A Meeting Point of the Divine and the Mundane

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Photo: Stacy Ferreira

Aloha mai kākou,

Mauna Kea, the towering emblem on the Hawaiian landscape, stands not just as a majestic mountain but as a profound symbol deeply interwoven with the cultural and spiritual fabric of the Kānaka ʻŌiwi, the Native Hawaiian people.

This mountain, more than a geographical feature, is a beacon of light that embodies the principles of lōkahi – harmony, unity, and balance. In Daniel Kikawa’s insightful book, The True God of Hawaiʻi, The Case for ʻĪo, he delves into the Indigenous Hawaiian understanding of lōkahi, emphasizing how it fosters pono (righteousness) and aloha (love) both in the heavens and on earth.

Central to this concept is the Lōkahi Triangle, a symbolic representation of the harmonious relationship between three fundamental elements: ʻĪo (Ke Akua, the Supreme Being) at the top, Ka ʻĀina (creation or nature) on the left bottom corner, and Nā Kānaka (the people) on the right. This equilateral triangle illustrates that only when these three components exist in perfect harmony can true lōkahi be achieved.

Mauna Kea, in its grandeur and sanctity, is a natural manifestation of the Lōkahi Triangle. Its towering peak reaching towards the heavens symbolizes ʻĪo; its sprawling landscapes and rich biodiversity embody Ka ʻĀina; and its historical and cultural significance to the Hawaiian people represents Nā Kānaka. Thus, the mountain serves as a constant, tangible reminder of the need for balance and harmony among the divine, the natural world, and humanity.

In Hawaiian culture, mountains are revered as sacred spaces, connecting the physical to the spiritual. Mauna Kea, with its celestial observatories, is not just a site for scientific exploration but also a place where the heavens touch the earth, a meeting point of the divine and the mundane. This reinforces the concept that to achieve lōkahi, one must respect and maintain a balance between all elements of life.

However, this delicate balance is often threatened. The desecration of sacred spaces like Mauna Kea, whether through environmental degradation or cultural disrespect, disrupts the Lōkahi Triangle. Such actions not only harm the physical environment but also cause spiritual and cultural disharmony. The stewardship of these sacred lands is an inherent kuleana of the Hawaiian people, and when this is disrupted, it leads to discord and a break in the natural flow of the world.

Mauna Kea stands as a beacon of light, a reminder of the importance of lōkahi in Hawaiian culture. It is a symbol that calls for the protection of sacred spaces, respect for the natural environment, and the fostering of harmonious relationships between the divine, nature, and humanity.

As we move forward, it is imperative that we mālama Mauna Kea and, by extension, mālama each other, ensuring that this beacon of light continues to shine, guiding us towards harmony and balance in all aspects of life.

Me ka haʻahaʻa,

Stacy Kealohalani Ferreira
Ka Pouhana | Chief Executive Officer