“Aloha.” A universal word. People often recognize this as the Hawaiian term for “Hello” or “Goodbye.” In the six short months that I have resided on the Big Island of Hawaii, I have learned that residents here understand and live the true spirit of ‘Aloha.’ A term that goes far beyond a greeting. There is much society can learn from the “Aloha Spirit.” If we all practiced the same spirit of love and giving that the residents of this island do, the world would be a truly beautiful place.
The literal meaning of Aloha is “the presence of breath” or “the breath of life.” Aloha is a way of living and treating each other with love and respect. Its deep meaning starts by teaching ourselves to love our own beings first and afterwards to spread the love to others. When people in Hawaii use this term, there is always a reverence behind it in which the giver puts forth energy focusing on the prosperity of the receiver. Hawaiian culture generates a desire to help one another. I believe this culture is built upon the residual energy of the ancestors of the native Hawaiians, who believed that treating people and the land with love and kindness was the most sacred of practices.
According to the old kahunas (priests), being able to live the Spirit of Aloha was a way of reaching self-perfection and realization for our own body and soul. Aloha is sending and receiving a positive energy. Aloha is living in harmony. When you live the Spirit of Aloha, you create positive feelings and thoughts, which are never gone. They exist in space, multiply and spread over to others.
As I continue my time on the island, I am beginning to understand more deeply the true spirit of Aloha. Each day, I am taken back by the generosity of my island neighbors. Following my family’s recent move from a furnished townhouse to an unfurnished home, we began frequenting thrift-stores to get what we needed as inexpensively as possible. Last week, after picking my two daughters up from school, we decided to swing by a thrift-store nearby. My husband’s recent observation that our spoons were “much too small for a man” led me to the miscellaneous kitchenware. I was sorting through a bin of mismatched flatware, when I happened to look up and saw what appeared to be an adolescent boy (but later realized was a female in her 20’s) holding a very tiny kitten with an infected eye. The animal was clearly in distress. The woman proceeded to explain she found the abandoned kitten and wanted to get it to the humane society, but had no transportation. Before I could wrap my mind around the idea of telling her I would do it (I was struggling to even look at the poor kitten because of it’s bulging eye), another woman in the store quickly spoke up and said she would take it. The store employee proceeded to find a basket and a blanket and the kitten was in good hands and on it’s way to receive help in no time.
I believe it is those who show compassion to even the smallest creatures who are going to change the world. My recent thrift-store incident is one of countless examples of the beautiful ‘Aloha Spirit’ I encounter on this island, not just every week, but each and every day. My brief time in Hawaii has taught me that selfishness does not bode well here. We must give to receive and be willing to extend a helping hand whenever and wherever it is needed. The people of this small (but big) island do not turn the other cheek when a friend requires help. People here also understand that, to be a friend, one must be willing to extend a helping hand. We are all in this together. There is a deep reverence on this island for all creatures. Sea turtles are marveled at, but never touched. Volunteers sacrifice their time and money to feed and spay/neuter the stray cats that overpopulate the island. No creature is knowingly left to suffer.
Imagine if the world could learn from the people of Hawaii? Imagine a world where the media and the government no longer stipulated our thoughts, but our intuition did? Would we choose anger? Would we choose hate? I struggle to believe so. These feelings are not innate. We are not born with prejudice. Nor with hate, anger, bias, depression…the list goes on. These feelings are programmed into us via what we are taught and the images we repeatedly see on television and via the media. With all the chaos and negativity that has overtaken society, it is almost difficult to imagine a world where humans no longer suffer. In fact, it seems that humans are now the cause of most of their own suffering. For some reason, we have become increasingly selfish and compassion in the world is waning. We are bombarded with images from the media that imply we are at war with the world and we must ‘protect our own.’ We feed into what they television tells us and the gap widens between humanity.
We are going the wrong direction. If the world is going to flourish, mankind must learn from those who have already discovered the key to unlocking true freedom. Based on what I have witnessed living on the Big Island, Hawaii can be an excellent teacher. People here understand the importance of “Aloha.” Not only do residents genuinely wish good upon everyone they encounter, they make a point to experience good in their own lives each day. Whether it be time relaxing in the hammock, a trip to the beach, or ‘talking story’ with friends, there is always time for joy.
Now, more than ever, we must come together and create change. Although the world seems bombarded with chaos and destruction, I believe there is time to turn it around. I realize this blog is not going to do that. However, if enough people reading this blog make the effort to realize that the good in this world outweighs the bad, I promise you that good will spread. The Aloha Spirit runs deep. It starts by teaching ourselves to love our own beings first and afterwards to spread the love to others. Your spirit came to this earth to grow, to love, and to give. Love yourself deeply. By loving yourself, you have the power to change the world.