Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Ethics of Huna

From time to time I am asked about the ethical side of Huna because at first glance the Principles seem to be amoral. That is, it bothers some people because there do not seem to be any clear guidelines for behavior, no shoulds or oughts. However, as is appropriate for "hidden knowledge," the ethics are implicit in the Principles. If you use them logically, you can't help but be ethical. Let's examine them one by one, in that light.

If you accept that the world is what you think it is, consciously and subconsciously, then it only makes sense to work on changing your beliefs for the better in order to have a better life. After all, we are really talking about your subjective experience of the world, not some imagined objective world. Like it or not, subjective reality is all you're going to get. A fascinating implication of this is that your subjective experience itself will tell you clearly how well you are doing in the thinking department. Life will be good to the degree that your thinking is good. You can't hide from your beliefs.

If there are no limits, then the universe is infinite. Some scientists like to speculate about multiple universes and even multiple infinities, but they are just playing with words. "Universe" means the whole thing, and "infinite" means, well, infinite. The idea of an infinite universe implies that all of it is everywhere and everywhen, which implies that every part of it is infinite. And that implies that you are, too. Which finally implies that you are always encountering yourself, in some guise or another. So it makes sense to be kind to your neighbor, because your neighbor is yourself.

To say that energy flows where attention goes implies that the effect of sustained attention, conscious or subconscious, is to give power to the object of attention. Dwell on sickness and sickness will increase in your life; dwell on happiness and you will have more of it; focus on lack and the lack will be more evident; focus on abundance and abundance will abound. Of course, if your focus is mixed, you will get mixed results. It doesn't take a lot of smarts to figure out that it pays to pay attention to your attention.

If now really is the moment of power, then every moment is an opportunity to change your life for the better, which is what everyone is trying to do anyway. In any moment unfettered by past or future considerations change can happen instantaneously. The most interesting thing about that is that when the mind or the body have such an opportunity they automatically move toward peace and happiness, as if ethics were already built in.

If you define love as the behavior of being happy with someone or something, then increasing your loving is a practical thing to do, if you want to be happy. The ancient wise ones who developed these ideas noted the curious fact that happiness increases as happiness increases, meaning that you have to spread it around to keep it going. This kind of happiness does not imply a giddy, carefree, positive band-aid kind of happiness. The word "aloha," love, from which the principle is derived, also includes the concepts of mercy, compassion, grace, charity, and all of the other good things that come under the name of love (it does not include any of the bad things). As you practice love, you increase love and happiness for all concerned.

If all power comes from within, an idea that logically follows from the second principle, then everything has the same source of power. The difference lies in the manner and skill with which it is applied. However, there is an aspect of power that is frequently overlooked. Power is the ability to use power to empower. Hydroelectric power comes from the power of falling water to empower machines to generate electricity. Political power comes from the power of a society to empower individuals to give orders or pass legislation. Power has no single beginning or ending or source. It keeps changing focus. As more people become aware of their power to empower, they will naturally give it more careful consideration.

If effectiveness is used as the measure of truth, which is often the case in our daily lives in some areas and not in others, then the feedback from our experience will easily guide us toward more effective behavior. This idea is based on a Hawaiian word, "pono," a concept of goodness, rightness, or appropriateness. As used in the ancient culture it meant the greatest good for the greatest number, not as defined by some arbitrary rules, but by the actual experience of success, prosperity, health and happiness. In this sense, then, the truth of your actions will be demonstrated by the results as they are experienced by all involved.

In the history of ethics, according to Funk and Wagnalls Encyclopedia, "there are three principal standards of conduct, each of which has been proposed as the highest good: happiness or pleasure; duty, virtue, or obligation; and perfection, the fullest harmonious development of human potential." The ethics of Huna include all three.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Beware The Mad Scientist

The first caveperson who discovered how to create fire at will (it could very well have been a woman) was probably chased out of the cave for daring to meddle with the perogatives of the gods. Something like that no doubt gave rise to stories like the Greek tale of Prometheus who suffered eternal torture for having dared to give the secret of fire to humanity. Continuing with our caveperson scenario, once the practical value of self-made fire overcame the fear of trespassing on sacred ground, later cavepeople probably deplored its invention because fire which cooked food could also be used to burn property and people.

It's possible to see a related pattern throughout human history: invention, peaceful use, destructive use, though not necessarily in that order. Spears were invented, used to hunt food, and also turned against other humans. Gunpowder was invented and used for fireworks, and also for bombs and guns. Cars were invented, used for transportation, and also for tanks. Planes were invented, used for thrills and communication, and also for fighters and bombers.

Some things are designed for a good purpose and then a few people learn how to use them destructively. A knife can cut up food or kill people, a hammer can drive nails or kill people, television can be used to entertain and inform or manipulate. Other things can start out with destructive intent and can then be used to help and heal, like lasers, atomic power and submarines.

Any discovery or invention can stimulate fear in some part of the population, either fear of potential misuse or fear of transgressing unseen boundaries. Even the most innocuous discoveries and inventions can produce this reaction. The first popular automobiles used a hand crank to start the engine. When a starter button was introduced many people refused to touch it because they thought that only the devil would think of making it so easy to start an engine. Once I owned a bookstore and I had set up a large framework pyramid in one section. I remember a man who came in and asked me if it were from the devil. I said no, it was eight pieces of copper pipe from the home improvement store down the street. It seemed to make him feel better. When computers were invented some people thought they would end up ruling the world (the judgement call is still out on this one).

Unfortunately, the fear-based resistance to new discoveries and inventions is all too often justified. Countless lives have been lost or harmed and immense amounts of property have been damaged and destroyed by their misuse. The problem does not lie entirely with the discoveries and inventions themselves. I say "not entirely" because a fair number of discoveries and inventions are improvements to things that are already dangerous. Weapons sitting idle may not kill people, but it only takes common sense to see that fewer people would be killed if the weapons weren't there in the first place. The main problem, however, lies with those who misuse discoveries and inventions, intentionally or not. In modern society, beginning in the nineteenth century, discoveries and inventions have been primarily associated with a class of people we call scientists. While scientists as a whole have a pretty good reputation, everyone knows that the most dangerous kind of human being is a mad scientist.

The classic mad scientist is the fictional Dr. Frankenstein, who created a monster with dead body parts and electricity. He had good intentions, but his ignorance was greater than his knowledge and disaster happened. Since then fiction stories have helped to create the popular conception of a mad scientist who either plays with forces beyond his understanding, with destructive results, or is willing to destroy the world in order to control it. I can't think of any real life mad scientists of the second type, but there certainly have been some, and may still be some around, of the first type. To be fair, some of those mad scientists may be engineers, who might or might not consider themselves to be scientists. Regardless, sometimes the results of their discoveries and inventions seem like the work of madmen: nuclear weapons capable of destroying all life on earth; nuclear and other toxic waste capable of making large areas of the earth uninhabitable; poison gas, land mines, artificially produced infectious diseases. It takes madmen to produce those, much less use them.

Recently the announcement was made that a virtually complete map of the human genome, the entire genetic make-up of a human being, has been mapped. There are those who are very excited, with good reason, and there are those who are frightened, with good reason.

The mapping itself, made possible with the use of supercomputers and peripherals, is a tremendous achievement in terms of human motivation, ingenuity and determination. The beneficial potentials are likewise tremendous: curing of diseases, enhancement of physical attributes, targeted drugs, and lots more money for scientists, investors, pharmaceutical companies and lawyers. The destructive potentials, for those who care to think about them, are also tremendous: intentional or accidental inducement of disease, enhancement of an elite, employment and social discrimination based on genes, monopolistic business practices, a bottomless well of legal issues and suits, and unscrupulous experimentation.
The vice president and general counsel at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California, Thomas E. Jurgensen, said in an interview after the announcement of the mapping, "There is an ability to abuse it. I am not saying that people will abuse it, per se," he said. "It may not be malicious intent; it may just be blind ignorance."

Virginia Postrel, editor of Reason magazine, has expressed a sort of scientific positive thinking viewpoint: By pursuing dangerous technologies we develop their antidotes.
I'd like to express a sort of shamanic positive thinking viewpoint. Because the potential for good uses of the human genome mapping project is so great we must not let fear of the possible misuses get in the way of those good uses. The only way to do that, of course, is to act in some effective way to help guide the process. Fortunately, in the shamanic view, we are not limited to writing, protesting, and fighting. Since we can work in more than three dimensions, it might be useful to set up a resort in the inner world and invite scientific spirits to training sessions in love, compassion, and respect for life. After all, what makes a mad scientist mad is his or her deep sense of separation from the living universe.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Time Warp

There is a popular conception in the New Age community that time is actually speeding up in some way and that's why the whole world seems to be in a rush and some people are freaking out. There is also a popular perception in the Mainstream community that life is getting more intense and stressful and some people are getting ill or going crazy because of it. In both communities there are people who long for for simplicity, meaning more time to relax and enjoy life. So what's really going on and what can be done about it?

As a young boy I lived in the residential area of a big city. My equivalent of a computer and TV was comic books and movies, but I still spent a lot of time outdoors playing with friends. I went through several illnesses that I now know were related to stress, but it was internal stress, not external. Life had a pretty easy pace. I went to school, took piano lessons that I hated because the teacher rapped my fingers when I played a wrong note, played with my friends after school, had dinner and went to bed. On the weekends I mostly played also, except for the few chores I had to do. In the summer I played a lot, and as I grew older I found or created jobs to earn a little money to buy candy with. Life was pretty easy, pretty simple.

As a teenager I lived on a farm in conditions that were as simple as those in a third world country. We were short on money, food and clothing, and I often held two or three jobs at a time, but there still seemed to be a lot of time for fun and games and socializing. I could hardly call high school stressful because I hardly did anything there, although there were the normal emotional stresses of teenage life. College was stressful because I had to work my way through, but there was still plenty of time to play. The Marine Corps was stressful because of its very nature, but I still had a lot of time for myself and I don't ever recall feeling overwhelmed by life itself.

In fact, I never had that feeling all through the rest of college, or through marriage and raising children, or through seven years in Africa, or through the whole decade of the seventies and most of the way through the eighties. There were tough times, sure, but there was always time for travel, for having breakfast on the beach, for taking long walks through the woods, for visiting with friends. In spite of commuting from Kauai to the Mainland practically every weekend for several years I really don't recall any sense of life pressure until the nineties.

So what was different then? Was the Earth passing through some kind of Cosmic Energy Field that speeded up all our frequencies? Or was television, pollution and the threat of nuclear annihilation causing a breakdown of our minds and bodies? This was worth thinking about, because gradually I found myself working more and more and playing less and less.

So I started thinking about it, and while I was thinking about it a memory popped up that led me to a theory. The memory was of a trip I took with my family across the US from Michigan to California shortly after we returned from Africa for the last time. During the trip we parked our VW van beside a country store in Idaho so that Gloria (my wife) could hop in and get some aluminum foil. We both expected that to take about ten minutes at the most. A half hour later I was worried enough to leave the kids in the van and go looking for her. We didn't have enough money to buy more than aluminum foil, so I knew she wasn't just shopping. When I went into the store I found her standing in front of the shelves where aluminum foil was displayed. She looked like she was in a daze, or a hypnotic trance. 

On the shelves was more aluminum foil than we had seen in all our seven years overseas. There was foil of different lengths, different widths, different thicknesses, different patterns and different brands. In Dakar, our last post, we would have been lucky to find one box on one shelf. Gloria had been stunned into immobility by the stress of choice. I shook her out of her trance, grabbed a box at random, and got her out of there.

Since the beginning of the nineties the choices we have available for almost everything have increased astoundingly. Technology has played a large part in this excess of possibilities. Where once you could only choose between an IBM AT or an IBM XT, you now have to decide on the processor speed (366MHZ, 400MHZ, 600MHZ, 800MHZ....), the video card, the modem, the graphics card, the monitor, the peripherals, the operating system, the color, a laptop or a desktop model, and the software. Where once your choice of television channels consisted of ABC, CBS, NBC and a few local stations, you can now have your pick of way more than a hundred channels from all over the world. Where you used to get a few letters every weekday you can now get email every hour of every day seven days a week. Where once you went to the local theatre to see a movie on the weekend, some cities now provide you with half a dozen multiplex cinemas within a block or two of each other, some with twenty-four movies to choose from.

But technology alone isn't the reason we are inundated with choices. Does the following dialogue sound at all familiar?
"Would you like something to drink before your meal? We have six kinds of soft drinks, four kinds of sparkling water (of course you can have plain water, with or without ice, and your choice of lemon, lime or without), eight kinds of beer, including three on draft, fifty different wines, by the bottle or by the glass, and, of course, a wide variety of mixed drinks, with or without alcohol."

"Would you like a salad with your meal? You can have a green salad, a mixed salad, a tomato and cheese salad, Caesar's salad (with or without anchovies), and on any of those you can add chicken or fish."

"What kind of dressing would you like? We have ranch, thousand island, French, creamy Italian, blue cheese, papaya seed, honey mustard, oil and vinegar (regular, rice or balsamic), or our special house dressing. Would you like the dressing on the salad or on the side? Would you like pepper on your salad?"

It would be easy to produce hundreds of examples of the choices we have in our lives today, but since time does not expand to fit the choices available I've had to restrict my examples to a few. However, that brings us to a currently popular "solution" to finding enough time to do all that we can do. It's called "multi-tasking." That's a computer term that refers to the possibility of having several programs open and operating at the same time on your computer. It is also a term that is being increasingly applied to human behavior.

"Multi-tasking" simply means to do more than one thing at once, which is not anything new in and of itself. Like most people who have a car I can drive, listen to the radio, and carry on a conversation at the same time. Now a lot of people are adding a cell phone to the mix. plus a device that shows and tells them how to get to where they are going. And I read recently that one car company at least is going to offer web access next year. Like a lot of people, I have used the bathroom as a library ever since I can remember. Lately, it's the only place I can get my extra reading done, and I know some people who equip it with bookshelves, a clock, a CD player, a telephone, and they also bring in their laptop. 

Vacuum cleaners have radios, toasters tell time, wristwatches do so many things that their function as a clock is almost forgotten, and my grandchildren are involved in a computer role-playing game which allows them to become eight different characters at once.

I think that the sense of time speeding up that so many of us feel has more to do with the sheer number of choices that face us constantly than with anything else. At any given moment nowadays, when things are slow, I can easily have twenty-five different things clamoring for my attention. Other than developing the skill to multi-task more and more of them, is there any other solution that can help? Well, I've thought about this, too, but all I can tell you is what works for me.

My solution doesn't reduce the number of choices. That's an easy one, by the way. All you have to do is to go live somewhere like the African bush where the choices are few and far between. But I like all my toys, and I like to write, and I like to heal, and I like to teach, and I like to design and manage websites, and I like to play and I like to do nearly all the things I do, so escaping from choices is not a choice I'll make. No, my solution is to choose consciously and willingly. You'll notice that I did not say wisely or carefully. That's because I have no idea what the effects of my choices will be until they happen, in which case I have the opportunity to make more choices.

To choose consciously and willingly is to choose without resisting the necessity of making a choice, and without regretting the choices not made. How do I know what choices to make? Like anyone else, I use a combination of logic, intuition and feeling. How do I avoid making wrong choices? For me that's not an issue, since I do not believe wrong choices are possible. I do believe that we may not like the results of our choices, but that's part of the feedback system that we call life and we can always make another choice within the constraints of those results. Instead of blaming results on the choices I make, I operate with the idea that results are the effect of more factors than we can possibly calculate. 

Of course, the feedback of life can teach us that some choices are more likely to lead to good results than others, but that's like saying that some roads are more likely to take you to your destination than others. Choosing one road over another doesn't guarantee an uneventful journey, however. 

So, as much as I can, I make all my choices with full awareness that they are my choices, and with full willingness to deal with whatever the results are and to make more choices as necessary. What this does is to reduce the stress of making choices to a tremendous degree.

Hey, it works for me. Maybe it'll work for you.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

One Hand Clapping

There is a famous Zen koan (philosophical riddle) which asks, "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" The student of Zen is supposed to meditate on this riddle until some degree of insight or enlightenment occurs. The tricky part is that there is no right answer. What you are, or what you know, or what you believe, is what you get.

Although no longer an active student of Zen, I was recently meditating of the riddle of one hand clapping when I got an answer that might be useful to share.

The sound of one hand clapping is the same as the sound of two hands clapping.

How could that be, you ask (for the sake of this article I am assuming that you do ask)? It's simple, I reply. The concept of clapping implies that a sound is being produced by two surfaces coming into contact, even if only one of them is actually moving. No sound, no clapping; no second surface, no sound. Yet, the riddle definitely states that there is a sound and that there is clapping. Therefore, my answer follows logically. Yes, I know, the answer to a koan is supposed to be beyond logic, but rest assured that the answer came intuitively. The logic came after.

Before you dismiss this as simply a bit of cleverness or a waste of time, let me tell you about the rest of the meditation. After the revelation that the sound of one hand clapping must be the same as the sound of two hands clapping, it struck me that this was a nice metaphor for two of the corollaries of the Second Principle of Huna. The basic principle states that there are no limits, which implies that everything is in a relationship to everything else. And that implies that if you change one side of a relationship you change both sides. Even if only one hand changes its position relative to another, unmoving hand , a clapping sound will be produced. We don't have to wait for both sides of a relationship to participate before bringing about beneficial change. Change one side of that relationship and the other side has to change because the relationship has changed.

We use this idea a lot in teaching Huna. For instance, in third-level healing work where we assume that everything is a dream and everything is dreaming, we say that if you change one dream you automatically change all related dreams. So you can go to an imaginary garden and make changes to symbols of your life experience, and your life experience will change. In second-level healing work where we assume that everything is telepathically linked, we say that if you begin to silently bless and forgive people with whom you are having difficulties, they will know it and they will begin to change their behavior toward you without a word being spoken. And in first level healing, where we assume that everything is separate but potentially interactive, we teach that if you smile and hug a lot you will tend to get a lot more smiles and hugs back, even from people who don't normally smile or hug.

Now what do you think would happen if you applied this idea to the whole of your life?
In a strained personal relationship, for example, instead of waiting for the other person to make the first move toward reconciliation you could start the process in your own mind, either by purposely creating a better opinion of the other person, or by imagining the two of you getting along with all of your differences. Sorry, you can't control with your imagination what the other person thinks or does (it simply doesn't work), but you can use imagined persuasion just as you might in a face to face meeting. As in any form of persuasion, however, the more your persuasion is based on a benefit to the other person, the more successful it is likely to be.

In a strained global relationship, assuming our theory is valid (which means workable). we might be able to get together even in a smallish group and and rethink (or re-dream) our relationship with one or both countries involved. Theoretically, of course, it ought to take only one person to make a change. On the other hand, the change of one person's relationship to a country might only produce a very small change, so the more people the better. The thing to remember, in this context, is that you are trying to change how you think or feel about the country, not trying to change the country. It's a subtle but important difference, and it applies to people as well as countries.

If this idea catches on we can introduce a Huna koan (the actual Hawaiian phrase is "nane huna," a hidden riddle or conundrum): "What is the sound of one person loving?"

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

When Does Childhood End?

When a mother bird lays eggs she sits on them until they hatch, and then she feeds the young until they are ready to fly. In some species the male feeds the female until the eggs hatch, and in others the male shares hatching duties and then feeding duties. After taking good care of them up to a certain age Momma and Poppa Bird demonstrate the art of flying and encourage the young to take off. If they don't want to take off they are kicked out of the nest.

In most mammal groups the young are protected and fed and trained until they are old enough and smart enough to feed themselves, and then they are pushed away from the mother's teat and either sent off to fend for themselves or given a place in the hierarchy of the group which allows them to have group protection in return for a contribution of skills and service to the group.

Of all the animals on earth, human beings take the longest to mature. They need to be cared for and protected and trained for many years before they are ready to fend for themselves or to help support the group. In most traditional societies this process can take as long as fourteen years. What's really odd is that in modern society this process either takes many more years than that or it never seems to end. Not only do many people not want to stop being children, many people don't want to stop being parents, either.

It's understandable why many people would not want to stop being children. They are no different than the young birds who are reluctant to leave a nice, cozy nest where all their needs are taken care of. It's tough for a bird, or a mammal, or a human to get out there and take care of itself and find a mate and raise a family. Or even just take care of itself. But humans and other animals are not fully grown until they can do that. Of course, human society provides for a lot of cooperation and a lot of help. For all their faults, human beings are the most helpful creatures on earth. The more willing a person is to help himself or herself the more help he or she will find.

At first glance it is harder to understand why someone would want to maintain control over one's children long past the time when they ought to be taking care of themselves and helping to support their society. The answer is simple, though. It's fear. That's the only reason people try to control other people. There may be many reasons for the fear, but that doesn't make the control a good thing. Such parental control only serves to stunt the growth of the children, whether the "parent" is a person or a group or a government. 

If you love someone, don't just set them free. Help them learn how to fly first.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


Let's explore the concept of territoriality in humans.

What is a territory, exactly? It seems to me that it's a pattern of boundaries imposed on something by individual decision or group agreement. That means an individual or group can decide or agree to change the pattern. The pattern itself is established by a set of rules that define the pattern, so changing the pattern is done by changing the rules. The rules are changed by changing the symbols we use to form the rules, i.e. words, images, feelings and actions. When a territory is threatened, then, we can either defend it, attack the territory of the attacker, suffer the trauma of invasion, or change the rules of the territory.

As territory we can consider physical territory (the physical body, real and personal property); social territory (family, intimates, clan, tribe, peer group, club, associations, other social, cultural or religious groupings); and psychic territory (thoughts, opinions, theories, philosophies, plans, purposes, dreams, memories, time).

It is possible to think of humans as basically territorial animals, and to think of evil as based on a violation of territory or territorial rights, and good as based on an opening up or giving up of territory or territorial rights.

Among the things we consider evil and worthy of punishment are the destruction, damaging or appropriation of life and property; the breaking up of social ties and reputations; and the theft of ideas, the breaking of rules, the attacking of ideas, the frustration of plans, the invasion of dreams, the changing of memories and the wasting of time. Interestingly, any of these are less than evil and perhaps not evil at all when done to a being not of one's own social territory. To the warrior-oriented mind, the invasion, destruction, and/or appropriation of territory belonging to another social group may even be deemed as good, since it expands the territory or territorial influence of one's own group.

Among the things we consider good, loving and worthy of reward are the giving up or allowing the use of life and property; the strengthening and extension of social connections; and respect or tolerance for psychic territory. Also the healing of territorial violations.

A curious aspect of human territoriality is how we sometimes assign human territorial concepts to certain non-human entities and not others. For instance, many humans will acknowledge the spirit of a mountain, or a glen, or an ancient structure and show respect for that spirit by asking permission to cross into what is perceived as its territory. Yet, those same humans will blithely trespass the territorial boundaries of the birds, animals, insects and plants who live in the area. The logic is something like asking the spirit of a city for permission to enter and then freely roaming through anyone's home that you care to. The point is not that we should ask every entity's permission to cross boundaries, especially if they don't think in the same terms that we do. The point is to show how arbitrary our territorial ideas are.

Another such arbitrary territorial idea comes under the heading of "personal space." Having lived in and visited many parts of the world, I can assure you that different cultures, and even different people within those cultures, may have quite different ideas of personal space. A "typical" American prefers to speak to strangers literally at arm's length. A "typical" Swiss prefers a distance of twelve to eighteen inches and a "typical" Japanese prefers about two arm's lengths, both of which may discomfort many Americans. Of course, friends in any culture are usually allowed closer within one's personal territory. If personal territory is violated too frequently it can cause severe stress.

It might be interesting to look at illness as a symptom of territorial conflict, too. Illness might be considered as a reaction to a sense of real or potential invasion or disruption of territory. The fear and/or anger resulting produce the stress that produces the illness. Healing would result when a state of territorial integrity was restored. Perhaps different things affect different people differently because their sense of territory differs, as does their sense of personal power in regard to defending or expanding it.

The different solutions to the problem of human unhappiness may be looked at in a territorial way, as well. There is the path of control, which seeks to extend influence over more and more territory (Louis XIV: "I am the State"); the path of release which seeks to give up all territory (Yoga: the master/beggar; Buddhism: beyond all desire); and the path of peace, which seeks to reduce or eliminate conflict between territories (New Age ideas: unity in diversity models, NATO, the UN).

The territorial imperative for humans seems to be to expand one's physical, social or psychic territory, and denying all territory is the same as claiming all territory. Assuming this to be so, what is your territorial imperative? What can you focus on that will stir you to your bones, fill your life with passion and purpose? Can you create that effect by your will? It would seem that you would have to if nothing stirs you on its own. 

A good direction might be to carry on and intensify something you have already begun, i.e., to make that something into your territorial imperative. To identify with it, increase it and expand it; to focus on it intensely and energize that focus with all your love, power and skill. Who knows what amazing things might result?

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Why Is There War?

People engage in war because they want to love or be loved. Although this may sound absurd at first, let's give it a closer look, because if we can understand the motivation for war then we might be able to redirect it.

The most fundamental human need is to be accepted, and the most fundamental fear is to be rejected. The old idea that survival comes first just doesn't hold up in the light of experience because it doesn't account for those who risk their lives for others, even strangers, and for those who commit suicide. And the fear of death is the fear of the ultimate rejection: by life itself.

Acceptance can be sought from oneself, one's environment (including people), or one's God, and many different strategies are used to ensure acceptance. If these strategies are pursued without fear, including fear-based anger, the result will be peace and cooperation. But as the fear of possible rejection increases, so does the tendency to seek acceptance by control or submission. Then the result is emotional repression, social suppression, and the use of violence to prove one's power or to make others accept oneself whether they want to or not.

In the case of war, the leaders who make the major decisions set standards to judge behavior by the "other side" as acceptable or unacceptable, motivated by their personal or group standards of self acceptance or acceptance from those around them. And those who obey the orders to march off to death and destruction are motivated by the desire to be accepted by doing "the right thing" or the fear of being rejected, and/or punished, for not doing it. What's so sad is that the fundamental intention is so good.

The "glory" of war lies in the experience of incredible bravery, intense companionship, demonstrations of skill, the overcoming of limitations, successfully protecting one's country or loved ones or companions, and the adulation for the winners. Yet, until we find a better way to satisfy the need for acceptance and the desire for real power, people will continue to go to war out of love.

Our great challenge, therefore, is not just to end war, but also to develop alternatives to war which still provide the benefits that only very intense experiences can generate, as well as satisfying the need for love.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Rules We Live By

Many people spend their entire lives seeking to know the laws or rules of the universe, so I've decided to save them a lot of time by giving them out now, for free. Be forewarned that this is based on a shamanic view of the universe in which everything is alive, aware and responsive.

The Universe and everything in it has three aspects: Spirit, Body, and Mind. Each of these aspects has its own rules. The better we understand these rules the easier it will be for us to grow, to heal, and to have a good time.

Spirit has one rule only: "Experience existence." That's it. No conditions, no shoulds, no limits. And no avoiding it.

The Body only has two rules: "Seek pleasure" and "Avoid pain." Since the way to do this is not always clear under all circumstances, the Body will sometimes move toward pain in order to experience some associated sensory or emotional pleasure. This would be like climbing a mountain for the pleasure of the view, working out for the energy benefit, or undergoing surgery to get well. Sometimes pleasure does not seem to be an option, in which case the Body will try to move toward the least available pain. We can see this in people who drink themselves sick to suppress emotional pain, people who stay in bad relationships for fear of having none at all, and people who commit violent suicide. Then there are those who move away from pleasure for fear of an associated pain, such as people who avoid success for fear of criticism, those who believe that pleasure is a sin punishable by God, and those who believe that pleasure makes you weak. For the most part, however, it is easy to note that all spontaneous, intuitive and subconscious behavior follows the rules of seeking pleasure and avoiding pain.

What about the Mind? Hooboy! The Mind is a rule-making fanatic. It makes rules - lots and lots of rules - about everything imaginable. It makes rules about language, rules about religion, rules about behavior, even rules about the Universe. And when it wants something badly enough, why it goes ahead and changes the rules. So we have hundreds of languages around the world, hundreds of cultures based on their own ideas of right and wrong, hundreds of ways to relate to God, hundreds of scientific theories about hundreds of subjects, hundreds of countries with their own variations on political systems, hundreds of thousands of laws governing behavior in different societies... you get the idea. Ask anyone's opinion about anything and what you will hear are the rules they live by. They may call their rules opinions, beliefs or facts, but they are only rules, some inherited, some borrowed, and some made up.

Breaking rules is tricky. Just try to break the rule of Spirit. Non-existence does not seem to be an option. And when you try to break the rules of the Body you usually get severe and immediate physical or emotional consequences. The Body wants its pleasure and fears all pain, so woe to the Mind that tries to alter its natural inclinations without good reason.

There are consequences to breaking the rules of the Mind, but they depend on which rules are involved and who else is involved with them. You can break a legal law with impunity if no one else is around, unless you confuse legality with morality (they do coincide, occasionally). If you break a moral law, one that you've accepted as your own, when no one else is around, you'll probably punish yourself. You can break the rules of language, but you risk being misunderstood. You can break the rules of science any time you want, as long as you are not seeking a grant, but some things may not work the way you want them to. You can break the social rules of your group, if you don't mind being cast out.

I don't recommend breaking rules. I recommend using the rules of Spirit and the Body, and playing creatively with the rules and rule-making talent of the Mind. With rules of the Mind it's much easier to make different rules than to try and break old ones. Rules that are not used any longer just fade away. You can make up any rules you want about anything you want (I'm not giving you permission; this is just something anyone can do). You can make different rules about how you think and how you feel, and what is possible, and what you can do, and about what the past means and what the future will bring. The rules you use affect your behavior and your experience. Change your rules and your life will change. Maybe it's time to examine the rules you live by, and to create some new ones.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

A Friendly Kind Of Love

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."

This statement of Jesus from John 15 has become so familiar that it's easy to miss what's really being said. In context it is saying that there is no greater kind of love than friendship. Not brotherly, or sisterly, or parental or devotional or altruistic love. Friendship tops them all. The rest of the chapter contains equally important and related statements that are seldom quoted. Here's the whole thing:

"This is my commandment, that ye love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends ... Henceforth I call you not servants, for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard of my father I have made known unto you."

This is a relationship of equals, the highest form of love that Jesus can offer his disciples. It is also worth noting that at other times when Jesus greets someone, even Judas, it is as "Friend." Never as Brother or Sister, for instance. As a matter of fact, Proverbs 17:17 says "A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity." Of course, if a brother is also a friend, that changes everything.

A couple of other things worth noting from the Bible: Exodus 33:11 says "And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend." And in the Book of James it says that Abraham was called the "Friend of God." Obviously this term was used on purpose to convey a very high kind of mutual love.

In modern times a psychological study of happiness showed that it was mostly attained by people with at least one close relationship and a circle of supporting friends. An apparent anomaly in the study was that soap opera buffs tended to rank higher in happiness than non-buffs, and it has been suggested that the buffs think of the actors as their friends. The friends don't have to be people, either. Other studies show that people with pets as friends tend to be not only happier, but healthier, too.

Is there a difference between friendship and love? Apparently not. In Middle English the word "friend" means "lover," and it stems from a word in Old Gothic meaning "to love." If anything, it implies a deeper kind of love, one that goes beyond obligation.

Hawaiians had many terms for "friend" that signified varying degrees and types of friendship. Hoaloha (beloved companion), for example, is a general term for friend. Makamaka (face to face) is a friend with whom you share freely. Aikane (probably "dependable") is a close, personal friend of the same sex. Pilialoha (sticky love) is a romantic friend. And here's a great one: 'au ko'i (axe handle), a trusted friend.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said "The only way to have a friend is to be one." But many people have trouble making friends because they don't know how to be one. So here is a set of guidelines to help you remember:

F = Freedom (give up control)
R = Respect (respect your differences)
I = Interest (take an interest in your friend's interests)
E = Equality (treat your friend like an equal)
N = Nurture (nurture your friend's best qualities)
D = Devotion (be loyal and helpful whenever, wherever, and for as long as you can)

These aren't new ideas. You can find all of them in the sayings of many well-known people.
Here are some of my favorite quotes on friendship.

Let's start with a couple by that famous author, Anonymous:

"Don't walk in front of me. I may not follow. Don't walk behind me. I may not lead. Walk beside me. Just be my friend" and, "You know you have found a friend when you walk in their house and your WiFi connects automatically."

Writer Elbert Hubbard said, "A friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you."

Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said, "It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages."

Artist Linda Grayson said, "There is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate."

A.A. Milne, author of Winnie-the-Pooh, wrote "You can't stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes."

Poet and Cartoonist Shel Silverstein wrote this little poem:
"How many slams in an old screen door?
Depends how loud you shut it.
How many slices in a bread?
Depends how thin you cut it.
How much good inside a day?
Depends how good you live 'em.
How much love inside a friend?
Depends how much you give 'em."

French author of The Three Musketeers Alexander Dumas said, "Friendship consists in forgetting what one gives and remembering what one receives."

The Greek historian Plutarch said, "I don't need a friend who changes when I change and who nods when I nod; my shadow does that much better."

Celebrity Oprah Winfrey said, "Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down."

Another good one by Friedrich Nietzsche: "Love is blind; friendship closes its eyes."

Writer Jess C. Scott said, "Friends are the family you choose."

Self Help author Dale Carnegie said, "You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you."

And I'll close this list with a simple, but powerful Hawaiian proverb about friendship:
"Pili kau, pili ho'oilo - Together in the dry season, together in the wet season"

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Getting Centered

Although they use different terms for the concept, many religions and philosophies emphasize the high importance of "being centered." They may tell you in their own language to be centered in God, in Love, in Spirit, in Service, in Your Heart, in Beauty, in The Present Moment, or in the space two inches below your navel (which goes by many names in Eastern traditions). There's no doubt that it's a great idea to be there. I want to talk about how to get there.

Naturally, I'm going to call upon Hawaiian tradition for help. The Hawaiian "place" for being centered is the piko , the navel, which also means a "center." One of the names for Easter Island is "The Navel of the World". Quite a number of ancient cities or areas have used that or a similar name for themselves, and that gives us a clue to a deeper meaning. In this respect it refers to "that point from which, toward which, and around which everything else moves." Literally and figuratively, the navel represents our connection to the source of life. Symbolically then, the navel is a direct conduit to the source itself, and to be centered in the navel is to be centered in the source.

In case you are starting to wonder whether this is a promotion for meditating on one's navel, rest assured that it isn't. Navel meditation is a good technique for certain things, but my point is leading elsewhere. In Hawaiian culture the navel area is also the center for the "heart, mind, and feelings" because these are alternate meanings for the word na'au , "intestines." Another word, mana'o , relates to thought, mind, belief and opinion, but in addition to expectation, concentration and memory. Hawaiians recognized intellectual thought as being something quite different and devoid of feelings. Manawa , the key word for the Huna principle "Now is the moment of power," also means "heart, feelings, affections" in addition to "the crown of the head." To confuse you a little further before I make sense of all this, the word piko can be used for the crown of the head and the genitals, as well as the navel. Have patience, the point will be made.

It seems reasonable to suppose that in order to be centered you have to know what centeredness is like. Surprisingly, very little is written or said about the experience itself. The terms "bliss" and "oneness" have been used a lot, but they don't really convey anything to someone who has never been there. It's like trying to describe your trip though the Sahara Desert to friends and family back in your home town who have never traveled outside of their own area. First they try to look interested, then they go blank, and finally, as soon as they can, they start to fill you in on the local gossip. In order to want to be somewhere, there has to be something there that you would consider worthwhile, something you can relate to as a good thing.

So here is my description of what centeredness is like. I can do this because I've been there, and I'm still working on the skills to get back there more often. Anyway, one characteristic of centeredness is peacefulness. When you are centered you feel peaceful. You have no conflicts causing stress, your mind is clear, and your body is relaxed in a way that really feels good. Another characteristic is a feeling of loving connectedness. You feel loved and you feel like loving everyone and everything around you. Fear ceases to be. A third characteristic is confidence. You feel able to do what you want and able to handle any circumstances that may arise. It's a very creative feeling where anger and frustration are non-existent. The last characteristic in my description is harmony. You feel like a significant part of everything that was, is and will be. All sense of insignificance, alienation, and being out of touch with life is gone.

Sounds great, right? Sure. Sounds impossible for most people, huh? It might sound that way, but it isn't. Anyone can do it, but that doesn't mean it's easy to do. If it were easy I wouldn't be writing about it, partly to help you and partly to help myself. If it were easy we'd all be there right now. But it's do-able.

What I'm about to give you is a way to get there. It isn't so much a technique as it is a certain kind of behavior to practice. What I'm giving you won't lock you into centeredness (I don't know if that's possible or even desirable), but it will help you get back to center when you've strayed away. The objective here is to get closer to centeredness each time you try. It isn't a promise that you'll experience the whole thing on the first try. If this can help you get a little more centered than you are - a little more peaceful, a little more loving, a little more confident, a little more in harmony - then that's a good thing, especially if you can keep getting a little closer every day.

Remember all the Hawaiian stuff above? It leads to the idea that feelings, or emotions, are the meeting place of mind and body. They are the means by which your mind and body communicate, with each other and with the world. Feelings are your feedback. The better you feel the more centered you are. So the practice is one of doing something that will make you feel better, without a lot of effort, something specific. All you have to do is to practice giving, the kind expressed in the Hawaiian word manawale'a. It means "to give freely and willingly' and a root translation would be "glad heart."

What do you give? Anything you want, as long as it's done consciously, freely and willingly. But you don't have to be limited to material things. And it's not a question of giving anything away. It's about giving gifts. Here are some ideas of what you can give: acknowledgement, attention, appreciation, gratitude, prayers, wishes, encouragement, support, presents, and healing or helpful thoughts and acts. You can give to other people, to anything in your environment, to anything or anyone you know of, to God or the Universe, and to your own body, mind and spirit. 

The objective is to give as much as you can as often as you can, and to give with the conscious intention of giving a gift. It sounds easier than it is. At some point you are likely to experience resistance or strange sensations as the practice stirs up deep patterns of thought and behavior. But the path of giving leads to centeredness.

The state of being centered is well illustrated in this Hawaiian proverb that refers to a person who can remain calm in the face of difficulty:

He po'i na kai uli, kai ko'o, 'a'ohe hina puko'a 
Though the sea be deep and rough, the coral rock remains standing

Monday, October 19, 2015

A Lateral Perspective

Some time ago I received a letter from a man asking for weapons to use in his battle against sorrow, pain, anger and fear. Since I approach everything from an Aloha point of view as much as possible, I gave him this answer:

"Let's sideslip into some lateral thinking and take a different perspective on this. As an alternative to dealing with sorrow, pain, anger and fear as enemies, you can treat them as behaviors based on assumptions held by people, rather than personified things that you have to fight. You aren't really going to encounter any sorrow, pain, anger or fear. You will encounter sorrowful, angry, and fearful people as well as people in pain. Then what you need are tools to help you deal with such people, or tools to help them change.

Going further out on our lateral limb, let's divide all human responses into passive and active modes of love and fear. Then we could say that the passive and active modes of love are peace and play, and that their fear-based counterparts are flight and fight. Flight responses involve passive resistance to change (personal, social, environmental) and often manifest as pain, sorrow, depression, etc. Anger, of course, is a fight response for getting rid of (destroying) an unwanted condition, especially the condition of helplessness. That's why it's so seductive. The movement, energy and changes effected give an illusion of power. But driving it is the fear of powerlessness.

The advantage of accepting these lateral assumptions is that it leads us to require only one tool to deal with all of it. We can observe that the core characteristic of a love response is confidence. Then we can extrapolate to say that as confidence increases so does love, while at the same time fear decreases, along with its two less effective responses. From that perspective, confidence is the tool that¹s needed. both for ourselves and for others. Specific techniques which serve that end are what we as healers or teachers use or create to apply that tool.

Here are two further thoughts to help you along. Firstly, confidence comes from a belief in your access to power. The more stable your source of power (or the more stable you believe it to be) the more consistently confident you will be. So techniques need to be designed to improve the access or strengthen the belief. Ke Akua Nui, the Spirit of the Universe, is a nice source to work with, but the most effective source is the one to which you attrubute the most authority or power. Secondly, remember that the tools for creating any techniques are feelings, words, images and/or movement.

Go for confidence., using any tools you know now or any that you learn, and believe without a doubt in any source for confidence that you choose. Then sorrow, pain, anger and fear will fade away without a fight."

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Decision Jitters

My mother once sent me a miniature dartboard for my desktop, complete with miniature darts. On the dartboard itself were various statements like "Work early, Work late, Do it now, do it tomorrow, take a vacation, etc. It was designed to help a busy executive make decisions. I got very good at hitting "Take a vacation" whenever I wanted to, so it really didn't help much. Still, wouldn't it be nice if there were some absolutely sure way to make the right decision all the time? I mean something better than tossing a coin, doing a chart, spinning a dial or throwing a dart. Whoever could come up with something like that could get very rich very quickly.

However, I'm not holding my breath. The problem is that we never have enough information to make a guaranteed right decision every time we need to. We usually end up after the fact either patting ourselves on the back for having made the right decision when things turn out well, or condemning ourselves for having made the wrong decision when things don't turn out well. The silly part of this is that the decisions themselves were totally unrelated to the way things turned out.

Let's take a closer look at that. If something turns out well, and you congratulate yourself on having made the right decision that led to it, then you are also assuming that events are predestined. Many people do assume that making a decision about the future is like choosing a direction at a crossroads. One road will take you to fame and fortune and the other wil take you to failure and grief. All you have to do is pick the right one. If life were that neat then all we'd need would be good road maps. And to get those, all we'd need to do would be to make exactly the same decisions that people made who have already reached fame and fortune. After all, that's how real road maps are made. Follow the same route that other people have taken and you'll get to where you want to go. So why hasn't it been done? Where are the roadmaps to fame and fortune, health and fitness, love and happiness, spirituality and mystical union? If all you have to do is make the right decisions, why is there such confusion and so many different--very different--maps?

Well, I'll tell you. It's because moving into the future is not like traveling over the land, where everything pretty much stays in the same place. It's more like traveling over the ocean, where everything is changing all the time. The more knowledge you have and the more skillful you are, the more often you are likely to be successful. But there can be no guarantee that the next trip will be the same, even though you make all the "right" decisions you made before. There are just too many unknowns, too many variables, too many possibilities. If the future weren't like that we'd have better weather forecasts, no one would bother to bet on races, and everyone would get rich in the stock market.

So what can you do when faced with an important decision? The first thing you can do, if you want any possibility of a good result, is to give up being afraid to make the decision because you might not get what you want. If you are unwilling to take any risk whatsoever, you might as well lay down and die right now (but then how do you know if that would be a good decision?) And how would you know if not making a decision would be a good decision?).

The second thing you can do is to be prepared to modify your decision whenever that seems to be a good idea. To go back to the marine analogy, you might start your voyage under full sail, but if the weather changes it might be wise to modify your sails as well.

The third thing you can do is to increase your knowledge and skill as much as you can, while not expecting to be all-wise or perfect. By the time you know everything there is to know and are so skilled you will never be in error, any reason for making the decision will have long gone away.

The fourth, and perhaps most important, thing you can do comes after you make the decision. It is to keep your mind on what you want, and not on what you don't want. I would venture to say that out of all the things we have any control over (and they are few, indeed), this is the one that has the most influence over how well something turns out. The decision to set sail is over in a moment. Then comes the sailing, and that plays a far more important role in whether or not the trip is successful.

Keep your mind on the goal, and as little as possible on what's in the way. When that cannot be avoided, keep your mind on solutions, and as little as possible on the problems.

Remember, it isn't the map that gets you where you want to go; it's what you do after you read it.

Monday, September 28, 2015

How To Love

If we were to search for the "highest," most consistent cross-cultural ethical, philosophical and spiritual guideline for living, it would probably be "to love one another."Even aliens are telling us to do it or else.

It's easy to say, and it feels right, but how do we love one another in a world of lies, deceit, murder, abuse, torture, ignorance, and people who are simply exasperatingly irritating? How do we get from the words to the act without being false to our real feelings and just acting a part?

Actually, pretending to love each other is a lot better than killing each other, but we don't have to let that be our limit. We can learn to love each other to a far greater degree than we do. There is a way that works, that is simple, and that doesn't take a lot of effort. The trouble is, it usually isn't easy.

It's easy to love people who make us feel good. It's easy to love a smiling baby, children playing happily, or helpful adults. It can be very hard to love a screaming baby, destructive children, or arrogant adults. It might be nice to be able to step instantly into unconditional love, but it is more practical to think in terms of expanding our love from where it is now, maybe even by just a little bit at a time. Like the idea that a long journey begins with the first step, the road to loving one another can start with one instance of more tolerance, or one unrewarded act of kindness.

The experience of loving one another may be active or passive. Active loving is doing something for the benefit of someone else. There can be personal benefit in it, too, but for it to be called active loving the intent to benefit another must be the main reason for doing it. Many things we do out of habit or obligation could become acts of love if we would only think of who we are benefitting by doing them. Even paying bills or paying taxes could become acts if love (although that might require some effort). Inhaling could be an act of love if you do it with the thought of giving oxygen to your cells, and exhaling could be an act of love if you do it with the thought of feeding the plants of the world.

Passive loving starts with tolerance and slowly moves its way up to appreciation. The way to increase tolerance is to start eliminating some of your rules. Everyone has rules about right and wrong, good and bad, possible and impossible, etcetera and etcetera. When someone breaks one of our rules we tend to get upset and either nurse our anger, criticize the rule-breaker or commit violence against them as punishment. Sometimes all three. The rules that have this effect most often contain the words "should" or "shouldn't." I remember once getting all upset because someone in front of me drove right past a stop sign. My rule was that "you shouldn't drive past stop signs without stopping." It also happened to be a State law, but the evidence that my personal rule had been broken was that I got upset about it, even though there was no traffic and no danger. So I changed my rule to "If someone wants to take the consequences of breaking the law and they aren't endangering anyone else, that's their business." My new rule not only increased my tolerance for others, it helped reduce my stress, too. If I had wanted to leap from tolerance to appreciation, I could have admired the stop sign runner's daring (maybe the guy didn't even see the sign, but since I don't know that I can choose to think it was daring). Appreciation really takes off when we get into the habit of noticing more of the good things in people than the bad. This is without a doubt the most effective way to start, maintain, and repair a relationship.

There's a very funny thing about loving one another. It gets easier to do the more you love yourself, both actively and passively. In the commandment to "Love thy neighbor as thyself," it is assumed that you love yourself because otherwise it doesn't work. So perhaps the best way to practice loving one another is to start doing things with the thought of how they are benefitting you, to start changing your rules about your own behavior, and to start appreciating everything good about yourself. Then you'll know how to do it for others.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Rituals and Modern Society

A ritual is a well-defined sequence of words and actions designed to focus attention, establish significance, and achieve a beneficial result. 

Although some people think we have lost our sense of ritual, modern society makes use of many rituals to mark the beginning of significant events (baby showers, grand openings, ship launchings); the ending of life, or ways of life (funerals, bachelor parties, happy hours); the completion of important tasks or performances (graduation ceremonies, toasting successful negotiations, applause); the transition of one state or time period to another (birthday parties, anniversary celebrations, religious ceremonies like baptism/bar mitzvah/confirmation) and the making of connections (marriage ceremonies, church services, flirting).

There exist abundant rituals for every occasion - so why are more and more people in this modern age seeking out rituals different from what they have?

In order for a ritual to be fully effective it must fulfill four requirements:
1. It must be intellectually satisfying.
2. It must be emotionally satisfying.
3. It must have a strong beginning.
4. It must have a strong ending.

To be satisfying intellectually, every word and movement must be filled with meaning which is understood by the participants and the observers. Otherwise the event is just confusing and uninteresting. If you have to ask "Why are we (they) doing this?" the effect of the ritual is lost.

Emotional satisfaction comes from stimulating or pleasing the senses or the ego. Watching a well performed ritual is interesting, but unless you have an emotional bond with a participant (like the mother or father of a bride), just being an observer doesn't affect you much. It's like the difference between being at the Mardi Gras in New Orleans and watching it on television.

Falling somewhere between the above two points is the kind of satisfaction that comes from an event with a clearly defined beginning and ending. Part of the power of ritual derives from the fact that, in addition to relating to something significant, it is significant in itself. The more clearly a ritual is set off from all other events, the more impact it has on our psyche and our behavior.

Many of modern society's rituals have lost their satisfaction because their performance is not as effective as it used to be, and because new issues important to people are not being addressed by those traditionally looked to for meaningful rituals. The purpose of a ritual is to impress and influence people, but too many of society's standard rituals are being done for the sake of tradition or dogma or habit alone and those who are leading them are no longer impressed or influenced by them. So people are increasingly seeking out different rituals to meet their needs for significance and enjoyment. 

This is one reason why such large numbers of people are now interested in shamanism, which includes dance, song, touch, and connections with Nature, as well as joy, meaning and creativity in its rituals. 

As the people of the world continue to grow in love and confidence they will have more freedom to adapt ancient rituals for modern use, rejuvenate the dead ones of the present society, or create entirely new ones at will. This is exactly what is happening now, and it's a very good sign for the future.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Where Does A Wave Go?

I was watching a program on TV in which a scientist was using laser beams in a very clever way to bring a gaseous element down to absolute zero (-273 degrees Celsius). As a particle physicist he assumed he was working with tiny bits of matter and using the lasers to slow the bits down. As particles of matter slow down, according to this theory, they get colder and colder until they reach a point of no movement called absolute zero, the coldest it is possible to get. However, in the above experiment, when the particles reached absolute zero they were no longer there. The scientist theorized that his "trap" for holding the particles had a hole in it and they slipped out. But there is another possibility.

What if the scientist is not dealing with particles at all, but waves of energy? In that case, instead of particles mysteriously disappearing from a trap, perhaps the waves simply stopped waving. Where does a wave go when the wind stops? It doesn't go anywhere. It just ceases to be. Perhaps absolute zero is where the wind stops, where there is no movement, where matter no longer materializes.

In the esoteric Huna knowledge, experience comes from the interaction of Hu and Na, chaos and order. Where there is absolute chaos - continuously random movement - there is no organization that could produce a distinct experience. Where there is absolute order - no movement at all, and equivalent to absolute zero - there is no change, and therefore no experience. By this way of thinking, the basic requirement for experience is some kind and some degree of orderly change.

As humans we experience life primarily through sight, sound and touch. To see, hear and feel there has to be a particular kind of phenomenon existing at a particular range of frequencies that can be perceived by specially organized receivers. In other words, seeing, hearing and feeling require a nervous system that can process information from eyes, ears and skin. Of course, it's more involved than that, but those are the basics.

If we assume that all experience consists of organized waves of energy, then to perceive experience we need to be aware of waves. It follows, then, that to change experience we need to generate waves. Or, sometimes, to stop generating them.

A number of esoteric traditions speak of thoughts as forming waves. In Hawaiian there is a word, nalu, which means both "to form waves" and "to think deeply" or "to meditate." Out of this we get the idea that thoughts are like the wind that forms waves. If the winds are steady, like the trade winds, then you get steady, repetitive waves. If the thoughts are steady, like beliefs and habits, then you get steady, repetitive experience. If the thoughts are strong, like storms and high emotions, either positive or negative, then you get strong, impressive experience. If there are no thoughts of a particular kind, like an area of no wind, then the seas of life are calm and ready to be moved in a new direction.

The practical side of all of this is that it makes sense to assume that your thoughts affect your experience because, if you do assume that, you can change your life. Just as the physicist can produce physical effects by assuming the existence of particles, so you can produce life changes by assuming that thoughts generate waves. You are not bound by the winds of the past, not locked into any experience by what has gone before in this life or any other. Destiny is not fixed, any more than the weather is. When you think differently today than you did yesterday, when the winds begin to change, tomorrow's weather will not be the same.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Life, Death and Huna

Throughout the ages philosophers, scientists, theologians and anyone who has paused to think about the whys and wherefores of things, have wondered about the experience and meaning of life and death.

The Absurdists have decided that life and death are meaningless, so the best thing to do is to ignore death until it happens and, if you are still alive, to ignore it immediately after.

The Resisters see life as good and death as bad, and do everything they can to prolong life and avoid death without regard to the quality of life or the desire for death.

The Beyonders say that life is a proving ground. If you follow the rules you'll have a different and better life after death, but if you break the rules you'll have a different and worse life after death.

The Cyclists hold that the essence of a person experiences life and death over and over until by grace, individual effort, or gradual evolution there is no need for either one.

Of course, humans being so creative, there are many variations and alternatives to the above. Here is one derived from the principles of Huna.

First, life and death exist as experiences. Their meaning and consequences are decided by you, either based on what someone taught you or on your own conclusions. No matter what life and death may actually be, your beliefs about them will govern your related thoughts and actions.

Second, Huna assumes that existence is infinite, and therefore that life and death and time and space are just names for different types of experience.

Third, a belief is simply a way of organizing your perceptions or expectations to allow yourself certain experiences and disallow others. By reorganizing your perceptions and expectations about life and death you can change your experience of them.

Fourth, all experience is happening now. Time is merely a belief. To people of the past, right now you are unborn; to those of the future, you are now already dead.

Fifth, Life and death are part of the impulse toward fulfillment that we call love. Love changes the lover and the beloved, and without change there is no existence.

Sixth, the power of life and death comes from within. Not from within the personality or the body, but from our infinite spiritual source. "Outside" factors may influence the timing and manner of life and death, but they do not cause the experience.

Seventh, regardless of what anyone says about life and death, what really matters to you is what you think. You have the right to choose any set of ideas or beliefs about life and death that makes sense to you and that helps you deal with those experiences.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Masters & Slaves

This life is such an interesting experience. We are all participants in a vast game which we all agreed to play before we got here. The game consists in trying to thread our way between two worlds, each with a different set of rules. On the one hand, we have this three-dimensional physical world wherein we have to find food, shelter, clothing, companionship, and to confront other players of the game struggling to comprehend and cope. On the other hand, we have a, let us say, four-dimensional world which shows this reality to be a product of our own minds, an illusion, a "dream-world" from the fourth dimensional point of view.

What is the good of knowing all this? It depends on whether you want to be a slave of life or its master. To be a slave of life is to accept everything around you as the ultimate reality and to act as if you have no control over it at all. It is to identify with the waves of energy that pass through you from time to time, which we call emotion, to think that they are you, that they are yours; and to let them condition your thinking, when in reality the energy was colored by your thinking in the first place. It is like a puppy chasing its own tail. Then there is the problem of other people. Everything would be great if only they all did what you wanted or expected them to do. But other people are such contrary beings. Often they would rather do what they want, rather than what we want, even when we "know" that ours is the best way. So when they don't act according to our expectations and desires it upsets us terribly, causing emotional (energetic) trauma and feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. But--and consider this very carefully--when others don't act according to our desires and expectations, then perhaps something is wrong with our desires and expectations, and not with their behavior.

A slave of life is also terribly bound by material possessions--money, land, goods. Their loss or lack causes emotional trauma and feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, too. We may seek such "tangible" objects out of a need for security, but such a fragile and ephemeral type of security it is. The Bible parable of the man who worked his tail off for years and years to fill his barns and granaries with riches, only to find out on the very day that he thought he had attained material security that he was to depart this life the same night, reflects a fundamental truth. We are only passing through this life. The material world is only a tool for our experience. We are bound to suffer if we try to base our security on swirling atoms held in a temporary pattern, and to think of the pattern as the only reality.

The master of life--and it is the here-and-now potential of every human being to be such--knows that three-dimensional experience is a reflection of thought and not more. As a master of life you realize that you choose what you experience through your basic beliefs about life. You realize further, that to change your experience you have only to change your beliefs, and you understand the difference between desire and belief. You know that you, and only you, are responsible for all your happiness or unhappiness. And you also know one of the most important truths: that the way in which you experience life depends on how you choose to react to what happens to you.

For this is an inborn, inalienable power that each of us has. We choose to be happy or sad, disgusted or overjoyed, impatient or understanding, bigoted or tolerant, inflexible or flowing. The slave chooses, too, but he lets his choice be determined by the will or acts of others, thus putting his power in their hands, and then he tries to blame others for his failure or unhappiness. The master of life chooses the way he wants to feel, to react, in terms of what will be the most effective for him, regardless of what happens. You are all, at all times, masters of your fate, insofar as your power to choose your reactions goes. The difference is that the slave refuses to accept responsibility for his choice, and remains a slave, while the master of life chooses knowingly, and is free.

People speak of the courage it takes to choose effectively, and of the struggle to choose one reaction over another. Actually, the only courage involved is that of risking someone else's displeasure at your choice. And the only struggle is against your own fear and doubt. Of course, it is easier to float than to swim; easier to go with the flow than to direct your course, but floating brings you up against sharp and unpleasant rocks, while swimming brings you to safety.

To carry on the swimming analogy a bit, let us conceive of a particular experience in life as a rip tide. A rip tide is a strong current running from the shore out to sea a hundred yards or more. Let us use it to demonstrate a life experience over which you apparently have no control. Caught in the rip tide, a slave of life either panics and tries to struggle against the current, in which case he quickly loses his strength and drowns or he gives up all hope and floats out to sea with the current, in which case he drowns anyway. The master of life, however, flows with the current until he feels its power weakening, and then he swims around it and back to shore. Both slave and master undergo the same experience. The difference is in how they react to it. To master life is not to control it; it is to master your relationship to it. A master surfer does not control the wave. He masters the art of riding it.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Spiritual Economics

The issue of money is a very important one for people all around the world. Some people want a lot more of it and some people want to get rid of it, but probably most people think of it as a material concern rather than a spiritual one.

Money itself is nothing more than a medium of exchange (that really means a symbol) for goods and services. As such it has been around ever since people decided that bartering pigs and blankets for tools and trinkets was too inconvenient, especially when the guy with the tools or trinkets didn't want pigs or blankets, and wanted cows or crockery instead.

So every human group that has traded extensively with another human group has developed a monetary system, alongside a barter system that is used whenever it works. One of the most widely used monetary systems in ancient times was based on cowrie shells. The people of Yap in Micronesia have three systems: big stone wheels for real estate, shells for marriage, and dollars for beer. Gold has been popular in ancient and modern times because it's useful, durable, pretty and fairly rare. But the value people give to it goes up and down, and so do the monetary systems based on it.

The stuff we use for money may be material, like shells and metal or paper, but what really matters is the value we give to the stuff. And the value is not material at all. It's just an idea in the minds of people. The cowrie shells, paper and coins have very little intrinsic value, and the value of something solid like gold goes up and down as mentioned above.

As a medium of exchange for goods and services, money has to be backed by something valuable. That is, something people perceive as valuable. But it's often forgotten that money must also be backed by people's trust in the source of the money, regardless of the valued backing. You know that banks can fail when people lose confidence in them even if they are full of money. Governments can fail when people lose confidence in them even if they have a lot of material backing. The experience of the Soviet Union is a good recent example.

People can fail, too, when people lose confidence in them or when they lose confidence in themselves, regardless of the value of their goods and services. Likewise, people can succeed when people have extraordinary confidence in them or when they have extraordinary confidence in themselves, also regardless of the value of their good and services.

So the actual value of money as a medium of exchange for material things depends on very immaterial or spiritual things like confidence, trust, faith. And how much money people are willing to give to a person for goods, services or out of the goodness of their hearts depends on those very same spiritual things.

Now this next statement may disappoint somebody, but money only comes from people. It doesn't come from God (except indirectly, perhaps, through inspiration). It doesn't come from governments: it comes from the people who run them and those who pay taxes. It doesn't come from casinos or lotteries; it comes from the other gamblers who lost. It doesn't come from companies; it comes from people who buy things.

If you want to have more money in your life - for yourself or to help others or for both--then you have to make yourself more valuable in the eyes of other people. It won't be enough to provide valuable goods and services, or to be in the right place at the right time, or even to pick the right numbers.You'll have to be more spiritual than that. You'll have to have more faith, more confidence, in your own value, as a provider of goods and services or as a person.