What Aloha Means

Aloha kakou -

What does that mean? Is it an empty greeting, devoid of meaning, that we say when we want to "put on our Hawaiian coat," and then take off when inconvenient?

Is it an exclusive phrase reserved for an elite few, to be partaken of only by those deemed "worthy?"

Is it an expression from a dead language, only used on tourists to get them to spend their money and then quickly go away?

Or is it the cornerstone of Hawaiian culture and life?

While the word has been used and abused by many, any may sometimes appear empty or exclusive, I was taught that it is the very foundation of what it means to be Hawaiian.

And yet, the concepts embodied in "aloha" are not exclusively Hawaiian.
The Dalai Lama is a living example of "aloha."

I was taught that:
  • Aloha is strong - it survives brutality and abuse.
     
  • Aloha is unconditional - it loves the unlovable.
     
  • Aloha is steadfast - it continues to cherish, even when assailed.
     
  • Aloha is forgiving - it accepts what has happened and moves on.
     
  • Aloha is healing - it does not remain in a space of pain, but finds solutions to problems and implements them.
     
  • Aloha is responsible - it recognizes the interconnections between all creation.

Queen Lili`uokalani is considered an embodiment of Aloha by many Hawaiians. Enduring humiliation and heartbreak, Queen Liliuokalani embodied spiritual strength and still provides us counsel with words of compassion and forgiveness, penned in March of 1895, that survive as her legacy for us in these modern troubled times.

'O kou mihi ana a paahao ia. O oe kuu lama kou nani, kou koo.
I live in sorrow, imprisoned. You are my light, your glory my support. Mai nana

inoino na hewa a kanaka aka e huikala a maemae no.
Behold not with malevolence the sins of man, but forgive and cleanse.
(The Queen's Prayer, Ka Pule A Ka Haku, 1895)

She lost her husband and her kingdom. Those her country welcomed turned on her and stole it. And yet she counseled forgiveness.

Stand for what is right, and hold Aloha in your heart.

I teach my young dancers that the sternum is a magic window through which all of the aloha in our hearts shines out to everyone who sees us dance. I teach them that we must keep that window clean, not let angry thoughts or meanness dirty the window. Before we dance, we breathe in the clean air, and breathe out any anger or negativity. We sweep the halau to send all meanness out the door, where it will be cleansed in the sunlight. And then we greet each other with "Aloha!".

Malama pono,
Aunty Lele


When Aunty Lele posted this message on the KONAWEB "Moving to the Big Island Forum", I immediately asked her if I could make it a permanent part of KONAWEB.
Aunty Lele was raised on this island and has been helping members of the KONAWEB community understand the culture of this island for years. She runs a web site of her own: Ka'ahele Hawaii
Mahalo, Aunty Lele!

-Konabob

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