If we hadn’t seen it before, this pandemic and global economics & politics have made it glaringly clear that we need a new way of thinking in the world; one that is focussed on humanity and the care of our planet. So many people are tired of life’s struggle, mental gymnastics, and energy drain. And innately, we feel there has to be a better way to live.
And so there is: Things improve beyond belief when we are aligned with our true nature: ALOHA. The problem is we’re caught in a vortex of outdated habitual patterns and ways of thinking that keep us from it.
The Path of Meditation that Leads to Living ALOHA is an experiential and interactive course that provides training in ancient skills and knowledge that aid one on their journey to realign with ALOHA. When we are aligned with ALOHA, we experience a life free of struggle and full of harmony, joy, peace, and wellbeing. These aren’t just pretty words; this is my experience and has been the experience of thousands of people for over two millennia.
I’ve spent the better part of my life investigating, learning, practicing, researching, and in some cases joining indigenous wisdom traditions, eastern and western philosophies, obscure belief systems, and mainstream belief systems – all in the pursuit of the truth about life.
As a result, I found that, at the core of the 22 belief systems and wisdom traditions I studied, they each have the same message. They’re just describing it in different ways simply because of cultural and language differences.
The Path of Meditation that Leads to Living ALOHA consists of the Universal truths I found that were common in all of the wisdom traditions and philosophies I studied (which I will refer to now as The Sources). These truths offer ways to get back to our true nature – ALOHA – but only one offers a thorough, step-by-step instruction manual for how to get there and a long list of success stories by those who followed it. That wisdom tradition is Buddhism – I explain more below.
At this point, it’s important that we discuss the word “ALOHA” as it means way more than most people think!
According to the Pukuʻi and Elbert dictionary, ALOHA is defined as: love, affection, compassion, mercy, sympathy, pity, kindness, sentiment, grace, charity, greeting; salutation; sweetheart, lover, loved one, beloved, loving, kind, compassionate, charitable, lovable; to love or be fond of; to show kindness, mercy, pity, charity, affection; to venerate; to remember with affection; to greet or hail.
These are the hoʻopukakū (outer or literal) definitions of the word. To get the noahuna (secret or spiritual) meaning of any word, Tutu Kane and Tutu Lady taught me to define it by its smallest parts. So with the word ALOHA, the parts we get are: A, LO, ALO, and HA:
A: luminous, to shine brightly like a star or sparkle like a gem
LO: front half of the skull
ALO: face, presence, to be with
HA: breath, life, the number four (which, in Hawaiian philosophy, is considered sacred)
Upon discovering this, I was left with more questions so I sought answers from Hawaiʻi’s kūpuna (elders); three in particular from the 20th century: Aunty Pilahi Paki, Aunty Morrnah Nālamakū Simeona, and Aunty Nana Veary.
Aunty Pilahi Paki:
“ALOHA is the word my kūpuna attributed to the Universe. ALOHA is the Universe…ALOHA – the Spirit – is now hidden from us by a filmy veil of Eternity as revered Personalities. For ALOHA, as translated and interpreted by my ancestors, was an element of life. It was an element, vital and important to their daily habits in life. ALOHA for them was the spiritual essence endowed to man in his and her beginning. ALOHA was that tiny glow to life or spark in life, which enabled man to imply his thoughts, and apply his heart, to the imagination and passion of his and her Soul.”
Aunty Pilahi’s definition of ALOHA comes directly from her kūpuna and from her teacher, David Kahekili Kia. ALOHA is everything in the infinite Universe. It is the spirit or energy at its foundation.
Aunty Nana Veary, from Change We Must:
“When I asked [my grandmother] why she fed [a stranger], she got angry and said, ‘I was not feeding the man; I was entertaining the Spirit of ALOHA within him.’ The practice of honoring the other was so much a part of [our] culture that it needed no name. Today, we call it the ‘ALOHA spirit,’ but to the Hawaiians of old, it was inherent and natural. They lived it. To feed a stranger passing by – that is pure ALOHA. Today, we have to be taught it because we are so far removed from the Hawaiian culture that we’ve had to give it a name.”
And, this ALOHA of old to which Aunty Nana refers was indeed my experience with Tutu Kane and Tutu Lady and growing up in Hawaiʻi in general in the 60’s.
Aunty Morrnah Nālamakū Simeona:
“Western man has gone to the extremes with his intellectualism; it divides and keeps people separate. Man then becomes a destroyer because he manages and copes, rather than letting the perpetuating force of ALOHA – through him for right action.”
Aunty Nana Veary, from Change We Must:
“The consciousness of ALOHA in being human is the essence, the sum, and substance of all beliefs. It is the essence of the teachings of all the seers and mystics in the world’s history. To live ALOHA is the first essential of every satisfactory life. The second is to go out thinking, speaking, writing, loving, and living from this center to serve [that consciousness] in others.”
We don’t have to dig too far to understand that the people of Hawaiʻi in antiquity had an advanced understanding of their place in the cosmos and knowledge of life and nature in the physical realm. There is no doubt they knew what they were doing and what they were talking about.
But, if you have any doubt whatsoever, let me add a couple of things:
First, The Sources ALL say that at the foundation of all existence in the Universe is a conscious and intelligent life-force energy from which everything unfolds and into which everything enfolds. In other words, this energy is at the foundation of all existence. There isn’t anything that isn’t this energy, they say. Everything, including us, is it.
Quantum physics agrees. At the sub-molecular level – quarks and the like – there is only energy in motion in the form of pure light. They call this life-force energy the quantum field – a field of light in constant motion. It is conscious, intelligent, and everything emanates from it into physical form then dissolves back into it out of physical form. We, too, are it.
So, if The Sources and science say ALOHA exists, it seems logical, then, to ask, “Why can’t we feel it? Why can’t we experience it all the time? Why aren’t people coming from this place of compassion, kindness, and love like the Hawaiians of old did?”
According to The Sources, it’s because we’ve severed our connection with it.
Buddhist psychology says the same thing: We come into this world with a natural connection with the Universal consciousness. The reason we’re no longer connected with it is because we’re now filling our life experience with worries about the future; anxiety about the past; and projecting what we think onto other people and situations. It also says we’ve become addicted to and identify with our conceptual mind and thoughts (instead of our true nature, ALOHA). And we distract ourselves from the present moment – the one place we connect with ALOHA – with entertainments and cravings for or against things.
If we look at human behavior over the last thousand years, we would see that the majority of people a thousand years ago lived in sync with nature or Life or the flow of the Universe or ALOHA – call it what you want. But as time progresses, people are living in their heads more and more until the 20th century when that sky-rockets. Now, in the 21st century, we’re clearly addicted to being in our heads.
When we were very young, we didn’t have this experience. I don’t know about you but I remember a time when I was engaging in the freedom of spontaneous play. Then I started being in my head to learn things – which I loved. Until I HAD to be in my head in college and eventually post-college life with a job, relationship, career, house, responsibilities, etc., etc. Until I found myself fully reliant on being in my head – addicted, if you will, as I seemingly couldn’t stop. I had become so serious. I had left behind being my true nature.
The Sources say we are now living an unending cycle of struggle: discontent, dissatisfaction, unhappiness, suffering, mental pain and the emotions that go with it all: anger, hatred, jealousy, misery, and confusion – with just glimmers of happiness.
If you saw the first Deadpool movie, you may remember his remark from the prologue, “Life is an endless series of trainwrecks with only brief, commercial-like breaks of happiness.”
All because we have traded our allegiance from ALOHA to our conceptual mind and its preoccupation with the past, future, projections, entertainments, and cravings.
It’s a sad story, for sure.
Aunty Nana Veary, from Change We Must:
“Separation from [ALOHA] leads to deterioration. Anything or anyone separated from [ALOHA] begins to deteriorate mentally and physically and dies spiritually. Yet we stumble around in the dark. We create confusion and label it evil or call it demon. Neither exists in reality. We create our own evil and demons. We have separated from ALOHA and mistakenly invested confused thoughts with a power they do not have.
We need to repair the broken communication within ourselves. We must be honest with ourselves, forgive ourselves, get back in touch with [our] source, and all will be well. We can do it all by ourselves. In silence, we can.”
How Do We Realign with ALOHA?
According to native Hawaiian cultural practitioner, Pono Shim, and his colleague, Thao Le, the way to reconnect or realign with ALOHA is through Tibetan Buddhist mindfulness meditation.
And the Buddhist masters would certainly agree.
Why Buddhist Mindfulness Meditation?
First, I’d like to say that Buddhism is not a religion though it has been misinterpreted as one by Western culture. And here in Hawaiʻi, we have first-hand experience with how Western culture does that.
Buddhism is a scientific practice that one engages in to strengthen and open their mind for the deliberate purpose of investigating the truth about themself and reality. Period. It’s literally, yoga for the mind.
Siddhartha Gautama, the historic Buddha (Buddha is a Sanskrit word that means one who is awake), was a human who is now revered for finding the meditative path to the end of struggling in life and reconnection with ALOHA (which the Buddhists call Awake Nature). And thankfully, Siddhartha left behind a thorough step-by-step instruction manual that shows us how we can EACH do the same thing. And no allegiance to Buddh-ism is required. After all, Siddhartha was not a Buddhist himself! In fact, he never intended to teach what he learned until fellow seekers insisted.
Buddhist mindfulness meditation strengthens the mind so we’re not distracted by thoughts or storylines or entertainments or cravings or even outside stimuli. This leads to inner silence which allows us to clearly see how we’re being in the world: Are we coming from our conceptual mind or are we coming from ALOHA? Are our habitual patterns of thinking, speaking, & acting still serving us or not?
“Meditation is not supposed to be the fabrication or the reinforcement of some particular state, but simply the cultivation of the awareness of whatever is arising in the mind.” ~ Thrangu Rinpoche
When we can look at ourselves in this way, we then have a choice in how we want to be in the world (instead of automatically giving in to our conditioned patterns). And there’s nothing more empowering than that.
Nana Veary, from Change We Must:
“Silence was the secret power of the Hawaiians. Through silence, they communicated with nature. The language of silence salutes ALOHA in all living things. The silence that comes in meditation is a conscious acknowledgment of ALOHA’s allness. In that silence, one is beyond words and thoughts. The highest form of meditation is inner stillness. In meditation, let your mind and heart release…let your body and all that surrounds it be still…let the earth and sea and air and heaven itself be still. The deeper the meditative silence, the more powerful the connection with ALOHA. You are a dynamic center in the creative flow that is [ALOHA].”
When we simply observe our habitual patterns, it loosens their hold on us. Then we can begin to truly experience ALOHA. From that point, as we continue to release old, out-dated patterns, we deepen our connection with ALOHA until we are living our lives from that place.
The more we connect with ALOHA, the more we experience peace and harmony. The more we experience peace and harmony, the more we treat ourselves with kindness and compassion. The more we treat ourselves with kindness and compassion, the more we treat others and the planet with kindness and compassion – no different than how the Hawaiians of old lived.