Mindful Awareness Magazine Vol. I No. 3 29 pages
Table of Contents
Io--the Supreme Being
"Let there be light!"
The Garden of Eden
The Great Flood
Hawaiian Worship
Traces Left Behind of Human Presence
The Merging of the Aha of Polynesian Traditions
The Purety of the Aha Saves the Lives of Two Heroes in Different Eras
A Missionary Coup d'Etat
Hawaiian Sitting Meditation
Keeping the Kapu
The Hawaiian Trinity
King Kamehameha
The "War God" -- when there was Peace
While Camping at Makua Beach
The Fall of the Hawaiian Ali'i
Practicing "Songs to Wake Up"

Mindfulness in Stone Age Hawaii

What the old kahunas knew . . .


Io -- the Supreme Being

Usually, when the missionaries went out around the world to convert the heathen natives to Christianity, the justification given for doing this was that the heathen believed in many gods, and not the one true God, IOVH. So they needed to be converted to this.

But when the missionaries from Boston arrived in the islands of Hawaii in the early 19th Century (the first group arrived in 1820, less than a year after King Kamehameha had died), the native people there already did believe in the one true God, who was called by the Hawaiians: I-O -- ("i" - supreme, "o" - being). This Io was Everywhere, and ruled over All and Everything. The missionaries took little note of this point, however, and by persistent efforts converted the Hawaiians anyway. Not unlike these American preachers' families with their IOVH, the Hawaiians also believed that to take the name of IO in vain was a terrible sin.1

Through the visitors' eyes, all Polynesians were savages. One of the Reverends wrote, "They are naturally indolent and easy-going, generally lacking those heroic traits which are the glory of New England." They didn't realize Polynesians knew the world was round hundreds of years before their people had. And, in an era when white women were treated like chattels, Hawaiian women were equal to their men, and were among the highest rulers, indeed. Hawaiians had a kind of sophistication all of their own. How much less humane and lovable was the society of the Hawaiians than that of the Christians who came to change it--if looked at from an ethical or practical point of view? And what was the difference in the religions that they each espoused?

Part of the reason that this conversion (from what the missionaries termed "the Time of Darkness") was successful among so many Hawaiians, including many of the royalty (ali'i), was that the Hawaiians didn't see much of anything all that different in the missionaries' religion. It was only the missionaries, themselves, who seemed different. For the first time in more than a millenium of human life in the islands, the missionaries made money a necessity--because the people had to work to pay for their Bibles. The Hawaiians were used to getting everything free, share-and-share-alike--that is, if they obeyed the rules of their religion. By 1830, missionaries acquiesed to virtual slavery for some Hawaiian people, and their churches depended on the profits. Otherwise, both groups based their spiritual life--profoundly so--upon "love," or "aloha," as they had always said it in the Hawaiian language.

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"Let there be light."

As told in the mele (chants) that were memorized verbatim by each generation, there were 740 generations of kings and queens in the Hawaiian creation legends (spanning nearly 19,000 years). This was from long before they had arrived in these islands, of course. And, before people came along in the beginning, there were many eras of creation, starting with "Nothing," and "Darkness." And then a "breathing" in the universe. Then light. For Io "dwelt within the breathing space of immensity . . . and there was darkness everywhere." And Io said, "Darkness, become a light-possessing darkness."3 (Does this strike you as somehow familiar?)

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The Garden of Eden

Abstract psychic qualities were born in the seventh era of Hawaiian Creation, and these were later to become human in the eighth era. So, there was a "Garden of Eden" then--only Alaea (meaning 'red clay', same as "Adam," in Hebrew, as well as "cultivated clearing in the rain forest," "garden," and literally, "awakened path of life," and "spirit") was the first woman fashioned, in a version told, and Iwi (pronounced "Eevy," meaning "rib-bone" and, commonly, "penis"), was the first man. In this ancient Hawaiian version, the human story began when Iwi and Alaea slept together (moe), and the "rib bone" was placed into the "red clay," so to speak--instead of the other way around, as in Genesis--a small detail.

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The Great Flood

And the Hawaiian chants also told of a great flood that covered the earth. It was the trickster demigod Maui--known as the "culture hero" of Polynesia-- who fished up the Hawaiian Islands, using the barbed hook of the constellation we now know as Scorpio. You can actually watch this "fishing up of the earth" on the horizon in the night-time sky during the summer. It's quite convincing! It was also Maui that they prayed to at the Winter Solstice when the days were getting dangerously "too short." All Polynesians called upon Maui to "bind the sun" and make it shine longer to give more day. These ritual efforts worked perfectly every year, one century after another. Handy2 said, "For the native, the events of his [/her] psychic life were as clearcut as those of [their] physical existence . . . there was no gulf between the 'natural' and the 'supernatural.' . . . All objects were supposed by the Polynesians to be conscious entities." They were "at One" with it All.

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Hawaiian Worship

The Hawaiian word for "worship" was "hoo-mana-mana" ("ho'o" - cause to be, "mana" - divine power, "mana-mana" - divine power "squared"--this last, the result of mindful human participation in performing rituals). Handy explains mana as "the sacred power that permeates nature and the universe in latent form, which is brought from incipience into manifestation by ho'o-mana-mana." There was "personal mana," which came from this spiritual practice, such as the ali'i, kahunas, heroes, warriors, and other practitioners were able to collect, mana-ali'i (chiefly power)--the men and women chiefs participated in this spiritual practice from childhood, without exception--mana-kapu (sacred power), which came from impecably obeying the sacred rules of taboo, mana-ola (lifegiving power), which certain specialists could possess, and, mana-akua (the absolute and everlasting power of the gods), which was the mana from the other side of this mana- squared equation--"all of these held within the hands of Io, the Supreme Being," Handy said. He quoted an old kahuna (priest) that he met, who used a phrase that is so very "Hawaiian-sounding," saying: "No one can rub out mana."4 But the question, to kahunas, was getting ahold of it, and directing it, for human as well as cosmic purposes. And the way that mana was collected was by performing rituals--which is, in short, specific actions undertaken while "maintaining the 'aha,'" that is, maintaining the thread of awakened consciousness. Anyone could do this. The kahunas were simply experts.

My Hawaiian dictionary defines "aha" as: 1. Assembly. 2. [sacred] sennit--cord braided of coconut husks and human hair... 3. a prayer or service whose efficacy depended on recitation under taboo and without interruption. The priest was said to carry a cord (aha)--Malo. Ua ka'i ka aha, the prayer is rendered. Loa'a ka kakou aha, our prayer is rendered successfully. Ua lilo ka aha, a laila pule hou, the prayer has not been successfully given, so pray again.

At the end of a ritual, the observing kahuna pronounced "pono" (righteous) if the aha had been maintained. If anyone became distracted in their attention while the ritual was going on, and "the thread of awareness" was lost, the kahuna pronounced "hewa" (wrong). Throughout Polynesia it was well known that an error made in pronouncing a prayer or chant might be the cause for cancellation of an entire religious festival that the chant was being made for. Interestingly, when the missionaries published the first printed book in Hawaiian, the Pala-Pala ("Daubing-squared"), a translation of the New Testament from English, they used these kahunas' terms, "pono" and "hewa," for Jesus' words, "righteousness" and "sin."

The Hawaiians took to their reading lessons so well that within twenty years they were the most literate society in the world, superceding the literacy rate of the land that the missionaries had come from. Bless their hearts. It brings tears to my eyes. They sure did try.

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Personal mana (which is concentrated in the skull and the bones) can be overcome and lost. The mana of the gods cannot. And, in the old days, there was also the "mana of places," long-lasting repositories of mana collected in certain places by the ancestors--the men and women chiefs and kahunas--replenished again and again over the generations through the continuing ritual practices there, and the maintainance of the aha over the centuries at those places. Famous ancestors (makua) remained in these sacred places to guard over them. But living practitioners had to keep doing these rituals in the present to keep the thread alive from this human side. Ho'o-mana-mana, or "worship," means, literally, "to cause to have mana,' which was, as Handy put it, "a process which entailed continuous nourishing with offerings and the recitations of prayers."5 Emerson, another famous historian, wrote: "In the frequentitive form, hoomanamana (the causing one to have mana), the *imparting* of supernatural power seems to be the prominent idea, rather than the ascription of a power already possessed by the object worshipped."6 Actually, it was a meeting and a multiplying of the two from both sides (i.e. "mana-mana").

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Traces Left Behind of Human Presence

Another interesting aspect of Hawaiian metaphysics was the "hau," a kind of "trace" that was left behind wherever a person went. Practitioners could find these "traces" of the hau in certain places along their paths, for instance, by putting their hand in the same place an ancient kahuna once put their hand, or by sitting in the same place on a rock an ancestor had once sat, or in the "footprints" where an old-time chief had walked. This might prove an interesting idea for modern meditation practitioners to contemplate, and see if they can try it out--getting in touch with the remaining traces of a known person's fourth-dimensional path through time, in their awareness of the "hau." The Stone Age Hawaiians, at least, say that this is out there to perceive. (I'll have to remember to ask don Coyotl what he may know about this from his experience of Mexican nagłalism.)

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The Merging of the Aha of Polynesian Traditions

To illustrate the importance of mindfulness and the maintainance of the aha in Hawaiian life, I'd like to tell you three historical stories.

  • Polynesians left the Asiatic Archipelago and entered the Pacific at the close of the First Century A.D. and on through the Second Century. They became established on Fiji, and from there they spread to the Samoan, Tongan and other groups. Polynesians first settled the Hawaiian Islands around 425 A.D. in the time of their first chief, Newa-lani ("heavenly warclub;" i.e. the Southern Cross constellation) They remained there, virtually out of contact, until the 11th Century, when several parties of fresh emigrants from the Marquesas, Society (Tahiti), and Samoan groups arrived. And for five or six generations they all maintained an active intercourse with each other during more than a century by ocean-going sailing canoes. And then, these trans-Pacific contacts finally ended. The next such contact from outside their own Hawaiian world was when the English explorer Capt. Cook re-discovered their islands in 1778.

    During those "middle ages" of Hawaiian history, canoes often sailed back and forth between Tahiti to the south (under the zenith of the brightest star in the sky, Sirius) and Hawaii (under the zenith of one of the other brightest stars, Regulus, in the constellation Leo). They sailed in vessels constructed from planks stitched together, pitched and painted and partly decked over. And, as always, they did their navigating by the stars, following them like a map drawn out in the sky. Throughout the chants that I've heard about, I remember no songs about sailors who didn't find their way, and get back home again--except for dear Boki, one of the last of the great rebel chiefs, at the very end of it all.

    Coming back from such a journey to Tahiti, was Kama-hua-lele ("flying child-seed {or ovum}") the famous seer, astrologer, and Prophet, who had studied and practiced with the highest-ranking Tahitian chiefs and prophets at Raiatea while he was there. As he set eyes on his beloved Hawaii once again--still aboard his sailing vessel--he began to sing a chant that is probably the best known mele in grade schools in the Islands to this day. It is called "Eia Hawaii." What has probably not been known--in the public schools, at least--is that already, from the title alone, this can be seen as a chant about mindful awareness. "Eia" means, "I am here now," *plus* "It is here now." (or, "You are here now.") -- together showing two sides of an "inward-outward" mindful perspective experienced in viewing life *including both* ("I and It." or "I and Thou.") *simultaneously* in present awareness.

    In an effort to capture the inner essence of only the first two famous words of Kama-hua-lele's spontaneous and very long chant, I would like to playfully--yet not too liberally--translate "Eia Hawaii" in this way:

    "Aha!!! HERE NOW. Wow! Pinch me! It's a dream! At this very moment! Hawaii is here now! I am here now! I can *feel* it. I can *see* it. We are here now, *together*!!! Hooray!" :-)

    At the end of Eia Hawaii is a touching verse:

    Ola, ola, o ka lana ola,
    Life, life, oh heavenly life,
    Ola ke ali'i, ke kahuna,
    Life of the chief and the priest.
    Ola ke kilo, ke kauwa,
    Life of the seer, the bound sacrifice,
    Noho ia Hawaii a lu lana,
    In Hawaii, aware of the sounds upon awakening,
    A kani moopuna i Kauai.
    Of grandchildren making music on Kauai.

    Many kahunas' chants begin or end with this "here now" word, eia. "Eia Uli (arch-goddess of sorcery) . . ." "Eia Pele (volcano goddess) . . ." "Eia Laka (flower goddess of the rain forest) . . ." "Eia Kane (chief god of "maleness") . . ." "E Kane (Be, Kane!). ua-kea (white as mist). Eia ka alana (I am here now with the offering)." -- "I am here now, it is here now" is the essential context of *all* kahunas' chants. Eia oe i ke alo o ka aha. "Here you (oe) are now, in the presence (alo) of the 'thread of maintained awareness' (aha)."

    The great bard Kama-hua-lele brought along with him the aha from the Tahitian traditions, and merged it with the aha of his fellow Hawaiian kahunas. He was the first of a series of practitioners to do this. Their own practices had been handed down from the earliest Hawaiian settlers (who had probably arrived from the Marquesas Islands, or somewhere else, possibly Samoa, although this has never been established.)

    This conversion of two ancient Polynesian threads of transmission of awakened beingness from the earliest times--Hawaiian and Tahitian (going back perhaps twenty millenia)--greatly enriched Hawaiian ceremonialism, strengthened the aha, and brought a new form into Hawaiian metaphysics, from the truncated pyramid heiau (temple) to the swooping, elongated parallelogram heiau, as well as new teachings in the form of Tahitian taboos and practices which virtually permeated and merged with the former practice of Hawaiian religion. By some Hawaiians this was regarded as the single greatest event in Hawaiian history, next to their first arrival.

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    The Purety of the Aha Saves the Lives of Two Heroes in Different Eras

  • In the last period of Hawaiian ancient history before the conquest of the group by King Kamehameha in modern times, lived Iwi-kau-i-kauwa, one of the most famous warriors in history who is storied in Hawaiian songs. He was a direct lineal ancestor of Kamehameha. Iwikaui-kauwa (pronounced "EEvy-cow. EE-ka-U-va" -- has a nice rolling synchopation to it) is listed in most books as "Iwikauikaua." He was a young general in a long-lasting war between two powerful kings on the Big Island of Hawaii. His name, in part, means "bound human sacrifice" (kauwa).

    Umi, great-grandfather of I, of the Great House of I ("supreme"), had been warring against the powerful blind king of the rebellious district of Kau, I-ma-i-ka-lani, ("the sacred death of heaven") who was Iwikaui-kauwa's grandfather. There was much anger on both sides, and many had been killed. Iwikaui-kauwa was captured by his enemies, whose army was much larger and greater in strength. They took him gleefully to the heiau (temple) to make a human sacrifice of him. Iwikaui-kauwa maintained his cool. Because of his name, he had trained all of his life for this moment. He asked for his proper kapu privilege as a high-ranking royal chief to sing his own death chant there on the steps of the ancient truncated pyramid where he was about to be bound and executed. He wished to address his chant to Ku, chief god of awareness, his war god, and to Uli (arch-goddess of sorcery), and to Kama (the god of fading away, or perishing {ma} finally, in death).

    And, because of the great mana possessed by this individual, his request was granted, despite the aggravated animosities that they felt towards the enemy general. His captors were then so moved by the purety with which Iwikaui-kauwa kept the aha while singing his long chant, which was so plaintive with aloha and gratitude, under these grim circumstances of certain death, that . . . they spared him. They sat about afterwards, eating and talking the whole thing over, and resolved the long war instead. A union came about among the warring kings' families, and babies were conceived between them that couldn't otherwise have been. But for the sparing of Iwikaui-kauwa, (whose last name is "bound human sacrifice,") King Kamehameha, perhaps the greatest Hawaiian of them all, *would never have been born* five generations later through the intended sacrifice's direct royal bloodlines. And that's how two great lives, separated by more than a century, were both saved at once by a perfect aha on that day--and many, many more lives were spared, as well.

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    A Missionary Coup d'Etat

  • Ka-ahu-manu ("the bird shrine") was the chief wife of King Kamehameha when he died in 1819, and although she was very high-ranking, she was not the highest-ranking queen in Hawaii at that time (who normally would have succeeded to, or delegated the royal power). She got hold of that over-all power however, through the kind help of the Boston missionaries.

    The Rev. Hiram Bingham was the leader of the missionaries (who all arrived with their families less than a year after the great Kamehameha's death, and they were still nervously awaiting royal permission to stay on there.). And Bingham took it upon himself, personally, with great patience and persistance, to win over Kaahumanu to Christianity. This was quite a challenge, for she was quite a swinger, as they say. She wasn't much disposed to give up her royal pleasures. And she wasn't that much disposed to learn reading, either, which would be the first step to her conversion. In fact, she preferred spending her time gambling in the waterfront bars that had sprung up, with the haole sailors, instead.

    Everybody agreed that the dead king's oldest son, Lunalilo, although nominally called "King," was unsuited to follow his father in power. And he seemed to have little inclination for that, indeed. This poor fellow lived a short, tragic life of debauchery, and possibly mental illness. Yet he was very much loved by his people.

    One day, while drunk on much too much rum, Lunalilo *failed to maintain the aha*, while conducting a major ceremonial prayer. Kaahumanu used that to argue with the dead king's high kahuna, Hewahewa ("sin squared"), that Lunalilo couldn't do the job as King "yet," and she would have to take care of him "until he could," as the "Regent"-- a legal title the missionaries had proposed. In fact, Kamehameha had also urged such a caretaking relationship (as "kuhina-nui") in his last will. He dearly wished for his wife, at least, to rehabilitate his beloved boy as much as she could after he was gone.

    There were a lot of high-ranking chiefs who wanted to get on with a convocation of ali'i for identifying a new King or Queen the customary way--which didn't pass automatically from parent to child, but through the front-lying "sprouts" who had the highest purety of ali'i bloodlines that were shared among them all. (Kamehameha, although of very high rank, had achieved his power, however, through his brilliant generalship in war.)

    A lot of ali'i chiefs then didn't go along with this usurpation of power that the missionaries were proselytizing for. Among these dissenters were Boki and his wife Liliha from the rebellious Waianae-Makua district. But there were others who joined in with Kaahumanu on this, for the privilege of passing in high society with the missionary crowd, as she did, and wearing fancy American clothes to their gatherings. This was becoming the center of social doings now. Important sailing captains were always invited, who told them all the news of the rest of the world. There was alcohol and tobacco (in moderate amounts). And a good time was had by all! Praise the Lord!

    When Kaahumanu finally did yield to pressures to take up reading, and quickly mastered the hand-written Hawaiian translations of the Pala-Pala that were being composed even then, Rev. Bingham privately told the other missionaries, "I always knew she was smart." And she prevailed, in ascending to the position of de facto absolute ruler. All the missionaries agreed that it was only "logical." It wasn't the Hawaiian way, perhaps--but the strategy worked. The missionaries didn't worry about Liholiho. He generally went along with what his mother said, except in matters pertaining to his pleasures. The missionaries were, however, quite concerned about what would happen to all of their prerogatives in the islands if certain others of the highest-ranking men and women chiefs were to have come to power at that time. And rightfully so. They were afraid that they might not get to stay! And they wouldn't have.

    Kaahumanu, in her mid-forties, was soon converted to Christianity by the Rev. Bingham. She never quite gave up her lovers, but she did get "King" Liholiho to give the missionaries "permission" to stay. And she authorized the mass printing of the Pala-Pala for Bingham, by manipulating Liholiho into it--against his gloomy, and blurry premonitions of problems to come. For they all knew the famous prophesy of the "Chief-Destroying Sands of Ka-ku-ki-hewa," ("the awareness of the sacred power ruined") where the great Prophet Kao-pulapula had long ago foreseen the death of the Oahu chiefs upon the coming of foreigners.

    And Kaahumanu did prevail with Hewahewa and the other traditionalist chiefs, and even got Hewahewa ("ruined squared") to destroy the heiau (temples)--which, seeing what was suddenly happening in Hawaii at that point, he and his kahunas did take apart, piece by piece (rather than have missionaries apply the torches), chanting: "Hala kapu. Hala kapu." -- "Release the taboo. Release the taboo." -- "Let it be."

    It was a great old way of life that fell quickly then, signalled by the stark omen of the failure of the great king's son to maintain the aha, failure to keep the kapu, failure to keep up the ritual traditions adequately by keeping the thread of awareness alive--as had been done for more than a millenium of years by his royal ancestors before him.

    ((Hewahewa and the kahunas "went underground" from then on. It is a huge rain forest that covers by far most of the land of the islands --in-land from the coasts where all the populations reside. On the fertile green sides and in the lush valleys of the most magnificent string of volcanoes on the face of this Earth, the provender that grows everywhere around there is always rich for the taking--when the proper rituals are done and the aha is maintained. There are some Hawaiians who say to this day that the old kahunas are still out there in the mountains, that the aha is still carried on. All the wild vegetables and fruits that are out there now is the proof of it.))

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    Hawaiian Sitting Meditation

    The ancient Hawaiians practiced sitting meditation, or mana-wa (power breath). Handy translated mana-wa as "breath-conscious-ness." Apparently never having heard of meditation as it is widely known to us today, Handy wrote: "This is one of the many words in the Polynesian language having a variety of specific meanings associated with a general idea that is to us inevitably somewhat vague, though to the educated native the meaning was doubtless definite enough. Mana-wa appears to have expressed a combined sense of breath, the vital organs, and sentiments, emotions, feelings, and states of mind which, according to native ideas, had their seat in these organs."7 (Sounds rather like the vipassana meditation that Gautama, the Buddha did, in fact.)

    During many other meditations, the kahunas "gazed fixedly" at carved images of the gods (the ki'i, in Hawaii, short for kiki-- the "tiki," in other areas of Polynesia, as the word is more widely known among English-speakers. "Ki" is a prefix and suffix that means "force." The ki is also the "power plant," the "ti plant," as it is known to English-speakers, that kahunas planted at the front door of every Hawaiian house that was built, for protection, and as an ever-present reminder of sacred power, going and coming. The word "ki" may bear some interesting comparison to the Eastern term "chi.").

    The piercing eyes (and often, grimacing mouths) of these tiki images (well known to readers of National Geographic Magazine) will fix the attention quite easily. This practice might be likened to meditating before a statue of the Buddha, or praying beneath a painting of the Lord. Those who did this knelt on one knee, or sat cross-legged, or crouched and leaned backwards against small stone pillars that were set across from the ki'i that was being addressed (implying a direct physical connection through the ground underneath). They gazed in similar fashion at sacred fires that were set (such as those that circled the islands during the Makahiki season) and felt a connectedness with the whole Cosmos.

    In one type of meditation that was described, the reflecting surface of a pond of water was the meditation object upon which "the attention was fixed;" in another, the flame from a lamp. Today's Buddhist meditators, for example, will find this all familiar enough. Handy said about these practices: "This concentration of the gaze would for these [practitioners] bring about the cessation of normal personal consciousness desired, and the other symptoms would doubtless follow in due course."8 Not bad!

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    Keeping the Kapu

    The kapu (tapu, in Tahitian, or "taboo," as it is known in English) was an elaborate set of rules that were designed to protect a person from the "psychically dangerous," as Handy put it. Common people were not supposed to go into, or mess with the places that were kapu (because they might not be there, "awake!"). Yet commoners also followed many kapu rules in their daily lives which forbade doing this or that. This devotion required a certain amount of awareness of one's presence in one's surroundings, as the penalties in certain breaches of this sacred law could be horrendous--even death.

    The "kapu system," as it is called, in its entirety, represented the body of an entire monastic practice for kahunas and members of the royal families (ali'i). There were proper forms that had to be followed in the presence of the ki'i (carvings of the gods), within the temple grounds, in certain sacred places, doing certain sacred or warrior acts, and in the presence of ranking kahunas and chiefs. A person who is familiar with the practice of mindfulness, which entails *much forgetting* of awareness during the passage of the days, can readily understand that having the presence of mind to be able to keep the complex kapu rules could only be obtained through the regular practice of mindfulness. (For the ali'i chiefs, "keeping the kapu" was like the prolonged and difficult meditation retreats, or "mindfulness intensives" that Dr. Charles Tart describes in his website.)

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    Hawaiians had many forms of divination. Their intuitive sense was keenly sharpened by everyday life, where, for them, every thing that exists is alive. They would read their sidereal astrology directly off the stars, planets, and moon in the night-time sky above.

    The appearance on the eastern horizon of the makali'i (royal countenances), which is our modern Pleides--a birthplace of tiny, speckling stars, quite distinct in appearance from all the rest of the stars--marked the beginning of the eclyptic for them, or New Year (during our October), as well as a signal for the sacred Makahiki season of peace to begin. Let's start the year off *right*--with a four-month New Year's resolution such as this! (Ancient Sumerians used the Pleides as the beginning of the eclyptic, too.)

    The procession of Hawaiian "astrological readings" that passes from horizon to horizon across the night-time sky along the path of the eclyptic provides the messages, in conjunction with the moon and planets that are moving around up there with respect to the coherent moving positions of the stars. They noted especially what goes on at rising points, zeniths, and setting points (like the "sidereal" approach to astrology found around much of the really ancient world). In the truncated pyramids of their early stone heiau (temples), they had wooden towers aimed at the zenith with mnemonic features that enabled the kahunas to keep track of the places of everything up there in the daytime, as well as at night. Whereas modern astrology is based upon a written account, the Ephemeris, which is not actually in synch with the way the sky *actually looks to us* now during the actual nights, Hawaiians read their astrology straight off of the sky itself.

    Kahunas also set out fruits on special stone altars in the temples, and read omens off the scattering that occurred when sacred wild pigs from the rain forest came through there to pick over the offerings and alter their configuration. Some kahunas, called "cloud- omen readers" (nana ao, literally, both "cloud seers" and "enlightened seers") were famous as experts in reading the omens to be spotted in the ever-changing configurations of the daytime sky. However it was that they managed to do these things, the chants give reports of extraordinarily accurate precience on many, many significant historical occasions.

    Handy said: "In every form of activity, work, war, play, and travel, there were innumerable special omens, so that every man [and woman], and particularly every leader in any form of organized activity, had to be, to a large extent, [their] own diviner; and in private life," he added, "every Hawaiian was their own prophet." [This is a viewpoint distinctly more Gnostic than "Orthodox" Christian, I would say--where the individual's experience is more important than the sermon.] And, it is very reminiscent to me of modern Gestalt Therapy, that "personal omens were taken from such things as . . . unusual bodily movements and feelings, petty incidents of an unusual nature."9

    Continue with part II of Mindfulness in Stone Age Hawaii

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