Editor’s note: “Spiritual leaders answer” is a weekly column inviting Kaua‘i’s religious and spiritual leaders to share their doctrine’s perspective on a suggested subject. Every Friday a topic is printed inviting a response. Submissions are edited for content and length. Thoughts or suggestions for future topics are always welcome. Next week’s topic is compassion. The topic at the end of the column is for the following week.
Pastor Wayne Patton
Anahola Baptist Church
The importance of the oceans cannot be overemphasized. The oceans cover about 71 percent of the earth’s surface. The Pacific Ocean alone covers more area than all the landmasses put together. The oceans contain almost all of the earth’s water — more than 97 percent. If the earth’s crust were level, this immense quantity of water would cover it to a depth of 1.7 miles.
As we behold these waters, a biblical perspective of the oceans connects the Creation Mandate (Genesis 1:28), the command to love one’s fellow humans (Mark 12:30-31), and the commission to proclaim the gospel (Matthew 28:18-20).
For example, by helping underdeveloped countries to desalinate ocean water through a method called reverse osmosis, we could teach them to become more skilled at fulfilling the Creation Mandate. Since we are also helping them meet a most physical need (and thus saving thousands of lives precious to God), we are showing love for our fellow humans. Moreover, if we use this display of love to tell such peoples of God’s greater love for their eternal redemption, we are also fulfilling our calling to disciple the nations for God’s glory.
It is worth facing reasonable hazards with appropriate precautions to study and investigate the oceans for God’s glory and for the benefit of humans. Job 38:16 reminds us that the depths of the oceans contain many unknown mysteries hidden there by our creator. We never know when a discovery will make a significant contribution to a scientific understanding of the earth.
The ocean has the potential to feed the world and provide unlimited sources of energy once the secrets to its proper utilization are discovered. To use the ocean for this purpose is honoring God, and is another example of man’s obedience to the Creation Mandate (Genesis 1:28).
Rev. James Fung
Lihu‘e Christian Church
If Jesus lived in Kaua‘i, there is no doubt that he would have spent a lot of time by the ocean. As it was, his home base was the village of Capernaum on the northern edge of the Sea of Galilee — a fishing village where he gathered his first disciples, who were fishermen.
Jesus spent a lot of time near the water. He taught by the water’s edge, went out in the boat with his fisherman pals, and there is an incident in scripture that tells of how he appeared to his followers, in the early morning mist walking on the water.
In another story, there was a storm at sea. When those in the boat began to panic, he spoke and the winds and the sea became calm. The power of the raging sea was quieted by his miraculous power.
My Bible teacher long ago taught that those who ask, “Did this really happen?” are asking the wrong question. The better question of the spiritual text is, “What meaning does it hold for us?” For me, it’s this: I have a lot of respect for the power of the ocean, for its mystery, for its changing temperament, for it’s overwhelming power to evoke wonder. But as Christ can calm the storm at sea, he can calm any fear that may arise on my horizon when I place my trust in him.
Baha’is of Kaua‘i
A love for the majesty of the ocean and an awe for its immense power are shared by all of us who call Hawai‘i home. The ocean provides us with transportation, food, health, recreation, beauty and resources. Its depths are yet to be fully explored and continue to reveal mysteries and treasures. It embraces us and connects us with others on other shores. It literally surrounds and sustains us but asks for nothing but our love and respect in return.
It is not surprising, therefore, that “ocean” is used synonymously in hundreds of passages in the Baha’i writings to describe the immeasurable love of God for man and his continued fulfillment of His Eternal Covenant with us to never to leave mankind without guidance. “The Most Great Ocean” is among the many titles of Baha’u’llah, Prophet-founder of the Baha’i Faith, which signifies His supreme authority as the revealer of God’s word to man for this day.
Here are other examples of how “ocean” is used to describe the incalculable greatness of God and our need for His love: “seeking the ocean of thy forgiveness,” “ocean of His eternal justice and loving-kindness,” “billowing ocean of God’s grace” and “the ocean of thy mercy.”
Ocean is also used to describe the station of Baha’u’llah. He is the “the ocean of true understanding” and “the ocean of divine knowledge.”
The following from the Baha’i writings provides a more detailed description of the station of Baha’u’llah and his genealogy:
“He was formally designated Baha’u’llah, an appellation specifically recorded in the Persian Bayan (the most holy book of the forerunner of the Baha’i Faith), signifying at once the glory, the light and the splendor of God, and was styled the ‘Lord of Lords,’ the ‘Most Great Name,’ the ‘Ancient Beauty,’ the ‘Pen of the Most High,’ the ‘Hidden Name,’ the ’Preserved Treasure,’ ‘He Whom God will make manifest,’ the ‘Most Great Light,’ the ‘All-Highest Horizon,’ the ‘Most Great Ocean,’ the ‘Supreme Heaven,’ the ‘Pre-Existent Root,’ the ‘Self-Subsistent,’ the ‘Day-Star of the Universe,’ the ‘Great Announcement,’ the ‘Speaker on Sinai,’ the ‘Sifter of Men,’ the ‘Wronged One of the World,’ the ‘Desire of the Nations,’ the ‘Lord of the Covenant,’ the ‘Tree beyond which there is no passing.’ He derived His descent, on the one hand, from Abraham (the Father of the Faithful) through his wife Katurah, and on the other from Zoroaster, as well as from Yazdigird, the last king of the Sasaniyan dynasty. He was moreover a descendant of Jesse, and belonged, through His father, Mirza Abbas, better known as Mirza Buzurg — a nobleman closely associated with the ministerial circles of the Court of Fath-‘Alí Shah — to one of the most ancient and renowned families of Mazindaran.”
In his own pen Baha’u’llah wrote: “Turn ye away from all that is on earth and seek none else but Me. I am the Sun of Wisdom and the Ocean of Knowledge. I cheer the faint and revive the dead. I am the guiding Light that illumineth the way. I am the royal Falcon on the arm of the Almighty. I unfold the drooping wings of every broken bird and start it on its flight.”
Lama Tashi Dundrup
Kaua‘i Dharma Center
This word, spiritually, according to the sutras of the Buddha and lineage of teachers, applies to this universe as an ocean of pain and suffering for the infinite numbers of sentient beings who live in it. We all, human, animal and spirits, have physical, mental, emotional and spiritual pain and suffering. The cause of this is our delusion in the way we perceive, think and emotionally react to this phenomenal world. This basic delusion or ignorance escalates into attachment, aversion, pride, jealousy, fear, anxiety, depression and thousands of other neurotic and psychotic states of thinking, speaking and activity.
The medicinal antidote to all this is ultimately apparent to those human beings who have developed awareness through the spiritual practices of meditation or insight. The result of developing awareness is to penetrate the illusory nature of this ocean of pain and transform it into an ocean of bliss. This happens by applying the antidote of awareness itself to everything we sense, believe or think about and remove the emotional involvement with the self, I or ego. This spontaneously redirects all this energy in positive way to benefit others still floundering in this ocean of suffering. This method of altruistic compassion and ultimate awareness, working together is beyond delusions and it is called enlightenment.
Topic for two weeks from today
• Will you speak to us on farewells?
• Spiritual leaders are invited to e-mail responses of three to five paragraphs to afrainier@ thegardenisland.com.
• Deadline: 5 p.m. Tuesday.