For persons pursuing the path of Pono (good and godliness), or those fortunate enough to live in the Hawaiian Islands, “Aloha” is a word commonly voiced. We use it as a welcoming hello, a heartfelt farewell, or to express affection and love. However, when visitors come to Hawaii, Aloha is a word often bantered about, misunderstood, and misused. Many visitors to the islands feel compelled to say “Aloha” whenever they meet someone, and every time they say goodbye, which trivializes the word. The word Aloha should not be taken literally. Aloha is so much more than the sum of its multiple meanings.
What Is Aloha?
To the ancient Hawaiians, Aloha meant ‘God Within Us.” The authentic meaning of Aloha in Hawaii is one of compassion, sympathy, pity, mercy, kindness, peace, and love: a guideline for life. Living a life of Aloha means a heart full of gratitude and love for life, overflowing with joy, sharing the “Aloha Spirit” with others.
“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 willfully 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!”
– Translated Ancient Hawaiian Proverb
History Of Aloha
Long before whalers, traders, and missionaries “discovered” the island chain, the first people to inhabit the tropical paradise known today as Hawaii embraced a strong spiritual belief system with defined values and sacred practices in place. The ancient Hawaiians shared an intense awareness of “Self” connected to everything, with teachings and practices focused on oneness, self-awareness, self-development, and self-greatness.
The Hawaiians of long ago lived their lives guided by an internal moral compass that reminded them that they were one with all men, the sea, the sky, the land, and all creatures. Goodwill and kindness to one is goodwill and kindness to all. To harm anyone or anything is to harm and wound everything.
The deep and abiding connection to "Oneness" also embraces those persons departed from the physical dimension, family and friends who have crossed the rainbow bridge from human to spirit-wholeness. Souls who made the transition from the physical to the spiritual world continued their journey, often serving as spiritual guides.
The ancient belief system is based on respect for others, goodness (pono) always for one’s self and others, and living a life in alignment with universal laws and one’s true identity. Through stories, songs, and chants, Hawaiian children learn early the lessons of Aloha so that the Keiki (children) might be a living example to others in how to live a life of Aloha. Kupuna (elders) use the practice of Mo’olelo or storytelling to teach Aloha’s life lessons.
- A - ala: watchful, aware, alertness
- L - lokahi: working with unity and understanding
- O - oia'i'o: truthful, honest, forthcoming
- H - ha'aha'a: humility, grace
- A - ahonui: patience, perseverance
Aloha profoundly impacts the Hawaiian culture. For enlightened Hawaiians living a life of aloha, the “Aloha Spirit” personifies a unique way of living: the ultimate lifestyle, the secret to a rich and satisfying life.
Today, with the help of surfing and it’s laid back approach to life, the well-known expression travels the world, adopted by multiple languages and earning Hawaii the nickname of the “Aloha State.” “To have or not have Aloha is the meaning of life.” Live Aloha!