The Second Principle – KALA – There Are No Limits

(Originally posted 23rd April, 2004)

Understanding the concept that there are no limits is perhaps one of the hardest concepts of all the seven principles. After all, we can only perceive so much and there are things that fall outside the realms of natural human experience.

But every day, science is pushing back the barriers of human understanding, developing more and more sensitive instruments to measure things and give people a better picture of what the real world is all about.

What people believe puts limits on their thinking and what they can achieve. If you listen to world-class athletes, they are forever pushing their thinking into new realms, in areas that people had previously thought to be impossible.

If the world is what you think it is, then anything that you can possibly dream up you are capable of achieving. Of course, it might take you a lifetime to achieve that goal or it might take someone using your experience as a jumping off point to achieve your goal long after you are gone.

Serge King gives three corollaries for the second principle. The first corollary is that everything is connected. On a metaphysical level, everything is connected to everything else. Of course, the influence of one thing on another might be so insignificant that it might be completely undetectable.

One thing I have come to realise about this corollary is that everything that you experience and think about is directly connected to what you currently think and believe. I’ve lost track of the number of times within my own life where I have been wondering about a particular subject, only to have a chance encounter with something that has either given me the answer directly, or it has provided me with something else to think about which has caused the revelation that I needed. This inspiration can come in just about any form. You might read something in a book or see something on TV or in a movie. In more extreme cases, you can see something in nature that stands out and causes you to think about something in a new way. Skeptics may scoff and put the whole thing down to coincidence, but because you’re filtering things through your own beliefs, the connection that you make becomes significant to you.

Serge’s second corollary is that anything is possible. Again, you can see this idea in action when you look at athletes who break world records, or inventors who come up with an invention that others have said could never be done. Persistence of belief is the key here. It also sometimes helps if you have other people who believe the same things that you do, because their belief reinforces your own giving your confidence a boost.

The last corollary is separation is a useful illusion. If you believe that everything is connected, and there are no limits, then it can be overwhelming when you realise that everything you do has an effect on the world around you. It can cause some people to freeze up, unsure about what to do in case they do something. The thing is thought that just because we’re connected to everything doesn’t mean we’re joined at the hip. The level of influence we have over something varies and if we’re aware of that it, sometimes that separation can be used to provide some much-needed perspective. Often when we find ourselves most overwhelmed with a problem, the ability to disconnect and look at it from a distance usually allows us to find a way around our immediate problem and to make our lives better in the long run.

I have to admit that the second principle is perhaps the one I understand the least, because it is the one that I have probably spent the least amount of time thinking about. It makes sense to me, but I’m sure that there are certain ramifications of it that I need to still need to grasp. So, I’m hoping that this hasn’t been too confusing a description.

The First Principle – IKE – The World Is What You Think It Is

(Originally posted 21st April, 2004)

Everyone perceives the world in our own way. There are no two people on this planet who think in exactly the same way. Each of us have had a different set of experiences that have guided our thinking and established our set of preferences and beliefs And it’s through these things that we come to see and understand the world around us.

Every day, each of us makes decisions about the things that we experience, tings like is a particular occurrence good or bad? The basis of these decisions come from the things we have learned in the past. As we are growing up, different things are emphasised, so we begin to see those things as being good or worthwhile spending time and energy on. We are discouraged in other areas – either through active discouragement through punishment, or through sheer apathy.

When we’re young, we lack the general knowledge and experience to determine for ourselves whether something is good or bad. So we tend to adopt the beliefs of those around us that we look up to. In the very early days, this is our parents and as we get older we learn from teachers, friends and a whole swag of other people. It doesn’t matter if the beliefs that we take on board are actually useful to us or not.

Serge Kahili King gives a couple of corollaries to the first principle. The first is that every thing in a dream. Everything that we perceive or experience actually happens inside our heads. Our senses just feed electrical impulses into our brains, and it’s in our minds that we interpret and filter those sensory inputs. And something that we experience only in our heads is normally referred to as a dream. It’s like Peter Gabriel says in his song Mercy Street: “All of the buildings, all of the cars, were once just a dream in somebody’s head.”

It’s a strange concept, but it can help to teach us that if we want to change our reality, we just have to change the way we think. By consciously making decisions to look at things in a new way, we can often radically alter our lives and have experiences that are much more beneficial to us.

Serge’s second corollary is that all systems are arbitrary. I always find that this point really floors me. Despite what we may think, any system of thoughts or beliefs started with one person trying to figure something out. They selectively filtered their experience and worked it out into a series of premises that they then shared with someone else. Over time, that system becomes accepted as the “truth” by the world at large and the general monkeymass tends to punish those who challenge the consensus.

The thing is though that the only real basis for the validity of a system is whether or not it is effective for us. Does the acceptance of the system lead to a better quality of life for us and those around us? If the answer is yes, then you could consider the system to be worthwhile. If it doesn’t lead to those things, then you would normally reject it. But you’ll also find someone else who thinks that the system that you’ve rejected to be the one for them and there is nothing you can do to convince them otherwise.

You can see this all the time in the “real” world – capitalism vs communism, differences in political ideology, even computer operating systems (the dreaded Macs vs Windows debate). There is no one universal truth that humans can express. I think that Lao Tsu sums this up beautifully in the first verse of the Tao Te Ching: “The Tao that can be written down is not the true Tao.”

If you can come to grips with this concept, it becomes possible to take a step back and examine which elements of a system work for us and which elements limit our thinking. Once you can do that, you’re free to change systems depending on the situation, so that you can come out on top all the time.

The Seven Principles of Huna – An Introduction

(Originally posted 20th April, 2004)

Have you ever read something and found that it’s changed your life forever? It might be funny, or poignant, or it might just give you a framework for understanding everything that you’ve been thinking about for a long time.

Back in 1995, when my life was going through a fairly serious upheaval, I came across a book called Urban Shaman by Serge Kahili King, Ph.D. It’s a book describing some of the principles and techniques of Huna, the shamanic tradition of the native Hawaiians.

The first few chapters of this book struck me as being incredibly profound. They gave me an understanding of how my mind worked in simple and practical terms. I don’t think I’ve ever come across something that resonated with me quite as much as this information.

I can’t say that I use much of the stuff in the rest of the book any more, but I find that I periodically come back to the opening chapters to reread and get insights into where I have been going wrong with the ways that I have been thinking and the decisions that I have been making.

Chapter three of Urban Shaman talks about the Seven Fundamental Principles, a series of ideas that form a basic foundation that just about everything else that the rest of the book goes on to talk about. The ideas themselves are rather simple, but they are also quite profound if you stop and think about them for a while.

Over the next week or so, I’m going to be going through each of them in turn and trying to briefly explain what Serge has said about them, and what I’ve come to realise about them in the nearly ten years since I first encountered them.

It doesn’t really matter if you agree with them or not. They’re not something that have to be defended as the one and only truth. Instead, they’re just a series of guidelines that can be useful at times to help understand where you’re going wrong – or perhaps even where you are going right. It’s like Serge says, if they’re useful to you, then use them. If they’re not, then use whatever works for you.

The Modern Day Gypsy

(Originally posted 14th April, 2004)

What is that makes someone put down roots and settle in one location? Or perhaps more interestingly, what makes a person pull up their roots and spend their lives on the road?

The reason I ask is an old guy I saw in the park on Sunday morning. By the look of him, he was probably in his fifties or sixties, and of eastern Mediterranean descent (or maybe eastern European). He had an old red Toyota Lite Ace van parked by the side of the road, with the side door up and the tailgate open.

When I first saw him, he had a small hand mirror balanced on the gutter above the sliding door and he was having a shave. Clothes on hangers were dangling from the open tailgate and he had a stack of cast iron pots spread out on the picnic table nearby.

It was about that point I realised that he was, perhaps, a modern day gypsy. His van was filled with metal racks, and they looked packed full of everything this old guy needed to get by in his daily life. It was full, but in an orderly sort of way. He seemed to know where everything was.

What makes someone decide to just pack up their life in a van and head around the countryside? Me, I’ve always been a settle in one place kinda guy, liking the stability of having a place to call my own that I can go back to at the end of the working day.

The problem with that idea is that you quite often start taking where you live for granted and stop appreciating all the things that it has going for it. I guess at the moment, with me spending more time away from home than I spent at home, this is perhaps a little more obvious to me than it would have been a few months ago.

When was the last time you bothered to stop and appreciate the fact that you have a roof over your head, and saw all the good things that it has to offer? Every house – even the old run down ones – have a certain charm all of their own that you can find if you actually bother look for it.

Houses – or vans I guess – could be interpreted as a symbol of our internal lives. What does the place we live say about us? Do we want the big, modern palace with all the mod cons, or is an older, smaller place more suitable? So, do we look after it or do we let it get run down through neglect? Just about everything that we surround ourselves with is a reflection of the way that we think and the things that we believe. Sometimes looking at the external world can give surprising insights into what’s actually going on inside.

So, here’s a big shout out to the modern day gypsy of Telopea Park. My thanks for opening my eyes to something that I had perhaps forgotten about. God speed, my friend and may your days on the road be safe and enjoyable.

On The Air

(Originally posted 13th April, 2004)

Modern life moves pretty fast. So fast, in fact, that most of us are too busy being caught up in the day-to-day stuff that we forget to slow down and appreciate the things that we have and what’s going on around us.

This journal is my attempt to appreciate some of the little things in life that so often get overlooked or taken for granted. Either that, or just stuff that fascinates me. I’ve found that the times when I’ve spent time every day appreciating such things and giving them some consideration are the times when I am most content in my own life. I like that feeling and it’s one that I’d rather have more often.

Most people who know me, or who at least read my other journal, are aware of the fact I’m a big Northern Exposure fan. My favourite character on the show, without a doubt, was Chris Stevens (who was so brilliantly played by John Corbett). Chris was the DJ in Cicely, and his “Chris in the Morning” show was usually filled with amusing anecdotes and observations on life. Chris’ monologues were sprinkled with philosophy, psychology, poetry and a whole stack of other stuff.

So, as a homage to Chris in the Morning, I’m planning on writing this journal in a similar style. Chris’ monologues sometimes began huge crystallisations of thought for me and got me reading stuff that I’d never even heard of. I’m hoping that perhaps some of the things that I write may do the same for others. But at the same time, I’m not really doing this for other people; I’m doing this for me.

Like the Chris in the Morning show, I’m planning on keeping this relatively light-hearted. This is not to say that it’s going to be silly; on the contrary, that’s the last thing that I want. I’m hoping that at least some of the posts will maybe cause you to pause and think about things for yourself, and maybe you might even learn a thing or two that might come in handy later on. I don’t know. That stuff’s all in the future and we’ll have to just wait and see.

As I said before, I’m doing this mostly for myself. Because of that, I’ve decided to treat it like a radio show and I’ve deliberately turned comments off. Because I’m planning on asking a bunch of questions as a way to start each topic, there’s a good chance that most of these questions will be at least partly rhetorical. I’m not looking for specific answers to them. Sometimes not knowing the answer is better than actually knowing it. In my experience, asking questions about the mystery that is life is often the best way to unlock your own creativity and get some surprising insights into the way that you think. The journey started by asking for questions and then pondering the answers and revelations that come up as a result often brings great joy and relieves the depression and melancholy that so plagues modern life.

So, that’s what this is all about. I’m hoping to get a new entry up every day or two, depending on how busy I am at the time. Hopefully you’ll find something interesting here for you to think about, and I’m hoping that maybe my little ramblings might actually put a smile on your face and brighten up your day a bit.

Hello world!

Welcome to I’ve only recently put this site online, and I’m still trying to figure out exactly what I want to put on it.

No doubt, it will have some role-playing game material, some fiction, and perhaps even some other stuff as well.

Stand by :)