The voices on the radio were very calm, with their warm Hawaiian accents, telling us to seek higher ground.
We had lots of time, two hours, before the first wave was expected to hit Maui.
So, we showered and dressed in bright clothing (per the radio man’s request), without thinking too deeply on the why of that; then we gathered our essential belongings –family photos, legal documents, warm clothes, water, japa mala, and we headed for the hills.
We spent the next 8 hours in the parking lot of the Kapalua Center, alternately sleeping and listening to our self-powered radio, before the all-clear signal was issued and we returned home, exhausted but unharmed.
Later, when the footage of Japan was released, a different type of shock-wave rolled through our islands.
“That could have been us,” I heard someone say.
But it was us, my heart responded.
It was all of us.
In his commentary on the 16th-century treatise, Bhakti-rasamrta Sindhu (The Ocean of the Nectar of Devotion), A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada describes how one’s false identification with the body as the self extends itself to one’s family, society and nation —my body, my family, my society, my country.
Extended selfishness, he called it.
For many, it stops at the border of their countries.
Often, our concern for others is relative to how closely we identify with them. As Pacific Islanders, we may see ourselves in the seaside communities that were razed by the tsunami waves. As spouses or parents, we may see ourselves in the young man pictured in the New York Times whose family was swept away while he was at work. As souls, we feel connected to all other souls.
It can be overwhelming.
Please take heart.
There are many organizations working towards healing the wounds inflicted by this disaster. The U.S. State Department has issued a list of 28 ways you can donate, which is very helpful.
Please also consider the power of prayer. It cannot be overestimated.
The following is a Japanese Buddhist Prayer of Universal Love taken from the Metta Sutta. As you might know, I am neither Japanese nor Buddhist, but does it matter? It is a beautiful prayer.
I’ve concluded with a Vedic chant known as the maha-mantra, my own sweet spot, known by devotees as the great prayer of deliverance.
Please pray in whatever way your own heart dictates —a love letter to Japan.
May all beings be filled with joy and peace.
May all beings everywhere,
The strong and the weak,
The great and the small,
The mean and the powerful,
The short and the long,
the subtle and the gross;
May all beings everywhere,
Seen and unseen,
Dwelling far off or nearby,
Being or waiting to become;
May all be filled with lasting joy.
Let no one deceive another,
Let no one anywhere despise another,
Let no one out of anger or resentment
Wish suffering on anyone at all.
Just as a mother with her own life
Protects her child, her only child, from harm,
So within yourself let grow
A boundless love for all creatures.
Let your love flow outward through the universe,
To its height, its depth, its broad extent,
A limitless love, without hatred or enmity.
Then as you stand or walk,
Sit or lie down,
As long as you are awake,
Strive for this with a one-pointed mind;
Your life will bring heaven to earth.
Namu Amida Buddha.
Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare/ Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.