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Hale Pai
Pacific American-News Journal

Iulai-July 1996 Volume 2 Issue 7

The Natural World And Our Hawaiian Spirituality

Kilipaka Kawaihonu Nahili Pu`ou Ontai
Kahuna Kuhikuhi Pu`uone

The Hawaiians and Polynesians the natural world is sacred to us, for in it we see our Creator and our blessed ancestors and families. Our `aina is a magical world where our sacred souls and the majesty of nature intersect. The Hawaiian spoken language of over 40,000 words is abundant with words describing nature in all its glorious forms. Words describe every plant and animal life form indigenous to our Islands. Words describe all inanimate objects, as well, from different kinds of rocks, soils and minerals. Words describe the forces of nature, the numerous different kinds of wind and directions, from stillness to the awesome forces of a hurricane. Words describe the numerous kinds of rains, from gentle mists to the torrential pour of Kona storms. Words describe the heat and fire of life, from the fire within our bodies to the fury of a volcano. Words describe the subtlety of light, from total darkness to the brilliancy of a clear blue sky, charged with the energy and power of the sun.

When we go out to the country-sides and ask our elders and Hawaiians living the old ways about our spiritualness, they will tell us of the man and forces of nature and all things living. They will tell us of the spiritualness within ourselves and our relationship to the universe and the Creator. They will remind us to know our `aina, as well as our ancestors did. They may even tell us their own secrets handed down since time forgotten. They will remind us to know the aroma of living Ki leaves; know the bitter taste of noni berries and the soothing tea of mamaki leaves for our medicine; they will remind us that certain areas grow Ki plants that make wonderful sweet drinks when baked in the red dirt found only in this spot; they will tell us of the big fishes that come to a magical sea cave only when certain phenomenon occur in nature; they will tell us where there can be found a certain kind of inland fresh water clam so rare it cannot be found anywhere else; they will tell us of a beautiful red flower so tiny and sacred to the Gods that most people have never seen it before; they will remind us to feel the red dirt beneath your feet and to remember always that this thin layer of rich soil is the mana and `uhane of our ancestors; they will tell us to look hard at the movement and direction of the winds and the seas and the clouds, and sense what they are saying and expressing to us, as they have been doing so since the beginning of time.

We, Kanaka Maoli, are the flowers of this land -- this majestic paradise in the middle of the vast Pacific Ocean. Our `uhane and mana have helped the Gods to nurture and care for this `aina, as we have been temporal and spiritual partners for 2,000 years. We hail from no where else in this world. It is our sacred inheritance. Our culture, our language, our ways and paths, our ancestors, our blood, and our `uhana have no other origins --- all express the spiritualness of this sacred `aina. No other Peoples can claim this inheritance.

From our ancient Kumulipo chant, whose origins are lost in time, we learn of the evolution of life on earth and the primordial continuance of changing life forms. The Kumulipo tells us that the Creator brought forth out of the darkness of the heavens, a living earth, alive and full of the fire of life. And in it, the Creator gave us his greatest love, the majesty of his being --- life itself, to give form to our spirits. From the single cells of slush to the evolution of humankind and our ancestors, it has taken billion of years in our perception of time, but a mere breath of time for the Creator.

From this majestic creation, we are taught that our brothers and sisters include the sacred Kalo (taro), who shall live amongst us forever, each nurturing each other and taking care of each other as a family. Our Kupuna Kahiki created 200 of the world's 300 varieties of Kalo; at least 24 varieties of sweet potatoes, over 20 varieties of sugarcane, more than 12 types of gourd and countless other hybrids, for we understood the sacred evolution of life.

We are taught that the blessed spirits of our ancestors and loved ones walk amongst us and guide us. We are taught our blessed spirits will personify themselves in the beauty of a tree, a flower or a rock. Or they will take the form of the awesome forces of the wind, rain, or the fire of life. We dance and sing to express our feelings for the beauty or nature.

For Hawaiians and Polynesians, we feel and touch, smell and hear, and see God through the natural world and all its forces. We see the continuous evolution of the cycle of life. We feel the heart beat of our Earth Mother, Papa, and we see our Heavenly Father, Wakea, as he gently impregnates her with life-giving rains to sustain all God's creations. The living earth is alive and in its center beats a strong passionate heart. We rejoice and celebrate the gift of life.

To Hawaiians and Polynesians, we are only a part of life on earth, a part of God's magnificent creation in the vast darkness of the universe. We respect all life, for they are our ancestors personified. We hold tenderly our aloha to our `uhane families and ancestors who are the na pua of this `aina. We thank God, Our Almighty Creator, for all that nurtures us from the land and sea. But most of all, we know our inherited role as Kahu (caretakers) of God's majestic creation and protectors of our ancestors `uhane. It is a responsibility that we take with great humbleness and sincerity.  

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Copyright 1996 Hale Pai Pacific American-News Journal
Last modified: February 28, 1998

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