I was just happy on this picture because I was holding it and not eating it. As a child, my mother caringly and patiently offered me a wide variety of foods to touch and to taste but I was not a very easy kid to please. I basically liked rice, beef, potatoes and candy. I thought it was a big sign of maturity when I had a friend my age who ate cauliflower…

But as an adult, I realize it makes such a big difference to have been exposed to fruit and vegetables from an early age even if I didn’t like how they tasted then. First of all, I have felt that as I grew up my body almost instinctively had me yearning for certain foods, perhaps because of their nutritional value. Okra, for instance, is a must on my diet nowadays and it was “blargh” back in the days. But I wouldn’t have known to look for it had I not tasted it before.

Another reason why I think this early exposure to real food is important is because it establishes a deeper connection between us and our food. What does a tomato look like? How does it smell? Does it grow on trees? How does a tomato taste if you just pick it up and eat it? When you know the answer to these questions, you’re likely to feel closer to the tomato then you would if tomato were just one more “lifeless” and “shapeless” item on the Ketchup ingredient list.

And what does one gain from having a closer bond to a tomato? Well, on the book “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Polan, he says “The way we eat represents our most profound engagement with the natural world” and I couldn’t agree more. The food we choose to eat determines the kind of relationship we have with nature and this has a direct impact on the agricultural landscape of our planet. Having a closer “tomato bond”, I think, we’re likely to be more appreciative of it and of the nature that provides us with it. And this might just make one a more environmentally conscious being and everyone can surely see the benefit in that.

Cauliflower anyone?

Empirical Spirituality

Yes, I think it’s important to test spiritual concepts and see how they work out for me. Not because I don’t have faith but somehow I feel that outright acceptance can lead to a fake kind of spirituality. How often have you seen a pseudo spiritual person who thinks so highly of him/herself? I think arrogance is very common among so called “spiritual” authorities. I think this happens largely because there’s a gap between what these people may have studied and how much that knowledge has actually become a part of them. It’s fairly easy to appreciate and discuss spiritual concepts but it’s an entirely different thing to actually live them.

I just finished reading the Hindu poem “The Bhagavad Gita” the day before yesterday and I have already started reading it again. The concepts presented on the book were not entirely new to me because my parents were Buddhists and I had already read some Buddhist literature in my twenties. One of the concepts that stood out particularly for me now was the idea of embracing unity and recognizing that divine intelligence permeates everything.

This made so much sense to me now that I’m older. I have always believed in God but I definitely had a tendency to feel blessed when what I wanted happened and to feel cursed when something I didn’t want to happen happened. Thinking about it now, that sort of attitude was tiring, frustrating and pointless. Good things happen. Bad things happen. To live at the mercy of fortune is unstable. In addition, how many times have I witnessed seemingly good things turn out sour and vice-versa? I don’t even know that much about life to say for sure that something is good or bad. So, at this point in my life, I am more ready to perceive this deeper and more constant reality below the surface. I kind of like it!!!

Have you ever experienced fulfillment?

Yesterday, I went to visit a class of 6th graders who had participated in one of my campaigns called “The Right Challenge.” Coordinated by their teacher, Cristiane Padilha, they downloaded the song and recorded a video giving themselves the right to dance away all over their school campus http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I5FfvHlQKfY

On my visit, I wanted to give them an experience of the creative process so I got them to write a list of three things they give themselves the right to. With their lists, we wrote a new section to the song and sang away.

The collective creative process, the joy with which they participated in the activity and sang the song, the notion that perhaps they understood a little bit about the joy of self-expression, all that gave me an enormous sense of fulfillment.

In my opinion, fulfillment remains as one of those few experiences that cannot be bought. In my case, it comes from knowing that I’m using the best of what I’ve got to hopefully help bring about the best in others. And to walk away with lots of drawings saying “Haikaa, te amo", honestly, it doesn’t get any better than that!!!



If you love some birdie, set them free!!!

If I could be any animal I wanted, I would most certainly choose to be a bird. I long for freedom and flying seems to me like the ultimate expression of that. When I go bird watching, I love to see the birds flying closer and then flying away. Those brief encounters are as beautiful as they are ephemeral.

You see, when I was a child in the countryside of Brazil, the predominant belief at the time was still that of “human beings dominating nature.” So, having caged birds was something that I grew up with. We had all kinds of birds including parrots. Parrots are very affectionate and my parrot would get goose bumps every time I petted it. It would climb up on my head, sing with me, dance and even say goodbye to me before I went off to school.

However, as I grew up, I began to see the cruelty in this. First of all, one can only buy parrots because an animal trafficker stole the young parrots from their parents. Second, the only way to keep an animal like this at home is to lock it up on a cage or cut off the feathers of its wings so it can no longer fly. Thirdly, its capacity to be affectionate is intricately related to its very nature of having one lifelong partner. Once parrots find their mates, they form strong bonds and usually stay together until they die. They take care of each other and of their babies. So parrots are not affectionate to us humans because they were made to be our pets. Their sweet and loving behavior is part of their very fragile reproductive cycle and monogamous nature. So as my version of Sting’s song goes, “if you love some birdie, set them free.”

I have recently created a page on the World Wildlife Fund website called “Blue Parrots in the Blue Sky” to try to raise awareness about the fragility of this specific species of parrots - http://wwf.worldwildlife.org/site/TR/Events/PandaPages?pxfid=40922&fr_id=1040&pg=fund Please come and visit this page, leave a comment and share it with your friends.

Hopefully, together we can completely switch this vision of “human beings dominating nature” to “human beings admiring, contemplating and preserving nature.”

I think we can.

Thank you.



Ps- Please come and like my page www.facebook.com/haikaamusic so we can stay in touch.

Have you suffered? Has your suffering made you a better person, a worse person or did it leave you unchanged?

I hate suffering. I believe there’s a lot of manipulation that goes into the principle of suffering in this world in order to deserve a better world in the after life. I hate it when people tell stories about how much they suffered in order to achieve something. I hate it when people use suffering to validate their lives as if that could compensate for their lack of fulfillment. As you can see, I really do hate suffering.

BUT I have suffered. I wish I hadn’t, I really wish I hadn’t but I have. And I’ll even whisper you a secret - I know that I learned a lot about what I am made of in times of despair and utter vulnerability. And apparently that’s a good thing.

While I’m not an advocate of “it is only through suffering that one shall achieve enlightenment”, I do think that growth is an important part in our human journey. From my experience, growth only happens when we are at least slightly outside of our comfort zone which is a feeling that may be described as suffering.

I wish I were more evolved…


The Most Important Person In The World

Yesterday, as I read about the death of journalist and war correspondent Marie Colvin in Syria, I realized that even dead, she was still “working” to promote the things she lived for.  I lament her death profoundly and I hope that the injustices suffered by Syrian people will not go by unnoticed. Marie worked hard so that you and I would know about it.

Reading some of Marie’s quotes, I can only be inspired by a person who had such a profound commitment to her passion.  I’m not saying that we have to die for what we believe in but I think that we are here to live a full life and that can only be if we do what we love.

With so many different standards to meet and external goals to achieve, I feel many of us don’t even know what we love. We know we love to be loved and we may do things because we think we will get love in return. But that’s not the same thing as doing what we love.

Yes, history will run its course no matter what because not one single person is that important to the world. But we all are “The Most Important Person in The World” for ourselves and when somebody lives as such, they do make a difference.

God bless Marie.

Gratitude vs Guilt vs Conformity

Although Thanksgiving is not celebrated by people in most parts of the world including in Brazil where I was born, I have always liked the idea of celebrating the things that I am thankful for.

Understanding the things that I´m thankful for has been an amazing tool for self-discovery and growth. I say this because I don´t believe in a top down approach to gratitude. In other words, I don´t believe in feeling thankful for the things someone told me I SHOULD  feel thankful for, that´s guilt.  Neither do I believe that gratitude equals being satisfied with my lot in life, that´s conformity.

Real gratitude makes me feel alive and realize how precious my life is. This understanding has a great impact on the choices I make about  how to live my life. For example, when I think about it, it´s clear that I spend a lot of time exercising and cooking. I do that because I really appreciate the freedom that a healthy body can give me so I think it´s worth spending that much time (living) towards the maintenance of good health.

Another example is love. I am very thankful to know that I love and that I am loved. To be with someone who admires my qualities and also accepts my flaws is comforting, fulfilling and liberating and I am thankful for all that.

On my day to day life, when I start to feel that I´m losing sight of what I´m doing, I like to take a deep breath and just come up with a list of  things that I´m grateful for. So, here´s today´s list off the top of my head:

·       I had a great cup of coffee for breakfast.

·       I woke up and said good morning to a person I love.

·       I will cook all my meals today.

·       I am sitting in a warm, quiet and comfortable room.

·       I will vocalize and rehearse.

·       I´m waiting to receive some good news.

·       I get to share my thoughts with you on this blog.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!