We are a Spiritual People


Read this article in ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi
Photo: Kalani Akana

Our elders of long ago were a spiritual people. They prayed and gave offerings for the protection of the family. At this time of the pandemic, people are searching for help to ward off troubles. These are some spiritual means for us to revisit:

Pōhaku Kāne – Kamakau wrote Ke Au Okoa (3 Mal. 1870):

The Pōhaku o Kāne was a place of refuge for the family, the generations, the descendants for this and that matter upon the Pōhaku o Kāne refuge, which was not a temple, but a place for a singular stone image, a place to serve as an altar, planted about with ti leaves which were very verdant, a place for the family to find solace. This is the reason the family would go there, fathers and sons of one family, not outsiders: because the gods have struck them with death, sickness, or some calamity upon the family…

Although there are possibly no families caring for a Pōhaku Kāne, this is an excellent example of spirituality within the family and sincerity in searching for a cure to end sickness.

Photo: Earl Kawaʻa
Earl Kawaʻa at his ʻohana class – board and stone. – Photo:

Hoʻoponopono – According to Earl Kawaʻa, an elder and a leader of the hoʻoponopono (to make right) procedure, the most important component of hoʻoponopono is prayer. He further states that the answers to all problems are in prayer and in revelations of God

Pukuʻi explained her understanding of hoʻoponopono procedure which were printed in Nānā i ke Kumu Vol. 1. The component steps to revive the family were arranged thusly:

  • Pule – an opening prayer.
  • Kūkulu kumuhana – an explanation of the problem
  • Hihia – delving into the problems that have become entangled
  • Mahiki – the peeling back of the problems and entanglements
  • ʻOiaʻiʻo – the urging and encouragement of the participants to be sincere, truthful, to speak appropriately, and to respect one another.
  • Uku pānaʻi – a means to alleviate the pain and to demonstrate sincerity in asking for forgiveness
  • Hoʻomalu – a recess should anger, hate, and worry come up
  • Mihi a me ke Kala – the release of the problem and root causes
  • Pule – a prayer of release

Pukuʻi shared these thoughts with esteemed elders Richard and Lynette Paglinawan. The two of them wrote in Hūlili V, 8 (2012):

The rituals in lua (Hawaiian fighting arts) and hoʻoponopono (process for setting things right) teach us to respect mana (supernatural power) and to acknowledge, first and foremost, that there are higher powers that hold jurisdiction over us.

ʻOhana – This kind of ʻohana refers to daily meeting to worship together. This family meeting occurred at sunrise and sunset – morning and evening. According to Dr. Ipo Kanahele Wong, the elder would call to them three times to take care of their hygienic needs to settle them for the meeting, Then the kupuna called thusly, “ʻOhana….ʻohana….ʻohana.” They then prayed, sang hymns, and each family member read or recited Bible scripture. This routine was important to the family to strengthen it. If you are interested in the worship service on Niʻihau please read the dissertation by Dr. Kanahele Wong, “Pukaiki kula maniania no Niihau, na ka Niihau,” at https://hdl.handle.net/10125/101948.

We are indeed a spiritual people.