In my past few posts we’ve been discussing the deeper meaning of the word aloha. Many of my mentors and teachers have told me that living by the concepts within aloha is the key to empowerment. And they taught me about these concepts using the letters of the word ALOHA.
Let’s recap. This is part four, and we have already covered:
- The A, which can represent the words ao and ala (meaning the light and watchful alertness)
- The L stands for lokahi (which means unity), and
- The O is oia`i`o (truthfulness). If you haven’t read the prior posts, please start here so you can have the whole picture of the concept of aloha.
The “h” in ALOHA stands for ha`aha`a, which means humility.
My mom’s father was literally a genius. He took the IQ test because a relative wanted to know how smart he actually was — but I never heard my grandfather talk about it. My mom mentioned it a few times, but my Grandpa Rod would have never bragged. He believed that each person had gifts and just because his gift could be measured by a test, it didn’t diminish another’s gift.
My grandfather was ha`aha`a.
The “h” is about ha`aha`a, or being humble. Ha`aha`a means, “The more I learn, the more I realize there is to learn.” I will never know everything and one of the most truthful things I can say when I teach on stage is: “I don’t know the answer to that.” (That is being oia`i`o.) Yep, I know a lot of things but not everything.
Isn’t it true? You can’t know everything and never know who you are talking to. Maybe they know more than you. Have you ever put your foot in your mouth because you opened it too soon? I have! Many times!!!
When you’re in a conversation, you should be the first to listen. I know this is true because your ears are the closest to your mouth. My grandfather told me this when I was a kid and it has stuck with me ever since.
I lived with Uncle George Na`ope in 1993 for a couple of months. I was in my early twenties and had lost my way. My father realized that I could use some direction so he sent me to Uncle George. During my time with Uncle George, I realized that he is a man who lived ha`aha`a. He was an amazing man who meant so much to the people that knew him and to the people of Hawai`i. He was a master of masters and when he said, “Jump!” in mid air you asked, “How high?”
And yet, he would never take what he knew or his responsibility in the community and rub it in someone’s face. He was so humble and would often say, “I don’t know everything. I only know what I know.”
I watched him practice this value, and yet he balanced it with oia`i`o. Meaning that he knew who he was and was truthful. No way you could get away with anything around him, and yet, he would humble himself and always operate from his pu`uwai (heart). His was not a false humility. He simply recognized his power and expertise. He didn’t deny it and he didn’t get all puffed up by it.
Ha`aha`a is being humble and realizing that as big as this world is, as large as our galaxy is, and as gigantic as our universe is, we are just specs on a rock set in a specific time. We are spiritual beings having a physical experience. As such, we know we are connected to so much more than we could ever explain. Why act as if any of what we are doing here and now, means more than any other being’s spirit?
To be ha`aha`a is to know that you are on your path and that others are on their path — and that no path is better or worse. Others may be experiencing something you already did, are experiencing now, or might experience in the future. In a sense, to be ha`aha`a is to know that we’re all in this together, and when we share our mana`o (our teaching or wisdom), it needs to be with humility from the heart!
Photo by abdul / yunir