‘A ‘ohe pau ka ‘ike i ka halau ho’okahi
“All Knowledge is Not Learned in Just One School”
…and for at least myself, that proverb…it relates to not “one school,” but rather, one Kumu…
We have all enjoyed the things that having a dual mindset, and, as well, what I like thinking of as being “dual citizenship,” to both old Hawai’i Nei, and the rest of the 48 (because Alaska is also just like Hawai’i…not quite the same as the rest of the mainland, and certainly worlds away in many ways from Hawai’i…please, keep reading…)
The summer session at my college…Mount San Antonio College in Walnut, CA. …is pau.
I will begin again here in a few weeks, but, for the moment, I want to ask you all to think about a few things, and this comes after a week of final exams, and seeing all these new, young Maoli faces on campus and more, recognizing them as my own.
The faces are the ones of the children who have landed in my midst here on the mainland, particularly at my school. They recognize me, even though my manner of dress, my adornments in terms of jewelry are not the same ones most Aunties wear, and yes, they all call me “Auntie,” and truly, it is like music in my ears…they are who I will teach in the future, as much as I teach these ones at this time about us, here on the mainland and how we are not what they were taught we are.
Yet, the things that I will teach, while they are very important, are not what this writing is all about. What this writing is all about is truly about not only what I am learning, but more, who is teaching me these things, and why it is that my professors are the reason.
My professors are the thing. ALL of them deserve to be called “Kumu,” because in the way that they teach what it is that they are so phenomenally awesome at, they are also helping me know what it is that I am meant for. This is the beauty, the diamond in the dog-doo, the essence and the mystery that is learning. The only thing that I can think of when I think about these Kumu is the thing my Auntie Kalei taught me and drilled into my head (albeit very gently…she’s a good Kahuna…teaches her haumana with strictness that one does not realize is strictness….) and that is the lesson brought by ‘I’o.
I can still hear what she told me, a long time ago, while she was still here in the mainland, yet manifesting her wish to return to her place of birth – The Big Island. What Auntie told me, a very long time ago – probably better than twenty years ago, was that not all knowledge would be learned in just one school. She was right. In thinking in terms of learning about all things strange and eccentric, my Auntie Kalei knew that I would be one who could pass on the message of Aloha to a global audience, knew that I knew the importance and the power of words and more, that I was born with the gift of also being very aware of their power and that they can either build up, or tear down.
Over the years, and as she taught me what I needed to know in terms of how Hawai’ians ought to behave, namely when we are talking about not only our spirituality, but more, how it is that we come upon those lessons and by whom and for what reason, she made me understand one true thing – that absolutely, and no matter what kind of Kahu one is – all that we learn will not be learned by one Kumu, but by many. She is who taught me about the importance of knowing what each word meant, about how the way those words are delivered would be one of the very most important things to remember when speaking, writing, even dancing Hula.
She is who made me very aware of how it is that I go about using what it is that others have taught me, about how careful I need to be with those words, namely when I am doing anything heebie-jeebie in terms of what my Duty as Kahu entails. Out of all things that can harm others, more than much else and any other way of bringing harm to others intentionally, words are the things that humans use to cut others down to size via the emotions and the psyche. She taught me, throughout the course of my lifetime, and even now when she has very little time for more than promoting our culture and our ways of Spirit, to use caution with the one super-human power that I have : the ability to write and be very concise with what it is that I am conveying. She also taught me to embrace that power, and here is where and how, for the moment, I do that.
This writing is meant to give honor to those who are here to impart the needed knowledge that we all need to survive, which is complementary to and as important as the primal and biological needs that we each have and that also must be seen to. Regardless of the sort of Kumu that we have in our lives, they are to be honored, because they are who the ‘Aumakua send to us when it is time that we learn something that is pertinent to the paths that we each walk singularly, but truly not all alone. Because of my Professors…because of my Kumu at MtSac here on the mainland…I am now knowing the things that I need to know, in terms of my gifts, and my words, and my Na’auao…
Were it not for a woman to whom I refer to as Dr. Lackey, I would not know why it is that sometimes, Mama Pele goes OFF !! Because of this Kumu…this woman named Hillary, I know why the volcano erupts for real. I know why Pele does so in the literal sense. Were it not for her class in Oceanography (even though it is a hard science that I cannot wrap my head around, even now), I would not know what irritates Mother Earth, would have no real idea of how our ‘Aina way out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean came into being, how it still grows through the mechanics that is volcanic activity beneath the surface of the ocean’s floor. I would not know how it is that Pele is born of water, way deep down in the crust of the earth, and how it is that our human energies as we live and breathe our days, are very connected to what Mother Earth is doing. I would not know how to relate the body to the mind, and would not understand like I do now, what my Native American friends were teaching about how we are the body of the Mother and that it will be the Mother (Earth) who will teach us the most about who we are as sentient beings.
Were it not for time spent in the History of Rock Music class a year ago, almost, and were it not for Professor…or rather Maestra Fabiero….I would not, could not, not even if I had the grandiose idea to choreograph a hula to anything “metal,” at least not at this very time, when I am this not-so-badly injured me, and be a lot more careful with the songs of choice. I am better able to pinpoint, via the tones used that accompany the lyrics that any singer will choose, the artist’s message and to also see that artist’s kaona energy. This includes the other style of music that I grew up listening to, that I loved as a kid, and that I love more now, for reasons that yet another person, one who is there, always with me (Hi, Kawika…muah) whether in the real or in the mind (and always in the very heart and soul) and who continues to teach me the things that my Tutu Man, Bill Namahoe Sr., taught me without teaching me – a better understanding, a better appreciation, and a better way of listening and having the opportunity to think about what I am listening to. Without these three Kumu, I have no chance at remembering that the music, whether or not it was composed by the singer of the song, and the lyrics, again..singer or song…these people taught me not about the reason how much I love the music or songs that I love, but why I love to know any music danced to and why particular songs are so, so very relative to Life…
Of course, we cannot ever forget that ours is a very…Kaona driven lot. Us Maoli people are some of the very most poetically inclined people. The words and the music have to come from somewhere, and in our case, our inspiration comes from our past, collectively and in the singular manner, and our culture is all about figuring things out so that they make sense to us, and more, proving that the things that we witness, and the things that we experience, and the things that make life, life – those things are all meant for our scrutiny, to question and to challenge and to make our own via our own understanding of these ways of being that are so very inherent in who we are as a people, as well as on our very own. Our lives as Hawai’ians, as Kanaka Maoli, have been lived to this point in an energy of anger, of fear, of a collective loathing of things that make no sense to us. We need not do this anymore. it is okay that we let all that hurt go now…really.
If anything is going to make a whole lot of sense to us all, it will be the Philosophies that have been handed down, not only by our own ‘Aumakua, but also by those who were the same, even as their locales and even the time in history are not. Were it not for one of my most FAVORITE writers of Philosophical Wisdom, a surf-bruddah from San Diego and the Valley and Orange County (and probably more than just those places), I must give my Mahalo NUI NUI LOA to a bruddah named Dr. Lane. This guy, this bruddah is SO SO funny, and is one of those kind of Kumu who REFUSES to allow ANY of his students to be and do less than what he knows that WE know we are able to do. He detests intellectual and mental laziness. (And proof can be had if you click this link and see his movies…the Professors Lane, both David and Andrea, are the shit!)
Because I grew up as the eldest of three preacher’s kids, I also grew up with a very big curiosity about other religions. When I saw that there was a Sociology class about religion and religious belief, I could not skip the opportunity to tell other students and even my teacher about our Hawai’ian spirituality (I had to make it understood, but not outright, that (ahem) this thing called ‘Huna’ is not…NOT OURS!) and how it was that if a person could see things from my vantage point, that those people, or that person, would have a better understanding of what it is that we believe, how we believe, why we believe. I was able, because of Professor Moss, to have that opportunity to teach others about us and about how very close in similarity we are to all other indigenous peoples’ in regards to what we do to honor our gods. I was able to tell them all that to pinpoint our religion is like pinpointing a needle, not in a haystack, but rather, in the ocean, because from my vantage point, for the most part, we accept all others’ beliefs because ours were made to be ‘evil’. In this class, I made a few friends who were interested in knowing more about who we are as a spiritual people. I was able to teach them, to tell them our collective truths.I learned a lot from her, from those other students, and mostly, from the kids from the ‘Aina who, without my being in their midst, would not know that we are not bad here on this side of the Pacific, and that what we were told for generations about our beliefs is not the truth.
It is not the truth that we are or were heathen savages…and this, many of those kids from Hawai’i, Samoa and Tonga, became able to think of who we are, as a people, and were and are now able to differentiate the difference between what it is that they have been told and bullied into believing, versus what they, as singularly empowered people of the Maoli sort, now have the power to do, which is choose who they are, what they believe, how they believe, why they believe, in anything at all…this is, they are the reason, these kids…all kids…why I go to college (again). These kids, as well, taught me much about myself, about them, and about our people – our Native Hawai’ian people – as a collective whole.
I learned the reason why, from these kids, I returned, better than I ever have in the past, in regards to our collective and false believe that we are anything at all ‘inferior’ – and it is directly tied to the fact that for a long time, and a very long time ago, our ancestors were bullied, belittled, abused into giving up what was so essentially our own, and what was our own was this beautiful Spirit of Aloha that propels us all towards one another. Without this class and the professor’s enthusiasm for her work in this lifetime, I would not have been able to make clear to the “traditional” organizations on campus that mine …ours…is not an evil belief and that in this ..new ancient-ness…it is the job of people like me, like Auntie Kalei, like my teacher of the Craft – “Mama No,” and of course, one Tita from Honolulu who has reminded me, time and again, that we are all here to learn and to teach and that mine would be the “thing” to do in terms of these things…”Kahu”….that would teach those who felt like they were suffering from disconnection from the ‘Aina….and it is because of those young people who I collectively learn with at MtSac who I serve at this time, particularly those who feel so far away from home…mahalo, Kumu Moss….
From Professors Knapp, Louie and Martin, these Kumu of the mind and all of its connections to the brain, the body and the population of other human beings on this planet, I have learned the process by which we end up mentally ill, emotionally train-wrecked, and a huge mess of a human being, and also, I learned from them how we can fix those issues, all on our own. Included in this mix of genius Psychology Kumu is also my dearly departed Uncle Jack…Doctor John H. Brennecke, because without Unko Jack, I would never have known in many lifetimes what he saw so dearly in me from the time that I was but a very tiny kid – school is where I belong, because school is where I will be able to help eliminating the ignorances, the ridiculousness that is not wanting to face one’s own demons. As well, they each have taught me so very much about who I am, and why I am the way that I am these days, perhaps have always been.
They are the Kumu who give to me the mechanics of the thing that I love so very much about us as human creatures – the brain, because we are all born with at least half of one. They taught me that we are all the same, and that the things that we experience will be perceived very differently by others, even though what is being looked at is the very same damned thing. Without them, I have no recollection of what is so direly important for us as thinking and feeling beings all being the witness at the same time that we are all having these markedly different experiences. They are the ones who are imparting into my life the very things that I need in order to complete this course of study – they are the ones who are teaching me this part of my Craft, of my practice…I cannot say enough to them other than MAHALO KUMU!!! Mahalo, indeed…
Right up there with them is one of my most FAVORITE teachers…a man named Mike, who also is called Professor Harper. He was the one teacher who, through his class, I learned to stretch my thinking in terms of my words and how they are put together and thought about, taught me the difference between things like Irony and the word “paradox” and to think of those things in a different manner, with a different light, and to NOT be afraid of going ahead and using my life experiences to give definition to the things he’d asked us to write about. It was through this person that I found out just how truly my words and my power with those words is appreciated. I cannot scream it loudly enough to this guy….in words that I know he will appreciate…Thanks, brotha…and please do continue this Fall with the music….you gotta know it ROCKS !!! (And you also know that I know what ROCKS!) Mahalo to you, Professor!! YOU FUCKEN ROCK, DUDE !
Because of a Buddhist who calls himself “Billy,” even though he was born with the name Hoa, my horrible allergy to numbers has been eased a bit. This guy was a babooze, and my neighboring student in the chair next to mine knew the reason why I referred to him as the “Mr. Miyagi of math” – because he taught from a spiritual vantage point, and utilized his time growing up in a Buddhist country, and learning in those schools as a child, and mostly, because he never made it so that the word “discipline” was the thing that I knew as a Maoli child growing up as an ugly thing…Billy made it so that it was not such a hard thing to accept, this thing, this energy called “discipline.” Without Billy, I do not have the Buddhist perspective of that word. Without Billy, I do not know Algebra, or, how dearly it is that having discipline in one’s life is a very important thing. It is what creates our greatness and is what brings to us the gifts of the Goddess that we are not aware that we have.
And absolutely, I must give my gigantic Aloha to a woman who I can only think of as being the stick tapping, hand clapping, count of eight keeping Kumu Hula of a different sort…of the mind and the Ballet sort, of the sort that gave me another energy and a grander appreciation of this beauty that is part of the life of ALL Kanaka Maoli – she taught me, made me think in a deeper manner, about this gorgeousness called Hula. Without Professor Nakamura – “Dance Teacher Barbie” – is what I have heard in certain circles (and it is NOT a bad thing, really…she has NO CLUE how much her students appreciate her teaching…she will never know exactly what she taught me about me as that Hula performer, teacher, choreographer…it’s a LOT) …without this woman’s dedication to all things Dance, no matter what sort of Dance, including ours, I would not know just how much I really, and truly love Hula, love our culture because of our music and our Dance. Without this particular Kumu, and yes, I will always and forever refer to her as a Kumu Hula, because that is what she is – a Dance Teacher, an artist, a Philosopher whose words are her creations of movement – without her teaching, I am not aware of the historical importance that is ANY dance.
Her Hula is Ballet. She loves her Hula as much as any one of us loves ours….because of her, I would not realize that my place as a Medicine Woman, as Kahuna Wahine, as a person who has loved and performed and taught and created this Dance…it is becoming what it is supposed to become, which is something so very different than what all us Kanaka Maoli are accustomed to, and becoming what it is meant to be for myself in terms of how I will use it in my life as Kahuna and, as well, as a Professor of the mind, and whatever else it is that I am supposed to be imparting to those who seek the knowledge that all Kumu, of whatever discipline, have.
The reason that I chose to pay homage to these people today is because I realize now, right in this moment, how important are the teachers in our lives, no matter what they are teaching, who they are teaching, because the most important thing is why they do the great job they do in imparting this knowledge of their own Craft to those like me, like my older two kids, like lots of people I am related to, and of course, many in my Hanai Ohana, is not because of anything more than that, just like any of us, they have the love within them to vanquish ignorance, to teach and give knowledge of things that they are not aware of how much they are appreciated in terms of how they give to their Haumana what each and all of us needs – a clue. They are in my life to illustrate the very importance of education in the lives of Hawai’ian people, and important as human beings because of the light that they show us in terms of who they are in their energy as Kumu.
I know, even more than I did before, that my place in this lifetime is meant to impart the Wisdom through the Knowledge of everything that I have learned to this point, not just from them, but from life and living, much as all Hawai’ian people, much as all human beings should and lots do.
Education is our key to not only our cultural awareness, but who we are in those places as Ka Po’e No’ono’o – The Thinking People. Educating ourselves about anything sparks the life within as Kanaka Maoli. It tells us, namely when we get good grades and in those courses of study we choose – we are showing the ‘Aumakua EXACTLY what those people who came and took our lands away and anyone else, exactly, also, what we are made of.
We are made of the Sun in the Sky, the Stars at night against a backdrop of the deep, darkness that is the Universal canopy above. We are the Oceans as they erupt and subside, are the product of the eruptions of life, of the living planet and land and all things Maoli. We are here in vast numbers, and we have no idea that because of the things that I have been taught, we are not here by chance – we are, by right of the large mathematical explanations given by those from the past, here because we have a purpose to be. We are here as thinking beings, and our thoughts are meant to heal, rather than harm. We are here to accept others, in their beliefs and in their lives as our global Hanai Ohana. We are here to create beauty from nothing but air and thought, here to care about one another, here to share that beauty through our art, here to perpetuate who we are through stories told with the hands, our bodies the vehicle by which those stories get told.
We are here, not by mistake, but truly because we are meant to carry out our Kuleana, not only within the boundaries of the Hawai’ian Ohana worldwide, but more importantly, the Global Ohana of Souls which need to know that not one of us is ever alone, without a family or here for anything more than a Divine Purpose….
Mahalo to ALL my Professors…even the one to whom I refer as being my own personal version of “The Nutty Professor…”
Mahalo Nui Loa for all your time and caring…and your vast knowledge brought to each and all via the Universal groove thing….