Dear Family of Choice – We’ve created this page for all of you who have so loved the Institute, love Option Process® and have so loved Bears and Samahria. We want you to hold hands with us, be informed, and be inspired… even as Bears walks his journey with advanced metastatic cancer.
We will use this page to give important updates, post letters, share stories and most importantly, to celebrate Bears and deeply connect with our family of choice, who are embracing and living the Option Process lifestyle.
With love – The Option Institute Staff
Dear Amazing Son-Rise Program and Option Institute participants, friends, and family,
What would you do if you were told you had 5 days, 5 weeks, or 5 months to live? If you had just 5 days to live, would you live it in the same way as if you had 5 months? In each moment would you create an opportunity to love greater than even the moment before; Live bigger than you have ever lived; and dug deeper than you have ever dug in your life?
Two weeks ago, when the doctors said to Bears, “You have advanced metastatic cancer”, he and Samahria knew that, in the face of this life-altering news, they would use every tool they have ever been taught at the Option Institute for more than half of their lives, to look at their beliefs and decide how they wanted to show up for each other, and how to show up for themselves. Even in a time of the intense physical pain, sometimes isolation, and lots of uncertainty, they can turn to themselves, and one another, with tender eyes and bright smiles and lead with their belief systems, always aware of what they are thinking, always aware of what they have chosen to think and feel, and always knowing what is in their hands.
If you were told you had just 5 days, on the 7th day would you wake to say “It could be any time” and get small? Would you sit by a window feeling sad that life passed by too quickly? Or would you wake and say “Well, I am still here and I have another beautiful day to feel love and be the love I want to see in the world?”
When I sat with Bears today, he talked about how so many people feel life has passed them by too quickly, yet he said “It wasn’t quick. I have lived my life richly, loved deeply, and experienced the world in the way I have always wanted to experience it. It doesn’t feel like it is gone. It’s a part of the hovering universe… it’s not gone”
Bears and Samahria met as teenagers and they agreed not only to dream but to “do” their dreams. They were city kids who rode horses and motorcycles, climbed the Swiss Alps, created a family of 6 children (3 of whom were adopted), developed and shared The Son-Rise Program and the Option Institute and so much more. In doing their dreams, they always found a space to make it possible because they believed their dreams were doable. So one day you may find yourself feeling like you’re at the bottom of a cliff, knowing it’s okay to keep dreaming. Now is the time to use what you have been taught to make your dreams doable.
As I sat with Bears, he shared with me that his favorite thing to do is watch Samahria breathe. He said that when she breathes, in each breath he feels love… connection… a deep relationship… God… and he feels intensely alive.
Bears is climbing mountains and even as he is climbing mountains, he has a wish… His wish is for all of YOU reading this letter to do love and kindness first… Even in the face of death… look inside yourself first… and do love and kindness.
When Bears spoke to one of his many doctors today, he stopped the conversation and said “John” (they are on a first-name basis after many many years together) “I love you.” Bears then asked “How many patients have said that to you before” to which John replied, “Not a one.” Bears sat across from me today, with Samahria close by, loving me… and loving all of you. He knows at any moment he may not be here on this planet, and he is asking all of you to be a loving, breathing example of what we teach in this world.
So many people with whom we have worked, believe that they have to feel miserable and unhappy after a loved one’s death as a demonstration of their love. What a wonder it would be if you demonstrated your love with joy and gratitude as a testament to what you have learned – as I watched Samahria continue to do.
We are here, we are strong, and we have life to live in every moment. We are here, we are strong, and we have our life to live in every moment! We want to continue holding hands with all of you – as we navigate our futures TOGETHER.
Bears’ Update on Bears – 1/30/2023“Happily, and still robustly alive on January 26, 2023. So grateful. So honored to be able to write to all of you. Continued healing (or, we might say for now — continuing to rock’n roll), still no medical intervention (no chemo/no radiation), teaching again for many months now, working with individuals and families…. and having the best time at the Option Institute/Autism Treatment Center of America).
“And so, so, so grateful and delighted to walk this path with many who have chosen to love me… and the biggest spirit and sunshine is my best partner and dearest friend and most caring spirit/lover in my life for over six decades (yes, yes, that’s a sweet and super long expanse of time) You guys know her bright light (as she has been for me, she has been for so many of you).
“Love you, Samahria, and I am so grateful that we continue to hold hands so tightly as we walk this new road together.”
Love and smiles, Bears Barry Neil Kaufman
…more love from Bears
Bears’ Winter Update – 12/19/2022
Fun data – right to the point!
“Summary of the last few weeks (for those who follow my journey and want updates). Again…given 5 days to 5 weeks to live in April (which is almost 8 months ago). No medical intervention since my mid-April hospitalization (no chemo, etc. – zip, zero – though I was told to start chemotherapy many months ago). My most recent scans continue to show further meaningful improvement… continued retreat and even some further disappearance of the stage 4 metastatic lesions throughout my body. And nothing growing larger. Additionally, healing is now occurring in my bones and super positive blood workups for many months now (no signs of continued disease process noted in the blood profiles).
“I said to my main Mass. Gen doctor… I am doing really well. And then he laughed and said, ‘You are doing really, really, really, really well!’ Another consulting physician thought my scans were ‘spectacular,’ and another said – ‘I don’t really see any disease process in these latest scans.’ Another said: ‘We don’t understand and can’t explain this healing process happening without chemo or other intervention… but we are delighted for you.’”
“Yes, yes…I am still alive, robustly alive. “Still much to do to continue this adventure. We (Samahria and I) are very focused on what we are doing (and what I am doing 24/7 with dedication and clear purpose). We love being able to teach again in programs and to work again with families and individual folks – hurrah! Still very passionately alive (and still, it is one day at a time). Thank you all for loving and supporting us and for all your kind notes, messages, and donations to our work at the Option Institute/Autism Treatment Center of America/Son-Rise Program.”
With so much love and gratitude to all of you, Bears (and Samahria)
PS: And thank you/thank you for your continued prayers…..we do believe your prayers are very much part of my healing. We always love hearing from you. Please feel free to write me by emailing email@example.com.
Medical Mystery and Wonder!! – 11/1/2022
Enjoy this latest update from Bears’ Doctor regarding his cancer journey… with reflections from Bears and Samahria below.
Leslie S.T. Fang, MD PhD
John R. Gallagher III and Katherine A. Gallagher
Clinical Excellence in Nephrology
Firm Chief, Walter Bauer Firm,
Massachusetts General Hospital
Harvard Medical School
October 30, 2022
“For a guy with a 5-day life expectancy 7 months ago, you are not doing badly!!
“I have had the chance to review your progress with the attending oncologist/lymphoma specialist and it is important to stress how pleasantly surprised we both are.
“In essence, we are still quite convinced that the pathology is related to a B cell lymphoma and that you have done spectacularly well in the past 6 months with no chemotherapy.
“At the time of your original presentation to the Connecticut hospital, you were placed in the ICU with severe elevation of calcium, delirium, acute kidney failure, multiple bone lesions suggesting cancer and although they did not have the diagnosis then, they believed that you had terminal cancer. They actually believed that regardless of the kind of cancer you may have, your kidney condition and your medical issues would not permit you to get treatment. They believed that the appropriate course of action was to send you home with hospice.
“As we have repeatedly stressed, you got the best of hospice care possible from the support and love from everyone around you. Your hard work, fierce determination and positive attitude have made you our Miracle Man!!
“In the past 6 months, without therapy, laboratory and imaging studies have continue to indicate that the tumors are regressing. The serial PET/CT scans are obviously the most dramatic statements of progress. There has been no new lesions and the existing liver lesions and bone lesions are all showing signs of regression.
10/22/22 PET summary:
Re-demonstrated bony lesions as seen on previous scans, similar in appearance on CT images, now with sclerotic changes associated with healing pathologic fractures. PET shows decreased avidity of lesions, the most avid of which remaining is the manubrium (previously 2x hepatic reference, now approximately equal to hepatic reference).
“We clearly do not have good explanation about this welcome course of events but are, at this point, happy to continue to monitor.
“More importantly, you are in the best physical and mental condition you have been in for decades.
“While one should never underestimate the power of the lymphoma, it is clear that we are currently on a winning streak and is doubling down yet again on your projected life expectancy.
“I do believe that you are doing remarkably well and should continue to share your positive energy with all those around you, I remain”
Leslie S.T. Fang, MD, PhD
7 Month Mark
Bears’ Update on Bears (with Samahria)
- “I am still robustly alive and beyond inspired and grateful.
- “Above is the most up-to-date summary from my key physician at Mass. Gen. Hospital in Boston (written Sunday Night, 10/29/2022).
- “My further thoughts – profound gratitude and love and joy…and reflections, like ‘yes, thank you’ to God and the universe for offering Samahria and I this unique opportunity,
- “Love and conviction for the principles we have created and taught (which we have shared with you in previous updates) with the Option Process and The Son-Rise Program for 45 plus years worldwide….and now to apply every/every aspect of those teachings when we were (and still are) life/death challenged.
- “Your prayers…so many of you have offered your prayers daily…and we believe that is a significant/significant part of this unfolding event (please keep them coming).
- “While one may choose to never underestimate the power of cancer…one may also choose to never underestimate the power of beliefs.
- “And yes, every day….every minute and every second can be a celebration – all each of us has, and all that Samahria and I have, as well, is today. This very moment. If I am not here tomorrow…oh my gosh, no regrets but so much love and gratitude to live this unfolding version of our lives. One day at a time.”
“Bears” Barry Neil Kaufman, Co-Founder of the Option Institute, The Son-Rise Program,
Autism Treatment Center of America, and Author of Happiness Is A Choice and Son-Rise: The Miracle Continues
PS: I’d love to hear from you! Please feel free to share or make contact BY CLICKING REPLY or SENDING AN EMAIL TO firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Remember, Stage 4 massive metastatic cancer…. – 9/23/2022
5 days to 5 weeks to live. That was the diagnosis and prognosis during my hospitalization almost 5 months ago. Since I am writing this, you can see I am very much alive (and really healing and doing well without any medical intervention since that hospitalization in April, 2022 – no chemo, no radiation…just my own personal stay-alive purposeful action plan).
“The surprising new ‘twist and turn.
My physician(s) decided to re-analyze the very first bone biopsy
I had about 5 months ago…which,
at that time, did not yield any identifiable cancer cells. Zero. Zip.
“However, in the new reanalysis just done a few weeks ago, they believe they have found a minuscule amount of fast growing ‘crushed’ lymphoma cells and they have guided me to start chemotherapy immediately.
“But wait. That biopsy into my body was originally almost 5 months ago, and after being released from the hospital, I have gained so much strength and healing, and now feel as sharp as I have ever felt in my life (sincerely)…without any medical intervention since that hospitalization.
“If I have a few fast-growing Stage 4 lymphoma cells, shouldn’t I be dead by now…or at least super sick, since I have had no treatment? But I am neither dead nor super sick right now. And all my PET/CT scans suggest healing (liver all okay now), and other bone lesions either staying the same or getting smaller.
“Still, the doctors (kind, very sincere and caring) insisted that the lymphoma is being masked and will start to grow. But, again, what about these 5 months and me, right now, feeling wonderful as I write to all of you? Shouldn’t this be part of the clinical equation? Hmmmm! Fascinating!
“Next unexplained phenomenon – how do we know the minuscule amount of lymphoma cells are even there anymore? Stage 4. Shouldn’t it have spread quite profoundly through my body? But if we check out the repeated scans, no such thing happened thus far. And yes, we plan to take another scan in the future months.
“I said to one of my doctors, ‘If I don’t do chemo, what is the worst thing that could happen? Now…don’t laugh…. but I am smiling…I guess I could die.’ Remember – about 5 months ago, I was in hospice and made quick friends with death…as did the most amazing person in my life, Samahria. But, oh my gosh, I left hospice and didn’t die in 5 days or 5 weeks. I redirected my focus and decided to program myself, as best I could, to live.
“Kind of fun: I am still living and so grateful. Living big time in the passion of The Son-Rise Program/Option attitude (maximizing love every moment, being super present, filling myself with gratitude, living on purpose with purpose), eating super differently, exercising which helped me regain my strength, praying and receiving all your daily prayers (which I believe is one of the important keys to my healing).
“Wow… so wonderful writing this to all of you. Why? I can wrap myself in all your love, prayers, and kind words. I can wrap myself into my living experience. And these past months have been among the truly sweet, most delicious, and nourishing experiences of my life. I am doing my best to continue to live and thrive. I am living with the most dedicated, daring, and loving person that I have known – Samahria. And, wow, now I am beginning to teach and do individual sessions with people again!
“Samahria and I will stay the course… continuing to live the best days of our lives! Can something change…and we will then change direction? Sure. Right now, heads up high, follow our hearts (and thoughts), and keep reaching for the stars!”
Love you all, Bears
“YES… THIS IS ME, BEARS. – 8/4/2022
“YES… still alive.
“YES, still grateful, happy and always maximizing the choice to be loving.
“YES, always using the attitude and the tools from The Son-Rise Program® and Option Process® to guide me — questions, nourishing beliefs, clarity of purpose, persistence, love, and gratitude for what is)…
“YES, to what is and evolving even if there are and were surprises along the way, like the doctors believing I would be dead within 5 days to 5 weeks in April… but I am still here almost months later and the ‘cancer’ seems to be retreating in some areas and not growing in other areas — all WITHOUT medical intervention. And I am working to regain all my strength but my clarity of purpose and passion is fully/fully alive. And then there are the prayers that many of you do daily for me and with me…. sincerely, that has made all the difference. Thank you for loving me, Samahria, and all the folks at the Option Institute and the Autism Treatment Center of America.
“WE LOVE ALL OF YOU! Big time!”
‘Bears’ Barry Neil Kaufman
My Current Medical Reality, Including Surprises: – 7/13/2022
- “Lesions in the liver continue to get smaller and continue to heal (with no signs of cancer in the liver), although part of my original diagnoses was liver metastases.
- “The new scans from last week were compared with scans about 7 weeks ago… since I have not had any treatment, the expectations with pervasive metastatic cancer would be for all my lesions/tumors to have grown. Instead, all lesions have either stayed the same size while some have gotten smaller.
- “Also, my getting stronger physically (exercising, special diet, etc.) and continually experiencing super-sharp mental acuity, seemed at odds with my “condition.” No explanation for my doing so well when all medical expectations were the opposite. In fact, I had defied the original prognosis and the medical guidance at the end of April, that I realistically I had 5 days to 5 weeks to live. For me, attitude (Option Process/Son-Rise Program perspectives), purpose (creating beliefs that nourish and nurture – and set direction), to love, to feel and express gratitude… and receiving all those wonderful prayers worldwide coming (gifts from all of you) – are the essential component that have helped guide this unusual adventure.
- “Each and everyone involved in your case finds it perplexing,” said our core physician at Mass General Hospital in Boston. Remember, weeks previously that group of experts reviewing my situation essentially called this “the strangest case they have seen.” However, my core physician said: “tell your students and people who are praying for you to keep those prayers coming.”
- “All the lesions have caused “holes” in my bones throughout my body, including my spine – so being super careful right now is of prime importance… with my exercising and walking laps. Can these holes heal? Answer, for the moment, seemed to be “yes – sort of”.
- “All the doctors still believe I have advanced metastatic cancer… they just say they can’t find it (after taking biopsies three times). They use words about the scans like “suggests” or “concern for” or “suspicious of” this type or that type of cancer. The most frequently mentioned cancer is metastatic multiple myeloma.
Dear Wonderful Friends – really you are my family – and as such, I want to share something profound that is happening.
We can decide that new, even challenging experiences, can be used to empower what we teach (thoughts matter, beliefs matter, actions matter, prayers matter, LOVE matters) and rise to a higher and more wondrous level of ourselves. Something unanticipated has happened and, I believe, all of you are a very meaningful part of this “adventure.”
This might just tickle your imagination (wow, it does mine) and allow you to dream bigger than you have ever dreamed before. This may also inspire you to want everything in spite of the evidence (like the Son-Rise Program moms and dads who have defied the prognoses of doctors and experts by working with their children… or the folks challenging trauma with the Option Process and then finding clarity and peace, even as others were so skeptical and unsupportive).
We had asked Wendy Edwards (an Option Board member, a Son-Rise Program mom, a Wide-Awake Master Class student and doctor in her day-to-day life) to help us interpret and decipher the information we have been given from my medical files (there is tons of data, CAT scans, MRIs, etc. and biopsies and prognoses). When she studied all the medical data and read the letter below, she wrote the following to me. “Bears, I am so pumped!!! You are Mr. Miracle Walking!”
Well, I am smiling… I am still upright (yes, walking now) even though when I came home from the hospital, I could not stand, and the pain was intense. However, when Samahria and I were met by the folks from Hospice, we smiled, loved them and expressed gratitude for their help. Nevertheless, I have been very determined and energetically working my “butt” off to regain strength (still in process) – and the Hospice folks (now called palliative care support team) said (in so many words), I was not acting like a person who had been given 5 days to 5 weeks to live.
Update from Bears (6/6/2022)
“The physician looked at me in the hospital bed. Then he looked at Samahria holding my hand. I inquired: ‘If I have metastatic, fast-growing cancer throughout my body… how long do you believe I have to live?’ He said, ‘Some folks might say months… but I think you should think 5 days to 5 weeks.’ This might seem short, but given that the doctors, Samahria and all of my children thought it appeared as if I would never be able to leave the hospital alive, we said ‘Okay… thank you’, and just celebrated the doctor for his authenticity and his soft and caring manner.
“I have outlived the 5-day scenario. What led to my initial ICU trip to the hospital was a condition called hypercalcemia (as a result of cancer) which destabilized absolutely everything in my body, including my ability to think, and communicate.
“Fast forward: to this very moment. Still alive (with pain and physical limitation) and filled with gratitude and love for the days, hours, and minutes I have to love (to bathe myself in loving Samahria, my family, my Option Institute/Son-Rise Program family, and all of you who cared and shared in the adventure of what Samahria and I created throughout the decades. Each day, I focus on my purpose to live every aspect of what we have been teaching all our adult lives. It’s a delight. To love is a delight we can do any time… all the time. To feel and express gratitude lavishly. To be present. To have a purpose in all our thoughts and actions – is doable (think: Force of Nature). To keep empowering the beliefs that elevate my thoughts and living experiences.
“Come into my world/our world. What has become one of my most, most treasured experiences is watching Samahria breathe. Her breath and face, for me, are sunshine, uninterrupted love… God is in her face, too. During what appeared as ‘chaos’ in the hospital, one of our children said to Samahria – ‘it’s okay to cry and let go, Mopi.’ And Samahria said to our children… ‘This is exactly what I would want to do and be… I am truly fine, staying present, and knowing that it would not be useful to Popi – or ourselves- to fall apart and be unhappy. I have spent most of my life learning and teaching the benefits of CHOICE! And my choice is to believe that this is the time to use every ounce of that training to be comfortable and loving, so we can best help Popi.’
“For all of you who have written to me, I have felt so gloriously loved and appreciated. And your many comments about what you have changed, learned, and enacted… huge wows. Suggestion going forward: no matter how much you have loved and adored folks around you (spouse, significant others, children, parents, dear friends, and colleagues), take a step up and love them more deeply and passionately than ever…and tell them, tell them and tell them again and again what they mean to you (and be expressive and show your delight). Now is the time… because all we have is now. My gosh, you can even watch them breathe and possibly see God and sunshine in their faces too.”
Love, “Bears” Barry Neil Kaufman, Co-Founder of the Option Institute, Autism Treatment Center of America, The Son-Rise Program, and Author of Happiness Is A Choice, and Son-Rise: The Miracle Continues
Dear sweet people,
“As you know an email was sent out last week regarding Bears and his cancer diagnosis. There has been an outpouring of love and support sent to him from around the world and he can feel your love surrounding him.
“One of our long-time participants, and dear friends, Al wrote this beautiful, inspiring, and deeply sincere meditation that we ask all of you to share. No matter where you are, no matter the time of day, we ask you to take just a few minutes to send you love.
“Before we begin, consider that whatever your age is, we are all children, age is only a measure of time. Join us as we jump into the sandbox together, as children, to unleash our imagination, and unleash our powers to create.
“We are now in…. the sandbox of the amazing and benevolent universe, where everything is possible, and anything can happen.
“We are about to begin a journey, a journey of healing, a journey to encourage the healing of someone very important to us, someone who has touched our lives in amazing and profound ways, a person whom we all dearly love – Bears
“Let’s begin with a few deep breaths.
“Breathing is living, breathing creates energy.
“With each breath, allow yourself to relax and focus on being here, being present.
“Now, allow your eyes to close.
“Imagine Bears in your mind, his sweetness, his loving-kindness, his expression of love for each of us which we have all experienced for ourselves.
“The gift of his questions, the embrace of him being with us, without any judgments.
In this journey of healing, consider that your thoughts have energy, that your thoughts can move through space and time, and that your thoughts can create healing energy in another person’s physical body.
“Focus on the beat of your heart, with each beat, a healing energy begins to rise within you. As this healing energy grows, you can begin to feel this radiate throughout your body. You are becoming full of healing energy. Together, we are to create a wave of healing energy.
“We want to begin to focus this energy, as we will soon project this healing energy through space and time. See if you become aware of the healing energy, do you feel it in your arms, hands, fingers, belly, chest, ankles, feet, toes, neck, head, eyes, nose, tongue, and lips.
“Maybe you are physically aware of this, but perhaps you’re not. It doesn’t matter, as this is happening either way.
“Now, together, we will begin to send this healing energy outwardly through space and time and deliver this to Bears.
“Find Bears in your mind. We are traveling with this healing energy to his room, to where he is at this very moment.
“Together, we are beginning to bathe him and envelope him with healing energy from all over the world. Perhaps he may even be able to perceive and feel the presence of our healing energy with him now.
“Now we will move this healing energy into his body. We are searching for cancerous cells. These cells are intelligent, and we can communicate with each other as we lovingly bathe them in our healing energy. We are loving them, and we are delivering a message. The time for replicating is over, the time to be nourishing themselves within Bears body is over. The time to move on is now. Their ability to evade the immune system is ceasing.
“At the same time, let us focus on encouraging and stimulating the immune system to re-engage, to learn to see and recognize these cancerous cells. The T cells, the B cells, the NK cells, and all the various aspects of the wider immune system are being awakened, with a new understanding of what is happening in his body and how to work together to remove the cancerous cells.
“From wherever they are located: the lymph nodes, the spine, the intestines, the kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas, or wherever they have moved, they are now visible to the immune system and the immune system now knows what to do to heal and repair.
“The cleansing process is happening. The purifying of blood is being carried out. His body is being restored to vibrant health.
“As a lasting intention, leave some of your healing energy in his body as you slowly allow your consciousness to return to your body.
“Once again, become aware of where you are, the feeling and sensations within your own body. Take a deep breath and slowly exhale. Take another deep breath and exhale. And when you are ready, slowly open your eyes.
“PLEASE DO SHARE, SO WE CAN SEND YOUR HEALING THOUGHTS, PRAYERS AND LOVE TO “Bears” Barry Neil Kaufman”
(Bears’ response to Daria’s letter)
“Hi, Daria: I am still alive (with smiles, with lots of love). This note will be short but I wanted you to know I read your email twice… it was so, so beautiful… so, so celebratory, so warm and intimate… and the historical journey described and your reflections filled my heart (yes, that means ‘I’ filled my heart). I was given 5 days to 5 weeks. I am still here (with profound appreciation for this time) to just jump into the wellspring of loving Samahria (oh, my gosh… I so, so adore her in every way and she has ‘showed’ up with love in her eyes all the time/all the time — and with Samahria smiles… no matter what is happening) and loving family and friends and folks who have just been so gracious from around the world). And now Daria… know that I am so grateful for all you have done… but also for us to have had this journey through time… and for you to have learned so, so much… and for you to care and love so deeply.
“With big smiles, gratitude and love, Bears/Popi (which is what all my children and grandchildren call me). So Popi is my way of so, so embracing you.”
Dearest Bears 🐻
“Where do I begin? In the beginning?
“Before I was born, you and Samahria found each other. You chose love. You chose to ask big questions. You rebuilt your universe with love and awareness and presence and non-judgment at the center. You chose Raun. You chose to build on what you created and learned and share it with others. You chose a magical place to create and invited the world to visit and ask questions and choose love too.
“A few hours away, my parents who had just met – both newly divorced from partners who were angry, fearful, and unkind – found each other and chose love. At their tiny condo, a magazine arrived in the mail with a little ad for the Option Institute. They chose to go. They met you. And you whispered into your microphone, to them, and the whole room, that they could choose to be happy right now, in the first moments of the workshop, if they wanted to. They still talk about that moment all the time. The magic of it. That whisper hinted at a truth they’d come to study and understand over that week. They’d bring it home to me – A six-year-old, scared, confused, full of existential worries even then – and build a lifelong love around these newly discovered and learned truths. They’d make it the foundation of our new family. They’d teach me. Suddenly it was like I could breathe freely. They’d teach me that I choose how I feel about the stuff that happens. What people say. What occurs around me. That I can feel however I want about it. That I can ask myself questions to explore why I feel what I feel and choose differently if I wanted.
“Before I even set foot on the beautiful Option Institute grounds, that little condo became my workshop. I was safe there. I was loved there. I could ask questions there. We didn’t do judgment. We didn’t do sadness and fear together. We did happiness. We explored. We asked questions. I could ask my grownups questions, as big and deep as I wanted to go. I could ask myself. Soon I’m 10. My friends call me ‘The Happy Girl;. I wear orange, almost exclusively because it feels the happiest to me. Some kids think the stuff I say is weird. I don’t mind anymore. I feel magical, a lot of the time. I read spiritual books like Siddhartha. I write poetry. I meditate. I begin to sing. Circumstances in my life still seem scary sometimes, but I have tools now. My emotions are my own. I get to choose.
“I turn 13. My mom says the Option Institute is finally having a course I can go to before I’m 18. This is what I’ve been waiting for. We go together to The Creating A Happy Family Course which only ran once. I feel like the luckiest girl in the world. I’m finally there. I meet you. You ask me questions. I learn so much that week. My universe expands exponentially. I try sushi for the first time in Great B. I win the negotiation game with mom. We share our Haagen Dazs with everyone. I learn tools that will again become foundational to the way I think, and the way I communicate with my parents, and loved ones, that I still use today. It changes everything for me, forever. The remarkable beauty of my family’s life together grows and deepens. What we learn at the Option Institute becomes the language we speak together. The air we share. It still is.
“The love you made and chose to share became the love we chose too. And kept choosing every day. We chose it yesterday. We’re choosing it today. Your work became the soil we planted our family tree into and every day we grow more and enjoy the fruits. We would not be us, without you.
“Over the years, I come back again and again… Home to the Option Institute, and you.
“When I saw the email about your diagnosis, I cried so hard – like you’ve seen me cry so many times – and then laughed at myself thinking of how to explain my tears to you, ‘Bears, I chose to cry and I’m ok with that?’ It was a full-body cry. Like my heart was bursting with all the love I’ve felt from you, and for you, and because of you for my whole life. The depth of my gratitude was like an ocean trying to come through me one teardrop at a time. Because of the nature of your work, you’ve been with me for some of the most important and formative experiences of my life. The things we’ve said, asked, learned, laughed about, and chosen boldly in The Summit House, have helped to define my life. They’ve given me the tools to choose to build my universe, intentionally. Your work saved my life. And then helped me save my own life countless times.
“And as this flood of beautiful memories came back to me – different ages, different times, different revelations, different ah-ha’s and hugs and ego-deaths and fears dismantled and joys created – on top of all that I realized that you are the closest thing to a grandpa I’ve ever had, too. With your quick wit and tenderness and high flame playfulness that opened my heart and mind over and over again over a lifetime…
“And even just these past few years and months and weeks… Going to more courses… Diving even deeper into the Dialogue… Discovering the true root of Fearlessness and making friends with it… Practicing it daily… Feeling myself evolve even more… Feeling more joy and clarity than most would think is possible, especially in a time that seems so dark and scary to so many… And the joy of joys, getting to meet and co-create with you a little bit. To make something together. To talk as friends and hear your stories, and ask you questions. I understand now about making each day the best day you’ve ever lived. I’m so happy knowing that’s what you do and what you did.
“Oh Bears. Thank you so much for choosing to be you. The ripple effect your choices made sent a wave of love and possibility to so so many, and I’m just one. The luckiest one in my little world, that wouldn’t exist without you. A little world I get to choose and make every day because of you.
“Today my name tag would read:
“Hi, my favorite people,
“One of my favorite things about our relationship is we are all great about telling each other how much we care about each other…And I’m thankful for that. But in case you didn’t know I wrote a little blurb about our time together and just wanted to share so you know how much you both mean to me.
“I think often in our minds, our heroes take on a form of invincibility where the ailments that much of the world faces, could never possibly touch them. But then we realize, that we are all human, and susceptible to all of the same things that come along with being that.
“I remember when I first met Bears, my voice was trembling, my hands full of sweat…I felt so nervous during my interview. He smiled that kind smile the way Bears always does and told me to stop, close my eyes, and breathe. It was the first moment when someone had taken the time to help me be present. A very beautiful moment that I’ll never forget.
“Somehow despite the clear lack of confidence I had, Bears saw my capabilities and hired me on to be his Executive Assistant. I moved across state lines that weekend and began my beautiful adventure in the Berkshires. I hardly realized what a different world it was as it was only a mere 2 hours away from my hometown in Fairfield County, Connecticut. But everything about the Berkshires was different. It wasn’t loud and rushed and full of people like the place I grew up. It was quiet and gentle, and everything about it was so intentional. The way the rain dripped softly from the edges of plants after a storm, or the way the light gleamed through dew early in the morning…and the way the mountains blossomed up behind cornfields, it just felt like they were doing it all for you.
“Quickly upon moving my life to the Berkshires, the relationship I had moved there for instantaneously ended. Leaving me dismayed, without friends, family– feeling utterly alone. But as I learned during my time at the Option Institute… the universe is benevolent and I was at the perfect place at the perfect time.
“Over the next 3 years, I worked closely with Bears and Samahria. I was fortunate in being able to attend several courses and countless sessions where my personal growth soared. I no longer saw the world as a series of misfortunate events, which I would need to endure and fight through. Rather life became a beautiful playground for me. One that I approached with curiosity and laughter. Bad things didn’t seem so bad anymore, they just felt like bigger opportunities.
“There are moments in life that touch the depths of our souls and change us forever. I don’t think there is an exact moment to pinpoint this for me, but those three years at the Option Institute working alongside Bears and Samahria forever changed how I saw the world. It might have happened between sips of coffee mixed with a scoop full of cocoa, or through the vibrations of Samahria’s laugh mixed with mine during our sessions, but more likely it happened in the silent moments where love, support, and nonjudgmental energy radiated around me, allowing me to be exactly who I needed to be.”
My dearest Bears!
I am thinking of you in this time of amazing wonder. The first time I heard your voice over the multiple courses I have on CD, I allowed for something amazing to change inside me! I was so excited for Leo to meet you and he did! We were just so exited to meet you! We had class and dialogues together ❤️ Through your work, your family has facilitated the recovery of my son and transformation for my family for life. I just can’t imagine how our lives would have been without the blessing of you and this magical place called the Option Institute.
There are just so many memories I cherish of you and the magical place that is the Option Institute. I remember you telling us the story of the phone call with your dad when he told you he had Cancer and how you responded with enthusiasm. And he said to his wife how he knew you were the right person to call first. What a journey you two had. 😊. I also remember being in the room at the option institute as you told us about William. The closet doors of the audio/visual systems blasted open and someone shouted “Hello, William!” William had told you to watch for signs.
The most special memories I have is from you telling us how much you loved us and how you just had the best time of your life with us. ❤️❤️❤️❤️ I am So incredibly grateful for your work, dedication but most of all, your unconditional love and acceptance. I love you Bears! Wishing you the most loving, gentle and blessed experience of Cancer. That you may love even harder everyday. Sending big kisses and hugs to you, Samaria, Bryn, Raun, Jade, Maliki and all your crew 😘😘😘😘
Have a wonderful and blessed day!
Dear Dear Bears and Dear Dear Samahria,
Just realizing that I will probably not know what your response is to me deciding to join your names together..
You would probably laugh and say ‘Of course, you can call us whatever you want…’
I wanted to write to you in specifics and tell you how much you mean to me and how much I’m grateful you let me see you and learn from you,
I am continuing to read your words and listen to your sweet sweet voice on the cd’s, taking this special day to admire your life.
To admire you for seeing the magic in believing and acting, in love and acceptance, and making our lives as big as we choose.
Thank you for reminding me of our special place inside where we can trust ourselves and focus on our wants and dreams and for the limitless opportunities we can find in a benevolent universe, and many many more beautiful beliefs.
You are my role model for heaven on earth.
I miss you already.
With all my love,
Hey Amanda, I am a Son Rise Program® kid, please pass this on to Bears if the time is appropriate.
“I am writing to express my gratitude to you for the influence you have had on the course of my and my family’s lives. The way of thinking about ourselves, relationships, and the world we live in has shifted massively in a positive direction since we have been a part of the Option Institute and The Son-Rise Program. You have changed our lives.
“I’m sure our paths will cross again at some point, in this world or another.
“Thank you, Bears.”
Love from Ed
“Some fifteen years ago, my brother was working exceedingly hard (and lovingly) to save me, his ‘ever struggling’ younger sibling. He called my wife and told her that if there’s one man on the planet who could ‘get through’ to Stephen, it is this guy Barry Kaufman who people call Bears. I have no idea how he found you. To say the least, I was in a rough place – I had spiraled into depression, all the things that I had strived to accomplish thinking that they would make me happy – a successful medical practice, a high-income business life, two kids, etc. had failed to make a dent in my self-loathing and perpetual state of unhappiness and I was hanging on for dear life. My marriage was a sham, and I was living in a bewildering state of fear, all the while masquerading with confidence and bravado.
“I came to the Option Institute in 2007 – A Place for Miracles – – and you did indeed get through to me. You (and Samahria and other loving members of the staff) became the family I never had. The Option Institute became the home I never had. You became the father, the mentor, the teacher, the friend that I never had. My brother was correct – I needed someone who was lovingly powerful, of sharp intellect, authentic, even revolutionary in his thinking and teaching and, most of all, someone who I could look in the eye and trust that I was being seen, being understood, being loved and being called on my b.s.
“I dove in deeply with you and the curriculum. I completed every course you offered, some of them twice. I wanted to come work with you (I had no clue how premature that would have been), we shared meals, and you and Samahria invited me into your home…you challenged and loved me as I had never been challenged, and loved before. You guided me through the dissolution of my relationship with my wife, my relationship with my brother (lovingly not speaking with him now), my tortuous relationship with my father (had the most glorious union before his death), and taught me how to create the magnificent relationship that I now have with my two children. Most of all you guided me to have a different relationship with myself and the Universe. You gave me so much, so very much, more than I had ever before received…and all you asked was that I continue to look at myself, and smile (at least once in a while). And, I was only one of the thousands you have done this for. It’s impossible to measure the impact you have had…you helped me shape my life, you have helped thousands upon thousands of others do the same – and in turn, each one of us whom you have impacted has impacted others. Well done, my friend, well done indeed.
“My dear Bears, I love you, I am forever grateful to have been blessed to share time and unforgettable experiences with you…. I am smiling with you. Nowhere to go, nothing to do… just to be, to be.”
“I hesitated to write you an email. Because, well, you must have received, and will continue to receive so many, from different people, and because you probably don’t remember me.
“But actually, it doesn’t matter.
“On the first day of Wide Awake, I chose not to join the others who were using the drums and musical objects, I was just observing. When you came in, you asked me why I didn’t join. I said I was shy. Then you said something like ‘bullshit’ and you asked me the question again. I said I was scared.
“There. It was my first lesson.
“You know, now that I think of it, I live my life being scared of many things, one of them of being ‘seen’. I once made you a card with a drawing of the little prince on it and didn’t sign it. I thought it was poetic to do that. To leave it anonymous. Now I realize it was me being a coward.
“But I am writing this letter to you today so I am not a coward now!
“I don’t know how to convey how I feel about you. I had never felt anything like it before. It resembles the love I would imagine coming from God. I’m not comparing you to God, but, in truth, you may have helped me understand what unconditional love is.
“Not understand, FEEL. Way better.
“When I think of you and my time at the Option Institute. I feel immense love. Love that I have never felt anywhere else. Love that comes so easily, pouring out, like a river flow.
“It reminds me how much I miss it. How much I need it in my life. I want to feel more unconditional love. And by deciding it, I already am feeling it.
“You are a role model to me. I want to radiate love like you and Samahria do. And I want to give it to others too.
“Funny thing, it’s a friend’s birthday soon and we all decided to gift her one book we loved. I immediately thought of Happiness Is A Choice.
“I have gifted it to a few people in my life, to dear ones and also to random people. I always feel I hand them a true gift, something that can change their lives.
“You have changed mine. There is a before and after Bears Kaufman.
“I feel you are eternal. So, in learning the news of your health, I felt sad and yet full of love at the same time. It’s your magic working here. I cannot think of you and not feel love.
“The work you have done and the people you have touched… I’m so happy to think of your legacy (I’m one of so many lucky people) and in that way you are eternal.
“I’m loving you from afar (France) and I am grateful for having had the chance to meet you and hug you many times.”
Dearest Bears & Samahria,
“I was happily sad for several days after hearing about your health and your sooner-than-expected un-manifestation from this physical plane. The world just doesn’t seem right thinking about that.
“But so it is. And so it goes…
“Now I imagine you both in such deep profound love, light, and laughter. I am happy that you have this time together and with your family.
“One of the very best parts of my editing work at the Option Institute is getting to watch you, Bears, teach over and over again. This is a joy and an honor. I remember you talking about covid and life and death and falling off the conveyor belt and how you laughed – and here you are…
“You have been my teacher and mentor for a quarter of a century! You helped me find my way to extraordinary changes in myself and my life. I am overflowing with gratitude and love.
“Thank you for your many blessings, your deeply felt love, your brilliance, and your conviction. Thank you for the Option Institute. Thank you for being you!
“I send you blessings upon blessings upon blessings. I send you full-hearted love, angel wing hugs, and wishes for the very best next journey when you are ready.”
I love you,
“I just saw your post. Crazy that something pulled me to sign in to my Facebook account that I haven’t seen in weeks or months.
“Tears come down my cheeks while my heart feels so full.
“Bears, you’ll never know how many lives you’ve changed, how many people you’ve touched. I have so much to share with you and so much that time won’t ever let me. But it will all live on as you have taught me to do.
“I met you when I was just 19, hoping to better my work with children with Autism. But then, you changed my life. I came back time and time again. You showed me light in the face of trauma. You showed me love in the face of hate. You gave me hope when I was torn apart. You showed me that one tiny voice of cold anger was nothing in the face of my internal power. You helped me form the words to clearly say, I know best what’s best for me. And then, you lovingly guided me to be able to believe it.
“I made some of my best friends under your roof. In your embrace. In the safe place that pushed and pulled me to truly grow. To truly love.
“At every staff meeting, parenting class, and even some family times, we practice an incredible lesson you gave me. Listening. Truly, authentically, open-minded, clear head, full heart, listening. My staff laughs when I get us set up but the laughs soon deepen, sometimes tears flow, whatever it is, it’s filled with warmth, honesty, and so much care. Such deep care.
“Bears, I love you. I hold you in my prayers and my heart.
“Share with me something that I and my students can do to continue your work. We will carry on. We will listen, we will love, and we will open our minds and our hearts to the world. In your honor.”
I love you so much,
Hi Bears and wonderful Option Institute Team,
“I have no words to say after hearing the news from the email ‘Our Amazing Bears’. I felt so much love during my sessions with The Son-Rise Program Start-Up, Maximum Impact, all the Facebook live sessions, all Youtube Videos of Bears (back in the 80s, 90s, and recent), and the Option Institute. All of this has changed our lives (Mine, my son Sameehan, and my wife Sangita).
“I visited once in 2019 during The Son-Rise Program Start-Up. My wife Sangita left her job in the United States and came back to India. This is to run a full-time Son-Rise program. It was possible only because of Son-Rise principles and understanding of them. Our Son Sameehan is recovering fast. Over the last 2 years since we started the program, we have come a long way and we know that we still have a couple of miles to go. But we feel Bears in every moment in our program and his teaching about attitude guides our sessions. It is not only during the sessions but while living various moments in daily life. I have a dream to travel to the United States and visit the Option Institute again with my son Sameehan when he becomes able to personally thank you for changing his life and ours.
“LOTS of Love to Bears, Samahria, and all the team!!”
Niren & Sangita
“Hello Beautiful Bears,
I have just read the email from Amanda sharing your current health challenge. I know you will receive so many emails, and it occurs to me that you are quite probably the person on the planet receiving the most personal emails EVER in response to such news from people you KNOW personally. That is quite remarkable I think!
“When I read Amanda’s email this morning I had such mixed feelings. Normally I would be immediately sad at such news. Today though, I was transported directly to your comfy office (the one with that fabulous little sign on the back of the door that I love so much, reminding everyone to treat all who enter kindly as they are the Option Institute’s raison d’etre) I remembered with delight and love one of the many times I’ve sat there with you (and all your family hanging on the walls!) … I was smiling, laughing, crying, and enjoying some life-changing time with you. This time, in particular, I remembered one of my most significant dialogues with you… the week before William passed and the one where you helped me see my Dad’s passing as his own choice. Wow, what a surprisingly enjoyable experience confronting head-on one of the biggest issues in my lifetime. I will always be so grateful for this and many other moments of clarity I gained due to your sharp presence and diligence in following my very often ‘can of worms’ logic. You are truly a master of your craft.
“Another significant moment for me in my seeing and understanding and then changing myself I’m remembering was during Mentor training when you very sweetly called me ‘slippery’. Putting this tendency of mine under the spotlight has been the fuel to my fire to be the most authentic I can be. Ironically, I have just experienced (with much discomfort and astonishment!) the most slippery of business partners I could imagine. I can imagine you finding that amusing Bears, you know what they say about Karma… 🙂
“I know I have told you many times how much I appreciate you, your work, and especially your love and kindness to me and my family. You and Samahria inspire me every day and it has been such an honor to be your supporter over the years to help you share your work across our world.
“I am forever grateful to you Bears. I love you and look forward to the next time we meet, either hugging you in person when I make it to visit you or in our hearts, if one or other of us has come to the end of the conveyor belt!”
All my love
“If there were a prize for the number of letters written to someone that was not sent, I would win that prize. Some might see such an exercise as a meaningless empty gesture, but for me, the writing of those letters was the most important part. Because writing to you was talking to you, sometimes doing dialogue with you or me or both of us. I chose to write to you Bears because you are my teacher and my mentor and you hold such a special place in my heart. And I always knew I could trust you.
“What would I do if I had 5 days or 5 weeks or 5 years? I would continue doing what I’m doing, sometimes clumsily, sometimes efficiently, sometimes without thinking, choosing to be completely present and easy on myself when I’m not, maintaining gratitude (‘a shortcut to happiness,’) and finding the questions that keep me going, keep me exploring. I would welcome the time when it is right for me to retire from full-time employment and find new adventures to pursue.
“Bears, you, and the Option Institute have taught me so much and encouraged me in ways no one else ever had, or maybe ever could. On Monday, December 20, 2004, at nearly 3:15 pm, you sent me an email. That email has accompanied me daily for the last 18 years because it was so supportive of the teachings, and my learnings, of that which had become so important to me in leading the life I chose. You told me you cared about me and that you valued me as well. You affirmed the person I became at the Option Institute and reminded me of how I put 100% of myself into every class, every experience, and how I became a miracle in progress.
“So now, I want to tell you that I love you and I admire you and I value you as a teacher, a mentor, and a mensch. I believe you will enter this phase of your life with curiosity and delight, to experience all the things possible on this new adventure. I know that you will travel with Samahria and the love of so many people you have impacted. I wish you a fulfilling and love-filled experience and if ever I can offer you something you want or need, just smile that beautiful smile and I’ll do my best.
“Much love to you, and Samahria, your family, and all my fellow searchers who love you as much as I do (well, maybe not quite as much)!”
Dear Amanda – thanks for your wonderful email.
“Have received your lovely message about Bears from a great friend whom I met at the Option Institute in the late nineties.
“I was a huge beneficiary of the old 8-week summer program in 1996. It was a major step to a transformed life. My name was ‘Courage.’
“I have arrived at the state of consciousness where life and death are merely 2 different forms of being and love is the only reality.
“I cannot thank him enough and the other wonderful Option Institute teachers.
“I love you Bears and all at the Option Institute, seen or unseen.”
Paul C (Courage)
Dear Bears and Samahria,
“I believe that even in this most difficult time of your life, you are having an amazing time, a blessed time, a time of love and gratitude. Bears we had some death conversations several times over our decades of friendship, and indeed they helped me get thru those tough times. Now you and Samahria are at death’s door and you are soon to walk through it. I’m so happy for you because your iron-clad, thoroughly tested beliefs coupled with the love of Samahria, your intimate family, friends, and thousands of Option followers will make this earth to heaven transition as gentle and wondrous as it can be. I love you so very much and thank you and Samahria for all that you have given me and my family. I will miss you, and when I do I will wonder what new adventure are you having in heaven? And like tonight it’s easy to find a video of your dear smile and sparkling eyes to bring you back if only for a moment.
“Hugs and Kisses and Prayers”
Loving you forever – Kathy
My dear Bears,
“Your work, your questions, and your presence in the world have been influencing my life since 1997 when I attended the 8-week and was often called Cutie. Then in August 2011, I attended the Son-Rise Start-Up. I feel like The Son-Rise Program saved my life and my daughter’s life. I know we would have figured some things out and she would have progressed in some ways. But you and The Son-Rise Program have the whole process of joy and freedom and love and play. Sarah’s language started exploding as soon as I got home from my first training. And our program helped with everything else that she ever learned and is the foundation for our playful loving family now.
“During a dialogue, you once asked me why, if I didn’t get what I wanted, that would be so painful. I honestly just asked myself that yesterday. I have noticed how often I get upset when things don’t go as I planned. So now I’m looking into that because I don’t want to keep getting so grumpy.
“I don’t know if you will read these words now or somehow sense them from wherever you go in your next step. I hope you know how impactful you have been and how important and life-changing your work has been for countless people all over the world. Thank you. I send you so much love and appreciation. I am so glad that you lived the life you did and shared of yourself so widely. “
“Since I got the email below, each Tuesday, I keep hoping I’m going to get an email saying we’re on for Wide Awake tomorrow. Initially, I was imagining this was something very painful, but seeing you out for several weeks has redefined the severity of your injury for me. I know from my own experiences; that an injury happens in an instant. For me, over the years, such ‘in an instant’ injuries have included cracked ribs, torn rotator, torn labrum, torn meniscus, two cracked teeth, a compound toe fracture, a fractured arm, and a rather debilitating (but temporary) back injury.”
“I’ve been thinking about you every day, usually several times a day, always praying for your healing powers to quickly restore your health. I look forward to the day when you can share some of what you’ve been going through with us. I’m sure your journey is overflowing with an examination of beliefs, an exploration of the meaning of your injury, and your unique perspective of dealing with a very painful experience.”
“My love for you Bears runs deep, LOVING you with my heart and soul.”
“I am sending you prayers and love and hope that you are still having the best time. I imagine that you are. Before your next adventure begins, I want to thank you for the huge part you have played in my life. I have said this many times before and I will say it again: You saved my life. One of my most beloved memories is the in-class dialogue I had with you during Living the Dream 2000 that led to me deciding not to have an eating disorder anymore. I can only describe the experience as a vast and endless landscape of love and acceptance that you created. I had never felt anything like that before and I shed a tear now thinking of how momentous that experience was. Your love, your self-comfort, your deep, deep acceptance—they were the catalyst for a life-altering moment for me. Thank you for your dedication to filling the world with love and for being willing to share so much of yourself. You and the Option Institute have been another family for me, my family of choice, an enduring set of friends and loved ones spread throughout the world. The lessons I’ve learned are with me every day and infuse all that I do. Thank you for creating this magical place and teaching me how to love, grow, change, and help others. I cherish you.”
My Dearest Bears,
“I just received a note from Leah Taylor-Roy and learned of your recent diagnosis. I am joyfully holding you in perfect health and sending every good vibe I have. Because of YOU, Bears, I have learned to see the world in a very different light and have given up feeling sad or sorry for people who face adversity, and instead focus on my belief that in the times of greatest ‘trouble’ one can fully access grace, love, and connection. So I say, I love you. I know that you are right where you are supposed to be and that you are surrounded by love, so much love, from around the world.
“I’m so grateful that one afternoon almost thirty years ago, I asked for the universe to provide me direction in a moment of great sadness, and my hand brushed over Happiness Is A Choice at the bookstore. I read the book on a bench in the mall right outside the store… cover to cover… and my life was forever changed. I have since read everything you have written, and attended a couple of programs at the Option Institute, and while I hold Happiness Is A Choice as my number one favorite book of all time, it was No Regrets, that informed the direction I took when I moved home from Colorado to care for my dying father. We have so many things in common, Bears, and our contentious relationships with our fathers are among them. I spent 6 years chasing a mad man around as he slowly declined and eventually passed. Though challenging for sure, I approached him with love and compassion, and those final years were full of joy, laughter, and real connection. One night at the end of his days, I carried him to the bathroom to shower him. He had soiled the bed and was embarrassed, angry, and scared. He asked (as if to God) how he could have ever ended up with an angel as a son. I told him love is a powerful thing…and that caring for him was an honor. He spent his last years being served dinner on a silver platter with ‘the good linens’, I allowed myself to be fully present and completely without judgment every step of the way and it resulted in a once strained relationship becoming one of deep caring and trust.
“Thank you for that, Bears. I know that it is what I did with your words that made the difference… but your words… connected and resonated.
“I initially requested your email so that I could share with you a wonderful story and so I will conclude with it.
“I currently am a creative director for a restaurant chain in Ohio… and while I love marketing and am with a company that is fun and full of great folks, I know that teaching is my dream. I mean…I have the professorial beard, smart glasses, and the blazer with patches…I am cut out for it. LOL. I was approached by a local college of art and design to teach Communication. My degree is in Communication and so I jumped at the opportunity to get into the classroom with young 20-somethings and share the things I have learned. The curriculum is set and the quizzes are written so it is up to me to translate the ‘scholarly’ work into something real… something that students will find personally impactful. I have now taught for three semesters and this last one I decided to share Happiness Is A Choice with them. Specifically, I spoke of your 6 Shortcuts to Happiness. I introduced it by telling them all about the best dude I know, Bears Kaufman. What was going to be an hour of sharing and discussing the concepts with a marvelous group of young folks, ended up being a three-class discussion. The final project was a paper on ‘What I learned in J’s class that I super-duper promise to take with me and remember forever’. Though we had several excellent classes that I believed were important and certainly impactful I was thrilled to see that every student, except for one that loved the concept of ‘groupthink’, wrote that our classes on the six shortcuts to happiness and the power of choice were impactful. Three students stated that it was the most powerful thing they had learned in their entire academic career. They poured their hearts out in explaining how important the message was, and how they had seen its power in the weeks following our discussions. A few students purchased Happiness Is A Choice and has vowed to read it and get back to me. My eyes leaked (ok I cried) as I later read the comments in the class survey that students filled out at the end of the semester. I know it’s how you must feel when someone like me sends a note of deep gratitude.
“I love you so much, brother. I am glad I had the opportunity to thank you in person when I was at the Option Institute, and to give you a great big hug. I will carry you in my heart forever, and I will share your sage concepts until I no longer grace this crazy planet. You have been and will be, forever, the best dude. Your beauty and wonder will go on and on and on.”
“Thank you for your beautiful email and update about, Darling Bears and Samahria, and your news.
“I remember Bears in August starting WAMC 2020 and those joyful smiles when talking about accepting the New Reality 2020. Here we are accepting another ‘New Reality’ in May 2022, another curve in the road.
“Covid became an amazing learning curve of opportunity and growth for our household, I believe because of WAMC. On the outside, you might have foretold gothic doom and gloom with a cancer diagnosis 2021 thrown in the mix.
“Bears how lovingly and kindly I felt supported through the learning curve of pain is a separate experience from suffering. For all our sharing/ teachings on pain, profound thanks. No MS symptoms after a lumpectomy and hardly felt pain at all. The chosen attitude to a challenge, then seeing the challenge as a gift, by Christmas 2021 with acceptance and non-judgment wow I’m a different person from the week to week teachings continued over several years since 2020. Thank you beyond words.
“During one of our Wide Awake Master Classes we did discuss beliefs about a group of people sending love to someone in distress/ illness, would it make a difference? I believe it does. I asked a group of friends to send healing light and love every night to me at 9:30pm UK time and I return the healing to them at 9:35pm and then give thanks to them. I believe doing that does have a good effect and if it is okay I’ll put you, Bears and Samahria visualized in the healing light of infinite love at 9:35pm UK time too? Or pray at any designated time of daylight UK time you like to choose? I know it is all make-believe but it is a choice of Loving make-believe…”
Love you lots
Love Helen X
My beloved, dearest Bears, How are you, my friend? Have you decided to live here or in another space? Or have you decided to die? Where are your thoughts now? Where is your love focused? Is it near Samahria? Or maybe in some most beautiful places you have in your heart? How is your cancer doing? Beloved by thousands of people all over the world, beloved also by me and with all my love sent into space, to drift happily in the void! So that he can watch how the Bears can live without him!!! I am just reading through our exchange of correspondence and I went back to the letter I wrote to you during Wide Awake, I will paste it here because it is my declaration of love for you and Samahria, it is my sincerest and greatest words about who you and your wife are in my life:
“My dearest friend,
“Thank you for being you. That one day, in your life, you decided to learn about love and happiness. That you put them into words, that you learned to share this knowledge with others. Your books are a signpost and a prayer for me today. They are faith and hope. They are love and acceptance.
“In a world with so much turmoil and neglect, I have come to understand that all I can do is share the love. And to be happy. To the last cell of my own body. That’s what I want. I understood this because you showed me the way – you named it, let me walk it, and accompanied me in it gently with your presence. Thank you.
“Bears, our first meeting did not indicate success! I remember thinking you were using some subliminal manipulative techniques…. but then you came up to me… and you said that I was blessed!!! That I have the most beautiful smile! First I was flooded with a wave of boundless love, and a moment later… I believed you!!! It was during my start-up course. A short 15 minutes during which you filled the whole room with yourself, to the brim! All I remember is that I had to leave to collect my thoughts, I lit a cigarette, stretched my head high into the sky, and there…. an eagle circled endlessly above the trees. Today I think it was William, though at the time I had no idea he existed.
“Our next meeting during Maximum Impact was a real power flare!!! During the dialogue, I told you about how my father wanted to kill me. During the session, you performed a series of actions that would suggest an attack on my body. You explained to me that I could choose any feeling about that situation and adopt it. This seemed so absurd to me that I decided to do it. I chose gratitude because it is my favorite emotion I took it! What happened next was beyond my wildest expectations. I simply freed myself from the ghosts of the past! I stopped being afraid! What’s more, I became strong like never before! And then it was time for a change in my relationship with my dad. Everything changed because I changed! Today we have the most tender and wonderful time together.
“Bears, do you know that you are blessed? Do you know that you are the architect of the changes I make in my life time and time again? Thank you so much! I love you so much!
“The Power Dialogues was an amazing experience where I made the conscious decision to be fearless many times, it was a Nobel Prize-winning experience! Thank you! I now know that I don’t have to pull my foot back when someone is about to press it. I know I don’t have to run away from screaming, I know I can stay calm in boundary situations. I know that I can push the boundaries at will. Thank you for showing me how to do that!!!
“I think a lot about your daughter, Bryn. I love every teacher in The Son-Rise Program with boundless love, but Bryn… From the first moment, I felt that I was connected to her. In an extraordinary way. I feel like she is my sister. Her sense of humor, her joyful sarcasm, her punchline ready at the point in any situation, are so much mine too, I adore her! What I learned from her during The Son-Rise Program is second to none. To this day I can still hear her words in my head: ‘You don’t have to be afraid! Where you choose to love, you can’t go wrong!’. To this day I recall her foot stopping the door to the playroom and cleanliness training for our amazing children please pass on my deepest love to her, will you? Thank you for meeting Samahria one day and together you decided to walk through life, practicing love every day and sharing your wisdom and respect for your partner. I learned so much from your beautiful wife! She asked me many questions, and one of them I carry with me again and again. For a long time I could not grasp its meaning, today I know it. It read: ‘Why do you think your mother should love you?’ It was so shocking, and my first response was so crammed with conventions, that I didn’t know how to explain the ‘why?’ Today I know that there is nothing to forgive here, that my mom’s feelings belong only to her, and that I have nothing to do here! I felt so free as never before, thank you Samahria! I will never forget the first few days in the playroom when our little son didn’t want to be there (and I didn’t choose happiness over the fear of not making it), he would walk along the walls and repeat ‘Suzi, Suzi, Suzi’ over and over again. I had no idea who he was talking to, it wasn’t until a few months later that I read Our Son’s Awakening in which Samahria goes by that very name! I believe he sought help for both of us from the best mom on the planet! Thank you, Samahria!
“Thank you to your wife for always making me feel like the only person in the world when I am in her company. I am learning this focus and presence from her, she is extraordinary! I thank her for once showing me a way to accept myself – standing in front of the mirror every day and saying ‘you are, Asia, the best, I love you!’ has become my habit. As has reminding myself every morning that this is the day I will love with my whole self. Everyone I physically meet or think about. It is the most beautiful daily workout of mine. Samahria, you are the architect of my growth as a human being, you have shown me practical tools, thank you! I love you infinitely!
“Thank you – seems to be an insufficient word. Bears, you are my reward. My azimuth. Thank you for showing me direction. A few months ago I thought the Catholic faith was beyond consideration. Today, I think God despises religion. Every religion. I think the one true Creator lives within me, allowing me to create myself anew, allowing me to make my own choices. You know, Bears? I talk to you every night when I walk outside my house to smoke a cigarette. I look up at the stars and see your eyes full of love, not placing conditions, accepting my every thought. I imagine that you are just asking me questions at the end of the day… You are the one I recall in my mind when I make decisions, feel your playful pat on my back, and hear the words: ‘Only you know, Asia, what is best for you.’ This is how I reward myself at the end of each day. In a recent class, we talked about death and what we believe it is after. My process of changing my thinking about it started with our first meeting. That moment was so incredible, that feeling of love I felt from you when you told me I was blessed, so strong that I felt a tingling in my fingertips. I can’t explain it, but I don’t need to either Then I began to think that we must have met before, in another life. Then I began to consider that perhaps what I had learned in the Catholic Church was not true at all? There, no human being had ever offered me the kind of love you gave me in 15 minutes… So I adopted the idea that we had met before, and now we were just fulfilling our karma! I like this thought very much! You once mentioned that your ancestors are from Russia, which is so close to me. I like the thought that it is not a coincidence at all that I got a special child whom I decided to help, and I found this one in faraway America. There I met unique people who I immediately adopted as my family. These people (you, Samahria, Bryn, Kate, Raun)have shown me how to learn myself, how to find the answers to all questions within myself – because they are right there! Thank you, my Family!
“I think we have fulfilled our karma, Bears. I love you without conditions, Friend! I also think I will be back here again. I do not know if I will be an Energy or a human, or maybe a shrimp for Sri, I believe that I will not disappear, that I will still be useful! For my loved ones (as my in-laws are helping us now, although they have been dead for several years), perhaps I will bring joy as a delicacy to Sri’s palate, I know that life lasts as long as love lasts, and it death does not define it!
“Thank you, Bears, for fulfilling the most important role for me in this life – I took all the love of the universe from you! I will not keep it to myself, I will share it, and let it multiply! You asked me recently why I keep smiling – the answer is this letter of mine to you – every meeting we have is my dream come true, my happiest moment in life, every topic we talk about – a dazzle – my smile is an expression of love and happiness. To each person in our course, to you and Samahria.
“May love and smiles stay with us forever,
With infinite love, Asia
“p.s. If I die before you, will you agree to accompany me in my last moments?
“I love you guys so much! You, Samahria, Bryn, Raun, Kate, and all your Family, Friends, and people you love!!!
I feel blessed because I have been blessed with your love!
Thank you for every second with you!!!”
Sweet Bears – I so wish I could give you just one more hug. ❤️ You and the Option Institute radically altered my life and I am forever grateful. Such a FORCE you are and have been in the lives of so many. I don’t know if you’ll get to read this, but please know that it has been an honor to know you and BE with you.
Thank you, thank you, thank you, Sir, for everything you’ve done and that your legacy will continue to do. So much love to you and Samahria and all the Option Institute family.
Much Love, Chas
“Thank you for all the learnings!! It absolutely changed my life. I am very grateful that you were in my life!
I wish you a very beautiful journey to wherever you go.”
Love and a big hug
“I hope this note finds you doing so well!
“And I want to thank you for so much. I want to thank you for opening my eyes to the possibility of having a happy life so many years ago. And I want to thank you for all the amazing experiences I had in class with you at the Option Institute over the years. Thank you for your beautiful soul and for all the choices you made that ended up making you the Bears I so revere. Thank you for the inspiration you gave us all in your devoted early work with Raun. Because of you and your spirit and your work countless amazing things occurred in my life…. and exponentially in the lives of people I affected. Multiply that by all the people who have been inspired by you and you will find yourself at the center of a gigantic love starburst. You are a miracle.
“I have to honestly say that nothing in your latest email nor your past emails about this incredible adventure you are on, has surprised me. I expected all the unexpected…because it is YOU!! You are the king of miracles; the chief of staying present and living (and teaching!) in every lucid moment; and the master of throwing off the best of the best medical communities – LOL!!
“I am so happy and grateful that you are doing amazing, and in your pics, you look great!! The universe obviously has more in store for you – and through your choices on how you live, plus your worldwide support system – you are alive and still living the most strong and meaningful life ever! Everything is perfect, I can hear you say…and look, there’s another teaching point for all of us!
“Keep on keeping on my friend and teacher. And thank you for sharing your life in such a candid way.
“Sending you tons of love and HUGE hugs Big Guy!!”
“I am touched by your healing journey. I attended The Son-Rise Program Start-Up in 2012. My daughter was just diagnosed as having Asperger’s syndrome. She had just turned 12 at the time.
“I write this to share with you that your program, books, and DVDs helped validate and gave me many tools for bringing up my daughter and the way I teach my students.
“The attitude and belief system I developed at your workshop also helped me tremendously when I was diagnosed with terminal cancer at the end of 2017. Like you I am living passed the original doctor’s expectations.
“In one of your workshops, you had me stand up and talk in front of the room. I was terrified of speaking in public. I don’t remember what the question was that you had asked, but I do remember saying that I had always wanted to work with autistic children but went into accounting/office administration instead. I stated that I realized that my daughter was a gift from God to get me there. I later took this same attitude and promptly viewed my cancer diagnosis as God giving me the challenge to grow into a better version of myself.
“As a side note, I am sharing with you the name of a book that a stranger recommended to me when I became sick. If you haven’t already read it, I highly recommend it. It’s called Radical Remissions, by Kelly Turner.
“Thank you for all the amazing work you do.
“I wish you a full and speedy recovery.”
All my best,