There is no passion to be found playing small - in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.
~ Nelson Mandela
The word "empowerment" is tossed around a lot today in the field of personal growth and development. My students have referred to it as a goal, as a plan of action, or as a state of being. Yet when I have delved a little deeper with some of these students, they seem to have no clear definition of empowerment. One student even said “I don’t know what it means, but everyone is telling me that I should want it!”
Empowerment is not just a fuzzy notion or the trend du jour in personal growth. It's the very foundation of who we are in the world. It is something that everyone should – and can – have. But before we seek it, we need to define it.
Uncle George Naope, one of my kumu (teachers), has a favorite saying: A Ohe Pau Ko Ike I Kou Halau. Taken literally, this means "think not that all wisdom is in your school." This was above his halau (school), and it made an impression on me. Uncle George used this saying to remind his students and himself to be open to hearing new thoughts and perspectives. When you give or receive knowledge, it is not about right or wrong. It is about sharing, learning something new, and expanding your own thinking. There are different ways of seeing life. What I share with you here is just one perspective that may help you in your quest.
There is so much information available on our planet that, in a single lifetime, a person could never expect to know everything. In every moment and situation, you may meet someone who knows something that you don’t know. I mention this because there are different ways of defining empowerment. The following definition is from my lineage of Huna.
Huna Empowerment in the Past
Some of the first Westerners who came to Hawai`i in the nineteenth century kept journals of their experience. In some, there was a description of the state of being of the people who lived here. Native Hawaiians were described as being almost completely devoid of any physical and mental disease.
People have asked me how this is possible, and the response is a lot simpler than you would think. While the weather is great here in Hawai`i, that does not explain the lower – almost non-existent -- incidence of illness. Rather it had more do to with the healing systems and thinking in Hawai'i hundreds and thousands of years ago. There were many systems of health and healing available in the islands, and all shared the belief and understanding of empowerment.
As an example, we believe with 99.99% confidence that the sun will come up tomorrow. There may be a very slim chance that it won’t. But all things being equal, we tend to go to bed knowing that it will. Better yet, we don’t even think about it before going to bed because it is just a matter of fact that it will come up.
Now, what if you had that same belief about your ability to create change, achieve your goals, and maintain your health and vibrancy? Wouldn't you feel totally empowered with that belief? In ancient times in Hawai`i, this concept of empowerment did not need to be taught because it was known and commonly accepted.
Now that is not to say that ancient Hawaiians believed anything to be possible. They accepted the evidence of physical limitation. However, there was also a very strong belief that amazing healings were possible. Not everyone knew how to do them, but they knew that, if they found the right person, there was the absolute possibility that a healing could occur.
Huna healing is very different from notions of healing in Western culture. There is a vast amount of valuable knowledge available within Western medicine and psychology. But the prevalent attitude in the Western approach is that the person is broken and you need to fight the disease.
In many ancient cultures, including here in Hawai`i, the focus was much different. A person was not broken and did not need to be fixed from the outside. Furth