Thursday, June 15, 2017

What Does That Mean?

"Knowledge must always be expressed in the lifestyle and language of each different culture for it to be accepted and believed." This is a statement by Dr. J.R. Worsley in regard to acupuncture, but it can be applied to any other field as well.
Just recently I was counseling a woman from India who had been living in California since her youth. A while before calling me she had consulted an Indian guru who had advised her to read the fifteenth chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, a Hindu holy book. The woman read the chapter over and over, but was completely confused because she didn't know what she was supposed to learn from it. She understood that it was about non-attachment, but it kept talking about a banyan tree, and although this woman was originally from India, she had never seen a banyan tree, so the metaphor made no sense to her.

At first I tried to explain what a banyan tree was so she could understand it, but with no memory to relate to it still didn't make sense. Then I switched metaphors, first using an example of rain, then of a mirror, both of which she'd had experience with, and both of which enabled her to understand what the book was really teaching. What she had to learn is not important here. The point is that in order for her to learn the lesson, the knowledge had to be "expressed in the language and style" of her existing culture for it to be accepted and believed.

I just read a Dilbert cartoon in which he tries to explain to his mother that he is neither a railroad engineer nor a typewriter repairman, but a software engineer. When she asks him what he does, he says something like "Well, today I debugged a TCP/IP network with a system analyzer," and she replies with something like, "You mean all you did was start a bot to search out bad packets?" The fact that she knew immediately what he was talking about was quite funny, especially since she knew that he was using "computerese" to cover up the fact that he really didn't do very much. It was even funnier IF the reader also knew the special language of computer geeks. On the other hand, as far as my wife was concerned the cartoon might as well have been written in ancient Sanscrit and she couldn't understand why it made me laugh.

Like many fields and systems, Huna has its own specialized terms, based on the Hawaiian language, but when trying to relate to people unfamiliar with Hawaiian or Huna we need to use words and descriptions that nearly everyone can grasp. Remember, one of our purposes is to strip away the veil of unneeded mystery from the things we are teaching.

Those of us who are teachers of Huna often take it for granted that other people already know what we mean when we use terms like "Lono," and "Ku," and "Aumakua," and we may get so involved in our teaching that we ignore the blank faces in front of us. And shockingly--to us--there are billions of people out there in the world who haven't the faintest idea of what we are talking about when we mention "The Aloha Spirit."

The point of all this is that communication is not merely the imparting of information, it is the exchange of information. The exchange does not always have to be verbal, however. It can also be in the form of behavior. If you teach someone a healing technique, and the person is able to apply the technique in the way you have taught, then the behavior of that person is their part of the communication exchange. If the person is unable to apply it, then it is up to the teacher to change his or her side of the communication. In a different, but related field, someone whose name I do not recall once said, "There is no such thing as a resistant client; there is only a therapist who doesn't know what to do."

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Climate Change

Not too long ago I received the following cry for help, mirrored by many similar ones from others:

"Since I saw the Al Gore movie about the Global Climate Change I can't stop thinking, feeling, and experiencing this Change and all that is coming with it. I feel quite discouraged and pessimistic about the human destiny. Although I was aware of the situation I wasn't aware of the magnitude of the imbalance humanity has created and the short time we have to do something about it and if we really have enough time, determination, unity, will etc. to do something effective to preserve life on Earth.
What I most fear is the way I imagine we are all going to disappear. I know that everything changes constantly and that the climate has changed lots of time before, but the speed in which it's changing is what I fear most, and the catastrophes that are already occurring and making lots of places uninhabitable for plants, animals and people. I find myself thinking very often that no action would be enough at this moment because the disharmony is gone too far. I would appreciate any advice or enlightenment you could give me about it."

First, please get back into the present moment. In very practical and realistic terms, neither the past nor the future exist. The real world is the world that you are experiencing in this moment. If there is any good in it, bless it to strengthen it and help it to endure and grow.

The global climate is obviously changing, but then it always has. We know from geology that the Earth has gone through a number of dramatic climate changes over great periods of time as long as humans have been on the planet and before. According to the geological record there were times when glaciers covered most of the Earth (even in Hawaii!) and other times when the arctic was tropical. More recently, in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries in the area of Belgium and Holland, major climatic changes produced catastrophic floods from a rise in the sea level, costing the lives of a hundred thousand people. It is common for people to think that bad weather in their own lifetime is the worst there ever was.

Nevertheless, no one knows what direction the current changes will take, how long it will take, or how much influence human behavior is having on the changes. During a trip to Alaska we cruised into Glacier Bay. A shipboard talk on the subject produced the startling information that when Captain James Cook sailed there most of the bay was blocked by ice, and when we were there most of that ice had melted away. So there is no doubt that the Earth is experiencing a change of climate, but there is great doubt as to whether we can do anything about it.

The Gore movie was very well done and helps us to be more aware of what humans are doing to contribute to environmental pollution. It does not prove that human behavior is causing all the changes in climate, nor does it prove that the earth as we know it is doomed to destruction. What it does is offer scientific speculation.

Scientists are not super-wise. All they can do is to gather data, interpret that data according to their own rules, and use a computer to process that data into a probable outcome--based on the data they gathered, their interpretations of that data, and the rules they programmed into the computer for processing that data. That's not even prediction, it's speculation based on limited information.

When Gloria and I were in Africa in the late sixties and early seventies we got newspapers and magazines from the USA that were full of dire warnings about environmental pollution and how it was destroying the country. The impression we got in Africa was that the whole USA was covered by a cloud of soot, that all the streams were muddy brown and clogged with dead fish, and that walking outside was to risk one's life. When we returned to the States in 1971 it was a shock to see bright blue skies, clear streams with healthy fish, fully living forests, and people walking everywhere without dropping dead from bad air.

Human behavior clearly has an effect on the global climate. In addition to the pollution caused by industry and transportation systems, agricultural practices cause deserts and destroy animal habitats, land and ocean waste dumping affects sea and land animals and environments, and clear-cutting of forests and urban development alter things as well. And each of these has an effect on climate. However, let's not forget the effects of volcanoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, and tsunamis, which are produced by the Earth herself. While there is no doubt that humans are part of the problem, we still don't know how big a part.

Nevertheless, it is very important that we take steps to clean up and improve our systems of transportation and industry, to work for a better and healthier environment for ourselves and the rest of the natural world, and to support those who are working for this. It is just as important not to give in to fear and panic or doom and gloom based on what other people are saying about the situation.

Huna philosophy says we are never helpless, because we have more resources than just physical ones to make changes. After all, the physical world is only a convenient illusion. We are spiritual beings in a spiritual universe first of all. As shamanic healers our role is to heal, what we can, when we can, where we can, and how we can. If we bless the present, trust ourselves, and expect the best while we are taking whatever positive action is possible, then we are doing the most that can be done. There is no point in getting upset because we think we could or ought to do more and do it better. There's a Hawaiian pidgin expression that sums it up very simply: If can, can; if no can; no can.

By the way, the Earth is not helpless, either. She has a life of her own and a will of her own. As a living entity she can choose to be happy as a desert, a waterworld, a ball of ice, or the incredible mixture that she is today, with or without the same variety of life that exists now. We do not have to worry about saving the Earth, but we do have to concern ourselves with saving human beings and all the other living beings we care about that inhabit her if we want them to continue. So, do your best and rely on a Higher Power to make sure that everything works out perfectly, even if it's different from what you might think that means.