Read an Excerpt
Huna Practices to Create the Life You Want
By Serge Kahili King
Theosophical Publishing House Copyright © 2013 Serge King
All rights reserved.
The Four Worlds of a Shaman
* * *
As many readers know, I was reared and trained in a Hawaiian esoteric tradition that we call Huna. Abundant details of this tradition and my training can be found in my other books. Suffice it to say here that my adoptive Hawaiian family, the Kahilis, followed a version of Huna that is strongly linked to shamanic traditions around the world. The equivalent word for "shaman" in Hawaiian would be kupua. What follows, therefore, will have shamanic underpinnings. For the sake of making distinctions, the tradition I write about here can be called Huna Kupua.
Although I have written extensively on the subject of Huna in relation to many different areas of life, with this book I intend to go even further in its understanding and practice. And, no doubt, even more details about my life may be revealed.
A BIT OF BACKGROUND
One of the most confusing things to students of Huna is the way "Hunatics" (a convenient word coined by a student) look at the world. It confuses my students now and it certainly confused me as I was growing up in this tradition.
When I was a teenager living on a farm, my father would sometimes talk about the crops and the animals around us just like the neighboring farmers would, and sometimes he would talk "to" the same crops and animals as if they were all intelligent beings who could understand and respond to him. Even though I learned to do what he did, it was a good while before I understood the process. There was a time when I found it difficult to concentrate, with all the conversations of trees, flowers, bugs, rocks, and buildings going on. Then, somehow, I learned to switch in and out of that kind of awareness without knowing how I was doing it.
During seven years in Africa, my shaman mentor M'Bala taught me to merge with the animals of the jungle after going into a deep trance state. I thought that the trance was the means of merging until I realized that he was able to do the same thing in the blink of an eye without going into trance at all. Obviously, trance was just a tool and not the thing that caused the shift in experience.
And my Hawaiian kahuna uncle, Wana Kahili (WK), taught me to go on inner journeys filled with wonder and terror and to see omens in clouds and leaves and furniture. Yet he also taught me to be very aware of my waking state and how not to see omens as well, for there are times when that can be just as important.
My father, M'Bala, and WK spent very little time explaining the phenomena they were teaching me to experience. They felt that experience is the best teacher and that intellectual explanation would get in the way. That was a good method for getting me out of my hard head and into my body, but having to deal with the doubts and fears generated by the nonshamanic culture I also lived in slowed down my learning considerably. In my learning and teaching, I have found that satisfying the intellect often lowers the analytical and emotional barriers to learning, allowing for a much faster assimilation of experience. So I spent years in nonjudgmental analysis of my personal experiences and those of other shamans in order to more fully understand what we were doing when we did what we did, so that it could be shared more easily.
The real starting point was WK's teaching that there are four worlds or worldviews (levels or classes of experience) that everyone moves in and out of spontaneously and usually unconsciously, but that shamans consciously cultivate. These are, in Hawaiian, 'ike papakahi (literally, first-level experience), 'ike papalua (second-level experience), 'ike papakolu (third-level experience), and 'ike papaha (fourth-level experience). WK's rough explanation was that these represent, respectively, the ordinary world, the telepathic world, the dream world, and the world of being. For teaching purposes, I have renamed them the "objective," "subjective," "symbolic," and "holistic" worlds. WK also said that all of these worlds are common to everyone, not just shamans, and the difference is only that shamans use them knowingly with purpose. He added that a lot of confusion in people's lives comes from mixing worlds in their thought and speech.
It was my aim to teach a lot of people in a short time about shamanic experience, so even with that helpful start, I had a great deal of filling in to do. Here is a brief résumé of that search and research.
THE SHAMANIC EXPERIENCE
What are we shamans (or Hunatics) doing when we do what we do? We speak with Nature and with spirits; we change the weather and create events; we heal minds and bodies and channel strange beings; we fly out of our bodies, travel through other dimensions, and see what others cannot see; and we pay our taxes, wash our cars, and buy our groceries. Is there a common thread connecting all these widely varying activities, or are they all just a bunch of separate skills?
There is a powerful clue in the first and fundamental principle of Huna. This principle says that "the world is what you think it is." Another more popular way of stating the same thing is that "we create our own reality." Most people who say this don't really accept it fully, because they think it only means that everything bad that happens to them is their fault; and many who accept it with better understanding limit its meaning to the idea that they are responsible for their feelings and experience and that, if they change their negative thoughts to positive ones, they will begin to attract positive instead of negative experience.
Shamans, however, go much further than that. We take that idea to mean that we not only attract experience by our thinking but we also actually create realities. By our assumptions, attitudes, and expectations, we make things possible or impossible, real or unreal. To put it another way, by shifting mindsets, we can do ordinary and nonordinary things in the same physical dimension that we share with everyone else. I repeat that shamans are not unique in doing this. Any apparent uniqueness comes from how we apply our abilities.
The way to change experience and be able to use non-ordinary abilities within a given reality is to shift from one set of beliefs (or assumptions, attitudes, and expectations) about that reality to another set. It sounds so very simple, and it is. The most difficult part—and it can be extremely difficult for some—is to accept the simplicity, because that means changing one's idea about what reality is. The definition I am going to use is very simple: reality is experience. It doesn't matter whether you believe in a world "out there," in a world of telepathic and energetic connections, in a world made of dreams, or a world of oneness. Reality is experience, and experience is reality. Therefore, we can either do something to modify reality in some way in order to change our experience of it, or we can modify our experience in some way in order to change reality itself. And that's what this book is all about.
A MODEL OF MINDSETS
The model I am about to present has been specifically designed to enable modern, urban shamans to make clear and conscious distinctions between reality levels or mindsets. In a society more familiar with and accepting of shamanism this would not be as necessary. The same sort of shifts would be made, but they could be made more intuitively because there would be fewer contradictory mindsets from other philosophies, both religious and secular.
Let's imagine that a modern anthropologist is on an island in the South Pacific studying the native culture. One day the village shaman comes in from weeding his taro patch and tells the villagers that, while he was working, the goddess Hina came down on a rainbow and warned him that a hurricane was approaching; then she turned into a bird and flew away. The shaman moves easily from weeding to talking to the goddess, and the villagers accept it easily because they expect the shaman to be able to weed his taro and also talk to gods. The anthropologist, however, is likely to be stuck in a mindset that can allow for only drug-induced hallucination, mental aberration, fakery, or dramatization of some ordinary perception. The possibility that the shaman actually communed with a spirit is lost to him, as is the ability to do it himself.
As the different worldviews are discussed below, keep in mind that each world can be entered into just a little bit, like dipping your toe into a pool of water, or it can be entered as fully as diving into an ocean's depths.
'IKE PAPAKAHI: THE OBJECTIVE WORLD
This is what most people in modern society would call ordinary reality. Using a meadow in a forest as our metaphor, your purely sensory experience of it as an external reality—the colors of the plants, soil, and sky; the smell of the flowers; the sound of birds; the feel of the breeze on your skin; the perception of movement of a doe and her fawn—would take place in an objective world framework. It would also seem obvious and unquestionable to you when viewing the meadow from this level that the meadow is so many square feet in size, that there are so many trees of certain kinds, that some of them are broad-leafed hardwoods and others are conifers, that so many animals of different sorts inhabit the area, that somebody owns it, and so on. All of these observations would be true, but only at this level of perception. For this first level, as obvious as it seems, is perceivable in that way only because of one fundamental belief or assumption that serves as the framework for the objective world: everything is separate. This is the assumption that allows for making classifications and categories, the laws of classical physics, and the various philosophies of cause and effect.
It is often quite difficult for people brought up with that assumption to see it as just an assumption. It seems so obvious that it must be the only truth. But that is the nature of fundamental assumptions. All experience tends to be consistent with one's assumptions about experience. It's like putting on rose-tinted glasses and forgetting you are wearing them. If you never remember that you can take them off, you will always think that rose is the natural and only color the world can be. Inconsistency comes in when one becomes aware, consciously or subconsciously, of other assumptions. When the glasses slip, you start to remember you put them on, or you have a dream about a green world. Then you may open up to the experience of other levels. Shamans are taught as early as possible that the objective world is only one way of seeing.
The idea that everything is separate is very powerful and very useful. It has encouraged travel, exploration, science, industry, and all the miracles of modern technology, including those that brought about the publishing of this book. However, it has also been used to justify slavery, racism, wars, vivisection, pollution, and overexploitation of the earth's resources. Understand that the assumption itself is neither bad nor good. Human beings must make other assumptions associated with value systems before good and bad enter the picture, and those can operate at any level of reality. Looking at our meadow objectively, for instance, you might see it as good because it provides a food source for various animals. Or you might see it as bad because it is taking up valuable space that might better be used for housing or feeding humans. The point is that the use or misuse of the environment or its inhabitants is based on the idea that things are separate and quantifiable according to personal value systems.
Two secondary assumptions of the objective world are that everything has a beginning and an ending and that every effect has a cause. Things are caused to be born or come into being by some act or another and then they die or cease to be. This is a vital concern of objective-world thinking, and so great controversies rage over the physical causes of illness and exactly at what moment a cell or group of cells becomes a human being. Huge amounts of money are spent to determine the social and environmental causes of crime and to preserve historic buildings, because the end of their existence would be a cultural loss. And people undergo all kinds of emotional and financial burdens to uncover the specific trauma of their childhood that makes them unhappy today and to extend the life of the physical body. All such actions make perfectly good sense when viewed in the light of the assumptions previously mentioned, but viewed from other assumptions they make no sense at all.
Some people make the value judgment that the objective world is bad, and so they seek to escape it or diminish it or deny it. In shamanic thinking, however, the objective world is simply one more place in which to operate, and to operate effectively in any world is the shamanic goal. In his or her essential role as healer, therefore, the shaman may use objective-world assumptions to become proficient in such healing methods as massage, chiropractic, herbs and medicines, surgery and exercise, or nutrition and color therapy, without being limited to the assumptions of those methods. We change reality at First Level by changing what we do, verbally and physically.
'IKE PAPALUA: THE SUBJECTIVE WORLD
Now assume you are at the meadow again. This time you are aware of the interdependence of the natural world, of the mutually supportive roles played by the elements of light and shade, wind and water, soil and stone, trees, birds, flowers, and insects. You feel like you are part of that interdependence, not just an observer. Perhaps you feel emotions of peace, happiness, love, or awe. And you are aware of the season and reminded of seasons past and yet to come. If you are a shaman or are sensitive telepathically, you will probably be able to make a greater internal shift and become aware of the auras, or energy fields, of everything in the scene before you and the interplay of those forces as well. You may be able to converse with the plants, animals, and stones, or with the wind, sun, and waters, sharing their secrets and stories. Depending on your background, experience, and skill, you may even be aware of and be able to communicate with nature spirits or devas and the oversoul, or aumakua, of the meadow itself. While standing there, you could suddenly witness a scene from a hundred years ago of Native Americans camping in that place after a successful hunt, smoking their pipes around the fire and giving thanks to the Great Spirit. You might even feel that you are/were one of them.
The above examples of subjective-world experience are possible because of the basic assumption of this level, namely, that everything is connected, supported by the secondary assumptions that everything is part of a cycle and in transition and that all events are synchronous, or happening at the same time.
In the framework of this worldview, telepathy and clairvoyance are natural facts, as unquestionable as the action of a lever in the objective world. Mental communication with anything that exists, regardless of distance, is possible because everything is connected. Emotions can be experienced because of empathic connection. Auras can be seen and felt because energy is the connection. Past and future lives can be known because life is cyclic and time is synchronous. Death, at this level, is only a transition, part of a cycle, whereas in the objective world death is a finality. Everything about this level is true, but again, only from the perspective of this level. This is why people primarily oriented in the objective world have such difficulty accepting telepathic phenomena and subjective sciences, such as astrology, as facts; it is why people who are primarily oriented in the subjective world find it so hard to explain their experiences to objectively rooted friends. Neither world makes sense when viewed from the perspective of the other. If you are born and you die and that's that, then past lives are nonsense. If the stars are a zillion miles away and you are here on earth, then any influence is absurd. On the other hand, if everything is interdependently connected, then cutting down every tree in sight to build more cities is suicide, and if you have been a member of a different race in a previous life, to hate that race today is hypocrisy. A shamanic way out of this dilemma is achieved through the seventh principle of Huna: "Effectiveness is the measure of truth." Instead of trying to decide which viewpoint is right, the shaman uses whichever one is effective and appropriate to the healing aim at hand.
Shamanic healing methods at this level make use of telepathic suggestions and creative thoughtforms, acupuncture/acupressure, and energy balancing, transfer, or movement by hand or with the use of tools such as crystals and special energy shapes and patterns.
Excerpted from Changing Reality by Serge Kahili King. Copyright © 2013 Serge King. Excerpted by permission of Theosophical Publishing House.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.