I believe that to meet the
challenge of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater
sense of universal responsibility. It is the best foundation for world
peace, the equitable use of natural resources and, through concern for
future generations, the proper care of the environment.
-His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lama’s visit to Maui got me thinking about the special
significance of the auspicious occasion. Was there any particular
message in the life and words of this revered religious and political
leader that I may impart to inspire myself, and others, to nudge us
towards greater awareness and right action? While I contemplated the
question, I looked back on the week that had just passed…
Put the finishing touches on my latest article. Deep breath, get up
and stretch. Walk outside into the sunshine and drink in the fragrance
of the gardenias.
Carpool to South Maui for a neighborhood meeting. At dusk, 40 people
fill chairs on a spacious deck overlooking the open space kiawe and
grass pasture of what could become Wailea 670. Clear, passionate
presentations lead to lively questions and conversations about the
possibility of responsible, community-based planning. A spirit of
hopefulness is in the air. I wonder how to explain it all to the vast
numbers of people who didn’t attend.
A friend sends a web video that has me in tears. It’s David Suzuki’s
young daughter addressing the U.N. Conference on Environment and
Development in Rio de Janeiro. Even in kindergarten you tell us not to
settle our differences by fighting, she says. “So why do you do what
you tell us not to do?” (see: powerofourway.blogs.com:80/)
Maui Tomorrow board meeting. So many issues.
Friends ask us to join them for dinner before they return to
Colorado. They want to support local efforts with funding from their
charitable foundation. She asks, how do we bring about a shift in
consciousness, so people will “get it?” Will the Dalai Lama’s visit
help some people wake up and realize the value of human life and learn
compassion for all beings?
I say I believe in sharing enough information so people may arrive
at a place of making educated choices. I told of efforts last year,
with support from Mayor Alan Arakawa, to establish an Environmental
Resource Center so that residents and visitors could learn about our
native ecosystems, environmental organizations and efforts.
The idea became a bit of a political football. Some were so caught
up in the muddled past of the County property and house built near
Baldwin Beach that they couldn’t see the golden opportunity. As
spiritual activist and author Marianne Williamson once bluntly told a
questioner at a packed Castle Theater, “You’re so caught up in the
crucifixion that you can’t see the possibility of redemption.”
Apparently seeing problems rather than possibilities, the new administration recently boarded up the beach house.
Working at home. Someone sent underwater photos of sea turtles. Sweet.
Free showing of Kundun at
the Maui Arts and Cultural Center. Paia’s Lama Geltsin intones a
Buddhist blessing before the screening. I had remembered little of
seeing the film 10 years ago. The photography and music greatly enhance
and enliven the story of the Dalai Lama’s early life, up to his escape
from Tibet at age 19. I’m blown away. Why hasn’t the world community
risen up in the past 50 years to insist that China’s atrocities to the
Tibet nation, people, religion and culture be reconciled?
Reading the newspaper. The Honolulu Advertiser
prints my letter stating proposals by Maui Electric, BlueEarth Biodisel
and Imperium Renewables will lead us down a dead-end road. The Maui News reports
on the mass shooting at Virginia Tech. Next to it is a local story of
three men who rescued a stranded dog stuck on a ledge in the steep
cliffs of `Iao Valley.
A letter writer postulates that the Dalai Lama may be a peace
messenger sent by Jesus, who is tired of us “ignoring and distorting
his message.” Isn’t it true that we each see things through our own set
of glasses, rather than with an open mind?
Seventy percent of the people in the world are non-Christian, yet
there is such a great tendency towards exclusivity and trying to
convert the beliefs of others. I reflect on the wisdom from a favorite
book, Change We Must, by Nana
Veary. A native Hawaiian and mother of acclaimed songstress Emma Veary,
Nana’s message of aloha describes her life as a spiritual journey,
rather than a destination.
It reminds me of the time I overheard a tourist in Hana say, “This
is it? This is all there is?” and I thought to myself, you just missed
Gathering at Palauea Beach to commemorate the anniversary of an
elder’s passing, and her daughter’s embarking on a trip to the artistic
and spiritual community at Damanhur, Italy. I’m reminded of the lost
opportunity to preserve the public beach at Palauea, which is now
framed by mansions—ostentatious displays of wealth that compromise the
historic and cultural sense of place and feeling of serenity.
Carpool to County Council meeting. A buzz is in the air. Former
Council member Wayne Nishiki greets people in the parking lot, wearing
a white “Save Honolua Coalition” t-shirt, like dozens of others. In the
chambers, it’s standing room only, with signs and placards hoisted
high. School kids from Sacred Hearts and Lahainaluna speak eloquently
in support of a resolution to preserve Lipoa Point, rather than build a
golf course and luxury homes. There’s a tsunami wave of change, and the
people of the West Maui community are riding it like a monster tube
rolling into their beloved bay.
This grassroots effort has successfully changed the course of the
landowner’s proposed development. Maui Land and Pineapple’s
representative announces that they are tabling current plans, and are
willing to talk about alternatives. I’m greatly inspired and
On a high from the council meeting, I work with colleagues on
planning to engage the South Maui community in taking the reins to plan
Earth Day. For the 37th year, people gather in celebration worldwide
to discuss the changes we need to embrace if we are to save Mother
Earth from ourselves. Maui Nui Botannical Gardens is more crowded than
in past years. Hawaiian music, culture, crafts, food and plants are the
focus. Environmental organizations bring out their best displays,
sharing their humble, yet heroic efforts. The sun is shining, the
tradewinds are blowing and there are smiles on many faces.
It’s Earth Day again! This time at Baldwin Beach Park. Hundreds come
to listen to a variety of music, mingle, dance and celebrate. Many
people sign petitions. The Sierra Club’s display includes a banner hung
on the eave of A&B’s pavilion, alongside colorful prayer flags. It
reads, “The Environment is the Economy.” Well, at least THIS crowd gets
the message. When will everyone else get it?
The Studio Maui in Haiku is packed for devotional kirtan chanter,
Krishna Das. He’s a contemporary and friend of Maui resident Ram Das,
and both spent years in India with their guru, Neem Karoli Baba.
Krishna Das shares that kirtan chanting is a form of spiritual
practice, a devotional yoga. The energy is electrified, and the
audience becomes a choir, singing the names of the Divine. According to
his website, “These Names are the sound of the surf of that Ocean of
Love. Everyone has their own path to this beach, to the Ocean, but we
all wind up in the same place.” Waves of joy fill the hall.
Put the finishing touches on my latest article and send it to my
editor. Deep breath, get up and stretch. Walk outside into the sunshine
and drink in the fragrance of the gardenias. MTW