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November 1997


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The Unihipili 

Max Freedom Long defined the Unihipili as the lower self or sub-conscious mind. In "The Secret Science Behind Miracles" he describes the Unihipili as a spirit which can grieve but may not be able to talk, something that covers up something else and hides it, is itself hidden as by a cover or veil, a spirit which accompanies another, is sticky, acts as a servant to another, a spirit which does things secretly, silently and very carefully, but does not do certain things because it is afraid of offending the gods. It desires certain things most earnestly, it is stubborn and unwilling, disposed to refuse to do as told. All this information was derived from an analysis of the meanings of the various root words within Unihipili; u, nihi, pili, uhi and so forth.

I have no disagreement with the meanings of the various root words however the description in no way relates to the modern understanding of the nature of the sub-conscious mind. At the time of Max Freedom Long's writing the sub-conscious was very much viewed as a kind of dumb slave mind that was in some way responsible for many of our day to day problems in life. This perception of the sub-conscious was very much derived from the popularisation of Freudian psychoanalytic theories. In the last forty years this concept of the sub-conscious has been modified enormously to the point where the sub-conscious must be viewed as a wise and caring friend who has access to enormous resources. This shift in perception stems in great part from the influence of the father of modern hypnotherapy ( and I stress the word modern ) Dr. Milton Erikson MD. As I have said elsewhere we have to be so very careful in not allowing our current prejudices and understanding to distort the work and teachings that we care for so much and wish to share as widely as possible. Nor do I wish to single out Max Freedom Long for criticism in this respect other Huna teachers such as Serge King are also guilty of their own distortions. I too must no doubt shoulder some blame in this area also. What is crucial is the willingness to refine our own understandings as new discoveries and insights evolve.

One of the definitions of Unihipili/Uhinipili is "a grasshopper". Another definition is "spirit of a dead person, sometimes believed present in the bones or hair of the deceased and kept lovingly". Another definition is that the word refers to "the flexed position in which Hawaiians were often buried". It is interesting to realise when considering the real meaning of the term that the flexed burial position is reminiscent of the shape of a grasshopper. In my understanding the term Unihipili relates to what most Westerners understand as the Soul. If you consider what part of a human being most people feel is related to their most essential being, the part that survives death and was perhaps even present before physical life began then the answer is the soul. It is also probably true that for most people the soul as our deepest essential self is hidden as if by a cover or veil. It is attached to us , it does function silently and carefully, it definitely does nothing to offend the gods and any perceived stubbornness within your experience of your own soul is quite likely related to its unwillingness to gratify some of your more peculiar egoic needs! In the Christian Mystical tradition the soul is often spoken of as being the still, small quiet voice within, a voice that is often drowned out by the noise of the mind with its multitude of hopes, fears, dreams and desires. A voice perhaps that sounds like the chirping of a grasshopper? A sound that can easily be drowned out by the sound of the mind. A voice that is nonetheless stubborn in its persistence in trying to attract attention and yet as soon as you come close will often go silent? Hmmmm.

My understanding of the teaching of the three selves is that a human being is composed of soul, body and mind. The ancient Hawaiians perceived the soul as an indwelling entity or spirit and the mind also with all its levels ( sub-conscious, conscious, super-conscious or any other classification you prefer) as another indwelling spirit, the body was the ordinary everyday self. In one way it is a rather strange thing to analyse the Hawaiian concept of the anatomy of man and his potential for spiritual development from within a culture dominated by the mind. We must remember that the ancient Hawaiians lived in and through the body in a way that is almost impossible for us as Westerners to understand let alone experience. This not to say that they had no understanding of the mind or levels within it but that it did not in any way dominate their experience of themselves or life in general. To make Huna a teaching of Higher, Middle and Lower self or super-conscious, conscious and sub-conscious mind is playing the Western mind game of hierarchical structures which for centuries had led us further and further from the reality and wonder of our own physical being to a place where the body is the basest part of our being, the most corrupt, the farthest from our spiritual source. Why else do you think the Christian missionaries suppressed the extraordinary ancient dance form of Hawaii known as the Hula (Kahiko). Pau!

Phil (whose given Hawaiian name is Kihonua)

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