Learning From Aloha
Recently, a thoughtful buddy of mine who recently visited Hawaii, sent me three CD’s of the music of the islands. They’ve made a far-reaching change in my thinking. Certainly, I loved all the music and the spirit in which it was sung, and definitely appreciated the friendship in which these CD’s were given. I’ve always loved the music of Hawaii, and listened with joy (and a few tears from the memories) to the music.
However, what was much more important, is that I learned from these disks, the music, the spirit, and what was given me as a result. There was one specific disk (although I continually/regularly listen to all of them), but that particular disk personally moved me to an answer that I’d been seeking for 21 years. For all those who really know me, they’d agree that I’m a slow learner, aggressive, far too technical, and a little off-the-graph in the dense side of the Scorpio sign (according to the experts, of which I am NOT a follower of any astrology – nor a student). It takes me a long time to finally grasp something, but when I do, it sticks.
But, back to the question + answer that was given me in those Hawaiian disks. And that question was, “Why did we ever go to Hawaii?” We could have said “NO” to Worldwide when I was offered the job of pastoring over there, but there was a driving force behind our leaving the mainland, and a vital lesson that I had to learn from the people of Aloha. It’s taken this long. Thank you friend for sending the disks.
Having been booted out of the WCG for simply questioning things that were simple enough to answer, IF the motive of the cultmasters had been honest, I set out on a quest for what was behind all of “this.” Probably that’s why my drive behind logic, science, and Ockham’s (Occam’s) Razor. I didn’t grasp the reason for another 21 years. Like I said, I’m a slow learner. However, we all know by now that the motives of Worldwide were the promotion of ego, money, and power. “By their fruits . . . ”
The one disk that influenced me the most was sung by Lei’ohu Ryder, who’s probably in her mid forties by now, and she’s Hawaiian by birth. The lyrics to the songs that she sung – and can be downloaded – are at: http://www.ululoa.com/site/lei.html That particular disc is called “Lady of the Mountain.” The first and last tracks are Hawaiian chants that last less than a minute, but the rest of the disk projects another world that we only wish we could live.
What these disks taught and led me was to the realization that ALL people have an infinite to give, IF they let themselves be an instrument of the Infinite IT. My personal problem, being male, is simply to do things “my own way.” This is the way we were weaned. Men, it was said, must make it happen, otherwise you’re a wimp. Since no guy wants to be a wimp, he carves out forests, plunders the land, rounds up the masses, lassoes the Brahman bulls, climbs the highest trees, the highest mountains, runs the biggest organizations, and makes the most money. I guess you could say that this is a “man thing.”
I now realize that the people of Hawaii taught me an invaluable lesson. They didn’t think like this. Theirs was the lesson of just BEING. The people who were really out of touch over there were the “haoeles.” The term “haoele” is used in referring to an outsider – like a mainlander. If we come from outside the islands and settle, then we’re a Kam’aina – i.e. commonly referred to as a newcomer who has made HI his/her home. Did you know that English has 26 letters in our alphabet? Hawaii has only TWELVE. Yet they still manage to communicate Ok. Like Thoreau said: “Simplify. Simplify. Simplify.” Even though he had to say it three times.
One evening, I drove makai (toward the ocean) past the Koolaus. These are the mountain chain on the windward side of Oahu. There was a light mist over the area. A blue haze floated around everywhere. The Koolaus themselves were green with growth, and the color combination could never be described. It had to be experienced. I could never photograph or express it. I thought at the time, "if there’s a heaven, it can’t look any better then this." And the spirit that was exuded from those mountains was exquisite, calming, and will forever live in my memory.
Hawaii has eight islands. Niihau (owned by the Robinson family and forbidden entry except with permission), and it’s strictly the HI language spoken there. It’s the northern most island of the HI chain. Going south, there is Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Kahoolawe, Maui, and the Orchid Isle – the big island of Hawaii.
I’ve been and lived (sometimes briefly) on every island except two. Niihau, for which I did not obtain permission, and Kahoolawe (which is now used for a navy bombing site). We’ve also flown into the peninsula called Kalaupapa. It is on the north shore of the island of Molokai, and has its own county called Kalawao, and it’s a peninsula. The peninsula of Kalaupapa is a leper colony.
It’s rough getting in there, and the waves splash across your windscreen as you’re landing, on a low approach. They crash over the lava rocks to an up-and-down rickety runway. You land with a slush, and onto the uppity runway. Something akin to a minor roller-coaster. Then it’s a taxi across the soggy and squooshy grass to the flight hut. There’s no taxiways in Kalaupapa. It rains a helluva lot there. But the spirit of the people is still the same. It made no difference in my embrace to a leper patient or a kokua (helper – nurse). It was their spirit that made all the difference. It made no difference if they had no hands, half mouths, a quarter nose, missing ears, or if they limped around with a walker because they had a missing foot. The housing and layout of Kalaupapa is very simple, but I never met a more happier people.
A layout of the Kalaupapa peninsula, is shown in the photo above. Below, is a shot of part of the town itself. Please note that, in the (below photo) background, the 2500 + ft. cliffs of the Molokai north shore. The actual town is seen on the lower part of the peninsula in the above photo, photographed from the cliffs above. But what impressed me was the loving spirit of the people, and that’s something that I needed to learn. No matter what the circumstances, you can still be loving and pleasant to our fellow man. I’m still trying to learn that lesson.
A downtown simple housing is shown in the photo below. The 2500 to 3000 high cliffs of Molokai are in the background. They were formed by volcanic up thrusts. If you stand at the edge of these cliffs, there’s a drop of about 3000 feet . . . straight down. Somewhere, there’s a moral in all this. Anyhow, this is what part of the township of Kalaupapa looks like.
Eventually, a Belgian priest, named Father Damien, at his own request, moved to Kalaupapa, and established some order to this colony – gone mad. Up to that point, it was kill-Vs-kill attitude with the strongest leper controlling others. They brought the lepers from all of the islands, and literally threw them onto the lava rocks that surrounded the peninsula. If they survived, and made it, swimming to the land, then they were dominated. Much like a cult. However, Damien brought them a sense of Hawaiian spirit which was lacking in that kill-Vs-kill colony. Damien established a church building there. It was called Saint Philomena. Each pew had a number of “spit” holes in front of it. We saw and actually felt the square holes that Damien cut. Large tea leaves were rounded as a funnel and poked into those holes, because lepers cannot help but constantly spit because of their condition. Later, we saw and touched the same square hole in front of the podium from where Damien spoke. Since he too contracted leprosy, he too had to have his floor hole and the rounded tea leaf. He died of leprosy in 1889, but he restored peace to that peninsula colony, and the spirit of Hawaii to Kalaupapa.
There is a spirit of love in the islands. That’s not to say that there aren't problems. There are. But the overall spirit is one of “live and let live.” I’ve learned more of this from those CD’s that I’ve received. The message FINALLY got through. It finally occurred to me that I’m such a dumb schmuck when it comes to living. I needed to have learned more about the HI way of life when I was there. Obviously, I goofed. Us “haoeles” want everything NOW. We’re trained that way. But from Niihau to the Big Island, we can learn the attitude of Hawaiian love, tolerance, patience, and the melding of our spirits with our family overseas.
When I first got there, I had to go to the airport any number of times. There were the signs that said “INTER ISLAND” or “OVERSEAS.” As a slow learner, it took me a while to realize that every place outside Hawaii was, in fact, “overseas.”
Certainly, the Hawaiians have legitimate anger, as we all do. But, their way of life is flowing, as if some sort of “God” had control over it. They seem to relax and let IT run everything. Rarely does anyone go without. I call such a “God” energy, and refer to this essence as “IT.” I don’t know what else to call IT. The Hawaiians have a legitimate beef with intruders from the outside who would disturb or ruin their own particular lifestyle. How many have read the late James Michener’s book “HAWAII?” (Available from Amazon.com). Even though it’s fiction, it’s based on fact, and a must-read for those who are interested in the islands. There’s much to be learned here. However, the cultmasters at Worldwide (by observation) had no such tolerance of anyone who differed from them in either looks or thinking. When Jim Michener left the islands in 1980 to help Jack Kennedy run for the Presidency, he was told (since he left so many references in his book [using fictional names]), he was bluntly told not to come back to the islands. Jim exposed much of the corruption that is now in the hands of a few in the islands. Jim Michener exposed a lot of the corruption that degraded the Aloha spirit. Time proved him correct, and his words in his novel “HAWAII” were indeed correct.
There’s usually no hurry in the islands. That’s something that many of us (including me) have never been used to. In general, they respect each other, they respect the land, they respect the sea, they honor the wind, and they hold reverence to the planet on which we walk. Many actually talk, as friends, to the energy around us. But, as stated before, there are the exceptions. The spirit that flows from IT becomes a calming energy that flows through many people there. Slow down, and let “God” do It’s work. That’s a vital lesson that I must (and still are) learn.
The spirit of “Aloha” is found if people want to look. It took me 21 years to realize that it was all there after all. I could have learned one of the great, fundamental secrets of life by observation, but my mind was far too clouded in theology to even see past the edicts of Apostle Herbie. Our Worldwide Church of God training was rush, push, get-em-baptized, get the tithes, control their minds, make-em-submissive, and tell-em-how to live their lives according to the dictates of Apostle Herbie.
However, contrary to many at Pasadena, the Hawaiian people were far more spiritual, and therefore, a lot wiser. Eventually, they saw through the fraud. All they needed was to be told (or exposed to) the truth. It didn’t take long. Pasadena sent their big, but useless, guns – Luker and Berg – to put the “train back on the track.” They failed.
I had nothing to do with the actual exposure of the malevolence that rode on the back of Pasadena’s brutality. I only told the congregation the truth of what (I figured) was correct, and then compared those teachings with the garbage that emanated from Pasadena. Those people figured it out for themselves. The Hawaiians were a lot smarter than the cultmasters at Pasadena, and they put those cultmasters to shame.
Although they are a peaceful people, Pasadena thought that Hawaiians were stupid. They told me so after I was already there. “Just keep ‘em happy,” was the blurb. Naturally, that extended to tithing. Boy, did they ever screw up! The spirit of Aloha exists. It’s calm, thoughtful, introspective, examines all things, embraces everyone, and extends hospitality without wanting remuneration. Maybe we can all learn a lot from the spirit of Aloha. I know I have, as I now listen to the music disc of Lei’ohu Ryder.
“You teach best what you most need to learn.”
Richard Bach. “Illusions.”
Aloha to U all.
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