A Return To The Tree Of Life

The telling of the story of Genesis is one of human evolution, or devolution, depending on how you look at it. If we take God at his or her word, or they’re word, I know this is getting confusing, but it’ll make sense soon, I hope; God said we became more like God Be it he, she, or as it is written in the Bible, “us.” After Adam and Eve eat fruit from the Tree of Knowledge God says that humans are more like God, because we gained knowledge of the difference between good and evil. God actually says “us” in the Bible, a strange little fact, check it out for yourself. So if we take the Almighty for his, her, they’re word humans evolved by eating the forbidden fruit. Many people were taught the eating the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge resulted in a disgraceful fall out of God’s favor, devolution, a giant leap backward, unlike Neil Armstrong’s “giant leap for mankind,” but that isn’t what happened, at least if you believe God over some preachers. God said humans were elevated, but that elevation gave us a responsibility for knowledge that we still struggle with. The rest of the Bible after the bite is a record of how badly humans managed the responsibility for knowledge of good and evil. We still struggle to gain the wisdom needed to handle it. For a moment take a step back from the extremes of good and evil and look at it as like and dislike, or preference. Think of all the ways preference has escalated to disagreements then to arguments then to war.

Aren’t cultural differences just preferences along with the cause of many wars? Sure in modern times the majority of war was due to religious differences, which seemed more cultural to me, and, probably the real reason for all wars, the struggle over resources, which is an extension of population growth and migration. We struggle with simple preferences. Many religions state that life is a struggle. Struggle, actually immanent war, is the setting of the conversation between Krishna and Arjuna in the Bhagavad-Gita, one Kabbalistic view of the story of Hanukkah as told by Rachel Naomi Remen’s grandfather in her book My Grandfathers Blessings, is it represents the struggle of life and the way, through the light of our souls, we are able to connect, support, and enlighten one another while building community at the same time. Lao Tzu saw material and human existence as a constant play of opposite yet complementary forces, yin and yang, that some interpret as a struggle between good and evil, and the Buddha’s fist Nobel Truth says life is suffering. Well, that’s not exactly say suffering, he actually said dukkha, which means life has a pervasive unending sense of unsatisfactoriness, of never having enough. If you study Buddhism deeply you will find the goal isn’t avoidance or irradiation of discomfort or irritation, but the ability to be happy, compassionate, content, joyful and kind no matter the discomfort or unsatisfying situation you experience. Unsatisfactoriness on a biological level is due to the on going need for air, water, and food for survival. In the modern world unsatisfactoriness is due to not having the latest gadget, style, or toy. It even extends into spirituality where people want to do the perfect yoga pose or at least look like a spiritual person.

At the highest level of many religious teachings there is no good and evil, no duality, only the constant ebb and flow of energies seeking balance. I believe the reason religions don’t teach the highest levels are for three reasons: the first is in the past religious leaders were highly educated compared to their followers causing them to teach the simplest form which usually amounted to morality, secondly, again because their followers were uneducated, Religious leaders realized the power they had and abused it, thirdly there are powers very advanced spiritual practices awaken that in the wrong hands could be used to harm other people and themselves. This is why the highest teachers taught love and compassion. They realized that power often leads to abuse and the destruction of spiritual progress since people too easily get diverted from oneness and universal love and seduced by a false sense of power which always leads to hubris.

The Buddha experienced an awakening to the truth of non-duality. Similar to Lao Tzu, he said this is like this because that is like that, cause and effect, and interdependence. All things are in interdependent in relationships which are often interpreted as struggle. Waves lapping in a beach and a gentle wind rustling leaves aren’t normally seen as struggle, but they are no less conflict than a tsunami or tornado except for the degree of intensity, it’s the same difference between like and dislike and good and evil. One of the simplest and effective solutions in Buddhism is a practice of contentment.

This leads back to eating of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil which led to suffering. What discontentment did led Eve and then Adam to eat the fruit? If we look at them as feminine and masculine energies versus people we see the feminine passive receptive energy receiving knowledge which is used by the masculine active side which explains why all the violence that follows in the Bible to be caused by men. Yet I have to ask, is eating the fruit really the beginning? What was the roots of the impulse to be tempted in the first place? Could the serpent have tempted Eve if she had nothing to tempt within her? What was there within humanity before the knowledge of the difference between good and evil that set the stage for temptation? Was it curiosity? Boredom? What unsatisfactory sense allowed the temptation to begin with? Could the simple sense of discontent caused by the need for food, water, and shelter for survival, which all humans will feel until they die, have been at play? Symbolic or literal it is relevant to note that Eve was suffering on some level, no matter how small, and that possibly was the doorway for temptation. Since Eve was tempted it forces you to ask if Eden was paradise, or if Paradise is unsatisfying to humans? Even in religions with a belief in reincarnation it is sometimes said that the soul evolves much faster in a body on this plane of existence. Suffering and the attempt to prevent or stop suffering is the activity most humans are engaged in. Whether we know it or not the majority of human activity is focused around survival. We are as much, or more, driven by our fight or flight response than our primitive ancestors. I could be wrong, but when I see a bird stretch out it’s wings and completely relax on the ground at McDonald’s, then I look around at people who can’t even sleep, I can’t help but feel the animals are not as continuously stressed as us. I think the reason for this is that the threat recognition systems in our brains don’t easily recognize, or know how to deal with, today’s threats. Undermining co-workers, crazy bosses, careless drivers, stock market collapses are not as obvious as bear or tiger, and it wouldn’t benefit you to impale them with a spear. This unfamiliarity keeps many of us on a heightened alert level because, while we feel threatened, we either can’t identify the exact threat, or we don’t have effective strategies and solutions for those threats. This can lead to a lack of confidence and a sense of insecurity that is often incorrectly related to self-esteem.

One way to regain confidence and self-esteem is to look realistically at modern life. There are lots of science fiction horror stories about artificial intelligence taking over the world and enslaving humans. This has already happened on a less obvious level; we are already controlled by a monster of our own making – modern society. First world citizens are born into a world of human design and construction. The buildings, roads, electricity, plumbing, markets, schools, jobs and so on are all of our own making, and yet we feel trapped by it all. In an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown he was in China. Part of the commentary mentioned the way China worked to replicate America’s 250-300 years of development in 20 years. Well they did such a great job that Bourdain showed a Chinese college graduate sitting in a cafe on his cellphone feeling lost and not knowing what to do with his life. China modeled our angst and challenges as well as our success. This modern society, this monster of our own creation, is the very thing we feel trapped and controlled by. Isn’t that ridiculous? This Frankenstein way of life is the source of low self-esteem in millions. What makes it worse is advertising has developed a keen ability to manipulate our survival and anxiety responses to work for them and against our better judgement, which also works to undermine self-esteem. Who can you feel good about yourself when you don’t feel in control of yourself, even if that lack of control is a learned and trained behavior? Not all humans are under this spell. They are the ones who manipulate it financially and politically, and possibly, religiously.

There is another pill to swallow Neo, but you don’t need to escape the matrix, instead you can be, in the words of Jesus “in the world but not of it.” Consider that Buddha was enlightened and in nirvana while still in a body and Jesus said the kingdom of Heaven is at hand and within. You don’t have to go anywhere to experience blissful heavenly nirvana. The challenge is in your quality of appropriate education. It is not mentioned in the Bible whether anything happened to the Tree of Life. Isn’t that interesting? Both trees existed in the Garden of Eden, and yet once humans ate the fruit of knowledge, the Tree of Life was no loner mentioned. I’m guessing the Tree of Life is still in the Garden of Eden. Let’s play. Imagine the Garden of Eden is like nirvana, a place that’s not a place, or heaven, a place within and around you. In the same way Heaven can be both within and around you at this very moment the Tree of Life and it’s influence is at hand. Play with the notion that Buddha nature and Heaven are already a part of you, but you are educated and habituated toward the knowledge of good and evil. This means you just need education back to Life!

The Tree of Life is still present and available. So how do you strengthen its influence in our life? Are we able to bring it back to prominence over, or at least in balance with, the Tree of Knowledge? I’m guessing that is what Jesus was attempting to do. He said he is the way and the life which could mean he was saying he was restoring the prominence of the Tree of Life through, if nothing else, his example. The Buddha was enlightened under a tree that aided and confirmed his enlightenment, and the earth was his witness. He was a prince who realized young that wealth, power, intelligence, did not bring happiness and an end to suffering. He left an extremely sheltered life to seek liberation from the illusion of temporary satisfaction. It seems he succeeded. Some of his methods are applicable for us over 2500 hundred years later; mindfulness being the most well known.

The Tree of Life can be reached in many ways.
1. Gratitude
2. Joy
3. Kindness
4. Compassion
5. Enthusiasm
6. A smile
7. A warm heart

In posts to come I will be writing about all of them. Until then focus on contentment and see where it takes you.

What Is A Kahu?

The word kahu is new to the Hawaiian language. It is a shortened version of kahuna. A kahuna is a master of a particular art, craft, skill or body of knowledge and wisdom. Today kahuna is associated with shamans and medicine-men, but they are only a type of kahuna; a descriptive must be added for clarification. For example a kahuna la’au lapaau is a master of herbal medicine and healing and a kahuna pule is a master of prayer.

The word kahu means priest. I haven’t researched this academically, but I deduce that kahu is a watered down and acceptable version of kahuna since traditional medicine was outlawed by white invaders. Be mindful that not all white people are invaders. If that were true then my ancestors who first came to Hawaii from Japan five generations ago to work the plantations could also be considered invaders. Another reason I believe kahu is used instead of kahuna is that among the locals kahuna came to be known as people who could curse or kill you. Kahuna were feared and so to get away from the fearful association the word was shortened to kahu and redefined.

The shortening of kahuna to kahu has caused some confusion when I use my title. People still don’t know what it is I do particularly since modern Christianity has splintered into a huge variety of born again movements that define themselves more and more narrowly. I have no judgement about this. I am just offering an observation as to an increased confusion regarding people I encounter. It doesn’t help that many Kahu have also developed their own explanation and definition of the title according to their belief and experience. The confusion is no one’s fault. Rather I believe it is a natural result of people trying to rediscover and redefine lost or hidden knowledge.

The literal translation of kahuna hasn’t helped either. Literally kahuna is broken down as, ka-the and huna-secret, making the literal translation the secret, which of course adds to its mystique. The kind of secret being described is not information hidden for a special few, it is knowledge and wisdom that can more easily be seen through experience. Think of all the times an older and wiser person told you something that made little to no sense or that you understood intellectually until one day years later you have that I finally understand what mom or dad was saying moment. It’s pretty much the same. Sure there is specific wisdom and techniques that are reserved for practitioners, but that is only because such knowledge is either useless or dangerous to someone who doesn’t need it.

So again kahu means priest. The kind of priest, like all the other kinds of priest in the world, depends on their fundamental belief structure and actual practice. I hope this short essay offers clarity to anyone interested.

What’s My Pilgrimage?

Two of my favorite movies are The Way and Walking The Camino, and one of my favorite books Rebirth by Kamal Ravikant, are set on the Camino de Santiago Compostela. The Camino, as it is often called, is a 500 mile pilgrimage through Spain to the tomb of St. James. Often beginning in France the pilgrimage takes about 30-35 days.

I think I relate to the Camino because in my late preteen and teen years I took long walks contemplating life, people or God. Those walks almost always left me with a complete sense of peace. Like the walks of my youth the pilgrimage of the Camino is said to return the pilgrim to harmony. The outer struggle of the trek brings to surface the inner struggle where it can be seen, faced, and resolved or accepted with grace. The Camino restores the pilgrim to harmony with life allowing for a deeper happiness.

As a traditional Hawaiian healer I perform a healing ceremony called ho’oponopono. Ho’oponopono is formally described as the act of setting things right. Less formally it reestablishes harmony within and between people. On one level the process is psychological. Participants speak and hear grievances and concerns in a safe place. On another level it is a spiritual practice where prayer plays a significant role in setting an intention or calling on a higher power to influence the mana or life force energy of all involved to aid in setting things right. The higher power need not be an ancestor or a god. A higher power may simply be harmony or homeostasis relative to disharmony. Ho’oponopono can be a long process taking many hours, or even days. I have come to see it as a pilgrimage.

The Camino is a perfect balance of the inner and the outer, of yin and yang. You walk through nature to see inside yourself. Jesus said heaven is within and at hand, so when we walk the Camino we walk on earth to touch heaven. Qi, pronounced chee, is the subtle life force energy acupuncturist manipulate to improve health. Qigong is an exercise designed to circulate and gather qi exchanging personal and environmental qi. It is similar to the way breath and blood circulate oxygen through the body. In my qigong practice I strive to be conscious of my qi as it dances with the qi all around and within me.

The ability to play with qi is not a gift some have and some don’t. We just haven’t been taught to pay attention and learn how to use it. It is similar to the way we have to learn good exercise and diet habits. It is easy for humans to forget we are a apart of and composed of nature, and that all matter is formed from energy. Most people primarily obtain qi through breath and food. Qigong allows you to pull qi directly from the environment and circulate it through your body. Qigong is similar to life force detox. After a qigong session I feel relaxed, energized, light, and harmonious inside and out.

I’ve been writing a book. Well actually three books. Until recently I could not find my voice. I also did not want to write simply to express myself or worse, as a marketing tool that has no real value. As a healer many of the experiences I’ve had and witnessed leave lessons that are applicable over a broad range of problems. I don’t claim to have discovered anything new. I have learned that every grand idea I thought I discovered had already been discovered hundreds or thousands of years ago. The ability to offer the fruits of experience simply with respect and usefulness has turned out to be more daunting than expected. In this way writing is a pilgrimage. Writing a book is not the only way writing is a pilgrimage; writing a journal or diary also fit the bill. Books too take you on a restorative journey; such books are also pilgrimages.

What’s your pilgrimage? I posted the question and one friend said being a parent was his pilgrimage. Being a father of three I have to agree. The journey with a child or children can be a pilgrimage; one that doesn’t end when they leave home. Marriage is a pilgrimage. Divorce is a pilgrimage. Sickness and caring for the sick are pilgrimages. Obtaining a degree is a pilgrimage. What’s your pilgrimage? Write me, or better yet, write a blog or social media post. #WhatsMyPilgrimage so we can share our pilgrimages with each other. Bon Voyage!

Pohaku Passage: Growing Through Dark Times

The majority of my work isn’t prediction. It is guidance keeping you in grace and blessings so you avoid, or go easier through, rough times. I have been given predictions when appropriate, when it helps you understand. Of course many people can’t understand and so the rough times happen to them full force. When that happens it sets up the lessons needed to accept guidance in the future. You will have ah ha! moments where you see much more clearly than in the past.

When a client cannot grasp guidance and heads straight into dark times I call this Pohaku Passage. Pohaku is the Hawaiian word for stone which I interpret as po-night or darkness, in which the ha-spirit learns to ku-stand or be upright. The dark time is a rite of passage where you are strengthened.

Sometimes the darkness isn’t happening directly to you as when a parent, spouse, or child gets sick or goes through a dark time of their own. These are still times of Pohaku Passage where you learn to be strong for others. Your compassion and kindness are strengthened and your heart softens.

Prediction during dark times rarely helps. It’s like you are about to crash into a wall and someone tells you the obvious. During dark times it is best to learn to surrender. Surrendering as a spiritual practice is not giving up and feeling helpless; it is the ability to flow with a higher vibration like skillfully maneuvering river rapids on a raft versus being in the water flailing, being pulled under and crashing into boulders and trees. Surrendering is learning to go with the flow, but also learning to choose the right flow.

When you are facing dark times keep repeating to yourself, “It will all work out,” like a mantra. Let those words bring you ease. Trust that things will work out even if you cannot see how at the moment. If you believe in God then say, “God will work everything out perfectly.” If you want you can replace God with Jesus, Mohammad, Buddha, the Tao, the Universe. Give it a shot you have nothing to lose but doubt.


You see yourself as a reflection in a mirror, the sky on a still lake, the moon on a calm ocean, street lights on wet pavement. Most people have had an experience but don’t know it to be a reflection of God. As children many of you, while gazing at a clear blue sky, a starry night, lapping waves, rustling leaves have dropped into a reverie and felt completely at peace. That peace is a piece of God. A state of heavenly grace. We are reminded of our souls source. This is another kind of reflection where we experience the divine reflected in all of creation.

Today’s busy life crowds out time for reflection. Reflection isn’t just for seeing what is around you, it is also for seeing what is within. Just as it is difficult to see our own faces without a mirror, it is also difficult to see our souls. Calm moments of solitude allow the soul to come to the surface of our consciousness. Any blank surface like a crystal ball, pool of water, blank wall allows the mind to still and the soul to be seen.

The difficult thing is that this state of calmness cannot be forced. It must be allowed to happen naturally. In today’s world there is very little humans do naturally. We have to learn practically everything from making love to raising children so letting something come natural, well, it isn’t natural. Reflection is a natural process. You don’t need to learn it, you need to let it happen, like daydreaming. So get really real and take some time to be natural, reflect, and get to know your soul.

Face to Face


“For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” -Jesus

One of the many ways aloha is defined is alo – touching face to face, and sharing ha – the breath of life in a spirit of love. When was the last time you really came face to face with yourself. I’m not taking about looking in a mirror, but rather about reflecting on your being. Can you recall the last time you deeply took in the moon, wind, rain, a stream, the sea, a rock, flower, plant, or animal? Huna, the secret of Hawaiian spirituality, begins with ha – spirit and life force in all things.  From this perspective seemingly lifeless matter like a rock is alive.  Weird?  Consider the way minerals in a body are a part of your life and relate that to the way rocks are a part of the living earth.  Where does organic soil and stone begin and end?  Recognizing our composition being of, respecting our make up, and it’s connection to the earth and the earth to the cosmos allows us to experience our connection to all of creation.  It is not a secret in the sense of something to be kept from others.   Huna is a secret because it is not obvious   Huna is hidden in plain sight, but it takes insight to reveal it.  This sounds mystical, but as with maturity some things are obscured by a lack of experience or education.  Experience cannot always be be directly conveyed, but sharing my education my allowyou to have your own experience.   If anything I write allows that to happen I will consider this blog a success.

Let’s begin with you. Take a breath and be aware that every breath is a rebirth for you, not just you, but also the air. You exchange yourself with the air and the air exchanges itself for you. The air that was in you reincarnated as the atmosphere around you and the air around you reincarnates as you. You are the air and the air is you. The same can be observed about the water in your body and the water in the world. Stone elements like minerals that make up your body are the same elements that make up the earth.

The word for land in Hawaiian is aina. I like to remind people that they are the aina and the aina is them. When we speak about taking care of the land we are also saying we take care of yourselves. When you see yourself this way you are aware that you are already a part of everything and everything is a part of you.

Awareness of oneness naturally evokes compassion, kindness, and joyfulness. A deeper meaning of aloha is living the oneness that reveals joy. This is why aloha has the meaning of coming face to face in the breath of life. Life being all of creation. So breath is not simply air but every energy that sustains life. The ultimate aim of life is joy. No one wakes up hoping for a bad day. There are many people who give up their right and power to have a good day by expecting and in a sense hoping, for a bad day. From the view of oneness it is easy to see that you are not born and you do not die, you don’t even transform, you are everything.

In Hawaii we greet with the honi. Honi by touching nose to nose and forehead to forehead with another person. You could even honi an object like a tree or a rock. Then inhale sharing the breath of life and the awareness of oneness with all of creation. The honi makes it easy to stay joyful because you are less tightly closed into yourself. A good handshake or hug will often do the same thing. An open heart and mind is a more relaxed atmosphere due to openness being less tight than being closed.

Recall the last time you conversed or argued with someone who was closed minded. Then recall a conversation or argument you had with someone who was open minded. You will easily recall extra tension with the closed minded person and an unusually relaxed atmosphere with the open minded person, even if the conversation or argument got a little heated.

With an open heart the potential for the intellect to turn cold is prevented. A warmhearted person will always have clearer mind contributing to increased competence than a closed hearted person. The reason is that a broader view allows more information to be taken into consideration when making decisions. So there are very practical reasons for having an open heart and mind. While there is nothing wrong with being sentimental, sentimentality is not effective when a person is focused on satisfying their feelings instead of engaging the person or situation at hand.

The causes of happiness or suffering in any situation in your life are you and your thoughts. In fact you and your thoughts contribute as much or more than other people or persons. Facing yourself allows you to consider your thoughts. Are your thoughts constructive, positive, kind, loving, and compassionate to all involved? Remember you are included in all involved. If you feel upset or hurt, stop, calm and refresh yourself in the moment by drinking ha consciously. Say to yourself, ‘I am taking in life.’ When calm give yourself time to reflect. Time is space. Openness. Kindness. Decide the way you want to exist regardless of the way the situation, or other people, seem to influence you. Don’t let anything eclipse your ha and aloha.

Remain aware of the ha and the way it keeps you connected to life. Breathing provides you with refreshment, a constant sense of renewal, and feel good energy. This is the huna, or secret, I discovered for living life rather than being distracted from it. Being open is the only way to receive fullness. I joyfully share with you my huna. If you stay with your ha, you too will discover your own huna about yourself and life. When you discover your huna, share it with me, and we will honi wisdom. Aloha

You Are A Blessing: Part 2

The thing about being a blessing is noticing that everyone and everything else is too. You realize there is nothing special about being a blessing, and yet, everything is special about being a blessing. When you look at everything and everyone, including yourself, as a blessing it changes everything. And it changes nothing. So what the point? It’s not a point. It’s a power. One of the real and true powers we have is perspective. We can either look at everything as an offense or a gift. We can be the pawns and victims of life, the universe, God, whatever or we can be the benefactors of challenges that bring the seeds of opportunities.

Truth is I’ve yet to meet a life without stresses and challenges. And even that reality can be disheartening and distressing or encouraging. We can take it as life is a constant struggle that will never get better or that since everyone struggles we can get better and stronger in our ability to face struggles. Life favors no one and yet we have the power to favor life. We must use our intelligence to interpret things in a way that allows us to create solutions. Without a clear goal our heart has no where to focus its immense power. Used in harmony with our intellect the heart will rally the body and spirit to amazing and heroic accomplishments.

Try this. For one day think of everything you see and everyone you meet as a blessing. Oh it’s easy with the obviously beautiful things like flowers, birds, trees, the sky, but with situations and people who threaten, annoy, and irritate the crap out of us it is much more difficult to see it or them as a blessing. But if you can gain the mental and spiritual muscle to see the blessing in everything you will astound yourself with your own strength.