What is Mana -- and Do You Have to Be Special to Merit Some?


"Mana, my young friend, is a power that holds the secret to your very existence. Mana on its own has neither definite shape nor form, yet it is in everything that exists.

Mana is the power that holds this world of ours together. Mana is pure energy. It is virtually impossible for anyone to explain what Mana really is because it is of spirit essence. Mana cannot be seen by the naked eye. It must be absorbed by a positive feeling.

It is Mana that helps wash away the illusionary values you place on life. It is the sustenance of the wise."

-- from "Second Chance," by Sydney Banks. (pg 68-69)

The above quote comes from the author's character, Mamma Lila, a Hawaiian elder who some considered "plain crazy." Nonetheless, she had the gift of 'ike papalua, or being able to see multiple realities at the same time. She had been guided in this understanding from childhood by her grandfather, who was a wise and well-known kahuna. 

Such capabilities exist in all of us, though perhaps they aren't as well-developed. 

And of course, energy can show up in all kinds of ways -- including some that people may view as "destructive."

For instance Mauna Loa, the largest active volcano in the world, very recently erupted on the Big Island of Hawaii. Relatively quiet since its last eruption in 1984, Mauna Loa has drawn people from all over the world to witness her current activities. Her power and magnitude have been stunning, as lava can cover and destroy roads and whatever else might be in the way. Yet this is also how new land is formed on volcanic islands -- and there are 5 different volcanos making up the Big Island itself. (The photo above is actually lava from Kilauea, falling into the sea. Brian Harig is the photographer) 

Had you ever imagined that we humans are part of the same transformational energy behind everything else in the universe -- including orange trees, koala bears, and volcanoes?

It may appear that we are separate beings -- but at the energetic level behind and before our current physical form, we are all completely connected. In fact, it can't be otherwise. Ever since the Big Bang itself, we've simply been exchanging atoms, molecules, and energy.

Some years ago I attended a leadership retreat where one of the activities was leaning out over a high, windy cliff, secured by ropes that vigilant others held. We could say (or scream!) anything we wanted to -- and due to the noisy wind, no one else could hear. It could be a time of prayer, initiation, or letting go; or anything we could imagine, all at once.

Hanging out over the abyss (with my arms outstretched as if flying), I found myself buffeted by the wind. Through racking sobs, I begged whoever ran the universe to PLEASE let me be part of it -- to help me find my place, if there was one. It was as if belonging was only for the cool kids, and I had never been one of those. I longed to contribute something meaningful and useful to others; to love, connect with others, and share what was most real and true to me.

When you realize that I'd been a physician and psychiatrist for at least 20 years by that point, it was a real "head snap" moment. You'd think acceptance into humanity would already have been complete, for me -- yet it wasn't. I realized painfully that I'd never felt worthy of the gift of life (or love) itself. 

Yes, of course there are incongruities here. I am also not the "only" person who has ever felt this way. (Gathering from the hundreds of other physicians I have treated or coached over the years, at least.)

Though I'd always felt deeply connected to nature, I'd felt excluded from the ranks of other humans. There were reasons for that, as I saw it at the time. It was like others had a specialness I could never attain; I had fallen so unspeakably short of "acceptable," the gap was permanent. My life had been an ongoing treadmill of repair attempts, ever since. Degrees, fellowships, seminars, books, workshops, additional certifications, many thousands of dollars invested -- you name it, I pursued it. (Including that leadership retreat.)

I've learned a lot in the years since. I had never FELT the visceral sense of connection with life and other humans I had begged for though, until recognizing that the same Mana behind the ocean and the volcano, is also in me. I just happen to look different, is all. My 'ike papalua fell far short of Mamma Lila's. 

I don't know exactly "how" this insight came to me, but it did. A near-death experience certainly helped -- but that story is for another time. I simply saw that any sense of separation from that "Mana" energy of Life, came only through my own misunderstanding. This is a blessed relief, even when events in my life seem to be going sideways.

The best part? You don't have to be "special" to merit Mana; it pre-exists and infuses your current form. No hierarchy, no cliques or "cool kids" are involved -- except at the level of human misunderstanding. That alone might be something for Pele and her lava to take care of, though.😉

Peace begins with me,


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