I Learned Life's Lessons Sitting On An Active Volcano

by Master Sio


A community where everyone loves everyone and shares everything?

Long ago I chanced upon such a community perched serenely atop an active volcano in the middle of the Pacific, shrouded from the madding crowd, a tiny island cradling arguably the world's happiest people. I was struck by their sense of community.

Lesson 1: Got Milk?
A boy of about six wandered by and pointed to the chest of a young mother breastfeeding her baby. She handed her child to another woman, lifted up the boy and began to nurse him. “'Oiau, 'oku ke si'i fiekaia? (You poor little boy, are you hungry, dear?)”

An elderly man said it was normal for all lactating mothers to oblige whenever anyone's child asked. The boy lived at the other end of the village with his parents. After the boy was satiated, the mother resumed feeding her own child. And no one stared at the woman's breasts.

Can you imagine this in New York City or London?

One of today's foremost theoretical physicists, Professor Michio Kaku, says we're all born geniuses until we're led astray by our parents, friends, schools, society, environment and so on. Likewise, we're all born filled with Divine Love that naturally impels us to share ourselves unconditionally and with joy. The good news is that we can return to Divine Love, as the storied islanders have.

Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King all bent the arc of egotism and greed back to loving service to others.

Like visitors before me, I was startled by the islanders' generosity and joyful disposition. Walking through the main settlement of perhaps two hundred people, I witnessed so many spontaneous acts of kindness that it was a bit disquieting, almost like getting a Christmas gift you felt unworthy of.

By western standards, the people lived below poverty level. Yet I'd never seen a community as happy, contented and in robust good health. Laughter and smiles wherever one turned.

Lesson 2: Teach a man to fish
Since the entire island was ringed by steep cliffs, launching a canoe to go fishing demanded skill, daring and faith. Several men and I swung the canoe back and forth then let it splash crazily onto the seething sea infested, I was told, by sharks. We then leapt into the churning waters and chased after the canoe.

Hours later we returned with a canoe load of fish, cheered on by the whole village at cliffside. Burlap bags bulging with fish were pulled up with ropes. Most fishermen clambered up the rocks to land. I chose to be hauled up in a basket. Everyone just helped themselves to whatever fish they fancied, without money changing hands. Likewise, everyone took whatever bananas, taro, breadfruit or other harvest they needed from the sparse arable land.

Those who could fish, fished. Those who chose to plant crops, did. Others chose to weave blankets. The island had its own herbalists, massage therapists, astrologers, and men who correctly forecast the weather by watching animal behavior and feeling the texture of the air, clouds, sun, moon and stars. Every person gave according to their ability or lack thereof. There was no weighing, counting or other accountability as we understand it in the west.

The islanders knew they could all live happily together, or perish miserably as loners.

A bitter herbal potion I took for a cold did the job nicely. Personally, I've accepted that the bitter taste of my broken relationships actually did me a world of good!

Lesson 3: The Old Man and the Sea
Walking along the shoreline shortly before sunset, I met an old man cooking a small fish in an open fire. His fishing line was dangling over the cliff. He greeted me warmly, we chatted a while and then he handed me the fish: “Here, enjoy it.”

I said I couldn't accept it since there was only one, and what would he eat, and could I at least give him some money.

He smiled a pixie smile which smoothed his weathered face: “I can always catch another fish, but I may never see you again.”

Lesson4: Karma Strikes
Passing ships delivered the mail in sealed cans which they dropped into the ocean about a mile away since there was no safe harbor. Islanders swam out to retrieve the cans. Each swim could take up to six hours, depending on how treacherously the eddies swirled around the island. For decades there was no mishap until the day a shark attacked one of the swimmers. As he lay bleeding on shore, he confessed how in a temper he had emptied the island's only water tank by leaving the tap open.

It seems Karma does not always wait until a future incarnation.

Charged with a sense of spiritual renewal, I left the island knowing that Love is what a true community is all about.

These lessons, or cousins thereof, have served me well enough, in my opinion.

So, would I say I'm a Whole Person? Yes, in the sense that I do try my best to be useful to my community, ever keeping a wary eye on the Karma gorilla forever lurking in the shadows.

I hesitate to name the island because it now has an airport and more visitors would inevitably erode the islanders' idyllic community lifestyle.

Okay, okay. Google up Tin Can Island, South Pacific.

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Master Sio is the Founder of The Results Healing Mastery and practices at Pacific West Medical Center.

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