What does Ola Lokahi mean?

The two Hawaiian words “Ola Lokahi” have layers of meaning that cannot be fully understood until they are felt.  Like many, if not most indigenous cultures, the language of Hawai’i is an oral tradition.  The written form was created in the early 1800’s when missionaries wanted to translate the Bible.  In some cases, the written form does not do justice to the subtle and unique sounds of the Hawaiian language.  Nevertheless, the Hawaiian dictionary offers the following translations (and more) for the word ola:  Life, health, well-being, living, livelihood, alive, to live, thrive.  The word lokahi translates as:  unity, agreement, accord, unison, harmony, in unity.  Therefore, one definition of ola lokahi could be to thrive in harmony.

To fully grasp the meaning of ola lokahi, one must have a fundamental understanding that we are all connected to each and every being and all that surrounds us.  Our individual thoughts and actions (good or bad) ultimately affect the collective just as the collective has an effect on us as individuals.

There are few land masses on the planet that have experienced more upheaval and transformation (for better or worse) than the islands of Hawai’i, and there are few places as culturally diverse as this melting pot in the Pacific.  Nevertheless, there is a general understanding among the collective culture that “Ua Mau Ke Ea O Ka ‘Aina I Ka Pono.”  These words, spoken by King Kamehameha III in 1843 mean “The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness.”  These words, first stated at a time when Hawai’i was still a sovereign nation, are now the motto of the 49th state.  The famous motto, also layered with meaning, is one of the ways the keiki (children) of Hawai’i are taught about ola lokahi.  The public school system has a unique Hawaiian studies program, often taught by kupuna (elders) of the community.  The children learn the history and culture of Hawai’i, all of which is expressed in land-based teachings or, more specifically, that the very life force of the land is dependent upon how we, as caretakers, interact with it.  The children learn that the land reciprocates – positively or negatively – based, not only on one’s actions, but intentions and attitude as well.  One of the first things my child learned from his kupuna in school is that you must always ask permission before taking something from the forest.  He naturally understood this, as if it was more of a reminder than a new teaching.

I believe, at a soul level, we all have an understanding of ola lokahi, regardless of where we come from or what language we speak.  I know that words have immense power and carry a frequency.  (Don’t believe me?  Quickly recall something you wish you’d never said, and see what feeling it stirs up for you).  I choose the words Ola Lokahi to represent my business, one that brings together people with diverse backgrounds, beliefs, and talents for a common purpose… to empower people to connect with a deeper sense of peace and profound purpose.

For me, the words ola lokahi describe the basis for my cores beliefs, a driving force in my personal and professional purpose.  I intend to embrace, share and teach the wisdom and knowledge that has been shared with me in a way that honors my roots and the teachers that have blessed me along the way – from keiki to kupuna.  May we all thrive in harmony as a collective symphony offering our music back to the land on which we live.

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