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Posts Tagged ‘aloha’

jason poole, metta, lovingkindness meditation, halawa valley, pilipo solatorio, compassion, aloha, molokai, hawaiian language, kumu hawaii

The other day, someone asked me:

“What’s the Hawaiian word for compassion?”

August has been called Metta Month or Lovingkindness Month. (Metta is the word for lovingkindness or compassion in an ancient language called Pali.  Not to be confused with the Hawaiian word pali which means cliffs.)

And lately there’s been a lot of buzz on social media about compassion, mostly about offering traditional phrases associated with a metta meditation practice:

May I be safe.

May I be happy.

May I be heathy.

May I dwell in peace.

In the meditation practice, the phrases are directed inward, toward the self, first.  Then they are directed outward, toward another individual.  And then they’re directed toward all beings everywhere.

So when I was asked what the Hawaiian word for compassion is, I had to stop and think about it for a minute.  Why? Well, because I couldn’t remember Pops and I ever talking about compassion with each other, at least not in a formal sense.  And because I didn’t have my Hawaiian dictionary with me.

I’m not a native Hawaiian speaker. I started learning the language late-ish in life from Pops.  (A little backstory: When my “official studies” in Hālawa Valley began—even before I even understood they were beginning—he suddenly refused to speak English to me. He only spoke Hawaiian. I tried to explain to him that I didn’t understand what he was saying and he said that was ok. I could learn by observing. And the only way I’d learn how to speak Hawaiian would be if I HAD to use it to communicate.  More on that whole experience in an upcoming blog post.)

So I imagined being in Hālawa Valley and trying to communicate with Pops.  Not having a dictionary has forced me to be resourceful and creative with the language. (Note: Pops assures me that this is how people used to speak a long time ago, figuring out how to convey what they meant to say on the spot, even though vocabulary varied from island to island or even district to district. I trust him. Kind of.)

How would I convey the word compassion to him?

I thought about what the practice really meant, about what those phrases were really saying.  And it came down to this one word: A L O H A

Aloha is love. And yes, it can mean love in a romantic way. But really it’s love at its most basic essence.  Love between friends. Family love. Some might even say Divine Love.

I added the words I love you in front of the four classic metta phrases and it made perfect sense:

I love you. May you be safe.

I love you. May you be happy.

I love you. May you be healthy.

I love you. May you dwell in peace.

That got me thinking about the four traditional metta phrases.  Did anything exist like that in the Hawaiian culture?

The answer came to my mind immediately.  Not four individual phrases.  Only one:

Aloha i kekahi i kekahi.  Love one another.

Pops always says that’s the old Hawaiian way, the old Hawaiian greeting.  Aloha i kekahi i kekahi. Love to one another. Love to us all.

I explained this all to the poor soul who’d asked me. I’m sure I gave way more information than she was looking for. But it was good for me to think about.  And it was great to find a way to share that with another person.

Later, when I got home, I pulled out my favorite book, the Hawaiian Dictionary (Pukui & Elbert) and looked up the word compassion. I wanted to see what they wrote, to see how far off the mark I’d been.

And you know what the first Hawaiian word in the definition was?


A L O H A.

Right on.

Aloha i kekahi i kekahi.  Love one another.


Aloha Paris

Friday, January 9, 2015

Jason Poole, Aloha, Aloha Paris, aloha i kekahi i kekahi, accidental hawaiian crooner, Molokai, Halawa Valley, Paris, eiffel tower

Aloha i kekahi i kekahi.

Love one another.

May we all share Aloha with each other today.

Right on.

1 Comment


Friday, October 25, 2013

Jason Poole, Halawa Valley, Molokai, Pilipo Solatorio, Return To Halawa, Accidental Hawaiian Crooner

Happy Aloha Friday, Gang!

Today, I’ve been doing this simple practice:

Breathing in, I allow myself to feel the warmth of Aloha.

Breathing out, I send thoughts of Aloha to all of you.

Hope you find ways to share the Spirit of Aloha with those that you meet this weekend.  We all need more it.

Right on.

*How do YOU share Aloha with folks?  Drop me a line.  I’d love to hear from you.*


MACBETH and a Lesson in Courage

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Last night I got a great lesson in courage.  And from a rather unlikely source:

Last night I went to see the brilliant production of Macbeth (starring the always-amazing Alan Cumming) currently running on Broadway.

How can a production of MACBETH be a lesson in courage?


The entire show (except for a few lines) is performed by Alan Cumming.  That’s right.  I MEAN (almost) ALL OF THE ROLES.  And this isn’t a kitschy “let’s to Shakespeare as a one-man show” kind of production.  This was brilliantly thought out, planned and staged.  Incredibly inventive and not gimmicky–even though they used multi-media and technology in ways that surprised me.

But this isn’t a review of the show.  I’ll leave that to those that are qualified theater reviewers.

I want to tell you how Cumming’s performance rocked my world.

He took more risks than I’ve ever seen an actor take on stage.  He was naked (literally, at times) in how he presented the piece. He didn’t shy away from the show’s dark subject matter.  He didn’t break character.  He didn’t act as though he was being cute in a look-what-I-can-do-aren’t-I-being-clever kind of way.

He was willing to take risks that could have been colossal failures.  He screamed.  He whispered.  He wept.  He laughed maniacally.  There were times when I grabbed onto the side of my seat, sinking down and muttering under my breath, “Oh no, Alan. Don’t do that.  They’re all going to laugh!  It’s too risky!” (Thank God I wasn’t directing the show.)

He stood tall.  He bared himself–physically and emotionally–for the sake of the piece.  For the art of the craft.

He put himself on the line to bring the piece–and the artistic vision of everyone involved in this production–to life.

He was courageously vulnerable.

And in my eyes, that makes him a hero.

An artistic hero.

When I was working as/aspiring to be an actor, I wasn’t anywhere near that brave.  I was ridiculously self-conscious,  aware of every move that I made.  I chose to play it safe.  I didn’t want to fail.

And you know what?  I wasn’t successful.  My attempt to “not fail at any cost” was a total failure.

Art is about risks.  But so is life, right?

As a haole from the “the big city” who is working as a Hawaiian musician and teacher, it’s all about risks.  Being who I am and doing what I’m doing is a risk.  Some people will DISLIKE me based on that alone.

And that’s ok.

Because I’m not going to please everyone. And in truth, I’m not trying to please everyone.

I’m trying to be authentic and represent who I am–where I am now as well as the road that’s lead me here.

And I’m trying to be authentic in my sharing of what I’ve been asked to share.

And that’s scary.  That’s really scary.

But it’s totally worth it.

Because when you watch someone like Alan Cumming redefine a classic piece of theater– when you watch him reinvent it and yet honor its roots so beautifully–you can’t help but cheer and rise to your feet at the curtain call.  (And did I mention that he received a standing ovation through not one but THREE curtain calls last night?!)

He was successful in his portrayal.  All of the choices he made/had been directed to make were great.  They worked.  But even if the production had been flawed, he would have been successful in my eyes.

He acted with courage.  He acted with conviction.  He gave himself to the piece.

And allowing yourself to be vulnerable takes courage.

I hope to be that strong when I share a song or story or lesson that I’ve been asked to share.

I hope to represent what I know as bravely as he did.

We owe that much to those that believe in us.  Our directors.  Our teachers.  Our kūpuna.

Because it’s all about them when it comes to the curtain call at the end of the day.

Be pono.  Stand tall.  Share Aloha.

Right on.


Aloha, gang!  Reposting a favorite (and very timely!) blog entry today.

Happy Aloha Monday!


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Auē!  How has time passed so quickly these last few days?

Wasn’t it only yesterday that we were beginning the 12 Days of Christmas??

It seems like everything is due at once.  Like the pot on the stove has come to a full boil.

And with that–my blood pressure (and my anxiety level!) soars!

Know what that means?

It’s time for a strum break.

Ok… maybe SEVERAL strum breaks.

Ok… maybe several strum breaks EVERY HOUR!

And I need to remember to take deep breaths.

I don’t know about you, but when I get all stressed-to-’da-max, my breath becomes shallow.  And that’s just plain dumb.  I mean, what good is that doing?  It adds to the anxiety!

Oh!  And I need to remember to say, “Aloha” a lot.


I had to run to the grocery store this morning. Standing in line at the checkout counter–a few people away from it being “my turn” to check out–it seemed like everything was moving in SLOW MOTION.  And I’m sure I don’t need to tell you: I NEEDED IT TO MOVE AT LIGHTING SPEED.

Instead of freaking out (which very easily could have happened!) I looked at the people around me and silently said to each of  ’em, “Aloha.” 

Something happens to me–physiologically–when I say it.  It almost always brings a smile to my lips.

Did it help?

Well, I can tell that it sure helped me through a panic-situation.

And maybe that helped everyone around me, too… Even if it was only because I wasn’t freaking out.

Strumming, remembering to take deep breaths and saying, “Aloha.”–that’s how I’m gonna get through these next few days.

How are YOU surviving the holidays??