Tami Simon: You’re listening to “Insights at the Edge.” Today I speak with Hank Wesselman. Hank Wesselman is a paleoanthropologist and a shamanic practitioner and teacher who has worked with noted anthropologists investigating the mysteries of human origins in Africa.
With Sounds True, Hank has released the book Awakening to the Spirit World: The Shamanic Path of Direct Revelation, which he coauthored with shamanic teacher Sandra Ingerman. He also has a new book from Sounds True called The Bowl of Light: Ancestral Wisdom from a Hawaiian Shaman. And beginning on June 30, 2011, Hank will be leading a three-part online event series on The Shaman’s Path: A Practical Workshop for Awakening to the Spirit World.
In this episode of “Insights at the Edge,” Hank and I spoke about his relationship with kahuna elder and mystic Hale Makua. Hank shared with us some of the central lessons he learned from his friendship with Hale Makua, including teachings on the nature of time, how to connect with one’s higher self, and what’s meant by the “bowl of light,” and how to clear out any obstacles that there might be in our heart obstructing our connection to this light. We also spoke about what he and Hale Makua called an “ancestral grand plan.” Here’s my very intriguing conversation with Hank Wesselman.
Hank, you’ve released a new book with Sounds True called The Bowl of Light, and I’d love to talk with you a little bit about some of its central themes. The book focuses on your friendship with Hale Makua, who is known as a kahuna. To begin with, I’m wondering if you could tell us a little bit about what it means that he was a kahuna. Is that just another word for a Hawaiian shaman?
Hank Wesselman: Well, it’s interesting that you should ask, because the word kahuna is not a word that is used lightly, nor is it carried lightly by the one who carries that mantle. The word kahuna implies mastery, and traditionally in Polynesia, there were many different kinds of kahunas. I mean, you had kahunas of geomancy, you had kahunas of prayer (who were ceremonialists), you had kahunas of navigation, kahunas of image carving, and so on.
Makua was a mystic; he was a kahuna kupua. And you could say that he was a shaman, because he had such an ongoing and open relationship with his ancestors in spirit. In fact, as I got to know him, I learned that he had approximately 27 generations of ancestors following him around as his spiritual advisors! It was like he had an open link to these ancestors all the time. So you could call Makua a shaman.
The word kahuna, of course, being mastery, involves self-mastery. I might add here that, like the word “shaman,” no shaman or kahuna ever calls themselves a shaman or a kahuna. It just isn’t done. It has to do with humility, and as we all know, the folks on the other side of the mirror who provide us with these special abilities and the energy with which to help others, they don’t regard it highly when you go around calling yourself something.
So Makua never called himself a kahuna, but he certainly was, and he was a kahuna on both sides of his family. In fact, I learned, in getting to know him, that he had an exceptional genealogy-and in Polynesia, genealogy is everything! On his mother’s side, he was a seventh-generation, direct descendent of King Kamehameha. Everybody’s heard about him! On his father’s side, he was a seventh-generation, direct descendent of High Chief Keoua, who Kamehameha killed to become the king. Keoua was Kamehameha’s cousin.
And so, because Keoua was a high chief, Makua had this exceptional genealogy, and everybody in Polynesia knew who he was. You know, if you went to Easter Island or to New Zealand or Tahiti or Huahine or Raiatea, everyone knew him. And in his elder years, he really moved toward becoming a world figure in the sense that the Ford Foundation discovered him, and they would send him to speak to the Native American nations. He was on stage with the Dalai Lama at the United Nations in New York, and he was sent to many of the conferences with the world indigenous spiritual network in Africa and elsewhere. So this guy was really something! I guess you could say that in many ways, he was kind of like the Dalai Lama of Polynesia.
But in Hawaii, very few people knew who he was, because he kept a very low profile because of his genuine humility. The fact that I, as an anthropologist, came into relationship with this interesting man is unusual, to say the least. In the old days, of course, kahuna wisdom was guarded very, very carefully, and very, very rarely shared with outsiders, so this was an extraordinary blessing for me to be in a relationship with this man during the last years of his life.
TS: Now, you mentioned that he seemed to you to have this unimpeded access, this free access, to 27 generations of ancestors. So I’m curious, first of all, what you mean by that, and how you witnessed this, what you actually saw that gave evidence of that kind of access to ancestral knowledge or wisdom?
HW: Well, Makua came to look me over at a conference at an institute where I was presenting a talk. I knew that, sooner or later, the kahuna families might send somebody in to have a look at me, because I wrote this book Spiritwalker back in 1995, and it contained a lot of kahuna wisdom and a lot of knowledge from that tradition. So he came to look me over, and our first meeting is described beautifully in our book, The Bowl of Light, in which he came to hear me talk, and he validated my experiences. And then he approached me after my talk, and said, “Listen. We should have a meeting before you leave the island.”
Well, listen, when the big kahuna says you’re going to have a meeting, this is going to happen! So on the last day of December in 1996, my wife, Jill, and I met with the kahuna Hale Makua at the edge of Kilauea Crater, which is in Volcanoes National Park. First, Makua took Jill to the women’s place of power, where women make medicine, and they have from time immemorial, on this island. Then he left her there and took me to the men’s place of power, and he told me part of his story.
Then, as is described in the book, he said, “I have to call my ancestors now.” And so he began, right there at the edge of this crater. I mean, we’re standing like 500 feet straight above this volcano crater with all of these fissures and fumaroles that are steaming, and sulfur is coming out, and stuff like that! He began to chant in Hawaiian, and as he was chanting in Hawaiian, I was listening to these names flowing off his tongue, and I was watching him very carefully. As I watched him, I could see him physically transforming, right before my eyes, as he named name after name after name after name. I realized that he was calling these ancestors to come into him.
I could see him physically changing in response to each name as he called it, and I realized that what he was doing is what shamans do everywhere. What really distinguishes the shaman as a spiritual practitioner is that the shaman is the one who uses their own body and their own mind to create a bridge between the world of things seen and the world of things hidden. All shamans understand that the world presents itself into two halves: the world of things that we take for granted, which is the physical world, and then there’s the dream world that interpenetrates and permeates this world, which we can’t see. The shaman alone is the one who can see into this world, because they have spirit vision. What Makua was doing was using his body and his mind to create this bridge, and so his ancestors were literally coming across this bridge, through his body, into our world to witness the talk that we were just about to have.
This was really quite something for me, I might add, as a Western anthropologist, as a scientist who is trained in the life sciences, to actually see this happening right before my eyes! You know, a lot of people think that this just happens in your mind, but in fact it can extend itself into this world. This was really what revealed to me that Makua was a shaman. He wasn’t just a medicine man. He wasn’t just a wisdom keeper. He was also a shaman; he could form this bridge, and so he lived in two worlds all the time-the world of things seen and the world of things hidden-and he was actively involved with these ancestral spirits in his lineage, who were his advisors.
TS: Now Hank, I’m imagining as you’re telling me this that his face changed, his expressions changed, and maybe his body positions changed. But what to you presented as evidence, or what gave you confidence, that these were ancestors talking to him, and that he wasn’t just on some kind of interior dream journey of invoking different kinds of felt senses of energies, shaking, changing his facial expressions? What gave the actual sense of a reality of ancestral forms being present?
HW: Well, as you know, Tami, from the book that Sandra Ingerman and I coauthored together, Awakening to the Spirit World, both Sandra and I are shamanic practitioners. Now, I would never call myself a shaman, but I could say that I have been working in this tradition for 29 years. And so in response to his words, I just opened up the stops and let myself sink into that light trance state in which spirits can be seen and experienced, and I could see them! I could see that this was what was happening! I could see these ghostly forms, these globes of light that were passing through and out of him, and taking form around him, while he was chanting. This was really quite an experience!
So in terms of evidence, this is the kind of thing that we rarely receive confirmation of from experiments or machines, or that kind of verification. It’s just something that we learn how to do, as shamanic practitioners, through practice and experience.
TS: What was your sense, what is your sense, of the cosmic destiny, if you will, the essence of your relationship with Makua? And as part of that, I’d love to know: He left his body a few years ago. Have you had an ongoing sense of your relationship since his death?
HW: Well, you know, one of the things that Makua told me on this first day when we met at the crater and we had this long conversation in which we got to know each other-my wife, Jill, was there as witness for most of this, although during part of it, she went for a walk, giving us a chance to be together just man-to-man.
One of the things he told me is that he read my book Spiritwalker, which came out, oh, 15 years ago now, and he realized that I was the guy he’d been looking for all of his life! Now, Makua was kahuna on both sides of his family, which means he comes from a long tradition of kahuna mystics. On that day he said, “I knew I would eventually meet you. I didn’t know where it would happen or when it would happen, but I knew we would connect in this lifetime so we could continue the work that we began together so very long ago.”
By saying this to me, he was validating not only my experiences that are recorded in that book Spiritwalker, but he also was saying to me, “Look, we’re in this together. We’ve been working together across time and former lifetimes, and we’re now going to spend some time together. And I have a lot of things I need to tell you, things that I couldn’t talk to you about in Hawaii because they’re kapu.” Meaning, they’re restricted by the kapu system. But he said, “I can talk to you in English, and there’s a lot of information that will be of use to your descendant and future self.”
I don’t know, Tami, if you have ever read Spiritwalker, but Spiritwalker is the story of how I got into all of this. I began to have these extraordinary visions while I was living here in Hawaii in the 1980s, in which my conscious awareness was brought into connection with another man. And what makes this totally weird is that this other man lives in the future. He’s a man of Hawaiian ancestry, named Nainoa. And if I’ve got this right-and I believe I do-he’s one of my future selves. He’s one of my descendants, and we both share a common higher self. In other words, we’re both physical manifestations of this same higher self, or oversoul.
Makua was riveted by this because in Hawaiian, the word for oversoul is aumakua. Au in Hawaiian means “time,” and makua means “parent,” so the word aumakua could be translated as “utterly trustworthy ancestral spirit.” He realized that I had a relationship with the ancestors through my work as an anthropologist and prehistorian, which some of your listeners know about because I continue to publish research, with the fossil-man gang from east Africa, about digs that are going on about four million years ago, with the “missing link” type stuff. But he also realized that I’d made connection in the future with one of my descendant selves. He realized that he had information he could pass to me, which theoretically my future self could access when we’re in connection.
It’s very simple. It’s like drag-and-drop on a computer! If it’s in my mind, if it’s in my memory banks, this guy who lives possibly 5,000 years down the road has access to that information. Makua saw this as this incredible opportunity to pass knowledge about the Hawaiian kahuna mystical tradition to the future, knowledge which, in all likelihood, could be lost in the meantime between now and then because of all sorts of possibilities.
So this put me, as a scientist, in a very interesting position, as you could imagine! My colleagues, my scientific colleagues, have largely left me alone. I think they’ve chosen to ignore my unusual books because that’s the safest route. You see, Tami, I’m sitting on a large pile of data, scientific data, and they want my data! This puts me in a good position.
TS: What’s the scientific data that you’re sitting on?
HW: Well, what I do is I reconstruct the paleo-environments of early-man sites at the time they were laid down. So when we’re dealing with human evolution and we’re dealing with the appearance of new species, the question is, “Why do these new species suddenly appear in the fossil record?”
The answer, of course, lies in the paleo-environmental exigencies in the parameters-in what’s going on in the environment. Because in paleontology, which is the field that I work in, there are certain things that happen, like climatic change, which will encourage the appearance or disappearance of large complexes of species, of flora and fauna. What I do is I find the evidence for the appearance of a new species.
I’m currently working on the sites associated with a species known as Ardipithecus ramidus. Ardipithecus is probably the famous “missing link” between humans and apes that Charles Darwin himself predicted we would eventually find in Africa, and it’s about four-and-a-half to five million years old. So my data involves reconstructing these paleo-environments, naming new species, revealing what the world was like at that time and how it abruptly changed, which may provide evidence for why humans came into being at all.
Makua was fascinated by this, by the way. He asked me often about what I was doing, because he saw me as involved with the ancestral field, just like he was. He saw that this was part of the link that brought the two of us together.
And so, during the last eight years of his life, we had these extraordinary conversations that you, as the chief at Sounds True, have graciously agreed to record in a book so that everybody who didn’t have the chance to meet this great man can be on the receiving end of this knowledge, which is not an inconsiderable thing!
TS: OK, now I think I understand a sense of what your connection with Makua meant to the two of you. And of course this is extremely wild, and I can understand why the scientists are leaving you to your own devices there in Hawaii, in terms of you being a soul conduit for information to be passed 5,000 years into the future.
HW: It sounds crazy, doesn’t it? What can I say? I have these spontaneous, dreamlike experiences, in which I find connection with this man.
Now you know, looking at that trilogy that I wrote, Spiritwalker, Medicinemaker, and Visionseeker, that was finished about 10 years ago. And those connections with this man in the future slowly closed down; that is, until this book with Makua. Last June, they opened up again for the first time in seven or eight years! That’s very exciting to me, and I have no idea what that’s going to lead to, because I can’t make it happen on my own.
It’s a two-way thing. When we’re in connection, it’s like talking on the telephone, but it’s also like I’m there. I mean, I’m like really there! I’m inside his body, looking out at a world through his eyes, receiving his memories, his thoughts, his emotions, his discomforts-I mean, everything! I’ve never met anybody else who’s experienced this before, but I do have a small file of letters from others who have seen the future through descendant selves.
So Makua saw this as an opportunity to pass a whole body of knowledge, which he was the caretaker of, into the future, to this man who was actually of Hawaiian descent, and who lives in a community largely of Hawaiian people, almost entirely of Hawaiian people, people derived from Hawaii-although they don’t speak a language which is spoken today, being 5,000 years down the pike. But when I’m in connection with him, in some strange way, I can pretty much understand the gist of what’s going on.
So this knowledge that Makua has transferred is meant to be passed on, and this is part of my kuleana, as they would say in Hawaiian, part of my responsibility that I took on, apparently before I was born, although it took me almost 60 years to figure it out!
TS: Now these appearances that have happened since June, you and your descendant from 5,000 years from now. What has been happening since June? What new information is being revealed to you?
HW: Well, he wants information. He wants information about the past, and so I’m the one, apparently, who he connects with.
You know, there’s a precedent for this among the Native American traditions. The most obvious example is the Ghost Dance of the late 1890s, when the Northern Paiute prophet Wovoka was taken, in a near-death experience, in an out-of-body experience, to the shamanic upper worlds. There he met with his ancestors, and they gave him a dance of many movements that he was supposed to bring back and infuse into Native American culture.
This became known initially as the “dream dance” or the “prophet’s dance.” From the Western Paiutes, it spread very rapidly through Native America, and the Sioux adapted it. They had their own version of it, the “standing dance.” And toward the 1950s, I think the Western Shoshone were still doing it. It became known as the ghost dance religion.
Of course the American military had no idea what this was, but they realized it was part of a cultural revitalization movement for the Native Americans, who had lost everything. By the late 1890s, 95 percent of the native people of North America had been killed. It was their holocaust, and they had lost their prayers, they had lost their ceremonies, they had lost their magic, they had lost their rituals, and all of it! The ghost dance was actually a community shamanism where the dance was done outdoors, and the dancers would go into an altered state of consciousness in which they would step outside of time and journey back to the ancestors to recover lost knowledge from the past.
This is what this man from the future seems to be doing, this man Nainoa. He’s connecting with me, his ancestor, to recover lost knowledge of the past, because he lives in a time-if I can put it this way-5,000 years after the collapse of what we call Western civilization. That’s what the Spiritwalker trilogy is really about.
If I’ve got this right-I believe I do; you know, I’ve had a look at the future!-this book is what drew me into connection with Makua. Makua read it, and came to look me over and see if I was real! I wasn’t expecting it when it happened, but once it happened, a friendship developed between us. It just got deeper and deeper and deeper and deeper, and he began to confide extraordinary bodies of knowledge to me. So our book, our project together, Tami, has been an enchanted experience from beginning to end, and frankly it’s way beyond all of the books that have been written on Hawaiian spirituality.
This is not a book about Huna, which stems largely from the work of Max Freedom Long, as you probably know. He was a schoolteacher who lived here 100 years ago, and he was one of the first who began to investigate the lost knowledge of the kahuna mystics. He had a friend at the Bishop Museum in Honolulu, and the two of them would compare notes. The whole Huna thing largely got started through his work, but it was limited in its scope by what he was able to perceive. Makua’s knowledge has taken us way beyond that!
TS: Now, I want to get to some of the key things you learned from Makua. But before we go there, I just have to stick with this descendant of yours, 5,000 years in the future, if you can bear with me, Hank. In your view, does that mean that the future is happening now, simultaneously, in some kind of parallel wrinkle of reality? Is it determined that Western civilization is going to collapse, and in some realm has collapsed? How do you make sense of these visions that you have?
HW: Well, this is one of the real struggles that I had, and that trilogy that I wrote records those struggles and my attempts to understand what was really going on. A lot of your listeners will have read these books years ago.
If I’ve got this right-and I believe I do-time is kind of like a cloud. There are these slices that go through the cloud, which are like DVDs. And the DVD that you and I are on right now is a very particular one that we could take out of the cloud and lie down and sort of play, like you would in a jukebox. The one that Nainoa is on is a different slice of time that exists in the same cloud, but it’s 5,000 years down the road.
In your words, you could say that once we step outside of the realm of the physical world and we go into the dreaming-or the “dreamtime,” as the Australian aboriginals call it-all time is now. This means that all times are going on simultaneously, connected to each other by this interesting matrix or web of energetic stuff, which the Hawaiians call “the oka field,” and others have called “the field”-and Lynne McTaggart has written about it in her book The Field.
So you could say that all time is now, and Nainoa and I, as descendants of the same oversoul field-or perhaps “embodiments” is a better word-embodied aspects of the same oversoul field, are connected to each other through this Grand Central Station of our higher self.
In order to connect with each other, we connect with that higher self, which is a very easy thing to do, if you know how to do it. And then through the higher self, I go out and find connection with this man, Nainoa. It could be said that both he and I share energy derived from that ancestral field. In other words, part of his energy is derived from my energy, and energy is the connection. Since energy is immortal, it gives a way to understand how such connections are even possible across the time-space continuum.
In the shaman’s world, you see, in the mystic’s world, these experiences are expected. They’re not considered to be exceptional, by any means. More and more Western people are becoming aware of this, which I feel very grateful for, because for the last 300 or 400 or 500 hundred years, this tradition has been suppressed ruthlessly by our organized religion hierarchies-of the Christian church, and so on, and so on.
This is all making a big comeback now. And it’s right on schedule, because we’re coming to the end of the cycle of ages, aren’t we? It’s always at the end of one cycle and the beginning of the next that a new kind of religion appears on the scene. This new kind of religion is appearing in our time. Right at the center of this awareness is the realization that each one of us can make this direct, transcendent connection with the sacred realm that defines the mystic, that defines the shaman. Which means that each one of us becomes our own priest, our own priestess, our own prophet, our own teacher, our own guru, receiving our revelations from the highest sources ourselves, without the infrastructure of any religious hierarchy between us and our experience of the sacred.
More and more North Americans and Europeans are rediscovering this, and so there’s great interest now in the shaman’s path as an ancient form of meditation, which has suddenly reappeared right on schedule, right at the end of this cycle and the beginning of the next! This is in alignment, of course, with the prediction that old Black Elk made almost 60 years ago, before his death.
TS: Now Hank, you mentioned connecting with one’s higher self or oversoul is really pretty easy to do if you know how to do it. You sort of said that in a slight offhanded way. I can certainly imagine listeners at that point having their ears prick up, and go, “I’d like to know how to do that in a very easy way!”
HW: Well, the key to this is the title of our little book, The Bowl of Light. One of the things that we talk about right at the beginning of the book is the fact that each one of us has not one, but three distinct souls. Makua used the word “soul” with deliberation, because each of these soul aspects originates from the same source, but they exist in very different states of quality.
Now, at the beginning of a reincarnational cycle, each one of us is expressed by an oversoul or higher self aspect that exists always in the upper worlds of spirit, in the spirit worlds, in heaven, if you will. What happens is that the time comes when that oversoul field divides itself, and it sends in a seed of its light, which takes up residence in a new embodiment for a new lifetime when we receive our first breath. The Hawaiians call this first breath the ha, and the word ha refers to the divine breath of life that we receive with our first breath.
With that first breath, that seed of light enters us and takes up residence within us. Where does it take up residence? It takes up residence within our heart, where it sits in deep meditation, watching and observing and supporting us as we progress through the life that we’re going to lead.
Now, the first thing this seed of light has to do is achieve a good working relationship with another soul that is already in residence. The other soul is the body soul, the physical soul, which we received from our mother and father. In the same way that there is a genetic template associated with the gametes, the sex cells, the sperm and the egg, which contains everything in the father’s matrix, everything in the mother’s matrix, to create a new genetic template, there is also a psychic, energetic template. When those psychic, energetic templates from the mother and the father come together, they create a new pattern, which includes all ancestral imprints from both the mother’s and the father’s side. So the first thing the seed of light has to do is form a good working relationship with this physical soul, which is already there.
Once this has occurred, the third soul comes into being in response to life as we live it. This is the mental soul, what Freud called “ego” and what Jung called the “conscious mind.” The ego has a very particular job in each lifetime. It’s the aspect of ourselves that steers us successfully or unsuccessfully through life, depending on the convictions and beliefs that it has accepted as true.
Now, the ego soul, or mental soul, if you will, is the aspect of ourselves that thinks, analyzes, integrates, makes decisions, and directs. It’s our inner director, our inner chief, our inner CEO. It also is the source of our volition, our intentionality, and our creative imagination. This is extraordinarily important, because we are creators. This is something we explore in The Bowl of Light in the last chapter, “On Becoming Gods.”
In becoming creator beings, we actually achieve a level of godlike ability that no other species on this planet possesses. We alone have it, and each one of us comes in from the oversoul field as a god, but we forget who we are, because we pass through the veil. This gives us a fresh start in each lifetime, which is what makes it all interesting. But at the end of life, all of those qualities and abilities that we’ve developed during life through these three souls-the seed of light that resides within our heart, the mental soul, and the body soul-these are transferred into the afterlife state when we make transition, and eventually return to their source, to the oversoul field, where they are archived, which means each one of us then becomes an ancestor. It’s like a DVD in which your Tami-ness and my Hank-ness are recorded forever in our oversoul fields. This is just part of the way in which things work.
The bowl of light is actually a metaphor, in Makua’s term, for that seed of light that comes in, enters, and takes up residence within us at the beginning of life. During that first meeting that we had at the volcano, Makua gave us a very simple carved, wooden Hawaiian bowl. And when he did, he said, “This is your bowl of light. This is the light that was given to you by your higher self, by your aumakua, when you came into life, and that light nourishes and sustains you as you pass through life.”
But he said, “You know, this time in human history, humans are so entrenched in the negative polarity. Every time you step into the negative, it’s like you put a stone in your bowl, and some of the light goes out. Eventually, we come to a point in our lives when our bowls are almost completely filled with stones, and there’s no light coming out anymore. You know what you do then?”
And of course we were very interested, and we said, “What? What?”
He said, “It’s easy!” He took the bowl, and he turned it over, and he said, “You just dump it out! But from that time forward, you live your life differently, because you know what you’re doing. It’s at that point that you become a spiritual warrior.”
Now Makua used the word “warrior” with intention, because he was in the military for a good deal of his life. He was in five wars. The first was Beirut, the last was Vietnam. He was in the Marine Corps, and he was one of those archetypal military warriors who was legendary. He was like a Polynesian Rambo, and he was very, very badly wounded in his last tour of duty in Vietnam. He spent five years in a hospital in San Antonio, Texas, keeping his legs.
My wife, Jill, who is a physical therapist, looked at his legs, which were very badly scarred, with huge grafts on the backs of his calves. She said, “My God, Makua! How did you do it, five years in a VA Hospital?”
He grinned and he said, “Well, I had my own room for the last two years!” But then he laughed, and he said, “The deciding factor was really my ancestors. My ancestors came to visit me every day, sometimes twice. And by the time I was done there, I walked out of that hospital on my own legs, and I was completely clean. It was at that point that I had dealt with all my grief, all my fears, all my tragedies, and I was just clean of all that. That’s when I became a spiritual warrior.”
The bowl of light is really a metaphor for our inner divinity. And when we turn our attention to that seed of light within our hearts-to get back to your question, which I have not forgotten-when we establish and activate connection with that seed of light within our hearts, it’s like an open microphone. That open microphone has a direct link to your oversoul, which has a direct link to the world of spirit. When you turn toward the seed of light, you are in direct connection with your God self, with your teacher. This is the one that shamanic practitioners refer to as the “spirit teacher,” although most of them don’t define it as being an aspect of yourself.
TS: How do I know if the bowl of light, this seed, this ha in my heart, is filled with stones or not? How would I assess that?
HW: Well, when you look back on your life, and you think about all those things that you did in your life that might have caused harm or suffering or anxiety or worry to other people, that’s one of those stones!
We eventually come to a point where we realize, as we scan our life, that all of these negative experiences that we’ve engaged in are part of our life lessons. We got through them somehow, but often we hold grudges, or we hold negativity, we hold memories. We hold memories of things that were done to us, or that happened to us. It’s like you have to do a kind of forgiveness ritual where you intentionally go into an altered state-into a meditative state, if you will-and you bring up, one at a time, all of those people who did the dirty to you. This is discussed in The Bowl of Light, by the way. You bring up, one at a time, all of those people who did the dirty to you. And one at a time, you offer them unconditional forgiveness, and then you just let the whole incident go. When you let it go, you really let it go! It means you don’t turn your attention back to that incident or that person ever again.
Once you get through with that list of all of the people who wounded you or were mean to you, then you start on yourself, and you look at all those people that you did the dirty to, in full awareness or not. You know, there are those people who we injured with our words or our thoughts or our deeds, sometimes without even intending to. Once again, just one incident at a time, you offer yourself the same unconditional forgiveness, and then you just let them go.
It’s about shedding burdens. It’s about clearing the field of all of those intrusive energies that you no longer need to carry. This is a very good thing to do. It’s what Caroline Myss calls “energy circuits.” She refers to these intrusions as “energy circuits.” They’re kind of like electrons rotating around you in your energetic field, which, as you know, extends about four or five feet around your physical body, the denser part of it. So they’re not only inside you, but they’re around you.
When you turn your attention toward them, you feed them. They draw from your life force, diminishing you on a regular basis. When you empty your bowl, you’re clear. You’re clear! But then you start leading your life differently, and you don’t do that anymore. That’s when you become a spiritual warrior.
One of the great teachings that Makua offered was that, on that very same day, he said, “When we begin to walk the path of the spiritual warrior, there are three kapus, three sacred directives, that we must honor.” Then he looked at me, and he said, “I can talk to you about this because we wouldn’t be talking today if you hadn’t already reached that place of understanding. The first kapu: You must love all that you see with humility.”
And I’m thinking, “Whoa! Easy one first!”
Now Makua is very clairvoyant, so he just burst out laughing, because he’d heard immediately what I’d thought. “Love all that you see with humility.” Makua looked at me and he said, “You know, I worked on that one for seven years!
“The second directive: Live all that you feel with reverence.” This reverence, this is an active respect. In indigenous mind, the foundation stone is respect. The indigenous person greets and meets everything that they encounter in life on that foundation stone, from the place of respect.
When Makua told me this, I said, “What’s the foundation stone for Western mind?”
He smiled kind of sadly, and he said, “Well, the foundation stone for Western mind is the same as colonial mind. The foundation stone for Western mind is dominion, domination, control.” And that’s really created the world which we’ve brought into being, hasn’t it?
So this reverence is more than just a word, you know? “Live all that you feel with reverence.” In order to do that, you really have to change the way that you approach life, in your own life and the world at large.
Finally, the third kapu, the third directive: “We must know all that we possess with discipline.” With discipline. As you know, discipline is essential when you walk the spiritual path. You can’t survive without it! This is where so many of the gurus and the teachers have stumbled. Discipline also, of course, involves self-discipline, and knowing all that you possess also involves knowing what possesses you! Who is your master?
This is really our path. Our path is one of humility, reverence, and self-discipline, in which we love, in which we live, and in which we know who we are. This is so important, because as Makua put it, you cannot experience authentic initiation unless you know who you are. In his opinion-and this is something I learned from him-most of us in the Western world, you know we don’t have a clue who we are! We’re still trying to figure it out, because we’ve been seduced by the glitter of our gadgets and our little toys, and all of those things that we hold to be very, very important.
A lot of people are still out there in search of initiation, which, once again, leads me to say that the work that Sounds True is doing is so important in relation to this, because really, there are so many people that come into my workshops, that come into my conference presentations, who are still in search of initiation, who are still trying to figure out who they are and what they’re doing.
TS: What do you mean by “initiation” in this context, Hank?
HW: Well, initiation is a transformation. It’s really about growing into and becoming who and what you agreed to be when you came into this life. All along the way, we’ve been faced with the Masters of Illusion, and that includes Hollywood, that includes television, that includes the entertainment industry, it includes politics, it includes virtually everything that we take for granted.
The Masters of Illusion are the ones who create these facades, these illusions, these strange dreams that capture us and ensnare us so that we never find out who we are, what we’re doing here, and what this place is really all about. In order to experience authentic initiation, you have to reach that point where you know who you are, as well as where you are. This is something that we discuss in our little book that we created together. I’m very happy about that!
TS: Now, there’s something I want to circle back to, because it was very intriguing to me. You mentioned that at the end of The Bowl of Light, you discuss the potential for human beings to have godlike abilities. What do you mean, “godlike abilities”?
HW: Well, this is an interesting chapter, and it comes at the end of the book because Makua passed in 2004. And I write about his passage and the ceremony that followed his passing, from the Hawaiians, and the myth-making that happened after his passing, by all sorts of people who knew him a little, who then started to claim all sorts of fanciful things.
We had an interesting conversation, he and I-I think it was in 2000, maybe 2001-where he and I spent a whole day together, just the two of us. Makua was the sort of man who waited to be asked questions. He just didn’t volunteer information. He waited to be asked questions, and in listening to the questions, he could judge the level of information that his listeners were ready to receive. He could create the answers and craft them specifically for those levels.
Well, Makua and I had a very deep friendship, a very unusual friendship. Here I am, a PhD from Berkeley, who works in international science, and here he is, the Kahuna Nui, the big kahuna of an extended family here in Hawaii, and so forth. So our conversations were really quite extraordinary.
On that particular day, I asked him very specifically about this issue, which he often mentioned, that we come into this world as gods, it’s just that we forget who and what we really are, as well as what we’re supposed to be doing here. Makua was quite adamant that human beings, alone on this world, possess godlike qualities. These involve the ability to be creators, to choose. As opposed to all of those well-intentioned transformational speakers, from the top guys on down, who have said things like, “You’ve got to get rid of your ego,” or “You’ve got to drop your ego.”
If you told that to this kahuna, he would just laugh long and hard. Then he would recover and he’d say, “Absolutely not! That’s exactly the opposite of what we’re here to do! We’re actually here to develop the ego. That’s why we embody, because the ego is the sole aspect that involves our ability to choose, to create, to become more than we were, to create thought-forms and goals of things that we wish to have or achieve, and then to act on them, to bring things into being.”
I mean, it’s like I’m talking on this telephone here in Hawaii, sitting in a house that’s designed by my wife, and you’re sitting in Louisville or Boulder or wherever you are in Colorado. And I used to live there, so I can sort of project my conscious awareness and think about you sitting and talking with me, connected by this incredible technology that we’ve brought into being. That’s a godlike ability, to create what we have created!
The problem is now that we have to develop a sense of ethics, a really hardcore sense of ethics, because if you look at the way we’re treating each other and the world at large today, it’s hard to believe that we’re godlike beings, isn’t it?
You know, the early anthropologists-I used to teach anthropology at the university level, so I’ve got all of this stuff running around inside my head-there was a bunch of early anthropologists in the late 1870s, 1880s, who came up with this theory that humanity had progressed through three major stages: savagery, barbarism, and civilization. Now, this was a very simplistic way of looking at human evolution, especially cultural evolution! Some even subdivided these stages into lower, middle, and upper barbarism, with examples as to which were which, and so forth and so on!
Well, when you think about this whole concept of civilization, the question arises: Does civilization equal technological sophistication, or does civilization involve a whole new way of approaching each other and treating each other in a civilized way?
We do pretty well with our pets and our horses. We don’t do too well with the homeless and the disadvantaged and the poor, do we? These are not qualities which you would expect from a high civilization. You know, I think about this a lot, especially at two o’clock in the morning. I tend to wake up at two in the morning and do a lot of thinking and meditating.
This morning, I was thinking about the fact that, in all truth, we are the Romans of our time. When I say that, I mean, if you look at ancient Rome, we’re very much like them. We’re superb engineers. We’ve created these incredible things, like the Romans did. And like the Romans, we’ve created these gladiatorial games that go on for weeks and months at a time. I’m thinking about basketball and football and baseball and golf and all of these things that are distractions for the public at large. We’re very much like them, although the cycle has come around, and we’re at a higher level, hopefully, than the Romans were-for example, we don’t kill the gladiators anymore-but we’re still very much hooked on these distractions!
These distractions area carefully crafted, in a mystical sense, by an archetypal force who is known as the Master of Illusion. The job of the Master of Illusion, as I’ve said, is to ensnare us and capture us, so we never find out who we are, what we’re doing here, and what this is all about. And so the Master of Illusion is a kind of threshold guardian. He isn’t evil; he’s more like a threshold guardian, when you think about it. Once you pass the test, once you see who this dude is and you turn off the TV set, or you turn off your little things that are plugged into your ears, you start paying attention to what’s going on around you, you’ve reached a point where it’s a definite step up.
You know, I often think of Mahatma Gandhi’s statement when he arrived in England all those many years ago, 50, 60 years ago, when some British reporter came up to him and said, “Mr. Gandhi, what do you think about Western civilization?”
He answered, “Oh, I think it’s a very good idea!”
I still think that! I think we’ve got a ways to go, but I have tremendous hope. And this book with Hale Makua is really about creating that hope, about creating a foundation for the next cycle of ages. That chapter in our book, called “The Ancestral Grand Plan,” is about Makua creating the foundation upon which we can build the next cycle. I didn’t really think about that until I really began to formally write that book up and consider these concepts, but as you will remember, the beginning of the ancestral grand plan involves involving ourselves in those activities that are designed to expand the consciousness of humankind-in other words, create expansion, rather than separation.
The second part of the plan involves all of the teachers, all of the gurus, all of the kahunas, all of the mystical guy and women who are out there on the path teaching. It involves all of us bringing our students and our acolytes and our initiates together, connecting with each other, creating connection, rather than separation, so that we can really come together to create an entirely new world that we’re going to pass on to our descendants. This is really what the goal is.
This is not a small thing. This book is a contribution, I hope, to doing just that!
TS: Hank, you know there are so many things that I would love to talk with you about, but I’m going to throw this out as the last question, at least for this conversation. You’ve referred now a couple of times to something that you’re calling the “ancestral grand plan,” and that this is a plan that is so important at this time, a time that you’re calling “a changing of the ages.” Can you give us just a little bit more of a feeling, what is the ancestral grand plan?
HW: Well, the ancestral grand plan begins with two very specific areas. The first involves creating those circumstances that involve the expansion of the consciousness of humankind at all levels-among children, among adult, among families, among businesses, among politicians, at every level-the expansion of the consciousness of humankind, which means spiritual expansion.
The second level involves creating those circumstances where all of the spiritual teachers-all of the gurus, all of the kahunas, all of the shamans, all of the priests and priestesses-can come together and create connection, rather than separation. And at the same time, bring all of their students, their acolytes, their initiates together as well, to create a spiritual community.
In this respect, there are three more levels of participation, which involve religion on the one hand, politics on another, and science and education on still another. These are explored a little bit in the chapter on the ancestral grand plan, helping us to zero in on what our contributions might actually be, where our strong points are, where our responsibilities lie. Because, having talked about the fact that we’re in the process of becoming gods, when you create something, when you bring something into being, you acquire responsibility. You have to be responsible for that creation.
Those of us who are working in science and education, for example-Makua was very interested in this because that’s been my life work-and those who are working in spirituality and religion, for many, this is the entire focus of their lives. Then of course, there is politics, our political leaders. If you look at the way in which our political leaders are functioning-or some might say malfunctioning-right now, it’s obvious that we really need to upgrade the entire process!
This was a plan, the ancestral plan, that was set into motion by the ancestors in the mythic past. And so the chapter in the book, The Bowl of Light, will allow us to see how the plan is playing out in our time today, and what our piece of the action might be.
TS: Let’s go, ancestral grand plan! Yes! Yes! Yes!
Hank, thank you so much! Thanks for being with us here on “Insights at the Edge.” Hank Wesselman, the author of a new book from Sounds True, called The Bowl of Light: Ancestral Wisdom from a Hawaiian Shaman, a book that goes into quite some depth into Hank’s relationship with Hale Makua and the teachings from Hawaiian shamanism that he learned, gathered, from that friendship.
Hank is also the coauthor, along with Sandra Ingerman, of a book from Sounds True called Awakening to the Spirit World. And beginning on June 30, 2011, Hank will be leading a three-part online event series on The Shaman’s Path: A Practical Workshop for Awakening to the Spirit World. If you are interested in that, you can learn more at SoundsTrue.com.
Hank, thank you so much!
HW: Hey, as they say in Hawaii, mahalo nui! Thanks, and big alohas to you and everyone there!
TS: Big alohas!
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