There is a Hawaiian Proverb or Olelo No’eau about knowledge that reads…
Ma Ka Hana Ka Ike
Ma Ka , Ike Ka Mana
Through work comes knowledge. Through knowledge comes power.
Knowledge, or Ike, was passed down from generation to generation from elder to child to prepare the child for what was to come through knowledge of the past. With this learning, the child was equipped move forward with greater clarity, more insight and empowered decision making.
The Hawaiian Way of Learning
In the old days there was no Google. Knowledge was passed from one generation to another in this way…
Nana i ka maka, look and observe things around you.
Ho’olohe ka pepeiau, listen with the ears and an inner listening.
Pa’a ka waha, close the mouth and quiet the mind and outside chatter. Listen to internal guidance.
Hana ka lima, work or build with the hands.
If you wanted to gather knowledge, it was common go with an elder out into nature. Uncle Mike Lee, a visiting Kahuna from the big island of Hawaii, learned in this way from his grandfather. The elder was a medicine man and he often took his grandson out to the ocean of learn of the medicine of the sea.
The boy pointed to a tide pool and asked, “Grandfather, what is that?”
“What do you think?”, replied the medicine man.
“It looks like there are lots of different schools of fish swimming here. I see small ones and big ones”, said the boy.
And Grandfather identified the little ones as Manini holo. What do you suppose those fish eat?”
The boy looked into the pool and saw some big limu, seaweeds, that were feathery and bigger than the tiny Manini holo. They were way too big.
Then as he peered deeper to the edges of the pond he saw clumps of tiny, brown limu clinging to the rock. He pointed to the fuzzy seaweed and said, “That one! It is small enough for them to eat.”
His grandfather went on to show that the seaweed is named because of that fish that eats it. The baby fishes swim really quickly which in Hawaiian language we would say holo holo. And the name of that seaweed is the limu papa holo.
Using our minds and intuition, assessing and observing the way things work together, Hawaiians gained the knowledge we needed to thrive.
Through various periods of time, Hawaiian knowledge guarded for protective secrecy, exploited, diluted, and manipulated for personal gain, even fearfully hoarded through a lifetime and taken to the grave.
It is only now in current times that many of the teachings are beginning to be shared openly.
It is also in very recent times that many of our kupuna have allowed people to record their teachings in audio or video. Unfortunately, once captured, have not always been shared.
There are several reasons for this. Some keep knowledge as hidden as a treasure like Gollum’s Precious. Others are concerned about maintaining their position as wisdom keepers. There is a fear if they shared the knowledge, another successor would become more powerful than they.
In my experience, this is a misuse and abuse of knowledge. It is not the Hawaiian way. Knowledge is something to be shared.
Part of the responsibility of receiving the kuleana, responsibility, of a wisdom keeper is mindfully tending how it is shared. The teachings I was given with the blessing of my teachers was to use ‘Ike for the benefit of all. With the understanding that each student could benefit and learn how to best take this knowledge and wisdom to serve their own communities.
Today, as a world society, our minds and consciousness are rapidly expanding. NOW is the time to bring in knowledge. The real question is…what do you plan to do with it?
Gaining knowledge isn’t just for knowledge’s sake.
It is not about hoarding knowledge and not doing anything with what you have learned. The purpose of learning is to move energy with the things that we learn. I call it the action of knowledge.
For example, when we learn to do something new in our body, we teach all of our cells how to adapt. Like when we learn yoga or aikido, our cells begin to incorporate what we learned into all of our daily activities. It becomes a lifestyle shift.
When you learn something new professionally, like Lomi Lomi, hopefully are already imagining how the techniques can be used with each of your individual your clients.
When you sit at the feet of an elder and gain knowledge, do so with the intention to TAKE ACTION and incorporate what you learn.
In the work, there is knowledge.
This olelo no’eau, Hawaiian proverb, tells us true power is found in using the knowledge we have to serve our world.
We have a beautiful fern in the Hawaiian Islands called kupukupu. It symbolizes the unfolding of knowledge. Ike, in our language, is knowledge or wisdom. Ike pono is the harmonious way in which we draw in that knowledge and then use it to do what is right. This is useful in the way we interact with one another.
Apply knowledge and pass it along to your children and others. This is so important. We have the ability to support one another and inspire one another in a positive way by sharing our experiences.
Knowledge is everywhere and in everything.
We can learn from sitting at the foot of a waterfall. We can learn by watching the growth of that kupukupu fern. Observe how the natural world interacts with each other. Remember how we are connected to the infinite knowledge.
Our connection to spirit and our divine spirit gives us access to the clarity and knowledge that we need. It is around us all the time and that knowledge isn’t to be hoarded. Knowledge is to be shared. Knowledge is to be utilized in the service of all.
There is WORK in the gaining of knowledge and there’s POWER in the sharing of knowledge.
What is one new thing that you want to learn? Take the time and ask yourself, “What will I do with this learning?” I’d love to hear about it in the comments below…
Jeana Iwalani Naluai
PS: If you’re thinking 2018 might be the year to learn Lomi Lomi, check out our events on Maui here!
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