The Hawaiian concept of makawalu came back to mind for me this morning, in capturing a re-blog+commentary I added to my Tumblr, Ho‘ohana Aloha:
From Bobulate: An eightfold path of Sylvianess
It’s a post mostly about Ho‘omau, the Hawaiian value meaning to perpetuate, and a question:
How do we keep the good work people do for us, and sustain it even after they have left us?
Imagine it, if you had a wall in your conference room, or lunch room, or intranet digital portfolio, where you had a Ho‘omau Makawalu – a memory of eight things for each person to Ho‘omau and Ho‘ohanohano with (chapter 13 in Managing with Aloha, the value coaching us to “Cultivate respectfulness. Honor the dignity of others by conducting yourself with distinction”). Your titles might be “Charlieness” “Ashleyness” “Dannyness” and “Leilaniness”” they’d be wonderful, and such a celebration of Ho‘ohana – those special ways that people mark their signature to work.
The work we do each day requires so much from us. Value it. Do more than remember it; keep it in play.
My commentary complete there (in regard to Ho‘omau) I shifted my thoughts back to how eight-ness has become so natural to me given my sense of place: Simply by merit of growing up in Hawai‘i, I have always known that multiples of four and eight are highly regarded in our culture, but why?
I went digging in my own library of reference books, and this is what I discovered.
Kauna, Ka‘au, Lau” Counting Fish and Taro
“Numbers is the special language of mathematics and Hawaiians had developed a numbers system of their own long before the arrival of Captain Cook” Hawaiians had adopted a base unit of four in addition to a hybridized base ten numerical system” The Hawaiians’ base four units were called kauna, or four; ka‘au, or forty; lau, or four hundred; mano, or four thousand; kini, or forty thousand; and lehu, or four hundred thousand.
According to J.H. Kānepu‘u, a Hawaiian author of a letter to the editor of the Hawaiian newspaper Ke Au ‘Oko‘a, dated January 21, 1867, the number four was used for a very practical reason: a fisherman could hold four fish by their tails between the five fingers of each hand, or a farmer could hold four taro plants in the same way. Incidentally, fisherman and fishmongers in Hawai‘i today still count fish, particularly ‘ōpelu, according to the old method, in units of four, forty, and so on.”
—from KÅ« Kanaka, A Search for Hawaiian Values by George Hu‘eu Sanford Kanahele
I have seen small reef fish counted this way, and it’s just been one of those things I figured as a fisherman’s habit. Handy, simple, practical” hands, fish and food together; very Hawaiian.
Makawalu: Counting our Thinking
Makawalu is the concept of abundance in thinking, giving in to all the possibilities of the physical and the spiritual world. Maka is the word for eyes, and walu is eight, thus makawalu literally means to look for eight ways or facets of thinking connected to and extended from wherever you may start.
If you begin to use a tool, think of eight ways you might be able to use it.
If you plot a garden, think of eight sections that will rotate your earth in season.
If you consider a friendship, think of eight ways you will be able to share it.
If you write a song, think of eight voices who will help you sing it.
And then for each of those eight ways, think of eight more. Within your spirit, all is entirely possible.
Makawalu stems from a belief that our intelligence is infinite: For each of the eight perspectives one might come up with, another eight will be possible (making 64), and on (to 512), and on (to 4,096), and on to infinite possibility. It is the expectation of abundance over scarcity— always.
Thus in Hawaiian, makawalu is also the word we use for numerous, many, much, in great quantities, and sometimes, it is “used with implication of chiefly mana [divine power].” —Mary Kawena Pukui and Samuel H. Elbert in the Hawaiian Dictionary
Quite cool, isn’t it.
We count on numbers to count, to enumerate for us, and place all variety of things in orderly sets and collections. Sometimes we want them to contain – to be our limits, keeping things reasonable and manageable.
But then there’s Palena ‘ole, that 9th key concept we adopt in Managing with Aloha so we will grow in an exceptionally unrestrained way:
This is your exponential growth stage, and about seeing your bigger and better leadership dreams come to fruition. Think “Legacy.” Create abundance by honoring capacity; physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual. Seek inclusive, full engagement and optimal productivity, and scarcity will be banished.
Talking Story Category Page: Key 9—Unlimited Capacity
To have all of this kaona (hidden meaning), mana‘o (learning connected to the spirit’s divinity) and Language of Intention in one word, Makawalu” it helps you know that anything is possible, if only you can imagine it to be so, and then commit to making it happen.