As I was digging through some old papers I found a letter from when I traveled to Hawaii in 2008. I was staying at a hostel on Maui’s north shore and the owner was a native Hawaiian. After a few conversations he started teaching me about Hawaiian spirituality. Before I left he gave me a letter with a story. These are his words:
The ancient Hawaiians believed that we are NOT human beings here to have the occasional spiritual experience, but that we are spirit beings here to LIVE the human experience. And they had a very beautiful story which represented this called the “Bowl of Light.”
Each child, as they were born, would have a bowl carved for them by one of the elders. And it would be given to them at birth and explained to them as they grew that this bowl represented them, as their True [self].
They were like bowls of shining LIGHT. They were ‘uhane nui’ – spirit greatness – and that all humans are spirit greatness, and that we shine from this place. We shine as spirit light. And as we go through life and as things occur that are not pono (in divine order), it is as if a pohaku, a rock is put into the bowl, it blocks out the light and we can no longer shine, shine as spirit greatness the way we were meant to be.
The Hawaiians had a very simple solution for this: they would just huli the bowl. In other words, turn the bowl over so that they could continue to shine as the spirit of light that they were meant to be.
There are similar lessons within yoga and Buddhism. It can be tough to let go of things that aren’t working but it can also be the best medicine. When life puts rocks in your bowl that is THE best time to practice. And when it seems like the whole world is being turned upside down it might just be a necessary step in emptying the bowl. Especially if we’re having a hard time letting go of the rocks.
May you shine as spirit greatness, the way you were meant to be.