Sometimes opposites attract.
KTTH host Michael Medved on Monday interviewed hip-hip impresario Russell Simmons, an extremely liberal vegan who claims he’s even further left than Dennis Kucinich. Simmons is a successful entrepreneur who founded the clothing line Phat Farm, and was one of the founders of the hip-hop label Def Jam, which launched the careers of such artists as The Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, Public Enemy, and the thrash band, Slayer.
Simmons came to the Medved show to talk about his new meditation book, and the pair wound up discussing everything from animal rights to Christianity, Hillary Clinton, primates, and whether Medved should be on Fox News.
Michael Medved: You’ve been a successful entrepreneur.
Russell Simmons: I’ve sold a few companies; I’ve built a lot more. I make many movies, many TV shows. I run five charities.
Medved: What people may not have heard about yet is your new book, “Success through Stillness: Meditation Made Simple.”
Simmons: I’m addicted to [meditation]. The first time I went, there were a lot of pretty girls in the class. I went to a yoga class. Within a couple of years, I learned to meditate. I’ve been very addicted to it. It’s a good addiction. You’re always chasing that stillness. If you’ve ever saw a sunset and everything was awake, alive, that beauty from stillness. You’re always chasing it. I got that when I came out of my first class. I was so high – I had been sober for six years and I felt like, wow, this is the greatest high I’ve ever had. I was so addicted to this presence.
Medved: But this presence is really within, it’s not a larger spiritual force outside of yourself?
Simmons: People are very afraid of this idea of quiet time in schools. It’s my main goal to get kids to sit still and experience quiet time. It’s a more expansive mindset. There’s greater brain function; you’re not letting the doors between left and right side close out. All of that stuff is very helpful to kids. It’s helpful to adults. You better watch your thoughts and not react emotionally to every thought that comes to your brain. I think that’s what everyone is seeking.
Medved: Before you came on the show, we were talking about hatred in politics. Usually, it ends up that one side says, ‘Well, the other side is haters,’ and you hear this on both sides right now. You hear it on the left; you hear it on the right. The accusation is the other side hates. Does hate coexist with the kind of mediation you’re talking about?
Simmons: No. When you sit still and grow a more compassionate, sweeter spirit, that’s what’s really in you. This idea is more natural in humans than the other. And when you don’t have things covering up the heart, the heart exudes love.
Medved: You think that’s true for all people?
Simmons: I think that people innately have an interest in loving, not feeding this negative cycle of hate. They don’t really like it. It’s kind of a disease; it’s addictive. Homophobia, [is] a disease; sexism, racism, they’re all diseases.
Medved: You know there’s a lot of research in terms of primitive human beings that almost all human societies were cannibalistic. The primates we’re supposedly related to, chimpanzees in particular, are nasty beasts. They eat each other and kill each other a lot. Why do you assume human beings are different?
Simmons: That assumption comes from my own meditation and from all scripture. I’m not a religious person, but Muhammad, Buddha, Jesus Christ and the Yogi sutra, the Bodhisattva, promotes what’s inside is love. Jesus said, ‘Be still and know.’ He promoted that in the heart was goodness, that there was a piece of god in that.
Medved: But you need God, and you need some effort to extract that. Would you say that some of those deeply religious people, for instance the al Qaeda folks who had marks on their foreheads from praying five times per day – they’re very serious about prayer?
Simmons: I’m not an atheist, my brother is a preacher. Look at it this way, Jesus was not a Christian, Abraham was not a Jew, Muhammad was not a Muslim, and Buddha was not a Buddhist. The gangs started after they passed. The words, what they taught, are different from joining our gang and acting accordingly. Their words were to move toward God by whatever name.
Medved: I can’t speak to you in an informed way about what Krishna said. But in terms of the Old Testament and the New Testament, I don’t think many people would agree with you there.
Simmons: About what?
Medved: The idea that you can call God by any name.
Simmons: They may not. I do study a little religion, but what I mostly study is yogic scripture. This idea about the oneness of God, realizing this kingdom, it comes through a still mind. So if in fact one sits and the mind settles, inside what’s left is God. A piece of God. If God were the ocean, you’d be a cup of God. This is a concept of being in a union.
Medved: But getting back to this discussion of human being as basically good – James Madison, who’s known as a father of the Constitution, he was our fourth president, he said, ‘If men were angels, we would need no laws.’
Simmons: If we all meditated, we would have no wars. If all children meditated, there would be no war.
Medved: You’re a strict vegetarian – you know who was a very, very strict vegetarian?
Simmons: Hitler. I’m a vegan. I’m an animal rights activist. This domain over the animals doesn’t mean chopping up 40 billion animals per year, cause them to destroy the environment and waste all the resources, and give us cancer. That was not the plan.
Medved: Do you believe a vegan diet and mediation actually help to promote world peace?
Medved: You made a statement when we were getting ready to talk, you said on politics, you’re to the left of Dennis Kucinich, which makes you well left of Barack Obama. Who would you like to see as our next president?
Simmons: Dennis, I guess. I’m going to end up supporting Hillary [Clinton], she’s a buddy. I’ve been a friend of the Clintons for many years. It was tough picking Barack over her.
Medved: Who are some of the many Republicans you’ve supported?
Simmons: Only Michael Steele once. When he became the GOP leader, he became a caricature a bit. I liked his stance on the prison industrial complex. He understood that the prison industrial complex has ruined the fabric of the African American community when you have 94.5 percent of the people in jail for drug use.
Medved: You know who’s been talking about that a bit, Sen. Rand Paul. Do you like Rand Paul?
Simmons: Yeah, absolutely. We have to have a politics discussion. I feel like you don’t like my politics.
Medved: I don’t dislike politics I don’t agree with.
Simmons: You should work for Fox News; you should sit there where [Sean] Hannity sits or the other angry birds.
Medved: [laughs] I’m not angry though, that’s the problem.
Simmons: I think it’s good though. You give a good interview. People listen.
Seattle's desire to make housing more affordable could backfire on property ownersMay 26, 2015It could become more of a hassle to be a rental-property owner in Seattle if two pieces of legislation are approved.
Hey, police, don't let Seattle become LAMay 21, 2015Crime in Seattle's south precinct is down by 25 percent compared to this time last year.
Insecure parents and Ivy League degreesMay 18, 2015Michael Medved says blue-chip degrees for your children can offer reassurance that you've done something right.
Is Ted Cruz authentically Cuban?May 13, 2015David Boze gets the sense that Mark Halperin is trying to prove something about the validness of Ted Cruz's background.
No basis for 'third party' envyMay 11, 2015Many Americans watched recent elections in Britain with envy because so many parties competed for power.
Former teacher says job is tough, but not enough to walk outMay 8, 2015Teachers have it tough, but they shouldn't walk out on the job, according to one former teacher.
Seattle, port in 'giant political game'May 7, 2015Mayor Ed Murray will use the power of the city to give Shell a chance for a 'pause.'
Racism defined four different ways at KTTH Freedom DebateMay 4, 2015How can America have a conversation about racism when some of our best and brightest can't agree on its definition?
Rare criticism for ObamaApril 30, 2015Former President George W. Bush has offered some rare criticism for President Obama
Clinton quid pro quoApril 27, 2015A deal enabled Russia to purchase about 20% of the U.S. uranium supply for the possible quid pro quo of Clinton Foundation donations.
The scary reasons students would vote for HillaryApril 23, 2015Hillary Clinton appears to have the student vote at the University of Washington sewn up for one reason.
Michael Medved discusses recovery from throat cancerApril 20, 2015Michael Medved is improving and eager to return to the airwaves, as he told 770 AM KTTH's Greg Tomlin.
$70K minimum salaryMay 8, 2015Dan Price gave all his employees a base salary of $70K, but David Boze questions who will benefit
Typo is the most honest thing in Hillary Clinton's campaign announcementApril 16, 2015Hillary Clinton's announcement video was preceded by an email from her staff with a press release that included a typo.
Michael Medved: It's all the well-wishes that keep me goingApril 13, 2015Michael Medved says he's working very hard, and is ahead of schedule, at recovering from his battle with throat cancer.
Rand's brandApril 10, 2015Rand Paul has declared he's running for president. The only surprising thing about the announcement was that he was considerably late delivering it.
Protesters of Shell Oil must support unemploymentApril 8, 2015David Boze says the oil will be utilized, no matter how many grannies show up to protest it.
Let politicians dump money into bus ads, reduce taxesApril 6, 2015King County Metro will not let a Seattle City Council member pay for an advertisement that would generate $10,000 in revenue.
They're not the sameApril 3, 2015David Boze says it's wrong to say there's no difference between Republicans and Democrats.
David Boze: Seattle mayor is reading Indiana law all wrongApril 1, 2015David Boze says Seattle Mayor Ed Murray hasn't looked at what the Indiana discrimination law actually says.
KTTH gun rights debate
Video: Gun rights debate In KTTH’s third Freedom Series Debate, hosts Ben Shapiro and Michael Medved sat down with KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross and Ralph Fascitelli, President of Washington Ceasefire, to take on initiatives 594 and 591 and other gun rights issues.
KTTH religious freedom debate
Video: Religious freedom debate Watch the debate between Ben Shapiro, James Wellman, Valerie Tarico, Rev. Monica Corsaro, and Michael Medved.
KTTH Debate Video
Video: Minimum wage debate Watch the debate between host Ben Shapiro and Socialist Seattle Councilwoman Kshama Sawant.
Real Estate Corner
Robin's Real Estate Reality Talk We are in a very unique market. Right now our area is showing signs of recovery. We are moving in a positive direction and gaining equity though are ways off from where we were in 2006 and 2007.