Thinking across Cultures

By Donald M. Topping; Doris C. Crowell et al. | Go to book overview

An introduction to Hawaiian Thought, Mo'olelo

Sam Ka'ai

Pukalani, Maui

When we speak of history, or the foundation of our thoughts, we speak of mo'olelo, and therefore we speak of the dragon. Not the little gecko running up your wall. The mo'olelo is a major force, a force of life.

Its head, sweeping from side to side, peers into the future. Like your aspirations, its mind is pure thought, like iau kea, the white dawn, a dawn not yet here, a consciousness not yet realized, an option not yet taken. A perception of a direction not yet addressed. This is the head of the dragon.

Its front legs are like the 'opio--the younger generation. Boisterous and active, alive, the 'opio are the forelegs of the dragon, their hands reaching and touching and turning and examining and pushing--undisciplined, awkward, boisterous.

Behind them came the makua. These are the parents--the hind legs of the dragon--and they have given up some of their options, turned them into disciplines. Theirs is a steady measured gait as they move forward, reinforcing all before them, reinforcing the people of the mat. It is the makua who have spread out the mat for resting and for dreaming, for letting their souls soar. They have spread out the mat for eating and praying. There they communicate with the highest sound. They have spread out the mat for unraveling and revealing. We call this education. They are the keepers of the lamp, those of the steady gait, believing in a white dawn, disciplining the 'opio, feeding and measuring the world in its daily pace.

Then there are things beyond parents, beyond our makua. We call these our kupuna. The kupuna are the spine of the dragon. They are those who are not actively growing the taro or fishing, but instead are the collective song of all that is behind them, and the connection to all that is in front of them. They will tell you how other dawns were, and how you can expect this dawn

-xi-

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