“At the very beginning of the path to Enlightenment there are twenty difficulties for us to overcome in this world and they are:
1. It is hard for a poor man to be generous.
2. It is hard for a proud man to learn the Way of Enlightenment.
3. It is hard to seek Enlightenment at the cost of self-sacrifice.
4. It is hard to be born while Buddha is in the world.
5. It is hard to hear the teaching of Buddha.
6. It is hard to keep the mind pure against the instincts of the body.
7. It is hard not to desire things that are beautiful and attractive.
8. It is hard for a strong man not to use his strength to satisfy his desires.
9. It is hard not to get angry when one is insulted.
10. It is hard to remain innocent when tempted by sudden circumstances.
11. It is hard to apply one’s self to study widely and thoroughly.
12. It is hard not to despise a beginner.
13. It is hard to keep one’s self humble.
14. It is hard to find good friends.
15. It is hard to endure the discipline that leads to Enlightenment.
16. It is hard not to be disturbed by external conditions and circumstances.
17. It is hard to teach others by knowing their abilities.
18. It is hard to maintain a peaceful mind.
19. It is hard not to argue about right and wrong.
20. It is hard to find and learn a good method.”
–The Twenty Difficulties according to Buddha
Some thoughts about Pono
A common mistake in pursuing makakau (awareness), mālamalama(enlightenment), consciousness, spirit, the truth, etc. is that people tend to only look for the good, ignoring or admonishing the bad. They in turn become judgemental at times and at other times become too fixated of only thinking positive, which is in fact a desire and an illusion. We should remove the bad within ourselves and within society but what we are ultimately should be pursuing is removing all desires. In actuality, the path to enlightenment requires us to accept the light and dark principles together in wholeness. By focusing only on what we perceive as good we encourage the manifestation of bad traits and desires to occur, this is the nature of duality (kino pālua). Hawaiians of old accepted this idea hence every akua had an complimentary akua (i.e. Kū and Hina) just as in the Asian philosophies there is the Ying-Yang principle of the interdependence and mutuality of equal and opposite forces. Nature itself is full of both cycles of creation and destruction and human values itself can be turned into something postive or negative depending on the situation. Speaking too much of aloha sometimes causes hardship on others as everyone is forced to never mature or to speak from their na’au for fear of causing hūhū to the other person. Aloha then becomes a prison and loses its meaning. On the other side, sometimes hūhū can be positive if it can be redirected towards ending the suffering of others.
The goal therefore should not to love one and hate the other, but to recognize all in its totality and look at the entirety of life itself–to see the world as it is–including the many hardships and joys–and not what we only desire see in it. Being able to see the reality–the good and the bad–is to see pono and to accept within our hā (breath) the kino pālua of thisnohona (existence) is where our aloha should be drawn from. The syllable ha/hā afterall appears in the words aloha, ha’aha’a, hāloa (a type of prayer), hana, and ‘ohana–all things that requires us to have a balanced awareness and to be pono.
Be compassionate, aware, and engaged. Be pono.