Aloha is being a part of all, and all being a part of me. When there is pain – it is my pain. When there is joy – it is also mine. I respect all that is as part of the Creator and part of me. I will not wilfully harm anyone or anything. When food is needed, I will take only my need and explain why it is being taken. The earth, the sky, the sea are mine to care for, to cherish and to protect. This is Hawaiian – this is Aloha!
The first thing that most people assume about the Hawaiian culture is probably daily surfing, bikini bods, and a pretty laidback lifestyle, which is kind of true but not the whole of it. The Hawaiian culture, as I have learned, is essentially steeped in the Spirit of Aloha.
According to the information on the University of Hawaii’s website, the Aloha Spirit is considered a state “law”, but it is not a type of law that will get you in trouble if you break it. The world “law” does sound too strict. Its purpose is actually to serve as a reminder to government officials while they perform their duties to treat people with deep care and respect.
In other words, Aloha Spirit is more a lesson than a law. If the government officials (and citizens) apply the lessons in real life, they could contribute positively to the world, as the “law” is based on empathy, not superiority. The philosophy that the public officials should uphold is stated in the State Law:
“Aloha Spirit” is the coordination of mind and heart within each person. It brings each person to the self. Each person must think and emote good feelings to others. In the contemplation and presence of the life force, “Aloha”, the following unuhi laula loa may be used:
“Akahai”, meaning kindness to be expressed with tenderness;
“Lokahi”, meaning unity, to be expressed with harmony;
“Oluolu”, meaning agreeable, to be expressed with pleasantness;
“Haahaa”, meaning humility, to be expressed with modesty;
“Ahonui”, meaning patience, to be expressed with perseverance.
These are traits of character that express the charm, warmth and sincerity of Hawaii’s people. It was the working philosophy of native Hawaiians and was presented as a gift to the people of Hawaii. “Aloha” is more than a word of greeting or farewell or a salutation. “Aloha” means mutual regard and affection and extends warmth in caring with no obligation in return. “Aloha” is the essence of relationships in which each person is important to every other person for collective existence. “Aloha” means to hear what is not said, to see what cannot be seen and to know the unknowable.
This resonates so much with me, my values and my beliefs that I have gradually acquired even before words could properly describe them. And when I read about Aloha, I knew that I should hold on to it thus began my acknowledgement of “Spirit”. In pictures, I often show the Shaka sign, and I practice Aloha with every person I meet by just being aware of the other person’s spiritual presence.
To me, it’s a way of living consciously and compassionately. This would hopefully lead to building more meaningful relationships with people. As they say, change starts within oneself. And so, this has helped me look at the world in different perspectives, and I am able to better understand and accept people just as they are.
It’s difficult to talk about the concept of “Spirit” when it is intangible. It’s either you feel it or you don’t. And I think I can safely say that most people do feel a certain warmth in them when a person hugs them, say thanks to them, do something good to them… and that to me is an interaction between two souls, or spirits. I believe that there is more than just our body and the internal organs. There’s something else weaving in between the veins and arteries.
The Spirit does not only harbour positive feelings. It is also the feeling when you lose a loved one; when a loved one leaves you; when you are abandoned; when you are being discriminated; when you are angry at someone or something; and when you just want to give up.
The point is that acknowledging your Spirit, and subsequently others’ Spirit, allows you to feel much more, embracing the range of emotions that the human brain can offer. This humbles you because you would realise how vulnerable you are as a human being, but at the same time empowers you, as those emotions, the gut feelings, are what’s keeping you alive and able to contribute to others. Sure, we are all different and the experiences we have are different, but most of the emotions we feel are similar. We can relate to each other, understand each other better, and help each other in need.
I’m still on this journey of discovering more of myself and what I can offer. I think I will always be on this journey until my breath is completely exhausted from my body. And what I would love to encounter on this journey is people who also embrace this Aloha Spirit so that we can collectively grow, make good memories and leave our footprints along the way. With that, I can only hope that the destination, wherever that is, would be sweeter because of the amazing journey.