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April 1997


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 Huna Article

By Michael Kioni Dudley

published by Na Kane O Ka Malo Press
Reviewed by Michael Pratt

In the introduction to a book called 'On Attention' by Christopher Freemantle I was struck by this extract

For some of us, Freemantle's most frustrating and incomprehensible assertion was that conscious forces were trying to assist us, and indeed anyone who made efforts. He steadfastly refused to elaborate and though we could not understand, we could not forget.

Once, as he was walking East on 78th Street, one of his pupils described a serious problem. "People don't realise that when they work, conscious forces come to their aid." The pupil heard an undeniable inner agreement and also a great protest. What conscious forces? How can they possibly help me? Turning towards his pupil, he continued: "conscious forces are trying to help you. You are not alone."

There is a lot in this for me. Firstly, there is the factor of incomprehensibility. Our Western world-view might allow us to accept the idea of God coming to our aid. We have been prepared for that possibility, one way or another, even if only in theory. But 'conscious forces' ? Surely not! Indeed, what 'conscious forces' are there that could help outside the living human form ?

A second factor affects me more personally. For all my studies, I realise that I am still very much concentrating on working on myself. I am working on one side of the equation while on the other side something is trying to help. That very word, 'trying', moves me because it reminds me that there is something I could be doing to allow it to help.

How can we approach this from the Hawaiian perspective? There are diverse sources that we could go to but there is a book that brings these together. It is called Man, Gods and Nature by Michael Kioni Dudley. This reconstructs the Hawaiian world view, ostensibly to provide roots for the Hawaiian sovereignty movement but in so doing it equally well provides roots for the realisation that we are not alone.

Would the Hawaiians find Freemantle's assertion incomprehensible? Certainly not. To quote Michael Dudley:

The Hawaiian words akua and 'aumakua are often translated as 'god' because they designate the kind of beings in a spirit world who assist man in his needs.

and it was not just the 'gods' the Hawaiians could turn to, as they:

....saw themselves as reflecting nature, and viewed all nature, including the cosmos itself, as reflecting them. If a man could think and act, then the material universe should do likewise. The Hawaiians' world view was filled with conscious beings which formed an interrelating community with them. They depended upon, cared for, and communicated with the surrounding world of nature, and it depended on, provided for, protected and communicated with them.

Then there is the implication that assistance is available if efforts are made. What kind of efforts would these be for the Hawaiian? There is the need for reciprocation:

Recognised consciousness makes demands on the perceiver, demands for correct behaviour and correct relationship.... Confronting the world about him, he experiences conscious beings at every turn, and along with this their interpersonal demands

Demands, which can be intensified when these conscious beings are seen to be part of one's family, because of the:

....difference between coming upon someone recognised as a relative and meeting someone who is not. In perceiving one who is kin, a person experiences not only an added awareness of relationship, but also an emotional feeling of belongingness.

The Hawaiian has to give in order to receive. Offerings have to be made. Then there is the need to maintain the balance of existence by formal observance of one's own part in it, by supporting the social order, and most importantly, supporting the high chief whose removal " would decapitate the whole of nature".

Leaving aside the comparison with my opening extract, there is much in Michael Kioni's book to savour. Many questions are answered. Who are the gods thought to be, for instance? Quite simply "the souls of the deceased who either are earlier direct ancestors of the individuals they help, or are leaders or 'holy men' honoured by the whole people". Where did these gods come from? The Hawaiians created them themselves! In a ritual that was unique to Hawaii, corpses were given spiritual power that deified them where they lay. What of the human form? It is composed of matter and spirit, the physical body and the spirits or the spirit consciousnesses of the soul and the mind.

The book also has chapters on the Hawaiian view of the Universe, Polynesian evolutionary theory, environmental ethics and the state motto of Hawaii. The latter providing a springboard to a second book by Michael Kioni, A Call for Hawaiian Sovereignty.

What are my final words from Man, Gods and Nature? They are aloha 'aina, love of the land, and pono, the goodness or well being that comes with the balance of existence, because they allow me to finish with another extract, this time from Encounters on the Native Path by June Huang In Gnosis magazine, Spring 1995:

It would be impossible to outline on comprehensive Native belief system here, simply because of the number of tribes, cultures, histories and languages. There does seem to be one underlying sensibility that could be called "Native," though. This is informed by the spirit of the land itself.

The primary perception seems to be that all things in Nature have a spirit and occupy their proper places in the universe in relation to everything else. Each aspect of nature - elements, plants, animals, people, directions, wind, thunder - has a quality of energy, a force or gift that can be called upon for help. Everything should move in harmony and balance with everything else.

Masterworks are pleased to be able to supply this excellent book, please see our Store.

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