Paul Sivert on Hawaiian shamanic traditions and principles…

The word shaman is derived from the Tungusic language of Siberia and is used as a convenient term by scientists and laymen to describe the practitioner of shamanism. In the Hawaiian language the term is kupua, a healer of relationships between mind and body, between people, between people and circumstances, between humans and nature, and between matter and spirit. Dr Serge Kahili King has authored an excellent book on Hawaiian Shamanism entitled Urban Shaman. It is the source for the information presented here, as a brief overview of Hawaiian shamanism.

Dr King begins by telling us that Hawaiian shamanism is a distinct form of shamanism. While all shamans are healers, the majority follow the “way of the warrior”, while some shamanic traditions including the Hawaiian tradition follow “the way of the adventurer”. The adventurer shaman is more likely to teach you how to harmonize your energy so that you remain calm and even become a source of healing for the other person. In contrast to the warrior’s path, which is quite lonely, the adventurer’s path is more social. The application of Hawaiian shamanism to our modern world is easily done for several reasons:

  • It is nonsectarian and pragmatic. Shamanism is a craft and not a religion.
  • It is easy to learn and apply, though certain skills may take a while to develop.
  • It can be practiced anywhere or anytime because Hawaiian shamans primarily worked with the mind and body alone. They didn’t use dreams to induce altered states, nor masks to assume other forms or qualities.
  • The nature of shamanism is such that when you are healing others you are healing yourself, and while you are transforming the planet you are transforming yourself.

The beginnings of Hawaiian shamanism start with the myths of Maui – magician, trickster, demigod, miracle worker, luck bringer. He was the most renowned in Polynesian myth. The female being of Polynesian lore is Hina, goddess of the moon and mother of Maui. Many centuries ago Hawaiian spiritual masters came to the same conclusions reached by others in various times and places: that there is an aspect of consciousness which operates covertly and indirectly (the subconscious), that there is an aspect of consciousness that functions openly and directly (the consciousness mind), and that there is a superconsciousness that encompasses both. These three consciousnesses form the whole of the human being. In Hawaiian these three conditions are called: Ku – the heart, body, or subconscious, Lono – the mind or conscious mind, and Kane – the spirit or superconscious.

Kane, the spirit aspect, is also the source aspect of spiritual energy. Its primary function is creativity in the form of mental and physical expression. To explore your spiritual connection sit comfortably and close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths and be aware of your body. Now imagine and focus on it intensely. In a moment or so you may feel sensations of relaxation, pleasure, or energy. You have made a conscious contact with your Kane. At this point you may engage in a communication process with the experience. One of the best ways for communicating directly with you Kane is to say “thank you”. Thank you for the good things that are and for the good that is coming. Finish the exercise with a positive phrase that signifies to you a completion, I suggest, “So be it.”

The Ku is that aspect of consciousness that contains our memories, helps us learn, remember, develop skills, and maintain the balance of the body. The essential aspect of memory is that it is stored in the body as a vibration or movement pattern. In my work I am constantly attempting to stimulate the vibration of the body to release the memories that will lead to a healing.

The mind aspect, Lono, is that part of you which is consciously aware of internal and external input. This includes all sensations, memories, thoughts, movement, and time. The Lono directs what we are focused on, which directs our attention and decisions. Intent is a kind of decision making that directs awareness as well as activity. You have the power to manage your Ku, through the Lono, which will bring tremendous effects on health, happiness, and success – either positively or negatively. It is up to you! Lastly, the primary tool of the Lono is imagination, which the development of is paramount to the shaman. For with the intended use of your imagination, you can influence and direct your aspects and the world you are a part of.

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 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. If 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.