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.