There are some delightful similarities between Socrates and many of the Hawaiian understandings of being human and, ways to be in this world more consciously and harmoniously with ourselves and each other.

Socrates lived from 469BC-399BC. He was a pioneer in developing philosophy-the study of seeking truth and knowledge of reality. Socrates shared his realization that knowledge is alive, and is always evolving and emerging. He challenged people to think outside of the box, to penetrate the self deeply in order to come to self-realization through the process of inner inquiry; to put to question all outside information and propaganda. He taught people to think for themselves and encouraged engaging the innate intelligence in nature and within to refine understanding, and so, connect to the answers and direction we are looking for.

This is very akin to the Hawaiian way, which is also about regaining self-sovereignty and restoring oneness with the natural laws that govern all creation, connecting to and trusting this innate intelligence. The importance of deepening relationship to self and others, in love, wisdom and kindness is another mutual principle shared.

A predicament we face, collectively, is that we are rarely offered reflections of deeper truth in daily life, to give us healthy examples of how to relate and how to be with each other. We also are not challenged enough to think for ourselves. We tend to adopt myths and stories from others, personal and global, as our own without investigating their validity.

Gossip is a phenomenon that results from not taking the time to either reflect or engage the story being projected. In fact, with gossip the desire for truth doesn’t exist, only the best story counts, and the more negative the better, leaving the story teller feeling a false sense of power and importance.

This is my favourite story of Socrates that addresses this phenomenon eloquently, and awakens the importance of taking time to inquire into the stories that we, or anyone else attempts to sell as truth before passing them on.


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One day a student of Socrates came running to him in great urgency.

“John, what is happening?” asked Socrates.

“Master, I found something out about Paul that I have to tell you right away, it can’t wait!”

Socrates paused some moments for inner reflection. John was getting really antsy; he couldn’t wait, but knew not to disrespect his Master.

Socrates emerged from his silence and said “My boy, before you tell me what it is you find so utterly important, I would like you to put what you have to say through three sieves of contemplation. Are you willing to do that? Then if you have passed through the sieves you can be free to tell me.” The student agreed.

“The first sieve is, is what you are about to tell me true, that you are absolutely certain it is true?”

The boy paused than excitedly said “Well I’m not sure, but Henry said that….”

“No, I’m sorry, you have failed to pass through the first sieve. Shall we try the next?”

A little disappointed the student mumbles “Yes Master”

“Very well, the second sieve is this. Is what you are about to tell me something good about Paul?”

Deflated a little more John answers looking to the ground sheepishly, “No,” knowing he failed the second sieve as well.

“O.K. The final sieve asks you, does what you have to say serve a greater purpose that will serve Paul and all others that would inherit this information? Does it spread wisdom and goodness?”

Sunken over, John again had to answer “No, it does not.”

“Well then my dear boy, my advice to you is that you keep this information to yourself and do not spread it around. Always put everything you have to say, even about yourself, through these three sieves, investigate deeply and you will find truth and facts to be better friends and bring forth more fruits and goodness than half truths, gossip and lies.”

“Yes Master, I see what you mean, thank-you, I will strive to do that.” Deeply humbled at the realizations through this teaching he quietly left his Masters quarters.


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What’ most unfortunate, is that gossip always causes unnecessary pain. In essence, it’s toxic garbage. It contaminates minds, work spaces, families and communities. Each person exposed to the gossip takes on the negative impressions and builds on them with their own story and passes it on to the next one. It spreads like wild fire. And, like wildfire, it shows no mercy and is almost impossible to stop once started. The next time we see the person over whom we’ve heard a story we’re no longer seeing them, our eyes are already clouded.

It’s one thing to simply share our personal experience or make an attempt to understand ourselves, someone else, and how we are triggered, versus, stating our experience is the truth of who or how that person is. An Elder of mine in Hawaii emphasizes the importance of never speaking badly about anyone. In Ho’opono pono it’s understood than when we speak negatively about someone, our body doesn’t know the difference, and takes that energy into itself. We poison ourselves first. Scientifically it has been shown that toxic chemicals are released in our body when we entertain negative or hostile thinking. Masaru Emoto revealed the effect of negative thinking on water molecules. We are about 90% water. Every thought we have creates a ripple, both inwardly and outwardly.

If I consider the possibility that how I think and speak, that every word I say has an effect, that thoughts and words are like food that I am feeding myself and others, would I continue to eat and share garbage? I think not.

Gossip is a power trip based in fear that holds people in a perpetual freeze-frame of negativity. Fear condemns and judges. Love on the other hand is kind and life affirming. In every moment we are either feeding fear or love.

Makia- the Hawaiian principle of ‘focus’ is about understanding that where my attention goes, energy flows. The world is how I make it. I choose what stories I feed. What I think and focus on has an effect, always. ‘What effect do I want to contribute to this moment? To life?’ is a question to ask and answer to ourselves. The next question is, are my thoughts and actions congruent with that want?

The wisdom of Makia is that, in every moment it is me that is choosing. I am the authority over me and my thoughts.

It may not be possible to like everybody. But it is possible to choose to allow each individual the dignity of their humanity and spare them the cruelty of gossip. Differences do not have to lead to hostility and violence. There are always other options available.

Kindness and humility recognizes that we all go through the same battles, hurts and confusions. No one is ever any better or any less. As acts of creation, we are all enough and deserving of love. That is truth. To live from that basic understanding means we are willing to submerge our egos and let our heart rise. Through that action, we contribute to restoring the innate beauty and goodness in humanity. Aloha.