November 27th, 2011

Books!

And, what IS reality?

As regular readers of this space know, I read quite a lot of Shamanic material, due, of course, to my having done a lot of traveling and study with various Shamanic teachers back in the 80's and 90's. As such, I have a fairly good “nose” for what is “fictionalized” and what tries to be a straight-forward presentation of the “reality” of a situation. A sample of the latter would be Joan Parisi Wilcox's Masters of the Living Energy, which is a very excellent book about the Q'ero, that rings true. An example of the former would be the early books of my own teacher, Alberto Villoldo, whose books covering times when I was with him in Peru have changed names, shuffled places, and a timeline nothing like what actually happened. Of course, the works of Castaneda are likewise largely “fictionalized”, so Alberto's books are not unique in this aspect. At one point I heard Albert describe his writing method at the time as “dropping off a file box full of notebooks and random scraps of paper” to his writing partner, so it turns out that much of the “fictionalization” came from the unlucky wordsmith who had to patch together a coherent story line from such variable and disconnected materials!

I bring this up because Serge Kahili King's works, including Changing Reality are frustrating to me because they both have excellent Shamanic material, but “iffy” backstories. I talked about this in the reviews of other “Huna” books I've done in the past few months, but it kept coming up in this. Detractors of Serge King have accused his “Hawaiian” Shamanism of being a melange of other, non-native sources, ranging from Blavatsky to Gurdjieff to Shah … and certainly materials resonating to those teachers do arise in much of his writing. However, the “core” experiential bits are very true to the general Shamanic experience. Of course, the “Shamanic experience” is (in my opinion) a universal base of spiritual experience, so a Shaman from Finland and a Shaman from the Amazon basin and a Shaman from the Pacific Northwest tribes will frequently have very similar experiences, filtered through cultural symbologies and environmental particulars, so saying that Huna “isn't like that” is hard to assert, especially given the insular nature of the Hawaiian culture. King claims that his teaching comes from an adoptive uncle, which (from what I've read in other books) would pretty much be the only way how a White Guy could connect with the nuts-and-bolts of the tradition. However, in Changing Reality he attributes teaching stories to this uncle which are fairly well known ... in one case a Zen story, and, in another, a tale long presented as by Sufi character Mullah Nasruddin! While the “prankster” role of the Shamanic teacher is also quite common, one has to wonder why the author would take familiar stories from other traditions and claim them to be coming from the very uncle upon whose “native knowledge” his “Huna” tradition gets its “legitimacy”?

One of the elements key to the concepts of Changing Reality is the idea of “levels of reality”, with the Objective, the Subjective, the Symbolic, and the Holistic Worlds, each of which deals with experience in a different way. Much of the book walks through these levels of reality, with exercises and thought experiments, and stories from King's own work. Frankly, the flow of the book does seem like going through a week-long workshop, as the chapters build one on each other, with the basic concepts of the levels, and the main Huna ideas, being set out first, and then ESP, telepathy, and active aspects of telepathy, aura work, telekinesis, dream work, and astral travel added on as things progress.

In the later chapters King gets into “nature of reality” questions, and, while he doesn't ground these in specific “physics” theories, these certainly (for me, at least, having read a lot in this area as well) hang over the discussion. The “Copenhagen interpretation”, and related many-worlds interpretations, as well as similar Multiverse theories, all seem to be in play here, if not specifically mentioned. His image of these overlapping realities is that of a ream or paper dumped out on a desk, with the individual sheets being a different reality, and that, with enough energy or focus, these can be traversed. A rather remarkable example he gives was when, on a trip, the cap of his toothpaste fell down the sink in a hotel bathroom, to which he loudly and energetically said “NO!” (or, I suspect some slightly more colorful outburst), at which point “in the next moment I actually saw the cap re-materialize beside the drain that it had just gone into”! Obviously, this is something which sounds like madness from the “Objective” world perspective, but becomes plausible if the action happens on one of the higher planes.

I felt the following section important enough to what King's getting at to re-type here for you:

This {changing the material world} should not be surprising, since we find evidence for this in all four worldviews. The Objective Level tells us that all matter is in a state of constant change. That what seems to be solid matter is actually mostly space, and that what little matter there is in that space is mostly composed of electrical charges and waves. The Subjective Level tells us that everything is energy, that everything is connected, and that mental energy changes emotional energy that changed physical energy. The Symbolic Level says that everything is a dream symbol, and that when one symbol changed, that changes all related symbols. The Holistic Level says that everything is one, and that when one thing changes, all things change. It is important to note that, while this book is concentrating on consciously-directed change, the carious worldviews assume that change can happen regardless of our conscious involvement.
As noted above, there are exercises to do in every step here, so as “far out” as the material presented here is, you are at least able to do your own venture into “changing reality”.

Again, I have my doubts about “Huna” as a tradition (at least extracted from its purported native context), but I have no doubts that what Serge Kahili King is presenting is a system which is organically Shamanic, and very powerful. I have found amazing things in all his books, and Changing Reality is certainly an example of this. Unfortunately, this is also an example of the hazards of a self-published (well, from King's HunaWorks) book. Aside from the lay-out (with evidently no attention being paid to “widows/orphans” on how the text flows page-to-page), there were at least a dozen typos that jumped off the page. Having been the editor-in-chief of a small publishing house, these sorts of things make me cringe, and really wish that King had spent the money to have a freelance editor (I just happen to know one) work with him on the production of the book. Usually when I think a book needs “editorial help”, it's on content, but in the case of Changing Reality, it's purely on a “cleaning it up” level (which could, also, included cover design).

Anyway, this is available through both of the on-line big boys, who each have it at the same 24% off of cover discount. The odds of finding it on the shelf of any other a metaphysical book store might be slim, given its provenance, but you could also order it direct. In any case, I (with the noted caveats) liked this very much, and would recommend it to anybody who “is into these things”, or want to have their worldview shaken up a bit!


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