I saw a Glasbergen cartoon recently which shows a woman at table in a restaurant, the waiter standing there pen in hand to take her order; she is saying, “I’m going to order a broiled skinless chicken breast, but I want you to bring me a lasagna and garlic bread by mistake.” Many of us can recognize in this carton the game of dishonesty that we all play with ourselves! “I’ll start that diet on Monday! I’ll start walking next week! I’ll give you a call.” And then we do no such thing! And with our ongoing lack of follow-through we slowly become used to our dishonesty. We incrementally become acclimated by our “I meant to” into thinking that Intention is the same thing as Accomplishment!
I was watching a film about the manufacturing of samurai swords. A modern-day master of this art explained that the creating of the steel sword is preceded by religious ritual, which is considered to be as integral to the manufacture of the sword as everything else that is done during the process. When asked why, the master replied, “If you think that what you are doing has religious significance then you pay a lot of attention to it.” How many of us regard the ordinary things that we do as having religious significance? In my opinion, this element of religious significance is an integral part of the Hawaiian approach to Life since they view themselves not so much as consumers with rights, but as participants with The Divine, and as having been entrusted to care mindfully for the Garden. To care mindfully requires awareness, and awareness requires honesty. When a halau (a school of hula dancers) prepares to go into a forest to gather material for their costumes they don’t just charge in, gather what they want and leave; instead, they stop at the edge of the forest and ask The Divine for permission to enter. In doing so, they express a basic mindset of respectfulness… which is, of course, a religious manifestation. Before gathering material from a plant they again ask for permission to do so, promising to use the material wisely and not wastefully.
How many of us just pick any old flower that we want? Do the things that we do in our daily life have any religious significance for us? Are we honest with ourselves and with Life, or do we assume that sometimes our intention-to-be-honest means that we are honest? Are we willing to say that we really, really want the damned lasagna and to hell with the skinless chicken breast?! Or, while we eat the lasagna, do we reassure ourselves with, “Well… I meant to order the chicken!”