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But Which One Is True?
by Graeme Kapono Urlich

I've worked with the Huna philosophy from Hawaii and New Zealand for well over 20 years now, and have heard many explanations of what it is. Some explanations come from native Hawaiians who learned and taught Huna through demonstration and practice. Unfortunately, this method didn't create the language to clearly explain the concepts to Westerners. On the other hand, when Westerners tried to capture those subjective ideas in objective language, they often blended the ideas of Huna with ideas from other cultures. Needless to say, this has created many misconceptions and quite fanciful and confused theories about Huna.

There are about as many flavours of Huna around as there are teachers. Naturally, Huna developed differently on each island, in the same way that other cultural practices did. Also, within each island, each family developed their own particular Huna traditions. I found the multitude of various ideas confusing because to a Western mind, of course, only one can be right. Right?

I first learned about the Hawaiian healing sciences - and I call them sciences because each one was pragmatic and practical - in the form of one type of traditional Hawaiian massage. I learned the movements and did things that didn't seem to connect with massage in any way. While I saw the effects of it in myself as well as in my clients, I struggled to comprehend those effects even after performing thousands of sessions. What I and my clients experienced couldn't be explained as the result of mere technique. I had somehow learned to do something through movement that flowed to my clients without conscious involvement. My teacher explained things in what I call very metaphorical and poetic terms, which I sometimes found very confusing. As I found out later, these explanations could have several layers of meaning, which created even more confusion.

It wasn't until I connected with Serge Kahili King, who teaches the kupua (Shaman) tradition from the Kahili family of Kauai that I began to see how seemingly paradoxical interpretations the same experience could happily co-exist. I could see how they are all true in their own contexts, and I could see how to apply them by selecting the most appropriate "style" for the current situation. Serge King's upbringing in the kupua tradition from a very young age, as well as his training in other traditions, such as the Hausa of Western Africa, gives him a unique viewpoint.

For years, based on Serge's teaching, I taught and absorbed the seven principles and an understanding of the four levels of reality and the three aspects of self (as defined by the Kahili tradition). The combination of being able to "move" in the world (or worlds) in an appropriate way, see what effect this has, and then describe it in a way that can be easily understood, brings a new level of effectiveness in any life situation but particularly in healing and transformational processes.

There are an increasing number of teachers of Huna out there. Many of these are students of students and many ask you to accept that theirs is the only "true" way, unaware of the variety of traditions that exist. The key thing in any esoteric teaching is the effect that you can get in your own life from applying it on a daily basis.

In Huna we accept that all systems are completely arbitrary and say that "If it works, it's Huna". No one system or technique will work for every situation or person all of the time. There will be parts of various ideas out there that will work for you. There will be parts that won't. The ideas are not true or false, right or wrong. They are simply useful or not useful depending on your purpose. No one teacher will have all of the answers that you seek. Huna as I have learned it in the Kahili tradition has given me a perspective that allows me to integrate ideas from any system into a single system that works for me.

Graeme Kapono Urlich (May 2008)

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