Sticks & Stones For All

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Perception is not truth. Let's just get clear on that right now. If what we see, hear, feel, smell, taste and touch were all there is, than the world would be flat, dogs would only be able to hear what we hear and experiences would appear the same to each of us. The truth is that there is more to any situation than our senses can perceive. Our thoughts, feelings and beliefs color everything that happens to us. When we are mindful of this, it can open up a whole new world and literally change our lives.

My husband Mike and I recently participated in a class on Hawaiian family values that we lovingly call "The Board and Stone Class." In this class, each family makes a board and stone that are traditionally used for pounding kalo (taro) into poi. Kalo has deep significance for Native Hawaiians both spiritually and culturally. The board and stone class focuses on reconnecting people to their ancestral heritage as well as to their ohana (family). It is, quite frankly, an ingenious concept as everything about it creates family bonding, pride in the Hawaiian culture and aloha.

At the beginning of the class, participants are required to go into nature and collect some items that they will use to make their board and stone; a branch from a hao tree- that will be used to make an axe handle, and a stone that will be carved to make a pōhaku ku'i poi (poi pounding stone). I happened to be out of town on the day our class went to collect their items so Mike and his son Everett went together that day. Mike called me afterwards to tell me about it. The protocol for choosing a stone requires that you prayerfully ask permission to remove the stone. Hawaiians believe that stones have mana (spiritual power) and so are considered living things. He was somewhat frustrated because he said that the whole thing felt very competitive. With about 50 families all looking for the same thing, it did not bring out the best in people.  I had in my mind a vision of people scrambling to acquire limited resources after hearing him describe the experience.

A few weeks later I went with Mike to the same location to work in the lo'i (taro field). This was a day of service that is a requirement of the class. It is a way to connect participants both to the āina (land) and to the Hawaiian culture. Many lo'i in Hawaii are being restored after having been destroyed when colonizers rerouted water to sugar cane fields. We helped to flood and plant a new field and spent the morning wading in knee deep mud. It gave me an appreciation for what our ancestors (of all races) had to go through to feed themselves. This is something we take for granted in this age of grocery stores and fast food. 

After the work was completed we went down to the river to rinse off. As we stood there admiring the beauty of the place Mike told me that this was where he chose the stone for our pōhaku ku'i poi. "This is where you found the stone?" I asked. "This river right here?"

"Ya. This is where everyone got their stone."

"But there are thousands of stones here, perhaps millions. I thought you said people were sort of going crazy choosing their stone," I replied.

"They were." 

I looked at the river, filled with stones then looked back at my husband. "And this forest right there, with all those hau trees, that's where you found your branch? Where everyone found their branches?"

"Yep," he said, 

"Wow," I said. "That is pretty crazy. That is a vivid example of how our perceptions affect our reality. There are more than enough stones and branches for everyone but just the idea of scarcity makes otherwise kind and loving people turn into scary hoarders."

"I know," Mike said. "It's actually pretty funny now. This river looks like a completely different place."

I've thought about this a lot since then. Our personal beliefs in how the universe works totally manifests itself in our lives. If we believe in limitations and scarcity, then that is what we are going to experience. If we believe in limitlessness and abundance, those thoughts and beliefs will manifest themselves in our lives. The force that created the universe, whether you call it God, Universal Intelligence, Source, yahweh or Allah (or anything else), is powerful enough to create the universe out of nothing. There are no limits; only abundance.

The trick is that you need to have this abundance thinking mindfully and respectfully. We cannot continue to consume and consume and continue to sustain life on this planet. There is enough for everyone. But only if everyone takes only what they need. Hoarding and overconsumption are manifestations of scarcity thinking and that sort of thinking is destroying our world. If you truly believe in the abundance of the universe then you won't have a problem sharing what you have with others. What we give comes back to us. 

There are enough sticks and stones for everyone. Trust me.