A Tribute to Moe Keale: The  "Aloha Is..." Lesson



A Tribute to Moe Keale 

The "ALOHA Is..." Lesson

A is for AKAHAI, meaning kindness,
to be expressed with a feeling of  tenderness.

L is for LŌKAHI, meaning unity,
to be expressed with a feeling of harmony.

O is for `OLU`OLU, meaning agreeable, to be expressed with a feeling of  pleasantness.

H stands for HA`AHA`A, meaning humility, to be expressed with a feeling of modesty.

A stands for AHONUI, meaning patient, to be applied with perseverance.

>> Listen to the words. >> Study each word

In 1970 at the Governor's Conference on the Year 2000 in Honolulu, a kupuna (an elder), kanaka makua, sage, and Hawaiian linguist, affectionately known as Aunty Pīlahi Pākī, spoke spontaneously to a room filled with community, educational and legislative leaders. 

With simple eloquence, she told them that Aloha, the legacy of her ancestors, divine and earthly, is meant to be shared.  

Her bold action came to her from her heart and from her mind. With the assembled group, she shared her vision: Aloha would be Hawai'i's gift to the new millennium. 

"...in the next millennium  the world will turn to Hawai`i in its search for world peace because Hawai`i has the key ... and that key is ALOHA.
~Pīlahi Pākī, 1970

Using the alphabets of the word  A - L -  O - H - A, Aunty Pīlahi Pākī reminded them of Aloha's deeper meaning. Her mnemonic became the "ALOHA Is..." Lesson.  Each letter in the word Aloha, she explained, represents a specific Hawaiian word that describes a characteristic trait of Aloha.  

"Aloha is the essence of God in man."
   ~Pīlahi Pākī 

Together, the five traits combine to express the emotional and spiritual truth of Aloha.  Internalized, these traits create a deep sense of belonging to a community and caring for each other.  Now that the world is one big -- at-risk --  community, Aloha is needed now more than ever. 

In 1986 when this definition of Aloha was adopted by the Hawai`i Legislature as "The Aloha Spirit Law" [§5-7.5].  Such is the profound power of one woman's heart, mind and act of Aloha.

Aunty Pīlahi Pākī was a pivotal and life-altering teacher for Moe Keale. He embraced her simple but far-reaching teaching and took to heart her directive to share it.  

She also taught her students the song, "`Imo Ku`u Hōkū Lani (Don't Stop Until You Reach the Stars)."  Her father taught her this song, and she in turn passed it on. Moe internalized its message as well. 

Just as the song's tireless young boy climbed Mount Hualālai to capture the stars, Moe kept climbing, never stopping, until he himself reached earthly stardom.  He became a star in films, on the stage, on TV, and as a recording artist. His star kept rising higher and higher, broadening his reach as a guiding light and spiritual voice to further spread the lesson of Aloha.

"Aloha is Akua, and that is a higher power, 
whatever that means for each individual. 
It’s an unconditional love, 
extended to anyone." 
~Maile Tolentino-Lee

Moe believed it was his kuleana (responsibility) to pass on his teacher's "ALOHA Is..."  lesson. Doing so  was an act of "payback" -- a pāna`i --  for all the good that Aloha had brought to his life. It was also his way to Pay It Forward

`A`ohe lokomaika`i i nele i ke pāna`i.
No kind deed has ever lacked its reward.
Hawaiians are known for their generosity, hospitality and warm sharing. This giving nature is grounded in the principle of reciprocity, pāna`i. When given, the Hawaiian will give back in equal measure or more, be it a gift, an
"ALOHA Is..." lesson, a song, or a smile...
~ `Ōlelo No`eau

Wherever he went, whever he had a chance -- at poolside, concert and stage performances, on cruises, during interviews, in classes or just 'talking story' --  Moe generously shared the message of  Aloha and its true meaning with others.   

“What I share with you now, you can share with wherever you came from,” he said hopefully six days before he passed on. 

"The most important thing about Aloha is it is free, from up there,” Keale explained pointing to the sky.

“You can live with Aloha. It will change your life.”

~ Moe, as a guest lecturer at a college communications class Read the article in its entirety...

Aunty Pīlahi Pākī was also a prophetess. In 1970, she predicted that  "...in the next millennium the world will turn to Hawai`i in its search for world peace because Hawai`i has the key ... and that key is ALOHA. 

Hawaiian musicians are 'Pied Pipers' who are drawing the world's attention to Hawai`i and its Aloha. Moe was the lead piper, and he was aptly nicknamed the Ambassador of Aloha. 

Honolulu-born composer Charles E. King once said, "Let's have enough pride in our own music to keep it pure."  Those who keep Hawaiian music pure are those who instill it with heartfelt Aloha. 

When people listen -- really listen -- to Hawaiian music, they realize what this strife-filled  world is missing: Aloha for self, for family, for those who have come before, for those who are to come, for their land and environs, and for the Divine Within. Through the music, people are stumbling upon what the world has searched high and wide for -- the key to peace.  Aloha.

Note how in the last decade the world, drawn to its music, has been turning to Hawai`i:   

  • During his last four years, Moe traveled to the mainland three times for concert performances at the Shannon Center in Southern California; always, he passionately spread the message of Aloha to his enthusiastic and appreciative audiences.   

    Moe Keale at the Ruth B. Shannon Performing Arts Center, Whittier College, Whittier, CA 2002.

    Photo by Greg Phillips, courtesy of Aloha Joe.


  • Moe's nephew, Israel 'IZ' Kamakawiwo'ole, who was greatly influenced by his Uncle Moe, recorded the medley "Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World" on his "Facing Future" CD back in 1992; a decade later, in the new millenium, it became a global hit. During these uncertain times  with America at war against terrorism around the world, this wistful medley captures people's hearts and points folks in search for the key for peace in the direction of Hawai`i, just as Pīlahi Pākī predicted. 

    Israel 'IZ' Kamakawiwo`ole and his wife's, Marlene's, hand...

    In September 2002, IZ's CD became the first-ever full-length album from Hawai`i to be certified GOLD.  Several songs on his "Facing Future" CD are in the Hawaiian language. Even if many of CD's buyers do not understand the words, they "get it." Like his Uncle Moe, IZ communicated his Aloha through his songs and it resonates with his listeners. 

Hawaiian music is the medium. Aloha is the message. The Internet is another medium that can lead hearts, minds and spirits to Aloha from all corners of the world.  Here's proof:  YOU are here! 

Aloha + Hawaiian music + Internet  -----> PEACE.
What a concept.

Moe, himself was a visionary.  Again, thanks to the Internet, you can join in on Moe's vision: a world embraced by a lei of Aloha: 

These days, Moe lives among the stars in the heavens. Prophetically, Moe's inoa Hawai`i (Hawaiian name) became his destiny; Nālani means "The Heavens."  

Looking at the cover of his Imagine CD, I find myself imagining.  This is now Moe's vantage point, and I imagine that he is busy making the rounds in the heavens, tending to that ever-growing lei of Aloha around the world that he helped to weave...that you now contribute by sharing your own flower of Aloha:

Add a flower to Moe's lei of ALOHA by clicking on the icon below:




Graphic, courtesy of Live Aloha!  Be sure to check out this wonderful site.


Now that you've read this far, let's get practical. HOW do YOU put the beautiful sounding words of the "ALOHA Is..." lesson into practice?  

A paradigm shift is happening as you read these words. During the territorial days, the word Aloha slid into being a touristy, feel-good word.  It became a mere gloss of its true meanings, a catch-all term for "hello, goodbye, and love."  

Then along came Aunty Pīlahi Pākī who gave us the "ALOHA Is..." lesson, followed by Uncle Moe Keale, who spread the lesson all around the world, and now, yours truly and others, who are picking up their reins via the Internet.  

Devoid of feeling, thought and action, that's all Aloha is: Five beautiful sounding words on a Web page, hollow and useless.  Aloha is an action word.  A verb. A lifestyle. A way of being.

Moe taught others as he was taught: the mind and heart must be in accord. Once this was accomplished, the expression of one's inner Divinity was inevitable. Simply stated, it is this coordination of heart and mind that gives rise to Aloha.

In Moe's words: 

"A lot of people have been searching for knowledge and wisdom, traveling to the ends of the earth looking for it. It is right here. It is Aloha. It starts with each one of us. 

It starts in the heart, next in the mind. The Kahuna taught us, heart and mind working together. 

This is what Live Aloha is all about..."

We humans have a bad habit of making things more complicated than they are.  Advice well-taken is  K.I.S.S.!  ("Keep it sweet and simple!")  Most people would love to live Aloha but believe that few are granted that idealistic privilege.  I say most everyone can, but most people just don't know how.  

Perhaps the "ALOHA Is..." lesson is too simple to be believed.  A word to the disbelievers: the brightest of us,  Albert Einstein who taught us the elegantly simple E=mc2,  said, "Everything should be made as simple as possible."  

In that spirit, I am taking the liberty of simplifying the process of living Aloha into five steps:

  • Step 1: THINK!  Be still and ponder the meanings of the traits. Contemplate how they fit into your life.  Reflect on those times when your life was positively impacted by them.  

  • Step 2: FEEL! Feel the emotion of each Aloha trait.  Feel it to the core of your being.  Or as Hawaiians would say, "To your na`au" (to your gut)." Don't be a cold fish.  Submit to your emotionality. Feel. Be moved. Emote!

  • Step 3: BE!  As soon as your heart and mind are "on the same page" -- coordinated --  the Divine Within is activated.  As  Aunty Pīlahi Pākī taught:  "Aloha is the essence of God in man." 

    Aloha is just a breath away.  In the presence of Divine Breath, you become One with Aloha.  You become Aloha.

    (If the Divine Within is fuzzy for you, perhaps this book written anonymously by a Westerner may prove helpful: THE IMPERSONAL LIFE (also known as The Impersonal Life: Graceland Edition: The Little Book in Which Elvis Found the Light and available online here.  Elvis would give this book away by the caseloads as unexpected gifts to friends and fans worldwide, admonishing them, "You have to read this!"  Its message helped Elvis face death with no qualms. 

    Moe met Elvis in 1973 while filming the movie, Blue Hawai‘i. He described Elvis as “a nice person and a true blue country boy.” ) 

  • Step 4:  DO!   Act out kindness, harmony, pleasantness, humility and patience.  Engage in the activities that reflect these traits.   Do the actions of Aloha. Need suggestions?  Go to the "Live Aloha" site.

  • Step 5: HAVE!  When the five steps are fully accomplished, you will begin to have the life filled with, as Aunty Pīlahi Pākī taught, "the charm, the warmth, the sincerity, the generosity, and the love of an intangible substance or spirit known to many in Hawai'i Nei as ALOHA." 

How will you know if Aloha is a part of you?  

The best and surest way that you will know that Aloha has filled your heart is when you feel a compelling urge to help someone, heal their ills, relieve their suffering, bring them joy, or take on as your mission Aunty Pīlahi Pākī's directive to share Aloha. 

Then and only then, just as Moe would say, "Aloha is a part of me, a part of you." 




>> The Aloha Spirit
>> Mahalo and Aloha
>> The Aloha Spirit: A Reminiscence

The Spirit of Aloha - On Being Hawaiian - The Aloha Test


Internet spelling: Pilahi Paki   Israel Kamakawiwoole What is Aloha

© 2003