Last week, here on the island of Hawaii, we visited an interesting historical site called “The Place of Refuge.” The old Hawaiian culture was hierarchical, with the king at the top, the warriors and artisans beneath him, and then, at the lowest level, the vast majority—those who fished and worked the land. There were many laws concerning what was “kapu,” or forbidden, and someone breaking one of these rules could easily receive a death sentence. However, one could avoid certain death by fleeing to a temple at “The Place of Refuge,” where the offender would be absolved by a priest and freed to leave.

Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park Place of Refuge Hawaii

Place of Refuge in Hawaii: Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park.

This may be a portrayal of ancient Hawaii, but it is really the story of mankind. Throughout recorded history, including modern times, we see variations of these same forces at play. The desire for power and status is one of the strongest of all the drives of ego. It is expressed by animals establishing a “pecking order,” as well as by playground bullies and greedy tyrants. Lurking behind many of today’s headlines you can see power struggles that are not very different from ancient times. The difference is that, in today’s world, there are few “Places of Refuge.”

Why? Because the outer world is always an expression of inner consciousness. In these restless times, if we have no place of refuge within, we will find none without. People often spend a fortune and a lifetime vainly looking for security in an unsafe world. Unfortunately, they rarely find it in the dream of maya, for as Shakespeare said, life is only a tale “filled with sound and fury signifying nothing.”

Can a place of refuge be found anywhere? Yes, but nowhere on the face of the earth. It is in your heart when it is filled with devotion, and in the light at your spiritual eye.

Here is the tricky part for most people: In the realm of consciousness, we are both the condemning king and the absolving priest. God does not condemn us, nor does the guru. They are pure love, pure friendship. We condemn ourselves by transgressing against the “kapu” areas of the law of karma.

Place of Refuge Hawaii

Create a place of refuge for everyone and everything.

In order to move on, we need to start by absolving ourselves of our ignorance. If you find it hard to accept yourself with all your kinks and blemishes, start by accepting and loving others. Begin with those closest to you: your family, friends, and coworkers. When you create a place of refuge for one person, you automatically create the same space for yourself. If you need more safety and security, then widen your circle of acceptance to everyone around you. If that still is not enough, if you still don’t feel an unshakable security, then create a place of refuge for everyone and everything. Judge no one, love everyone.

Then, perhaps for the first time ever, you’ll find an inner kingdom of peace in the midst of your own paradise island.

In love and joy,

Nayaswami Jyotish

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11 Comments

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  1. Thank you Jyotish, once again written just for me and timed perfectly. Lisa and I were taken to this place several years ago. At the time I wasn’t aware of the history or significance, I recall being stunned by the peace and powerful sense of comfort pervading the very air. Stunned may seem oxymoronic, but the juxtaposition to what a moment before, had been the normal world, was almost overpowering. I remember almost falling against a palm and asking “what is this place? “ I didn’t want to leave.
    God bless you dear friend.

  2. Dear Jyotish , I have said this so many times over for your perfect message at the precise moment/day and today is one that is beyond any words in which I send you and Devi ever more profound gratitude and for all the work that you do in untold ways. Sadly I have been having a most difficult time (cannot explain here) and have to stop for a while as I also have an additional serious problem with my incoming mail for a while (bad virus and don’t know how to fix it) so I would like to thank you and Devi and everyone at Ananda for such wonderful wisdom and guidance. God Bless always. Namaste

  3. “Judge no one, Love everyone, then one will find inner kingdom of Peace” Very correctly you said, I agree hundred percent.

  4. In loving gratitude and appreciation, I give thanks for the Divine Wisdom, Love and clarity that you, Swamiji and our beloved fellow gurubhais share. Thank you for your unflinching loyalty to God, Guru, Swamiji and all of us, your divine friends. In Divine Friendship, steve

  5. There is a another smaller island of refuge just north of Hilo called Moku Ola. As part of our Art of Conscious Aging workshop in February, Bimal, having direct Hawaiian ancestry there, led a ceremony in Ho’oponopono, ‘making right’: atonement and forgiveness.

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