The Newsletter of the Northwest Branch of the Theosophical Society
August 2014 – Vol. 17 Issue 6
Sometimes, passing a shop window, we see a single article beautifully arranged against an exquisite background, with a discreet indication that other models may be had, if we will but step inside. One day, turning from such a display, I could not help thinking how very like show windows we ourselves often are. When we meet a new person, we are naturally anxious to present our best side with the hope that they will find us as fine as we feel we really are. Time rolls on and if our new acquaintance becomes a friend, he or she will usually wish to “step inside” for a closer look at all our qualities, good and bad.
But what happens between those who, unexpectedly and without known reason, cool off, who no longer under-stand each other and prefer to go their own ways? Take the friend we thought we knew so well who becomes all at once alien to us, a character distasteful and definitely not what we thought him to be? He bears the same name, looks as he did, has committed no crime – and yet there he stands to our gaze a different person entirely. The experience causes us to suffer a kind of shock, and we react variously according to our nature. Some avoid the “different” friend, making a clean break. Others keep up appearances, perhaps kindly, in the hope that things will soon right themselves; or falsely so, saying nothing while nursing a hidden grievance. Still others will show their reaction in their own change of feeling so that our onetime friend senses it and himself moves off.
There are few Christians to whom the 13th chapter of Paul's first letter to the Corinthians is not familiar. I can well remember having to learn the whole of it in Sunday School, but soon found the words just going on and on in my head. And so they remained for me for a very long time. Even when the meaning of the words suddenly surprises us, it is often a longer time still before we try to turn their principles into action in our lives. “Charity suffers long, and is kind; charity envies not; charity vaunts not itself, is not puffed up, does not behave unseemly, seeks not her own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil.”
"Beautiful, inspiring," we feel. But to think no evil of a friend who has just stirred us to wrath after real provocation – is that so easy? Sometimes it is not only hard but utterly outside our thoughts! Paul's lofty definition of Charity just does not fit the occasion. This is different, we say. Perhaps we have first to look to ourselves for the solution. Are we not too much given to "seeking our own," as Paul suggests, when we expect our friends to remain the images that we have projected from ourselves rather than allowing them to be what they really are? Our cherished pictures of them may be no better than caricatures, erring to the side of good or bad, but neither true nor fair. If we expect another to exhibit that perfection of character and action which neither he nor we, nor any human being for that matter, is capable of sustaining, are we not "behaving unseemly"? How often can we say we are truly prepared to suffer long and still feel kindly, while inwardly convinced we have been let down in ways that we would never let down our friends!
We began with the idea of friends and now discover that real friendship is the expression of a rare impersonal love – the love that can leap the barriers of personal hurt and, as Shakespeare says, alters not "when it alteration finds, or bends with the remover to remove." It is a big step when we really know with heart as well as mind that Love does indeed "bear and endure all things," especially in relation to those who travel with us through life.
This is the ideal – but how to begin from our present position is the challenge. A simple but rather effective first step suggests itself: when our picture of another can be put into a single derogatory sentence, it is self-revealing to turn the sentence around and substitute our own name in the place of the other's. Instead of "He's such a hypocrite," we might try saying, "I'm such a hypocrite"! Not very pleasant, yet isn't it true? Nor is it an easy thing to do, as we all incline to be a shade kinder to ourselves than to our friends.
Is it possible for us to do more with Paul's words than just read them and be aware of their goodness and beauty? Perhaps so, if we allowed our heart's doors to stand wide all the time, never shutting them against anyone. Then we might come close to that blessed state of which Thomas Traherne joyfully speaks: "when every man approaching him would be as welcome as an Angel, and the coming of a stranger as delightful as the Sun." – Elizabeth Duffie
This Ramadan, Muslims again invited non-Muslim friends and neighbors to join them for an evening meal when they break their daily fast. Branch members attended two such interfaith iftars. The first was sponsored by the Muslim Association of Puget Sound at their mosque in Redmond on July 9. There over a third of the 500 guests had never been in a mosque before. The second was sponsored by the Acacia Foundation at the Old Redmond School House on July 23. Ozgur Koca of the Claremont School of Theology gave an enlightening talk on the reasons for fasting in all religions and also the context and benefits of Ramadan fasting in Islam.
Huna is the predominant pre-Christian spiritual tradition of the people of the Polynesian Islands and the Maori of New Zealand. Huna literally means a secret, a profound message, or that which is hidden. Sometimes it is referred to as the Hidden Reality or Hidden Knowledge. Neither a religion nor a philosophy, it is a practical way of life based on intuitive knowledge and inner guidance where everything about oneself, about others, and about matters outside of oneself is placed under constant study and observation for the purpose of mastery in all aspects of life.
The spiritual leaders are called Kahunas. They are the keepers of "the secret," the transmitters of the teaching, maintainers of the spiritual tradition and its practices in law, science, the arts, medicinal and spiritual healing, architecture, education, engineering, meteorology, and agriculture. They are persons of high moral fiber and real abilities. They usually come from the ruling class: children chosen for high intelligence, exceptional spiritual skills, sustained interest in matters of the spirit and a willingness continuously to learn more. On rare occasions the "secret" has been given to a child of the common people. The Kahuna may be male or female.
The highest Kahuna is one who has perfected and mastered him or herself in all branches of knowledge and understanding. Kahunas of younger ranks are predominantly either intuitional, or intellectual, or emotional. High-ranking Kahunas have mastery over and are balanced in all three qualities. These Kahunas go within, into the very depth and silence of their High Self in their quest for mastery of their own nature, harmony with nature, and service to others.
Pre-Christian Polynesians were spiritually-minded. The Kahunas believe they are of the islands since the beginning of the human race. There is a belief in a Heavenly Father (Teave), whose Breath or Essence (Mana) permeates all space and supports all life. It is similar to the Buddhist's "All is Tatha-gata." Mana is the vital energy and the vital force of all that is, all that was, and all that will be. It is sacred and an accepted and practiced part of every living being. Teave's Breath brought fort h creation out of chaos – Teave who is both male and fe-male, mother-father of creation. (Te'a means "deepest root," "founder" or "that which is permanent"; ve means "one who is just and sees all.")
There are as many versions of the story of creation as there are islands. They all center around a hierarchy of divine beings who created, maintain, and preserve heaven and earth. Then, there is the Kahuna's version which is kept sacred as the story itself holds the tool for the mastery of the forces of light and darkness. In the wrong hands, this sacred knowledge can be used as a powerful tool of destruction and disservice. In a nutshell, among the Kahuna's major teachings are: harm no one and no thing with hate; think and say exactly what you mean; use positive speech; and take full responsibility for your life. These are simple teachings, simple rules.
The Kahunas survived the spiritual massacre by early Christian missionaries. While Christianity is the predominant religion of the present generations, seeds of Hunaism continue to germinate and grow within the very essence of the people. The constant message inherent in the hearts of all the islanders is that divinity is in each one – man and woman – from birth, and that the shrine is in each person's heart. The Kahunas hold that the tradition is a science of creation, preservation, and dissolution of life and, most importantly, of rebirthing into one other next life – a chance to make perfect what was left unperfected in the life before.
The tradition maintains a triunal view of life: a higher or divine self; a middle or unfolding self; and a lower or initiatory self. The lower self is not subordinate to the middle self; nor is the middle self subordinate to the higher self. All are conditions that are each equally necessary for efficient living. No value judgment is attached to the differentiation as they are considered guideposts for self-observation. The interplay of actions and reactions between the three selves is similar to the interplay of the three aspects of the Supreme Being which are designed to create, preserve, and dissolve.
In the higher self there exists no duality: all is one, all is peace, all is love. When in this self, the Kahuna is master over life, light, darkness, nature, death, and immortality. When a Kahuna prays, he prays from his divine and godly Self, that Self which he is able to enter and leave at will, and the prayer is directed toward his Self. The divine self of the Kahunas is not God; it is the divinity within each one. The Kahuna knows the Supreme Being to be perfect and not needful of praises, petitions, or thanksgiving. The Kahuna also believes that the Supreme Being has given each one the tools needed to gain all the knowledge, skills, and power available in the universe. The Huna, then, is a divine science.