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Huna and the Purple Crayon
by Dr. Matt Miller

Some of the most mind-shaking concepts in Huna seemed weirdly familiar to me when I first encountered them. They show up in different forms in other traditions, but I sensed that wasn't the source of their familiarity for me. Then I hit on it. The seven principles are taught in Western children's books. In particular, I was deeply impressed during my formative years by a book for very small children by Crockett Johnson, entitled Harold and the Purple Crayon.

Harold lives on an empty page. But whatever he thinks of, he draws with his purple crayon and then steps into it, experiencing it as reality. For Harold, the world is what you think it is. I absorbed this idea from Harold and the Purple Crayon as a representation of the human condition before I was five. I got that in some unfathomable way, we each have a “purple crayon” with which we create the world we live in. There is a clue on the last page of the book, where Harold drops the purple crayon as he goes to sleep. I decided before I was five that this means the purple crayon is consciousness, even though I would not have been able to put it in those terms until I was older.

We create the world by being aware of it.

Other Huna principles weave through the pages of this little masterpiece. For those of you not fortunate enough to have the book in front of you, Harold decides to go for a walk in the moonlight, so he draws a moon and a field with a straight path. He walks the straight path, and the moon follows him, because that's what moons do when you walk. Cutting across the fields after awhile, he comes to a place that should have a forest, so he draws a tree. It has apples, and he decides a dragon should be guarding it. The dragon he draws is so fierce it scares Harold, who backs away. His hand holding the crayon shakes, and that makes it draw water waves, which he immediately falls into. Help!

All my life I have watched people create the world in ways that scare them, and then fall into difficulties because they are backing away in fear. As I got older, I became introspective enough to watch myself doing the same thing. Encountering this as a spiritual principle in Huna enabled me to work on it directly.

Harold just draws a boat, climbs in, draws a mast and sail, and sails to shore. So, if we invent demons to fight, we can also invent ways to defeat them. The world is what you think it is.

After some more fun adventures he lands in a strange place and feels hungry so he draws some pie, then can't eat all the pie, so he draws a hungry moose and porcupine to finish it off. Then he goes looking for a hill to climb so he can see his way home.

He draws the hill, climbs to the top. and falls over the edge of the drawing into limitless empty space. We are reminded that there is no world unless Harold draws it. There are no limits unless we impose them. Seeing no reason to fall forever through limitless space, Harold creates a few limits. He draws a balloon and hangs onto it with one hand to slow his descent. With the other hand, he draws a basket under the balloon to stand on.

Outside the balloon is still limitless emptiness, so he draws houses with windows. None are his window, although he draws a whole city of houses. He wants to find his own window--his energy--flowing where attention goes, and creates a zillion windows.

But none are his. He lands in someone's front lawn, and draws a policeman so he can ask which way is his own house. The policemen is pointing the way he is already going, so Harold decides he must be walking in the right direction. Energy flows where attention goes.

Then, in a tour-de-force ending, Harold remembers where his bedroom window is. It is always around the moon when he looks at the moon. So he draws his bedroom window around the moon. Now is the moment of power. Like Dorothy in the land of Oz, he could have got home any time if he just knew how, because all power comes from within. Home is where Harold says it is.

And he knows it is right, because he makes his bed with the purple crayon, climbs in and, literally, draws up the covers. He is home because he says so. Effectiveness is the measure of truth. And Harold falls asleep with the same happy, trusting, self-confident little smile that he wore through the whole adventure. He is happy to be home, and happy with himself and his purple crayon. He loves the world, for to love is to be happy with.

I don't know where Crockett Johnson got his ideas, but he taught me Huna when I was first learning to read. I have been aware of my own purple crayon at work behind what I call reality, ever since.

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