A professor in our seminary in Yonkers, NY was once asked in class by a student if such-and-such was either true or untrue. His answer was, “Well, we can say that it is… and it isn’t!” For a person yearning and needing absolute certainty such an answer can be confounding, like a Western equivalent to “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” A manifestation of spiritual, emotional, and psychological immaturity is thinking in terms of black and white, in either/or categories. In our relationships with others this manifests itself by our inability to forgive others when they make a mistake or a bad choice. This immature mindset can also play itself out in our relationship with the Divine.
A Westernized, non-Hawaiian way of thinking presumes that the pursuit of a serious relationship with the Divine requires a withdrawal from people. This approach views contact with others as an interference with our relationship with the Divine. The Hawaiian approach goes in the opposite direction! To meet the Divine we must look more deeply into the world, into the ʻāina (the land) and into other people. In our relationships the real difficulty is never others but the mistaken way in which we view others, especially our tendency to make “me” the focus in our relationships.
We project our fantasies about the Divine, viewing it as judge, friend, parent, or enemy… thereby viewing the Divine solely from our me-centered end of the relationship. The reality of the Divine is one to be encountered on its own terms, not ours. The most profound problems in our relationships arise out of our projection onto others that they are to fulfill “my” needs! This is not love but a way of using others. We can understand others the most when we are not being driven to possess them like a commodity or to use them to meet our needs. How to change this? Sit. Listen. Be. The Divine and others are always speaking to us. In order to hear them the time is now we have to stop projecting.