‘Ōkupu, The Path of Aloha
‘ōkupu: To sprout, as seeds;
to come forth, as clouds.
kupu: 1. To grow, increase.
ho‘okupu: 1. Offering.
2. To encourage growth.
kupukupu: 1. To surge forth,
as lava. 2. Fern sacred to
Laka, goddess of healing
kupulau: The season of spring.
kupua: One possessing mana.
kupuna: 1. Elder, ancestor.
2. Source, starting point.
For those who have been drawn to the knowledge of Spirit, there is one experience valued above all others: returning home to be immersed in universal consciousness, to feel the joy of living as Spirit embodied.
This goal is as human as hope, as universal as breath—but the path to that goal shifts and changes throughout the ages, evolving to suit our needs, our worldviews, our cultures, our archetypes. At every moment, the path lies right beneath our feet, awaiting only the conscious step, the commitment to move forward in love and awareness—but the path will not be the same for everyone at every time. There are many ways forward on the path, and many guides to help along the way.
Pili (Lyn ‘Unihipiliowailelepualu Moreno Hilliard) has been called to carry the knowledge of one such way. ‘Ōkupu is a path of meditation and spiritual self-knowledge deeply rooted in the traditional wisdom and aloha of the kūpuna—the elders and ancestors of Hawai‘i. The kūpuna teach us that aloha is more than a word of greeting, and indeed means more even than love, friendship, acceptance, or compassion.
Aloha is primordial, unconditional love. ‘Ōkupu meditation reveals this clearly, offering a direct perception of aloha expressing itself as the universal creative force, the vibrant wellspring of existence. As we direct our attention inward, we are immersed in Spirit and connected to our infinite source. This experience becomes the natural focus of meditation.
What is Meditation?
The word meditation is often used to mean thinking about something in a deep and focused way. To prevent confusion, let’s call that contemplation instead.
Meditation, therefore, can be described as awareness without thought, knowing without words—a direct, personal experience of our spiritual self that comes from turning our attention inward to that which exists beyond the physical, mental, or emotional, while at the same time encompassing them. In ‘Ōkupu meditation, we direct our attention to the aloha arising within us as the universal creative force.
‘Ōkupu meditation is inspirational, centering, grounding, and joyful. It clears our vision, focuses our intention, awakens our compassion, enlivens our creativity, and empowers our highest aspirations and best wishes for all beings (including ourselves). ‘Ōkupu brings together body, mind, and spirit, Earth, human, and Ke Akua (universal consciousness, the Creator) to send waves of healing through ourselves and outward to others, to the Earth, to the Universe.
The Nine Principles of the Path of Aloha
The Nine Principles of the Path of Aloha are shaped by the mana‘o maoli (indigenous worldview) of Hawai‘i. They remind us of the sacredness of the land and the continuity of life, of the opportunity that is ours to live as embodied Spirit, connected to our world, connected to Universal Consciousness, engaged, open, and embracing life’s wonders.
The Path of Aloha is a path of individual spiritual experience, not of rules or commandments. It is through experience itself that we gain the perspective, understanding, and wisdom that we manifest in our daily lives. The understanding embodied in these principles arises spontaneously, inspired and informed by immersion in the direct experience of aloha.
However, when we claim these principles as our own, we complete the circle by establishing a vital and functional foundation for our spiritual evolution. These principles recognize this process—the synergistic, cyclical interconnectedness of experience, worldview, expectation, and behavior.
These principles describe an approach to life that supports and inspires us as we travel along the Path of Aloha. They are the expression of our aloha.
❧ Aloha I Ka ‘Āina
Loving the land
To the Kānaka Maoli (the native people of Hawai‘i), the oceans are pathways that connect the islands, not barriers that separate them. This is the way of all things—what we may perceive as a universe of disconnected objects separated by empty space is in reality a living, resonant web that joins us to all beings, all events, all times, all possibilities.
We are not separate from the land, and the land is not separate from Spirit. We are rooted in the land, nourished by its bounty, refreshed by its beauty—the land reminds us of the wonder of existence.
As it is expressed in the mo‘olelo (ancestral teachings), everything in our world is descended, like us, from Wākea the Sky Father and Papa the Earth Mother. We live, not in a mechanistic world of lifeless matter, but in a vibrant, luminous world where everything that surrounds us is a member of our own family, and is vital, aware, and ready to communicate with us.
We mālama (care for) the land—and our own bodies!—not because of some desperate realization that we are at risk of losing the foundation of our own physical existence, but willingly, joyfully, with hearts full of aloha and eyes open wide to the beauty of the ‘āina.
❧ Nānā I Ke Kumu
Looking to the source of wisdom: the ancestors, guides, and guardians
We are never alone; our ancestry sings in our genetic code and sees the world through our eyes. The endless chain of being of which we are a part inspires and guides us, coming to us as the soft, sure voice of intuition. Our ancestors, whether near or distant in time and space, stand ever ready to guide, shelter, and share, bringing the perspective of Spirit to help us on our journey.
When we look to nā kūpuna (the ancestors) for guidance, we think first of our genetic relations. But we are the flowering of many kinds of ancestral trees, and our guides are many.
When we love a certain place—our birthplace or another land that we have come to love—the ancestors of that land (our geographic relations) shelter us.
When a certain heritage or culture captures our devotion, the ancestors of that heritage or culture (our ethnic or cultural relations) embrace us.
When we are inspired by a certain artist, or creative tradition, or path of social activism, we form a relationship with those who have preceded us, and whose passions we share (our inspirational relations).
And our spiritual relations watch over us as we walk the path of Spirit with them.
❧ Kū I Ka Pono
Standing in harmony, balance, and proper relationship with all beings and with the spiritual and physical worlds
Pono distills into a sigle word the essential wisdom of nā kūpuna. The first meaning listed in the Hawaiian Dictionary is simply “goodness”. Pono is also frequently translated as “righteousness”, a word that may bring to mind images of the stiff-spined, black-suited missionaries who brought their ideas of civilization and morality to Hawai‘i two hundred years ago.
But there is much more to pono than that.
The deeper lesson of pono is that our natural condition is to be in harmony, balance, and unity. Body, mind, and spirit are one, and are inherently interconnected with all that is. All healing takes place in the context of pono—of healing our multi-dimensional relationships and restoring balance and harmony, within and without.
Kū I Ka Pono means to manifest all the qualities of true aloha—love, caring, compassion, fairness, generosity, trust, honesty, kindness, courtesy, inclusiveness, hospitality, gratitude, reciprocity, patience, respect, humility, loyalty, friendship, cooperation, appreciation, optimism, supportiveness, humor, acceptance, unity, reverence, peace, understanding—for all beings, those of form and those of spirit, including ourselves.
If we could choose only a single principle to guide our spiritual journey, it should be Kū I Ka Pono.
❧ Ulu I Ka No‘ono‘o
Flourishing in inspiration and creativity
While we are all manifestations of the same universal consciousness, we are also individuals. Our goal is to grow into increasing awareness of universal Spirit and of aloha, while perfecting our individuality and uniqueness—each of us becoming the best “me” that we can be, right here, right now. As Thelonius Monk said, “A genius is the one most like himself.”
The path has a direction and a goal, but no ending. Our growth is continuous—we are complete in every moment, just the way we are, but each moment also offers us the chance to expand and flourish in creative and wonderful ways. We reach new levels of uniqueness and individuality, even as we realize more fully our oneness with all that is, with Spirit. You are you, and you are All.
To be inspired is to be a living expression of the full creativity of Spirit—to move in the world as our highest selves, in partnership with nā kūpuna and all beings of light and aloha.
When we welcome inspiration, we live creatively. That is when we are truly alive; not only when we engage in the arts or other creative expression, but when—especially when—we live each moment with spontaneity, authenticity, and insight, transcending our outdated patterns of habitual behavior, leaving behind judgment and comparison, and becoming co-creators of our reality.
❧ Pūlama I Ka ‘Ohana
Although our aloha extends to all beings, it starts with ‘ohana—family.
Who is truly independent? Who can exist without the caring and support of others? We all need to know that there are those on whom we can depend, and who can depend on us.
Some may find that their path calls for them to reach beyond the family of their birth if they are to find the bonds of loyalty and love that they long for, but family—in whatever form it takes— is the beginning of our intimate connection with our universal family, with Spirit.
E aloha kākou—we love, and are loved.
❧ Ho‘omau I Ka Nohona
Perpetuating ancestral ways
What treasures have we received from our many ancestors? Which of their traditions—their skills, values, and insights—do we honor through study, practice, and ceremony?
We honor tradition when we perpetuate it—when we bring the best of the past forward, then work creatively within the dynamic flow of tradition, with sensitivity, respect, and knowledge of what has come before. To preserve ancestral ways is merely an attempt to halt the flow of change; but change will come, and it is up to us to guide change with aloha, whatever our heritage or worldview.
A living tradition welcomes appropriate innovation—although what is considered appropriate will vary from tradition to tradition. Even traditions that reserve innovation for the accomplished master offer the student an opportunity to infuse their practice with the immediacy of their own life force and experience.
The song E Mau Ana Ka Ha‘aheo says:
Me nā mea ‘oi loa
Mai nā wā ma mua
E holomua kākou i kēia ao
Ua hiki mai ka wana‘ao
No ka ho‘ōla
Ā me ka ho‘āla hou
Using the very best things
From times past
Let us move forward in this age
The dawn has indeed arrived
That is indeed the goal—to perpetuate the traditions passed down to us from nā kūpuna, while embracing the creative potential of the present moment.
❧ Ho‘omaika‘i I Ka Mea Hiwahiwa
Being grateful, and thereby making better that which you appreciate
The Hawaiian word for blessing, ho‘omaika‘i, also means to thank, congratulate, praise, or improve. A variation, ho‘opōmaika‘i, includes the understanding that the things we bless, as well as our power to bless them, are gifts from Spirit.
When we express our gratitude, affection, approval, and aspirations, we are calling upon Spirit to echo our intentions and amplify our mana (spiritual energy or life-force)—to resonate with our authentic good will and appreciation of the gifts we have received and will continue to receive.
❧ Ho‘onanea Wale
Simply relaxing and enjoying life
When we view our world with open eyes and hearts, we see a place of stunning beauty, made for enjoyment, for sharing beauty and abundance in the experience of aloha.
When we relax physically, mentally, and emotionally, we open to Spirit and release old patterns and ways of being that no longer serve us on our path.
❧ Hilina‘i I Ke Ala
Trusting your path
Think for yourself!
Question, evaluate, analyze, and process. Honor science, fact, and logic.
But honor inspiration, intuition, and imagination, too.
Do you remember those times when you felt that the world was a place of wonder and beauty, and that everything was working out perfectly?
That feeling—yes! Trust that.