Rep. Mina Morita's Blog


Pilgrimage of Compassion – 2010

Posted in Events,General,Kauai,Sustainability by Mina Morita on July 12, 2010

At the foot of the path.

Yesterday I had the privilege of giving remarks at the 10th annual Pilgrimage of Compassion at the Lawai International Center.  In preparing to speak before a large group I like to put everything I say in writing and try to edit what I say as much as possible so I can be up at the mike for as short as a time possible.  I tried all week to write and the pressure was building.  I woke up yesterday morning with nothing in mind and had to leave the house in a couple of hours.  I am not a religious person, nor do I think of myself as spiritual but  my life has been enriched by people I have met like Ramsay Taum, Pono Shim, and Puanani Burgess, who all perpetuate the wisdom of kupuna and practice and share Aloha.  (click here to see a video of Ramsay sharing the meaning of Hawaii, read Pono’s statement to the State Senate and hear Kupuna Paki share the meaning of Aloha)  Suffice it to say, that once I started to focus on their stories to sharing their words for the pilgrimage  it became easier to write.

Pilgrimage of Compassion - 2010

One of 88 shrines.

Many people at the pilgrimage asked for the text of my remarks and given the wonders of WordPress, I can now retell the story here with pictures and special links below.  Also, here is a link to my 2009 remarks  which talks more about Pilahi Paki and Kahu Abraham Akaka’s famous statehood Aloha Ke Akua sermon. LawaiInternationalCenter

Kaua & the Lotus Blossom

Last week I watched my lotus plant flower for the first time.  I wasn’t familiar with the significance of the lotus blossom in Buddhism so went to look it up on the internet.

The roots of a lotus are in the mud, the stem grows up through the water, and the flower blossoms high above the water, reaching for the sunlight. The movement of the stem and bud through the mud represents the progress of the soul from the primeval mud of materialism, through the waters of experience, and into the bright sunshine of enlightenment. And, although there are other water plants that bloom above the water, only the lotus which, owing to the strength of its stem, rises about a foot above the surface of the water.

Learning this reminded me of the Hawaiian creation chant, the Kumulipo where existence begins in darkness and muck.  This is how Kumu Hula, Pualani Kanahele, from Hawaii Island, describes the Kumulipo.

“The Kumulipo is a mele ko‘ihonua (genealogical chant). It is a remembrance from the lipo (dark depth) of our deep past to the lipo of our unknown future. It heralds existence from dawn to dawn or the numerous beginnings and endings. The Kumulipo acknowledges the walewale as the earthy matter from which all forms have ascended. The fundamental images, thoughts, forms and shapes from walewale evolved and increased into familial patterns. It is the organic inception of all family systems . . .

The Kumulipo is the reality of our dim past, the foundation for our present and the pathway into the future. It is a cognizant reminder of our ancestors, their intelligence, failure, defeat and conquest. This chant is a gift which encourages the warrior within us to awake to the contests and challenges, which continue to confront us today, by using ancestral intelligence and experiences with our own intelligence. It is the genealogy which connects the Native Hawaiian to land, sky and ocean.”

A very important part of our heritage that connects Hawaii’s physiological existence to our psychological being is the concept of Aloha.  And, the Lawai International Center’s foundation is embedded in the concept of Aloha.

It is unfortunate that the word Aloha is often misunderstood as only a simple greeting or as just love.  Aloha is a way of being, it is a way of life.  When the word Aloha is broken down into two parts, Alo means to be in the presence of, to join or connect with.  Ha is the breath, the spirit, the essence of one’s being.  So to say Aloha is to be in the presence of, or to join the spirit of the person you are acknowledging.  Aloha also speaks to the notion of connecting to the other life forces, however you define them – god, nature – to live in balance with those forces.  It is the concept of giving and receiving – not giving and taking.  It is the notion that the more you put in, the more you will receive.  It is the notion of leaving people and places better than you found it, leaving people whole, leaving places whole.  Aloha is the essence of our being that connects us to all life forces and humanity.

In our daily lives Aloha is the foundation of all of our actions to make our family, work, communities – local or global – sustainable.  While the western concept of sustainability is balancing people, the planet and profits, I believe the human thoughts and actions required for sustainability are what I call Hawaii’s triple bottomline.  First, Aloha – meaning compassion, respect and reverence for each other and other life forces.  Second, Malama Pono – to do what is right and just.  And, third, Kuleana – acknowledging and taking responsibility.

Like the symbolism of the lotus blossom, Aloha is the spirit of enlightenment at work in you and in me and in the world, overcoming challenges, bringing new light and life to all who sit in the darkness of fear, guiding the feet of mankind into the way of peace.

Shakuhachi Grand Master Riley Lee

Aloha is the guidance Lynn Marumoto has relied on in the establishment of the Lawai International Center.  She and members of the Lawai International Center ohana have a tremendous kuleana (responsibility) to malama (protect and perpetuate) this special puu honua (place of refuge) so that the seeds of aloha may be planted with each step along the hillside during this annual pilgrimage of compassion and to blossom and propagate aloha when we leave this special place today.

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One Response to 'Pilgrimage of Compassion – 2010'

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  1. Portia Pruitt said,

    Very Informative and beautifully written!


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