In October our Hawaiian teacher Kumu Keala Ching is coming to us in Switzerland for workshops. We asked Kumu Keala about his philosophy of life: How would our world look like if the Spirit of Aloha would spread over all continents?
Kumu Keala Ching has been our advisor on Hawaiian culture and philosophy of life for twenty years, and he is also our teacher of hula, chanting and Hawaiian language. In addition, Kumu Keala is a cultural educator, composer, songwriter, and also a spiritual advisor to many Hawaiian organizations. He has been practicing Ho'oponopono and Self-Ho'oponopono since 1999. Recently, Kumu graduated from Chaminade University with a Master of Education Leadership Administration. Kumu Keala is co-founder and executive director of the Na Wai Iwi Ola Foundation, which is primarily dedicated to preserving and spreading local traditions and culture among Hawaiian children.
Kumu, you describe yourself as a spiritual advisor. Here in Europe, spirituality is used for all kinds of things. What does spirituality mean to you?
When we look at the word spirituality, we see that it has the word "ritual" in it. Spi-ritual-ity. That is, for me spirituality is life, and life is made up of rituals. We start every morning with rituals. We shower, we get dressed, we brush our teeth. After that, it's the mind's turn. We nourish it with meditation and find our strength in it. If we practice this spi-rituality daily, it becomes part of an everyday spirituality.
What does this mean specifically for life in Hawai'i?
In Hawai'i, many people supplement their morning ceremonies with chants. They are chants that relate to the environment. We are connected to this environment, it surrounds us, it is us, and it goes beyond us. In the chants, people tell stories that influence our life journey. Also part of the morning ritual in Hawai'i are hula movements. With hula, we tell stories. The dances connect us to the sky, the land, and our people. When we do these practices consistently, this morning ritual becomes one of peace, reverence and enlightenment. In doing so, we can build on the knowledge of our ancestors. They who have gone before us have modeled these practices for us.
When someone asks you to summarize the Spirit of Aloha in one sentence, what do you answer?
To live in Aloha is to live in kindness and in relationship with myself and others, in humility and in truth, in patience with other people and within society. This is our spirit.
What would our world look like if the Spirit of Aloha spread across all continents?
We live in a world of differences, thanks to the Spirit of Aloha we would understand each other.
You have been coming to Switzerland for workshops for 25 years. With what motivation?
My goal is to continue and spread King David Kalakaua's vision of international relations and education worldwide, especially for the Hawaiian children.
In the Western world today, deities are largely meaningless. In Hawai'i, it's different. Is the West missing something?
The West worships deities as images of stories, myths and legends. In Hawaiʻi, however, deities are family members, revered social influencers, they are empowered storytellers, character role models, role models for shaping relationships and dealing with hope. Moreover, they are examples of hero:ins.
One of your slogans is "Cherish life with compassion." Can you explain the background of this slogan?
Compassion is the means to appreciate every action, every deed on your life's journey. If you are passionate, that is, about the progression of life, then you are compassionate towards life and will live your best life - with all that you are given.
Interested in a workshop with Kumu Keala? In early October, Kumu will explain Hawai'i's unique philosophy of life and the Hawaiian language, teach us hula kahiko (traditional dance) and hula 'auana (modern dance), practice chanting, and learn about the history of hula and Hawai'i's culture.
Seeing Kumu Keala live is always a great experience. We are looking forward to seeing you!