Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Aloha: More Than Just a Greeting!

I used to think that "aloha" was merely the Hawaiian way of saying "hello" or "goodbye."  Then I came to live in Hawaii and learned  the power and deeper meaning of Aloha.

Aloha's very essence is the "breath," which is sacred to Ancient Hawaiians, who believed that there is the Divine in every person.    White men who found their way to the Hawaiian islands saw natives greeting each other Aloha not with a handshake or a wave but with an exchange of spirit or what Hawaiians call "mana."  They touched foreheads and noses and took in each other's breath.  For them the gesture was a way of paying respect to  the mortal and the divine in each other.

A law in Hawaii says this about Aloha:

[§5-7.5] "Aloha Spirit." (a) "Aloha Spirit" is the coordination of mind and heart within each person. It brings each person to the self. Each person must think and emote good feelings to others. In the contemplation and presence of the life force, "Aloha," the following unuhi laula loa may be used:

"Akahai," meaning kindness, to be expressed with tenderness; 

"Lokahi," meaning unity, to be expressed with harmony;

"Oluolu," meaning agreeable, to be expressed with pleasantness;

"Haahaa," meaning humility, to be expressed with modesty;

"Ahonui," meaning patience, to be expressed with perseverance. 

These are traits of character that express the charm, warmth and sincerity of Hawaii's people. It was the working philosophy of Native Hawaiians and was presented as a gift to the people of Hawaii. 

"Aloha" is more than a word of greeting or farewell or a salutation.

"Aloha" means mutual regard and affection and extends warmth in caring with no obligation in return.

"Aloha" is the essence of relationships in which each person is important to every other person for collective existence.

"Aloha" means to hear what is not said, to see what cannot be seen and to know the unknowable. 


Links to the meaning of Aloha:

As my forehead and my nose touch yours, I exchange my Breath of Life with yours  and I say...


- Ariel Murphy


  1. I didn't realize there was a law on the books defining Aloha! I guess it's kind of like the law that defines gravity - you can't make it exist by passing a law, it just IS. Your blog today sent me on a meditation of the sharing of the breath of life, Ariel. Fascinating stuff! "...As my forehead and my nose touch yours, I exchange my Breath of Life with yours and I say...Aloha!"

  2. Very nice Ariel - will email this to friends who are not on Facebook. I did not know about the [§5-7.5] "Aloha Spirit." law on the books either, but the descriptions of other terms are excellent - especially love that line..."Aloha" means to hear what is not said, to see what cannot be seen and to know the unknowable." Aloha to you also and Mahalo!

  3. Thanks to Pete for forwarding your blog address to me, another blogger. I enjoyed reading the different words with their meanings. I love words! One of my friends on facebook, whom I've not met, is a traditional Hawaiian healer, and I love his posts.

    I have two blogs: and - "Views From the Edge". Stop on by!

  4. Wow. can't believe I've been to Hawaii and didn't know the actual meaning of Aloha. Thanks for the post!

  5. I suspected that many, even in Hawaii, do not realize how powerful the word "Aloha" really is and that was why I decided to make it the topic of my blog. What amazed me was the depth of the spirituality of Hawaiian ancestors in recognizing the presence of the divine in every person -- a concept that is gaining traction only fairly recently.

    Thank you all for your encouraging comments! You warm this old-young heart of mine!

    1. Wow! It is interesting to know that there is more to the meaning of Aloha than just 'hello' and 'goodbye.' Thanks so much for the information as well as additional website to search.

  6. Thank you for your comment Teresita. Aloha!