Posts Tagged ‘Hawaii’

Yet another 2018 Reboot: Big Island Lava? — Judy K Walker

May 4, 2018

My wife writes here about life in Hawaii and gives a nice update on the earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occuring in our little bit of Hawaii. Peace, Paul

I know, this is supposed to be an off week for the Blog, but I thought I’d share something anyway, in case you need a break from political crazy with real world, Hawaii Island crazy. No, we haven’t had another nuke scare, but we are circling back to a popular theme… Yesterday was the first…

via Yet another 2018 Reboot: Big Island Lava? — Judy K Walker

Seeing Fear

September 1, 2014

If you make a habit of cultivating daily periods of silence in your in your life, through meditation or some other practice, you will inevitably discover that fear is the motivation for much that you do. Not the roaring terror of imminent death but rather the low simmering fear that is insecurity. It is a fear so familiar and “comfortable” that most people never notice it at all. They only see fear as fear in situations where the heat gets turned up by events in the world around us and the subtle fear becomes terror.

I found myself in just such a high heat situation while lying in bed at night, in a small, some might say primitive, cabin, riding out Hurricane Iselle. Having grown up in New Orleans, I was familiar with Hurricanes. I had been through a few near misses. I had seen the devastation. However, I had never been through the eye of a Hurricane, which, it turns out, is a completely different beast. In the center of the storm the wind consistently rages at or above hurricane force of 75 miles an hour. It is loud and relentless. The house vibrates as it sways and flexes in the wind. Debris constantly pelts the house on all sides. On top of the raging noise of the storm one also constantly hears the roaring of much stronger gusts of wind moving along the ground, accompanied by the pop and crack of shattering trees. It is a primordial sound. It is the sound of death in the form of some impossibly large winged creature devouring all in its path. The roof ripples and screams under the onslaught and adrenaline floods the blood stream. This cycle repeats for hours upon end and one is complete exhausted by stress and fear.

Fortunately, it has been my practice for some time now to recognize mind states, such as this one, as an opportunity for self examination. Recollecting my practice, I looked deeply at the fear. Why was I afraid? It was not a long contemplation. Once I peeked below the sensory overload, it became immediately apparent that what I was afraid of was death. More specifically, that I, Paul, would end. With this bit of insight came the recollection that I am going to end at some point anyway. None of us can escape death. Further, and perhaps more significantly, I am not that important. What is important is the degree to which I am transformed by love and compassion. The rest, the “things” of this life, are fleeting. They are the result of living in this particular body, in this particular time, in this particular country. As soon as the body dies, those things will cease to be valuable.

I found this insight, for some reason, comforting, and I soon dropped off to sleep. Later I awoke to the storm raging overhead, and decided to relocate to the relative safety of the bathroom. However, the worst of the fear was gone. I was able to sleep, on and off, throughout the remainder of the storm.

Of course, I still have fear. Foolish, I know. I certainly have not learned to truly love others, to offer compassion and understanding before judgement. Nevertheless, I have faith that if I keep walking along the path, trying to recollect the Buddha and the Dharma, that at some point Love and Compassion will replace fear.

Peace, Paul

Awakening into the Vastness of the Buddha Dharma

May 1, 2013

“Life flies by, faster than an arrow. What are we to do?” ~ Buddha

Traditionally Buddhists spend a considerable amount of time thinking about death and its inevitability. There are many contemplations and reflections that help drive home the point that we, special as we think we are, must die.  The body will age and cease, or disease will wreak destruction, or some calamitous event, or accident, will destroy the body. Death is certain but the time of death is unknown.

As a longtime Buddhist practitioner I have contemplated these things. Additionally, I was exposed to death, in various painful forms, at young age.  As an adult I spent five years as a hospice volunteer sitting with those near death.  I have also come close to death several times in my own life.

However, what I have been encountering in the last year or so seems to be the piling on of the suffering and death of those loved ones who are near and dear. I have found this bitter taste of reality unsettling.  It feels as though with each illness and death a little bit of myself dies.  The world that I occupy, the self that I have built up, becomes a bit more porous.  Allowing death and impermanence to flow more freely around the edges of my awareness. This awareness brings with it a deep sadness that gives life, which in my mind is mostly about our relationships with others, a sharp preciousness.

No one can save us from death and the many sufferings of this world, neither gods nor Buddhas.

I am a person of deep faith.  The closer death and disease come, the more I see the importance of the long-view.  The view of the Buddhas who describe awakening as a process involving incomprehensibly vast time spans.  Victories, when they come in this life, are nice, but they are not the point.  A life of striving to live the Buddha Dharma is the point. Living an ethical life, practicing love and compassion, following the wisdom and insight of the Buddha Dharma is the Way.

The Nembutsu is one gate to awaken into the vastness of the Buddha Dharma. The recitation of, Namo Amida Bu, the continual contemplation of measureless awakening (Amida Bu) is a way to glimpse the vastness of the universe of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.

To grab onto the Buddha by reciting Namo Amida Bu is to set aside one’s little goals and work for an end of suffering for all beings. It is to add one’s small acts of love and compassion to that of all the Buddha’s and Bodhisattvas.  Namo Amida Bu is about surrendering one’s little life and one’s little goals to the measureless path of awakening and compassion lived and preached by the Buddhas.

Namo Amida Bu!

Peace, Paul

Lima Beans

December 23, 2008

Here are our first Lima Beans from the garden.

Considering that we are living on lava and need to grow everything in raised beds, the earth has been very generous. We only planted 4 lima beans. All four seeds germinated and are now heavy with pods. We will save some of the seed and replant again soon.

Our black eyed peas were also very prolific. We planted only 8 seeds and harvested a 16oz container of beans. We will replant some of the seeds and eat the rest as part of our traditional New Years meal of Black Eyed Peas.

Peace, Paul



November 14, 2008

Today, Thursday November 13, the Hawaii County Council voted 7 to 0 to override Mayor Harry Kim’s veto of bill# 361.

Bill# 361, introduced by Council Member Angel Pilago, will now become an Ordinance and protect Hawaii Island’s Taro and Coffee from Genetic Engineering, in the field or in the lab.

This has been a long struggle.  However, I can proudly say that we were able to win this one because we did it right.  We got to know our Council members and we worked with them.   Over the course of more than a year we worked to educate our County Council.   At the same time we have been educating the public.  Doing events, showing films, hosting forums, tabling, and most importantly building our base.

Our efforts to raise awareness, and to organize is what gave us the strength to win.  During this special session of the County Council, to consider overriding Mayor Harry Kim’s veto, over 100 + people showed up to give testimony in support of bill# 361 and to encourage the County Council to overturn Mayor Kim’s veto.  I would estimate that over 1/2 of the individuals who showed up today, were new faces.  People who had never testified before on this issue.  This is very good.  It means that the County Council is hearing new voices and that our base is growing and becoming more engaged.  It was just a few weeks ago, in mid October, that there was another Co. Council Meeting and we had a strong showing of 100+ people.  Individuals who were willing to rearrange their lives so they could come spend the day at a County Council meeting.

The vote to override Mayor Kim’s veto was not assured.  Our opponents were monied and politically connected.  They pulled out all of the stops, including taking out a full page newspaper ad., and lobbied our council members heavily.  However, the did not have the public on their side. 

We had public support. We had people power.  In the end, this force, and some good strategy, allowed us to win this fight.  There are still many more battles in the struggle to secure safe and sustainable food, but for the moment we can celebrate.

Peace, Paul

Around the Farm

April 23, 2008

We are into the full on growing season here in Hawaii.  The rain has moderated a bit and the days are longer and we are striving to stay ahead of the weeds and various vines that thrive in this weather.  Are farm is organic, low tech, and off the grid.  That means that we do most of the work by hand using sickles, shovels, and hoes.   (Though there is a 50 year old tractor for some of the heavier work.)  It is a good life filled with long days and hard work.

Here are some photos from around the farm, enjoy.

Our first crop of corn this year.   We just put in a second planting and are looking forward to having sweet corn for several months.

Our first planting of corn this year.

Lettuce growing in our “screen house.”  We get a lot of rain here in Hawaii and the lettuce just can’t stand up to the showers:

Lettuce growing in our \

Here is some young taro that has recently been weeded.  For those of you who do not know, Taro is the staple crop of Hawaii.  It is a very strong plant, a good producer, and easy to grow.  You can eat the whole plant and it is quite tasty.

Here is some taro that is about ready to be cut for leaf.  The corm (root) will not yet be ready for some time:

Some sweet potatoes that were weeded today.  This is another good staple crop.  Unfortunately the pigs really like sweet potatoes as well.  So I may be sleeping in the field with the dogs when harvest time rolls around.

Here are some beans that will be ready to pick in a few weeks. (They look weedy, but really it’s not that bad!)  This is one of the crops that we sell at market.  Taro is the other main cash crop.

Everyone should grow a little of their own food.

Peace, Paul

The Missing Religious Voice

September 28, 2007

Tuesday evening found myself and many others attending the US Armies’ Stryker Draft EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) public hearing. The Army has been trying for several years to get a Stryker Brigade permanently station in Hawaii. The stationing of the Styker Brigade in Hawaii would contribute to the further militarization of the Hawaiian Islands. It would also dramatically increase the amount of ordinance used, fired, and detonated on the Islands.

When my turn came to speak, I addressed a few problematic sections of the EIS directly. I then turned my comments to Buddhism.

I stated that I was invited to Hawaii as Buddhist practitioner and religious leader. I reminded the audience that Buddhism has a strong and clear anti War / militarization message and teaching. It is said the followers of the Buddha are not even supposed to watch the preparations for warfare.

I told the audience that I had serious concerns for our Buddhist children and our congregations who are most definitely watching the preparations for war. They cannot help but see them in these heavily militarized islands. They are also being exposed to an ideology of warfare and violence. An ideology that states, explicitly or implicitly, that war and killing are acceptable and even ethically correct. It is and ideology that runs directly counter to the Buddha’s teachings on non-harming, love, compassion, and wisdom.

I shared that as a Buddhist and Religious person, I had grave concerns about these impacts. I pointed out that nowhere in the EIS are the effects of increasing militarization on the Buddhist community mentioned. I reminded the audience that Buddhism is one of the largest, if not the largest, religion in Hawaii.

After these brief statements I concluded and returned to my seat. I listened to hour upon hour of testimony against the Stryker. The majority of the testimony was secular. Some of it was angry and some was not. However, there was not a strong religious opposition to the Stryker. The Hawaiians often spoke from a religious paradigm but few others.

Why weren’t strong religious voices present, Buddhists, Christians, Muslims, Jews? Where is the debate and struggle within the religious community over this most basic ethical and religious issue: warfare and violence? Why do our churches seem collectively either unconcerned or paralyzed?

Peace, Paul

Peace Day

September 25, 2007

peace_dayOn Sunday Malu Aina joined the peace day parade and festival in Honokaa. That’s us in the white suits with the radiation symbol, finishing up. We went as citizen radiation monitors to help raise awareness about Depleted Uranium (DU).

Depleted Uranium is used in weapons for armor penetration. It is very hard and has many qualities desirable by the military. Unfortunately it is also a radioactive waste product which is pyrophoric. This means that as it heats up it aerosolizes and burns. As a result, small radioactive ceramic particles are released into the atmosphere, and carried on the wind like dust. As a fine particles they can easily be inhaled and lodge in the lungs or other parts of the body. Remember, these are radioactive particles that are potential lodging in the human body. They are ceramic as well, so they are neither absorbed nor broken down by the body.

There has been very little science done on the effects of DU exposure. However there seems to be a connection between DU and birth defects. DU appears to affect the reproductive cycle in some way that is not fully understood. There are many other negative health affects that may be associated with DU but the birth defects are the most disturbing.

Here is a short, powerful, disturbing film about Depleted Uranium.

Why is this an issue here in Hawaii? We are very militarized here. In the center of the Big Island is the Pohakuloa Training Area. This is a live fire range. The military has now confirmed that DU munitions have been used and found at Pohakuloa. This means personnel at Pohakuloa and those living downwind of the Training Area may be being exposed to DU.

Currently the military and the Health Department are doing very little to protect the Citizens of Hawaii. In fact they are working very hard to whitewash the issue. As we know from the Downwinders out west, those who lived downwind of the nuclear tests in the desert, it is up to us, the citizens, to protect ourselves. Neither the government nor the military will take responsibility for poisoning its citizens. This is not speculation; this is history.

Anyway, the event was a great success. We had fun and were able to distribute over 1000 flyers on this important health issue.

Peace, Paul