I saw a poll recently showing that fewer and fewer people in the U.S. consider themselves to be a member of a particular religion. In 1999, about 70% of adults belonged to a church, synagogue, or mosque. In 2020, that percentage dropped to 47%. Personally, I don’t think those findings reflect less interest in spirituality. In fact, in my live training events, my students seem to have even more interest in the topic than students thirty years ago.
When I was growing up, I was exposed to a wide variety of spiritual paths. I went to a Catholic high school. I was baptized Presbyterian. I went to Vacation Bible School at a Protestant church for my summer fun. My mother taught transcendental meditation and my father practiced Siddha yoga. My stepfather was Buddhist. My two best friends were Jewish and Muslim. I had the privilege of celebrating many different religious holidays.
And I was really confused.
To an outsider, this upbringing seemed ideal. People who felt they’d had a single philosophy crammed down their throats always told me how fortunate I was. But that wide spectrum of paths was simply confusing for me, especially since, even as a young person, I had a strong urge to find and follow a path to deepen my spiritual connection.
Each of the religions I’d been exposed to had some aspects I liked. All of them seemed to share certain basic truths, though the way they expressed and practiced these truths was not the same. The people who followed these different religions were all good people whom I respected. So how was I to choose?
One night, while sitting alone on my bed, I remember looking up and asking, “God, Yahweh, Jehovah, Allah, whoever the heck is up there or out there, just show me the right path for me. Whichever one you tell me, I will do it.” I waited, and waited, and waited. It took a few years, but I finally found the path of Huna, the indigenous spiritual path of the Hawaiian Islands.
Students often ask me if it’s necessary to follow a specific spiritual path. “Why can’t I just learn practices from here and there and call it good?” That’s certainly an option. But while I don’t think you have to become a card-carrying member of any particular religion or philosophy, I think there are some benefits to committing to one that speaks to you. Why?
When you embark on your personal spiritual journey, you’re bound to run into uncomfortable places within yourself, areas in which you need to grow, smaller identities, and understandings that you need to release. Without a commitment to a certain path, it’s all too easy to try to side-step these difficult times. “Hmmm. This practice doesn’t feel as good as it used to. I’ll go try something else.” On the other hand, if you commit to a path and stick with your discomfort, you find the spiritual gems that lie just beyond. That’s why spiritual paths are often called “disciplines.” They create guidelines to keep you on track.
Does this mean you can’t use practices from other paths that speak to you? Of course not! Though the path I’ve chosen is Huna, I will also practice yoga and sometimes do Buddhist meditations. But it’s my commitment to the practices of Huna that keeps me progressing on my spiritual journey.
One of my kumu (“teachers”) Uncle George Naʻope had a phrase above his Hula school: A ohe pau ko ike i kou halau. The rough English translation is, “Think not that all wisdom is in your school.” It was a reminder that there are other ways of thinking, there are other ways of doing things, and there are other paths to the light.
That said, you don’t have to jump to another track and follow a new path. Sometimes we spend too much time thinking the grass is greener over there, or that another philosophy or religion will solve our problems. Instead, if you find new information and incorporate it into your chosen path, your travel will become easier. Comparing paths is unproductive. Different paths speak to different people.
So, how to find the path that is right for you? Just ask. I don’t mean to ask around and survey everyone you know about possible paths to follow. I mean ask your inner wisdom, your unconscious mind, your intuition, whatever you call it. When we ask a sincere question, the Universe responds. Our job is to stay alert, open, and patient. You’ll know when you come upon the path that is right for you.
Learn more about the path of Huna and visit www.huna.com.
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