The Hawaiian Shamanic Tradition Part II


Last year in Volume 1, Fall of 1994, I wrote about some of the essential concepts of Hawaiian Shamanism. Dr. Seige Kahili King has authored an excellent book on Hawaiian Shamanism entitled Urban Shaman. This article is a continuation of the first. In this article we learn about the seven shamanic principles.

The First Principle: IKE - The World Is What You Think It Is

Depending on your point of view a water gourd can be half-empty or half-full. Depending on your plans the rain can be good for the crops or bad for the picnic. It seems obvious that the ways in which we think affect our experience. We know that thoughts of fear, worry, anger, and resentment can make us sick and diminish our effectiveness, while thoughts of confidence, determination, love, and forgiveness can make us well and increase our performance., Extending into the metaphysical realm, we come across the idea that thoughts will telepathically attract their equivalent. In other words, to put it very simply, positive thoughts will attract positive people and events, and negative thoughts will attract negative people and events. Both ancient and contemporary history are full of examples of the power of thought in the form of prayer, faith, and conviction to change physical conditions, events, and circumstances. All of these ideas are included in the first principle of this philosophy.

The Second Principle: KALA - There Are No Limits

At first glance this seems absurd because we can experience limitations all around us. Our bodies can only grow so much, we can only see so far, we can only hear within a certain range. Yes, no limits. The universe is infinite, as it would have to be if the world is what we think it is and it's all a dream. There are two kinds of limitations: creative and filtered.

The concept of creative limitation assumes the purposeful establishment of limits within an infinite universe in order to create particular experiences. Our realm of physical experience, for instance, is arbitrarily limited by our natural perceptual range of the frequencies of sight, sound, touch, gravity, distance, and time, to name the most prominent.

On the other hand, filtered limitation is used here to mean limitations imposed by ideas and beliefs that inhibit creativity rather than enhance it such as beliefs that engender helplessness and hopelessness, or revenge and cruelty. Filtered limitations generate focus without the potential for positive action.

The Third Principle: MAKIA - Energy Flows Where Attention Goes

Two of the most successful and long practiced techniques used by shamans are medication and hypnosis, because both make use of the third principle. Meditation itself simply means to think deeply and continuously; in other words, sustained focused attention. The word comes from a Latin root med, meaning "to measure," which is shared with a word meaning "to heal" that leads to the word shared with a word meaning "to heal" that leads to the word medical. You are medicating whenever you are engaged in sustained focused attention on anything. Hypnosis is a condition of sustained attention, just like meditation. The major difference is that meditation is considered to be more spiritual and hypnosis to be more practical; medication is used for cleaning karma and reaching enlightenment, while hypnosis is used for stopping smoking and losing weight.

Energy flows where attention goes, those aspects of your present experience which seem enduring are the effect of habitual sustained focused attention carried on by your ku. If you like what you've got, that's great. If you don't then you need to find some way to shift your ku's attention into a new pattern.

The Fourth Principle: Manawa - Now is the Moment of Power

In the Hawaiian tradition, the past did not give you what you have today, nor make you what you are today. It is your beliefs, decisions, and actions today about yourself and the world around you that give you what you have and make you what you are. Karma exists and operates only in the present moment. Your environment and circumstances in this moment are the direct reflections of your mental and physical behavior in this moment. Thanks to memory we may carry over habits of today and mind from day to day, but each day is a new creation and any habit can be changed in any present moment - although that doesn't mean it will be easy.

The Fifth Principle: ALOHA - To Love Is To Be Happy With

In Hawaiian the meaning of love is very clear and it provides a useful guideline for loving and being loved. Aloha is the word for love. The root alo means "to be with, to share an experience, here and now." The root oha means "affection, joy." Thus the full translation of aloha becomes "to love is to be happy with." This means that love exists to the degree that you are happy with the object of your love. In any relationship with a person, place, or thing, the happy part comes from love and the unhappy part comes from fear, anger, and doubt. You don't get sweaty hands from being in love; you get hurt from anger. What you get from being in love is happiness, the intensity of it depending on how deeply you are in love. To be deeply in love means to be deeply connected, and the depth and clarity of the connection increases as fear, anger, and doubt are removed.

The Sixth Principle: MANA - All Power Comes From Within

Hawaiian philosophy teaches that all the power that creates your experience comes from your own body, mind, and spirit. There are no limits, then the Universe or Source of Life is infinite, and if it is infinite, then all of its power is at every point of it, including the point which you define as you. On the practical level, nothing ever happens to you without your participation. For every event that you experience you creatively attract it through your beliefs, desires, fears, and expectations, and then react to it habitually or understand no one else makes you unhappy. You may make yourself unhappy because others don't act the way you want them to or the way you think they should. It is important to realize your part in the event so that you can change the factors in yourself that helped bring it about. If the power was in you to create it, then the power is in you to change it.

The Seventh Principle: PONO - Effectiveness Is the Measure Of Truth

The means determine the end. Violent means will produce violent results, and peaceful means will produce peaceful results. Reaching success through ruthlessness will produce a state of success in which others will act ruthlessly toward you, and reaching success through helping others will produce a state of success in which others are helping you.

This principle also says that what is really important is what works. Shamans are neither theologians nor theoretical scientists. They are more like counselors and technicians. Healing is the goal and effectiveness is the criteria, not the proving of a particular system or method.

In conclusion these principles give us valuable information about shaman belief systems in the Hawaiian tradition.