Within minutes of arriving in Hawaii, most visitors can sense something in the air that they can’t quite put their finger on. It is more than just the excitement one would expect from the reality of a long planned vacation in Hawaii coming to fruition. It is a feeling, an essence; an energy. In Hawaii we call it the Aloha Spirit.
To a tourist, Aloha is a salutation. It is used to say both hello and good-bye, but the actual spirit of Aloha goes well beyond anything you’ll find in a dictionary. In its simplest form, Aloha is love. It is energy, a life force and an entrance in to the collective whole. Here in Hawaii, we take the Aloha spirit VERY seriously.
As any native Hawaiian will tell you, we don’t just say Aloha; we live it, breathe it, and we treat our visitors to true Aloha spirit every chance we get. Translated, Aloha means “Presence of Breath” or Breath of Life”. The ancient Hawaiians likened the ability to truly live the spirit of aloha with attaining spiritual enlightenment.
So important is this spirit of Aloha here in Hawaii that it has actually been written in to the Hawaii Statutes. Section 57.5 states:
|All citizens and government officials of Hawai`i are obligated by law to conduct themselves in accordance with this law, while performing their duties and obligations, as well as in their day-to-day living. Likewise, those visiting our fair islands are expected to conduct themselves in accordance with this Hawaiian law.[5-7.5] “Aloha Spirit”(a) “Aloha Spirit” is the coordination of mind and heart within each person. It brings each person to the self. Each person must think and emote good feelings to others. In the contemplation and presence of the life force, “Aloha”, the following unuhi laula loa (free translation) may be used:
These are traits of character that express the charm, warmth and sincerity of Hawaii’s people. It was the working philosophy of native Hawaiians and was presented as a gift to the people of Hawaii.
“Aloha” is more than a word of greeting or farewell or a salutation.
“Aloha” means mutual regard and affection and extends warmth in caring with no obligation in return.
“Aloha” is the essence of relationships in which each person is important to every other person for collective existence.
“Aloha” means to hear what is not said, to see what cannot be seen and to know the unknowable.
(b) In exercising their power on behalf of the people and in fulfillment of their responsibilities, obligations and service to the people, the legislature, governor, lieutenant governor, executive officers of each department, the chief justice, associate justices, and judges of the appellate, circuit, and district courts may contemplate and reside with the life force and give consideration to the “Aloha Spirit”.
You see, Aloha is about the spirit of the Hawaiin people and their belief in carrying that spirit forth in all that we do. It is an interconnectedness that binds together the love that we have for one and other, our respect for the earth and all of its inhabitants, with our daily expression of gratitude, compassion and humility. Here in Hawaii, we strive to live in unity with our neighbours and our environment, and we extend this to anyone who visits our beautiful state.
So if someone greets you with “Aloha” on your next visit to Hawaii, know that it means much more than a simple “Hello”. It is a warm welcome and acceptance which acknowledges that you are us, we are you, and that we draw joy from sharing our life energy / breath of life, or Aloha spirit with you. Aloha!
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