Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Meaning of Being "Pono"

Sometime ago, I blogged about the meaning of "aloha." Today, I am sharing the meaning of another Hawaiian word: "pono."  Pattye Kealohalani Wright describes below what "pono" is in Hawaiian culture. Pattye is a "kumu" (teacher) and considered a "kupuna" (elder). 

Language is the window through which fundamental foundational precepts of a society can be examined. If we look at the words used to describe human behavior we will see how a specific culture perceives a specific behavior. For instance, there are no obscene or even pejorative words in the Hawaiian language relating to the sexual act. None! That indicates to us that love making in all its many forms is viewed as natural and acceptable in traditional Hawaiian culture. 

Conversely, there is not a word in the English language that expresses the meaning of "pono" in the Hawaiian language. The Hawaiian-English dictionary devotes one-half page in an attempt to convey the meaning of "pono" in English.

In the Hawaiian thought system, "pono" means being in perfect alignment and balance with all things in life. It is having a perfect relationship with the creative energy of the universe, however you might call or describe that energy-- God, Goddess, Prana, Mana, Chi -- whatever that appellation is for you. Your every thought, word and deed is in complete harmony with that divine energy. 

"Pono" means that you are in complete harmony and alignment with your custodial relationship with the earth. When you are being in "pono" you operate on the earthly plane as one who is the caretaker of the land during your lifetime. Your stewardship leaves the land as good or better than when you found it so that succeeding generations can enjoy the resources that were gifted to you in your lifetime and during your stewardship. 

"Pono" means that you have a proper respectful relationship with your parents, your spouse or significant other, your children, your extended family members, and your coworkers. It is having a relationship with others that is just and fair and untinged by anger, jealousy, resentment or any negative energy. 

You are in harmony and in integrity. Discord is resolved with "ho'oponopono" -- the setting right of bad feelings. 

"Ho'oponopono" must be entered into with a sincere desire by all parties to resolve differences. It is not an opportunity for "right fighting." A mutually respected arbitrator manages the process of "making right" so that all parties feel that whatever problem exists is resolved and no longer exerts any negative energy on those involved. The completion of the process makes the parties "pono" with one another again. Harmony is restored.

In truth, every action in life is either "pono" or not. Humankind's assignment is to be "pono" in all things.

"Pono" is a concept worth adopting in our own life. The world we live in would be a more beautiful and peaceful place if we accepted our implicit agreement to be a "pono" spiritual being, a "pono" guardian of the earths resources, a "pono" daughter or son, a "pono" spouse, friend, co-worker, employer, government servant. (Written by Pattye Kealohani Wright)




  1. "Your every thought, word and deed is in complete harmony with that divine energy." My mantra is 'Lokahi' - harmony - in all its many forms. Thank you for this meditation on 'Pono' thought, 'pono' intention, 'pono' existence, Ariel! Pōmaikaʻi pūlama ʻia 'o ka lani

  2. Many try and many fail to explain the word Pono. Pono is life force, energy, Hawaiian style... you are so thought provoking... Thank you Ariel, you did it AGAIN!

  3. Thank you for the reminder. This one is worthy of a daily meditation/affirmation.